Why Heckling The President During a Joint Session of Congress is Not the Smartest Thing You Can Do

Because it inspires people to send your likely 2010 Democratic opponent nearly $100,000 in contributions since the moment you opened your mouth. D’oh.

The funny thing: The amount contributed to Rob Miller went up $3,000 in the few minutes it took me to write up this entry. I suspect the amount will be well over $100k by the end of the day.

Once again: Well done, Joe Wilson. Well done, indeed.

Update, 6:30pm: Miller just passed the half million dollar mark in contributions. Damn, that’s a lot of money in less than 24 hours.

488 thoughts on “Why Heckling The President During a Joint Session of Congress is Not the Smartest Thing You Can Do

  1. I was amused watching MSNBC later last night and saw that he had issued a written apology. But not for lying about the lying, only for allowing his emotions to overcome him and interrupting Obama’s speech.

  2. I did not the President’s speech last night because I was at my school’s open house. I do think thatMr. Wilson’s outburst was uncalled for and very disrespectful to the President of the United States. I did not vote for President Obama, but he is the leader of our nation and deserves respect. You can disagree with someone without being disagreeable. I hope our Congress does not start to look and act like the House of Commons in the United Kingdom.

  3. What are the voter demographics of Wilson’s district? A depressing number of Congressional districts (for both parties) are drawn so as to be extremely “safe” for the incumbent. If Wilson’s district is like that, there might be enough red-meat “You go, Joe!” cheerleaders in it (as I saw in various forms on Twitter) that his re-election prospects are about as good as before.

    I wonder whether the larger effect will instead be on the larger national perception of health-care reform. One of the things that Obama aimed to do in the speech was to make the case that much of the health-care reform opposition was unhinged knee-jerkery. Wilson’s outburst helped drive home the president’s point, more clearly than Obama could on his own.

  4. I think people are starting to get wise to the fact that republicans aren’t just against obama’s healthcare plan, they’re against any healthcare plan.

    I’ve been getting the feeling that the ideology that there should be no social safety net was a dirty little secret, and in public they were supposed to be talking about how bad “this particular” plan was.

    So when you sneer at the message that we’re in a healthcare crisis, and it should be taken seriously, you shouldn’t be surprised when next year, your opposition steam rolls you in a steam roller made of money.

  5. My reaction, once they identified the heckler was to think, “Congrats, dude! You’ve just activated every resource the DNC has to send you on a long vacation.”

    Unintended consequences can be a bitch.

  6. The electoral history of Joe Wilson’s district.

    It’s hard to know without knowing the details, but it appears strongly Republican, but Rob Miller did manage to get 46% of the vote in 2008. Which is significantly better than prior opponents.

  7. Honestly, I feel most sorry for Wilson’s staff right now. As I’m writing this, his website is completely down. That takes some doing. It’s not impossible, but the House network isn’t exactly a mom’s basement operation.

    I just hope that people who feel the need to call in to his office about this have the decency not to emulate him when they do it. I might not like the guy’s politics (at all), but I don’t think his interns and junior staff deserve half the abuse they’re going to take over the next few days.

  8. Thanks TransDutch for the pointer. Looks like Wilson may be beatable then. 46% is not a bad challenger score, and while the district’s Cook PVI is R+9 (meaning that the district’s vote for the 2008 Republican presidential candidate was 9 percentage points higher than the national average), every other South Carolina district with a PVI of R+9 or lower has a Democratic US representative (if you believe Wikipedia).

    We’ll see what happens going forward. I suspect there may be a fair bit of out-of-district money coming in to both candidates in the coming days.

  9. I wonder if the private citizens can begin match (insert healthcare insurance company’s name here) dollar for dollar? Anyone have information on campaign contributions from healthcare companies for this guy? I bet we are likely to see those go up as well.

    The most regrettable outcome from this type of behavior is that it dominates the water cooler discussion and interferes with constructive discourse over the content of the president’s talk.

    Rabid

  10. I live in Joe Wilson’s District, and while that district is bigger than my local area, things are changing right here. Many people (including me) have moved here from other states, and are not part of the good-old-boy network.

    We have Democrats in both our State Assembly and Senate seats. Pretty smart Democrats, too. One of the things that irks me about local politics is the kind of behavior that I can only call ‘stupid’. I don’t mean to insult him personally, but really, what else can you call it when a married politician gets caught having an affair with another woman, and, while trying to recover from this, publicly announces that the ‘other woman’ is his soulmate.

    Did he really thing that this would make things better politically? (only if he was going for the hopeless romantic vote.) Did he think this would help him fix things up with his wife?

    I don’t know Jenny Sanford, or what she thinks, but I respect her choice not to stand smiling behind her husband while he announce that their marriage is basically a sham. I think her sons will have reason to be grateful in the future that there is no video tape of that scene.

  11. Yes, the heckling issue will dominate the water cooler talk, but I think it then leads to a discussion of Obama’s points, which is what happened at the busstop this morning (the stay-at-home Mom’s version of a water cooler). I agree with a previous poster, in that this makes the Republicans just look like they don’t want to go along with anything, they aren’t willing to work to get a healthcare plan in place; hopefully this contretempts inadvertantly spurs the plan to passage.

  12. @5: I note that calling another MP a liar in the House of Commons is one of the few things which MPs are not allowed to do… Unparliamentary language, and all that.

  13. In his own fundraising appeal last month, Rep. Wilson made it quite clear that “President Obama Targets Wilson.” Fortunately, Mr. Wilson does provide a source for this, quoting in full the Organizing for America letter that apparently demonstrates the “hypocrisy and panic coming from President Obama” due to his own opposition to the “borderline socialist” reform beloved by “Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco liberals.”

  14. I can’t help but think that this is the chickens coming home to roost. Those special Republican Crazy chickens that they’ve been feeding and breeding for a number of years now.

    Is it too much to hope that this is the turning point in the previously ever-increasing levels of right-wing nuttery and hostility?

  15. Joe Wilson stepped in it big time… plan and simple. We expect diplomacy from our politicians and clearly this guy can not provide that. Politics should never be ran on emotion. One should never heckle the Office of the President, no matter who holds it.

  16. I think Wilson’s biggest mistake (after opening his mouth) was the way he apologized. If he were a good politician (note != good person) he would be raging back on any TV show that would let him on about how he just couldn’t let such a bold lie stand and that his constituents deserved the truth!

    Of course it’d be partisan BS, but it’d fire up his base and might help him get his own 100K in donations.

  17. I’d check all the facts before I’d start celebrating. Has anyone checked to see how much Wilson’s contributions have gone up since last night?

    Here at my office in Franklin Park, IL (a close-in suburb of Chicago), the general reaction to the this congresscritter who heckled Obama was positive from literally everyone I’ve talked to this morning!

    The common perception amongst my co-workers is that Obama seemed mean-spirited and that there was nothing new in this speech to convince people who are against the bill to support it. If people in the Chicago area are having this type of reaction, what’s the thoughts of citizens in areas where Obama isn’t so popular?

  18. LizrdGizrd @21: Actually, I suspect that some “raging back” is in Representative Wilson’s future–that apology (by my reading of it) leaves him plenty of room to do just that. He apologized for being impolite, for letting his emotions get the better of him, which I suspect means that the scenario you describe could follow quite nicely. And if that’s what happens . . . we’ll see how his constituents react. Might be interesting.

  19. I watched the President’s speech last night and was appalled at Wilson’s behavior. Since when is heckling ever a sign of good basic manners? I did love the look Pres. Obama gave him though, priceless.

  20. Barry @20: “Politics should never be ran on emotion.”

    Are you kidding?? Emotion is pretty much all that politics IS. Diplomacy is needed so you don’t hurt people’s feelings or piss them off when you’re trying to get them to do things. If people were actually logical and rational about things “politics” as we know it would be largely unnecessary.

    The really impressive thing about the $100K+ is how fast it piled up. This would not have happened pre-WWW and Twitter/Facebook etc.

  21. @26 – citation, please?

    I’m having a hard time finding any references to that outside of the bat$#!] crazy papers.

  22. [Deleted because ELF wishes to allege he's not aware the terms he's using are racist, which I don't believe. If you seriously don't know what I'm talking about, ELF, e-mail me. Either way, ELF, you're off this particular topic thread. Move on --JS]

  23. It was a massive loser move. That’s why Wilson came out to apologize minutes after the speech was over: the Republican leadership came down on him like a ton of bricks and shoved him in front of the nearest microphone.

    Obama’s entire political career has been built around a rope-a-dope strategy. He baits his opponents into looking like mean, angry, unreasonable people while he sits back with a “can you believe how crazy these guys are?” expression on his face. Then, once he’s rhetorically positioned himself as the most responsible, centrist, even-handed person in the room, he lets loose and obliterates them. He did it to Clinton, he did it to McCain, and he’s doing it to the congressional GOP as we speak.

    It’s why when Wilson screams “You lie,” you can see the faintest hint of a smile on the president’s face. It’s because Wilson has just played directly into Obama’s hands. You couldn’t imagine a better moment in a speech aimed entirely at establishing him as the adult and the Republicans as the squabbling children.

  24. I don’t think the outburst was planned or coordinated at all. I think he was telling the truth when he said he let his emotions take over.

    There are a lot of people in the house, and the lesser known members (the back-benchers, as they say across the pond) can sometimes be borderline nut-jobs that win poorly contested districts. He could be an alcoholic or a drug-addict, or could have some kind of under-treated mental health problem. We shouldn’t assume these congressmen are the best our country has to offer. Some of these guys are serious losers and still manage to get elected.

  25. JimF @33

    That’s true, but to be fair. The president had spent a lot of time leading up to that point demonizing congressional democrats (specifically) as obstructionists and partisans.

  26. Well, it would have been nice if Wilson could back up his assertion, but he cannot. [ref: http://mediamattersaction.org/factcheck/200909090009%5D

    I’m not sure I’m against what he did, *because* he can’t back it up. It just makes the opposition look more foolish.

    But, advantage to our side aside, is this behavior ever called for? What if someone had called out “You lie!” when Bush made his case for war in Cincinnati on October 2002?

    Oh, wait a minute. What am I thinking? That couldn’t have happened. They didn’t let anyone with an opposing viewpoint into that session.

    Maybe if someone had done it when Bush lied to Congress. Or Powell lied to the UN. Or Bush lied to Congress, again. Or lied to the Congress, again. And again. And again.

    This may change the terms of civility that we adhere to when lives are perceived to be at stake. I hope not.

  27. Regarding the disruption Joe Wilson caused, I think a single rude remark to voice disasgreement is far LESS offensive to me than the constant heckling some Republicans have used to shut down discussion at those town hall meetings.

    Joe Wilson looked like an ass last night, but he was clearly exercising his right to free speech to voice his honest opinion in an important debate. The fact that we all agree that his opinion is useless is mostly beside the point. The town hall jokers were abusing their right to free spech to prevent honest debate.

    So yeah, Joe Wilson is a useless piece of baggage that the good people of his district should replace at the earliest opportunity. But as for the big to-do that it has become this morning, it seems like it is getting more attention than it deserves.

  28. JimF @33: Do I need a hearing aid? I’m not being snarkly; that’s entirely possible–but I’ve listened to the clip twice, and despite the title, I hear far more Republican cheering than Democratic booing . . . not that it matters, I suppose, since I’m fairly sure that Democrats did boo Bush on occasion, during formal speeches. Booing a president as a group during an outbreak of applause is expressing one’s heartfelt disapproval; I would have had no problem with Republicans booing Obama, I don’t think. Breaking into the speech to shout “you lie” is a bit different, in my opinion. (Especially since I don’t believe that Obama was lying, but that’s another issue.)

  29. @37 Mary It’s right at the beginning of that clip. In any case I agree with you if clapping is acceptable so is booing. What some people seem to be forgetting that this wasn’t an open debate, it was a set speech.

  30. Man, when did this blog get so political? I have some bacon-related concerns that need addressing ASAP!

    Also, I’m from Canada, so I’m not too familiar with US politics, but what’s the deal here? You can’t heckle the president when he’s making a speech? The Canadian Prime Minister gets yelled at every time he opens his mouth in our House of Commons…and he yells back. Everybody yells. It’s cathartic.

  31. Cheering and booing is one thing, and is pretty standard in joint Congress speeches, SOTU, etc. It’s the audience responding to the merits of an idea, and showing their support or opposition to it.

    Yelling “You LIE!” is completely different. It’s disruptive and rude, and it makes a clear statement about the character of the speaker.

    Wilson was not saying that he disagreed; he was making the claim that the President was deliberately lying.

    That’s why I don’t accept his apology. His conduct was only half the issue; the other half is calling the POTUS a liar. You damn well better be able to back that up if you do it.

    I really think this goes back to the Town Hall strategies of disruption. Quoting directly from their memo:

    – Be Disruptive Early and Often: “You need to rock- the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation. Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”

    – Try to “Rattle Him,” Not Have an Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.””

  32. Not that he wuold ever do it, and it would have been the wrong move, but I would have loved this

    “You know, I just gave my education speech earlier today. Do we need to set up a behavior contract for you, Joe?”

  33. Obama used the dad voice.

    I don’t think I ever want to hear the President use the dad voice again.

    Well, that’s not true. I don’t want him to ever use it on me. Others are fine because then there can be the laughing and pointing.

  34. GMO @ 39: Regarding the Canadian House of Commons: heckling is one thing, but they’re not allowed to call one another liars (among other things), and get tossed out for a couple of days and are forced to apologize when they do.

  35. Regarding that ELF character. I believe he might not have known that phrase was in poor taste (his Wikipedia link notes the phrase wasn’t originally racist, but is generally avoided now because it is considered racist). I was following both of your tweets and he was winning me over that he was blissfully ignorant of the connotations.

    But then he drops this one:
    “Isn’t it funny how the person calling you a racist, is usually the one who IS the racist in the first place?”

    Allow me to channel Seth Myers: Really, ELF? Really?

  36. GMO, I don’t think the issue is specifically that someone disagreed with the president. Or even how he did it. The thing that is really cheesing some people off is related to the specific context in which this incident occurred.

    Obama’s speech went as follows:

    Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.

    There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.

    It was at this point, the moron called the president a liar. The president specifically called out some right wing paranoid bullshit for being bullshit, and this fucking moron decided to defend right-wing paranoid bullshit rather than go with the truth.

    This moron’s behaviour only exemplified the sort of assinine idiocy that’s been going on for the last few weeks, the sort of behaviour that Obama and everyone else sees as pure obstructionism.

    And that’s what this asshole did, he obstructed by defending bullshit when the president was trying to get some real discussions going on.

    Had it been Bush giving a speech about WMD’s in Iraq back in 2003, when everyone and his mother knew WMD’s were a lie, then calling out the president as a liar wouldn’t have cheesed certain people off. It probably would have gotten the neocon’s in an indignant uproar about patriotism, but basically the 8 years of Bush’s presidency were nothing more than 8 years of blind patriotism indignant at anything that wasn’t blind patriotism.

  37. @36: Joe Wilson was not “exercising his right to free speech to voice his honest opinion in an important debate” last night — he was interrupting someone else’s speech, which puts him closer to your town hall hecklers in character.

    I’d also make the case that “honest opinion” isn’t accurate either: Wilson’s “opinions” are tied to the old Upton Sinclair quote about how it’s hard to make a man understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it. None of the proposed reforms will change the existing law (08 U.S.C. § 1611) that already bars illegal immigrants from receiving federally subsidized health care.

  38. Keep in mind that in Canada and the UK, when the Prime Minister is heckled, it is while he/she is the head of the government. POTUS is not only the head of the government, but also the head of state. Heckling Obama is the equivalent of a Member of Parliament heckling the Queen.

  39. Isn’t it ironic that Wilson shouts out “You lie!” (Incidentally, Wilson lied.) in the middle of a speech where Obama said if people spread anymore misinformation, they will be called out on it?

  40. Reading through the thread it seems that we are returning to that “but you did it first” mentality. I will in no way defend any member of congress who boo’s, whistles, or shouts out dissent when the president (or another member of congress) is giving a speech or presenting his side of the argument.

    I think it is important that we call this congressman out for his behavior and using past acts of stupidity by democrats does nothing to justify his actions.

    Rabid

  41. JerolJ, not quite. We don’t hold the head of state in quite the regard you hold the Queen. I am not a subject of President Obama. I don’t have to bow when he walks in.

    I suspect this is in part because he’s also head of government. Her Majesty the Queen doesn’t technically work for you; Obama technically works for me (and all other US citizens).

    Can’t really draw parallels quite that directly across the two systems. I do think it’s somewhat ruder to call the POTUS a liar during a speech than to do the same to a PM under similar circumstances, but there’s lots of complexity wrt how the offices are regarded, and the different traditions of the systems of goverment; we have no “question period,” for example. The POTUS isn’t required to go to Congress except once a year for the State of the Union address, and he doesn’t take questions then.

  42. Another effect of Rep. Wilson’s disrespectful outburst was to render the official Republican response (by an obscure Louisiana congressman; I don’t remember his name–see?) a completely wasted effort. Once again: Well done, Joe Wilson. Well done, indeed.

  43. #55
    The “obscure” Louisiana congressman’s name is Charles Boustany who represents the good people of the southwestern part of my great State of Louisiana (from the Lafayette area). In his other (real) job he is a heart surgeon. I think he knows something about the subject of heathcare. I for one belive that healthcare in America needs be reformed, I just do not trust the government (democrats or republicans) to fix it.

  44. #58 “I for one belive that healthcare in America needs be reformed, I just do not trust the government (democrats or republicans) to fix it.”

    Okay. So who (or what) will?

  45. “I for one belive that healthcare in America needs be reformed, I just do not trust the government (democrats or republicans) to fix it.”

    I don’t see why not ? The american government put a man on the moon, won WWII, invented TANG and created a nationwide network of highways unparalleled in the modern world.

    The American government, peopled as it is by americans is fully capable of delivering and managing access to health care.

    Leaving that aside, what are the alternatives ? Having your health care needs addressed by a group of unelected CEOs and accountants who answer to shareholders and not patients or doctors?

    Faceless corporate bureaucrats are worse than government ones because at least the government ones (ostensibly) answer to the people.

  46. Charles K. Bradley @58: I think my point stands, though. Whatever Rep. Boustany may have had to say, as a doctor or a congressman, or a Republican, or whatnot, was completely lost, thanks to Joe Wilson.

  47. Charles K. Bradley:

    I’m not real trusting of the government, either, but they’re doing a far better job with Medicare/VA than corporations are doing with insurance/HMOs.

  48. Xopher @ 54:

    Total derail, but hey:

    I’m from New Zealand, so the queen is technically my head of state, and its ridiculous to say that anyone in the Commonwealth is the queen’s ‘subject’ in anything but the most tenuous ceremonial way. I am often surprised that Americans seem to think she’s at all relevant to anyone’s government.

    People generally show a high level of respect for the queen out of tradition and a general sense of politeness, as far as I can tell. Not due to any “OMG my lord and master is speaking to me” reactions.

    Which is to say, I guess: don’t overinterpret how much anyone other than weird monarchists (mostly old) give a shit about the queen. Still, I don’t think you’d find many elected representatives who’d be deliberately rude to her.

  49. The thing that gets me is how many liberals and Dems are going off about how Joe Wilson was SO HORRIBLE for doing that yet they seem to have forgotten when Bush was boo-d by members of Congress during a 2005 State of the Union Address.

    I didn’t like Bush. I still don’t like Bush. He was a liar and I think a number of his policies and decisions he made while in office have greatly hurt our country and will continue to hurt us for some time.

    I also voted for Obama and at this time would vote for him again (despite not liking several of the things he’s done in office *coughcoughDOMAcoughcough*).

    I just think people should remember that they’ve done things just as tactless and rude in the past and that complaining about Wilson’s outburst too much starts to smack of hypocrisy. Yes, it was rude, you’ve (i.e. Congress) been rude in the past too, move on.

  50. Eddie, that last is my point. We’re allowed to be rude to the President if we want. It’s still rude, but it’s not the kind of outrage that being rude to the Queen would be.

    If the Queen unexpectedly visited your workplace, would you stand and/or bow, or just try to keep working and pay as little attention as possible? If Obama visited my workplace, I’d stand if he actually came to my cubicle, but not otherwise; had Bush done it, I would have stood—to leave. And I would have snubbed him to his face and perhaps told him “you’re the worst President in the history of this once-great country.”

    Unless, of course, I was afraid of his goons. Which I probably would be.

  51. Wilson deserves all the ridicule, and hopefully the loss of his seat, that can be heaped on him, because of the particular circumstances surrounding his accusation that the prez lied (see Greg London at #49 above for well stated reasons why).

    But, in the most general sense I have no problem with someone calling a high ranking politician, even the prez, a liar. I just do not see why people feel that you shouldn’t call the prez a liar, just because he is POTUS. POTUS is not sacred. I would consider it a duty of my representatives to call the prez, and anyone else, a liar, IF they are in fact lying about something that matters. Any type of lie, as in intentionally trying to mislead people about facts or the truth of a matter. Look where false politeness has gotten us. It should not be considered impolite to call a person, any person, a liar if they are lying.

    And yes, I would expect my representatives (perhaps hope would be a better word here than expect) to exhibit intelligence in just how they go about calling someone on a lie. Timing and delivery are important.

  52. Darrell E – You may be unaware of it, but there are actual written rules of decorum that all members of congress swear to obey, and can get censured if they violate. It’s not that he called Obama a liar. Plenty of congresspeople did that since he was elected after hours, and when congress wasn’t in session. It’s *when* and *where* he called Obama a liar.

    Here’s what the Republicans themselves have to say on this issue at the house.gov site

    Until the 109th Congress, it was not in order to make certain references to the Senate or individual senators. However, at the beginning of that Congress, the House removed the prohibition on making references to the Senate, leaving only the requirement that debate be confined to the question under debate and avoid “personality.” The precedents of the House allow a wide latitude in criticism of the President, other executive officials, and the government itself. However, it is not permissible to use language that is personally offensive to the President, such as referring to him as a “hypocrite” or a “liar.” Similarly, it is not in order to refer to the President as “intellectually dishonest” or an action taken by the President as “cowardly.” References to the Vice President, in spite of his role as President of the Senate, are measured against the standard used for the President rather than prior standards used to govern the Senate.

    There’s a reason people were so shocked. What Wilson did wasn’t booing. It was specifically prohibited behavior. Prohibited by his own political party, in fact. Booing is technically different.

  53. Miller’s contributions have gone up $40,000 in the last 30 minutes. Any questions on that point are now settled.

  54. Booing the President is fine. Doing a rebuttal speech afterwards is procedure. Talking over the President when he gives a speech is not criticism but obstruction. The Republicans were holding up signs, making faces and noise, and while it made them look obnoxious, it was okay. Wilson went against Congressional policy. That will certainly make his base happy, and those folks in Illinois who think their job will protect them, but it probably cheesed a lot of swing voters off.

    Charles Boustany, who did the after rebuttal, indicated agreement with the birthers and then backed off.

  55. Charles K. Bradley @ 58

    Boustany has been sued three times for malpractice that I am aware of. Judgment against in the first two and settled out of court the third. The first time his victim (er, patient) lost a leg.

    I wouldn’t trust _anything_ this wanker ‘knows’.

  56. Marvel @ 73 – just because a doctor has been sued for malpractice three times doesn’t make him an reliable source. Even if judgement went against him.

    While I don’t think malpractice suits and tort reform are the only issue, they are Anissue in our itchy litigious finger society.

  57. Hmmm. Clearly this guy was being a jerk.

    However, I have to say that I enjoy watching video of Parliament and hearing the MPs of one party heckling the speaker or the MPs of the other party. It’s vivid and charming. Question Time can be particularly fun — especially when the government representative can hold his own against the hecklers, as some can (using the same sort of skill that stand-up comics use to shoot down hecklers).

    Parliamentary rhetoric remains on a higher level than Congressional rhetoric despite all of this. And its vastly more watchable.

    But this guy will not be the vanguard, I think.

  58. I have no idea why my spell check switched your name to marvel. My bad for not catching it.

    Regarding the actual rebuttal after last nights speech, I’d say it’s just weak when your major selling point is “we’ve got a website about this”.

  59. Josh Jasper at #68

    I was not clear enough, and also slightly off topic, so let me clarify. Except for the first paragraph in my earlier post (#67) I was not in any way, directly or indirectly, expressing a position, or opinion, on the subject of Wilson’s recent fuck up. I was trying to get across the idea that “in the most general sense” it is a good thing to call a person on a lie, if they are lying, when the lie is about something important. And also that it doesn’t matter to me who the person is or what their rank is. Actually, I would say that the higher the rank the more important it is to call the person on a lie. I understand that other people may not agree with this. I also think those other people are wrong. And yes there are many many people who think that it is a bad bad thing to be impolite to very important people. Very important people have been taking advantage of that since we developed into a social species.

    With respect to this particular situation, even if Obama where indeed lying, Wilson was a fool to call him on it at the time and in the manner that he did so. The thing that should “shock” people about this is not that Wilson called the president a liar when it was against the rules (fuck that), but that he was so obviously wrong about his accusation that he was either lying himself, in a most unsavory way, or that he is criminally moronic, especially when one considers that he is a high ranking politician who is supposed to be informed about the relevant topic.

  60. Most of the right-leaning sites I frequent haven’t been as critical of Wilson. They seem to be supportive and some have said they wished their representative would have spoken up. My guess is that most of the people that are angry are people that probably wouldn’t have voted for him anyway and the people that did vote for him aren’t going to vote for his opponent based solely on his outburst.

    In an apples to oranges comparison, I remember when Bush was the target of a shoe. A lot of people thought he had it coming.

  61. I also enjoyed the expression on Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden’s faces…

    and Obama’s look was probably the one he throws his kids when they act up, a perfect choice. sort of a ‘do not make me stop this car’ look.

    poor mr wilson, he forgot he wasnt at a teabagger stuffed town hall, but rather a joint session of Congress in front of alot of tv cameras, not all of them run by Fox.

  62. Steve Sundeen @78: I admired the shoe-throwing sentiment and abhorred the action.

    Even if I thought the outburst correct, I can’t see it as justified. It’d be nice to have a more British parliamentarian-style format, but we don’t, and breaking it was as rude as throwing the shoe.

    The matter simply wasn’t important enough to justify the yelling out.

  63. Darrell E: “The thing that should “shock” people about this is not that Wilson called the president a liar when it was against the rules (fuck that), but that he was so obviously wrong about his accusation that he was either lying himself, in a most unsavory way, or that he is criminally moronic, especially when one considers that he is a high ranking politician who is supposed to be informed about the relevant topic.”

    Agreed that the fact that his outburst was itself a lie should be shocking, but in the context of the last month (hell, the last several years), it’s not.

    It’s worth noting is that the leaders of Wilson’s own party evidently wasted no time coming down on him like a ton of bricks. (Well, the official leaders did. The unofficial ones, not so much.) Considering their recent behavior, I doubt there was much to it other than a realization that Wilson’s outburst was politically beyond stupid. But that much was obvious, even to them.

    Contributions to Wilson’s opponent will break $400,000 today. Contributions to Wilson? I hear he’s pulled in less than $1,000 … plus a wry thank-you note that’s unsigned but has a return address of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

  64. @78 Like him or hate him, Bush was our president. It doesn’t matter what the circumstance, you do not throw shoes at the POTUS. I can only wonder what the result would have been if the target was Ahmadinejad.
    While not in the same league as a thrown shoe, Wilson’s verbal missile was not just remarkably bad form but, as noted earlier in the thread, against the RNC’s own rules.

  65. Steve, Bush was the target of a shoe thrown by a man whose country Bush had just spent years blowing all to hell for excuses that were flimsy at best, and mostly outright lies. Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw his shoes at the man who decided to prove he had a bigger dick than his father by disrupting the country his father had better sense than to disrupt, and who was responsible for total chaos and widespread death in al-Zaidi’s beloved native land.

    Apples to oranges, as you say. But more like an apple seed to the entire combined orange crops of California and Florida.

    (Personally, I think al-Zaidi is a hero, and it’s too bad Bush’s nose wasn’t broken.)

  66. melendwyr @ 80, I agree and I am certainly not trying to defend Wilson. I am just suggesting that his supporters probably won’t care.

    Xopher @ 83, I wouldn’t call him a hero, but I can understand why he did what he did.

  67. I do not understand the double standard. In 2004 and in 2005 the Democrats booed and hissed President Bush during a joint session of Congress. Why was that OK and this is not? Why is everybody quickly calling Wilson a liar for calling President Obama a liar? Are you telling me that hospitals will be able to request proof of citizenship prior to admistering any healthcare to patients? If not, then how are we not going to pay for illegal aliens’ healthcare?

  68. I think what you folks aren’t remembering about the shoe throwing incident is that, culturally speaking, in Iraq shoe throwing is a grave insult.

    See, if Wilson had thrown a shoe at Obama last night, it would have been okay. Because that isn’t on our cultural list of grave insults.

    Do you remember how reporters went out of their way to include that tidbit?

    Speaking truth to power is just fine. But in a joint session of congress during a presidential address it’s right out, whether or not the president is in fact a liar. Now, if that speech had taken place in Iraq, it’d be a totally different matter.

  69. Ignoring the circumstances surrounding this particularly incident, wouldn’t it be better if the politicians were more concerned with the laws and substance rather than reelection?

    Making all of your decisions based on what will get you re-elected is half the problem with the government anyway.

    I’m not saying what he did was right. I’m just saying that if the first thing he is taking into account is how many donations he will get, he’s not doing his job right.

  70. There’s a lot of reference to the more rough and tumble nature of Parliamentary politics when compared to American congressional style debate. This is true as far as it goes. There’s a lot of heckling, interjections and the like.

    However, as far as I’m aware (awareness extending to NZ, Aus, UK, and Canada), almost all Parliamentary systems specifically prohibit calling someone a liar in their Standing Orders. If you call someone a liar, you’re forced to withdraw and apologise by the Speaker, or you get kicked out of the debating chamber.

    In summary: Even in a Parliamentary system; not ok.

  71. Can someone show me where to look in the house or senate bills where it discusses procedures for verifying citezenship before recieving health care subsidies from the government?

  72. Steve Sundeen: “I am certainly not trying to defend Wilson. I am just suggesting that his supporters probably won’t care.”

    Some subset of his supporters no doubt now think he’s God’s gift to America. Others approve less strongly, or don’t care. Others may actually realize that his behavior was politically stupid, and almost certainly helped Obama. They may not vote for Wilson’s opponent, but they be less likely to bother voting for him.

    Meanwhile, Wilson’s likely opponent in 2010 has just had a huge windfall, even if one only looks at the money.

  73. @Clifton #85 There’s no double standard. You seem to think it isn’t uncommon for the minority party to boo certain parts of a Presidential address to Congress. And has been stated here before, two wrongs do not equal a right. It’s the argument of children, really (well, they got to do it!). Also, there’s always been a response from the other party which airs immediately after which can outline those specific areas where they disagree. It’s not like Wilson had to say anything.

    However, yelling at the President “You lie” crosses a line between respectfully showing your disapproval and impugning the character of the President during his own speech.

    Honestly, it’s almost lucky that the Republicans had Wilson to embarrass himself. It neatly distracted any conversation from a number of other childish things they were doing during his speech.

    Two ways I’m also looking at this. One, either he did this as a badly calculated ploy to embolden his base, which by the donation numbers would seem to have backfired greatly. Or two, he’s too much of a hot-head to sit in a chamber for an hour with people he disagrees with (yet still has to work with) and not yell something embarrassing. Either option does not look good.

  74. Dave McFarland:Can someone show me where to look in the house or senate bills where it discusses procedures for verifying citezenship before recieving health care subsidies from the government?

    Ah, this is the most recent line of attack, eh? So, when was the last time you were in a hospital? I am assuming that you needed to provide a SSN, drivers license, usually another form of ID and a bevy of phone numbers and contact information. Why is this so hard to fathom?

  75. Dave @ 89:

    Probably the same things that are needed to get access to most government systems – social security number, etc. Do you really want more than that? Do you want to have to show your passport every time you go to hospital? Or every time you use any government service? The library? A municipal swimming pool?

    All of these are public services that should only be used by legal residents. Do you want anything more than a standard check for any of these things? Cos, you know, if you have blanket citizenship checks they will apply to you, too. Not just people with funny accents.

  76. Is it too much to ask people to read the whole thread before commenting? @85 Clifton we addressed the whole both side booing/clapping much earlier. The most complete bill HR3200 specifically states that public assistance funds cannot be used to pay for illegal aliens health care. How much more specific do you want?

  77. Cliftonon: “I do not understand the double standard. In 2004 and in 2005 the Democrats booed and hissed President Bush during a joint session of Congress. Why was that OK and this is not?

    Because, as pointed out previously (Josh Jasper at #68 among others), a direct attack of that sort in that setting crosses a line that even Republicans have said should not be crossed.

    Why is everybody quickly calling Wilson a liar for calling President Obama a liar?

    Because it’s either that or calling him ignorant.

    Are you telling me that hospitals will be able to request proof of citizenship prior to admistering any healthcare to patients? If not, then how are we not going to pay for illegal aliens’ healthcare?

    What it means is that undocumented workers will be continue to be treated in the haphazard, short-sighted, incompassionate, and far-more-expensive-in-the-long-run way we do now. But at least it won’t make Glenn Beck cry.

  78. Joe Wilson does not know what a “lie” is.

    The Definition of Lying and Deception
    First published Thu Feb 21, 2008
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/lying-definition/

    There is no universally accepted definition of lying to others (Kagan 1998, 113). The OED definition of lying is as follows:

    To lie =df to make a false statement with the intention to deceive.

    There are several problems with this definition. According to it, a person who makes a statement that she believes to be true — a person who makes a truthful statement — with the intention to deceive another person, is lying, if, unbeknownst to her, the statement is false. For example, if A tells B that there is not a board meeting on Thursday, which A believes to be true, with the intention that B believe there is no board meeting this week, which A believes to be false (since A believes there is a board meeting on Wednesday), then A is lying to B, if A is mistaken, and there is a board meeting on Thursday. Also, according to this definition, conspirators who knowingly make untruthful and false statements to each other, without the intention to deceive each other, but with the intention to deceive eavesdroppers, are lying. Both of these cases are controversial, and it is not clear that we should classify either of these cases as lies.

    The most commonly accepted definition of lying that manages to avoid these problems is the following: “I take a lie to be an assertion, the content of which the speaker believes to be false, which is made with the intention to deceive the hearer with respect to that content” (Williams 2002, 96); or, more formally:

    To lie =df to make an assertion that is believed to be false to some audience with the intention to deceive the audience about the content of that assertion.

    This definition is normally unpacked as follows: “A person lies when he asserts something to another which he believes to be false with the intention of getting the other to believe it to be true” (Kupfer 1982, 104); “[lying is] making a statement believed to be false, with the intention of getting another to accept it as true” (Primoratz 1984, 54n2). More formally:

    To lie =df to make a believed-false statement to another person with the intention that that other person believe that statement to be true….

    Copyright © 2008 by
    James Edwin Mahon

  79. Nargel@73: Boustany has been sued three times for malpractice that I am aware of. Judgment against in the first two and settled out of court the third. The first time his victim (er, patient) lost a leg.

    Er, what? The guy lost two malpractice suits out of three? And one case the patient lost a leg?

    And then he gets up and says we need “Tort Reform”????

    The reformers should be all over him like a cheap suit.

  80. Forget rude. Forget protocol.

    Wilson was lying.

    And he was lying right after the president said enough of this lying crap.

    That’s how far these nutters have gotten from reality. The truth no longer matters to them. Obstructionism is all that matters.

  81. gwangung, ‘a dislike of miscegenation’ is delightfully mealy-mouthed, but why not just call a spade a spade it what it is? He’s a racist bigot, and that probably contributed to his willingness to call our racially-mixed president a liar.

  82. #102….

    Yes, but I wouldn’t get such amusing responses if I were more…forthright….

    (Seriously…I was gob smacked when I heard of that).

  83. Can someone show me where to look in the house or senate bills where it discusses procedures for verifying citezenship before recieving health care subsidies from the government?

    It’s right before the part where that information will also be used to put conservatives into the camps, where they will go before death panels.

    Why do folks scream about government intrusion in their lives except when it might screen out illegal immigrants?

  84. I must say that I am very worried about the level of “discourse” about this issue. In our local paper, most of the online comments about Wilson are along the lines of “Good for him! It’s about time someone called the President a liar!” These people have already made up their minds, and no amount of pointing out the facts is going to change their minds. They don’t want their minds changed. They don’t want to consider another point of view. They want to be righteously angry. I know that for this particular paper, there are a lot of people who seem to have nothing better to do than troll about. This blog is where I come to see that there are indeed critical thinker who can form a coherent thought.

    But there are so MANY others who just don’t want to bother. It truly scares me. How long before our country is indivisibly split? These people don’t want to get along or compromise. They want their rage.
    Here’s a link to Peter Watts’ blog. In it, he discusses the fear response and how it comes out in politics. Guy writes some killer books, too. But the conclusion he comes to is truly chilling.
    http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=184

  85. Boerger @ 91

    I did not intend to elude that Wilson was correct in his acitons. I agree, that as a professional Wilson should have kept his mouth shut. My comment was not ment to be inturpreted as a childish “they did it so why can’t we.” It was meant to say that we did not have a problem with the booing and hissing in past address, therefore we should not be in such an uproar for this comment. There is no doubt that there is a lot of passion in the debate over government run health care. The funny thing is that we are wanting to string a man from a yard arm for making a 1.3 second comment, but we are losing sight or at least ignoring the direction of this country. We are looking at another freedom being taken away from us ad our debt is skyrocketing. We are buying things that we cannot afford. Health care has problems, but my government wanting to run a business is not the answer. I do not think that I should have to pay for a deadbeat that sits at home all day smoking weed or snorting cocaine. We have the freedom to buy insurance or not. If I feel that I would rather buy a nice car than pay for insurance, then that is my right. If we truly want to fix health care, then lets reduce restrictions on insurance companies and allow companies to insure across state lines, create limits to law suits, and monitor doctors and ensure that they are not profiting from pharmaceutical companies. There is no solicitation of input from all parties, and in addition lets not lose sight of the fact that this bill was almost shoved down our throat with only 3 days to review the 1000+ page bill. Where are the cable televised bipartisan discussions that President Obama promised during his campaign?

  86. Clifton:

    Or you could adopt some variation of the many systems, all involving some government role, that produce verifiably equal (in some cases better) health care results that America, at a verifiably lower cost, in virtually every other first world country.

  87. It was meant to say that we did not have a problem with the booing and hissing in past address, therefore we should not be in such an uproar for this comment

    Uh, there *was* an uproar over the booing, at least among the rightwing commentariat.

    You’re stuck with the logic. If the booing was bad, then so was Wilson. You ready to conclude that?

  88. Other Bill @86:
    “See, if Wilson had thrown a shoe at Obama last night, it would have been okay. Because that isn’t on our cultural list of grave insults.”

    But it would have been assaulting the POTUS, which the Secret Service would tell you is on the legal list of felonies. As a Congresscritter in the House chamber, he would have had the right to be tried by the House rather than an ordinary DC jury, but still…

  89. @69, Jim and 71, KatG

    I, personally, do not consider them to be the same as applause as booing is generally more of an obstruction than applause (as people will try to boo louder than the speaker to drown them out) although I see how booing is seen as the opposite of applause. Honestly, roast him an opposing speech, parody him on SNL, but at least let me get out his entire thought before expressing your opinion.

  90. #114: I never said booing was the same as applause. I said that booing and the antics the Republicans were doing at the speech were “fine,” meaning not that I find them to be fine, but that such negative behavior had been accepted in the past in Congress as within acceptable but frowned on limits. What Wilson did, however, broke the rules of Congress he’d agreed to follow, because what he did interrupted the speech and obstructed the President from making the speech. Which is taken pretty seriously, as you can see from the reactions of other Republican Congresspeople.

    Now, you can make the argument that booing also can interrupt a speech if loud enough, but that has not been evaluated by Congress to have been the case so far, from either Republicans or Democrats mistakenly thinking they’re in the British parliament. Wilson went the step beyond, from background objection to outright interruption. There will be much tut-tutting, but I doubt anything else will happen to him for it. The damage that was done to Wilson was done by Wilson. If he cannot hold his “emotions” in check during official functions, perhaps he should consider another career. Or if we’re lucky, it will be considered for him.

    The President has accepted a second, personal apology from Wilson, saying that the man made a mistake and let’s move on, essentially.

  91. Folks, there’s a light on inside Clifton’s head, but no brain in residence. He’s been asking the same question again and again, and despite a reasonable response, he’s too dim to get it. I suggest we move on.

  92. As much as I dislike booing, shouting out rude comments is a step worse and I hope it doesn’t become something that happens on a regular basis. If someone in the audience has something to say, wait until the speech is over. If there is a public comment opportunity, then use that. Otherwise, stage a press conference.

    As for the substantive part of the speech, I hope we can now discuss the particulars and avoid the hyperbole that has seemed to be in the spotlight. I still have some questions and concerns and hope that nothing happens too fast.

  93. Yes I will concede that.

    Excellent! So you’ll be glad to hear that Wilson’s opponent has now gotten over 500K in donations since last night.

  94. @ Clifton #109: Funny…you see when you ask a question, I would expect you want an answer. Seeing you brought up the whole Wilson thing even though there were several comments about it earlier in the thread, I guess I was just silly thinking that your comment was not rhetorical. What would you do if someone ask four seperate questions in their comment? *rollseyes*

    But to get to the meat of your comment, this is what strikes me about your questions and positions. What “freedom” exactly is being taken away? Careful answering this because I would say that your credibility is at stake. I know it’s in vogue to throw the words freedom and liberty around (almost as much fun as calling people that disagree with you socialist fascists) but anyone paying attention to the bill itself would be hard pressed to find anywhere that a freedom is taken away.

    Let me ask you something. What do you think should happen with people with a legitimate medical emergency or concern who do not have health care? Do you propose to turn them away at the door? Are you safe from your position that you can say that all those who do not have health care are in fact deadbeats? What do you do with them? You see these millions that are not insured are all deadbeats, but the great unfortunate underclass…the working poor, the people who don’t qualify for “pre-existing conditions”.

    If they should be treated, as I believe, then the need for adequate, affordable health care is a manifest need. If you think that they should be turned out, then that tells me something of your character and we really have nothing further to discuss on this. However, I am going to assume that you do not believe that people should be turned out. If so, then it’s how we pay for them, because we’re already paying for them. Is the answer to keep the current trend when their only option is the emergency room and potentially financial ruin or is it to get people in for regular checkups, get people to get early treatments and keep them healthy at a low cost to society rather than dealing with ERs and ICUs, all at a vastly inflated rate because it’s too late for regular treatment.

    I guess I would take the “reaching across the aisle” part of your comment more seriously if there weren’t prominent Republican leaders who have very vocally spoken about not trying to get health care done in any way…make this Obama’s Waterloo and break him, is how Senator DeMint put it (also from SC, what is going on down there?). Some of what they were proposing could be done, but it’s not really a fix…it’s not helping with cost control or quality. In fact I challenge you to find an instance of deregulation in the last thirty years that has actually lead to lower prices and higher quality.

    Let me ask you this. Say you didn’t have to buy insurance and you did get that nice car. Well, we’re into game theory then aren’t we. Are you lucky enough to survive the odds…if you get sick, then what? Who takes care of you?

  95. To be fair, Obama *is* a politician.

    It wasn’t the right time, wasn’t the right statement to disagree with, wasn’t politically smart, wasn’t motivated by anything resembling the desire for truth. Wilson is getting spanked and he deserves it.

    Yet I still find it immensely amusing that he’s getting into trouble for calling a politician a liar.

  96. Couple of things the pro-health care folks who are supporting President Obama’s claim that no federal dollars will be spent subsidizing illegal immigrant health care.

    1. While the language in HR 3200 does specify that illegal immigrants are not entitled to the low income subsidies to obtain health insurance, there is no specific legal requirement to verify citizenship or legal status in the US. It leaves it up to the Health Commissioner to determine eligibility for low income subsidies. All this means is the illegal immigrant can participate in the health care exchange system without any awkward questions about his or her legal right to live in the United States. Nice, that.

    http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/R40773_20090825.pdf

    2. Medicaid is managed by the states, the federal government merely provides the money and legal guidance on coverage, etc. 46 states do not ask for any proof of citizenship while enrolling people on Medicaid, they accept a signed statement from the enrollee stating they are a citizen. Half of those states don’t even audit or verify those statements. So, right now illegal immigrants can lie and be enrolled in Medicaid if they live in a state with sloppy record keeping.

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/28666.php

    As an aside, I work for US Citizenship and Immigration and I can attest that employers go through more of a hassle to verify the citizenship/legal status of their workers, as they should, than hospitals/Medicaid go through to verify citizenship/legal status. Heck, President Obama recently gutted a provision in immigration law that encouraged local/state law enforcement to assist in legal status verification when they place a person under arrest. Previously, local/state law enforcement could check, after being certified by ICE and undergoing training, the status of arrested subjects and if they were found to be in the country illegally, to turn them over to ICE custody for expedited removal. Now, the Obama administration requires that criminal charges must be pressed for all cases where local/state law enforcement has checked the legal status of the subject, regardless if the case is a misdemeanor or felony, before the federal government will accept custody for removal. This means that local/state jurisdictions have to go through the time and expense of prosecuting all of these cases even though the subjects are subject to removal under the INA. This is just a repeat of the Clinton administration, placing legal hinderances in the path of law enforcement .

  97. these guys want to do everything the way it was done in the days of the Founding Fathers:

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1161398/ready_to_rumble_greatest_fistfights.html?cat=9

    1798: Roger Griswold (CT-Federalist) v. Matthew Lyon (VT- Republican)

    On January 30, 1798 in a debate over international relations, Congressman Matthew Lyon implied that Connecticut Federalists, including Roger Griswold, were corrupt. Upon hearing this Griswold called Lyon a coward on the Senate floor. Lyon responded, in turn, by spitting in Griswold’s face. A motion to expel Lyon from the Senate on this basis failed.

    Thus, on February 15, Griswold decided to take matters into his own hands. On that date he charged across the Senate floor and began striking Senator Lyon about the head with a heavy wooden cane. Lyon arose and retreated to a fire pit were he grabbed hot tongs to defend himself, but Griswold was able to disarm him. The two locked up and exchanged blows briefly until they were broken up.

  98. the illegal immigrant can participate in the health care exchange system without any awkward questions about his or her legal right to live in the United States

    I bet they’re using our roads, too.

  99. Quick, how do I dupe my nemesis into heckling the Prime Minister? I could do with the cash.
    Well, not really, but it would be nice to have regardless of need.

  100. Christopher@123

    It sounds like you feel that deporting illegal immigrants is more important than reforming health care. That’s OK. You’re a grown-up and you’re entitled to your own priorities.

    But from a health care perspective, it makes sense to provide risk-free, moderate-cost service to everyone, regardless of their legal status. It’s been said here several times: emergency-room treatment is one of the most expensive ways to visit the doctor. And the cost is frequently distributed to all of us.

    If I can improve my access to treatment, raise its quality and reduce my costs simply by allowing an illegal immigrant to visit the doctor without getting deported, that’s OK with me. From my perspective, it’s not a matter of medicine interfering with law enforcement. It’s a matter of law enforcement standing between me and my doctor. I suspect that many people feel the same way.

  101. @ 125 Silbey.

    Snark will not cover this basic fact; the Democrats have no qualms with allowing unfettered immigration into the country. Comprehensive immigration reform is just a nice way of pandering to the Hispanic vote regardless of the scorn those illegal immigrants have shown to the laws of the country. I have seen, in the course of my job, petitioning immigrants who have followed the law and are told, sorry your visa isn’t available yet and have had cases pass before my desk where the petitioner has lived in the country illegally for years, gotten nabbed for some other reason (ie gotten pulled over for speeding, etc) and walk out of our office with an approved visa petition because Congress wrote them a blank check to legalize and will do it again to pander. My fiancee’s family has been forced to undergo separation because when their visas became available, the oldest daughter was over the age of 21 and thus not eligible to ride along on her mom’s visa petition. They spent 23 bloody years waiting for the visa to become available in the first place. So, again Snark and Guile will not conceal your party’s blatant pandering.

  102. Christopher Schaffer:

    What you’re basically saying is that in fact the claim that illegal aliens are ineligible to participate is correct. You’re also suggesting there needs to be a more robust process for assuring those who sign up for insurance are eligible. Which is of course an entirely legitimate concern.

    However, these are separate than the rather bad logic that Wilson, et al seem to be employing and propagating. Rather than making himself look like an angry jackass with poor impulse control in front of the entire country, Wilson should have done what his actual job is, which is to offer a plan to strengthen the safeguards against the ineligible from entering the system.

  103. @ PalookaJoe

    I agree with your basic underlying premise., ie it is humane and decent to try to provide coverage to those who can not afford it and avoid having the expense of ER bills passed along to the general consumer. However, I disagree with the specifics and intent of Obama’s health care reform. His intent, in my opinion, is to shepherd the health care system, over time, to a single payer system. I simply think there are better ways to increase coverage to those who can’t afford it, like creating high risk pools/tax rebates for people with low income or pre-existing conditions. That, in my opinion, is a lower cost, more achievable way of helping contain health care costs rather than having the government manage the whole kit n’ caboodle through the proposed health care exchange.

  104. the Democrats have no qualms with allowing unfettered immigration into the country

    Oh bull. There’s no attempt in the Democratic Party to allow “unfettered immigration” into the U.S. At most, there’s an attempt to make things slightly easier. Stating it that way just makes you look completely non-credible.

    (by the way, the Republicans are really determined to make sure that no Hispanic pulls the lever for the GOP ever again, aren’t they? Between the treatment of Sotomayor and the reflexive cries of “illegal immigrants” at every issue, no matter how silly, they’re doing a spectacular job of alienating a group that they had a shot with as recently as 2004. Good job.)

    So, again Snark and Guile will not conceal your party’s blatant pandering.

    Oh, Lord, you really don’t know what you’re talking about, do you? The largest immigration amnesty bill was passed in 1986, by a Republican Senate and Democratic House of Representatives and signed by–gasp, shock, horror!–Ronald Reagan.

    Tend to your own house.

  105. @ PalookaJoe

    “But from a health care perspective, it makes sense to provide risk-free, moderate-cost service to everyone, regardless of their legal status. It’s been said here several times: emergency-room treatment is one of the most expensive ways to visit the doctor. And the cost is frequently distributed to all of us.”

    Well put. In fact, since illegal immigrants are disproportionately young and healthy, allowing them to participate in (and pay premiums to) the government plan for the uninsured would actually save the rest of us money, even over and above the savings in reduced emergency room care you cite.

    It’s politically impractical to suggest covering illegal immigrants, but it would be good policy, both fiscally and morally.

  106. It’s really amazing how much of the conservative position goes along the lines of “Well, I technically agree with Obama, but his super secret evil socialist plan that I’m sure really exists proves he’s an evil socialist”

    Do you people realize how asinine that sounds?

  107. Well, then, they should get back in there with another plan that would be less burdensome to those entitled. QED. If it’s actually a priority for folks, they should be willing to keep working at it.

  108. clifton@110: I do not think that I should have to pay for a deadbeat that sits at home all day smoking weed or snorting cocaine.

    I’ve been to a number of european countries, and I have to confess, the number of deadbeat, weed-smoking, cocaine-snorting people who sit at home sponging off their free healthcare is mindboggling.

    mindbogglingly small that is.

    Put another way, given all the real world examples of nations with completely socialized medicine and other forms, and given that health care reform being proposed in America is limited to regulating the existing private insurers to say they can’t boot people for preexisting conditions and creating some kind of public option that the people who join it have to actually pay for it, given all that, do have the slightest bit of reality-base in that statement? Cause I’m not seeing it. I’m seeing “cause panic by asserting completely outrageous nonsense to prevent any progress to a real solution” rather than “this is something that real world experiences in other nations with similar systems have run into.

    Put another way: Your favorite band is a heavy metal group called “DEATHPANEL!” right?

    Christopher@123: All this means is the illegal immigrant can participate in the health care exchange system without any awkward questions about his or her legal right to live in the United States. Nice, that.

    Did you know that 63% of all public highways are used by illegal aliens? I say we stop building roads so the damn wetbacks can’t use roads we built with our money.

    Oh, wait, the exchange system if for people with insurance and the public option will be paid for by the people who join it. The idea is it will be cheaper because it isn’t profit-motivated.

    So, it’s like we’re proposing to build public highways that everyone can drive on, but they’re all toll roads. Which means if a wetback somehow slips into the system, they’ll be paying tolls just like everyone else.

    As an aside, I work for US Citizenship and Immigration

    As much as you hate immigrants, that’s like making Gargamel police chief of the smurfs.

    Oh, yeah, and I almost forgot…

    ALIENS!!!!!

  109. @ Silbey

    Does “slightly easier” translate into putting people who have been in the country illegally at the head of the visa line ahead of people who have petitioned for their sons/daughters/sisters/brothers and waited patiently for years for their visa number to become available? After a mere slap on the wrist, a meaningless promise to learn English and a green card? I’m in favor of allowing people who are currently here illegally to stay, provided they can provide means of support, a reasonably clean criminal record and wait their turn, just like everybody else.

    The 1986 Act was well intentioned and sound in theory, but an utter disaster in practice. ICE/DRO agents will tell anyone who listens that employers face little sanction for going through the motions of checking eligibility (ie not reporting fake or suspicious I-9 forms).

  110. I’m kind of in favor of letting the illegals get health care, actually. They make tasty food and I’d like to keep eating it. >.>

  111. @ 137, Where the bloody hell do you get off assuming I hate immigrants, I’m marrying a naturalized US Citizen, you jackoff!

  112. Christopher@131

    I’m kinda ambivalent about single-payer systems. Here’s what I care about instead: I want to see the right to health care become a part of our legal system and culture. It’s an essential part of that whole “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” thing.

    If the path to that cultural shift leads through a single-payer system, then I’m willing to give it a try. But if it leads somewhere else, I’m OK with that too.

  113. John, I suspect that the Repubs could offer amendment after amendment till they’re blue in the face and that will not satisfy the House/Senate Dems till the verification process becomes legally and structurally toothless. E-Verify is a really simple system to use, but that was not good enough for the House/Senate Dems. Strange, ya think?

  114. Let’s everybody try not to make personal attacks, folks. GregLondon, I notice you do have a tendency to go after people when you disagree with their ideas; try to do better. Christopher, please take it down a notch as well.

  115. “His intent, in my opinion, is to shepherd the health care system, over time, to a single payer system.”

    So you don’t think Obama is lying the way Wilson says he’s lying, since the bill clearly states that illegal immigrants are not covered, while Wilson claims — in a lie — that it does not. But you believe that Obama and the Democrats are lying in their repeated statements that they are not trying to create a single payer system, and despite having a reform bill that doesn’t attempt to create a single payer system. Let me guess, Obama is going to take all your guns away too with his fascist socialist police. Oh wait, you work for Immigration, you are the government and the fascist police.

    The U.S. may one day have a national healthcare plan, but it will be long in the future before it’s at all possible. I predict about 100 years. Frankly, if we had one, it would be a lot easier to screen out and identify illegal immigrants from it, since it would all be centralized. But we don’t and we won’t. We still have a big sucking problem of healthcare. We also need to deal — humanely — with illegal immigration while making it easier for those who are trying to enter the country legally, whether their skin is white or not. But first, the big sucking problem and the actual reform bill, not socialism fantasies.

  116. @ Palooka; well then we are just going to have to disagree and fight within the system for the things we want to see passed into law. Me, I think a “right” to health care will lead to trouble because I believe the Founders were right to set up a system of negative rights (ie the government can’t do this, that or the other thing do you or infringe on your right to do such and such). A system of positive rights (ie a right to health care or a job) will lead to the encroachment of government into every single aspect of our lives, in my view. It’s statism, really and Marx/Engels’ system didn’t really pan out for any of the countries that have tried to implement it, ya know?

  117. I was snippy and Scalzi reminded us not to be. I have no idea how you feel about guns, etc., Shaffer, and you also have a very tough job.

    But the reality is that there is no national healthcare plan on the boards, nor plans for one.

  118. “It’s statism, really and Marx/Engels’ system didn’t really pan out for any of the countries that have tried to implement it, ya know?”

    Except, apparently, for every other developed country, who has “statist” health care, pays less – pays less per capita than the US government does, let alone total US healthcare expenditures, and has better outcomes.

    Honestly, it’s really depressing when people’s sarcastic claim of “it never worked out for anyone else!” is so blatantly wrong.

  119. @ Christopher Shaffer:

    “Marx/Engels’ system didn’t really pan out for any of the countries that have tried to implement it”

    This seems irrelevant to me, since the question at hand is healthcare.

    The industrialized countries that have implemented a positive right to healthcare have found their systems to pan out very well indeed, relative to ours. They get better outcomes for lower costs than we do in the U.S.

    Outcome ranking: http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html
    Cost per capita data: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_spe_per_per-health-spending-per-person

  120. Ah, I see some of the numbers I had seen were wrong; the US government pays less per-capita than Switzerland or Norway. So, the government alone is third. Still terrible in outcomes, still way too much spent.

  121. Michael @ 148:

    Its actually a different argument: it’s that what works fine for other countries is not good for the US because the US is a better country that any other.

    This seems to be to be a basic article of faith in right wing american politics. Not that your country is really cool (which, largely, it is), but that’s its better than any country ever. Now I like my country just fine (NZ), its a great place, but I’ve also loved living in the UK and Canada. Its a stretch to say that any one of those countries is definitively ‘better’ than any other.

    On the other hand, it seems to be heresy to republicans to believe in anything but extreme american exceptionalism. In fact, Lynne Cheney actually demanded that Obama say exactly that – “”America is the best nation that ever existed in history, and clearly that exists today.”

    If that is your starting point, then of course the way every one else does it, although demonstrably just as efficient and/or more efficient, is wrong. Its the same reason that America is the only country in which there is genuine debate (spearheaded by Justice Scalia) about whether it is legitimate to rely upon comparative international precedents in court cases. If you are, as the Republicans tend to assert, by definition the best country in the world ever, of course you should ignore what everyone else is doing because they are, by definition, worse.

  122. Miller is at $650,679 as of 11:05PM Eastern Daylight Time. If memory serves, he was a bit over $325,000 when I looked mid-afternoon. So in the eight hours since then, he’s raised $325,000.

    If one assumes Miller had $0 when this started, it took about 20 hours to raise the first $325,000.

    Do the math. The contribution rate is rising.

    Wilson’s website is still just a stub.

  123. Christopher@146

    If the state did involve itself in every aspect of our lives I would be very unhappy. But it’s a long road between the right to health care and a totalitarian state. Human beings are gloriously chaotic creatures and outcomes like the one you describe are rarely guaranteed.

    With all this uncertainty, it’s important to do the best we can with the situation in front of us. in other words, we gotta play the hand we’re dealt. And right now, we have the opportunity to improve the lives of ourselves and everyone else in the country. I don’t want to pass that up because I’m afraid of a hazy future.

  124. GregLondon @ 101

    Yes. Lost 2 out of 3 and would have gotten 3 for 3 but he settled out of court.
    http://www.politico.com/blogs/glennthrush/0909/Boustanys_malpractice_history.html
    source from politico of all places. :)

    They try to whitewash it but it still sits there, case numbers and all. I love irony but this is too good.

    OtherBill @ 75 & 77

    If I’m who you’re talking to, no problem on the name. I also do not understand the relation between your comments and mine.

    Taking a guess here that I might see where you are coming from, my response is simple. Some safeguards against nuisance suits are wise, yes. The current massive overreaction by the right is not wise and could quite easily be regarded as a defense by the monied intrests. Malpractice suits are typically make or break cases with the legal firm’s fiscal existence on the line. Massive amounts in research, documentation investigation, expert opinions etc. need to be invested before the case gets to the filling stage. When the ‘tort reform’ caps the possible return so low, even a good, deserving case can’t be undertaken. Thus the companies/doctors/corporations get away, sometimes with literal murder, because few firms will bet their life against a minor return.

    Check out the Travolta film “A Civil Action” for the kind of thing, even before so-called tort reform, I’m talking about. The fact that the movie is about a true event makes my point even better.

  125. To be fair, heckling the President appears to be slightly less hazardous to one’s political career than discussing sex with one’s mistresses while forgetting one is in front of an open mike.

  126. Nargel @ 154 – I’m sure I flubbed my point. Night shifts with the new kid. My bad.

    Two points to add on. As a preface, I’d agree malpractice suits and tort reform are not the silver bullet to fixing health care costs. First, doctors frequently have to deal with malpractice suits that are not related to their actual performance. Now that isn’t to say malpractice in general is fraud perpetrated by people to try and hit the lottery. If a doctor performs a risky operation to an unfavorable outcome that is grounds, today, for a law suit. The conversation is usually along the lines of not having explained enough about the particular complication encountered. Doctors frequently settle out of court as well because there they have an ability to negotiate a more favorable term of settlement. Just because a doctor has encountered multiple malpractice suits, or even settled out of court, is not *necessarily* an indication that they are at fault.

    Second, it isn’t just the insurance companies that people sue. For example, a great many OB/GYNs are dropping their OB coverage because they either can’t afford their malpractice insurance or they don’t want their patients to be able to go after their personal assets.

    In Florida, doctors have the option of surrendering their liscense to avoid a malpractice suit.

    I don’t take umbridge with bonafide cases of malpractice seeking restitution for lost potential wages due to injury or recouping other losses. What I do have an issue with is substantial pain and suffering settlements.

    As I said, I don’t think it is the silver bullet issue but is a substantial challenge for doctors to overcome, particularly those in high risk fields. And we can’t talk about improving health care costs in the US without addressing all of the many issues that serve as multipliers to the cost.

    for example, When Obama says that they can cut costs by lowering the amount of unnecssary tests. I would guess that when one encounters an unnecessary test it’s much less likely to be a case of profit seekig than a case of needing to cover their bases against the very likely possibility of a malpractice suit. You can’t not talk about tort reform while promising to reduce unnecssary tests.

    But agreed, it shouldn’t limit the rights of patients with legitimate grievances. And I dint know what the solution should be, just that it absolutely needs to be a part of the situation.

    And, yeah, if my party weren’t currently being run by fourth graders it’d be nice if they’d step up and do their part. But when the party of John Edwards the millionaire retired trial lawyer neglects the importance of that issue I get frustrated.

    Okay, cheap shot. But I’m not untyping it. That said, I was about ninety percent satisfied with what Obama included in his speech. So, at least at the end of the day we’ve got one calm rational pragmatic political leader.

  127. Other Bill @156: So you’re totally OK with an incompetent surgeon leaving a scalpel in Grandma? After all, she didn’t lose any wages and probably has no ‘economic damages’, so why should she or her grieving children get to sue for silly things like ‘pain and suffering’?

    Maybe you should join the party of people who think that the court system is reserved for the use of those whose last name is “Inc.” You’ve certainly regurgitated enough fact-free talking points to suggest that’d be a more appropriate venue.

  128. Mythago @157 – yes. I absolutely think doctors are going to kill your grandmother. I voted democrat on the last election, so I suppose that’s the party line I Signed onto.

    Look, whether we agree that malpractice suits are frequently abused by profit seeking trial lawyers, they are absolutely a part of the unnecessary tests issue that is frequently brought up. Whatever the solution to that is, and I hope it includes the ability for your grandma to seek restitution for that scalpel she’s carrying around, it needs to be a part of the discussion.

  129. Interesting to note that one of the nation’s largest health insurers, Wellpoint, Inc. says medical malpractice is NOT driving policy premium increases. This quote and other related data here: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=az9qxQZNmf0o.

    The malpractice issue is a red herring. You could eliminate all medical malpractice lawsuits and we’d still have a health care crisis. And at the same time you’d worsen the medical error problem, which kills almost 100,000 people per year.

  130. It seems, judging by the majority of posts in this thread, that if you think the Prez and his “public option” health care plan is cool and all, heckling him during a joint session of Congress is “bad manners”, politically stupid and just flat out snarky.

    If you think the Prez is a neo-commie, bent on “fundemental change” and “returning the nation’s wealth to its rightful owners”, then heckling him during a joint session of congress is speaking truth to power, politically brave and just flat out ballsy.

    I’m of the second opinion. Joe Wilson rocks! I’m giving odds on his re-election.

  131. Due to GregLondon’s outburst, the excellent point in the middle of his post seems to have been lost – If illegal immigrants join the exchange and buy the service… that’s *great* for us! It’s not a handout, after all.

    As for immigration reform – while yes, I would like to see immigration made easier, I definitely would like to eliminate the perverse incentives to do it illegally.

    And I definitely think that eliminating the underground of people afraid to talk to the police is more important than maintaining a consistent position of deporting them at the first encounter.
    One could make a case that we ought to improve enforcement drastically, but I doubt we would get more than 90% of them, and we’d have to clobber that threshold to make it acceptable that those that remain would be an exploited underground.

    ~~~
    As a last very procedural meta point — is there some way that a comment sent to the moderation queue can be granted a number anyway? That way when one is let in it won’t disrupt all our “name @ number” attributions. I think having gaps in the numbering system is a small price to pay.

  132. @ Deuce

    “If you think the Prez is a neo-commie, bent on “fundemental change” and “returning the nation’s wealth to its rightful owners”, then heckling him during a joint session of congress is speaking truth to power, politically brave and just flat out ballsy.

    I’m of the second opinion. Joe Wilson rocks! I’m giving odds on his re-election.”

    You misuse the quotation mark. It’s for setting off words that your subject actually said, not stuff you made up on the fly.

    Opinions are persuasive to me only to the extent they’re supported by evidence, and you’ve offered none here.

    What odds are you offering? I might be willing to take that bet.

  133. Deuce:

    That makes you either stupid or ignorant. Your choice [Scalzi, apologies if that counts as a personal attack. In this context I think its a simple statement of fact]. You use the word communist. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  134. Mike mullen @159- malpractice being a smaller part of the general issue with health care costs doesn’t make it a red herring.

    The article also supports the assertion that fear of malpractice is a driving factor in the rate of unnecessary tests. Tests which are frequently mentioned by the president as a prominent way to reduce the cost of healthcare and create some of the savings that they are talking about generating. Malpractice impacts the cost of healthcare in more ways then jury settlements.

    My personal bias aside, that makes it malpractice important to, at the least, the discussion in general. Doctors will not stop performing unnecessary tests to protect themselves simply because a best practices document is generated by the government. At the bare minimum, and the article supports this, it could be important tothe politics of the situation in getting a greater health insurance passed.

    And unnecessary tests impact all levels of the industry. As an example, I caught a bad bug just after a coworker developed strep throat. I went to the doctor to make sure I wouldn’t need antibiotics and she felt confident that I didn’t have strep but ran a throat culture to make sure. Maybe she was profit seeking or maybe defensive medicine has become so ingrained in US medicine these days that this was just her SOP for such situations.

    I don’t follow how addressing medical malpractice increases medical errors. If additional tests are always required to prevent medical errors, wouldn’t that make the promise of savings through the elimination of those tests be sort of a cannard as well?

  135. OtherBill @ various

    I’ll admit that having a perfect loss record when it comes to malpractice suits tends to make me suspicious of ones competence. Even winning one out of three would look better.

    From what I have been reading the last six months or so, most of the instances of overtesting are not defensive against the patient. They are in order to argue the insurance company into authorizing the procedure the doctor wanted to do in the first place but was refused by the company. THERE’S getting between the patient and his doctor!

    I don’t know where the line on too much tort reform is but I can guarantee you that the line the Republicans (and, I believe, the companies that own them) want is way too far in the wrong direction. The insurance companies are also factually wrong as I have stated before. In the states where it was supposed to be a panacea against rising premium costs, it is barely noticeable if that.

    I am aware of at least some of the impact that malpractice insurance has on a business. I have been involved for over 26 years in various civil, structural and architectural firms and have had long and in depth discussions with the principles involved at those firms. Yes, it is a tricky question and YMMV but I don’t see massive tort reform as the answer. I feel that a doable answer could be found after a long deep argument among people from all sides but they have to all be open to new ideas and all sides have been worked up by now to the point where that alone is going to be very difficult to get.

  136. Luke @ 162

    It would help if the companies that exploit the ‘illegals’ were to pay a heavy price. Get raided and found with over 3% non-carded and the company is shut down and the owners/operators are not allowed to be involved in a similar firm for 10 years, for example. Attempts to evade the restriction carry a prison sentence or a very heavy fine. That will give the guilty owners a strong reason to pay attention to documentation when hiring. Without the waiting exploitative jobs, most of the reasons to jump the border go away.

    The problem is getting the employer-punitive laws on the books and enforced. After watching a mild law, that took years to get into place, get postponed for over a year on implimentation and watered down, then dropped when the Republicans thought they could get away with it, I know that is the big problem.

  137. @Christopher

    Does “slightly easier” translate into putting people who have been in the country illegally at the head of the visa line ahead of people who have petitioned for their sons/daughters/sisters/brothers and waited patiently for years for their visa number to become available?

    Does an anecdote translate into actual evidence at any point or will you just keep repeating it over and over again? And exactly what does this have to do with the Democratic Party? Did Obama come down there and give out the visas himself? That the Dems may want to ease immigration restrictions has nothing to do with how well the current system is implemented. More, a saner immigration set up might well have *avoided* the situation you keep mentioning.

    And you handwave away the fact that it was the Republican Party that awarded the amnesties in 1986. Why aren’t you mad at them?

  138. Other Bill @158: What I’d actually like to agree on is that the discussion should be based on evidence, not “Boo! Lawyer gonna getcha!” Either you want to talk about facts, or you don’t. If you do, then you need to know what you’re talking about; understanding what non-economic damages really are, or the fact that there is no such thing as a “jury settlement”, would be good starting points.

    Nothing in the linked article supports the idea of defensive medicine as a real problem – though I suppose ‘defensive medicine’ is a more palatable idea than ‘doctors who own testing facilities order more tests because they make money doing it’.

    I really like the quote in the Bloomberg article by the AMA fellow who thinks protecting incompetent doctors and leaving their hurt patients in the cold is A-OK because, hey, you could like build a free clinic or something!

  139. Other Bill: “I went to the doctor to make sure I wouldn’t need antibiotics and she felt confident that I didn’t have strep but ran a throat culture to make sure. Maybe she was profit seeking or maybe defensive medicine has become so ingrained in US medicine these days that this was just her SOP for such situations.”

    You may have not had strep, but that didn’t mean you didn’t have a bacterial infection of another type in your throat. And she couldn’t be 100 percent certain that you did not have strep without the test, given that you’d been exposed to it. So rather than give you unnecessary antibiotics, she ran a test that would allow her to make a definitive diagnosis. It was a necessary test, and you’ve got a good doctor, who also kept you out of trouble with your insurer.

    Part of healthcare reform, however, is reducing waste, such as duplicate tests, and despite all the hoopla reported, numerous doctors and healthcare professionals are currently working with the government about what they’re going to need and what they can do without. That would include malpractice issues. Of course, as soon as you start talking about reducing unnecessary testing and waste, your former party, the Republicans, start yelling that the Democrats are trying to “ration care.” If you say that you’re not trying to ration care, they say that you’re trying to spend too much. Stay over here with us Democrats where there is a little sanity. :)

  140. Does anyone know how much ActBlue had raised for Rob Miller before this all started? In 2008, his grand total was $804, and there was an actual election in that year…which is a far cry from the $727K he has right now.

  141. Deb, I can’t say exactly how much he had before it started, but I know that the first time I was linked to ActBlue, he had about $10,000. The donation flood has really been impressive.

  142. Canada: $2100 per person for healthcare. $4 per person for malpractice insurance and costs

    America: $5100 per person for healthcare. $16 per person for malpractice insurance and costs.

    Those are the numbers. Tort reform might save at most $12 per person in a system that wastes thousands of dollars per person. Can we please stop with the nonsense that tort reform fixes anything significant at all?

    Tort reform is conservative dogma. That’s it. The dogma is that the Free Market will find the best, most efficient, solution, and that lawsuits are nothing but inefficiencies. The facts show that an unregulated health insurance industry creates a far worse outcome than a regulated market, costing thousands of dollars per person MORE than a government regulated market. And while lawsuits add about 0.5% to the costs, many of those suits are valid.

  143. The dogma is that the Free Market will find the best, most efficient, solution, and that lawsuits are nothing but inefficiencies.

    Bwa? Free market advocates say that markets can find the best, most efficient states for an exchange system – which doesn’t necessarily mean what you seem to think it does – and you don’t seem to understand what they mean by ‘inefficiencies’.

  144. Free market advocates say that markets can find the best, most efficient states

    Can? No, it’s not an option. The Invisible Hand will cause the best outcome possible. The only reason a market is inefficient, according to dogma, is because of inefficiencies like governmetn regulation holding back the invisible hand.

    and you don’t seem to understand what they mean by ‘inefficiencies’.

    anything less than the best possible outcome is inefficient. If, as you say, healthcare is strictly just a “product”, then if Canada gets that product for $2100 and America gets the very same product (but of lesser quality) but pays $5100 for it, then that’s $3000 of inefficiency.

    If people are motivated strictly by getting the best product for the lowest amount, they’d support reform. If people are simply motivated by right wing dogma that says “government regulation is bad no matter what”, then they’ll oppose reform, no matter what.

    If someone hates government regulation to the point that they’re willing to demand that EVERYONE pay an extra $3000 per person per year just to keep government regulation out of health insurance, well, they can demand that, but the rest of the nation doesn’t have to listen to them.

  145. anything less than the best possible outcome is inefficient.

    No, London, no. A market inefficiency is when prices don’t reflect the available information about a product, either because someone has relevant private information or because people haven’t thought out the consequences of what’s publicly known.

    The whole point of markets is that they tend to eliminate such disjunctions, and people who can identify them are motivated to do so. (In a lot of cases, there’s no rational way to set the price for a product without letting the market reach equilibrium…)

    Please, I beg of you – share your ideas about redesigning society to better match your convictions if you must, but at least get the terminology right.

  146. The Deuceon: “It seems, judging by the majority of posts in this thread, that if you think the Prez and his ‘public option’ health care plan is cool and all, heckling him during a joint session of Congress is ‘bad manners’, politically stupid and just flat out snarky.”

    It may or may not be bad manners to do what Wilson did, but even the Republican leadership believes it is — and I quote — “not permissible” in that context.

    That Wilson’s behavior was politically stupid is a matter of simple observation, whatever one’s opinion of Obama’s proposals.

    On top of all that, Wilson’s behavior might have been arguably the right thing to do … if he was right about Obama lying on that point. He wasn’t.

    Unsurprisingly, Wilson is now putting up a oh-so-brave front (and not surprisingly showing his apology to have been a shallow thing). He knows that if he doesn’t, he’ll lose what’s left of his base. Politically, he’s toast. Now it’s only a question of whether he’ll stick it out through the 2010 election, or whether he’ll pull a Palin.

  147. The point of Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst was that it was false. The bill specifically prohibits coverage of illegal immigrants. Obama was not lying. Wilson has now qualified that what he was commenting on was what our pal in Immigration brought up — that documentation requirements are slight and therefore illegal immigrants might sneak coverage under the bill. Which is not a lie of the bill but a policy issue about how best to enforce the part of the bill that bans illegal immigrants from coverage. It’s an important detail that needs to be worked out in the bill on the House floor, requiring possible amendments to the bill to make that part of the bill more effective. So Wilson was not simply mistaken, he was lying and making a false accusation.

    Also of interest, healthcare stocks bumped upward today in the wake of the President’s speech. Seems the President showed the Democrats weren’t proposing anything different than what they’d already presented, and so not only would healthcare and insurers not have to cut off their little pinky toes, but had prospects to be even more profitable and thus attractive to investors.

  148. melendwyr: No, London, no. A market inefficiency is

    Well, there’s your problem right there. I wasn’t talking about “market inefficiency”, I was talking about Economic inefficiency

    Economic efficiency occurs when nothing more can be achieved given the resources available. We can certainly achieve a lot more in reducing health care costs. So we’re not efficient.

  149. Nargel @ 167 – I was thinking of that (put pressure on employers) as something that could come close. I think that if that started happening, the employers have a bit of room to get cleverer about how they hide their illegally-entered workers.

  150. CNN is headlining this story”

    “Wilson raises more than $200,000 after outburst”
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/09/11/wilson.fundraising/index.html

    But does mention near the end of the story this:
    “The appeal for cash came as Wilson’s Democratic opponent in next year’s congressional race, Rob Miller, reported raking in $750,000 as a result of the outburst during President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress. ”

    I know everyone will chime in about how biased CNN is, but isn’t the more interesting headline the fact that Wilson’s opponent is outraising him 4 to 1? I’m probably more of a Republican than most Whatever readers, and even I can clearly see that the story isn’t emphasizing the most newsworthy angle. Why is Wilson’s moderate fundraising more important than his opponents 4x more massive fundraising?

    Weak.

  151. 167/185 – as soon as the fed gov’t started putting more onus on employers to do that we’d never hear the end of ‘undue burdens on the small businessman’ or why does the small businessman need to do the job of law enforecemnt (that’s the gov’t job to get the illegal aliens) etc

    IMO most employers that hire undocumented workers KNOW exactly what thy are doing/ what the legal status of those workers are etc.

    what I don’t understand is WHY we have a multi-year long wait to get a visa- it seems to me the more people documented/working/paying taxes/ contributing to the economy the better – the current system perpetuates a semi-permanent underclass

  152. @184: :I wasn’t talking about “market inefficiency”, I was talking about Economic inefficiency.”

    Oh, really? Let’s double-check that. To comment #180!

    The only reason a market is inefficient, according to dogma, is because of inefficiencies like governmetn regulation holding back the invisible hand.
    and you don’t seem to understand what they mean by ‘inefficiencies’.
    anything less than the best possible outcome is inefficient.

    Look, it’s bad enough you can’t get the terminology right, but could you quit lying about what you’ve said? It’s annoying enough when done for literal speech – when we can easily look up the thread and check you, it’s purely insulting.

  153. #187 “IMO most employers that hire undocumented workers KNOW exactly what thy are doing/ what the legal status of those workers are etc.”

    This is true. Down here in Texas we have a large number of illegals in the workplace, and the employers know exactly who is legal and who isn’t. They hire the illegals because they are willing to work hard for less pay. Everyone knows this, and everyone is happy with it – yes, including the illegals because the low pay they get here is far better than what they would get back home.

    When small businesses say that checking the legal status of their employees puts an undue burden on them, they are lying. What they really mean is that checking the legal status will force them to fire their cheap workforce, and force them to drive up prices and/or go out of business.

    It is ridiculous that we can’t get some kind of guest worker visa for all the hard-working illegal Mexicans around here. They are a critical part of the economy, they want to be here, and we need them here.

  154. could you quit lying about what you’ve said?

    You just quoted me. I said “a market is inefficient”.

    I said “market” because I was talking about Free Market and laissez faire nonsense.

    I said “inefficient” because most people will understand what that means.

    If you knew what it meant you would have assumed the technical term of “economic efficiency”. Instead, you are trying to play some very strange game of “gotcha” where I say “a market is inefficient” and you say, “Ah HA! You meant ‘market efficiency’ and used it in a way it doesn’t mean!”

    No, I said “a market is inefficient”. That isn’t the same as saying “Market Efficiency”.

    Since you’re the one who dragged out the dictionary definitions of terms and demanded exact meanings be exactly right, I would expect you to use exact quotes before twisting my phrase into something I didn’t actually say.

    i.e. you pulled a strawman.

    Not only that, you QUOTE me and even in that quote, I don’t say “Market Efficiency”.

    I’m not the one who has a problem lying about what I said.

  155. Greg, melendwyr is another one of those people it’s better not to engage. There’s no way to convince him of anything, because he believes he has All Knowledge. Also he’ll try to flamebait you (in this case he’s accusing you of lying about what you said, when you didn’t, primarily to get under your skin).

    Just skip his posts without even reading them, especially if he addresses you directly. He’ll stop bothering you eventually.

  156. KatG @ I think those are largely fair points. But I do think that there has to be a happy medium between rationing health care accusations and addressing issues related to medical malpractice.

    @ Various other comments:
    This is some of what the AMA has to say about it (at http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/399/medical-liability-reform.pdf ):

    They note an HHS report from 2003 listing defensive medicine costs between roughly 75 and 125 billion dollars a year. I don’t care how much money we’re spending on health care in the united states a year, that’s a sizeable chunk of money worth looking at. And for that matter, the sizeable chunk frequently noted by Obama (who also notes that these costs are part and parcel with unnecessary tests) that the US can cut to generate savings required to help the reform break even.

    They note that each case, whether found responsible or not, costs doctors 94,000 dollars to defend. And 19,000 dollars per dismissed case. In instances where they are found not legally responsible or the case is thrown out. The medical profession is the only profession where judges can seize all the doctor’s personal assets to fund a judgement. Their car, their retirement account (since most are self-employed), their kids college funds. And its easy to say in the simple cases where doctors did something malicious that this is okay. Most cases land somewhere in the gray area. Either you think doctors are out to steal your money and murder you with shoddy medical care or you think doctors are out to make you well. But, when a police officer makes a mistake that results in the loss of a life, their kids don’t lose their college funds.

    In multiple places on their website, the AMA fully supports the notion that defensive medicine is a driving factor in unnecessary tests. I think you can either say that the AMA is totally unreliable because, hey, they represent profit seeking doctors. But, then, they also tend to support the rest of Obama’s speech. I think that they are on the side of reform and are an organization made up of doctors for doctors should suggest that some credence be lent to their position that malpractice places difficult demands on doctors and adds to the cost of health care in the United States. I don’t think that if unnecessary tests are wholly profit seeking endeavors that doctors and their representative organization would so loudly be asking for assistance that would mitigate their need to perform those profitable tests.

    At some point you have to take people at their word. No one listens to what obama says and then they accuse him of deliberately misleading people to further his secret agenda. We think it’s appropriate to take the guy at his word because words matter. But, doctors, no they are the secret lying liars.

    Again, I have in no way said this is the only thing required to fix healthcare. I haven’t said malpractice suits should be banned. What I have said is that reforming health care is much more complicated than generating a public option.

  157. Medicare is often used as an argument for Government run health care. It is precisely this program that convinces me that Government run healthcare is a bad idea. The Medicare tax has built many a fine library. By this I mean that when the Government holds the moneys from special taxes the representatives spend it as part of the general budget. This means at some time later the base tax rate must be raised to pay for this spending.

    I would favor a system where the government regulates but the individual spends the funds. A simple program would be something similar to the GI bill. The individual decides which health insurance program to spend it on. Just like the GI bill, the money represented by the program would only partially cover the cost of healthcare. This would represent the base level of care every citizen would be entitled to.

  158. The whole point of markets is that they tend to eliminate such disjunctions, and people who can identify them are motivated to do so.

    Except that this requires people to be able to make fully informed judgements. Seriously, you can make a fully informed judgement about your healthcare options?

    I can’t, I’m prepared to wager that you can’t either.

    I have no idea what meds are best for my type of hypertension.

    If I fall over with a heart attack, get hit by a bus, come down with a (insert name here illness) I’m not going to be able to make much of a choice about what hospital or doctor or provider I go to either.

    The market just isn’t designed to work in circumstances like this where you’re reliant on third party experts or chance.

  159. OtherBill@192: whether found responsible or not, costs doctors 94,000 dollars to defend. And 19,000 dollars per dismissed case.

    Jeebus. Tort reform again????

    malpractice suits is less than one-half of one percent of total health care costs.

    We’re looking at American health care costing twice as much as some place like Canada or Switzerland. That’s one-hundred percent.

    And you’re harping about half a percent?

    Tort reform won’t fix any of the massive problems with health care. None. It’s a nice right wing fantasy to think that American health insurance costs so much because of lawsuits so the solution is tort reform.

    But it doesn’t fix the real problem.

  160. James: I would favor a system where the government regulates but the individual spends the funds.

    To quote the president’s actual speech:

    First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.

    That means that there will still be private insurance companies and you’ll be able to keep that company if you want. If you’re employer pays for insurance, you’ll be able to continue doing that. If you don’t want that, you can pay your own money to buy insurance somewhere else.

    in other words, the government will regulate, and you (or your employer) will be able to spend the funds.

  161. Greg @ 195 – Malpractice suits, their settlements, represent only one half of one percent of what the US spends on healthcare. That number does not include the tests that doctors regularly include as part of their day to day operations that are not necessary solely to protect themselves from litigation.

    You keep saying the same number over and over and I keep indicating that there is more to it then that number. I fully appreciate the value of your study and what that number indicates.

    But, many people keep talking about the impact of unnecessary tests on the cost of healthcare in general and in specific as an inefficiency within medicare. These numbers are not included in your one half of one percent figure. The AMA indicates that these tests are undergone because of fear of medical malpractice suits. Doctors will not stop ordering unnecessary tests, that frequently cost them money as in the case of medicare reimbursement, to protect themselves from lawsuits just because the government releases a best practices options.

    Doctors think the tests that Obama plans to eliminate to generate savings result from defensive medicine. We agree that they are unnecessary. In what way does that make malpractice not a part of the problem. If the doctors are saying they won’t risk their life savings and their kids college funds on a best practices paper by the government, and as such won’t stop the tests. How is not appropriate to discuss malpractice? if your response is to cut medicare reimbursements of what you decide are unnecessary tests doctors will stop working with medicare sooner than they’ll bet their life savings that that will hold in court.

    This reform is about doctors and patients. At the least the doctor portion of the equation tends to believe that unnecessary testing and medical malpractice go hand in hand.

  162. OtherBill, so your entire argument boils down to: the AMA doesn’t like medical malpractice suits?

    Because it’s been pointed out to you, again and again, that malpractice spending is such a tiny party of health-care spending that even if you eliminated malpractice lawsuits altogether, it would not have any significant impact on health-care spending. And again and again, all you do is regurgitate the same talking points from a special-interest group benefiting doctors — not patients.

  163. @199 – If you aren’t going to read what I write and respond to what you heard some corporate shill say, you aren’t contributing anything to the conversation here.

    Malpractice related spending is not one half of one percent. Malpractice settlements, full stop, represent one half of one percent of what is spent on healthcare in the united states.

    The doctors that order the tests argue that unnecessary testing is predominately as a result of doctors being afraid of malpractice suits.

    Doctors are not out to screw patients out of money and/or kill them with shoddy medical care. Why would you listen to the advice of your doctor regarding a complex surgery, but totally ignore everything they say about defensive medicine and unrelated tests?

  164. otherbill: Malpractice related spending is not one half of one percent.

    citation needed. If you can put it in terms of per person per year costs, that would be awesome.

    Canada costs $2100 per person. US costs $5000 person per year.

    How much do all these “unneccessary tests to avoid malpractice” cost per person per year?

    Doctors are not out to screw patients out of money and/or kill them with shoddy medical care.

    Well, I would say that people don’t become doctors to screw patients with shoddy medical care. And I would say that people don’t join the police to shoot innocent people.

    But not all people who become doctors should remain doctors. Not all people who become cops should remain cops.

    Why would you listen to the advice of your doctor regarding a complex surgery, but totally ignore everything they say about defensive medicine and unrelated tests?

    Oh, I might listen, but I wouldn’t take it as gospel truth. The same way I’d listen to a cop who just shot an unarmed man in the back, but I wouldn’t take it as gospel truth.

    But, I guess what you’re saying is there are no bad doctors. Just like there are no bad police.

    Yeah, I guess that’s one way to look at the world. Not the way I would look at it, but one way to look at it.

  165. Greg @ 201 – I didn’t say there are no such thing as bad doctors. All I’m saying is that an organization of doctors argue that unnecessary testing is part and parcel of malpractice.

    Second, as far as a citation for cost of defensive medicine, I provided one back at 192. I agree that isn’t the end all be all of statistics. It is just one source.

    Third, mostly I was referring to your statistic regarding the cost of medical malpractice settlements in relationship to the over all spending on health care in the US. Where I have seen that statistic cited, the language used for that statistic only refers to the penalties and judgements issued at the end of medical malpractice cases.

    This statistic does not reflect the cost of unnecessary testing in the US. Now, democrats argue that this testing is part of the inefficiency that can be eliminated to produce savings. Doctors are suggesting that these tests take place because of their fear of malpractice suits.

    I agree that there are bad doctors. And I agree that people wronged by these doctors need to be compensated. I agree that I don’t know what the solution to fear of medical malpractice suits. I have not once said otherwise.

    My point is that it absolutely is important to the conversation if the group of people ordering the tests you want to eliminate to help pay for reform argue that they do them because they are afraid of malpractice.

    I think the overwhelming majority of doctors are good doctors, who may or may not make mistakes, interested primarily in the health of their patient. Given that, when I see a number of doctors standing up to argue their concern I assume they aren’t from the minority of doctors that are profit centric douches who don’t care about their patients. This doesn’t make them right, automatically. This just means I don’t degrade their point to be the same as believing the courts should only be for the defense of the corporate man at the expense of the common man.

    I’m not taking what they say as gospel. Again, I’m just arguing that it isn’t a red herring in terms of its relevance to the conversation about the reformation of health care in the United States.

  166. Otherbill: you may want to consider oiling those goalposts; that way you can move them faster.

    You haven’t quoted “a majority of doctors”. You’ve quoted the AMA, which is an advocacy group. The AMA’s point of view is indeed relevant to the conversation, but not in the way that you think; it shows that the AMA is apparently unwilling to discuss how “defensive medicine” is a cover for “profit-driven medicine” (doctors who own testing facilities order more tests than those who don’t), or to consider how doctors’ own practices drive malpractice costs.

    I don’t care to see the debate about health care used as an excuse to protect doctors who harm their patients because doctors don’t like lawyers. And that’s all “tort reform” is.

  167. OtherBill, I’d believe you if your evidence was something other than the doctors themselves. That’s like getting a report from the police union about use of deadly force and why a cop has to occaissionally shoot an unarmed man in the back.

    The congressional budget office has their own report about Limiting Tort Liability for Medical Malpractice over here

    It was written in 2004.

    Here are some clips:

    Why Have Malpractice Premiums Risen So Sharply? higher costs for insurers (particularly from increases in the size of malpractice awards), lower investment income, and short-term factors such as cyclical patterns in the insurance market have all played major roles.

    Proponents of limiting malpractice liability have argued that much greater savings in health care costs would be possible through reductions in the practice of defensive medicine. However, some so-called defensive medicine may be motivated less by liability concerns than by the income it generates for physicians or by the positive (albeit small) benefits to patients. On the basis of existing studies and its own research, CBO believes that savings from reducing defensive medicine would be very small.

    Some observers argue that high malpractice premiums are causing physicians to restrict their practices or retire, leading to a crisis in the availability of certain health care services in a growing number of areas. GAO investigated the situations in five states with reported access problems and found mixed evidence.

    In theory, the kinds of limits on malpractice liability that are being considered in the Congress could either enhance or detract from economic efficiency, depending on the current state of the liability system.

    Several studies have found that various types of restrictions on malpractice liability can indeed reduce total awards and thereby lead to lower premiums for malpractice insurance. By themselves, however, such changes do not affect economic efficiency: they modify the distribution of gains and losses to individuals and groups but do not create benefits or costs for society as a whole. The evidence for indirect effects on efficiency–through changes in defensive medicine, the availability of medical care, or the extent of malpractice–is at best ambiguous.

    Defenders of current tort law sometimes argue that restrictions on malpractice liability could undermine the deterrent effect of such liability and thus lead to higher rates of medical injuries. However, it is not obvious that the current tort system provides effective incentives to control such injuries. One reason for doubt is that health care providers are generally not exposed to the financial cost of their own malpractice risk because they carry liability insurance, and the premiums for that insurance do not reflect the records or practice styles of individual providers but more-general factors such as location and medical specialty.(18) Second, evidence suggests that very few medical injuries ever become the subject of a tort claim.

    In short, the evidence available to date does not make a strong case that restricting malpractice liability would have a significant effect, either positive or negative, on economic efficiency. Thus, choices about specific proposals may hinge more on their implications for equity–in particular, on their effects on health care providers, patients injured through malpractice, and users of the health care system in general.

    So, now, I listened to what the doctors say about malpractice. Does that mean you’ll listen to what the CBO says about malpractice?

  168. Other Bill: You seem to think that there’s no interest in dealing with medical malpractice issues in healthcare reform, even though the doctors are involved in that reform development. Which is not the case, and beyond that, we have a much bigger, more complicated problem to deal with.

    You also are claiming that doctors do unnecessary tests purely to avoid lawsuits. But there’s another reason — to bill Medicare and private insurers to get more money. We can’t pretend that isn’t going on too. We also can’t pretend that “unnecessary” is an easy thing to figure out — you thought your doctor was maybe trying to profit off you with an unnecessary throat culture that sounded perfectly necessary. You also are proposing that since doctors order tests to protect (badly) from lawsuits, we should cut down on the lawsuits to solve the problem. But unless you eliminate the lawsuits completely, the doctors will have the same fear — it won’t significantly lower costs. And there’s another way to keep them from doing unnecessary tests — set regulated standards, second opinions, etc. to eliminate the tests, not lawsuits. Which private insurance already does. Whatever reason doctors have for committing fraud, it’s the fraud we have to deal with, not give the doctors a free pass in the hopes that they’ll voluntarily stop committing fraud. You’re also hoping that if they get a savings on costs, they’ll pass that on to the patients, which is far from a given. Malpractice suits are also not the leading cause of profiteering in premiums by the private insurers.

    “Either you think doctors are out to steal your money and murder you with shoddy medical care or you think doctors are out to make you well.”

    It is nowhere near that simple. It’s not either/or. I can no more pretend that all doctors act nobly than I can pretend that no doctors act nobly. Doctors have good intentions and also respond to pressures and may give in to greed, or the institutions they work for do. Doctors make mistakes. Doctors can both steal my money and give me excellent medical care — just for more than they really need to charge me.

    It’s really not about the individual doctors, nor in witchhunting them. It’s about the big numbers. It’s about cutting costs, while improving care. Tort reform does not cut costs, since there is little incentive to pass savings for the doctors and private insurers on to customers, (not none, but little,) because there are other reasons for performing unnecessary tests, because it does not create more competition to lower costs, and because it makes it harder for people with reasonable cause to sue and get redress, leading to further costs. Tort reform does not improve care and does not get the uninsured coverage. It can certainly be considered, but it is not nearly as important to reform as the public option. And it’s not the only nor necessarily the best way to cut down on unnecessary tests waste and fraud.

    Two new items on Wilson:

    1) Wilson and his Democratic opponent are now in a dead heat in polls.

    2) Wilson voted for government funding healthcare to illegal immigrants as part of the 2003 Medicare prescription and modernization bill under Bush. A section provided government reimbursements to hospitals for their costs in treating specifically illegal immigrants. The program is proposed to be made permanent in a bi-partisan bill in Congress. Apparently, a part of a bill that demands money for illegal immigrant healthcare in a Bush initiative did not require removal for the Republican congressperson, but a part of a bill that prohibits healthcare money for illegal immigrants that may possibly be violated by immigrants buying health insurance is Armageddon when it’s coming from Obama. Neo-con double-think, once again.

  169. Wilson voted for government funding healthcare to illegal immigrants

    I… I… I know I shouldn’t be surprised by this sort of hypocritical crap, but daaammmmnnn.

    He is from the state that kept reelecting Strom Thurmond, though, isn’t he?

  170. KatG @ 205 – I absolutely agree that it is definitely not so simple as a single binary metric. Murderous doctor or true blue noble doctor. Agreed.

    But what I’ve been suggesting is that the doctors concerns need to be taken seriously. Not that they should be granted the primacy and all knowing privelege of faithful devotion totheir word.

    My statement that this concern should be incorporated into the conversation was met with absolutism fromthe other side of the coin. My whole argument has been that addressing healthcare reform is a complex and highly intricate series of interlocking issues.

    As far as malpractice being discussed as a driver of the unnecessary testing, Wednesdays speech was the first time I’d heard a democrat (and remember that’s the party that I voted for in 2008 because I was happy with whatthey wanted to do) acknowledge it’s relevance in a meaningful way.

    I never said tha the conclusion should be to eliminate malpractice suits. I think the idea of some sort of body deliberating on what approrpiate tests are in certain circumstances has merit. I think that’s more likely to be productive than eliminating malpractice suits. Doctors fear not making tests because if they don’t order the tests to cover the one percent chances they could literally lose everything. And a best practices document, while a start, would not be authoritative enough or meaningful enough to stand up as a defense in court.

    I agree the test my doctor performed seems reasonable. But, she acknowledged at the time that based on the visual of the situation and my reports of symptoms that I didn’t have the strep. But she suggested running the culture anyways. I said if she felt confident I was fine without. She said it’s best to be safe and that was that. I didn’t really care, because mainly my insurance covered it, but it was a reasonably expensive test for just a walkin appointment.

    As far as ordering tests to make money. I think that there are a lot of issues concerning the reimbursement of physicians for their time and labor with Medicare and Medicaid. But given the republicans propensity for tryin to cut reimbursements in general and democrats in general trying to expand said coverage, I would say that that issue is more complex than whether they profit of the tests. And at that, doctors only profit off lab work or imaging if they own the imagig center and if they own the lab. This may be frequently true in major hospitals, but I don’t think it’s the case for most private practices.

    In general I think we largely agree. It’s a complex issue that requires a lot of delicate conversation with multiple players in the game. And given the cooperation of the AMA in supporting pretty much all the reform initiatives it’s fairly disingenuous to tout the import of their support and ignore the o e thing they ask for as totally irrelevant.

  171. 207 @ greg – first of all he probably didn’t read the whole bill before he voted on it. Second of all, Strombo was an all American hero. Did you see the quote where Wilson got angry that people were talking about Thurmond’s half black half white love child, that he admitted to having had and taken care of, because it would defame the good mans character?

    Strom Thurmond once pinched a girl I know on the ass in the elevator of the Capitol Building while she was working as a page (read as in high school). True story. That dude was one well known horny racist old goat of a man. And dogonnit, some people liked the guy.

  172. Boerger @ 121

    “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare…”

    look at that, promote the general welfare, not provide the general welfare. Our forfathers must have mistaken….or maybe they just didn’t care how they worded things…..oh no, that can’t be it, why did they choose those words. Maybe they were afraid of the government having too much power over the people. Maybe they thought that individual people should be responsible for themselves when it comes to their welfare. Maybe I am responsible for ensuring that my children and I are taken care of. Maybe others should be responsible for themselves. Maybe just maybe you should get your hands out of my pockets, and if you feel so inclined to pay for someone elses health insurance, then you and your fellow libs can pool your money together and pay for it. Oh wait, that won’t work, becuase your are only giving, when it is other people’s money.

    Do you want to talk about character? I take care of my family. My family comes before me. And, until about 2 years ago, this country came before me. After 13 years in the Marine Corps and two combat tours ensuring that ungratful and short memoried libs are protected from the lions that are beating on our door. My wife finally begged me to get out. I did for my family.

    You smug attitude does nothing for me. At what point do we require people to take care of themselves. For all others there is already a social security and medicare/medicaid system. But of course that is going broke now. After seeing all of the liberal programs falling to pieces around us, why do we think that the federal government can run a socalized program that will work. Why do we trust them with our money? Where do we get our confidence? As said by a private business in Jacksonville, Florida on their sign

    “Socialism works until you run out of other people’s money”

  173. Clifton @ 209

    All the other people’s money was stolen by Bush and company. Yell at the right target.

    OtherBill @ various

    Your harping on malpractice continues to ignore the point I made about the fact that a large portion of the non-fraud extra tests were done to get (force) approval from the insurance providers who were refusing to approve procedures the doctor already knew were needed. This is not defensive against the patient but rather defensive for the patient and has nothing, I say again nothing, to do with malpractice much less tort.

    FWIW, the AMA does not directly represent or even speak for more than a tiny minority of doctors. I imagine their statements represent an equally small percentage of reality where medicine is concerned. Not necessarily wrong but don’t give it more weight than it deserves.

  174. If Wilson was wrong why did the Democrats close the illegal loophole in the bill? Obama lied, or if you prefer misrepresented, all through his speech and when he wasn’t misrepresenting he was calling everyone who disagreed with him a liar or blaming everything on Bush. That after weeks of being called right wing terrorists, the american taliban, teabaggers and worse. But as Obama told the right, sit down and shut up. You think that’s going to work?

    Canada, the UK, the VA and medicare or Maine’s failing Dirigo health, Tennessee’s failed program, Massachusetts failing program are all strong arguments against government run health care. All of them clearly demonstrate runaway costs and rationing as the result of a government take over of health care.

  175. Other Bill: “My statement that this concern should be incorporated into the conversation was met with absolutism fromthe other side of the coin.”

    There’s a reason for that — it’s consistent with right wing rhetoric that seeks maximum profits for businesses at the expense of all else. Democrats are well aware of the malpractice issue. But they’re not going to let it be used as a wedge for neo-cons. But Obama, again, actually does listen to people, including doctors.

    Flyfish: “If Wilson was wrong why did the Democrats close the illegal loophole in the bill? ”

    The Democrats didn’t. There is not one bill yet. There are several versions of the bill proposed by five different Congressional committees. Only the committee headed by Baucus, which is made up of three Republicans and three Blue Dog Democrats, (the Gang of Six,) is putting in the new material about the “loophole.” And that probably was already in discussion by many involved in reform before Wilson’s outburst. The next stage is that all these versions get hashed out in Congress and with the presidential administration into a final version of the bill, which is voted on.

    Wilson accused the President of lying when the President told the truth. The bill contains a ban on illegal immigrant healthcare. Strengthening that ban was a matter of fine-tuning the policy. Wilson lied and misrepresented that the ban did not exist in any version of the bill at all during the President’s speech.

    You also are misrepresenting healthcare reform, because you are claiming that it’s the government taking over healthcare, which no version of the bill does. You want to criticize parts of the reform plan, fine. You want to make stuff up, your claims that others are lying are not to be taken seriously.

    Miller is up to a million, but Wilson is catching up — $750,000. Wilson was Thurmond’s aide. Thurmond started as a progressive Democrat and then became a segregationist Republican.

  176. Nargel @210- Im not harping on it and I’m not ignoring your point. I’m not even saying that you are necessarily wrong.

    I’m just pointing out that doctors believe those tests to be defensive. In either case, yours or mine , doctors are the group that need to be won over to address that particular issue.

    As far as the AMA representing a tiny minority of doctors. Fine, but I’m not the one lendin their opinion creedence. That is a direct function of Obama and the democrats. And their position is that defensive medicine and fear of malpractice suits are he drivers of unnecessary testing. I do think most doctors are on board with that sentiment. No doctor that I have personally discussed this with has said otherwise. I’ve pointed to the evidence offered by a professional organization representing doctors. One can either accept whatthey say as a part of the discussion or not. The democratic party relied on their endorsement of reform and then supporters of that reform discredit their one position not actively supported by the administration because it isn’t real of isn’t relevant.

    It’s as much a debate as it is a negotiation between the parties concerned. They aren’t going to get what they want if try utterly fail to take one partys concerns seriously. And these aren’t my points. I’m trying to broaden the conversation. I kist think it’s disingenuous to discount what they say because t doesn’t fit your world view of how things are. That’s negotiating with preconditions. Even Obama in his speech recognized the importance of that particular position. Why is it harping to suggest that it should then be a more recognized portion of the debate and negotiation?

    I’ve offered my evidence. I’ve said what I felt appropriate. But the “they’re just a minority and they’re just wrong and your evidence is biased” speech is why I left my party for democrats and what’s wrong with the healthcare debate in this country.

    Agree with us or die. Both sides. The government will sodomize you. Corporate profit seeking doctors will sodomize you. You’re a corporate shill. You’re a socialist shill. An entire professional organization of doctors thinks it is important enough to be included. You may be right about the basis for the tests, they disagree. I’m nit saying take their word for it. I’m saying they should be included. They are the healthcare professionals that we are talking about.

    Ring ring. It’s the pot calling. Kettle, It says you’re black.

  177. KatG – duly noted. And I dint disagree. But being consistent with right wing rhetoric doesn’t make the statement come from a right winger or necessRily make it wrong. I fundamentally believe republicans are generally the wrong party to address healthcare reform, to include government provided health care. Their policies are largely what have screwed doctors over.

    But it’s an overreaction to put fingers in ears and scream you’re wrong jus because I think the conversation merits inclusion in the general discussion.

    The problem, not the proposed republican solution, absolutely merits discussion.

    But, I thought this was one ofthe threads about how the adults in the room need to have a polite back and forth. Democrats don’t do themselves any political favors when they respond absolutely to a person trying to have a conversation. I’m not ignoring anyhing that people have said back and have largely conceded the validity of their points. My concern has been met with unbridled scorn that I could be so foolish as to have been propagandized by corporations.

    And that’s fine. But this thread was in part based on resentment of that exact sentiment. It’s hard to have a conversation abou someehting so important with people who disagree with you. But it isn’t wrong.

  178. And as far as the AMA is minority organization: they largely represent a figure head that speaks for doctors in general. However, each medical specialty has its own professional organization. For example, ACOG, the American College of Gynecologists. These function largely as professional organiaztions that sponsor professional conferences and such. However, each college has a representative on the board of the AMA. So, saying the AMA is a minority organizaion is disingenuous, which is why it’s a republican talking point for why the AMAs endorsement of the sweeping healthcare reform shouldn’t be viewed as meaningful.

    AMA represents the interests of a great deal of doctors who are not officially members throguh the representatives of their particular field of specialty that serve on the board.

  179. Other Bill @ 213

    “I’m just pointing out that doctors believe those tests to be defensive”

    You’re just pointing out that, according to the AMA, doctors etc. I am just pointing out that the AMA is not all the doctors. I also said “not necessarily wrong”.

    I am not Obama nor ‘the Democrats’ and have made my occasional disagreement with them clear, perhaps too much so for some, as well as when I do agree. Do not mistake my informed opinion or disagreement on something to mean that I’m some kind of Obama-bot.

    You can call me on something I have said on this or any other thread and fair ball. If you ask why something was said or did I say what you think I said, that is also reasonable.

    If you want to claim that I am responsible or required to back up something ‘Democrats’ say, when I haven’t said either way? Expect a chilly reception.

    “they’re just a minority and they’re just wrong and your evidence is biased” “Agree with us or die”
    Show me where I said that. Or even implied that. When I disagree with you, you will know. I said there was information you were missing not that you were biased.

    And, if I were black I would likely be even more pissed at today’s America than I actually am. :)

  180. Nargel @ 216 – Ouch on that last line. I’m not black and I agree with that. I don’t think that you have to defend what other democrats have said, but I do think I was expected to defend my position as that of a crazy right winger. And in fair ess, that wasn’t really directed at you (though the last post about the AMA I think I responded to was from you).

    Through the transative process of crazy talk because words I used were used by crazy racist I had to somehow prove I wasn’t also crazy. Though, that was from mythago and that dude just starts shtuff.

    I mean I get that it is a hot button issue. I jus don’t think the tests are entirely a result of dealing with insurance companies. And I appreciate tha point and wasn’t trying totalk past it.

    Based on the absolutely correct point from KatG and one other (tha it is a wedge that could screw up passing any legislation) I agree that it is problemmatic. But based on the concern of the AMA I’m concerned that we might pass legislation that would otherwise have been self sustaining were it not for the incorrect interpretation of the cause of unnecessary tests. And I don’t know who is right. But, I do tthink that merits making it a part of the discussion.

    Passing easier legislation and filling in the chunks later is not the best idea. Good legislation is tough to get. But we need to do this right so it doesn’t unravel.

  181. Other Bill @ 217

    No problem, I was just making myself clear.

    AS far as your response to my AMA comment (most likely), I will go dig a little deeper into the AMA’s make up. Until then, I probably won’t put a massive lot of weight in the expectation of a collection of ‘figureheads’ (your words) actually and accurately representing an unknown number of people. Further research may change that.

    My dad was an engineer, I have worked closely with many good engineers over the years and I took enough engineering classes that I almost went a bit farther and became one. I have been told that I think like one.

    So, thinking like an engineer and reducing the non-effective values:

    There have been plenty of chances for the Right’s claims that tort reform is the magic bullet to have been born out. It has been proven to be a chimera and has been shown to be a non-significant factor in the health care equation. While it may be a large factor in certain doctor’s concerns, it is small enough in overall effect that it would be likely to become a bargaining chip. Wouldn’t it be better served to be considered on it’s own merits and issues? Not in relation to it’s usefulness vs. more functionally effective variables?

  182. Nargel @ 218 – I think that’s a pretty fair assessment. The republicans have definitely burned their bridges in terms of opinions on health care. And I’m extremely disappointed that they haven’t done better.

    My only quibble would be that the AMA aren’t the Republicans. In terms of respectability for what they say, I think the AMA have gone a long way in earning some faith in what they say by largely endorsing the health care reform as is. It’s a big deal for the doctors to go up against the insurance companies. In their, and their patients interest, to be sure, but definitely notable that they’ve signed on. I don’t think they endorsed Clinton’s attempt, but I’m not a 100% on that. And if my interpretation of how the AMAs representative system works, that’s a pretty sizeable chunk of the medical community. And if I’m wrong, point conceded.

    I’m not sure I totally agree with your last sentiment on issues in their own merits. That even reads as retarded as it sounded in my head just now, but stay with me.

    I agree, I think, with spirit of how I interpret your statement. But, doesn’t that pretty much rule out politics of an issue in general? And while I enjoy a good political debate, I prefer the value of good policy. But, the chance of passing meaningful health care reform is largely a political issue at the end of the day.

  183. Other Bill @ 219

    You may be right on the representativeness (that’s a word?) of the AMA system. I’m going to be doing a fair bit of looking into it before I feel properly informed on it to argue either way.

    Yes, you’re right. The AMA were almost over the top in the negative response to Clinton’s try at reform.

    I probably just phrased it awkwardly. On it’s own merits and about it’s own issues. The issues involved in a debate and the merits involved in various ways of dealing with those issues are not always the same things.

    The chance of passing a bill is apt to be a political factor. The ability to pass a meaningful bill is a matter of understanding the relevant and/or functionally important factors. The better understood those factors are, the more effective and useful the final bill becomes. For example, a strong alternative to the insurance companies, that they cannot destroy, bribe or coopt, provides a feedback mechanism that on it’s own induces the companies to treat their cash cows, I mean customers, better. You don’t have to call it PO, it just needs to be functionally equivalent.

    In our case, it is more important to pass a meaningful effective bill than a political bill. If the wingers kill it in their ongoing, racist temper tantrum, they will pay the price politically and the good bill comes back in a couple of years. If the bill that passes is not meaningful or effective, for example if the mandates start immediately and the PO starts in 4 years and has been caved in so strongly that it sails out to signing, it will quickly kill the Dems and any chance of passing a good bill.

    We already know from experience that massive tort reform will make it harder to sue doctors, good or bad. That’s it. It doesn’t lower costs anywhere and doctors still feel pressure to run extra tests. That is the sum total of it’s functional effect on the system. The only effective use is as a bargaining chip. Politically.

    If we approach the question with a successful reform bill having been out there for a few years, the goodwill from that could help propel a new law using some other way to restrain bad doctors without restricting good doctors. What that other way would be, I admit I do not know. I do know that remaining tied to ‘tort reform’ is worse than useless and we will not find the new way until we look for it. And that won’t happen until we quit trying to force tort reform to work.

  184. I’ll give you this, London: you’re on-topic. Never apologize, never admit error. I can admire that.

    Wait – no, I can’t. That’s a large part of what’s wrong with this larger debate: the disconnect from reality.

    To return to the general topic: I can’t help but be curious how the problems and possible failure of these sorts of plans will be explained when they occur. It seems to me that the most valuable ally of the Democrats is the Republicans, as they can be blamed for “forcing unworkable compromises and making things fail” regardless of where actual responsibility lies.

    Given the low utility of the (R)s, it seems it’d be worth it to have them abolished, just so the (D)s no longer had a convenient whipping boy.

  185. Clifton@209: At what point do we require people to take care of themselves.

    Well, a few posts back, you said: I do not think that I should have to pay for a deadbeat that sits at home all day smoking weed or snorting cocaine.

    I’m pretty sure that is a complete fabrication of reality, a demonization of the truth, and completely illuminating of how far off the reality of the situation you really are.

    The program being proposed is regulations of the health insurance industry to keep the operating fairly. half of all bankruptcies are due to medical costs. MOST of them were people who had insurance but the company dropped them.

    Do you oppose that? Do you think its nothing but a bunch of “ungratful and short memoried libs” who want to put a stop to that business practice?

    We have the freedom to buy insurance or not. If I feel that I would rather buy a nice car than pay for insurance, then that is my right.

    In the last 8 years, the right to due proccess, the right to protection from illegal search and seizure from the government, your right to be free from torture, your right to free speech, your right to freedom of and freedom from religion, have all been trampled by the Bush White House.

    But the right you’re demanding is the right to not buy insurance?

    If we truly want to fix health care, then lets reduce restrictions on insurance companies

    Laissez faire doesn’t work when it’s a one time transaction. What happens is people pay their insurance bills every month for years. And then when they get cancer, the insurance company throws them under the bus. And then the guy now has a preexisting condition, so he can’t get insurance anywhere else. Most states have maybe 5 main insurance companies. It’s not enough for competition. And the way they operate, customers don’t have enough recourse when they get screwed by these companies.

    create limits to law suits

    The congressional budget office in 2004 reported that medical lawsuit reform doesn’t have much evidence to show that it would do anything to reduce costs, and that it could potentially allow bad doctors to continue operating.

    Pushing tort reform means you’re pushing a political dogma, not a solution to the facts at hand.

    social security and medicare/medicaid system. But of course that is going broke now.

    No it isn’t. It’s a nice bit of obstructionism, like “Deathpanel!” but is isn’t true.

    After seeing all of the liberal programs falling to pieces around us

    liberal programs like due process? freedom from religion? protection from torture? Protection from cruel and unusual punishment? The right to peacably assemble?

    Yeah, those programs have gone in the toilet the last few years. I don’t think you can blame the democrats for that.

    why do we think that the federal government can run a socalized program that will work.

    It’s not a socialized program. That’s not what is beign proposed. most of it is regulating the existing private industry. A public option would not be free, it would be paid for by the people who join it. The idea is that it would be cheaper because it won’t be driven by profit motive. But people who join it will still be paying premiums.

    You can still go out and buy that new car for yourself.

    otherbill@211: And their position is that defensive medicine and fear of malpractice suits are he drivers of unnecessary testing..

    Did you even bother to look at the link I provided in 204? Cause the CBO report says the evidence regarding the effects of tort reform is ambiguous at best as to whether it will help or harm. The report says it could just as easily make things worse.

    I do think most doctors are on board with that sentiment. No doctor that I have personally discussed this with has said otherwise

    Yeah, and a lot of cops will come to the defense of another cop who has shot an unarmed man in the back. What does that prove? Nothing. You keep asking the people who would profit most from tort reform whether it would make the world any better.

    Go ask a mining company if they’re on board with lowering the limits for how much arsenic they can dump into the ground. I’m sure they’ll tell you that they’re on board and that if you get rid of those restrictions that the cost of coal will go down.

    What the CBO reports says is that there is no evidence that savings from tort reform would be passed on to patients.

    Tort reform is not based on any facts. It’s based on fear mongering scary numbers out of context from the overall costs. It’s less than half a percent of total cost.

    And asking the AMA about medical tort reform is like asking the fox about how the chickens should best guard the henhouse. Stop it.

  186. An Immodest Proposal. I, [name], an elected officer [title], hereby disclose that on this date I received sexual favors from registered lobbyist [name/number] including [check all that apply] () Genital, () Oral, () Anal, () Manual, () Other [describe]. I offered nothing in return. I reserve the right to campaign on “Family Values.”

  187. OtherBill: Through the transative process of crazy talk because words I used were used by crazy racist I had to somehow prove I wasn’t also crazy. Though, that was from mythago and that dude just starts shtuff.

    If by “starts shtuff” you mean “expects you to back up what you say, and notices when you start backpedaling,” then I’ll cop to starting shtuff. Over and over again, you repeat the same talking points – doctors are forced to practice defensive medicine, this affects health-care costs, nobody is listening to the poor white-knight doctors and we ought to start – and when it’s pointed out to you, over and over again, that you’re full of it, you simply nod and say “Yes, but….” before repeating yourself.

    That’s not an attempt to join the conversation in a meaningful way; that’s parroting talking points.

    Your doctor, by the way,was not practicing defensive medicine; she was following the appropriate standard of care. The risk to you of any side effects from a throat culture was minimal compared to the benefit of the test. Please note that your doctor did not say “There’s a .000001% chance you could have throat cancer, so I better do a biopsy” out of fear that, if you had throat cancer, she could get sued. (And, fwiw, strep is not the only infection they test for. Just saying.)

  188. Mythago: Your doctor, by the way,was not practicing defensive medicine; she was following the appropriate standard of care.

    If doctors test too much, it’s “ZOHMYGOD! Defensive Care! Tort Reform!”

    If doctors don’t test enough, it’s “ZOHMYGOD! Rationing Care! Killing Grandma!”

    If you try to set some standards of what is the appropriate level of testing, it’s “ZOHMYGOD! Death panels! DEATHPANELS!!!”

    Anyone else notice that the opponents to health care reform piss their pants no matter what solution you offer? If I didn’t know better, I’d swear what they wanted was no solution at all.

  189. Greg @ 222 – jeebus man, are you still harping in your own distorted view of reality? You can readily see that Clifton is totally wrong about how all poor people stay home and do coke. But all doctors are unreliable on their interpretation of defensive medicine because the CBO says it’s unclear. Oh and because doctors can’t be trusted on that particular issue.

    I get it. One half of one percent. Fear mongerer. Right wing crazytalk biased professional organization. Unclear. And one half of one percent.

    You got me. I surrender.

  190. OtherBill @227: A passive-aggressive snipe about how everybody is really wrong and still being mean to doctors, and you’re forced to throw up your hands in the face of such militant anger? Still no facts and still not persuasive, I’m afraid.

    What would actually benefit doctors is development of a consensus on the appropriate standard of care. Because following the appropriate standard of care in a competent manner is the best way to avoid malpractice claims.

  191. I think we have a cross-talking going on in the discussion, which happens. Other Bill is not a far right profits-monger, guys, chill it down. You brought up evidence, he brought up stuff he encountered; you are sure of what those numbers mean, he’s less sure.

    What will be fun will be Wilson’s claim that he saved the healthcare reform bill from disaster when it passes.

  192. @ Gregg – Look, I just don’t think our conversation is going anywhere. I say malpractice should be included in the debate. You say malpractice represents only one half of one percent of total us expenditure on healthcare. I say, that number only refers to court decided settlements and that malpractice also impacts unnecessary tests issue. You say the CBO says that’s unclear, which subsequently makes you right. I say, I agree it may not be all of it, but the AMA a professional organization representing doctors writ large disagrees with that. You say the AMA is as reliable as FOX News, which I guess means they’ll lie and misrepresent their position to deliberately muddle the debate. I say that’s utterly ridiculous. They’ve been anything but muddled and unclear, and in fact very supportive of legislation. You say malpractice only represents one half of one percent.

    Fine. If the conversation can only end you, GregLondon, are entirely and 100% correct in your every assertion, fine. We disagree, I’m okay with that. It’s a big issue, and we won’t always agree. Such is life.

  193. KatG @ 229 – Well, of course he saved it. If he hadn’t stood up on national television and called the president a liar, there is no telling what chaos Obama might have brought down upon this country.

    I mean, good god. If Obama had been allowed to secretly give the illegals the good medicine while giving everyone else the poison, which IS what he was going to do…who knows what crazy things might have happened?

    And, that’s really all you have to do to stop secret godless muslim socialist fascist demons from hell. Is yell the magic words, “you lie”. and they are powerless. It’s a more literal translation of the original aramaic version of what, until recently, was translated to english as “get thee behind me satan”.

  194. Greg 224: For gods’ sakes, man, won’t you just ignore him?!?!?! He’s in this to make you respond, and to make you angry. Of course he misquoted you, and he’s sticking to his misquote as if it were the truth. He will continue to do so, because a) it’s frustrating to you and b) he’s not trying to have a real conversation.

  195. otherbill, Fine. If the conversation can only end you, GregLondon, are entirely and 100% correct in your every assertion, fine.

    Dude. Find something other than the AMA or someone who would profit if tort reform were enacted. Find some evidence that isn’t as questionable.

    Otherwise, you’re basing your entire claim that clean coal is a good thing off of a report by the coal industry. Seriously. Get some independent evidence.

    No, I don’t trust the AMA when it comes to tort reform. Sorry. I don’t trust the Department of Agriculture to determine the healthiest food pyramid either.

    Thing is, I haven’t heard your tone shift since I introduced the CBO report. You seem to still insist that tort reform is the only way to go. If you were willing to look at other evidence, then the CBO report should have caused you to tone down your defense of tort reform, but you haven’t. You’re still it’s ardent defender.

    And rather than find some other, more reliable evidence to support your point of view, you are now portraying me as “I AM 100% RIGHT!”.

    That’s not part of a logical argument. You just went into a strawman ad hominem.

    Find some evidence from a neutral source. And I’ll reconsider.

    I found some evidence from a neutral source, and your position remains unchanged.

    That should tell you something about your position not being evidence based.

    xopher@232, sorry, it wasn’t bothering me. Didn’t realize it was bothering others. I’ll ignore him.

  196. Yeah but your evidence from the independent source (which the CBO is only independent when it agrees with whoever is citing it) said it was unclear that the two were related, not that they weren’t.

    I’m not talking about the way republicans have handled fort reform being correct. And you’re quite right that caps don’t work for all sorts of reasons. That doesn’t mean the issue is nonexistant.

    And yeah, you are acting as though you are 100% right. The numbers that I cited from the AMA are based on reports from HHS.

    And as I said that’s fine. But you don’t get to play the I’m the calm coolnmr rational when your rational point isthat the organization that represents and works to set doctrine for doctors are as reliable as Fox news. That isn’t an open minded interpretation of their position by any stretch. You’ve got two sources I’ve got two sources. Yours are unassailable mine are propaganda.

    So yeah. Whatever man. But that’s fine. I’m expressing my position and you yours. And that’s how political discussions go. You know your right and I’m an idiot and I know I’m right and your an idiot. It’s all good. Just don’t talk smack about how I haven’t changed my position and I’m being lazy or stubborn whereas your unchanging position is, of course only natural and just. Your shit smells too man.

    Otherwise it’s all good.

  197. From wikipedia. (external sources can be found there)

    A recent study by Healthgrades found that an average of 195,000 hospital deaths in each of the years 2000, 2001 and 2002 in the U.S. were due to potentially preventable medical errors.

    A 2006 follow-up to the 1999 Institute of Medicine study found that medication errors are among the most common medical mistakes, harming at least 1.5 million people every year. According to the study, 400,000 preventable drug-related injuries occur each year in hospitals, 800,000 in long-term care settings, and roughly 530,000 among Medicare recipients in outpatient clinics. The report stated that these are likely to be conservative estimates.

    Most (73%) settled malpractice claims involve medical error. A 2006 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that claims without evidence of error “are not uncommon, but most [72%] are denied compensation. The vast majority of expenditures [54%] go toward litigation over errors and payment of them.

    Claims not associated with errors accounted for 13 to 16%

    About 10 percent of the cost of medical services is linked to malpractice lawsuits and more intensive diagnostic testing due to defensive medicine, according to a January 2006 report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP for the insurers’ group America’s Health Insurance Plans…The figures were taken from a March 2003 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that estimated the direct cost of medical malpractice was 2 percent of the nation’s health-care spending and said defensive medical practices accounted for 5 percent to 9 percent of the overall expense.”

    (snip)

    So, HHS says about 2% of costs go to medical malpractice cost and 5 to 9% come from defensieve medical practices. I’ll have to dig around some more to find out where those numbers came from.

    But it also says that most (73%) malpractice lawsuits involve medical errors. And lists a shitload of poeple who died because of medical error every year. Only a small percentage, 13 to 16%, of lawsuits do not involve medical error.

    So, if it’s 10% of the total cost, but most malpractice cases involve actual doctor errors, what exactly is the point of tort reform? Allow doctors to continue making medical errors but not have to pay for them?

    If you got rid of doctor screw ups, it sounds like you’d get rid of three-quarters of all malpractice lawsuits. Maybe I’m reading teh numbers wrong, though.

  198. Greg @236 – so you are seriously arguing that a statement that 10% of health care costs inthe US result from defensive medicine (1.5 % of the US GDP) is insignificant? Seriously?

    As far as letting the doctors make mistakes, no, I’m not for that. The numbers prove that malpractice leads to a substantial surcharge in defensive medicine. I don’t know what the solution is, but you are making my case that we need to find a solution.

    My general feelings on malpractice are that doctors risk losing everything for honest mistakes and negligent mistakes. At least if a cop makes a mistake in discharging his weapon, a board can review his actions and information available at the time and determine if it was negligent and deserving of punishment. In malpractice suits there is no distinction between an honest mistake and a case of negligence. And don’t say you can’t honestly accidentally leave a scalpel in someone. First, I agree that’s always negligence and second that one isn’t even the doctor’s fault. It’s the surgical team that closes people up.

    But, I’m not asking you to change your personal philosophy regarding tort reform and what works and what doesn’t work. I’m just saying it adds a cost to healthcare and that needs to be properly addressed in the debate.

    Look, I guess this didn’t come across in my last post. But I’m just saying agree to disagree. Okay? We can argue about any other political subject you like. to the death, if you prefer. But this one is making me tired.

  199. London @ 222
    “I’m pretty sure that is a complete fabrication of reality, a demonization of the truth, and completely illuminating of how far off the reality of the situation you really are.”

    No sir, I would say that is the reality. People today do not want to take responsibility for themselves, they want to blame everyone else and have the government to take care of them due to their lack of personal accountability.

    “The program being proposed is regulations of the health insurance industry to keep the operating fairly.”

    That is not the program being proposed. Princess Pelosi and Prince Reid have made it clear that the only way that the bill is brought to the floor is if there is a public option. Yes, I oppose that. Take the public option off of the floor. The restrictions that I was speaking of earlier were the restriction preventing insurance companies from selling insurance across state lines. Eliminate these restrictions and this will create the competition that you say that you crave so much.

    “In the last 8 years, the right to due proccess, the right to protection from illegal search and seizure from the government, your right to be free from torture, your right to free speech, your right to freedom of and freedom from religion, have all been trampled by the Bush White House.”
    I am sure that you do not want to go to far into the torture aspect, because lives were saved due to the methods that you consider torture. Your ignorance is amazing but is also common amongst libs. I am telling you that you do not want to go into this. Not only is it way off subject, it is something that, due to confidentiality reasons, exact proof cannot be brought forward.

    “What happens is people pay their insurance bills every month for years. And then when they get cancer, the insurance company throws them under the bus.”

    That is the same son-of-a-gun that put on his/her insurance form that they are non smokers. Then when they are diagnosed with emphysema or lung cancer caused by prolonged smoking, he/she is surprised that the insurance company dropped them.

    “The congressional budget office in 2004 reported that medical lawsuit reform doesn’t have much evidence to show that it would do anything to reduce costs, and that it could potentially allow bad doctors to continue operating.”

    Read previous posts. The CBO accounted for the effects on the cost of malpractice insurance if limits were placed on civil cases. They did not include the cost savings if doctors did not feel compeled to order pricey tests that are not needed. Look at Florida, where great doctors are leaving the state because of the cost of malpractice insurance. But on that same note, Douglas Emendorf said “the House plan to cover the uninsured, for example, would add more than $1 trillion to federal health spending over the next decade, according to the CBO, it would trim about $500 billion from existing programs — increasing federal health spending overall.” How are we paying for this???

    “social security and medicare/medicaid system. But of course that is going broke now.”
    “No it isn’t. It’s a nice bit of obstructionism, like “Deathpanel!” but is isn’t true.”

    “Growing annual deficits are projected to exhaust (HI) reserves in 2017,” (This is referring to Medicare). “The deficits will be made up by redeeming trust fund assets until reserves are exhausted in 2037” (This is referring to Social Security) No, these quotes were not pulled from Fox News, they were pulled from http://www.ssa.gov. On you strategically placed Deathpanel remark, I did not believe that this was in the bill. Even if it was, I cannot imagine that a government employee could recommend to someone that they should just die.

    “It’s not a socialized program.”

    Socialism – 1 Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.

    A government run insurance program? Sounds like a social program to me. Your response should have been, what is wrong with socialism. That would be a good little lib. The problem with socialism is:

    Socialism – 2 the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.

    Both definitions were from dictionary.com

    The bottom line is that Wilson was wrong to call Obama a liar during the address. He should have saved his words until after the speech was over. But of course, there is no ability to redress grievances with the President. He is hiding in the White House and Martha’s Vineyard. Like I asked before, where are the bipartisan conferences on healthcare that are supposed to be televised on CSPAN? Is it because, the President, Pelosi, and Reid do not want the public to see what their true intentions are?

  200. Clifton:

    A government run insurance program? Sounds like a social program to me. Your response should have been, what is wrong with socialism. That would be a good little lib.

    I quote scalzi in that other thread :

    and remember that slapping down the “Obama = Socialist” card will get you laughed at or deleted as a troll.

    Clifton, you’re a troll.

    You’re a troll who’s too ignorant or ill mannered to follow simple instructions put in place by the host who’s blog you’re visiting.

    You have no manners, troll. I find that laughable.

  201. Clifton@238: I am sure that you do not want to go to far into the torture aspect, because lives were saved due to the methods that you consider torture. Your ignorance is amazing but is also common amongst libs. I am telling you that you do not want to go into this. Not only is it way off subject, it is something that, due to confidentiality reasons, exact proof cannot be brought forward.

    Oh, man, see that? That right there? That is why I cannot possibly take you seriously.

    Even the CIA inspector general’s report in 2004 says torture didn’t save lives. Ever.

    No proof harsh techniques stopped terror attacks

    an ABC story dated August 2009

    I know you won’t click on it or read it, but other’s might find it enlightening.

    potential gains and “power” of the waterboarding to get detainees to talk was “exaggerated” and “appreciably overstated.”

    It was not effective

    As far as torture costing lives, back around January of 2002, we tortured Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi. What did he tell us? What we wanted to hear. That Al Queda went to Iraq for weapons and training. Colin Powell ends up using this bullshit intelligence in his speech to the UN to argue for war against Iraq. That tortured intelligence got us into a war in Iraq that killed thousands of americans, and left 50,000 with permanent traumatic brain injuries.

    Meanwhile, during the month of March 2003, the month we invaded Iraq, we waterboarded Abu Zubaydah 83 times and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. link

    What did they tell us? The locations of the WMDs? The location of the mobile labs? The locations of the iraqi intelligence officer in Praque?

    We have repeated documented proof of torture getting us false intelligence that pushed us to invade Iraq. We have document proof from the CIA inspector general himself that torture did not save any lives.

    And yet people like you cling to Dick “Palpatine” Cheney’s jedi mind trick that torture saved lives. that these are not the droids you are looking for.

    Meanwhile, there are all the known documented cases of people who were INNOCENT but were tortured for months and years before finally being released.

    khalid

    lakhdar

    this guy, this guy the CIA cut his balls with a razor blade while he was in prison.

    Some statistics for you.

    Number of US personnel convicted of abuse: 54
    Number of US personnel serving prison time for abuse: 40
    Number of detainees who have died while in US custody: at least 100
    Number of detainees deaths ruled a homicide: at least 30

    Out of 800 prisoners through Guantanamo, 3 have been convicted.

    And this one always makes me smile. Bush pushed to make sure that anal rape was legal. Why? Because we knew Americans were anally raping prisoners.

  202. Greg @ 240 – dude, that’s one I agree with. We’ll have to find a different issue to switch to in order to get a good old fashioned stubborn off going again.

  203. Clifton: “People today do not want to take responsibility for themselves, they want to blame everyone else and have the government to take care of them due to their lack of personal accountability.”

    So all the people who responsibly worked and responsibly paid private insurers premiums, and then developed breast cancer or a blood infection, and the insurer dropped them from their rolls and refused to pay, leaving them uninsured with a pre-existing condition and no way to get coverage and facing bankruptcy because the private insurers cheated them — thousands of them making up half of all medical bankruptcies which make up most of the personal bankruptcies — it’s all their fault and they should just die?

    Your problem is that you don’t think those people’s problems are costing you anything if you leave them alone to be responsible or not for the numerous medical conditions that are not avoidable, from cysts to hyperthyroidism. You’re wrong. And your wrongness costs me more money.

    “The restrictions that I was speaking of earlier were the restriction preventing insurance companies from selling insurance across state lines. Eliminate these restrictions and this will create the competition that you say that you crave so much.”

    The opposite is true. The state restrictions currently encourage more competition because the national insurers are very big and the restrictions allow smaller, statewide companies to compete. Take away the restrictions, and Blue Cross, which is already the main insurer in most states, then will not have to compete, they’ll just come in and take over and establish more of a monopoly, leading to fewer companies and less competition. And this will happen without any incentive for private insurers to lower prices or stop cheating customers. Nonetheless, lifting state restrictions can certainly be considered if other regulations keep the insurers from abuses they currently now enjoy at our expense. These regulations are a huge part of the healthcare reform bill that most of the politicians, including the Republicans, agree on. Just because there’s a debate on the public option doesn’t mean that these are not part of the reform.

    “But of course, there is no ability to redress grievances with the President.”

    You mean when the President met with Wilson and accepted his apology for making a false accusation, and they talked? You mean when Baucus, a Democrat, took Wilson’s objection to problems with the ban — which had nothing to do with his false accusation that the President was lying about the existence of the ban — and proposed amendments to deal with that concern that could be considered by Congress for the bill? (Actually, the meeting I’m more interested in was the one where the other Republicans reamed Wilson for completely screwing things up. Boy, were they angry.)

    “where are the bipartisan conferences on healthcare that are supposed to be televised on CSPAN? ”

    They tried to have them, but most of the Republicans refused. They said they’d rather kill the bill altogether than have any reform under a Democratic president, because apparently the dead people versus political profit assessment was a no brainer for them. Nonetheless, some bipartisan work is continuing on the reform bill, the Gang of Six particularly. If the far right Republicans would stop showboating and throwing temper tantrums, the other Republicans and Congress could get more done faster.

  204. Clifton – I think actual socialists might also resent being referred to as the retarded half child of capitalism and communism. Or, I guess as the definition put the “imperfect implementation of “collectivist” principles.

    Though, that’s really the dictionarys fault I guess. Is anyone else annoyed by the reliance on a dictionary of all things to really lay down the law on the difference between highly complex systems of social and economic philosophies and their relationship to styles of government?

  205. London @ 240

    Get your information from trusted sources do you? On a side note, I do not listen to Cheney. I will say this, if using enhanced interrogaton techniques or even torture is what was needed to save my wife and children’s life, then I say go for it. Yes, I hold American lives above that of another nation’s.

    “The Central Intelligence Agency told CNSNews.com today that it stands by the assertion made in a May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo that the use of “enhanced techniques” of interrogation on al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) — including the use of waterboarding — caused KSM to reveal information that allowed the U.S. government to thwart a planned attack on Los Angeles.

    Before he was waterboarded, when KSM was asked about planned attacks on the United States, he ominously told his CIA interrogators, “Soon, you will know.””

    -from CBS News (April 21, 2009)

  206. Otherbill @ 243

    You have a problem with a dictionary? So you have problems with facts. Maybe that is why you like President Obama’s promises so much. I mean according to Politifact.com, Obama has only kept 8% of the promises that he made during his campaign. I bring this up because I voted for him based on the majority of his promises. He has not held up his side of the bargin, and now him, Pelosi, and Reid are running this country into the ground, and our children are going to suffer for it.

  207. I’ve been watching some of the town halls that were broadcast on CSPAN, or at least I was a few weeks ago. Howard Dean was at one of them. I don’t remember where it was, but it was certainly lively.

    He said that there was no way they could pass the bill if they did put tort reform in it. Because the gains that would give them among republicans would be small compared to the damage the trial lawyers’ lobbyists would do to the bill. As he said, the bill has enough enemies without taking that on.

    He did, however, agree that it is something that needs to be done. Because he is also a doctor. And I am going to take his word that malpractice laws currently hurt good doctors as well as bad ones, and contribute to rising costs. But it is not believed to account for enough of our health care costs to risk sinking the whole bill just to include tort reform. We should fix the biggest problems first.

    So, Other Bill and everyone arguing with him, according to Howard Dean you are all correct. It’s a problem that needs to be considered eventually, but it’s not a big enough part of the problem that we need it in this bill.

    Oh, and isn’t this entire bill basically about putting restrictions on insurance companies to prevent people from being denied coverage, providing a public option as an affordable alternative, and some kind of exchange that would make private insurance more affordable? If so, wouldn’t they screen for illegal immigrants when they tried to sign up for either the public option or vouchers for the exchange? It seems just silly to say they’d be asking for proof of citizenship at the hospital, they’d ask for your insurance card. And if you’re an illegal immigrant you won’t have one unless you paid out of pocket with no government assistance.

    Actually, if they really do put in something that says everyone has to get insurance, then if someone goes to the hospital and doesn’t have any, wouldn’t that be a red flag to call the authorities about a possible illegal immigrant? Which means the illegals who aren’t paying an American insurance corporation and contributing to that part of our economy would die or get caught if they were ill or injured. You’d think the right wing would like that.

  208. Clifton – for words, yeah I think dictionaries are generally the place to go. But for philosophical systems I’m going to need more than a one or two sentence definition of the word to comment intelligently on the system as a whole.

    Encyclopedia at the least. But there are hundreds of books written by academics researching the subject. Thousands of pages of study reduced to two sentences is not good enough.

  209. CatG @ 242

    Please don’t use the Sixpack of Stupid as a ‘bipartisonship’ example. They’re just Bought Off Baccus and a couple of buddies using the Republicans as a useful excuse and the Republicans using the Dems as useful idiots.

    Remember Grassely and Enzi making public boasts all August about how they were able to kill everything in committee.

    Clifton @ 244

    So a statement made well before 2005 using the word “soon” has any ability to concern a sane person -now-?

  210. Otherbill @ 247

    OK, if the dictionary isn’t good enough for you, look up Lenin and Russia around 1917. There you will see what happens when a capitalist country attempts to move toward socialism. You will see how miseribally the country failed, and had to move back to capitalism and later communism. Are we ready for communism? Are we ready for a Cuban, Chinese, or USSR lifestyle? I can already feel the blood of you and Greg London boil. You are probably in denial that the libs want to move in the direction of socialism. We have bailed out big business with billions of dollars. We are part owners in AIG, General Motors, and Diamer Chrystler, as well as numerous banks. Now they want to run insurance. If you have an insurance company that is run by the government, and it does not work for a profit, how are insurance companies that do work for profit survive. This means that over time, the “Government Option” will not be an option. It will be all that is left. And that, my fellow bloggers, is socialism. And when the government is the only option, the government will give the same option to illegal aliens. Which means that we will have to pay for the illegal aliens’ health care. Which means, Mr. President, You Lie!

  211. Nargel @ 248

    You are right. He said we will know soon. That is the only thing that he would say until he was waterboarded. Then he gave the information that helped us to stop the terrorist attach in Los Angeles. What more do you need???

  212. OK, if the dictionary isn’t good enough for you, look up Lenin and Russia around 1917. There you will see what happens when a capitalist country attempts to move toward socialism.

    Russia was capitalist in 1916? Are you on drugs?

  213. Clifton: “Obama has only kept 8% of the promises that he made during his campaign. I bring this up because I voted for him based on the majority of his promises. He has not held up his side of the bargin,”

    He’s only been in office for a little over 8 months, that’s a pretty good rate so far. Slow and steady wins the race and is less likely to make mistakes. The man is dealing with a contentious Republican minority, powerful international corporations with lobbyists who hire/trick mobs, two wars, exploding international situations on which we are expected to be the pointman, a massive deficit he inherited from Bush, re-staffing government departments gutted by Bush, cutting pork spending programs initiated by the Republicans that cost too much, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, a financial community still intent on eating its young for short-term profit, the collapse of the middle class because of the financial shenanigans of the wealthy — but you’re upset because he doesn’t have the magic wand and fixed everything right off the bat?

    You know, Democrats get a lot of fake flack about how we “worship” Obama. Instead, Democrats continually criticize and fight among themselves, which is why quite often the “do not question your leaders” approach of the far right works better. But it’s the swing voters, like yourself, Clifton, who worship him by demand of instant solutions, who expect everything to work like it would in a movie or t.v. show — such as torture, when every professional interrogator in the world says torture doesn’t work as a method and is not reliable — who don’t forgive failures, and who have the patience of a four-year-old.

    Bush really, really broke this country. It takes time to glue pieces back in place, especially when dealing with a minority but still large group, like yourself, who refuse to think gluing some of the pieces is necessary, no matter how much evidence is handed to you.

    The biggest promise Obama made was healthcare reform. So that’s what he’s working on now, and what he has to exert most of his resources on. They are now also introducing the bill to repeal DOMA, which will be another battle. There will be a battle each time, even on things the Republicans might actually want, like reducing Medicare waste and costs, because they want Obama to fail so that they can get more seats and a shot at the Presidency. That’s okay, that’s the name of the game.

    But enough with the country being driven into the ground nonsense. The country has already been driven into the ground. What we are doing now is digging the way back out, and that requires looking at the whole game, and planning long-term strategy. If you’re going to quote statistics from the CBO, you can’t then ignore the other statistics from the CBO, like the estimated $500 billion in savings from cutting Medicare waste, or the projection that the reform plan will cost $1 trillion over ten years, the funding for which they’ve already partially dug up or figured out how to get. You can’t ignore that the “taxes” being proposed are not on the middle class, but are repealing Bush’s unnecessary tax cuts to the top 1% of the population and business world.

    Part of reform are things to improve the situation with Medicare and Social Security — whose funding problems come in part from money raids by Congress, not an inability to fund it. Before Social Security and Medicare, the number one cause of poverty in the U.S. was old age, because old people, who worked hard and saved still didn’t often have retirement benefits, had fewer additional ways to get income, had skyrocketing medical bills and couldn’t get insurance because they were old. Social Security and Medicare stopped that crisis. (Now the number one cause of poverty is divorce, mainly for women.)

    The Department of the Treasury’s new report estimates that all of us under 64 will be without healthcare insurance at some point in the next ten years, many for longer than a year. Hard-working people who can’t get health insurance, can’t afford healthcare. That means the private insurers are cheating people worse than I thought. And that the uninsured are going to cost us more than they do now.

    You can say that it isn’t your problem, that you don’t want your children paying for these people. But you are already paying for these people — and you will keep paying unless we change how the private insurance industry operates so that it stops cheating customers. You can’t just say, well government needs to change, but everybody else can keep doing what they’re doing. Because we tried that already and it didn’t work.

  214. Clifton: From this article:

    the CIA believes that it would have been unable to obtain critical information from numerous detainees, including KSM and Abu Zubaydah, without these enhanced techniques,” says the Justice Department memo.

    But that sort of conflicts with this article, talking about an anti-torture op-ed piece by Ali Soufan, a former FBI special agent and perhaps the most successful U.S. interrogator of al-Qaeda operatives.

    Soufan says the use of those techniques was unnecessary and often counterproductive. Detainees, he says, provided vital intelligence under non-violent questioning, before they were put through “walling” and waterboarding.

    Soufan says Abu Zubaydah gave up the information between March and June 2002, when he was being interrogated by Soufan, another FBI agent and some CIA officers. But that was not the result of harsh techniques, including waterboarding, which were not introduced until August. “We were getting a lot of useful material from [Abu Zubaydah], and we would have continued to get material from him,” Soufan told TIME. “The rough tactics were not necessary.”

    So, the problem is this: the CIA say they had to torture Abu Zubaydah to get information out of him. But Ali Soufan says he interrogated Abu Zubaydah without torturing him and got useful information.

    Meanwhile, the CIA is in cover-its-ass mode to avoid war crimes trials, so they’re going to say they saved the world through torture, even though Soufan was able to get information without it.

    Oh, and you completely ignored all the false-intelligence that we ended up getting from torture. And you completely ignored that all that false-intelligence is what got us into a 6 year quagmire in Iraq. There were no WMD’s, there were no al queda links in Iraq. All that intel extracted through torture was false and it got us into a stupid war that killed a lot of americans needlessly.

    If you accept the alleged positive outcomes of torture, then you must accept the documented NEGATIVE outcomes of torture. And torture gave us false intelligence that needlessly sent American troops to their death in Iraq. We should have been focused on Afghanistan, where Al Queda was actually located. Not Iraq.

    Out of curiosity, did you serve in Iraq or Afghanistan or both?

  215. So, there’s this article, which reports that in 2005, a justice department memo says that torturing Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) got intel that thwarted an attack on Los Angeles.

    But this kind of contradicts that. It’s an op-ed piece by Al Soufani, FBI interrogator, dated 5 September 2009. quoting:

    They have asserted, for example, that harsh treatment led Mr. Mohammed to reveal the plot to attack the Library Tower in Los Angeles. But that plot was thwarted in 2002, and Mr. Mohammed was not arrested until 2003.

    And for an whole list of facts, this article confirms that KSM was captured in Pakistan in 2003, and the article says that President Bush said that in 2002 officials foiled a plan by terrorists to fly a hijacked plane into what was then called the Library Tower, now known as the U.S. Bank Tower.

    Attack foiled 2002. KSM arrested 2003.

    Soon, Clifton, soon you will know, that it’s a lie.

  216. London @ 253

    I served in Iraq twice. Don’t go there, because I do not believe that you know what you are talking about. Like I told you before, you are wrong about intelligence and what was and wasn’t found in Iraq, and I can’t go into it. Maybe in about 10 to 15 years more information will be released, and you will know how ignorant you are on the subject.

    Here is some useful information for you. It does not matter if you are a Dem or Rep. They are both there for only one reason….Power. It does not matter if you are speaking about President Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Wilson, Steele, Bush, Cheney, or Biden. They will lie in order to get power. The representatives and senators in our Federal Government (With the exception of Joe Lieberman) are not there to do what is best for the people of the United States, they make decisions on what is best for their party. Take the blinders off. This bill in which there MUST BE A GOVERNMENT OPTION, just gives more power to the govenment. We are giving too much power to the government and we need to end the growth. And before you say it, yes I know that Bush increased the size of the government, but it was done, by providing for the common defense (required by the Constitution), not through welfare programs (which is outside of the requirements of the Constitution).

  217. Clifton:

    Saying “I know something you don’t know and I can’t tell you, but one day you’ll see I’m right” is not an argument. It’s an assertion. You can’t reasonably expect to come in and make an assertion without proof and then be taken seriously.

  218. Clifton: you are wrong about intelligence and what was and wasn’t found in Iraq, and I can’t go into it. Maybe in about 10 to 15 years more information will be released, and you will know how ignorant you are on the subject.

    Woah. Secret information that Iraq had WMD’s that can’t be proven? Cool!

    Wait, you’re not talking about all the stuff that inspectors inventoried but didn’t get around to destroying back in the 90’s, are you? When Blix went back in in 2003, they found all the inventoried stuff that hadn’t been destroyed yet, and then they started finishing the job of disarmament. So you would find old WMD stuff in Iraq, but it either had been inventoried or was in the proces of being inventoried. I think part of the problem is that safely destroying chemical and biological weapons is a really hard thing to do.

    But you’re saying this is new stuff? Stuff that would justify Bush and Cheney’s invasion and occupation of Iraq? Stuff that Bush and Cheney instead decided to sit on and keep classified? Wow. That means they essentially allowed the entire world to villify the US and themselves so that they could keep this secret information secret. That must be some really, really, really, really, super sensitively secret information.

    Or it isn’t at all true. One or the other.

  219. People who really know things that are THAT secret don’t ever say that they know anything. Especially in writing on a public comment thread.

  220. Clifton – based on what you are saying, why on earth would you have voted for Obama? I mean, it isnt survivor. The one who gets the most votes gets the island, not kicked off.

    Pretty much every major campaign promise of Obama seems to be against what you believe should be happening with our country.

    As far as Early 20th century Russia and the now US, your analogy would make George bush a czar, right? And the peaceful election of Obama was a violent bloody overthrow of government? Bailing out some major US companies, right or wrong, doesn’t make either of those so.

  221. Clifton: “They are both there for only one reason….Power. ”

    Yeah, so, we know this already. Though it’s not socialism power they’re after, (and they couldn’t take it anyway because you have to have the miitary with you and you might have noticed that the military tends to be a little conservative.) It’s just that the Democratic party has found that helping people as well as business is useful for power, so we get more out of them, whereas the Republican party feels that only helping business gets them power, so we get far less out of them, and usually it ends up costing us more. See:

    http://politics.theatlantic.com/2009/09/closing_the_book_on_the_bush_legacy.php

    You served in Iraq. And there was another guy, more conservative than you, who said he served in the Marines. That makes you two part of the bravest people on the planet. I’ve been privileged to know a number of military families and personnel, and they risk and sacrifice more than anyone.

    But that’s just it. You’re willing to risk your life, sacrifice it, to save mine. You do this for all American citizens, regardless of their income, lifestyle choices, religion, political affiliation, whether they’re on Medicaid or not. But here at home, people are dying too. They’re dying because of healthcare, because the industry needs reform. Hard-working people, people who paid their taxes, paid their insurance premiums but didn’t get service, and do the best they can. The people whose lives you risked yours to save are facing another kind of threat.

    We have social service programs — schools, vaccinations, Medicare, VA, etc. — not as charity but as self-preservation. The benefits of providing those services outweighs the costs, not just to the people who are getting the aid in Medicare, etc., but to the society as a whole, in productivity, in lower costs, in innovation, in economic stability, opportunities for prosperity, etc. It’s a form of defense, just as our armed forces is a form of defense. Because if your neighbor is sinking, he’s going to take you down with him.

    And because people are a resource. And we’re wasting them when we don’t have to be. So the politicians can do all the political maneuvering they want, I don’t give a crap, as long as it results in improvement of the problems we face. I am much happier when they don’t have an ideology, when they aren’t like Wilson, who is apparently a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and led the 2000 campaign to keep the confederate flag flying in South Carolina’s capital building. (So his yelling at the black President for his own aggrandisement, damaging the welfare of his own political party, is perhaps not so surprising.)

    So okay, we’re seeking reform. You disagree with the public option. You think the costs of it outweigh the benefits. I don’t, for reasons I’ve put up in other discussions on this. The public option lets individuals and small businesses — and only them — buy a basic government plan, so that they definitely will have access to coverage. Right now the big insurers don’t want these people as customers, but when regulations say they can’t turn them down or hike the bill because the business is small, that’s a whole new customer pool for them, and they become a little more attractive.

    But not entirely. The big insurers who own most of the market like Blue Cross and AIG don’t really compete with each other because they don’t have to as everyone wants/needs health insurance and they’re huge. Which is why they can keep hiking their prices way above costs. If we tell them that they can’t preclude taking customers on the basis of pre-existing conditions and small size, there’s still little competition incentive for them to lower their prices. So the people we’re trying to insure can’t be denied health insurance under the new regulations, but they still won’t be able to afford it. They’ll remain uninsured, they’ll keep costing you and me money. Plus, a government program can be used as legislative leverage to get the healthcare industry to lower costs for both government and private insurers.

    With a public option plan, we cover them and put market pressure on the insurers to lower their prices to keep the small businesses and groups that have barely managed to afford health insurance with them. They lower their prices and then other small businesses and individuals can afford their plans. Capitalistic incentives, lower costs, improved service and choice.

    Now, can we afford the people who’d buy the government’s insurance? They’ll be paying for it, and a lot of the additional funding for the program has already been found, such as reducing Medicare waste. A large part of reform is reducing healthcare costs to make healthcare affordable, because as has been noted, we’re already paying way too inflated costs for the same services that other countries get cheaper.

    Alternatives to public option — so far no one’s come up with anything except things like co-ops, bribe private insurers in hopes that they’ll lower premiums to customers, but then we’re still paying the inflated costs. The system wouldn’t be fixed. And a lot of the screaming over the public option — that’s the private insurers negotiating. They’ve made a lot of money thanks to Medicare, but they want to try and get every advantage. Which is okay, but it’s not practical to give them a free pass or bribe them, because the problems that cost us money will remain and get worse.

    The government has to pay for the uninsured either way. They are already responsible for and in power over these people. The way we have now is unworkable in terms of accelerating costs. Reform without a public option does not lower costs enough, does not reduce enough of the uninsured.

    That doesn’t mean we can’t jerry-rig the public option to work better, cost less. But without it, we lose a lot of leverage to reform the insurance and healthcare industries so that they don’t just make themselves profits at our expense, but actually work.

  222. Clifton @ 250

    Obviously my definition of ‘soon’ differs from yours. Also, LA? You by any means talking about that bunch of yahoos, unaffiliated so far as we know with AQ, that were so clueless that they thought that putting a match near one end of a pipeline blew up the hose on the other end?

    And Lieberman? Bwahahahahahahaha!
    The person who was turned down by the party he was backstabbing and went and got elected by the uninformed and the other party. And isn’t going to be so lucky the next time?

    You need to add a snark tag to these comments.

  223. KatG

    You make some good points, although I still believe that my government should not be in the business of running a business. Create regulations, create an commission, like the SEC, that monitors the insurance and medical industry.

    Also, I see that you listed the VA as a social program. I would have to disagree with that line item. The benifits that are provided through the VA i.e. GI Bill (Education assistance), and medical coverage. If you are injured at your job, does it not cover those injuries for the rest of your life under workman’s compensation? The GI Bill, I paid into. It is no different then any benifit that many business have for their employees. Tuition assistance is very common.

    KatG, I would have to say that of all of the libs in this blogg, you make the most sence, even if I still do not agree with your beliefs, you have still given me some food for thought.

  224. Clifton: “I still believe that my government should not be in the business of running a business.”

    I really don’t think they want to be, any of them. They certainly, Dems and Republicans, didn’t want to bail out the banks. But they already are in the business of dealing with the uninsured. If the private insurers hadn’t been quite so greedy, the government might not have needed to step in, and certainly not with a public option. But this is the problem when we’re dealing with something that is and isn’t a business because it’s also the nation’s health.

    “Also, I see that you listed the VA as a social program. I would have to disagree with that line item. The benifits that are provided through the VA i.e. GI Bill (Education assistance), and medical coverage. If you are injured at your job, does it not cover those injuries for the rest of your life under workman’s compensation? The GI Bill, I paid into. It is no different then any benefit that many business have for their employees. Tuition assistance is very common.”

    You’ve certainly earned everything you get, and I’m glad that Obama is planning to improve the GI Bill and aid to military families. You all have been going without too long while they buy fancier weapons. But my sister works for a small business that’s still trying to afford worker’s comp, and can’t do health insurance or any other benefit. The VA is a special program for veterans. It’s one of the more efficient, low cost programs out there, and seems to be being used as a model for parts of the healthcare reform. The public option has people paying for the insurance. So it’s the question of how much supplemental money is going to be needed to run it, how much to pay claims, etc. From all that I’ve seen so far, it’s cheaper than the way we’re going now.

    I lose it regularly on this blog. It’s easy to go overboard because these are big, scary issues in big scary times. But I will say there are a lot of smart people here with a lot of good info. And Scalzi always has his mallot if we get too out of line. :)

  225. Clifton @ 262 – I think the point about the VA is just that it is a government run, publicly funded healthcare program.

    And you certainly did earn those benefits, full stop.

  226. otherbill@237: so you are seriously arguing that a statement that 10% of health care costs … is insignificant?

    The numbers I’ve seen was half a percent per person. 10% is starting to get above the “noise” level. I haven’t had time, however, to see how those numbers translate into the $2100 per person for canada versus $5500 per person for US. So I don’t know if they’re on the same scale or not, so I’m not quite ready to say it translates into $500 per person in the US.

    The thing is that same source that says 10% also says that 74% of malpractice actually involved doctor error. That’s definitely not insignificant.

    I’m not sure how any approach to tort reform can solve that problem without harming the people who really were injured by doctor screwups. Lower the amount that can be paid? Why? The doctor screwed up. Raise the requirement of evidence to bring a case initially? Why the doctor screwed up.

    Please explain how you justify making it harder for a patient injured by a doctor to have a lawsuit when 74% of current cases involve doctor screwups.

    Most tort reform proponents push it from the point of view that most cases are frivolous and a lot of people get settlements who shouldnt’ get them. If 74% of cases involve doctor screwups, that sort of destroys the whole idea of being “frivolous”. Most cases are legitimate.

    My general feelings on malpractice are that doctors risk losing everything for honest mistakes and negligent mistakes.

    Hm, “losing everything” sort of implies award caps. Does your tort reform proposal limit award amounts? I don’t have statistics regarding how much patients are paid to know if they were “overpaid” in some way. Do you want to put a fixed price on a doctor killing someone? $50k for a lost arm? How does this work?

    And your invocation of “honest mistake”, well, that’s one I haven’t heard before.

    The stats that that I quoted that said malpractice is 10%? those same stats also said 74% of cases involve “medical error”.

    What’s “honest” if the doctor screwed up and caused your wife to die?

    At least if a cop makes a mistake in discharging his weapon, a board can review his actions and information available at the time and determine if it was negligent and deserving of punishment.

    And the victims family can still sue the city.

    In malpractice suits there is no distinction between an honest mistake and a case of negligence.

    I think maybe we need a lawyer in here for this: Mythago? What’s the difference between an honest mistake and a negligent mistake? Is there a difference in malpractice lawsuits?

    (Yes, I’m asking a lawyer for free advice. No I won’t ask you to read my manuscript)

    In either case, if a doctor causes you to lose an arm, I think you deserve a chunk of money, whether it was an “honest” mistake or a “negligent” one, or whatever. I don’t think it matters, really, whether he’s a nice guy or a drunk. He chose to take on a life and death profession and he screwed up. If the doctor’s decisions caused you to lose an arm, the doctor should be paying you a chunk of money.

    Are you saying that if you lose an arm as a result of a doctor’s “honest” mistake that you shouldn’t get paid anything? Otherwise, I’m not sure why you’re making this honest/negligent distinction.

    The thing is, I found the stat that says malpractice is 10% of the cost. but how will tort reform lower this amount if 74% of those cases are legitimate screwups? Sure 10% is above the “noise”, but how will tort reform save money if most of those doctors screwed up?

    lowering payout limits doesn’t change the number of screwups or the number of lawsuits. making it harder to sue lowers the number of lawsuits, but most cases involved medical error and are legitimate complaints.

    I see no modification to the system that saves money except by allowing doctors who screwed up to not get sued.

    So, 10% is big enough to get my interest. Now you’ll have to explain how you’ll actually make it only 2% or some other number.

  227. Clifton, since you seem to think I’m ignorant about torture and since you seem to think your service in the marines in Iraq gave you a view into secret information that would justify torture, I thought you might have more respect for the opinion of Former Marine Corps Commandant Charles Krulak who wrote an op-ed piece this Friday condemning torture and condemning Cheney for still defending torture.

    We now see that the best intelligence, which led to the capture of Saddam Hussein and the elimination of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was produced by professional interrogations using non-coercive techniques. When the abuse began, prisoners told interrogators whatever they thought would make it stop.

  228. Greg @ 265 – okay.

    Regarding the honest versus negligent debate. My personal feeling, based on what I’ve gleaned from discussions with doctors on the subject. So, take it as it is.

    I’m the case of the police officer that you mentioned, the right of the family to sue the city regardless doesn’t mean the officer loses his house for having made what the review board would have determined (in our hypothetical case) a fair in the circumstances but if wrong, ultimately, decision.

    Doctors have indeed chosen to take on a life or death practice. And that means that on any given day, when things go wrong, the stakes are for everything for the patient. One of the problems, that I see, though is that there is no limitation to responsibility. If a nurse on a staff makes the mistake, the patient or patients family has the ability to sue the hospital, the nurse, the doctor or whomever else was involved on that team. Now to the extent that the buck always stops with the leader, I appreciate that response. But, judges can use the doctors personal assets (personal retirement savings, house, kids college funds) to fund the payment of the damages awarded. I don’t think that’s right. And, if it were my wife and I had to choose between money from their kids college funds and nothing I wouldnt take the money. No bullshit. Money from an insurance provider or fromthe company, yes. And I also wouldn’t sue the doctor if it weren’t a case of negligence. e.g. She went in to have her appendix out and came out missing an arm instead. But that’s me.

    The problem is patients also sue over unfavorable outcomes. Here’s an anecdote or two that I’ve heard from friends that are doctors. One had a women come in for her yearly visit to the GYN. One of her tests came back odd, but indicating cancer. The woman was referred to an oncologist specialist. Rather than go to the oncologist she sought a second opinion. The second opinion was that yeah her tests are still indicating cancer and she should go see the oncologist. A year later, the woman returned for annual visit and the doctor asked what happened with the oncologist. The woman said she didn’t go. The doctor immediately started to investigate the cancer herself and found that it had spread uncontrollably. Ultimately the woman died. After her death, the husband sued the doctor for not carefully explaining the consequences of nit treating cancer. After a lengthy court battle the doctor was found to be not responsible.

    The second doctor operates an ER. A waitress broke her finger one night and needed treatment immediately. I forget what the cause was. The doctor stitched the lady’s finger up and put a cast on the finger so that it would heal correctly. This was explained to the lady. After leaving the hospital, the woman decided to remove the cast because it itched. As a result her finger didn’t set correctly and lost mobility. She sued the ER for 12.5 million dollars over lost wages. As a waitress she could no longer balance a tray on her hand.

    Of the 26% of malpractice cases these are the types of cases that are brought against doctors. I agree that the other 74% comprising genuine doctor errors deserve attention. But I see a system in which only three fourths of cases being legitimate as not functioning to any reasonably expected degree of efficiency.

    Regarding the numbers. From the source you cited, the language indicates that 2 to 3 percent of us medical costs result from damages And such awarded in malpractice suits. 5 to 9 percent of us medical costs result from the practice of defensive medicicine due to fear of those malpractice suits. So, 1.5 percent to 2.25 percent of US healthcare costs are associated with legitimate damages awarded in malpractice cases. Leaving from as small as 6.5 percent, to as much as 10 percent of healthcare costs in the US to be associated with unnecessary expenditures. That’s alot.

    I agree that caps don’t work. In Texas, they insituted a cap. However, they didn’t cap lawyers fees. So, if the judge awarded a flat 250k dollars, the attorneys would work with that. But, if the judge awarded the 250k and legal fees, the attorneys were free to remoderate their fees. The language in the capping legislation didn’t require attorneys to disclose their fees publicly upfront.

    And in general relation to my personal feelings on malpractice, but less so to our discussion. Do you know how much of malpractice awards actually go to the families? The you don’t pay unless you win variety, which I think we can agree that the majority of people requirig restitution to survive will frequent, charge up go 60% of the award or settlement as their fee. That, most of the award is paid over to the lawyers and not the people requiring restitution.

    Again, I agree tha caps aren’t really the way to go. Contrary to some opinion, I’m not on the side of keep the courts free of the common man. So, your exactly right vitriol to malpractice suit caps aside, it leaves a very real and very sizeable problem that needs to be dealt with.

    I think it merits inclusion in the discussion because part of the savings promised comes from eliminating defensive medicine costs. And I say it ain’t gonna happen if they don’t take the malpractice issue seriously. I don’t know what the solution will be. But it is a sizeable problem. up to a dime of every dollar spent on healthcare in the US is a result of fear of malpractice and awards for malpractice suits with mo doctor error involved. Good doctors are afraid of being the 26% where they didn’t do anything wrog but are required to give up their livelihood or their life savings. And that’s what is driving the 5-9% figure. And the plan to break even will certainly not be realized if they don’t find a way to deal with that.

    But, agreed i don’t know te solution, and agreed it definitely shouldn’t be at the expense of those who were legitimately the victim of doctor error.

    And, take my anecdotes for what they are. Just some things that I have heard as the personal stories of doctors working in the business. They are by no means meant to represent that 74% of legitimate victims of doctor error.

    But, seriously, a 74% success rate is okay with you on that? At the very least I’d think you’d be lissed tha one in four cases were clogging an already clogged court system, slowing down the justice deserved by those genuinely wronged.

  229. Arthur. IN not I’m. I’m not a police officer.

    Regarding Clifton’s issue, I met a retired marine one star once. He did not have a very high opinion of the torture gets good information perspective either. I don’t think any genuine interrogation professional does. And by genuine, I mean not a person that watched a shit ton of twenty four as their training and then charged into a room and, well, tortured a person.

  230. OtherBill: But, seriously, a 74% success rate is okay with you on that?

    10% of costs is malpractice. But 74% of malpractice cases involve actual errors. In my book, that means that 2.5% of costs is wasted on malpractice. The rest were legitimate cases of malpractice.

    Once you get down to 2.5% of costs, you start getting into the noise, and I start de-prioritizing it.

    Especially considering other statistics like: 50% of all bankruptcies come from people overwhelmed with medical billa. And 80% of those people had insurance when the got sick. Or statistics like Canada spends 2100 per person. America spends 5500 per person. a 100% difference.

    how is it 2.5% gets such a high priority in light of these massive numbers?

  231. Greg @ 270 – I think we disagree on our intrepretation of the numbers and their implications. I spelled out what I thought in the previous post. Interpreted your way, I understand your conclusion. I still think your intrepretation incorrect, but I’ll grant you you’re conclusion is right if your interpretation is.

    Regarding your mention of bankruptcies, absolutely. I think that is, as it should be, the clarion call to action on the adminstration of healthcare in the united states. And, as such, it is rightly the driver of a number of other issues outside of our discussion, like the the insurers right to drop clients when they suddenly become sick.

    However, I fundamentally believe that you can not fix healthcare in the united states without addressing all of the problems. Arguments that this or that detail is insignificant or worth too little for the struggle to right them are nonsense. Has it been so easy to get to the point where most people involved would be willing to sign on to fix even some of the problems? and for that matter, we aren’t exactly there. The democrats are selfdestructing over their inability to agree on what to address and how. And republicans, well as if republicans haven’t been a party to many of the drivers of what isn’t working in healthcare. How embarassing it is for them to preach about the sanctity of medicare and what the proposed reforms will do to it.

    Healthcare presents a difficult challenge. And its solutions will require creative thinking from all parties and difficult work to make any reform work.

  232. Greg @ 270- I reread my post. I didn’t say it explicitly, and I’m not sure that didn’t obscure one point.

    The 74% that you refer to reads, in the language of the source provided, to apply *only* to the 2-3% mentioned as costs due to malpractice suits. It does not apply to the 5-9% figure mentioned reflecting costs of defensive medicine due to fear of malpractice.

    My interpretation, what it’s worth.

  233. you can not fix healthcare in the united states without addressing all of the problems.

    Except we’re trying to enact Health Care Reform, not health care perfection. So, we just have to make it better than it was. putting an end to 50% of bankruptcies in America is a pretty damn good start. If someone figures out a way to lower malpractice costs from 10% to 5%, they can still do that down the road.

    Direct question: How will tort reform make malpractice cost less?

    Don’t give me the things you know won’t work. Don’t give me anecdotes about lawsuits you didn’t like. And don’t tell me it has to be on the table.

    Give me one example of tort reform change that would lower costs and keep the level of care the same. And walk me through the basic idea of how it would accomplish this.

    Here’s an example explaining how I’d fix a problem: I’m in favor of fixing the medical bankruptcy problem. Most of those people had insurance. Making it illegal to dump a health insurance customer, get rid of annual and lifetime limits, and get rid of preexisting conditions exclusions, will make it impossible for people with insurance to get dumped as soon as they get sick. Insurance will have to pay. That will reduce a major chunk of the medical bankruptcy problem.

  234. It does not apply to the 5-9% figure mentioned reflecting costs of defensive medicine

    So, 74% of 2-3% is pittance to be ignored. That leaves about 7% that tort reform might address, assuming tort reform does its job perfectly. Otherwise, you’ll probably end up saving maybe half or a third of that. So we’re talking about maybe only 3% total savings from tort reform.

    That’s down below my noise threshold. But, you insist, so, please provide a concrete example of how tort reform would save money and maintain level of care as requested in my previous post so I can at least grasp how it might work and and maybe see potential pitfalls.

    You say it must be on the table. I say I’ve yet to see any reason why other than the other side demands it and it may be a political bargaining chip. But I don’t see how it would save money. An example will help.

  235. Greg @ 274 – Its only below your threshhold because you’ve Talked the numbers down from what they are in the paper to what you’d already decided they represent in your head.

    5 to 9 percent is not a pittance. Despite your using tort reform as a curse word it isn’t unreasonable to include it in the conversation. If healthcare reform had started as a debate over existing solutions it would be done by now.

    I’ve stipulated I agree that reform of that cost should not be at people suffering genuine wrong. So, we are agreed on that. We are left with trifling over what is “too hard” to solve.

    My point was never that I was talented enough to come up with a solution myself, but only that the issue would ultimately require a resolution to cover cost savings already promised.

    I’ll do some reading and talking and see if I can’t come back with a possible solution. Not because you’re a goading stubborn mule of a man but because it might be stimulating to see what other solutions have been proposed from less corporate centric ideologies.

    (can goading and stubborn be used together or are they mutually exclusive principles? I think I’m mixing my animal metaphors.)

  236. GregLondon @ 274

    Texas and MN did tort reform up the wazoo and, when all was said and done, not only was there not any real policy price improvement (rose about as fast as the states that didn’t change tort) but there was no improvement on the ‘defensive testing’ end either. That’s why I keep saying that we already know it won’t help.

    Clifton

    I agree with those who have said that you certainly deserve your benefits. That said, I still reserve the right to point out when you post inane stuff.

  237. Nargel @ 276 – agreed tha their tested solutions, award caps, didn’t work. That is not a testament to the unimportance of defensive medicine costs as a problem, or the existence of the problem, just that those solutions don’t work.

  238. Greg – A couple of thoughts. First, one might cap lawyers fees. 60% is a ridiculous sum and drives up the cost of malpractice. But, agreed, that only improves the bottom line of maybe a percent of US health care costs overall. That one doesn’t make it wrong though. Would the democrats ever conceivably do this, either? I doubt it. But, it doesn’t injure the ability of patients to seek legal counsel and restitution.

    Second, medical errors doesn’t translate exactly to doctor error. When an oncologist with a private firm performs an operation, they do so with the assistance of the hospital’s teams. One thing that might prevent doctors from so continuously covering their asses is limiting joint liability for operations. Right now, if the nurse on the hospital staff makes a medical error, the doctor who is unrelated professionally in any way to said nurse would be liable for the hospital staff’s mistake. This may alleviate, as I said, their drive to cover their asses as thoroughly as possible by ordering their own tests to cover any possible error on the part of the hospital.

    As far as introducing evidence in court. Right now, there is not a requirement to prove that the medical error resulted in the negative outcome. Currently, they have only to prove that an error occurred. For example, one of the most common lawsuits that OB providers lose is ‘birth injury’. If your baby is born with a problem and the lawyers can prove that a problem occurred during delivery that is the end of it. However, they aren’t required to prove the two are related. So, if the doctor doesn’t get the baby out fast enough and there is oxygen deprivation the family could sue if the baby had cerebral palsey. But, the two aren’t proven to be medically related. This example would fall into unnecessary procedures and interventions. As in, if your wife doesn’t dilate in a timely fashion, they will immediately move to a C-section. not medically necessary, but it limits OB liability in court in terms of ‘birth injury’. and it is a procedure which apparently bills as nearly a 20k dollar procedure where a natural delivery would be roughly 3500 all said and done, with room and board after the delivery. So, OB fear of liability causes them to, as a standard procedure these days, perform an operation that is more than five times as expensive as medically required. In this country, the C-Section rate is roughly 30%, while in Europe it is 2%.

    So, a couple examples. Make of them what you will.

  239. Greg – in addition, once a woman has a c section there are almost no practices that will allow them to attempt a vaginal birth for any subsequent children. This is for two reasons. Te first is that because of the way c sections heal, it can be dangerous for mother and child. Her womb may rupture at the scar during the birthing process. This risk is not anywhere near one hundred percent, but it is increased. As a result, OBs will not allow themselves to increased liability risk, and that policy is almost absolute.

    So, if you have five kids and your first birth was an unnecessary C Section your next four kids will be born via C Section, whether necessary or not.

  240. I confess I’m doubtful about a 2% c-section rate in Europe.

    The rate in the UK is around the 25% mark, and all the European countries I’ve been able to find data for have a rate over 10% (usually significantly over 10% – more than 40% of births in Italy are by c-section).

  241. OtherBill: Despite your using tort reform as a curse word it isn’t unreasonable to include it in the conversation.

    It certainly is unreasonable if there is absolutely no proof that it would improve anything.

    All you’ve done is give horror stories and mostly anecdotal evidence about a problem. What you’ve failed to do is explain how tort reform would be a solution. But you insist on it. That should tell you something.

    You’ve told some lawsuit horror stories. But you haven’t explained how you’d make those suits go away without making it harder for the 74% of cases that are legitimate to get their day in court. You’ve told some defensive medicine horror stories. But you haven’t explained how tort reform would lower those numbers.

    from the Houston Chronicle: If you’re going to be killed accidentally during surgery, it might be better for your relatives if it happens outside of Texas.

    The article says that reform cut lawsuits in half. But if 74% were legitimate, then there’s a serious problem. The article then goes on to say this:

    State records show, for example, that a doctor who lost her license in Virginia and New Mexico was granted a restricted license in Texas.

    This is a good thing? Imagine this nationwide. Doctors who would have lost their license get to continue practicing.

    many cases, especially ones involving the deaths of children or other nonwage earners, cost so much and net so little the families skip the heartache of reliving their losses in court.

    nonwage earners? Sounds like they capped awards to be a function of income. Your death is only worth some function of how much money you made last year. Is this what you want?

    Over here is another article. It says
    Liability premiums, which had doubled before reform, have declined more than 30 percent. But then it also says: Healthcare spending has grown faster in Texas than the rest of the country. Patients are paying more for health insurance and medical bills. Doctors do more tests and scans, an indication that so-called defensive medicine hasn’t declined here.

    Insurance premiums are down. Health care costs are UP. patients didn’t save anything. All it did was make more profit for those in the industry. Great. then it says this:

    The Congressional Budget Office reached the same conclusion in 2004, writing that “even large savings in premiums can have only a small direct impact on healthcare spending.”

    followed by this: Malpractice lawsuits, lumped together with medical errors, account for maybe 1.5 percent of the $2 trillion spent on healthcare annually, experts say.

    So, yeah, I’m thinking maybe it is in the noise level.

    It’s easy to keep talking about tort reform in some vague nebulous gaseous concept. It’s a lot harder to defend specific implementations, like Texas, when it becomes painfully clear how those specifics will play out in the real world.

  242. #5 – Charles K Bradley

    “I hope our Congress does not start to look and act like the House of Commons in the United Kingdom”
    The House of Commons is far from perfect, as UK voters are very much aware. However, it does have quite strict rules on unparliamentary language and a similar outburst from Joe Wilson during a House of Commons session would have seen him directed to leave for the rest of the sitting.

    Re the larger healthcare debate – the devil’s definitely in the detail on how you implement universal healthcare and what the mechanisms are, but those in the US who appear to think it’s a bad thing in principle bewilder me. Aside from the human arguments, it can’t be cost-effective to have uninsured people wait until their condition becomes an emergency and then force hospitals to treat them at the cost of the insured. The British NHS isn’t as great as we all wish it was, but we can all visit a doctor at any time, for any medical issue, without having to worry about the bill.

  243. Other Bill 279: once a woman has a c section there are almost no practices that will allow them to attempt a vaginal birth for any subsequent children.

    This was true once but no longer is. C-sections are better than they were, and I know many women who’ve had one and had subsequent vaginal births.

  244. New updates. Still under 30 pages. Hopefully this is the last iteration:

    Prisoners_Dilemma_and_Laissez_Faire.pdf

    From the summary: Regulating one-time and short-iterated prisoner dilemma games achieves the most efficient and most fair outcome. But to achieve regulation, you must have political support. But people who tend to distrust others will tend to oppose regulation and tend to support self-interest, non-cooperative solutions instead. They may present various arguments to disprove a regulated cooperative
    outcome. And while it is important to disprove the errors in these arguments, it may not be enough. You may have to find a way to reassure them, dispel their fear, and win their trust.

    (snip)

    I think if nothing else, Obama is good at reassuring people. At least most people. After his last speech, public support for health care reform went from ~50% to around 65% or more. That’s pretty good.

    That doesn’t mean you have to implement something bad to try and get the last 5% to trust you. but trust seems to be the central issue of the opposition when government regulation is proposed.

    The other bit that seems especially relevant to teh health care reform debate:

    A person’s trust regarding a real-world prisoner’s dilemma scenario can be indicative of where they land on the political spectrum. Extreme right individuals don’t trust anyone, tend to not cooperate, and view government as an afront to their liberty. Moderate right individuals don’t trust that someone might take advantage of their cooperation if they were to offer it. Moderate left individuals tend to trust, and tend towards cooperative solutions. They also tend towards government regulation t achieve the most efficient and most fair outcome.

    What this debate has clearly demonstrated to me is that people are opposing hrc out of their distrust of others, not out of facts. Deathpanels being the perfect example of something completely non-factual, but propagated even now because it reinforces the fears a distrustful person has.

    This has been an extremely illuminating debate about human behaviour.

    Oh, and KatG, would you read my manuscript?

    :)

  245. Greg – you ignore your own numbers that you provided for the discussion. You’ve deliberately misrepresented and talked them to down to nothing so that they match your world view.

    This conversation with you continues to be a waste if time. You ignore anything that doesn’t suit you. You appear not to be an ignoramous, so I will assume you are doing it to be deliberately provacative. You find new numbers, ignore their significance, and return to the only two numbers you have from one study. I get it. One half if one percent and 2200 versus 5500. Everything else is wrong. Whatever dude.

  246. David @ 280 – hm. You may be right about that. I’m going to check around and see if I can find better numbers for the rate of cesarean sections.

    Xopher @ 283 – based on my recent experience with this and the discussions with doctors, I’d have to disagree. It is less medically necessary to avoid going back to vaginal birth. But, in terms of liability most doctors won’t take the risk. The practices that do usually do so only if they were the ones to perform the c-section.

  247. David @ 280 – I believe the roughly one in three US women undergoing cesarean is correct. I continue to be skeptical of the 2% figure for Europe. My bad on that one.

    The WHO holds 15% as an appropriate threshold for c-section rate, with 5-10% being an optimal level. Most sources seem to concur with this. Also, less, most sources seem to be saying, is likely to indicate a lack of access.

    But, that leaves rates in the US twice as high as they should be and at three times the optimal level.

  248. OtherBill: you ignore your own numbers that you provided for the discussion.

    Dude, I was looking for infomation about Texas and found a third set of numbers. Why should I ignore them? My first set was .5%. My second set was 10%. The third set was 1.5%. You didn’t get mad when I found the second set which disagreed with the first. I can only assume you didn’t get mad because set #2 agreed with your position, so you let that slide. Then looking for info about Texas, I found another set of numbers and included them. Now you’re mad because #3 takes the numbers back down again and disagrees with your worldview. And me, I’m just including them into the list of numbers I’ve found about how much malpractice costs and I see no reason to ignore them.

    But here’s your even bigger problem. It doesn’t matter if the cost is 2% or 10% or even 20%. The problem is that you assert that tort reform will make costs go down. But Texas had tort reform and while malpractice costs went down, total healthcare costs went up. It sounds like the CBO is correct in saying that there is little correlation between tort reform and health care costs. i.e. the costs are not driven by lawsuits. But you still cling to tort reform.

    How am I the one ignoring the data when the data in Texas says tort reform doesn’t work? How am I the one who ignores anything that doesn’t suit me when you ignore Texas? Give me an example of how you’ll lower costs, explain how tort reform will work when Texas didn’t, and then we’ve got something to work with.

    Otherwise, all we’ve got to work with is your word that tort reform will somehow lower costs, but you can’t explain it and you can’t explain why it failed in Texas.

  249. More fun stuff: A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study published in the new New England Journal of Medicine issue shows support for healthcare reform with a public option at over 70% from physicians. 10% wanted the single payer, and 63% want reform with a public option and private insurance. Only 27% support private insurers only. Of those doctors in the survey who belonged to the AMA, 62.2% of them want a public option with private insurers, even though the AMA has taken the stance of private only, claiming that a public option will destroy private insurers. So they’re not even listening to their own membership, Other Bill, which might be worth looking at in your discussion. Also 58% of them wanted to expand the age range on Medicare to start at 55 instead of 65.

    Less fun: in eight states and D.C., getting beaten up by your spouse is considered a pre-existing condition which can get you denied health insurance or kicked off of it. In 2006, the Democrats tried to end this idea, but the amendment got voted down by the Republicans in the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, including a no vote from Sen. Enzi, who is part of the bipartisan Gang of Six committee. Oy.

  250. Greg – you asked for examples on my part and I gave you a couple not involved in the way Texas attempted tort reform. Your response was a littany of things that I largely agree with you on about how the previous proposals didn’t work out.

    Saying that one set of solutions didn’t make the cost go down does not equal that malpractice is a driving factor in unnecessary tests. Of which, I provided an example for both how malpractice is a driver for unnecessary procedures and tests and how it might be countered in a way that I believe was not a part of texas’ experiment on tort reform.

    As far as switching numbers around, you’re right you brought in separate numbers. But, when talking about the importancce of ten percent of the expenditures you whittled them down by saying there isn’t a way to perfectly alleviate them, so they are unimportant. You started by making the conversation about numbers. Then you manipulated the numbers to say something they didn’t or make them seem unimportant.

    From my perspective, you’ve asked for other numbers. We both found them and you ignored them. You asked for positive examples of how reform might work, and I provided examples. You ignored them by discussing things that already didn’t work.

    But when you talk about numbers like reducing the number of bankruptcies by increasing the rights of insured patients (somethig we both whole heartedly agree on) I don’t whittle them down to unimportance by suggesting that it will be hard to get the insurance companies total compliance. There will still be battles between hospitals and insurers over what should be covered and how much should be paid out at any given time. And it will take a lot of hard work to nail that down and get it working right. That doesn’t mean we throw out the problem. That means we keep working for a solution.

    I keep agreeing with you on the majority of your complaints about the way tort reform has previously not worked and about how that shouldn’t negatively effect patients rights.

    I also keep jumping through the hoops tha you ask to keep up my side of te debate. When I do, you ignore the points that don’t work for how you have decided tort reform works internally. That’s why I say the conversation seems pointless. You keep thinking what you’ve decided without acknowledge any ofthe counterpoints that you or I come across.

    I’m not saying you have to change your mind because I have a difference of opinion with you. I’m totally okay with that and I definitely respect your right to your position. But don’t base a conversation on your willingness to consider other numbers and other examples and then ignore them. If you don’t want to change your mind, that’s fine. I’m not frustrated with that. I’ve enjoyed the debate inasmuch as it has given me a reason to look up information on a subject of interest.

    But you keep saying things I’ve told you I agree with as though we are on opposite sides of those issues in response to the very different information you’ve asked me to provide.

  251. KatG @289- thanks for that tidbit. I’ll look ip and read the journal article later tonight. Much appreciated

  252. Other Bill 278

    One of several posts you ignored mentioned the fact that tort reform, by using the large upfront costs required in a malpractice (medical or otherwise) suit, strongly reduces the likelihood of a valid case even being filed. So now your argument is to make it even harder and unlikely to file a valid suit.

    I posit that tort reform is not, and will never be in any form, the answer. Stop wasting time, yours and everybody else’s, and energy in a futile quest. Find a different, better concept that might actually work but quit complaining about the current attempt at health care improvement in a quixotic chase of the ‘tort reform’ miracle.

  253. Nargrl @ 292 – I’m not complaining about the current health care reform attempt. I’m quite in board with it. I don’t accept the argument that a solution can’t be found, or that it won’t eventually be resolved or successful.

    It is important because the doctors ordering unnecessary tests and procedures are arguing that those exist because of fear of malpractice. Those tests will not be eliminated if that issue is nit addressed. And that is part of the proposal right now to pay for the changes to be made. That doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not tort reform will work. It has to do with the reform currently proposed and the cost savings measures proposed. Where will the money come from if they don’t fix that?

    Regaring your first paragraph, I don’t understand what you are saying. Which post was it, or will you give a couple more sentences to clarify?

  254. Other Bill

    You say we need to do something about the extra tests. I am not arguing against that. I keep pointing out something else.

    Tort reform is not, and never will be, the answer to that.

    In practice it has failed in several ways. When stressed it has only made things worse. In areas other than medicine, it has failed in similar ways.

    You complain about the surgeon getting blamed if the nurse makes a mistake. Isn’t he getting the big bucks for, among other things, being in charge? IIRC, counting sharps and other tools is on the check list before ‘close the patient up’. If that step is forgotten, the responsibility is not 100% the nurse. Maybe the guy with the scalpel in his hand should have considered it.

    Please come up with a mechanism that could act like you want tort reform to do. I would be glad to discuss that and it’s plusses/negatives. Anything that would have a chance to work.

    I agree with you on many points. But.
    Tort reform is not The Answer. Insisting that it be MADE TO WORK NOW is not something that will, in any way, help the process. I do not want a lesser bill. I am already cranked off at the likelihood that mandates will show up four years before a functional alternative to the big seven companies does. Wasting political effort to crowbar in something we know in advance won’t work? Not optimal.

  255. Little confusion here. ActBlue has Miller climbing toward 1 million, but other sources are saying that Miller actually has 1.5 million now and Wilson is up to a million.

  256. Other Bill

    Why do I assume that tort reform is your Big Issue?

    Because it seems to be the only answer you will accept. When shown that it is not working, instead of suggesting an alternative, the response I see (rightly or wrongly) is always a version of “Then maybe if we tweak it like so” followed by something that won’t logically work like making it harder to file in the first place. And then pointing out that tort reform needs to be incorporated now.

    No that’s wrong, just that malpractice issues and defensive testing do.

    O.K., make a suggestion other than tort reform that could functionally work and now may really be the time to discuss it and bring it on board. If not, let’s get a positive on the record first and use that to push the next fix.

    You are right, I was wrong. The post I was thinking about was 220. The post with the up front cost consideration was 154.

  257. KatG @ 195

    Bear in mind that there are several ActBlue donation groups and you may be seeing the total for only one. There should be a spot at the bottom with a grand total as well. There are also several places other than ActBlue that are collecting.

  258. I’ve been very involved in the health care “debate” (if such a one-sided and thus rather low form of discourse can be termed such), contacting officials, berating and supporting the Obama administration as I felt was needed, talking directly to any number of people, etc. I’m not an admirer of “personality cult” politics, and do not find ANY Democrat above reproach, nor do I tend to personalize/sentimentalize them: they are first and foremost instruments of power and wealth. But even I was shocked by the outburst. A tactical error on the GOP side I think, and I am almost certain most of the GOP knew it instantly. The striking thing to me came the next day, as Wilson stepped out of some meeting, after announcing his “apology” – a rather tame one. He seemed quite rattled and whipped to me: he could scarcely lift his eyes from the floor. I suspect the ranking members of his party gave him a screaming beat down. They would realize how ignominious and hillbilly this made them seem. It’s really quite ugly, this leaking over of the equally ugly townhall madness into the legislative body. I’ve got nothing against spirited political debate, and am actually a fan of the British “face to face” Parliamentary system. But this is both a different context (a different set of traditions) and a comment that hardly ranks up there with Socrates. Wilson seems like another fine South Carolina public servant….

  259. But, seriously, a 74% success rate is okay with you on that? At the very least I’d think you’d be lissed tha one in four cases were clogging an already clogged court system, slowing down the justice deserved by those genuinely wronged.

    Holy fuck! How did you get away with saying that and not get dogpiled?

    You honestly think that the only cases that should go to court are those where the one bringing the case will win? Really?

    You don’t think that, just maybe, the entire point of the courts is to find out the truth, which means sometimes stupid cases have to be brought to trial?

    You think the only cases that should even go to trial are the ones that the defendant will lose?

    If anything, the fact that 74% of malpractice cases involve clear errors by the doctor tells me that it’s probably too hard to bring suits.

  260. Nargel @ 294 – okay.

    I think, obviously, we just disagree about whether or not tort reform can be effective. I think it’s important and take kind of the Edison lightbulb approach to ways that didn’t work. I think award caps are just so wrong in reality that I don’t want that idea to derail something I see a problem. I don’t want to pontificate, so I’ll leave that at that.

    As far as joint liability in the surgery. The doctor is the leader of the team in that he is the primary surgeon. Yes. But he doesn’t hire or select his team in any way. He uses the team as provided by the hospital. And when the surgeon is done, the way medicine is practiced, the doctor does not close up the patient. The doctor doesn’t prepare or clean the tools used in the surgery. So, I do fundamentally believe the responsibility in that example is not that of the doctor. The team puts the scalpel in the doctors hand and takes when they are done with it. Ince done the doctor leaves the room. If the assistants jostle the tray or make a mistake then, it isn’t the doctor fault, but he is still liable for it.

    Regarding alternatives. I’m not really sure what another mechanism might be. I appreciate that a lot of previous effort on this sort of reform has pretty much left most people on the other side of the debate feeling like they bare handed a hot pot.

    Closing off joint liability only ensures that the person making the mistake is held accountable. In the situation I described, it doesn’t limit the righ of the patient to seek restitution from the offender in any way.

    As far as a mechanism that does that with out reform, I just don’t know. Major surgeries have to take place in accredited hospitals. But mos doctors venture out into private practices, which does help with general access to healthcare. I’m also not sure what would cost more, malpractice insurance and the unnecessary tests or the cost of hiring a full surgical attending team for each practice.

    But, in terms of options that limit access to healthcare or the right of the patient to seek restitution, I don’t think any of the options I proposed do that. I too would be glad to toss around any alternatives that you think of. And I will continue to think on ways outside tort reform.

    Regarding your last paragraph. I’m not insisting that tort reform be wedged in now or failure is imminent. I’m not in any way opposed to non tort reform soluions that accomplish the same ends as the alternatives I suggested.

    I share your sentiment about mandates now for options that won’t show up for four years. And I add to it the concern that part of the cost savings proposed will never materialize if they don’t address doctors concerns, whether through tort reform or non tort reform alternatives. I’m not hung up on tort reforms so much as I’m hung up that the problem won’t be fixed if the drivers aren’t addressed in some way.

    But I would say thatthe way the bill is worded now is by mo means optimal either. Just considering the issue you mentioned outside of tort. We have a bill full of half measures and half solutions. I don’t want that. But, we both agree that full measures on allthe reforms being discussed are appropriate. I’m not fighting the completion of the bill, I’m drawing attention to another half measure area. I don care how it’s addressed, just that it is.

    Tort reform has been pretty well trodden into the ground by non well meaning parties that have made that zone scorned earth. But whether it’s scorched earth or not, the bill is promising savings in an area it can’t deliver on if they don’t address it in some way.

    And as a general rebuttal to your assertion, sir, that I am wasting time: go suck an egg. I’m pretty sure that we’ve all got time to waste as much as we sit around here and jaw at each other. Or have you found the secret gun I keep next to your head to keep you here?

    It’s all in the spirit of debate here and I enjoy the conversation. But unless the mallet of loving correction comes down, I assume we are all enjoying a back and forth. Yours and gregs challenges have been largely welcome. It’s helping me to think about how I would argue my point more convincingly next time. Oh, and it’s been nice to hear thoughtful opposing positions. I have indeed learned a thing or two and I hope the feeling is mutual. And if it isn’t, go suck an egg.

  261. Michael @ 299 – ouch. Stone cold stomp down. I like how you said that. no sarcasm intended.

    74% of cases are proven to have a medical error involved. However, lawyers are not required to prove that the negative outcome was in any way related to the medical error. Which is still a problem for me. I defintely don’t know the non tort reform solution forthat one.

  262. Nargel – one other thing. Doctors get the big bucks too because they start out their careers two hundred thousand dollars in debt for an incredibly demanding trade at a job that doesn’t even service their debt for the first several years on the job while they work more hours than most guys with three jobs do.

  263. Other Bill @ 300

    Obviously we have been cross posting a bit here. I doubt your 300 would have ended as it did if you had read my 296. :)

    I didn’t say that you were wasting MY time. I was just trying to get you to see that TR was not going to be The Answer and maybe the answer was elsewhere.

    And I don’t suck eggs. I fry them or throw them. Some fresh ground lemon pepper, grilled onion, a little sour cream… Yessss.

  264. Nargel @ 303 – ha. A bit a bit perhaps. I know I won’t sell you on the tort reform in general. I think a bit if my republican side shows in that I see a nail and tort reform as the answer.

    But I really do get what you are saying. Pragmattically, it will have to be some non tort reform idea to correct the problem. And, if we agree the problem exists, I’m sure we can find some non tort reform mechanism that would be more palatable to the debate in the national forum. I’ll continue to think on it and see if I can’t find the work of someone more well versed to steal some practical ideas from for our discussion.

  265. KatG@289, it’s kinda weird that the AMA isn’t doing what their members want. I wonder how that happened. Spouse abuse is a preexisting condition? My god. The states that allow that ought to be publicly shamed.

    OtherBill: you asked for examples on my part and I gave you a couple

    You gave me anecdotes of things not working. Woman dies of cancer because she doesn’t listen to her doctor, husband sues, loses, doctor still has legal bills.

    That’s an example of a problem. I keep asking you for an example of a solution. Yeah, it’s a problem that greenhouse gases are raising temperatures on earth. No, wood-burning cars is not a solution.

    How would you save the doctor that money? Make it harder to sue? When most cases are legit? You present all these problems, which may very well be anecdotally true, but statistically, how do you fix the problem without creating a different problem?

    You keep thinking about individual problems. And apparently, you are implying individual solutions. But you’re not thinking systemically. How do you protect the doctor from legal fees from bad lawsuits without making it harder for real lawsuits to get through?

    You might as well propose Maxwell’s Demon. Some thing which takes no energy and requires no work, and somehow separates hot from cold and raises entropy.

    Sure, it would be great if you had some system that could detect bad lawsuits without costing any money or requiring any overhead or having any salaries to pay, and separate the bad lawsuits from the good lawsuits, but it doesn’t exist. That’s what the court system does.

    I’m asking for an example of a working solution. I don’t need any more anecdotes about the problem.

    How would tort reform be implemented to lower defensive medicine? How would you solve the problem of defensive medicine without resorting to a Maxwell’s Demon type solutions? How do you separate what is defensive medicine and what is helpful medicine without any overhead, without costing anything, and without lowering the quality of patient care? It can’t be done.

    So, give me a real world solution that would cause the cost of defensive medicine to go down without adding its own cost that’s even greater.

  266. Wilson and Miller are now claiming equal donations at 1.5 million apiece. I’m giving two links to columns by liberal commentators, but they are interesting re what we’ve been discussing, one on conservative arguments on the public option and another on Wilson and far right behavior. You can see what you think:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dean-baker/the-public-plan-option-an_b_286790.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lorelei-kelly/screaming-joe-wilson-newt_b_287073.html

  267. Greg @ 306 – back at 278 and 279 I think I provided nonanecdotal ideas for ways that I thought tort reform could both address defensive medicine and nit limit the ability of the patient to seek restitution from the offender responsible for the negative outcome.

    Addendum, Dave pointed out that 2% c section rate in Europe was wildly off base and I concurred. There’s a place in the US called the farm, where women can go to have a very earthy/hippy version of an all natural birth. Their rate is 2%. even though they’ve only lost two mothers, I’d concur with what in a later post I noted the WHO says. 15% should be an upper limit. 5-10% would be ideal. Anything less indicates not enough access to medicine. I have no idea how I mixed the farms rate for Europe. I can only plead sleep deprivation.

  268. OtherBill: back at 278 and 279 I think I provided nonanecdotal ideas

    278 has two ideas:

    limiting joint liability for operations. Right now, if the nurse on the hospital staff makes a medical error, the doctor who is unrelated professionally in any way to said nurse would be liable for the hospital staff’s mistake.

    I don’t know anything about that one. Would have to do some research.

    As far as introducing evidence in court. Right now, there is not a requirement to prove that the medical error resulted in the negative outcome. Currently, they have only to prove that an error occurred.

    Causation is difficult to prove. The Schiavo case comes to mind. She ended up in a coma. What caused the coma? Years were spent between the husband and Shiavo’s parents arguing over whether it was her diet or that he had physically abused her. I’m not convinced on this one.

    279 doesn’t have any suggested solution that I can find. It just says c-section rates are higher in the US than in Europe, which David contradicted in 280.

    WHO says. 15% should be an upper limit. 5-10% would be ideal.

    The US is 30%. (I do wish you’d provide links for numbers like this) The assumption is that the additional 15%-20% is defensive medicine?

    How do we know the excess C-sections isn’t doctors trying to pay for their yachts? Maybe they’re just overcharging to make money and then blaming lawsuits.

    And what is your proposed solution to lower this excess rate of C-sections in the US? Maybe I missed it.

  269. Greg @ 309 – fair point on the links.

    “Causation is difficult to prove.” But, medical malpractice cases are not trying to decide whether her husband forcibly starved her or she starved herself. Medicine is a science, and I absolutely disagree that causation is difficult to prove. I appreciate, I think, where you were coming from on that point. But, and I know you weren’t using it like this, the causation is difficult to prove argument is what the parents of kids with no vaccinations against some pretty serious diseases say when backed into a corner about their fear of their kids being given autism by said vaccine. I can’t think of any other types of court cases where the defendant can be convicted without anyone having proven that he or she actually did anything that caused the negative outcome.

    As far as 279 and the rates (and i noted david’s quite right contradiction) they are there to support the causation argument as a real world example of how a standard practice has been created as a result of fear of malpractice suits.

    As far as how do we know the doctors aren’t just trying to pay for their yachts. I think because doctors approve of measures that will allow them to stop these kinds of tests and procedures. As far as my experience, 1100 of the almost 20k that the insurance paid out was programmed for the OB surgeon.

    Kind of relevant, but slight offshoot. We used a midwifery group for my wife’s primary care, partly because their c-section rate was about 11%. And because their medical philosophy was nothing pushed that was not required medically. And because they stay with you the whole time. Did you know that with normal practices, it can literally be just you and your wife in the hospital room right up until just before a baby pops out? Complications, etc. so forth, when the midwife ordered the c section, I think she got paid an extra two hundred dollars.

    Overall, the lion’s share went to the hospital itself. Run by an administrator, but not the doctor performing the operation. I’m not sure how my case stacks up though, because since our primary care was not an OB, the OB they used for the surgery is, i think, a private company that has a contract to provide services directly for the hospital.

    I do think fixing the requirement for causation will bring down the c-section rate. If the WHO argues that 15% is roughly a medically appropriate/acceptable rate. Then we do have some issue here in the US with it. I appreciate that the case has not been proven with the numbers as yet that fear of ‘birth injury’ lawsuit is the driver there. But, between the doctors are just looking for money and the fear of the birth injury lawsuit, I think the latter is more likely. However, a third option is a possible contributor. Convenience. It might just be easier, with all the doctor’s time demand, to schedule a c-section and be done in half an hour than to wait around indefinitely.

    And it may be that fear of malpractice has led to increased c-section rates. and as a result, more people have been exposed to the opportunity to push a c-section on those indifferent to make a bit of extra money and protect themselves. I don’t think it’s an absolute every doctor feels that way. But, I am arguing that the fear is the primary driver.

    I’m trying to find info or research on c-section rates for Tricare beneficiaries in military hospitals. I don’t think you can sue your doctor there and it might be relevant to the conversation to see what the rates are and why studies think they are what they are.

    But, overall, it was just meant to be an example of how I think fear of malpractice can lead to an altering of the way medicine is practiced.

  270. The news that a Max Baucus backed bill has cleared is – in reality – a disappointment. The plan is closely related to the one Mitt Romney got when he was governor, and it’s a windfall for insurance companies: we will all be required to have insurance, and there will be a government cash penalty if we don’t buy into this boondoggle. It won’t even cover all Americans, and has no way (such as the public option) to really hold insurance companies to rational increases in premiums. Max Baucus is an insurance-company whore – not that that is rare. So is Joe Wilson, and many of the other Congressional members, and that’s the main reason we are being screwed. Obama is in a political bind, since he desperately wants to sign something into law, but in the long run this will not contain costs, and will not move the U.S. out of 36th place in the world health care rankings. Also, at least 86 members of the House (including Nancy Pelosi) have already stated in writing that they will not sign on to any health care bill that excludes a public option, so the whole thing is a mess. The fight – of course – is not over, and the bills have to be eventually reconciled. And – overall – the political numbers favor the House bills which include the public option, but then they are open to filibusters and the falling off of the “Blue Dogs”. So it’s still open to influence, although I think those most “favored” (i.e. bribed) by insurance corporations have turned off their hearing aids. If a Baucus-like bill eventually makes its way to the White House, I would prefer it not get signed, because such a “Pyrrhic victory” will delay real reform that much longer. Better we drop it, point fingers, and get back to electing real statesmen in place of the company men we’ve got now. A disappointment at this juncture…

  271. The Supreme Court last year sent a case down to be enlarged and returned this year.They got it back the same day that Wilson was grabbing all the attention. Today’s corporate minded court is showing every sign of ruling against a hundred plus years of precedent.

    If they rule as expected, corporations will be allowed to directly and legally bribe politicians thru campaigns and not even amount restricted to the per person limits.

    If they don’t do robust health care reform now, it is about to get exponentially harder.

  272. Nargel @ 314 – I was a republican of the non-Conservative variety. I generally think less money in politics is a good idea. I looked at the politico article that you provided. I didn’t check the Washington post one, the other page is behind an email wall that I don’t feel like overcoming on my phone at the moment.

    Based on what I saw, it looks like what the corporations will be able to do is run issue related ads to the tune of many dollars, but the cap TBD in the decision. If the decision is in it’s favor. Is that correct. I’ve only seen snippets of the story to date.

    If that’s the case, I’d still agree it isn’t a good trend to start, but it isn’t wholesale funneling of money. But don’t take that statement for anymore than it is: my offhand remarks from a snippet of a news story.

    From the general standpoint that corporations rights to free speeh are being infringed currently, I’d agree with the original ruling. Not so much as the danger from where the other end of the pendulum was prior to the initial ruling. And the smarmy quote at the end of the politco piece where the guy says basically sometimes corporations know better. Jesus. Their PR representatives need to slap the hell out of that guy. He had to be way off message. What a stupid thing to say. Put that quite in the mouth if the insurance industry reps. Sometimes we know better how the business of health insurance should be run.

    I’m not too thrilled with what I saw in the politico piece. But it also doesn’t seem like the nuclear bomb of campaign finance unreform. Again, that just how it comes off. But, when I get back to the full computer I’ll look up some mire info.

    Thanks for drawing attention to that.

  273. Oh, and pertinent to our previous conversation. Tonight Anderson Cooper is running a piece on doctors and malpractice reform. I think they may have run a piece from the lawyers perspectives earlier. He may have the story on his site.

  274. Other Bill @ 315

    I did explicitly link to Politico and WaPo to avoid the “that site is too liberal” bs that tends to show up with a huffington post article or such. My point being to point out what the conservative and corporate leaning sources are saying. Look at what overruling the cases listed in just the Politico piece alone could open up.

    When a bit was added to a SC ruling by a -clerk- not even the judge, we got ‘corporate personhood’. That is not something we should be enlarging on.

  275. What goes around comes around.

    It wasn’t that long ago that a freshman senator from Illinois, among nearly the entire Democratic side of Congress, heckled President George W. Bush during his address by standing up and clapping so loudly he couldn’t be heard even with the mic at full. I guess people forgot about that.

  276. Anyone who’s still following along The Washington Post has this article which I found informative.

    A major business lobby weighed in Tuesday, saying that if current trends continue, annual health-care costs for employers will rise 166 percent over the next decade — to $28,530 per employee.

    “Maintaining the status quo is simply not an option,” said Antonio M. Perez, chief executive of Eastman Kodak and a leader of the Business Roundtable. “These costs are unsustainable and would put millions of workers at risk,” Perez said in a statement.

    Rather than letting the trends go unchecked, employers will probably adopt a variety of cost-saving measures, said Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, an alliance of corporations. Those steps could include giving employees financial incentives to participate in weight-loss programs, order prescription drugs by mail and undergo health assessments, she said. In addition, before workers pursue costly procedures such as back surgery, they could be required to receive briefings that explain the potential downside of the treatment, Darling said.

    Gosh, that sounds an awful lot like the “rationing” that Republicans were screaming about.

    Almost two-thirds of corporations surveyed by the Mercer consulting firm plan to call on employees to pay a greater share of health plan costs next year, according to a report last week.

    For which, I’m sure, Republicans will blame Obama.

    The Kaiser Family Foundation survey, released Tuesday, obtained in-depth responses from more than 2,000 private firms and non-federal public employers. The foundation focuses on health issues; its collaborator, the Health Research and Educational Trust, is affiliated with the American Hospital Association. Annual premium increases for families, which totaled 13 percent in 2002 and 2003, have held steady at 5 percent since 2007, the groups reported. Premiums for single coverage did not rise significantly in 2009, breaking a long-standing trend.

    However, premiums have continued to rise faster than wages and overall inflation, the survey found. Though family premiums for 2009 rose 5 percent, during the 12-month period ending in April, general inflation fell 0.7 percent.

    Of course, middle class wages have been stagnant since Bush Jr. took over. The incomes of executives, however, have always gone up faster than inflation.

    There was a class war. And unless you’re really wealthy, you lost.

  277. J.M. Cornwell: “It wasn’t that long ago that a freshman senator from Illinois, among nearly the entire Democratic side of Congress, heckled President George W. Bush during his address by standing up and clapping so loudly he couldn’t be heard even with the mic at full. I guess people forgot about that.”

    Bullshit. And more to the point, the Congressional code of conduct which Wilson swore to uphold as part of his office specifically prohibits calling the President a liar on the floor of the House. Further, the accusation was false. The President wasn’t lying, Wilson was deliberately misleading and antagonizing for his own personal political gain with his base, at the expense of his own political party. He’s a scumbag, and his fellow Republicans think he’s a scumbag; they’re just trying to save face. He owed an apology to Congress as well as to the President because he broke his word as a Congressman and deserted his responsibilities. But he won’t, because he’s manipulating people like you who think he’s being a kick-ass cowboy.

    What’s clear is that even when Baucus gave the Republicans supposedly everything they want, a total gift to the insurance industry, they still won’t back it. It’s clear that the Republicans have decided overhauling the healthcare system is not as important as elections. Which means we’re still stuck in a shoot yourself in the foot country.

  278. Kat, the Republicans have put forward more than 33 bills on health care reform, but that isn’t getting any press. I’d say that points to the Reps doing something about reform and saying it in print that it’s important.

    What the president said was partly untrue. In my book, that’s a lie, so Wilson was right, although his actions were wrong; I didn’t say they weren’t. I just pointed out that this is not something earth shaking or new and that the president has done the same thing, as have most of the Dem side of Congress.

    As far as I am concerned, an apology has as much validity and power as a judge telling a jury to disregard illegal evidence they’ve already heard.

  279. “Kat, the Republicans have put forward more than 33 bills on health care reform, but that isn’t getting any press. I’d say that points to the Reps doing something about reform and saying it in print that it’s important.”

    Yes, at the bequest of the private insurers to get them more money, and to gut Medicare. Sorry but Republican “plans” have teetered between utterly vague and empty to destructive. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t and aren’t involved in the debate — they should and are. But several Republican politicians have freely admitted to the media that they’re trying to kill the bill for political gain.

    That Baucus can’t get his version of the bill through his own committee, which consists of three Republicans and three conservative Democrats, when it provides all the terms the Republicans demanded should be in the bill, that signals that the Republicans have little interest in bi-partisanship or trying to get any real kind of reform. The Republicans’ track record on healthcare is lousy and a large part of why the system is in the mess it is now.

    The proposed bill specifically prohibits illegals from healthcare coverage. That the ban MAY be hard to enforce does not negate its existence or intent. The President did not lie. Wilson lied, he knew he lied, he knew he was hurting his own party, and he did it anyway. What he did was also specifically what he had promised not to do, and as such was a breach of his office. It’s not the “same thing” at all. More to the point, a Southern white Congressman — who belongs to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, worked for Thurmond, and lobbied to keep the Confederate flag flying over the SC capital building — shouting that the black president is a liar has a racial impact in the country that any decent human being would have refrained from trying to invoke.

    And Rush Limbaugh and the other mouth-breathers have picked it up. Now we have the Obama Nation where black people lie, beat white people and try to steal their money. So no, I don’t think what Wilson did was wrong but inconsequential.

  280. KatG: If what Wilson did was so inconsequential, you wouldn’t be still griping about it.

    Universal (socialized) health care is not the panacea you and others like you believe it is, but it is the road paved to hell by good intentions. Tug on the heart strings and load on the guilt long enough and intelligent discussion and wisdom go out the window. Socialized medicine has done so much for other countries around the world, like the UK which has gone nearly bankrupt funding a failing system. It’s one of those ideas that looks good but falls apart in practice.

  281. After Rep. Joe Wilson showed his stupidity by interrupting the Pres. speech by calling out “YOU LIE” in a joint session of congress, he called his wife, and she said “Joe who was the nut that hollered out you lie” -Wilson said “it was me”, and she said NO really-who was it? I guess she really didn’t think he was that stupid.
    In my opinion Wilson lost his 2010 election that night with just 2 little words.

  282. “Universal (socialized) health care is not the panacea you and others like you believe it is…It’s one of those ideas that looks good but falls apart in practice.”

    Nope. No doubt the UK is having financial problems – as is most of the known world. But the facts are facts: the U.S. pays nearly twice as much as the rest of the “advanced” world for health care and ends up about 36th on the list of best health care systems. So, the fact is the U.S. is already paying for its health care system, but at double the price as others. So while the U.K. might be having problems with its system, they are not having as many problems as we are. I doubt very seriously (and the facts back me up) that any country that already has a health care system such as France, Canada, England, etc. – despite any current financial problems – would elect to solve their problems by tearing down their system and replacing it with our model – and that’s more telling than a (rather irrelevant) comment that this or that nation is facing economic concerns: we ALL are. And besides, maybe you hadn’t noticed, but the U.S. is going bankrupt also, and a big part of that is the large cost we pay for inadequate care. These are just facts. Nobody says a better health care system would be a “panacea” for our society, but when you are paying twice as much for something than everyone else, and getting worse results…well…anyone can tell you that you are being screwed. Maybe your neighbor is having financial problems also, but if you are paying double for a worse service he gets for half the cost, both of you would realize that he has a better deal.

  283. There’s a petition specifically opposed to Max Baucus’s bill and demanding a public option. If all we do for “reform” is mandate that everyone must have insurance, all we do is send sheep to the slaughter. If we’re goign to mandate everyone have insurance and impose penalties on those who don’t, we need to provide a public option that provides insurance that is cheap because it isn’t profit driven.

    Petition is here:

    http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/publicoption_reid/?rc=ol_091509

  284. Nobody says a better health care system would be a “panacea” for our society, but when you are paying twice as much for something than everyone else, and getting worse results…well…anyone can tell you that you are being screwed. Maybe your neighbor is having financial problems also, but if you are paying double for a worse service he gets for half the cost, both of you would realize that he has a better deal.

    Except that it’s not going to be a better deal: reduced care, increased taxes and ancillaries, etc. Who do you really think will be paying for your neighbor’s, indeed all your neighbors’, health care if you’re working and he’s not? Do you think the money will just magically appear or that your taxes won’t increase? That’s the magic of hidden taxes and fines. And we won’t go into how well the government has managed Medicare. Do you really want the gov’t managing socialized medicine and standing between you and your doctor in making critical, or even non-critical, medical decisions?

    The root of the problem is in insurance and med costs from pharmaceuticals. Reform those, make the insurance industry more competitive, cut out frivolous law suits and exorbitant malpractice costs and health costs will come into line. Don’t you find it interesting that insurance companies pay less and less, refuse to pay for preventative procedures and methods, and yet still manage to pay their executives millions of dollars? More govt is not the answer, not until they can manage Medicare better.

    Even the Dem legislators admit that there will be no appreciable difference for the rich or the poor, just the middle class. No doubt.

  285. GregLondon: Yes, nothing like government mandated protection rackets, and that’s what insurance is — a protection racket founded in gambling and based on giving you as little of what you put into the pot as they possibly can. Insurance was once a good thing, but when the cost of group health insurance goes from no deductible and $15/bi-weekly to $350/bi-weekly and a $1000-5000 deductible, increased co-pays and more procedures denied than approved, the problem isn’t cost, especially when insurance companies are posting the biggest profits in history. And guess where some of those profits are going? Right into the president’s pocket last year for his campaign and legal war chests. Kind of makes his outrage at AIG execs getting their bonuses a little disingenuous, don’t you think?

  286. Except that it’s not going to be a better deal: reduced care, increased taxes and ancillaries, etc. Who do you really think will be paying for your neighbor’s, indeed all your neighbors’, health care if you’re working and he’s not? Do you think the money will just magically appear or that your taxes won’t increase?

    “OMG welfare queens!!!” is not actually an inteligent argument against a public option.

    And yes, actually, if we spend money on insurance, rather than emergency care for those who can’t afford insurance, we do save money. Unless you’re promoting a system in which, if you can’t afford health care, you should just die. Most conservatives come close to proposing this, but don’t actually have the guts to say it out loud.

    I doubt you have the guts either.

    Do you really want the gov’t managing socialized medicine and standing between you and your doctor in making critical, or even non-critical, medical decisions?

    And here we go again with the idiocy of the idea that a public option means that somehow the government will be running my insurance. No it won’t. I have private insurance. Unless you’re on medicare/medicaide or tri-care, so do you if you have insurance.

    Why are you involved in this debate if you can’t understand a single simple truth about it?

    Can you understand the word “option”?

  287. Josh Jasper: I said nothing about welfare queens and stick to the facts. Attacking me only proves the conservatives right, and I am not a conservative, but an independent.

    The “option” is no option. Read the bill. If at any time you have to sign up again for your insurance, you will be forced to take the govt backed insurance or be fined by the IRS when tax time comes around. Although it’s not stated, it is a TAX. And there are other loopholes and fines.

    At no time did I state or advocate anyone dying, but I do strongly advocate insurance reform, such as a moratorium on pre-existing conditions, expanded health prevention and maintenance, much lower malpractice insurance rates, no denials for needed surgeries or caps on spending, time in hospital, testing, etc., and more competitive insurance rates. Do you actually know how the insurance business works, or rather doesn’t work, and what you get for your money? The answer is not and has never been govt control. The answer is and has always been a freer and more open marketplace with realistic coverage.

    It is a fact that less money is spent on preventative and maintenance measures than on unnecessary surgical procedures and that doctors and hospitals are forced to limit hospital stays, not because they are not needed, but because insurance companies determine how long a person needs to stay in the hospital. It is insurance that drives up health care costs and it used to be insurance that kept costs low, but that was a long time ago — like about five years ago. I have worked in government, in medicine and in the insurance industry and I know first hand how it works. The answer is not more government, but reform.

    This country is already so far in debt our great, great, great grandchildren will be paying for it. The proposed bills in Congress will increase the national debt by trillions and will not result in adequate or better health care for anyone. Regulate the insurance industry and reform insurance and pharmaceutical practices and then get busy bringing down the national debt and cutting government spending and the size of government; that is where our efforts should be expended, and not in useless debate.

  288. The “option” is no option. Read the bill. If at any time you have to sign up again for your insurance, you will be forced to take the govt backed insurance or be fined by the IRS when tax time comes around.

    Damn, you’re not reading it, are you.

    If you’re *without* insurance, then you either have to have private insurance, get the public plan, or pay a fine. You always have the option to sign on for a private plan.

    Hence “option”. If you have private care, you don’t have to take the option. Going without health care isn’t something anyone sane wants anyhow.

    At no time did I state or advocate anyone dying, but I do strongly advocate insurance reform, such as a moratorium on pre-existing conditions, expanded health prevention and maintenance, much lower malpractice insurance rates, no denials for needed surgeries or caps on spending, time in hospital, testing, etc., and more competitive insurance rates.

    Of course you advocate people without insurance just dying. You simply haven’t got the guts to admit it. If someone unable to afford insurance, and can’t pay out of pocket for medical treatment, you’d rather not pay for that persona’s medical costs, and want them to just die.

    The other option is that you think that using ERs as primary care physicians is an acceptable alternative, which is possible, I guess, but it still results in deaths, because ERs don’t treat minor health problems that will eventually kill you if not treated. They refer you to doctors, who, without insurance, will just bill you. So if you can’t afford the care, you die.

    The end result is the same. People without healthcare are dying, and you’re pretending that it’s because malpractice costs make it too expensive, and that magically, everyone will be able to afford treatment if there’s no public option.

    Mandating that people get health insurance the only rational solution, because only an idiot would want to be without health insurance. And I’d rather not have idiots packing in the ER wards.

    As for how deep in debt our country is, it’d have been much worse if we didn’t bail out the banks. Admittedly, more regulation and compensation caps should have been put into place, but if 50% of the worlds credit markets collapsed overnight, we’d probably be looking at 30% unemployment.

    Being without health insurance when you have the choice of getting it at a reasonable cost is stupid.

    Having a word credit market that’s 50% collapsed is also stupid.

    But what I think you missed in the bailout was that those dollars were loans. Currently, they’re being paid *back*. It’s the FDIC picking up the tab for banks that actually did fail that’s money we’re not going to see again, because there’s no bank to pay us back when that happens.

  289. Cornwell: “If what Wilson did was so inconsequential, you wouldn’t be still griping about it.”

    You misunderstood me. I was saying that you were saying that Wilson was wrong but in an inconsequential way. I was saying that what Wilson did was not inconsequential.

    “Universal (socialized) health care is not the panacea you and others like you believe it is,”

    Please do not give me views that I have not expressed. I am not advocating universal healthcare for the U.S. and none of the forms of the bill being proposed are universal single-payer reforms.

    Mandatory insurance is being suggested in one version of the bill — Baucus’ one — which was designed to placate insurers and Republicans. They want mandatory insurance so that the private insurers can jack up their premiums higher and businesses will have to pay. And they want to have mandatory insurance without a public option. It’s a scam. But it is part of the negotiations of the various parts of the bill that are now going on in Congress.

    When there is a final bill that goes to vote, it is to be hoped that it doesn’t have mandatory insurance requirements (or if so, in a way that is not punitive,) and a public option, so that we can have not socialized medicine but a reformed private industry. If the bill does have mandatory insurance requirements without calculations as to how to keep this from punishing people, it will be courtesy of industry and the Republicans, with the Democrats giving in to get the bill passed. So it will be your own damn fault. Shoot us all in the foot mentality.

    What we have now will have our kids in debt for generations and most people without health insurance in ten years. Unless we get reform. And unless people like you stop letting far right mouthpieces feed you a bunch of lies for short-term profit.

  290. Wilson is now apparently claiming he knew the president lied because he, Wilson, has been an immigration attorney. No one has been able to find any evidence so far that Wilson ever practiced immigration law. (Ya lie, Wilson.) If I get more details on this, I’ll pass it on.

    More links to depress Greg:

    The incompetence of conservative ideology that got us into this mess:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/health-insurance-denials-delays-target-lawmakers/story?id=8590781

    And the insanity of far right ideology that further got us into this mess:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/09/16/tea-party-protesters-protest-dc-metro-service/

  291. KatG@335: More links to depress Greg:

    Ha! Says you. I’m so far down, I can’t go any lower. I win!

    wait….

    “Rep. Kevin Brady asked … why the government-run subway system didn’t… prepare for (his) rally to protest government spending and government services.”

    I got stupid all over me.

  292. Yep. Rep. Congressman Phil Gingrey (Georgia,) railing on the floor of the House about healthcare reform laughed off that 14,000 people losing their health insurance every day constituted a healthcare crisis because he claims that they didn’t lose it because of the high cost of healthcare (or impediments to getting or keeping insurance,) but because they lost their jobs. Which of course causes you to not be able to afford or qualify for insurance and afford the high costs of healthcare. But hey, completely unrelated!

    So if you’re unlucky enough to be laid off, you no longer count as a problem apparently. At least in Georgia where idiots vote Gingrey into office. Shoot in the foot, shut up and die Republicanism.

    Oh and Fox took out a full page ad slamming the other networks for supposedly not covering the tea bag march (they did,) after having used an erroneous, wildly inflated headcount for the protest that they had claimed came from ABC News.

    Wilson is supposedly up to 2 mil on contributions. Don’t know how well Miller is doing.

  293. Scalzi doesn’t have an open thread. I just saw a post over at digby that said Sotomayor questioned corporate personhood. She suggested that the court ruling from long ago that created the concept may have been wrong.

    Wow.

    with all the senators and congressmen being purchased outright by pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies, it’s nice to get a sliver of good news.

  294. @340 KatG

    Uh, if you lose your job, you lose healthcare insurance not because of the “crisis”, but because of the fact the government tax laws have forced the health insurance system into strictly a job-based format. If you change the laws, and give individual heath-insurance the same tax breaks as thru employers, this would be a moot point. This problem was created by government in the first place.

    And the wildly UNDERCOUNTED tea party estimates of approximately 70,000 by most media outlets means what? Reliable estimates now put the gathering between 500,000 and 800,000. Networks outside of Fox did a crappy job of covering the gathering.

    @341 GregLondon

    If this was reported accurately, I feel a little better about Sotomayor. Corporations suck. No argument from me. Groups of people should not be treated as individuals. Ever.

    And that includes government bureaucracies, as well as corporations. Individuals shouldn’t be able to hide behind legal fictions.

  295. Uh, if you lose your job, you lose healthcare insurance not because of the “crisis”, but because of the fact the government tax laws have forced the health insurance system into strictly a job-based format.

    A tip – after you loose your job, they stop paying you. Tax breaks don’t help much if all you’ve got is unemployment.

  296. @343

    Josh, you’re missing the point. The options for health insurance are so limited due to governmental interference that goes back to the 1940’s. Auto insurance, life insurance, homeowners insurance — none are employment based.

    The crisis with job loss in re health insurance isn’t the loss of the income, but the loss of the insurance itself. You could have money saved, but you lose the insurance because it’s tied into your employer. Yeah, you can get COBRA, but it’s not the same thing.

    People are forced to pay for insurance they don’t want or need due to restrictive laws designed to protect the market for certain insurance companies who use government influence to restrict choice, and restrict the ability of competitors to challenge their primacy. This is the exact opposite of the free market. This is the mess you get with a “mixed” economy, with political clout uber alles.

    And those that think a “public option” in health insurance will mean anything different than this are naive as hell. Gresham’s law will prevail in this as well.

    This isn’t a “health” crisis, it’s a “jobs” crisis, being exacerbated by the insane economic policies being pushed by the Obama administration and congressional Dems. The congressional Republicans suck too, but they’re not the problem at this moment.

  297. Dave – People are forced to pay for insurance they don’t want or need

    And this is where you wander off into looney land. Sane people prefer being insured. And if you hypothesize some unproven free market in which anyone can automagically get all the care they need out of pocket, I’ll laugh at you.

    This isn’t a “health” crisis, it’s a “jobs” crisis, being exacerbated by the insane economic policies being pushed by the Obama administration

    And then here’s where take the express bus into Orly Taitz territory.

    It is a jobs crisis, but it’s by no means Obama’s fault. The economy started doing what it’s doing before he took office. And if you think the bailout and stimulus made things worse, I’ll laugh even harder.

  298. @345

    Josh, I see you’re getting good exercise here setting up straw men. I’m talking about being able to get insurance without being forced to pay for crap you don’t need, as in all other forms of insurance.

    Government mandates for health insurance force the insured to pay for comprehensive coverage, which means paying for things you can’t possibly need. You can’t get coverage across state lines. Your coverage is tied to your job….etc etc etc. All that’s being proposed for “health care reform” is more of the same. When you call poison control for help, they don’t tell you to take more poison.

    Let’s try the free market for once. I hear it works real real good.

    And since when does pointing out that the bailout and stimulus frauds perpetrated by both Bush and Obama are just making things worse become equivalent with those Birther morons?

    At least you didn’t scream “racist” like Carter just did. That’s what seems to pass for rebuttal lately from the left.

  299. Dave @ 346 – considering your rebuttal of the current economic policies amounts to labeling them “insane” and “frauds” I’d be careful about your criticizing the rebuttals of others.

    And for that matter, why should criticism of things that are racist not come? Carter didn’t say everyone was a racist. Or, do you suggest that caricatures of the president as a medicine man are not racist? There is bigotry at work in some of the signage that has been produced regularly for these protests. Or how about how suddenly much of the somewhat racist sentiments regarding immigratiom have found their way into a healthcare debate? That was the starting point of this post. The birthers, and others of their ilk, are playing a disproportionately large role on the right’s side of the debate. That doesn’t make you a racist, or anyone really. The racist things that are being said make them so, and they have been labeled as such. If you are not a racist, then you have not been labeled one and you find yourself defending racists. For what reason?

    Last, Why on earth would people not require comprehensive medical coverage? What coverage will people have that they do not require?

  300. I keep figuring this conversation is done, and then some poor soul who thinks Fox covers news pops up. Fox and other propaganda sites tried to use a faked picture of the march attendance and even after it was debunked — which took about two seconds for everyone else — attempted to claim that there were still many, many people there, really there were. Fox help fund the march, promoted it, orchestrated protesters to scream for the cameras — this is not what news people do. They lied that ABC News had stated large attendance numbers for the march, and then when ABC complained, took out an ad claiming that none of the other networks had covered the march when all of them had covered it extensively. Which you’d know if you watched anything other than Fox.

    As for health insurance, big businesses including insurers have record low taxes. They charge individuals high premiums because individuals don’t make them as much money, because it makes them a profit and because they can. Then they complain about taxes because it makes morons like you, Dave, not notice they’re ripping off their customers. They got away with it for a long time because unemployment was not high enough to cause anyone to care about them or the working poor. Now it is. Employers increasingly can’t afford insurance either as a benefit because insurers have hiked their premiums to the sky way over costs. The insurers need to be reined in — even they admit that. But that doesn’t mean they won’t use people who think government is evil unless it’s far right as bargaining chips. (That would be you, Dave.)

    Insurers claim that malpractice lawsuits, taxes, illegal immigrants, and anything else they can think of are the real reason they have to charge so high, even though statistics prove this not to be the case, and please pay no attention to the obscene profits they are making. And you believe them because you believe Dick Armey is just a good-natured soul and Fox is news. It’s people like you, Dave, who brought us the economic disaster we have today, who let racists and religious zealots spew their hate everywhere and who put Bush in office where he proceeded to create disaster after disaster, the after-effects with which we are all now living. It’s people like you, Dave, who cause the rest of the Western world to look at us as crazy. It’s people like you who COST ME MONEY. And I’m done talking to people who are just mouthpieces for corporate lobbyists and don’t even know it.

    Wilson’s percentage of the vote in his district has declined rapidly over the last four elections. He beat Miller only with 59% of the vote, which for the South is pathetic, and that was after he outspent Miller three to one on the election. And the funds raised so far sound like they’re about equal — some 1.5-2 million apiece. So now Wilson’s frantically trying to open a campaign office much earlier than planned because he’s up against a Marine who did not make an idiot of himself on the Congressional floor.

  301. Aw, I don’t know. Dave was so cute! He thought he knew what “straw man” meant and tried so hard to use it in a sentence. I give a B+ for using all the vocabulary, but D- for not using it correctly.

    Also charming is his faith in the beyond-the-rainbow, glittering unregulated free market. If only that darned government didn’t keep telling the people what they can and can’t do! Don’t those government folks know that the profit motive is the purest motive and will always look out for everybody because ur-capitalists have the good of the whole society at heart? Silly regulations like 8 hour days, paid overtime, what have they ever done for anybody? Those business owners would have done the right thing anyway, if that bossy old government hadn’t interfered. Walmart’s trying to go back to those good old days now; it might be instructional to watch how it treats its employees. Walmart is very up-front about profit being its sole motive.

    I just read a great quote from Kathy Griffin. It was about finding the perfect man, but I will steal it for this topic. She said, “I believe that I will find a unicorn that craps cupcakes, but that doesn’t make it true”. (No offense to the perfect men reading this- you know who you are.) Mmmm, cupcakes.
    Anyway, I think that a totally unregulated free market that looks out for the little guy instead of the shareholders’ profits is a great big, pink, unicorn that craps chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Gotta get me one of those!

  302. The government is going to investigate a health insurance company that sent out a mailer to senior citizens attempting to scare them into opposing health care reform.

  303. It gets better — the GOP have a “survey” mailer out implying that the government will apportion care according to race and age. (I.e. the brown people are coming to take all your money and beat your children and old people. Who they will then eat, no doubt.)

    But the truly charming bon mot came from Republican politician Roy Blunt, who compared the Democrats to monkeys on a British-run Indian golf course, who they could not get rid of, so they just played where the monkeys threw the ball. I mean I give Blunt points for that — that’s racism with some subtlety, a novel re-imagining of the monkey jokes they’ve been telling for the last year and a half. Oh and Coburn’s chief of staff believes that pornography causes homosexuality. That’s a new one.

    Jaq — wait, which part is the “invisible hand”? The unicorn or the crapped cupcakes?

  304. I believe the unicorn is the invisible hand (why it’s so hard to find) and the crapped cupcakes are all the money that will fall steaming into our hands if we can only find it.

  305. Wow, I thought this thread had died out a couple of days ago.

    What the hell, let’s give it a shot, even though I should have crashed an hour ago.

    #347 Other Bill

    Carter’s comment: Former President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday that U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst to President Barack Obama during a speech to Congress last week was an act “based on racism” and rooted in fears of a black president.

    “I think it’s based on racism,” Carter said at a town hall held at his presidential center in Atlanta. “There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.”

    Hmmm. It couldn’t be ideologically based could it? Maybe we could check with Michael Steele. Or Ken Blackwell. Or Thomas Sowell. Or Walter Williams. Etc. Etc. Etc. This is getting into Godwin’s Law territory here. The race card is going to get overplayed to the point where it won’t work any more.

    As for the “birthers,” remember this lunacy started with Philip J. Berg, okay?

    As for comprehensive medical coverage, why would I need coverage for something like, say, pregnancy? That’s been fixed permanently in my household. I’m still paying for it…

    @348 KatG

    Love to see what you’re calling faked pictures of the Tea Party gathering in Washington. The best guesstimate of attendance is somewhere in the 500-800,000 range.

    Insurance companies are famous for using the government to restrict competition and guarantee captive markets, or else you’d be able to cross state lines to shop for health insurance. The only way they can get away with this crap is using state governments to write rules in their favor.

    I will give you points on the disaster motif. This bailout crap is a disaster in the making — and Obama doubled down.

    @349 Jaq

    Sure buddy. Just keep believing that big-daddy government knows better. After all, they know more about what you need than what you do. After all, getting elected means they’ve been transported to a higher ethical level, kinda like a bunch of little popes who are incapable of making bad decisions.

    Yeah, I like having my life planned for me by folks who make their living handing out political favors. I grew up near Chicago – I know better than that. Both Lake (R) and Cook (D) Counties were run by crooks — they just had different political labels.

    C’mon. Get serious. When decisions are made by someone who won’t bear the consequences of mistakes, disaster is assured. Who’s looking for unicorn poop here?

    Read your Adam Smith again. Please. Dude was a genius.

    @351 KatG

    You might want to check out the actual wording of H.B. 3200. From sections 2213 to 2232, there are at least six mentions of giving preferential funding to programs that train members of “underrepresented minority groups.”

    In all of these posts, it seems no one thinks that individuals can make their own decisions, that people aren’t smart enough to figure things out for themselves. Bad news — the self-identified elites tend to have problems doing things like filling out tax forms that the hoi polloi have to deal with. They’re “special” so the rules don’t apply to them.

    That “invisible hand” is merely the sum total of people making their own free and individual decisions. Sorry if you don’t believe in free choice.

  306. Read your Adam Smith again. Please. Dude was a genius.

    Well, as far as “invisible hand” goes, Adam Smith only used the term once, and it was in reference to a business owner doing business locally versus exporting it to other countries.

    Smith said teh business owner would keep labor local, and would only resort to foreign trade if the profit margin was extremely, extremely high. He said: “By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.”

    So, in that particular case, Smith was wrong. The exportation of American jobs to foreign countries in recent years being a real world counter example to Smith’s notion that business owners would rather support their own country and make a small profit than use foreign labor and goods to make a huge profit.

    That “invisible hand” is merely the sum total of people making their own free and individual decisions.

    That’s not what Smith used it for at all. He actually used it to mean that people would tend to help their fellow countrymen even if it meant giving up a little bit of profit. Smith said that the only way a businessman would switch to foreign labor and foreign trade would be if the profit margin was extremely, extremely high.

    Otherwise, according to Smith, business owners would prefer to use local labor and local resources, even if it means giving up better profits were they to switch to foreign labor and goods.

    It’s the laissez faire nutjobs who’ve taken Smith’s phrase, twisted it, and expanded it into a near-religious idea of an invisible God that tells its followers that the best thing for everyong is to do whatever they want to do.

    Were the Invisible Hand god to hand down some commandments, it would be “do whatever you want, be selfish pricks, and it will all magically work out”.

    Which is to say, the followers of Laissez Faire, the worshippers of the Invisible Hand, created a god in their own selfish image. Basically a sock puppet. And then they use that sock puppet to justify doing what they want to do. There is no basis in fact for laissez faire. There is no objective evidence that shows the Invisible Hand is anything other than a figment of the imagination of a bunch of paranoid socio-paths.

    In recent years, religious followers of the Order of the Invisible Hand have started using Game Theory to attempt to prove their religion. But they mangle Game Theory the same way Creationists mangle the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    It doesn’t work that way.

    http://www.warhw.com/2009/09/09/prisoners-dilemma-and-laissez-faire/

    So, it’s not surprising that you, and other laissez-faire acolytes have rewritten history to ignore what Adam Smith said about your precious Invisible Hand and ignore that he was wrong in that particular instance.

    Adam Smith understood that private groups such as manufacturers might at times oppose the public interest. Smith was opposed to monopolies and the concepts of mercantilism. He also accepted government intervention in the economy that reduced poverty and government regulation in support of workers.

    But you and your religion don’t read that part of Smith. You’ve rewritten him into the image you want and ignore his message.

  307. While this is not a comment on Dave in Georgia, who no doubt has read The Wealth of Nations, I do suspect that the number of folks who invoke Adam Smith without actually having read his work is fairly high, as it is with the number of people who like to quote the Bible and yet don’t seem to have read much of it.

    Likewise, I always find it amusing the number of people who quote Smith/Bible/any text generally associated with conservative American politics who are then surprised and often disconcerted that those they’re debating have, in fact, read the works and can argue them knowledgeably. They’re not secret documents, available only to the faithful few.

  308. Wiki is good enough on this definition for me:

    A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.[1] To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

    Now, Dave, you have actually set up a straw man argument in your last post. Pay attention, your grade and useful vocabulary could still improve.
    You attempt to refute me and say “just keep believing that big-daddy government knows better. After all, they know more about what you need than what you do. ”
    And: ‘Yeah, I like having my life planned for me by folks who make their living handing out political favors.”
    However, if you look at my original argument, I never said that government knows better than I do. I said that corporations are purely profit driven even in your pseudo- Adam Smithian world and that I believe that government regulation (remember, regulation, not take-over) is necessary to keep that profit motive from working to the detriment of your average joe.

    So, nicely done on the straw man front. You took my argument that government regulation is necessary and decided that what I really wanted to argue about was how much better government can decide what my needs are than I can.

    However, no one is talking about a government take-over of health care. We’re talking about regulation (are you really sure that you want to argue that regulation is a bad thing- check out China) and oversight, and possibly a public OPTION. I suspect your vocabulary doesn’t cover the word OPTION, however. In your next essay, I would like you to write about how the option for health insurance will stifle the free market because it is far too fragile for competition. That part should be easy- you should be able to cut and paste it from the websites you visit, although I’d prefer that you use your own words- you learn more that way. Then explain how a protected and subsidized free market is really free. Please define “free” in this context. Please use examples. For example, Obama has given us the public vs. private university example of public and private organizations remaining in healthy competition together.

  309. “Love to see what you’re calling faked pictures of the Tea Party gathering in Washington. The best guesstimate of attendance is somewhere in the 500-800,000 range.”

    The best estimate of the attendance came from the DC firefighters, whose job it is to make such estimates, and who put it at 60,000-70,000, which jibes with the estimates of numerous people there and of other city services. ABC reported this estimate.

    Whereupon, Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, which organized the event, claimed that ABC had said that first 1.5 million had attended, and then 2 million. FreedomWorks is run by Dick Armey, former politician disgraced by his associations in the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal, who then became a powerful lobbyist. Currently, he works for the private health insurers, using FreedomWorks to do things like the D.C. protest march. Armey, for instance, lied on PBS, claiming the Congressional Budget Office reported that healthcare reform would cause 100 million Americans to lose their employer-provided insurance, when the CBO had estimated no such thing. Armey got his made up figure from the Lewin Group, a research group that is owned by United Health Group, one of the largest private insurance companies in the country.

    Because Fox is not an actual news channel, but instead a propaganda arm, they went ahead with the 2 million attendee figure, which Michelle Malkin reported. Apparently, they got it from some blogs. ABC protested, and Malkin had to apologize for the “error.” Kibbe then went around claiming that it was at least 500,000, maybe near a million.

    Nearly two million people attended the presidential inauguration. Hotels and restaurants were overflowing, streets had to be closed, the Metro was swamped, the National Guard had to be brought in for crowd control. If there had been 500,000 or more people at the tea party march, it would have been more than clear to anyone in the city.

    As for the photo, it was a photo from a Promise Keepers march in 1997, that was shopped around by the protest organizers and conservative blogs, many of whom have now taken the thing down, because it was debunked in five minutes. Here are some links. These are actual news organizations. As Jaq said, you might learn something. But I doubt it.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/protest-crowd-size-estimate-falsely-attributed-abc-news/story?id=8558055

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2009/sep/14/tea-party-photo-shows-large-crowd-different-event/

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2009/09/tea-party-protest-photo-is-a-fake.html

    In other news, Cantor was at a bi-partisan, hometown VA town hall, (in which there was no screaming, so an improvement,) and when pressed as to what the Republican healthcare reform plan actually was, said that the pols were 80 percent in agreement over healthcare, instead of actually answering the question. I’m not sure that’s true, but the fact that he’s saying it does seem to indicate that reform can get hashed out and maybe passed, because as much as the Republicans want to screw up Obama on this, their stance is beginning to cost them. So maybe they’ll go with the healthcare is great now thanks to us b.s. and we can move on.

  310. @355

    Thank you, sir. I did read it on my own back in high school. When I took macro college two years later, I skipped the first three weeks of class, and aced the first test, and wound up with an A for the semester without too much trouble.

    @354 GregLondon

    Actually, he used the phrase “invisible hand” in his treatise “Theory of Moral Sentiments.” It was used to describe how people acting in their own self-interests benefited society as a whole when they satisfied their desires through free trade.

    @356 Jaq

    The “public option” won’t work. You can’t compete against an entity that a) doesn’t have to make a profit b) actually finds it profitable to run at a loss because money isn’t the point and c) can re-write the rules any way it likes at any time.

    What you’d get are corporations dumping their health plans because they have an excuse not to do it. Employees can’t keep a health plan that’s been canceled. Of course, like I’ve been mentioning throughout this thread, if health insurance wasn’t tied to employment due to governmental intrusion and regulation, this would be a null issue.

    Then again, the government would have ceded power, and lord knows we can’t have THAT.

    And yes, government take-over is the long-term goal. There’s plenty of video of Obama talking about that to sympathetic audiences in the past.

  311. Dave in Georgia@358

    “There’s plenty of video of Obama talking about that to sympathetic audiences in the past.”

    Mind sharing some of these videos to back up the statement?

    Rabid

  312. Dave – Actually, he used the phrase “invisible hand” in his treatise “Theory of Moral Sentiments.” It was used to describe how people acting in their own self-interests benefited society as a whole when they satisfied their desires through free trade.

    And yet, none other than Alan Greenspan admitted that this was inherently flawed. People acting in what they think is self interest ends up promoting better crooks.

    The differnce between Adam Smith and Alan Greenspan was that Greenspan actually had to deal with real worked implications. Smith was a theorist. Greenspan started out agreeing with Smith. He then watched “the invisible hand” destroy the free market system he loved so much. Generating fake profits, inflating them, and passing them around is consistently more profitable in the short term. This is the actual behavior of people in a free market, not theory.

    Or, to be concise, destroying the protections put in place by Glass-Steagall was proclaimed to be “free market” capitalism, and it totally screwed the entire wold economy. This is real-word proof that Smith was dead wrong.

  313. Yeah, he used it in Moral Sentiments, and he was wrong there too: In spite of their natural selfishness … they divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements. They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society.

    The invisible hand creates teh circumstances such that the improvements of business are divided equally among the rich and poor.

    Tell me in objective terms where you see that occurring in health care today? Do you see people who have insurnace and are booted from the rolls, and end up declaring bankruptcy because some corporation threw them under the bus? That’s teh outcome of self interest on the part of corporations. Is that the same outcome one would achieve if healthcare “improvements” had been divided equally among all?

    Smith is wrong. The invisible hand doesn’t lead to some magical equal dividing of resources among everyone. 50% of all bankruptcies in America are medical bankruptcies. 80% of those medical bankruptcies are people who had health insurance but got thrown under the bus by their insurance company.

    That isn’t the improvements being divided equally. Therefore, Smith is wrong.

    The further back you go in economics studies, the more you’re likely to see magical thinking. The invisible hand is magical thinking.

    It’s is proven to be magical thinking by simple game theory as I pointed in my link in my previous post. It is demonstrated to be magical thinking by looking at the corporate world today and seeing just how unequally divided the world is.

    And while you ignore Smith’s other positions on regulating markets, you take his “invisible hand” concept, something he said that is provably wrong, and you elevate it to religious dogma.

    One of the things you ignore in Moral Sentiments, is that people are not driven entirely by self-interest. People have morals.

    How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it,

    man is not entirely motivated by self-interest. He is interested in the lives of others, even though he may profit or lose nothing from it.

    if health insurance wasn’t tied to employment due to governmental intrusion and regulation, this would be a null issue.

    Government intrusion? So, the health care problem is that there is too much regulation? And your solution is to deregulate?

    May you get a treatable, but extremely expensive, disease, and may your health insurance company rescind you from their coverage. That’s what zero regulation gets you today. Maybe you’re one of those types of people who has to experience the nonsense you’re talking about to realize it’s nonsense.

    But true laissez faire/libertarians are generally immune to their own nonsense.

  314. Georgian Dave: “The “public option” won’t work. You can’t compete against an entity that a) doesn’t have to make a profit b) actually finds it profitable to run at a loss because money isn’t the point and c) can re-write the rules any way it likes at any time.”

    You’re trying to pretend that the government wants to compete with the insurers and run them out of business; that the government wants to act like a corporation but is “free” of all those pesky restrictions that poor corporations have to follow. But what the government wants to do with the public option is force insurers to lower their prices. It’s part of the regulation of insurers, not meant to replace them. The insurers raised their rates 130%, while personal income growth was only at 28% (and has now dropped.) Their prices far exceed their actual costs.

    As I explained in a previous part of this conversation, if there’s no public option, the insurers, who don’t really have to compete with each other, will have no incentives to lower inflated premiums at all. Which means that even though more people will be eligible for insurance under the new regulations of the insurers, they still can’t afford insurance because they are self-employed, unemployed, or working for small businesses.

    The government does not want to lower prices so far that the insurers can’t make a profit and compete with them. That’s why they’ve had negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies for a deal that cuts drug costs but still allows the companies to make a decent profit, as part of the reform. (Not brilliant negotiations, but at least more workable.) The insurers will be fine, just as they were when the government started Medicare and Medicaid — and the insurers made obscene profits.

    “What you’d get are corporations dumping their health plans because they have an excuse not to do it.”

    Which is why there are limitations in the bill on the size of the employer who can offer the government option. So corporations won’t be able to use it. Which your overlords know full well, but pretend doesn’t exist to scare you.

    “Of course, like I’ve been mentioning throughout this thread, if health insurance wasn’t tied to employment due to governmental intrusion and regulation, this would be a null issue.”

    It isn’t tied to employment due to governmental regulation. There is no government rule that says you can only get your insurance through your employer. Private insurers want you to get your insurance through your employer because they make money from the large employers, so they’ve set up the system to herd people into doing it that way. But you can get your insurance instead through an organization, which many people do. And you can buy insurance individually, on a personal policy, which some people do. But because they aren’t regulated and don’t really compete with each other, having an oligarchy, the private insurers can price that individual insurance well beyond their costs. Because they aren’t regulated, the insurers can refuse to sell to you on the basis of a pre-existing condition, like acne, because they can’t make as much profit off you. Because they aren’t regulated, the insurers can take your money and then refuse to pay your medical bills anyway, on both personal and employer bought plans. Which is how we ended up with 47 million uninsured and numerous medical bankruptcies even as the insurers raked in big profits.

    This is the real world, and private insurers are cheating us. The healthcare industry cheats us with cost inflation. They’ve admitted they’re cheating us. And why can they? Because they aren’t regulated for it. We tried your ideas, Dave, and they sucked. They failed. They cost us money and threw us into an economic disaster. As was already pointed out to you, but you ignored because it’s inconvenient, Adams was wrong and multi-national corporations sent the jobs overseas where it was cheaper for profit rather than help Americans out of the goodness of their hearts.

    The government’s job is to protect the individual populace. To protect us from outside military threats and inside violence, but also from being cheated, from crime, from repression, from unjust abuse. That’s why it’s in the Constitution that the government is to regulate commerce. If we allow this “legal” cheating to go on unchecked, we’ll go broke.

    Even the private insurers know this, but they’re still trying to rake in as much money as they can in the meantime. I don’t blame them for that entirely — it’s what corporations do — but they’re sinking the entire boat. Reform is going to happen, and preferably with a public option, and the private insurers will be just fine and still make plenty of profit. More, they’ll benefit from the reduction of healthcare costs the government is going to regulate too.

    But you’re not alone in worrying about them. These kind people are concerned too:

    http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/041b5acaf5/protect-insurance-companies-psa

  315. @361 GregLondon

    Can you please source your stats on bankruptcies?

    Strawman time again. Your faith in regulation is a bit naive. You really think the insurance regulations are designed with the public in mind? If that was the case, we’d be able to get insurance policies across state lines, etc. The regulations were written for the benefit of the insurance companies that kick money into the political system, along with other groups that do the same.

    Why is health insurance tied to employment and not treated like other types of insurance? Because the tax laws were written in such a way to discourage it. During WWII, wage increases were banned, but health insurance was allowed to be offered as a way around the rules to provide an incentive to workers and as a sop to unions. And that means if you lose your job, you lose health insurance.

    There’s a proposal to make the costs of individual health insurance a tax credit, which changes the dynamic entirely, uncoupling it from employment.

    And thanks to the good wishes for my help. Back at ya — if we get the government insurance mess you seem to long for. Whyncha Google the terms “syringe driver” and Liverpool Care Pathway.” That’s the inevitable result of what you’re seeking.

    Does some of what you’re saying about private insurers happen? Unfortunately, yes. And you seem to think if the government gets their hands on it, that kind of practice will stop? Like I said, naive. It’ll only get worse.

    As for Smith, the fact that people live by their Moral Sentiments is PART of the invisible hand. Despite Marxist theory, people are not just economic creatures.

  316. Greg, give up. Dave is convinced that countries with single payer systems (which isn’t what Obama is proposing, but never mind that) are socialist hellholes in which everyone hates things. Pay no attention to the 80% approval rate Canadians give their health care, and spend much less on it than we do.

    It’s turtles all the way down with this one. Any solution that involves a public option can only end in doom, case closed, no arguing, no facts. It’s a religious belief.

  317. @362 KatG

    “You’re trying to pretend that the government wants to compete with the insurers and run them out of business; that the government wants to act like a corporation but is “free” of all those pesky restrictions that poor corporations have to follow. But what the government wants to do with the public option is force insurers to lower their prices.”

    Sorry, not buying that premise. The government is a lot like the mafia — once they get their hands on something, they’re not going to let it go. Running it becomes a source of power, of votes, of money — and that goes for both parties. I really don’t want my hospital to become a classic bust-out joint for greedy politicians.

    “It’s part of the regulation of insurers, not meant to replace them. The insurers raised their rates 130%, while personal income growth was only at 28% (and has now dropped.) Their prices far exceed their actual costs.”

    And what allowed that to happen? Current regulations, written to discourage and stifle competition and keep captive markets fenced in within state lines. That isn’t possible, unless you can get the police power of the government to keep the free market from working. Then you can blame the free market, and add more and more regulations designed to fix what you caused in the first damn place.

    “It isn’t tied to employment due to governmental regulation. There is no government rule that says you can only get your insurance through your employer. Private insurers want you to get your insurance through your employer because they make money from the large employers, so they’ve set up the system to herd people into doing it that way.”

    It’s set up that way to force it through the tax laws. Get your insurance thru work — it’s not taxed as income. Buy it yourself — with post tax dollars which you can’t write off on your income taxes. Double whammy. How do you think the insurance companies set up the system — thru the way the regulations are written!!! And the pols get their campaign money. And the consumer gets shafted.

    “We tried your ideas, Dave, and they sucked. They failed. They cost us money and threw us into an economic disaster. As was already pointed out to you, but you ignored because it’s inconvenient, Adams was wrong and multi-national corporations sent the jobs overseas where it was cheaper for profit rather than help Americans out of the goodness of their hearts.”

    No, we didn’t try it my way. The corporate tax rates in the U.S. are just about the highest in the world. A lot of companies can’t compete with foreign firms because of embedded costs. They have two choices — move or perish. How about we make the economic climate in this country more inviting for business?

    Don’t expect anyone to do something for free. You get paid for your work, don’t you? (Ask Harlan Ellison about that! What an awesome rant! It’s almost worth pissing him off mightily to hear the way he turns the English language into something higher.)

    “The government’s job is to protect the individual populace. To protect us from outside military threats and inside violence, but also from being cheated, from crime, from repression, from unjust abuse. That’s why it’s in the Constitution that the government is to regulate commerce. If we allow this “legal” cheating to go on unchecked, we’ll go broke.”

    The purpose of the Commerce Clause was originally to keep states from charging tariffs on goods transported internally in the U.S. It’s been stretched now to the point where commerce has been defined as anything you want it to be. As for the legal cheating, check your local, state, and federal governments for the use of clout (Len O’Connor style) in getting around the rules.

    “More, they’ll benefit from the reduction of healthcare costs the government is going to regulate too.”

    Just a question — how is the government going to lower costs without rationing? Just curious.

  318. Just a question — how is the government going to lower costs without rationing? Just curious.

    One way is by cutting out the piece of the pie labeled ‘shareholder profits.’

  319. Dave@366: Can you please source your stats on bankruptcies?

    Gods, what part of the internet are you on that Google is not available? I did a search for “medical bankruptcies” and this came up right near the top:

    http://www.disabled-world.com/disability/statistics/medical-expenses-bankruptcy.php

    Either that, or you’re arguing in bad faith and not looking for answers but looking to blather you moronic talking points. Do you work for an insurance company? You wouldn’t be a white southerner, would you? Do you have any confederate flags anywhere on you property? Cause being racially motivated would explain the pure obstructionism you’ve brought to this thread. You can’t even google apparently.

    From the article: Over 60% of all bankruptcies in the United States in 2007 were driven by medical incidents. three-quarters of them were insured. The share of bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 50% between 2001 and 2007.

    You see those numbers right there? That’s your laissez-faire invisible hand fantasy playing out to the tune of screwing over tens of thousands of Americans.

    Strawman time again. Your faith in regulation is a bit naive.

    And your faith in unregulated insurance is wrong. The facts prove you are wrong, and yet you defend your “faith” over facts. you won’t submit to the facts. Instead you’ll make vague references to Adam Smith without ever quoting him, you’ll make vague nods to the invisible hand, without ever explaining it, and you’ll make vague references to “strawmans” without any gawddamn bit of reality in your own assertions.

    Why is health insurance tied to employment and not treated like other types of insurance? Because the tax laws were written in such a way to discourage it. During WWII, wage increases were banned, but health insurance was allowed

    Good lord. What absolute stupidity is this? You’re telling me that some restriction put in place 70 years ago as part of WW2 is somehow still in effect? Please explain why the wage increase ban is no longer in effect but this total gibberish of yours still has any applicability to America, 2009, in the real world. I’m genuinely curious what sort of mythos you worship that would alter reality so much.

    You can go out right now and get your own private insurance. That’s a factual statement. Do you agree with the facts or no? Nothing prevents you from getting health insurance on your own right now.

    Nothing. No laws, no regulations, no fantasy versions of reality involving WW2 restrictions, nothing.

    Whyncha Google the terms “syringe driver” and Liverpool Care Pathway.”

    Death panels! Killing Grandma! Waaahhh! God I got stupid all over me.

    Were you, by any chance, one of those idiots who protested Schiavo’s withdrawal of her feeding tube? Even though every independent doctor and every court case found that she was both brain dead and that she had made clear her wish not to be kept on life support in a non-recoverable situation? Because there were a whole lot of morons around that time who couldn’t grasp concepts like “living wills” and “brain dead” and said all manner of idiotic things regarding terminally ill patients. They are complete morons.

    I only ask because your “syringe driver” idiocy is for terminally ill patients, who are in a coma, unresponsive, and are not going to recover.

    And while it is possible to get the diagnosis wrong, farking morons like the Schiavo kooks were willing to disregard dozens of professional doctors who had examined Shiavo in person and instead were willing to say that various morons who had never seen Schiavo, had only read about her in a newspaper, had a better ability to diagnose her as non-terminal. To those morons, the facts didn’t matter. more than a decade of court cases and something like a dozen or two different doctors examining her, those facts were alwasy thrown out by the morons, in exchange for “Yeah, well, maybe the doctors are wrong.” The proper response to that was “maybe you’re an idiot.”

    I ask, because morons like that are so self righteous that they are immune to facts and hold to their dogma. They won’t even google for facts lest they see something factual but upsetting. Sort of like the urban legend of the bishop who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope.

    If that’s the case, if you disagreed with Shiavo’s feeding tube being withdrawn, then please state that now so it is clear exactly where you stand as far as facts are concerned versus nonsensical hysteria.

    As for Smith, the fact that people live by their Moral Sentiments is PART of the invisible hand. Despite Marxist theory, people are not just economic creatures.

    Jesus Mary and Joseph, what are you smoking? The “invisible hand” means that people driven purely by their selfish interests will achieve the best outcome for the society as a whole.

    This is provably wrong. There are a number of proofs. I wrote one here:

    http://www.warhw.com/2009/09/09/prisoners-dilemma-and-laissez-faire/.

    It’s 30 pages long. But since you have shown your unwillingness to go out of your way to find the facts that disagree with your version of reality, I doubt you’ll read it or anything like it.

    The short of it is that two people in teh prisoner’s dilemma, acting out of their own selfish interest, must chose to betray the other prisoner, and both will end up achieving the second worst possible outcome. Because you don’t know how the other prisoner will act, because you don’t know if the insurance company is going to boot you until it’s too late, you have to choose based off of zero knowledge of how the other prisoner will react.

    Therefore, if you’re selfish, you have to choose to rat out the other prisoner. And since both have zero knowledge of the other, if both are purely selfish, both will rat, adn both will get 5 years.

    Cooperation is only possible if the game is iterative. Ever notice how non-iterative health insurance is? You pay premiums for years, then you get really, really sick, and the company boots you. You’re completely screwed, and you have no recourse but to file bankruptcy.

    That’s two actors acting in complete selfishness, and choosing without knowing how the othe will choose.

    There are a couple of ways to get cooperation. Iterating can help, but isn’t guaranteed to help. Especially if the business behaves non-iteratively, like insurance.

    The other way to get the actors to cooperate is government regulation. Impose penalties for non-coopertive players. Insurance company boots you when you get sick, they pay a big fine, get sued, and everything else you can throw at them.

    Go read my link. It’s 30 pages, but it explains it starting from knowing nothing about game theory to explaining the prisoner’s dilemma, to laissez faire.

    Oh, and then there’s this little nugget:

    The regulations were written for the benefit of the insurance companies that kick money into the political system, along with other groups that do the same.

    Really, Dave? Who are the insurance companies paying right now? The loudest opponents of health care reform are politicians who’ve gotten contributions from health care industries. They oppose health care reform. They want it to remain teh way it is. Just like you do.

    If you actually believed your argument there, and if you actually paid attention to the facts, the insurance companies are OPPOSING health care reform. They’re opposing the public option. They’re happy to see mandatory insurance requirements, but don’t want any competition to force their prices down. If you really believed your own statement, then you’d see that the political system that is being paid by insurance companies are OPPOSING REFORM.

  320. GregLondon:

    “Do you work for an insurance company? You wouldn’t be a white southerner, would you? Do you have any confederate flags anywhere on you property? Cause being racially motivated would explain the pure obstructionism you’ve brought to this thread.”

    GregLondon, you really need to stop this ad hominem accusatory thing you do; it’s not relevant to your factual points and it makes you look bad. Stick to arguing the points, not lashing out at the person.

  321. @371 Our Esteemed Host

    John, don’t worry about. He just outed himself, that’s all.

    That said, this native Midwesterner has some rebuttal…

    @370 Greg London

    I wanted to know which study you based your findings on, that’s all. Might want to check out this rebuttal.

    http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/06/elizabeth_warren_and_the_terri.php

    Here’s a quote from that article:

    “How could steadily, moderately rising medical bills, a roughly static business and legislative environment, and a small increase in the uninsured, possibly have driven up bankruptcies so massively?

    Answer: they didn’t. What Warren et. al. neglect to mention is that bankruptcies fell between 2001 and 2007. In fact, they were cut in half. Going by the numbers Warren et. al. provide, medical bankruptcies actually fell by almost 220,000 between 2001 and 2007, a fact that they not only fail to mention, but deliberately obscure.”

    Next…. Who said anything about UNREGULATED insurance? I’m pointing out the current regulatory regime is tilted toward those insurance companies that make political contributions, and tilted away from the consumer.

    Next….The bias toward employer-based health care was institutionalized during WWII and strengthened afterwards by the tax policies I outlined. You can keep people in line a whole lot better if they’re getting something through a third party who chooses for them than if they make their own calls and pay on their own dime. It’s all about control.

    Next…. I’ll quote you.

    “Jesus Mary and Joseph, what are you smoking? The “invisible hand” means that people driven purely by their selfish interests will achieve the best outcome for the society as a whole.”

    Uh, yeah. If you assume people will do things that are in their own best interests, it tends to work out. Bad actors get exposed, which cuts down on their ability to pull scams the next time out. It’s not perfect, but man is not perfectible. Neither is society. Trying for some sort of utopia ends in disaster, every single time.

    Next ….. The syringe driver comment referred to this story in a British newspaper about abuses of the Liverpool Care Pathway.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/6127514/Sentenced-to-death-on-the-NHS.html

    “But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn.

    As a result the scheme is causing a “national crisis” in patient care, the letter states. It has been signed palliative care experts including Professor Peter Millard, Emeritus Professor of Geriatrics, University of London, Dr Peter Hargreaves, a consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Luke’s cancer centre in Guildford, and four others.”

    Next….. Your paper on game theory, etc. talks about one-time “games.” Economic activity is not a zero-sum game on the level we’re discussing. And if the government winds up calling the shots, and they dump you for whatever reason, you have even less recourse than you have right now.

    And the insurance companies are starting to knuckle under to some degree to those pushing this version of “health care reform.” They see the mandatory purchase requirements, and figure they can finesse it after that, since the government is creating a captive pool of customers. It’s short sighted, but there ya go.

    They’re trying to get some exceptions built in to give them a leg up on everyone else. What going to happen, instead of a leg up, those writing the bills will be getting a leg-over on THEM.

    The government is acting like the mafia because…. well, they can. It’s legal because they said so, and they’re the ones the write the rules.

  322. Speaking of “outing” oneself, Megan McArdle is a libertarian nutjob who wrote under the pen name of “Jane Galt”, a play on the John Galt character in Ayn Rand’s libertarian screed “Atlas Shrugged”.

  323. Scalzi’s feeling sick, so I’m not doing this, because we’ve done it already, in this thread and others here, with tons of facts and figures. And I could send you over to the AARP site on claims of rationed care, but it doesn’t make any difference because you don’t care. I will say that your claim that we have the highest corporate taxes hasn’t been true since the 1950’s, but again, you don’t care. You’re too busy hunting Marxists and making contradictory arguments, like that the government has no money and has unlimited money at the same time.

    Like I said, I’m done with the 20 percent. It’s just the nutty Congress folk we have to deal with now.

  324. @373 GregLondon

    Screed. Fine. Name call and ignore her points all you want. Whatever.

    Hey — Whatever. That might make a great name for a blog? Whatcha think?

    @374 KatG

    The U.S. corporate tax rate is second only to Japan. And unlike other countries, offshore money earned by domestic corporations is also taxed. The rest of the world only goes after income earned in that country.

    And how do you cut costs without cutting care? Ezekiel Emanuel’s ideas on where to take health care are, quite frankly, frightening. And he’s a big-time policy adviser. Makes me feel go-o-o-o-o-d all over.

    Do me a favor — toss me your links. I haven’t seen ‘em yet. Love to check ‘em out.

  325. NOTE: I was referring to McArdle, not Rand. Rand was a whole ‘nother deal. What makes McArdle a nutjob, pray tell?

    If you don’t like libertarian thought, don’t read the philosophers whose work formed the backbone of the political thought that formed this country. Certainly don’t read the stuff the Founders wrote. Your head might explode.

  326. http://www.worldwide-tax.com/

    Well, it all depends on what’s included in the tax, and it’s all progressive (like the income tax). The top end pays more than most countries. The bottom end pays less than most. The situation is much different for personal income tax (where we are typically lower, again except for the highest rate payers). And then we also don’t have VAT or GST, which when you factor those in we move quickly away from the highest rates in the world.

    And everybody loves Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” until it comes around to dope slap them.

  327. @374 KatG

    Sorry about that….left something out when I made my “War and Peace” length post earlier….

    “You’re too busy hunting Marxists and making contradictory arguments, like that the government has no money and has unlimited money at the same time. ”

    The government indeed has no real money, just fiat money. And they’re busy running the printing presses right now, creating a hidden tax on us all called inflation. I’m just hoping they stop before we start measuring how much bread we can buy by using a $100 bill as a template.

    As for hunting Marxists, hasn’t taken too much hunting to find them lately. They’ve been pretty up front about it all…….

  328. Dave@375: Screed. Fine. Name call

    Screed: 1 a : a lengthy discourse b : an informal piece of writing (as a personal letter) c : a ranting piece of writing

    Yeah, I call Atlas Shrugged a screed. Rand was born in 1905 and grew up in Russia during the Revolution, where the government confiscated her father’s pharmacy. Her “philosophy” consisted of little more than the paranoia and resentment that came out of this incident, with the motto “Don’t trust the government.” All her followers are paranoid to some extent or another.

    #375: and ignore her points all you want.

    Anyone who calls themselves “Jane Galt” to announce their worship of Ayn Rand loses all credibility with anyone other than another follower of Ayn Rand. She has no points that aren’t based in paranoia.

    Dave@376: If you don’t like libertarian thought, don’t read the philosophers whose work formed the backbone of the political thought that formed this country. Certainly don’t read the stuff the Founders wrote. Your head might explode.

    I’m always amazed how every American wants to rewrite history so that the Founding Fathers worshipped their god, held their political beliefs, and cooked apple pie with their recipe. Well, having seen it so many times, “amazed” isn’t really the word. “entertained” is the word. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ted Kaczynski said the Founding Fathers would agree with him.

    Hm, actually, it’s not much different than saying “the lurkers support me in email”. The Founding Fathers would be spinning in their graves at your comment, but they can’t actually come out and denounce you, so you continue to believe this nonsense that they’re libertarians.

    I’m pretty sure that anyone who advocates that the government “promote the general welfare” of the people is NOT a libertarian. I’m pretty sure that anyone who advocates that the government, and specifically Congress, shall have the power to “regulate commerce”, is not a libertarian.

    But you keep telling yourself that, and maybe some other Ayn Rand acolyte will believe it with you.

    Dave@378: The government indeed has no real money, just fiat money.

    Oh. My. God.

    A true-blue gold bug in the wild. Who would have thunk it?

    Wait. Stop. A libertarian who mangles Adam Smith, who is a follower of the Cult of the Invisible Hand, who is a defender of queen of paranoid nonsense Ayn Rand, who thinks the Founding Fathers support him in email, yeah, I thunked you were a gold bug.

    Actually I thunked it in one of your first posts back at #342 when you said: “government tax laws have forced the health insurance system into strictly a job-based format”. That was screaming laissez-faire, ayn rand, objectivist, libertarian screed.

    Also, I just have to point this out. back at #372: Your paper on game theory, etc. talks about one-time “games.” Economic activity is not a zero-sum game on the level we’re discussing.

    Dude, a “one-time game” prisoner’s dilemma has nothing to do with “zero-sum game”. The prisoner’s dilemma is either a “one-time game” or it is an “iterated game” of some number of iterations.

    And just to point out how wrong you really are, either version of the prisoner’s dilemma (iterated or one-time) is NOT a zero sum game. Both prisoners can lose in the Prisoner’s Dilemma, which violates the basic requirement of a zero sum game. Both can be sentenced to 5 years in prison if they rat each other out. -5 + -5 equals -10. The sum is not zero.

    So, you haven’t proven anything about the prisoner’s dilemma or the fact that two selfish players results in the worst possible outcome for both of them.

    Also, right after that “zero sum game” red herring, you then go on to argue this: And if the government winds up calling the shots, and they dump you for whatever reason, you have even less recourse than you have right now.

    Pray tell, what recourse do you have now if the insurance company rescinds you? Medical bankruptcy. That’s your recourse. That’s what people are forced to do right now. What recourse is that other than to roll over to the laissez faire system when it wants to screw you? This sentence has zero basis in fact.

    But read it again. if the government winds up calling the shots That statement isn’t motivated by facts, it is motivated by paranoia. The same paranoia that drove Ayn Rand to distrust any government.

  329. Some clips of politicians speakign about their opposition to health care reform:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/32994286#32994286

    Chuck Grassley, June 14, supported individual mandates that people get insurance. September 24, opposes mandates.

    It is pointed out (5:45 in the clip) that Obama was skeptical of individual mandates around June, and Grassley supported mandates. Now Obama supports mandates, so Grassley opposes them.

    So Grassley, a republican, a man who championed “bipartisan” health care reform, has really done nothing other than oppose whatever Democrat Obama supports.

    Conservative Democratic Senator Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota), in opposition to government run health care, says: “Germany, Japan, Switzerland, France, Belgium. All of them contain costs, have universal coverage, and have very high quality care, and yet are not government run systems.” He then argues that since they did so well without government-run healthcare, so should we.

    Except all of the countries listed have government intervention and regulation in their health care systems.

  330. @379 GregLondon

    Greg, if you want to be an apologist for the murderous thugs that ran Russia, be my guest.

    Confiscated? Paranoid? Incident? Wow. Tell that to all the Ukrainian farmers who starved, and to all the folks that rotted in the Gulag.

    If you want to talk “General Welfare”, go back and look at Federalist Papers 41. It means the exact opposite of what you’re talking about. What you’re advocating is nothing short of the destruction of what this country was founded on — individual freedom.

    “Some, who have not denied the necessity of the power of taxation, have grounded a very fierce attack against the Constitution, on the language in which it is defined. It has been urged and echoed, that the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,” amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction. Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases.”

    Translation: General Welfare is not a blank check. Well, it didn’t used to be, not until 1937 or so.

    And “regulating commerce?” That would be Federalist Papers 42. The main thing was to keep states from charging tariffs on goods shipped from other states.

    As for insurance companies, at least you can sue ‘em. You can’t sue the federal government. The rules say you can’t. Who made the rules? The federal government.

    That’s not paranoia. That’s a fact.

  331. @380 GregLondon

    Kent Conrad is hardly a conservative, not with an 85 rating from the ADA.

    Mandating that people pay for health insurance? Where in the hell does the Constitution give the federal government the power to force people to do that?

    Having health insurance is a good thing. But forcing people to buy it? Please tell me where that enumerated power comes from. Please.

    We have gotten so far off track in this country. The folks with a government-can-do-anything fetish have lost all grounding with reality.

  332. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/32976447#32976447

    Conservative Democrat Mike Ross of Arkansas, in 2007 sold a piece of property with a pharmacy, assessed at around $200,000. The property sold for $400,000. The buyer was “USA Drug”. They also payed half a mllion dollars for “assets”, they paid his wife 100k to sign a “non compete”.

    Two weeks after the deal, teh owner of USA Drug made a 2300 contribution to Ross, the maximum allowed by law.

    Since then, Ross has opposed health care reform and has introduced language in bills to protect drug companies.

    He’s also recieved over 900K in contributions from the health care industry over the years.

  333. Dave@381: Greg, if you want to be an apologist for the murderous thugs that ran Russia, be my guest.

    Uh, yeah, see, that’s not where the paranoia exists. Where the paranoia exists is in the mentally unstable who think that “murderous thugs that ran Russia” back in 1917 has anything to do with Health Care Reform in America 2009.

    It is paranoia that drives people to scream DEATH PANELS! Why would any Senator be interested in a death panel? What is their motivation? Do the young voters not like old voters and are tryign to euthanize them? What is their selfish interest? What do they gain? It is an idea grounded in paranoid insanity.

    But you can’t grasp that simple fact because you really do believe the governments really are only interested in death panels, your little “syringe driver” inanity shows just how paranoid you are. You can’t see the paranoia, because you’re paranoid. And so, you’re only possible response is to strawman my point into being an “apologist” for russian murderers. Yeah… Right….

    Where in the hell does the Constitution give the federal government the power to force people to do that?

    Wow. A tenth ammendment argument against health care reform. from a gold-bug, laissez-faire, objectivist, libertarian, Ayn Rand acolyte, I’m not really surprised.

    The folks with a government-can-do-anything fetish have lost all grounding with reality.

    Yeah, um, see, it’s “health care reform”, not “everything”, but nice attempt at a strawman there. And the people with a “governmetn can do health care reform” mentality are grounded in the reality of all the other nations on earth who have better cheaper health care than America does.

    It’s people like you who strawman health care reform into “government do everything” nonsense, and people like you who ignore the facts that Canada, for example spends less than half per person on health care than the US, and has better quality than the US. It is people liek you who are not grounded in reality.

  334. Kent Conrad is hardly a conservative, not with an 85 rating from the ADA.

    You seemed to have missed the point that everything Kent Conrad said in opposition to health care reform is WRONG. All those countries he listed that have cheaper, better healthcare than America? They all have government intervention in their systems.

    But keep trying.

  335. Dave @ 381 – the federalist papers were part of a back and forth series of public debates weighing the pros and cons of an involved federal government. Using them to cite what the founders thought of government is to remove half the conversation of our founding fathers.

    And as far as “Marxists” outing themselves. That particular point is outright blathering and out of bounds for a fact based discussion.

    Greg @ 383 – I think the congressman comes by his beliefs on the healthcare system naturally. Mark that this is not a comment on whether he is right or wrong. Their family business was to run a pharmacy. Their sympathies in public policy would likely run in that direction anyway. The piece I caught from MSNBC offerred no commentary on the success of the business. They were probably the dominant provider in their local area which is probably what merited a sweet buyout package. It’s less a proof of their accepting a bribe, more a simple proof of what they know and what side they would tend to take in a debate.

  336. Dave @ 381 – regarding murderous thugs in Russia, what Greg said in 384. What has that got to do with anything concerning healthcare in America today? aside from blathering about the previously derided Marxist-commo-fascist super plot to destroy America, that is.

  337. @386 Other Bill

    “the federalist papers were part of a back and forth series of public debates weighing the pros and cons of an involved federal government. Using them to cite what the founders thought of government is to remove half the conversation of our founding fathers.”

    The authors of the Federalist Papers essays were the men that carried the argument, so what they had to say and their intentions and descriptions of the Constitution and its meaning carry particular weight. Their arguments were that the Constitution was written in such a way as to keep the federal government from assuming and usurping powers not originally delegated. Considering the wording of the 9th and 10th amendments, referring them to what would be considered libertarians today is quite accurate.

    But you’re right — we’re ignoring the other side of the debate, which came very close to carrying the day. And do you know what this group (main spokesman Patrick Henry) was saying about the Constitution?

    They were saying the wording left room for the federal government to grow, expand, and become as bloated and overweening as the one they rebelled against. In fact, their attitude toward centralized government was pretty close to the one exhibited by Rand in all her writings.

    And looking at the debates we’re having now about the proper role of government, it’s very clear they had a point.

    Hmmmm. Bringing up the Founders, restating their arguments, and applying them to the current debate makes me paranoid?

    Wow. Nothing like an understanding of the founding principles of this country to provide a healthy discussion……

  338. Dave @ 388 – your negative opinion of the other side of the debate does not make them any less founding fathers. My point was that you are cherrypicking from an extensive list of people who cooperated to found the country in order to make your point about what the founding fathers had to say.

    This comes across roughly the same as the current label of Real Americans think this or that.

    Also, I didn’t say you were paranoid. Nonsense about marxists, yes. A previosly established inaccurate application of the label, yes. Foolish is probably a closer word than paranoid, if you have to reduce what I said regarding that issue to a word.

    Saying the “founding fathers” thought this or that is a rhetorical grab that you not only don’t require to make your point, but actively makes people take your point less seriously. You could just as easily have said Hamilton argued this or that.

  339. @389 Other Bill

    Where in the world did you get the idea that I had a negative opinion of the other side of the Federalism debate? I said they had a point, and that quite possibly, they were right in the long run. Any time there’s a loophole, someone is going to do their level best to squeeze through it, and then make it bigger and bigger…..

    No, you didn’t say I was paranoid. That was an answer to GregLondon’s earlier post. I should have been more specific.

    As for the Marxist comment, I had Van Jones in mind, so I don’t think foolish is a proper word to use. Accurate might be better. Remember that one of Obama’s childhood mentors was a card-carrying member of the CPUSA and a good friend of his grandfather, so he was surrounded by those with a strong Marxist POV in his formative years. How much he agrees with it is up to interpretation, but his comments like “spread the wealth,” his longtime friendship with violent radicals like Ayers and Dohrn, and the nature of his appointments to key positions sure add fuel to the fire. What he considers re-making America, others consider its destruction.

    As for the Founding Fathers, I directly quoted Publius (James Madison) in one of my posts. Doen’t get much more Founding than that. He wrote huge chunks of the Constitution, and along with Hamilton and Jay wrote the Federalist Papers essays that led to ratification.

  340. Some interesting statistics:

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/09/24/healthcare/

    three-quarters of physicians polled by the New England Journal of Medicine favor genuine reform. About 63 percent of doctors surveyed nationwide support a public option

    Because doctors want to kill grandma.

    voters rejected GOP rhetoric almost 2-to-1. About 63 percent think Sarah Palin’s “death panels” are a distortion, versus 30 percent who fear them. It’s 61 to 33 percent on the claim that health reform means government-paid abortions, 58 to 37 percent on the false claim that illegal aliens will get subsidized insurance, etc.

    That’s somewhat reassuring. now if all those voters can call or write their politicians and kick their asses…

    Republicans favorability rating in the Northeast is a minuscule 7, yes 7, percent. Moreover, it’s a paltry 13 percent in the Midwest; 14 percent in the West. Only in the South is the GOP politically relevant, with a 50 to 37 percent advantage over Democrats.

    I think Jimmy Carter was on to something when he said Obama opposition is mainly based in racism. It’s pretty hard to explain those numbers any other way.

    Dave: referring them to what would be considered libertarians today is quite accurate

    Look, you’ve already said the lurkers support you in email several times now. Jefferson thinks you’re cool and Hamilton wants to have your baby.

    But then, the Louisiana Purchase was against a strict interpretation of the constitution too. At the time, some argued that the president didn’t have the authority in the constitution to purchase it.

    Did America collapse? No.

    Now, there is a fundamental difference between something explicitely forbidden in the constitution, such as the prohibition against any laws regarding religion, and some general warning about “too much power”. Obstructionists will invoke constitutional arguments about “too much power” because it obstructs without presenting any real argument against the proposal. Paranoid libertarians do the same thing. Objectivists too. Because they’re paranoid and they fear “too much power” more than the facts.

    Fact: Right now, 45,000 americans die prematurely every year due to lack of insurance.

    The paranoid don’t care about that. They see health care reform, and their paranoid little minds assume that it’ll be DEATH PANELS and SYRINGES and so on and will kill MILLIONS of americans every year.

    Because, you know, Obama wants to kill your grandmother. You, Dave in Georgia, should know that Obama wants to kill your old and frail relatives. Just because. He doesnt’ know you. He’s never met you. He knows nothing about you. But he’s out to get you and your grandmother.

    Generic constitutional arguments are pointless, unless they are grounded in some specific reality. Sure, “too much power” is something that can be a problem and has reasons to be opposed, but only if it is a REAL problem.

    And right now, the real choice is between 45,000 real americans dying every year due to lack of insurance, versus some vague paranoid delusion of DEATH PANELS and SYRINGES that will come out of the government getting TOO MUCH POWER.

    So, keep making those vague and factless and groundless allusions to the constitution, Dave. Keep arguing about “too much power” without grounding the notion of “power” into some real world trade off. Keep invoking the fear factor and the paranoia without any facts to justify it. Keep saying the lurkers support you in email without making any substance-based argument.

    Because the more you do that, the more clear it becomes to the rest of america that people like you are driven by paranoia and fear, not facts.

  341. Dave, you were told by our host that

    Keep it mellow, don’t stab each other in the eyeballs, and remember that slapping down the “Obama = Socialist” card will get you laughed at or deleted as a troll.

    I can only conclude that you have deficient manners. This is not the first time you’ve been reminded of this. WTF is wrong with you, dude?

  342. http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/feds-by-digby-its-good-thing-that-none.html

    A US Census bureau worker was found hung to death with the word “FED” written on his chest. His name was Bill Sparkman, so FED couldn’t be his initials. They might be the initials of the killer. But more likely, it’s probably an example of the insane fear mongering about death panels and the federal government getting “too much power” turning into real-life murder.

    Oh, and where did this murder occur? Kentucky.

  343. @393 GregLondon

    I would like to see more info on the poll that was taken. Salon doesn’t source the original information. You know as well as I do that you can geek up a poll to get the results you like. Democrats and Republicans alike do this all the time.

    Palin’s death panels struck a chord, not because of the “death” part, but the “panels” part. People want doctors and patients to make the decisions, not third parties — and certainly not using the criteria that health-care advisor Ezekiel Emanuel seemed to be pushing in published papers.

    http://www.ncpa.org/pdfs/PIIS0140673609601379.pdf

    Ascribing racism as a matter of course the Old South is a bunch of crap. I grew up near Chicago, and I saw more blatant racism and bigotry than I do down here. My dad was a cop who helped put one of those sheet-heads away for murder back in the late 50’s/early 60’s, about the time I was born.

    Carter isn’t onto something — in my opinion he’s ON something. Charges of racism are getting close to a Godwin’s Law footing.

    Hey, I was quoting Madison, okay? Skip with the silly “lurkers” stuff. You got something else, quotes, bring it. I’d love to see it, myself.

    BTW, the Purchase was likely not Constitutional. Agreed. Turned out to be a good deal in the long run, as did Seward’s folly. The biggest tragedy of the Purchase was that it was an opportunity missed. They could and should have sold off the land, and used the money to end slavery. Hindsight and all that.

    Hmmmm. Maybe there’s an alternate history novel in there somewhere. All you writers out there…..take note.

    Your understanding of the Constitution is lacking. It was written not to forbid the federal government to do things, but to list the things they were allowed to do. If it’s not listed, it’s not allowed. Or at least, it used to be that way. The change has not been beneficial to the citizens of this country.

    The health insurance situation in this country needs reform. I agree. But the way you and others are pushing is 180 degrees away from the right way — and the effective way. Use market forces to effect the changes, not force majeure.

    See, there is a trade-off that you’re ignoring. We’re talking the Golden Rule — he who has the Gold makes the Rules. Whoever is paying for something gets to call the shots. If it’s the government, they start defining terms. Would you like to be on the other end if it’s REPUBLICANS defining what the terms are? I think not.

    Assume your political opponents will control any government program that’s implemented. If you’re comfortable with it, that’s one thing. If not, it’s not going to work. At all. Because that means there’s inherent flaws ready to be pounced on for political power.

    Hell, that’s not paranoia. That’s a description of human nature. The idea is to give as little free rein to that kind of thing given the scope of governmental power.

    I remember hearing all about Chicago mayors shutting off the microphones during city council debates when some alderman (of the same party, mind you, since they were all Democrats) started successfully challenging the Machine on some point. (Daley, Bilandic, Byrne, Washington, they all did it….) Paranoia has nothing to do with it. It’s called sad experience.

    And no one’s been able to answer the question — how do you cut costs without cutting services by rationing?

  344. @394 Josh Jasper

    What are you talking about? I’ve tried to stay polite as possible, while one of the guys on the other side of the debate was already slapped down by Our Esteemed Host for ad hominem attacks.

    If you’re pulling the Socialism is trollworthy stuff, please point out anything I said about Obama that wasn’t factual.

    I didn’t call him a socialist, but I did point out mentors and friends who fit the label — or other more radical labels. Again, if I got a fact wrong on this one, let me know.

    @395 GregLondon

    Don’t jump to conclusions. In that part of Kentucky, this guy could very easily have stumbled onto a meth lab. They don’t take kindly to strangers, ya know?

  345. Dave – What are you talking about? I’ve tried to stay polite as possible,

    I was talking about the part where it was directly informed that implying that Obama was a socialist was troll behavior. And that’s what you keep doing.

    I didn’t call him a socialist, but I did point out mentors and friends who fit the label — or other more radical labels. Again, if I got a fact wrong on this one, let me know.

    Your commentary is as much an implication of his agenda as Young King Henry’s “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” was a call to murder Thomas Becket.

    Quit hiding behind sly insinuations, or I won’t just be calling you manner less, I’ll be calling you a coward.

    And this is an online forum, so why backtrack so badly? Are you that invested in pretending to not say Obama is a socialist, while implying he is all over the place? What’s the penalty if you own to it? Why is growing a spine so difficult? Its not like anyone here can actually hurt you.

  346. Dave@396: People want doctors and patients to make the decisions, not third parties

    three-quarters of doctors favor real reform. two-thirds of doctors favor a public option.

    whoops.

    Charges of racism are getting close to a Godwin’s Law footing.

    Uhm, yeah. We’re all post-racial in a post-racial society. That chief of police who used the word “nigger” recently, well, he didn’t mean it.

    Hey, I was quoting Madison, okay? Skip with the silly “lurkers” stuff.

    It’s a logical fallacy called “appeal to authority”. You assert that Madison would be against HRC, therefore you assert we can’t have HRC. No one seriously looking at this issue is thinking it cannot be done constitutionally. Only the obstructionists like you. If you oppose HRC on constitutional grounds, then come out and denounce all other similar programs that would be unconstitutional: social security, medicare, medicaid, and anything that isn’t laissez-faire capitalism.

    Let folks know that you oppose not only HRC but also Medicare on constitutional grounds, so they know exactly where you stand. Let everyone know you want to strike down all these social programs because you are certain the constitution does not allow them and because you are certain that the “Founding Fathers” would all agree with your wisdom.

    Your understanding of the Constitution is lacking. It was written not to forbid the federal government to do things,

    From the constitution: “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed”

    Dude, it’s right there in the constitution, forbidding the government from doing something.

    but to list the things they were allowed to do. If it’s not listed, it’s not allowed.

    Not according to reality, or the supreme court, or the executive office, or congress. What you’re advocating is a strict obediance to the most literal and strict reading of the constitution. A constitution written for a country that was mostly farmers in a pre-industrial agricultural society. The world changed. We’re not going to require a constitutional ammendment process to deal with every world-changing event just because you want to demand some strict obediance to literal words.

    If HRC is unconstitutional, then so is social security and medicare, among numerous others.

    Use market forces to effect the changes, not force majeure.

    It’s obvious that you don’t care about the 45,000 people dying right now because of lack of insurnce. It’s obvious you dont’ care about all the people who had insurance but got rescinded and ended up declaring bankruptcy.

    It’s obvious that you don’t care because that’s what market forces are doing right now. ANd you’re advocating more of the same.

    Would you like to be on the other end if it’s REPUBLICANS defining what the terms are? I think not.

    Republicans wouldn’t have government involvement in health care reform whatsoever, so yours is a moot point. If they go after HRC in teh future, it will be to gut it, like they gutted infrastructure spending on the dikes in New Orleans. And look what happened.

    Your problem, again, is that you fail to acknowledge the facts. MOST PEOPLE want health care reform. Republicans less so, but many still support it. Why is that? Because health care reform has selfish motivations. We pay twice as much for healthcare as any other country, and our quality of care is far inferior. Not everyone is so stupid as to see an obvious problem, and obvious solution, but to say we can’t do it because of DEATH PANELS!

    No one is advocating death panels. and many republicans want reform. So I’m not afraid of republicans having a majority control over reform some time in the future.

    The other thing you’re refusing to acknowledge is how politically motivated opposition is right now. Grassley wanted individual mandates when Obama didn’t. Now that Obama wants mandates, Grassley opposes them. Grassley isn’t doing that because his constituents flipped, he’s doing it because making Obama fail will help his and other republican elections in 2010.

    Once real reform is passed, one with a public option, then republican voters will see the benefits, and will be pissed if their republican representatives try to attack it.

    Republican politicians opposed medicare and social security when they were proposed, but now they’d never dare to gut it because their constituents understand it’s a beneficial program.

    And no one’s been able to answer the question — how do you cut costs without cutting services by rationing?

    Yeah, they have, repeatedly. You can’t see them because it completely conflicts with your worldview.

    But keep acting as if no one has. it’s entertaining.

  347. This is going to have to be my last post for the day. I’m facing a 12-hour work day (was 14, actually, but I’ve been trying to squeeze in that inconvenient stuff in between the fun here — and yes, it’s fun). So here goes….

    @ 398 Josh Jasper

    What’s sly about it? What did I say that was factually incorrect? Tell me, please. And if what I said was factually correct, then, Socratically, where does that lead us? You tell me. Ducks quacking and all that.

    @399 GregLondon

    What is “real reform?” I say my ideas are. You say yours are. Please link to the guts of the survey you’re quoting, please.

    Yes, I’m for a literal interpretation of the Constitution. If the rules are stated ahead of time, people can react accordingly. But if you decide white is black and black is white, Humpty Dumpty fashion, it’s all by whim. Hard to hit a moving target.

    As for n-bombs, are you including what the white SEIU guys were saying to Kenneth Gladney when they were pounding the stew out of him? Personally, I’m post-racial. Wish everyone else would catch up.

    Caring? How about if I counter with you don’t care about health care reform. You’re more interested in control over people’s lives and to be able to control their ability to make decisions.

    Not agreeing with what you’re proposing doesn’t mean I don’t care what happens. I care deeply. I just think the soi-disant “health care reform” isn’t just unworkable, I think it will lead to scary consequences that I hope are unintended consequences by those who authored the bill and are pushing for its quick passage before people get a real clue about what’s in it. Market forces aren’t the problem — fiddling with the forces through government fiat is the real culprit.

    As for the death panels issue, please check out Dr. Emanuel’s ideas about what could be labeled “triage.”

    Republicans didn’t gut spending on New Orleans infrastructure. The money went out in forms of graft, split up between the Morial faction and the Landreau faction, while the levees went unattended.

    I’ll argue about the “inferiority” of our heath care. Cancer survival rates, etc. You’re comparing apples to oranges here. We have different societal issues than the countries you cite, specifically a more diverse group of citizens. That means different types of treatments are needed due differing genetic heritages.

    Do me a favor. Please restate how money will be saved without cutting and rationing health care.

    Okay, I’m outta here. Remember to clean up the beer bottles, and try not to spill anything on the carpet during the party. I’ll be back……

  348. Yes, I’m for a literal interpretation of the Constitution.

    You know what? That’s meaningless. Let’s put it into clear relief. Some yes/now quetions for you:

    Is social security constitutional?
    Is Medicare constitutional?
    Is Welfare constitutional?
    Is the IRS constitutional?
    Is Farm Subsidies constitutional?

    These are all things that 10th Ammendment nutjobs say are unconstitutional, say require a constitutional ammendment to implement, and say must be stricken down.

  349. I have five minutes before I head to work.

    To answer your question….

    Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, Farm Subsidies? They’ve been ruled Constitutional by the Supreme Court. Are they in reality? No, but they’ve become institutionalized over the years, and there’s virtually no way to get rid of them, unless there’s a systemic collapse, possibly brought on by these very programs. I’m convinced Social Security will end up collapsing before I ever get a check, or the rules will be re-written on the fly to keep me from ever collecting.

    The IRS? Yes. 16th Amendment. Of course, when the amendment was being debated, someone proposed to put in an upper limit (I think somewhere in the 10% range — can’t find it and I’m in a hurry), but it was laughed off because it would never get anywhere near that high. Yeah.

    Okay, peace out. I’ll bring a keg next time thru.


  350. What’s sly about it? What did I say that was factually incorrect? Tell me, please. And if what I said was factually correct, then, Socratically, where does that lead us? You tell me. Ducks quacking and all that.

    It leads us to you calling Obama a socialist without having the guts to actually just say the words. And it leads us to you being unable to follow a simple request, which leads us back to you having no manners. You can use polite language, but when a simple request is made to not use the Obama = socialist analogy, and you try and do so anyhow, that means you think you should get a pass on polite behavior.

    It’s not true though. If I’m an atheist (and I am) and I’m visiting a Catholic who asks me not to argue against the existence of god, arguing against the existence of god is bad manners. Our host asked you not to make the Obama=socialist comparison. Making it is bad manners.

    I’m sad for you that no one ever took the time to really educate you on manners. Poor manners are a sign of moral deficiency. But you can improve. Just try and learn common courtesy. It’s easy. When a host makes a request for your behavior, you either follow his/her request, or you absent yourself.

  351. David: Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, Farm Subsidies? They’ve been ruled Constitutional by the Supreme Court. Are they in reality? No

    In your “reality”, they’re unconstitutional.

    In the reality of the real world, they really are constitutional.

    What you’ve done is attempt a very lame version of “no true scotsman” fallacy. Are they scotsmen? Yes. Are they scotsmen in reality? No.

    You’ve defined “true” constitutionality to mean what you want it to mean, not mean what the rest of the United States has it mean.

    So, please stop lecturing me about how I don’t understand the constitution. My understanding of the constitution isn’t based solely on how I want it to work, but how it works in reality, how it works in the courts, in government, and between other people.

  352. David in Georgia:

    “Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, Farm Subsidies? They’ve been ruled Constitutional by the Supreme Court. Are they in reality? No…”

    It’s a little late to be fighting Marbury v. Madison, I think.

    In reality, if the Supreme Court rules something Constitutional, then it is, pending the Court striking down its own ruling at a later date or an amendment to the Constitution. Anyone of any political persuasion can think of examples of ruling that are poorly reasoned, tainted by corruption or an example of the narrow thinking of the age, but given our system of government and more than 200 years of precedent, it is not to say these rulings are not, in reality, constitutional.

    Arguing that they are is useless sophistry and I would advise against it.

  353. An important note about Maybury v Madison, nothing in the strict, literal text of the Constitution explicitly authorizes judicial review. Judicial review exists because of Maybury v. Madison.

    The US constitution was ratified in 1788. Maybury v Madison case happened in 1803. So, a strict, literal, interpretation of the constitution lasted all of 15 years. It’s been a non-strict non-literal constitution ever since.

    And you know what is totally weird???? Of all the founding fathers who signed the constitution in 1788, a lot of them were still alive in 1803 when this non-strict-non-literal ruling occurred. And yet, they didn’t wage another revolution to demand strict-literal interpretation. It wasn’t in the constitution, but they didn’t go to war over it. That is totally unlike the strict-literal-libertarian-founding-fathers that they are supposed to be.

  354. @403 Josh Jasper

    Fine. I’ll drop it. I just would still like someone to point out any factual errors…. And I promise I will not bring it up again.

    I have to admit I like arguing Socratically. Back in the day it was the easiest and least painful method to get teenage boys to admit they were being jackasses. But I also have to remember how the inventor of the method wound up.

    @405 Our Esteemed Host

    Point taken. And the Fighting Marburys might be a decent name for a band….hmmm…

    @406 GregLondon

    Another point, one you probably already know.

    Marshall and Jefferson were cousins, and couldn’t stand each other. Marshall got an extra thrill about sticking it to Jefferson.

    And judicial review does have logic behind it. Someone has to rule on constitutionality. Congress has the power to reword things, and take things out of the purview of the Supreme Court. Doesn’t happen often.

    ——

    And one other point to GregLondon. You say corporations mostly suck and can’t be trusted with something this important. I say the federal government sucks in many ways and can’t be trusted with something this important.

    Know what? We BOTH might be right.

  355. Dave @ 392 – at first, I couldn’t figure out that first paragraph. And then I realized, oh, sarcasm. It seems to me that the way you describe your viewpoint the articles of the confederation would have been as far as the US progressed as a nation. I also don’t think the other side of that debate wrote their viewpoints based on their hope to maneuver silently through loopholes and expand the federal government like a dinosaur sized tick.

    But to echo Scalzi’s comment, it’s late in the day to refight that particular debate.

    “How much he agrees with it is up to interpretation, but his comments like “spread the wealth,” his longtime friendship with violent radicals like Ayers and Dohrn, and the nature of his appointments to key positions sure add fuel to the fire.”

    it’s annoying when people say things like it’s up for debate and then make an extreme declarative based on a fairly bland piece of evidence. Hey, he might be a normal democrat, but then again he might be preparing the earth for the invasion of the lizard people. After all, he did have a pet lizard for many years. And it’s doubly annoying when people rightly say you are advocating an extreme point of view and you respond by saying well, look I didn’t outright say it. I just noted that “some” people think that. But you know, make your own conclusion. Are you deliberately parroting the style of glen beck, or do you genuinely think that’s an acceptable way to present your case?

    Look, either you think the president is a radical socialist communist bent on the destruction of America through the murdering of key members of the nuclear family and the brainwashing of the young, or you think he’s a representative of a mainstream political party that you tend to disagree with philosophically. It’s an either or scenario.

    Greg – first, I took a look at your prisoners dilemma paper. No strong commentary offhand. But, as an FYI, I think you made a typo when presenting for the first time the list of choices forthe prizewinner at the hotel. I think you ascribe a set of results to the wrong bed choice.

    Greg @ 393 – I’d have to agree with Dave in 396. Ascribing the heavy support for the republican party in the south to straight up racism is bunk. It isn’t that surprising that southerners tend to be your main states rights party supporters and limited government advocates. That is, contrary to popular opinion, what the civil war was fought over. And before you say, well doesn’t that make them racist historically too, just pause a moment. I’m not saying there’s no racism in the south. But, it burns me up when people argue the seat of racism is in the south. There was, and is, a pretty hearty racism spread across the united states. I take personal offense, as a southerner myself, when people blythely label southerners as wholly racist. Take a look at some of the history in other parts of the coutry and you’ll find ample examples of equally deplorable racism. I’m also not arguing that Carter was necessarily wrong about what he said. I think Clinton said it more accurately when be noted that some of the opponents of Obama have racism or bigotry in their hearts, but that isn’t the primary motivator of their opposition to the man.

    Greg @ 399 – several times in the thread I’ve seen you abbreviate healthcare reform as HRC. Is that a deliberate reference to the former first lady, or just a Freudian slip?

    Dave @ 400 – “If the rules are stated ahead of time, people can react accordingly. But if you decide white is black and black is white, Humpty Dumpty fashion, it’s all by whim. Hard to hit a moving target.”

    that is exactly the point when you bend and break the meanings of political party affiliations. It’s impossible to have a conversation where facts don’t matter.

    George Orwells essay on the devolution of the English language, particularly the last sections are very relevant for that sort of thing. And it’s a good read in general. Also, given your taste for ancient politics, you should check out A Magnificent Catastrophe about the election cycle in 1800. Good stuff and a good read.

    Regarding your arguing the inferiority of health care paragraph. I’m not sure what you were getting at with that first sentence. But, as far as ascribing the unlikely success of a foreign style regulated or socialized healthcare system in America to societal differences, I think you’ll need to provide some extensive citation or justification for that particular sentiment. I really don’t see how we could have such dramatically different ailments or physiologies than our eastern counterparts.

    Just out of curiousity, wha is your position on our overseas bases and their terms of sustainability? I saw glen “more and more libertarian everyday” beck talking about that issue today. Does your philosophy extend to the limiting of the military as well?

  356. Other Bill – I’d have to agree with Dave in 396. Ascribing the heavy support for the republican party in the south to straight up racism is bunk. It isn’t that surprising that southerners tend to be your main states rights party supporters and limited government advocates.

    And lets not forget the tobacco and coal lobbies, gun owners, and well as the influence of religious fundamentalists.

    But “states rights” has been frequently used as a code for “you can’t impose civil rights legislation on us form a federal level” for ages. Brown v. Board of Ed and Loving v. Virgina were fought against using that wording. Sometimes fighting for “states rights” isn’t about racism, but in the south, historically, it was about racism. Back before the white racists defected to the Republicans because of Nixon’s southern strategy, the “Dixiecrats” called themselves the “States Rights Party”.

    Sure, there’s racism up here in the north too, but that particular phrase has meaning in terms of racism that shouldn’t be ignored.

  357. Dave, you know, when I read your posts as you were writing them, I didn’t really notice the pattern. But now, looking back, I can see a couple of deep, recurring, and completely flawed patterns.

    @346: Let’s try the free market for once. I hear it works real real good.

    353: Read your Adam Smith again. Please. Dude was a genius.

    @372: If you assume people will do things that are in their own best interests, it tends to work out. Bad actors get exposed

    353: That “invisible hand” is merely the sum total of people making their own free and individual decisions. Sorry if you don’t believe in free choice.

    353: In all of these posts, it seems no one thinks that individuals can make their own decisions, that people aren’t smart enough to figure things out for themselves

    372: It’s not perfect, but man is not perfectible. Neither is society. Trying for some sort of utopia ends in disaster, every single time

    What’s the pattern here?

    The invisible hand, people acting in their own selfish interest with no government regulation, will achieve the best possible outcome. Adam Smith said that the invisible hand would “divide into equal portions” life’s neccessities among everyone. A perfect outcome.

    And anyone wanting regulation only wants to upset this perfect utopia that the Invisible Hand will achieve. They hate free will. They hate individual choice. They hate us because of our freedom.

    child labor, 16 hour work days, corporate work towns, no minimum wage, indentured servitude, no safety regulations, no unions. Yeah, the Invisible Hand worked really good in your complete fantasy version of history. In the real world, it created economic slavery. There was certainly no “dividing into equal portions” of neccessities when the railroad barons and steel barons ran the country.

    You know what’s really hilarious about this?

    353: Just keep believing that big-daddy government knows better. … After all, getting elected means they’ve been transported to a higher ethical level, kinda like a bunch of little popes who are incapable of making bad decisions.

    You worship the Invisible Hand like a kind, benevolant, and perfect God. You worship Adam Smith like an infallible Pope.

    That’s hilarious, man.

    Want to see another pattern? This one is really good.

    382: Mandating that people pay for health insurance? Where in the hell does the Constitution give the federal government the power to force people to do that?

    402: Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, Farm Subsidies? They’ve been ruled Constitutional by the Supreme Court. Are they in reality? No

    368: The purpose of the Commerce Clause was originally to keep states from charging tariffs on goods transported internally in the U.S

    381: If you want to talk “General Welfare”, go back and look at Federalist Papers 41.

    381: And “regulating commerce?” That would be Federalist Papers 42. The main thing was to keep states from charging tariffs on goods shipped from other states.

    388: Nothing like an understanding of the founding principles of this country to provide a healthy discussion

    Dude, this is hilarious. You demand to know where “health care reform” exists literally in the constitution. You demand that the words must be in the constitution or it is strictly forbidden.

    And yet, you redefine the words “regulate commerce” which is in the constitution to have the limited intention of only making sure that states to impose tarriffs on goods shipped to other states.

    Dude, seriously? If they meant that the federal government should only have the power to prevent states from imposing tarriffs, then why didn’t they simply say Congress shall have the power to prevent the states from imposing interstate tariffs?

    Have you noticed that you demand a strict, literal interpretation of teh constitution when it supports you, but you reinterpret the words in the constitution to someones “intent” when the literal words no longer suit you?

    I’d certainly like to be able to argue a debate with one set of rules for me and a different set of rules for everyone else. It must be fun.

    You even get to overrule the Supreme Court and 200 years of American history. You dismiss Maybury v. Madison as nothing more than Marshall “sticking it” to Jefferson. And for some unexplained reason, the entire American population went along with Marshall’s joke for the last 200 years.

    Seriously? It must be nice to be able to dismiss reality whenever it conflicts with your worldview. I mean it reflects a level of insanity, but it certainly could be fun too.

    I mean, you’re just flat out wrong in a bunch of places, and it doesn’t phase you a bit:

    396: Your understanding of the Constitution is lacking. It was written not to forbid the federal government to do things but to list the things they were allowed to do. If it’s not listed, it’s not allowed.

    I point out in 399, that the constitution forbids ex poste facto laws, forbidding the federal government to do something, but you completely ignore that you’re wrong. It doesn’t phase you in the least.

    At the time, it was frustrating as hell to try and deal with someone who can’t acknowledge they’re wrong on a fundmental premise. But now, seeing this recurring pattern over and over again, seeing how you worship the Invisible Hand as some kind, benevolant, and perfect God, and seeing you treat Adam Smith like some infallible pope, seeing you demand a literal interpretation of teh Constitution when it suits you, and seeing you rewrite words in the constitution when they don’t suit you, man, I gotta tell you, that’s just hilarious.

  358. otherbill@408: Ascribing the heavy support for the republican party in the south to straight up racism is bunk. … I take personal offense, as a southerner myself, when people blythely label southerners as wholly racist.

    There is individual bias and there is systemic bias. The South has systemic racism. That doesn’t mean every individual living in the South is a racist.

  359. JoshJasper @ 409 And Greg @ 411 –

    That isn’t unfair, but it is limited. There is systemmc racism in every major urban center in America. New York, pensylvania, Michigan to name a few. And you’re right, it doesn’t make every person living there a racist. But, the onus is always on the southerner to prove they aren’t racist while every one else gets the benefit of the doubt.

    And while the term states rights has been used to defend certain racist practices, the states rights versus federal rights debate was meant to be the bedrock for our government. It’s part of the way our republic is supposed to impose checks and balances on itself. States rights is bigger than a code word for racism, though I agree it has been used as one.

    I absolutely don’t deny the issues with racism that the south has had historically. My point is only that there have been equally challenging issues of bigotry and racism in other segments of the country to not mention the south everytime something racist happens.

    I thinkthe news coverage of Carter and Clinton and their words on the subject is really what got my temper flared in the first place. Every news anchor I heard discuss the issue made the point of saying that their words should carry extra weight because, you know, their southern white males, and if they’re saying it, well, whooee golly it must be an issue. Because you know, you get special credentials in the south that make one a licensed expert on pointing out the obvious on racism.

    My point is, racism, slavery, indentured servitude and bigotry had a hand in building every major us city. Not to mention our roads, our railroads and our communication lines. And by our I mean the united states.

    Racism was not born in the south and it hasn’t been isolated to the south. Absolutely there have been major challenges with racism in the south, historically. Just equally so elsewhere.

    talk about how big a problem racism is while making sweeping generalizations and reinforcing stereotypes of their own is frustrating. Although this outburst isn’t directed at you two in partcular. You guys both seem alright. It’s just every other non-southerner who likes to crap on the south to makethemselves feel worldly and metropolitan.

    Do I need to hang a lantern any brighter on my own bias?

  360. Other Bill – That isn’t unfair, but it is limited. There is systemmc racism in every major urban center in America. New York, pensylvania, Michigan to name a few. And you’re right, it doesn’t make every person living there a racist. But, the onus is always on the southerner to prove they aren’t racist while every one else gets the benefit of the doubt.

    Actually, my own contention was more that southern Republicans ought to have to prove they’re not racists. I can’t speak for London.

    I have no problem talking about what racism in northern urban areas and California looks like. It’s a lot different here. NYC has a huge immigrant population, so we have not only white on black racism dating back to civil war times. There were slaves in NY before it was abolished, and during the war, we had the draft riots in which white draftees burned down a black orphanage to protest. We have slum areas in which people of color are systematically treated badly by the white power elite, from school funding to health care.

    Which does bring one back to the original “You Lie” comment. Wilson is a member of the Sons Of Confederate Veterans, a known racist group. He’s a white republican in a southern state who receives the majority of the white vote, and the minority of the black vote. His “you lie” comment was about health care for undocumented aliens that wasn’t even provided in the bill. It was race baiting, just not black/white race baiting. It’s not classic southern racism either, as it’s shared by Rep Bachmann.

  361. Josh – for Wilson, I think the onus is on him with the evidence at hand. Particular the issue of his membership with the sons of confederate veterans.

    I also agree that the “you lie” issue is, at the least, partly based on racism. But, again, I don’t think that’s been just a southern political position.

    As far as the onus being on elected (?) southern republicans, I still think that it should be meted out on a case by case basis.

    On NY and California. That’s why I think it’s important not to limit it to the south. Because a lot of people do tend to overlook those other historical, and subsequently current, issues with racism/bigotry, systemmic or otherwise. And if you are only looking at part of the problem it makes it difficult to address the whole issue.

    But fair point from you. And as biased as I am about this, southerner and former republican myself, I even have a hard time not linking everything the new voices of the republican party are saying directly to racism. But, i do tend think that Clinton got that particular issue correct.

  362. OtherBill: But, the onus is always on the southerner to prove they aren’t racist while every one else gets the benefit of the doubt.

    In the case involving Sgt. James Crowley (white) and Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. (black), I don’t think Crowley got any benefit of doubt. I think it is at least a valid question to ask whether something was racially motivated or not. I think further investigation showed that Crowley wasn’t racist, just exhibiting poor judgement due to his ego.

  363. Greg @ 415 – “I think it is at least a valid question to ask whether something was racially motivated or not.”

    I agree.

    Shifting the focus of the topic slightly… Agreed about racism (non-geographically specific) playing a role at least in some of the opposition to healthcare. Is the conversation about this motivating factor adding anything to the conversation? I mean, does it help the debate to keep hanging a light on what these people are saying?

    I think I’d exclude elected officials from that. I think it always matters with elected representatives. But forthe general protestors, there is a lot of nonsense coming out of their corner. Is it just engaging their primary objective to waste time by entering the issue of race into the debate?

    Does it add anything to say to the “you lie”-ers you guys are racist? They are just trying to sensationalize an issue.

    For example, I think there is an issue with illegal immigrants drawing on public resources, while they keep their earned income in a grey economy. The solution could be to knock down doors and demand papers or just legalize every illegal immigrant in the coutry. But I think the issue exists. Is it just further sensationalizing the issue to engage in the racism debate?

  364. Other Bill – Does it add anything to say to the “you lie”-ers you guys are racist? They are just trying to sensationalize an issue.

    They being the “you lie”ers, who’re using the bugaboo of illegal immigrants to try and besmirch a bill that categorically didn’t offer anything to them any way, right?

    In that case, yes it does add something to say that they’re being racist, because they are.

    For example, I think there is an issue with illegal immigrants drawing on public resources

    Except for the most part, they don’t. This is another “welfare mom driving a Cadillac” myth.

    while they keep their earned income in a grey economy.

    They pay sales tax the same as everyone else. And if they send money home, they’re helping fight inflation. But beyond that, it’s negligible how much they earn anyhow, an even more negligible how many resources they use.

    Sure there’s a problem, and we could be debating it. But anyone who’s interested in a non-racist based debate wasn’t the target of the “you lie” outburst. That was a shout out to border patrol nutcases. It’s part of the trend of Republican smear tactics designed to appeal to the fears of white conservatives.

  365. OtherBill: does it help the debate to keep hanging a light on what these people are saying?

    Well, you’re basically asking “What is the best way to persuade someone to change their mind?” And I don’t have an answer to that.

    I’ve found that people hate being wrong and will do just about anything to admit it, including lying like a rug that they’re right. When it becomes obvious that they’re wrong, they don’t usually admit it, people usually just slink away.

    A charge of any kind of wrongdoing can be problematic if it is hard to prove true. Racism is sometimes easy to spot, and sometimes hard. In this particular case, racist individuals for the most part try to hide their racism and present soem “logical” argument. It’s not like you’ve got a picture of a sign saying “whites only”. So it’s hard to prove and easy to deny.

    But being hard doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

    I think we can say with all honesty that some statistically significant portion of people oppose Obama for racist reasons. How big of a percentage, I don’t know.

    Whether that truth persuades anyone, whether it “helps” the debate, I don’t know.

  366. Josh @ 417 –

    “…and besmirch a bill that categorically didn’t offer anything to them any way, right?”

    well, and that’s part of my point. They aren’t really seriously engaged anyways. Don’t we just go further off the track of a meaningful debate to take time out of the debate to address it? It just spirals off into a “no I’m not – yes you are” bit of fun.

    I’m not sure that the drain on public resources is negligent, but I would say it isn’t a majority of the problems. I agree it isn’t relevant particularly to the healthcare debate. My point there was mostly just that there is a genuine issue to discuss to discuss, but that it has been hijacked by fear mongers.

    Greg @ 418 –

    “It’s not like you’ve got a picture of a sign saying “whites only”.”

    true enough in general. But the medicine man sign gets about as close as you can to the whites only sign without using the words.

    And genuine racism is hard to prove. And that is part of my frustration with the medias handling of the issue. They show a lot of signs that say are indicators of racism that clearly aren’t. I mean, the Hitler signs and the joker signs aren’t racist. Being too quick on racism clouds the debate. Being too slow is a problem too.

    Like with the heckler, everyone is staking their case that he’s a racist on the fact that he freaks over immigration stuff. Neverminding his prior public affection for the values of strom Thurmond and his association with the sons of confederate veterans.

    I don’t know what the answer is either. I feel, much like you, that some people can’t be reasoned with at any level. And so I think what’s the point? On the other hand, if you don’t nip the stuff inthe bud you spend two months having serious conversations about whether or not the government actually wants to kill your parents.

    There are definitely racists in the ranks of the republicans. And their supporters accept their leaders’ words on faith. I don’t know what to do about the level of nonsense/bigotry/racism bein spewed intothe conversation.

  367. Bill – At a recent rally, there was some moron with sign proclaiming “The American taxpayers are the Jews to Obama’s ovens”.

    It’s a good thing none of my family was there, we’re all related to actual Jews who Hitler killed. Ten bucks says they guy was a gentile too.

  368. Josh @ 420 – I remember seeing that one. That’s the kind of rhetorical nonsense I could do without. My wife saw that one. Her grandfather was a rabbi. She generally shares your sentiments.

    I saw hannity tonight. I saw Tucker carlson, on Sean hannity’s show, compare that ridiculuos clip of kids singing a pro-obama song (which I could generally do without but regard as about as threatening as an invasion of butterflies) to the actions of the Khmer rouge in Cambodia. I mean, holy hell. The Khmer rouge? I think some Cambodians would knife you on air for degrading what they went through to a childrens school performance of a three verse song. You want to talk about healthcare troubles? The Khmer rouge killed all but literally a handful of doctors in Cambodia because they might have rebelled against them.

    On a related sideshow note: I’ve always thought the right should shy away from the Maobama nickname. Number One Brother Is what they should go with. It gets the race reference in there, but it also references the Khmer rouge número uno Pol Pot (which translates to brother number one). pol pot – evil communist mass murdering maniac.

    I know, it’s an impolitic observation. But I fundamentally believe that if you’re going to talk a bunch of racist ignorant uneducated slag, you should do it cleverly. I mean, it isn’t as if it’s actually the uneducated ignorant folk coming up with the slogans. It’s pure bushleague hackery at best.

  369. I’ve got friends living in the South. Their experiences don’t bear your case out Bill. There is racism all over the country, and in cities certainly, but in the South it is still entrenched in the political system, in many of the churches, in the worship of the history of what might have been if they’d won the Civil War. So entrenched that it required the National Guard, thousands of people risking their lives and a Constitutional amendment to change laws there. A lot of those people are still there, some forty years later. Thurmond, whom Wilson worked for, switched from a somewhat progressive Dem to devout segregationist and stayed in the Senate till he was 100. Southerners voted for him. They vote for politicians like Wilson. They fought to keep the Confederate flag flying. Mouthpieces like Limbaugh grew up with segregation and they still espouse a white victimhood that comes out of the civil rights battles and the political battle with Nixon. The black people in New Orleans were still waiting for relief efforts and their levees to get repaired long after the white areas got theirs. White sheriffs fired guns in the air to keep mostly black refugees from Katrina from crossing a bridge into their county. These incidents are unsurprising coming from the South — and that’s the problem.

    The South has more to prove not only because of its history but because the people who run it often still follow old lines of thought and have not cleaned up their act, just given it a fresh veneer. The South is changing, the racial demographics are changing, but the South is still the base of the far right, which always uses racial politics and tribalism, and the political conservative rhetoric — that hasn’t changed that much. And the systemic racism in the South makes it harder to root out in other places in the country as well. There are a lot of good people in the South, working hard, but the South still has the longest way to go, even if no other area is perfect either.

    Carter and Clinton deserve a listen not because they are Southern white guys, but because they were both President. They grew up in the South, had to campaign in it, to deal with its politics, to schmooze with both black and white Southern voters. They had to campaign throughout the rest of the country too and saw the differences. They had to deal with white Republican Southern congressmen on a regular basis. Carter has led Habitat for Humanity and other anti-poverty efforts there, Clinton campaigned for his wife there.

    But that’s not as important as the facts that Wilson is from the South, Wilson worked for Thurmond, Wilson belongs to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Wilson led the charge to keep the Confederate flag above the NC capital building, Wilson is obviously trying to keep racially upset voters in his district happy, and that out of all the healthcare issues that Wilson could have picked to yell “you lie” in disagreement with Obama about, he picked the racial one — illegal immigrants. That mostly brown people were banned from the proposed system but still might sneak in was so emotional for him that he supposedly could not control himself and keep to the rules of his job, well that sends a message.

    It doesn’t send a message that Obama is black and therefore evil. It does send the message that Obama is black and therefore cannot be easily trusted, that he must be watched, and that he must not be allowed to get away with any lies (that weren’t lies.) It sends the message that Obama may, because he is black, side with black and brown people over whites (the reparations argument,) and if he does, he must be shouted down. It’s an argument built on race and distrust of race, even if it’s not condemning an entire racial group. And that’s what Carter was talking about.

  370. KatG @ 422 – I think you made some fair points. I’d disagree with a couple. I typed and deleted a much longer post where I went through the disagreements. It turned into a rant more than anything, so I scratched it.

    Your point about Wilson is accurate and one that I haven’t disagreed with. Institutionalized racism does happen in the south. It also happens in the north the Midwest and the west.

    We have a lot of bigotry in this country that needs to be dealt with and moved past. Racist incidents aren’t surprising anywhere, because they are so nationally pervasive. Racially charged incidents in the south get national media attention, because, hey it’s the south.

    I don’t disagree that it is a problem that needs to be addressed. I’ve lived my entire life in the south. I’m not blind to the challenges that the area faces. But to argue that it’s the only geographic are in our country with institutionalized bigotry is flat wrong.

    As a side not about hurricanes and Katrina in particular. Disaster response to hurricanes has traditionally been a state and local led effort. In new Orleans it wasn’t just the black neighborhood levies that broke. Their government didn’t take care of any of their levees. As far as the police actions post Katrina, I’d agree that they were out of line absolutely. But, the fact remains that at the end of the day, that failure rests on the shoulders of Mayor Nagin and Police Chief Compass.

    Poor people who have no means to help themselves need more help. But it isn’t any different in cities across the united states. If that’s an example of institutionalized racism look at Harlem.

  371. OtherBill: Institutionalized racism does happen in the south. It also happens in the north the Midwest and the west.

    Bill, with all due respect, what you’re doing here is attempting to downplay racism in the South and trying to distribute racism equally throughout the US.

    Yes, there is individual racists throughout the US. I’m not in the South and I’ve seen racist individuals in my area.

    But systemically speaking, there’s a lot more racism in the South than anywhere else.

    Whether or not the resistance to Obama is racially motivated or not is something that would take a lot of study to prove. Whether or not pointing out racism towards Obama would help the health care debate or not is extremely hard to tell without the benefit of hindsight.

    But there is absolutely no question that the South has a lot more issues with racism than any other part of the country.

    That doesn’t mean that you are a racist. But systemic racism is a bigger issue in the South than anywhere else in the US.

  372. “Sure, there’s lung cancer among smokers! But there’s lung cancer among people who’ve never smoked too! That means they’re the same!”

  373. They are bad too is not an argument, Bill. I didn’t argue that the South were the only ones with institutionalized bigotry. I said they have the most and we are never surprised when it happens in the South. The South made the bigger mess. Now they have to work harder to clean it up.

    And what we’re getting instead from the South is a lot of political rhetoric about how brown and black people are problems, can’t be trusted, are taking all the good stuff. We’re getting it from Southern Senators and Congressmen. And from many others who don’t hold such views, we’re getting not a lot of anger that Southerners should hold those views or a desire expressed to actively change them, but anger that there’s criticism of the South. Carter expressed his anger and desire to change it, and your response is hey, don’t go picking on the South?

    The point isn’t that all the levees broke. It’s that the first levees that were repaired were not in the black neighborhoods, even though they’d been the hardest hit, and in some areas, they still aren’t repaired. The responsibility for the bridge doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of a mayor or a police chief, but on the people who put them in office, and the subordinates who went along with it — on the culture that made it seem a good idea. There were white Canadians on that bridge, tourists who had gotten trapped in the city, who tried to protect black children of strangers from buzzing police helicopters with no food and water — and who broke the story once they finally got out. I don’t think they’d share your viewpoint. Because it wasn’t one guy with a gun who kept them on that bridge.

    Such incidents happen elsewhere, and have to be dealt with elsewhere, but the South has a history of them and they keep adding to them. They keep electing politicians who add to it. It is still a key component of Southern culture and of the political rhetoric of the South. And fair or unfair, you’ll keep that rep until there are bigger changes across the South.

  374. KatG @ 426 –

    “Carter expressed his anger and desire to change it, and your response is hey, don’t go picking on the South?”

    My point isn’t to not pick on the south, it’s to keep the issue in perspective. I didn’t offer any gripe about what Carter or Clinton had to say about the issue. My gripe is with the way it’s been portrayed and talked about.

    “Such incidents happen elsewhere, and have to be dealt with elsewhere, but the South has a history of them and they keep adding to them.”

    incidents occurring regularly in other areas amount to a history with racism as well.

    “And fair or unfair, you’ll keep that rep until there are bigger changes across the South.”

    so fair or unfair, we get to continue to endure a stereotype until we above and beyond outperform the rest ofthe country? Racism is not a key component of southern culture.

    As far as the Katrina example. It isn’t a good one for your point. You’re confusing issues with poverty for why it took longer to repair the 9th ward than others. But you are leaving out the point that white people didn’t get new homes given to them by the government. Everyone who moved back to New Orleans and rebuilt did so because they had the financial wherewithal. Anyone who didn’t had their entire lives destroyed by that hurricane. And their reaction in the streets? It was utter abject terror of the widespread violence that resulted because two black local leaders and one white governor had no plans for disaster response in a city that is 6-10 feet below sealevel with levees in disrepair. That doesn’t have anything to do with racism. That city was destroyed and it resulted in complete chaos.

    Now, you want to talk about school systems that don’t serve poverty ridden areas and allow the children to secure a better future for themselves? Absolutely. Instituionalized racism that people don’t do all that much about. But the thing is, that isn’t confined to the south.

    But, like GregLondom said in 424, it doesn’t mean I’m a racist to say that. And I get that. But, there is an increased responsibility on my part to prove to people that I’m not a racist. And that’s the result of a stereotype. Which is a reputation, unfair or fair, passed on to everyone in an artificial group because of the actions of someone else.

    We don’t own white guilt in the south because of slavery. Slavery was institutionalized in the constitution of the united states of america. Slavery built the white house.

    I’m not downplaying the challenges we have with racism in the south. We have enormous issues with poverty. And we have a lot to overcome. But in terms of institutionalized racism, it’s the same. And arguing that it is a national issue isn’t at all saying but tthey do it too so it’s okay.

    I didn’t say that.

    But, it absolutely is to say thatthe problem doesn’t get seriously addressed if you only solve one piece of the puzzle.

    Xopher @425 – oh my god! Don’t even get me started on the lies the government made up to hate on marlboros!

  375. Scalzi – I know this breaks your request but I’m interjecting a comment from my wife and I think it adds uniquely to the conversation. I accept your deletion if you feel it merits it.

    When discussing the back and forth in this thread, she pointed out:

    “I’ll give them this, Florida is the only state that has been busted for slavery recently. But that’s probably because they aren’t lookin that hard in California.”

  376. Don’t even get me started on the lies the government made up to hate on marlboros!

    I’m going to assume you’re kidding because otherwise you’re certifiably insane.

  377. Xopher @ 429 –

    insane like a fox, maybe. My tinfoil body armor protects me from the hurtful mind rays that you and the government And cell phones are using to try and give me cancer.

    Or, maybe you’re secretly sympathetic to my cause. In which case, brother, have you heard about the currative properties of smooth spread jiffy peanut butter?

  378. Well then, sir, I shall see you on the field of battle in the coming Armageddon that will be the Universe ending peanutbutter wars of 2012.

    Full disclosure, I just ripped off Roland emmerich’s next film.

  379. Bill@427: But the thing is, that isn’t confined to the south. But, like GregLondom said in 424, it doesn’t mean I’m a racist to say that.

    That’s not exactly what I said.

    I said there is MORE RACISM in the South than anywhere else in the US. And I said that just because you are in the South, that doesn’t mean you are racist.

    But I ALSO said that you keep trying to do the “you too” argument, which is changing the subject. There really is MORE systemic racism in the South than in the Northeast, Midwest, or West. Really really. And maybe I missed it, but I haven’t heard you actually acknowledge that fact. Instead you keep going into the argument that individual racists exist everywhere.

    Do you see the difference? THere are individual racists everywhere, but there are MORE individual racists in the South than there are anywhere else. There is MORE systemic racism in the South than anywhere else.

    Everytime someone tries to present that to you, rather than acknowledge it, you go back to “there are individual racists everywhere”. Fine. But there are MORE of them in the South. There are MORE systemic issues of racism in the South. It doesn’t mean that you are a racist, but there really are more racists around you than there are around me.

  380. Greg @ 434 – based on what youre saying, I think I may be miscommunicating. I’m not trying to shift the conversation to the notion that that there is individual racism everywhere. I think we agree on the non-geospecificness (a made up word) of individual racism.

    I think that much of what gets labeled as institutional racism has stronger roots in class issues with poverty. I would agree that there is more of it per capita in the south because what we describe as instiutionalized racism is more centered on poverty.

    My argument is that the notion of the south being more racist, individual or otherwise, occluded that point. And, work to fix racism, which I readily agree that some of this is, doesn’t address areas where the driver of the problem is primarily (if not solely) poverty related.

    That’s why I was talking about Katrina. While there was absolutely racism at play, the drivers of the exacerbation of that disaster were a lack of disaster planning, city property management of the levees, and rampant abject poverty in the ninth ward. Ascribing those problems to racism doesn’t address the solution.

    I’m not trying to be evasive of your point. I think I just wasn’t speaking clearly enough.

  381. I just wasn’t speaking clearly enough.

    Bill, I want you to take a look at this sentence:

    While there was absolutely racism at play, the drivers of the exacerbation of that disaster were a lack of disaster planning, city property management of the levees, and rampant abject poverty in the ninth ward.

    I would rewrite that to say “The drivers of the problems around the Katrina disaster were poor planning, poor management, poverty, and racism.” Or, I might write it “Poor planning, poor management, poverty, and racism were all at play around Katrina.”

    You continue to take “racism” and always treat it differently than any other issue. You continue to downplay it’s contribution to the problem. You say racism is “at play”, but not a “driver”, not part of the “solution”.

    Ascribing those problems to racism doesn’t address the solution.

    Racism is part of the problem. Addressing racism addresses part of the solution. Addressing racism doesn’t address all the problems or all the solutions. But, racism is part of the problem.

    Maybe you keep speaking this way because you’re trying to push back on sweeping generalizations that some people might make that everyone in the South is a racist. I’m not entirely sure where it’s coming from. I don’t think you’re doing this on purpose, and I don’t think you’re a racist.

    But your choice of words and the way you speak about racism ends up coming across slightly… off.

  382. “so fair or unfair, we get to continue to endure a stereotype until we above and beyond outperform the rest ofthe country?”

    Yes. And not because of slavery. Because of the water fountains and the schools and the hospitals and the voting. Because your politicians are still fighting to keep the Confederate flag flying over state houses and people sticker the thing in the back of their vehicles. It doesn’t mean that you get called a racist because you are a white Southerner, but it does mean that you will have to endure the South being called a region in which racism is endemic. It was a bigger mess and the problem is harder to fix in the South.

    No one’s suggesting that we ignore racism elsewhere. No one’s ignoring the connections between racism and poverty. No one’s suggesting that the South get bigger penalties when dealing with racial issues. But the South has more to prove, whether you like it or not. And the South keeps electing politicians who prove just the opposite. They aren’t the only states to do so, but that they do shows an on-going problem in the South.

    It’s a big challenge. I believe that Southerners are up for it, and I mean real Southerners, not just transplants. But you’ve got Southern politicians like Wilson, with credentials like Wilson, pulling boneheaded, racially sensitive stunts. So the South will have to deal with that.

  383. Greg @436-

    “Maybe you keep speaking this way because you’re trying to push back on sweeping generalizations that some people might make that everyone in the South is a racist. I’m not entirely sure where it’s coming from. I don’t think you’re doing this on purpose, and I don’t think you’re a racist.”

    I’d say that’s a fair assessment. I could see how what I’m saying could come across as off. Sweeping generalizations frustrate me. Sweeping generalizations about the south are a hot button issue for me.

    And I agree no one here thinks I’m a racist. Suffice to say that here in metro dc I’ve had my fill of conversations where people politely explain that people from the south are stupid uneducated ignorant and racist.

    The problem that I have with is that people like to correct facts with nonsense. My favorite is that if you dontthink the civil war was over slavery it’s just because you grew up in a place where they call it the war of northern aggression. Both wrong.

    My point wasn’t to say there aren’t racists and that racism isn’t part of the problem. But, a lot of the problems that are commonly referred to as examples of institutionalized racism are not going to be solved by fixing racism. For example, access to solid education. Yes, racism is a part of the problem. But, the failing point there is associated with lack of funding because those areas are also usually very poor. Since education funding comes from primarily the local and then state level, it’s more an issue of economic segregation in terms of finding the solution. That’s not meant to say that racism isn’t part of the problem or importan to address openly.

    So, yeah. Fair call in your part. And I am sorry that what I was trying to say came across as a buckshot of different arguments. I said upfront I’m a little biased on this, and that’s probably the reason for the pushback on sweeping generalizations about the south.

    More relevant to the original topic of the esteemed Joe Wilson. Here’s a great example of an unnoticed subconscious (maybe) racist comment:

    “I particularly would like to point out I grew up in the Holy City of Charleston, south of Broad (Street). It is the center of civility in a civil state,”

    Now it may or may not be a racist thing. But, in Charleston broad street is the divider between the poorer blacker portion of town and the more affluent and whiter portion of town. I just can’t remember if the south side is the rich side. I think it is. Which means he may have just described himself as white and civil.

  384. I don’t like it that as I’m an American, I’m part of the stereotype of the American racist, the uneducated, anti-science Americans, etc. But I am, because we’re an eco-system, not to mention that I’m white. I can say, “I’m not like them,” but I can’t disown them as Americans or ignore them.

    Racism plays an integral part in making groups of people have a higher incidence of poverty and having a longer way to go to catch up to the average. It’s an enormous waste of resources, of people and of time. Of all the issues of poverty there are, it’s the one that should be easiest to drop, despite our history, thus making large improvements. Instead, it’s a continued uphill battle. But at least it’s a battle that continues and continues to make gains.

  385. KatG @ 439 –

    “I don’t like it that as I’m an American, I’m part of the stereotype of the American racist, the uneducated, anti-science Americans, etc. But I am, because we’re an eco-system, not to mention that I’m white. I can say, “I’m not like them,” but I can’t disown them as Americans or ignore them.”

    I get that. And same as I said to greglondon, I appreciate that your points don’t involve calling me a racist. At least, I would agree to the extent that wherever it is in the country, it is an American problem that requires work to solve. But, when people talk about the way the world perceives Americans in general, I have issues with it. Stereotypes are not productive or supportable.

    “It’s an enormous waste of resources, of people and of time.”

    I’d like it if you would expand on this. I’m not sure I understand what specifically you are getting at.

    “Racism plays an integral part in making groups of people have a higher incidence of poverty and having a longer way to go to catch up to the average.”

    I agree that where you find poverty, one of the obstacles to imrpoving the situation tends to be racism. But I don’t think I’d agree that racism is causal.

    Given the way I appear to have come across, take this for what is. I am not trying to argue that racism is irrelevant or unimportant. I think that a lot of what people see as racism is really classism. I think the sentiment is the same. And I think the recipients largely continue to be minorities. Towns and schools aren’t segregated by race anymore, they’re segregated by economy. This belief, is in part a driver of some of my previous statements that I poorly communicated.

    “Of all the issues of poverty there are, it’s the one that should be easiest to drop, despite our history, thus making large improvements. Instead, it’s a continued uphill battle. But at least it’s a battle that continues and continues to make gains.”

    I agree that we are making progress and I agree that it’s important. But I’d disagree that bigotry of any sort should be or is the easiest to to drop. Mind you, I don’t think bigotry is justifiable in any sense, but trying to get people to stop being bigoted is about as easy to convince people to, for comparison, stop believing in their god. Bigotry becomes an ingrained part of a persons fundamental make up. There is no fast track easy solution for it.

    From your previous post at 437 –

    “No one’s suggesting that the South get bigger penalties when dealing with racial issues. But the South has more to prove, whether you like it or not. And the South keeps electing politicians who prove just the opposite. They aren’t the only states to do so, but that they do shows an on-going problem in the South.”

    I think sentences one and two directly contradict each other. Same for three and four. I understand your point, but I do think it reflects a bias. You agree that there are equal examples of racism and bigoted politicians routinely eleceted elsewhere, but when they do it in the south it counts for more. I see those sentences and I think we’ve got a pretty big problem of it everywhere. I think maybe we differ because I’m talking about all types of bigotry and nit just black/white racism.

    “Because your politicians are still fighting to keep the Confederate flag flying over state houses and people sticker the thing in the back of their vehicles.”

    I agree they shouldn’t be flying it over the state Capitol buildings. I think that’s about as defensible as the religious items on display in courthouses.

    I know this won’t make me popular. And I hope you’ll read it as a pushback against sweeping assertions and not a minimalization of racism or what it is most frequently used for. And that’s fine and we can agree to disagree. But the confederate flag is not just a symbol of racism. And everyone who displays it or is apathetic about it’s display in public places are not racists. My analogy would be that just because super right hawks who wrap themselves in the US flag while they promote their with hunts for unReal Americans doesn’t make the flag a symbol of hate. That’s a much tougher sell on the confederate flag given that it seems it’s most popular current use is as such.

    If you accept my position on the civil war that it was not over slavery, and that the civil war was about states rights versus federal rights. That flag serves as a reminder if the genuine importance of those issues in the way our federal system, our republic works. Now I’m not talking about the cranks who say healthcare mandates should be opposed on the basis if the tenth amendment. But those issues are fundamentally important to the makeup of America. That flag should serve as a permanent and poignant reminder of that. It’s what almost derailed the continental congress and it’s what derailed the country as a union.

    Mind you, that’s nit a justification of slavery. But that wasn’t what the civil war was about. I fully recognize that I’m in a minority on this. I also recognize that most people have hijacked that flag for their own racist pretenses. So, please be aware that my statement is not meant to a defense of or a justification for the ignorant.

  386. Other Bill – I agree that where you find poverty, one of the obstacles to imrpoving the situation tends to be racism. But I don’t think I’d agree that racism is causal.

    Really? This, despite the fact that it’s actually been proven that in wage and hour violations, overtime violations, minimum wage violations, and tip theft, non whites are the ones who suffer more abuse?

  387. Bill: when people talk about the way the world perceives Americans in general, I have issues with it. Stereotypes are not productive or supportable.

    Uh, America LIED to the world to invade Iraq. There were no WMD’s, there were no Iraq-AlQueda connections. You too easily dismiss “the way the world percieve Americans in general” as nothing more than a “stereotype”, when the world’s perception of America is based in part on our very bad behaviour.

    You need to stop waging your war against stereotypes to the point that you dismiss real behaviours.

    This applies to racism too. You are so wrapped up in your war against stereotypes of the South that you try to dismantle real racism and pass it off as “classism”.

    And I hope you’ll read it as a pushback against sweeping assertions and not a minimalization of racism

    That’s exactly how you’re coming across right now.

    You yourself said that racism is not a “driving” factor and addressing racism does not “address the solution”.

    Think about what you said there: Somehow, racism exists in this country, and yet, it has no measurable effect in this country. Dealing with racism will not solve anything.

    If you really and truly are motivated by fighting the stereotype that all Southerners are racist, don’t wage your war to the point that you deny the existence of other stereotypes, like the stereotypes that some Southerners have of dark skinned people.

    Because when you compare those two stereotypes, one stereotype causes real world damage to people, violence against people, economic disadvantages to people, and injustice to people, and the other stereotype is more of a conversational annoyance.

    And you’re holding teh conversational annoyance of one stereotype up so high that you’re pretending that the real world damage from the other stereotype doesn’t even exist.

    Not everyone in the South is racist.

    There, that should satisfy your goal of fighting the stereotype of all Southerners being racist, at least as far as this thread is concerned. You no longer have to fight that stereotype here. I’ve acknowledged it. KatG has acknowledged it.

    With that out of the way, hopefully you can acknowledge the existence of racial stereotypes and their real world effect, without diminishing or downplaying those effects, and without attributing those effects to some non-racial cause.

    Yes, poverty is a problem in this country. No, Wilson is not a member of the sons of confederate veterans because he hates poor people. Wilson did not shout “You lie!” because he hates poor people.

    More to the point, POOR PEOPLE do not run around in white sheets burning crosses because they hate other POOR PEOPLE.

    If you want to dismiss that sort of behaviour as class warfare, then regardless of what your motivation for making that argument might be, you are making the exact same argument that a racist would make. And at that point, intent becomes less important than effect.

    So, if you’re going to wage war against the stereotype that all Southerners are Racist, don’t fight it by dismissing racist stereotypes as nonexistent. Racism is real and is not the same problem as the problem of poverty.

    If you accept my position on the civil war that it was not over slavery, and that the civil war was about states rights versus federal rights. That (confederate) flag serves as a reminder if the genuine importance of those issues

    I don’t accept your position on the civil war. The south still had slavery. The north wanted slavery to end. The south was willing to tear teh country apart to keep slavery. the north was willing to go to war to keep the south from seceding.

    People portraying the Civil War as nothing more than aquestion of states rights are either ignoring the moral question of slavery completely, or are operating under the fantasy that the south knew slavery was wrong and wanted to end slavery, but didn’t want the federal government to force them to end slavery. They wanted to end slavery on their own accord.

    But that again is looking at two moral issues, (1) slavery and (2) State’s right vs Federal rights, and deciding that (2) is more important than (1).

    It’s like you looking at (1) stereotypes that all Southerners are racist and (2) racism itself, and deciding that (1) is more important than (2), to the point that you start downplaying and even denying the real world effects of (2). As you said, addressing racism wont address any solution. Yes, actually, it would.

    Given the two moral issues of states rights and slavery, I’ll hold the issue of slavery as far more important and needing to be dealt with, even if it means trampling on “state’s rights” to abolish slavery. Given the choice between allowing the south to secede and keep slavery or force the south to remain part of the country and force them to stop slavery, I’ll go with stopping slavery.

    The confederate flag may represent “state’s rights”, but the only rights the state was defending was the right of WHITE PEOPLE to enslave BLACK PEOPLE, and they didn’t want the federal government to force them to stop that.

    It’s not possible for state’s rights to exist in a moral vacuum. State’s right have to deal with another specific moral issue. Marriage. Abortion. Whatever. One cannot present the civil war as nothing more than a question of state rights without comparing “state’s rights” to the moral issue of enslaved african americans in the south.

    And that’s exactly what you’re doing, the way you hold the stereotype of “all Southerners are racist” as so important that you start dismissing real world effects of racism. You’r holding the civil war and the confederate flag as being about state’s rights to the point that you hold state’s rights in a vacuum, as if state rights cannot possibly be weighed against the moral issue of an enslavement of en entire people.

    And while not all southerners are racist, there is more real racism in teh South than anywhere else. While you are not a racist, you have neighbors who are. While poverty is a real problem, racism is just as real. While state’s rights is a moral issue to be considered, it was not the only moral issue during the civil war, and teh moral issue of slavery far outweighed the moral issue of state rights trying to keep slavery. And the confederate flag will always be tied to the South going to war to keep slavery. As a symbol, it represents the notion that “state rights” is more important than the enslavement of a people.

    And just a little thing about symbols, long before hitler used the swastika as his national symbol, it was used by the ancient egyptians as a symbol of good luck. Hitler stole the symbol from the egyptians. But today, that symbol will always be associated with Hitler’s destruction of millions of lives, and no one could ever adopt that symbol today and say it only refers to the Egyptian version of the symbol. The baggage associated with Hitler will always be attached to it.

    The baggage of slavery will always be attached to the confederate flag. It is impossible to say it represents only “state’s rights” and has nothing to do with the enslavement of a people. That baggage will always be there.

  388. Josh Jasper @ 441 – fair point. And I agree absolutely that bigotry is a driver with what you mention.

    But I don’t think the money mentioned bridges the gap between the working poor and the middle class. I think that’s an example where bigotry plays a role or adds to the cycle.

    I don’t think that makes it causal. At least not on the larger city/regional scale. At an individual level, I think I’d agree it can prevent an escape from poverty.

    It’s defintely a problem, either way. I’m not trying to argue it’s unimportant.

  389. Greg @ 442 – your response popped after I loaded my response to Josh Jasper, please forgive the multiple post.

    “Uh, America LIED to the world to invade Iraq. There were no WMD’s, there were no Iraq-AlQueda connections. You too easily dismiss “the way the world percieve Americans in general” as nothing more than a “stereotype”, when the world’s perception of America is based in part on our very bad behaviour.”

    I’m definitely not saying that the United States actions in invading Iraq didn’t cause some very real and very serious foreign policy challenges. But that blowback is based more in the outcome of realpolitik than in the stereotype that Americans are overagrressive ignorant bastards.

    The stereotype of Americans doesn’t accomplish anything and it occluded some real life consequences of how the world does business. That’s not minimizing the problem, that’s identifying the problem.

    “Think about what you said there: Somehow, racism exists in this country, and yet, it has no measurable effect in this country. Dealing with racism will not solve anything.
    If you really and truly are motivated by fighting the stereotype that all Southerners are racist, don’t wage your war to the point that you deny the existence of other stereotypes, like the stereotypes that some Southerners have of dark skinned people.”

    again, I’m not trying to minimalize the effects of racism. And I’m not trying to dismantel racism into some harmless notion of classism. Individually racism has an enormous impact. I agree. Individual racism occurs everywhere. Your argument was that it does, but more of it occurs in the south. My discussion on this issue with the frustration that people talk about the south as where racism comes from or as the seat or seed, depending on your individual, of racism in America. That’s ridiculous. I’m aware, and Ive said as much, that racism is a problem in the south.

    Institutionalized racism I think, or the problems that we generally refer to as such, is more frequently institutionalized classism. I think it’s a more accurate term. Mind, when I used it I made sure to say that I’m not taking any of the severity of the term away and that I agreed it still more frequently applied to minorities. I didn’t say don’t fix racism. I said fixing racism won’t build schools that are worth anything for the very black and very poor population of new Orleans.

    “Because when you compare those two stereotypes, one stereotype causes real world damage to people, violence against people, economic disadvantages to people, and injustice to people, and the other stereotype is more of a conversational annoyance.”

    Stereotypes are absolutely what cause and fuel violence and hate. But that’s because they are oversimplified generalizations that are easily cokmunicated. Talking in stereotypes doesn’t fix anything. Saying the sotuh is the seat of racism is a stereotype. Looking at specifics and talking about their real world drivers and what can be dine to fix them is fine. Go to the southern poverty law center and come back and argue that they note in their state by state map of hate groups that the loosely defined south has more hate groups than most other regions. But also note that California has the most and new York is in the top three.

    “Racism is real and is not the same problem as the problem of poverty.”

    I agree. And it’s part of my point. But they do tend to overlap. And maybe we’re looking at the same diagram on a piece of paper from opposite sides of the table.

    Hate groups are real. Racism is real. There are real quantifiable consequences of racism. But where this conversation started at was the stereotype that racism as originating in the south is quantifiable.

    “I don’t accept your position on the civil war. The south still had slavery. The north wanted slavery to end. The south was willing to tear teh country apart to keep slavery. the north was willing to go to war to keep the south from seceding.
    People portraying the Civil War as nothing more than aquestion of states rights are either ignoring the moral question of slavery completely, or are operating under the fantasy that the south knew slavery was wrong and wanted to end slavery, but didn’t want the federal government to force them to end slavery. They wanted to end slavery on their own accord.”

    the north didn’t care about slavery. They cared about the economic edge it gave the south, if anything. The moral question of slavery didn’t enter into the fundamental calculations. So, a third option is that people operate on a fantasy that the north had a moral crisis to resolve.

    I’m not sure the debate over the civil war is apropos to the conversation today though. Because it goes more into the general amoral motivations of state level relations. And I’d say that while technically a union, that fallout started and was predicated on whether they had states rights as we use the word to refer to countries or states rights as we use the word to refer to provinces in the US.

    “It’s not possible for state’s rights to exist in a moral vacuum. State’s right have to deal with another specific moral issue.”

    I agree and I disagree. You use marriage and abortion as examples where both sides of the debate claim the moral high ground. I agree that they are highly charged values debates, but I disagree that states deal with them morally. Not that this should be used to justify the wrong doing of the state. But, how can they act “morally” if both sides say that conceding to the others demands is immoral?

    “And just a little thing about symbols, long before hitler used the swastika as his national symbol, it was used by the ancient egyptians as a symbol of good luck. Hitler stole the symbol from the egyptians. But today, that symbol will always be associated with Hitler’s destruction of millions of lives, and no one could ever adopt that symbol today and say it only refers to the Egyptian version of the symbol. The baggage associated with Hitler will always be attached to it.
    The baggage of slavery will always be attached to the confederate flag. It is impossible to say it represents only “state’s rights” and has nothing to do with the enslavement of a people. That baggage will always be there.”

    that’s exactly it. Exactly. That flag will always have the issue of slavery attached to it. It is impossible for it to be otherwise. But it isn’t impossible that other values can be attached to the same symbol.

    Being a member if the sons of confederate veterans and advocating for the flag over the Capitol building is pretty damning evidence for being a racist. But, just being an average citizen and being seemingly indifferent to such display or putting in the back of your window isn’t damning evidence at all. Highly specific and appropriate use of meaningful evidence as compared to a broad generalization that may or may not be true.

    As a closing point in the subject. My stance is more about the specificity of speech. Sweeping generalizations will not be successful in arguing to someone that sweeping generalizations are bad.

    I really like to listen to Ahmadinejad be interviewed about the bad things going on in his country. He’s a great example of why you should not argue incredibly important issues like bigotry and violent oppression in generalizations. Who saw his Larry king interview a couple days ago? Check out the transcript to that. King tried to press him on the violence surrounding the last election there with the highly publicized beatings of the public and in particular the death of the young women. But his focus was on the violence in general, and nit in specific on the basiji or the young woman. This left Ahmadinejad quite free to accurately respond that the *riot police* didn’t use any techniques that Americans don’t use in their protestors. He asked if he had seen the news from pittsburgh where protestors were gassed and beaten. King said he wasn’t talking about here. And the response was that there was essentially a double standard.

    Now, I’m not taking the guys side. But that guy is commonly referred to as an irrational murderous psychopath. But, I’ve seen him prfoessionally interviewed in the states where he wins his arguments on points, if not overall value of his position.

    Right, but sneaky language doesn’t make things “right”. I’d agree. But that’s what you’re fighting on issues like this. And, most of the political issues we’ve discussed are topical and we absolutely have one party using sneaky language tondefend insidious thoughts and actions. The weapon against sneaky language is sharp and accurate language of your own.

    I’m no hero of that movement, and I’d readily admit you can find examples of my failings in that area.

  390. The stereotype of Americans doesn’t accomplish anything

    First of all, “America invaded Iraq on lies” is not a stereotype. It’s a fact. Another fact is that the South has a lot more systemic racism than the rest of the country. That’s not a stereotype. Those are facts. Describing them as stereotypes is abusive to the truth.

    Second of all, whether or not pointing out the truth that America lied its way into Iraq, or whether or not pointing out the South has more systemic racism than the rest of the country, whether pointing out those facts will “accomplish anything” is your attempt to shift the goalpost from “truth” to “effectiveness”. And it’s irrelevant.

    You yourself said you’re biased about “All southerners are racist” type stereotypes. Fine. NO ONE HERE SAID THAT. But what we have said is the FACT that there is more systemic racism in teh south than anywhere else in the country. That’s a fact. But because you’re sensitive to someone turning that into “all southerners are racist”, you actually start attacking the facts and presenting them as stereotypes. You move the goalposts from whether the statement is true to whether the statement is effective.

    That is your own bias coming in and pushing the conversation off course from the facts.

    For example: the north didn’t care about slavery.

    When Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe, he said “So this is the little old lady who started this new great war!” Part of the reason we went to war was because Uncle Tom’s Cabin made the human cost of slavery very real for many people in the north and energized anti-slavery groups.

    But look how you sweep that fact away completely: the north didn’t care about slavery.

    Slavery may not have been the only reason people supported the war, but it certainly was a reason. And in your haste to make it solely about state rights, you dismissed another fact of history.

    My stance is more about the specificity of speech. Sweeping generalizations will not be successful in arguing to someone that sweeping generalizations are bad.

    Bill, you really, really, really, really, need to get that you’re making sweeping generalizations and being dismissive of facts. The north did in fact care about slavery. It might not have been the only reason we went to war, but if you want to make it about the “specificity of speech”, then saying “the north didn’t care about slavery” is patently, absolutely, wrong.

    Allow me to take this back to something you said at #213: I kist think it’s disingenuous to discount what they say because t doesn’t fit your world view of how things are.

    Can you get that if we look at your words with the “specificity of speech”, that what you are saying actually discounts certain facts? It’s not that I’m discounting what you say because it doesn’t fit my worldview, you’re actually saying some things that are not factual. Slavery really was one of the reasons the North went to war. Systemic racism really does exist in the South more than anywhere else. That is not a stereotype, it’s a fact. And bringing up that fact has been shown in the past to “accomplish” something. Uncle Tom’s Cabin brought up the reality of slavery in the south. Martin Luther King Jr. brought up the issues of racism in the south. Whether showing Wilson is a racist or not will “accomplish anything” is certainly a possibility, whether it is an inevitability will have to be seen.

    I’m not disagreeing simply because my worldview doesn’t match yours. You’re taking facts and saying they’re stereotypes. You’re dismissing facts and saying things that by “specificity of speech” is specifically wrong. Slavery really was one of the reasons teh North went to war. And whether or not something is “effective” is secondary to whether or not it is true.

    And I’m not sure where this is all coming from. Some of it may be from your war against “all southerners are racist” comments. Except no one here said that. Back at #213, you also said: It’s as much a debate as it is a negotiation between the parties concerned. They aren’t going to get what they want if try utterly fail to take one partys concerns seriously.

    And i have to point out that sometimes, the other side really is wrong. Sometimes, the “concerns” of the other side aren’t real. Death panels being one example. It’s not a stereotype. It’s just wrong. And we can debate whether pointing out non-factual information is “effective” or not, but my point is that first we have to agree that it really is wrong.

    You also said: “they’re just a minority and they’re just wrong and your evidence is biased” speech is why I left my party for democrats

    And part of me wonders if you’re trying to make this about “worldviews” instead of facts because you want your former republican worldview to maintain some validity to it. The alternative is that the republicans aren’t basing their arguments on facts, but fictions, and you used to subscribe to that fiction-based way of thinking.

    How much of this is driven by your bias against “all southerners are racist” type comments, and how much of this is based on you wanting to defend your previous republican worldview that may have been based on fictions?

    it isn’t impossible that other values can be attached to the same symbol.

    Yeah, actually, it is. The confederate flag will always be a symbol of slavery and racism. Always. It will never have any other meaning in America.

    Think about this for a moment. Say you’ve got some important, worthy political goal you want to achieve. Why would you pick something with all the baggage of centuries of slavery and our bloodiest war attached to it to be the representative of your mission?

    More realistically, it is people want to hold onto the racism that the flag represents, but they attempt to camoflage their intent by pretending that the confederate flag is being repurposed to defend “state rights”.

    This has nothing to do with my worldview disagreeing with their worldview. They are lying about their true intentions. They are abusing the facts. They are wrong.

    I cannot for the life of me figure out why you would defend the confederate flag as anything other than a symbol of slavery and racism. You don’t see germans trying to repurpose the swastika for any of their political issues of today.

    Sometimes people are just flat out wrong. Modern day germany seems to have come to terms with their mistake pretty quickly. For some reason, the South didn’t. Maybe the South after the civil war was more like Germany after WW1. A horrible peace treaty that left them in ruins and left them bitter. I don’t know. But wrong is still wrong.

  391. “Stereotypes are not productive or supportable.”

    I agree, but again, there’s a difference between saying, “I am not like that” and denying that there are Americans like that, and that it’s a problem that needs to be dealt with and confronted. Carter was not saying that all the people in the state were racist. He was saying that racism is still a prominent problem there, that racism is still used in Southern politics, and that Wilson’s action had a racial component.

    “Mind you, I don’t think bigotry is justifiable in any sense, but trying to get people to stop being bigoted is about as easy to convince people to, for comparison, stop believing in their god. Bigotry becomes an ingrained part of a persons fundamental make up. There is no fast track easy solution for it.”

    Agreed. By “should be” I’m saying that it should be easy to drop but it isn’t. And that’s why dismissing it as not a causal factor is an iffy proposition.

    “I agree that where you find poverty, one of the obstacles to improving the situation tends to be racism. But I don’t think I’d agree that racism is causal. I think that a lot of what people see as racism is really classism.”

    There are decades of social science that prove you wrong on that. White poor and black/brown poor have common problems, but non-whites have additional ones. They are more likely to be turned down for loans, mortgages. They are more likely to get arrested, receive jail sentences and longer ones. They are more likely to be exploited in the workplace, as Josh noted. Like women, it is harder for non-whites to advance in the job market and to earn as much. Black families, no matter what economic class, have to teach their sons how to act when stopped by police.

    But for blacks, the primary factor is that they started way behind, as slaves and impoverished freemen (i.e. causal racism), and were held back for decades, particularly in the South through the old plantation properties which functioned like industry owned towns, and segregation (i.e. causal racism.) It’s only the last 40 years that blacks have overall access to basic education. And it’s really only the last twenty years that blacks have been able to make large scale headway in the workplace. It’s truly just the recent generations who have had the best shot at changing the poverty figures for non-whites, only now they’re facing a world with the collapse of scholarships and student loans, 50% unemployment for young people, and the collapse of the middle class, which for blacks is disasterous. Racism helps cause poverty and makes it very hard to get out of poverty, on top of the other across the board factors. So much of it we’re not aware of because we don’t have to deal with it on a daily basis like non-whites do.

    “You agree that there are equal examples of racism and bigoted politicians routinely eleceted elsewhere, but when they do it in the south it counts for more.”

    Yes, because the South did worse with segregation. It has the bigger burden of proof that it’s taking racism seriously. And instead, what many of its leaders, elected by the populace, and noted speakers indicate is that they think racism isn’t a big deal or that discrimination is in fact a good policy idea.

    It’s true that the Civil War wasn’t fought only for slavery. States rights, money issues between agriculture and industry, the expansion of the West — many factors played in. But slavery played an enormous part of that war, and the legacy of that slavery caused segregation to be on-going in the South a hundred years later. For black people, the Civil War is very much about slavery.

    To invoke Godwin’s Law without the screaming, World War II wasn’t about killing the Jews either. But the Holocaust is an integral part of what happened and the Nazi swastika and flag are the symbols of that bigotry and repression and death. So imagine if you’re a German Jew and the politicians who are supposed to be representing you argue that the Nazi flag should be flown over the state building as a sign of Germany’s history, and glorious traditions. That the swastika is a symbol of something else too, and no one should therefore take offense at its use. That’s the way that blacks see the Confederate flag. That’s how many whites see the Confederate flag. Its place is in museums and Civil War re-enactments, and pretending that it can be used for more than that is minimizing racism. More, it’s making the symbol of the South a racist symbol and then getting mad when people won’t ignore that history.

    Now, we’re a land of free speech. If you want to wave the Confederate flag or the swastika, you can. But others can also use their free speech to disagree, to protest, and to condemn. And instead, some of the highest offices in the land were for it, and didn’t see why black Southerners would be intimidated or bothered by it. Or didn’t care if they were. That doesn’t make the South look as if it now has a culture of tolerance and civility. This is just my opinion, but the people you should be angry at are the ones who think like that and have the power to try to make their thinking law, and not the ones who find it wrong and counter-productive.

    “It’s an enormous waste of resources, of people and of time.”

    “I’d like it if you would expand on this. I’m not sure I understand what specifically you are getting at.”

    We lose people to racism — people who given the opportunity — education, jobs, etc. — could contribute considerably to the society and economy. We lose resources by discriminating against those people which helps further keep them in poverty and not contributing and using up resources and harms the economy overall, and by having to spend time trying to keep them contained, repressed, (someone had to be paid to put up the water fountain signs, and it cost to print them.) And we lose time — every time racism rules the day means we go backwards, weaken, and have to try to catch up instead of developing at full capacity. It’s like dry rot, as are the other prejudices.

  392. Just to jump in for a minute: this is an interesting conversation on racism. Greg, I agree with almost all of your points. I have a couple of comments that aren’t necessarily disagreement, but more of a caution for you when making sweeping statements.
    I lived in the South for about 10 years. I make no apologies for the southern culture’s treatment of race. It is unique to the country, convoluted, and sometimes not very pretty. However, when you say that the confederate flag can have no possible meaning to anyone other than racism and slavery, you are making assumptions about the “everyone” to whom you just referred. There is a mixed sense of shame and pride in the South over the Civil War. It’s almost impossible to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it. That mixed sense of shame and pride has led some people to latch onto a symbol of southern identity, namely the confederate flag. Now, you’re right that this symbol is often used as code for racist beliefs. It is also sometimes used as a way to express pride in a part of the country that frankly didn’t have much to be proud of for about a century after the Civil War. Hitler adopted the swastika- it was never part of German culture before the Nazis. It is ONLY used in western culture by white supremacists. Not a good comparison. Again, I’m not arguing that some people use the confederate flag as a cover for their nasty, racist, beliefs. But to say that it’s all the flag can ever be used for and that it’s all the flag means to anybody goes a bit far.

    Second, you said “More to the point, POOR PEOPLE do not run around in white sheets burning crosses because they hate other POOR PEOPLE. ”
    This is actually far from true. The whole white supremacist movement is about taking poor white people and pitting them against poor non-white people because of the fear that these competitors are going to unfairly get what the white people deserve. Now, obviously racism is the point of the white supremacist movement. But so is power. For those high up in the movement, power comes from promoting fear and resentment among those who don’t have much against other people who don’t have much. You can see this tactic playing out in other right-wing circles right now. Rich people don’t have to run around in sheets because poor people will do it for them, once they’re fired up with fear, hate, and lies.
    OtherBill, I think I understand what you’re saying. Unfortunately, your attempts to nuance the impact of racism is very easy to see as an attempt to minimize it. Better to say that racism exists as a problem and move on from there. I don’t think people are going to be convinced otherwise. You can’t fix the problem if you can’t acknowledge the problem. Sure, poverty is a factor. But so is racism. Full stop.

  393. There is a mixed sense of shame and pride in the South over the Civil War.

    Pride for what? Then explain whether the answer you give diminishes the immorality of enslaving an entire race and puts your answer above it.

    i.e. if you say the South is proud of fighting for “states rights”, doesn’t that mean they thought state rights were more of a moral driver than dealing with the enslavement of an entire race?

    I can think of no answer that wouldn’t do that moral switcheroo. If you have an answer that doesn’t, I’d be interested to hear it.

    Today, America as a whole wouldn’t usually use the word “proud” for how they would describe America’s war against Native Americans. But years ago, they might have.

    “More to the point, POOR PEOPLE do not run around in white sheets burning crosses because they hate other POOR PEOPLE. ”
    This is actually far from true. The whole white supremacist movement is about taking poor white people and pitting them against poor non-white people

    That is an error in categorization. It cannot be an issue of class if its the same class fighting against itself. If it were rich people fighting against poor people, then you’ve got a class issue. If it’s poor white people fighting poor black people, then the “poor” part cancels out and all you’re left with is racism.

  394. Greg @ 445 –

    “But because you’re sensitive to someone turning that into “all southerners are racist”, you actually start attacking the facts and presenting them as stereotypes. You move the goalposts from whether the statement is true to whether the statement is effective.

    also regarding that no here said all southerners are racist. This conversation started as a comment on my general frustration that people like to offhandedly interject that the south is the seat of racism in the united states. And secondly, both you and katg commented on the idea of validity and being a part of a stereotype whether you felt it represented you or not.

    My goal posts haven’t moved. Fundamentally

    1) racism did not originate in the south and is not owned by the south.
    A) talking about the problem of racism in America necessarily diminishes similar challenges in other areas of the county. It necessitates making it less egregious of an error when a non-southern politician says something bigoted. KatG said it herself, it counts for more in the south.

    2) racism and poverty are intertwined. Both are important. Both present difficult challenges.
    A) frequently issues related to poverty are confused with racism. Example, common theory that hurricNe katrinas aftermath would have been any less chaotic were people not racist.

    3) the civil was not about slavery. It was economics and power at the continental congress and it was economics and power for the civil war.
    A) while people may have been morally opposed, and it was a worthy cause, to slavery that was not why the south seceded and it was nit why the north went to war. The union required the revenue and the goods generated by the souths cotton trade.
    B) 3a does not take anything away from the siginificance of the anti-slavery movement.

    4) the confederate flag was nit originially a symbol of racism.
    A) tough sell. I agree. I personally know people who display the confederate flag and are not and do not consider it to be racist. Your point regarding the general overwhelimg symbolism as a racist symbol is accepted, though it was not argued in the first place.

    These are things I have not meant to say/said/implied:

    “Say you’ve got some important, worthy political goal you want to achieve. Why would you pick something with all the baggage of centuries of slavery and our bloodiest war attached to it to be the representative of your mission?”

    I pointedly indicated that I did not think it appropriate as political cause symbol. There is historical significance in it as a reminder of many things to be vigilant against and it is not alwYs a political statement when displayed for individual purposes. And secondly, before the civil war, the American flag was attached to all those things and afterwards it became attached to other equLly controversial issues.

    “First of all, “America invaded Iraq on lies” is not a stereotype. It’s a fact.”

    I didn’t say it wasn’t. I agreed with that. In support of KatGs point about being necessarily associated with a stereotype of an American you indicated Americans earned that stereotype. I agreed with the fact of that sentence. I disGreed with it’s use as support for a stereotype.

    “Whether showing Wilson is a racist or not will “accomplish anything” is certainly a possibility, whether it is an inevitability will have to be seen.”

    I pointedly said all public servants should be held to account for their actions. I did say that addressing racism in areas where poverty is the cause of the problem seeking to be addressed will not help that problem. This is an argument of effectiveness. But it is also one that I have repeatedly said should not diminish the siginificance of racism.

    “Maybe the South after the civil war was more like Germany after WW1. A horrible peace treaty that left them in ruins and left them bitter. I don’t know. But wrong is still wrong.”

    I’d say that’s pretty accurate. The reconstruction was not the best era for the south, on any side of the issue. But I never said they weren’t wrong.

    “Some of it may be from your war against “all southerners are racist” comments. Except no one here said that.”

    true enough. But when I said