Friday, August 28, 2009

Remembering Ted Kennedy

With the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy this week, media outlets will no doubt be spending the next several days reflecting on his legacy. But to fully understand who he was and the legacy he leaves behind it would be helpful to read essays by Carl Cannon and Mark Alexander.

He definitely achieved much through his long life but he also leaves a mixed legacy behind. It is not so much a person's achievements that define them. It is their character. That is how we should probably remember Senator Kennedy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Coping with H1N1 Flu

School is starting and officials are naturally worried about the potential of a H1N1 flu outbreak. The federal government has tried to provide some helpful advice. But buried in the memo is this brilliant little nugget on how to deal with a student infected with the H1N1 virus:

If close contact with others cannot be avoided, the ill student should be asked to wear a surgical mask during the period of contact. Examples of close contact include kissing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, or having any other contact between persons likely to result in exposure to respiratory droplets.

Kissing with surgical masks on? I suppose it's too much to ask for the kids to not kiss period.

This is your tax dollars at work.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Eric Bruntlett Makes History

He may not be a household name but he should be in the Hall of Fame after accomplishing the rarest of feats: an unassisted triple play (only the 15th ever) to end a game (2nd ever). Amazing. Click the link to see the video.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Healthcare Reform Hypocrisy On End Of Life

Ever since former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin made her "death panel" remarks on Facebook, President Obama has repeated as often as he can that the government in the proposed health care reform plan would not "pull the plug on granny".

However, there is one agency responsible for healthcare of a certain segment of the population whose actions directly contradict the President's rhetoric (Hat tip: The Corner):

If President Obama wants to better understand why America's discomfort with end-of-life discussions threatens to derail his health-care reform, he might begin with his own Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). He will quickly discover how government bureaucrats are greasing the slippery slope that can start with cost containment but quickly become a systematic denial of care.

Last year, bureaucrats at the VA's National Center for Ethics in Health Care advocated a 52-page end-of-life planning document, "Your Life, Your Choices." It was first published in 1997 and later promoted as the VA's preferred living will throughout its vast network of hospitals and nursing homes. After the Bush White House took a look at how this document was treating complex health and moral issues, the VA suspended its use. Unfortunately, under President Obama, the VA has now resuscitated "Your Life, Your Choices."

Who is the primary author of this workbook? Dr. Robert Pearlman, chief of ethics evaluation for the center, a man who in 1996 advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S. Supreme Court and is known for his support of health-care rationing.

"Your Life, Your Choices" presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political "push poll." For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be "not worth living."

The circumstances listed include ones common among the elderly and disabled: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to "shake the blues." There is a section which provocatively asks, "Have you ever heard anyone say, 'If I'm a vegetable, pull the plug'?" There also are guilt-inducing scenarios such as "I can no longer contribute to my family's well being," "I am a severe financial burden on my family" and that the vet's situation "causes severe emotional burden for my family."

When the government can steer vulnerable individuals to conclude for themselves that life is not worth living, who needs a death panel?

This just goes to show in judging where the President stands on different aspects of health care reform that it might be better to pay more attention to his actions than his words.

A Way To Reform Baseball?

Not that it necessarily needs to be reformed except for getting rid of the stupid designated hitter rule in the American League. Seems to me everyone should play by the same rules. Still, this proposal does offer some interesting food for thought.

End of Life In a Nutshell

Leave it to Richard Brookhiser at National Review to sum it up:

We already know what Dr. Obama thinks about the beginning of life. Not confidence-making for the end.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The (In)Experience Factor

During the primaries and the general election campaign last year, the most potent argument made for not supporting Barack Obama was his lack of experience. He had never managed anything. He did not have any leadership experience. And with only two years in the U. S. Senate, he lacked sufficient knowledge of how the legislative process worked in Washington. In other words, he didn't know how to lead or to govern. Although the debate over Obamacare is far from over, this fatal weakness has been laid open for all to see in the debacle over how health care reform has been handled so far.

President Obama's first mistake was that he did not lay out a vision for what health care reform should look like. He relied on the same nonspecific campaign rhetoric that led to victory last November in the election when talking about health care reform. He had convinced the public something needed to be done about health care but he hadn't made the case for specific steps that needed to be taken. Even his New York Times op-ed doesn't contain a single tangible proposal on how he will achieve the reform goals he wants to meet. By contrast, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey laid out a very sensible proposal for reform in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week. The President could have taken a cue from someone like Mr. Mackey by providing specific proposals of what to accomplish with reform legislation.

The President's second mistake was not practicing what he preached when it came to bipartisanship. At the beginning of this debate, President Obama made it clear he wanted support for healthcare reform to be bipartisan. But instead of bringing Republicans into the process of drafting the reform legislation, he outsourced the writing of the bill to Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic caucus. As a result, he got a bill that was chock full of goodies for their liberal supporters and controversial proposals that no one in their right mind could defend. The President then squandered precious political capital having to play defense on issues such as "death panels" and single-payer programs and flip-flops on the public option.

Now the President finds himself in a bind. His approval ratings are plummeting. The public is growing skeptical about whether they can trust him on this issue. Getting Republicans to come to the table at this point seems unlikely. Despite having supermajorities in both houses of Congress, he probably won't be able to get anything passed anytime soon as he can't keep his own party in line.

So what does the President do? Is it time to hit the reset button as some have suggested? You can't erase the past but you can move forward, can't you?

The first step for the President will be the most difficult. He has to come out and publicly admit that he has made mistakes in how he has handled health care reform. He then has to tell Congress to start over from scratch. He should bring leaders from both parties together and lay out a plan of what he wants to accomplish and be willing to listen to and incorporate ideas from both parties. There are an abundance of proposals being tossed about. The President needs to be willing to cull through them and working with Congress incorporate the best of them.

President Obama has a difficult task ahead. If health care reform is to be enacted it's going to require him to do something he hasn't had to do nor has the experience to do: be a leader. The chances of reform being enacted are directly tied to his ability to demonstrate leadership. If the President's plan does fail he has no one to blame but himself.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One More Reason to Re-Read 1984

The other day I was discussing with my oldest daugher (who will begin high school this year) what books she should be reading this fall. I offhandedly suggested George Orwell's 1984 simply because it speaks so directly to many of the issues we face today with our imperial federal government. But this article by Roger Kimball brings out another aspect of the novel I had forgotten about (which only goes to prove that I need to pick up the book and read it again.

Take time to read the article and then watch carefully how President Obama and his supporters deal with those who oppose his policies. The parallels between the novel and real life are striking.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Is Obamacare Constitutional?

I'm no lawyer and I can't say for sure but it's a fair question to ask and one that is not being debated. Robert Natelson, who is a law professor at the University of Montana, has the analysis and draws some fascinating conclusions.

A Most Unusual Baseball Game

It's not every day that you'll read about baseball being played at 3 a.m. at Yankee Stadium. But this story explains why.

Hats off to the Yankees for making this happen.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

White House Issues Non-Apology Apology

The White House released a statement this evening to try to squash the controversy that erupted Thursday over unsolicted e-mails they had been sending:

The White House for the first time Sunday seemed to acknowledge that people across the country received unsolicited e-mails from the administration last week about health care reform, suggesting the problem is with third-party groups that placed the recipients' names on the distribution list.

In a written statement released exclusively to FOX News, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said the White House hopes those who received the e-mails without signing up for them were not "inconvenienced" by the messages.

"The White House e-mail list is made up of e-mail addresses obtained solely through the White House Web site. The White House doesn't purchase, upload or merge from any other list, again, all e-mails come from the White House Web site as we have no interest in e-mailing anyone who does not want to receive an e-mail," the statement said. "If an individual received the e-mail because someone else or a group signed them up or forwarded the e-mail, we hope they were not too inconvenienced."

This is a classic non-apology apology and doesn't answer the main question which is how they managed to obtain e-mail addresses of people who did not access the White House website nor they signed up for any e-mail updates.

Since my e-mail address suddenly ended up on the White House distribution list and I hadn't signed up for anything I would still like to know how they got my e-mail address. Could they reveal which groups had submitted lists from which they got the addresses?

For an administration that promised to be transparent, it seems to be acting a lot like Big Brother to me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

White House Sending Unsolicited E-Mails - Is That A Problem?

Things got a little testy at today's White House press briefing when Fox News' correspondent Major Garrett asked Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about unsolicited e-mails being sent to people who about healthcare reform:

The e-mail itself is not problematic. The White House is using this means of communication to get its message out to concerned voters. But the problem is somehow the White House is getting a hold of people's e-mail addresses. I don't have any idea how David Axelrod got my e-mail address. I don't publish the address anywhere on purpose. I don't want just anybody to have access to my e-mail address. I've never e-mailed the White House or sent anything to their address because I don't want to give that information to them. But it appears they managed to get it somehow anyway.

The irony here is that if David Axelrod paid any attention to anything I've read so far about healthcare reform he would quickly figure out that I am opposed to the President's proposals.

So the question remains: how is the White House getting folks e-mail addresses and is the privacy of individuals being violated? Just how much information does the White House have and, more importantly, what are they going to do with it?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Where We're Heading in the Healthcare Debate

I agree with Glenn Beck that we haven't reached the point where eugenics is being implemented as a matter of policy. However, when you look back at history, you understand the dangers that lie ahead in the health care debate. Click on the video below to see the whole story:

Thursday, August 06, 2009

One Way to Stimulate the Economy

Here's one way to stimulate the economy: buy these keychains for every member of Congress. Something tells me they could use them.