Emotional Pandering For Political And Personal Gain

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This is the first time I’ve ever watched an entire Olbermann segment. I am left disgusted and angry. Oh yes, I feel sorry for his father, but I can’t quite summon up much sympathy for someone who would use an ill family member in such a self-aggrandizing and self-serving way.

Were this not on national TV, the “it’s all about me and what I want” attitude displayed would still be disgusting.

It’s been said that Sarah Palin uses Trig gain publicity and make political points. And I agree that she may. It’s a fine line she must walk where Trig’s dignity is concerned and sometimes she stumbles. I generally disagree with using ill and disabled people as symbols when they are not capable of giving their consent to be so used.

There are some real tear-jerker medical stories in my family. I’m sure I could increase traffic here by magnitudes if I wrote about them, especially in an overtly emotional way. Most of them could easily be tied to political and policy viewpoints.

Why do I not do that? First, I consider it an invasion of privacy. One of those subjects has given me explicit permission to write about his/her case in any way I see fit. Someday I may tell the story. But I will NOT tell it in order to support a political viewpoint.

If my political viewpoints cannot stand without being propped up by personal and emotional displays of illness and misfortune, are they truly worthy of support at all?

Where legislation that affects the lives of every person in the U.S., one individual’s misfortune cannot be allowed to sway the legislation one way or another. At best, it will only result in a different misfortune befalling another individual. At its worst, it results in the range of choices being narrowed for the entire nation.

There are many aspects of health care delivery in the U.S. that need reform. But, if we are to do it in a way that does not result in additional reform next year… and the year after that, we need to first look at how we got where we are now, as well as insure the possibility of future progress.

I don’t see that happening anywhere in the “debate” or “conversation” about healthcare.

Punishment Or Training?

There is nothing more that I would like to post here than that I was a wonderful, perfect parent. That would be such a lie. I was young, intelligent, but uneducated, and married to a man who was young, intelligent, uneducated, and an abusive alcoholic  to top it all.

It’s a damn wonder any of my children survived to be successful adults. Some people, upon hearing of the success of my children have congratulated me on being a wonderful parent. So uninformed they are! My children are successes despite my parenting more than because of it.

Though… I did have a few good points here and there. I was not evil, and never did anything designed to beget failure. I was just, for the most part, not aware that what I was doing might hurt them. I was aware of never wanting to hurt them… but unaware that things I thought “good” for them might not be.

Razib, of Gene Expression highlights research that spanking is detrimental to children. He also highlights that the spanking tends to occur when the chilren are of the more incorrigible type and the parents less intelligent, aggressive and lacking impulse control.

Those who commented on Razib’s take give an interesting but certainly not homogenous take on the issue.  

There are numerous alternatives to spanking for training and discipline and one I’ve become fond of is “time-out”. It’s the new version of sitting in the corner, and I’ve witnessed it’s success. However, there are now psychologists and sociologist who are saying this is also detrimental.

When a Parent’s ‘I Love You’ Means ‘Do as I Say’ is a disturbing essay which ultimately suggests (IMHO) no discipline at all.

Apparently I was spanked at a fairly young age. Relatives have told me that once when I was squirming and being a pain during church, that I was repeatedly threatened with being “taken outside to be spanked” until finally I requested (in an apparently loud voice) to be taken outside and spanked”.  Though no one has specifically told me so, I suspect I did not get spanked on that occasion.

The first few spankings I do remember were half-heartedly administered along the lines of “now that I know you are safe and though I’ve thought of killing you for the suffering you put me through, this spanking will have to suffice for both of us.”

When I was older and deliberately disobeyed or ignored rules, I was also spanked, but not until I’d received the full lecture. My father was definitely the strong type, but not silent. He was eloquent in describing my failings. He could describe fluently how I’d disappointed him and made my mother sad. He could do this for hours without actually repeating himself. It was a talent. After 30 – 45 minutes of this, I was sobbing and begging for a beating because that would be so much less painful.

The “beating” was usually sort of half-hearted and never managed to assuage my guilt.

I am not defending true beatings which far too many children have been subjected to. I’m merely stating that parents have psychological weapons that far surpass a mere spanking. A mere spanking is NOT equal to a beating.

Any form of punishment can become abuse, even time-out. Somewhere recently I read that Rose Kennedy would put her children in a dark closet for an equivalent of time out. To me, that’s abuse, but it was probably not considered so at the time.

Now… back to the post title. Whether a parent swats, spanks, puts the kid in time-out, or lectures him to numbness, the effectiveness will be determined mostly by the parents’ intent: are they training or punishing? It’s my opinion that an intent to punish will, regardless the method used, do little good while an intent to train will be very effective.

Intentions, though paving the road to you know where, do have meaning.

A Happy Hospital Story

For background, see here, here, and here

This morning, my father, brother, and I met with several St. Michael’s staff, including the director of the medical staff and the director of the nursing staff. It was a very cordial and informative meeting for me, and I hope it was for everyone else. We all left the room on the same side, so I’d call that success.

Of course, one thing that helped from our point of view was that the St. Michael’s staff was obviously very upset that such things had happened and were anxious to tell of us ways they’d already worked on to prevent such in the future. This, basically, is what we wanted.

The nursing supervisor on duty when my step-mom fell was devastated that something like that had happened on her watch.

We, as patients, learned a lot about how some hospital systems work. For example, we learned that when we need to call a nurse to be sure to say what we need, as they can get the message to the right person more quickly.

The director of medical staff explained some of the problems they were having implementing a hospitalist program and contracting with a separate firm for ER physicians. It was quite honest of him to say that these two groups of physicians do not always cooperate in a timely manner and explained how the hospital was working on this problem.

When we asked whether charges for the x-ray after the fall would be included in the bill, we were told it didn’t matter whether they were or not. Now this was upsetting at first – it seemed like the hospital was not taking responsibility for something they admitted was their fault.

But we were oh so wrong. That’s not it at all. My step-mom has Medicare and no matter what tests or procedures or how long she was in the hospital, they were going to paid the same, based on her problem at admission. To my way of thinking, that just ain’t right.

The final conclusion I have come to is that if the hospital staff had all got together and planned to have my father and step-mom treated as they were, they could not have planned it to be quite as bad as it was. These episodes are likely random ones and we were the unlucky family that lost the coin flip twice in a row.

The Rest Of The Story

See update here

See the first part here.

I ended the last post with my father being admitted to the hospital for further evaluation of his dizziness, low blood pressure, and slow heart rate. Simply being in the ER had made his arthritis flare up so severely, he needed narcotic pain med to tolerate it.

Up to the floor to a nice room furnished with a bed that was, if anything, more uncomfortable than the ER cot. It was also suffering from bad wiring so that it constantly had the call light on, which effectively translate into the call light not working at all.

Except for the ER hospitalist who admitted my Dad, every person we came in contact with was friendly and trying to do their best. It’s hard to do that when you’re dealing with malfunctioning equipment and equipment that causes unnecessary pain to your patients.

After the nurse fiddled with the call light for a while and tried to figure out why it was so warm in this room, she called maintenance. What else could she do? Well, obviously maintenance was overwhelmed as they showed up 30 minutes before my Dad was discharged the next day.

In the meantime, Dad says he feels like he’s smothering, but at the same time he’s cold to the point of shivering. He insists my brother and I go home that he will be fine. This is a tough thing for us to do (for reasons I won’t post about), but we do because we don’t want to upset him by arguing with him. He said if either one of us stays, we’ll just keep him awake all night.

During the night, the inflatable mattress that’s supposed to make this hospital bed more comfortable deflates in the middle section. I believe I’ve covered my Dad’s severe arthritis and do I need to point out that this didn’t help that pain?

Also during the night the smothering feeling my Dad was complaining about has become a general shortness of breath. So let’s recap this 86 year old man’s recent onset symptoms:

Low blood pressure
Slow heart rate
Shortness of breath

If I have any health professionals or anyone with strong Google fu, you’ll be able to figure out what at least one probably diagnosis is.

Enter the same obnoxious hospitalist from the evening before who writes on the discharge orders to discontinue the diuretic and heart medication (which has a side effect of lowering blood pressure) that my Dad has been on for years. The written orders do not say to taper off the heart medication.

No cardiology consult was requested and no interest shown in the addition of shortness of breath to his symptoms.

My Dad is by this time ready to leave. He feels worse than when he came to the ER. And he wants to make his radiation treatment. (I don’t think I mentioned earlier that he has Stage I NSCLC.) By now all Dad wants to do is go home. So we do.

By early afternoon, the shortness of breath is bothering him much worse and he goes to his storage shed to get a 3 year old bottle of oxygen (with 3 year old tubing) that I didn’t even know he had. This makes me very unhappy and I tell him he shouldn’t even try to use it because his blood oxygen saturation had been good. He says he that can’t be true because he can’t breathe.

Fortunately, the oxygen tank and tubing aren’t working. While he’s fiddling with that I suddenly remember that he has a lung doctor! Why yes, I am really, really slow sometimes. I look at the clock and tell my Dad that we can make it there before 5 pm. We’re in the door at 4:45 pm.

After the routine vitals, the RN comes in, a nurse practioner. She questions him, checks his oxygen saturation (96) and listens carefully and thoroughly to his lungs. Thanks to electronic medical records, she can see the results of his chest xray and other information from the ER visit.

It’s then that I fell in love with this woman. She said that the hospitalist was no more qualified to order discontinuation of his heart medicine and diuretic than she was and told him he should not change it until he’s seen his cardiologist. She explained that the cough he’d seen her for two weeks before and the current shortness of breath combined with the radiation warranted a prophylactic round of antibiotics and that a round of prednisone would get him feeling decent again until he could see his cardiologist.

She explained that he had multiple risk factors for fluid build-up and that discontinuing the lasix could be dangerous.

It’s a shame we can’t all take prednisone all the time. It’s a feel good drug like no other. And since Dad’s cardiologist is out of town all this week, it will sustain his energy until his appointment next week.

I’ll be going back to my Dad’s soon, but the thing I’m undecided about is exactly how to word the nastygram I want to send about the obnoxious hospitalist and his lack of follow-up and follow-through. Fortunately my siblings are better at that kind of thing than I am.

UPDATE — July 22, 2009 (read the comments for earlier update)

This morning, I got a call from the head of the customer relations department of the hospital. The first thing she assured me of was that none of their junior volunteers would ever be asked to deal with patient or family complaints, ever.

She was very nice, apologetic, and assured me that several departments would be hearing from her about our complaints about the facilities and explained that problems with the doctor would still have to be addressed by the VP of medical staffing, but that she would also forward her notes on our conversation to him as well as the hospital CEO.

I’m Back

See update to the medical story here. 

I left last Friday to go to a niece’s wedding in Arkansas with my father. She was married on July 4th in a beautiful outdoor ceremony near Little Rock AR. The photos on the site’s page do not come close to the majesty of the setting. They do justice to the facilities, but not the nature surrounding them.

My father mentioned on the drive up there that he’d been having dizzy spells which, at first, sounded like orthostatic hypotension. He’s 86 and I really thought that this was probably natural for his age.

However, the day after the wedding, he was more than tired. He was suffering fatigue. He had no energy and no appetite. I decided to stay another day or two. In all honesty, it wasn’t just that, it was also my innate dislike of leaving wherever I am. I’m pretty much at home anywhere and hate moving. Staying another day or two sounded great to me and I have the most understanding husband in the world.

Tuesday morning, my Dad was feeling dizzy sitting down and lying down. We eliminated the possibility of it being an inner ear infection because he’s suffered those numerous times and it certainly wasn’t that bad.

We got an appointment to see his PCP Tuesday afternoon. He confirmed my father’s suspicion that his blood pressure was low and they decided to discontinue two medications that might be contributing to his problem.

We go home thinking the problem is solved. Wednesday morning, 11 am — blood pressure is 106/51. Pulse is 37. (This machine had been previously “calibrated” with an RN’s manual BP reading.) Checking BP again, the reading is 81/45 with pulse still 37. My choices are… call an ambulance (and first responders) or attempt to transport my father 40+ miles to the nearest ER.

I take my hat off to Little River County’s first responders. Before I was through giving the ambulance service all the pertinent info, a trained first responder was in the house. His BP reading was a bit higher, but he noted the pulse was irregular. Within minutes of his arrival another first responder (who also worked as an EMT for the ambulance co.) arrived and confirmed the irregular heartbeat and slow pulse rate, although the BP was within normal ranges by that time.

Keep in mind while reading all of this that my father is 86 years old.

When asked where he wants to be transported, my father names the hospital where his wife is getting rehab after a hip replacement.

His transport takes 45 minutes. During this time he is sitting up in a gurney. This means that his legs are, at best, a 45 degree angle to his torso. He is then transferred to a standard ER “bed” which is not capable of raising the knees or ankles to a comfortable position for a young person not suffering from near-crippling arthritis.

Imagine that you are 86 years old and that doctors have told you that your back/hip/knee/wrist pain is inoperable and that the best they can do is narcotic pain relievers. Imagine that you’ve always thought that you didn’t need pain medication, that your mind could overcome it.

Now you are put in the most uncomfortable position a human can be in for 4+ hours. Imagine that all your blood relatives suffer from painful arthritis. Imagine a doctor questioning you as to whether you are REALLY in pain or not… the same doctor who thinks your BP of 110/60 is fine even though you are in writhing pain.

At least this doctor listened to (or gave into) the ER nurse with 29 years experience who insisted that my father was experiencing REAL pain. She administered 3 demerol shots during the 10 hours my father was in the ER.

My father was admitted for “observation” overnight. I will post later (if I feel like it) about how that turned out.

In Promotion And Defense Of The Arts

Our house is on a dead end street. When my youngest was growing up, there were four girls her age who lived nearby. Three of these girls took ballet lessons at the same studio. Being the stay-at-home-mom on the street, I took care of transportation to and fro the ballet studio.

I was also heavily involved in costuming the dancers, so my time while the girls were learning was spent in the costume shed. I learned more about fitting and sewing in those years than all others combined.

This adventure began when my daughter went to see “The Nutcracker” with the neighbors across the street. We’d been living here for less than a month. My daughter came home with brochures, prices, and class schedules that evening. She was in the third grade and took the initiative to approach the dancers and find out what she had to do to become one of them. Yes, I was impressed.

But this was the child who was interested in everything and wanted to do it all. I told her she had to narrow her after-school activities to two things — we could not do it all. She decided on ballet and violin lessons. If only she’d chosen something inexpensive like Girl Scouts or 4-H!!

I’m not complaining. Really, I’m not. We spent a year’s college tuition on a violin, but she had the experience of playing a solo accompanied by a full orchestra.  She played with her orchestra in Carnegie Hall. Really, how may non-professionals can claim that?

Ahh… ballet. My daughter, as a junior ballerina, never had a chance at the role of Clara in “The Nutcracker”. She would have been damned good in that role… but she was not professional material. I hope that her realization of this did not take too much enjoyment away from her role as one of the core dancers of the company. The star may shine, but if the core is weak, the production suffers.

As chauffeur to my daughter and two of her friends, three times a week to lessons, more frequently when a production was imminent, the three girls often forgot I was there. They were in the 8th grade, when one of them told about a classmate who had done drugs and broken his leg.

The amazing conversation that followed was exclamations of how none of them would be so stupid because if they broke their leg, or even sprained an ankle, Mrs. XXX (ballet teacher) would never forgive them.

I never felt so much a part of a community as I did then. I am by nature a loner, not a joiner. In fact, I had many arguments with Mrs. XXX about costumes. She will always be a hero in my mind because she had such a fantastic influence on my child.

As a parent, I think my child would have naturally had the guts, or whatever you may call it, to resist the path to degeneracy, but I am f0rever grateful to her dance teacher for making it easier for her. And to her violin teacher, who trusted her to babysit her infant. There’s not a better measure of trust of one’s character than that.

This post is dedicated to all the music and dance teachers who instill the best in their students, whether they become stars, or not.

Thanks, Mrs Mills :-)

Agreeing With Maureen Dowd

Well, almost agreeing anyway. She’s advocating putting the screws to Wall Street’s Socialist Jet-Setters and I have to admit I’d like to see that too. At least to the current crop of nincompoops. The problem is that stupidity is not a crime and that’s all they are guilty of. So far.

I want to see them suffer much more than humiliation and ridicule, though I’m disappointed that Ms. Dowd thinks these gentlemen would be trustworthy enough to fill an ATM with cash.

Nor would I trust most of the Representatives and Senators to do such a job either. And that’s where I’m in disagreement with Ms. Dowd. “Let the show trials begin.” she writes. The show trials we have in this country are Congressional investigations and that’s like asking the Mafia to turn over one of its own. I’m not interested in sacrificial lambs, I’m interested in actual reform. Trials before juries of their peers, with the understanding that their peers are average Americans, whether they want to believe that or not

Let’s wish Andrew Cuomo, New York’s attorney general, good luck in his investigation of the $4 billion in bonuses paid as Merrill Lynch was failing.

Our Personal “Dog Whisperer”

We have hired a dog trainer to help us with our Great Pyrenees puppy, Maverick. He is not less affectionate, he is not more aggressive, but he is big. BIG. HUGE, in fact. In sheer affectionate joy, he can knock me over and walking him is not fun, it’s an exercise in who is strongest and he wins.

He is one and 1/2 months shy of a year old. He hates my mouse because he thinks I’m petting it instead of him. He loves hugs. He’s sweet.

He’s uncontrollable. And he barks incessantly.

Needless to say, my neighbors are not fond of his nocturnal barking. Nor would we be if we could hear it. Our neighbors have had their houses soundproofed by the Airport Authority as well as ours is… it is merely the location of their bedroom relative to our dogs’ pen that matters.

We really like our neighbors, for the most part. So, what to do. We like our dogs and we like our neighbors.

We’ve hired our own special “dog whisperer” to help us understand the needs of the dog as well as our own. His website — alldogscan.com — states his methods and goals for dog training.

So far, we’ve had only one lesson and Maverick has half way mastered “sit” “down” and “stand” and my husband has 1/3 mastered the training techniques.

Yes… the dog is smarter in this respect than my husband. Dog trainers will tell you that they train the owners more than they train dogs. This is, of course, because the owners are smarter! (I tell myself….)

Here’s our dog whisperer’s website – All Dogs Can

A Challenge!

If you haven’t read about it yet, Americans have failed civics. I specifically challenge my family to take this test. C’mon, it’s only fair! After all, the J.D.s beat the H.S. grads in Spades this weekend, so I challenge all my college graduate relatives to beat my H.S. score

Here’s the test link. There are only 33 questions, so it won’t take long.

Here’s what you’ve got to beat:

You answered 32 out of 33 correctly — 96.97 %

Average score for this quiz during November: 78.1%
Average score: 78.1%

I’m not telling which one I missed until I get your scores! I will say that it was a choice between two possibilities, and true to form, I chose the incorrect one.

Have fun! And you don’t have to be family to participate in my strange desire to be outscored.

Recycling Makes A Difference

At least it makes a huge difference in how full our trash can is every week. This last week, we generated enough trash to almost fill 20% of our can vs. 80% before the city distributed recycling cans.

The recycling can (which is unfortunately a bit smaller) was completely full. Part of the reason is that the recycled stuff is bulkier, milk and juice jugs and boxes take up a lot of room in the can. We may have to start taking more care to break down boxes.

I Am Joe’s Wife, Aunt, Sister, Mother, Daughter

Iowahawk (who I don’t have on my blogroll, but perhaps should) in a most serious note suggests that he is Joe.

Joe is defined too narrowly as merely a plumber. Joe is more than that, don’t you think? He represents my pipefitter husband, his welder brother, whose two sons are actually plumbers!

And how are they different from my dad the logger and sawmiller, my stepbrother who followed in my dad’s footsteps? How are they that different from my brother who didn’t, but perhaps wishes he had?

How are my sons – a teacher in training and AF National Guardsman and a disabled, but determined man different from Joe? Do they not have dreams? Are they not working to make them reality? Why, yes they are. Are they perfect? I wish… though I love them as if they were.

Truly, I can’t think of a more “perfect” example of the American working man than today’s plumber. While no more dignified than ditch-digging, it requires more education and training (yes, there’s math and physics involved).

If I understand Democrat ideals (it’s entirely possible I do not), Joe the Plumber should be their poster boy. Yet… he’s not. Why? Why are middle Americans not represented by the Democrat Party? And why do so many of them think they are?

What Bernanke, the Fed, and the Treasury Should Do

They should listen to “real” people instead of Congress. (Did you ever wonder if one has to be one can short of a six-pack to be a politician?)

See Dean’s Forum Wide-Ranging Discussion of Financial Crisis, Taxpayer-Funded Rescue Bill – full video or clip from the University of Texas McCombs School of Business blog – McCombs Today.

Then scroll down the comments (7th one) and read what Economics Professor Brandl has to say:  

Bernanke, the Fed and the Treasury have to make it clear where the “bailouts” are going to stop.  This will help to put a floor under the financial markets and decrease uncertainty.  They need to be more transparent and clear as to who will be and who won’t be saved.  The piecemeal approach they are following is not working.  Also this “drawing of the line in the sand” should be coordinated with policymakers in other OECD countries as well as Russia and India.  Notice, I deliberately left out China.

Structuring the bailout as buying of assets was a mistake.  Instead the Treasury should have injected capital into the banks and taken an equity stake in return.  This would have punished stockholders in these firms by diluting their ownership stake.  This would also give the Treasury power in setting executive compensation at these firms.  Is this socialism?  No, it is a step in internalizing the fiduciary responsibility these firms have to the broader financial markets and economy.  The current “leaders” of these firms have demonstrated they are incapable of performing this role satisfactory.

The Treasury should be buying the mortgages of people and families who were truly victims and there are many.  But, the Treasury should not be using taxpayer money to bailout real estate speculators or those who should have know better as to what they were getting themselves into with these sub-prime and Alt-A mortgages.  But how does the Treasury make this distinction?  They need to set up some system, with oversight, to do this.  A mortgage-based RTC is what is needed.

Oh, yeah… remember the Resolution Trust Corporation? Why not use a model that worked fairly well?

Since the bailout has been structured as it is, Paulson should have named someone to run it, and the buying of bank assets, who has a great deal of experience and credibility.  Potential names include:

Bill Gross, Chief Investment Office at Pimco, who the Washington Post described as “the nation’s best-known bond-fund manager.”

Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the Board of Governors

Don Powell, former head of the FDIC and famed Texas banker

Glenn Hubbard, Dean of the Columbia Business School, former head of the Council of Economic Advisors

So who did Paulson pick?  A 35 year old former Goldman Sachs underling named Neel Kashkari. Needless to say, this was not a great confidence building move.

Once the current liquidity crisis ends the Fed, Treasury and the new President are going to have to put in place measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.  Among the things they need to consider should be:

  • Overhaul of the financial regulatory system.  Paulson’s idea on this in the spring was a first (but bad) attempt to do this.
  • Ensure high quality regulators.  This means paying a decent salary to attract well educated and trained “bank examiners.”  The Fed, FDIC and other regulators need to pay salaries of say $125,000 a year to attract the best and the brightest if we expect them to correctly “oversee” sophisticated financial firms.
  • Establish the “rules of the game” for future bailouts.  If any entity is going to be labeled as “too big to fail” who is going to pay “the price” for the bailout?  What will that price be?  My suggestion is to do the following:  make it clear to the board of directors as well as the executives of financial firms, that if the firm they control receives federal government assistance these people will pay personally.  That means, if you run a TBTF firm and that firm requires a government funded bailout, the Federal Government will seize your home, retirement funds, children’s trust funds and demand repayment of your salary for the last 5 years.  This is called internalizing the externality on a personal level.

These are only a few of the things that should be done.  Here is hoping the discussion continues long after the current crisis ends.

The above is also on Professor Brandl’s Macroeconomic Updates page (for now). I think you have to be a UT student or alumni or know a secret “hook ’em” handshake to subscribe to the email list.

Stupid, Evil, or

Pelosi, Reid, and the Democrats do not want to take “ownership” of the bailout. Sure, it’s a lot of money and they don’t want responsibility for a spending bill of that size.

But does it go further than that? Do they fear it the spending bill will fail? Do they want they economy to fail, with or without the spending bill? I think that Pelosi is playing politics, fast and furious. She said the bill was in response to “failed” Bush policies of the last 8 years. Hasn’t it been adequately documented that the policies of the last 30+ years are responsible?

With all due respect (which may be none) I am of the opinion that Nancy Pelosi did not want this bill to pass. The reasons why may be numerous.

If I may quote myself (a comment on Ambivablog)

If Pelosi had really wanted this bill to pass, it would have. You cannot convince me that there were not 12 of the 95 Democrats who voted “no” that she couldn’t persuade to a “yes”. She has a bunch of carrots and a wheel barrel full of sticks to use, but she chose not to. Then she did everything she could to ensure that no “on the fence” Republican would be swayed to vote “yes”.

Yet she ( and her Democrat cronies) are doing a very good job of making it look like this was all the Republicans’ (and by default, John McCain’s) fault.

That takes a lot of talent if you ask me. Talent put to use NOT for the good of this nation or for its citizens.

Nancy Pelosi is not stupid, she’s mean-spirited and evil.

I do not want my blog to become a political blog. I’d much rather post pictures of my grandchildren. At one time, I thought about this place as a money-making venture. Being political is one way to do that. But it really isn’t a way suited to me. Been there, done that, found it’s only useful once every four years.

I’m a registered Republican, because I wanted to vote against David Duke 10.. 15… how many years ago was that? The only bumper sticker I’ve ever even considered putting on my car was one for Edwin Edwards, the crook, when he was opposing the racist (truly racist, not just a politically incorrect racist) David Duke.

(I also considered putting a “Don’t blame me, I voted for Jindal” sticker on my car. But I didn’t. I really hate bumper stickers.)

Bottom line – it’s Amba’s to promote if she chooses. Michael Reynolds doesn’t think I get the “politics” of this fiasco. Of course, I disagree!

My Chosen Charity This Year

Save Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School

I’m not voting for Obama, but that’s no reason to ignore his father’s hometown school. Education is the first step. Obama’s father and Juliette Ochieng’s father both got the advantage of advanced education in the United States. I think it’s fitting that the offspring of at least one of them returns the favor.

Hopefully both will.

Not being one of the wealthiest people anywhere, I’m not able to donate very much, but I have so far donated a little bit two months in a row and plan to keep doing so. I hope some of you will join me!

Underhanded, Dishonest Attempt To Drive Gun Manufacturers Out Of Business, Part 2

Continued from Part 1. (I couldn’t sleep, so why wait for tomorrow?)

Under our plan, Congress might require gun makers in the aggregate to reduce gun homicides from 12,000 to, say, 7,000 in 10 years, with appropriate interim targets along the way. Individual firms would each have their own targets to meet, based on the extent their guns are currently used in homicides. Or Congress might simply leave it to neutral experts to determine just how much of a numerical reduction should be required — and how quickly. Either way, the required decline would be substantial.

Translation: We don’t really know how this would work, but be sure it would be a draconian task for the gun manufacturers.

How would gun companies go about reducing gun deaths? The main thing to emphasize is that this approach relies on the nimbleness, innovation and experimentation that come from private competition — rather than on the heavy-handed power of governmental regulation. Gun makers might decide to add trigger locks to their guns, or to work only with dealers who meet certain standards of responsibility. They might withdraw their semiautomatic weapons from the consumer market, or even work hand in hand with local officials to fight gangs and increase youth employment opportunities. Surely they will think up new strategies once they have a legal obligation and financial incentive to take responsibility for the harm their products cause.

Again, we have no idea how this might work, but surely the gun manufacturers will think of something if they want to stay in business. Of course, if they fail… well, it certainly isn’t “our” fault.

Performance-based regulation leaves it up to them to decide. This is the same outcome-based approach that the No Child Left Behind program takes concerning schools. Through No Child Left Behind, parents and school officials set achievement targets for students, and schools then have to figure out how to meet the targets.

How’s that working out for schools? How’s it working out in terms of good education for our children? I wonder what would happen if mandatory gun safety training were required in schools?

Similarly, performance-based regulation is used in a variety of pollution-control schemes and is becoming the preferred global strategy to combat climate change. For example, under pressure from coalitions of environmentalists, scientists and citizens, regulatory bodies are ordering public utilities to sharply cut their carbon emissions. The companies are responsible for designing solutions to best achieve that goal, which could include switching fuels, changing the way they produce electricity, installing scrubbers on smokestacks and so on.

It’s quite different to encourage technology to come up with a cleaner way of producing something. If gun manufacturers are polluters, then cleaning up their act is taking responsibility for what they do. However, asking them to clean up somebody else’s act is unfair at best.

Sen. Michael D. Enzi (R-Wyo.) has put forward a proposal along the same lines to target tobacco. Typically, anti-smoking organizations lobby Congress to give the Food and Drug Administration regulatory power over cigarette companies, and press locally to increase tobacco taxes, run more government anti-tobacco ads and boost enforcement of bans on sales to minors. Under Enzi’s performance-based regulation plan, however, the tobacco companies would simply be told by Congress that they have to cut their customer base by about 50% in 12 years. It would then be up to the companies to figure out how to curtail smoking rates.

Now we’re getting to the real purpose — cutting the number of customers, thus cutting the number of guns manufactured, thus finally closing the doors of gun manufacturers permanently. Why not just say so? Why all this “performance-based” BS?

Why heck, why don’t we just make it illegal for criminals to own guns. (<sarcasm) Maybe we should have the tobacco companies give them free cigarettes so they will be unhealthy and not live as long too. After all, isn’t smoking going to be illegal someday soon if all the nannies have their way?

So how exactly might this work in the case of gun makers? For more than half of all gun homicides, law enforcement officials are able to identify the precise type of lethal weapon that was used. From that data, reliable statistical projections can be made to determine each company’s approximate share of all homicides. Each company’s quotas would be based on the data, and tied to an ever-decreasing number of deaths.

You could rephrase that as tied to an ever-decreasing number of crimes. How does the country benefit by placing law-enforcement into the hands of gun manufacturers?

Why not look at the data and see if there are other types of precise information that can be culled? Is there data about how many of these murders were related to illegal drug use? Domestic violence? The criminal record of the deceased? Perhaps the gun manufacturers could use that data to lobby for decriminilazation of drugs, thereby ending “drug wars” and monetary sustenance of some gangs?

What if the gun manufacturers lobbied for more and better resources for victims of domestic violence, including men as well as women?

Would these efforts at reducing crime count?

A more fine-tuned strategy would set different gun-death-reduction quotas based on the specific weapon — with larger reductions mandated for guns that are more commonly used in homicides.

See part 1. Fourth paragraph from the bottom.

If gun makers fail to reach the performance targets, they would face substantial financial penalties that would hike the cost of the guns they make and drive home the huge negative social consequences they now cause.

Where’s the evidence that gun manufacturers cause “huge negative social consequences”? Can there be no credit for “positive social consequences” such as crimes deferred and deaths prevented by the presence of guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens?

What about my bonding with my son-in-law at the range? Is that not positive in the long run? What about the rangemasters suggestion that I dump my husband and move to Arizona? You have no idea the positive social effect that had on me!

Performance-based regulation is not about the government denying people access to guns. It’s not an academic theory about the underlying causes of gun deaths, nor is it a restriction on the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms. Instead, it is a practical way to align the gun companies’ interests with the public interest and, ultimately, to save lives.

No, it’s a poorly disguised method to drive gun manufacturers out of business, thus depriving law-abiding citizens the opportunity to buy a legal product.

Jeffrey Fagan is a professor of law and public health at Columbia University. Stephen D. Sugarman is a professor of law at UC Berkeley.

Occupants of two coastal ivory towers think the rubes residing between them cannot figure out that their idea is not in our best interest.

UPDATE: Armed Liberal at Winds of Change has a good idea

Underhanded, Dishonest Attempt To Drive Gun Manufacturers Out Of Business, Part 1

Jeffrey Fagan, Columbia University and Stephen D. Sugarman, UC Berkeley have a plan. A Plan. A PLAN!  They want to “Make firearms manufacturers figure out how to reduce the 12,000 shooting deaths each year.”

This year, about 12,000 Americans will be shot to death. It’s a staggering figure, and even though lawmakers have continued to pass gun-control laws to try to bring the number down, they have not significantly reduced the murder rate. Indeed, for the last decade, guns have steadily remained the cause of about two-thirds of all homicides.

Guns don’t cause homicides. How many times does it have to be stated that guns are tools? Simple machines, really. It’s been said so much to so many people who have their hands over their ears singing “lalalala I can’t hear you” that it’s become trite. That doesn’t make the statement false. I’m as tired of saying it as “gun-controllers” are of not hearing it.

Oh, I wonder why all those gun-control laws “have not significantly reduced the murder rate?” Could it be, as I wrote above, that guns don’t cause homicides?  

Gun manufacturers insist that these deaths are not their fault, preferring to pin the blame on criminals and irresponsible dealers. They have fiercely resisted even minimal restrictions on sales and have simultaneously washed their hands of responsibility for this “collateral damage.”

Unless a gun manufacturer pulled the trigger, then they are not at fault. How unspeakably sad and irresponsible it is that they prefer to blame crime on criminals instead of the tools the criminals use! And aren’t irresponsible dealers criminals by definition? Aren’t they already charged with doing background checks, etc… ie, acting responsibly?

On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court made the problem a little more difficult to solve, ruling in District of Columbia vs. Heller that the individual’s right to bear arms is indeed protected by the 2nd Amendment — and making it clear that some laws banning guns would have a difficult time passing constitutional muster in the future.

Actually, the Court’s ruling should make it easier for reasonable legislation to be effective. There will less effort expended on making and trying to enforce unreasonable junk laws designed primarily to make someone feel good.

What is to be done? The conventional regulatory approaches seem to be failing.

No shit Sherlock. Got any more shocking news for me? Regulations imposed on lawful businesses and lawabiding citizens have little effect on criminals and their enterprises.

 A more recent strategy, in which victims or municipalities bring lawsuits against gun manufacturers or retailers, seems legally and politically unpromising since the 2005 passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which shields gun manufacturers from civil liability.

“… seems legally and politically unpromising?” Yes, I’m laughing. To be totally fair, I have to consider whether this entire article was written as a parody. Unfortunately, it fails equally whether a parody or presented seriously.

We propose a new way to prod gun makers to reduce gun deaths, one that would be unlikely to put them out of business or to prevent law-abiding citizens from obtaining guns. By using a strategy known as “performance-based regulation,” we would deputize private actors — the gun makers — to deal with the negative effects of their products in ways that promote the public good.

How about we deputize lawmakers to deal with the negative effects of their legislation in such ways? Lemme see, where was it I recently read that the regulations and bans they came up with are not doing the public any good?

Let’s define “public good” while we’re at it. To me, it’s a public good to have individual free choice. Or, for argument’s sake, let’s call it free will. Both the criminal class and the law-abiding class have a choice of tools and actions taken with that tool. Is the public good served by limiting the choices of the good people while having limited (if any) effect on criminals?

Would not the public good be better served if the law-abiding are better armed than the criminals and the criminals knew this? What public good is served by announcing to the criminal that in certain places nobody will be armed to prevent them from doing their crime?

In other words, rather than telling gun makers what to do, performance-based regulation would tell them what outcome they must achieve: Reduce deaths by guns. Companies that achieve the target outcomes might receive large financial bonuses; companies that don’t would face severe financial penalties. Put simply, gun makers — whose products kill even when used as directed — would have to take responsibility for curbing the consequent public health toll.

In the first place, this kind outcome based requirement would result in certain guns presumed to be preferred by criminals or affordable by criminals, being considered bad, morally wrong in some way. Criminals aren’t necessarily stupid, they choose a tool based on the same considerations non-criminals do. Does it perform well? Is upkeep minimal? Can I afford it? Is it too large or too small for my hands? Many other factors come into play also, I’m sure.

And, second, what industry will be next? Automobiles? Liquor manufacturers? Bars? Swimming pool builders? Knifemakers?

I’m tired now. Reading and thinking about this level of insane gobbledygook is tiring. Part 2 tomorrow!

UPDATE: While allowing my self-imposed 10 minute break before proofing my work, I see that Instapundit has linked to Kevin D.’s take (over at Dean Esmay’s place) on the same article.

Illness As Punishment

I have read some (by far in the minority, but enough to be easily noticed) horrid comments about Ted Kennedy’s brain tumor diagnosis – intimations that he deserves this because of past actions or because of his liberal politics.

Enough already. Very young children get malignant, non-operable brain tumors. What did they do to deserve theirs?

What did I do to get lucky and have a treatable benign brain tumor? I’m no better than those children, I guarantee you.

This is the same type of thinking that considered AIDS a punishment for being homosexual.

The  polity needs to grow up.  

UPDATE: DJ Drummond says it more eloquently and nicer than me.

…Cancer is a damnable enemy which respects no moral boundaries. It will attack a Republican just the same as a Democrat, a man or a woman with equal energy. Cancer is a horrifying malady, one which seeks to kill its victim, but only after excruciating torture. I know it too well, from my own cancer to my mother’s recent return of Breast Cancer, to the deaths of old friends and some new ones (and children – the damned thing goes after children as if it were the devil himself). No one deserves Cancer, and any victory over Cancer is a good one, one to celebrate.

“Why isn’t there any fun anymore?”

John Brignell, in March of the zealots, explains why fun has gone out of style. In doing so he also explains a lot of other stuff. Consider yourself warned.

Every age has its dominant caste. This is the age of the zealot. Twenty years ago they were dismissed as cranks and fanatics, but now they are licensed to interfere in the every day lives of ordinary people to an unprecedented degree. When Bernard Levin first identified the new phenomenon of the SIFs (Single Issue Fanatics) many of us thought it was a bit of a joke or at most an annoyance. Now the joke is on us. In that short time they have progressed from being an ignorable nuisance to what is effectively a branch of government. They initiate legislation and prescribe taxation. They form a large and amorphous collection of groups of overlapping membership, united and defined by the objects of their hatred (industry, tobacco, alcohol, adiposity, carbon, meat, salt, chemicals in general, radio waves, field sports etc.) Their success in such a short time has been one of the most remarkable phenomena in the whole of human history.

He may be wrong on his timeline, as I remember hearing as a child, “If it’s fun, you better do it now before it goes out of style.” Back then “style” meant “approved,” but today it’s called “political correctness.” I also remember coming to the conclusion nearly 40 years ago that everything caused cancer.

I’ve been fed up for quite a while, it seems.

The common factors in these campaigns of zealotry are:

  • Creation and maintenance of a myth

  • Ignoring all evidence countering the myth

  • Ad hominem attacks on opponents

  • Encouraging authoritarian governments to impose taxes and reduce individual freedom

  • Promotion of limits and constraints that are simply invented without reason

  • Collusion by the establishment media

  • Damage to science and its methods

  • Elimination of things that make life bearable

  • Making some people very rich whilte impoverishing the lives of almost everyone else

They will not be satified until they have you shivering in a cave, sipping thin gruel.

It’s rare that I come across an essay this long in which I find almost nothing to disagree with.

(via Junkfood Science)

Great Choices

Bill Jempty of Wizbang has chosen Mississippi State Representatives W. T. Mayhall Jr, Bobby Show, and John Read to receive his Knucklehead of the Day award.

These three morons have sponsoring the following legislation:

An act to prohibit certain food establishments from serving food to any person who is obese, based on criteria prescribed by the state department of health; to direct the department to prepare written materials that describe and explain the criteria for determining whether a person is obese and to provide those materials to the food establishments; to direct the department to monitor the food establishments for compliance with the provisions of this act; and for related purposes.*****

(2) Any food establishment to which this section applies shall not be allowed to serve food to any person who is obese, based on criteria prescribed by the State Department of Health after consultation with the Mississippi Council on Obesity Prevention and Management established under Section 41-101-1 or its successor. The State Department of Health shall prepare written materials that describe and explain the criteria for determining whether a person is obese, and shall provide those materials to all food establishments to which this section applies. A food establishment shall be entitled to rely on the criteria for obesity in those written materials when determining whether or not it is allowed to serve food to any person.

House Bill 282 was introduced Friday, Feb. 1.

Sandy Szwarc, of Junkfood Science fame asks:

Is this a tongue-in-cheek bill, meant to point out how absurd the war on obesity has become? Or do lawmakers actually believe the myths that gluttony is the cause for obesity and that it is the government’s role to force people to eat and live how it deems best?

Rep. Mayhall answered her question that the bill was serious, though regrettably (hallalujah!) he doesn’t believe it will pass. He hopes it will call attention to the problem and what obesity is costing the Medicare system.

What is obesity causing the Medicare system? Someone want to give me some hard figures on that? I don’t want “but it must be costing because fat people are unhealthy!”