more newspeak

Dan Rather, that icon of journalistic integritude, offered up a vision for a free and independent press:

Appearing at the Greenwald Pavilion as part of the Aspen Institute’s McCloskey Speaker Series, Rather said “traditional journalism is under siege” and called for media reform to become an “immediate national priority.”

“A democracy and free people cannot thrive without a fiercely independent press,” he said.

Rather suggested that President Obama establish a commission on public media and independent reporting.

“I’m throwing it out there for what it’s worth,” he said. — The Aspen Times

Yes, that’s right. A fiercely independent press that requires a Presidential Commission.

Fierce independence.

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Bjorn Lomborg

Bjørn Lomborg has a great commentary up at Project Syndicate (great name) on the Waxman-Markey bill.  I’ve been a fan of Lomborg‘s for some time (and had the pleasure to see him speak some time back), but it’s his last sentence that really resonates, “Wanting to shut down the discussion is simply treason against reason.”

You can get his books here. They’re worth reading. Lomborg is a left-liberal Danish scientist who set out to debunk the claims made by Julian Simon. When he found he couldn’t, he had the courage to admit as much and then took the time to re-examine environmental issues from a rational perspective. The result was The Skeptical Environmentalist, a book that incited enormous outrage. Lomborg was villified and even formally accused of scientific dishonesty. (Cleared of all charges.)

Lomborg’s arguments (heresy!) are relatively simple. In essenece, he’s argued that since we have limited funds and limited means, we should focus our energies where they could do the most good. Not surprisingly, his recommendations (clean drinking water) aren’t sexy or politically fashionable (apostate!). But if you’re interested in a scientific approach to environmental problems, check him out. (For the record, Lomborg is a staunch believer in anthropocentric climate change.)

For more, visit lomborg.com.

From the commentary,

Gore and Hansen want a moratorium on coal-fired power plants, but neglect the fact that the hundreds of new power plants that will be opened in China and India in the coming years could lift a billion people out of poverty. Negating this outcome through a moratorium is clearly no unmitigated good.

Likewise, reasonable people can differ on their interpretation of the Waxman-Markey bill. Even if we set aside its masses of pork-barrel spending, and analyses that show it may allow more emissions in the US for the first decades, there are more fundamental problems with this legislation.

At a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars annually, it will have virtually no impact on climate change. If all of the bill’s many provisions were entirely fulfilled, economic models show that it would reduce the temperature by the end of the century by 0.11°C (0.2°F) – reducing warming by less than 4%.

Even if every Kyoto-obligated country passed its own, duplicate Waxman-Markey bills – which is implausible and would incur significantly higher costs – the global reduction would amount to just 0.22°C (0.35°F) by the end of this century. The reduction in global temperature would not be measurable in a hundred years, yet the cost would be significant and payable now.

Is it really treason against the planet to express some skepticism about whether this is the right way forward? Is it treason to question throwing huge sums of money at a policy that will do virtually no good in a hundred years? Is it unreasonable to point out that the inevitable creation of trade barriers that will ensue from Waxman-Markey could eventually cost the world ten times more than the damage climate change could ever have wrought?

Today’s focus on ineffective and costly climate policies shows poor judgment. But I would never want to shut down discussion about these issues – whether it is with Gore, Hansen, or Krugman. Everybody involved in this discussion should spend more time building and acknowledging good arguments, and less time telling others what they cannot say. Wanting to shut down the discussion is simply treason against reason.

rules

Ezra Klein has an unusually banal piece in the WaPo in which he presumes to demand that anyone who opposes the current healthc are reform bill, oppose it ways that he approves of. Specifically, he asks that if you use the CBO’s critical assessment you, “must do some combination of the following:”

a) Support, as the CBO says you should, the eradication of the tax exclusion that protects employer-based health-care insurance;

b) Support, as Lewin and Commonwealth say you should, a public insurance option that can bargain at Medicare’s rates;

c) Support, as the Office of Management and Budget and every health-care wonk in town says you should, one of the various policies floating around to give MedPAC authority to continually reform and modernize Medicare;

d) Support some form of aggressive cost-sharing that would make people extremely angry because it will save money by reducing their access to health-care services;

e) Support comparative effectiveness review that can judge not only the effectiveness but also the cost-effectiveness of various treatments, and give the federal government authority to use that data when deciding reimbursement rates.

Well, as it happens, I support a… except that I’d prefer to see the tax break extended to private individuals rather than eradicated. We should make all health care expenses, out-of-pocket expenses as well as insurance premiums, tax-deductible below the line.

Option b is a vile, nasty solution that will drive up costs, reduce the quality of care, and force private insurance out of business. Option c is…. oh, whatever. This is emblematic of how crippled the current health care debate is.  Whenever anyone uses the line, “every wonk in town says you should,” without any justification, it means that he’s  either a complete idiot, an insufferable gasbag, or in this case, both.

Option e, is of course, the idea that the federal government could decide that some treatments regardless of their efficacy, aren’t worth supporting and will not be covered. It’s essentially giving the government the power to decide that your life isn’t worth quite as much as you might think it is.

Option d also stinks, but is of course, the essence of the current bills (and of option b). Aggressive cost-sharing is all that the government can do, “a public insurance option that can bargain at Medicare’s rates” is the very definition of aggressive cost-sharing. Klein claims he doesn’t support d, but he does support both b and e, which is exactly the same as supporting option d.

What Klein is saying is that if you oppose the current bill, you’re just opposed to increasing taxes and reducing the quality of care.

No time to think

The administration is pushing both houses of Congress hard to pass health care bills before the August recess.  Reports are that the administration wants this badly enough to push it through on a purely partisan basis. Whether enough Democrats would be willing to entirely own the consequences of such woeful legislation remains to be seen. They certainly wouldn’t have gotten the stimulus packages through without significant Republican cover, and the Republicans may have learned their lesson (sometimes, even idiot dogs can learn new tricks).

But why the rush? Why is it SO darned urgent to push 1,000 pages of legislation through Congress RIGHT NOW? Well, the rush is on because the administration sees its approval ratings slipping (no surprise) and they don’t imagine that they’ll be able to strong arm as many Blue Dog Democrats in the fall as they might be able to right now. Plus, if they waited, well then someone might actually read the legislation. (Well, probably not any of the legislators… let’s not get silly.)

Instead of saving the federal government from fiscal catastrophe, the health reform measures being drafted by congressional Democrats would increase rather than reduce public spending on health care, potentially worsening an already bleak budget outlook, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said this morning.

Under questioning by members of the Senate Budget Committee, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf said bills crafted by House leaders and the Senate health committee do not propose “the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount.”

“On the contrary,” Elmendorf said, “the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health-care costs.” — Washington Post

Well… duh.

So let’s see here, we’ve got increased health-care costs, higher taxes, and we’re going to limit access to care, reduce Medicare coverage for the elderly and, oh yeah, make private individual health insurance illegal. Sounds like business as usual.

The end of insurance

Remember?

So let me begin by saying this: I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage – they like their plan and they value their relationship with their doctor. And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what. . . .

From IBD, (emphasis added)

It didn’t take long to run into an “uh-oh” moment when reading the House’s “health care for all Americans” bill. Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.

When we first saw the paragraph Tuesday, just after the 1,018-page document was released, we thought we surely must be misreading it. So we sought help from the House Ways and Means Committee.

It turns out we were right: The provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage. Under the Orwellian header of “Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage,” the “Limitation On New Enrollment” section of the bill clearly states:

“Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day” of the year the legislation becomes law.

So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised — with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won’t be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.

The public option won’t be an option for many, but rather a mandate for buying government care. A free people should be outraged at this advance of soft tyranny.

Washington does not have the constitutional or moral authority to outlaw private markets in which parties voluntarily participate. It shouldn’t be killing business opportunities, or limiting choices, or legislating major changes in Americans’ lives.

It took just 16 pages of reading to find this naked attempt by the political powers to increase their reach. It’s scary to think how many more breaches of liberty we’ll come across in the final 1,002.

Making private insurance illegal is the surest way to ensure that the quality of medical care will decline and that medical costs will rise.

What I meant was…

This bears repeating. From Powerline blog:

This what Judge Sonia Sotomayor said in defense of her infamous “wise latina” comments, (emphasis added)

I want to state up front, unequivocally and without doubt, I do not believe that any ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judging. I do believe that every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge regardless of their background or life experiences.

What — the words that I use, I used agreeing with the sentiment that Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was attempting to convey. I understood that sentiment to be what I just spoke about, which is that both men and women were equally capable of being wise and fair judges.

Here are her initial remarks, (emphasis added)

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

Now, I’m not going to get all up in arms about Sotomayor. I don’t really expect Obama to nominate anyone that I approve of and she’d be replacing Souter, so I wouldn’t expect the balance of the court to shift appreciably should she ultimately be confirmed.

However, as noted at Powerline blog, this is a rather breathtaking example of dishonesty. Is it isolated? Possibly. But it’s difficult to parse this as anything other than brazen pandering.