Patterico's Pontifications


ObamaCare already slashes number of uninsured!

Filed under: General — Karl @ 9:35 pm

[Posted by Karl]

How awesome is ObamaCare? So awesome that it has already reduced the number of uninsured by 17 million people!  At least, Pres. Obama magically dropped the number of uninsured from the 47 million that Democrats have been chanting like a mantra to 30 million in his speech Congress tonight:

(Courtesy of BreitbartTV.)

The magical reduction serves at least two purposes.  First, as Frank Luntz notes in the video, it helps the Democrats claim that ObamaCare will not cover millions of illegal immigrants.  House Democrats have rejected every attempt to require that people should be required to prove they are a citizen of the United States before receiving government health care subsidies, despite the fact that verification is overwhelmingly popular with voters.  But pulling illegals out of the uninsured helps them sweep that inconvenient truth under the rug a while longer — or so they hope.

The other benefit is that adopting a more honest number of the uninsured will make ObamaCare seem cheaper and (near-)universal coverage easier to attain.  Again, in reality, ObamaCare would play out far differently, making the underlying cost estimates a fantasy.  But the establishment media is so desperate to spin a Obama’s speech as “comeback” that there is almost zero chance that anyone will challenge Pres. Obama’s most obvious and arbitrary rewriting of the healthcare narrative.


The GOP Response to Obama’s Health Care Plan

Filed under: Health Care,Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 6:47 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Republicans want reform without rationing or higher taxes. They call on President Obama to agree to these four bipartisan ideas that most Americans seem to agree on:

All individuals should have access to coverage, regardless of preexisting conditions.

Individuals, small businesses and other groups should be able to join together to get health insurance at lower prices, the same way large businesses and labor unions do.

Provide assistance to those who still cannot access a doctor.

Insurers should be able to offer incentives for wellness care and prevention.

Republicans also support the following ideas that President Obama does not agree with:

Real medical liability reform, including tough liability reform standards, speedy resolution of claims, and deterring junk lawsuits that drive up the cost of care.

Let families and businesses buy insurance across state lines to help control premiums and hold down costs.


Hillary for Governor?

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 4:49 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Weekly Standard floats a fun Hillary rumor:

“The boss hears from two sources that Hillary Clinton is considering stepping down as Secretary of State this fall in order to run for Governor of New York.”

I would normally discount rumors like this but the Clintons are good at telling which way the political winds are blowing. If they think Obama’s ship is sinking, the Governorship of New York might look like a good lifeboat.


Obama Speaks

Filed under: Health Care,Obama — DRJ @ 4:29 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

He’s spoken a lot in the past two years but tonight is billed as a ‘make or break’ speech for President Obama. Here are two guesses on his strategy:

“So what tack will the embattled president take tonight in his speech? Will he be the earnest Harvard guy, making his best arguments for his legislative initiative, illustrating that he truly believes that this will pass or go down in defeat based on merit — and keep that attitude if it fails? Or will he resort to the usual Democrat tactics of playing the victim of politics, slamming Republicans and other opponents of the bill and employing his very best Saul Alinsky scorched-earth methods, designed to shout down all opposing voices?”


Also, consider this an open thread for Obama’s speech.


Pres. Obama’s historic speech to somebody

Filed under: General — Karl @ 12:02 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Tonight, Pres. Obama is giving a speech on healthcare reform to a joint session of Congress. Undoubtedly, it will be “historic,” at least to the nighttime staff at MSNBC. It probably is the first time that a president has delivered a major speech to children two days in a row.

But to whom is Pres. Obama really speaking? Congress? Even a partisan Soros hack like Matthew Yglesias acknowledges that the speech is not going to change any minds there. After the speech, Congress is going to have the same problems it had before the speech, primarily that the Democrats’ plans all inevitably involve a lot of unpopular taxes and unpopular spending and scare the vast majority of people who are already insured.

Is Obama speaking to the American people? He’s been doing that for over a month. While lefty publications make the understandably modest claim that Obama and ObamaCare “survived” August, public opinion polls show that Obama was less popular and ObamaCare was more unpopular at the end of August than at the end of July. If the ABC News double-infomercial, the primetime press conference, the daytime press conference, the town halls in New Hampshire, Colorado, Montana, Virginia, etc., and the massive astroturf campaign put on by HCAN all failed, why should this speech succeed?

Is Obama speaking to political news junkies as opinion leaders? Not really. To the contrary, early reports suggest the speech will not contain any big news.

Obama will endorse a government-run insurance plan (as usual), but will not demand one (as usual). Off the record, the White House admits the “public option” is off the table, as House Maj. Ldr. Steny Hoyer and Maj. Whip Jim Clyburn start tiptoeing for the exit. The leaders of the progressive caucus’s reputation continue to demand a “robust” government plan, but the rank and file aren’t necessarily following. In the Senate, even Olympia Snowe seems to be drifting away from the project. Obama may offer a few more details in his speech, but has put off offering his own draft legislation (most likely to extend the news cycle). The legislative process has been headed toward health insurance reforms and an individual mandate for a while, which is why progressives have been preparing to be disappointed with this speech since last week. The Right has little motivation to watch, beyond the prospect of playing Obama Health-Care Speech Bingo.

Accordingly, the self-selected audience for the speech will likely skew in favor of Obama, something to remember if the establishment media does a poll of people who watched the speech. Otherwise, the biggest beneficiaries of tonight’s speech are the cast and crew of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance?” and “Glee,” which should do boffo ratings.


L.A. Times Drags Out All Recent Liberal Canards to Defend Obama

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Obama — Patterico @ 7:20 am

In a “news analysis” (read as: “front-page editorial”) titled More than healthcare rides on Obama’s speech, the L.A. Times shows that editors are worried that Obama is losing his grip on power . . . so they’re pulling out all the stops:

The summer left Obama in a weakened position. Once the dominant communicator in American politics, he has seen the healthcare debate sidetracked by false warnings that government “death panels” would be employed to snuff out Grandma. Distractions arose over past remarks made by mid-level aides. Even a benign back-to-school speech that Obama gave to students Tuesday became a vehicle for conservative activists to warn of presidential “indoctrination.”

Now wait just a damned minute.

First of all, there is nothing “false” about the argument that government-run health care — which is what a “public option” would inevitably lead to — will lead to rationing. Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (bearing the Orwellian acronym “NICE”) provides an excellent example:

What NICE has become in practice is a rationing board. As health costs have exploded in Britain as in most developed countries, NICE has become the heavy that reduces spending by limiting the treatments that 61 million citizens are allowed to receive through the NHS. For example:

In March, NICE ruled against the use of two drugs, Lapatinib and Sutent, that prolong the life of those with certain forms of breast and stomach cancer. This followed on a 2008 ruling against drugs — including Sutent, which costs about $50,000 — that would help terminally ill kidney-cancer patients. After last year’s ruling, Peter Littlejohns, NICE’s clinical and public health director, noted that “there is a limited pot of money,” that the drugs were of “marginal benefit at quite often an extreme cost,” and the money might be better spent elsewhere.

. . . .

The NICE board even has a mathematical formula for doing so, based on a “quality adjusted life year.” While the guidelines are complex, NICE currently holds that, except in unusual cases, Britain cannot afford to spend more than about $22,000 to extend a life by six months. Why $22,000? It seems to be arbitrary, calculated mainly based on how much the government wants to spend on health care.

But any claim that government-run health care would lead to “death panels” is “false,” understand? At worst, you’ll get a panel that limits the amount of money available to extend your life. You see the difference, don’t you? You don’t? Then let me try to explain it again: shut up.

Second of all, the author of this article surely must know that the concerns about indoctrination did not flow from what was, ultimately, a “benign speech” — but rather from proposed lesson plans that required students to write letters about how they could “help the president.” Guess what? I don’t want to help the president as he destroys my country; I want to help my country — and I don’t want my kids told anything different.

Not once does this L.A. Times “analysis” mention the lesson plans.

Now let’s get back to these “mid-level aides.” That’s a reference to Van Jones, as the piece makes clear:

On Sunday, environmental advisor Van Jones resigned. He had been targeted by conservative talk show hosts, including Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, as a “radical” associate of Obama’s. Jones came under sharp criticism for coarse comments he had made about Republicans and for signing a petition questioning whether the U.S. government had a hand in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Ah, I see. He was “targeted” by the damn conservatives — and the word “radical” is put in quotation marks. The paper seems to be unclear on the fact that Jones actually declared that the government was behind 9/11, saying immediately after the attacks: “The bombs the government drops in Iraq are the bombs that blew up in New York City.” I guess the left no longer considers this a radical view, hence the scare quotes around the word.

As a collection of current liberal canards, today’s front-page piece is instructive. As “news analysis” it is considerably less successful, to say the least.

Lucky Nines

Filed under: Current Events — DRJ @ 6:09 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

It’s September 9, 2009, or 09/09/09.

This won’t happen again until 10/10/2010 and the single-digit repeating date won’t happen again until 01/01/2101.

If you’re into numbers, especially nines, enjoy!


Another New York Times Reporter Freed in Afghanistan

Filed under: Media Bias,War — DRJ @ 12:18 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

A New York Times reporter held hostage by the Taliban has been freed by British commandos:

“Stephen Farrell, a New York Times reporter held captive by militants in northern Afghanistan, was freed in a military commando raid early Wednesday, but his Afghan interpreter was killed during the rescue effort.
In a brief telephone call about 7:30 p.m. New York time on Tuesday, Mr. Farrell told Susan Chira, the foreign editor of The Times: “I’m out! I’m free!”

Ms. Chira said Mr. Farrell told her that he had been “extracted” by a commando raid carried out by “a lot of soldiers” in a fierce firefight with his captors. Mr. Farrell said he had also called his wife.”

A British commando was also killed in the raid that freed Farrell. Farrell had traveled to Afghanistan to cover a recent NATO airstrike that reportedly killed up to 90 civilians.

This is the second time the New York Times and other media kept secret a reporter’s abduction to protect his safety:

“Until now, the kidnapping had been kept quiet by The Times and most other news media organizations out of concern for the men’s safety.

“We feared that media attention would raise the temperature and increase the risk to the captives,” said Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times. “We’re overjoyed that Steve is free, but deeply saddened that his freedom came at such a cost. We are doing all we can to learn the details of what happened. Our hearts go out to [interpreter] Sultan’s family.”

The rescue of Mr. Farrell came about 11 weeks after David Rohde, another reporter for The Times, escaped and made his way to freedom after more than seven months of captivity in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In that case as well, The Times and other news organizations kept Mr. Rohde’s kidnapping silent out of fear for his safety.”

I wondered before about a media double-standard in comparing the months of secrecy the media afforded the Rohde abduction with the immediate coverage about the capture of Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier whose story the BBC and other media published within days.

Is there a double-standard that leads the media to protect their own reporters when they are taken hostage, but not others? I’m not the only one asking that question:

“A New York Times reporter falls into the hands of the Taliban and not a word appears in major news outlets until after his escape seven months later.

An American soldier in Afghanistan falls into the hands of the Taliban, and although the military seeks media restraint while it launches a search, his plight earns barely three days of silence.

A double standard?

Maybe yes, maybe no.”

‘Maybe no’ because the military press office apparently mistakenly confirmed Bergdahl’s capture to the local media. ‘Maybe yes’ because the BBC relied on local reports that the media had ignored in Rohde’s case:

“Interviews and research using the LexisNexis news database and other sources show that the BBC’s Worldwide Monitor picked up and relayed a report that day by a small news service, the Afghan Islamic Press, which said a Taliban commander had told it his forces had captured an American soldier and three Afghans.

The Afghan Islamic Press added that the U.S. military in Afghanistan had confirmed that one of its soldiers was missing.

This was the sort of report major media had ignored during Rohde’s captivity. But not this time.

Less than an hour after the time stamped on the BBC’s imprimatur of the Afghan report, Bergdahl’s plight was international news, quickly picked up and reported on by what would become numerous other news outlets, including Stars and Stripes, and even draw public notice from President Barack Obama himself.

Whitman said the military official who had provided the confirmation that opened the dam had mishandled it.”

I’m happy for this reporter and his family. I wish the same for Pfc. Bergdahl and his family, too.


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