Friday, July 31, 2009

Quick Takes 7-31-09

Thanks to the miracle of advanced publishing, here are some links for your weekend enjoyment. Meanwhile I'm away from the computer for the next few days tending to some family matters.

Here's a great video: time-lapse footage of the construction of Disneyland. (Hat tip: Glenn)

One of the curious aspects of the health care reform debate is how little attention has been paid to TennCare. This article explains why universal health insurance advocates would be wise to give it a closer look.

Just another lousy photo-op. I wouldn't have accepted the invitation. I agree with Rich. At least this beer lives up to its advertising.

I'm not sure whether this is true but I'd be willing to try it out.

An argument for limited government.

Hypocrisy, lots and lots of it.

A Farewell Address worth reading again.

Good point: able to inspire but unable to lead.

More on Obamacare and end-of-life decisions.

Bookmark this site: the Joe Biden gaffe aggregator. Priceless. (Thanks to Jonah.)

How to pass the time waiting for Chuck to return. Meanwhile, Bryce (Matthew Bomer) has a promising new series premiering in October.

Today marks baseball's trading deadline. Why July 31st doesn't matter as much as you might think.

Video of the week: life-sized Mouse Trap.

Three new books worth reading on Apollo 11. Plus, how to build the guidance computer.

How to run for office.

Don't tell Shepard Smith about this story.

Founder's Quote of the Week:

"If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute." --Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Obamacare and The End of Life

Buried deep within the 1000+ page healthcare bill is a confusing and vague provision that mandates "advanced care planning consultations" for Medicare recipients. What exactly is intended by these consultations is open to interpretation.

The provision originated from an earlier bill
that was designed to encourage patients to consider hospice and pallative care as they near the end of their lives. But make no mistake, this is also about money. According to one estimate, Medicare spends $100 billion a year for care of patients in their last year of life.

Many critics are rightly concerned that the government will be dictating to patients what care they can and can't receive. The Bioethics Defense Fund is going so far to suggest that this provision is government endorsement of euthanasia.

As a matter of fact, such arguments about the cost of caring for the eldery and infirm as an endorsement for euthanasia has been tried before:

This poster appeared in Nazi Germany during the 1930's. The message reads: "60,000 Reich Marks. This is what this person suffering from hereditary defects costs the Community of Germans during his lifetime. Fellow Citizen, that is your money, too."

The arguments being made for mandatory "advanced care planning consultations" seemed to be eerily similar to the poster above. Critics of the President's health care plan have very legitimate reasons to be worried about what this provision means. Voters should be concerned also.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Healthcare Reform Is Coming! No, Wait, It Isn't!

Two different headlines from the same day illustrate the fundamental issues of the healthcare reform debate:

Blue Dog Democrats Announce Deal on Healthcare Reform

Key Senate Aide: Healthcare Reform Deal Not Imminent

The real reason that there is no quick solution coming is threefold: no one can agree on what exactly needs to be reformed, no one can agree on a solution, and the government is trying to provide the solution.

First, what needs to be reformed? It all depends on who you ask. Talk to a liberal Democrat and they will tell you that we need to have universal health insurance. Or that we need to do something about the uninsured. Or that we need to reduce the influence that insurance companies have over medical decisions.

Talk to a conservative Republican and they'll tell you we need to get the government out of the business of providing health insurance (or at least streamline the current programs). They'll tell you that we need to eliminate waste in Medicare. They'll also talk about reducing overall costs.

Who's right? There's an element of truth in both sides of the argument. But there is no consensus on exactly what issue(s) need to be reformed thus the wide disagreement on how to solve the problems.

This brings us to the second point which is that without agreement on the problems you can't find consensus on solutions.

To make matters worse, President Obama is running around pitching a plan without specifics. No one really knows what his proposed solution might be or what he thinks the extent of the problem really is because he doesn't come right out and tell anyone. He's been acting as if people will just do what he wishes because he asks them to. Perhaps he would be better served to slow down, listen to all sides in this debate, and figure out what the right steps are to take rather than trying to cram his agenda down the throats of voters. If polls are any indication, voters do not like what they are hearing from the President.

Finally, there is the issue of government involvement in the delivery of health care. Despite the fact that it has been proven repeatedly that government cannot fix every problem, Democrats still want to have government take over health care. Voters do not like that idea and understand what a disaster such a system would be. Most of the proposals so far make the government bureau overseeing health care look like the Office of Circumlocution from Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit:

The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office.

This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving--HOW NOT TO DO IT.

While the news channels may drone on about how healthcare reform is about to be passed it doesn't seem likely to happen anytime soon. The longer the debate drags on the better as it is far better to stick with the current system we have no matter how flawed it may be rather than to rush through a package that will only make the situation far, far worse.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Preview: The Prisoner

AMC unveiled a nine minute preview for their remake of The Prisoner, starring Jim Caviezel as Number 6 and Ian McKellan as Number Two. Check it out. It looks like it will be a fabulous series.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Why I Am Not On Facebook (or Twitter)

A few months ago I started a Facebook page at the urging of a couple of friends. Having heard so much about the service I decided to check it out. It was also partly an experiment for my kids' sake as they were asking me about getting their own pages.

A couple of months ago I took it down. It's not because of any specific problem I had with it. It was really more a matter of not having time to keep up with it.

The fact is that I am pretty busy and while I am interested in what's going on in the lives of folks on my friends list it was just taking far too much time to keep up with. Maybe I'll go back one day. But the longer I leave my account deactivated the less likely I am to reactivate it.

Meanwhile, I've never seen the attraction of Twitter. I know it's all the rage these days but it doesn't seem to have any benefit. Like Facebook, it seems like something that takes a lot of time to keep up with. And that's more time than I have on my hands at the moment.

I'd be interested to hear from those who use either Facebook or Twitter regularly. What do you like or dislike about it?

In a related item, check out the video below on how Twitter can kill you:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

President Obama Overexposed?

Gee, you think so?

The possibility that the President's overexposure is hurting his message is not the big news story. The big story is that it took the media so long to catch on.

Hat tip: Hot Air

Communion on the Moon

Forty years ago, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made history by walking on the moon. But before they exited the lunar module for their moonwalk, Buzz Aldrin took time to do something even more special. He took communion on the moon. Eric Metaxas has the entire story. Check out this special moment from one of the greatest events in history.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Random Thoughts From The Road

Each year I have an opportunity to come to Louisville for a week on business. But there's also almost always a little fun mixed in. Of course, it's as much about the journey as it is the destination.

We came a different way than usual this year driving through West Virginia. It's a beautiful state that is wrongly maligned. The only drawback for travelers is that that there are stetches of highway that have very little to offer travelers to see except lots of scenery.

We made an unplanned stop in Charleston and ended up stumbling upon a treasure. The Capitol Market is a wonderful farmer's market open seven days a week. In addition, they have some incredible indoor shops as well. We picked up sandwiches at Johnnie's Fresh Meat Market that were truly delicious. But the biggest surprise was a Swiss chocolatier (yes, you read that correctly). Holls' Chocolates imports all its chocolate from Switzerland and then fashions all its confections by hand. They are absolutely divine. If you can't get to the store you can always order online.


The other night we were out at a major sporting goods store shopping for swimsuits. One of the family (I won't embarass them here but they know who they are) forgot their swimsuit. We ended up stumbling on such good deals we bought three. Anyway, when I got to the checkout counter I was a little surprised to see a sign advising shoppers that there were specific limits on how many boxes of ammunition you can buy at one time. Turns out that there has not only been a surge in sales of guns since the November election but now ammo is hard to come by. There's a political statement being made here somewhere.


Whenever we travel we try to sample local restaurants. In fact, our first night here we didn't waste any time ordering dinner from our favorite pizza joint in Louisville, Wick's Pizza. They have some of the best pizza I've ever tasted.

Sometimes, however, eating out gets old. Since our hotel has a kitchenette, my wife decided to be adventurous and cook dinner for us. This required a trip to the grocery store. While I'm normally frugal when it comes to shopping there is one store that is worth the trip and the price. The Fresh Market is a little more pricey than your average grocery store but it also carries lots of things you can't find anywhere else. If you never visited one be sure to stop in when you get a chance.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Where's That Stimulus Money Going?

I was driving through West Virginia and Kentucky last weekend and saw a number of signs advertising that some particular road improvement project was being funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act otherwise known as the "stimulus plan" or by its more derisive name Porkulus.

About half the projects I saw on the road appeared to have already been completed. The other half were in various states of progress.

But I couldn't help wonder about the money spent on the signs. Turns out I'm not the only one. Frankly, I can't see why the money was spent on the signs. But then again, this is the federal government and, as usual, nothing they do makes sense.

Perhaps the better thing to have done was to forgo buying the signs and spend more money fixing the roads.

I'm just saying.....

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The End Is Near?

This week I had to put both of my cats on Prozac.

You read that right. Prozac for cats.

I'm pretty sure it's a sign of the apocalypse.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Will Obamacare End Roe v. Wade?

At least according to this article in The American Spectator, the answer is yes:

Stated or unstated, a driving force behind modern liberalism takes root in the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, in which abortion was legalized. The Court found a "right to privacy" guaranteed by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, saying that a woman had a constitutional right to abort her child up until the "point at which the fetus becomes viable." The Court quite specifically defined viability as the point at which a fetus is "potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid. Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks."

Quite aside from the political acrimony the Roe decision has generated from the day it was issued, the hot debate over President Obama's health care proposal alters the abortion debate in a fashion quite unintended. If passed, ObamaCare could instantly set up a legal confrontation between the principle behind President's health care system -- and the principle undergirding Roe v. Wade. Which in turn would launch a political battle royal between proponents of government health care and abortion rights.


A reading of the Roe decision leaves no doubt whatsoever of what abortion advocates have claimed ever since the opinion was handed down. To quote the Supreme Court decision directly:

We repeat, however, that the State does have an important and legitimate interest in preserving and protecting the health of the pregnant woman, whether she be a resident of the State or a nonresident who seeks medical consultation and treatment there, and that it has still another important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of human life.

If, as Roe clearly states, "the State does have an important and legitimate interest in preserving and protecting the health [emphasis mine] of the pregnant woman" -- why doesn't it have "an important and legitimate interest" in protecting the health of the rest us?

The article goes on to point out that the fundamental premise behind universal health care is that the government could be deciding who gets what medical care thus taking the decision-making process out of the hands of the patient and putting into the hands of bureaucrats. If that's so, you can be sure that abortion advocates will be at odds with those who want a single-payor health system.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Book Review: Failure Is Not An Option: Mission Control From Mercury To Apollo 13 And Beyond by Gene Kranz

I was only 3 years old when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. But I remember the landing like it was yesterday. My parents made sure to get me out of bed to watch Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon as they understood what an amazing piece of history we were witnessing.

Since that time I have been enamored with space travel. In fact, like many boys my age I dreamed of becoming an astronaut until I grew too tall to qualify (I am 6'6" and the maximum height allowed for an astronaut was 5'11").

I have numerous accounts of the space program but up until now had not read a flight director's account of the space program. That is, not until I just finished Failure Is Not An Option: Mission Control From Mercury To Apollo 13 And Beyond by Gene Kranz. To find out more about the book, check out my review here.