Transcripts of Obama's health care talks

Here is a transcript of each major Town Hall and talk that Obama has given during August.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Bozeman, Montana
Grand Junction, Colorado

Obama Smerconish interview. Transcript.

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UPDATED: Chris Matthews interviewing citizen who brought a gun to Obama's health care town hall in New Hampshire (person was outside the building)

Much of this was originally posted on August 11th, but new information has caused me to move this back to the top of my page (something that I have only done a couple of times in the past). In particular, that William Kostric, the man with a gun, was attacked by union members immediately before the event and behaved extremely responsibly. Kostric was on private property a few blocks and a few hours away from the president. More importantly, he always carries his gun with him, so it was not a provocative act.

This segment on Chris Matthews' show is hard to listen to this simply because Matthews sounds like he is yelling the whole time. Still at about 6:54 into the piece, the person that Matthews is interviewing mentions my book, More Guns, Less Crime. I think that Kostric did an excellent job keeping his cool with Matthews' attacking him. For someone who isn't used to being in the national media, I think that he explained himself quite clearly.

Union members kicked one person with William Kostric and spit on the person with Kostric. Kostric did not behave improperly. As noted in the clip, "initially, the thug didn't see William's sidearm. But once [the union member] did, he backed right up and moved on down the line to the next person."

Thanks to Angela Thornton Canny for sending me these two youtube links.

Katie Couric asked: "Are we really still debating health care when a man brings a handgun to a church where the President is speaking?"

Look at how the New York Times discusses this case:

Interestingly, we do not have any agreement at all on the question of whether it is a good plan to bring a gun to a gathering of angry and overwrought people. To be honest, I thought we might be able to nail this one down.

But no.

“The question is, why don’t people bear arms these days,” said William Kostric, when asked why he came to welcome President Obama to Portsmouth, N.H., on Tuesday with a protest sign and a loaded handgun strapped to his thigh. This turned out to be completely legal under New Hampshire law. . . .

See also this discussion on MSNBC.

USA Today also discussed the Kostric.

CBS asked: "Why Did Protestor Bring Gun to Obama Town Hall?" The focus on their piece was on right wing militias.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette thinks that Kostric bringing the gun may have occurred because of the likes of Beck, Hannity or Limbaugh.

Salon's take is here.

Allah Pundit at Hotair chimed in with this: "I doubt it would have sat well with our readers if lefties carrying Bushitler signs had shown up to Dubya’s events packing heat."

UPDATE: The person with the gun was apparently a couple of blocks away from where the president was.

UPDATE2: Liberal Talker Ed Schultz: Conservatives "Want Obama To Get Shot"

The video is here.

UPDATE3: This issue might continue for a while. In Phoenix on Monday, "Man carrying assault weapon attends Obama protest."

About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside the convention center where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday—the latest incidents in which protesters have openly displayed firearms near the president. . . .

UPDATE4: Federal legislation called for to ban guns near Obama events

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) called on the Homeland Security Department and the U.S. Secret Service on Wednesday to provide tighter restrictions on citizens carrying weapons, openly or concealed, while in the vicinity of President Barack Obama.

Norton, who sits on the Homeland Security Committee, made the request after numerous news reports have shown groups of people brandishing firearms while outside of events held by Obama over the past several weeks.

“It is clear that if the Secret Service can temporarily clear all aircraft from air space when the president is in the vicinity, the agency has the authority to clear guns on the ground that are even closer to the President,” Norton said.

But the Secret Service says that Obama was never in danger when a group of about a dozen protesters brandished their firearms outside the Phoenix convention center earlier this week where he was speaking. . . .

UPDATE5: E.J. Dionne Jr., "Leave The Guns At Home"

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Bizarre quotes by John Holdren, Obama's science czar

Fox News has the collection here.

1) "The fetus, given the opportunity to develop properly before birth, and given the essential early socializing experiences and sufficient nourishing food during the crucial early years after birth, will ultimately develop into a human being," Holdren wrote in "Human Ecology," a 1973 textbook he co-authored with environmental activists Paul and Anne Ehrlich.

2) Holdren heralded a "tightly reasoned essay" by law professor Christopher Stone, who said, "I am quite seriously proposing that we give legal rights to forests, oceans, rivers and other so-called 'natural objects' in the environment -- indeed, to the natural environment as a whole." Holdren, writing in 1977's "Ecoscience," which was also co-authored with Paul and Anne Ehrlich, said the change would have "a most salubrious effect on the quality of the environment."

3) Holdren wrote that "it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society."

In a future society, "It would even be possible to require pregnant single women to marry or have abortions, perhaps as an alternative to placement for adoption, depending on the society," Holdren and his co-authors wrote

There are six more of these gems at Fox News.

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These mpg metrics for electric cars are getting ridiculous

So how do these electric cars get huge miles per gallon without actually using gas? Cnet discusses the question. The bottom line is that they assume that no energy is used when the car is running on electricity.

The draft EPA methodology figures that a plug-in electric vehicle driver will go a certain number of miles on batteries alone and then another portion on the gasoline engine, explained Frank Weber, the global vehicle line executive for the Chevy Volt. To arrive at the mix between battery versus gasoline, the EPA is studying average American driving patterns, executives said.
The EPA is also developing another, less familiar metric for electric vehicles. In the Volt's case, it will take 25 kilowatt-hours to go 100 miles. Weber said the models behind the EPA methodology are "robust," adding that he expects the EPA to disclose more about the tests later this year.
To come up with 230 miles per gallon for city driving, GM assumes that Volt owners charge the car's batteries once a day, which enables them to do the majority of their driving from electricity drawn from the socket. The Volt, due late next year, is designed to run 40 miles on electric charge and then use a gasoline engine to sustain the battery for longer trips.
Triple digit combined fuel efficiency is certainly impressive--the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight hybrids both sport combined mileage of about 50 miles per gallon depending on driving style.
But immediately after GM's announcement, people began complaining that the claim is misleading.
For example, comparing the Volt to the Prius with that methodology is not useful, argued Darryl Siry, the former chief marketing officer at Tesla Motors and now a consultant with green-tech companies. By the EPA measure, it would appear that the Volt is many times more efficient than the Prius. But the 230 miles per gallon rating more accurately reflects how much gasoline has been consumed rather than the overall efficiency of the system, he said. "People will improperly conclude that the Volt is about five times more efficient that the Prius, which simply isn't true," Siry wrote.
A common way of doing comparisons is converting the embedded energy in gasoline to batteries, which a 2000 Department of Energy rule does in addition to considering the efficiency of the overall energy delivery system.
In the case of the Volt's city mileage, fuel economy will begin to drop off when drivers go beyond 40 miles before recharging. The Volt's electric driving range was chosen specifically because U.S. Department of Transportation research shows that almost 80 percent of Americans drive under 40 miles a day.
In the EPA model GM has followed, those first 40 miles equate to "infinite mileage," since it was charged from the grid and no gasoline was burned. But to consider electricity as infinite fuel efficiency can be misleading given that some energy--be it coal, natural gas, or nuclear--went into the delivery of electricity to charge the batteries. . . . .

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Advertisers pulling ads from Glenn Beck's show

Apparently, ConAgra (maker of Healthy Choice products), Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, RadioShack, Men's Wearhouse, State Farm, Sargento, Lawyers.com, Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance, SC Johnson and GEICO. have all pulled ads from his show because of a campaign by left wing groups. DailyKos and other are pounding advertisers with calls.

Take the racism issue:

The controversy started on July 22 when Obama, the first African-American president, inflamed the Gates controversy by saying the Cambridge, Mass., police "acted stupidly" in arresting Gates, a Harvard professor, while investigating a possible break-in at his home.
Two days later, Obama acknowledged: "I could have calibrated those words differently" and "unfortunately, I think, gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge police department" or specifically Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer.

The president then announced on July 28 that he Gates and Crowley had both agreed to meet with him at the White House for beer and reconciliation. That day, Glenn Beck was on the morning show "Fox and Friends" and asked about the president's remarks about Gates and Crowley.

Beck said: "This president has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." He added that "you can't sit in a pew with Jeremiah Wright for 20 years and not hear some of that stuff and have it wash over."

Specifically on the Gates arrest, Beck said, "What kind of president of the United States immediately jumps on the police? Just like what kind of president would say, 'Oh he's black, of course he's breaking into the house.' You'd never do that."

When the other hosts raised the point that the White House staff is largely white, Beck stood his ground, saying, "I'm not saying that he doesn't like white people. I'm saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist.'' . . .

Is Jeremiah Wright a racist? Does Obama see things through a race tinted lens?

Take the government medical care issue:

Did the National Socialists (the Nazis) push through national health care? Yes. Did they use it to decide who would get treatment and who didn't? Yes. Did they misuse the government's power over health care? Yes, did Beck say that he didn't think that the Obama administration was going to use it for eugenics? Yes. But anyone who had watched the show would know that it was the general question of whether we want the government to make these health decisions and that there is a risk of abuse.

It isn't clear what impact that this has had on Fox News' bottom line:

Fox News Channel has said that the advertisers have shifted their ads to different time slots so the campaign is not affecting revenue. Beck's 5 p.m. show is Fox News' third-highest rated, with over 2 million viewers, according to Nielsen. . . . .

Meanwhile, on August 14th, Paul Begala just called Palin "about half a whack job" and "flaky." I only have a CNN link on this so click through only if you want to reward Begala for this type of language.

"He is trying to treat her like a serious person. She is not. OK? She is about half a whack job."

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Defensive gun uses in by store clerks in South Florida

From the Miami New Times:

It was pouring rain just after 1 p.m. Monday, July 20, when a man burst into a Honduran grocery store on NW 36th Street in Miami. A shirt was wrapped around his face as he gripped a black semiautomatic handgun. Twenty-year-old Charles Bell shoved the pistol into the face of a manager behind the counter. Then he demanded the contents of the cash register and cartons of cigarettes in a plastic bag.

Next he began herding customers to the back of the small market.

But when he returned to the counter to collect his loot, a short, well-built 24-year-old manager named Valentin Fiallos pointed a .38 and squeezed the trigger. As Bell scampered from the store, he turned and shot back several times. Fiallos, shielding himself, squeezed off several more rounds.

The would-be robber missed every time, but the manager's aim was true. Bell burst out of the store and ran several steps before flopping onto the wet asphalt. A bullet to the chest killed him.

Cops termed it "justifiable homicide." The ruling is backed up by former Gov. Jeb Bush's 2005 "Stand Your Ground" law, which offers wide-ranging legal protection to violent-crime victims who open fire on their aggressors before trying to make peace.

All over South Florida, besieged employees are shooting back. A few blood-soaked examples:

• On August 12, 2007, a 54-year-old Pembroke Pines Super Stop clerk pulled a handgun on a shotgun-wielding pair of robbers, killing one.

• A month later, a clerk at OG's Corner Urban Wear in Oakland Park shot and whacked a 17-year-old robber.

• Two months after that, the manager of a Naranja grocery store killed a 14-year-old ski-masked robber strapped with what turned out to be a BB gun.

• In August last year, a Miami Gardens videogame store manager was murdered in a shootout after he nailed one of three armed robbers.

• And here's a departure from the model. At a Biscayne Boulevard Burger King this past March, a customer with a permitted Glock ended the life of an armed robber in a firefight. The vigilante sustained hits from several bullets and is currently wrapping up physical therapy.

Then there was last month's case of Fiallos killing Bell, which inspired a New Times road trip to find out more about clerks who shoot back. They never know who might walk in when that little bell on the door rings.

First stop was the Pembroke Pines Stop-N-Go, where in December 2008, gas station manager Shedahe Abdel pulled a .45 from a side holster and wounded two armed gunmen.

The burly 43-year-old Venezuelan immigrant keeps a clean shop and treats everybody, including shoplifters he catches on camera, with courtesy. But in the nine years he has managed Stop-N-Go stores, Abdel says, he has been targeted by armed robbers three times. The first two times, he cleaned out the cash register with no hesitation, but his wife and daughter were working in the store with him the second time. "I saw them lying on the floor crying," he recalls, "and I realized I had to buy the gun." . . .

This long story has more examples.

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Why not arm the crews?

With Congress starting to debate whether to put military on merchant ships, why can't we get a serious debate going about letting ships' crews defend themselves? From Fox News:

In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment that would require the Department of Defense to put armed teams on U.S.-flagged ships passing through high-risk waters, specifically around the Horn of Africa where Somali pirates have become a scourge of world shipping.

The amendment now goes to the Senate. A separate bill introduced last month would grant immunity from prosecution in American courts to any "owner, operator, time charterer, master, or mariner who uses force, or authorizes the use of force, to defend a vessel of the United States against an act of piracy."

Both measures face tough debate — U.S. military resources are spread thin and onboard weapons, especially in the hands of civilian crew, are seen as an extreme option.

"Work and watch-keeping take up most of a seafarer's day," Sam Dawson of the International Transport Workers' Federation, which represents hundreds of unions, told The Associated Press by e-mail. "The practice, handling and use of weapons would be a duty too far."

But there is a strong push for action following the April seizure of the MV Maersk Alabama.

That standoff, which transfixed the American public, ended with the killing of three pirates by Navy SEAL snipers and the release of the vessel's captain, Richard Phillips. . . .


NY Times gets it wrong: "False ‘Death Panel’ Rumor Has Some Familiar Roots"

The NY Times claims this:

The stubborn yet false rumor that President Obama’s health care proposals would create government-sponsored “death panels” to decide which patients were worthy of living seemed to arise from nowhere in recent weeks. . . .

The Washington Times points this out:

President Obama told a rally in Portsmouth, N.H., on Tuesday to ignore the "scare tactics" of opponents to government health care. He denied that his plan would ration care. "You will have not only the care you need, but also the care that right now is being denied to you -- only if we get health care reform," he said. The president's promise of unlimited care at a greatly reduced cost isn't feasible.

To confirm that rationing is inevitable, we only need to consider how the Democrats are proposing to "pay for" the new health care plan. In addition to new taxation, they are considering cutting the already below-cost reimbursement rates that Medicare and Medicaid make to hospitals and doctors. When doctors and hospitals get reimbursed for less than their costs, they lose money. That loss has to be made up somehow, such as through cuts in other areas. Hospitals that lose money may close or let go of personnel to make ends meet. Fewer hospitals, doctors and nurses mean less care.

At the June 24 ABC Health Care Town Hall, one participant asked Mr. Obama: "Outside the medical criteria for prolonging life for somebody who is elderly, is there any consideration that can be given for a certain spirit, a certain joy of living, a quality of life, or is it just a medical cutoff at a certain age?" The president's cold response was: "I don't think that we can make judgments based on people's 'spirit.' ... But what we can do is make sure that at least some of the waste that exists in the system that is not making anyone's mom better, that is loading up on additional tests or additional drugs, that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care. ... Maybe you're better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller." In April, Mr. Obama questioned whether the elderly should get hip replacements and warned that it isn't "sustainable." He explained: "The chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health-care bill out here."

Democrats are tossing around outlandish numbers to back up Mr. Obama's claims of exorbitant waste in the health care system. New York Rep. Charles B. Rangel, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, claimed on Aug. 4, "that there is over $2 trillion worth of waste out there in the health delivery system." That's about 80 percent of our current health care expenditures of $2.4 trillion. Such a huge sum could not be cut out without dramatically affecting the quality of care.

Lawrence H. Summers, the president's chief economic adviser, said that merely eliminating unnecessary surgeries could save "as much as $700 billion a year out of our health care system." That's about 30 percent of total health care spending. There's no way to eliminate that much spending without denying some people the care they think they need.

The health care bill in the House of Representatives proposes the creation of a Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research. This new federal bureaucracy would determine what care is supposedly most effective. . . .

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The UN gives us four months to solve global warming

The UN makes this amazing claim.

As we move toward Copenhagen in December, we must “Seal a Deal” on climate change that secures our common future. I'm glad that the Chairman of the forum and many other speakers have used my campaign slogan “Seal the Deal” in Copenhagen. I won't charge them loyalty. Please use this “Seal the Deal” as widely as possible, as much as you can. We must seal the deal in Copenhagen for the future of humanity.

We have just four months. Four months to secure the future of our planet. . . . .

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"Venezuela Closes 32 Privately Owned Radio Stations"

Note closing down radio and TV stations isn't censorship because they are still allowed to broadcast on the internet.

The head of Venezuela’s telecommunications agency (CONATEL), and minister of housing and infrastructure, Diosdado Cabello, has announced the immediate closure of 32 privately owned radio stations and 2 regional television stations, as their broadcast licenses had expired or they had violated regulations. Cabello said the recuperated licenses would be handed over to community media. . . . .

The minister denied the government is trying to limit freedom of expression, saying those affected can continue transmitting their programs through the internet as the measure only applies to the use of the state-owned airwaves.

Cabello said that powerful families in Venezuela, who had “swindled” the people, had acquired many of the radio stations illegally and constituted “media latifundios” (a reference to large, privately-owned estates), whereby 27 families controlled more than 32% of the radio and television waves. Many of those affected own ten to twenty or stations, the minister added. . . .

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NY Times gives distorted view of Arizona Congresswoman's event

Gail Collins in the NY Times describes an event in Arizona this way:

Also escorted away but not arrested: an armed man at a loud and rancorous town meeting hosted by Representative Steve Cohen of Memphis. Both the armpit guy and the Memphis guy had the required permit to carry a concealed weapon. Kostric did not even have to have a permit since his gun was not concealed, which in New Hampshire makes it completely O.K. This is under the theory that as long as you know that the strange-looking guy waving the big protest sign is packing heat, you can take steps to protect yourself, perhaps such as purchasing a bulletproof vest from a nearby street vendor.

One could go into a lot more detail, but here is the way the Democratic Arizona Congresswoman described the event:

"A lot of people carry firearms here. My job is to listen to my constituents and to create environments or create events where people can have civil discussion," Giffords said. "I'm concerned that with tempers flaring that you may have a problem that would escalate. But in our situation, we had a couple of local law-enforcement folks show up and they were fine. Some people yelled and some people screamed and some people had negative signs and that sort of thing, but at no point did I ever feel in danger and at no point did I ever feel there was a problem."

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Defensive gun use in Harlem

Amazingly the NY Times had an article on their blog about this. The man who used the gun defensively waited until after an employee was being attacked.

A 72-year-old Harlem business owner used a shotgun to blast four men who tried to rob his restaurant-supply business Thursday afternoon, killing two and sending two others to the hospital with gunshot wounds, the New York City police said.

The business, the Kaplan Brothers Blue Flame Corporation, at 523 West 125th Street, near Amsterdam Avenue, sells commercial gas and electric ranges, as well as parts and repairs.

The police said that the four would-be robbers entered the business and announced that they were robbing it. One of them took out a 9-mm pistol and started to pistol-whip a 33-year old employee inside the store. The owner then took out a shotgun and opened fire, striking the four men.

Public records identify the owner as Charles J. Augusto Jr., 72.

It was not immediately clear whether the owner had a license for the shotgun. . . .


Man sets up Facebook account in Sarah Palin's name and posts some kooky messages

From the WSJ blog.

Was it easy for a Los Angeles screenwriter to pass himself off on Facebook as Sarah Palin? You betcha, it was.

In mid-June of this year, Alex Grossman – a former film executive who has since written and directed commercials and short films that appear on sites like funnyordie.com — began to work on a screenplay.

“I was messing around with the theme of those who put ‘faith over fact’ in this country,” Grossman said. “I started thinking about Sarah Palin and her following: ‘What would it be like to be her? What are these people like? And do they really know her?’”
Under the guise of research, he decided to attempt to pass himself off as Palin on Facebook. He tried every variation on Palin’s name he could think of. To his surprise, he was able to claim the Facebook name “Governor Palin.”

“I thought, ‘What better way to see what makes her tick than to be her for a bit?’” he said.

Using a photo of Palin sitting in a car with her seatbelt on and writing a message that read, “Happy 4th of July and God Bless!?!”, Grossman posted his page. Almost instantly, he found himself with about 100 requests from people wanting to be his – uh, Governor Palin’s – friend. He accepted them all. Updating the page almost every day, Grossman said he most often posted earnest messages about Palin’s love of God and country. But on occasion, he wrote posts he intended to be overtly satirical, so as to “tip my hat to those that I thought knew better,” he explained. . . . .

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Hillary Clinton compares Nigerian election fraud to the US 2000 presidential election in Florida

You can view the youtube video of her statement here. Vote fraud in Nigeria is well-known and rampant.

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Economists who first proposed cap and trade don't think that it will work for carbon emissions

All this ignores whether there is a negative externality from carbon emissions. But assuming that is the case, these economists don't think that cap and trade is the way to go.

Mr. Crocker sees two modern-day problems in using a cap-and-trade system to address the global greenhouse-gas issue. The first is that carbon emissions are a global problem with myriad sources. Cap-and-trade, he says, is better suited for discrete, local pollution problems. "It is not clear to me how you would enforce a permit system internationally," he says. "There are no institutions right now that have that power."

Europe has embraced cap-and-trade rules. Emissions initially rose there because industries were given more permits than they needed, and regulators have since tightened the caps. Meanwhile China, India and other developing markets are reluctant to go along, fearing limits would curb their growth. If they don't participate, there is little assurance that global carbon emissions will slow much even if the U.S. goes forward with its own plan. And even if everyone signs up, Mr. Crocker says, it isn't clear the limits will be properly enforced across nations and industries.

The other problem, Mr. Crocker says, is that quantifying the economic damage of climate change -- from floods to failing crops -- is fraught with uncertainty. One estimate puts it at anywhere between 5% and 20% of global gross domestic product. Without knowing how costly climate change is, nobody knows how tight a grip to put on emissions.

In this case, he says Washington needs to come up with an approach that will be flexible and easy to adjust over a long stretch of time as more becomes known about damages from greenhouse-gas emissions. Mr. Crocker says cap-and-trade is better suited for problems where the damages are clear -- like acid rain in the 1990s -- and a hard limit is needed quickly.

"Once a cap is in place," he warns, "it is very difficult to adjust." For example, buyers of emissions permits would see their value reduced if the government decided in the future to loosen the caps. . . . .

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Incorrect statements by Obama about Health Care

USA Today and Ed Morrissey go through some of the false statements in President Obama's town hall meeting on Tuesday.

• "Under the reform we're proposing, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan."

Not necessarily. In an analysis of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bill, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that 10 million workers could lose employer-provided benefits and would have to find other insurance.

There are many parts of the legislation which will get rid of private insurance. For example, any discrimination based on pre-existing condition is banned. Other factors at work include: "No yearly or lifetime cost cpas on what insurance companies cover."

• "Insurance companies basically get $177 billion of taxpayer money to provide services that Medicare already provides."

About 10.2 million Medicare recipients are in Medicare Advantage. Under that program, the government pays insurers a set amount per Medicare beneficiary. Obama ridiculed it as costly and redundant, but the plan provides additional benefits, such as vision, dental and hearing, to seniors and helps coordinate health care for those with chronic conditions, says Robert Zirkelbach at the trade association, America's Health Insurance Plans.

The higher payments that Medicare Advantage gives to doctors allows those involved in this program to get access to doctors that they otherwise couldn't get.

• "The rumor that's been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for 'death panels' that will basically pull the plug on Grandma. ... (T)he intention. .. was to give people more information so that they could handle issues of end-of-life care when they're ready, on their own terms. ... (O)ne of the chief sponsors of this bill originally was a Republican ... (Sen.) Johnny Isakson from Georgia."

Isakson issued a press release saying Obama misused his name. A provision he attached to a Senate health care bill would allow seniors to obtain help in formulating a living will something Isakson said is different from House language. The House bill would require Medicare to pay for end-of-life counseling sessions, but it would not mandate that anyone use the benefit.

The fear that people have about rationing is justified. As noted elsewhere on this blog, on June 24 at the ABC Health Care Town Hall, one participant asked Mr. Obama: "Outside the medical criteria for prolonging life for somebody who is elderly, is there any consideration that can be given for a certain spirit, a certain joy of living, a quality of life, or is it just a medical cutoff at a certain age?” His response was "I don’t think that we can make judgments based on people’s ’spirit.’ . . . But what we can do is make sure that at least some of the waste that exists in the system that is not making anyone's mom better, that is loading up on additional tests or additional drugs, that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care. . . . Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”

Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel, chair of the powerful House Committee on Ways and Means, claimed on August 4: "that there is over $2 trillion worth of waste out there in the health delivery system." His statement is amazing given that health care expenditures are currently $2.4 trillion. Does he really believe that about 80 percent of current medical expenditures without effecting the quality of care? But if you think that he was simply mistaken, listen to Larry Summers, the president's chief economic advisor. According to him, just eliminating unnecessary surgeries could save "as much as $700 billion a year out of our health care system” -- about 30 percent of the total health care budget. Does anyone really believe that these cuts won't deny people the health care that they think that they "need"?

If you have further doubts, read through the Democratic health care bills in the house. One agency to be set up is the Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research, A Federal bureau supposed to determine what is the most effective care people should receive. At best, this panel will do what medical journals or medical schools at universities already do. But more likely, there will be political considerations to cut back on spending when judging what medical care is considered useful.

• "AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare, OK?"

The AARP issued a press release to make it clear that it has not endorsed any particular health care proposal. "Indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate," AARP said.

The AARP can deny this, but it is actually true for all practical purposes.

• In the wealthiest nation on Earth, 46 million of our fellow citizens have no coverage. They are just vulnerable. If something happens, they go bankrupt, or they don't get the care they need.

First, 70 percent of the uninsured are happy with their health care. Second, bankruptcy is not the end result for most uninsured. While 57 percent of the uninsured are very dissatisfied with the prices that they must pay for medical care, it isn't clear how cheap the care would have to be for them to be satisfied. These individuals could obtain free medical care if they wanted it.

• if we do nothing . . . . Our deficit will continue to grow because Medicare and Medicaid are on an unsustainable path. Medicare is slated to go into the red in about eight to 10 years. I don't know if people are aware of that. If I was a senior citizen, the thing I'd be worried about right now is Medicare starts running out of money because we haven't done anything to make sure that we're getting a good bang for our buck when it comes to health care.

Even the Democratically controlled CBO doesn't think that the proposals will reduce the costs of health care.

Just dumb economics

• And finally -- this is important -- we will require insurance companies to cover routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies -- (applause) -- because there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and prostate cancer on the front end.

Requiring an annual check up to be covered isn't insurance. You give the insurance company money and they have to give it back to you minus all the handling costs.

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Radio: The Paul Edwards Program

I will be on the Paul Edwards Program at 5:05 PM on WLQV in Detroit today.

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Obama on rationing care

Time after time during President Obama's town hall meeting with his handpicked audience in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, he told people to ignore the "scare tactics." That there would be no rationing of care. Indeed, with his government health care program: "You will have not only the care you need, but also the care that right now is being denied to you -- only if we get health care reform. That's what we're fighting for."

From June 24th:
Jane Sturm: “My mother is now over 105. But at 100, the doctors said to her, ‘I can’t do anything more unless you have a pacemaker.’ I said, ‘Go for it.’ She said, ‘Go for it.’ But the specialist said, ‘No, she’s too old.’ But when the other specialist saw her and saw her joy of life, he said, ‘I’m going for it.’ That was over five years ago. My question to you is: Outside the medical criteria for prolonging life for somebody who is elderly, is there any consideration that can be given for a certain spirit, a certain joy of living, a quality of life, or is it just a medical cutoff at a certain age?”

Obama: “We aren't going to solve every difficult problem in terms of end of life care. A lot of that is going have to be we as a culture and as a society starting to make better decisions within our own family and for ourselves. But what we can do is make sure that at least some of the waste that exists in the system that is not making anyone's mom better, that is loading up on additional tests or additional drugs, that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care. That at least we can let doctors know — and your mom know — that you know what, maybe this isn’t going to help. Maybe you’re better off, uhh, not having the surgery, but, uhh, taking the painkiller.”

I have also seen the following quote from Obama's ABC address.

"I don’t think that we can make judgments based on people’s ’spirit.’ Uh, that would be, uh, a pretty subjective decision to be making. I think we have to have rules that, uh, say that, uh, we are going to provide good quality care for all people. . . . End-of-life care is one of the most difficult sets of decisions that we’re going to have to make. But understand that those decisions are already being made in one way or another. If they’re not being made under Medicare and Medicaid, they’re being made by private insurers. At least we can let doctors know — and your mom know — that you know what, maybe this isn’t going to help. Maybe you’re better off, uhh, not having the surgery, but, uhh, taking the painkiller.”

Of course, there is also Obama's questioning of hip replacement surgery.

Obama said “you just get into some very difficult moral issues” when considering whether “to give my grandmother, or everybody else’s aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they’re terminally ill.

“That’s where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues,” he said in the April 14 interview. “The chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health- care bill out here.”

Obama promised during his presidential campaign that a health-care overhaul would be a top priority, and he said at a Missouri town hall meeting today that he hopes Congress will pass health-care legislation this year.

The issue has been divisive, and finding an answer that will keep costs down while extending coverage to the estimated 46 million Americans without health insurance has eluded past presidents. . . . .

Rangel (8/4/09): "That there is over $2 trillion worth of waste out there in the health delivery system. And the fact is that there is tens of billions of dollars in terms of profits that are made by the health insurance companies."

Or how about Larry Summers claim that $700 billion would be saved each year just from stopping unnecessary surgeries.

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An interesting interview on guns from National Radio in NZ

There was a car dealer who was giving away a AK-47 with the purchase of a new car in Missouri. You can listen to the interview here. The one thing that I would have made clear is that these AK-47s are not the machine guns used by militaries around the world. They are semi-automatic guns, just like a deer hunting rifle, but they look like a AK-47 on the outside. I also would have explained the crime rate discussion a little differently, but otherwise it was a good interview.

Kesten Green from NZ was nice enough to send me the file.

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A reasonable country: "New Zealanders Will Reject Anti-Smacking Bill"

Angus Reid has a discussion of the New Zealand survey here:

The vast majority of people in New Zealand will vote against a plan to criminalize the smacking of children by parents, according to a poll by Colmar Brunton released by One News. 83 per cent of respondents will cast a ballot against the proposal in a referendum.

On May 2007, then New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark of the Labour party announced the passing of a controversial bill by a wide majority in Parliament. The legislation proposed to criminalize the physical punishment of children by parents who rely on "inconsequential force."

John Key, then leader of the opposition National party and now the country’s prime minister, supported the bill.

Last year, a group of citizens garnered the necessary number of signatures to launch a referendum seeking to repeal the Anti-Smacking Bill. The postal ballot is scheduled to go ahead from Jul. 30 to Aug. 21, at a cost of $5.7 million U.S.

Citizen-driven initiatives are not binding in New Zealand. Prime minister Key has said the government will not necessarily change the law in accordance with the referendum’s outcome.

The referendum on this bill is currently under way. New Zealanders are receiving the ballots at home and can vote until Aug. 21. The question in the ballot reads: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in NZ?" . . .

The survey showed that 83 percent are planning on voting "no." Meanwhile, the National Party is well ahead in the polls in New Zealand.

Most people in New Zealand continue to support the governing conservatives, according to a poll by Colmar Brunton released by One News. 56 per cent of respondents would give their party vote to the ruling National party, down one point since April.

The opposition Labour party is behind with 31 per cent, followed by the Green party with seven per cent. Support is lower for the Maori Party, New Zealand First and ACT. . . . .

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Federal Government to Track who visits their websites

So where are the Democrats on this privacy issue? From the Washington Post:

The Obama administration is proposing to scale back a long-standing ban on tracking how people use government Internet sites with "cookies" and other technologies, raising alarms among privacy groups.

A two-week public comment period ended Monday on a proposal by the White House Office of Management and Budget to end a ban on federal Internet sites using such technologies and replace it with other privacy safeguards. The current prohibition, in place since 2000, can be waived if an agency head cites a "compelling need."

Supporters of a change say social networking and similar services, which often take advantage of the tracking technologies, have transformed how people communicate over the Internet, and Obama's aides say those services can make government more transparent and increase public involvement.

Some privacy groups say the proposal amounts to a "massive" and unexplained shift in government policy. In a statement Monday, American Civil Liberties Union spokesman Michael Macleod-Ball said the move could "allow the mass collection of personal information of every user of a federal government website." . . .

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Ruckus over Pelosi and Hoyer's "un-American" claim

Obama's promise that the health care negotiations would be seen on C-SPAN

Over and over again President Obama promised that the health care negotiations would be seen on C-SPAN.

We are going to do all these negotiations on C-SPAN.

Lists of where he has made this promise can be seen here and here.

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Michigan crowd gets angry with their congressman over health care

The Washington Times has this story.

ROMULUS, Mich. | There were no buses, no swastikas, not a piece of Astroturf in sight.

But there was name-calling, jeering, red faces and finger-pointing as Michigan residents shot back with fury at a congressional town-hall meeting geared to explaining President Obama's health care plan.

Rep. John D. Dingell, a Democrat and a lead author of health care legislation in the House, did his best to remain composed, even as many constituents and other residents argued that the plan is socialized medicine and rained down fury against a smaller group of supporters for the plan.

"You're a fraud, you have not read the bill," screamed Mike Sola, who got directly in the lawmaker's face in furious confrontation, wheeling his 36-year-old son, Scott, who has cerebral palsy, directly to the podium before police stepped in and encouraged the Milan, Mich., man to leave. He asserted that the bill would not help his disabled child. . . . .


Examples of government spending funded by Stimulus package



Appearances: Greg Garrison Show on WIBC in Indiana at 9:34 AM EDT and 1310 WIBA in Madison, WI at 9 AM EDT

Two radio shows on Tuesday morning: Greg Garrison Show on WIBC in Indiana at 9:34 AM EDT and 1310 WIBA in Madison, WI at 9 AM EDT.

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Obama claims that his program is nothing like the Canadian Health Care System

President Obama makes all sorts of assertions and provides no explanation. Here is the transcript of his statement on Canadian health care.

I've said that the Canadian model works for Canada; it would not work for the United States -- in part simply because we've evolved differently. We have a employer-based system and a private-based health care system that stands side by side with Medicare and Medicaid and our Veterans Administration health care system. And so we've got to develop a uniquely American approach to this problem. . . . .

But if people read the government health care proposal in the House, it pretty clearly would eliminate private health insurance. If you get rid of private insurance, what is left for the difference with Canada? For those in doubt read this.

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Appearing on WWL radio in New Orleans at 9:10 PM EDT

I will be on WWL radio in New Orleans at 9:10 PM EDT this evening to have a wide ranging discussion on economics. Hit the listen live button if you are interested. The show is the Tommy Tucker show.

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California ban on firms making profits on publicly available government information stops Apple App

And the harm from this App is what? People value this information and the company that put the App together was merely lowering the cost of people obtaining the information. From Appleinsider.com.

Offender Locator back in App Store

After it was removed last week for legal reasons, the iPhone application Offender Locator has returned to the App Store with appropriate modifications to make it acceptable. The new version of the software does not include California sex offender data, as it is illegal in the state for anyone to profit from the distribution of such publicly available information.

Originally released in June, the software from ThinAir Wireless has regularly existed among the top 10 paid App Store offerings. But because of the legal complications in California, it was banished last week. This weekend, the $0.99 application returned, and immediately reclaimed its place among the top 10.

The software allows users to see nearby registered offenders based on the phone's current location or by manually entering an address. The program then pulled up a map with pinpoints for each nearby offender. The locations were each selectable, giving users access to the person's picture, a physical description, and information on what crime they were convicted of.


"Fannie Mae seeks $10.7 billion in new US aid after posting $15.2 billion second-quarter loss"

The problems with Freddie and Fannie continue. It doesn't seem like they learned anything about using these government agencies to subsidize bad mortgages. From the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fannie Mae plans to tap $11 billion in new government aid after posting another massive quarterly loss as the taxpayer bill from the housing market bust keeps growing.

The mounting price tag for the rescue of Fannie and its goverment-sponsored sibling, Freddie Mac, is surpassed only by insurer American International Group Inc., which has received $182.5 billion in financial support from the government so far.

Fannie Mae's new request for $10.7 billion from the Treasury Department will bring the total for Fannie and Freddie to nearly $96 billion. Freddie is expected to report its quarterly results on Friday.

The government has pledged up to $400 billion in aid for the two companies, which play a vital role in the mortgage market by purchasing loans from banks and selling them to investors. They have been under government control since last September, when their near-collapse helped set off the financial crisis.

Together, Washington-based Fannie and McLean, Va.-based Freddie own or guarantee almost 31 million home loans worth about $5.4 trillion. That's about half of all U.S home mortgages. . . . .


Some recent editorials in the Washington Times

USA Today asks: How satisfied are you with the current health health care system?

You can vote in their online survey here. I wish that they had asked if people were happy with their own health care.


So much for the promise not tax middle income class people in any way

Does a broken health care promise count if it hits in a couple of years? Apparently the Dems may not be arguing that. The WSJ has this:

But the proposal being weighed by the Senate Finance Committee would tax health plans that cost much less, setting the bar perhaps as low as $25,000 a year for a family plan. That is about twice the cost of the average family plan and would affect only a tiny fraction of U.S. workers, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But if lawmakers don't allow the threshold to be adjusted annually to reflect annual price increases, the proposed tax would eventually hit a much larger number of people.

Health-care costs are likely to climb at several times the rate of inflation between now and 2013, when much of the proposed legislation would go into effect.

Employer benefits consulting firm Towers Perrin calculated that the tax would today affect about 6% of Fortune 1000 companies, based on an analysis of 560 employers whose annual health-care costs the firm tracks. By 2011, though, 18% of those employers would cross the $25,000 threshold, Towers Perrin estimated. "It's startling to see how rapidly that number would go up," said Michael Langan, a principal at Towers Perrin.

The proposed tax would apply to the amount of a health plan that exceeds a certain threshold, which would increase over time based on a cost index or other formula. If the threshold is set at $25,000, for example, and the annual premium of a family plan costs $26,000, $1,000 would be taxed. Though lawmakers haven't released any draft legislation, a tax rate in the range of 20% to 35% is being considered. . . . .

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Teenage Unemployment is very high

The WSJ has this:

Economists don't see much relief for unemployed teenagers in a recession that has trimmed hires and pulled many adults into the scramble for jobs typically held by teens.

Unemployment of people ages 16 to 19 was a seasonally adjusted 23.8% in July after hitting a quarter-century high of 24% in June, the government said last week. That compared with last year's summer peak of 20.5%.

Traditional teenage jobs now draw competition, for example, from "stay-at-home moms looking to boost the family income to retirees seeking to supplement their pensions," said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger Gray & Christmas Inc., an outplacement firm.

For white teenagers ages 16 and up, July's jobless rate of 22.2% was the highest since record-keeping began in 1954; among African-American teens, it was 35.7%, nearly four times the national average of 9.4%.

Layoffs and stock-market losses have increased parents' reliance on kids' part-time jobs to help pay for ever-rising college costs. A weak youth labor market is putting "a real crimp" in Americans' ability to afford a four-year degree, said Harvard University labor economist Lawrence Katz. . . . .



Congresswoman tries to explain why she shouldn't be covered by the new health care plan

The relevant discussion starts at about 3:54 into the clip.

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Democratic Georgia Congressman gets quite angry about constituent who wants to ask questions about health care

The doctor who asked the question is a constituent of this congressman.

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Why are Democrats Demonizing Insurance and Drug Industries when they are helping the Democrats out on Health Care?

Here is the help from the Drug industry. I had been told by people in the drug industry that they had hired a lot of Clinton people and that they were running a lot of the show.

The nation's drugmakers stand ready to spend $150 million to help President Barack Obama overhaul health care this fall, according to numerous officials, a staggering sum that could dwarf attempts to derail Obama's top domestic priority.

The White House and allies in Congress are well aware of the effort by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a somewhat surprising political alliance, given the drug industry's recent history of siding with Republicans and the Democrats' disdain for special interests.

The campaign, now in its early stages, includes television advertising under PhRMA's own name and commercials aired in conjunction with the liberal group, Families USA. . . . .

"Harry And Louise" Now Back Health Care Overhaul

Harry and Louise, the couple who appeared in the ad that helped sink President Clinton's heath care ambitions, are back with a new ad — supporting President Obama's industry overhaul. The actors joined several Democratic senators on Capitol Hill Thursday to mark the passage of a health bill from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. . . . .

So here is another story from NPR.

In search of a new edge to their health care efforts, President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have turned their guns on the insurance industry. They're counting on Americans' distrust of insurance companies to shore up wavering support for the President's health care agenda. The insurance industry says its impressive profits do not mean it is adding substantially to the cost of health care.

Or see this:

"It's almost immoral what they are doing," Pelosi said to reporters, referring to insurance companies. "Of course they've been immoral all along in how they have treated the people that they insure," she said, adding, "They are the villains. They have been part of the problem in a major way. They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening.

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Columnist for New York Times and their statistical expert describes Republicans as "hooligans."

Charles W. Blow of the New York Times describes Republicans as "hooligans." I hesitate to provide a link to this piece because I really don't want to reward this guy who writes the numbers column for the New York Times.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research poll released on Wednesday, nearly 8 in 10 Democrats said that they favor “Barack Obama’s plan to reform health care,” compared with just 19 percent of Republicans.

Yet, according to a Gallup poll released last week, only 47 percent of Democrats said that they had a good understanding of the issues involved in the current health care debate. Fifty-eight percent of the Republicans polled said that they understood.

Furthermore, a Pew Research Center poll released on Thursday found that Democrats were the least likely to say that they were following the debate over health care reform “very closely.” Only 42 percent of Democrats said that they were, compared with 45 percent of the independents and 56 percent of the Republicans polled.

And while Democrats are sitting it out, Republicans are storming in. . . . .

Democrats should be leading this discussion. Instead, they’re losing control of it. That’s unfortunate because the debate is too important to be hijacked by hooligans.

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Change in Each Sector's share of US Labor Force During Recession

Click on this picture to make it larger. The data is originally from this article in the WSJ.

UPDATE: Even in California, the state government has hired more people.

As California businesses and local governments shed droves of jobs this past year, the state of California’s payroll ballooned by thousands of new hires.

In the 12 months that ended in June, the state enlisted 3,600 additional workers — a 0.7 percent gain, according to the state Employment Development Department.

California’s private industry slashed about 760,000 jobs — a 6-percent loss — during the same period. Local governments shrunk by 1.5 percent.

“Obviously not every hire that the state makes is unreasonable, but as a trend it’s a total indication of the problem that we have that the state doesn’t live within its means,” said Scott Macdonald, spokesman for Californians Against Higher Taxes.

As San Bernardino County’s unemployment rate soars to 13.6 percent — with more than 17,000 searching for work in the High Desert — critics are deploring state growth that seems to defy a state cash-flow crisis amid a brutal recession. . . .

More on how government jobs have grown during the last year from the New York Times:

"While the private sector has shed 6.9 million jobs since the beginning of the recession, state and local governments have expanded their payrolls and added 110,000 jobs . . ."

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Mexican firearms treaty

Drug gangs are causing real trouble in Mexico. Drug gangs get guns in Britain, Jamaica and other countries with gun bans or extremely strict gun laws. Mexico already has strict gun control laws. Adding them to the US won't make any difference. The guns that they have are already not from the US, certainly not the worst weapons. From the Washington Times.

President Obama's call for the Senate to ratify a hemispheric small-firearms treaty dominated his last visit to Mexico, but in the four months since, both the treaty pledge and the drug violence that prompted it have dropped off the radar - a victim of Congress' full schedule and gun politics.

That means on Sunday Mr. Obama will go with an empty hand to Mexico, which blames the U.S. for many of the weapons used by drug cartels that have violently thwarted a crackdown by Mexican authorities.

And even though Mr. Obama and his administration have accepted that blame, prospects are dim for passage of the treaty, which calls on countries to license gun manufacturers and try to control illicit trafficking in firearms, ammunition and explosives. . . .

But the National Rifle Association now claims CIFTA could hurt hunters and says U.S. Second Amendment interests should not be controlled by an international treaty. Key senators such as Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat whose gun-rights credentials may be crucial to his winning re-election next year, was cool to Mr. Obama's call for ratification in April, and a spokesman said nothing has changed since. . . .

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