Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bob's Political Digest for August 5 2009

We just received the title for one of our cars here in Illinois. My wife’s name was spelled “Borrie” instead off Bonnie. Address was slightly off as well. Boy, am I looking forward to having government employees making my health care decisions.

Scam alert
For convenience and frequent flyer miles, we pay almost everything by credit card, which we pay off monthly, giving us a high bill. I scan it, but tend to think my wife made small charges. In the last couple of months, I’ve discovered two or three small charges, $15 to $230, for items I didn’t recognize. Turned out when we’d clicked “I accept” on terms and conditions on some site we bought something from, we were signing up for some web service we never used, or remembers. (Don’t kid me, you don’t read all that lawyerese either.) So if you give a site your credit card, be careful of “I accept”—and check your bill carefully. The scumbags are multiplying.

Burial as Sea
Having served on burial detail for a month, this is a tough piece to read

Obama's birth debate: It's about loyalty (A must read!)
Excerpt: The birth debate about Obama is real enough, but it is legally complicated, as analyzed by legal beagle Andrew McCarthy at National Review. No judge is going to question the Constitutional qualifications of an elected president. I'm sorry, but that's the practical reality. The judge is going to follow stare decisis -- the sheer weight of commitments that cannot be reversed without creating chaos. Once the political system of the United States, the voters, the media, and the politicians themselves are all committed to the proposition that Obama is president, trying to reverse it would mean riots in every city in the nation. At some point even debatable claims become irreversible. That is why Al Franken is now the US Senator from Minnesota, even if his election was corrupt and wrong. It's water under the bridge. Leave it to history.

And yet the Obama "birther" debate is important. What's important about it is the feeling a growing number of Americans have in their bones that Obama is foreign -- to our traditions, loyalties and shared understandings about the nature of America. In a way the legal debate matters less than that bone-deep sense that Obama is fundamentally "Other than American."

Mom Christens Warship in Memory of N.Y. Marine
In a decent world, there would have been no coverage of Michael Jackson’s funeral, and everyone would know the name of Jason Dunham.

Utopia Versus Freedom
Excerpt: "Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom." We have heard that many times. What is also the price of freedom is the toleration of imperfections. If everything that is wrong with the world becomes a reason to turn more power over to some political savior, then freedom is going to erode away, while we are mindlessly repeating the catchwords of the hour, whether "change," "universal health care" or "social justice."

Dems vow health bill
Bipartisan mean you must do it my way.

Russia Sends Signal to Israel
Excerpt: If Israel attacks Iran, and Russia attacks Israel, will President Obama watch the Jewish state die, sacrificing her in a futile attempt to position the country for a post-Israel grand bargain with the Islamists? Or will he defend our ally?

Would You Buy a Used Kidney From This Man?
They botched clunkfare. Hey, let’s let ’em run health care!
Excerpt: Higher Taxes for All! (Except Ambulance Chasers.) Democrats in Congress have finally found a tax cut they can get behind, Legal Newsline reports: Federal legislation that would afford trial lawyers a special tax break faces an uncertain future, says one of the chief lobbyists for the nation’s trial lawyers.

The proposal would allow attorneys to deduct fees and expenses up-front for filing contingency-fee lawsuits. The proposal amounts to about a $1.6 billion tax break for plaintiffs’ attorneys, estimates indicate. “Everyone wants to do it, but the problem is there is not a tax vehicle yet,” said Linda Lipsen, American Association for Justice (AAJ) Senior Vice President of Public Affairs. . . .“You cannot have a stand alone bill to help lawyers … so we have to tuck it into something,” she said

'Pelosi jobs tax' pairs up with ObamaCare
Excerpt: Herrick says labor and health economists both have documented that health benefits are essentially part of an employee's compensation -- employers do not pay for that, workers do. That is why he contends minimum-wage workers in small businesses will be hit the hardest -- they will either be laid off, or in many cases not get the job because their skills are too marginal to afford the cost of a Cadillac health plan.

Germans Hoarding Traditional Light Bulbs,1518,638494,00.html
Environmentalists hit by the Law of Unintended Consequences yet again.

Public insurance pays for 4 in 10 Emergency Room visits.
Wonder why things cost so much?

The Triumph of Hope over Experience
I’d call it the inevitable triumph of economic realities over hope.

Australia jihad bust: "The alleged offenders were prepared to inflict a sustained attack on military personnel until they themselves were killed"
If the jihadists kill enough Americans, it will cut the national healthcare bill. Maybe that’s BO’s plan to save money.

Muslims Persecute Christians
Yawn. Wake me if a Jew or Christian offends a Muslim in any way.

Iranian civilian plane that crashed was carrying arms to Hizballah
Excerpt: "According to the sources, the plane was meant to transfer the fuses from Iran to Armenia, and from there to Syria through Turkey, and then on the ground to Lebanon. This route was chosen, according to exiled opposition sources, so as not to draw attention." Whoops.

Pakistan: Eight Christians burned alive
BO’s Religion of Peace and Tolerance?

German charity for Lebanese orphans is raising cash for Hizballah suicide bombers
Yet another manifestation of the “religion of Peace.”

Barack Obama courts human rights abusers in Taliban fight
What could go wrong?

British Patients Forced to Live in Agony
In England, 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 (NHW) and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is ordering doctors to offer patients remedies like acupuncture and osteopathy, says the Telegraph.

A better model for malpractice system
Excerpt: Health care reform is bogged down because none of the bills before Congress deal with the staggering waste of the current system, estimated to be $700 billion to $1 trillion annually. The waste flows from a culture of health care in which every incentive is to do more – that's how doctors make money, and that's how they protect themselves from lawsuits.

N. Korea Says Two U.S. Journalists Have Been Pardoned
They released the two women to Bill Clinton. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment.

What is sustainable?
I received this via e-mail. Cannot find a web link, but presume the good doctor won’t mind. I’m rather afraid to publish it, lest the Obama Administration declare entertainment a “right” and have the government take it over.

The Dirty Little Secret about Healthcare Expenditures.
For the longest time, we have been bombarded with messages from the President and Congress about the rising costs of healthcare. It seems that we are constantly being reminded about the “unacceptability” of healthcare costs in this country and their “unsustainability.” The answer, I am told, is to reign in healthcare expenditures and slash the costs of everything healthcare, including the payment to those who perform the services. In the midst of all this political chatter, however, I find myself asking, if we are spending too much on unsustainable vices such as healthcare, then just what do we spend on the really important things in life…like entertainment?

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average individual expenditure on health care for 2007 was $2,853.00 per year. During the same year, the Bureau tells us, Americans spent $2,698.00 on entertainment. The numbers translate to a total $858.7 billion on health care and $812.1 billion on entertainment.

Digging a little deeper, in 1995 the per capita expenditure on healthcare was $1,732.00 translating to a total national expenditure of $455.2 billion. For entertainment, the 1995 individual and total expenditures were $1612.00 and $424.0 billion, respectively. During the period spanning from 1995 to 2007, the average per capita expenditure on healthcare rose by 65%, while for entertainment the change was 67%. For the same the period, the percentage change on the total national expenditure on healthcare was 89%, while for entertainment, it was 92%...remarkably similar statistics in both sizes and trends.

After reviewing these numbers and their marked similarities one is immediately brought to the obvious question over the difference in attention. Phrased differently, if we are spending similar amounts as a country in both healthcare and entertainment, and if both expenditures categories are growing at surprisingly similar rates, then why is the expenditure on healthcare deemed to be “unacceptable” and “unsustainable” while the expenditure on entertainment is not? Why is it further, that our country’s leaders would deem it necessary to regulate the expenditures on healthcare, but not those on entertainment?

One could argue of course, that when we get sick, we don’t have the option of not spending on our health. One could also argue that when we need it, obtaining healthcare is not optional. However, it is precisely that the converse is true about entertainment that makes this argument disintegrate under any semblance of intellectual scrutiny. It is precisely because entertainment and needless spending is such an unnecessary part of our budgets that one would think we would allocate at least some of these resources to our care and less to these idle pleasures. It would further seem tempting for a social engineer to try to dissuade the country from spending as much on entertainment so that those moneys could be more wisely allocated to healthcare.

These thoughts take on extra significance under the weight of the average salaries for professional athletes. Basketball players, on the average, make in the order of $5 million, baseball players, $2.8 million, football players, $1.75 million and hockey players, $1.0 million.
In the movie industry, it is not uncommon for Tom Cruise to be paid $15 million to star in a movie while Will Smith earned $35 million for his appearance in Hitch, and Denzel Washington earned $30 million to appear in Inside Man. In the meantime the person that you call to crack your chest open in the middle of the night or to take out your brain tumor is barely making enough money to keep his or her office open and certainly not enough to entice the best and the brightest of our present generations to consider going into the profession. All the while, Hugh Laurie, portrayer of Gregory House in the successful TV series, gets paid $9 million to pretend to save a life.

So, as we continue our debate on healthcare and how we wish to pay for it, wouldn’t it be appropriate to really ask ourselves, just what is unsustainable, and just what is unacceptable? A true, introspective response will surely reveal an answer that our politicians and the media are irresponsibly refusing to touch.

Julio Gonzalez, MD
Venice, Florida

School for Judges?
I’d think I’d like to be a judge. Is there a school where I can learn to be a “Wise Latina” so I can make better decisions?

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