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Saturday October 16, 2004

Here is what President Bush said in the second debate:

That's what liberals do. They create government-sponsored health care. Maybe you think that makes sense. I don't. Government-sponsored health care would lead to rationing. It would ruin the quality of health care in America.

Of course liberals don't believe it. Big government is the panacea for all the ills of modern society. All the MSM journalists know that, as do the experts they consult:

But John Sheils, the Lewin Group vice president who conducted the analysis, told the Los Angeles Times this week that an ad by the Bush campaign accusing Kerry of proposing a government takeover of health care that would lead to "rationing" was an exaggeration. "I donít see any truth in it anywhere. I donít think the statement is quite true," Sheils said.

Anyone who doesn't believe that gov't sponsored healthcare would lead to rationing need look no further than the current flu shot debacle. Only the very young and the very old should get flu shots due to the shortage. Rationing? But how to enforce this edict? Penalties of course:

Thinking of trying to wheedle a flu shot from your doctor even though you're not at high-risk for flu complications? Forget about it in Michigan. Or Washington, D.C. Or Massachusetts. As the vaccine shortage hits home and long lines queue around the supermarket, a handful of states and the nation's capital are threatening doctors and nurses with fines or even jail if they give flu shots to healthy, low-risk people. Health officials downplay the punishment and say that most health care workers are following the guidelines. "But there are people who are unsure and there are consumers who are not necessarily being as civic-minded as we would like. ... This just provides us with some backup," said Janet Olszewski, Michigan's director of community health, who issued the order Thursday.

Michelle Malkin has been writing about the problem for a while now:

The shortage of the flu vaccine may lead to more deaths than the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. What makes me angry is that this didn't have to happen. The technology exists to manufacture an abundant supply of vaccines at a reasonable cost. But it sometimes doesn't work that way because penny-pinching public officials have set up a government-run vaccine purchasing system that pays ridiculously low prices. As a result, scores of companies have stopped making vaccines.

My ears perked up when Bob Schieffer asked the presidential candidates to explain the flu shot shortage in last night's debate. Here was Bush's chance to speak out in favor of market-oriented vaccine reforms that would entice more manufacturers to resume vaccine production.

It was not to be. Bush blamed California-based Chiron (which he erroneously implied is a British firm) and litigation (even though the risk of lawsuits has largely receded due to the establishment of The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program). He did not mention the main underlying problem--the low-price bulk purchase of vaccines by the CDC--that has driven so many vaccine makers from the industry.

If you can believe it, Kerry's answer was even worse. As I mentioned a few days ago, Kerry wants Medicare to purchase prescription drugs the same way the CDC purchases vaccines. Apparently, he thinks the vaccine system works just swell. But he didn't say a word about this. Instead he droned on about his plan to reform health insurance, avoiding Schieffer's question altogether.

Thursday October 14, 2004

I was all geared up to watch the debate last night but, alas, I only lasted about 20 minutes or so. To me, it seemed to be much more of the same. Same tired old rhetoric which, to a large degree, has been cut and pasted from their stump speeches. Nor have I read the transcript. I suppose you could say I'm a slacker. I did read Quando's liveblogging of the debate, however. See, I not such a slug--tell my wife. Quando managed to decipher the rhetoric and put it in plainspeak. Here's a tidbit:

Q: Whoís responsible for rising health costs?

Bush: We have screwed up system where the people who consume health care are not the people who pay for it. Can you say Market forces? Not if you work in medicine, you canít. Oh, and lawyers. Shakespeare was right about them.

Kerry: Well, health care costs are on the rise because W is a weasel. They are preventing medicine from getting cheaper. In fact, George W. Bush will only be truly happy when you die hacking your lungs out in the gutter. All he cares about is making his friends in the drug companies rich.

And, of course, Kerry will heal the halt and the lame with them stem cells. Canít forget that. Oh, and raising the dead. Vitally important that the dead be raised.

Bush: well, youíd think that being in the senate for 20 years would give Sen. Kerry a pro-health care record. But he doesnít.

Kerry: Not true. I wrote the Omnibus Save the Children American Glory Health Reform Act of...whatever.

Also, check out the good Captain's thoughts of Integrity3.

I loved Bush's answer. He was so right on--but I wish he would have expounded on the theme. Ever been to the hospital for an extended stay and looked at the itemized bill--if you can get an itemized bill. Outlandish fees for all sorts of things that you never would have authorized if you had to pay it out of pocket. And if they knew you were paying for everything out of your own pocket, they would have asked you if you wanted all this crap. Currently, the philosophy is: hey, it's covered by insurance. Have x-rays taken. There's a fee for the lab, the radiologist, the film, the lights, the electricity. Good. Fine. Then there are the fees for two or three guys you've never even seen or heard of to interpret and analyze them. If you were to pay for this yourself, you might say, "hey, at $200 bucks a pop, I think I'll just let Dr. Goodenwell give me his findings". Of course a lot of this is driven by fear of lawsuits, but that's a different post for a different day.

Also, I wish Bush would have talked about the comprehensive nature of health insurance. In general, most insurance protects you against catastrophe. Your house burns down. Your new car gets totaled. Catherine Zeta-Jones gets a scratch on her face. You know, big stuff. Things that would be too costly to take a chance on. Your homeowners policy doesn't cover leaky faucets. Your automobile insurance doesn't cover oil changes and flat tires. Why? Because it would be too costly. You can insure 90% of the risk for $X.00, but to increase that to 100% coverage might cost $X.002 or even $X.003. [Sidebar: I took a motorcycle trip across Europe a few years ago on a bike I rented in London. The typical insurance (which was required) was something like $100 (too lazy to search for a pound sign--ed) but had a $1000 deductible. They had another policy which you could buy with no deductible. That jewel cost $500. The point is, it wasn't worth it to me to pay an extra $400 to preclude the possiblity that I'd have to pay $1000 on the off chance that I'd have a collision.] Reducing risk to zero (or near zero) is exponentially expensive, yet that's what we've done with health insurance. Most policies today cover not only extended hospital stays, but outpatient treatments, doctor visits, prescriptions, getting warts removed, etc. So why do we pay these exponentially high premiums to avoid nearly all risk? Often times it's because we get health insurance through our employers. It's cost is not viewed as being borne by the employee. The money doesn't come directly out of our pockets, because it never goes into our pockets, therefore, we don't really see it as a cost. (FYI, the government figured this out long ago, which is why they implemented withholding). I could prattle on, but hey, I have a life. Suffice it to say that Bush's answer was a good one--and possibly the only one that could be given due to time constraints--but he didn't spell out the totality of the problem

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput claims he was misrepresented by the Times. Also, Byron York notes the preponderance of high profile corrections. Since all the errors act to work against the current administration, York things there may be a slight chance of an inkling of just a touch of media bias.

By now, everyone knows that Saddam was not a threat to the United States. He didn't have WMD's nor was he actively working on any. So what do we make of this.

Missing nuclear-related equipment in Iraq was removed by experts working systematically over an extended period, diplomats said Thursday, contradicting Iraqi officials who suggested that little was taken and only randomly by looters.

...The minister said the missing equipment - which the IAEA says includes milling machines and electron beam welders - was taken in the looting spree that followed last year's invasion, which the United States said was aimed to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. The sites were quickly secured by coalition forces before they were turned over to Iraqi authorities with the formal handover of sovereignty in June, he said.

Probably Bush stole it to give to his rich nuclear friends.

There actually is some good news from Iraq if anybody cares:

Sunni Arabs in Iraq are becoming more agitated about being caught in a war pitting an alliance of Saddam supporters and Islamic radicals, against the majority Shia Arab and Kurds who want peace and prosperity, at any price. The Sunni Arabs are increasingly desperate to do something about their situation. Despite the threats from Saddam's old enforcers (almost all of them Sunni Arads), and the al Qaeda influenced Islamic radicals; tribal and religious leaders are suggesting that the Saddam hardliners and foreign Islamic radicals leave. Leave Sunni Areas, leave Iraq, leave this life, it doesn't really matter. The Sunni Arabs see nothing but woe from the Saddam supporters and Islamic radicals. . . . The Sunni Arabs have been cowed by the terror, but not completely immobilized. Deals are being cut, to be finalized when Iraqi troops and police enter Sunni Arab towns under the shadow of American firepower. Will the Sunni Arab leaders remain with the Iraqi majority. Considering the alternative, they probably will.

Monday October 11, 2004

Before we get to today's news, allow me to bask in the glow of the spectacular come-from-behind victory of the St. Louis Rams in yesterday's clash against the Seattle SeaGulls...ahhh, now I am duly inspired.

Donald Lambro, in todays Washington Times reiterates the point I made yesterday: The Duelfer report confiirms that Saddam was indeed a threat to the U.S. and preemption was justified, yet that point was missed by most of the media.

We interrupt this report Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction to bring you this bulletin: His terrorist regime was secretly planning to reproduce them as soon as it was feasible.

The dominant national news media single-mindedly focused last week on U.S. weapons inspector Charles Duelfer's conclusion he found little or no evidence of WMD production (nothing new here, the previous U.S. weapons inspector said the same thing). But another key finding in Mr. Duelfer's report did not get the same high-visibility treatment from most media, at least as of this writing. This aspect has so far been buried just as deeply as Saddam has probably buried the evidence of WMDs in Iraq's deserts.

To be fair, this was also expressed by the New York Times in an editorial I linked to yesterday.

Also, this: Publishes Iraqi Intelligence Docs

An unprecedented and historic election in Afghanistan went relatively well:

As thousands of ballot boxes began reaching the capital by donkey, taxi and helicopter to be counted at an army base, Afghan and international officials reiterated their praise for the massive, peaceful demonstration of civic will shown by millions of voters, and they played down the complaints of voting irregularities initially made by 15 candidates.

...Officials also emphasized that despite dire predictions of attacks at the polls by the Taliban militia and other armed groups, no serious attacks had occurred Saturday. Afghan and international security forces had discovered and successfully thwarted a number of possible bombing plots and other attacks, officials said.

Also this from ABC News:

The Taliban vowed to turn the Afghan election into a day of bloodshed, but the rebels mounted only a smattering of small-scale attacks on police and civilians and a larger clash that left many of their own dead. After months of what proved to be empty threats, military commanders and ordinary Afghans said Sunday the vote was a serious setback for the holdouts of the hard-line Islamic regime that was driven from power by U.S. bombs almost three years ago for harboring Osama bin Laden.

The success of this election speaks volumes about our success against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Clearly they wanted to significantly disrupt this election, however they were unable to. Are they significantly disrupted to the extent that they cannot even foment terror in their own back yard? Not to be overly optimistic, but this makes me feel safer. Our war on terror has reduced their ability to kill us. Reduced, but not eliminated. There have been no attacks on American soil since 9/11. Think about what that means. Remember the DC snipers? Just two guys with an old car and a hunting rifle. They killed a dozen or so Americans and created a climate of fear for nearly a month around our nation's capitol and environs. Granted, AQ favors the spectacular. But just imagine what a band of 20 or 30 John Mohammads and Lee Malvos scattered in cities across the nation would do to our psyche. Yet, that has not happened. Remember Columbine? Imagine the extent to which 20 or 30 Columbines would terrorize us. Yet, that has not happened. These sorts of attacks are relatively unsophisticated and should be within the range of AQ capabilities and yet they have not happened. Why? Is it because the terrorists want to accomplish something truly spectacular? Is it because they are hunkered down? Is it because we have killed most of their leaders, denied them sanctuary, foiled their sources of funding? If they do succeed in a massive attack then we'll know it's the former, but until that time, and so long as there are no additional events, we must assume the latter. And we must continue our strategy.

In this era of vicious beheadings in the Middle East and the videos of such circulating on the internet, don't you think this headline in the Sacremento Union is a little insensitive: Governor's Sword Falls on Illegal Immigrants' Driver's Licenses. Or, perhaps they were making a statement.

Here's the quote that made the news from a lengthy New York Times Magazine expose on Senator Kerry and his attitudes about the War on Terror:

When I asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he displayed a much less apocalyptic worldview. ''We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,'' Kerry said. ''As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.''

Of course the Republicans and the Bush campaign are pounding on this and already have an ad out with this quote. But I think they get it wrong. I actually agree with Kerry's sentiment: we want to go back to the time when terrorism was not as big of a threat. But terrorists have been targeting us for decades. They have been at war with us for decades and we didn't notice. Instead, we tried to treat them like criminals. Kerry's words show he is still in this mindset. He wants to fight terrorism with law enforcement.

Overall, it's a mostly fair and balanced piece which presents the pros and cons of both the Bush and Kerry worldviews without making any judgement. In the end, however, one can clearly come to the conclusion that John F. Kerry is a September 10th kind of guy:

Kerry's view, that the 21st century will be defined by the organized world's struggle against agents of chaos and lawlessness, might be the beginning of a compelling vision. The idea that America and its allies, sharing resources and using the latest technologies, could track the movements of terrorists, seize their bank accounts and carry out targeted military strikes to eliminate them, seems more optimistic and more practical than the notion that the conventional armies of the United States will inevitably have to punish or even invade every Islamic country that might abet radicalism.

...When Kerry first told me that Sept. 11 had not changed him, I was surprised. I assumed everyone in America -- and certainly in Washington -- had been changed by that day. I assumed he was being overly cautious, afraid of providing his opponents with yet another cheap opportunity to call him a flip-flopper. What I came to understand was that, in fact, the attacks really had not changed the way Kerry viewed or talked about terrorism -- which is exactly why he has come across, to some voters, as less of a leader than he could be. He may well have understood the threat from Al Qaeda long before the rest of us. And he may well be right, despite the ridicule from Cheney and others, when he says that a multinational, law-enforcement-like approach can be more effective in fighting terrorists. But his less lofty vision might have seemed more satisfying -- and would have been easier to talk about in a political campaign -- in a world where the twin towers still stood.

This is just plain funny:

Rotund documentary filmmaker Michael Moore will conduct an eight minute hunger strike next week, sources said yesterday.

Moore will attempt to abstain from food for close to ten minutes, which would smash his previous record of six minutes and eighteen seconds.

The hunger strike is a protest of President Bush's foreign policy, Moore said. Moore's personal physician, Dr. Andrew Ulrach, will monitor Moore's "upper northeast sector," while a team of nine other physicians will be responsible for various other places about Moore's massive frame.

"840 seconds is a helluva long time for Mr. Moore to go without food," Dr. Ulrach said. "The danger zone will be at the 7-minute mark...if Mike starts to look pale, I'll step in and end this nonsense."

Republican operatives will reportedly roam the perimeter of the strike area with "a multitude of fresh sandwiches and yummy desserts" to distract Moore, sources said.

Here's the latest from the AP:

President Bush isn't the only world leader facing doubts about his handling of the war on terror. People in Australia, Italy and Britain also harbor reservations about how well their nation's leaders are holding terrorists at bay.

...In contrast, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Mexico and Spain all get high marks for their handling of terrorism ó with a majority in each country saying they approve, according to polls conducted for the AP by Ipsos, an international polling firm.

OK, question for the day: What, exactly, are Canada, France, Germany, Mexico and Spain doing to "handle" terrorism?

So, who's to blame for the bombing that killed 38 Israelis at a resort in Egypt? Well, of course you should go to IslamOnline to get the skinny:

A cohort of Egyptian security, political and diplomatic experts have concluded that Israel is the only party to benefit from the blasts that rocked tourist resorts in the Egyptian Sinai peninsula on Thursday, October 7, ruling out any possible Egyptian involvement.

Former Egyptian Assistant Interior Minister Mohammad Omar Abdel-Fattah said that while analyzing any such operation security experts should always seek an answer to the basic question of who stands to benefit.

They do, however, cite other experts who have not ruled out the possibility that Palestinians were involved.