Patterico's Pontifications


Illinois Supreme Court Overturns Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages

Filed under: Health Care — DRJ @ 10:17 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

At A Brief History, Mike K. notices a New York Times report that the Illinois Supreme Court has thrown out caps on “pain and suffering” in medical malpractice cases. From the New York Times:

“In a 4-to-2 ruling, the Illinois court wrote that the legislature, in enacting the 2005 law, violated the state Constitution’s separation of powers clause by imposing decisions that should be reserved for judges and juries. The law established caps of $500,000 for non-economic damages in verdicts against doctors and $1 million in cases against hospitals.

The decision armed opponents of such provisions with fresh ammunition, and held a particular sting for the American Medical Association, which has its headquarters in Chicago.”

Mike K. also has some predictions regarding how this might impact medical practice in Illinois. It will also be interesting to see if it impacts health care reform in Washington.


Would You Operate on Your Pet?

Filed under: Crime,Health Care — DRJ @ 9:49 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Where is the dividing line between a pet owner’s rights and the government’s ability to stop animal cruelty? This Rhode Island case may be straddling the line:

“A Rhode Island man who says he couldn’t afford veterinary care for his dog has been charged with illegally operating on the pet.

Alan MacQuattie recently removed a cyst from the leg of his 14-year-old Labrador mix. The dog was operated on again by professionals to deal with an infection from the first surgery.

MacQuattie, 63, who says he is disabled and living on Social Security, said Friday he used local anesthetic to operate on the cyst and removed it on his own since he doesn’t have money for a veterinarian.”

MacQuattie said he was trying to help his pet, not hurt him, but veterinarian and State SPCA President E.J. Finocchio thinks he crossed the line:

“[Finocchio] said the procedure was medically unnecessary since the cyst was benign and did not appear to be hurting the dog, though MacQuattie said she was irritated by it.

“The dog was not suffering, the dog was not in pain,” Finocchio said. “We know that from the nature of the cyst and the condition of the dog that we looked at.”

Finocchio said the procedure would probably have cost less than $200, and that his organization could have helped foot the bill.”

I suspect people frequently engage in self-help when it comes to pets, and perhaps the dividing line is when it involves surgery or a similar procedure. But most people diagnose and treat their own health conditions and those of family members if the problem seems minor — including deeply embedded splinters, serious cuts that some might take in for stitches, and more. Thus, if it’s cruelty to do this to a dog, isn’t it just as bad for humans?


Washington Braces for Snow

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 4:11 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

An “historic” snowstorm is set to hit Washington, D.C., and the mid-Atlantic:

“Snowfall totals over northern of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and southern Pennsylvania and southwen New Jersey will tally well over a foot. Some places across northern Virginia, eastern Maryland and Delaware may be buried with between 2 and 3 feet of snow. The storm may reach the top 3 of all-time in the Washington, D.C., area and may rival the record of 28” from the “Knickerbocker” storm of 1922. Philadelphia may see up to 18″ of snow in the area. A 2-to-4-inch snow is possible for New York City on the storm’s northern fringe.”

Federal offices have already shut down and Washington could be at a standstill for days. Residents face long lines at grocery and home supply stores, while local wags are already calling it Snowmageddon.

The good news is that Congress can’t do anything for a few days.


Obama Concedes on Health Care Reform? (Updated)

Filed under: Health Care,Obama — DRJ @ 3:49 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The AP reports President Obama’s comments last night, coming on the same day Republican Senator Scott Brown was sworn in, may signal that health care reform is DOA:

“I think it’s very important for us to have a methodical, open process over the next several weeks, and then let’s go ahead and make a decision,” Obama said at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser.

“And it may be that … if Congress decides we’re not going to do it, even after all the facts are laid out, all the options are clear, then the American people can make a judgment as to whether this Congress has done the right thing for them or not,” the president said. “And that’s how democracy works. There will be elections coming up, and they’ll be able to make a determination and register their concerns.”

It was a shift in tone for the issue the “Yes we can” candidate campaigned on and made the centerpiece of his domestic agenda last year. In a speech to a joint session of Congress in September, Obama declared: “I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last. … Here and now we will meet history’s test.”

There were varied responses to Obama’s statements:

“Some party activists saw Obama’s remarks as a signal that he’s pulling back from that idea. Others said he may simply be making a last overture to Republicans before using the muscular partisan strategy in the Senate.”

Speaker Pelosi doesn’t seem to be giving up, instead calling on Democratic activists to exert renewed pressure on national politicians to pass reform:

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought momentum in a speech Friday to Democratic Party activists meeting in Washington. “Standing together and working together, we will pass health care reform for the American people,” said Pelosi, D-Calif.

“But recognize your role in this. We can do all the inside maneuvering and legislating and the rest, but without the outside mobilization, without your participation, nothing really great or good can happen.”

David Plouffe does not want to surrender on health care reform, and his recent return to White House tells me it’s folly for the AP to think Obama is conceding now.

The Democrats are still driving this bus. Which road will they take?


UPDATE— MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell says the Democrats have given up on health care reform and this is just posturing to please the liberal base:

“But since Election Night, he said, Democrats have moved into “full bluff mode.”

“We’re absolutely in full fake cheerleading mode. I think Nancy Pelosi has absolutely no moves left. I think she knows that now. I think Harry Reid knows that. And that’s why they don’t bring it up,” he said. “They had a Senate leadership press conference (Thursday) and it was as if (reporters) were asking about World War I” when they asked about reform.

O’Donnell attributes the theatrics to the need to deal with a liberal base that will go bonkers if Democrats quit on reform. And the cue cards are nothing new. He pointed to Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer’s statements during the fall that the Senate would pass the public option even though “he’s smart enough to know they were never going to get it.”

“No one who went on television was free to say anything realistic,” he said.
This time, Democratic leaders are publicly acknowledging that they can’t see the way forward.

“I’ve never heard leadership admit publicly to being so lost,” O’Donnell said. “In ’94, we never admitted we didn’t know how to proceed after we crashed and burned in the Senate. We kept up a much better mirage.”

Bond vs the White House on the Christmas Day Bomber

Filed under: Obama,Terrorism — DRJ @ 2:57 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Senator Kit Bond and the White House are in a tiff over the Administration’s handling of the Christmas Day bomber:

“The ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., dismissed the White House’s call for him to apologize for alleging that the administration leaked information about Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab for political reasons.

“After telling me to keep my mouth shut, the White House discloses sensitive information in an effort to defend a dangerous and unpopular decision to Mirandize Abdulmutallab and I’m supposed to apologize?” Sen. Bond said in a paper statement today.”

The back story is at the link. If Bond’s version is correct, then he should tell the folks at the White House the only thing he’s sorry about is that they talk too much.


Jobless Rate at 9.7% (Updated)

Filed under: Economics,Obama — DRJ @ 2:18 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Today’s news shows the unemployment rate declined to 9.7% and the New York Times thinks that’s the sign of a reawakening:

“The American unemployment rate dipped from 10 percent to 9.7 percent in January, the Labor Department reported Friday, buoying hopes that the worst job market in at least a quarter-century is finally improving.”

Here’s the footnote:

“The Labor Department revised past data to show that the economy comprised 1.36 million fewer jobs in December than previously thought. The revisions showed the economy lost 150,000 jobs in December — far more than the 85,000 initially reported.

The report also featured a new way in which the government estimates the population, which is used to calculate the unemployment rate. That prompted some economists to dismiss the drop in joblessness as a statistical quirk.

“The message is, you can’t believe what they tell you,” said Joshua Shapiro, chief United States economist at MFR Inc. in New York. “Everyone goes crazy over today’s number, but history has been rewritten. Things are not comparable from month to month.”

Reports also show more discouraged workers have left the job market.


UPDATE: Commenter RoyBeans links to a helpful post at Jesse’s Cafe Americain. The graphs are especially good … actually they’re especially bad, so maybe I should say they’re informative.

Serious Alternatives from the GOP

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 1:26 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Washington Post offers hope for the future of the Republican Party:

“Rep. Paul D. Ryan says he is determined to make sure the Republican Party is viewed as “the alternative party, not the opposition party.”

That is a goal President Obama embraced when he visited House Republicans at their policy retreat in Baltimore last week, and he singled out Ryan as someone he would like to work with — even mentioning budget legislation the Wisconsin Republican co-wrote.

Released two days before the unusual back-and-forth session between Obama and the GOP, the bill sponsored by Ryan and five other House members would seek to reduce the deficit and spur economic growth by cutting the tax rate on corporations, shifting future Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to private insurance plans, and both raising the retirement age gradually to 70 and reducing the growth of benefits to make Social Security solvent. Even Democrats have acknowledged that it is one of the few plans offered by a member of either party that would lower the long-term budget deficit.”

The Serious Alternative. It may not be as catchy as Hope and Change but it’s what America needs.


Dave Weigel Destroys Salon Hit Piece on O’Keefe’s Alleged Racism

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:21 am

When that Max Blumenthal Salon hit piece came out about James O’Keefe’s attendance at a debate, Dave Weigel was quick to pen a post that said he had been at the same event and “can confirm all the details about it.” This led some, such as D. Aristophanes at Sadly, No, to suggest that Weigel was backing up Blumenthal on the allegation that O’Keefe was manning a table of racist literature:

Breitbart is now tweeting that ‘Weigel DENIES’ that O’Keefe manned a table selling Neo-Nazi claptrap during a White-Man-Negro-Haters Club meet-and-greet held at Georgetown University in 2006.

Odd, because here’s what Weigel says about this:

I was at the 2006 event that leads Blumenthal’s story and can confirm all the details about it.

Weigel later wrote another post that made it clear that he was not backing up Blumenthal on the “manning the table” allegation — yet D. Aristophanes did not correct his post to note this fact.


It’s almost as if D. Aristophanes cites Dave Weigel only when Dave Weigel seems to support Blumenthal’s story — but ignores Weigel when Weigel says things that attack the Blumenthal fantasy.

Well, let’s make things even more uncomfortable for D. Aristophanes and his kind. Because Weigel just gave them a lot more that they need to ignore. Weigel today publishes a post titled Clarification — and Mea Culpa — on James O’Keefe and ‘Race and Conservatism’ and says:

[L]ater that day, as Breitbart started pushing back against the story, I wrote: “I’m curious to see what Breitbart goes after — I was at the 2006 event that leads Blumenthal’s story and can confirm all the details about it.” That was sloppy phrasing — I meant that I could confirm all the stuff I’d already written. I had no idea that One People’s Project had told Breitbart’s reporter that I could confirm the facts as presented by them. They should stand by their own story — and they really, really need to produce a full photo of O’Keefe at the event.

(Emphasis in original.)

Weigel is far from conservative — but he does appear to me to be an honest writer. Now, according to the logic of the left, the fact that Weigel was at the event means he is a racist and you can’t believe anything he says. Right? But assuming you don’t subscribe to that loony “logic,” you might pay some attention to what Weigel has to say:

While I’d been at the event, it was Isis, a photographer/investigator for the One People’s Project, who told me that her photo was actually a picture of O’Keefe at a table of controversial literature. But several e-mailers and commenters have pointed out that my first post appeared to endorse Blumenthal’s whole story. I want to quickly walk through that story and point out the parts that, based on my experience at the event and interviews with Isis and event organizer Marcus Epstein, were not true.

(My emphasis.)

Weigel then goes on to list five separate things in the Salon story that Weigel says “were not true,” including:

  • Salon’s description of the event as a “conference on ‘Race and Conservatism’” — Weigel says it “was a two-hour debate, not a conference.” That makes a big difference, as one’s attendance at a debate does not by itself indicate an allegiance with one side or another.
  • Salon’s claim that “The leading speaker was Jared Taylor” whom Salon labels a white supremacist — Weigel says that Taylor is controversial, but “was only one of three speakers.”
  • Salon’s claim that O’Keefe helped “plan” the event — Weigel notes that his other sources agree with O’Keefe that O’Keefe had no planning role. Weigel concludes that O’Keefe “absolutely wasn’t” a planner of the event.
  • Salon’s claim that black conservative Kevin Martin “was added at the last minute” to provide cover for conservatives — Weigel provides an e-mail proving that Martin was invited 29 days before the event.
  • Salon’s claim that “O’Keefe was manning the literature table” — Larry O’Connor tracked down Blumenthal’s source, who claimed that Weigel had witnessed O’Keefe manning the table. Weigel makes it clear that he didn’t: “I never told anyone that O’Keefe had ‘planned’ the event or ‘manned’ the table, because I could not confirm those things.”

Max Blumenthal’s story has completely fallen apart. It is time for Salon to issue a lengthy and detailed retraction.

Oh, and D. Aristophanes also owes O’Keefe a retraction.

I’ll be over in the corner, declining to hold my breath.

Palin vs. Rush

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:07 am

Two conservative icons. Two totally different positions.

Only one can emerge victorious.

First Rush:

“Our political[ly] correct society is acting like some giant insult’s taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards,” Limbaugh said on the show. “I mean these people, these liberal activists are kooks.

“They are loony tunes. And I’m not going to apologize for it, I’m just quoting Emanuel. It’s in the news,” he continued.

“I think their big news is he’s out there calling Obama’s number one supporters f’ing retards. So now there’s going to be a meeting. There’s going to be a retard summit at the White House. Much like the beer summit between Obama and Gates and that cop in Cambridge.”

Now Palin:

I asked Palin spokesperson Meghan Stapleton for comment on Rush’s rant, and she emailed me this:

“Governor Palin believes crude and demeaning name calling at the expense of others is disrespectful.”

It hardly has the passion of her response to Rahm, and there’s no call for him to step down. But given Rush’s stature among conservatives, it’s pretty interesting that she went this far, denouncing his on-air rant as “crude and demeaning name-calling.”

Your view?

Who do you support in this epic faceoff?
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