Saturday, August 22, 2009

Video Screens Inside Physical Paper Magazines?

Pepsi and CBS are putting small thin video screens in an ad inside Entertainment Weekly. This sounds amazing. Advertising Age reports:
"CBS will insert a paper-thin interactive video player into copies of the Sept. 18 issue of Time Inc.'s Entertainment Weekly sent to Los Angeles- and New York-area subscribers. The issue previews the 2009-2010 TV season. As part of a unique marketing partnership, PepsiCo will join with CBS to promote its Pepsi Max diet cola for men in the print ads and sponsor the fall debut of CBS's Monday-night comedies on Sept. 21."

What are the possibilities of this new technology? Sphere: Related Content

Seventeen More Minutes Til A Big Mac - Mmmmm

A graph by The Economist illustrating UBS data shows us the purchasing power of people in various cities. How long do you have to work for your Big Mac? I have to work 17 minutes.

Sphere: Related Content

The Cultural Acceptance Domestic Abuse Around The World

This is a disturbing statistic.

It is also a really interesting way to design the graph.

Found at The Daily Dish Sphere: Related Content

Bachmann Hannity 2012 Or Hannity Bachmann 2012 -- Which Do You Prefer?

I don't care who gets top billing. I want to see this campaign.

Hannity said he has not ruled out running for president.

Should we be scared of this idea? Sphere: Related Content

Art Break - Enjoy

Marvin Franklin Sphere: Related Content

The American Thunker Is Always Searching For A Reason To Attack

Now they are attacking the Obamas for wanting to have a small farmers market outside the White House grounds. What is wrong with that? If the White House garden is yielding a surplus in excess of the White House needs why not offer it to the community? I think the farmers market outside the White House is basically a inexpensive method of making an example of healthy food choices.

But Clarice Feldman of the American Thunker must not be a green thumb. She writes:
"Like a child who wandered into an adult cocktail party and tried to seem precocious by mouthing clich├ęs he doesn't really understand, Obama once again made a fool of himself as he did during the campaign when he told his rich backers in San Francisco about those bitter clingers to their religion and guns ."
"For the record, Washington D.C. has many outlets selling good fresh food , including numerous well-attended farmers' markets selling locally grown produce .The President might have known this if he hadn't spent most of his feckless tenure jetting about the world apologizing for the "sins" of his country."
I am unsure how the President made a fool of himself. What is the poor judgment he displayed by proposing a farmers market? Is it because there are farmers markets in DC already.

According to Google maps there are six markets in DC. There may be more than six but does one more hurt? It would be a better proposal if the White House would setup the market in a neighbor that does not have a market already and lacks options for fresh fruit and veg but that does not make the White House farmers market a bad idea.

Also how is Barack Obama like a child?
Sphere: Related Content

If Hitler Falls In The FVW Hall And No One Sees It On MSNBC...

Kathleen Parker of The Wash Post wants the media to stop covering the Hitlerization of our public discourse. Parker writes:
"Alas, we can't even critique the phenomenon known as Heisenberg's Principle of Observation without circling back to Herr Hitler. Physicist Werner Heisenberg, leader of Hitler's atomic bomb project, came up with an "uncertainty principle" that has been used -- some say misused -- to suggest that things observed are altered by the fact of observation.

Translation: When you turn on the camera, the presence of the camera alters whatever transpires.

There isn't much we can do about the convergence of technology and the persistent plague of narcissism, but there is something we can do about Hitler. The moment he shows up in any form, turn off the cameras. Consider it an act of nonviolent protest -- and self-respect."

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 21, 2009

President Obama Gives Ramadan Message

I think it is extremely important that President Obama continue to engage the world in really small but effective measures such as this message about Ramadan.

Sphere: Related Content

Betsy McCaughey Resigns From Cantel Medical Because Of Jon Stewart?

With no indication that last nights appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Betsy McCaughey gas resigned her position from Cantel Medical. Cantel makes dialysis machine and other medical devices.

A release from Cantel said:
"announced that on August 20, 2009 it received a letter of resignation from Ms. Elizabeth McCaughey as a director of the Company. Ms. McCaughey, who had served as a director since 2005, stated that she was resigning to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest during the national debate over healthcare reform."
    I can't believe that she would resign because of the possible appearance of conflict of interest. It seems that they asked her to leave. Sphere: Related Content

    Are The Dems Losing Support In The Country

    Greg Sargent at The Plum Line Blog breaks down a Research 2000 poll conducted for Daily Kos.

    The Plum Line:
    "Here are the net favorability ratings for Obama — i.e., the difference between the favorable and unfavorable ratings — broken down by party and compared with the previous week:

    DEMOCRATS: +72 (+78)
    REPUBLICANS: - 86 (- 84)
    INDEPENDENTS: +35 (+39)

    And here are the net favorability ratings for Congressional Dems, broken down by party and compared with the previous week:

    DEMOCRATS: +55 (+65)
    REPUBLICANS: - 90 (- 90)
    INDEPENDENTS: - 20 (- 15)

    A six point drop in the net fave rating among Dems for Obama; a ten point drop among Dems for Congressional Dems. Pretty telling."

    Sphere: Related Content

    The Daily Dish Follows Up On Maggie Gallagher Predictions O Fear

    The Daily Dish's The Horrible Thing That Gay Marriage Will Do, Ctd

    My reaction to Gallagher. Sphere: Related Content

    Presidents Don't Get Vacations

    Criticizing the President of the United States for taking a "vacation" is ridiculous. It was ridiculous to criticize President Bush and it is the same to criticize President Obama. Do they ever get away from the job? When I went on vacation I never brought along the people that work for me.

    Found at Ria Misra at Politics Daily Sphere: Related Content

    The Daily Dish On Krauthammer

    Conor Clarke writes:
    "And I am further intrigued by Krauthammer's claim that his living will is 'more a literary than a legal document.' I've filled out some impressively boring legal documents, but they don't exactly hold a candle to Dickens."
    My previous post on Charles Krauthammer's 'The Truth About Death Counseling'. Sphere: Related Content

    Did You Get Your Back To School Socks Yet?

    Found at The Daily What Sphere: Related Content

    When Should We Think About Our Mortality?

    I am outraged by the people that say, “there are no ‘death panels’ in the Democratic health-care bills, and to say that there are is to debase the debate” but then go on to say that end of life counseling is the “subtle pressure applied by society through your doctor” to “gently point the patient in a certain direction, toward the corner of the sickroom where stands a ghostly figure, scythe in hand, offering release.”

    These quotes come from Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post. His goal in the essay is surely not to assert that the “death panel” claims is a bunch of lies, it is to assert that there is no efficacy in the living will as a legal document.

    Krauthammer writes about his own living will:

    “My own living will, which I have always considered more a literary than a legal document, basically says: ‘I've had some good innings, thank you. If I have anything so much as a hangnail, pull the plug.’ I've never taken it terribly seriously because unless I'm comatose or demented, they're going to ask me at the time whether or not I want to be resuscitated if I go into cardiac arrest. The paper I signed years ago will mean nothing.”

    I think he has missed the point of a living will and perhaps documents naming health care proxies. I find the claim that a family can know a person’s wishes better than that person knows himself or herself dubious. Krauthammer passes along a story about the death of his father. He writes:

    “When my father was dying, my mother and brother and I had to decide how much treatment to pursue. What was a better way to ascertain my father's wishes: What he checked off on a form one fine summer's day years before being stricken; or what we, who had known him intimately for decades, thought he would want? The answer is obvious.”

    Just because you say it is obvious does not make it correct or obvious. This confuses a family’s emotional desire to not lose a loved one with the wishes of the loved one. If the efficacy of the living will is so limited why have one at all.

    I don’t understand why Krauthammer believes that doctors, the “white-coated authority whose chosen vocation is curing and healing”, would ignore, in the end of life consultations, the possibilities of life saving efforts that “can prolong the patient's otherwise hopeless condition for another six months” and focus on “hospice care and palliative care and other ways of letting go of life.”

    I am sure Krauthammer would agree that life and death are both serious matters, as is the choices people make in both. So why would we want to diminish people’s wishes and minimize the value of a legal document that people create when they are thinking about the seriousness of death.

    The question that needs to be asked is, when are we able to rationally think about our own mortality? Is our approach to death more practical as we get closer to mortality or in an earlier time in our lives? These are important questions that should be pondered by serious people. If Krauthammer has written a legal document that he does not take seriously why should we take him seriously?

    Sphere: Related Content

    The Secrecy Of The Judicial Branch

    Katherine Mangu-Ward of Reason has an essay in today's Wall Street Journal describing the antiquated hurdles to judicial records. She writes:
    "But with the possible exception of the ever-leaky CIA, no aspect of government remains more locked down than the secretive, hierarchical judicial branch. Digital records of court filings, briefs and transcripts sit behind paywalls like Lexis and Westlaw. Legal codes and judicial documents aren't copyrighted, but governments often cut exclusive distribution deals, rendering other access methods a bit legally questionable. Supreme Court decisions are easy to get, but the briefs and decisions of lower courts can be hard to come by."
    Sphere: Related Content

    Is Barack Obama A Fellow Traveler Of The Iranian Regime

    The resident nut at The National Review, Andrew McCarthy, wonders why President Obama has been forgoing a neck tie so often. He write:
    "Derb, I've noticed that President Obama frequently forgoes the necktie — lately, even in public appearances. That reminded me — I have no idea why — that the Iranian regime has shunned the necktie ever since Khomeini pronounced it a symbol of Western decadence. I've always assumed that's why Michael Ledeen is often picturedconspirators." wearing a big, bold tie — you know, as a signal to the other
    Perhaps I have grown too sensitive to his ridiculousness and now everything he writes sounds crazy but is he implying that the President is signaling his allegiance to the Iran government? Sphere: Related Content

    Art Break - Enjoy

    Moise Kisling
    Paysage de Provence, c. 1919
    oil on canvas Sphere: Related Content

    The Length Of Recessions And The Size Of Government, Just A Correlation?

    Conor Clarke at The Daily Dish has a good reaction to Alan Reynolds essay in the Wall Street Journal. Reynolds writes:
    "To believe Big Government explains why this extremely long recession was not even longer, we need to find some connection between the size of government and the depth and duration of recessions. There is no such connection in U.S. history, or in recent cyclical experience of other countries.

    On the contrary, recessions have become longer as the U.S. government (and the Fed) became larger, more expensive, and more involved in the economy. Foreign countries in which government spending accounts for about half of the economy have also suffered the deepest recessions lately, while economic recovery is well established in countries where government spending is a smaller share of GDP than in the U.S."

    Clarke writes:
    "First, all statistical joykills are fond of pointing out that correlation does not equal causation. Even if it were true that there was a tight historical correlation between the size of governments and the length of recessions, this would not prove that big governments cause (or 'produce' in Reynolds' parlance) longer recessions. It could be the case that longer recessions produce bigger governments. Or it could be the case that some third factor produces both. A statistically significant relationship between the size of government and the length of recession is no more proof that one causes the other than is a statistically significant relationship between global temperature and the number of pirates."
    Sphere: Related Content

    CSPAN Health Care Hub

    CSPAN Health Care Hub has great collection health care information. For all you health care rubberneckers they have a nice collection own hall videos. Sphere: Related Content

    Watch Jon Stewart With Betsy McCaughey - Stewart Has The Patience Of A Saint

    Jon Stewart at The Daily Show does a fine job of staying ahead of McCaughey. Her arguments are not very robust and neither are Stewart's but he is a comedian. His arguments are more than sufficient to handle McCaughey's fear based misrepresentations.

    does come off as awfully condescending. Throwing out that she has a Phd and saying about Stewart, "Isn't he cute" as he is making his point (I think she did this twice. Perhap one time she called him funny not cute).

    McCaughey sounds very disingenuous and came across as a paranoid. Stewart is an incredibly patient man.

    You can read the McCaughey "plan" to cover the uninsured
    it is not very clear or detailed. as Stewart points out the math doesn't quite work out.

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 1
    Daily Show
    Full Episodes
    Political HumorHealthcare Protests

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 2
    Daily Show
    Full Episodes
    Political HumorHealthcare Protests
    Sphere: Related Content

    If Gays Get Married What Will I Do?

    Maggie Gallagher of the National Review has decided to issue some short term predictions for states that will allow same sex marriage in response to Steve Chapman request:
    "But with the experiment looming, some opponents seem to be doubting their own convictions. I contacted three serious conservative thinkers who have written extensively about the dangers of allowing gay marriage and asked them to make simple, concrete predictions about measurable social indicators—marriage rates, divorce, out-of-wedlock births, child poverty, you name it.""Yet none was prepared to forecast what would happen in same-sex marriage states versus other states."
    "In gay-marriage states, a large minority people committed to traditional notions of marriage will feel afraid to speak up for their views, lest they be punished in some way."
    So what. How would these people have expressed their views prior to the state allowing gay marriage? Perhaps this minority's views are wrong and the invisible pressure of the majority's views should silence them. If they really want to express their views about marriage they should continue to marry people of the opposite gender.

    "Public schools will teach about gay marriage."
    Do schools teach about marriage now. I really don't know or remember being taught about marriage.

    "Parents in public schools who object to gay marriage being taught to their children will be told with increasing public firmness that they don't belong in public schools and their views will not be accommodated in any way."
    Again do they teach marriage? I'll assume they do teach it for the sack of this exercise. In the lesson on marriage wouldn't gay marriage be a part added the lesson on straight marriage. Do lessons on marriage currently teach about heterosexuality? If they do teach heterosexuality in schools now and people can learn to be gay or straight why do we have so many homosexuals? There must be schools teaching homosexuality for many years. What about the gay married couples who don't want "traditional" marriage taught? Perhaps we should stop teaching about marriage.

    "Religious institutions will face new legal threats (especially soft litigation threats) that will cause some to close, or modify their missions, to avoid clashing with the government's official views of marriage (which will include the view that opponents are akin to racists for failing to see same-sex couples as married)."
    Is there no distinction between civil marriage and a religious marriage. Any legal action against a church or other religious institution to force the services for which they don't agree is not acceptable, but is this really a concern. I have a straight cousin that was denied marriage services in a church because they had not fulfilled all the sacramental rights required for marriage. The rights of straight people to marry is a long standing matter but my cousin did not sue the church, why would gay people? Even if people did sue I think a court would throw out the case quickly. I would assume over time there would be churches and other institutions that will begin offering service to gay couples for simple economic reasons.

    "Support for the idea "the ideal for a child is a married mother and father" will decline."
    I am not sure if this bad in itself. I do understand the ideal state being a mother and father but how does that translate to gays would make bad parents. If it is because they will raise gay children just stop now.

    So Gallagher really doesn't give any predictions as to how gay marriage will change society beyond the tired statements of her irrational fears. She is correct that "a project to document institutional change should be done in a serious way." I look forward to her serious predictions on this matter.

    All I want to know is how do we determine if acceptance of gay marriage is ending civilization or if society's norms are just progressing in a neutral way? Sphere: Related Content

    Thursday, August 20, 2009

    Gay Marriage Opponents Unwilling To Offer Short Term Predictions - Rather Wait For The End Of Civilization For Vindication

    Opponents of same sex marriage offer, uninvited, grand scale predictions about the perils that gay marriage will visit upon our society. We know them all. It would be the end of civilization, monogamy will be abandoned and people will marry dogs if gay get married. If any of those things happen it will be because of many reasons I would not pin it on gay marriage.

    Before we get to these extreme results what would be some discernible benchmarks to show that these predictions may be true not just bigoted hyperbole. Well Steve Chapman at Reason had the brilliant idea to ask the gay marriage doomsayers exactly that question. With six states have essentially experiments in gay marriage what would the signs that the end of civilization is coming or that monogamy is being abandoned.

    "But with the experiment looming, some opponents seem to be doubting their own convictions. I contacted three serious conservative thinkers who have written extensively about the dangers of allowing gay marriage and asked them to make simple, concrete predictions about measurable social indicators—marriage rates, divorce, out-of-wedlock births, child poverty, you name it.""Yet none was prepared to forecast what would happen in same-sex marriage states versus other states."
    Of course proponents of gay marriage had no problem saying that there would be no impact on the course of civilization. At least none that will be noticeable by statistics.

    "In a few years, we won't have to rely on such forecasts, because the facts will be there for all to see. And they should settle the issue once and for all.

    But I have a strong suspicion that both sides of the debate are right. The supporters of same-sex marriage are right in predicting that it will have no bad side effects. And the opponents are right not to make predictions."
    Previous posts on gay marriage. Sphere: Related Content

    NewsFlash: Agriculture Town Hall Meetings Less Exciting Than Health Care Town Halls

    It seems the tone of the agriculture town halls are more civil than those for health care. The respective stories for each are also more imaginative and pleasant. Ria Misra at Politics Daily:
    "On Wednesday at the Iowa State Fair, a group of farmers gathered from all over the state. Walking straight past the 1,000-pound squash, a 600-pound butter sculpture of a cow and the stand selling fried Milky Way bars, the farmers sat down to detail some of the problems they were facing to their former governor."
    But the two town halls intersect. Misra:
    "It's not just the lack of insurance that's troubling farmers. Vilsack estimated that the out-of-pocket costs for people living in rural communities was about $1,000 more per year than their urban counterparts pay. 'Rural America really comes out at the short end of a very long stick under the current health care system,' he said."
    You would think that Iowa's senior Senator would be talking about the health care plight of Iowan farmer's. Sphere: Related Content

    Nat Hentoff Is A Crazy Old Guy

    A few pieces from Hentoff's new column:
    "The members of that ultimate federal board will themselves not have examined or seen the patient in question. For another example of the growing, tumultuous resistance to "Dr. Obama," particularly among seniors, there is a July 29 Washington Times editorial citing a line from a report written by a key adviser to Obama on cost-efficient health care, prominent bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel)."
    And this:
    "'As the Washington Post's Charles Lane penetratingly explains (Undue influence,' Aug. 8): the government would pay doctors to discuss with Medicare patients explanations of 'living wills and durable powers of attorney ... and (provide) a list of national and state-specific resources to assist consumers and their families' on making advance-care planning (read end-of-life) decisions.

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

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

    'To me, 'purely voluntary' means 'not unless the patient requests one.''"
    And this:
    "I wonder whether Obama would be so willing to promote such health care initiatives if, say, it were 60 years from now, when his children will - as some of the current bills seem to imply - have lived their fill of life years, and the health care resources will then be going to the younger Americans?"
    Hentoff is a little late to the crazy party. Sphere: Related Content

    The "Wisdom Of Authentically Human Culture And Government"

    What the hell does that mean? Here is a letter to the editor of the St Cloud Times in Minnesota:
    Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are like-minded conservative women. They are standing strong against the breakdown in America’s culture and government today. They challenge the sophistication that looks down from self-constructed Towers of Babel at the spontaneity of good common sense and grassroots wisdom.

    When Palin and Bachmann say “beware,” sophistication laughs. This kind of reaction is a syndrome that goes back to the time of Noah.

    Noah built a huge ship on land where there was no body of water. People laughed. In the end, he and his family survived a huge environmental disaster while the others did not.

    Today, liberalism is a cultural and governmental disaster. It is now eating itself alive by vastly increasing the national debt with no end in sight. Authentic restraint is above the “pay grade” of liberals in both political parties.

    Now is the time for conservative women to face the breakdown for the sake of a breakthrough. Liberal women, including Bachmann’s opponent for the next election, are a major part of the breakdown.

    Without common-sense restraint, liberalism leads to tyranny. Liberals are noticeably adept at doing whatever they want while trying to control others. Lack of me-control naturally projects itself into you-control. Beware, then, of liberalism and its sinister impulse to take over everything and everyone.

    Those who see a straight-line connection between “lawful” killing of babies in the womb and terminating elders approaching the tomb know something about logic. Logical consistency does its thing no matter how much sophistication laughs at it. If such an atrocity as abortion is “health care,” what else, logically and lawfully, can be called “health care?”

    Conservative women like Palin and Bachmann refuse to give this logic of liberalism its “go ahead.” They represent the wisdom of authentically human culture and government.

    Mary R. Joyce

    St. Cloud

    Letter was found at Sphere: Related Content

    Stossel's Assumptions On Health care

    John Stossel’s analysis of the president’s health care plan is missing some important concerns and his assumptions are incomplete.

    I appreciate his acknowledgement of the scarcity of medical care. His basic economics is correct that as demand rises prices will likely rise as well. The assumption misses the possibility that there is already demand for and consumption of medical care by the currently uninsured that helps to drives medical cost up. It is not as if the uninsured will be entering the market for health care for the first time. They will enter it in a more efficient method as opposed to the emergency room door.

    As Stossel agrees with most reasonable people that the government is not actively trying to kill people with “death panels” so why is rationing an issue. Why shouldn't scarce resources be rationed or prioritized? We currently try to ration medical resources such as vaccines. We prioritize older people and younger people to be vaccinated for flu primarily because we have a scarcity of vaccines and some people are more vulnerable.

    As it has been pointed out before is insurance company rationing more desirable?

    The market place for medical services for people with insurance is weird. Stossel is correct that there is a "principal-agent problem." As you enter the doctor’s examination room are you the consumer of the medical services. I don’t think so. You are the consumer of health insurance but the insurance company is the consumer of the health care since they are the ones paying the doctor. Or at least that is what Stossel leads to believe. I think he is correct but why would a government payer make this problem worse.

    I now that Stossel’s concern is for self-determination. Does the current health insurance structure give people the opportunity for self-determination after the purchase of the policy? Does a public option do any less? For real self-determinative system we would need to undo all insurance and make health care fee for service. You only get it if you can pay for it.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Grassley Is A Proxy To The Faction Of Anti-Health Care Protesters

    Last night I wrote a comment to Rep. Michelle Bachmann's and Sean Hannity's lack of grasp on the US Constitution and the intention of founding of the country. Today Sen. Chuck Grassley has fallen victim to the faction problem that James Madison warned us of in Federalist Paper #10. The faction of anti-health care reformers. A Washington Post story says:
    "After being besieged by protesters at meetings across his home state of Iowa, Grassley said he has concluded that the public has rejected the far-reaching proposals Democrats have put on the table, viewing them as overly expensive precursors to ''a government takeover of health care.'"
    Grassley has made himself redundant by saying that the people have rejected the current health care proposals. The Post story reports Grassley as saying:
    "Calls for reform are 'not quite as loud as people that say we ought to slow down or don't do anything,' he said. 'And I've got to listen to my people.'"
    Grassley has joined Bachmann in not understanding his job.

    Conor Clarke on the Daily Dish has revisited the Federalist Papers today much as I did yesterday. Clarke writes:
    "I think it's worth mentioning that the Grassley theory of 'the public' is pretty much the exact opposite of how American democracy is supposed to function. Famously, public representatives are supposed to distinguish between the 'vicious arts' of faction (Madison's words) and the 'permanent and aggregate interests of the community' (Hamilton's). Of course, it might be the case that protestors laying seige to Fort Grassley actually represent the aggregate interests of the public. But you won't find evidence for that conclusion at a townhall meeting.

    On the other hand, there's a pretty interesting question about the nature of democracy here: Formal democracy measures only the number of preferences (tallying votes), and not the intensity of preferences (like passionate townhall protests) or the quality of preferences (like the opinion of some group of philosopher kings). But I'm going to go out on a limb and assume Senator Grassley is not asking those rich philosophical quesitons."

    Clarke is correct Grassley is not pursuing any grand philosophical goal. He is playing politics and not doing his job.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Glenn Beck Is Taking Unplanned "Vacation"

    Is Fox News buying time to decide the plans for Beck? Media Bistro reports.

    Maybe he is not coming back. Sphere: Related Content

    Is Mortgage Modification Plan Working

    Baseline Scenario says the modification plan is failing and is likely not to succeed at all.
    Sphere: Related Content

    Art Break - Enjoy

    Wassily Kandinsky
    Composition VII, 1913 Sphere: Related Content

    Kennedy Makes Plans For Departure From Senate

    The Boston Globe reports that Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts has begun conversations to modify the state succession law to ensure that Mass. has two senators.

    Hopefully the Mass. legislature can make this change quickly. This announcement from Kennedy does sound as if he plans to step down when the law is changed if he does not die before then.

    Unfortunately the Globe reports that there may not be any political will to change the law.

    I have asserted in the past that Kennedy and Senator Robert Byrd both retire giving Dems two useful votes in the senate. Sphere: Related Content

    What Are Your Options If The Economy Does Not Improve?

    Found at The Daily What Sphere: Related Content

    Bachmann, Hannity, The US Constitution And The Federalist Papers

    Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann charges that:
    "It is not within our power as members of Congress, it’s not within the enumerated powers of the Constitution, for us to design and create a national takeover of health care. Nor is it within our ability to be able to delegate that responsibility to the executive."

    Bachmann is wrong about the congressional authority. What can promote the general welfare of the people more than health care. Article I section 8 if the US Constitution says:

    "Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States"

    That seems vaguely clear enough to me. Ian Millhiser at Think Progress clears it up really well:

    "Bachmann, however, is wrong about both the contents of the health care plan and the requirements of the Constitution. There is nothing in any of the health care bills under consideration which resembles a 'national takeover of health care.' Conservatives like to use this language when referring to the public health option. Like other insurers, the public option would collect premiums from people who choose to buy into it, and then spend those premiums to insure these participants.

    Had Bachmann bothered to read Article I of the Constitution before going on Fox, she would have learned that Congress has the power to 'lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises" and to 'provide for….the general welfare of the United States.' Rather than itemizing specific subject matters, such as health care, which Congress is allowed to spend money on, the framers chose instead to give Congress a broad mandate to spend money in ways that promote the 'general welfare.'"

    On another issue of our form of government. In the video Sean Hannity says a congressman will vote for health care reform even if some of his constituents don't want him to. Hannity goes to say that he always thought that the job of a congressman was to represent his district. I know that this is a common thought and an understandable one, but it is not true by the constitution or by other founding documents.

    Article I does not go into detail that a representative is simply a proxy for his constituents or what method should be utilized for deciding how to vote on legislation.

    James Madison in Federalist Paper No. 10
    was concerned with the power of factions to influence laws and how to control for faction whether they be a majority faction of minority faction. Madison understands that the problem of faction can not be removed for society. He writes:
    "CAUSES of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its EFFECTS"
    He continued:
    "The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose. On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people. The question resulting is, whether small or extensive republics are more favorable to the election of proper guardians of the public weal; and it is clearly decided in favor of the latter by two obvious considerations:

    In the first place, it is to be remarked that, however small the republic may be, the representatives must be raised to a certain number, in order to guard against the cabals of a few; and that, however large it may be, they must be limited to a certain number, in order to guard against the confusion of a multitude. Hence, the number of representatives in the two cases not being in proportion to that of the two constituents, and being proportionally greater in the small republic, it follows that, if the proportion of fit characters be not less in the large than in the small republic, the former will present a greater option, and consequently a greater probability of a fit choice.

    In the next place, as each representative will be chosen by a greater number of citizens in the large than in the small republic, it will be more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice with success the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried; and the suffrages of the people being more free, will be more likely to centre in men who possess the most attractive merit and the most diffusive and established characters.

    Madison believes that the representatives are not the proxies for the people but a filter for the public's views that may be more consonant "to the public good" than the voice of the people themselves. It can debated whether the current health care proposals are for the public good but it is does not debatable that congress can pass reform legislation even if a faction of constituents are against it.

    The constitution limits the power of the branches of government to the delimited areas but doe it also limit the power of the populous in the process of legislating? It seems that the founders wanted it that way. Maybe Hannity should get a copies of both documents and share them with Representative Bachmann.

    A digression:

    In going back to the Federalist Paper #10 this evening I came across this line:
    "No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time; yet what are many of the most important acts of legislation, but so many judicial determinations, not indeed concerning the rights of single persons, but concerning the rights of large bodies of citizens?"
    Is Madison against lobbying? I think so.
    Sphere: Related Content

    Split The Health Care Bill

    The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Dems plan to split the health care bill in two pieces. They hope to handle the controversial stuff first then pass it through reconciliation.

    The Journal reports:
    "Most legislation in the Senate requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, but certain budget-related measures can pass with 51 votes through a parliamentary maneuver called reconciliation.

    In recent days, Democratic leaders have concluded they can pack more of their health overhaul plans under this procedure, congressional aides said. They might even be able to include a public insurance plan to compete with private insurers, a key demand of the party's liberal wing, but that remains uncertain.

    Other parts of the Democratic plan would be put to a separate vote in the Senate, including most of the insurance regulations that have been central to Mr. Obama's health-care message.

    That bill would likely set new rules for insurers, such as requiring they accept anyone, regardless of pre-existing medical conditions. This portion of the health-care overhaul has already drawn some Republican support and wouldn't involve new spending, leading Democratic leaders to believe they could clear the 60-vote hurdle."

    Sphere: Related Content

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    President Obama Speaks Health Care With Religious Leaders

    A NY Times story this evening reports that the President spoke with religious leaders today. He said:
    "I know that there's been a lot of misinformation in this debate and there are a some folks out there who are, frankly, bearing false witness. I need you to spread the facts and speak the truth.''
    The administration seems to be getting back to its massive organizing skill. The Times:
    "Organizing for America, the president's political organization based at the Democratic National Committee, is trying to rally its members. Last week about 60,000 volunteers sent messages to lawmakers, urging them to support Obama's health care agenda.

    Obama plans Thursday to promote his plans in a conference call and online address to supporters that could draw huge numbers of listeners. He also will speak with Philadelphia-based radio talk show host Michael Smerconish, who will broadcast from the White House."

    I can't wait to hear the Smerconish conversation. I hope the President takes calls from Smerconish's mostly conservative listeners.

    Sphere: Related Content

    The Mind Of Steele - Nothing Gets In

    Michael Steele's doesn't let new information in or the truth out. As Republicans across the country, including stalwarts at the National Review, are announcing their shunning of the "death panel" claims Michale Steele continues to straddle both sides. The Mind of Steele said on MSNBC about "death panel" claims:
    "Some characterize it as unfortunate. Others characterize it as a reflection of what they think and what they feel. That comes from some place and is something that’s out there in the grassroots of America, not just Republicans.”
    His response to Joe Scarborough asking is Steele believes there will be "death panels":
    “It may or may not be. I don’t know. We don’t know what the bill is. But there’s clearly an attempt by at least the House members to put in place a structure that causes concern for the American people in respect to end of life decisions. I think that’s a legitimate point. You don’t have to call it death panels if you don’t want to. You can call it a panel. I call it rationing.”
    Is this guy really this disconnected from the reality of his party?

    Sphere: Related Content

    Trial Date For Prop 8 Challenge Is Set

    January 11, 2010 is the trial date for the Prop 8 challenge.

    The Mercury News reports:
    "During a hearing in San Francisco, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ordered lawyers on both sides of the case to gear up quickly for the trial, which foes of California's same-sex marriage ban hope will be the first step in getting the legal fight over gay marriage to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Backed by former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson and prominent lawyer David Boies, two same-sex couples sued in federal court this past spring to overturn Proposition 8, approved by voters in fall 2008 to restore California's ban on gay marriage. The lawsuit maintains Proposition 8 violates the federal constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples by denying them the equal right to marry, and marks what is likely to be the first crucial legal test in the federal courts over the issue.

    The California Supreme Court this past spring upheld Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage, but the justices left intact an estimated 18,000 gay marriages that took place last year before voters approved the measure by 52 to 48 percent. Those weddings took place after the state Supreme Court struck down the state's previous laws banning same-sex marriage."
    In an odd twist the judge in this trial made comments about the state lack of a defense in this case:
    "Walker took a swipe at Schwarzenegger's position at the conclusion of today's hearing, saying, 'I must say I'm surprised at the governor's position in this case. ... This is a matter of some importance to the people of the state.'"
    I can't wait for the crazy protests.

    Photo thanks to Sphere: Related Content

    Move Over Judy Garland Here Comes Ted Olson

    The profile of Ted Olson in today's NY Times is excellent. For some people it will seem like an Ebeneezer Scrooge story for others it is a Benedict Arnold story.

    The profile:
    "Mr. Olson, who is not a regular churchgoer, began to elaborate on his view that religious beliefs were insufficient legal justification for government to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage."
    I would assert that religion is not a basis for any legal judgment, in as far as you can remove those ideas from your thought process.

    Two quotes from the profile that shows the stupidity of the idea that people, even those with well defined ideologies, should be ruled by monolithic sets of ideas:
    "Last month, at a Federalist Society lunch, Mr. Olson delivered his annual roundup of the Supreme Court term. He was greeted warmly, but there was palpable discomfort over the marriage case. Not a single person mentioned it to him, save for an oblique ribbing by David Bossie, whom Mr. Olson is representing in a case involving his scathing documentary about Hillary Rodham Clinton. After pecking Ms. Olson on the cheek, Mr. Bossie told her husband, “I’m not going to kiss you, even though apparently you wouldn’t mind.”

    William Bradford Reynolds, another Reagan-era colleague, said later that while Mr. Olson presented a thoughtful case, 'He’s taking a more assertive view of how one should interpret the Constitution than you would normally expect Ted to take.'"
    Sphere: Related Content

    Is The White House Strategy Playing Out As Planned?

    Jill Lawrence at Politics Daily posits that perhaps the current spot that the health care debate is at may be a part of the master Obama Strategy. She Writes:
    "I were formulating strategy at the White House, I would be thinking it's way too early to play hardball about anything, especially the public insurance proposal that has inflamed both liberals (who insist on having it) and conservatives (who insist it must be dumped)."
    Is it better to play "hardball" at the crunch time or in the beginning getting the ducks lined up and ready to quack in unison?

    She writes:
    "But health reform has many more complexities and congressional phases than the Senate's one-shot authorization of a war. My view – to be honest, my hope – is that Obama is deliberately keeping people guessing as the delicate process unfolds. Princeton scholar Fred Greenstein, author of 'The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to George W. Bush," told me that's a definite possibility. He called Obama 'a constructive political chameleon' who is making 'studious use of ambiguity.'"
    I like to read about these awesome theories of political maneuverings that seem dramatic but unrealistic. The idea that using the slow legislative policy to your advantage to get a bill through the senate and then try to get a few defectors from the right side of the aisle seems awfully speculative. A strategy that depends on moving at least two republican senators along with eight conservative democrats is long odds.

    If there is some amount of confidence that a plan with the public option can get one or two safe republican senator supporters the administration should pursue that option but you still need to get all eight democrat swing senators. Five of the senators are up for election over the next three years, three in 2010 and two in 2012. I think it is very unlikely to get all five of these senators to support a bill.

    Perhaps a better strategy is to get Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd to retire to acquire two functional democrat votes. It only makes the road easier. Sphere: Related Content

    How To Keep The Florida Senate Seat Warm For Crist

    Bradford Plumer in The New Republic's The Vine Blog ponders the political maneuvers Florida Gov. Charlie Crist needs to make in order to secure that seat for himself in the next election.

    Plumer writes:
    "The big litmus test, though, will be who Crist appoints as a placeholder to serve out the rest of retiring Senator Mel Martinez's term. The odds are overwhelming that Crist's pick will cast a vote on a major climate bill in the Senate later this year. Environmental groups are already pressuring Crist to appoint someone who reflects his views on energy and global warming. But, of course, if Crist appoints a green Republican who votes for a climate bill, he risks the wrath of the GOP base in next year's primaries. So what's it going to be."
    Sphere: Related Content

    Your Bi-Polar Condition Can Make You Money

    Just like Glenn Beck, anything for a dollar. Here is a Beck episode condensed to ten minutes. He implies that he does not think eugenics is coming but goes on to inform us what eugenics is with what is essentially film of the genre that you will see in an old school sex ed classes.

    I believe that if the three guys sitting with Beck at the beginning had said they thought eugenics was coming Beck would have went that way.

    He cries.

    When will Murdoch cut this guy loose?

    Beck hasn't tweeted in four days, perhaps he is looking for a new job. Sphere: Related Content

    Iowa Republican Congressman Corrects Chuck Grassley's Lies

    The Iowa Independent reports on a Town Hall held by Iowa Republican Congressman Tom Latham. The Independent reports:
    "Despite the fact that many of his fellow Republicans say otherwise, including fellow Iowan and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Latham said so-called 'death panels' are not in the bill. The provision in question deals with funding for voluntary end-of-life planning, he said.

    You also won’t find any mention of abortion, he said. An advertising campaign paid for by anti-abortion groups says a lack of specifics on abortion in the bill will end with taxpayer dollars being spent on abortions.

    The bill that has been passed by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee stipulates that the only abortion services that could be paid for with government funds would be those in which the mother’s life was endangered or in cases of rape or incest.

    'There is nothing in the bill one way or another,' Latham said, later adding that while there have been amendments in committee that would specifically prohibit it, those were voted down."

    Sphere: Related Content

    Tort Reform And Health Care

    Daphne Eviatar at the Washington Independent writes about tort reform in the health care debate:
    "'It’s really just a distraction,' said Tom Baker, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and author of 'The Medical Malpractice Myth.' 'If you were to eliminate medical malpractice liability, even forgetting the negative consequences that would have for safety, accountability, and responsiveness, maybe we’d be talking about 1.5 percent of health care costs. So we’re not talking about real money. It’s small relative to the out-of-control cost of health care.'

    Insurance costs about $50-$60 billion a year, Baker estimates. As for what’s often called 'defensive medicine,' 'there’s really no good study that’s been able to put a number on that,' said Baker.

    Krauthammer cited a study by the Massachusetts Medical Society that found that five out of six doctors said they ordered additional tests, procedures and referrals to protect themselves from lawsuits. He also relies on a much-criticized study from the libertarian Pacific Research Institute on the civil justice system to conclude that 'defensive medicine' wastes more than $200 billion a year."

    Baker is skeptical, and makes the point that “defensive medicine” is not the same thing as wasteful medicine. “Like defensive driving, some defensive medicine is good,” he said. “To change behavior. When you drill down those studies, you see that what it means is, doctors are more careful with patient records. They spend more time with the patient. They’re more careful to say hello and goodbye to the patient. That’s good.

    Other health economists agree that 'defensive medicine' is not the main driver of costs, and malpractice liability reform is not a panacea."
    Sphere: Related Content

    Barney Frank

    OK I like this Barney Frank performance. It is a Friar's Club routine, but it does not help the Democrat's cause. Maybe it helps in Massachusetts but this video will be played all over the country.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Art Break - Enjoy

    William Sylvester Carter
    County Fair, c.1950
    Sphere: Related Content

    Time For The Dems To Be More Bushian

    According to The NY Times, the Democrats plan to use their majority to pass reform in health care. They now need to focus on the blue dogs and get them in line with the party.

    The only question that needs to be answered in why wasn't this the strategy all along? Did the President really think that he would get cooperation from a significant amount of Republicans in congress to pass a reform bill?

    This seems like it was a massive miscalculation from the administration and leaders in congress. Democrats have giving too much space on the health care stage in their attempt at bipartisanship. Accordingly, they have amplified the voices of opposition with the ubiquity of "death panel" and other ridiculousness. The path back to controlling the debate will not be as easy as it seems. This seemingly simple change in strategy will not turn the heads of suspicious people in the districts of the blue dogs.

    Looking at the MSNBC/WSJ poll
    the President's recent town halls have not seemed to have any impact on voters attitude toward the President's goals in reforming health care. The majority of respondents in the poll identified themselves as democrats but the level of support for President Obama's performance of health care is the same as July. Also the the number of people who think the President's plan is a good idea is even with July.

    Matt Yglesias at Think Progress posits that perhaps the past few months on health care have been a calculated plan from the Democrats to give the Republicans just enough rope for which hang themselves. Perhaps, but what is the counterweight on that rope, it may be the cornerstone of the President's reform, the public option. Sphere: Related Content

    The Hypothetical Death Panels

    Conor Clarke writes about the how the media is using the term "death panel."

    Clarke writes:
    "The Wall Street Journal, for instance, will no longer publish something saying the administration or Congress is proposing actual, bona fide death panels. Because, well, no one is proposing them. Instead, the Journal publishes an Orwellian short story -- fiction on the Journal op-ed page! -- about a man standing before some hypothetical future death panel, being deprived of life saving care."
    Sphere: Related Content

    45% Of People In MSNBC Poll Are Crazy

    An MSNBC Poll has shown that 45% of people believe the "death panel" lies.
    MSNBC says:
    "Forty-five percent think the reform proposals would allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing medical care for the elderly.

    That also is untrue: The provision in the House legislation that critics have seized on — raising the specter of 'death panels' or euthanasia — would simply allow Medicare to pay doctors for end-of-life counseling, if the patient wishes."
    The poll provides interesting insight in other areas, worth the read. Sphere: Related Content

    Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    I Want A New Turntable

    The Daily What Sphere: Related Content

    Google Trends as Economic Indicator Update

    A San Francisco Chronicle story about using web based trends as indicators.

    Earlier this summer Larry Summers claimed that the economic situation was improving because fewer people were searching for the term economic depression in Google. This a questionable form of economic analysis but fun to talk about.

    The SF Chronicle reports:
    "R.J. Pittman, director of product management at Google, said it was flattering that Summers cited Google's search data as an informal survey on consumer confidence, but added that the information should not be seen as factual or fully representative. Still, he said, Google sees potential in products like Google Trends."
    Sphere: Related Content

    Where Healthy Choices Are Made

    Gallup Health Behavior Index.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Back Of The Napkin Analysis Of Health Care Reform

    This a long yet entertaining breakdown of health care debate.
    Sphere: Related Content

    Huckabee On A Palestinian State: Call Shleppers Moving Company

    Mike Huckabee thinks there should be a Palestinian state, just somewhere other than the place they have been for centuries. Huckabee said:
    "The question is should the Palestinians have a place to call their own? Yes, I have no problem with that. Should it be in the middle of the Jewish homeland? That's what I think has to be honestly assessed as virtually unrealistic."
    He wants to move the Palestinians. Where? Isn't that how all this started?

    AP Photo
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    The Parallels Between Palinism and McCarthyism

    Richard Cohen writes in the Wash Post:
    "The most depressing aspects of McCarthy's career were not just the excesses of the man himself but the refusal of others -- mainly his fellow Republicans -- to either rein him in or defend his victims. Now we are seeing something similar with Palin. Say what you will about any of the health-care proposals, not one of them suggests a 'death panel' empowered to withhold medical services from the aged or those with disabilities. To suggest that one exists is reprehensible. To state it outright is either boldly demagogic or just plain loopy."
    Sphere: Related Content

    All The Romance Of A Home Invasion

    Police Officers in Baltimore staged a raid on a boat to help a man propose marriage to his girlfriend. What type person hatches a scheme like this and what type of woman says yes to this sort of proposal, maybe one that is afraid of being shot.

    I hope the officers have to pay for their stupidity. Not with their jobs but the cost should be severe and high. Sphere: Related Content

    Art Break - Enjoy

    Dan Witz
    La Minita Grocery, 2008
    oil & mixed media on canvas Sphere: Related Content

    Hitchens On The Intellectual Cowardice Of The Yale U. Press

    Hitchens on "The Cartoon That Shook The University In Its Pants." On the caving of institutions to possible outrage:
    "It was bad enough during the original controversy, when most of the news media—and in the age of "the image" at that—refused to show the cartoons out of simple fear. But now the rot has gone a serious degree further into the fabric. Now we have to say that the mayhem we fear is also our fault, if not indeed our direct responsibility. This is the worst sort of masochism, and it involves inverting the honest meaning of our language as well as what might hitherto have been thought of as our concept of moral responsibility."

    Sphere: Related Content
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