Monday, August 31, 2009

Six moral arguments against socialized medicine

David Swindle's list:

1. It’s immoral to rob Peter to pay for Paul’s health care. It’s not right for government to come in and take one man’s wealth and redistribute it to another who did not earn it. “Thou Shalt Not Steal” is one of the Ten Commandments.

2. It’s not moral to break working systems. Estimates place the percentage of uninsured at 3% of the population from Conservative sources to 18% from leftist sources. That means that the vast majority of people in this county are capable of doing for themselves what the Left insists the government needs to do. The moral thing to do here would be to ask this question: what’s preventing that 3-18% from getting their own health insurance?

3. It’s not moral for healthy people who have made tough, responsible decisions — exercising, eating nutritious foods, not smoking, not engaging in risky behaviors — to be forced to subsidize those who acted irresponsibly. (See Ashton Kutcher’s recent argument.)

4. It’s immoral to give a man health insurance instead of helping him better himself so he can buy it on his own. It shows a lack of respect for men and women’s ability to better themselves. It looks down at people as children who need a Nanny state to protect them.

5. It’s immoral to take away people’s freedom by denying them the right to choose how they’re going to spend their money. This comes in two fashions. First, the immorality of forcing people to pay for health insurance when they choose not to. And second, the immorality of denying people the choice to choose a healthcare plan other than what the government offers.

6. It’s immoral to plunge our government deeper into a sea of debt. We can’t even afford to pay our existing entitlement programs and “progressives” want to add more? How is that moral to promote such fiscal irresponsibility?

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Helpful Middle East reminder

You can never remind Palestinian fetishists enough of this self-evident truth; the source is Dean Barrett, but the old link I had appears to be dead:

1) What would happen if all the Arab nations and their terrorist proxies like Hezbollah set down their arms and gave up their ambitions to drive Israel into the sea?

There would be peace in the Middle East.

2) What would happen if Israel disbanded the IDF, junked its nuclear weapons and declared to its neighbors that she would do anything to live in peace?

Israel would be annihilated, millions of its citizens killed. The term genocide could be used to describe the ensuing holocaust, but since that term has been so hopelessly debased by American academics, a new term would have to be created like super-duper-mega genocide to really capture the nature of things.

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Global warming update

Parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin under a frost August. "[R]esidents there should consider protecting their sensitive plants."

Hey, I've got an idea: let's drive hundreds of millions worldwide into poverty with draconian, economy-crushing carbon emission mandates!

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Do as I do, not as I say?

Fascinating Ted Kennedy anecdote:

Javier Rupérez -- Spain's ambassador to the US between 2000 and 2004 and currently Consul General in Chicago writes

Shortly after the Iraq war started I saw Senator Kennedy in a public session of the U.S. Supreme Court. As we were taking our seats he briefly took my arm and told me he greatly appreciated the attitude of the Spanish government regarding the decision taken by the White House because, he said, "although you know my position " -- he was one of the few senators to oppose the authorization for the war -- "I appreciate the solidarity with my country in times like this." "I would appreciate if you relay this to President Aznar," he added.

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Government 101

Erik Voorhees: "the value of the dollar remained extremely stable for 150 years, the Fed was created in order to ’stabilize the value of the dollar,’ and the result has been a 95% devaluation of the dollar in less than 100 years following its creation.”

Imagine that!

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Unions 101

I've written before on the adversarial relationship between teachers unions and students, whose respective interests almost always clash. But here's a case where the union not only ended up screwing the students, but also the teachers:

When Oregon’s North Clackamas School District found itself faced with a tight budget, it asked its teachers to agree to a wage freeze in order to avoid layoffs. Teachers told our affiliate station KATU that they took a poll in the spring and the majority of teachers agreed to the wage freeze. But because the teachers are represented by a union, the union handled the negotiations with the school district.

The result? The union refused the wage freeze and teachers were laid off. Teachers say the layoffs could mean 45 kids in some classrooms.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: teachers unions are the biggest problem with education in this country, and the biggest obstacle to improving it.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

On rationing

Ronald Bailey has up an invaluable piece on the subject of rationing (for the purpose of fisking Ezra Klein, but that's not important here).

It is useful because it addresses the conflation of true rationing with the machinations of the market. In particular, rationing is

from Britannica:

Government allocation of scarce resources and consumer goods, usually adopted during wars, famines, or other national emergencies.

In application to medical care:

[David Leonhardt writes] "[...] rationing is an inescapable part of economic life. It is the process of allocating scarce resources." The crucial question that Leonhardt misses is that "rationing" depends on who is allocating the scarce resources. It's not rationing if an individual decides to spend his money on a 16-ounce steak—but it is rationing if he can only purchase a USDA prime rib eye when he has a coupon issued from a government agency. In other words, true rationing occurs when individuals are forbidden from spending their money on products or services they want to buy.

Imperfect as private health insurance markets are, if a customer [or his employer] doesn't like the decisions made by Blue Cross Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente, or Golden Rule insurance bureaucrats, he can look elsewhere for his health insurance coverage. But if the government health care scheme becomes a monopoly, when the bureaucrats at the new Health Benefits Advisory Committee decide that a treatment should be withheld, that treatment will be withheld. That's rationing.

This is a key point which is ignored or obfuscated by government monopoly advocates: there is no rationing if you have the ability to take your business elsewhere. And that is precisely what they are endeavoring to take from you, the right to decide what medical care you want and how much you are willing to pay for it.

This is the only true issue in the whole health insurance debate: who makes those choices? Are you allowed to make them, will they be imposed on you by government?

All the rest is just details.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Forgotten successes

I was not following the day to day of politics in the 70's s was not even aware of this from Nick Gillespie, which probably is Ted Kennedy's signature accomplishment for the people (as opposed to the state):

There is, buried deep within Kennedy’s legislative legacy, a different set of policies worth exhuming and examining, precisely because they were truly a break with the normal way of doing business in Washington. During the 1970s, Kennedy was instrumental in deregulating the interstate trucking industry and airline ticket prices, two innovations that have vastly improved the quality of life in America even as—or more precisely, because—they pushed power out of D.C. and into the pocketbooks of everyday Americans. We are incalculably richer and better off because something like actual prices replaced regulatory fiat in trucking and flying. Because they do not fit the Ted Kennedy narrative preferred by his admirers and detractors alike, these accomplishments rarely get mentioned in stories about the late senator. But they are exactly the sort of legislation that we should be celebrating in his honor, and using as a model in today’s debates about health care, education, and virtually every aspect of government action.

Now THAT's a teachable moment.

Thanks to Instapundit for the heads-up.

UPDATE 8/27: memorable Kennedy quote from that era: "The problems of our economy have occurred not as an outgrowth of laissez-faire, unbridled competition. They have occurred under the guidance of federal agencies, and under the umbrella of federal regulations."

If he had said that recently about health care or the housing crisis, it would have been every bit as on the money.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Your tax dollars at work

The idiotic Cash for Clunkers program ends today. Big media has been portraying it as a smashing success because it had burned through its money faster than expected and ended up with a budget triple what was originally planned, in that Bizarro World where confiscating and spending more taxpayer money than expected and doing it faster than expected is a good thing.

In reality, it is the perfect illustration of how government "works."

This is a program whose goal was to help the environment by replacing lower mileage vehicles with higher mileage vehicles.

What did it actually do? Rewarded drivers who had bought low mileage vehicles in the past, penalized drivers who had purchased high mileage vehicles in the past, paid many participants to buy SUVs such as Hummer H3's and Suburbans, encouraged participants to drive more in the future, and make it for the lower middle class and poor to buy cars.

How could it have done all of those things? Lets take them one at a time.

* Rewarded drivers who had bought low mileage vehicles in the past: the entire program is based on trading in older vehicles that get low gas mileage. By definition, the people who are eligible to take advantage of it are those whom the green movement would see as traitors to the planet, those who had been driving (or owned and had driven in the past) gas guzzlers.

* Penalized drivers who had bought high mileage vehicles in the past: the program is being financed by taxpayer money. In particular, taxpayers who do not take advantage of the program. A group which is disproportionately comprised of...people who had been driving (or owned and had driven in the past) high mileage vehicles. This group that greens would see as responsible stewards of the planet is hardest hit by this tax burden.

* Paid participants to buy SUVs: the rules of the program are that if you have a vehicle on the trade-in list you may buy a new vehicle as long as it gets one more MPG than the one you give up, as long as the new one gets 15 MPG combined. This definition allows for government payments toward the purchase of a number of SUVs and full size pickups, including the Hummer H3 and the Chevy Suburban.

* Encourages participants to drive more in the future: There is one immutable law of driving: the more it costs, the less people will drive, and vice versa. Thus when gas prices rise, people drive less, and when prices drop they drive more.

Similarly a driver with a gas guzzler will attempt to limit his miles, and anybody replacing one with a vehicle that gets better mileage will drive more, a lot more if the difference is significant. To be able to drive more is the primary motivation for getting a high mileage vehicle to start with; no need to worry so much about things like car pooling and unnecessary trips if it costs less to drive.

* Hurts the poor: Not surprising that a green program would hurt the poor, that's the inevitable result of trying to slow or stop economic growth, which is the ultimate goal of environmentalism in general. So it is with this one.

The "clunkers" that the government receives in trade via this program are to be destroyed, the idea being to get them off the road. The problem is that such older, low-cost vehicles are exactly the kind that are bought by people of limited means. These poor and lower middle class citizens will now be faced with a decreased supply of affordable used cars, and thus higher prices. The end result will be that the poor eventually be faced with the choice of getting poorer or not having a car.

This is not much different from other attempts at social engineering; it is well-documented that welfare has driven millions into poverty and made sure that millions more stayed there, and it is equally well-documented that raising the minimum wage hurts unskilled workers, to name two prominent examples.

And that is the very essence of government programs. They seldom solve or even make dents in the problems they are intended to address, and they inevitably create new problems which lead to...more government programs, and the cycle continues. And we lose a little bit more of our freedom with each one.

UPDATE 8/24: Gene Mierzejewski hits on another one I somehow missed: destroying the clunkers is pure destruction of wealth, given how many of them are still useful. As I note above, this is essentially the destruction of wealth of the poor.

UPDATE 8/24: And, of course, there is the distinct possibility that dealers will not get reimbursed at all, raising the price of all cars for everybody and destroying jobs at car dealerships and their suppliers.

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What happened to candidate Obama?

Jennifer Rubin:

Obama’s candidacy was defined (to the exasperation of conservatives) by idealism, appeals to bipartisanship, and competency. He is now short on all three — which explains why his support among voters and especially independents (who were susceptible to pledges to end old-style politics) has plummeted.

As for the idealism, no president has sunk so far so fast. Candidate Obama chastised Washington as a place where good ideas died. He summoned young voters with high-minded slogans and Kennedy-esque rhetoric. Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush were mere politicians; he was the leader of a whole new era in politics.

Now? Opponents of health care are stooges, evil-mongers, and villains. Citizen activists are to be reported to the authorities for spreading misinformation or ridiculed. The candidate with the superior temperament has devolved into a peevish president exasperated that mere citizens would question his wisdom or stand in his way.

Even for those of us who realized that the whole post-partisan, even-tempered candidate thing was a mountain of bovine excrement, his transformation has been a bit of a shock. I expected him to lurch left, but not to turn into the modern-day Richard Nixon.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

The PED delimma

Fascinating look into the mind of a marginal major leaguer as he recounts his struggle with the decision of whether or not to take HGH to save his career and privide for his family. Things may not always always neatly fit into the black and white, good and evil categories that keep fans and media from having to do any actual thinking. At least when there are human beings making them and whose lives are to be so profoundly affected.

I think he is actually a little too hard on himself here. He notes that HGH was not against the rules of baseball when he did it. For me the ethical concern would be violating the rules or ethics of your chosen profession, which in this case did not apply. There is even a discussion to be had, but one I will not have here because it would cause me to ramble on and waste half of my Sunday, over whether it is unethical to break a rule or law which you legitimately believe to be wrong (and, of course, does not hurt anybody else); did you ever smoke a joint or drive 70 in a 60, for example?

Suffice to say I see a lot of gray areas in this whole thing.

Of course, as you would guess from my libertarian and freedom-loving views, I have never had much of a problem with the whole PED in sports issue anyway. If an individual chooses to attempt to further his career and help his team win at the possible (since we don't really know the long term effects yet) expense of his long-term health, I have no objection to that personally.

Similarly, if a league chooses to ban the substances and penalize or ban players for breaking said rules, that is perfectly within their rights as private organizations - although I have a huge problem with Congress getting involved to preen in front of TV cameras, as we have seen in the past. It's between individuals and private business, and nobody else's damned business really, except for perhaps the customers who can make their feelings know one way or the other with their wallets.

But I just don't muster any great moral outrage at breaking non-rules. Or draw moral distinctions between, for example, taking PED's on the one hand or using technology to steal signs on the other. Ethics are ethics, and I reject fake moral outrage over one type because people want to impose their own morality on others.

At any rate, it's a thought-provoking article and argument, even if you're not a sports or baseball fan.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lying green exposed

Gerd Leipold, retiring leader of Greenpeace, admits that he organization fabricated claims that Arctic ice will melt by 2030.

But he "defended the organization’s practice of 'emotionalizing issues' in order to bring the public around to its way of thinking and alter public opinion." Put another way, he defended the organization's practice of lying to try to mislead the public into backing their initiatives.

Not only that, he dropped his guard long enough to admit that the true goal of the green movement has nothing to do with the planet or the environment: "Leipold said later in the BBC interview that there is an urgent need for the suppression of economic growth in the United States and around the world."

Environmentalism is not a pro-planet ideology, it is an anti-human ideology. Environmental concerns, some real but most imagined, are just an excuse for government to exert complete control over people's lives, to crush freedom and individualism. With all due respect to Islamic fascism, it is the great totalitarian threat of the 21st century.

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The desperation of the "racist" smear

Ed Morrissey on why the left is screaming "racist" at the majority of Americans who disagree with them on health care policy:

It comes from a sense of desperation on the Left, borne of the realization that they miscalculated the health-care debate. As objections have grown, they have tried to find ways to silence the opposition — because they can’t answer the actual objections. Some advocates have honestly tried to argue for the benefits they see from a government-run system, but most just vilify and demonize the opposition instead.

The racism charge is truly a desperate, Hail Mary rhetorical pass. Supposedly, all of this opposition comes from the color of our President’s skin, despite the fact that he won 53% of the vote just nine months ago. However, how do these people explain the same exact furor over the Clinton effort to nationalize health care 16 years ago?

The advocates of ObamaCare don’t want to admit to the radical nature of their agenda and the legitimate philosophical differences between the sides. Meybe it’s because they can’t win that argument.

That the exact same opponents and arguments were used against a white president trying to have government take over health care 16 years ago highlights the fatuousness of charges of racism.

Keep in mind an immutable law of politics in 2009: if a political opponent calls you a racist or ascribes racial motivation to your position on an issue, it is an admission that said opponent's position is too weak to be argued on its merits.

Yeah, in many cases it's just the last refuge of a bigot, but the empty argument aspect still holds.

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All-.300 lineup

The Angels expected lineup tonight:

Figgins 3B (.308)
Abreu RF (.310)
Rivera LF (.310)
Guerrero DH (.313)
Morales 1B (.303)
Hunter CF (.307)
Izturis 2B (.300)
Napoli C (.300)
Aybar SS (.313)

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A leopard doesn't change its stripes

So said the noted philosopher Emmitt Smith.

No surprise, then, that new Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's first ruling was to vote to give a stay of execution to a hit man whose guilt was not questioned by anybody, including his lawyer or himself.

As to those of you gullible enough to wonder if the "real" Sotomayor was the hard left judicial activist of her past record or the "transparently absurd" (Wendy Long's words) law and order moderate of her confirmation hearing...well, that didn't take long now did it?

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Quick hits

Some short notes, probably mostly dated due to my week plus on the shelf with the flu.

Mickey Kaus: “If you don’t want people to think that subsidized, voluntary end-of-of-life counseling sessions are the camel’s nose of an attempt to cut costs by limiting end-of-life care, then don’t put them in a bill the overarching, stated purpose of which is to cut health care costs!


Flashback: Wal-Mart vs FEMA, private sector vs government…guess who prepared for and responded to Katrina better?


It was nice of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to give the Iranian regime a PR boost by referring to Aquavelvajad (love that Dennis Miller nickname) as the “elected” president of Iran, a quote that was hyped endlessly in the Iranian state TV and press. Every regime needs their useful idiots.


Things you would see if the left ran the world: government tracking your movement via GPS in order to tax you.


Certainly a grain of truth in this from Moe Lane, which is actually imitating the style of anti-Bush attacks: “[T]he antiwar movement is run by racists who only like brown people when they can be used as clubs with which to beat anybody to the antiwar movement’s Right. Well, anyone to their Right, and Jews.”


Little Green Footballs: “This [Israel pounding Hamas in Operation Cast Lead] is one of those ludicrous media memes that refuses to die: fighting against evil only makes evil stronger. You’ll see it in articles about every conflict; it’s a kind of nihilistic philosophical tic that is nearly universal, a counterintuitive observation that’s supposed to impress you with its depth.”

Appeasers are not the most creative sorts, I’ll agree.


Your congress in action: “Just last week Washington announced it would cut $100 million from the federal administrative budgets and acted like that was some big achievement. Now this week we learn that about the same time those cuts were made public, the House OK’d the purchase of the private jets. The taxpayer money the House plans to spend is to be used to buy three Gulfstream G550s at roughly $65 million each. These are long-range business jets with large, palatial interiors and three temperature zones.”


Government in action: The guidelines in the House-passed bill state that large SUVs and trucks, typically considered gas guzzlers in everyday conversation, qualify for the $3,500 credit, and in some cases the $4,500 credit, depending on the trade-ins that come through the door for them. New Category 2 trucks -- like the Hummer H-3, Ford Explorer, Chevy Silverado, and Toyota Tundra -- qualify if they get at least 15 MPG combined, and get at least one mile per gallon more than the car or truck being traded in.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

The problem with Michael Vick

Long time Lakers newsgroup poster Fred puts into words better than anybody (with the exception of a gratuitous political non sequitur which I omit here) I have yet seen why we should shun Michael Vick:

The thing about Vick, for many of us, is not the dogs. It's the extended period of planned cruelty. It wasn't an impulsive decision, or a decision that was made under the haze of addiction. Those can be regretted, and the influences that brought the people to those tragic impulses could be addressed, corrected and kept from repeating.

Vick did this over a period of years, for ghastly sport and money. He tortured dogs that did not fight. He went to the pound and got dogs that weren't ever intended to fight, but were intended to be slaughtered by the bigger, meaner fighting dogs that he kept, and for his entertainment. Watching a little dog that was, at one time, someone's family pet, get torn apart by another dog trained to kill was this man's entertainment. [...]

It's the extended period of depravity and cruelty that should disqualify him from being a figure in the public eye, not the fact that the victims were dogs.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Surgeons fight back

The American College of Surgeons has released the following statement in response to President Obama's dishonest smears of their members:

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bad news for criminals

Glenn Reynolds:

SCENES FROM A NEW AMERICA: So I dropped the girls off at a movie, and — since the Insta-wife was lunching with her mom — stopped at a Sonny’s Barbecue for lunch. A man — late 40s, big, with a wife and a daughter — came in with an empty holster on his belt. As he sat down at the booth next to mine, the manager came by and asked him if he’d left his gun in the car. Yes, said the man, who had a permit but thought he wasn’t allowed to carry in restaurants in Tennessee.. Well, they’ve changed the law, said the manager, and if you want to go get it that’s fine with us. It’s legal now, and I’m happy to have you carrying — if somebody tries to rob me, it’s two against one.

The man stepped outside and returned with a Springfield XD in the holster, chatted with the manager for a bit about guns, and then sat down and had lunch with his family.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Can't tell the names without a program

Poor and/or rebuilding teams will sometimes have big turnover as they shed contracts and guys who can bring assets in return, but even so the Pittsburgh Prates' transformation over the last year plus has been remarkable. They have only three players remaining on the current 25 man roster (as of August 6) from their 25 man roster on July 24 of last year: Ryan Doumit, Paul Maholm and Zach Duke. The others and how they left, courtesy of research done by John Lewis:

LF Jason Bay: traded to Boston 2008
CF Nate McLouth: traded to Atlanta 2009
RF Xavier Nady: traded to Yankees 2008
OF Jason Michaels: free agency 2008
1B Adam LaRoche: traded to Boston 2009
2B Freddy Sanchez: traded to Giants 2009
3B Jose Bautista: traded to Toronto 2008
SS Jack Wilson: traded to Seattle 2009
1B-3B Doug Mientkiewicz: free agency 2008
2B-SS Luis Rivas: free agency 2008
INF Chris Gomez: free agency 2008
C Raul Chavez: free agency 2008
P John Van Benschoten: free agency 2008
P Franquelis Osoria: free agency 2008
P Damaso Marte: traded to Yankees 2008
P John Grabow: traded to Cubs 2009
P Sean Burnett: traded to Washington 2009
P Ian Snell: traded to Seattle 2009 via AAA Indianapolis
P T.J. Beam: on waivers to Toronto 2009
P Denny Bautista: to AAA Indianapolis
P Yoslan Herrera: to AA Altoona
P Tyler Yates: on Disabled List

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Common sense

Nah, not if government is involved. George Mason economist Russ Roberts poses what would be an easy question for anybody but a politician:

Imagine you’re a member of Congress. You’re a fan of the Cash for Clunkers program. You discover that the $1 billion that Congress budgeted for the program has been spent in FOUR DAYS. The program is now out of money. What do you do?

A. Realize that $4500 per clunker was too big a subsidy and that you can achieve the same effects with a much smaller amount.

B. Worry that maybe there is some fraud in the program and that some of the cash isn’t going to clunkers

C. Increase the budget by $2 billion

The correct answer for clunkheads is C, of course. That’s the wise choice when you are spending other people’s money. What fun that must be!

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The other big lie

Accompanying the denial of a desire to nationalize health care is the denial of intentions to raise taxes on the middle class. This one doesn't even pass the laugh test with Americans with even a basic knowledge of politics, pure common sense tells you that their agenda cannot be enacted without massive tax increases.

So why keep the charade going?

John Hinderaker makes the argument that it's an attempt to fool the most gullible among us:

So what's going on here? I think the Democrats know (as both Geithner and Summers essentially admitted) that broad-based tax increases will be necessary if their legislative agenda passes. Right now, though, that agenda is teetering on the brink of disaster. Cap-and-tax may be dead and Obamacare is looking tenuous at best. If the administration were to admit that these programs mean higher taxes on more or less everyone, they would have no chance of passage.

So Obama and his minions are doing what they think they have to do: they are misleading the public about the fiscal consequences of their legislative agenda, knowing that if they are successful, there will be a day of reckoning in the not-too-distant future. At the moment, their disarray is such that they are willing to take their chances with an electorate that will surely be enraged if Obama violates his iron-clad pledge not to raise the taxes of those who earn less than $250,000 a year.

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The big lie

I'm not sure why Team Obama is trying so hard to pretend that their goal is not a complete government takeover of the health care system.

Well, yeah, I do know, it's because the American people are horrified by the prospect of single payer.

But that doesn't change the fact that destroying the private market is the goal, no matter how much White House hacks try to paint Obama's own words as "disinformation," as Linda Douglas did yesterday.

The president's feelings on the subject are crystal clear, the videos don't lie.

Transcript of the second video:

I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that's what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that's what I'd like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.

Can't be much more clear than that, can you?

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

If your back hurts... won't like government health care.

The Government's drug rationing watchdog says "therapeutic" injections of steroids, such as cortisone, which are used to reduce inflammation, should no longer be offered to patients suffering from persistent lower back pain when the cause is not known.

Instead the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is ordering doctors to offer patients remedies like acupuncture and osteopathy.

Specialists fear tens of thousands of people, mainly the elderly and frail, will be left to suffer excruciating levels of pain or pay as much as £500 each for private treatment.

The NHS currently issues more than 60,000 treatments of steroid injections every year. NICE said in its guidance it wants to cut this to just 3,000 treatments a year, a move which would save the NHS £33 million.

But the British Pain Society, which represents specialists in the field, has written to NICE calling for the guidelines to be withdrawn after its members warned that they would lead to many patients having to undergo unnecessary and high-risk spinal surgery.

Dr Christopher Wells, a leading specialist in pain relief medicine and the founder of the NHS' first specialist pain clinic, said it was "entirely unacceptable" that conventional treatments used by thousands of patients would be stopped.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Why Congress is pushing a public "option"

Because they won't have to be covered by it. It would, after all, be a pretty big step down from what they have:

A choice of 10 healthcare plans that provide access to a national network of doctors, as well as several HMOs that serve each member's home state. By contrast, 85% of private companies offering health coverage provide their employees one type of plan -- take it or leave it.

Lawmakers also get special treatment at Washington's federal medical facilities and, for a few hundred dollars a month, access to their own pharmacy and doctors, nurses and medical technicians standing by in an office conveniently located between the House and Senate chambers…
Why can't everyone enjoy the same benefits as members of Congress? The answer: The country probably couldn't afford it ...

The plan most favored by federal workers is Blue Cross Blue Shield, which covers a family for about $1,030 a month. Taxpayers kick in $700, and employees pay the rest. Seeing a doctor costs $20. Generic prescriptions cost $10. Immunizations are free. There is no coverage limit...

There is no such thing as a preexisting condition...

No word on whether Nancy Pelosi said "Let them eat cake!" literally or only figuratively.

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More quick notes, offered with little or no commentary:

Of all of Obama’s broken campaign promises, does this one now look silliest? "The biggest problems that we're facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that's what I intend to reverse when I'm president of the United States."

Obama’s power grab is unmatched since at least FDR.


Eric Cantor on the same subject: “The president has embarked on an end-run around the legislative branch of historic proportions. To be sure, the appointment of a few special officers to play a constructive role in a given administration is nothing new. What is new is the elevation of so many czars, with so much authority on endless policy fronts. Vesting such broad authority in the hands of people not subjected to Senate confirmation and congressional oversight poses a grave threat to our system of checks and balances.”


Rep. John Conyers (D-MI): "I love these members that get up and say, 'Read the bill!' Well, what good is reading the bill if it's a thousand pages and you don't have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you've read the bill?"


Thoroughly unshocking stat: Tax burden of top 1% now exceeds that of bottom 95%.


Other unshocking news: Organic food is no healthier.

Jeff Stier of the American Council on Science and Health: “It’s like playing a game of whack-a-mole. It was already proven that people aren’t getting sick from pesticides on food, so the organic crowd claimed their food was more nutritious. Now that that has been disproved, they’re going back to the pesticides thing.”

I’ll remind you that bullshit is organic.


Politicizing justice: Obama Political Appointees Reportedly Overruled Career Justice Officials In Dropping Charges Against New Black Panther Party for Voter Intimidation

Protecting voter intimidation…change we can believe in!


Dan Rather: not a fan of a free and independent press.


Our “47 million uninsured” at a glance


John Hinderaker: “[I]f a bill is too vast for a Congressman to read and understand, it is too big to pass.”


Condescension runs in the family.
Gates’s daughter gets catty about Crowley’s daughter: “she was wearing an appropriately heavy and charmingly untrained amount of green eyeliner.”

But they’re enlightened haters!


Did they paint each other’s toenails afterwards? Obama Hosting Senate Dems for Pep Rally, Cake?

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Congrats to Tom Ruane

Citation from the SABR convention in Washington DC on Saturday:

Tom Ruane joined SABR in 1991. He has continuously broadened his interests
and is now a member of 12 SABR committees! And his memberships are more
than nominal as he is a valuable and active contributor. His service to
SABR has included membership on both the Donors Committee and the Nominating
Committee, and as a judge at several SABR conventions

Subscribers to SABR-L are happily familiar with Tom's varied posts which are
both humorous and definitive. For example, this spring there was a question
about George Sisler's batting average in different months in 1922. Tom
replied promptly, not just with accurate information, but also with a clear
explanation of the source of some of the discrepancies in the official
record that are continuing to come to light. Of course, at the end of this
mini-treatise, he closed with his trademark "Thank you for your patience."
It is we who now, with this Bob Davids Award, thank him for his diligence.

The breadth of Tom's sophisticated research can be seen in the many articles
he has written for the research portion of the Retrosheet website. Tom has
also contributed to the Baseball Research Journal, Baseball By The Numbers
and Nine. Many of you are aware that Tom is also a member of the Retrosheet
Board of Directors and is responsible for the wonderfully interconnected
links in box scores and player and team statistics. The members of the
selection committee are unanimous that this tireless work has been of
tremendous value to SABR and to baseball research in general. The fact that
he can make such contributions to both organizations simultaneously is a
tribute to his unflagging enthusiasm.

In fact, enthusiasm, diligence, good humor, and dedication to detail are all
hallmarks of Tom's baseball research activities. As he explained to me once
when I marveled at how much he was doing: "I don't need a lot of sleep."

Our organization is much the better for the high quality efforts of this
fine man. It is my professional and personal pleasure to present Tom Ruane
with the 2009 Bob Davids Award.

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Fun with sims

From Beau Sharbrough:

"Gary Collard pitched 2.1 scoreless innings in 3 appearances in the Ichiro Suzuki League 1956 World Series for the Brooklyn Robins, who put the LA Angels out in 6 games."

After I was born I moved into the starting rotation.

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