Saturday, April 24, 2004

CNN.com - $4,000 fine for station that cranked Castro
Now we're using the US Constitution to protect the rights of Castro? Oh come on!

LILEKS (James) The Bleat: "Once or twice a year this site feels like an obligation instead of a joy, and this was one of those weeks. I appreciate the patronage and forebearance; next week will be better. I'm an American; that's an article of faith. Next week is always better. "

Even his substandard posts have excellent nuggets like this.

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire: "'Liberals have reason on our side. But that's not enough. To win, we also need fire in our bellies. Passion is necessary to gather resources, build organizations, and energize participants.' "

This quote from Robert Reich's new book "Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America," shows to me why he may be right in the long run, but again why I don't think he's right about this election. Liberals don't seem to get that the rest of America doesn't see the reason, they see the fire and passion. Someday, when Liberals do break out of their false, shielded, delusional "reality" and start conveying their so-called reasoned message, we might be in trouble. In the meantime, honestly, all I know about Kerry is that he served in Vietnam, and doesn't like Bush.

Bush is a Liar III
Political Wire: Kerry and the SUV: "'I don't own an SUV,' Sen. John Kerry claimed in an Earth Day conference call.

The AP notes Kerry distanced himself from the gas-guzzling vehicles because he 'supports increasing existing fuel economy standards to 36 miles per gallon by 2015 in order to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil supplies.'

But when a reporter asked whether his wife had a Chevy Suburban at their Idaho home, Kerry responded, 'The family has it. I don't have it.' "


'Nuff said.

The Volokh Conspiracy
I've always thought that the Bushisms are a little weird. Here's a great critique.

CNN.com - Arafat unbowed in face of Sharon's remarks
I am thoroughly amused by the way this article transitions sections. First, it refers to Arafat saying "He chanted a slogan 'to Jerusalem we are going in millions.'"
Followed immediately by the large, bold, subheadline:
"4 Palestinians killed"
Priceless.

seditious libel: "But instead of targetting terror cells or the countries that host them (economically, diplomatically, militarily, or through intelligence agencies), we went after a country that might maybe in the future think about supporting terrorists a little."

Overall, Beth wrote a very strong post here, and I highly recommend that everyone, especially Bush supporters, read it with an open mind. But, I have to take exception with this point.
It's easy to say that Saddam didn't support terrorists, but it's just not true. First, you have to deal with the Ansar al-Islam camps that we rolled up in the north, then you have to address the fact that he himself was a terrorist. The meetings in Europe between Iraqi intelligence and Al Quaeda officers (including some of the men involved in 9/11) did occur, and were witnessed by western intelligence officers. Now, maybe Saddam's terrorist connections weren't targetting the US, and I'll be happy to grant that that is likely the case, but I stand firmly on the principle that this is not a global war on terrorists who pose an immediate threat -- this is a global war on terrorists, period. They all need to be destroyed, and Saddam was on that list. Maybe he isn't where I would have gone first, but he's near the top of the list, and it's a first step.

ScrappleFace: 38 Million Not Expected at DC Abortion Rights Rally (via diet coke for breakfast): "The American Association of Aborted People (AAAP), a political inaction committee, said none of its 38 million members would participate in the protest march.

'Since the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973, our ranks have swelled by about 1.4 million per year,' said the unnamed AAAP spokesman. 'So, we should be at the center of any debate about abortion. Unfortunately, none of our members could tear themselves away to attend the rally. But we'll be there in spirit, if not in body.'"


Scrappleface shows some teeth. Wow.

UPDATE [4/24/2004 - 15:14]: A somewhat related post over at IchiBlog.

And a rousing abortion policy debate over at seditious libel. Make sure to read the comments. This guy Chris seems to know what he's talking about.

Andrew Sullivan has a letter worth reading. So read it. (Via diet coke for breakfast)

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Andrew Sullivan's Email of the Day
Read it. I'll say no more.

Kerry knocks Bush's Iraq focus / Go-it-alone strategy exacts tolls, says likely presidential challenger (via OxBlog): "Democracy 'shouldn't be the measurement of when you leave,' Kerry said. 'You leave with stability. You hope you can continue the process of democratization -- obviously, that's our goal. But with respect to getting our troops out, the measurement is the stability of Iraq.'"

Liberals of the world unite around the man who will protect your freedoms from the likes of John Ashcroft. You just have to find him first, because clearly John Kerry doesn't even care about basic democracy.

CNN.com - Church group slams Bush on Clean Air Act: "Monica Myers, pastor of Seattle's Northwest Christian Church, said Christians' faith should guide them on issues such as environmental pollution."

Sounds good to me. Hmmm... let's consult the old Bible. Genesis 1:28: "And God said to [man], 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it[...]'" Sounds good to me.

Seriously, though, I love it when these Christian groups tell me what my faith is supposed to say, and how I'm supposed to behave. I really want to know what happened to "judge not, lest ye be judged." As soon as you tell me that I'm not behaving according to some specific dictation of my faith (which I may or may not agree with), you are judging me. So back up off, and worry about your own beliefs.

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan: "I think Mr. Bush is admired and liked after three years of war, terror, strife and recession because people have eyes."
She's a bit idealistic, but that's why I like her. Read the whole thing, cuz Peggy knows what she's talking about.

She also seems to agree with what I said here, when she says: "The Democrats and their nominee say on one day that Mr. Bush ignored terrorism, and on the next that he exaggerated the threat. They say his administration didn't give enough time to planning Iraq, then they say he was obsessed with Iraq. They say he's dimwitted and gullible, then they say he's evil and calculating--he cooked Iraq up in Texas, in Ted Kennedy's phrase.
You know why they can't define what's wrong with Mr. Bush? Because they don't even know what's wrong with him beyond that he is not them, not Mr. Kerry, not a Democrat.
Can the Democrats win this way? No."


UPDATE [4/22/2004 - 19:27]: More on this continuing trend of "Bush is blowing it, but he's still killing Kerry," from Richard Cohen: "In the past month or so, everything has gone wrong for George W. Bush. He has been criticized at hearings of the Sept. 11 commission for being lackadaisical about terrorism. Richard Clarke accused him of being weirdly obsessed with Iraq. More than 100 Americans have been killed there in the past 30 days, and Bush was so inarticulate in his recent news conference that you could say he violated the standards of his own 'No Child Left Behind' policy. Still, if this keeps up, he'll win reelection in a landslide. "

Read the whole thing.

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire has several very interesting pieces of information today. Rather than quote any specifics, I'll just recommend you scan the whole thing.

CNN.com - Trains crash, explode in N. Korea: "Witnesses said the explosion was the result of a collision between the trains at Ryongchon station, South Korean media reported.
Just hours earlier, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il had passed through the station on a return trip from China, South Korean news network YTN said."


This is interesting. TOTAL speculation on my part, but it seems possible to me that this was a botched assasination attempt? Too bad we'll probably never know more.

Just Funny
Also from today's Political Diary: "The Republicans are coming. Make nice" -- former Mayor Ed Koch, in a new advertising campaign sponsored by New York City to encourage a predominantly Democrat population to welcome the GOP convention this summer.

Anti-Bush Sentiment Helping Bush?
From today's Political Diary (sorry, subscription-based email): "Memo to Democrats: Your boycott of Ralph Nader is not working. The perennial presidential candidate is off to a better start this year than he was four years ago. Running as an independent, Mr. Nader has raised $600,000 since declaring his candidacy two months ago. Yesterday he announced that he has qualified for federal matching funds. At this point in 2000, he'd only raised $198,000 and was still a few months away from meeting the federal requirements for matching funds (which entails $5,000 in at least 20 states in donations smaller than $250) [...]
Interestingly, Mr. Nader's success is coming from a Howard Dean-like strategy. Mr. Nader has started advertising himself as 'the only true anti-war candidate' and has raised oodles of money in small donations over the Internet."


Here's my theory: the same people that Dean tapped into are now paying Nader. Why? As one of my professors termed it, Bushitis. Now, it's related to the "anybody but Bush" syndrome that caused many Democrats to boycott Nader this go-around. The problem is, it's more severe. It's not "anybody but Bush," but rather "I need the anti-Bush," which seems to be Nader more than Kerry. When Dean exploded, they ran to Nader.

Effectively, I think Bush hatred is helping Bush.

UPDATE [4/22/2004 - 17:20]: Also from today's Political Diary: "This is just not a very fizzy candidacy.... Kerry's may be the most sclerotic presidential campaign since Bob Dole's. It is not uncommon to see audiences leaving his fund-raising events in droves while he is still speaking" -- Time magazine columnist Joe Klein in the April 26 issue

It seems to me that what I've been implying for a while may end up being truer than even I thought. I simply don't see how an "anti-Bush" candidate can beat Bush without defining himself. Yet, every time Kerry says he's going to define himself, all he says is either "I'm not Bush," or "I served in Vietnam."

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

The OmbudsGod!: Michael Moore:"I oppose the U.N. or anyone else risking the lives of their citizens to extract us from our debacle. I'm sorry, but the majority of Americans supported this war once it began and, sadly, that majority must now sacrifice their children until enough blood has been let that maybe -- just maybe -- God and the Iraqi people will forgive us in the end. "

I say we slice this whale open and use his blood. It ought to cover at least half of this supposed "debt" we owe. How saving 70,000 Iraqi lives from that psycho Saddam has put us in debt, I still need someone to explain to me.

Mr. Kerry Revises (washingtonpost.com): "'Iraq,' Mr. Bush said at his news conference last week, 'will either be a peaceful democratic country or it will again be a source of violence, a haven for terrorists, and a threat to America and to the world.'
Mr. Kerry now argues that there is a third option. But what would that be? 'I can't tell you what it's going to be,' he said to reporters covering his campaign. 'That stability can take several forms.' True; in the Middle East, there is the stability of Islamic dictatorship, the stability of military dictatorship and the stability of monarchical dictatorship. In Lebanon, there is the stability of permanent foreign occupation and de facto ethnic partition. None is in the interest of the United States; all have helped create the extremism and terrorism against which this nation is now at war."


WaPo gets it. I'm glad to see that they are critical of Kerry, and that they understand exactly what is at stake in Iraq. I've heard Kerry saying over the past week or so that we need a stable Iraq in whatever form we can get it, and that infuriates me. As the WaPo says here, it would be a return to the old status quo of propping up friendly dictators--the very status quo that got us where we are now. Read the whole thing. (And no, I didn't post this just because it's critical of Kerry and not Bush. They also criticize the President, so there.)

CNN.com - What's the worst song of all time?: "Starship may have built this city on rock and roll, but Blender magazine is tearing it down, naming the band's 'We Built This City' as the worst song ever."

I'm severely disappointed. Now, it may be because I have bad taste, but I really like this song. Mostly, it's for the nostalgia of singing it with my dad and brother when we went on Saturday morning errands when I was little. But still, I think this is a great song, and I'm going to listen to it several times today in protest. But then, it sounds like there are several songs for which I must do the same. Some of my other objections include: "Don't Worry, Be Happy," "We Didn't Start the Fire," "Sounds of Silence," and "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," all some of my favorite songs.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

CNN.com - Gun found in congressman's carry-on bag: "Rep. John Hostettler, R-Indiana, 'completely forgot' he had the gun in his bag as he prepared to take a US Airways flight to Washington for the first day of work after a two-week recess, a spokesman for the congressman said.
A Homeland Security Department official said Hostettler had a loaded 9 mm Glock pistol in his bag at Louisville International Airport .
The congressman said he did not know the gun was in his bag and apologized, the official said."


That's one smart Congressman.

CNN.com - TV networks cool on 'Passion' - Apr 20, 2004: "Despite being the year's biggest box-office blockbuster so far, 'The Passion of the Christ' seems unlikely to find a home on the four biggest broadcast networks."

Of course not! Though I loved it, I still maintain that this movie would be rated NC-17 if it were about anyone but Christ.

CNN.com - Iraqi tribunal to try Saddam Hussein - Apr 20, 2004: "He added that the tribunal has a budget of $75 million for 2004-2005."

That should buy a lot of nice toys to torture his ass with. And as far as his lawyer requesting that the trial be open, I hope the punishment is too. I want to see that bastard, who tortured and killed so many others, suffer worse than all of them combined. I realize that's impossible, but I'll settle for as close and we can get.

Political Wire: Payback Time: Bush is a liar again!!!! No, wait... I keep getting these wrong. (click through to see what I'm talking about).

UPDATE [4/20/2004 - 15:42]: Instapundit.com: "I've certainly heard some talk-radio people making hay out of this issue [Kerry's refusal to release all of his military records] already, and I suspect that -- like Howard Dean's sealed gubernatorial documents -- there's no upside for Kerry in keeping this stuff close to the vest."

Unless, of course, it might reveal that his Purple Heart was granted under shady grounds, as some have been suggesting. I'm making no accusations, but I'm curious to see what comes of this.

UPDATE [4/21/2004 -17:40]: CNN.com - Kerry posts military records online: "John Kerry's campaign is posting his military records on the Internet as his critics question the combat injuries that earned him three Purple Hearts and an early exit from Vietnam."

Good for him. EXCEPT in making the same kind of mistake the Bush Administration makes all the time. He should have done this from the very start.

Bicycling to War (washingtonpost.com): "Old joke: A man repeatedly rides a bike across the Mexican-U.S. border. Each time, he's stopped by Customs and the bike is taken apart. Nothing is found. Finally, one day a Customs official offers the man immunity from prosecution if only he will tell what he's smuggling. The man pauses for a second, shrugs and says, 'Bicycles.'

I offer you this because I have just finished Bob Woodward's compelling new book, 'Plan of Attack,' and while it contains several gasps per chapter -- more reasons why George Tenet should be fired, more proof that Condi Rice is in over her head and more reasons that Dick Cheney should be medicated -- the stunning disclosure that I expected is simply not there. I thought Woodward would reveal the real reason George Bush went to war in Iraq. It turns out we already knew."


This is one of the best openings to a column I've read in a long time. The rest of it holds up. Read it. I disagree with some of his conclusions (granted, I haven't had time to read Woodward's book yet) but he makes a compelling case. So read it!

LILEKS (James) The Bleat
Some great observations from Lileks today. His Gnat stories are always amusing: "Gnat got into the game: when two little boys, full of little boyness, scrambled up the rigging and pushed her aside, she scrambled to the top, pointed a finger at them and said 'you're being rude.' And she did nothing about it beyond that. I see a State Department career.

But then there's also, very importantly, this: "If this holds, and Saddam was indeed funneling money to and through al-Qaeda-connected banks, what does this do for John Kerry's credibility? He stated on Sunday that Saddam had no connections to Al-Qaeda, an assertion that has now taken on the mantle of Absolute Fact. Nowadays the idea that Saddam had anything to do with terrorism is regarded as proof of a mind that refuses to accept reality. This, despite the payments to the suicide bombers' families. This, despite the terrorists who had refuge in Iraq. This, despite the training camp. This, despite al-Ansar. This is something I've never understood: the belief that Iraq was somehow hermetically sealed off from the politics of the Arab world, as though it was actually located somewhere north of Turkey, as though it was immune to the temptation of using these transnational forces to its own advantage."

and this: "I don't think he was behind 9/11; I don't think he organized it, supported it overtly, or even knew what was up. That's different from saying 'Saddam had no connection to Al-Qaeda,' which strikes me not only as a rash and premature judgment, but one that seems willfully blind to the realities of the region."

and finally: "Let's say Saddam's bribes ended up in a bank in the Caymans, and Dick Cheney had been on that bank's board in 1999. Would the allegation of such a transfer be a story? Damn straight. As it should be."

Read the whole thing. Even though I've just reproduced so much of it, there's more worth seeing.

Monday, April 19, 2004

The Volokh Conspiracy
Disturbing news about the thought police at Oklahoma State. While the liberals are all up in arms about the Patriot Act, which could actually help safeguard this country, they're also getting stupid, and frankly dangerous, rules like this passed to control what people have a right to say. You've got to love it. This is a slippery slope, and severely more Orwellian than looking for people who actually pose a threat.

Also, as far as the tasteless jerks who feel the need to say truly offensive things based on "race, color, ethnicity or national origin," (criticizing the French should be excluded, by the way) I'd much rather they said these things in public, where we can keep an eye on them, than outlawing them and forcing them to go underground.

RealClearPolitics
Bush is a liar!!! No, wait...

baldilocks: Boom Times Two (via VodkaPundit)
Haha.

LILEKS (James) The Bleat: "[Sullivan:] 'The case for a gas tax is a straightforward one. Gas prices are strikingly lower in America than anywhere else in the world.'
[Lileks:]And if all your friends jumped off a cliff and imposed a landing-on-the-rocks surcharge, would you do it too? Get out a map. "


Lileks debates Andrew Sullivan's position that a $1 gas tax is a good idea. I don't know anything about economics or taxation that qualifies me to take a side, except for my fundamental belief that taxation is too high generally. But you have to love Lileks's method of debate, as excerpted here. He just knows how to say it.

NEWSWEEK (via The Volokh Conspiracy)
According to this article, certain members of the Bush administration want to hold people who've helped Al Quaeda as "enemy combatants" indefinitely. Ashcroft's at it again, right?

No, actually, Ashcroft is the one opposing it. Let's keep this in mind the next time we decide to slander the guy.

yaledailynews.com - Harvard poll shows students favor Kerry over Bush: "A poll released by Harvard's Institute of Politics last week showed college students narrowly favor Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry '66 over President George W. Bush '68." (emphasis added)

This surprises the heck out of me. I'm not surprised, of course, that Kerry is winning the hearts and minds of most college students. College campuses, with a very few, notable, exceptions are overwhelmingly liberal. Yale, obviously is not one of those exceptions. I'm used to that, and I've experienced it plenty.

What surprises me is the fact that it was a narrow advantage. Part of that is students saying they haven't made their minds up yet. Still, I would have expected Kerry to have a blow-out running at this point among college students. Apparently that's just not the case. Maybe we College Republicans are gaining dominance. Maybe the Conservative Revolution has finally caught up with the younger generations. I certainly hope so.

We Didn't Dare Wait (washingtonpost.com): "Up to that nightmarish day, the policy of the United States was to remain strong in the face of a foreign threat but to strike only if that threat became action. It was a policy that guided our nation for most of its history. Don't start anything with anybody, but crush anybody who starts anything with us. We were like the sheriff of the old Western movies, poised and ready, but waiting for the other guy to draw first.
My friends, Sept. 11 changed all that. Suddenly, waiting for the other guy to shoot first no longer made sense. That policy might have worked when the bad guys were armed with swords or six-shooters, when even the bad guys played by certain rules. It does not work in the face of evil that accepts no limits, that will not hesitate to destroy anything or anyone -- even fellow countrymen -- to achieve its objectives. "


Mr. Raspberry has won my interest again. I recommend you read the whole thing. He writes the speech that he thinks (and I agree) President Bush should have given last week. It is powerfully clear, and expresses, as the title says, why we didn't dare wait. Seriously, read it.

UPDATE [4/19/2004 - 11:48]: Thank God there are liberals like Mr. Raspberry who seem to get it. Take a look at today's column by Bob Herbert: "One of the things I remember from my time in the service many years ago was the ubiquitous presence of large posters with the phrase, in big block letters: Know Your Enemy.
This is a bit of military wisdom that seems to have escaped President Bush.
The United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, by Al Qaeda, not Iraq."


You see, Mr. Herbert is right. We were not attacked by Iraq. But the point he is missing is that we did not go into Iraq because we believed that they had been the ones to attack us. We went into Iraq so that they would not have the chance to do so in the future. We went in so that they could never again support groups, like Al Quaeda, who might one day hope to attack us again, even if Iraq couldn't or wouldn't do it themselves. We went in to stop the torture and murder (see below) of his own citizens. Fundamentally, we went into Iraq to begin the long struggle towards overturning states that endorse terrorism as a means of persuasion.

No one can deny that Saddam Hussein was a terrorist -- terror comprised his entire method of governance. If he could acheive the means (which he certainly hoped to) he would not hesitate from launching a worldwide terror campaign to get his way. As Mr. Raspberry outlines above, that is exactly the reason we had to act. We cannot allow people who pursue these means of action to achieve them. If someone gets a suitcase bomb, it isn't going to be the CIA who tells us -- and let us be clear on this point -- it will be the New York Transit Authority. We do not have time to hesitate, we must act at each step in this war on terrorism, this war on anyone willing to use terrorism, as soon as we possibly can.

CNN.com - Troops' death toll in April reaches 100 - Apr 19, 2004: "The U.S. military added a dozen more troops to the war's death roster over the weekend, bringing to 701 the number of American service members killed since March of last year, 505 of them in combat."

Johann Hari - Archive (via InstaPundit): "But what are the facts? The Human Rights Centre (HRC) in Kadhimiya has been set up by Iraqis themselves from the ashes of Baathism. They have been going methodically through the massive - and previously unexplored - archives left by the regime, which document every killing in cold bureaucracy-speak. The HRC have found that if the invasion had not happened, Saddam would have killed 70,000 people in the past year. Not sanctions: Saddam's tyranny alone."

701 American deaths is a tragedy by any standard. According to IraqiBodyCount.net, at least 8875, and at most is 10,725 Iraqis have died in this war. There have been other coalition deaths, and let's assume altogether that they don't reach another 700. So, conservatively, coalition deaths are 1,400, and Iraqi deaths (many of whom are probably among the insurgents) are at 11,000, for a total of 12,400 deaths. Now you tell me that 12,400 deaths in a fight for freedom isn't worth it. You tell me that, in exchange for the 70,000 murders that Saddam would have perpetrated, these people have died in vain. I just want to hear somebody tell me that 1,400 coalition members are more valuable than 70,000 Iraqis. Then tell me why.

And read the whole Johann Hari piece. It's worth it.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

seditious libel: "If we're going to talk about equal opportunity, we need to mean it. Conservatives like to say that they support opportunity, but when you ask them to provide it, they call you a communist. I don't support public health care because I'm a socialist."

I don't want to take on the whole healthcare argument, because I don't know enough about it to speak intelligently. But, I've had a lot of people challenge me on my self-proclaimed neo-con ideals, without really understanding where I come from, so I want to try and clear that up a bit, so I'll start with this sphere.

Equal opportunity is the key to what I, as a conservative, want for this country. The difference between myself and most liberals is that I don't believe the government can provide opportunity. When you open healthcare to the public system, everyone is assigned an amount of service. Now, granted, the average service may go up. People at the bottom will get closer to what people at the top can afford. The problem is, the total level of service goes down, and becomes restricted by the system the government puts in place.

What you end up with is not equality of opportunity, but equality of treatment. Opportunity implies the ability to progress to the same (higher) level, not the ability to exist at the same level to eternity.

My brother put it well once. Liberals want everyone on the street to have a nice house. And they think that conservatives just want to have a better house than their neighbors. The reality is, we want everyone to have the chance at the best house possible.

I realize that, in the current environment, that isn't possible. But defining what IS possible, doesn't make that better. Government doesn't make problems better, it just spreads them around.

UPDATE [4/19/2004 - 13:12]: First, read the comments posted below, then read this, from my brother James, posted over at diet coke for breakfast:
1) Universal healthcare is not usually criticized on equal opportunity grounds. That's a new one to me... The problem with goverment management of the healthcare system is that it will create more perverse incentives than it already does. Right now, the fee for service system provides an incentive for lots of tests, medicines, and treatments even if they're not particularly necessary because doctor's get paid for what they provide whereas patients only pay their flat copay fee. A government system that ignores economics would only exacerbate this problem. Now as it turns out a better system might be the much reviled HMOs. With the HMO, the doctors are on salary, not a fee for service system. So, they get paid regardless of what treatment they provide. But, as they compete with other HMOs they have an incentive to keep you as healthy as they can for the least amount of cost to you. If someone other HMO does it better, you'd switch. As a result HMOs stress prevention over more costly after-the-fact treatment. Comparison studies in Oregon have shown that HMO patients are just as healthy (if not healthier) than their counterparts in the typical co-pay insurance programs, at a fraction of the cost.

2) Yes the British system is slow... and in medicine that can mean life or death. There are numerous examples of cancer patients, for instance, dying while waiting six months for an appointment. Don't marginalize that important aspect.

3) If the concern is to get people with less income access to healthcare, then purhaps what needs to happen is to decrease the cost of healthcare. That's no small feat however. One way is to institute what some economists call "Managed Choice". Right now the California State Employees system (and I think federal employees system) works this way, and it has gone a long way toward restraining costs. The way it would work is that your employer (or the govt. if you're discussing medicare/caid) would approve a list of 10 or so insurance providors that cover at least a base level of care (ER visits, OB-GYN, etc). The employer pays the cost of the median provider in this list. If the employee wants more, they can chose to pay the difference for one of the more expensive plans. If they don't need all of the services the median provides (eye-glasses for instance) then they can choose one of the less expensive providors and get the difference back in their pay-check. This way you turn employees into educated health-care consumers, and you provide an incentive for insurance companies to restrain costs. In the 1970s when oil crises raised the price of gasoline, Honda and Toyota brought cheap, gas-efficient engines to the market, and beat the pants off of the gas-guzzling Caddies and Lincolns. The consumer won, because the Hondas ended up being, for a long time, better cars for less money. Right now, there are few Honda of health-care, and the cost of the system will continue to spiral upwards until govt regulations allow more to be introduced.

4) The other major reason that healthcare costs are so high is that malpractice insurance is extremely expensive. Until that's brough under control, this whole debate may be academic. If doctor's can't make any money because their insurance costs are higher than what they can get paid for their services, then they'll find other lines of work. If you don't think that's a problem, try having a solid healthcare system with sub-standard doctors.

UPDATE [4/19/2004 - 19:09]: Beth over at seditious libel takes her right to respond to my brother's and my criticism of her healthcare policy.

I think she balked on our concern about the massive failures of the British and other European systems, but otherwise her responses are pretty intelligent, and definitely worth reading. I still disagree with her, of course.

ScrappleFace: "'The autopsy showed that Abdel Azziz Rantisi died of a virulent, contagious kind of cancer that destroys the mind, and by natural cause-and-effect, the body,' said an unnamed Palestinian coroner. 'Although you may have read that Rantisi and Yassin died from Israeli missile attacks, that was just the coup de grace. The condition that really killed them is like HIV. You don't die of HIV, you die from something else because you have AIDS. These men died of missile attacks, but the attacks were caused by the wasting disease that infected their minds and hearts.'"

Yes, I know that it's satire, but I still sort of like the classification. However you may feel about assasination in general, the world is better off for the death of these two men. They were murderers who begat murderers through their work. If these attacks help to disrupt Hamas for even a week they were worth it.

Even better, by staging this attack less than a month after Rantisi was named the new leader of Hamas, Israel has effectively told the organization that its leadership has a shelf-life of a month. And, by taking him out right after a suicide-bombing (apparently perpetrated by Hamas) Israel has made it clear that the assasinations will follow as retaliatory measures. So, to start with, who's going to want to step up and take the Hamas reins next? And, once someone does, is he really going to want to approve a suicide strike? He's going to have to believe that martyrdom promise pretty fully to be open to that idea.

UPDATE [4/18/2004 - 21:04]: CNN.com - Rice: Bush had no warning on Rantisi strike - Apr 18, 2004: "The United States did not know Israel was going to kill Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said Sunday."
She also said: "We have said repeatedly to the Israelis that, while we understand and support Israel's right to defend itself, that it's extremely important that Israel take into consideration the consequences of anything that it does."

You know what? Maybe that's because it's none of our business.
I'm a hawk when it comes to Israel, that's obvious. And this might merely be a result of my bias, but I'm tired of the world criticizing Israel when it takes steps to protect itself. There is no other situation in history when a free nation has faced a constant threat from every country surrounding it, faced constant attack on its citizens. If the situation were reversed, and Israel were attacking Palestinians, if the Palestinians carried out a targeted strike on one of the people organizing those attacks, I would say the same thing.

The fact of the matter is, if we took out UBL, and Israel, or any other country in the world for that matter, said "we weren't notified," we'd flip out. Rantisi is no different than Bin Laden. I said the other day that Arafat is a mini Bin Laden. Rantisi and Yassin were full-scale terrorists. They never made any bones about the fact that they wanted to eliminate the state of Israel, and every one of its citizens. Under those circumstances, I say that Israel was justified, and we should keep our mouths shut.

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "The scenarios [wherein using low-yield nuclear weapons becomes necessary] the task force envisions aren't, regrettably, all that extreme. High on the list would be eliminating an enemy's weapons of mass destruction before it has a chance to use them on us. (Think rogue states and assorted terrorist groups.) Or removing an adversary's regime while saving a country (North Korea). Or ending a WMD war quickly (India-Pakistan)."

That is, admittedly, a scary thought. But we have to realize that it is as realistic as it is frightening. Read the whole article, as it discusses several interesting conclusions reached by the task force of the Defense Science Board in the Pentagon. My favorite is the idea that the 50 Peacekeeper ICBMs that are supposed to be decomissioned soon be redeployed, instead, to Vandenburg Airforce Base and Cape Canaveral. Why do we need to keep these nukes? We don't, but wouldn't it be beneficial to put conventional warheads on them and have the capability to launch a non-nuclear strike anywhere on the world in 30 minutes?

Red Letter Day (via InstaPundit): "As long as we are handing states out...Why do the Palestinians get to jump ahead of the Kurds?"

That's a pretty good point, as is the one he continues with: if we do give a state to the Palestinians, and not to the Kurds, we'll be rewarding a group that chose terrorism and ignoring one that didn't. And what sense does that make, exactly?

CNN.com - Mom sues Coors over son's death in accident - Apr 18, 2004: "Jodie Pisco, of Reno, contends Coors has failed in its duty to protect the country's youth from drinking. Her son, Ryan, was killed in 2002 after he drank Coors at a party and drove his girlfriend's car into a light pole at 90 mph, the lawsuit says."

Where does this woman get off? Her son drinks until he decides to drive his girlfriend's car, despite not having a valid license (stated later in the article) and, traveling 90 drives it into a light post? This is the fault of Coors??

Hey, lady, where were you? Why didn't you know where your son was? I hate to say it, but if you have a right to sue Coors for "failing in its duty to protect the country's yout from drinking," then I should have a right to sue you for the same reason. You're way closer to the action than Coors. It's nice to try and pass blame, but where your own son is concerned, you have no right to blame anyone but yourself, his father, and him. Ultimately, no matter what society throws at a child, that child's rearing is still the responsibility of his parents.

CNN.com - Time lists 'most influential' people - Apr 18, 2004: "Time Magazine has published its list of the 100 'World's Most Influential People,' including President George W. Bush, which it called 'a radical gambler.'[...]
Democratic challenger John Kerry, who also made Sunday's list, was called 'a solemn unifier for the Democrats' by Joe Klein, who wrote a best-seller about the Clintons."


I really have to beg to differ, if only by appealing to my minipoll results. (You can still vote to the left). As I've pointed out many times before, it is my distinct impression that Kerry has done nothing to specifically unite the Dems. If anything, Bush should be listed as 'a radical gambler who has been a solemn unifier for the Democrats.