Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pelosi - A Thousand Years Late

Nancy Pelosi stopped at Greenland on her way to Europe.

The California Democrat pointed to her delegation's weekend stop in Greenland, "where we saw firsthand evidence that climate change is a reality; there is just no denying it."

"It wasn't caused by the people of Greenland - it was caused by the behavior of the rest of the world," she said.

Scientists have noticed that Greenland's output of ice into the North Atlantic had increased dramatically, doubling over the decade that ended in 2005.

A thousand years ago the Vikings stopped at Greenland. They found a lot less ice than Pelosi saw. The Earth was experiencing a long period of much warmer temperatures than we have today, all caused by natural force.

The Vikings had farms on Greenland then that are still covered by ice today.

Those that are ignorant of history can make the dumbest remarks, and those that are equally ignorant believe them.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

President Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Islamophobia

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Not long ago the foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) concluded that Islamophobia was the worst form of terrorism.

As I read their complaint in the May 17, 2007 Arab News, “The Middle East’s Leading English Language Daily,” I was immediately struck by how little damage the Danish cartoonists who drew Mohammad caused, and by how much more blood the Muslims reacting belatedly to the cartooning caused to flow.

If these Danish drawings are as vicious as it gets, to label them as the worst form of terrorism would seem to greatly devalue the more deadly forms.

I concluded my post: “So what is this Islamophobia, this worst form of terrorism?

First, it is a myth.

Then it is a device to label all criticism of Islam, even by Muslims, as discrimination and racism.

Finally, since a phobia is an "irrational fear," the only irrationality I have noted in this examination of Islamophobia is on the part of Muslims who think the Western bloc has not been given ample cause to fear militant Islamists.

Calling what is in essence a fear of Islamic terrorism by the Western bloc to be the worst form of terrorism is one of the most irrational things I have ever heard.

It's Islamophobia-phobia.”

A recent reader of my blog, and now a constant Commenter, waded in:

“Islamophobia refers to irrational fear of Islam, not Islamic terrorists. Fearing Muslims just because some Muslims are terrorists is as irrational as blaming every white American for the past sins of slavery, or every Christian for the excesses of the crusades.

There are two issues. One is that most muslims aren't terrorists. That is why we shouldn't fear Islam, but violent extremists everywhere. Did you know that pre-Iraq the most common use of suicide bombings was by atheists? They didn't (and don't) do it because they expect some heavenly reward. Terrorism - of all kinds - has nothing to do with religion.

The second issue is that terrorism is dangerous, but it is hardly the biggest threat of our time. To exaggerate its threat is to draw attention from other, more urgent problems, such as the low living standards in the US, the increasingly unchecked power of the central government, the snowballing public (and private) debt, the poor quality of many schools and the lack of highly trained professionals. More acutely, the endless kowtowing to China is a more direct and persistent threat to the West's long-term economy and living standards than anything AQ can cook up.

And if you missed it, please check on the recent events in Turkey. I'ld (sic) like to see a million Americans march in the streets because they think the president does not believe in the separation of church and state. Moderate muslims are speaking up, and very loudly at that. They just don't get airtime in the West.”

I answered

"One is that most muslims aren't terrorists."

True, but most terrorists are Muslims.

Do you believe, as the Arab foreign ministers do, that Islamophobia is the worst terrorism?

"To exaggerate its threat is to draw attention from other, more urgent problems, such as the low living standards in the US..."

Since the United States enjoys the highest standards of living the world has ever known, I can't appreciate how this is a more urgent problem than Islamic terrorism.

"...the increasingly unchecked power of the central government..."

Check it - vote! Didn't Democrats just win back Congress?

Of course, more Americans voted for President Bush than for any president
in history. That's probably why you have a problem.

Your other points about snowballing debt and the poor quality of many schools and lack of trained professionals have been issues I have been critical of for a long time. We are still suffering the run-away spending launched by LBJ's entitlement avalanche of The Great Society. The Teacher's Union strangle-hold on education and their opposition to improvement and reform are reflected in the poor quality of many schools. The lack of quality professionals was the subject of one of my recent blog posts: The State of Education in America – We’re Doomed!

I lived in Turkey for a year, and I know about the tension between Islamists and secularists. You are truly perpetrating a grand distortion if you think there are similarities between the forces demanding a Turkish theocracy and religious trends in America.

Where else are moderate Muslims speaking up loudly?

At this point, Commenter and I had opened up many threads, which we have continued for a total of 15 comments under the broad heading of Islamophobia, and another 21 comments loosely pertaining to Jimmy Carter, the Worst Former President of all Time.

Earlier we did 21 comments on health care, with Commenter sure that the universal health care systems failing in the UK and Canada, and facing a demographic time bomb in the rest of Europe because of rapidly aging and stagnant or shrinking populations, were the wave of the future.

Out of these voluminous exchanges, patterns emerge. Of course, there is the ever present Liberal vs. Conservative. But over and above that, I start the blame game at LBJ, who I believe, and am borne out by historical analyses, launched the entitlements tsunami called the Great Society that has been and still is inundating and sinking federal, state, and local budgets.

When discussing the Great Society, disaster terminology is totally appropriate. Even Commenter is appalled by our national debt, while unable to understand its direct link to entitlements spending launched by the Great Society.

LBJ also expanded JFK’s misadventure in South East Asia into the greatest foreign policy and military debacle in the history of the United States, an unmitigated disaster we are still paying for today.

Commenter, on the other hand, finds President Reagan totally to blame, even though total real discretionary outlays increased by 25.2 percent under LBJ (FY1964-69) and only 11.9 percent under Reagan (FY1981-86). LBJ massively increased both defense and non-defense spending, while President Reagan increased defense spending, but cut non-defense spending. LBJ launched Medicare, and President Reagan took office with it and Social Security already running deficits (which started early in the Carter administration). President Reagan not only had to restore the United States military after years of Carter neglect, he also had to bring the economy out of recession, double digit inflation, high interest rates, and high unemployment, and rescue Social Security and Medicare.

That President Reagan was able to accomplish all of these monumental tasks, and launch a period of prosperity, is testament to his greatness. "(The Reagan) economic boom lasted 92 months without a recession, from November 1982 to July 1990, the longest period of sustained growth during peacetime and the second-longest period of sustained growth in U.S. history. The growth in the economy lasted more than twice as long as the average period of expansions since World War II.”

So far I have found only a few things that Commenter and I share. Neither of us believe in the Democrats, but Commenter doesn't believe in any of the parties - so he says. Still, I bet he never votes Republican or Libertarian, as I do, and I bet he votes.

We both agree communism is a failure, Soviet style anyway. I would not label Chinese communism a failure yet, because it shows marvelous skills of adaptation and will probably soon morph into full capitalism while still wearing the communist label.

Our exchanges are good exercise, and particularly reinforce the maxim to never assume anything. I didn't think anyone would defend Carter, say it is irrational to worry about Islamic militants, and argue that Western Europe exhibits more economic promise and social mobility than the United States.

I wonder what Commenter thinks about climate change being caused by natural forces?

I invite any and all who have read this far to go my posts on Jimmy Carter, Islamophobia (and more Islamophobia), and National Health care and read the comments. Commenter and I both put in a lot of time on them, and if nothing else they illustrate how every issue is in play.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Jimmy Carter, the Worst Former President of All Time

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Jimmy Carter, thirty years of stupidity and counting.
(This prescient cartoon from 1977 shows he didn't know anything then, and has continued to regress)

Former President Jimmy Carter, not content with being the worst president of the past century, has now claimed the title of Worst Former President of All Time.

The man whose only claim to fame was the ability to preside over a steeply and steadily declining domestic economy, featuring high unemployment, high inflation, high interest rates, and economic stagnation, while at the same time inflicting the international humiliation of the 444-day Iranian hostage crisis on an already suffering nation, now is an international embarrassment as he presumes to lecture George Bush and Tony Blair on leadership.

Both Bush and Blair can point to stewardship over thriving economies that equaled or bettered the previous best economic performances of both the United States and the UK, and continue to do so. All Carter can do is wish that for even a few months he had done half as well.

Carter’s reasons for attacking President Bush and Prime Minister Blair to me are obvious. “Peanut” Jimmy needs to distract attention from his misguided and fatuous book, “Apartheid,” which blames Israel for the daily Palestinian fiascos caused by the Palestinian’s total lack of leadership and desire for peace with Israel. Carter criticizes President Bush for having “zero peace talks” in Israel, while Hamas maintains total intransigence to peace efforts brokered by Saudi Arabia and other Hamas benefactors.

About now I would hope that someone in the mass media would have enough of a grasp on recent history to question Carter about his legacy of world peace. How many peace talks did he have with the Soviet Union to prevent its invasion of Afghanistan? How well did he perform as a peace broker between the opposing forces of the Shah of Iran and Ayatollah Khomeini? Where are the fruits of the seeds of peace Carter planted in the Camp David accords?

While president, Jimmy Carter certainly planted a lot of seeds. The humiliation of having our embassy in Iran seized and our embassy staff held hostage, with no response from the United States except a stupid and tragic botched rescue attempt, planted the seeds of contempt for the toothless American tiger that acted like a pussycat.

The seeds of our pathetic response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the quixotic boycott of the Moscow Olympics, grew into the mujahadeen that begat the Taliban, and fertilized soil for recruiting and training the noxious weeds that became Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida cadre.

Through it all, then-President Carter’s impotent leadership and incomprehension of domestic and international forces at play resulted in a weak and demoralized nation, a malaise that took President Reagan almost two years to discard.

Perhaps the greatest testament to President Reagan’s leadership was that he not only turned around the mess inherited from Carter, but during his eight years in office presided over the longest period of economic growth in America’s history, and also brought the Soviet Union to collapse shortly after his term as president ended.

Unfortunately, the damage inflicted on the prestige and respect for the United States in the Middle East could not be reversed, and the world continues to pay a heavy price for Carter’s legacy.

It is a fundamental mystery of life, that after all his failures, Jimmy Carter can still find fools to heed his tirades.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What Caused Islamophobia?

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Islamophobia didn't start here.

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Islamophobia didn't begin when 202 innocent nightclubbers were killed, and 209 injured, on Bali.

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According to Muslims, "Islamophobia is the view that Islam has no values in common with other cultures, is inferior to the West, is a violent political ideology rather than a religion, that its criticisms of the West have no substance, and that discriminatory practices against Muslims are justified," but Islamophobia did not begin with the slaughter of innocents at Beslan. Of the almost 400 killed (209 Muslims), 186 were children. Many of the survivors lost arms, legs, hands, and/or eyes.

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Islamophobia is defined by some as a prejudice against, or demonization of, Muslims. Of course it didn't begin with the bombing of Madrid commuter trains in 2004 that killed 191 and wounded 2,050.

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Although the term "Islamophobia" has been used to silence critics of Islam, including Muslims who want to reform it, its use didn't start after London subway trains and a bus were bombed, killing 52 commuters and injuring 700 in 2005.

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Although "Holy Warriors of Egypt" killed 88 and injured 150 at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt in 2005, Islamophobia didn't start here either.

After looking at these pictures, and realizing that hundreds, more to the point thousands, of pictures could be displayed of atrocities committed by Islamic extremists, the question still remains, "When did 'Islamophobia' start?"

According to the foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), "Islamophobia is the worst form of terrorism."

The foreign ministers of the OIC apparently have paid attention to the ACLU and learned that the best defense against criticism is to proclaim victim status.

"The Western bloc hates us because we're Muslims. Look at these atrocities against Muslims! Look at these Danish cartoons! Look at this quote Pope Benedict XVI read that criticized the Prophet! Of course after such provocations our peace-loving Muslim brothers had to riot and kill mostly other Muslims. Only a bunch of Islamophobics would condemn us for that!"

(The above is, of course, a made up quote. However, in the tradition of CBS, where forged documents, quotes, and film are used to illustrate a "greater truth," I follow CBS's lead and do the same. The only difference is I openly label my fabrications as such, and don't try to pass them off as genuine.)

I examined a lengthy list of complaints that claimed Muslims are victims of Islamophobia, and have arrived at a few conclusions. The first is that the alleged Islamophobia didn't result in any deaths other than at the hands of angry Muslims. I would find Muslim claims that they are being unfairly labeled as violent more believable if their reactions to criticism were not so violent.

I would find their protests against being labeled intolerant more believable if Muslims did not proclaim fatwas on Muslims who want to change religions, or denounce their religion. I would not call Muslims intolerant if they allowed other religions to be practiced openly in Saudi Arabia and other countries, just as we allow Muslims to worship openly in the Western bloc.

I would believe Muslims claims that they respect human rights if they actually allowed all Muslim women freedom of choice in education, employment, mode of dress, choice of marriage partner, freedom to walk unescorted, and to even drive a car (and a lot more, of course).

(About equal rights, the ayatollahs of Iran consider them "a Judeo-Christian invention" and inadmissible in Islam.)

So what is this Islamophobia, this worst form of terrorism?

First, it is a myth.

Then it is a device to label all criticism of Islam, even by Muslims, as discrimination and racism.

Finally, since a phobia is an "irrational fear," the only irrationality I have noted in this examination of Islamophobia is on the part of Muslims who think the Western bloc has not been given ample cause to fear militant Islamists.

Calling what is in essence a fear of Islamic terrorism by the Western bloc to be the worst form of terrorism is one of the most irrational things I have ever heard.

It's Islamophobia-phobia.

‘Islamophobia Worst Form of Terrorism’

‘Islamophobia Worst Form of Terrorism’ read the headline in the May 17, 2007 Arab News, “The Middle East’s Leading English Language Daily.”

Immediately I thought of the old nursery rhyme, “RPG’s and IED’s may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

In a flash I delved deep into the article to find what oral atrocities of the West exceeded the carnage of 9/11, the Madrid and London outrages, the Beslan slaughter of innocents, the killing of pleasure-seeking night clubbers on Bali, the tit-for-tat car bombings of Sunnis of Shiite, and Shiite of Sunnis, in Baghdad, the annihilation of peaceful shoppers in Peshawar, the beheadings of Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia, the United States embassies bombed in Africa, “honor” killings of Muslim women by Muslim men worldwide, and my list went on and on and so for brevity I now add “etc.”, and a huge "etc." it is.

What oral atrocities were mentioned by the Foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to prove that “Islamophobia (is the) worst form of terrorism”?

The Muhammad cartoons published in Denmark.

The Muhammad cartoons published in Denmark? That's disbelievable!

When the cartoons first came out, there was a big Muslim yawn in Europe. It wasn’t until months after publication when imams took the cartoons to show in the Middle East, and added some faked and truly offensive drawings that weren’t part of the original Danish cartoons, that the peace-loving Muslims freaked out and started to do what is now accepted as standard peace-loving Muslim procedure for dealing with provocations invented by their leaders – they started killing each other!

"I'll bet when we killed Akhmed it really taught those Danes a lesson!"

"That's right, Mustapha. They'll think twice before they upset us peace-loving Islamists again."

"Yeah, those crazy Danes."

What other oral provocations led the OIC foreign ministers to label them the worst form of terrorism?

Pope Benedict XVI, during a speech in Germany last year, quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor who said the Prophet had brought the world only “evil and inhuman” things.

To prove the Pope wrong, followers of the Prophet immediately ran out and did evil and inhuman things.

The OIC foreign ministers noted the United States and Europe unfairly portrayed Islam, as quoted in Arab News:

“Islamophobia became a source of concern, especially after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but the phenomenon was already there in Western societies in one form or the other,” they pointed out. “It gained further momentum after the Madrid and London bombings. The killing of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh in 2004 was used in a wicked manner by certain quarters to stir up a frenzy against Muslims,” the ministers pointed out. Van Gogh had made a controversial film about Muslim culture.

I admit that the Western news media does create a very negative picture of Islam when they report the atrocities committed by Muslims on Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Apparently the approach favored by the OIC foreign ministers is for the Western news media to report the news in the same way as the Muslim news media.

If we did it the Muslim news media way, we would know that the Jews were responsible for 9/11, with the connivance of the government of the United States. We would know that even after Osama bin Laden released videos taking credit for 9/11. We would know it even after we saw videos of Palestinians dancing in the streets celebrating 9/11.

I’ll bet that was the first time Palestinians ever celebrated a successful Jewish and American conspiracy.

Per Arab News: “The (OIC foreign) ministers also pointed out that whenever the issue of Islamophobia was discussed in international forums, the Western bloc, particularly some members of the European Union, tried to avoid discussing the core issue and instead diverted the attention from their region to the situation of non-Muslims and human rights in the OIC member states.”

Let’s see if I get this right. The OIC foreign ministers say that when they want to complain about how Islam is portrayed negatively in the Western bloc, the Western bloc representatives want to tell them the reasons why Islam is portrayed negatively. Things like the Muslim mistreatment of non-Muslims in Muslim countries, and the violations of human rights in the OIC member states.

There it is again. The OIC foreign ministers object to Western news media reporting the truth about the bad treatment of non-Muslims and the violations of human rights in Muslim states. “If you didn’t tell your people the truth about non-Muslims and human rights in Muslim states, your people wouldn’t think bad things about Islamists.”

Another way to approach the issue, if Muslim news media continues to print lies, and Western news media stops reporting truth, no more Islamophobia.

(Whacks self on forehead with palm of hand) Of course!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More Inconvenient Truths – Temperatures Fall After Carbon Dioxide Peaks

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Temperature leads CO2 changes by 800 years

Some strange things happen when you examine the theory that mankind causes global warming by increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The first thing you find is almost universal agreement that temperature increases have preceded increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, usually by at least 800 years or more. This pattern has held for hundreds of thousands of years, and been accepted by scientists on both sides of the global warming issue.

Of course, this inconvenient truth is the opposite of what Al Gore has presented so dramatically.

“Carbon dioxide goes up, and up, and up, and then temperature goes up, and up, and up!”

Except it doesn’t.

The temperature goes up, and then the carbon dioxide goes up. Not the other way around.

Then while carbon dioxide is up, the temperature goes down.

According to the greenhouse gas theorists, the increased carbon dioxide should have a climate “forcing” effect, and temperature increases would continue and, in fact, accelerate.

However, the evidence is clear that the onset of cooling occurs while CO2 is still at its peak.

The logical conclusion is simple. Climate changes are not driven by changes in CO2. Other factors overpower the negligible but proven greenhouse effect of CO2. If climate change could be modeled in a sealed laboratory, with all variables controlled, CO2 changes might correlate directly with subsequent minor temperature changes.

But in the laboratory of the real world, they don’t.

Climate Change is Natural - Billions of Years of Proof

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"Al Gore was right! It is hotter!"
(Hanging is too good for Global Warming Deniers)

(Our local paper, the weekly Independent Coast Observer, has a Global Warming columnist, Annie Beckett. Her column is a "how to save the Earth by doing little things," basically a recycling of energy conservation tidbits:

"If each of us replaces one incandescent light bulb with a low energy one, we can pretend that we're saving the planet from global warming while we don't notice that China is bringing on a coal-fired generator big enough to power San Diego every ten days."

Don't get me wrong, I think conservation is great. In fact, the success of Alice's business, Vulcan Incorporated, is almost totally based on recycling. Arguable we are the "greenest" family in the Greater Metropolitan Gualala area in terms of profiteering from environmentalism.

"Liberals talk about it, and write about it, but we just do it."

Ain't that a kick for our ultra-Liberal neighbors to ponder!)

Here beginneth my letter:

Annie Beckett wished she could make sense of my “climate change is natural” argument. Maybe I can aid her comprehension. I’ll type really slowly.

First, the vast weight of evidence is that climate change is natural. It is irrefutable that the Earth has been much hotter and colder many hundreds of times over millions of years.

Less than a thousand years ago warmer weather was thoroughly documented by written, geological, and archeological evidence.

Examples of written evidence include the logs of Viking voyages to Greenland and Iceland, which first noted the absence of sea ice during the Medieval Warm Period (AD 800-1300), then the buildup of sea ice as the Little Ice Age set in (AD 1350-1900).

Physical evidence includes farms on Greenland that are still almost completely covered with ice sheets, and the remains of mature forests in the Alps similarly emerging from ice blankets.

A Harvard study of over 240 worldwide climate studies concluded the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than today, and that it was a worldwide phenomenon.

Before that, the Holocene Climate Optimum during the period BC 9000-BC 5000 was even warmer and lasted much longer.

While CO2 increased steadily, there was a cooling period 1940-1975 following the scorching 1920’s and 1930’s. It’s strange that temperatures went up during the Depression, when industrial activity was low, and fell during World War II and the following period of rapid industrialization. Wouldn’t you think that indicates something other than man-made CO2 increases was driving climate change?

Like Nature?

Annie, your 2,500 IPCC scientists and my 15,000 scientists protesting Kyoto prove nothing because science is facts, not consensus. Not long ago scientific consensus was that the world was flat, and skeptics could be burned at the stake.

I shouldn't give Liberals ideas.

Annie, you have wishes, I have facts.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bigger and Smaller

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The San Francisco Chronicle was the biggest loser in 2005, and has done worse since.

As San Francisco Chronicle pictures get bigger, at times covering almost half of the front page, Chronicle news stories shrink both in size and significance.

Not long ago the Chronicle regaled us with breathless reporting of Mark Foley’s (Resigned Rep, R-Florida) suggestive emailing to former Congressional pages. For a brief moment it looked like the Chronicle was becoming judgmental, quite a change from formerly ignoring the page-penetrating proclivities of the late Gerry Studds (Retired Rep, D-Mass).

I wondered, did the Chronicle become moralistic, or was it just a difference in the way it treats R’s compared to D’s?

The envelope please!

The answer, of course, it that the Chronicle has a double standard of reporting, depending whether the subject is a Republican or Democrat. To the Chronicle, a Republican sending suggestive emails to a former page is much worse than a Democrat physically having sex with one while perfoming official duties.

The most recent evidence of the Chronicle’s double standard is their in-depth and total non-reporting of Diane Feinstein’s (Sen, D-Calif) conflict of interest on military contracts. As she abused her position as the chairperson of the United States Senate’s Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee (MILCON), and through her husband’s investments added millions to their family fortune, the Chronicle has been steadfast in preventing any allegations of her conflict of interest from appearing in print.

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The fortunes of war? Not bad!
I thought only Republicans did defense contracting, according to my Democrat friends.

Since the Chronicle of all the world’s newspapers has the greatest vested interest in reporting all things Feinstein, the Chronicle’s reticence at covering significant allegations in its own “backyard” is indecent.

Of course, Feinstein’s conflict of interest is only alleged. No charges have been brought (yet), but that has never stopped the Chronicle from reporting allegations about the misdeeds of Republicans, and others whose primary identity is not Democrat.

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Caught red handed!
(The newly appointed chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is now duly in charge of regulating the ethical behavior of her colleagues)

In fact, allegations about steroid use involving Major League ballplayers first surfaced by the Chronicle triggered investigations, charges, and some convictions.

Rather than infringement of Feinstein’s rights, the Chronicle is now infringing on its readers’ rights to a full disclosure of her possible conflict of interest.

Just as we must assume a person is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, so the Chronicle must not assume that allegations are not newsworthy if they are about a Democrat instead of a Republican.

Let all the people, not just the Democrats, decide!

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"Feinstein, War Profiteer" - even this nut beat the Chronicle to the story.
As all good Democrats know, it's a waste of political power if you don't abuse it.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Escape From National Health Care Hell

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This cartoon reminds of my friend in the United Kingdom, who was scheduled for a hip replacement, then had the operation repeatedly postponed over a several-year period to the point that when he finally got it, he was already permanently crippled and the operation was wasted.

A friend here in Gualala is a staunch supporter of government programs, particularly universal government health care, and he called me to task for saying that the government pays “pennies on the dollar” when billed for medical care provided. Ignoring his comments, I further stated that health insurance companies follow the government example, and also reimburse doctors and hospitals at very low rates. I said the reimbursement rate was roughly 25%, my friend said it was more like 75%.

Since Alice and I have government provided medical insurance, Tricare Prime, because of my status as retired military, when I got home from the meeting where we argued over reimbursement rates, I grabbed a recent pile of payment advisory notices from Tricare and added up what had been billed, and what Tricare paid.

The thirteen monthly statements were for the most part small amounts which have a relatively high reimbursement rate. Of the total billed of $5,770, the government paid $1,730, or 30%.

I was surprised the reimbursement rate was as high as 30%, because when I worked for Kaiser Permanente auditing large payments for member claims for services provided Kaiser members outside the Kaiser system, the overall reimbursement rate was closer to 20%.

In fact, the Kaiser rate was similar to the experience another friend told me of today. She had been billed $84,000 for a recent four-day hospitalization. She turned the claim over to her insurer, and Blue Cross paid $14,000 or 17%.

My debating buddy is a staunch Democrat, so I knew he favored government-funded universal health care as all good Democrats do.

Therefore, it was interesting to note as I Googled for Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rates that there were several news articles featuring Democrat politicians complaining about low reimbursement rates.

Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., not only complained that Washington was being penalized when compared to Florida reimbursement rates, she also noted that the government rates were so low that some doctors would not accept Medicare patients, and that others left the state.

Another complaint by Democrat politicians representing rural areas, such as one by Senator Feingold, D-Wis, was that the Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rates there are much lower than for the same procedures in urban areas.

Senator Schumer, D-NY, complained that low Medicare reimbursement rates threatened to cause cancellation of ambulance services.

In Connecticut they complain that low Medicaid reimbursement rates force hospitals to shift costs to private individuals and insurance.

Psychiatrists complain that low Medicaid reimbursement rates for psychiatric services reduce Medicaid patients' access to psychiatrists and cause the low rate of acceptance of Medicaid patients by psychiatrists.

So far, it seems the only ones happy with the government reimbursement rates for medical services are people who think they are, or will be, much higher than they really are.

Maybe they think doctors are paid too much, and that doctors should be forced by the government to accept whatever the government thinks is fair.

There are nations that handle their national health plans along those lines, giving their doctors low pay and heavy workloads, with the result that many of their best and brightest, well educated, very experienced, and highly motivated, come to the United States to practice medicine. When they find that Kaiser Permanente will give them a good salary, great benefits including generous vacations, and a comfortable workweek and case load, they realize they have truly escaped National Health Care Hell.

It wasn’t long ago that we were tantalized by the prospect of “Hillarycare,” where doctors would have to take any and all patients, and it would be illegal to have a private practice.

Even a lot of Democrats saw how undemocratic such a health system would be, forcing doctors to be de facto government employees with no option of having a private medical practice.

For those Democrats who felt or still feel that such an arrangement was fair for doctors, who are already in short supply, why don’t you try it on lawyers first, of which we have an overabundance?

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