Thursday, December 17, 2009

Never Thought I'd Say This...

...and get ready for Hell to freeze over ... but Keith Olbermann makes an excellent point.

Yes, you read that right. The guy is a raving left-wing loon, but he is right about the senate healthcare bill, specifically the requirement that all Americans purchase government approved insurance. He lays out what it will cost the President:

[T]his bill costs you the [support of the political] left —and anybody who now has to pony up 17 percent of his family’s income to buy this equivalent of Medical Mobster Protection Money.

Olbermann continued:

The mandate in this bill … must be stripped out...It is above all else immoral and a betrayal of the people who elected you….

And this sounds awfully rebellious:

I am one of the self-insured, albeit by choice. And I hereby pledge that I will not buy this perversion of health care reform. Pass this at your peril, Senators, and sign it at yours, Mr. President.
I will not buy this insurance.
Brand me a lawbreaker if you choose.
Fine me if you will.
Jail me if you must.

Wow, I couldn't have said it any better myself. What a weird feeling to agree with him...

Granted his reasons for opposing it are much different than mine, as you can see reading the entire post. He's ticked that it is not fully socialized. But I understand his dislike of the mandate. The enemy of my enemy is my friend? . . . well, maybe not quite yet.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why Trying the 9/11 Terrorists in NYC is a BAD Idea

An excellent analysis of why trying Khalid Shiekh Mohammud in New York is a colossal mistake. The legal jargon is a little dense, sorry.

The writer is an attorney who lays out how the trial will inevitably play out. I think he's exactly right. We've seen this already in the trial of Zacharias Moussoui (however it's spelled), the alleged 20th hijacker. In short it will be a massive media circus, cost incredible amounts of money, give the confessed terrorists an international platform and publicity, and require that the U.S. disclose our secret intelligence gathering techniques. Not to mention setting the defense attorneys up for life financially, and ruining the reputation of the U.S. legal system.

He also speculates on the President's motivations for bringing the trials here, and concludes that it is part of a sinister left-wing plot. On that point I think he gives President Obama too much credit. A plot requires competence and planning. I'm not sure it's a plot, so much as just plain stupidity, naivete, and a fundamental misunderstanding of the world and of human nature coupled with a disdain for any policy or measure enacted by President Bush.

I never thought I'd say this, but I'd rather see them tried at the International Criminal Court. It's reputation has no where to go but up, and when the terrorists are all freed, it would help cement public opinion against international institutions, and strengthen faith in America. All the opposite outcomes of a trial in NYC.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Random Quote:

From a National Review Blog:

This Day in Liberal Judicial Activism—November 12 [Ed Whelan]

1908—In Nashville, Illinois, the human fetus to become known as Harry A. Blackmun emerges safe and sound from his mother’s womb. Some sixty-five years later, Justice Blackmun authors the Supreme Court opinion in Roe v. Wade. (See This Day for Jan. 22, 1973.) Somehow the same people who think it meaningful to criticize Justice Thomas for opposing affirmative-action programs from which he putatively benefited don’t criticize Blackmun for depriving millions of other unborn human beings the same opportunity that he was given.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another Anniversary

Twenty years ago today, the East German government lifted all travel restrictions on its citizens. Later that night, Germans began tearing down the Berlin Wall.

The press seems to be taking much more notice of this one than they did of the Tiananmen Square anniversary.

I remember the events, but I didn't appreciate them as much at the time as I do now. This was a truly historic event, and was the highlight of the series of peaceful revolutions which dismantled the Communist bloc within only 2 years.

A miracle if there ever was one.

Too bad our President didn't think it necessary to attend the celebration. Peter Robinson says it best at National Review Online.

The Cold War was the defining struggle of the second half of the 20th century — a clash of beliefs about God, man, government, and economics so utterly basic, so primal, that it stands in comparison with the Persian Wars or the long conflict between Rome and Carthage. “My view of the Cold War is simple,” Reagan once famously explained. “We win, and they lose.” And with the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago on Monday, that is just how it turned out. Liberty vanquished tyranny.

Barack Obama? He has no idea. No idea at all.

And from George Weigel:

It’s a very big deal, because the president’s absence bespeaks a woodenheadeness about the history of our times: a woodenheadness likely influenced by the classic left-liberal notion that the Cold War was just an action-reaction cycle between two “great powers” (“two scorpions in a bottle,” as a Jimmy Carter appointee notoriously put it), not a moral contest for the human future between imperfect democracies and pluperfect dictatorships.

There have been few moments in modern history when the good guys won, cleanly, and without mass violence; Americans had a large role in creating the conditions for the possibility of that. The fall of the Wall was the symbolic centerpiece of the Revolution of 1989 — it’s shameful and, frankly, embarrassing that an American president is not in Berlin to celebrate the implosion of the worst tyranny in human history. But it’s hardly surprising, given the president’s performance before Russian students earlier this year.

The politics of national self-deprecation — moral blindness wrapped in moral sanctimony — continues.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sensible Healthcare Reform

I've resisted posting on healthcare reform here for 2 reasons:

1. No one wants to read a 10,000 word rant complete with charts and analogies.
2. I can't find the time to write said 10,000 word rant.

So, I leave it to others with greater powers of brevity. Charles Krauthammer has two suggestions that should be tried before any radical restructuring of the current healthcare system. They will genuinely reduce costs and lessen the influence of government in our lives.

(1) Tort reform: As I wrote recently, our crazy system of casino malpractice suits results in massive and random settlements that raise everyone's insurance premiums and creates an epidemic of defensive medicine that does no medical good, yet costs a fortune.

I'm a lawyer, and even I agree with that. The inability of malpractice insurance companies to predict what crazy awards juries will give leads to astronomical premiums. In addition, it causes doctors to order unnecessary procedures "just to make sure:"

An authoritative Massachusetts Medical Society study found that five out of six doctors admitted they order tests, procedures and referrals -- amounting to about 25 percent of the total -- solely as protection from lawsuits. Defensive medicine, estimates the libertarian/conservative Pacific Research Institute, wastes more than $200 billion a year.

Krauthammer envisions something like the workers' compensation plan to handle malpractice incidents.

Abolish the entire medical-malpractice system. Create a new social pool from which people injured in medical errors or accidents can draw. The adjudication would be done by medical experts, not lay juries giving away lottery prizes at the behest of the liquid-tongued John Edwardses who pocket a third of the proceeds.

The pool would be funded by a relatively small tax on all health-insurance premiums. Socialize the risk; cut out the trial lawyers. Would that immunize doctors from carelessness or negligence? No. The penalty would be losing your medical license. There is no more serious deterrent than forfeiting a decade of intensive medical training and the livelihood that comes with it.

Second, uncouple health insurance from employment and from geography:

(2) Real health-insurance reform: Tax employer-provided health care benefits and return the money to the employee with a government check to buy his own medical insurance, just as he buys his own car or home insurance.

There is no logical reason to get health insurance through your employer. This entire system is an accident of World War II wage and price controls. It's economically senseless. It makes people stay in jobs they hate, decreasing labor mobility and therefore overall productivity. And it needlessly increases the anxiety of losing your job by raising the additional specter of going bankrupt through illness. . . . If we additionally eliminated the prohibition on buying personal health insurance across state lines, that would inject new and powerful competition that would lower costs for everyone.

Good common-sense things to try which will lower the cost of medical care and reduce both the need for, and the cost of, health insurance.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Darkness and Light - 20 years since Tiananmen Square

Since few others marking this day, I will.

The Tiananmen protests started in April 1989, when students began calling for greater democracy and anti-corruption measures. After weeks of protests, which saw the square packed with up to 1 million people, troops and tanks moved in on the night of 3-4 June 1989. An unknown number of people were killed in the crackdown. Estimates range from 0 - 5000. For what it's worth, the Chinese Government acknowledges 241 dead and 7000 injured. Thousands more were arrested throughout the country. Some are still held, others haven't been seen since. Among the "disappeared" is the unknown man in the photo above. It is known he was arrested, but the Chinese government has not been able to "find" him in response to international pressure.

The last official statement from the PRC government about the "Tank Man" came from Jiang Zemin in a 1990 interview with Barbara Walters. When asked about the whereabouts of the "Tank Man", Jiang responded that the young man was "I think never killed".

Kudos to the BBC - they have a story about the official Chinese reaction to the anniversary. And a video of a reporter trying to enter the square:

These brave students may well have been part of the cause of the great events of 1989 - the fall of the Berlin Wall being the most memorable. They were the last great uprising against communism to be ruthlessly suppressed, the ones that came after succeeded, and the world is a better place for their courage.

They deserve to be remembered together with The Hungarians in 1956, and the Czechs in 1968.

We must remember that Communism is not just another political system, it has objectively measurable, real effects on the lives of the people oppressed by it. The ultimate ends are the destruction of the human soul, both body and spirit, grinding pervasive poverty, darkness and death.

This darkness is not just spiritual, but literal as this composite satellite image of the nighttime Earth shows:

Japan is the string of lights from bottom center to top right, surrounded by the dark of the ocean - Japan is a thriving democracy, and is an island.

South Korea is center left, surrounded by darkness too - South Korea is a thriving democracy. South Korea is not an island.

The darkness to the north is North Korea - the "purest" communist nation on Earth. The scattered "Islands" north of that are Communist China.

No matter how much we talk and trade with them, communists are evil. We must never forget that. And we must never forget those who died 20 years ago today.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Putin's Genius

I read a very insightful article today on how Vladimir Putin's totalitarianism can survive when so many others have failed.

The author points out the one crucial difference which seems to make his rule palatable to ordinary Russians. I think he is absolutely correct. It's a thought I've had floating around in my head for a while.

People are often more tolerant of Government interference in big things than in little ones.
The new czar saw that most human beings don't care who governs them, as long as the government minds its own business. And if the ruler can revive the illusion of national power, so much the better.

In my way of thinking, this is a symptom of all forms of socialism, and part of what make socialism attractive to so many. Wants are supplied, and all that's required politically is to do nothing.

The author characterizes the unspoken bargain Putin has struck with the Russian people as:
"I get the political power, you get material progress and social freedoms. Behave in the streets, and I'll stay out of your sheets."

Do what you want on your own time in your own home, and the government will leave you alone, but the "commanding heights" of the political and economic life of the nation are off limits. Wear what you want, say what you want to your friends, buy the nice products we import for you, and be content. Protesting, public criticism, political opposition - these are signs of ingratitude and threaten the status quo.
Shamelessly cynical, Putin goes through the stage-managed forms of democracy. He even permits scripted media criticism of the state (though not of himself).

But there are limits to the new totalitarianism's tolerance. You can call Putin a baboon-butt monkey-boy over the vodka bottle at your kitchen table - but don't do it in public.

Cross that line and you are, literally, dead. A deal's a deal.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Common Sense . . . Almost

I was reading about the California Woman who just gave birth to octuplets. The poor lady had 6 kids already.

It seems like the media has no shortage of advice and criticism for her. Some stories imply that any sane person would have aborted several of the babies, others wonder about a possible breach of medical ethics by the doctor who implanted 8 embryos in the first place.

I'm glad she didn't abort them, I do wonder about the doctor though. Fox news tries to at least be helpful

"Eating, sleeping and bathing are the key areas to get scheduled," he said. "The same goes for mom and dad. Parents need to make sure they're whole or else they won't be valuable to their children."

Good, so far so good, just good common sense, but then common sense seems to go right out the window:

Sophy said the expense of raising 14 children will likely be prohibitive, citing studies that estimate it costs roughly $2.5 million to raise a child to adulthood. Using that math, raising 14 children would cost roughly $35 million.

"And that's basic stuff," he said. "That doesn't include swimming lessons and things like that. It's very costly and hopefully the planning that needs to be done was done upfront."

What the heck? 2.5 million dollars? For one child? Who won't even know how to swim? I don't even have to think to know that that is patently absurd.

If your family makes $100,000 a year and spends every penny on only one child for 20 years that's still only 2 million dollars. Throw in a $100,000 college education, and another $100,000 for law school, and you're still not there.

Common sense should tell you that many people who don't earn 2.5 million dollars in their lifetime successfully raise children to adulthood. For example, the median income in the U.S. is about $50,000. that median earner will need 50 years to make 2.5 million. Obviously it doesn't cost them 2.5 million to raise one child.

The reporter makes matters worse by simply regurgitating the number and then calculating that it will take 35 million dollars to raise the 14 children in the family.

Absolutely ridiculous.