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4001  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Epidemics: Bird Flu, TB, etc on: May 02, 2009, 09:29:59 AM
Just a thought.  I wonder if I should believe the new and reduced number of flu deaths in Mexico.
It seems reasonable to question the motives and thus the validity of the *new* estimates of the the death toll from flu.
Mexico's economy is being hurt by this whole thing.  We hear corruption is rampant.  So now I hear that oh, its not nearly as bad as we thought.  Well is it or not?  I don't know what to believe.

****Lower Mexico flu death toll heartens nervous world 02 May 2009 12:46:21 GMT
Source: Reuters
 (For full coverage of the flu outbreak, click [nFLU])

* Mexico cuts suspected flu death toll to up to 101

* WHO says flu spans 15 countries, 615 people infected

* U.S. responding aggressively to flu outbreak-Obama

* China cancels Mexico flights, Hong Kong seals off hotel

(Adds Obama comments)

By Catherine Bremer

MEXICO CITY, May 2 (Reuters) - New laboratory data showed fewer people have died in Mexico than first thought from a new influenza strain, a glint of good news for a world rattled by the threat of a flu pandemic.

Mexico cut its suspected death toll from the H1N1 flu to up to 101 from as many as 176, as dozens of test samples came back negative. Fewer patients with severe flu symptoms were also checking into hospitals, suggesting the infection rate of a flu that has spread to Europe and Asia was declining.

The World Health Organisation said on Saturday 15 countries have reported 615 infections with the new flu virus A-H1N1, widely known as swine flu [nL2430119].

Italy later confirmed its first case, a man in the Tuscany region who returned from Mexico on April 24. He has recovered.

Almost all infections outside Mexico have been mild. The only death in another country has been a Mexican toddler who was taken to the United States before he fell sick.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agreed the outbreak may not be as severe as it looked a few days ago, citing many mild cases that were not immediately noticed. [ID:nN01346626]

President Barack Obama said the United States was responding aggressively to the new flu strain [nN01348184].

He outlined steps his administration was taking to address the virus, including school closures, and said antivirals were being distributed to states where they may be needed and new stockpiles had been ordered.

For Mexicans -- spending a second weekend stuck indoors with stores and businesses shuttered across the country and the capital, Mexico City, devoid of its lively restaurants, bars, cinemas and museums -- the data is cheering.

Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova acknowledged the numbers were encouraging but cautioned it was too early to say Mexico had control of the flu.

"For now it's unpredictable," Cordova said late on Friday. "We need more days to see how it behaves and whether there is really a sustained decline."

The new virus is only the third infectious disease experts regard as having pandemic potential in the past 10 years.

It has world health experts racing to find a vaccine and is wreaking havoc with a travel industry that flies hundreds of thousands of people to and from Mexico each week. [ID:nNN0129623]

China suspended flights to Mexico after Hong Kong authorities on Friday confirmed a Mexican man who flew via the Chinese mainland was infected with the flu strain.


Police in surgical masks quarantined 200 guests and 100 staff inside a Hong Kong hotel where the Mexican, 25, had been staying, saying they would be confined for a week. [ID:nT31820]

"They said everybody needed to go back to their rooms. I don't want to go to my room because I want to be out," an Australian man at the hotel told a TV reporter by telephone.

Hong Kong was badly hit by the SARS virus in 2003 and has had many episodes of H5N1 bird flu for more than a decade.

The Asian Development Bank said it was prepared to provide assistance to countries in the region to cope with the possible spread of flu, as it did during the SARS outbreak. [nJAK469756]

Several European countries have confirmed cases of the virus. The United States has been hit with 145 cases in 22 states. [ID:nN01348184]

Mexico has released a confusing batch of flu data in recent days but public hospitals have noted a steady drop in patients turning up with fevers, suggesting the infection rate may be declining as the nation dons face masks and hand gel.

"There are very few deaths worldwide," said Marcelo Musi, a salesman shopping for vegetables in Mexico City, where residents weary of masks, hand sanitizers and frightening headlines clutched at signs of an end to the crisis. "If there are no more cases, they say things will get better."

President Felipe Calderon ordered non-essential businesses to close for five days from Friday, extending a three-day holiday weekend over Monday and Tuesday. [ID:nN01340553]

Analysts say the move will further dent negative economic growth this year.

Countless families were devastated at having their long weekend ruined as restaurants, bars, playgrounds and parks that hold outdoor "cumbia" dances all stayed closed.

Cordova said of 159 files on suspected flu deaths, tests showed 58 died of other causes. He said 16 deaths are confirmed as caused by the H1N1 flu and 85 are being tested. (Additional reporting by Louise Egan and Anahi Rama and Tan Ee Lyn in Hong Kong, Laura MacInnis in Geneva, Silvia Aloisi in Rome; Editing by Janet Lawrence)****
4002  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: May 02, 2009, 08:26:22 AM
"We will stop 'intensive interrogations' in order to impress the Arab-street with our civility"

I think that is BO's delusion.
But for many liberals especially the likes of MSNBC it is all about getting the Repubs and beating them mercilessly.  For them it is politics not morality.
4003  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: May 01, 2009, 11:44:37 AM
BO has been succesful at hiding from and fooling the majority of Americans into thinking he doesn't  hate America and on his views that *America is the enemy* not the true enemies.

You know one almost has to start wondering if he works for our enemies.

He couldn't be a greater ally to them.

But the Cans still have no better alternative and most Americans are happy to go on the dole and be bought off apparantly - or so they think - until our taxes start to sky rocket.  the taxes will be hidden as best as possible. 
4004  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: April 30, 2009, 05:44:16 PM
When I see stuff like this all I can think of how exhausting this all is.  I just say enough already.  I am picturing this dumb stupid little broad in my mind.  Where do they grow liberals like this I ask? ("thrifty chicks"?):

 By Amy Hardin Turosak Amy Hardin Turosak – Thu Apr 30, 5:00 am ET
Denver – Thanks to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), I see that my serving of Honey Nut Cheerios has 110 calories. This, along with dozens of other data points on the box, helps me make educated choices to do right by my body. I'm ready to tackle the day as an informed consumer of food.

Wait! That box: What "ingredients" went into that? Ditto for the plastic liner and all those O's: How many "calories" did it take to manufacture them and then ship them to my table? What's the carbon footprint of my breakfast?

At the store, I can compare cereal carbohydrates but I can't compare how much they cost the planet. I'm not empowered to shop right by the health of the planet. I might as well put on a blindfold.

Americans need to broaden their understanding of energy and its cost. Nearly everything in our homes, from toasters to hair dryers, consumes energy (and emits pollution) from start to finish. But we don't think about that. We think that's the job of the energy companies. We turn down the thermostat and buy reusable bags at the grocery store, but that's about it.

Americans are voracious shoppers. We use more than our fair share of resources in this world. To embrace conservation, shouldn't we consider a product's carbon cost? Take appliances. Many come with an Energy Star rating. We all nod and feel good about it. But this label just shows the relative energy cost of ownership, not the absolute cost of manufacture. I wonder if it is confused with the car device OnStar; consumers may think washers have satellite connections offering emergency assistance for grass stains.

Think about all those products that companies dare to call "green." Unlike "organic," which is a federally regulated label, companies can affix "green" to just about anything, even petroleum-based plastic Easter eggs from China! Head slap. The manufacturers can't be trusted – they're colorblind. By "green," they must mean the color of money. Unless they start making edible sofas, this is beyond the FDA's scope, so who is going to settle this issue?

Misconceptions abound. Most runners don't think they have a negative environmental impact. The runner just runs, right? Hats off to Runner's World magazine for taking a hard look at this question in "The Runner's Footprint." The article showed that the carbon cost associated with a shoe's life cycle can be eye-popping. My husband is a runner. Runners don't like air pollution. So I know a shoe's carbon cost would weigh heavily on his choice.

If price and quality were equal, which widget would you buy – the one that cost 10,000 carbon points or 100? From jeans to washing machines, we need a common metric for the pollution costs that products incur during their life cycles. If we can list the nutritional value of a pickled egg, surely we can drive a healthier market and planet through system-cost comparison.

While we wait for that, we don't have to wait to be smarter shoppers. When we spend money on new products, we spend a great many carbon points. But when we buy repurposed goods at thrift stores, we spend close to zero carbon points. We have choices, but we need to be informed to make responsible ones.

Amy Hardin Turosak writes as Ms. Shopping Golightly at the Thrifty Chicks blog.
4005  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Some truths about flu on: April 30, 2009, 01:51:56 PM
This is an excellent book on the 1918-19 pandemic:

I wrote an article for a local newspaper on the 1918 pandemic when it was the 75th anniversary of it in 1993.

One thing I have not heard mentioned has to do with the fact that most people who died back then did not die of viral neumonia but of secondary bacterial pneumonia.

Indeed the reason it was even named the influenza epidemic was because pathologists early into it identified on smears the heamophilus influenza BACTERIA.  So influenza got it's name by mistake.  Of course in those days they could not see or had no way to even know what a virus was.

So most of those people similarly sick today would not have died because we now have antibiotics to cure them.

So the threat with that kind of virus is much less serious for those of us in the US then it was.  Maybe in the thousands but definitely not in the hundreds of thousands or millions in the US.

That said for other countries, in sub Sahara Africa, remote places in Asia, S. America where access to care is less robust the death rate for such a virus could be very high.

Additionally, the virus could mutate into something nver seen before with death rates much higher than say the estimated 5% in 1918 more akin to Ebola or Hanta viruses.

So I don't take the potential threat lightly.

Should we quarentine those coming from Mexico or prevent those from going?

Of course I am not a world expert but my feeling is that even trying to prevent the spread of influenza is just a fantasy.

It can't be done.

Even in 1918-19 before the advent of mass travel and migration the virus made its way to EVERY single corner of the world where there was humanity.

All the South sea Islands, Eskimos etc.  There was no place to hide.  There was no palce that was not hit.  None!

This is not trying to prevent a few cased of drug resistent TB.  You put armed military on the border with Mexico.  Forget it.
Influenza will get here if it is destined to.

Of course the politicians will always try to put blame on the other side.

4006  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MSM: disinformation propaganda machine on: April 28, 2009, 12:25:19 PM
"Barack Obama is the second most reviled newbie president of the last forty years. A gallup survey today published in the Washington Times shows Obama to have an approval rating of just 56 per cent. The only president to have performed worse than that at the end of his first 100 days in office was Bill Clinton"

Is this stat true?  Wow!

Listening to the main stream media one would think BO is the *most beloved* Pres of all time after the first 100 days!
4007  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / "phase four' says the WHO on: April 27, 2009, 05:04:29 PM
TORONTO, April 27 -- The World Health Organization has raised its pandemic alert system to level four -- sustained human-to-human transmission -- in response to the swine flu outbreak in the U.S., Mexico, and at least two other countries.

The Geneva-based WHO made the change from level three -- some human-to-human transmission -- on the advice of an expert panel meeting today.

Earlier today, acting CDC director Richard Besser, M.D., said the change won't affect the U.S. response to the outbreak.

"It really doesn't matter from our perspective what you call this," he said in a press conference. "Our actions are based on what's happening in our country and our communities."

Stepping up one phase, Dr. Besser said, "would not change anything that we are currently doing."

The pandemic threat level has six major levels. Phases one through three increase from strictly animal-to-animal transmission to some human-to-human transmission, sufficient to create small clusters of disease.

Level four requires sustained human-to-human transmission able to cause what the WHO calls "community-level outbreaks."

Levels five and six are the pandemic levels.

Phase five is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in a region, although most countries are not affected.

In phase six, there are community-level outbreaks in at least one other country in a different region. This level is regarded as a signal that a global pandemic is truly under way.

4008  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Epidemics: Bird Flu, TB, etc on: April 27, 2009, 03:36:19 PM
I would not yet jump to the conclusion this article suggests that this virus is not as dangerous as say the one in 1918 - at least not yet.

It is true the one then was an avian virus and this one from pigs.   Yet I read the people who are dying are not the typical young and old as in most influenza seasons but the young and healthy which is eerily like the one in 1918.  H1 or H5 this applies:

The scientists suspect that with the 1918 flu, changes in just 25 to 30 out of about 4,400 amino acids in the viral proteins turned the virus into a killer. The new work also reveals that 1918 virus acts much differently from ordinary human flu viruses. It infects cells deep in the lungs of mice and infects lung cells, like the cells lining air sacs, that would normally be impervious to flu. And while other human flu viruses do not kill mice, this one, like today's bird flus, does.
4009  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: April 27, 2009, 09:54:33 AM
It is not so much that there is a shortage of doctors as much as shortage in some areas.  In my area there is too many doctors.
But anyway:

Obama administration concerned about growing shortage of primary-care doctors
by Robert Pear/New York Times Sunday April 26, 2009, 9:59 PM
Washington -- Obama administration officials, alarmed at doctor shortages, are looking for ways to increase the number of physicians to meet the needs of an aging population and millions of uninsured people who would gain coverage under legislation championed by the president.

The officials said they were particularly concerned about shortages of primary-care providers who are the main source of health care for most Americans.

One proposal -- to increase Medicare payments to general practitioners, at the expense of high-paid specialists -- has touched off a lobbying fight.

Family doctors and internists are pressing Congress for an increase in their Medicare payments. But medical specialists are lobbying against any change that would cut their reimbursements. Congress, the specialists say, should find additional money to pay for primary care and should not redistribute dollars among doctors -- a difficult argument at a time of huge budget deficits.

Some of the proposed solutions, while advancing one of President Barack Obama's goals, could frustrate others. Increasing the supply of doctors, for example, would increase access to care, but could make it more difficult to rein in costs.

The need for more doctors comes up at almost every congressional hearing and White House forum on health care. "We're not producing enough primary-care physicians," Obama said at one forum. "The costs of medical education are so high that people feel that they've got to specialize." New doctors typically owe more than $140,000 in loans when they graduate.

Lawmakers from both parties say the shortage of health-care professionals is already having serious consequences. "We don't have enough doctors in primary care or in any specialty," said Rep. Shelley Berkley, Democrat of Nevada.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, said, "The work force shortage is reaching crisis proportions."

Even people with insurance are having problems finding doctors.

Miriam Harmatz, a lawyer in Miami, said: "My longtime primary-care doctor left the practice of medicine five years ago because she could not make ends meet. The same thing happened a year later. Since then, many of the doctors I tried to see would not take my insurance because the payments were so low."

To cope with the growing shortage, federal officials are considering several proposals. One would increase enrollment in medical schools and residency training programs. Another would encourage greater use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants. A third would expand the National Health Service Corps, which deploys doctors and nurses in rural areas and poor neighborhoods.

Sen. Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, chairman of the Finance Committee, said Medicare payments were skewed against primary-care doctors -- the very ones needed for the care of older people with chronic conditions like congestive heart failure, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

"Primary-care physicians are grossly underpaid compared with many specialists," said Baucus, who vowed to increase primary-care payments as part of legislation to overhaul the health-care system.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an independent federal panel, has recommended an increase of up to 10 percent in the payment for many primary-care services, including office visits. To offset the cost, it said, Congress should reduce payments for other services -- an idea that riles many specialists.

Dr. Peter J. Mandell, a spokesman for the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, said: "We have no problem with financial incentives for primary care. We do have a problem with doing it in a budget-neutral way. If there's less money for hip and knee replacements, fewer of them will be done for people who need them."

The Association of American Medical Colleges is advocating a 30 percent increase in medical school enrollment, which would produce 5,000 additional new doctors each year.

"If we expand coverage, we need to make sure we have physicians to take care of a population that is growing and becoming older," said Dr. Atul Grover, the chief lobbyist for the association. "Let's say we insure everyone. What next? We won't be able to take care of all those people overnight."

The experience of Massachusetts is instructive. Under a far-reaching 2006 law, the state succeeded in reducing the number of uninsured. But many who gained coverage have been struggling to find primary-care doctors, and the average waiting time for routine office visits has increased.

"Some of the newly insured patients still rely on hospital emergency rooms for nonemergency care," said Erica L. Drazen, a health policy analyst at Computer Sciences Corp.

The ratio of primary-care doctors to population is higher in Massachusetts than in other states.

Increasing the supply of doctors could have major implications for health costs.

"It's completely reasonable to say that adding more physicians to the work force is likely to increase health spending," Grover said.

But he said: "We have to increase spending to save money. If you give people better access to preventive and routine care for chronic illnesses, some acute treatments will be less necessary."

In many parts of the country, specialists are also in short supply.

Linde A. Schuster, 55, of Raton, N.M., said she, her daughter and her mother had all had medical problems that required them to visit doctors in Albuquerque.

"It's a long, exhausting drive, three hours down and three hours back," Schuster said.

The situation is even worse in some rural areas. Dr. Richard F. Paris, a family doctor in Hailey, Idaho, said that Custer County, Idaho, had no doctors, even though it is larger than the state of Rhode Island. So he flies in three times a month, over the Sawtooth Mountains, to see patients.

The Obama administration is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into community health centers.

But Mary K. Wakefield, the new administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, said many clinics were having difficulty finding doctors and nurses to fill vacancies.

Doctors trained in internal medicine have historically been seen as a major source of frontline primary care. But many of them are now going into subspecialties of internal medicine, like cardiology and oncology.

4010  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 26, 2009, 01:54:05 PM
It is more sickening than humorous to hear Chris Matthews now say that John McCain should have been the guy to win the Presidency in 2000.  Now that he is continuing to speak out against harsher interrogation techniques essentially supporting the left, AND no longer in a position to run for office and the Bama has safely beaten him,  he is again their Republican poster boy.

I recall Matthews cried when Gore made his concession speech in 2001.

4011  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 26, 2009, 01:48:01 PM
Doug says,

"And let's see if Obama prefaces his remarks by saying this isn't nearly as brutal as what is already happening everyday in these terrorists' own home countries"

The MSM is letting BO have his cake and eat it too.
He is clearly doing the triangulation thing, pretending he is above the politics of it all and is just doing the "moral thing" that "America is all about".  His apologists are all over the talk shows saying he doesn't want to proceed with special investigators and the rest.  That he is under tremendous pressure from the far left.  As if he is not far left.

BO is clearly on board with damaging the Republicans, humiliating the previous administration (and America) around the world, deflecting attention from his agenda and continuing the blame game and playing the savior who is going to straighten this country - and the world - out.

His whole personal history is this - of the liberal left wing radical.

I guess except for Lou Dobbs, Fox, WSJ, talk radio conservatives there is no one speaking up from the right that has the gravitas to offer another alternative.

I don't know if this will change or not.  As long as government expands exponentially and more and more people are on the dole, and the new age immigrants who expect far more than they did historically continue to change the demographics it will be an uphill battle.

It is infuriating to me to see the Dems out in force talking about the interrogation issues like they are.
Except for the die hard dems who are glad to use any excuse to get Bush I think most Americans would agree with me.
FBI agents of Muslim heritage excepted.  And I mean no disrespect otherwise to him or the agency but I can't help wonder his agenda here.


4012  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 25, 2009, 09:02:16 AM
Ok, this is not racist.  wink  BO is different from all the previous "white" presidents because he is "hip".

Is this code for, "he is black enough"?  I don't know.

Well, if 6'4" Abe played, if there was a basketball in his day, he would have kicked BO's ass in B ball.

***For Obama, hipness is what it is
 Sam Fulwood III Sam Fulwood Iii – Fri Apr 24, 5:06 am ET
During his first 100 days as president of the United States, Barack Obama revealed how different he is from all the white men who preceded him in the Oval Office, and the differences run deeper — in substance and style — than the color of his skin.

Barack Hussein Obama is the nation’s first hip president.

This, of course, is subject to debate. But watch him walk. Listen to him talk. See the body language, the expressions, the clothes. He’s got attitude, rhythm, a sense of humor, contemporary tastes.

This much is clear: Whether dealing with the Wall Street mess, shifting troops from Iraq to Afghanistan or fumbling to fill his Cabinet, Obama leans heavily on personal panache to push political policies. Truth be told, his style is rooted in something elusive and hard to define. Pure and simple, it’s hip.

“Being hip is being able to navigate your environment and others’ environments,” like the way Obama traverses racial boundaries, said John Leland, author of the definitive book “Hip: The History.”

“Obama has this awareness that other presidents haven’t had. He’s white, and he’s black. He’s an elitist, and he’s regular folk. He’s not pinned down to a perspective.”

Young is to hip as old is to fogey — an essential characteristic. Obama has modern instincts and attitudes that appeal to younger people, and more than any other president in recent memory, that makes him a role model. He is green, open, athletic, tech-savvy, healthy. And his hip image certainly isn’t hurt by his wife, who is so obviously cool — setting trends (Sleeveless! Tending her own garden!), confidently mingling with superstars, gracing magazine covers coast to coast.

Consider how, during the campaign, Obama used his personality — the smile, the jaunty stride and the hip-hop verbiage — to disarm critics, charm supporters and persuade fence sitters to elect him president. In an against-the-odds campaign, Obama never lost his poise as he forged a rapport with a new generation of voters while keeping old heads on his team. He could go professorial on the need for health care reform or describe the minutiae of Middle East politics. Still, he begged to bring his BlackBerry into the Oval Office, a signal that he intends to remain in touch with the 21st century. Very hip!

Once he settled into the White House, the hip parade didn’t subside. Early guests included pop artists Stevie Wonder (a campaign supporter), Alicia Keys, and Sheryl Crow — but also Sweet Honey in the Rock, a group of socially and politically active a capella singers with an indie, underground vibe.

Obama strutted onto Jay Leno’s stage and plopped down on the couch, making him the first sitting president to do that. He unveiled his March Madness basketball bracket from the Oval Office. And speaking of basketball, who missed the sight of POTUS dressed in all black, sitting courtside at a Bulls-Wizards game with a cup of beer and high-fiving a trash-talking fan? How hip was that?!

It’s so hip that school kids in Albany, N.Y., coined a term for it: “Baracking.” And it doesn’t stop there. Those in the know at Albany High greet each other by saying: “What’s up, my Obama?” and they respond to a sneeze with “Barack you.” Misbehavior is peer-corrected with the admonition, “Barack’s in the White House,” which translates, “Show some respect.”

Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, said it was “just really stunning” that kids were co-opting the president’s name as a term of endearment and identification.

“This is the most emblematic, positive thing that kids could say,” she said. “It’s connecting them to him, saying that there’s something special in the connection between them.”

John F. Kennedy understood the nexus of Hollywood glam and Washington power, but he wasn’t a hipster. Bill Clinton looked good in Ray-Bans and did a nice turn with the saxophone on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” but in his heart of hearts, Ol’ Bubba was a country boy from the Ozarks with a need-filled, wonky core — not hip.


Obama’s hipness reinforces that he’s different, yet he’s comfortingly familiar to Americans who want to revere their presidents as pedestal material while demanding that they be approachable as the guy next door.

So what’s hipness got to do with public policy? For Obama, everything.

His personal charisma is a nonverbal form of communication, sending seemingly conflicting messages: the need for radical and sacrificial change, yet the reassurance to Americans that he’s as sane and stable as the guy in the next barber’s chair, said Roger Wilkins, who recently retired as a history professor at George Mason University.

“Hipness is a way of presenting to the world that you know what’s going on and that you’ve got things under control,” said Wilkins, who served in the Johnson administration and has had up-close dealings with every president since Kennedy.

“For Obama, his hipness exudes power. He just keeps on moving, no matter what comes his way, and he doesn’t lose it. That’s being hip — and I don’t see any contemporary public figures whom I would think of as hip.”

True, Obama uses his hipster personality as a weapon. His enormous popularity is a bludgeon that demands political respect, if not support. For example, almost immediately after settling into the White House, Obama left Washington to campaign in Ohio, Michigan and other hard-hit states to sell his economic stimulus plan. It was an effective effort at charm-school diplomacy, garnering outside-the-Beltway support and applying pressure on Washington insiders to get on board the Obama train.

The implication was that if you were not on board, you were not hip — you were square. And who wants to be so uncool as to be on the wrong side of the hip president, other than a few vocal anti-cools, such as radio yakker Rush Limbaugh, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner and former Vice President Dick Cheney?

There have been a few other nationally recognized hip politicians: the late Rep. Adam Clayton Powell of New York; former California Gov. Jerry Brown, who is currently the state’s attorney general; and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown come to mind. For a brief period in the 1970s and 1980s, one might argue that Washington’s eternal pol Marion Barry was hip; that was before drugs, booze and women brought him low.

To be sure, the track record for hip politicians isn’t promising. History suggests that the power of personality has limitations in politics. It sours under public scrutiny.

So can it last? Can Obama’s hipness survive the weight and responsibility of the office? Maybe there’s a reason presidents aren’t hip. War-making, secrecy, aging, unpopularity, sternness and sobriety — these are decidedly unhip. And all that could come in the next 100 days, because hipness is a trendy thing, subject to popular whim.

For now, with approval ratings over 60 percent, Obama is hip. But he will have to find a balance between being hip and being powerful while sitting in the world’s most watched fishbowl.

“Hipness is what it is! And sometimes hipness is what it ain’t,” goes the famous song by Tower of Power. “There’s one thing you should know. What’s hip today might become passé.”

Sam Fulwood III wrote about race and politics for the Los Angeles Times’ Washington bureau for more than a decade and is a frequent contributor to The***
4013  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Tamiflu may help on: April 25, 2009, 08:33:35 AM
WHO ready with antivirals to combat swine flu
Fri Apr 24, 2009 5:11pm EDT  Email | Print | Share| Reprints | Single Page[-] Text
By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that it was prepared with rapid containment measures including antivirals if needed to combat the swine flu outbreaks in Mexico and the United States.

The Geneva-based agency has been stockpiling doses of Roche Holding's Tamiflu, known generically as oseltamivir, a pill that can both treat flu and prevent infection.

The new virus, not previously detected in pigs or humans, has proved sensitive to the drug, the WHO said in a statement.

The WHO and its regional office in Washington, D.C., are also sending experts to Mexico to help health authorities with disease surveillance, laboratory diagnosis and clinical management of cases.

Mexican health officials have reported more than 850 cases of pneumonia in the capital, Mexico City, including 59 who died. In San Luis Potosi, in central Mexico, 24 cases including 3 deaths have been detected.

They have also informed the WHO about a third suspected outbreak of swine flu in Mexicali, near the U.S. border, with four suspect cases and no deaths so far.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control have said there were 8 cases of swine influenza in California and Texas and no deaths.

Health authorities in the two North American countries have the resources required already in place, including Tamiflu, and are "well equipped," according to the WHO.

"WHO is prepared with rapid containment measures should it be necessary to be deployed," WHO spokeswoman Aphaluck Bhatiasevi told Reuters.

The United Nations agency saw no need at this point to issue travel advisories warning travelers not to go to parts of Mexico or the United States. "However, the situation may change depending on what the situation in the field is," she said.

The WHO will convene a meeting of its Emergency Committee on international health regulations, probably on Saturday afternoon, she added.

WHO director-general Margaret Chan was flying back to Geneva overnight from Washington, D.C., for the emergency discussions which would link public health authorities and experts in various parts of world in a virtual meeting, she said.

The emergency committee could make recommendations including whether to change the pandemic alert level, she added.

"Because there are human cases associated with an animal influenza virus, and because of the geographical spread of multiple community outbreaks, plus the somewhat unusual age groups affected, these events are of high concern," the WHO said in a statement.

4014  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 24, 2009, 09:56:47 AM
Quite the contrary to the Dems working hard to politically demolish the Republican party BO IMO has done more to damage our reputation around the world than all previous presidents combined.  This is unprecedented and damaging long and short term than anything previous.  That the mainstream media runs along for the ride says it all about them:

Obama Administration to Release Detainee Abuse Photos; Former CIA Official Says Former Colleagues 'Don't Believe They Have Cover Anymore'
April 24, 2009 10:23 AM

In a letter from the Justice Department to a federal judge yesterday, the Obama administration announced that the Pentagon would turn over to the American Civil Liberties Union 44 photographs showing detainee abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Bush administration.

The photographs are part of a 2003 Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU for all information relating to the treatment of detainees -- the same battle that led, last week, to President Obama's decision to release memos from the Bush Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel providing legal justifications for harsh interrogation methods that human rights groups call torture.

Courts had ruled against the Bush administration's attempts to keep the photographs from public view. ACLU attorney Amrit Singh tells ABC News that "the fact that the Obama administration opted not to seek further review is a sign that it is committed to more transparency."

Singh added that the photographs "only underscore the need for a criminal investigation and prosecution if warranted" of U.S. officials responsible for the harsh treatment of detainees.

But some experts say the move could have a chilling effect on the CIA even beyond President Obama's decision last week to release the so-called "torture memos."

Calling the ACLU push to release the photographs "prurient" and "reprehensible," Dr. Mark M. Lowenthal, former Assistant Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis and Production, tells ABC News that the Obama administration should have taken the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

"They should have fought it all the way; if they lost, they lost," Lowenthal said. "There's nothing to be gained from it. There's no substantive reason why those photos have to be released."

Lowenthal said the president's moves in the last week have left many in the CIA dispirited, based on "the undercurrent I've been getting from colleagues still in the building, or colleagues who have left not that long ago."

"We ask these people to do extremely dangerous things, things they've been ordered to do by legal authorities, with the understanding that they will get top cover if something goes wrong," Lowenthal says. "They don't believe they have that cover anymore." Releasing the photographs "will make it much worse," he said.

Even though President Obama has announced that the Justice Department will not prosecute CIA officers who were operating within the four corners of what they'd been told was the law, Lowenthal says members of the CIA are worried. "They feel exposed already, and this is going to increase drumbeat for an investigation or a commission" to explore detainee treatment during the Bush years, he said. "It's going to make it much harder to resist, and they fear they're then going to be thrown over."

The Bush administration argued that releasing these photographs would violate US obligations towards detainees and would prompt outrage and perhaps attacks against the U.S. On June 9 and June 21, 2006 judges directed the Bush administration to release 21 photographs depicting the treatment of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, and last September, the Second Circuit Court affirmed that decision.

The Bush administration had argued that an exemption from FOIA was needed here because of the exemption for law enforcement records that could reasonably be expected to endanger “any individual." The release of the disputed photographs, the Bush administration argued, will endanger United States troops, other Coalition forces, and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the court found that the exemption was not intended "as an all-purpose damper on global controversy."

The Bush administration had also argued that releasing the photographs would violated the Geneva Conventions, which protect prisoners of war and detained civilians “against insults and public curiosity." The court ruled that the Geneva Conventions "do not prohibit dissemination of images of detainees being abused when the images are redacted so as to protect the identities of the detainees, at least in situations where, as here, the purpose of the dissemination is not itself to humiliate the detainees."

Moreover, the court found that releasing "the photographs is likely to further the purposes of the Geneva Conventions by deterring future abuse of prisoners."

"There is a significant public interest in the disclosure of these photographs," the court ruled. "The defendants concede that these photographs yield evidence of governmental wrongdoing, but nonetheless argue that they add little additional value to the written summaries of the depicted events, which have already been made public. This contention disregards FOIA’s central purpose of furthering governmental accountability, and the special importance the law accords to information revealing official misconduct."

A November 6, 2008, petition for a re-hearing was denied last month.

The Obama administration could have opted to go all the way to the Supreme Court to try to keep these photographs from public view, but yesterday Acting U.S. Attorney Lev L. Dassin wrote to District Judge Alvin Hellerstein and said the Pentagon was preparing to release 21 photos at issue in the appeal, in addition to 23 others "previously identified as responsive."

The materials will be released to the ACLU no later than May 28, after which the ACLU says it will make them public. This release will come just days before President Obama travels to the volatile Middle East.

Dassin wrote that the Pentagon also was "processing for release a substantial number of other images contained in Army CID reports that have been closed during the pendency of this case."

Singh said in a statement that the photographs "will constitute visual proof that, unlike the Bush administration's claim, the abuse was not confined to Abu Ghraib and was not aberrational. Their disclosure is critical for helping the public understand the scope and scale of prisoner abuse as well as for holding senior officials accountable for authorizing or permitting such abuse."

Lowenthal said his former colleagues at the CIA were "put off" by President Obama's trip to the CIA earlier this week. "I don't think the president's speech went down very well, particularly the part when he said they made mistakes. They don't think they made mistakes. They think they acted to execute policy. And those in the intelligence service don't make policy."

Those in intelligence are "gong to become increasingly wary about doing dangerous things," Lowenthal said. "They feel at the end of the day they won't be covered. It's not irreparable right now, but it's problematic."
4015  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More like a teflon butt on: April 24, 2009, 09:09:21 AM
"Reality bites BO in butt again"

The only ones being bitten in the butt are the American people.

BO is already getting the rave reviews for his "first 100 days" in the MSM.

Of course Carville gives him an A- but when Ed Rollins gives him a B.........

BO is comfortable doing the "triangulation" thing with the purported "torture" (non) issue letting the legislatures deal with the prosecutions while he sits back and pretends he is above it all.  All he did was selectively release information so his blood hounds in the House/Senate can do the dirty work.  Recall Pelosi's statement that they will "cover his back".

It is all pay back time for the independent counsel that went after Clinton and the subsequent impeachment.

4016  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / remember Dershowitz on torture? on: April 23, 2009, 02:41:54 PM
Dershowitz: Torture could be justified
Tuesday, March 4, 2003 Posted: 0431 GMT (12:31 PM HKT)
Ken Roth and Alan Dershowitz

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Following the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the question has become whether the senior al Qaeda leader will reveal key information about the terrorist network. If he doesn't, should he be tortured to make him tell what he knows?

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer posed this question to noted author and Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz and Ken Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch.

BLITZER: Alan Dershowitz, a lot of our viewers will be surprised to hear that you think there are right times for torture. Is this one of those moments?

DERSHOWITZ: I don't think so. This is not the ticking-bomb terrorist case, at least so far as we know. Of course, the difficult question is the chicken-egg question: We won't know if he is a ticking-bomb terrorist unless he provides us information, and he's not likely to provide information unless we use certain extreme measures.

My basic point, though, is we should never under any circumstances allow low-level people to administer torture. If torture is going to be administered as a last resort in the ticking-bomb case, to save enormous numbers of lives, it ought to be done openly, with accountability, with approval by the president of the United States or by a Supreme Court justice. I don't think we're in that situation in this case.

BLITZER: Well, how do you know ...

DERSHOWITZ: So we might be close.

BLITZER: Alan, how do you know he doesn't have that kind of ticking-bomb information right now, that there's some plot against New York or Washington that he was involved in and there's a time sensitivity? If you knew that, if you suspected that, you would say [to] get the president to authorize torture.

DERSHOWITZ: Well, we don't know, and that's why [we could use] a torture warrant, which puts a heavy burden on the government to demonstrate by factual evidence the necessity to administer this horrible, horrible technique of torture. I would talk about nonlethal torture, say, a sterilized needle underneath the nail, which would violate the Geneva Accords, but you know, countries all over the world violate the Geneva Accords. They do it secretly and hypothetically, the way the French did it in Algeria. If we ever came close to doing it, and we don't know whether this is such a case, I think we would want to do it with accountability and openly and not adopt the way of the hypocrite.

BLITZER: All right. Ken, under those kinds of rare, extreme circumstances, does Professor Dershowitz make a good point?

ROTH: He doesn't. The prohibition on torture is one of the basic, absolute prohibitions that exists in international law. It exists in time of peace as well as in time of war. It exists regardless of the severity of a security threat. And the only other comparable prohibition that I can think of is the prohibition on attacking innocent civilians in time of war or through terrorism. If you're going to have a torture warrant, why not create a terrorism warrant? Why not go in and allow terrorists to come forward and make their case for why terrorism should be allowed?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, in fact, we've done that. Of course, we've done that. We have bombed civilian targets during every single one of our wars. We did it in Dresden. We did it in Vietnam notwithstanding these rules. So you know, having laws on the books and breaking them systemically just creates disdain ... It's much better to have rules that we can actually live within. And absolute prohibitions, generally, are not the kind of rules that countries would live within.

I want to ask you a question. Don't you think if we ever had a ticking-bomb case, regardless of your views or mine, that the CIA would actually either torture themselves or subcontract the job to Jordan, the Philippines or Egypt, who are our favorite countries, to do the torturing for us?

ROTH: OK, there is no moral or legal difference between torturing yourself and subcontracting torture to somebody else. They're equally absolutely prohibited.

DERSHOWITZ: But we do it.

ROTH: In the case -- the fact that sometimes laws are violated does not mean you want to start legitimizing the violation by getting some judge to authorize it. Imagine, you're always thinking about the U.S. Supreme Court, but any rule you apply to the United States has to be applied around the world. Do you want Chinese judges authorizing torture of say, Muslim dissidents?

DERSHOWITZ: It wouldn't make any difference. They just torture anyway. It wouldn't make any difference. They torture now.

ROTH: Once you open the door to torture, once you start legitimizing it in any way, you have broken the absolute taboo. President Bush had it right in his State of the Union address when he was describing various forms of torture by Saddam Hussein and he said, "If this isn't evil, then evil has no meaning."

BLITZER: Well, let me interrupt, Ken. Let me ask you about a hypothetical case. Professor Dershowitz talks about it in one of his articles and one of his books. There's a terrorist attack. A lot of people have just been killed in New York. They capture one of the terrorists, who says, "Guess what, there's another bomb out there, it is going to kill a lot more, but I'm not telling you where it is."

ROTH: Yes, that's the ticking-bomb scenario, which everybody loves to put forward as an excuse for torture. Israel tried that. Under the guise of just looking at the narrow exception of where the ticking-bomb is there and you could save the poor schoolchildren whose bus was about to be exploded some place. They ended up torturing on the theory that -- well, it may not be the terrorist, but it's somebody who knows the terrorist or it's somebody who might have information leading to the terrorist.

They ended up torturing say 90 percent of the Palestinian security detainees they had until finally the Israeli supreme court had to say this kind of rare exception isn't working. It's an exception that's destroying the rule. We have to understand the United States sets a model for the rest of the world. And if the United States is going to authorize torture in any sense, you can imagine that there are many more unsavory regimes out there that are just dying for the chance to say, "Well, the U.S. is doing it, we're going to start doing it as well."

DERSHOWITZ: And I think that we're much, much better off admitting what we're doing or not doing it at all. I agree with you, it will much better if we never did it. But if we're going to do it and subcontract and find ways of circumventing, it's much better to do what Israel did. They were the only country in the world ever directly to confront the issue, and it led to a supreme court decision, as you say, outlawing torture, and yet Israel has been criticized all over the world for confronting the issue directly. Candor and accountability in a democracy is very important. Hypocrisy has no place.

ROTH: So let's learn the lesson from the Israelis, which is you can't open the door a little bit. If you try, you end up having torture left and right. The other alternative, rather than legitimizing with torture warrants, is to prohibit it and prosecute the offenders. And we have murder on the street every day. We don't ask for murder warrants.

BLITZER: Ken, let me just get back to that ticking time bomb scenario. You would -- you could morally justify letting this terrorist that you've captured remain silent and allow hundreds of people to die?

ROTH: Look, we just heard from the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. You just had him on your show, Wolf, who said the interrogators at Bagram Air Base or wherever Mohammed is, they don't need torture. They have other, legitimate ways of getting at the truth. They're listening in through various wiretaps and the like.

Torture is not needed. If you start opening the door, making a little exception here, a little exception there, you've basically sent the signal that the ends justify the means, and that's exactly what Osama bin Laden thinks. He has some vision of a just society. His ends justify the means of attacking the World Trade Center. If we're going to violate an equally basic prohibition on torture, we are reaffirming that false logic of terrorism. We are going to end up losing the war ...

4017  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 22, 2009, 06:44:02 PM
How could it not work?

I suppose if we offered our enemies lots of money, an ocean front villa with free water skiing lessons, and all the virgins they could handle that might work better.....

Otherwise, of course it works.  If it didn't it would be obvious after thousands of years of use.  It wouldn't take the NYT's "investigative" team to figure this out.

In a way, the more information we are bombarded with every day the less we know.
Sorting the crap from reality is nearly or completely impossible.
4018  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 20, 2009, 04:05:53 PM
***He has published the memos authorizing torture to make this entirely a Bush administration problem***

And that's it folks.  It is less about morality than politics.

Bush is the deamon.  Not those who attacked us.

Thus strip Bush of his biggest claim to fame - that he protected us.

He didn't make us safer he made us less safe.  So their argument goes. 
4019  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 20, 2009, 03:30:08 PM
"President Obama plans to visit C.I.A. headquarters Monday and make public remarks to employees"

I hear on the radio he told empolyees "not to be discouraged" by the release of memos that this is how you learn from your mistakes.

Imagine.  The leader of our country humiliating those who did their best to protect us.  And doing for his political gain in for international media.

I don't recall Jimmy Carter who was a Navy veteran, or any other President for that matter, going around disgracing us this way.
4020  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Part two on: April 20, 2009, 09:40:21 AM
Part two:

From the May 2009 Scientific American Magazine

*****The Costs of Expanding the Government's Economic Role
Obama's reexpansion of the government's economic role is vital--and we will have to pay for it
By Jeffrey D. Sachs   

Obamas budget plan aims to reduce the deficit to 3 percent of GNP by 2013, and to level off till 2019. This deficit is relatively large, but even that target will be very difficult to achieve and sustain as planned. With significant increases in entitlements spending and higher interest payments on the rising public debt, the plan is to cut the deficit mainly through higher taxes on the rich, reduced military outlays for Iraq and Afghanistan, new revenues from auctioning carbon-emission permits and, finally, a squeeze on non-defense discretionary spending as a share of GDP (which is programmed to decline from 4.7 percent in 2010 to 3.2 percent in 2019). Such a squeeze on non-defense spending seems unlikelyand indeed undesirableat a time when government is launching several much-needed programs in education, health, energy and infrastructure.

The truth is that the U.S., like Europe, will probably have to raise new revenues by a few percent of GDP if government is indeed to carry out its vital roles in protecting the poor, promoting health and education and building a modern infrastructure with 21st century sustainable technology. Ending the Bush-era tax cuts on the rich certainly is merited, but further taxing the rich much beyond that will come up against political and practical limits. Within a few years, well probably see the need for new broader-based taxes, perhaps a national sales or value-added tax such as those widely used in other high-income countries. If we continue to assume that we can have the expanded government that we need but without the tax revenues to pay for it, the unacceptable build-up of public debt will threaten the well-being of our children and our childrens children. No parent, or citizen, should find such an approach acceptable. 

This story was originally published with the title "Paying for What Government Should Do"

Jeffrey D. Sachs is director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University (****
4021  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tea paries are right. pro Obasma MSM ignores on: April 20, 2009, 09:37:17 AM
What the main stream media will not tell you is what this extremely liberal pro OBama writer admits:
That taxes will need to soar to pay for all his spending.  Bama tells us about the 250 or whatever pcoket change rebate now but we will be paying that back in huge multiples for the rest of our lives, probably after he gets re elected in 2012.

The tea parties are correct.  But the liberal MSM covers for the bama.  I don't agree with all of Mr Sachs assumptions but I agree with his admirable admission that the spending will require new taxes to pay for it all at some point.


****From the May 2009 Scientific American Magazine

The Costs of Expanding the Government's Economic Role [Extended version]
Obama's reexpansion of the government's economic role is vital--and we will have to pay for it
By Jeffrey D. Sachs   

The 10-year budget framework that President Barack Obama released in February, called “A New Era of Responsibility,” is as much a philosophy of government as a fiscal action plan. Gone is the Ronald Reagan view that “government is not a solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Obama rightly sees an expanded role for government in allocating society’s resources as vital to meeting the 21st century challenge of sustainable development. 

The scientific discipline known as public economics describes why government is needed alongside markets to allocate resources. These reasons include: the protection of the poor through a social safety net; the correction of externalities such as greenhouse gas emissions; the provision of “merit goods” such as health care and education that society deems to be essential for all of its members; and the financing of scientific and technological research that cannot be efficiently captured by private investors. In all these circumstances, the free-market system tends to underprovide the resource in question—whether income support for the poor, abatement of carbon emissions, low-cost primary health care, or R&D for renewable energy.   

After a decade of macroeconomic instability, Reagan came to office in 1981 on a platform of shrinking the public sector to free resources for market-based allocation. Federal revenues and outlays remained relatively unchanged as a share of national income from 1981 to 2008, at around 18 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for revenues and around 21 percent of GDP for outlays. The U.S. ran budget deficits during most of that period, with a long and chronic stalemate between those who would raise taxes and those who would cut spending. By and large, the public resisted cuts to spending programs but also resisted calls for tax increases.

The result is in strong contrast with Europe, where both taxes and spending are notably higher. Counting all levels of government (federal, state, and local), government revenues in the U.S. are about 33 percent of GDP, compared with 45 percent in Europe; spending stands at 38 percent of GDP in the U.S. and 46 percent in Europe. Yet because U.S. taxes are even lower than spending as a share of GDP, U.S. deficits are chronically higher. The main predictions of public economics are also supported. The U.S. lags behind Europe in several areas where public spending makes a vast difference: U.S. health outcomes are worse (for example, lower life expectancy with a much more costly private system); U.S. poverty is much higher; U.S. educational outcomes are worse (poorer outcomes in science, math, and functional literacy); and public infrastructure is superior in many European countries (for example, better mass transit and broadband penetration).   

Obama’s budget plan properly focuses on areas that public economics identifies as priorities and where the U.S. discernibly lags behind many parts of Europe: health (the costly private U.S. system yields a lower life expectancy), education (worse science, math and functional literacy), public infrastructure (for mass transit and broadband, for example) and research and development (especially on sustainable energy). The emphasis is on public-private partnerships (PPP), combining public financing and private sector delivery. Among other major efforts, the PPP model will be used to promote the next generation of electric automobiles (plug-in hybrids, all-battery and fuel cells), a smart grid to tap renewable solar and wind energy in a resilient and efficient national network, and the testing of carbon-capture and sequestration at coal-fired power plants.

Obama’s vision of an expanded federal role is on-target and transformative, but the financing will be tricky. This year’s deficit will reach an astounding $1.75 trillion, or 12 percent of GDP, as a result of a collapse of tax revenues, bank bailouts and stimulus spending. Under the plan, the government debt held by the public will balloon from 40.8 percent of GDP in 2008 to 65.8 percent in 2013, a level that will weigh heavily on the budget for years.

end of part one*****

4022  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bo/ on: April 18, 2009, 10:33:05 AM
I am not sure if this ruse is really the beginning of demands for concessions from Israel or the stumbling block.  I don't know enough to have an opnion as to whether Israle should or should not give up the settlements.  I believe it is a contested issue even in Israel.
However, the tone of BO who I believe truly is an antisemite (I don't care how many party loyal career liberal Jews he has wrking for him) certainly has the appearance of arrogance to Israel and conciliatory and sympathetic to Palestians.
Remember hsi middle name is Hussain not Joshua.

****The Age - Business
Obama's stance worries Israelis
Jason Koutsoukis
April 18, 2009
Page 1 of 2 | Single Page View
CAN Israel still call the United States its best international friend? Apparently not, if you believe the tone of the local media.

Watching the drama unfold inside Israel, the increasingly tense dialogue between US President Barack Obama and new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is taking on all the trappings of a duel.

Almost every day brings news of another sore point between the two countries, a source of yet further inflammation of their once warm relations.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the more immediate threat to Israel's national security lay across the Atlantic rather than from closer to home.

It is bad enough that President Obama uses almost every opportunity he can to set the parameters of a final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Now US officials are openly using Israeli anxiety over Iran's fledging nuclear program as a bargaining chip to force Israel's hand on giving up control of the West Bank Palestinian territory.

No less a figure than White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel — whose father fought with the militant Zionist group the Irgun, and whose appointment had provided such reassurance to Israeli officials — was quoted this week laying down the law to Israel.

If Israel wants US help to defuse the Iranian threat, Mr Emanuel was reported to have told Jewish leaders in Washington, then get ready to start evacuating settlements in the West Bank.

Talkback radio blazed with fury across the country the same day, as Israelis protested that no US official had the right to tell them where to live.

Then on Thursday came the news that Mr Netanyahu's planned first meeting with President Obama in Washington next month had been called off.

Mr Netanyahu had hoped to capitalise on his attendance at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington to visit the White House.

But Administration officials informed Mr Netanyahu's office that the President would not be "in town". Continued...

4023  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: April 18, 2009, 09:59:24 AM
What is your opinion of the "recount" process?
It seems the Dems always challenge the close contested contests and keep the counting going till they get a postive outcome then of coruse just stop.
Was the process as legit as it could be in your opinion?  One can never tell who to believe in these situations and with obvious media bias and loss of even semblence of even an effort of objectivity we don't know what to believe anymore.
4024  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music on: April 14, 2009, 05:20:15 PM
Jessica Simpson country career *may be over* ; since my "mother" in law has not come back into the house they have not been able to steal song lyrics.  Simpson will be back if they can steal more.  Or else get them from somewhere else.
We are finally hearing fewer and fewer of Katherine's lyrics.  It is amazing how they can extend the life of the stolen material.  They make new videos of second and third tier songs from the albums released and present them as new.  Or they start coming out with greatest hit albums.  Or when the season is right (esp. with Alan Jackson) Christmas or Easter covers.
Many of the stars are taking breaks for all sorts of excuses , family , childrearing, death of a loved one, divorce.  They might change the type of music they sing or play because they can't get it from the original writer.  I love when they do that and claim 'yeah we are experimenting with our versatility" yadah yadah etc. 
John Rich on Hannity singing his supposed songs.  The last two we heard may actually have been his writing because they were not Katherines's.  And IMO they sucked.  Because he really can't write no matter what he claims.  What a joke.  This guy sits there and talks about America and freedom, love of country, individualism on Hannity and he got famous singing stolen songs and claiming he wrote them. 

 Concerts Jessica Simpson's country career hits sour note
AP, Apr 14, 2009 6:00 am PDT
Jessica Simpson's courtship with country music seems to have had a shorter shelf life than her marriage.After lackluster sales for her country debut, "Do You Know," Simpson and her Nashville record label have parted ways, leaving many wondering what's next for the 28-year-old entertainer.
"Right now it seems like she's taken a break from recording. There is nothing else on the books," said Ian Drew, senior music editor at Us Weekly magazine.
A spokeswoman for the one-time pop princess says Simpson remains part of the Sony Music Group on the Epic label, but is no longer working with the company's country division, Sony Music Nashville.

"She was on loan to Sony Nashville for her country album," said Lauren Auslander.As for her future in country music? "We don't know yet," she said.
"Do You Know" started strong but faded fast. The lead single, "Come on Over," a flirtatious, steel guitar-laced slice of country pop, peaked at No. 18 last summer and the album debuted at No. 1. But the second single, "Remember That," stalled at No. 42, and the third, "Pray Out Loud," failed to chart.
To date, the disc, Simpson's fifth studio release, has sold around 178,000 copies — a long way from her 3 million-selling 2003 disc, "In This Skin."
"Everywhere I saw her around the U.S. at different radio station events she was always well-received," said Lon Helton, editor and publisher of the industry trade publication "Country Aircheck." "For whatever reason, the music did not resonate."
Simpson came to country after her 2006 pop outing, "A Public Affair," fell flat. The Texas-born blonde touted the move as a return to her roots. She performed on the Grand Ole Opry, signed autographs at the Country Music Association's annual festival, and toured with country's multiplatinum trio Rascal Flatts.
But she got more publicity for her life outside of music, most of it far from positive. She was ridiculed when it seemed as if she had gained a few pounds, and the status of her romance with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was constantly scrutinized.
She was also criticized for a few erratic concert performances. At a February show in Michigan, Simpson apologized to fans after she forgot the lyrics to a song and asked her band to start over on another.
Some detractors viewed her country career as a calculated attempt to follow other pop stars who have found success on country radio.
"Working the country market is very different. You really have to work it at country. You have to spend your life on the road building an audience and she didn't really put the work in," Drew observed. "She walked the walk and talked the talk, but she didn't have the street cred that she needed to make it work."
But others say Simpson shouldn't bail too soon. She may just need more time to find an audience.
"It doesn't seem like she was even on the country music scene long enough to prove what she is capable of doing for this industry. She never got the chance," said Neely Yates, music director for country station 96.3 in Lubbock, Texas.
Helton wondered whether the singer was a victim of bad timing. Pop rockers Darius Rucker and Jewel were crossing over to country about the same time, which he called unusual in country music.
"What was the ability of the market to absorb and focus on more than one pop singer at a time coming over?" he asked.
The question now is whether Simpson will keep her record deal. After two disappointments, Epic may be ready to move on without her.
"She's never really sold a lot of records except for the album out at the height of 'Newlyweds,'" said Drew, referring to her popular reality TV show, "Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica," which chronicled her ill-fated marriage to Nick Lachey. "Other than that, she's never been able to sell much of anything."
But in a recent interview, Rascal Flatts' Gary Levox said Simpson is in a no-win situation with her critics: "She's in a spot where whatever she does, they pick her apart. They need to just leave her alone and just let her sing."
"She's a wonderfully gifted singer," added bandmate Jay DeMarcus. "All the other stuff overshadows what she's really about and it's unfortunate, because there's more to her there than just tabloid fodder."
4025  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Another interesting legal analysis by GWill on: April 14, 2009, 10:43:53 AM
It would be hard to believe that some form of nepotism or and bribery did not cause "lawmakers" to decide it is OK to confiscate money from casinos to give to horse racing tracks.  Did this subtle type of corruption also influence the courts?


****Racing Past the Constitution

By George Will | Rampant redistribution of wealth by government is now the norm. So is this: This redistribution inflames government's natural rapaciousness and subverts the rule of law. This degeneration of governance is illustrated by the Illinois legislature's transfer of income from some disfavored riverboat casinos to racetracks.

Illinois has nine licensed riverboat casinos and five horse-racing tracks. In 2006, supposedly to "address the negative impact that riverboat gaming has had" on Illinois horse racing, the legislature -- racing interests made huge contributions to Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- mandated a transfer of 3 percent of the gross receipts of the four most profitable casinos, those in the Chicago area, to the horse-racing tracks. This levy, subsequently extended to run until 2011, will confiscate substantially more than $100 million.

What is to prevent legislators from taking revenue from Wal-Mart and giving it to local retailers? Or from chain drugstores to local pharmacies? Not the tattered remnant of the Constitution's takings clause.

The Fifth Amendment says that private property shall not "be taken for public use without just compensation" (emphasis added). Fifty state constitutions also stipulate taking only for public uses. But the Illinois Supreme Court ignored the public-use question. Instead, the court said it is "well settled" that the takings clause applies only to government's exercise of its eminent domain power regarding land, buildings and other tangible or intellectual property -- but not money.

Conflicting rulings by state courts demonstrate that that question is chaotically unsettled. That is one reason the U.S. Supreme Court should take the Illinois case and reject the preposterous idea that money is not property within the scope of the takings clause -- an idea that licenses legislative confiscations. Another and related reason the court should take the case is to reconsider its 2005 ruling that rendered the "public purpose" requirement empty.

The careful crafters of the Bill of Rights intended the adjective "public" to restrict government takings to uses directly owned by government or primarily serving the general public, such as roads, bridges or public buildings. In 1954, in a case arising from a disease-ridden section of Washington, the court broadened the "public use" criterion. It declared constitutional takings for the purpose of combating "blight" that is harmful to the larger community.

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In 2005, however, in a 5 to 4 decision, the court radically attenuated the "public use" restriction on takings, saying that promoting "economic development" is a sufficient public use. The court upheld the New London, Conn., city government's decision to seize an unblighted middle-class neighborhood for the purpose of turning the land over to private businesses which, being wealthier than the previous owners, would be a richer source of tax revenue. So now government takings need have only some anticipated public benefit, however indirect and derivative, at the end of some chain of causation hypothesized by the government doing the taking and benefiting from it.

In a brief opposing the Illinois legislature, the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization of state legislators, makes this argument against "predatory taxation": Suppose Congress, eager to aid newspapers hurt by competition from new information technologies, decides to take a percentage of the assets of Bill Gates and half a dozen other beneficiaries of those technologies and give the money to newspapers. Would not this "take and transfer" scheme be unconstitutional? Targeting specific, identifiable persons or entities for unfavorable treatment, and transferring their assets to equally identifiable persons or entities, surely also raises equal protection issues. Unquestionably a legislature can impose a levy on casinos if the revenue becomes subject to what the state legislators' brief calls "allocation via the familiar push and pull of political decision-making." But Illinois' confiscation of riverboat revenue is a private-pockets-to-private-pockets transfer, without even laundering the money through the state treasury.

The Supreme Court has held that "one person's property may not be taken for the benefit of another private person without a justifying public purpose." But in the aftermath of the court's ruling in the New London case, the Illinois legislature merely seeks judicial deference toward its judgment that transferring wealth from casinos to racetracks serves the public purpose of benefiting "farmers, breeders, and fans of horse racing."

The court's virtual nullification of the "public use" requirement encourages lawlessness, which will proliferate until the court enunciates the constitutional principle that the takings clause protects money, like other forms of property, against egregious seizures. Enunciating such a principle would be a step toward restoring meaning to the "public purpose" clause.****

4026  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran:nuclea power numero nine on: April 13, 2009, 12:18:17 PM
Marvin Kalb was on cable yesterday and he came out and said war is not an option to talks with Iran.
BO is clear that is his position also though he doesn't say it.
Unless of course he is giving Iran a head fake as to not tip them off and will bomb their nuc sites but I certainly find that hard to believe.

So Iran will become the ninth nuclear power?

4027  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Piracy on: April 11, 2009, 09:56:24 AM
The piracy probelm has the potential to turn into another terrorist problem.
Remember the name Al Shabab:

The US is weak.
The rest of the world is happy.
4028  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / more health care propaganda on: April 11, 2009, 09:42:40 AM
Dear Mr. Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar,

They may not be a "lobbying" group but they certainly do have and use a voice - its called voting.  The same for those who pay no income taxes.  They express their "voice" with their votes!  And I don't need a poll to tell me which party they overwhelmingly vote for:

****Associated Press Writer Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 19 mins ago
WASHINGTON – If the uninsured were a political lobbying group, they'd have more members than AARP. The National Mall couldn't hold them if they decided to march on Washington.

But going without health insurance is still seen as a personal issue, a misfortune for many and a choice for some. People who lose coverage often struggle alone instead of turning their frustration into political action.

Illegal immigrants rallied in Washington during past immigration debates, but the uninsured linger in the background as Congress struggles with a health care overhaul that seems to have the best odds in years of passing.

That isolation could have profound repercussions.

Lawmakers already face tough choices to come up with the hundreds of billions it would cost to guarantee coverage for all. The lack of a vocal constituency won't help. Congress might decide to cover the uninsured slowly, in stages.

The uninsured "do not provide political benefit for the aid you give them," said Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health. "That's one of the dilemmas in getting all this money. If I'm in Congress, and I help out farmers, they'll help me out politically. But if I help out the uninsured, they are not likely to help members of Congress get re-elected."

The number of uninsured has grown to an estimated 50 million people because of the recession. Even so, advocates in the halls of Congress are rarely the uninsured themselves. The most visible are groups that represent people who have insurance, usually union members and older people. In the last election, only 10 percent of registered voters said they were uninsured.

The grass-roots group Health Care for America Now plans to bring as many as 15,000 people to Washington this year to lobby Congress for guaranteed coverage. Campaign director Richard Kirsch expects most to have health insurance.

"We would never want to organize the uninsured by themselves because Americans see the problem as affordability, and that is the key thing," he said.

Besides, added Kirsch, the uninsured are too busy scrambling to make ends meet. Many are self-employed; others are holding two or three part-time jobs. "They may not have a lot of time to be activists," he said.

Vicki and Lyle White of Summerfield, Fla., know about such predicaments. They lost their health insurance because Lyle had to retire early after a heart attack left him unable to do his job as a custodian at Disney World. Vicki, 60, sells real estate. Her income has plunged due to the housing collapse.

"We didn't realize that after he had the heart attack no one would want to insure him," said Vicki. The one bright spot is that Lyle, 64, has qualified for Medicare disability benefits and expects to be getting his card in July.

But for now, the Whites have to pay out of pocket for Lyle's visits to the cardiologist and his medications. The bills came to about $5,000 last year. That put a strain on their limited budget because they are still making payments on their house and car.

"I never thought when we got to this age that we would be in such a mess," said Vicki, who has been married to Lyle for 43 years. "We didn't think we would have a heart attack and it would change our life forever."

While her own health is "pretty good," Vicki said she suffers chronic sinus infections and hasn't had a checkup since 2007. "I have just learned to live with it," she said.

The Whites' example shows how the lack of guaranteed health care access undermines middle-class families and puts them at risk, but that many of the uninsured eventually do find coverage. Lyle White has qualified for Medicare, even if the couple must still find a plan for Vicki.

Research shows that nearly half of those who lose coverage find other health insurance in four months or less. That may be another reason the uninsured have not organized an advocacy group. At least until this recession, many have been able to fix the situation themselves.

"The uninsured are a moving target," said Cathy Schoen, a vice president of the Commonwealth Fund, a research group that studies the problems of health care costs and coverage.

But even if gaps in coverage are only temporary, they can be dangerous. "Whenever you are uninsured, you are at risk," said Schoen. "People don't plan very well when they are going to get sick or injured."

Indeed, the Institute of Medicine, which provides scientific advice to the government, has found that a lack of health insurance increases the chances of bad outcomes for people with a range of common ailments, from diabetes and high blood pressure to cancer and stroke. Uninsured patients don't get needed follow-up care, skip taking prescription medicines and put off seeking help when they develop new symptoms.

Such evidence strengthens the case for getting everybody covered right away, Schoen said. But she acknowledges the politics may get tough. "It certainly has been a concern out of our history that unorganized voices aren't heard," she said.****


4029  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 11, 2009, 08:52:58 AM
Medical Personnel Accused of Helping CIA Torture Prisoners
By Todd Neale, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: April 09, 2009
LITTLE FALLS, N.J., April 9 -- Some medical personnel allegedly took part in the torture of "high-level detainees" at CIA detention centers as part of the war on terrorism, according to a report from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The "strictly confidential" report, written in 2007 and published recently on the Web site of the New York Review of Books, detailed interviews the agency conducted with 14 prisoners -- including the alleged mastermind of the September 11th attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- after they were transferred to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

The prisoners described a wide array of psychological and physical abuse while in CIA custody lasting up to four-and-a-half years. The tactics amounted to "torture and/or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment," according to the report.

Specific acts included near-suffocation by water (water boarding), forcing prisoners to stand with their arms chained above their heads, beatings, confinement within a box, prolonged nudity, sleep deprivation, exposure to cold temperatures, prolonged shackling, exposure to constant loud music, threats to the detainee and his family, forced shaving of the head and facial hair, and food restrictions.

The prisoners said that, in addition to routine medical checks before and after transfers and the provision of healthcare for routine ailments -- which was described as "appropriate and satisfactory" -- medical personnel actively monitored or directly engaged in torture in some cases.

"It was alleged that, based on their assessments, health personnel gave instructions to interrogators to continue, to adjust, or to stop particular methods," the report said.

Mohammed claimed that during one water-boarding session a doctor placed a clip on his finger, which, from the description, "appeared to be a pulse oximeter," according to the report.

"I think it was to measure my pulse and oxygen content in my blood," Mohammed was quoted as saying. "So they could take me to breaking point."

Another detainee "alleged that a health person threatened that medical care would be conditional upon cooperation with the interrogators," the report said.

The ICRC said the consistency of the detainees' accounts gave credibility to their allegations.

If the accounts are true, the agency said, the medical personnel acted unethically.

"The alleged participation of health personnel in the interrogation process and, either directly or indirectly, in the infliction of ill-treatment constituted a gross breach of medical ethics and, in some cases, amounted to participation in torture and/or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," the report said.

"The role of the physician and any other health professional involved in the care of detainees is explicitly to protect them from such ill-treatment and there can be no exceptional circumstances invoked to excuse this obligation."

Both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association have policies prohibiting physicians from participating in government interrogations. (See: AMA to Examine Ethics of Physician Involvement in Prisoner Interrogations)

The American Psychological Association instituted a similar policy last year. (See: New APA Policy Bars Psychologists From Helping in Illegal Interrogations)

President Barack Obama has renounced the use of torture in dealing with prisoners but has opposed efforts to punish interrogators who might have been guilty of abuses during the Bush administration.
4030  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More politics from the liberal rag on: April 10, 2009, 01:12:16 PM
If one doesn't think the NEJM is a liberal rag this is from the same issue:

Conscientious Objection Gone Awry — Restoring Selfless Professionalism in Medicine

Julie D. Cantor, M.D., J.D.
 A new rule from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has emerged as the latest battleground in the health care conscience wars. Promulgated during the waning months of the Bush administration, the rule became effective in January. Heralded as a "provider conscience regulation" by its supporters and derided as a "midnight regulation" by its detractors, the rule could alter the landscape of federal conscience law.

The regulation, as explained in its text (see the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this article at, aims to raise awareness of and ensure compliance with federal health care conscience protection statutes. Existing laws, which are tied to the receipt of federal funds, address moral or religious objections to sterilization and abortion. They protect physicians, other health care personnel, hospitals, and insurance plans from discrimination for failing to provide, offer training for, fund, participate in, or refer patients for abortions. Among other things, the laws ensure that these persons cannot be required to participate in sterilizations or abortions and that entities cannot be required to make facilities or personnel available for them. And they note that decisions on admissions and accreditation must be divorced from beliefs and behaviors related to abortion. On their face, these laws are quite broad.

But the Bush administration's rule is broader still. It restates existing laws and exploits ambiguities in them. For example, one statute says, "No individual shall be required to perform or assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity funded" by DHHS if it "would be contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions."1 Here the rule sidesteps courts, which interpret statutory ambiguities and discern congressional intent, and offers sweeping definitions. It defines "individual" as physicians, other health care providers, hospitals, laboratories, and insurance companies, as well as "employees, volunteers, trainees, contractors, and other persons" who work for an entity that receives DHHS funds. It defines "assist in the performance" as "any activity with a reasonable connection" to a procedure or health service, including counseling and making "other arrangements" for the activity. Although the rule states that patients' ability to obtain health care services is unchanged, its expansive definitions suggest otherwise. Now everyone connected to health care may opt out of a wide range of activities, from discussions about birth control to referrals for vaccinations. As the rule explains, "an employee whose task it is to clean the instruments used in a particular procedure would also be considered to assist in the performance of the particular procedure" and would therefore be protected. Taken to its logical extreme, the rule could cause health care to grind to a halt.

It also raises other concerns. In terms of employment law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which applies to organizations with 15 or more employees, requires balancing reasonable accommodations for employees who have religious, ethical, or moral objections to certain aspects of their jobs with undue hardship for employers. But the new rule suggests that if an employee objects, for example, to being a scrub nurse during operative treatment for an ectopic pregnancy, subsequently reassigning that employee to a different department may constitute unlawful discrimination — a characterization that may be at odds with Title VII jurisprudence.2 As officials of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission remarked when it was proposed, the rule could "throw this entire body of law into question."3

Furthermore, although the rule purports to address intolerance toward "individual objections to abortion or other individual religious beliefs or moral convictions," it cites no evidence of such intolerance — nor would it directly address such intolerance if it existed. Constitutional concerns about the rule, including violations of state autonomy and rights to contraception, also lurk. And the stated goals of the rule — to foster a "more inclusive, tolerant environment" and promote DHHS's "mission of expanding patient access to necessary health services" — conflict with the reality of extensive objection rights. Protection for the silence of providers who object to care is at odds with the rule's call for "open communication" between patients and physicians. Moreover, there is no emergency exception for patient care. In states that require health care workers to provide rape victims with information about emergency contraception, the rule may allow them to refuse to do so.

Recently, the DHHS, now answering to President Barack Obama, took steps to rescind the rule (see the Supplementary Appendix). March 10 marked the beginning of a 30-day period for public comment on the need for the rule and its potential effects. Analysis of the comments ( and subsequent action could take some months. If remnants of the rule remain, litigation will follow. Lawsuits have already been filed in federal court, and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who led one of the cases, has vowed to continue the fight until the regulation is "finally and safely stopped."4

This state of flux presents an opportunity to reconsider the scope of conscience in health care. When broadly defined, conscience is a poor touchstone; it can result in a rule that knows no bounds. Indeed, it seems that our problem is not insufficient tolerance, but too much. We have created a state of "conscience creep" in which all behavior becomes acceptable — like that of judges who, despite having promised to uphold all laws, recuse themselves from cases in which minors seek a judicial bypass for an abortion in states requiring parental consent.5

The debate is not really about moral or religious freedom writ large. If it were, then the medical profession would allow a broad range of beliefs to hinder patient care. Would we tolerate a surgeon who holds moral objections to transfusions and refuses to order them? An internist who refuses to discuss treatment for diabetes in overweight patients because of moral opposition to gluttony? If the overriding consideration were individual conscience, then these objections should be valid. They are not (although they might well be permitted under the new rule). We allow the current conscience-based exceptions because abortion remains controversial in the United States. As is often the case with laws touching on reproductive freedom, the debate is polarized and shrill. But there comes a point at which tolerance breaches the standard of care.

Medicine needs to embrace a brand of professionalism that demands less self-interest, not more. Conscientious objection makes sense with conscription, but it is worrisome when professionals who freely chose their field parse care and withhold information that patients need. As the gatekeepers to medicine, physicians and other health care providers have an obligation to choose specialties that are not moral minefields for them. Qualms about abortion, sterilization, and birth control? Do not practice women's health. Believe that the human body should be buried intact? Do not become a transplant surgeon. Morally opposed to pain medication because your religious beliefs demand suffering at the end of life? Do not train to be an intensivist. Conscience is a burden that belongs to the individual professional; patients should not have to shoulder it.

Patients need information, referrals, and treatment. They need all legal choices presented to them in a way that is true to the evidence, not the randomness of individual morality. They need predictability. Conscientious objections may vary from person to person, place to place, and procedure to procedure. Patients need assurance that the standard of care is unwavering. They need to know that the decision to consent to care is theirs and that they will not be presented with half-truths and shades of gray when life and health are in the balance.

Patients rely on health care professionals for their expertise; they should be able expect those professionals to be neutral arbiters of medical care. Although some scholars advocate discussing conflicting values before problems arise, realistically, the power dynamics between patients and providers are so skewed, and the time pressure often so great, that there is little opportunity to negotiate. And there is little recourse when care is obstructed — patients have no notice, no process, and no advocate to whom they can turn.

Health care providers already enjoy broad rights — perhaps too broad — to follow their guiding moral or religious tenets when it comes to sterilization and abortion. An expansion of those rights is unwarranted. Instead, patients deserve a law that limits objections and puts their interests first. Physicians should support an ethic that allows for all legal options, even those they would not choose. Federal laws may make room for the rights of conscience, but health care providers — and all those whose jobs affect patient care — should cast off the cloak of conscience when patients' needs demand it. Because the Bush administration's rule moves us in the opposite direction, it should be rescinded.

Dr. Cantor reports representing an affiliate of Planned Parenthood in a legal matter unrelated to conscientious objection. No other potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.
Dr. Cantor is an adjunct professor at the UCLA School of Law, Los Angeles.

This article (10.1056/NEJMp0902019) was published at on March 25, 2009.


42 U.S.C.A.  300a-7(d).
Shelton v. Univ. of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, 223 F.3d 220 (3d Cir. 2000).
Pear R. Protests over a rule to protect health providers. New York Times. November 17, 2008:A14.
Press release of the State of Connecticut Attorney General's Office, Hartford, February 27, 2009. (Accessed March 20, 2009, at
Liptak A. On moral grounds, some judges are opting out of abortion cases. New York Times. September 4, 2005.

4031  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Here it comes: Sugar taxation on: April 10, 2009, 01:06:51 PM
From the New England Journal of Medicine (a liberal rag) which frankly is more liberal then Newsweek.  Since it is genreated from the ivory towers of the Boston Medical establishment is loaded with flaming liberals. This issue has an article which makes the case for tax on sugar.  Note the quotation from Adam Smith which of course is there to silence conservatives on the issue right from the start.  More intrusion into our freedoms is on the way folks: 

****Published at April 8, 2009 (10.1056/NEJMp0902392) 

Ounces of Prevention — The Public Policy Case for Taxes on Sugared Beverages

Kelly D. Brownell, Ph.D., and Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.

Sugar, rum, and tobacco are commodities which are nowhere necessaries of life, which are become objects of almost universal consumption, and which are therefore extremely proper subjects of taxation.

— Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

The obesity epidemic has inspired calls for public health measures to prevent diet-related diseases. One controversial idea is now the subject of public debate: food taxes.

Forty states already have small taxes on sugared beverages and snack foods, but in the past year, Maine and New York have proposed large taxes on sugared beverages, and similar discussions have begun in other states. The size of the taxes, their potential for generating revenue and reducing consumption, and vigorous opposition by the beverage industry have resulted in substantial controversy. Because excess consumption of unhealthful foods underlies many leading causes of death, food taxes at local, state, and national levels are likely to remain part of political and public health discourse.

Sugar-sweetened beverages (soda sweetened with sugar, corn syrup, or other caloric sweeteners and other carbonated and uncarbonated drinks, such as sports and energy drinks) may be the single largest driver of the obesity epidemic. A recent meta-analysis found that the intake of sugared beverages is associated with increased body weight, poor nutrition, and displacement of more healthful beverages; increasing consumption increases risk for obesity and diabetes; the strongest effects are seen in studies with the best methods (e.g., longitudinal and interventional vs. correlational studies); and interventional studies show that reduced intake of soft drinks improves health.1 Studies that do not support a relationship between consumption of sugared beverages and health outcomes tend to be conducted by authors supported by the beverage industry.2

Sugared beverages are marketed extensively to children and adolescents, and in the mid-1990s, children's intake of sugared beverages surpassed that of milk. In the past decade, per capita intake of calories from sugar-sweetened beverages has increased by nearly 30% (see bar graph)3; beverages now account for 10 to 15% of the calories consumed by children and adolescents. For each extra can or glass of sugared beverage consumed per day, the likelihood of a child's becoming obese increases by 60%.4

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   Daily Caloric Intake from Sugar-Sweetened Drinks in the United States.
Data are from Nielsen and Popkin.3

Taxes on tobacco products have been highly effective in reducing consumption, and data indicate that higher prices also reduce soda consumption. A review conducted by Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity suggested that for every 10% increase in price, consumption decreases by 7.8%. An industry trade publication reported even larger reductions: as prices of carbonated soft drinks increased by 6.8%, sales dropped by 7.8%, and as Coca-Cola prices increased by 12%, sales dropped by 14.6%.5 Such studies — and the economic principles that support their findings — suggest that a tax on sugared beverages would encourage consumers to switch to more healthful beverages, which would lead to reduced caloric intake and less weight gain.

The increasing affordability of soda — and the decreasing affordability of fresh fruits and vegetables (see line graph) — probably contributes to the rise in obesity in the United States. In 2008, a group of child and health care advocates in New York proposed a one-penny-per-ounce excise tax on sugared beverages, which would be expected to reduce consumption by 13% — about two servings per week per person. Even if one quarter of the calories consumed from sugared beverages are replaced by other food, the decrease in consumption would lead to an estimated reduction of 8000 calories per person per year — slightly more than 2 lb each year for the average person. Such a reduction in calorie consumption would be expected to substantially reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes and may also reduce the risk of heart disease and other conditions.

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   Relative Price Changes for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, Sugars and Sweets, and Carbonated Drinks, 1978–2009.
Data are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and represent the U.S. city averages for all urban consumers in January of each year.
Some argue that government should not interfere in the market and that products and prices will change as consumers demand more healthful food, but several considerations support government action. The first is externality — costs to parties not directly involved in a transaction. The contribution of unhealthful diets to health care costs is already high and is increasing — an estimated $79 billion is spent annually for overweight and obesity alone — and approximately half of these costs are paid by Medicare and Medicaid, at taxpayers' expense. Diet-related diseases also cost society in terms of decreased work productivity, increased absenteeism, poorer school performance, and reduced fitness on the part of military recruits, among other negative effects.

The second consideration is information asymmetry between the parties to a transaction. In the case of sugared beverages, marketers commonly make health claims (e.g., that such beverages provide energy or vitamins) and use techniques that exploit the cognitive vulnerabilities of young children, who often cannot distinguish a television program from an advertisement.

A third consideration is revenue generation, which can further increase the societal benefits of a tax on soft drinks. A penny-per-ounce excise tax would raise an estimated $1.2 billion in New York State alone. In times of economic hardship, taxes that both generate this much revenue and promote health are better options than revenue initiatives that may have adverse effects.

Objections have certainly been raised: that such a tax would be regressive, that food taxes are not comparable to tobacco or alcohol taxes because people must eat to survive, that it is unfair to single out one type of food for taxation, and that the tax will not solve the obesity problem. But the poor are disproportionately affected by diet-related diseases and would derive the greatest benefit from reduced consumption; sugared beverages are not necessary for survival; Americans consume about 250 to 300 more calories daily today than they did several decades ago, and nearly half this increase is accounted for by consumption of sugared beverages; and though no single intervention will solve the obesity problem, that is hardly a reason to take no action.

The full impact of public policies becomes apparent only after they take effect. We can estimate changes in sugared-drink consumption that would be prompted by a tax, but accompanying changes in the consumption of other foods or beverages are more difficult to predict. One question is whether the proportions of calories consumed in liquid and solid foods would change. And shifts among beverages would have different effects depending on whether consumers substituted water, milk, diet drinks, or equivalent generic brands of sugared drinks.

Effects will also vary depending on whether the tax is designed to reduce consumption, generate revenue, or both; the size of the tax; whether the revenue is earmarked for programs related to nutrition and health; and where in the production and distribution chain the tax is applied. Given the heavy consumption of sugared beverages, even small taxes will generate substantial revenue, but only heftier taxes will significantly reduce consumption.

Sales taxes are the most common form of food tax, but because they are levied as a percentage of the retail price, they encourage the purchase of less-expensive brands or larger containers. Excise taxes structured as a fixed cost per ounce provide an incentive to buy less and hence would be much more effective in reducing consumption and improving health. In addition, manufacturers generally pass the cost of an excise tax along to their customers, including it in the price consumers see when they are making their selection, whereas sales taxes are seen only at the cash register.

Although a tax on sugared beverages would have health benefits regardless of how the revenue was used, the popularity of such a proposal increases greatly if revenues are used for programs to prevent childhood obesity, such as media campaigns, facilities and programs for physical activity, and healthier food in schools. Poll results show that support of a tax on sugared beverages ranges from 37 to 72%; a poll of New York residents found that 52% supported a "soda tax," but the number rose to 72% when respondents were told that the revenue would be used for obesity prevention. Perhaps the most defensible approach is to use revenue to subsidize the purchase of healthful foods. The public would then see a relationship between tax and benefit, and any regressive effects would be counteracted by the reduced costs of healthful food.

A penny-per-ounce excise tax could reduce consumption of sugared beverages by more than 10%. It is difficult to imagine producing behavior change of this magnitude through education alone, even if government devoted massive resources to the task. In contrast, a sales tax on sugared drinks would generate considerable revenue, and as with the tax on tobacco, it could become a key tool in efforts to improve health.

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.
Dr. Brownell is a professor and director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, New Haven, CT. Dr. Frieden is the health commissioner for the City of New York.
This article (10.1056/NEJMp0902392) was published at on April 8, 2009. It will appear in the April 30 issue of the Journal.


Vartanian LR, Schwartz MB, Brownell KD. Effects of soft drink consumption on nutrition and health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Public Health 2007;97:667-675. [Free Full Text]
Forshee RA, Anderson PA, Storey ML. Sugar-sweetened beverages and body mass index in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr 2008:87:1662-71.
Nielsen SJ, Popkin BM. Changes in beverage intake between 1977 and 2001. Am J Prev Med 2004;27:205-210. [Erratum, Am J Prev Med 2005;28:413.] [CrossRef][ISI][Medline]
Ludwig DS, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. Lancet 2001;357:505-508. [CrossRef][ISI][Medline]
Elasticity: big price increases cause Coke volume to plummet. Beverage Digest. November 21, 2008:3-4.****

4032  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Culture philosophy on: April 10, 2009, 11:52:19 AM
Some thoughts on philosophy about our culture:

I was watching a cable show and the topic was that school prayer is offensive to some.
I am wondering if we don't have religion than where do we get values from?
Pop culture?

Those who are against any form of religion in the public domain, school, government, courts, etc are I think called secularists.

They don't believe in a higher power, a God, or a power greater than us.

So what do they believe in and where are we/our children supposed to get values that makes us good citizens, neighbors, family members, friends?

I conclude that there values is what would be so called political correctness.  Political correctness trandscends previous values, religion.  Live and let live,  make love not war.  Do not dare offend anyone for their lifestyle. In the extreme it is even more.  We are not responsible for anything.  Murderers did not decide to kill.  *They* are the victims of bad genes, bad upbringing, childhood abuse etc.

Bin Laden is a killer but the US in its arrogance and capatilistic imperialism brought on his hatred.

All lifestyles are OK.  Anyone who disagrees with that is not.

These are the values, the "codes" the left has decided we should all live by.

Political correctness is the new "Ten Commandments" taught by the liberal educational majority to children now.

It is only by progression, by extension that socialism, facism or the like also is taught.

Capatilism is not correct.

Democracy only is correct as long as the majority hold to political correctness.

Freedom of speech is only acceptable to the extent it is politically correct.

4033  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 08, 2009, 06:36:16 PM
Well at least the Crats are consistent.  No longer do Americans help themselves.  It has become, "what can goernment do for me?"
The national scene is the same.  No longer does a liberal led America ask what it must do for itself whan faced with a problem.
As per Hillary and the rest of the crew it is now, "we must ask the *world* to deal with our problems.
We must go the UN.  We must join hands with the world and let them tell us what to do.

****Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Wednesday for world action to "end the scourge of piracy" as U.S. warships raced to confront pirates who hijacked a U.S.-flagged ship off the coast of Somalia.

American crew members aboard the hijacked ship were able to regain control of the vessel Wednesday, but the ship's captain still is being held hostage on a smaller boat.

"We are deeply concerned and we are following it very closely," Clinton said.

"Specifically, we are now focused on this particular act of piracy and the seizure of a ship that carries 21 American citizens. More generally, we think the world must come together to end the scourge of piracy," she said.

U.S. Navy officials told FOX News on Wednesday afternoon that its closest ship was 300 miles away, which would place it 15 hours from the vessel, known as the Maersk Alabama.

A defense official said the ship's captain is being held captive on board a lifeboat belonging to the ship. Four pirates are in the lifeboat and according to the official there is no clear evidence that a pirate remains captive with the U.S. crew.

"We are able to confirm that the crew of the Maersk Alabama is now in control of the ship," said Kevin Speers, a spokesman for Maersk Lines Limited. "The armed hijackers who boarded this ship earlier today have departed, however they are currently holding one member of the ship's crew as a hostage. The other members of the crew are safe and no injuries have been reported."

Speaking on the ship's satellite phone, one of the 20 crew members said they had been taken hostage but managed to seize one pirate and then successfully negotiate their own release.

"All the crew members are trained in security detail in how to deal with piracy," Maersk CEO John Reinhart told reporters. "As merchant vessels we do not carry arms. We have ways to push back, but we do not carry arms."

John Harris, CEO of HollowPoint Security Services, which specializes in maritime security, said that the crew's overtaking the pirates could help prevent future hijackings, especially since the military can't protect the entire high seas.

Related StoriesFor Somalis, Piracy Road to Power, Prosperity
Photo EssaysSomali Pirates Seize 20 Americans
"Any time you can get intel from them, they can give you any kind of significant information, they more than likely will not, but anything we can get will always help us in the future," Harris told FOX News.

"Naval vessels ... can't be everywhere at one time, just like law enforcement," he said, noting that the U.S. Navy has been protecting the most vulnerable shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean.

"If you saturate an area long enough in the shipping lanes, if you saturate it with war ships long enough, they venture out. In this case that's what they did. They want 350 miles out of the coast where no Naval vessels were present," he said.

Click here for photos.

As for the boldness of the pirates taking a ship operating under a U.S. flag, Harris said pirates don't care which ship they grab.

"We have not seen it matters at all. This is a business to them. They are not intended on carrying what cargo we're carrying. All they want to do is see a dollar figure. They know if they catch a big ship, they get big money. All they want is ransom out of this. They are not worried about crew or cargo," Harris said.

Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman said earlier Wednesday he has "no information to suggest the 20 crew members of the Maersk Alabama have been harmed by the pirates."

During its one communication with the ship, Maersk was told the crew was safe, Reinhart said. He would not release the names of the crew members.

Cmdr. Jane Campbell, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said that it was the first pirate attack "involving U.S. nationals and a U.S.-flagged vessel in recent memory."

Wednesday's incident was the first such hostage-taking involving U.S. citizens in 200 years. In December 2008, Somali pirates chased and shot at a U.S. cruise ship with more than 1,000 people on board but failed to hijack the vessel.

The top two commanders of the ship graduated from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the Cape Cod Times reported Wednesday.

Andrea Phillips, the wife of the captured captain, Richard Phillips of Underhill, Vt., said her husband has sailed in those waters "for quite some time" and a hijacking was perhaps "inevitable."

The Cape Cod Times reported his second in command, Capt. Shane Murphy, was also among the 20 Americans aboard the Maersk Alabama.

Capt. Joseph Murphy, a professor at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, says his son is a 2001 graduate who recently talked to a class about the dangers of pirates.

The newspaper reported the 33-year-old Murphy had phoned his mother to say he was safe.

The 17,000-ton Maersk Alabama was carrying emergency relief to Mombasa, Kenya, at the time it was hijacked, for the Copenhagen-based container shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk.

Robert A. Wood, Deputy State Department Spokesman, told reporters the ship was carrying "vegetable oil, corn soy blend and other basic food commodities bound for Africa."****
4034  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-Russia on: April 07, 2009, 09:54:57 AM
***which is an American problem, not a Republican one***

I don't recall a sitting president continue to stoop so low as to endlessly blame the previous administration on so many problems.
And to go over seas and make public appearances while humiliating the previous pres.!

It is really disgraceful.

Reagan could have done the same to Carter but he had class and stood up for his country and not criticized it to the world.

4035  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Geology on: April 06, 2009, 12:32:38 PM
I wonder what should have been done.  You ask everyone to evacuate?  Give how to survive an earthquake lessons?
Warn everyone and those who want to leave the area can?

Have emergencies on alert?  What actually would we do?

Suppose a scientist starts warning LA there is an imminent Eq. What should be done? 

Now that we have made natural disasters the fault of someone such as Katrina, et al.

Naturally, we can now say this was someone'e fault.  Hey you were warned and the dirty gov covered it up.

***Italy muzzled scientist who predicted quake

          ROME (Reuters) – An Italian scientist predicted a major earthquake around L'Aquila weeks before disaster struck the city on Monday, killing more than 100 people, but was reported to authorities for spreading panic.

The government on Monday insisted the warning, by seismologist Gioacchino Giuliani, had no scientific foundation but Giuliani said he had been vindicated and wanted an apology.

The first tremors in the region were felt in mid-January and continued at regular intervals, creating mounting alarm in the medieval city, about 100 km (60 miles) east of Rome.

Vans with loudspeakers drove around the town a month ago telling locals to evacuate their houses after Giuliani, from the National Institute of Astrophysics, predicted a large quake was on the way, prompting the mayor's anger.

Giuliani, who based his forecast on concentrations of radon gas around seismically active areas, was reported to police for "spreading alarm" and was forced to remove his findings from the Internet.

"Now there are people who have to apologize to me and who will have what has happened on their conscience," Giuliani told the website of the daily La Repubblica.

Giuliani, who lives in L'Aquila and developed his findings while working at the National Institute of Nuclear Physics in the surrounding Abruzzo region, said he was helpless to act on Sunday as it became clear to him the quake was imminent.

"I didn't know who to turn to, I had been put under investigation for saying there was going to be an earthquake."


As the media asked whether, in light of his warnings, the government had protected the population properly, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi seemed on the defensive at a news conference.

He said people should concentrate on relief efforts for now and "we can discuss afterwards about the predictability of earthquakes."

Italy's Civil Protection agency held a meeting of the Major Risks Committee, grouping scientists charged with assessing such risks, in L'Aquila on March 31 to reassure the townspeople.

"The tremors being felt by the population are part of a typical sequence ... (which is) absolutely normal in a seismic area like the one around L'Aquila," the agency said in a statement on the eve of that meeting.

It said it saw no reason for alarm but was nonetheless carrying out "continuous monitoring and attention."

The head of the agency, Guido Bertolaso, referred back to that meeting at Monday's joint news conference with Berlusconi.

"There is no possibility of predicting an earthquake, that is the view of the international scientific community," he said.

Enzo Boschi, the head of the National Geophysics Institute, said the real problem for Italy was a long-standing failure to take proper precautions despite a history of tragic quakes.

"We have earthquakes but then we forget and do nothing. It's not in our culture to take precautions or build in an appropriate way in areas where there could be strong earthquakes," he said.***
4036  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: April 06, 2009, 11:39:39 AM
Well yes,
I saw this but I am not convinced it's not just a bluff.

U.S. Could Shoot Down Missile
Top brass in the U.S. military say they can probably shoot down any North Korean missile. But will they?

Adm. Timothy Keating speaks at a meeting with the Japanese defense ministry in Tokyo, Feb. 19, 2009.

WASHINGTON—Two high-ranking U.S. military commanders say U.S. forces are prepared to shoot down any North Korean missile following a planned rocket launch in April.

"We'll be prepared to respond," the top U.S. commander in the Pacific, Adm. Timothy Keating, told a Senate panel.

He cited a "high probability'' that the United States could shoot down a North Korean missile.

I'm sure there's been a lot a contingency planning within the Pentagon."

4037  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: April 06, 2009, 10:57:34 AM
"Refusing to use missile defenses to shoot down the TD-2"

Do we know even if we really can even if BO wanted to?
I am dubious.
4038  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / on: April 03, 2009, 04:29:13 PM
Krauthammer is only partly correct.  Yes BO's ultimate goal is socialism by taking from the upper classes in the US and giving to the lower classes.  But it is far worse, delusional, and crazy.  He wants to take from the haves in the US and give to the lower classes of the world!  His presidency is not about advancing the interests of US citizens, but is about advancing socialism around the world using his position here to do it!

BO obviously doesn't believe in the US model that *everyone has a chance*.  BO obviously believes that the successful have unfairly beaten or kept down the less successful.  He is fully of the philisophical camp that beleives the US is to blame for much of the world's ills.  We are an imperialist selfish money grubbing nation that has caused climate change, and for everyone to righly hate us because we "dictate" to the world rather than "listen".  The fact that most of these same haters would love to come here goes unnoticed (including his own family many of whom are illegally here).  Yes, BO beleives it is the responsibility of those with any money whatsoever, (no matter how hard they worked for it or earned it) to give it away to those who have less. 

What is even more nuts, and Charles doesn't take it to this next logical conclusion, is that BO applies this attitude not only to the classes here in the US but between classes in the US and around the world.  It is now the responsibility of the those who earn anything in the US to support the world.  The world's obligation to us is merely to spend our money "wisely".

Folks the nerve of this guy to stand there in France and say how he will gladly give more money to countries in need if only their officials just don't steal it.  Whose money is he giving away?  It ain't his.  When are Americans going to stand up to this cook?

And the liberal, crat-leaning MSM is following this nut down the path of leading the US to I have no idea but it ain't what it has been for 200 years.  Why?  Some believe in this I guess.  Some just hate Repubs so much they will follow any crat to oblivion I guess.

In any case, here is Charles's article but he falls short the last step I outlined above:

****Obama's Ultimate Agenda

By Charles Krauthammer | Five minutes of explanation to James Madison, and he'll have a pretty good idea what a motorcar is (basically a steamboat on wheels; the internal combustion engine might take a few minutes more). Then try to explain to Madison how the Constitution he fathered allows the president to unilaterally guarantee the repair or replacement of every component of millions of such contraptions sold in the several states, and you will leave him slack-jawed.

In fact, we are now so deep into government intervention that constitutional objections are summarily swept aside. The last Treasury secretary brought the nine largest banks into his office and informed them that henceforth he was their partner. His successor is seeking the power to seize any financial institution at his own discretion.

Despite these astonishments, I remain more amused than alarmed. First, the notion of presidential car warranties strikes me as simply too bizarre, too comical, to mark the beginning of Yankee Peronism.

Second, there is every political incentive to make these interventions in the banks and autos temporary and circumscribed. For President Obama, autos and banks are sideshows. Enormous sideshows, to be sure, but had the financial meltdown and the looming auto bankruptcies not been handed to him, he would hardly have gone seeking to be the nation's credit and car czar.

Obama has far different ambitions. His goal is to rewrite the American social compact, to recast the relationship between government and citizen. He wants government to narrow the nation's income and anxiety gaps. Soak the rich for reasons of revenue and justice. Nationalize health care and federalize education to grant all citizens of all classes the freedom from anxiety about health care and college that the rich enjoy. And fund this vast new social safety net through the cash cow of a disguised carbon tax.

Obama is a leveler. He has come to narrow the divide between rich and poor. For him the ultimate social value is fairness. Imposing it upon the American social order is his mission.

Fairness through leveling is the essence of Obamaism. (Asked by Charlie Gibson during a campaign debate about his support for raising capital gains taxes — even if they caused a net revenue loss to the government — Obama stuck to the tax hike "for purposes of fairness.") The elements are highly progressive taxation, federalized health care and higher education, and revenue-producing energy controls. But first he must deal with the sideshows. They could sink the economy and poison his public support before he gets to enact his real agenda.

The big sideshows, of course, are the credit crisis, which Obama has contracted out to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and the collapse of the U.S. automakers, which Obama seems to have taken on for himself.

That was a tactical mistake. Better to have let the car companies go directly to Chapter 11 and have a judge mete out the bitter medicine to the workers and bondholders.

By sacking GM's CEO, packing the new board, and giving direction as to which brands to drop and what kind of cars to make, Obama takes ownership of General Motors. He may soon come to regret it. He has now gotten himself so entangled in the car business that he is personally guaranteeing your muffler. (Upon reflection, a job best left to the congenitally unmuffled Joe Biden.)

Some find in this descent into large-scale industrial policy a whiff of 1930s-style fascist corporatism. I have my doubts. These interventions are rather targeted. They involve global financial institutions that even the Bush administration decided had to be nationalized and auto companies that themselves came begging to the government for money.

Bizarre and constitutionally suspect as these interventions may be, the transformation of the American system will come from elsewhere. The credit crisis will pass and the auto overcapacity will sort itself out one way or the other. The reordering of the American system will come not from these temporary interventions, into which Obama has reluctantly waded. It will come from Obama's real agenda: his holy trinity of health care, education and energy. Out of these will come a radical extension of the welfare state; social and economic leveling in the name of fairness; and a massive increase in the size, scope and reach of government.

If Obama has his way, the change that is coming is a new America: "fair," leveled and social democratic. Obama didn't get elected to warranty your muffler. He's here to warranty your life.****

4039  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 03, 2009, 04:06:45 PM
I don't have flashplayer.
What does it do?

4040  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "merci beaucoup"? on: April 03, 2009, 12:37:13 PM
Remember when the savior of the world stated Americans need to speak more than English?

"We need to say more than merci beaucoup".

How come he wasn't speaking French to the French when he was there giving a town hall meeting?

Yet he has not problem humiliating our own country by going around the world stating we tortured people.

The Russians, the Indians, the Chinese, the Iranians - they must all be happy beyond belief at having a anti-American demigogue as President.   The Europeans of course love the guy who is going to give away control of the world's richest country's economy to Europeans.

And yet our own MSM hails BO.

4041  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: BO's National Civilian Voluntary (sic) Service on: April 03, 2009, 10:10:01 AM
Not one peep from the MSM.
4042  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Speaking of prisoners.... on: April 02, 2009, 05:02:05 PM
Rachel Maddow gleefully put on her show (anyone who will disrepute Bush and or Rep in general) a former Gitmo soldier who stated he was ashamed of the abuse he witnessed of prisoners.  Abuse which according to his account included someone punching one of the prisoners in the face and another time a prisoner thinking he was going to be executed when he was asked to kneel (obviously because in his country this would have meant he was going to have his head chopped off).

Of course such incredible abuse and along with a few seconds or minutes of waterboarding places Bush/Cheney/Rumsfiled up there with Stalin, Hitler, Saddam and all the rest of the butchers in modern history.

I am not ashamed of W et al, just of the left that mocks them for political reasons.

It sounded to me that any high school football player receives more abuse than any of these prisoners; at least from this eye witness account.
"Torture" - what a joke!

4043  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GWill/Congress.granted.BO unconstitutional power on: April 02, 2009, 02:39:19 PM
Bailing Out of the Constitution

By George Will | It is high time Americans heard an argument that might turn a vague national uneasiness into a vivid awareness of something going very wrong. The argument is that the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) is unconstitutional.

By enacting it, Congress did not in any meaningful sense make a law. Rather, it made executive branch officials into legislators. Congress said to the executive branch, in effect: "Here is $700 billion. You say you will use some of it to buy up banks' 'troubled assets.' But if you prefer to do anything else with the money — even, say, subsidize automobile companies — well, whatever."

FreedomWorks, a Washington-based libertarian advocacy organization, argues that EESA violates "the nondelegation doctrine." Although the text does not spell it out, the Constitution's logic and structure — particularly the separation of powers — imply limits on the size and kind of discretion that Congress may confer on the executive branch.

The Vesting Clause of Article I says, "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in" Congress. All. Therefore, none shall be vested elsewhere. Gary Lawson of Boston University's School of Law suggests a thought experiment:

Suppose Congress passes the Goodness and Niceness Act. Section 1 outlaws all transactions involving, no matter how tangentially, interstate commerce that do not promote goodness and niceness. Section 2 says that the president shall define the statute's meaning with regulations that define and promote goodness and niceness and specify penalties for violations.

Surely this would be incompatible with the Vesting Clause. Where would the Goodness and Niceness Act really be written? In Congress? No, in the executive branch. Lawson says that nothing in the Constitution's enumeration of powers authorizes Congress to enact such a statute. The only power conferred on Congress by the commerce clause is to regulate. The Goodness and Niceness Act does not itself regulate, it just identifies a regulator.
The Constitution empowers Congress to make laws "necessary and proper" for carrying into execution federal purposes. But if gargantuan grants of discretion are necessary, are the purposes proper? Indeed, such designs should be considered presumptively improper. What, then, about the Goodness and Niceness Act, which, as Lawson says, delegates all practical decision-making power to the president? What about EESA?

Writing in the New Republic, Jeffrey Rosen of George Washington University Law School makes a prudential point: "The military-spending scandals during World War II, exposed by the Truman Committee, showed the risks for corruption and fraud when the executive branch is given a free hand to spend vast amounts of money." But even in the unlikely event that the executive branch exercises its excessive EESA discretion efficiently, the mere exercise would nevertheless subvert the principle of separation of powers, which, as Justice Louis Brandeis said, was adopted "not to promote efficiency but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power."

As government grows, legislative power, and with it accountability, must shrink. The nation has had 535 national legislators for almost half a century. During that time the federal government's business — or, more precisely, its busy-ness — has probably grown at least twenty-fold. Vast grants of discretion to the executive branch by Congress, such as EESA, may be necessary — if America is going to have constant governmental hyperkinesis. If Washington is going to do the sort of things that EESA enables — erasing the distinction between public and private sectors; licensing uncircumscribed executive branch conscription of, and experimentation with, the nation's resources.

Since the New Deal era, few laws have been invalidated on the ground that they improperly delegated legislative powers. And Chief Justice John Marshall did say that the "precise boundary" of the power to "make" or the power to "execute" the law "is a subject of delicate and difficult inquiry." Still, surely sometimes the judiciary must adjudicate such boundary disputes.

The Supreme Court has said: "That Congress cannot delegate legislative power to the president is a principle universally recognized as vital to the integrity and maintenance of the system of government ordained by the Constitution." And the court has said that properly delegated discretion must come with "an intelligible principle" and must "clearly delineate" a policy that limits the discretion. EESA flunks that test.

With EESA, Congress forces the country to ponder the paradox of sovereignty: If sovereign people freely choose to surrender their sovereignty, is this willed subordination really subordination?

It is. Congress has done that. A court should hear the argument that Congress cannot so divest itself of powers vested in it.

4044  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: More arrogant bumbling from the Empty-suit on: April 02, 2009, 01:51:33 PM
As long as the market is improving BO is unstoppable.

I now wholely agree with Crafty that by the time it is obvious to the majority that BO is reversing 200 years of greatness it will be too late.

It seems to me that this guy whose roots are from another country and who has spent time growing up overseas is more interested in using America to advance his idealistic benefits for the world - and not advancing our interests.

The component of the left who hates America surely has their man.

Never again should Republicans elect someone who can't give an intellectual argument.

4045  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives/the American Creed on: March 28, 2009, 01:14:26 PM
"Conservatives answer this kind of bs but they are only heard and read by conservatives.

Luckily, some truths are so true and so obvious that even unspoken they can become known truths"

Doug, well said.  And that is the thrust of my concerns about "conservatism" whatever the reitierations.  It doesn't seem to be heard by those who are not already "conservatives".  Or the message just does not appeal to others.

I am hoping the new contract with America will appeal to all of us with common sense.

4046  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: March 27, 2009, 01:42:41 PM
Well now you are getting to the question:  is health care a right or a privilege that is earned?

I just tried to look up if there are any polls conducted on the opinions of people on this issue.  I do not find much.
Clearly BO feels it is a right and in conjuction, a responsibility for those who can and do pay to do so for those who can't or won't.
I don't know where the majority of Americans are on this issue.  I suspect most feel it is a right but I could be wrong. 
What do I feel?  Well of course as a doctor I am expected to be kind, thoughtful, and a true humanitarian and philanthropist, and alive and working only for the public good. 
All the while my wife and I are getting stalked and robbed. 
And everyone and their sister has an opinion about how much doctors should or shoudn't make.
So is it a right or a privilege?  Personally I am tired of philosophy and I frankly don't even give a darn.
My thoughts don't mean anything anyway. 

I suspect one reason BO is so popular is because most agree with him.
4047  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: March 27, 2009, 10:54:55 AM
The proper mechanism is called "price".

I don't follow you. huh
4048  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: March 27, 2009, 10:03:02 AM
I agree with the post but,
I am afraid that one can find statistics that buttresses both sides of the argument. For or against national or single payer care.
I am not for big government care.  But at this point the free market's answer appears unsustainable with regards to costs.
The electronic medical  records may or may not decrease costs - the jury is out - as is the concept that preventative care reduces costs (evidence suggests it increases costs in many cases). 
There is simply no way to insure another 40 mill people and not ration care.
That said we will need to ration care anyway at some point.

People are living longer and the result is more health care needs.  As well of course the baby boom thing.

The best hope in my opinion still comes ironically from the pharmaceutical industry.

For example it is becoming apparent that diabetes 2 is possibly an intestinal disease and bariatric surgery which was used for weight loss results in reversal of diabetes far more than expected for any degree of weight loss.  This seems to have been discovered by accident.  It is also clear that some people who are NOT overweight still will have diabetes reversed by this surgery.
Thus a treatment with goal of cure for this is surgery.  At this time it costs several thousand dollars.  Yet in the long run thses procedures may reduce costs.

If the drug industry can find a real cure or better treaments for obesity and other conditions than costs may actually decrease.

It is all too complicated.  I could work towards a Phd thesis and still not know the answers though I would have a better handle on the problems.
4049  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives/the American Creed on: March 27, 2009, 09:51:46 AM
Well, I am not sure we disagree.
I am not saying we should not articulate conservative values.  What I am saying is the majority of Americans do not think conservative values will benefit them - hence BOs continued popularity. So are you saying rep should come up with a plan and articulate it or are you saying is the plan is to let the markets crash and burn because that is the best long term course of action?
It does not appear most in this country want to hear that.
While I hate BO's politics I am not clear strictly leave the markets alone to "repair" themselves is enough either.  Certainly the majority of Americans don't want to hear that. 

That is why I like Newt.  He recognizes this shortcoming and is searching for ideas that take conservatism foward in a way that applies to todays problems at least in a practical and sensible way.
One risk of articulating your plan now is the other side will steal the ideas for themselves and take the credit.  That is what Clinton always did.  The great example is welfare reform. 
But you certainly raise a good point that that risk is a far better alternative to allowing BO, Pelosi and the other cooks to have their way and destroy what made this country great.
4050  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives/the American Creed on: March 27, 2009, 08:23:49 AM
BOs poll ratings will not come down as long as the majority of Americans think they will not be footing the bill for the unprecedented budgets he is proposing.  Until events prove that they too are screwed, along with those of us who know they are his poll numbers will be over 50%.
At this time the Republicans have not convinced many of this IMO.
The Dems keep throwing the chant Rep are the party of "no" and offer no alternatives.  I am not sure it is in the interest of Rep to present an alternative while they are out of power and most elections are still a bit off.
OTOH I don't know anyone but Newt who could articulate a message that would get through the left MSM filter.
Perhaps it is best to keep up the no tactics and let BO;s policies eventually fail as I believe will by themselves.

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