Patterico's Pontifications


Dana Milbank Badly Misinforms His Readers on Libertarian Views

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:38 am

It’s been on my back burner to respond to this diatribe by Dana Milbank, claiming that NIH Director Francis Collins was telling the truth when he said that there would have been an Ebola vaccine but for budget cuts. Milbank goes on and on about the horrible budget cuts that NIH supposedly suffered from, defends origami condoms, etc. But this passage really got my attention:

Even hard-core libertarians tend to agree that medical research and public health, like national defense, are among the few things that should be a federal responsibility. Eric Cantor, the recently deposed House majority leader, made a big push for government funding of medical research.

I’m sorry? Milbank is citing Eric Cantor as an example of a “hard-core libertarian”?? Let’s review some of Cantor’s super-libertarian record:

Cantor helped usher the 2008 bailout to passage. He was the Chamber of Commerce’s most important ally in reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank in 2012, and was expected to play the same role again this year. He voted for the insurers’ and drug makers’ beloved Medicare prescription drug bill in 2003, and for the Republicans’ pork-filled energy bill in 2005.

I was suspicious of Milbank’s claim because the “hard-core libertarians” I am familiar with don’t even necessarily believe national defense should be handled by the government. (I disagree with them.) So I suspected they would not be big fans of federal funding for medical research.

I decided to look into the views of one fairly prominent “hard-core libertarian”: Ron Paul. Guess what? He believes medical research should be done privately. (Sorry, it’s a Prison Planet link, but that’s the only place I can find it.) Here’s Paul:

The issue is not whether the federal government should fund one type of stem cell research or another. The issue is whether the federal government should fund stem cell research at all. Clearly there is no constitutional authority for Congress to do so, which means individual states and private citizens should decide whether to permit, ban, or fund it. Neither party in Washington can fathom that millions and millions of Americans simply don’t want their tax dollars spent on government research of any kind. This viewpoint is never considered.

Federal funding of medical research guarantees the politicization of decisions about what types of research for what diseases will be funded. Scarce tax resources are allocated according to who has the most effective lobby, rather than on the basis of need or even likely success. Federal funding also causes researchers to neglect potential treatments and cures that do not qualify for federal funds. Medical advancements often result from radical ideas and approaches that are scoffed at initially by the establishment. When scientists become dependent on government funds, however, they quickly learn not to rock the boat and stick to accepted areas of inquiry. Federal funds thus distort the natural market for scientific research.

It’s impossible to know whether Milbank is just lying — or whether he really believes what he said, and has no idea what actual libertarians think. Either way, he is badly misinforming his readers.

The Not-So-Great Orator On The Campaign Trail

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:36 am

[guest post by Dana]

In light of the president’s slipping popularity , especially in key states, many Democrats have avoided appearing with him on the campaign trail.

However, tonight he joined Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown of Maryland and spoke at a rally for Brown. Unfortunately, the Great Orator didn’t have the best of nights:

“You’ve got to vote,” Obama repeated over and over at a rally for Brown in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, near Washington.

“There are no excuses. The future is up to us,” Obama said.

The crowd just wasn’t feeling it:

While the 8,000 crowd at the first event gave him an enthusiastic welcome, his repeated urging of them to turn up and vote apparently failed to impress. By the end of his address, around half of the crowd had departed.

A steady stream of people walked out of the auditorium while he spoke, and at one point a heckler interrupted his remarks to complain about his handling of the immigration issue. The President told the heckler he would be better protesting at members of Congress who he said had blocked all attempts to resolve the crisis.

If you are curious about all the possible reasons to walk out on the president, here you go.


Remember When They Said This Wouldn’t Happen?

Filed under: General — JD @ 5:55 am

[guest post by JD]

This is happening. Now.

You will be made to conform.



Obama’s History of Being “Angry” About Screw-Ups in His Executive Branch

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:11 pm

We saw recently that Obama is mad about how the feds are handling Ebola:

“It’s not tight,” a visibly angry Mr. Obama said of the response, according to people briefed on the meeting. He told aides they needed to get ahead of events and demanded a more hands-on approach, particularly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “He was not satisfied with the response,” a senior official said.

I thought I would review some other stuff he’s been mad about.

He was mad about the IRS Scandal:

“Americans have a right to be angry about it, and I’m angry about it,” Obama said.

“It should not matter what political stripe you’re from. The fact of the matter is, the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity,” the president said.

He was mad about the ObamaCare rollout:

“Nobody’s madder than me that the website isn’t working as it should , which means it’s going to get fixed,” he said.

He was mad about the VA scandal:

President Barack Obama is “madder than hell” about the problems facing the Department of Veterans Affairs but still supports its embattled chief, Secretary Eric Shinseki, according to the president’s chief of staff.

“Nobody is more outraged about this problem right now” than the president, said White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in a Friday interview that aired Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

He was mad about the Secret Service fumbling on security:

The first lady was still upset when her husband arrived home five days later from Australia. The president was fuming, too, former aides said. Not only had their aides failed to immediately alert the first lady, but the Secret Service had stumbled in its response.

“When the president came back . . . then the s— really hit the fan,” said one former aide.

All these examples share one characteristic: they are screw-ups in the executive branch — for which Obama is responsible. If he wants to get mad, he should start with himself.

Instead, he tries to show how he is really on top of all this, by leaking stories about how mad he is. Big Media never seems to pick up on the pattern.

Here, we do.

Maybe you have some other examples of your own.

Federally Funded Study to Examine Your Dangerous Free Speech

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:27 am

There appears to be one sane person on the FCC, and he is raising alarms about the way the federal government is using your taxpayer money to study the alarming ways in which you are using your so-called right to free speech:

If you take to Twitter to express your views on a hot-button issue, does the government have an interest in deciding whether you are spreading “misinformation’’? If you tweet your support for a candidate in the November elections, should taxpayer money be used to monitor your speech and evaluate your “partisanship’’?

My guess is that most Americans would answer those questions with a resounding no. But the federal government seems to disagree. The National Science Foundation , a federal agency whose mission is to “promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare; and to secure the national defense,” is funding a project to collect and analyze your Twitter data.

The project is being developed by researchers at Indiana University, and its purported aim is to detect what they deem “social pollution” and to study what they call “social epidemics,” including how memes — ideas that spread throughout pop culture — propagate. What types of social pollution are they targeting? “Political smears,” so-called “astroturfing” and other forms of “misinformation.”

Named “Truthy,” after a term coined by TV host Stephen Colbert, the project claims to use a “sophisticated combination of text and data mining, social network analysis, and complex network models” to distinguish between memes that arise in an “organic manner” and those that are manipulated into being.

But there’s much more to the story. Focusing in particular on political speech, Truthy keeps track of which Twitter accounts are using hashtags such as #teaparty and #dems. It estimates users’ “partisanship.” It invites feedback on whether specific Twitter users, such as the Drudge Report, are “truthy” or “spamming.” And it evaluates whether accounts are expressing “positive” or “negative” sentiments toward other users or memes.

A federally funded study of online political discourse that owes its name to a term used by a leftist? What could go wrong?

The Truthy team says this research could be used to “mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas, detect hate speech and subversive propaganda, and assist in the preservation of open debate.”

Hmm. A government-funded initiative is going to “assist in the preservation of open debate” by monitoring social media for “subversive propaganda” and combating what it considers to be “the diffusion of false and misleading ideas”? The concept seems to have come straight out of a George Orwell novel.

. . . .

Some possible hints as to Truthy’s real motives emerge in a 2012 paper by the project’s leaders, in which they wrote ominously of a “highly-active, densely-interconnected constituency of right-leaning users using [Twitter] to further their political views.”

And there we have it. They’re spending your money to warn the world about the way you are expressing your political opinions. In this way, they can keep false and misleading ideas from being spread — you know, like those “false” claims that ObamaCare could lead to government rationing and death panels, or that Ebola exposure could result from being three feet away from someone for a prolonged period of time.

We must keep such lies from spreading and infecting the public. And we must use taxpayer money to do it.

It is for the greater good, citizen.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Rand Paul Is Politicizing Ebola By Accurately Citing the CDC

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:57 am

Debbie Wasserman Schultz appeared on Fox News Sunday today and furthered the “Rand Paul got Ebola transmission wrong” canard. (H/t Colonel Haiku.) The video is at The Daily Caller; I initially embedded it, but it’s one of those annoying auto-start videos. At 8:41, Schultz says:

When you have Republican Senators like Rand Paul, who’s a doctor, who should know better, who are saying that you can be three feet from someone who has Ebola and actually get it, I mean, that’s an example of how Republicans are politicizing this.

As I showed in this post, Rand Paul simply repeated what the CDC says. It is a fact, beyond any rational dispute, that the CDC defines a “low-risk exposure” to include being within “three feet” of an Ebola patient for a “prolonged period of time.” To attack Rand Paul over this, when he is simply accurately citing the CDC, is the height of ignorance.

Unfortunately, host Chris Wallace didn’t seem to know this — or, if he did, he allowed this misinformation to go unchallenged. But, as Patterico readers, you know it — even if Sunday talk show hosts don’t.

Bill Maher: Nurses Got Ebola Because Stupid Texans Ignored Federal Government

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:51 am

Bill Maher sneeringly blames the rubes in Texas for the nurses catching Ebola. Apparently the federal government gave them perfect advice, but the Texas idiots didn’t follow it because (affect exaggerated Texas accent) they hate them some revenooers and federal government types, yee haw!

At around 2:00 you get to hear Maher saying this:

Then one guy comes here from Liberia. One guy. And we couldn’t keep that contained because those morons in that fuckin’ hospital in Dallas — sorry. Excuse me. I said I wouldn’t get this upset, but I did. Because they you know love their freedom down in Texas. [Said in hick accent:] They don’t like rules and regulations and tellin’ us what to do and revenuers and the federal government. What could go wrong? This.

There is, of course, not a shred of evidence that people in Dallas were ignoring federal regulations because they were hicks who wanted to show their independence from the feds. But it’s a chance to use the event of a deadly disease to make a factually distorted attack on hicks and get a few laughs in the process — and how can you pass that up?

Meanwhile, a doctor who worked with the nurses says they followed the federal protocol, but that the federal guidelines were inadequate:

Speaking to WFAA-TV, Dr Weinstein insisted the two nurses – along with the rest of the team – had followed CDC guidelines, which, at the time, did not include the use of a full respiratory mask.

When asked why Miss Pham and Miss Vinson caught Ebola, he said: ‘I think that these two nurses took care of a critically-ill patient at a time when he was not in control of his body fluids.

‘And at a time when the recommendations from the CDC (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention) that we were following did not include the full respiratory mask.’

That’s just what a Texan would say, eh, Bill? I bet he even used a funny accent when he said it, too.

P.S. It ought to go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: the hospital would have been better off if they had exactly the sort of skeptical attitude towards the federal government that Maher mocks, and had instituted more guidelines more stringent than the CDC’s. Hospitals across the nation are now doing exactly that — even in places where they don’t talk funny.

UPDATE: Incorrect information on the CDC web site about protective measures has been quietly whitewashed — but the evidence has been preserved.


Police Flatten Tires of Guy Speeding to Take Pregnant Wife to Hospital

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:44 pm

Then again, they didn’t know that’s what he was doing:

FORT DODGE, Iowa– Police started to pursue a speeding SUV on Highway 7 near the town of Manson in Calhoun County, but the car’s occupants had a good reason for going over the speed limit.

Ben and Rachel Kohnen were heading to the hospital in Fort Dodge at about 4:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. He admits that he was going about 30 miles over the speed limit when they passed the officer.

“He starts following me and he turns on his lights an my wife says we can’t pull over. The baby is coming now,” said the driver, Ben Kohnen of Pomeroy.


As they approached the outskirts of Fort Dodge, authorities were waiting for them.

“They had thrown out the tire spikes and so all four tires, I run over those and all four tires go flat,” said Ben Kohnen.

The Kohnens say they were ordered to the ground and held at gunpoint until police realized this was an emergency. Rachel was rushed to the hospital and nearly 10 pound, Hazel, was born an hour later.

Apparently the wife tried calling 911 but was too hysterical to be understood.

Opine away. Consider not assuming perfect knowledge on the cops’ part as you do so.

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Texas Voter I.D. Law In Upcoming Midterm Elections

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:45 pm

[guest post by Dana]

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning decided that Texas can continue enforcing its controversial voter identification law for the upcoming Nov. 4 midterm elections. This in spite of challenges by the U.S. Dept. of Justice. There was no explanation of the ruling provided from the court’s majority. Dissenting were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Writing a scathing dissent, Justice Ginsburg opined:

The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.

Last week, President Obama appointee U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled that the law would discourage and deter minority voters, the majority of whom are black and Hispanic, as well as referring to it as an unconstitutional poll tax. Justice Ginsburg continued the line of thought:

The potential magnitude of racially discriminatory voter disenfranchisement counseled hesitation before disturbing the District Court’s findings and final judgment. Senate Bill 14 may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5% of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification. A sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic.

(As a reminder, Texas allows for seven forms of acceptable identification. Also, if voting by mail, one does not have to submit a photo ID.)


President Obama: Quit Being Hysterical About Ebola, People!

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:47 am

[guest post by Dana]

Attempting to quell Americans’ growing concern and fear about an Ebola outbreak here at home, President Obama addressed the issue this morning:

This is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear-because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need. We have to be guided by the science. We have to remember the basic facts.

First, what we’re seeing now is not an “outbreak” or an “epidemic” of Ebola in America. We’re a nation of more than 300 million people. To date, we’ve seen three cases of Ebola diagnosed here-the man who contracted the disease in Liberia, came here and sadly died; the two courageous nurses who were infected while they were treating him … As our public health experts point out, every year thousands of Americans die from the flu.

Second, Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch. It’s not transmitted through the air like the flu. You cannot get it from just riding on a plane or a bus. The only way that a person can contract the disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of somebody who is already showing symptoms. I’ve met and hugged some of the doctors and nurses who’ve treated Ebola patients. I’ve met with an Ebola patient who recovered, right in the Oval Office. And I’m fine.

Third, we know how to fight this disease. We know the protocols. And we know that when they’re followed, they work.

The president also addressed the increasing demand to impose a travel ban from the worst-hit countries:

Finally, we can’t just cut ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging. Our medical experts tell us that the best way to stop this disease is to stop it at its source-before it spreads even wider and becomes even more difficult to contain. Trying to seal off an entire region of the world-if that were even possible-could actually make the situation worse. It would make it harder to move health workers and supplies back and forth. Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track.

(Of course, it just isn’t possible that putting a temporary hold on issuing visas and instituting a travel ban from West Africa might just benefit Americans more than risking the continued spread of Ebola in our country! And, maybe even keep us safer!)

What one man sees as hysteria another man sees as reasonable caution.

(emphasis added)


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