Right Thinking From The Left Coast
I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. - Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Cowering Behind The Kids


Pakistan’s top Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, is buying children as young as 7 to serve as suicide bombers in the growing spate of attacks against Pakistani, Afghan and U.S. targets, U.S. Defense Department and Pakistani officials say.

A Pakistani official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named because of the sensitive nature of the topic, said the going price for child bombers was $7,000 to $14,000 - huge sums in Pakistan, where per-capita income is about $2,600 a year.

“[Mehsud] has turned suicide bombing into a production output, not unlike [the way] Toyota outputs cars,” a U.S. Defense Department official told reporters recently. He spoke on the condition that he not be named because of ongoing intelligence efforts to catch Mehsud, a prime target for a U.S. and Pakistani anti-Taliban campaign.

The article goes on to note that the use of boy soldiers is not unusual in the region.  But this is different.  This is kidnapping other people’s children and tying bombs to them—an act of such tremendous encourage, it could only have come from the cowardly Taliban.

Mehsud, in case you don’t know, is the Bhutto-murdering fucker we almost got with a Predator last week.  I was disappointed then but now I’m sort of hoping we’ll catch him alive.  In keeping with our renewed commitments to the Geneva Conventions and the rule of law, I propose we don’t torture him.  I propose we don’t even imprison him.  We’ll just cut him loose on the streets of Karachi with some of the parents whose babies he bought and murdered.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/02/09 at 07:15 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Now Watch This Drive

CNS News:

Despite ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ongoing violence in Iran, and an economy that Obama has described as the worst since the Great Depression, the president has golfed multiple times in the past several weeks--on April 26, May 16, May 25, May 31, June 7, June 9, June 14 and June 21.

Obama’s golf outings have generated favorable reports from the media, in contrast to his predecessor, George W. Bush.

You know where this is going.  Bush was criticized in some circles for golfing during a war (a war that is still going).  He then ended up in the catch-22 where he was pilloried for golfing, then pilloried again when he stopped golfing ( “That’s his idea of sacrifice, to give up golf?” said Robert Dallek).  But Obama....

A search of news reports on Nexis revealed that photographers, but not reporters have access to Obama when he is on the links. But his outings have been covered, including by The Washington Post on June 9, 2009, in an article with the headline “Just the Sport for A Leader Most Driven.”

“What’s the deal? Why golf?” Post staff writer Richard Leiby wrote. “The attraction seems to be simple. It’s a great escape; the game demands such attention that nothing else matters. It’s time spent with friends, an unhurried afternoon in loose clothing (shorts seem to be Obama’s preference).”

Leiby continued, “To some, Obama’s frequent outings reflect a cool self-confidence.”

Leiby even quoted a sports psychologist who said Obama seemed able to play golf despite the grim reports by the media about the wars and the economy.

I didn’t have a problem with Bush golfing and I don’t have a problem with Obama doing it either—not in the least because as long as he’s golfing, he can’t be fucking something else up.  The list of soldiers who died while Obama was golfing is needlessly dramatic, although I did find it disrespectful when he observed a moment of silence on memorial day by pausing between holes.  I like Presidents to get out of the White House once in a while because it increases the chance that may actually invest thought into their policies.  So if Obama wants to hit the links a couple of times a month, I’m down with that.

But it would be nice is if we got some ... you know ... consistency on the subject.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/02/09 at 09:25 AM in The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Bad Medicine From Walmart

Some time ago, I noted that the big driver behind socialized medicine might be big business seeking to cripple competition while currying favor with politicians.

I hate being right all the time.  Walmart has now come out in favor of Obama’s healthcare proposals, allying itself with CAP and SEIU.  This, of course, instantly transforms Walmart in liberal minds from the Embodiment of Corporate Evil to the Best Corporation in America (they also came out in favor of Waxman-Markey).

But this move is completely unsurprising and absolutely consistent with Walmart’s pattern of behavior.

At first glance, the idea of the notoriously cheap chain favoring liberal reforms might seem like a shock. But it really isn’t a huge surprise considering that Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott partnered with the Service Employees International Union’s Andy Stern to push for universal health care more than two years ago.

Why would Wal-Mart do this? In part, because it’s a good PR move. The company has long been the target of complaints that it treats its labor force shabbily. Partnering with a big union like the SEIU and supporting universal coverage allows the company an opportunity to soften its corporate image.

But it’s also a good from a competitive standpoint. Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest employer, can afford the costs imposed by an employer mandate. Smaller competitors are likely to find it harder—and they’re not too happy about Wal-Mart’s announcement.

Michael Cannon concurs as does McArdle. Stephen Bainbridge adds:

In fact, however, Wal-Mart has been suckling at the government teat for decades, transferring costs to the tax payer whenever possible.

Indeed, Wal-Mart is heavily dependent on government subsidies. Wal-Mart routinely gets sales and property tax abatements when it opens a new store, to cite but one example. According to a 2004 study (albeit one funded by a union) the subsidies can amount to as much as 12 million dollars per store. Additional de facto subsidies come when uninsured or under-insured Wal-Mart employees get health care at government expense. Supporting government-run health care looks like a sop to the politicians who control the subsidy tap.

Read the whole thing, as he goes into detail about how Walmart has worked the system.

Look, I’m known for being ... well, not exact pro-Walmart, but very anti-anti-Walmart.  It drives me berzerk when liberals scream about how Walmart jobs suck—a job is a job, assholes.  An enormous amount of anti-Walmart sentiment is driven by condescension and arrogance.  And I do think the way it has driven down prices through the economy of scale has been of enormous benefit to the poor and middle class.

But that doesn’t mean I support the way they have frequently milked the political system for lucre.  And this is a perfect example—trying to fob their healthcare costs onto the rest of us.  A big corporation endorsing big government is a bad thing, whether you are a liberal or a conservative.  When the forces of Corporate America and the force of Big Government get together, what the hell do you guys think is going to happen to the little guy?  Stop gibbering dreamy prose about “politicians and business leaders working together for the good of us all” and use your God-damned inbuilt skepticism.  If someone told me, for example, that ACORN was endorsing Republican policy, I’d be suspicious, not giddy.

Millionaires and power-mongers do not do things like this out of the goodness of their heart.  They do it so that they can both get their turn at our asses.

Update: Sometimes, late at night, I fantasize that I can blog as effectively as Radley Balko:

….if Walmart had given, say, the Cato Institute somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million, after which Cato issued a joint letter with Walmart executives calling for the federal government to pass new policies that would hurt Walmart’s competitors, I’m pretty sure people like Matthew Yglesias would be calling Cato a bunch of corporate whores.

But this isn’t the Cato Institute we’re talking about. It’s Yglesias’ employer, the left-wing Center for the American Progress.

So you see, that means it’s all okay.

Of course it does.  Because it’s good when corporations get involved in politics—so long as it’s liberal politics.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/01/09 at 09:54 PM in Health Care  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Send in the Clowns

No, this post is not about Al Franken..it’s yet another chance to take a big, fat dump all over the Obama economic policy and the media’s reporting of it.  First, from the magnificent Geoff at Innocent Bystanders:

Over the past 3 months we have found that:

The Obama economic team’s peak unemployment predictions were unrealistically optimistic,
Their estimate of the speed of relief by Stimulus spending was also unrealistically optimistic, and
Their actual “economic modeling” apparently consisted of spreadsheet-level estimates of unemployment

Geoff’s post cites a WaPo article that discusses Mark Zandi, a former McCain advisor (as if that alone wouldn’t make everything he said suspect) who has advocated for more, more, more stimulus spending.  One of the commenters calls Zandi a “Al Goreacle powerpoint ranger,” and with good reason--as Geoff shows, he doesn’t seem to know what the hell he’s talking about when it comes to his chosen subject, either:

Now this fellow also made some economic projections, and I presume that they were based on a more sophisticated analysis than the meager efforts of Obama’s team. So let’s have a look at what he predicted on January 21, 2009, back when the stimulus package was weighing in at $825 billion. And just for fun, let’s compare that to what actually has been happening:


This comes on the heels of an AP article today that reaches new lows in unpaid propoganda for the Obama administration:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US private sector shed 473,000 jobs in June to cope with a prolonged recession, a survey by payrolls firm ADP showed Wednesday with a warning that unemployment will rise for several more months.

The June job cuts were worse than the 395,000 expected by most analysts but lower than 485,000 in May, which was revised from the previous 532,000 figure.

Monthly employment losses in April, May, and June averaged 492,000, a notable improvement over the first three months of the year (!!!!!), when monthly losses averaged 691,000, according to the ADP National Employment Report.

Yeah, that’s right, wingnuts--an average of nearly 500,000 job losses a month over the last quarter is a “notable improvement.” This is like claiming the 150-yard 30-.06 hit to your pelvis isn’t as bad as the point-blank shotgun blast to your chest.

Did I say a couple of days ago that the Obama administration wears clown shoes 24/7?  The media is the whole fucking college where they go to learn.  And yes, it’s no coincidence that David Axelrod is a former journalist.

Posted by on 07/01/09 at 09:45 PM in • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Congratulations! You’ve been Pre-approved!

… To Ask a Question

In a follow up to Obama’s little staged media events, which have been mentioned on this site a few times, it looks as though the media is being a little honest here and calling bs on Obama’s staged question and answer sessions. Two reporters, Chip Reid, and Helen Thomas, who has been a White House correspondent since the Garfield administration, laid into the press secretary for some answers. Of course they didn’t get any.  So again, we see Obama is doing a similar act of what Bush was accused of doing with his town hall meetings. In fact Helen basically stated the Obama administration’s pattern is unprecedented, which would mean being worse than Bush (this current administration’s pathetic benchmark for comparison of all things good and evil) in this instance.

Let’s see now. Things we didn’t like about Republicans that Obama is doing with very little protest from the left. The same left who were so adamant about how wrong things were (and in some cases rightfully so), and their claim about how Obama was the solution to the evil ills of the GOP.

1) Staged questions at media events—Check
2) Hand picking your science in the EPA involving global warming, and silencing those who show information that doesn’t support your political agenda-- Check
3) Firing investigators who might be a risk to your friends, supporters, or don’t toe the line – Check
4) Rampant uncontrolled spending with little oversight – Check
5) Political favoritism – Check
6) Lack of transparency – Check

I would honestly love to be educated by those on the Left. Can anyone explain at all why this behavior is now acceptable? So far, as has been my thought for quite a while, it has nothing to do with making America better. It’s all about partisan hackery. Those on the right can be and have been just as guilty, but let’s cut the bullshit illusions how those on the left really want to clean things up, or bring “change”. In reality it’s more of the same, and growing more corrupt as the power of government continues to increase. The only thing good about Obama is I’m sure the next idiot in office will be even worse.  This will make Obama look good by comparison.

Posted by on 07/01/09 at 06:01 PM in • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Al Franken Is A Big Fat Senator

I’m late on this (was sick yesterday), but it is official: Al Franken is now the Senator for SEIU Minnesota.  His first priority?  Supporting unions.  Because they have been getting totally hosed in Washington lately.

Update: More here.  It looks like the Democrats managed to do in Minnesota what they tried to do in Florida back in 2000.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/01/09 at 02:47 PM in Politics   Cult of Personality  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The VA Example

VA hospitals are constantly held up by the libs as the example of what our wonderful socialized healthcare systems could be.  Turns out, they may want to tone that rhetoric down a bit.  First, the VA is well know for rationing and delaying care.  This story is not atypical:

Eddie Ryan could be described as the miracle Marine. Shot in the head twice by friendly fire in Iraq, he was brought home to die. Doctors said if he survived he would have to be on life support for the duration of his life and would never recognize anyone. Talk radio hosts across the country called on people to pray for Eddie.

His family credits such prayers for the young Marine’s remarkable recovery. Despite severe brain injuries, Eddie speaks coherently and knows everybody he has ever met. While he is confined to a wheelchair, he is not paralyzed and dreams of taking up running again. Even more courageously, Eddie wants to return to active duty in the Marine Corps.

But Eddie’s family says they have had trouble getting efficient or even adequate care from the government. The VA has cut back some of the therapies he previously received. The Post Star in Glens Falls, N.Y., reports that Eddie’s parents spend about $1,200 a week on Eddie’s care. Fundraisers help some, but a lot of the money comes out of the family’s pocket.

For all the gushing prose spewed at the VA’s electronic record system (a huge expense), rationing is the primary way they have kept costs down.  They have a very strict list of approved prescriptions, they have occasionally delayed enrollments and they have been paring down mental health services.

Now maybe you want to make the case for rationing.  The argument can be made that Americans—because of the huge disconnect between who receives healthcare and who pays for it—are using to much care.  Someone has to control costs.  But if you’re going to make that argument, make that argument.  Don’t blow smoke up our asses about how our healthcare won’t change.  Admit what you’re up to.

Then there’s the accountability of the VA:

For patients with prostate cancer, it is a common surgical procedure: a doctor implants dozens of radioactive seeds to attack the disease. But when Dr. Gary D. Kao treated one patient at the veterans’ hospital in Philadelphia, his aim was more than a little off.

Most of the seeds, 40 in all, landed in the patient’s healthy bladder, not the prostate.

It was a serious mistake, and under federal rules, regulators investigated. But Dr. Kao, with their consent, made his mistake all but disappear.

He simply rewrote his surgical plan to match the number of seeds in the prostate, investigators said.

The revision may have made Dr. Kao look better, but it did nothing for the patient, who had to undergo a second implant. It failed, too, resulting in an unintended dose to the rectum. Regulators knew nothing of this second mistake because no one reported it.

Two years later, in 2005, Dr. Kao rewrote another surgical plan after putting half the seeds in the wrong organ. Once again, regulators did not object.

Of 116 cancer treatments this guy did, 92 went wrong.

Had a private hospital done this, the regulators—i.e., the hospital’s lawyers—sure as fuck would have objected.  In fact, the private sector has found that malpractice lawsuits can be severely reduced by admitting to, apologizing for and fixing mistakes, rather than covering them up.  Praising our malpractice culture makes me feel like I should be tied up in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds.  But a lawsuit culture is infinitely preferable to a socialized culture.

VA hospitals are also not cheap.  Comparisons to the private sector—which supposedly show how wonderful the VA is—are problematic.  The VA treats a different demographic with different illnesses and different priorities.  But the recent surge of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan is stressing the system badly.  You can imagine what would happen to such a system if it were being hit by entire population getting older and older.

Actually, we don’t need to imagine.  We can see it for ourselves in other countries.  Here’s my favorite Socialized Medicine Sob Story of the Week:

Infertile women have been told they can only have IVF treatment if they are aged between 39 and a half and 40.

The ‘cruel and bizarre’ restrictions were put in place by NHS managers in North Yorkshire struggling to deal with a huge deficit at their health trust.

It could mean women with severe fertility problems to wait years for one cycle of IVF treatment.

Between the age of 35 and 40, the chance of conception for women halves - and the heart breaking delays will further reduce the chance of having a baby for dozens of women.

Reminder: Britain’s fertility rate is about 1.7, which is lower than replacement level.  They’re going to need lots of babies to pay for all this socialized nonsense so cutting fertility treatments to save money is like not driving to work to save money.  Reminder: the effectiveness of fertility treatment declines with age; so much for “evidence-based” decisions.

It’s a this point where I usually have to throw in the caveat that no system is perfect, but then say the socialized systems are worse.  But I’m actually far more worried that we’ll socialize medicine—either openly or quietly through the public option—and not ration.

Our Congress is notoriously loathe to control expenses (you may have noticed).  They are going to be extremely resistant to allow the rationing that the NHS and VA have been necessarily forced to do.  Much easier to just slash provider fees and let doctors leave the field on their own.  Or—as they seem hellbent on—let inflation take care of it.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 07/01/09 at 06:18 AM in Health Care  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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