American Elephants


How Do You Pass a Bill that The Majority of Americans Don’t Want? by The Elephant's Child
November 19, 2009, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Health Care, Statism, Taxes | Tags: , ,

If you desperately want to pass a bill nationalizing one-sixth of the economy, destroying the best health-care system in the world, raising the costs of health insurance for everyone in the country, and raising taxes on everything that moves — and you have some reluctant blue dog Democrats that might not go along — what do you do?

In the case of Mary Landrieu (D-LA),and you need her vote,  if you are Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), you add a little section on page 432 of your health care bill to increase Medicaid subsidies for “certain states recovering from a major disaster.”

The bill takes two pages to define which states would qualify, as those stated during the preceding seven fiscal years have been declared a “major disaster area.” All of which manages to apply to just one state — Louisiana, the home of said blue dog reluctant Democrat Mary Landrieu, and presents Louisiana with a Medicaid subsidy of $100 million taxpayer dollars.

That’s how you buy votes.

ADDENDUM: Mary Landrieu didn’t want to be known as aavailable so cheaply. It cost $300 million to buy her off.



A Step Backward in the Fight Against Breast Cancer. by The Elephant's Child
November 19, 2009, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Health Care, Law, Statism | Tags: , ,

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force tossed out long-time guidelines for breast cancer screening, and has caused a well-deserved uproar.  This should alert anyone paying attention as a preview of the coming political decisions about cost-control and medical treatment that are central to ObamaCare.

In 1983, the American Cancer Society began recommending that all women get screened beginning at age 40.  Since 1990 mortality from breast cancer has dropped by about 30 percent, after remaining constant for nearly 50 years.

This week, the task force, which includes neither oncologists nor radiologists, recommended that patients under 50 or over 75 without special risk factors no longer needed mammograms, and other screening techniques aren’t worth the money.

Did something change?  The panel decided to review the data with an eye to health care spending as a core concern.

ObamaCare is “predicated on the assumption that the federal government has the knowledge, capacity, and will to drive greater efficiency in American health care,” noted James Capretta.

The health care bills under consideration would hand over to the federal government nearly all power for organizing American health care.  And there is not a shred of evidence that Congress or the administration can handle these tasks well.  Indeed, there is abundant evidence that, in a crunch to control costs, politicians will do what they always do, which is impose across-the-board payment-rate cuts.  …It’s cuts for all providers, no matter how well or badly they treat patients.

The task force admitted that the benefits of early detection are the same for all women, but there are fewer cases of breast cancer in younger women.  So you get into statistical abstractions about how many screenings it takes to save one life, and how many false positives there are in each age group.

At the bureaucracy level, this sort of recommendation is usually adopted by Medicare when it makes coverage decisions for seniors, and Medicare’s decisions usually influence the private insurance market.

The American Cancer Society objects.  They acknowledged the limitations to mammography, but said the task force underestimates its lifesaving value.  You can’t treat a tumor until you find it, and mammography has led to finding tumors when they are smaller and more treatable.

Today, the task force from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force hastily said — We didn’t mean— we’re not telling your doctor what to do — not issuing rules.  So that is where it stands, with more to come.

What it does is provide an example of political decisions by bureaucrats looking at statistical abstractions and numbers and deciding what treatment your doctor may order for you and your loved ones.



Intellectually and Morally Confused, Dangerous and Unnecessary Civilian Trial for a Mass Murderer. Why? by The Elephant's Child

The potential trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York civilian court is causing a well-deserved uproar.  Attorney General Eric Holder testified today before the Senate Judicial Committee, and was thoroughly taken to task by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

There is enormous confusion about semantics, the law, the Constitution, military law and international law. Since I am not a lawyer, have no special knowledge of the law and am completely unqualified to comment on this, I will explain.  The law is the group of rules that a society agrees to adhere to for the sake of domestic peace and some semblance of fairness.

We don’t really agree on even the most basic things — for example in the case of murder, some believe in the death penalty and some abhor it.  No middle ground there.

What could be clearer than “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech?” Yet look at all the trouble that one has caused — speech codes, hate speech, the fairness doctrine, political correctness — we fight these out over and over because there is no agreement. That’s why we have judges and courts who are, after all, only fallible humans.

Liberals like to favor the underdog.  That may make them feel noble, but underdoggieness has no place either in civilian law or in military law. Terrorists, by definition, use terror and breaking all the rules of law to accomplish their ends.  That they do not necessarily have all the elaborate equipment of a formal army does not make them underdogs who are entitled to some special compassion.  William McGurn explains in the Wall Street Journal:

We don’t often speak of incentives in war. That’s a loss, because the whole idea of, say, Geneva rights is based on the idea of providing combatants with incentives to do things that help limit the bloodiness of battle. These include wearing a uniform, carrying arms openly, not targeting civilians, and so on.

Terrorists recognize none of these things. They are best understood as associations of people plotting and carrying out war crimes, whether that means sowing fear with direct and indiscriminate attacks on marketplaces, offices and airlines—or by engaging enemy troops without distinguishing uniforms, so that the surrounding civilians essentially become used as human shields. Terrorists reject both the laws of war and the laws of American civil society. To put it another way, they reject both the authority and the obligations their legal rights imply. (…)

The perversity here is that the overwhelming evidence of their war crimes gain them protections denied a soldier fighting in accord with the rules of war.

It even gains them more protections than their associates who attack military targets. This double standard means that the perpetrators of the USS Cole bombing are sent to military tribunals while the perpetrators of 9/11 are sent to federal court.

Andy McCarthy, who was the lead prosecutor of the “Blind Sheik” in the first bombing of the World Trade Center adds:

The decision to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other top al-Qaeda terrorists to New York City for a civilian trial is one of the most irresponsible ever made by a presidential administration. That it is motivated by politics could not be more obvious. That it spells unprecedented danger for our security will soon become obvious.

John Yoo, law professor at U.C. Berkeley and an official in the Justice Department from 2001-2oo3 writes that:

Trying KSM in civilian court will be an intelligence bonanza for al Qaeda and the hostile nations that will view the U.S. intelligence methods and sources that such a trial will reveal. The proceedings will tie up judges for years on issues best left to the president and Congress.

Whether a jury ultimately convicts KSM and his fellows, or sentences them to death, is beside the point. The treatment of the 9/11 attacks as a criminal matter rather than as an act of war will cripple American efforts to fight terrorism. It is in effect a declaration that this nation is no longer at war.

This is another bad move by the Obama administration.  It paints a large target directly on New York City, will take years to resolve, and is completely unnecessary.  One would hope that the Senate would refuse to go along with Attorney General Holder’s irresponsible plans.




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