Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gore Vidal Unhinged

From The Times:
Today religious mania has infected the political bloodstream and America has become corrosively isolationist, he says. “Ask an American what they know about Sweden and they’d say ‘They live well but they’re all alcoholics.’ In fact a Scandinavian system could have benefited us many times over.” Instead, America has “no intellectual class” and is “rotting away at a funereal pace. We’ll have a military dictatorship fairly soon, on the basis that nobody else can hold everything together. Obama would have been better off focusing on educating the American people. His problem is being over-educated. He doesn’t realise how dim-witted and ignorant his audience is. Benjamin Franklin said that the system would fail because of the corruption of the people and that happened under Bush.”
So is he just a crotchety old author, venting the sort of crackpot opinions that old curmudgeons are expected to have?

No, this is an extreme outcropping of the general contempt with which the intellectual class (including people who don’t have much intellectual distinction — say, your average academic or average journalist) view this nation.

Few of them would say this so bluntly, but then even in the heyday of racism in America, few Americans would actually lynch a black person. But when that happened, it was an outcropping of widely held racist attitudes.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gaming the College Rankings (It’s Not Just Marquette)

Three years ago we reported how Marquette had begun to manipulate the ACT and SAT scores of the entering freshman class, in order to improve our ranking with U.S. News & World Report.

We, for course, had no illusions that Marquette was the only university doing this. According to an essay on Minding the Campus.
The most obvious examples of gaming are efforts to increase colleges’ standing on the U.S. News rankings lists. Years ago the University of Miami created a scandal by omitting the scores of athletes and special admits when calculating average SAT scores of entering freshmen. The president of a major liberal arts college in New England told her admissions director to make SAT scores the major criterion for admissions decisions until the school made it into the top 25 schools in its category. Once that happened, she had the chutzpah to announce that they would no longer require SAT scores from applicants because they don’t really mean much.

Earlier this summer Catherine Watt, a former administrator at Clemson, gave a well-publicized presentation in which she explained how her institution approached the “reputation” part of the US News survey, which asks officials to assess the academic quality of peer undergraduate programs. This is a silly question in the first place - college administrators are the last people you would ever go to in order to get accurate information about a competing institution - but it accounts for a quarter of the rankings formula. Watt showed how Clemson simply sought an edge by rating competing schools as below average. Other gambits have included sending dollar bills to alumni with a request that they send them back to the Annual Fund so as to raise the proportion of alumni donors and inflating the number of fulltime faculty members.
And more:
Clemson has drawn heavy publicity for cutting corners on data supplied to U.S. News. But other colleges and universities are involved as well. Baylor recently asked students already accepted to the university to take the SAT again, hoping for higher scores, and gave the students $300 bookstore credits for complying. Albion College reported a $30 alumni donation as $6 a year for five years so the percentage of annual gifts from graduates would rise for several years. The University of Southern California reported that 34 of its professors were members of a prestigious engineering association, though an investigation showed that the number included people who had moved to industry or retired, while only 17 were currently on staff and teaching. In the mid-1990s Boston University raised its SAT scores by excluding the verbal scores of foreign students, while including their math scores, a practice believed to be fairly common. At about the same time, the University of South Florida raised the group SAT scores of its students by lopping off the bottom 6 percent of all scores and Monmouth University improved its statistics by simply adding 200 SAT points to its group score. More recently, in an exchange on the Inside Higher Ed Web site. a writer from an unnamed northeastern university said he knew for sure that a director of institutional research at his school had forced the resignation of the provost by telling the president that manipulated data had been sent to U.S.News. Middlebury College in Vermont has a director of institutional research and its provost was asked to resign in 2007.
In spite of all this, it’s still not the case that “everybody does it” (even if a lot of people do it) and it still leaves a bad odor.

Shouldn’t a Catholic university be teaching, by word and action, that “everybody does it” is not a sound form of moral reasoning?

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Dave Barry on Marquette (And Other) Censorship



This was a big issue three years ago. And it’s not forgotten: the fact that the Marquette Philosophy Department was not willing to let a graduate student express a rather mild — but offensive to the hyper-leftist types there — opinion on the door of his office.

Dave Barry, in this video, comments on the intolerance that is so common on college campuses. He looks back fondly at the 60s, when free speech prevailed.

Unfortunately, libertarians like Barry very much enjoyed free speech in that decade, but the campus left didn’t like it at all — although they had to tolerate a fair amount. Indeed, they felt free to shout down campus speakers of whom they disapproved.

When they grew up, got Ph.D. degrees and began running things, their authoritarian true selves came out.

H/T The National Conversation.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Obama Hero Worship: Indoctrination in the Schools



Hat Tip: Stepping Right Up!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Those Offensive Anti-Obama Signs

From the RealNews blog:
Ever since the Tea Party phenomenon exploded onto the political scene a few months back, the Left has been up in arms over the inflammatory and offensive rhetoric featured on some of the signs and placards displayed by those in attendance. Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and Rachel Maddow, among others, have fumed repeatedly about the bad taste exhibited by many of those expressing their displeasure with the President and his policies.

The Huffington Post ran a feature on this subject, titled “10 Most Offensive Tea Party Signs,” which singled out, among others, the following winners — or perhaps “losers” is a more apt term:
  • “Obama’s Plan: White Slavery”
  • “The American taxpayers are the Jews for Obama’s ovens”
  • “Our tax $ given to Hamas to Kill Christians, Jews, & Americans”
  • “Obama: What you talking about Willis? Spend my money?”
  • “Obama loves taxes, bankrupt USA, loves baby killing”
  • “Barack Hussein Obama: The new face of Hitler”
  • “Barack Obama supports abortion, sodomy, socialism, and the New World Order”
  • “Obama was not bowing [to the Saudi king]. He was sucking Saudi jewels.”
OK, that’s pretty rough stuff, and not at all civil. Of course, since there have been literally hundreds of thousands of protesters at tea party protests, carrying tens of thousands of signs, we have to expect a few to be pretty nasty.

But we have a collection of things said about the President that tops that.
  • One sign exhorted Americans to “kill” the President and “bomb his f—in White House.”
  • Another said, “I’m here to kill” the President.
  • Another urged the powers-that-be to “hang” the President.
  • Another said the President “is the disease, death is the cure.”
  • Another said the President is “the only dope worth shooting.”
  • Another showed a likeness of the President’s face with a bullet hole in the forehead, oozing red blood.
  • Another called explicitly for the “death” of the “pig” in the White House.
  • Another displayed a caricature of the President’s disembodied, bleeding head.
  • Others featured the President’s face accompanied by such captions as: “Wanted: dead or alive,” and “Death to the dictator.”
  • Another showed the President’s neck being fitted with a noose.
  • Still another showed the image of a noose accompanied by a caption urging us to “support” the President (i.e., with the noose).
      But how in the world did the Huffington Post miss the second set of really nasty signs, and single out the first set?

      Simple, the second set of signs are from protests directed against George Bush.

      Apparently, demanding the murder of George Bush isn’t any big deal to the people who are crying crocodile tears over the lack of civility shown toward Barack Obama by some of the tea party protesters.

      The signs on the second list, calling for the death of George Bush, can be seen here.

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      Saturday, September 19, 2009

      Unhinged Left Talks About Obama Assassination

      From the left-wing Media Matters:
      A President was killed the last time right-wing hatred ran wild like this

      That being John F. Kennedy, who was gunned down in Dallas, of course.

      I’ve been thinking a lot of Kennedy and Dallas as I’ve watched the increasingly violent rhetorical attacks on Obama be unfurled. As Americans yank their kids of class in order to save them from being exposed to the President of the United States who only wanted to urge them to excel in the classroom. And as unvarnished hate and name-calling passed for health care “debate” this summer.

      The radical right, aided by a GOP Noise Machine that positively dwarfs what existed in 1963, has turned demonizing Obama — making him into a vile object of disgust —into a crusade. It’s a demented national jihad, the likes of which this country has not seen in modern times.

      But I’ve been thinking about Dallas in 1963 because I’ve been recalling the history and how that city stood as an outpost for the radical right, which never tried to hide its contempt for the New England Democrat.

      Now, in this this month’s Vanity Fair, Sam Kashner offers up in rich detail the hatred that ran wild in Dallas in 1963. To me, the similarity between Dallas in 1963 and today’s unhinged Obama hate is downright chilling.
      Of course, this entirely overlooks the fact that Kennedy was killed by a left-winger: Lee Harvey Oswald.

      It also overlooks the way assassination chic prevailed during the Bush Administration.

      It’s an expression of how demented the left really is. When they see conservative dissenters, they see assassins.

      It’s one of the worst forms of bigotry: they can’t accept that anybody who is not evil can disagree with them.

      It’s only one small step to shutting up conservative dissent as “hate speech.” A lot of people on the left would happily do that.

      And it’s worth noting that a fair number of people on the left would probably welcome — in their hearts of hearts — the assassination of Obama by somebody on the political right. That would make him a martyr, and erase the memories of his now-floundering presidency. That’s what happened with JFK, except for one inconvenient fact: he was murdered by a leftist.

      But that’s a fact other leftists are fully capable of denying or overlooking.

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      Friday, September 18, 2009

      Anti-Obama Sentiment: It’s Not About Race

      From David Brooks of the New York Times:
      You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I go running several times a week. My favorite route, because it’s so flat, is from the Lincoln Memorial to the U.S. Capitol and back. I was there last Saturday and found myself plodding through tens of thousands of anti-government “tea party” protesters.

      They were carrying “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, “End the Fed” placards and signs condemning big government, Barack Obama, socialist health care and various elite institutions.

      Then, as I got to where the Smithsonian museums start, I came across another rally, the Black Family Reunion Celebration. Several thousand people had gathered to celebrate African-American culture. I noticed that the mostly white tea party protesters were mingling in with the mostly black family reunion celebrants. The tea party people were buying lunch from the family reunion food stands. They had joined the audience of a rap concert.

      Because sociology is more important than fitness, I stopped to watch the interaction. These two groups were from opposite ends of the political and cultural spectrum. They’d both been energized by eloquent speakers. Yet I couldn’t discern any tension between them. It was just different groups of people milling about like at any park or sports arena.
      Brooks goes on to frame the protest in terms of the classic American tradition of populism.
      The populist tendency has always used the same sort of rhetoric: for the ordinary people and against the fat cats and the educated class; for the small towns and against the financial centers.

      And it has always had the same morality, which the historian Michael Kazin has called producerism. The idea is that free labor is the essence of Americanism. Hard-working ordinary people, who create wealth in material ways, are the moral backbone of the country. In this free, capitalist nation, people should be held responsible for their own output. Money should not be redistributed to those who do not work, and it should not be sucked off by condescending, manipulative elites.

      Barack Obama leads a government of the highly educated. His movement includes urban politicians, academics, Hollywood donors and information-age professionals. In his first few months, he has fused federal power with Wall Street, the auto industry, the health care industries and the energy sector.
      Brooks is the sort of fellow who sides with the elite -- specifically the conservative wing of the elite. This is why he sometimes sounds like a RINO (Republican in name only). But he is onto something here.

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      Sunday, September 13, 2009

      Obama in the Bunker



      We’re not pushing any analogies here too hard. Obama is not Hitler. But then, there is a point to this satire.

      [Update]

      There is an entire genre of parodies based on this same scene from the German film “Downfall.” You might check out “Hitler Learns that Michael Jackson Has Died.”

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      Saturday, September 12, 2009

      Health Insurance as Though Economics Matters



      Two more examples of how market competition drives down prices are stand-alone imaging centers and dialysis centers. It’s clear that sane health-care reform would involve high coinsurance, deductables and out of pocket maximums, combined with medical savings accounts.

      But that doesn’t serve the political interests of certain people.

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      Cream City Bluegrass This Fall

      From our colleague Ryan Hanley:
      Hi Bluegrass Fans and Friends,

      It’s been a while since I’ve been in touch about things bluegrass – but I thought you might want to be spared a play-by-play of the Cream City Bluegrass Band’s every movement across the state this summer! But now that fall is here, we have a bunch of local gigs coming up, several of which are really nice family events. They include:

      Saturday, September 12: East Troy Bluegrass Festival (East Troy’s downtown square) – a great event in a lovely setting with some top national bands. We play at 1:00 PM.

      Friday, September 25: Revere’s Wells Street Tavern (505 Wells St, Delafield) – a casual restaurant/bar with excellent food. We play 9:00 PM- midnight.

      Saturday, September 26: South Shore Farmers Market (South Shore Park, MKE – Bay View) – a great local tradition. We play 10:00 AM – Noon.

      Saturday, October 10: Swan’s Pumpkin Farm (Franksville) – hayrides, corn maze, pumpkins, bluegrass! We play noon - 3:00 PM.

      Saturday, October 17: The Yard Arm (920 Erie St, Racine) – a fun restaurant/bar that we’ve played a couple of times and have really enjoyed. We play 7:30 -11:30 PM.

      If any of those fit your schedule, it would be great to see you! As an added bonus, at all gigs you can pick up a copy of our just-released new CD! It was a fun project, and we’re happy with how it came out. More info here:

      http://www.creamcitybluegrass.net/cd.htm.

      Hope you all are well, and hope to see you sometime soon!
      We have reviewed the band in the past, but we’ll just repeat the bare gist of what we had to say:

      If you like bluegrass, you’ll enjoy hearing this band perform.

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      Friday, September 11, 2009

      Obama’s Arrogant, Partisan Health Care Speech

      From Reason, a fairly long post, in which we found the following particularly cogent:
      As the reform supporter and professional skeptic Mickey Kaus noted before the speech, “Obama doesn’t need to get ‘Republicans on board.’ He doesn’t need to get Blue Dog Democrats on board. He needs to get voters on board.” And if there’s any tactic less effective at wooing skeptics than number-fudging insincerity, it’s number-fudging insincerity coupled with attacks on the veracity, motivation, and worldview of the skeptics themselves.

      Again last night, Obama invoked the boogeyman of “special interests” who “lie” in order “to keep things exactly the way they are,” despite the fact that the special interests in this case are lining up to support the president, and that the critics of his plan tend to bemoan, not defend, the status quo. Opponents of his plan, he said, were “ideological”; Ted Kennedy’s support for health care reform, meanwhile, “was born not of some rigid ideology, but of his own experience.” Obama said his door was “always open” to those bringing “a serious set of proposals,” and he slammed that door shut on any attempts to break the almost universally unloved link between employment and insurance. He yearned to “replace acrimony with civility,” then got Democrats stomping on their feet with attacks against the Iraq War and “tax breaks for the wealthy.” The center of the debate, as always, was wherever he chose to stand.

      And above all else, Obama chose to shadowbox against the more extreme claims of the Sarah Palins of the world, rather than engage the most serious of the skeptics’ arguments. No, the administration doesn’t “plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens,” but what about the possibility of government cost-cutters frowning upon expensive hip replacement surgeries for the chronically old? No, the proposal doesn’t amount to a complete “government takeover” of health care, but it does continue to expand the government’s role (and, promises aside, expenses) in ways that make a deficit-whiplashed nation nervous. No, “no one would be forced to choose” a public option, but what about the argument that incentives would eventually push Americans from private insurance to the public plan?
      Obama’s problem is simple: he has a hidden agenda. He wants a complete government takeover of health care. He wants health care rationed, as it is under systems of socialized medicine. He wants taxpayer money to pay for abortions. He wants illegal immigrants covered. He doesn’t mind if the deficit is drive up even higher.

      But the public wants none of those things. Thus Obama simply has to lie.

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      Anti-Abortion Activist Shot: Will the Mainstream Media Report It?

      Via Real Debate Wisconsin, a story in a Michigan paper:
      Anti-abortion activist shot in front of Owosso High School

      OWOSSO, Michigan -- State police at the Corunna post have confirmed a well-known anti-abortion activist was shot multiple times and killed this morning in front of Owosso High School.

      The victim’s identity has not yet been released but the shooting occurred around 7:30 a.m., after most students were off the buses and safely inside the building, said Owosso schools transportation supervisor Jayne Campbell.

      State police also confirmed that a suspect was taken into custody about 8:15 a.m. at the suspect’s home

      Owosso High School secretary Wendy Smith said the students remain in lockdown this morning and confirmed that no students were involved and all are safe with classes going on as normal. The shooting did not occur on school property, Smith said.

      Meanwhile, police have completely ringed with police tape a section of North Street in front of the school.

      A black car can be seen parked at the corner of North and Whitehaven streets, where a portable oxygen tank is lying in a front yard next to a large sign bearing the image of a baby and the word “Life.”
      Is it possible that this killing will turn out to have had nothing to do with abortion? Yes. Had the victim been pro-abortion would the media wait to find out, or rush to the assumption that an innocent “pro-choice” protestor was killed?

      We know the answer to that.

      We’ll be waiting to see this on national news. We are not holding our breath.

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      Remembering 9/11: Our Enemies Meant What They Said

      This classic column from Jeff Jacoby appeared on 9/13/2001.
      NOW THAT IT HAS HAPPENED TO US, the White House is not calling for “restraint.” The State Department is not concerned about “escalating the cycle of violence.” There are no editorials imploring the parties to conduct a “peace process” and “sit down at the negotiating table.”

      Now that it has happened to us, the TV anchors are calling them terrorists, not “militants” or “activists.” Washington is not being warned to avoid a “provocative” response, or cautioned against retaliation that is “excessive and disproportionate.”

      Now that it has happened to us, our eyes have finally opened. Now at last we understand that there is a war underway — and we are in it. For years we have acted as if the front line were elsewhere, and as if our job was to watch from the sidelines and make sure our friends didn’t defend themselves too aggressively. Now, after the worst massacre in US history, only the willfully blind can fail to see that the front line is here. The war between freedom and slavery, between hope and hopelessness, between the decent and the indecent, will be won or lost in America. For it is America that stands for everything our enemies hate.

      But let us be honest. Those enemies have not been shy about declaring their enmity. Time and again they have announced that they despise us; time and again they have called for our destruction.

      They have announced it from the mosques of Gaza, as broadcast live by the Palestinian Authority: “Wherever you are, kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them — and those who stand by them. They are all in one trench, against the Arabs and the Muslims.”

      They have proclaimed it a religious duty, as in the fatwa of Osama bin Laden, publicized worldwide in February 1998: “To kill the Americans and their allies, civilians, and military is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it.”

      They have made it a national crusade, as when Hashemi Rafsanjani, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, exhorted Islamic militants in 1994 to “hijack planes,” “blow up factories in Western countries,” and “declare open war on American interests throughout the world.”

      How often have we seen them burning American flags? How often have we been demonized as “the Great Satan?” How often have they attacked US citizens, US embassies, US assets? For at least a decade it has been apparent that the most intense hatred of the United States and its values could be found in the world of Islamist fundamentalism. But too many Americans — and too many of their leaders — preferred not to notice.

      “The suicide bombers of today are the noble successors of ... the Lebanese suicide bombers, who taught the U.S. Marines a tough lesson in [Beirut]” exulted Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Yasser Arafat’s newspaper, on Tuesday. “These suicide bombers are the salt of the earth, the engines of history.... They are the most honorable among us.” Over and over and over, our enemies have talked this way. Did we think they didn’t mean it?

      Upon releasing its annual report on global terrorism last year, the State Department observed that “the primary terrorist threats to the United States emanate from two regions, South Asia and the Middle East.” That is, from the regions where Islamist fanaticism is concentrated. But the US government, it would seem, couldn’t be bothered to listen to its own warning.

      Or to the warnings of the enemy. In some ways, the worst thing about this week’s slaughter is not that it occurred, not even that such obvious terrorist targets as the World Trade Center and the Pentagon — the Pentagon! — could be so easily attacked from the air. The worst thing is that we were so unprepared for it even after the attack on USS Cole last fall (17 murdered). Even after the bombing of the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (224 murdered). Even after the blowing up of the Khobar Towers barracks in 1996 (19 murdered). Even after the car bomb at the US military center in Riyadh (5 murdered). Even after the first World Trade Center bombing (6 murdered).
      It’s clear that under the Obama Administration, we have regressed to a pre-9/11 viewpoint. Part of the reason for this has been the success of Bush Administration anti-terrorism efforts, which have given the American people a sense of security.

      But a big part has been the fact that Obama is a liberal, and liberals have (at least since the late 60s) never wanted to confront America’s enemies. Sometimes this has been because liberals were simply on the other side (Vietnam) and sometimes because liberals, even if they couldn’t justify the acts of America’s enemies, believed at least that those actions were “understandable” and a response to evil things America has done.

      America, for liberals like Obama, is pretty much always at fault.

      Perhaps we will get away with the pre-9/11 attitudes, especially given that most of the anti-terrorism infrastructure remains in place. But then, maybe we won’t.

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      Thursday, September 10, 2009

      What Was Wrong With the Obama Health Care Speech

      ObamaCare and Forced Unionization

      From the Wall Street Journal:
      In the heated debates on health-care reform, not enough attention is being paid to the huge financial windfalls ObamaCare will dole out to unions—or to the provisions in the various bills in Congress that will help bring about the forced unionization of the health-care industry.

      Tucked away in thousands of pages of complex new rules, regulations and mandates are special privileges and giveaways that could have devastating consequences for the health-care sector and the American economy at large.

      The Senate version opens the door to implement forced unionization schemes pursued by former Govs. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois in 2005 and Gray Davis of California in 1999. Both men repaid tremendous political debts to Andy Stern and his Service Employees International Union (SEIU) by reclassifying state-reimbursed in-home health-care (and child-care) contractors as state employees—and forcing them to pay union dues.

      Following this playbook, the Senate bill creates a “personal care attendants workforce advisory panel” that will likely impose union affiliation to qualify for a newly created “community living assistance services and support (class)” reimbursement plan.

      The current House version of ObamaCare (H.R. 3200) goes much further. Section 225(A) grants Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius tremendous discretionary authority to regulate health-care workers “under the public health insurance option.” Monopoly bargaining and compulsory union dues may quickly become a required standard resulting in potentially hundreds of thousands of doctors and nurses across the country being forced into unions.

      Ms. Sebelius will be taking her marching orders from the numerous union officials who are guaranteed seats on the various federal panels (such as the personal care panel mentioned above) charged with recommending health-care policies. Big Labor will play a central role in directing federal health-care policy affecting hundreds of thousands of doctors, surgeons and nurses.

      Consider Kaiser Permanente, the giant, managed-care organization that has since 1997 proudly touted its labor-management “partnership” in scores of workplaces. Union officials play an essentially co-equal role in running many Kaiser facilities. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney called the Kaiser plan “a framework for what every health care delivery system should do” at a July 24 health-care forum outside of Washington, D.C.

      The House bill has a $10 billion provision to bail out insolvent union health-care plans. It also creates a lucrative professional-development grant program for health-care workers that effectively blackballs nonunion medical facilities from participation. The training funds in this program must be administered jointly with a labor organization—a scenario not unlike the U.S. Department of Labor’s grants for construction apprenticeship programs, which have turned into a cash cow for construction industry union officials on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

      There’s more. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has suggested that the federal government could pay for health-care reform by taxing American workers’ existing health-care benefits—but he would exempt union-negotiated health-care plans. Under Mr. Baucus’s scheme, the government could impose costs of up to $20,000 per employee on nonunion businesses already struggling to afford health care plans.

      Mr. Baucus’s proposal would give union officials another tool to pressure employers into turning over their employees to Big Labor. Rather than provide the lavish benefits required by Obamacare, employers could allow a union to come in and negotiate less costly benefits than would otherwise be required. Such plans could be continuously exempted.

      Americans are unlikely to support granting unions more power than they already have in the health-care field. History shows union bosses could abuse their power to shut down medical facilities with sick-outs and strikes; force doctors, nurses and in-home care providers to abandon their patients; dictate terms and conditions of employment; and impose a failed, Detroit-style management model on the entire health-care field.

      ObamaCare is a Trojan Horse for more forced unionization.
      Liberal supporters of ObamaCare will doubtless say that nothing like this will necessarily follow from the president’s program. And yes, it doesn’t necessarily follow.

      But the same people will be scheming and conniving to make it happen.

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      Tuesday, September 01, 2009

      Yet More on Socialized Medicine in the U.K.

      From the Daily Mail:
      Patients in Health Service hospitals are far more likely to go hungry than criminals in jail, scientists warned yesterday.

      They say frail and elderly patients do not get the help they need with meals, and nobody checks whether they get enough to eat.

      Despite years of Government promises to tackle poor hospital nutrition, food still arrives cold, and patients often miss out because meal times clash with tests and operations.

      Meanwhile, prisoners are enjoying carbohydrate-rich, low-fat foods which in many cases are better than they would have been eating on the outside.

      The Daily Mail has been highlighting the scandal of old people not being fed properly in hospital as part of its Dignity for the Elderly campaign.

      Hospital meals are often taken away untouched, because they are either unappetising or are placed out of patients’ reach.

      The latest figures show 242 patients died of malnutrition in NHS hospitals in 2007 - the highest toll in a decade. More than 8,000 left hospital under-nourished - double the figure when Labour came to power.

      The NHS throws away 11million meals every year, and many nurses say they are too busy to help the frail eat.

      Earlier this year the Mail revealed that some hospitals spend less on meals than the average prison.

      Ten hospitals spent less on breakfast, lunch and an evening meal than the £2.12 a day allocated for food by the prison service. One spent just £1.

      Although most hospitals do spend more than £2.12, prisoners end up better nourished than patients, say experts from Bournemouth University. After studying the food offered to inmates and across the NHS, they found patients face more barriers in getting good nutrition.

      Professor John Edwards said around 40 per cent of patients were already malnourished when they were admitted to hospital, but their condition did not tend to improve while they were there.

      “If you are in prison then the diet you get is extremely good in terms of nutritional content,” he said.

      “The food that is provided is actually better than most civilians have.

      “There’s a focus on carbohydrates, then there’s the way they prepare the food, it’s very healthy. They don’t add salt and there’s relatively little frying of food - if you have a burger then it goes in the oven. Hospital patients don’t consume enough.

      “And from the work we’ve done we know that people who sit round a table eat a lot more, but this doesn’t happen in hospitals.”

      His colleague, Dr Heather Hartwell, said fruit and vegetables were given out in hospitals “but this doesn’t mean it’s eaten.”

      While patients suffer due to a loss of appetite as a result of their illness, they often go hungry because there is no one to help them eat.

      Dr Hartwell said once food was prepared, it generally hangs around waiting for porters to transport it to patients. Then it may be left on wards until it goes cold.

      “Ward staff also don’t actually know how much patients are eating because it is domestics who clear the trays away,” she said. “This is an example of fragmentation in hospitals that does not necessarily happen in prisons.”

      The research found temperature and texture are among the most important factors in patients’ satisfaction with food.

      It concluded lack of appetite due to a medical problem is probably the main reason for under-nutrition, but said hospitals can make improvements.

      Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “It’s incredible that so many hospitals are failing to serve healthy meals. If prisons can serve good food then so can hospitals.”
      Then we have this, from The Telegraph.
      Patients with terminal illnesses are being made to die prematurely under an NHS scheme to help end their lives, leading doctors warn today.

      In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.

      Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

      But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn.

      As a result the scheme is causing a “national crisis” in patient care, the letter states. It has been signed palliative care experts including Professor Peter Millard, Emeritus Professor of Geriatrics, University of London, Dr Peter Hargreaves, a consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Luke’s cancer centre in Guildford, and four others.

      “Forecasting death is an inexact science,” they say. Patients are being diagnosed as being close to death “without regard to the fact that the diagnosis could be wrong.

      “As a result a national wave of discontent is building up, as family and friends witness the denial of fluids and food to patients.”

      The warning comes just a week after a report by the Patients Association estimated that up to one million patients had received poor or cruel care on the NHS.

      The scheme, called the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), was designed to reduce patient suffering in their final hours.

      Developed by Marie Curie, the cancer charity, in a Liverpool hospice it was initially developed for cancer patients but now includes other life threatening conditions.

      It was recommended as a model by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), the Government’s health scrutiny body, in 2004.

      It has been gradually adopted nationwide and more than 300 hospitals, 130 hospices and 560 care homes in England currently use the system.

      Under the guidelines the decision to diagnose that a patient is close to death is made by the entire medical team treating them, including a senior doctor.

      They look for signs that a patient is approaching their final hours, which can include if patients have lost consciousness or whether they are having difficulty swallowing medication.

      However, doctors warn that these signs can point to other medical problems.

      Patients can become semi-conscious and confused as a side effect of pain-killing drugs such as morphine if they are also dehydrated, for instance.

      When a decision has been made to place a patient on the pathway doctors are then recommended to consider removing medication or invasive procedures, such as intravenous drips, which are no longer of benefit.

      If a patient is judged to still be able to eat or drink food and water will still be offered to them, as this is considered nursing care rather than medical intervention.

      Dr Hargreaves said that this depended, however, on constant assessment of a patient’s condition.

      He added that some patients were being “wrongly” put on the pathway, which created a “self-fulfilling prophecy” that they would die.

      He said: “I have been practising palliative medicine for more than 20 years and I am getting more concerned about this “death pathway” that is coming in.

      “It is supposed to let people die with dignity but it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      “Patients who are allowed to become dehydrated and then become confused can be wrongly put on this pathway.”

      He added: “What they are trying to do is stop people being overtreated as they are dying.

      “It is a very laudable idea. But the concern is that it is tick box medicine that stops people thinking.”

      He said that he had personally taken patients off the pathway who went on to live for “significant” amounts of time and warned that many doctors were not checking the progress of patients enough to notice improvement in their condition.

      Prof Millard said that it was “worrying” that patients were being “terminally” sedated, using syringe drivers, which continually empty their contents into a patient over the course of 24 hours.

      In 2007-08 16.5 per cent of deaths in Britain came about after continuous deep sedation, according to researchers at the Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, twice as many as in Belgium and the Netherlands.

      “If they are sedated it is much harder to see that a patient is getting better,” Prof Millard said.

      The letter has also been signed by Dr Anthony Cole, the chairman of the Medical Ethics Alliance, Dr David Hill, an anaesthetist, Dowager Lady Salisbury, chairman of the Choose Life campaign and Dr Elizabeth Negus a lecturer in English at Barking University.
      Of course, supporters of ObamaCare insist that nothing like this can ever happen in the U.S. And all the while Obama promises to cut a half trillion dollars from Medicare.

      And all the while Obama and liberals work to vest in unelected bureaucrats the power to deny certain treatments to people deemed somehow unworthy.

      And they keep insisting that the U.S. spends “too much” on health care, and should be spending an amount more like that of Canada and the U.K.

      And of course, liberals reject policies that might actually make the system more efficient, like malpractice reform and allowing interstate competition among insurers.

      Are the ignorant of the foreseeable consequences of what they promote, or are they simply dishonest?

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