Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Even the NY Times bears witness to Hillary's "untruths"

http://tinyurl.com/n3w7to
Two papers in one! from Best of the Web, James Taranto, WSJ
Today's New York Times reports on a point of disagreement between the U.S. administration and the Israeli government:
The Obama administration believes that in order to build a solid regional coalition to confront Iranian ambitions, West Bank settlement building needs to stop as a sign of Israeli willingness to accept a Palestinian state.
Such a demand is part of the "road map" agreed to by the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, the so-called quartet, and signed by Israel. But the Israelis said they had unwritten agreements with the former Bush administration that defined the freeze more narrowly, as not building new settlements or expropriating more land.
Today's Times story leaves open the possibility that the Israelis are simply making this up. But the Times itself, on Aug. 21, 2004, confirmed that this was the understanding of U.S. officials as well:
The Bush administration, moving to lend political support to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at a time of political turmoil, has modified its policy and signaled approval of growth in at least some Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, American and Israeli officials say.In the latest modification of American policy, the administration now supports construction of new apartments in areas already built up in some settlements, as long as the expansion does not extend outward to undeveloped parts of the West Bank, according to the officials.
Perhaps the Israelis made the mistake of believing what they read in the New York Times. or in the truthfulness of the State Dept.

Monday, June 29, 2009

If you elevate "engagement" above all, then you must give up support of democracy and values.

Michael Ledeen: Obama Must 'Bring Down Iranian Regime' By: Jim Meyers Foreign policy expert and author Michael Ledeen tells Newsmax that President Barack Obama "hasn't done anything" to help the Iranian people as resistance to the country's repressive regime continues. Ledeen also says that the talks Obama seeks with the current regime will go nowhere, charges that Iranians "have been killing Americans all over the world," and warns that as soon as the Islamic Republic acquires a nuclear weapon, it will "test" it on Israel. But he also believes the current regime is unlikely to survive. Israel will certainly attack Iran if the West fails to stop the ayatollahs from completing a nuclear weapon, Ledeen said.****It's not clear how, especially since Obama will both try to thwart any such attack and will excoriate Israel after the fact.****"They've said as soon as they get a nuclear weapon they're going to test it on Israel, so that's a pretty big threat," Ledeen said, adding, "I expect the Israelis to eventually attack the Iranian nuclear facilities if the rest of the world doesn't find some other way to do it. Whether they will bomb it or not, I can't tell. There are a lot of ways to do it."Ledeen holds the Freedom Scholar chair at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is a former consultant to the U.S. National Security Council and the Departments of State and Defense, and is a contributing editor to National Review.
Iranian authorities say 17 protesters and eight members of the volunteer Basij militia have been killed in two weeks of unrest, and that hundreds of people have been arrested. ut Iranian authorities have barred journalists for international news organizations from reporting on the streets and ordered them to stay in their offices. Ledeen claims that in fact, the death toll in Iran runs in the hundreds, and thousands of people have been arrested....asked Ledeen where he sees the conflict headed."Nobody knows," said Ledeen, whose books include "The Iranian Time Bomb" and "The War Against the Terror Masters." "They've killed hundreds by now, and thousands of people are in prison. It does seem like the people are so furious, so angry, both with the electoral fraud and now with the repression, that it's hard to imagine this going away any time in the near future."Whether there will be big demonstrations, whether there will be small-scale demonstrations or protests or strikes or general strikes, nobody really can tell."Martella asked if Iran will continue to operate as a police state or will change come to the oil-rich nation.
"Historically you have to say that it is possible to keep on operating a repressive police state if you're willing to kill everybody that gets in your way," Ledeen responded."In Iran the numbers are violently against the regime, because out of 65 or 70 million Iranians there are probably 50 or 55 [million] that don't like the regime. And they've shown in the last couple of week that they're actually going to take the chance and put their lives on the line."Under those circumstances it's unlikely that the regime will survive. It's really a contest of will at this point." ****The U.S. abandoned the Hungarians in 1956, the Czechs in the Czech Spring, the Kurds vs Saddam, etc so it takes a long time for rebels to survive brutal suppression when there is no outside force willing to help, morally and perhaps materially ( the Afghans vs the Soviets are an example counter to the foregoing.). Iran is a hodge-podge of ethnic groups with only about half the population being Farsi-speaking.
As for the talks Obama says are still possible with Iran over its nuclear ambitions, Ledeen declared: "We're never going to get a deal with Iran. Every president from Jimmy Carter through George W. Bush and now to Obama has tried to strike some kind of bargain with Iran, and they've all failed. "So I don't see why anybody would imagine that they could succeed now."****Obama is compulsive about talking and is used to doing so without substance. He also cares not about giving credibility to the worst kind of people, however disheartening it must be to the better kind in their own countries.****
Iran has rebuffed widespread claims of fraud in the presidential election and officially declared that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected, beating Mir Hossein Mousavi. Martella asked if that makes a difference, considering that "Iran is a brutal theocracy ruled by mullahs."Ledeen answered: "Yes, because Mousavi has made it clear that he wants to dismantle that brutal theocracy."****Mousavi might have started out not much better than Ahmadinejad but circumstances gave him a role in history that he might be willing to undertake. ****And that regime is a "huge threat" to the U.S., Ledeen told ..."Iran's been at war with the United States for 30 years, and Iranians have been killing Americans all over the world all that time," he said. "They are killing Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere as we speak."So it's a big threat. It's declared itself a threat. It has said it wants to destroy us." Martella asked: "If you were giving Obama advice about Iran, what would you tell him?"Said Ledeen: "Support the Iranian people. Say publicly that all these people have not died in vain and that Iran must be free, and then support them. Bring down the Iranian regime."Martella: "Do you think he's not done enough so far?"Ledeen: "He hasn't done anything to help the Iranian people. He's been dragged kicking and screaming to the point where he's finally condemned the repression, but that's it."

A brief British view of our President

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_L6pDyjqqsvY/SfMbqjeXpGI/AAAAAAAAbRY/H-3BBus-KSs/s1600-h/telegraph.JPG
Obama and the CIA: Why does President Pantywaist hate America so badly?by Gerald Warner, Telegraph.co.UK
If al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the rest of the Looney Tunes brigade want to kick America to death, they had better move in quickly and grab a piece of the action before Barack Obama finishes the job himself. Never in the history of the United States has a president worked so actively against the interests of his own people - not even Jimmy Carter. Obama's problem is that he does not know who the enemy is. To him, the enemy does not squat in caves in Waziristan, clutching automatic weapons and reciting the more militant verses from the Koran: instead, it sits around at tea parties in Kentucky quoting from the US Constitution. Obama is not at war with terrorists, but with his Republican fellow citizens. He has never abandoned the campaign trail.
That is why he opened Pandora's Box by publishing the Justice Department's legal opinions on waterboarding and other hardline interrogation techniques. He cynically subordinated the national interest to his partisan desire to embarrass the Republicans. Then he had to rush to Langley , Virginia to try to reassure a demoralised CIA that had just discovered the President of the United States was an even more formidable foe than al-Qaeda.
"Don't be discouraged by what's happened the last few weeks," he told intelligence officers. Is he kidding? Thanks to him, al-Qaeda knows the private interrogation techniques available to the US intelligence agencies and can train its operatives to withstand them - or would do so, if they had not already been outlawed.
So, next time a senior al-Qaeda hood is captured, all the CIA can do is ask him nicely if he would care to reveal when a major population centre is due to be hit by a terror spectacular, or which American city is about to be irradiated by a dirty bomb. Your view of this situation will be dictated by one simple criterion: whether or not you watched the people jumping from the twin towers...
President Pantywaist's recent world tour, cosying up to all the bad guys, excited the ambitions of America 's enemies. Here, they realised, is a sucker they can really take to the cleaners. His only enemies are fellow Americans. Which prompts the question: why does President Pantywaist hate America so badly?
****This article was sent on by a Columbia alumnus who wrote the following: " My thoughts are that he got this way at Columbia when he palled around some of the most anti-America professors led by Said. In fact I feel that’s why his Columbia records have never been released; the only President in recent decades to have not done so." Perhaps so; perhaps it's just that he's not the intellectual giant his supporters claim; perhaps his name is listed as "Barry Soetoro" rather than Barack Obama, possibly indicating that he had been adopted by Soetoro and becoming an Indonesian citizen.****

New Haven firefighters win SCOTUS. Issues remain.

White firefighters win Supreme Court appeal By MARK SHERMAN //WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled Monday that white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as an appeals court judge....make it harder to prove discrimination when there is no evidence it was intentional. New Haven was wrong to scrap a promotion exam because no African-Americans and only two Hispanic firefighters were likely to be made lieutenants or captains based on the results, the court said Monday in a 5-4 decision. The city said that it had acted to avoid a lawsuit from minorities.
The ruling could give Sotomayor's critics fresh ammunition...say it shows she is a judicial activist who lets her own feelings color her decisions... In Monday's ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, "Fear of litigation alone cannot justify an employer's reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions." He was joined in the majority by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the white firefighters "understandably attract this court's sympathy. But they had no vested right to promotion.****Negotiating all the hoops and hurdles and getting to the end usually vests winners. **** Nor have other persons received promotions in preference to them." ****Specious, since it was clear exams would be held and manipulated UNTIL minorities were promoted in preference to them, just not immediately.**** Justices Souter, Stephen Breyer and John Paul Stevens signed onto Ginsburg's dissent,...she predicted the court's ruling "will not have staying power."****Not if political appointments stack the court and stare decisis goes out the window. *****
...only passing reference to the work of Sotomayor and the other two judges...But the appellate judges have been criticized for producing a cursory opinion that failed to deal with "indisputably complex and far from well-settled" questions, in the words of another appeals court judge, Sotomayor mentor Jose Cabranes. "This perfunctory disposition rests uneasily with the weighty issues presented by this appeal," Cabranes said, in a dissent from the full 2nd Circuit's decision not to hear the case.****It should be embarrassing for a judge to rule by ukase and not give reasons, however hoked up.****
Sen. Patrick Leahy...(mouthed pious platitudes, as the mental giant he is )...the ruling is a victory for firefighters across the country. "...going to get the best managers as far as firefighters go. That's really important,"...(New Haven) hired an outside firm to design a test ****free of biases****, which was given to 77 candidates for lieutenant and 41 candidates for captain. Fifty-six firefighters passed the exams, including 41 whites, 22 blacks and 18 Hispanics. But of those, only 17 whites and two Hispanics could expect promotion....decided not to use the exam to determine promotions....because it might have been vulnerable to claims that the exam had a "disparate impact" on minorities in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
...Kennedy said an employer needs a "strong basis in evidence" to believe it will be held liable in a disparate impact lawsuit. New Haven had no such evidence, he said.
The city declined to validate the test after it was given, a step that could have identified flaws or determined that there were no serious problems with it. In addition, city officials could not say what was wrong with the test, other than the racially skewed results.
... Until this decision, Ginsburg said, the civil rights law's prohibitions on intentional discrimination and disparate impact were complementary, both aimed at ending workplace discrimination. "Today's decision sets these paired directives at odds," she said. ****She's wrong: reverse discrimination has always been an issue when "disparate impact" has no malign sources. In this case, the exam was RELEVANT to the safety and efficacy of firefighters and was certified by an outside, expert agency to be free of racial/cultural bias. There was, in fact, no statement that there WAS any such bias. It's shocking that 4/9 justices agreed with this position. How can 5:4 decisions become the Law of the Land? At the very least, stare decisisshould not apply to such close vote results. ****

Peggy Noonan tries to encapsulate Presidents in one sentence

http://tinyurl.com/mzcoqx
To-Do List: A Sentence, Not 10 Paragraphs By trying to do too much, he risks not doing enough. By PEGGY NOONAN
Something seems off with our young president. He appears jarred....defensive and peevish with the press...later...on health care, when he got nailed by a neurologist ..."Eroding confidence in President Barack Obama...Independents and some Republicans who once viewed him sympathetically are "becoming skeptical."
...The Sentence comes from a story Clare Boothe Luce told about a conversation she had in 1962 in the White House with her old friend John F. Kennedy. She told him, she said, that "a great man is one sentence." His leadership can be so well summed up in a single sentence that you don't have to hear his name to know who's being talked about. "He preserved the union and freed the slaves," or, "He lifted us out of a great depression and helped to win a World War." You didn't have to be told "Lincoln" or "FDR."...Mr. Obama is not seeing his sentence. He's missing it. This is the sentence history has given him: "He brought America back from economic collapse and kept us strong and secure in the age of terror." That's all anybody wants. It's all that's needed....There is a persistent sense of extraneous effort, of ambitions too big and yet too small, too off point, too base-pleading, too ideological, too unaware of the imperatives. And there is the depressing psychological effect of seeing government grow so much, so big, so fast. This encourages a sense that things are out of control and cannot be made better....Do we have anything like a bipartisan strategy for our age? Not nearly....It is amazing we don't even talk about this....Mr. Obama cannot replace his sentence with 10 paragraphs, and he can't escape it, either....
****Peggy Noonan's sentence for Obama, "He brought America back from economic collapse and kept us strong and secure in the age of terror."is aspirational, but unrealistic. Realistically, we're working on the following sentence: "Weakening the country on both domestic and international scenes, he pushed Nanny Statism at home while offending allies and appeasing enemies abroad."
Instead of a sentence, we can think of a couplet:
" Vague words sounded strong,
Acts were clear but wrong." ****

Hillary should be ashamed. Appeasement usually involves disregard of "the people," first Iran, now Honduras.

http://tinyurl.com/m72obk
A bloodless military overthrow of a dictatorial regime, ordered by the Constitutionally-mandated courts, is not a "coup", in the usual sense. Hillary and Obama seem as oblivious as the world was to Hitler trampling the rights of Sudeten Czechs, Austrians and Poles. Eschewing "regime change", whatever the facts , is adherence to words rather than concepts of ethics or American interests. This is especially poignant when American interests coincide with thwarting tyrants in Iran or, now, Honduras and the American government takes the wrong side.Democracy is not well-defined merely by elections. Hitler was duly elected. The U.S. is a constitutional republic ( or was until 1/20/2009 ) and follows the rule of law.
http://tinyurl.com/n8fqsz
Honduras Defends Its DemocracyFidel Castro and Hillary Clinton object.By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY //Hugo Chávez's coalition-building efforts suffered a setback yesterday when the Honduran military sent its president packing for abusing the nation's constitution....Honduras is not out of the Venezuelan woods yet. ...being pressured to restore the authoritarian Mr. Zelaya by the likes of Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Hillary Clinton and, of course, Hugo himself. The Organization of American States, having ignored Mr. Zelaya's abuses, also wants him back in power...That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt....The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics...The top military commander...told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused....The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.... They want to hide the fact that the military was acting on a court order to defend the rule of law and the constitution, and that the Congress asserted itself for that purpose, too. Mrs. Clinton has piled on as well....Honduras is fighting back by strictly following the constitution. The Honduran Congress met in emergency session yesterday and designated its president as the interim executive as stipulated in Honduran law. It also said that presidential elections set for November will go forward. The Supreme Court later said that the military acted on its orders....Mr. Zelaya also has another strike against him: He keeps rotten company....led the effort, along side OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, to bring Cuba back into the supposedly democratic organization....The truth is that democracy can be challenged from within, as the experiences of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and now Honduras, prove."...In failing to come to the aid of checks and balances, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Insulza expose their true colors.Insulza's true colors have been apparent for some time;
El Insulza Conspiracy By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
Americas: The push by the Organization of American States to admit Cuba as a member at its general assembly in Honduras is a mockery of its democratic charter. How did it come to this? Start with its leadership.... tyrants like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega are leading a new charge to admit Cuba as a full member ... OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza has sat placidly as Chavez and Ortega have masticated democracy in their own countries. Insulza is violating his own imperative to kick these tyrants out, because one of the rules of OAS membership is that all members be democracies. They've violated the Inter-American Democratic Charter since it was enacted in Lima, Peru, on Sept. 11, 2001. Now begins the descent: Cuba's pawns in the OAS are using their presumed legitimacy as democracies to open the door to Cuba's brutal dictatorship, rendering the idea of democracy meaningless. If that happens, the OAS will become just another anti-American talk shop, with Cuba driving the agenda.****Obama may, indeed, participate in the anti-American talk. ****Creepily enough, it will be financed by America, which bankrolls most of the OAS. The Obama administration is aware of this and thinking about yanking OAS funds if Castro sails in as full member. If that happens, it will mark the nadir of the Insulza record as secretary-general since 2005. It calls to mind that he was enthusiastically supported by Chavez. The U.S. strongly opposed Insulza, supporting even Mexico's Luis Ernesto Derbez, whom our policymakers distrusted as two-faced, to keep Insulza out. It now raises questions of what they knew of him beforehand. At the time of his election, Insulza declared: "The guarantee of respect for the fundamental rights of citizens, the rule of law, civil liberties, respect for minorities and for the institutions of the democratic system is crucial," he said. "It is imperative that the commitments adopted under the Inter-American Democratic Charter be wholly adhered to."
Today all those have been violated in spades in Venezuela and Nicaragua, yet Insulza hasn't raised a peep. "You took an oath as secretary-general of the OAS to protect and preserve the democracies of the Americas, to fight against tyranny and ensure human rights are protected. Nothing is more fundamental to human rights than the right to free expression, and yet this is what is being desecrated in the oldest democracy in Latin America, Venezuela," wrote the Human Rights Foundation in 2007, pleading with Insulza to raise questions. He didn't, and even dismissed the idea of expelling Venezuela when he was asked, leaving it with its democratic legitimacy intact. With standards now that low, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua will have the green light to wreak havoc in their own democracies — shutting down opposition media, manipulating neighbors' elections, threatening to invade their neighbors because they know that with the pliant Insulza at the helm, nobody will stop them.
(A little history: Cuba was thrown out of the OAS not because it was communist, but because its bearded guerrillas launched a Normandy-style invasion against Venezuela to topple its democratic government in 1962.) With Venezuela now essentially a pawn of the Castro brothers, and Chavez pushing to move Cuba into the OAS as its 36th member, it looks like Castro's invasion has finally succeeded, not only without a bang, but without even an Insulza whimper.///
Obama weighs in on the wrong side for America and Honduras and aligns himself with Chavez, Castro, insulza and assorted other villains.
http://tinyurl.com/kv7gvd
Obama says Honduran ouster was 'not legal' By BEN FELLER, Associated Press
WASHINGTON –...Obama ...declared that the United States still considers Manuel Zelaya to be the president of Honduras and assailed the coup that forced him into exile as "not legal,"... The country now has another president appointed by its Congress, Roberto Micheletti, who insisted that Zelaya was removed legally by the courts and Congress for violating Honduras' constitution and attempting to extend his own rule.... Obama said the U.S. must always "stand with democracy" even if doesn't like the results of elections...****It's a pattern of dictators to get elected and then "extend" their terms and suspend a constitution. For Obama not to recognize this, or pretend not to, puts him in the league of Neville Chamberlain and Jimmy Carter.****

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Support the Sherman-Kirk Amendment to rein in U.S. support for Iran (U.S.???)

Mark Kirk is the only Illinois legislator one can think of deserving of praise.Well, Roland Burris has his moments as a comedic focus, as does Blago. Perhaps one should specify "honest and praiseworthy." As such, Kirk is unique in Illinois.
HOW TO STAND UP TO IRAN By DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN// In our new book, Catastrophe, we spell out clearly how Obama has disarmed us in the war on terror and excoriate him for giving Hamas almost $1 billion in foreign aid funneled through the United Nations relief agency in Gaza that takes orders from Hamas. But now, the Administration's weakness in supporting human rights in Iran writes a sad chapter in the history of our foreign policy.
For her part, Hillary Clinton is really playing hardball with Iran! Faced with its outrageous conduct in killing its own citizens to cow them into silence, she has disinvited Iranian diplomats from the hot dog festival commemorating July 4th. That'll show 'em.
But, in Catastrophe, we propose stronger action. One specific step that could send just the right message to Iran is to cut back its gasoline supplies. Despite having the world's second largest reserves of oil, Iran must import 40% of its gasoline because of a lack of refining capacity. Most of its refined gasoline comes from the Jamnagar Refinery, operated and owned by Reliance Industries, an Indian company. And guess who has guaranteed a $500 million loan to expand this refinery? You did. The American taxpayer, through the Export-Import Bank provided the loan guarantees as part of a $900 million package to Reliance.
We urge Congress to pass the Sherman-Kirk Amendment, which just cleared a House Appropriations Subcommittee with bi-partisan support. The amendment, co-sponsored by Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman of California and Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois, would cut off Export-Import bank financing for any firm that exports gasoline to Iran or helps it to develop new refining capacity.
Orde Kittre, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies calls Iran's dependence on imported gasoline its "Achilles' Heel." So let's learn a lesson from OPEC and turn the tables, cutting gasoline imports to Iran.
Apart from the obvious question of why the United States taxpayer is helping to finance the refinement of Iran's gasoline, the Sherman-Kirk Amendment offers the timid Obama Administration the perfect way to show the anger and outrage it claims to feel at the suppression of democratic dissent in Iran. It might even be more effective than the denial of Fourth of July hot dogs....President Obama has unilaterally repealed the emphasis on human rights that was President Jimmy Carter's major positive foreign policy accomplishment. He has replaced it with a value-neutral policy that appeases the forces of dictatorship and cowers in their wake.
The swift adoption of the Sherman-Kirk Amendment would give Obama a real weapon to discipline Iran and to pressure it to reach an accommodation with its own people. As speculators take their cue from Congress and bet on higher gasoline prices in Iran, the cost of gasoline would rise and catalyze further discontent with the regime. Iran subsidizes its gasoline prices, holding them to approximately 35 cents per gallon. With a falloff in refined capacity, the government would have to jump through hoops to avoid massive inflation in gasoline prices. Rationing would ensue.Through economic, as opposed to military pressure, Obama will be sending a signal to Iran of how seriously we take human rights in the United States and how little Iran can afford to isolate itself from the global community.
The Sherman-Kirk Amendment is no off the wall idea. It has already been passed by a House Appropriations Subcommittee and, with Administration support, could easily become law.
Now is Obama's chance to offer more than words to counter Iranian repression. We hope he will seize it.

God and Science

http://tinyurl.com/mjd2ff
God and Science Don't Mix A scientist can be a believer. But professionally, at least, he can't act like one. By LAWRENCE M. KRAUSS
My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel or devil is going to interfere with its course; and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career. I should therefore be intellectually dishonest if I were not also atheistic in the affairs of the world. -- J.B.S. Haldane "Fact and Faith" (1934)...World Science Festival in New York City...the panel strangely titled "Science, Faith and Religion." ...there was no panel on science and astrology, or science and witchcraft. So why one on science and religion?
I ended up being one of two panelists labeled "atheists." The other was philosopher Colin McGinn....two devoutly Catholic scientists, biologist Kenneth Miller and Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno....surprised me... "Then I guess you are a rational atheist."...responding to all those so-called fundamentalist atheists... atheists...following the success of books like Sam Harris's "The End of Faith," and Richard Dawkins's "The God Delusion."...castigated by believers for claiming that science is incompatible with a belief in God...a claim that appears manifestly false -- witness the two Catholic scientists on my panel. And on the other hand, the argument that science suggests God is a delusion only bolsters the view of the of the fundamentalist religious right that science is an atheist enemy...I have appeared numerous times alongside Ken Miller to defend evolutionary biology from the efforts of those on various state school boards who view evolution as the poster child for "science as the enemy." These fundamentalists are unwilling to risk the possibility that science might undermine their faith, and so they work to shield children from this knowledge at all costs. ...one does not have to be an atheist to accept evolutionary biology as a reality...my friend Ken as an example....the misperception that the recent crop of vocal atheist-scientist-writers are somehow "atheist absolutists"...Messrs. Harris and Dawkins are simply being honest when they point out the inconsistency of belief in an activist god with modern science. J.B.S. Haldane, an evolutionary biologist and a founder of population genetics, understood that science is by necessity an atheistic discipline...God is, of necessity, irrelevant in science. Faced with the remarkable success of science to explain the workings of the physical world,...scientists understandably react as Haldane did. Namely, they extrapolate the atheism of science to a more general atheism....Though the scientific process may be compatible with the vague idea of some relaxed deity who merely established the universe and let it proceed from there, it is in fact rationally incompatible with the detailed tenets of most of the world's organized religions....Science is only truly consistent with an atheistic worldview with regards to the claimed miracles of the gods of Judaism, Christianity and Islam....in each of these faiths are atheists regarding the specific sacred tenets of all other faiths. Christianity rejects the proposition that the Quran contains the infallible words of the creator of the universe. Muslims and Jews reject the divinity of Jesus....these issues are not purely academic. ...Iran has laid bare the striking inconsistency between a world built on reason and a world built on religious dogma....in human affairs -- as well as in the rest of the physical world -- reason is the better guide.
****I must submit that both Krauss and Haldane have left something out. Not only does an experimental scientist have to assume that no malevolent or benign "god, angel or devil is going to interfere" theistically with his experiments; he must also assume that there is not such acausal randomness as to preclude there being laws, such that his results on Monday will be understandably replicated on Tuesday.
I have long claimed that experimental scientists have more fervent faith than most religious people. That is, it is a matter of faith that there are laws of Nature, if not necessarily about the nature of Nature's God. Rather than believing in a "relaxed deity", one must really postulate a sort that set quite rigorous laws in motion and thereafter leaves them alone, such that science can proceed. I suggest that most scientists practice, if not explicitly profess, a kind of Deism that was "rational" to even the founding fathers of the United States.****

Obama/Pelosi ram high-tax "climate" bill thru House; hope for Senate

http://tinyurl.com/pcbgz4
****As usual, O/P overestimate the benefits, underestimate the costs, ignore the negative effect on GDP, driving jobs overseas,and ask for religious adherence.
http://tinyurl.com/nejnhm The Cap and Tax Fiction Democrats off-loading economics to pass climate change bill....Democrats...have to destroy the discipline of economics to get it done...rural and Blue Dog Democrats remain wary of voting for a bill that will impose crushing costs on their home-district businesses and consumers....the CBO estimate is a one-year snapshot of taxes that will extend to infinity. Under a cap-and-trade system, government sets a cap on the total amount of carbon that can be emitted nationally; companies then buy or sell permits to emit CO2. The cap gets cranked down over time to reduce total carbon emissions....CBO's analysis looks solely at the year 2020, before most of the tough restrictions kick in...the price of permits will skyrocket beyond the CBO estimate of $28 per ton of carbon...costs...will be passed to consumers... extraordinary decision to look only at the day-to-day costs of operating a trading program, rather than the wider consequences energy restriction would have on the economy. ..."The resource cost does not indicate the potential decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) that could result from the cap."...higher prices will show up not just in electricity bills or at the gas station but in every manufactured good, from food to cars.... fewer jobs created or higher unemployment...move their operations overseas, with the same result... Heritage Foundation: ...Waxman-Markey would cost the economy $161 billion in 2020, which is $1,870 for a family of four. As the bill's restrictions kick in, that number rises to $6,800 for a family of four by 2035...an average...certain regions and populations will be more severely hit than others -- mfg states more than service states; coal producing states more than states that rely on hydro or natural gas. Low-income Americans, who devote more...income to energy, have more to lose than high-income families....Britain's Taxpayer Alliance estimates the average family there is paying nearly $1,300 a year in green taxes for carbon-cutting programs in effect only a few years ....Members who vote for this climate bill are voting for what is likely to be the biggest tax in American history....
****Dick Morris pointed out that the vote in the House was really NOT as close as it appeared: although the Dem party decided on the bill, individual members were wary about being exposed as endorsing it so they clamored to be on the list that could vote AGAINST it up to a maximum that would still insure its passage. The most vulnerable Reps were accorded surcease of "big-tax" vote.**** Meanwhile, the rest of the world was coming to its senses about the Gorey religion:*** http://tinyurl.com/lhuvel The Climate Change Climate Change The number of skeptics is swelling everywhere. By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL, WSJ 6-27 Steve Fielding recently asked the Obama administration to reassure him on the science of man-made global warming. When the administration proved unhelpful, Mr. Fielding decided to vote against climate-change legislation ...he's a member of the Australian Senate...(which)is preparing to kill its own country's carbon-emissions scheme. Why? A growing number of Australian politicians, scientists and citizens once again doubt the science of human-caused global warming.Among the many reasons President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority are so intent on quickly jamming a cap-and-trade system through Congress is because the global warming tide is again shifting. ...The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S. In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In the Czech Republic, where Pres. Vaclav Klaus remains a leading skeptic, today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants...Claude Allegre to lead the country's new ministry of industry and innovation. Twenty years ago Mr. Allegre was among the first to trill about man-made global warming, but the geochemist has since recanted. New Zealand last year elected a new government, which immediately suspended the country's weeks-old cap-and-trade program.
The number of skeptics...is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world's first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak "frankly" of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming "the worst scientific scandal in history." Norway's Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the "new religion." A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton's Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled...The collapse of the "consensus" has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth's temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon...Dr. Ian Plimer, a well-known Australian geologist...published "Heaven and Earth," a damning critique of the "evidence" underpinning man-made global warming. The book is already in its fifth printing. So compelling is it that Paul Sheehan, a noted Australian columnist -- and ardent global warming believer -- in April humbly pronounced it "an evidence-based attack on conformity and orthodoxy, including my own, and a reminder to respect informed dissent and beware of ideology subverting evidence."...Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, elected like Mr. Obama on promises to combat global warming, ...was forced to delay the implementation of the program until at least 2011, just to get the legislation through Australia's House. The Senate was not so easily swayed...Fielding, a crucial vote on the bill, was so alarmed by the renewed science debate that he made a fact-finding trip to the U.S., attending the Heartland Institute's annual conference for climate skeptics. He also visited with Joseph Aldy, Mr. Obama's special assistant on energy and the environment, where he challenged the Obama team to address his doubts. They apparently didn't....Fielding...would not be voting for the bill...would not risk job losses on "unconvincing green science."...Republicans...turned ever more to the cost arguments against climate legislation....rural and Blue Dog Democrats fret about the economic ramifications. Yet if the rest of the world is any indication, now might be the time for U.S. politicians to re-engage on the science. One thing for sure: They won't be alone. ****But wait...there's more...and worse! Recognizing that jobs WILL be lost, the legislation mandates TARIFFS against countries that don't similarly hobble their industries and increase their costs.Retaliation and higher consumer costs will follow and free trade will go out the window. Even the liberal Christian Sci Mon thinks so:http://tinyurl.com/kradgxA big chill in global-warming bill...main global-warming bill on Capitol Hill calls for the president to slap stiff barriers on imports from other countries that don't reduce their carbon emissions in comparable ways....aimed at helping US industries stay competitive...US could see many of its industries move to other countries with lesser or no curbs on greenhouse gases, a possibility called "carbon leakage" ...President Obama pitches this legislation as a "jobs bill." But it isn't one, really....could trigger a wave of global trade protectionism that would ultimately hurt the US economy – the largest exporter in the world, and one in which 40 percent of jobs are dependent on trade...China and India could walk away from ...talks if they see the US and other industrialized nations threaten to protect domestic markets. Germany and France have warned they will "protect European industry" if other countries do not accept similar climate goals. But poorer countries that are already reluctant to act on climate change will...make little or no effort to save Earth's environment.(At least the ChrisSciMon still believes in THAT religion!)...House provision on potential trade barriers was added...American industries that are dependent on fossil fuels, along with their labor unions, asked for it...As Congress moves closer to a final bill, it needs to keep open America's doors to free trade.

U.S. Healthcare ranks #37?? Not so, but the French ARE better than most.

WHO’s ranking of healthcare systems relies on a measure of performance that includes “financial fairness,” which has nothing to do with the quality of healthcare. ...not the only problematic factor in the WHO rankings... based on five factors, weighted as follows: 1. Health Level: 25%; 2. Health Distribution: 25%; 3. Responsiveness: 12.5%; 4. Responsiveness Distribution: 12.5%; 5. Financial Fairness: 25%.//Only two of these – health level and responsiveness – are direct indicators of health outcomes. Even these are... affected by things like crime and nutrition), but they’re at least relevant. But neither health distribution nor responsiveness distribution properly belongs in an index of healthcare performance....inequality (that’s what “distribution” is all about) is distinct from quality of care.
http://tinyurl.com/na7m6u
http://tinyurl.com/olzgdq
tinyurl.com/opam9s
The French system, on the other hand, appears to be properly placed at the top but it is necessary to understand how they do it. http://tinyurl.com/26g7n4 The French system—a complex mix of private and public financing—offers valuable lessons for would-be health-care reformers in the U.S.(It's not completely correct to )lump France in with the socialized systems of Britain, Canada, and Cuba....the French system is similar enough to the U.S. model that reforms based on France's experience might work in America. The French can choose their doctors and see any specialist they want. Doctors in France, many of whom are self- employed, are free to prescribe any care they deem medically necessary. ...France also demonstrates that you can deliver stellar results with this mix of public and private financing...(WHO) health-care ranking, France came in first, while the U.S. scored 37th...France's infant death rate is 3.9 per 1,000 live births, compared with 7 in the U.S.,...average life expectancy is 79.4 years, two years more than in the U.S. ...far more hospital beds and doctors per capita than America, and far lower rates of death from diabetes and heart disease. The difference in deaths from respiratory disease, an often preventable form of mortality, is particularly striking: 31.2 per 100,000 people in France, vs. 61.5 per 100,000 in the U.S....France is wrestling with runaway health-care inflation....led to some hefty tax hikes, and France is now considering U.S.-style health-maintenance organization tactics to rein in costs. Still, some 65% of French citizens express satisfaction with their system, compared with 40% of U.S. residents. And France spends just 10.7% of its gross domestic product on health care, while the U.S. lays out 16%...how the French system works, think about Medicare for the elderly in the U.S., then expand that to encompass the entire population. French medicine is based on a widely held value that the healthy should pay for care of the sick. Everyone has access to the same basic coverage through national insurance funds, to which every employer and employee contributes. The government picks up the tab for the unemployed who cannot gain coverage through a family member....the french system is much more generous to its entire population than the U.S. is to its seniors. Unlike with Medicare, there are no deductibles, just modest co- payments that are dismissed for the chronically ill. Additionally, almost all French buy supplemental insurance, similar to Medigap, which reduces their out-of-pocket costs and covers extra expenses such as private hospital rooms, eyeglasses, and dental care.... the sicker you get, the less you pay. Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, and critical surgeries, such as a coronary bypass, are reimbursed at 100%. Cancer patients are treated free of charge. Patients suffering from colon cancer, for instance, can receive Genentech Inc.'s Avastin without charge. In the U.S., a patient may pay $48,000 a year.****The cost of American company drugs is,doubtless, lower in France since American prices subsidize the research for the rest of the world.Also, the French do ration "...assessment of medical products is done by the Committee for the Evaluation of Medicines. Reimbursement rates are set by the National Union of Sickness Insurance Funds, a group that also negotiates pay to doctors..."**** France particularly excels in prenatal and early childhood care. Since 1945 the country has built a widespread network of thousands of health-care facilities, called Protection Maternelle et Infantile (PMI), to ensure that every mother and child in the country receives basic preventive care. Children are evaluated by a team of private-practice pediatricians, nurses, midwives, psychologists, and social workers. When parents fail to bring their children in for regular checkups, social workers are dispatched to the family home.****This degree of coercion might get attention in the U.S. from the ACLU (but one never knows how they will come down on a particular issue.)****...PMI and other such programs are starting to get attention in U.S. health-care circles...."It's based on the practical idea that high-quality investments made at the start of a child's life will pay huge dividends to both the child and society in the future."
...France reimburses its doctors at a far lower rate than U.S. physicians would accept. However, French doctors don't have to pay back their crushing student loans because medical school is paid for by the state, and malpractice insurance premiums are a tiny fraction of the $55,000 a year and up that many U.S. doctors pay. That $55,000 equals the average yearly net income for French doctors, a third of what their American counterparts earn. ...the French government pays two-thirds of the social security tax for most French physicians—a tax that's typically 40% of income.
Specialists who have spent at least four years practicing in a hospital are free to charge what they want, and some charge upwards of $675 for a single consultation. But ... "There is an unspoken and undefined limit to what you can charge,"...Many French doctors, in fact, earn more by increasing their patient load, or by prescribing more diagnostic tests and procedures—a technique, also popular in the U.S., that inflates health-care costs. So far France has been able to hold down the burden on patients through a combination of price controls and increased government spending,...higher taxes for both employers and workers. In 1990, 7% of health-care expenditures were financed out of general revenue taxes, and the rest came from mandatory payroll taxes. By 2003, the general revenue figure had grown to 40%, and it's still not enough. The French national insurance system has been running constant deficits...and has ballooned...why France is gearing up to make changes. It already requires patients to register with a general practitioner before visiting a specialist, or else agree to a lesser reimbursement...
The malpractice of medical malpractice: the Achilles Heel of the American system
http://tinyurl.com/mt96ok
How Other Countries Judge Malpractice The health-care systems Democrats want to emulate don't allow contingency fees or large jury awards. By RICHARD A. EPSTEIN
...President Barack Obama held out the tantalizing possibility of reforming medical malpractice law as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. health-care system. As usual, he hedged his bets by declining to endorse the only medical malpractice reform with real bite -- a national cap on damages for pain and suffering, such as the ones enacted in more than 30 states.These caps are usually set between $250,000 to $500,000, and they can make a substantial difference. Other reforms, such as rules that limit contingency fees, shorten statutes of limitation, or confine each defendant's tort exposure to his proportionate share of the harm, have small and uncertain effects.Medical malpractice, of course, is not just an American issue. And now that the U.S. is considering universal health-care systems similar to those found elsewhere, it's worth a quick peek at their medical malpractice systems -- which usually attract far less controversy, and are far less expensive, than our own.
Litigation in the U.S. has at least four distinctive procedural features that drive up malpractice costs. ...jury trials...the contingency-fee system....the rule that makes each side bear its own costs....The fourth is extensive pretrial discovery outside the direct supervision of judges...American judges frequently let juries decide whether honest mistakes are negligent. ...American courts commonly think it proper for juries to infer medical negligence from the mere occurrence of a serious injury. European judges usually will not...plaintiffs are sometimes spared the heavy burden of identifying particular acts of negligence, or of showing the precise causal connection between a negligent act and an actual injury....damage awards for lost income and medical expenses in the U.S. tend to dwarf awards made elsewhere -- ...the medical malpractice system provides incentives for plaintiffs that really do matter. Americans, for example, file claims about 3.5 times more often than Canadians.
...there are major variations in medical malpractice rules in different American states,...within states,...between juries...What is needed is the replacement of juries with specialized commissions like those in France,...the ability of our system to deter medical injuries and compensate its victims? Not much that's encouraging....the administrative expenses of the malpractice system were "exorbitant." ...errors in jury verdicts in about a quarter of the litigated cases. ...denied compensation properly due in 16%...awarded it about 10% of the time when it was unwarranted. These error rates don't include damage awards set at improper levels. (A study)...concluded that the frequency of medical malpractice in Canada was about the same as in the U.S. -- for about 10% the total cost....On medical malpractice at least, Canada does better than we do.
... medical malpractice premiums constitute well under 1% of the total U.S. health-care bill. But defensive medicine adds perhaps as much as 10%. ...malpractice costs can shut down clinics that serve vulnerable populations, leading to more patient harm than the occasional case of malpractice.
The best reform would be to allow physicians, hospitals and patients to contract out of the liability mess by letting the parties reject state-imposed malpractice rules. They could, for example, choose to arbitrate, to waive jury trials, or to limit damage recovery. Stiff competition and the need to maintain reputation should keep medical providers in line in such a system. Market-based solutions that make the private sector more responsive should in turn undermine the case for moving head-first into a government-run health-care system with vast, unintended inefficiencies of its own. Mr. Epstein is a professor of law at the University of Chicago, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a visiting professor at NYU Law School.

Friday, June 26, 2009

ObamaNation may be self-limiting sooner than expected.

Will Americans Go for It? Jennifer Rubin -
Karl Rove doesn’t think Obamacare is inevitable. Indeed, opposition is building against a government-run, hugely expensive health care system — as indicated both by polling data and the zeitgeist on Capitol Hill. Rove concludes: Transforming health care into a government-run system would be difficult to do under any circumstances. Americans are still wary about big government. Health-care reform also always sounds better in the abstract. Public resistance rises once liberals are forced to release the details of their plans. Meanwhile, the $787 billion stimulus package has not provided the economic kick Mr. Obama promised. The $410 billion Omnibus spending bill the president signed in March and his $3.5 trillion budget plan for next year are also adding to the river of red ink. Health-care reform was said to be “inevitable” a few months ago. Today, its prospects are less certain, even to Democrats. The issue may even turn out to be a millstone for the party...concerned about the cost — in money and personal freedom — of Mr. Obama’s nanny-state initiatives...Health care may actually be an issue that helps resurrect the GOP....the early spending binge by the Obama team seems to have been the undoing of healthcare reform. It shifted the responsibility for the economic recovery onto Obama’s shoulders — we were told, after all, its passage would keep unemployment at 8%. But its failure to deliver on this promise and the ongoing economic malaise have made more Americans wary of Obama’s grandiose schemes. ...no track record...to assure Americans that his team knows what its doing. ...Democrats are now talking about a massive tax scheme to raise the necessary funds for healthcare reform. We certainly have come a long way from the days when healthcare reform was going to save money. ...there is no trade off here and no tax credit that would shift Americans to a system of individually purchased insurance. This is... a huge government entitlement program financed by a round of new taxes on Americans. All this during a recession coupled with rising unemployment...

A nice story for JULY 4 w/corrections by Snopes

http://tinyurl.com/9tv8v

Dick Morris seems correct about Canadian healthcare

CANADIAN HEALTH CARE: COMING SOON TO THE USA by Dick Morris and Eileen McCann//In our new book, Catastrophe, we spell out exactly how the Obama health care proposals will lead to a Canadian style socialized medicine -- and we explain the consequences.
* A 16% higher cancer death rate in Canada
* An eight week wait for radiation therapy for cancer patients
* 42% of Canadians die of colon cancer vs. 31% in the US
* Cutbacks in diagnostic testing
* The best meds for chemo therapy are not available
* No way out of the system; you can't even pay for services yourself
Why is health care so bad north of the border? Because there are too few doctors to treat everybody and cost savings -- which slice medical incomes -- drive doctors out of the profession. When Obama calls for a 21% cut in Medicare fees to physicians and a $2500 cut in health costs per capita, that is exactly the kind of downward spiral in medical care quality he will bring to the United States. By making too few doctors cover too many patients, he will cut the quality of care to everybody.
As Obama's proposals make their way through Congress, it is vital that we all get up to speed on what is happening in Canada, so we can stop it from happening here. It is through word of mouth that we need to spread the information to undermine public support for the changes Obama would bring. That's why we wrote Catastrophe.***
THOSE WHO DONT KNOW 'STAN' ---- HE IS A RETIRED PHYSICIAN IN TORONTO, Shirley
Hi Stan: Are these statistics true? I would like to pass it on to my American friends. Shirley/// Hi Shirley, I checked on the statistics and they are correct. The U.S. has the best survival rates for all cancers except testicular cancer than any other country.The waiting period in Toronto for radiation is at least 2 months. Many people in Southern Ontario are being offered times way up in Sudbury where waiting times are only about 3 weeks. Only one Gamma machine is available right now in Ontario as well. The waiting period for most orthopedic surgery can be as long as a year in some hospitals especially if you want a top surgeon. In Ont. you cannot have any medical care outside the plan. In Quebec a couple of private clinics have opened up but the govt. hasn't done anything to the province because they don't want to upset the French. Stan ***That is, the Federal government doesn't want private healthcare outside the "plan" but doesn't enforce this in Quebec because of the constant conflict between the French province and the rest of Canada. Now, Canadian doctors can emigrate to the U.S. Under Obamacare, American doctors have nowhere to go so it will take a generation for American medicine to degenerate to third-world standards but fewer Americans will go into medicine and more will retire earlier.***

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Is Hillary merely "wrong" or simply lying? (And, of course, Barack.)

Hillary Is Wrong About the Settlements: The U.S. and Israel Reached a Clear Understanding about Natural Growth - Elliot Abrams (Wall Street Journal) On April 14, 2004, President Bush handed Prime Minister Sharon a letter saying, "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." Several previous administrations had declared all Israeli settlements beyond the "1967 borders" to be illegal. Here Bush dropped such language, referring to the 1967 borders - correctly - as merely the lines where the fighting stopped in 1949, and saying that in any realistic peace agreement Israel would be able to negotiate keeping those major settlements.
On settlements we also agreed on principles that would permit some continuing growth. Sharon stated these clearly in a major policy speech in December 2003: "Israel will meet all its obligations with regard to construction in the settlements. There will be no construction beyond the existing construction line, no expropriation of land for construction, no special economic incentives and no construction of new settlements." Sharon did not invent those four principles. They emerged from discussions with American officials and were discussed by Sharon and Bush at their Aqaba meeting in June 2003.
Stories in the press also made it clear that there were indeed "agreed principles." On Aug. 21, 2004, the New York Times reported that "the Bush administration...now supports construction of new apartments in areas already built up in some settlements, as long as the expansion does not extend outward."
In recent weeks, American officials have denied that any agreement on settlements existed. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated on June 17 that "in looking at the history of the Bush administration, there were no informal or oral enforceable agreements." These statements are incorrect. Not only were there agreements, but the prime minister of Israel relied on them in undertaking a wrenching political reorientation - the dissolution of his government, the removal of every single Israeli citizen, settlement and military position in Gaza, and the removal of four settlements in the West Bank.
Regardless of what Mrs. Clinton has said, there was a bargained-for exchange. Sharon was determined to break the deadlock, withdraw from Gaza, remove settlements - and confront his former allies to endorse Palestinian statehood and limits on settlement growth. He asked for our support and got it, including the agreement that we would not demand a total settlement freeze.
For reasons that remain unclear, the Obama administration has decided to abandon the understandings about settlements reached by the previous administration with the Israeli government. We may be abandoning the deal now, but we cannot rewrite history and make believe it did not exist.
The writer, who handled Middle East affairs at the National Security Council from 2001 to 2009,...

Obama supported Khamenei? Say it ain't so, Joe (Biden as the most reliable member of government).

Iran media: Obama sent secret letter of support to Khamenei before election DEBKAfile Special Report
Barack Obama purportedly sent a secret letter to Khamenei
US and Iranian sources report that before Iran's presidential election, the Obama administration sent a secret letter to its supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling for "cooperation in regional and bilateral relations" and a resolution of the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.
The Iranian media gave great prominence to the disclosure - for which they cited the Washington Times of Wednesday, June 24 - in order to underline US president's backing for Khamenei and president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in contrast to his latest words of condemnation for the regime and support for the "reformists."
According to the WT, a senior Obama administration official speaking on condition of anonymity refused to confirm or deny that this letter had been sent to the supreme leader or whether there had been a response.****An anonymous source for non-information? ****
DEBKAfile's Iranian sources say the Iranians are using this expose to embarrass president Obama for telling a news conference in Washington Tuesday that Iran's rulers are on the wrong side of history.
The secrecy of the communication can only add to the awkwardness because it points to Obama being convinced that once the protest movement dies down, he can go back to his plan for engaging Iran's leaders in dialogue. Khamenei himself referred indirectly to the missive when he commented in his sermon last Friday:
"On the one hand, they write a letter to us to express their respect for the Islamic Republic and for re-establishment of ties, and on the other hand, they make these remarks. Which one of these remarks are we supposed to believe."
Following the disclosure of the Obama letter, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs announced: "Given the events of the past many days, those invitations [for Iranian diplomats to attend July 4 events in different world capitals] will no longer be extended."
The events going back and forth in a single day, Wednesday, signaled a conspicuous retreat in the process of US-Iranian rapprochement.****Worse, it signals a lot about the President!****

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Healthcare proposals, problems, and alternatives

http://tinyurl.com/mfom5e
Obama leaves door open to tax on health benefits By DAVID ESPO, AP
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama left the door open to a new tax on health care benefits Wednesday, and officials said top lawmakers and the White House were seeking $150 billion in concessions from the nation's hospitals as they sought support for legislation struggling to emerge in Congress.****Concessions from hospitals? Where is that going to come from? Community service via emergency rooms will be first to go; next public clinic hours and "free" services done for humanitarian purposes. Hospitals will "agree", because they have no choice when it comes to the Federal Government and Medicare but there isn't a chance that this will be without severe ramifications for patient care.
A tax on health-care benefits isn't a bad thing since any perk of employment should be fungible with cash payments and it might sever the stupid and pointless link between employment and health insurance (which arose during WWII when Congress decided to allow a swan to be called a duck for the purpose of raising remuneration in the face of wage controls.)All benefits should be taxed and everyone get a minimal tax deduction for payment of health benefits up to a limit. This would put private insureds and those insured under employee plans on the same footing and allow free job changing. There remains the issue of adverse selection and insurance demands that privately-insured people either belong to a sufficiently large and uncorrelated affinity group or submit to detailed medical examination. The former is preferable since there is a moral impetus not to exclude people with pre-existing conditions.Once everyone is in SOME plan, the issue of pre-existing conditions should disappear.****...Obama, who campaigned against the tax when he ran for president, drew a quick rebuff from one union president...****As will be seen below, unions still press for preferential treatment because...they support the Democratic Party.****For their part, key Republicans pressed the White House for assurances that any concessions made now would not merely lead to additional demands at a later date....negotiating with representatives of the nation's hospitals, hoping to conclude an agreement that would build on an $80 billion weekend deal with the pharmaceutical industry.****Of course, how THEY are going to fund research in the future is unclear. Anyone will succumb to pressure from the White House but they either won't deliver on "promises" (which can be vague enough so that "savings" come out of prices or increases that DON'T occur ) or that will hobble the research engine that has produced advances over the years.**** Hospitals were being asked to accept a reduction of roughly $155 billion over the next decade in fees they are promised under government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, according to numerous officials.****Promises from the government are meaningless, anyway, so foregoing promises is less substantive that it might seem.****...Baucus is seeking similar concessions from nursing homes, insurance companies, medical device makers and possibly others, noting that any legislation would create a huge new pool of customers for industry providers. ****Aside from such market projections not being reliable, there is the circumstance that, if you lose on each sale, you really cannot make it up on volume.Politicians can pretend, however, and others have to go along with them.**** At its heart, any legislation is expected to require insurance companies to offer coverage to any applicant, without exclusions or higher premiums for pre-existing medical conditions.****Right, lower premiums in the face of actuarial disadvantages makes sense only for those arithmetically-challenged.****...hold the size of any legislation to $1 trillion...****A trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon it amounts to real money...at least it used to.****
...appeared roughly $200 billion shy of achieving that goal. They added that a proposal to make it harder for taxpayers to itemize their medical expenses was drawing renewed interest among key senators as one way to raise revenue.****All one has to do is add another hundred thousand pages to IRS regulations and no-one will be able to deduct anything. Ergo...more revenue!! It will also serve the administration's apparent goal of further reducing productivity by spending more time on tax preparation and planning.****
Current law allows those expenses to be itemized when they exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income... raise that to 10 percent...(On taxing benefits)
Organized labor weighed in quickly....said in an interview that union leaders believe Obama is "a person of his word." ...Obama's opposition to taxing those benefits during last year's campaign."They're not going to take it," McEntee said of workers' views of that proposal. "They're not going to tolerate that."
...he could sign legislation that does not contain an option for a government-run insurance plan....could accept a requirement for individuals to buy insurance, a position he opposed in the campaign....support taxing health care benefits, and officials have said discussions center on imposing the tax in cases in which premium costs exceed $17,000 combined in payments by the employer and worker. Democrats want to exempt union members covered by contracts, but Republicans are resisting.****They should understand that union members vote Democratic.****...higher-than-expected cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, internal disagreements and other difficulties....Democrats insist on having an option for government-run insurance...The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Wednesday that the government-run option would "gut the private market."
ABC News was the lone network broadcasting Obama's town hall — drawing criticism from Republicans who wanted equal time.
In defense, ABC News President David Westin said the show would "include a variety of perspectives coming from private individuals asking the president questions and taking issue with him, as they see fit." ****Pretty lame, even for the Obama-owned media. ****

____

More disarming of America in the interests of ...privacy?

Privacy trumps natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and border security.
http://tinyurl.com/ndz2gz
White House to Abandon Spy-Satellite Program
By SIOBHAN GORMAN //WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration plans to kill a controversial Bush administration spy satellite program at the Department of Homeland Security, according to officials familiar with the decision...Democratic lawmakers said it would lead to domestic spying....would have provided federal, state and local officials with extensive access to spy-satellite imagery — but no eavesdropping capabilities— to assist with emergency response and other domestic-security needs, such as identifying where ports or border areas are vulnerable to terrorism....The plans to shutter the office signal Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's decision to refocus the department's intelligence on ensuring that state and local officials get the threat information they need, the official said. She also wants to make the department the central point in the government for receiving and analyzing terrorism tips from around the country, the official added.****So...she's centralizing and cutting back simultaneously so that NO-ONE ELSE can pick up any lacunae. ****...concerns...that the program would violate the Fourth amendment right to be protected from unreasonable searches...concluded the program wasn't worth pursuing...not very useful....Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, wrote to Ms. Napolitano on June 21.
...the police chiefs would be concerned about privacy protections and whether using military satellites for domestic purposes would violate the Posse Comitatus law, which bars the use of the military for law enforcement in the U.S. ... Supporters of the program lamented what they said was the loss of an important new terrorism-fighting tool for natural disasters and terrorist attacks, as well as border security.

"After numerous congressional briefings on the importance of the NAO and its solid legal footing, politics beat out good government," said Andrew Levy, who was deputy general counsel at the department in the Bush administration.

Incredible repeat of errors past

http://tinyurl.com/kmh7s8
Barney the Underwriter Telling Fannie Mae to take more credit risk. Now there's an idea.
Back when the housing mania was taking off, Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank famously said he wanted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to "roll the dice" in the name of affordable housing. That didn't turn out so well, but Mr. Frank has since only accumulated more power. And now he is returning to the scene of the calamity -- with your money. He and New York Representative Anthony Weiner have sent a letter to the heads of Fannie and Freddie exhorting them to lower lending standards for condo buyers.
You read that right. After two years of telling us how lax lending standards drove up the market and led to loans that should never have been made, Mr. Frank wants Fannie and Freddie to take more risk in condo developments with high percentages of unsold units, high delinquency rates or high concentrations of ownership within the development...
Prudence is so unDemocratic ( as in party ) that it has to be nipped in the bud.
Fannie, Freddie asked to relax condo loan rules: report(Reuters) - Two U.S. Democratic lawmakers want Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to relax recently tightened standards for mortgages on new condominiums, saying they could threaten the viability of some developments and slow the housing-market recovery, the Wall Street Journal said.In March, Fannie Mae...said it would no longer guarantee mortgages on condos in buildings where fewer than 70 percent of the units have been sold, up from 51 percent, the paper said. Freddie Mac ...is due to implement similar policies next month, the paper said. In a letter to the CEO's of both companies, Representatives Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Anthony Weiner warned that a 70 percent sales threshold "may be too onerous" and could lead condo buyers to shun new developments, according to the paper.The legislators asked the companies to "make appropriate adjustments" to their underwriting standards for condos, the paper added.In an interview with the paper, Weiner said the rules have "had a real chill on the ability to get these condos sold," at a time when prices of condos have fallen enough to attract potential buyers.
In addition to the 70 percent sales threshold, Fannie Mae will also not purchase mortgages in buildings where 15 percent of owners are delinquent on condo association dues or where one owner has more than 10 percent of units, as the firm sees these as signals that a building could run into financial trouble, the paper added...****The prices of condos are taking a back seat to the dues liabilities that remaining condo owners have to bear and that would affect new buyers. A domino effect occurs where the dues go up as more and more owners default and it either becomes too onerous to pay and/or the buildings go into disrepair. It's amazing that legislators think they can reverse laws of economics ( and probably physics ) by fiat. Of course, that's what got us all into this mess in the first place, although Frank is still around, pontificating in the same direction as before and not acknowledging his role. ****

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's hard not to accept the premise here; Obama is the President most hostile to Israel

http://tinyurl.com/lr65vw
Obama May Be 'Most Hostile President to Israel’ By: Ronald Kessler
President Barack Obama’s refusal to take a stand on protests in Iran stands in sharp contrast to demands he has made on Israel, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, says in a Newsmax interview. “I think he should take a strong stand to support the protesters in Iran who want to transform that society into one that promotes democracy and human rights,” Klein says. ”But while meddling in Israel’s affairs and making specific demands, he explicitly states he refuses to meddle in Iran’s policies and has said almost nothing.”...rethinking their support of Obama in light of his attitude toward Israel...many leaders in the organized Jewish world who have privately discussed this issue with me, and say they are deeply concerned about Obama’s actions and policies toward Israel, and now they’re rethinking their support for Obama during the campaign and the election,” says Klein, whose organization of 30,000 members is the oldest pro-Israel group in the country.Based on the president’s speech in Cairo on June 4 and many of his foreign policy appointments, Klein thinks Obama “may become the most hostile president to Israel ever.”
Obama’s speech was “inimical to Israel and supportive of the stream of false Palestinian Arab claims concerning Israel,” Klein says. “He is relentlessly pressuring Israel...almost no pressure on the Palestinian Authority to fulfill its written obligations.”...particularly offended by Obama’s comparison of the suffering of Palestinians with the Nazis’ murder of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust....Obama said that “the treatment of Palestinian Arabs by Israel is equivalent to the treatment of South African blacks during apartheid and of enslaved blacks before the Civil War, more than implying that Israel is an oppressor. He falsely claimed that Palestinian Arabs were displaced by Israel in 1948, when in fact, if six Arab nations hadn’t invaded Israel to destroy it, there wouldn’t be a single Palestinian Arab who left that area.”
Klein disputes Obama’s reference to Palestinian Arabs trying to establish a state for 60 years.“They could have had a state in 1937,” he says. “They turned it down. They could have had a state in 1948. From 1948 to 1967, when they controlled all of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, they never attempted to establish a state. In 2000, they were offered a state on almost all the disputed territories. They turned it down. So this is a completely false claim that they’ve been trying to establish a state for 60 years.” By claiming that America has 7 million Muslims, Obama showed a willingness to use phony figures to support a tilt toward Muslims, Klein says. “Every major survey shows there’s between 1.5 million and 2.5 million Muslims in America,” Klein says. “Where does he get the number 7 million? This is the number that the Arab propagandists promote. There’s no legitimate survey that shows a number of that nature.” Klein says it is premature to focus on the establishment of a Palestinian state as long as Palestinians promote violence and hatred against Israel. “To promote a Palestinian state at a time when Hamas, the terrorist group, controls Gaza, and Fatah, which also promotes terror, controls the West Bank, is absurd,” Klein observes. The Palestinians “continue to promote hatred and violence against Jews and Americans in their schools, media and speeches,” Klein notes. “They refuse to arrest a single anti-Israel terrorist, zero. They refuse to outlaw terrorist groups, which is required under the agreements they’ve signed. They continue to name schools, streets, and sports teams after terrorists, glorifying murder.”...“control of the Palestinian territories is split between Hamas and Fatah, so there is no one regime to negotiate with.”
If the Palestinians “fulfilled all their written obligations for a significant period of time, clearly an overwhelming majority of Israelis, Americans, and the world would support a Palestinian state,” Klein says. As Klein sees it, while Obama is “ignoring the anti-peace, pro-terror actions of the Hamas-Fatah regime,” he is “rushing headlong into establishing yet another terrorist state in the Middle East, as opposed to working to ensure that we end the existence of terrorist states in general,” Klein says.
Some of the views of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr.,...are apparent in Obama’s remarks...“If you look at Rev. Wright’s speeches and sermons as I have, many of the themes, like comparing the Palestinian Arabs to the South Africans and the illegality of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, show up in Obama’s talks and actions,” he says...“didn’t apply that normal, appropriate standard to Barack Obama,” Klein says. “Obama gave $27,500 in 2005 and 2006 to Rev. Wright’s church. He called Rev. Wright a great man and his mentor. You can’t be so close to someone you call a great man and a mentor if you don’t agree with what he has to say.”
http://tinyurl.com/kupalg
Where are American Jews? By N. Richard Greenfield
...Israel is indeed the focus of U.S. pressure and bullying. The threat to peace in the Middle East, says our current administration, emanates not from Hamas, Hezbollah, Jihad or Arab nationalism, but from Israel. The U.S. is casting Israel in the classic Jewish role of scapegoat, blaming her for all of the region's problems.
Obama has embraced the ever-ready and willing State Department's negativity towards Israel and, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton...is making demands about Israeli 'settlements' which are harsh and uncompromising....State ignores Arab illegal construction which is happening on a much wider and broader scale. State conveniently ignores the fact that if land were truly the issue, Israel and her Arab neighbors would have been at peace for the last 60 years. Even though State has always been biased against Israel, it has never had a Presidency to work with that was in such complete consonance with its views as the Obama Administration is today. The resulting bullying of Israel by the U.S. is without parallel in American-Israeli relations. ...an undersecretary of defense unilaterally discussed Israel's nuclear capability...a long-standing U.S.-Israeli agreement to publicly avoid discussion of this topic was broken. Defense is tampering with previously agreed-upon arms deals by denying Israel the right to make adaptations on equipment that Israel deems essential. Effectively, they are moving the long-promised F-35 fighter from Israel's grasp and, instead, Israel will put a good face on buying decades old F-15's and upgrading them to her specifications. At the same time, Egypt is being offered top of the line attack helicopters from a defense department that knows Egypt's only potential adversary for these weapons is Israel.
...Marine General (ret) Keith Dayton is training and arming a 5,000 man Fatah security force...on land Israel has not yet ceded. At the UN, Susan Rice is changing U.S. policy from one of support to belligerence. General James Jones, the President's National Security Adviser is touting Presidential Adviser Samantha Power's suggestion that an armed international force including American soldiers enter Judea and Samaria to force the Israelis to make a Palestinian state happen. General Dayton is already training such a force of Fatah soldiers in Jordan, presumably for this task. Meanwhile, George Mitchell, the special envoy to the area, is picking apart previous agreements telling Israel to conform to his selected conditions, while ignoring the obligations to which Palestinians were supposed to have been bound. All of this while rockets still fall on Israel from Gaza ...The U.S. media ...gleefully speculates that it will eventually topple the recently elected Netanyahu government. Mahmoud Abbas, the nominal head of Fatah, says he is waiting for this to happen before seriously considering negotiations. He is hoping the U.S. can get everything he wants before he even sits down with the Israelis.
...still divided along pre-election lines. ...who voted for Obama last November are content to ignore Israel's agony in the face of U.S. pressure because they still trust the President on other issues. They ignore the threats to Israel's safety and security and are blind to America's infringing on Israel's sovereignty as a free and democratic nation. Not coincidently, Soros-funded anti-Israel groups have popped up promoting the scurrilous conclusions of the infamous Walt-Merscheimer report which was rife with accusations of Jewish- American's dual loyalty and Israel's culpability for every ill in the Middle East....The President is leaving them little room to maneuver, as there are even stories, unofficial so far, of U.S. political and economic sanctions against Israel if she doesn't accede to Obama's demands. ...much is at risk. The solid coalition for Israel in the U.S. Congress is in the process of weakening as Democrats in Congress continue to find the pressures from Rahm Emmanuel and others difficult to resist.(If supporters) ...go silent during the 2010 elections and allow apathy, fear or political preference to prevent them from speaking up for Israel, the bullying will increase and the worst and most deadly outcomes will become real possibilities.

Does he know he knows not and can be taught? Or, does he know not that he knows not?

http://tinyurl.com/m2wr7x
Obama's Persian Tutorial The president has to choose between the regime and the people in the streets. By FOUAD AJAMI
President Barack Obama did not "lose" Iran. This is not a Jimmy Carter moment. But the foreign-policy education of America's 44th president has just begun...inserting himself in a raging civil war over Islam itself. An Iranian theocratic regime had launched a bid for dominion in its region; Mr. Obama offered it an olive branch and waited for it to "unclench" its fist...It was an odd, deeply conflicted message from Mr. Obama....He would entice the crowds, yet assure the autocrats that the "diplomacy of freedom"...is dead and buried. ...rulers in Tehran and Damascus...were quick to take the measure of the new steward...He had come to "engage" them. Gone was the hope of transforming these regimes or making them pay for their transgressions....Iran had never wanted an opening to the U.S. For...three decades, the custodians...have had precisely the level of enmity toward the U.S. they have wanted ... Iran's rulers have made their way in the world with relative ease....The Cold War and oil bailed them out. So did the false hope that the revolution would mellow and make its peace with the world.
Mr. Obama may believe that his offer to Iran is a break...nothing could be further from the truth. In 1989, in his inaugural, George H.W. Bush extended an offer to Iran: "Good will begets good will," he said. A decade later, in a typically Clintonian spirit of penance and contrition, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright came forth with a full apology for America's role in the 1953 coup...Iran's rulers scoffed....they were in no need of opening it to outsiders....Selective, targeted deeds of terror, and oil income, enabled them to hold their regime intact. There is ...the impact of three decades of zeal and indoctrination....Ahmadinejad -- a son of the...revolutionary order,... austere and indifferent to outsiders, an Iranian Everyman with badly fitting clothes and white socks -- was up for re-election.... There were Iranians yearning for liberty, but we should not underestimate the power and the determination of those moved by the yearning for piety. Ahmadinejad's ...populism at home and defiance abroad,...the country's nuclear quest is a "closed file," settled and beyond discussion, have a resonance on Iranian soil....the Iranian revolutionaries, it has to be conceded, have built a formidable state. The men who emerged out of a cruel and bloody struggle over their country's identity and spoils are a tenacious, merciless breed. ...capacity for repression is fearsome....ambivalence at the heart of the Obama diplomacy about freedom has not served American policy well in this crisis. We had tried to "cheat" -- an opening to the regime with an obligatory wink to those who took to the streets appalled by their rulers' cynicism and utter disregard for their people's intelligence and common sense -- and we were caught at it. Mr. Obama's statement that "the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as had been advertised" put on cruel display the administration's incoherence. ...
Mr. Obama will...acknowledge the "foreignness" of foreign lands. His breezy self-assurance has been put on notice.... believed its own rhetoric that the pro-Western March 14 coalition in Lebanon had ridden Mr. Obama's coattails to an electoral victory. (...it expected similar vindication in Iran.)
...the claim about Lebanon was hollow and reflected little understanding of the forces at play...settled by Lebanese rules, and by the push and pull of Saudi and Syrian and Iranian interests in Lebanon.
Mr. Obama's June 4 speech in Cairo did not reshape the Islamic landscape. ...The earth did not move,... countless people puzzled by the presumption of the entire exercise, an outsider walking into sacred matters of their faith....there was unease that so complicated an ideological and cultural terrain could be approached with such ease and haste.
Days into his presidency,...Obama had spoken of his desire to restore to America's relation with the Muslim world the respect and mutual interest that had existed 30 or 20 years earlier.... the time span he was referring to, his golden age, covered the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the American standoff with Libya, the fall of Beirut to the forces of terror, and the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Liberal opinion would have howled had this history been offered by George W. Bush, but Barack Obama was granted a waiver. Little more than three decades ago, Jimmy Carter,...convinced that what had come before him could be annulled and wished away, called on the nation to shed its "inordinate fear of communism," ... The Soviet answer to that brave, new world was the invasion of Afghanistan in December of 1979. ...Carter would try an atonement in the last year of his presidency. He would pose as a born-again hawk. It was too late in the hour for such redemption. It would take another standard-bearer, Ronald Reagan, to see that great struggle to victory. Iran's ordeal and its ways shattered the Carter presidency. President Obama's Persian tutorial has just begun.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Things that are untrue and even silly about healthcare beliefs and baby steps to improve things.

http://tinyurl.com/kphwxs
Obama's own party worried health plan lacks votes AP WASHINGTON – A Republican senator seeking a bipartisan health deal spoke Sunday of "dialing down" expectations while one of President Barack Obama's Democratic allies questioned whether the White House had the votes necessary for a such a costly and comprehensive plan during a recession. Obama's proposal to provide health insurance for some 50 million Americans who lack it has become a contentious point for a Democratic-controlled House and Senate struggling to reach a consensus Obama desperately wants...
Things to be clear about:
1) There is confusion between health CARE and health INSURANCE. No one can document instances where someone was denied health care because of lack of insurance. Anyone can go to an emergency room and not be denied care. This is,however, wasteful because it is a very expensive way to provide non-emergency care.
2) The number of people who are uninsured depends on definitions and what qualifications one puts on them.
a) The number of uninsured is not a static group but, rather, it includes many people who are TEMPORARILY without insurance as they change jobs or circumstances.
b) Perhaps 60% of the uninsured are not American citizens and not here legally. The responsibility of American taxpayers to pay for them ( most do not pay American taxes) is unclear.
c) Many people are able to bear the costs of health insurance premiums but CHOOSE not to do so because they are young and healthy and don't see the need or economic benefit to taking on insurance against things they don't worry about including mandated inclusions of chiropractic services,etc.
3) The benefits of Medicare are highly over-rated. Strange to say, Medicare does NOT foster preventive care and severely circumscribes even pay for routine checkups designed to catch things early. Medicare is highly bureaucratic, Congress mandates what Medicare pays for various procedures without regard for usual economic mechanisms for pricing and costs. Suffice it to say that Medicare uses its monopsony power to drive medical reimbursements down, often below what it costs to provide the services. Nevertheless, its strictures pervade all of healthcare with even private insurers compensating healthcare providers with some MULTIPLE ( > 1 ) of Medicare rates.The Medicare process is inefficient with several transfers of paperwork among the providers, Medicare and other insurers covering the same patient, often with disagreements as to who pays for what.
4) The cost of healthcare is vastly increased by the defensive medicine that has to be practiced in view of the litigation threat from tort lawyers engaged in medical malpractice, often relating only to results, not to breach of professional standards. Codifying this to avoid the present abusive system would reduce costs enormously.The situation is so absurd that certain sections of the country have difficulty attracting doctors. More amusingly, certain parts of Florida see prospective mothers with any affiliation to lawyers find it hard becoming patients of OB-GYNs.
5) The connection between employment and health insurance is not necessary or even rational and creates unnecessary trouble and discontinuity when someone loses or even changes jobs, and COBRA only partially address this. There is actually no reason for this linkage except the historical one that, during WWII, providing health benefits was a way for employers to circumvent wage controls in a manner that was tax deductible to the employer and not taxable to the employee. This system has persisted and many employees are not even aware of the value of the benefits they get, how much these cost them in terms of wages they might otherwise receive, and produces a mismatch between what the "average" employee wants in insurance and what individuals might choose from an a la carte menu of risks to be insured against.
6) It is difficult for individuals to get personal insurance independently since pools of uncorrelated employees protect insurance companies against adverse selection.Fear of adverse selection also makes it difficult to find private insurance that will cover pre-existing conditions (changing employment usually entails the same problem.) This serves as a barrier to free movement between jobs. There is, nevertheless, adverse selection in that young and healthy people often do not see the need to participate in insurance plans.
7) It is uneconomic for an individual to pay cash for medical services since there is a "retail" price paid by almost no-one ( except the rare cash payer ) and a discounted price schedule negotiated separately by every insurance company including Medicare ( although the negotiation is completely one-sided in the latter case.) It is probably unique in economic situations for a cash customer to pay much more than someone in a "plan,"(sometimes of the order of twice as much.)
8) These impediments to individual payment makes it difficult for patients to discern the actual cost to them of healthcare since the third-party intermediary makes it seem like a good with a fixed cost, irrespective of usage. Co-payments and Individual Savings Accounts go a long way to redressing this particular issue.
9) People use privacy protections to rip off the emergency room system by refusing to identify themselves when getting care. Identifying all patients would help in their care by indicating previous treatments and possible conflicts in medication or procedures. It would also track the fiscal responsibility of those able to pay. Being uninsured and accessing an ER is as irresponsible as driving a car without liability insurance. If one is a "good risk", the premiums might be adjusted accordingly although there is moral resistance to the symmetrical idea of raising the premiums for people who are bad risks (although there might be an exception for voluntary life style choices such as smoking, obesity, drug use, drunkenness, etc.)
A compromise might be to have an optional menu of things to be covered so that a confirmed bachelor might not feel the need to pay for insurance against obstetrical, gynecological, pediatric, neo-natal care, fertility treatments, etc Quite often, coverage is mandated by pressure groups such as chiropractors, chiropodists, aromatherapists, acupuncturists, etc and one should probably be capable of opting out of insuring against these costs. So long as the pool is large enough to minimize adverse selection, it should be possible to insure against only those things that are individually desired. Even young, healthy people would see the advantage of insuring against accidents and unanticipated diseases afflicting even the youthful.
10) The bruited idea that a government plan provides "competition" for the private sector is generally incorrect since many private plans actually lose money on an actuarial basis but make it up by investing the "float". The government, whether Medicare, Medicaid or some new plan doesn't have this recourse and merely lowers its reimbursements to "save money."
11) "Saving money" is an insidious goal for any insurance plan, particularly a monopolistic one, to have. The most straightforward way to save money is to deny service to anyone seriously ill and not likely to pay in much more over a number of years than taking care of their immediate needs would entail. Thus, the NICE program in the British National Healthcare System decides when, or even if, an older person should get expensive medication, a quality-of-life-enhancing procedure or even one that is a matter of life and death. When people claim that the results of the American system are "not better" than those of others costing a lot less, they leave out the enormous costs of the first and last years of life, the fact that the American system makes herculean efforts to extend and save life even at long odds and that quality-of-life counts. The NICE system, or any rationing system similar to it, would improve the cost structure but impair the quality of life for all citizens eventually. Yoda had occasion to inquire about a Whipple procedure for pancreatic cancer for an elderly patient ( who was 96 but, cancer aside, otherwise in excellent shape ) and was told that the "record" was 98 years and that an appropriate candidate for the procedure would not be disqualified because of age. This is unthinkable under the British or Canadian systems. Joint replacements for the elderly become increasingly problematic with age for these systems but not yet for our American one. When one is as old as Yoda deviating from American mores becomes unacceptable, and it should be expected that AARP would feel similarly.
12) Screw the doctors and you'll get fewer of them. People cross the Canadian border heading south all the time because of the lack of availability or time delay of care. Individual states in the U.S., known as havens for tort lawyers, are finding it difficult to attract and keep doctors.
It's already the peculiar circumstance that it's harder to get into veterinary school than medical school. Veterinary care suffers neither from the custom of health insurance nor the affliction of medical malpractice. Rush Limbaugh has raised the interesting question of why the extensive system of veterinary care and services flourishes in the U.S. without health insurance.
13) The salient suggestion is to make people aware of the cost of healthcare which the system of third-party payers obscures. Co-pays help but more options might be desirable such as varying them when only the services of a nurse-practioner or physician's assistant are sought. Insurance traditionally is not for the purpose of paying bills but for assuring against the ruin of a catastrophic event. Any insurance must be priced at least 7-8% more than the actuarial cost.Self-insuring for acceptable charges is a way to lower premiums although what is acceptable will vary with income level and circumstances. Evening out this variation might be a proper role of government.