Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

Monday, November 30, 2009

McDonald v. Chicago

McDonald v. Chicago

Via email this evening:
The U.S. Supreme Court just notified us today that oral arguments are scheduled for March 2, 2010.
Glad to hear it. Now I just have to scrape up some money to send along to the Second Amendment Foundation.

Quote of the Day - "Health Care Reform" Edition

Quote of the Day - "Health Care Reform" Edition
The health-care debate presents the kind of sharp ideological contrast that makes it hard for unprincipled politicians to seek shelter in the mushy bog of the middle ground. Over the weekend, the libertarian Cato Institute calculated that the true cost of ObamaCare would exceed $6 trillion, after the various deceits used to make it seem close to revenue-neutral are stripped away. How much does real estate in the “middle ground” of such outrageous spending cost? Three trillion? When a radical program of such massive size is proposed, anything less than determined opposition is equivalent to submission.

-- Dr. Zero, The Consent of the Governed

My Take on WarmerGate

My Take on WarmerGate

Van der Leun points to an excellent piece at Chicago Boyz, Scientists Are Not Software Engineers, which contains an outstanding visual representation of the issue, which I will reproduce here:
It’s hard to explain to non-programmers just how bad the code is but I will try. Suppose the code was a motorcycle. Based on the repeated statements that Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming was “settled science” you would expect that the computer code that helped settle the science would look like this…


…when in reality it looks like this:

Do read the whole piece.

I am reminded of this Sidney Harris cartoon from (I believe) the late 1960's that I have had hanging on my office wall for literally years:

(Note: cartoon pulled due to requested $35 honorarium by artist. It can be seen here. It's the "Then A Miracle Occurs" cartoon.)

As many have said, we're supposed to rein in the entire economies of all the Western nations, cutting fossil fuel use by huge percentages and adversely affecting the standard of living of billions of people based on this? Man adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, "Then a miracle occurs!" and irreversible global warming kills us all?

I don't fucking think so. We've played this "mankind kills Mother Gaia" game before, and the point of it is and has always been "Give up your rights or we all DIE!!"

No. They've gotten farther with this scam than any before, but NO. Not this time either.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

No Blog For You

No Blog For You!

I had plans for an Überpost weekend, but alas, that didn't happen. Sorry about that. Normal blogging resumes Monday.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!


What the hell are you doing on the computer/netbook/PDA/Smartphone anyway?

(Image stolen from Danielle Corsetto's webcomic Girls with Slingshots.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Your Moment of Zen



14.7 Pounds Per Square Inch

... and Don't You Forget It!



Found at AR15.com

I bet that was LOUD.

Well, I'm Honored I Guess

Well, I'm Honored I Guess

I'm more a small-"L" libertarian than a Conservative, but the blog Bombs and Dollars has named TSM to its Top 133 Conservative Blogs list. We're #102.

I don't know by what criteria the rankings were made, but I see a lot of blogs further down the list that I would say are more conservative than I am.

Quote of the Day - Global Warming Edition

Quote of the Day - Global Warming Edition
They clearly have some history of massaging the data — hell, practically water-boarding the data — to get it to fit their other results. Results they can no longer even replicate on their own systems.

-- Charlie Martin, Pajamas Media: Climategate Computer Codes Are the Real Story

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Wonder What Dr. Richard Lindzen Thinks of the CRU Hack

I Wonder What Dr. Richard Lindzen Thinks of the CRU Hack?

Ben of Carnaby Fudge linked to an EXCELLENT six-part YouTube series, the Competitive Enterprise Institute seminar on Global Warming alarmism. It was recorded recently, but before the hacked emails, data, and models were released on the web. Dr. Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT and has held that chair since 1983. In most circles that would make him a "primary source."


Watch all six parts.

The Christian Science Monitor Piles On

The Christian Science Monitor Piles On
Senate health care bill: the five paragraphs you must read

1. Mandatory insurance

Bill text: "Sec. 1501. Requirement to Maintain Minimum Essential Coverage.... An applicable individual shall for each month beginning after 2013 ensure that the individual, and any dependent of the individual who is an applicable individual, is covered under minimum essential coverage for such month."

Translation: Uncle Sam will now serve as your national insurance agent and force you to buy "minimum essential coverage" – or else you'll have to pay an annual fine.

However, what Congress considers "minimum essential coverage" and "essential health benefits requirements" includes comprehensive coverage that many neither need nor want. Plus, those who prefer to carry catastrophic-only coverage won't have a free range of options for such coverage.

Bottom line: In a free society, the government should not force citizens to buy any product nor should the government mandate citizens' level of health-insurance coverage.

--

2. Electronic data exchanges

Bill text: "Sec. 1104. Administrative Simplification…. (h) Compliance. – (1) Health Plan Certification. – (A) Eligibility for a Health Plan, Health Claim Status, Electronic Funds Transfers, Health Care Payment and Remittance Advice. – Not later than December 31, 2013, a health plan shall file a statement with the Secretary, in such form as the Secretary may require, certifying that the data and information systems for such plan are in compliance with any applicable standards (as described under paragraph (7) of section 1171) and associated operating rules (as described under paragraph (9) of such section) for electronic funds transfers, eligibility for a health plan, health claim status, and health care payment and remittance advice, respectively."

Translation: Requiring everyone to buy federally sanctioned health insurance, and then forcing qualified plans to comply with Administrative Simplification requirements, provides the government and health industry with power they would not be able to exercise in a free market.

Administrative Simplification rules are a product of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. They lay the foundation for a nationally linked database of personal health information.
Read the rest. Call your Congresscritters. Tell them you're not kidding. Feathers, tar, rail - some assembly required.

Thanks to reader juris_imprudent for the pointer.

You Have GOT to be Fv*%ing Kidding Me

You Have GOT to be Fv*%ing Kidding Me
Navy SEALs Face Assault Charges for Capturing Most-Wanted Terrorist

Tuesday, November 24, 2009
By Rowan Scarborough


Navy SEALs have secretly captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq — the alleged mastermind of the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. And three of the SEALs who captured him are now facing criminal charges, sources told FoxNews.com.

The three, all members of the Navy's elite commando unit, have refused non-judicial punishment — called an admiral's mast — and have requested a trial by court-martial.

Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the military code-named "Objective Amber," told investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had the bloody lip to prove it.

Now, instead of being lauded for bringing to justice a high-value target, three of the SEAL commandos, all enlisted, face assault charges and have retained lawyers.

Matthew McCabe, a Special Operations Petty Officer Second Class (SO-2), is facing three charges: dereliction of performance of duty for willfully failing to safeguard a detainee, making a false official statement, and assault.

Petty Officer Jonathan Keefe, SO-2, is facing charges of dereliction of performance of duty and making a false official statement.

Petty Officer Julio Huertas, SO-1, faces those same charges and an additional charge of impediment of an investigation.

The three SEALs will be arraigned separately on Dec. 7. Another three SEALs — two officers and an enlisted sailor — have been identified by investigators as witnesses but have not been charged.
There's more, but these guys are being charged because this asshole had a boo-boo on his lip?

So it Wasn't Government-hatin' Inbred Redneck Gun-clinging Bible-Thumping

So it Wasn't Government-hatin,' Inbred, Redneck, Gun-clinging Bible-Thumping Meth-heads?
Investigators: Ky. census worker committed suicide

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Authorities are saying a Kentucky census worker found hanging from a tree with "fed" scrawled on his chest committed suicide and staged his death to look like a homicide.

A news release from Kentucky State Police said Tuesday that Bill Sparkman died at the same location where his body was found Sept. 12 near a cemetery in a heavily wooded area of southeastern Kentucky.

A man who found the body in the Daniel Boone National Forest said the 51-year-old was bound with duct tape, gagged and had an identification badge taped to his neck.

Investigators say Sparkman acted alone in manipulating the scene to conceal the suicide.

The news release says Sparkman had recently taken out two life insurance policies that would not pay out for suicide.
Damn, the Lefties must be so disappointed.

My condolences to his family, though. Losing a loved one sucks. To find out that he committed suicide in an effort to try to leave them something must hurt worse.

Congressional Legerdemain

Congressional Legerdemain

Michael Barone points out an article in the New York Post by Jefferey H. Anderson that illustrates just how much the Senate's proposed Health Care bill will really cost, as opposed to what they're trying to sell us.

It's like they think the Great Unwashed can't understand mortgages with variable interest rates and balloon payments, or something.

They tell us that the first ten years of this wonderful plan will cost only (only!) $849 billion over the first ten years.

Nazzo fast, Guido.

Here's a chart that shows how they get that number (click to embiggen):


Anderson says in his piece:
As the CBO analysis indicates, the bill's real 10-year costs would start in 2014. And in its true first decade (2014 to 2023), the CBO projects the bill's costs to be $1.8 trillion -- double the price Reid is advertising.

And that's even though the CBO optimistically assumes the government-run "public option" wouldn't cost a cent.

Over this same 10-year span, the bill would hike taxes and fines by $892 billion -- more than the alleged price of the bill.
On top of this, Anderson expands:
Just as problematic are the bill's effects on entitlement spending and deficits. Medicare is already teetering on the edge of insolvency. This year's Medicare Trustees Report (signed by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius) warns that the Medicare Hospital Trust Fund -- the main funding channel for the largest part of Medicare -- will become insolvent in 2017.

Worse, nearly four people are now paying into Medicare for every beneficiary. But with the baby boomers' retirement fast approaching, that number will drop over the next 20 years to about 2½. Fewer and fewer people will be paying higher and higher costs.

Yet, as the CBO notes, in its real first decade, the bill would siphon $802 billion from Medicare to spend elsewhere. With its financial outlook already beyond bleak, Medicare is the last place to look to for "free" money.

Among the $802 billion that Reid would divert from Medicare is $431 billion in cuts in doctors' pay (far more than the misleading figure for 2010-19). The bill says it would cut payments to doctors for services to Medicare patients by 23 percent in 2011 -- and never raise them back up, ever.

No one who's been in Washington for more than five minutes actually expects this reduction to occur -- and if it doesn't, then the Senate health bill would increase our deficits by $286 billion in its true first decade, according to CBO projections.
Read the whole thing.

In comments yesterday, Markadelphia asked:
(W)hy does the government want to get into health care? Several answers suggest themselves. With Medicare, Medicaid, S-Chip and state run health care, they already are fairly involved. But what is their motivation for this current push for historic legislation?
"Historic." Yeah, there's an appropriate adjective. "Little Boy" was an historic bomb in the same way this legislation is "historic." I want to attribute good intentions to our elected overseers, I really do. But if you wanted to destroy the American health care system and the American economy, I find it difficult to believe that you wouldn't see this bill as a means to that end. Same for Cap and Trade.

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.

Quote of the Day - Green Edition

Quote of the Day - Green Edition
Today, there is a name for the political doctrine that rejoices in scarcity of everything except government. The name is environmentalism. - George F. Will, Awash in Fossil Fuels, 11/22/09

Monday, November 23, 2009

An Interesting Speech

An Interesting Speech

S. Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, a distinguished research professor at George Mason University, and president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, gave a speech at Hillsdale College in August of 2007. Printed in their periodical Imprimus (with some rather irritating misplaced hypens in the on-line version), I strongly recommend it to you. It's on the topic of Anthropogenic Global Warming, or the lack thereof, and entitled Global Warming: Man-Made or Natural? Excerpt:
What about the fact—as cited by, among others, those who produced the IPCC report—that every major greenhouse computer model (there are two dozen or so) shows a large temperature increase due to human burning of fossil fuels? Fortunately, there is a scientific way of testing these models to see whether current warming is due to a man-made greenhouse effect. It involves comparing the actual or observed pattern of warming with the warming pattern predicted by or calculated from the models. Essentially, we try to see if the "fingerprints" match—"fingerprints" meaning the rates of warming at different latitudes and altitudes.

For instance, theoretically, greenhouse warming in the tropics should register at increasingly high rates as one moves from the surface of the earth up into the atmosphere, peaking at about six miles above the earth's surface. At that point, the level should be greater than at the surface by about a factor of three and quite pronounced, according to all the computer models. In reality, however, there is no increase at all. In fact, the data from balloon-borne radiosondes show the very opposite: a slight decrease in warming over the equator.

The fact that the observed and predicted patterns of warming don’t match indicates that the man-made greenhouse contribution to current temperature change is insignificant. This fact emerges from data and graphs collected in the Climate Change Science Program Re-port 1.1, published by the federal government in April 2006 (see www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalreport/default.htm). It is remarkable and puzzling that few have noticed this disparity between observed and predicted patterns of warming and drawn the obvious scientific conclusion.
And this:
You will note that this has been a rational discussion. We asked the important question of whether there is appreciable man-made warming today. We presented evidence that indicates there is not, thereby suggesting that attempts by governments to control green-house-gas emissions are pointless and unwise. Nevertheless, we have state governors calling for CO2 emissions limits on cars; we have city mayors calling for mandatory CO2 controls; we have the Supreme Court declaring CO2 a pollutant that may have to be regulated; we have every industrialized nation (with the exception of the U.S. and Australia) signed on to the Kyoto Protocol; and we have ongoing international demands for even more stringent controls when Kyoto expires in 2012. What's going on here?
What, indeed?

Read the whole thing, and the piece where I found the link in comments.

Wait, What? (Redux)

Wait, What? (Redux)
Warming's impacts sped up, worsened since Kyoto

Since the 1997 international accord to fight global warming, climate change has worsened and accelerated — beyond some of the grimmest of warnings made back then.

As the world has talked for a dozen years about what to do next, new ship passages opened through the once frozen summer sea ice of the Arctic. In Greenland and Antarctica, ice sheets have lost trillions of tons of ice. Mountain glaciers in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa are shrinking faster than before.

And it's not just the frozen parts of the world that have felt the heat in the dozen years leading up to next month's climate summit in Copenhagen:

_The world's oceans have risen by about an inch and a half.

_Droughts and wildfires have turned more severe worldwide, from the U.S. West to Australia to the Sahel desert of North Africa.

_Species now in trouble because of changing climate include, not just the lumbering polar bear which has become a symbol of global warming, but also fragile butterflies, colorful frogs and entire stands of North American pine forests.

_Temperatures over the past 12 years are 0.4 of a degree warmer than the dozen years leading up to 1997.

Even the gloomiest climate models back in the 1990s didn't forecast results quite this bad so fast.
However, just last week:
Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out

Global warming appears to have stalled. Climatologists are puzzled as to why average global temperatures have stopped rising over the last 10 years. Some attribute the trend to a lack of sunspots, while others explain it through ocean currents.

At least the weather in Copenhagen is likely to be cooperating. The Danish Meteorological Institute predicts that temperatures in December, when the city will host the United Nations Climate Change Conference, will be one degree above the long-term average.

Otherwise, however, not much is happening with global warming at the moment. The Earth's average temperatures have stopped climbing since the beginning of the millennium, and it even looks as though global warming could come to a standstill this year.

--

The planet's temperature curve rose sharply for almost 30 years, as global temperatures increased by an average of 0.7 degrees Celsius (1.25 degrees Fahrenheit) from the 1970s to the late 1990s. "At present, however, the warming is taking a break," confirms meteorologist Mojib Latif of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences in the northern German city of Kiel. Latif, one of Germany's best-known climatologists, says that the temperature curve has reached a plateau. "There can be no argument about that," he says. "We have to face that fact."
And from the emails and files hacked from the Warmistas, they acknowledge the lack of warming over the last decade and one despairs: "The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t."

So Seth Borenstein of the AP cranks up the OH MY GOD WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE! rhetoric? I think you're seeing the beginnings of media pushback against the release of that 100+MB of hacked data. So long as the majority of the population never hears about the "how do we hide the data" emails, they'll keep believing in the AGW story.

MIchael Crichton's Last Novel

Michael Crichton's Last Novel

Like most, I was shocked when the news broke that author Michael Crichton had died of cancer just over a year ago. I've read all of his novels and quite a bit of his other writing (essays, speeches, etc.) I was glad to hear that there would be one more novel published after his death, and it is out now: Pirate Latitudes.

My current "to read" stack is a teetering tower, but I think I'm going to have to add that one to it.

What's Next, Expelling Students for Having Guns in the Home

What's Next, Expelling Students for Having Guns in the Home?

Check the headline:
Student expelled for having unloaded shotguns in truck
Now check the specifics:
WILLOWS (CA) -- The Willows Unified School District board of trustees has expelled a 16-year-old for having unloaded shotguns in his pickup parked just off the Willows High School campus.
(My emphasis.) OFF campus. Not ON campus.

So what's next? Home inspections and expulsion of students with firearms in their homes?

Quote of the Day - More Equal Edition

Quote of the Day - "More Equal" Edition
Last week, the body of Chicago school board president Michael Scott was found in the Chicago River with a single bullet wound in his head. The big story was that this powerful, well-connected public official had, according to the county medical examiner, committed suicide. The less-noticed story was that he did it with an illegal weapon.

--

Unlike most Chicagoans, Scott could have been a legal handgun owner. Because he had it before the ban was enacted, he was allowed to register and keep it. But the police department says he never did. By having it in the city, Scott was guilty of an offense that could have gotten him jail time.

Amazingly enough, he was not the first local public official to take the view that firearms restrictions are something for other, ordinary people to observe.

- Steve Chapman, Armed Pols: A Chicago Tradition, RealClearPolitics
Found via Extrano's Alley.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Thrill is Gone

The "Thrill" is Gone?
Chris Matthews Shocker: Obama Making 'Carteresque' Mistakes
He'd better watch out. Obama might declare MSNBC "not really a news organization."

Oh, right. It's not. But maybe getting tagged with that might gen up some better ratings.

Seems to have worked for FOX.

Do You Know Anyone With Multiple Sclerosis?

Do You Know Anyone With Multiple Sclerosis?

They may find this interesting:
The Liberation Treatment: A whole new approach to MS

Amid the centuries-old castles of the ancient city of Ferrara is a doctor who has come upon an entirely new idea about how to treat multiple sclerosis, one that may profoundly change the lives of patients.

Dr. Paolo Zamboni, a former vascular surgeon and professor at the University of Ferrara in northern Italy, began asking questions about the debilitating condition a decade ago, when his wife Elena, now 51, was diagnosed with MS.

Watching his wife Elena struggle with the fatigue, muscle weakness and visual problems of MS led Zamboni to begin an intense personal search for the cause of her disease. He found that scientists who had studied the brains of MS patients had noticed higher levels of iron in their brain, not accounted for by age. The iron deposits had a unique pattern, often forming in the core of the brain, clustered around the veins that normally drain blood from the head. No one had ever fully explained this phenomenon, considering the excess iron a toxic byproduct of the MS itself.

Dr. Zamboni wondered if the iron came from blood improperly collecting in the brain. Using Doppler ultrasound, he began examining the necks of MS patients and made an extraordinary finding. Almost 100 per cent of the patients had a narrowing, twisting or outright blockage of the veins that are supposed to flush blood from the brain. He then checked these veins in healthy people, and found none of these malformations. Nor did he find these blockages in those with other neurological conditions.

"In my mind, this was unbelievable evidence that further study was necessary to understand the link between venous function and iron deposits on the other," Zamboni told W5 from his research lab in Ferrara.

What was equally astounding, was that not only was the blood not flowing out of the brain, it was "refluxing" reversing and flowing back upwards. Zamboni believes that as the blood moves into the brain, pressure builds in the veins, forcing blood into the brain's grey matter where it sets off a host of reactions, possibly explaining the symptoms of MS.

"For me, it was really unbelievable to understand that iron deposits in MS were exactly around the veins. So probably, it is a dysfunction of drainage of the veins," Zamboni said.

"This is very important, because iron is very dangerous, because it produces free radicals, and free radicals are killers for cells. So we need to eliminate iron accumulation."

Zamboni dubbed the vein disorder he discovered CCSVI, or Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency, and began publishing his preliminary research in neurology journals.

He soon found that the severity of the vein blockages were located corresponded to the severity of the patient's symptoms. Patients with only one vein blocked usually had milder forms of the disease; those with two or more damaged veins had more severe illness.

Zamboni found blockages not only in the veins in the neck directly beneath the brain -- the jugular veins --but in a central drainage vein, the azygos vein, which flushes blood down from the brain along the spine. Blockages here, he found were associated with the most severe form of MS, primary progressive, in which patients rapidly deteriorate. For this form of MS, there currently is no effective treatment.
Read the whole thing, there's much more. There's video, too.

Found at AR15.com.

Quote of the . . . Oh, Hell, Quote of The End

Quote of the . . . Oh, Hell, Quote of The End
What the Senate does this evening, we may not see the end of in our lifetimes.

And while the consequences won't manifest immediately, this evening may well be the tipping point.

-- GeekWithA.45
It will be if we can't kill it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I Love Blogging

I Love Blogging

Chris The Anarchangel Byrne emailed me last week and invited me along to a dinner with Monster Hunter International author Larry Correia and Servant of a Dark God author John Brown. Of course, I leaped at the chance. A total of ten of us (at first) met up at the Famous Dave's BBQ in Mesa, next to the Bass Pro at 7:00 PM, and had an entertaining evening listening to (and telling) stories. Two more joined us a bit later on. John Brown's not a gunnie, but Larry has promised to give him a thorough introduction. (I would like to point out, John, that it is not a prerequisite to be an obese early-middle-aged white male to get a CCW! - But it apparently helps, at least in Arizona.)

A pleasant time was had by all, I got to meet two pretty damned interesting authors and several more interesting people, and Larry gave me an M.H.I. patch.

The evening was made of WIN!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Abort Health Care Reform

Reader Phil B., the UK Expat now living in New Zealand who recently left a long comment that I turned into a post has done it again. This time in an email:
It has been a slow day at work over the last 2 days and I've used up a couple of lunch breaks to reply to your posting regarding "From a 'Primary Source'!" about healthcare.

When I did a word count on the thing, it would use up three postings in the comments section.

I've attached it as a word document - if you think it is on topic and fit to post, please do so - if you think it is garbage print it out and use it in the restroom ... If you want me to edit it before you post it, to either correct stuff which isn't clear or might not translate into American well, let me know and I'll do the necessary.

As an aside, a 1200 page piece of legislation does not get written overnight. I have a mental picture of Obama walking into the Oval Office on day one, dropping his briefcase on the desk, opening it and lifting out the bill and saying "Now THIS is what we are going to do first ...".

No - it has been a long time in the making and cunningly written to mean anything you want it to mean. All he will have to do is appoint a few handpicked Judges to creatively interpret it to mean what he means it to mean. Oh, wait ... !!!!

Very "Alice in Wonderland" (quote below)

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master – that's all.'
I've used that same Humpty-Dumpty quote myself a couple of times, for similar reasons.

Drudge's headline linking to The Hill states that the Senate will have "10 hours of debate" on their 2,047-page version of the Health Care Reform bill before voting on it Saturday night.

"Fierce urgency" again, I suppose.

Anyway, here is Phil's Überpost, from a man who's seen it - up close (too close) and personal:
I would agree with the conclusion of Dr. Flier and can describe the situation in the British National Health System (NHS) which will indicate the direction, if not the exact end result of the reforms being proposed for the American healthcare system.

I will give a brief history of the development of the NHS and then describe how it operates now. The baleful influence of politicians will be outlined and the effects this has.

William Beveredge (a dyed in the wool “Socialist”, strongly influenced by the Fabian Society – a left wing “think Tank” which included Karl Marx as one of its founding members so draw your own conclusions - and firmly committed to centralist planning and control) set up the framework for the NHS during the Second World War. He was the head of the Ministry of Labour (where his central planning and control tendencies were used to direct the war effort) and was tasked at looking at the shape of Britain post war, including how a universal National Insurance system could be introduced and how it should operate.

He produced a report which envisaged a complex array of universal benefits paid for by a compulsory “National Insurance” levy on wages and employers. The benefits would include unemployment payments and the setting up of the NHS where ALL treatment was to be free at the point of use. The report was accepted (as far as I can discover) in its entirety and on 5 July 1948, the system came into being.

The basis of the universal insurance concept was that there would be zero unemployment (defined as under 3%) and to kick start it, the wholesale requisitioning of property (i.e. theft) including community owned and private hospitals, residential nursing homes and institutions was mandated without compensation.

Almost immediately the problems which would plague the system became evident. After the war, due to the reduction in wartime activities, the unemployment rate increased, leading to a reduction in contributions or revenue. Other services were included (dentistry, opticians and "free" spectacles etc.) were an immediate and ongoing cost which placed a strain on the system from the word go. It has never been self-financing and general taxation was used to make up the shortfall.

Prior to 1947, there was an inexpensive private insurance scheme for basic healthcare (almost always referred to as a "Penny Policy" but more correctly as the provident Associations Insurance scheme) which was operated as a non profit scheme by insurance companies long before the NHS was considered. Everyone except the destitute and the feckless subscribed to this privately run insurance scheme. Since Doctors were self-employed (on the whole) they either claimed the costs of the treatment from the insurance company or, they could decide the fees they charged depending on the patients' ability to pay. Many operated a charitable form of healthcare and either allowed the people to pay a small amount every week or waived the fee as well as working in surgeries in the poorer parts of the town voluntarily and without pay. Following the introduction of the NHS, the Doctors and charities naturally stopped doing this – there was no need, the Government would provide everything.

So very, very few people were denied healthcare by the system and there were many local charities which would step in to finance healthcare as a last resort. The monies the insurance companies held from premiums could not be retained (it was a non-profit scheme) so the British United Provident Association (BUPA) was set up with the funds to build new hospitals and continue on with privately funded health care. BUPA still exists to this day and there are other private insurance health schemes but are paradoxically only for the wealthy.

It must be borne in mind that the standard of healthcare available to even the wealthy was not as good as today. It is difficult to appreciate the advances in Medical Science, pharmaceuticals, surgical procedures (many driven by the impetus of the war) since 1947 and the accompanying increase in costs to provide these new treatments. So to claim that people were poorly cared for in comparison with today must be qualified by this. EVERYONE did not have the potential level healthcare of today – whether you were Duke or labourer.

There were immediate problems with personnel – up till then, all Doctors were self employed or, if a hospital consultant, were working under negotiated contracts which allowed them about half their time to see private patients (the normal hospital patients paid via the insurances they held). However, at the strike of a pen, they became Civil Servants – every one of them from the cleaners to the most highly skilled surgeon were working under the umbrella of the NHS. Today, the NHS is the third largest employer in the World – behind the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army and the India State National Railway. A grand total of 1.37 Million people are employed by the NHS as of March 2009 (courtesy of the Tax Payers Alliance).

Private Patients were, and still are, are a lucrative source of income for the consultants and they took the attitude that if they were not going to be paid for the work they would do during the time they would normally be seeing private patients, they would play golf (or whatever they enjoyed doing) or still see their private patients but in the BUPA hospitals or the NHS hospitals if necessary.

Immediately, there was a reduction in the numbers of patients being treated - who could have predicted this? – and to ensure that everyone was seen in turn, a queuing system was devised. The infamous waiting lists for hospital treatment were instigated and are a major problem today. The urgency of your condition did not matter – strict “first come, first served” prevailed and the delays in seeing a specialist naturally resulted in people either dying before they could be treated or due to their condition worsening, what could have been a treatable and recoverable condition became far too advanced to do anything but stabilise the problem and no full recovery was possible.

Still, not to worry. At least it was FAIR, and if someone was left permanently disabled due to the delay in treatment and unable to work, there was the National Insurance disability payment to ensure they could survive.

This lead to another "unforeseen" problem – if you could be declared permanently disabled and unable to work, then you would not have to work again for the rest of your life. The state would provide you with income which today, due to the distortions of the taxation system, means that although the actual benefit paid is apparently a modest amount, due the additional non cash benefits (rent and local taxes paid for, mobility allowance which can be used to purchase a car and its running expenses, free medicines, no contributions to the pension you will receive, additional benefits based on the number of children you have, free school meals for those children etc. and so forth ad infinitum – Google "Citizens Advice Bureau" and see what benefits are available if you are classified as disabled) it is financially more lucrative to claim benefits than work. People coming off disability allowance and working 40 hours a week are financially worse off.

So lots of people with “bad backs” and other difficult to prove conditions became effectively retired and lived on State provided benefits.

An additional problem was that the Civil Service was increased to deal with this new system. There is a Tax Office (Inland Revenue) which taxes pay at source ("Pay As You Earn" PAYE) as well as company profits etc. and a second, new department set up called the Department of Health and Social Security (or DHSS as it was termed then) which recorded the National Insurance Contributions you had paid during your working life. The concept was that, you had to have a "full" contribution record to receive the Full State Pension when you retired. It would not be "fair" for everyone to receive the same pension if they did not contribute – but if you did NOT receive a full pension, you can claim a top up benefit to make up the difference which, surprise surprise, is administered by a different Department and funded from general taxation. Unemployed people who registered with the Department of Employment received credits for the contributions they could not pay so that they receive a full pension too.

Now, for the people who are reading this who are not very intelligent, I must point out that there are effectively TWO armies of Civil Servants recording the fact that you are working and paying into the system - The Tax Office and the DHSS. These two departments record essentially the same information. Civil Servant pay levels are good and, having worked at the DHSS for a while, I can confirm that the work is not arduous and the real art is not simply being able to do the work but in making the Job last all day.

The resultant increase in bureaucracy did two things – it mopped up the unemployed people who were out of work due to the cancellation of wartime contracts for armaments, returning veterans etc. and increased the power of the state and its hold on the Country. This was all in line with the centralised planning beliefs of Beveredge and set up a client voter base who would not vote themselves out of a job. The Unions were quick to see the potential too in so many of the newly created civil servants.

But, everyone will argue, at least universal healthcare is available and the people working in the NHS were dedicated and caring people. Surely they would ensure that the very best of treatment was provided?

One major snag – the Politicians had promised a utopian, unlimited benefits available free to all at the point of use. So if someone decided that their "entitlement" was not being provided, they would see their local politician (Member of Parliament or MP) and demand their "rights." This was slow to start (people were inured to wartime conditions and shortages and unlikely to complain) but gradually, over time, the concept that they were entitled to the healthcare became entrenched.

Hospital managers no longer answered to their patients but to their political masters. It was the politicians who decided how much funds would be allocated to health spending, how much their increase in salary was going to be this year, now many new treatments were to be funded, new hospitals built etc. The politicians effectively micromanage the system in knee jerk response to complaints from voters, newspaper reports and pressure groups according to the prevailing latest scandal or horror story.

So the NHS Managers concentrate on pleasing the politicians – nowadays the politicians demand and get reports and tick lists on the status of waiting lists, bed occupancy (the higher the better – an empty bed means that someone isn’t being treated), costs of drugs etc. A growing and specialist bureaucracy in the NHS caters to this demand so much so that there are SIX Bureaucrats for every five "beds" (i.e. hospital places) in the NHS (this number does NOT include doctors and nurses but ONLY pen pushers).

This is a consequence of political meddling and as the paymasters are the Politicians, then the success of the hospital is measured not by patients treated but by form filling and compiling statistics to prove the hospital is run according to the centralised instructions passed down from Government. Innovative methods are dreamed up to comply with the arbitrary rules and regulations.

Two examples will suffice to illustrate this:

First, a patient in an emergency department must be allocated a bed within 4 hours of admission. It is trivially easy to rig the definition of "admission" to be "when a bed is found." Hence the target is achieved but this results in patients being left in hospital corridors on stretchers or gurneys for prolonged periods or refused admission to the hospital and kept in an ambulance until they can be dealt with or simply told "No room - take them to another hospital." This can be miles away and there is no guarantee that a casualty would be admitted to the second hospital either. But the target is met. THAT is the important point.

Waiting lists – this is a BIG problem in that people have to wait months for the privilege of seeing a consultant or specialist. They need to see their family doctor first who will write to the Local hospital describing what they believe to be the problem. The consultant will acknowledge the letter and the patient's details are put on a waiting list. When their name comes to the top, they will be seen and a decision made on their condition. They will then be placed on a second waiting list to await treatment. Waiting a further two or three years for a "non urgent" operation such as a hip replacement after the initial consultation is not unusual. More urgent treatments (such as for cancer) can take 3 to 6 months. This is one of the targets that has been dictated must be reduced (and rightly so).

Inevitably this results in rationing and delays in treatment with the attendant suffering and misery, loss of useful productive work and potentially a treatable condition becoming a crippling illness or death.

Solution – you create a waiting list to go onto the waiting list. The second waiting list can be as short as necessary to comply with the "must see a specialist within 3 months" BUT the waiting list to go onto the waiting list is not submitted to the government – only the one which meets the target. As there are two waiting lists (one to see the consultant, one to receive the treatment), then it is infinitely adjustable to meet whatever target is set but does not attack the basic problem.

The reality is that the numbers of front line staff is decreasing (Doctors and nurses) and the number of beds (i.e. places in hospital) is reducing too. The overall numbers of people employed is rising and the increase in bureaucracy is the cause.

You will recall (if you have read this far) that a wholesale requisition of property took place back in 1947. These buildings were locally funded and privately financed institutions relying on paying patients and charitable donations. This source of cash ceased in 1947. However there is a legacy of local sentimental attachment to "local" hospitals which are "ours" (as indeed they were).

Now, it can be argued that spending on buildings is not curing people of diseases and injuries. Hence the politicians will not spend cash on hospital infrastructure and over the years the buildings naturally deteriorate.

The Victorian buildings and concepts of healthcare have been superseded by developments in architecture, how people are to be processed through the system and developments in technology, advances in medical care and what people are used to. Large regimented communal wards in high ceilinged Victorian Hospitals were a wonder and cutting edge 100 years ago but nowadays people want privacy.

The NHS spends a large proportion of its cash on maintaining and heating decrepit buildings in prime inner city sites which the politicians will not allow to be demolished. It would make more sense to sell off the land (making a EVIL PROFIT – the first step in privatisation and the destruction of the jewel in the social security crown) and build a new hospital elsewhere. The chance to eliminate the problems of access due to traffic congestion and the risk of people dying stuck in traffic jams and designing a building which addresses the needs of staff and patients alike and cheaper to heat and maintain would be the logical thing to do. However the cost to build and equip a new hospital is high and the old one can be patched up yet again.

A repair or upgrade can always be delayed another year if the cash is needed for something else (and it is inevitably needed for something else) so politicians will arbitrarily refuse budgets for repairs etc. Consequently the buildings deteriorate until they are almost beyond repair – and then a massive amount is spent on them to restore them to a basic state. The cash would be better spent on a new hospital but this is not politically acceptable.

Of the two hospitals I have seen built in the UK, one was single-glazed - the budget was limited at the design and build stage but the heating bills were running costs. This hospital was obsolete before it was complete. The second is too small for the population – the design was accepted without consulting the planners who increased the number of new housing around the hospital. Again due to a limited, politically controlled budget, a larger than necessary hospital, which would have anticipated future needs, would not be authorised to cope with increased demand. The Victorian Hospitals they were intended to replace still exist and are still as inefficient as ever. So no cost savings to be had there.

The politicians will interfere in the planning process and to maintain votes, will vigorously join in the demands that not a single hospital is closed. After all, if it saves a single life …

The end result is that the NHS managers are like the Harem eunuch – all the responsibility, none of the authority to run the system and subject to day-to-day micromanagement by the politicians.

However, the system must be considered an outstanding success – if you want a "fair" system of universal healthcare where everyone (including illegal immigrants and health care tourists who come to the UK specifically to be treated – such as pregnant third world country women arriving at Heathrow and getting a taxi to the nearest maternity Hospital) can demand unlimited access to whatever treatment they want, it is highly successful at delivering this. Also it is NOT making a profit – which would be immoral.

The fact that everyone receives a highly substandard service is irrelevant. It is "free," everyone is treated alike (except politicians of course who are scrupulous in avoiding the system and rely on private healthcare) and paid for by taxation.

Note that treatments include abortions, sex changes, cosmetic surgery due to stress and psychological problems (such as 16 year old girls receiving breast enlargements) and other such procedures never dreamed of in 1947 whereas treatments for cancer, heart conditions etc. are treated with exactly the same urgency.

The elderly are treated particularly badly. Healthcare is naturally rationed – everyone will be treated the same – but clinical judgements are made by NICE (National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence website http://www.nice.org.uk/ ) as to what is "cost effective". Hence cancer drugs that extend the life of sufferers are deemed "not cost effective," an elderly but otherwise fit person will be denied drugs and operational procedures (hip replacements, cataract surgery, hearing aids etc.) as it isn't worth spending cash on them. Surely you must agree that cash should be spent on a young drug addict (a "victim") who may at some point in the future, if they don't kill themselves first, "contribute to society" is far more cost effective.

Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease sufferers are particularly shabbily treated – why waste cash and resources on them? They can be dumped onto local authority care and the "Care in the Community" scheme can look after them. This means that the cash does not come out of the NHS budget and instead the local councils can look after them. It is obvious that dedicated care by specialist nursing staff can more effectively care for such people than a nurse visiting once a week or every two weeks for a half hour or so and abandoning their elderly partner or their families to nurse them. There are far too many cases that are reported in the newspapers to list – only the really bad ones make it to the national newspapers – but search any British newspaper for the phrase "Elderly patient" (or elderly woman, elderly lady and whatever variation you can think of) will list a sickening catalogue and tales of neglect that shames any nation that calls itself civilised.

Conclusions

The conclusions are:

1. The State bureaucracy will vastly increase immediately after such a system is set up. It will continue to grow as the system matures and will not slow in its growth. The cash spent on the bureaucracy will be drained from healthcare.

2. The system will need property (land, existing hospitals etc.) and although the intention may not immediately be to take these over, why should the Government increase the profit of the evil people who own the existing hospitals. Surely healthcare should not be for profit and the Government will take steps to make sure wicked private companies and evil individuals do not benefit from peoples suffering. So confiscation will occur sooner or later.

3. People will be entitled to healthcare and if they don’t get what they want, then they will see their elected representative who will appear on all the news channels and the front page of all the local newspapers to fight for the rights of his voters. This will be a guaranteed vote winner – but only if the people needing treatment are photogenic children, minorities or cute grandmothers or someone with a rare disease which can be milked for political capital. Political interference will be an increasingly heavy and debilitating dead hand on the system. It will be increasingly paralysed by this micromanagement.

4. If everyone receives the same treatment (except politicians, of course. And old people), then no one can complain that it is unfair. It is irrelevant that the treatment is third world in its standards, it is FAIR that everyone is treated equally and that is the principle which is important.

5. As the Politicians are funding the system, the people operating the system will answer to the paymasters, not the patients. The system will become increasingly centralised with decisions made at a higher and higher level leading to less and less local accountability. The local bureaucracy will increase to keep politicians informed of the status of the system and drain cash and resources from the front line.

The Soviet system lasted less time than the NHS has been in existence – it is odd that the last bastion and embodiment of centralist soviet style state planning should be "the envy of the world," the British NHS.

Britain is 62 years ahead of America on this one – I sincerely hope that you can stop the monster being born or at least prevent it from feeding on tax payers money before it grows in size to rival the NHS.

Sources and references.

Wikipedia can be searched for "NHS" and biographies of the people mentioned.

The Tax Payers Alliance has plenty of information on the facts and figures relating to the costs, staffing levels, types of jobs and their functions. Website here:

http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/

Click on the "Taxpayers Alliance Research" button for lots of interesting links and on the NHS link.

Burning Our Money is a private blog which has a searchable database of articles listed by category on the right hand side column and near the bottom of the current page. Look for NHS, click on the link and read until your eyes start to spin in your skull like a Tic Tac Toe machine … Link here:

http://www.burningourmoney.blogspot.com/

The NHS link is here:

http://www.burningourmoney.blogspot.com/search/label/nhs


Civitas again has some excellent well-researched free articles on the NHS (http://www.civitas.org.uk/) – look in the free books section (link here http://www.civitas.org.uk/books/openAccess.php) and look for the following:

· Before Beveredge – Welfare before the Welfare State

· Delay, Denial and Dilution

· England Vs Scotland – does more money mean better health

· Health Care in France And Germany

· Pharmaceutical Parallel Trade in the UK

· Regulating Doctors

· Stakeholder Health Insurance

· Why Ration healthcare.

That lot should keep you quiet for a while but if you must read only one or two, please concentrate on Delay, Denial and Dilution, Why Ration Healthcare and Health Care in France And Germany.

Civitas is worth browsing for information on the trends and developments in the NHS if you are interested in researching further.

The article was written following my experiences with the NHS and watching and nursing my wife as she slowly died of cancer over a period of 9 months. It prompted me to study the problem and form my own conclusions about how the NHS should be changed and the way that health care could be infinitely better. I hope that I have managed to be dispassionate about the system and that the article is does not come across as being unduly influenced by my own experiences.

If anyone wants to e-mail me to clarify any points I would be happy to explain things further.
My condolences, Phil. And thank you for taking the time to write this, and trying to help us avoid what your country has done.

Barring a miracle, I fear our Imperial Senate is going to pass this monstrosity, and we will, sixty-two years later, follow Great Britain down this path, but it is my hope that we the people can abort it.

Your Moment of Zen

Your Moment of Zen

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oh Now THIS is Interesting

Oh Now THIS is Interesting

I don't follow the global warming debate as a rule - what I do follow takes up so much of my time already. However, I do try to hit the highlights (like the earlier post today.) This, however, showed up at AR15.com, so I followed it around a bit. The blog Watt's Up With That (winner of the 2008 Best Science Blog award BTW) was apparently the one of the first to break the news:
The details on this are still sketchy, we’ll probably never know what went on. But it appears that Hadley Climate Research Unit has been hacked and many many files have been released by the hacker or person unknown

I’m currently traveling and writing this from an aiprort, but here is what I know so far:

An unknown person put postings on some climate skeptic websites that advertsied an FTP file on a Russian FTP server, here is the message that was placed on the Air Vent today:

We feel that climate science is, in the current situation, too important to
be kept under wraps.

We hereby release a random selection of correspondence, code, and documents

The file was large, about 61 megabytes, containing hundreds of files.

It contained data, code, and emails from Phil Jones at CRU to and from many people.

I’ve seen the file, it appears to be genuine and from CRU. Others who have seen it concur- it appears genuine. There are so many files it appears unlikely that it is a hoax. The effort would be too great.
"Hadley" is the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. Multiple sources are reporting this. UPDATE, 11/20: Actually the site hacked was the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU) email server, not the Hadley Centre.

And the 61mB of information is not favorable to "climate science" in general nor the Centre and its scientists in particular.

Another climate blog, The Blackboard reports:
Steve Mosher alerted us to an interesting development: Some one dropped a link to a zipped directory of files that contain what appear to be emails between various bloggers and climate science illuminati Of course this may be some sort of scam. If so, someone spent a lot of time putting together fake email/code etc.

Here’s what SteveM wrote:
Lucia,

Found this on JeffIds site.

http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/open-letter/

It contains over 1000 mails. IF TRUE …

1 mail from you and the correspondence that follows.

And, you get to see somebody with the name of phil jones say that he would rather destroy the CRU data than release it to McIntyre.

And lots lots more. including how to obstruct or evade FOIA requests. and guess who funded the collection of cores at Yamal.. and transferred money into a personal account in Russia

And you get to see what they really say behind the curtain..
you get to see how they “shape” the news, how they struggled between telling the truth and making policy makers happy.

you get to see what they say about Idso and pat micheals, you
get to read how they want to take us out into a dark alley, it’s stunning all very stunning. You get to watch somebody named phil jones say that John daly’s death is good news.. or words to that effect.

I don’t know that its real..

But the CRU code looks real
Tomorrow should be an interesting day on the blogs.

Don't expect to hear anything in the legacy media about it. At least not for two or three weeks after Glenn Beck gets done with it.

As one commenter at The Blackboard put it:
Maybe they are Real Files. Then they would be Real AND fake, ;)
UPDATE 11/20: Ed Morrisey of Hot Air now has the story.

UPDATE II: Reason is on it now.

"The greatest middle class in the face of the Earth"

"The greatest middle class in the face of the Earth"

Mr. Bill emailed me this:


That's Mike Rogers, representing the 8th District of Michigan (yes, that district really does exist). Pretty good rant.

UPDATE: Both Ed "What the" Heckman and Jerry the Geek point out in comments that Rep. Rogers' attribution of a quote to Abraham Lincoln is incorrect. Jerry details the facts in an excellent follow-on post.

Wait, What?

Wait, What?

From der Spiegel:
Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out

Global warming appears to have stalled. Climatologists are puzzled as to why average global temperatures have stopped rising over the last 10 years. Some attribute the trend to a lack of sunspots, while others explain it through ocean currents.

At least the weather in Copenhagen is likely to be cooperating. The Danish Meteorological Institute predicts that temperatures in December, when the city will host the United Nations Climate Change Conference, will be one degree above the long-term average.

Otherwise, however, not much is happening with global warming at the moment. The Earth's average temperatures have stopped climbing since the beginning of the millennium, and it even looks as though global warming could come to a standstill this year.

--

The planet's temperature curve rose sharply for almost 30 years, as global temperatures increased by an average of 0.7 degrees Celsius (1.25 degrees Fahrenheit) from the 1970s to the late 1990s. "At present, however, the warming is taking a break," confirms meteorologist Mojib Latif of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences in the northern German city of Kiel. Latif, one of Germany's best-known climatologists, says that the temperature curve has reached a plateau. "There can be no argument about that," he says. "We have to face that fact."
But, but . . .
Even though the temperature standstill probably has no effect on the long-term warming trend, it does raise doubts about the predictive value of climate models, and it is also a political issue. For months, climate change skeptics have been gloating over the findings on their Internet forums. This has prompted many a climatologist to treat the temperature data in public with a sense of shame, thereby damaging their own credibility.

"It cannot be denied that this is one of the hottest issues in the scientific community," says Jochem Marotzke, director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg. "We don't really know why this stagnation is taking place at this point."
Can we PLEASE now admit that we don't know enough about how climate works to be able to predict the weather more than three days in advance?
Climatologists use their computer models to draw temperature curves that continue well into the future. They predict that the average global temperature will increase by about three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, unless humanity manages to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, no one really knows what exactly the world climate will look like in the not-so-distant future, that is, in 2015, 2030 or 2050.
As far as I'm aware, that's not as warm as it reached during the Medieval Warm Period when Norsemen farmed in Greenland and grapes grew in England. Humanity survived that just fine, and the Little Ice Age that followed.

The OH MY GOD WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE! crap is really getting old.

November 19, 1863

November 19, 1863
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

-- Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Pennsylvania
Perhaps the single finest speech ever delivered in the English language.

Assuming You Can Actually Find Any . . .

Assuming You Can Actually Find Any . . .

It's National Ammo Day!


Happy birthday, Kim.

You Can't Do That! You're Not Qualified!

You Can't Do That! You're Not Qualified!
Armed Suspect Shot By Upper Darby Delivery Decoy

Upper Darby, PA - An armed suspected was shot in Delaware County after attempting to rob an undercover detective posing as a pizza deliveryman Wednesday night.

Verona Pizza on W. Chester Pike in Upper Darby contacted police after receiving a suspicious delivery order at about 11 p.m.

Delivery drivers at the business have been held up at least three times in recent weeks.

An undercover detective stood in as a decoy, making the delivery near Delaware and South Harwood Avenues. Once at the address, a masked suspect armed with a gun jumped out from the bushes and rushed towards the officer.

Despite a warning, the suspect continued to rush forwards, forcing the detective to fire once shot which struck the suspect in the torso.

The wounded suspect was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in serious, but stable condition. The detective was not injured in the incident.

Following the shooting, police began pursuit of an apparent getaway vehicle. One female suspect was apprehended as she attempted to flee the vehicle. A second male suspect is still on the loose.

The incident remains under investigation.
So in Upper Darby they have a cop dress up as a pizza delivery driver, but in other places the drivers manage to defend themselves.

In Greenville, NC.

In Lexington, SC.

In Des Moines, Iowa. (Interesting follow-up here.)

In Augusta, GA.

In Charlotte, NC.

In Lufkin, TX.

In Irmo, SC.

Damn, gun-toting pizza delivery guys seem to be the rule in the Carolinas!

That's just a short list I found while using the Violence Policy Center's greatest research tool, Google. Of those seven incidents (Plus the Upper Darby one), only two would be considered "defensive gun uses" by Arthur Kellermann because in only two of those incidents did the assailant die. Apparently frightening off or wounding doesn't qualify as a "defensive gun use" to most anti-gunners, someone's got to die.

Two Thumbs Down

Two Thumbs Down
Oscar Gives Michael Moore's Love Story the Shaft

Oscar won't be tacking a happy ending onto Capitalism: A Love Story.

Michael Moore 's latest diatribe against the powers that be, this one directed at Wall Street and the government that let it run amok, did not make the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' short list of films that still have a shot at winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary.
Awwwwww... Mikey's not liked by the Anointed anymore?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

From a "Primary Source"

From a "Primary Source"!
Our health-care system suffers from problems of cost, access and quality, and needs major reform. Tax policy drives employment-based insurance; this begets overinsurance and drives costs upward while creating inequities for the unemployed and self-employed. A regulatory morass limits innovation. And deep flaws in Medicare and Medicaid drive spending without optimizing care.

--

In discussions with dozens of health-care leaders and economists, I find near unanimity of opinion that, whatever its shape, the final legislation that will emerge from Congress will markedly accelerate national health-care spending rather than restrain it. Likewise, nearly all agree that the legislation would do little or nothing to improve quality or change health-care's dysfunctional delivery system.

--

The true costs of health care are disguised, competition based on price and quality are almost impossible, and patients lose their ability to be the ultimate judges of value.

Worse, currently proposed federal legislation would undermine any potential for real innovation in insurance and the provision of care. It would do so by overregulating the health-care system in the service of special interests such as insurance companies, hospitals, professional organizations and pharmaceutical companies, rather than the patients who should be our primary concern.

In effect, while the legislation would enhance access to insurance, the trade-off would be an accelerated crisis of health-care costs and perpetuation of the current dysfunctional system—now with many more participants. This will make an eventual solution even more difficult. Ultimately, our capacity to innovate and develop new therapies would suffer most of all.

-- Dr. Jeffery S. Flier, dean of Harvard Medical School, The Wall Street Journal - Health 'Reform' Gets a Failing Grade

(Emphasis is mine.) I will be referring back to this post at a later date.

Canada's Long-Gun Registry is Doomed

Canada's Long-Gun Registry is Doomed

Doomed, I tell you!:
Why I changed my mind about the long-gun registry

Patricia Dawn Robertson
Wakaw, Sask. — From Thursday's Globe and Mail Published on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009 4:44PM EST Last updated on Friday, Nov. 13, 2009 1:57AM EST


I'm not a hunter. I also don't own a gun. Yet, after five years of residing in the country, I've radically shifted my position on gun control from pro to con.

Before you start humming the eerie banjo strains from Deliverance, hear me out. Not every rural resident is a gun-toting, liberal-baiting, paramilitary commando.

Nor are rural Canadians stand-ins for the laconic cast of Fargo. I'm a feminist, a progressive and an organic gardener, yet I support the Conservative bill to pull long guns from the national registry.

After many years of fighting to have long guns exempted, lobbyists are finally seeing some movement from Ottawa. Conservative backbencher Candice Hoeppner, the Annie Oakley of Portage la Prairie, introduced her controversial private member's bill last week to end the long-gun registry. Its passage is a victory for rural Canadians. But why can't they convince their dogmatic city neighbours that it's a fair compromise?

In December of 1989, as the Montreal massacre unfolded, I was enrolled in women's studies at York University. Like many Canadians, I wanted my government to do something.
Which is typical. As Congressman Adam Putnam put it, governments only do two things well: nothing, and overreact. The urge to "DO SOMETHING!" is overwhelming, when doing nothing is usually the appropriate response.
When the registry was introduced in 1995, I supported it. But, as an urban resident, I only saw the issue from that perspective.
And the population concentrated in urban areas - ignorant of wider perspectives - are almost uniformly Leftist. It's a "captive audience" effect, I suppose.
The Prime Minister must make good on his promise to scrap the registry. The Liberal approach has proved to be an overzealous and ineffective strategy for fighting urban crime. Allan Rock's bill was predominantly targeted at reassuring his urban base that city streets and campuses would be safe again. When the registry was first introduced, vocal opponents were dismissed as gun nuts, while the Liberals took the moral high ground in a misguided bid to reduce urban crime and violence against women.

I'm not the only feminist who identifies with the Annie Oakley demographic. I wrote a feature about gun control for the Western Standard in 2004, and my subjects, educated female hunters, loathed the registry. This bloated $2-billion policy proved to be a knee-jerk response to a deeper social problem – why wasn't all of this money allocated to stem the flow of illegal handguns across the Canada-U.S. border?

This complex issue is at the heart of the urban-rural split in Canada. I'm living proof that it's possible to be a New Yorker reader and a long-gun registry debunker.

What changed my mind about such a hot-button issue? Living side by side with Prairie farmers has been an invaluable lesson in tolerance. While urbanites fear the sound of gunshots on their streets, the sound of gunfire is as commonplace in the country as the roar of Cherry Bomb headers on an F-150.

Rural long-gun owners are responsible, respectable citizens, not criminals who need to be tracked and tagged. They use guns for pest control on their farms. They hunt deer and elk to fill the freezer just as urbanites stock up at Costco. For farmers, it's a much harsher, frontier way of life.
And this is why it is crucial for the gun-owner demographic to not decline to the point where they have no voice in the political process, which has happened in the UK. "Normalization" of gun ownership is a requirement to maintaining that voice. People must see gun owners as "responsible, respectabl citizens, not criminals who need to be tracked and tagged," and for that to happen they must be SEEN. When less than one-half of one percent of a population legally owns a firearm, that can't happen.
Camo-clad hunters aren't holding up 7-Elevens. These wealthy American sportsmen are the mainstay of Saskatchewan's tourism economy.

The Daily Show mocks Sarah Palin for her hunting expeditions, but she's right in step with the rural lifestyle. Self-sufficiency is the key to survival: Chop wood, carry water, grow your own food, hunt for protein, shingle a roof. In the country, a gun is another tool, like a reciprocating saw – not a weapon. Next, paranoid urbanites will demand that farmers “register” their eight-pound chopping mauls.
She even gets in a pro-Sarah shot! I'm shocked!
Common sense dictates that tracking hunters and farmers is not the answer. Why not target rejected engineering students, angry loners, frustrated WCB claimants or military personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder?
Because that would be profiling!
My own private citizen's bill would propose a BlackBerry registry for urban nano-nerds who drive and text. They're far more dangerous than that gun-toting Elmer Fudd of the Back Forty.
And she concludes with a shot at the Fudds! (Though I doubt she's familiary with the term from a gunnie's perspective.

When self-professed Leftist Feminists (but I repeat myself) oppose the registry, it's toast, sooner or later.

Quote of the Day


Two imperfect and wildly incompatible world views have been on collision course for decades, and it's going to stay that way until we, as a society, remember why we intentionally made a government that is powerless in areas in which people will never agree, because at the heart of the matter is using the naked power of government to enforce ones preferences on the other.

Part of that process is realizing that you're going to have to give up the club your own team would use to enforce its preferences. For the Left, the list of offenses against Liberty is endless. For the Right, amongst other things, that means getting over antipathy towards homosexuality, and it also means recognizing and accepting that the definition of abortion as murder hinges on the ensoulment of the fetus, because until that happens, there is no party whose life is deprived. Since this is a question that cannot be answered without appealing to the unprovable propositions of religion, it is therefore a private matter, and not fit for public policy.

The only other alternative is that those who insist on their right to decide on these things for others wipes out those who disagree, which is the precedent that the bulk of human history offers us.

-- geekWithA.45
The Geek is at least a half-magnitude brighter than I am, and I am constantly humbled by his ability to say, and say more precisely, in ten words what it takes me 50 to attempt.

Blog more, Geek.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Who Should We Worry About

Who Should We Worry About?

Interesting piece from "Robin of Berkely" - "a psychotherapist and a recovering liberal" now writing for American Thinker. In her latest piece, Obama's Mind Game, she opens:
It's a chilling moment when the light goes out in someone's eyes. A once-radiant child hardens from abuse. A woman's heart shrinks after her husband's abandonment.

The person looks the same, maybe acts the same. But something is gone, and what's lost is irretrievable. It's like when a person dies: in a heartbeat, the soul vanishes.

I witnessed this alteration recently when I visited my goddaughter, a radiant girl. Her mom, a hardcore progressive, has started exposing her to the darkest elements of the left. And the last time I looked in the girl's eyes, the light had gone out. Disappeared. Just like that.

I see this phenomenon every day: a light dimming. The friendly shopkeeper snaps at me. My cheerful neighbor seems flattened.

And you hear it in the news: people acting strangely, going off the deep end. The most bizarre behavior becoming the new normal.

A thug bites off a finger. Sarah Palin's church is torched. Bullies intimidate voters.

Last week, an esteemed Columbia University black architecture professor punched a white female coworker in the eye for not doing more about white privilege.

He has no history of violence. So why now?

Why now? This may be the most important question of our time. Why are some people reaching the boiling point? Why do many others look vacant, like an Invasion of the Body Snatchers? The shootings at military bases, from Little Rock to Fort Hood -- why now?

It's Obama, of course.
Quite aware of what she just said, she follows it with:
Liberals will excoriate me for writing this.
Can I have "DUH!" for $1,000, Alex?

Interesting piece. The howls of anguished outrage will be more interesting still.

(h/t: MK Freeberg)

Why? I'll Tell You Why.

Why? I'll Tell You Why.

Yesterday Glenn Reynolds said that he still didn't understand "what the White House’s calculus is" on trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other suspected terrorists in New York in civil court.

Back in 2006 when I wrote The United Federation of Planets, I explained it:
The "state of nature" is the ultimate objective reality. In it, people will do whatever is necessary to survive, or they don't survive. In point of fact, throughout history - even today - people have not only defended their lives, liberty and property, they have taken life, liberty, and property from others not of their society. And they have done so secure in the knowledge that their philosophy tells them that it's the right thing to do. This is true of the The Brow-Ridged Hairy People That Live Among the Distant Mountains, the Egyptians, the Inca, the Maori, the British Empire, and the United States of America. It's called warfare, and it's the use of lethal force against people outside ones own society. Rand explained that:
A 'right' is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context.
That's a critical definition. If a society truly believes that:
...all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
then that society cannot wage war. It cannot even defend itself - because to take human life, to destroy property, even to take prisoners of war is anathema to such a society, for it would be in violation of the fundamental rights of the victims of such action. (See: the Moriori. Or the Amish.)

This creates a cognitive bind, then, unless you rationalize that the rights you believe in are valid for your society, but not necessarily for those outside it. Those members that violate the sanctions on freedom of action within the society are treated differently from those outside the society that do the same. Those within the society are handled by the legal system, and are subject to capture, judicial review, and punishment under law, whether that's issuance of an "Anti-Social Behavior Order" in London, or a death by stoning in Tehran. Those outside of a society who act against that society may be ignored, or may risk retaliatory sanctions up to and including open warfare, depending on the situation. (See: Kim Jong Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, nuclear weapons.)

--

(W)hen a society faces the fact that its philosophical foundation does not match objective reality, it is inevitable that there will be a loss of confidence and a societal change.

--

If you examine it closely, (the Left) has wrapped itself in a philosophy that attempts to extend all of the West's "rights of man" to the entire world - up to and including those who are actively seeking our destruction, and the Left holds itself as morally superior for doing so. Attempting to intercept terrorist communications is "illegal domestic wiretapping" - a violation of the right to privacy. Media outlets showing acknowledged Islamist propaganda is exercise of the right of free speech, but suppression of images from the 9/11 attacks - specifically, the aircraft crashing into the World Trade Center, or its victims jumping to their deaths - is not censorship. The humiliation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib is described as a "human rights violation," as is the detainment of prisoners at Guantanimo without trial.
For the Left, the war between the West and radical Islamists should not be handled as a war - it should be handled as a police matter - as a society would handle internal violators. Our enemies shouldn't be killed, they should be, at worst, captured and counseled. Our enemies are not at fault, WE are, because we are hypocrites that don't live up to our professed belief in absolute, positive, unquestionable, fundamental, ultimate rights. If we just lived up to our professed beliefs, the rest of the world would not hate us. Yet to believe this, the Left must ignore objective reality.
It's Alinsky's Rules for Radicals: "Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules." Destroy the enemy's society so you can build your new one on top of the ruins.