"Senator Arlen Specter promised the other day at a town hall meeting that “we’ll do everything we can to stop people from breaking into the files.”
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
In addition to concerns about the CIA's reputation and its legal exposure, other White House insiders say Panetta has been frustrated by what he perceives to be less of a role than he was promised in the administration's intelligence structure. Panetta has reportedly chafed at reporting through the director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, according to the senior adviser who said Blair is equally unhappy with Panetta.
"Leon will be leaving," predicted a former top U.S. intelligence official, citing the conflict with Blair. The former official said Panetta is also "uncomfortable" with some of the operations being carried out by the CIA that he did not know about until he took the job."
Indeed. With Holder appointing a prosecutor to investigate the CIA and the announcement of a new unit in charge of interrogations, who could blame Panetta? What's the point of putting your own guy in charge of the CIA if you're just going to go around him anyway? It'll be interesting to see how long Mr. Panetta sticks around and what stories will come out about the tensions between him and the White House along the way.
Here is a statement Panetta issued to the agency today (in response to the disclosure of an Inspector General report from 2004):
"I make no judgments on the accuracy of the 2004 IG report or the various views expressed about it. Nor am I eager to enter the debate, already politicized, over the ultimate utility of the Agency's past detention and interrogation effort. But this much is clear: The CIA obtained intelligence from high-value detainees when inside information on al-Qa'ida was in short supply. Whether this was the only way to obtain that information will remain a legitimate area of dispute, with Americans holding a range of views on the methods used. The CIA requested and received legal guidance and referred allegations of abuse to the Department of Justice. President Obama has established new policies for interrogation."
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Imagine calling on your insurance when you need a new coat of paint. You wouldn't get very far would you? Take this one step further, and imagine trying to purchase an insurance policy to cover an event that has already happened. Your house burns down. Can you call and get an insurance police to cover your home and your belongings after the fact? Certainly not. If that were how the system worked, who would pay into the system before the catastrophe occurred? And, where would the money come from to pay for claims? And, imagine those premium rates for any suckers who actually maintained insurance prior to making a claims? (Assuming, of course, that there's anyone would who do this which is highly unlikely.)
You might be thinking, but those are items or goods you're talking about insuring and that they're different than insuring people's health. But, the point is that while the item (or person) that is insured may vary, the nature of insurance is all the same. Despite what Congressman Weiner might think, insurance is a good, just like other goods, that are sold in a marketplace. It is a essentially a contract, whose terms consumers should be able to shop around for and negotiate just like with other types of insurance. And, your insurance should be priced according to the coverage that you choose. For example, if you want a policy with more limited protection, then you will pay less for your insurance. Makes sense. If, on the other hand, you want an insurance policy that covers everything - including riskier treatments or holistic medicine for example, then you should pay more.
Or at least that's how the insurance industry should work. The option to customize insurance like we customize or negotiate every other contract we enter into does not exist because of the government placing itself in between the provider and the consumer in what should be a completely private, contractual relationship. As Mr. Malanga points out:
"There are significant  ways that government mandates treat health insurance differently, at great cost to all of us. Consider this scenario: You don't have home insurance and a big storm comes through and knocks over a tree into your roof. You can't just phone up an insurer, buy coverage and then submit a claim, even if you face financial ruin by not having the coverage. But that's more or less what you can do in health insurance under so-called guaranteed issue rules, in which someone who hasn't purchased insurance and gets sick can't be turned down for coverage. Needless to say, states that have guaranteed issued, like New Jersey and New York, have the highest health insurance premiums in the country because healthy people know they can run the risk of not buying insurance until they get sick. Insanely, the health reform package now on the table in Washington would create a federal version of guaranteed issue.Justifying these regulations by saying the government is looking out for our own good is paternalistic and offensive. People enter into the marketplace and make decisions for themselves day in and day out without any help from the government. Health insurance should not be the exception. I understand that President Obama and many liberals find fault with insurance companies because they believe that operating based on a motive to make profits and fulfill your bottom line is evil. And so it follows that they believe that those evil companies must be reigned in and controlled in order to make the system more 'fair'.
In auto insurance, some states have given us our own private version of tort reform to keep premium prices low. In these states, a driver can opt out of the litigation lottery when he purchases auto insurance by promising not to sue for pain and suffering if he's hit and injured by another driver. By doing this a policy holder can save hundreds of dollars a year on premiums. And yet for some reason the same option, that is, allowing us to buy a health insurance policy where we agree not to sue a health provider for pain and suffering if a treatment goes wrong, is not available, even though I imagine the cost savings would be enormous."Government regulators also require us to buy so much more health insurance. In auto coverage, for instance, states will generally mandate that we have certain minimum coverage to compensate anyone we may crash into, but otherwise regulators will leave us alone to decide which options (towing, collision) we want to buy. By contrast, states will require buyers of individual and small group health policies to load up on mandatory coverage, including options that many people don't want to pay for, like fertility treatments. Politicians will often claim that they demand these coverages because they are looking out for our own good, but that's a difficult case to make persuasively when mandates help make insurance unaffordable for many people."
But, this comes at a cost to all of us. If you want to make something more available to a larger group of people and to bring down cost, you don't impose more regulations or restrictions on that item. It is competition among private individuals and companies that brings costs down, increases supply and makes markets more transparent. The federal government has never and is incapable of producing these kinds of effects in a market.
The only way to improve an inefficient and costly market is to put the bargaining power back in the hands of the people and eliminate restrictions - on everything from where the good (in this case, insurance) can be bought from to what is or isn't included for the price. Until then, as Mr. Malanga points out, "insurance costs will continue to spiral."
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
It looks like the media got it wrong. Ed Morrissey of Hot Air dug deeper and contacted the big three companies reported to have pulled advertising from Beck's show. Best Buy said that they only advertise on Fox in the morning hours, never during Beck's show or any of the other commentators' shows. CVS did ask that their ads not be aired during Beck's show but will continue to advertise on Fox during other time slots. Sounds like they have a grudge against Beck to me. Wal-Mart also conceded that they have asked for all ads to be pulled from the show. A reader forwarded an email he received from Wal-Mart to Morrissey, indicating that Wal-Mart has decided to pull their ads from all news shows that provide commentary. It'll be interesting to see if they keep their word.
Thanks to Ed Morrissey for following up on this story.
Looks like the left's strategy is producing some results - with Best Buy, CVS and Wal-Mart pulling advertising from Beck's show. I haven't come across any information that indicates whether these companies are pulling all advertising from Fox, or are instead following in the footsteps of others who continue to market to Fox's audience, just not on Beck's show.
Now, I don't always agree with Beck completely, but I believe that he works hard to put forth strong arguments and that he does so with passion. And perhaps that is why they chose him specifically. Regardless of their inane reasoning, we should all stand up for Glenn Beck and make sure to continue to follow this story and spread the word. Beck is not an extreme commentator; he is not an offensive commentator. He is a thinker and an analyst who is rooted in the conservative tradition. And, he is an educator, a man who has a great respect for history and shares it with his audience. He has brought people of conservative values together and helped the conservative movement. And if we allow the left to take him down without a fight, who is next? And what does it say about freedom of speech in a country where thugs tied to the President (through one of the many czars no less) are able to shut down opposing voices like that?
Monday, August 17, 2009
"Dr. Anne Doig says patients are getting less than optimal care and she adds that physicians from across the country - who will gather in Saskatoon on Sunday for their annual meeting - recognize that changes must be made.
We all agree that the system is imploding, we all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize," Doing said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
The pitch for change at the conference is to start with a presentation from Dr. Robert Ouellet, the current president of the CMA, who has said there's a critical need to make Canada's health-care system patient-centred.
His thoughts on the issue are already clear. Ouellet has been saying since his return that "a health-care revolution has passed us by," that it's possible to make wait lists disappear while maintaining universal coverage and "that competition should be welcomed, not feared."
In other words, Ouellet believes there could be a role for private health-care delivery within the public system.
He has also said the Canadian system could be restructured to focus on patients if hospitals and other health-care institutions received funding based on the patients they treat, instead of an annual, lump-sum budget. This "activity-based funding" would be an incentive to provide more efficient care, he has said.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
“But I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don’t mind cleaning up after them, but don’t do a lot of talking.”
“[A]s more people become engaged in the issue, defenders of the status quo have responded by muddying the waters with more wild rumors and scare tactics.”
"One of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism."
Monday, August 10, 2009
"People must be allowed to learn the facts. … Reform will also mean higher-quality care by promoting preventive care so health problems can be addressed before they become crises. This, too, will save money."For being so concerned with getting facts out, it seems surprising that they either missed or ignored CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf's statement last week that refuted this position.
"Although different types of preventive care have different effects on spending, the evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall," Elmendorf wrote. "That result may seem counterintuitive.To avert one case of acute illness, it is usually necessary to provide preventive care to many patients, most of whom would not have suffered that illness anyway. ... Researchers who have examined the effects of preventive care generally find that the added costs of widespread use of preventive services tend to exceed the savings from averted illness.
So, organizing on the left is a bottom-up approach. And, there is absolutely nothing wrong with encouraging citizens to become engaged and politically active on issues. Right? Wooops - there lies the rub. Apparently, the White House, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are not equal opportunity encouragers of engagement. As their op-ed in today's USA makes clear - if you are against health care, if you are trying to engage with your representative and happen to be on the other side of the aisle on this issue, if you have tried to make your way through the bill and decipher what it will really mean for our future -- you are an unpatriotic, member of the dissenting mob and should be shut-up. Pelosi and Hoyer say no less in their shocking, speech-suppressing, un-American piece today.
If Pelosi thinks that she stands for what it means to be American, as the Speaker of the House pointing fingers at concerned Americans who are doing exactly what this country's founders hoped Americans would do - get involved, become engaged, hold government accountable - then she has no understanding at all of what it means to be American.