Yup, another open thread

I could blame my blog silence today on work, carpooling, martial arts, cooking, shopping, etc., but it was really that I had nothing to say.  I’ve got a lot of random thoughts chasing around in my head, but none of them seems to be enough for a single post.  In no particular order:

North Korea is trying to see if Obama really is a paper tiger.

I can’t believe the Obama administration is as incompetent as it appears (as in foreign policy, for example), and am wondering if this is some Machiavellian scheme to end the world as we know it.

I think Obama is a sociopath.

The Obama presidency is the reductio ad absurdum of affirmative action.

I’m hoping the tea parties will be so huge the media will be forced to look — not because I care about the media, but because I care that non-politicized Americans figure out what’s going on.  It’s true that Daniel Hannan’s speech went viral without the BBC playing along, but what you discover if you read his website is that he’s been giving lots of similar speeches, and has been consistently ignored.  It was sheer dumb luck this one ignited.  I don’t want to wait for dumb luck to ignite ordinary Americans.  I want them outraged now.

And how do you get Americans to clue into the fact that the only thing good about universal health care in other nations is the propaganda attached to it?  Talk to anyone from Canada or Britain or various parts of Europe and just listen to them rage about their inadequate care.  Americans have amazingly good care and have been lied to too often to realize that fact.

I want to share with you some passages from Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, which was written in 1951, and is amazingly prescient, not just about Islamists, but about the whole Obama movement.  However, I really don’t have time right now to do long quotations.  That will have to wait for another day.

I’m thrilled that Mark Levin’s book, Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto, is doing so well on Amazon (and, I would assume, on other best seller lists), and can’t wait to read it myself.

Mine is the best dog in the world.  Everyone should have one creature in their lives capable of giving so much pleasure and requiring so little effort in return!  (Although here’s a story of a dog — a volunteer, untrained dog, yet — even more wonderful than mine.)

Professionally speaking, I have to say that it’s nice to write a legal brief so good that, even if it doesn’t win, you and your client know it should have won.

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  • Charles Martel

    Well, Book, you’ve crossed the line.

    MY dog, Lily the boxer, is the best dog in the world.

    Wait, wait—let me temper that. She’s the most interesting dog in the world.

    =SIGH=, upon reflection, I misspoke. I meant to say that she’s the most consistent dog in the world:

    —When anything—car, cat, mailman or neighbor— is out of position, bark at him/it as though Jaysuss Himself has returned.

    —When given a new toy that has a squeaker, play with said toy incressantly until destruction: 7 a.m. =SQUEAK= =SQUEAK=; 10 a.m. =SQUEAK= =SQUEAK=; 4 p.m. =SQUEAK= =SQUEAK= =SQUEAK=; 9 p.m. =SQUEAK= =SQUEAK=; 1 a.m. =SQUEAK= =SQUEAK= =SQUEAK= =SQUEAK= =SQUEAK= =SQUEAK=

    —After consuming kibble, rub your nose and jowls on your little doggie bed to “season” it and make it smell nice. Then jump up on me and blast doggie breath straight into my face, but maintain an affectionate look. Yum!

    —In the morning, when I am trying to recover from apnea and nightmares, jump up as close as possible to me and begin a series of gigantic yawns that allows me to map the varicolored surfaces of the canine roof of the mouth with far more accuracy and accessibility than I ever asked God for.

  • Quisp

    Americans don’t have the mentality necessary for universal health care. The people I’ve talked to about it seem to think they’ll get the same options/accessibility/service they do now, but for free. Won’t there be a mighty conflagration when “universal health care” and medical negligence claims collide?

  • suek

    >>Won’t there be a mighty conflagration when “universal health care” and medical negligence claims collide?>>

    I’ve read about our “broken health care system”. What’s broken about it?

    And who will be the doctors in the new health care system? Why should anybody work themselves to death working for the State? This will end badly…

  • Mike Devx

    suek #3:
    >> I’ve read about our “broken health care system”. What’s broken about it?

    I don’t think it is “broken”, and I do think it’s the best health care system in the world. Not perfect by any means, but certainly not broken.

    The main problem as I see it – and the problem with ANY modern technological health care system – is that many products and services cost more than the market can bear. If you’ve ever seen the breakdown of the costs of a one-week stay in the hospital, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Let alone repeated high-tech diagnostic tests, once per month, say, to deal with cancer.

    I suspect the main reason costs are so very high, across the board, is because we consumers have no idea what the price is for each service. There is no incentive to lower costs. And there is every incentive for the suppliers to keep the costs high, because it increases their profits. So when all the incentives that currently exist all exert pressure to keep prices high, then prices will be… high.

    In the absence of any driving market forces to keep the prices down, they remain very high. In my opinion, far too high, but I lack the expertise to prove that, from a market perspective, they are too high.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    I have a very simple solution to the high quality and high costs of American medical care.

    Subsidize it by taxing foreigners.

    When foreigners come here to get their care, make them pay 500% more. They can afford it, else why would they have left their home countries?

    For our national allies and potential allies, like Iraqis, a certain discount can be provided. A special relationship and reward. But for all others, like Amanie and Saudi Princes? Cut them to the bone with tariffs and taxes and luxury/consumption ad ons.

    We don’t want them in our country in the first place, so they might as well pay us for the privilege of being here.

    If America truly provides R/D for drug development and high technological medical care to the rest of the world, then where is our profit? If we lack it, if our companies lack it, who are they going to start gauging to fill up the space? Us, that’s who. WIth the Democrats helping the drug companies along because they know it will create resentment, and Dems are experts at using resentment to nationalize businesses.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    I’ve read about our “broken health care system”. What’s broken about it?

    The dems say it is a broken system the same way they said the US Army was broken. They say so because they want to make it so, and after having made it so, they will present themselves to the public as “saviors” able to “save” the system via “emergency measures”. Democrat Emergency Measures, of course.

  • suek

    Here’s a good article on the US Health system.

    http://furtheradventuresofindigored.blogspot.com/2009/03/ten-facts-of-us-health-system.html

    >>If you’ve ever seen the breakdown of the costs of a one-week stay in the hospital, you’ll see what I’m talking about.>>

    I have. My father was in ICU for six days before he died. It cost a total of $60,000. It doesn’t take advanced math to figure out that’s $10k per day. As far as I know, they didn’t do anything complicated for him. He had a malignant tumor that had encircled his vena cava. It couldn’t be removed at that time due to it’s size and involvement with that major blood vessel. They told me they were giving him medication to shrink the tumor, and were hopeful that they would be able to operate in about 10 days to 2 weeks. They were optimistic about his recovery. Other than whatever medication they were giving him, plus I think he may have been on oxygen, and of course the monitoring machines, he received no other treatment. Pretty expensive for that, I think.

    >>I suspect the main reason costs are so very high, across the board, is because we consumers have no idea what the price is for each service.>>

    I disagree – at least to some extent. I suspect at least 50% of the cost is due to lawsuits, lawsuit settlements and excessive tests done to prevent lawsuits. And the insurance doctors/hospitals have to buy to avoid bankruptcy due to lawsuits.

    I used a particular veterinarian clinic for my horses. They (the members of the clinic) decided to build a vet hospital, since the closest one in our area was 1.5 hours away, which in certain circumstances can be critical time. For several years after they established the hospital, I continued to use them. Then I quit – they were just too expensive. It wasn’t that each item on the bill was so expensive compared to other local vets, but if you took an animal there, they treated it to the max. Ran multiple tests, treated for all options. My other vet gave me a range of choices. For example, one horse moved oddly when worked in a circle. The vet’s observations indicated to him that the horse may have an injury to his cervical discs – it could be temporary or permanent. My choice was to have a complete spinal x-ray – _very_ expensive – or rest him for 6 months and see if he recovered. The spinal x-ray would show where the injury was located and what sort of injury there was. Treatment was the same – medication for pain if necessary and lay up for about six months. One option would cost me a thousand dollars plus, the other cost me the vet visit I was already paying for. Guess which one I took…but I had a _choice_. If I’d gone to the vet hospital first, I wouldn’t have been able to choose. My vet also told me that their prices were high because of their insurance costs, which were also very high – that due to the fact that people only used the vet hospital for critical cases, there were high failure rates, and people often sued because their beloved animals didn’t make it.

    The legal tort system needs revamping. Who will people sue if we have a national health care system? The Feds? I don’t think so….

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    The Dirty Jobs host does a good speech concerning certain trends we have all seen, but perhaps not in this specific context.

    Link

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    And of course, the lawyers, the law, and the citizens that are invited to “game the system” have been looting and gouging the US medical system for awhile now. Wealth has been redistributed from the people of America most in need, to the people of America with the most greed.

    When you have been transferring millions from the poorest section of America to the richest or greediest section of America, or foreigners and their foreign nations if you include such in the mix, why would prices decrease?

    When farmers have their seeds confiscated and destroyed because those with more greed have grand high extortion rackets, what will result from this redistribution of wealth if not famine? Government intervention is the answer, so sayeth the totalitarian happy Leftists. They want the government to go into and stabilize the emergency, force people to work together, and create this Grand Economic and National Progressive Patriotism seen in such countries as Britain after WWII, Nazi Germany, and Soviet Russia.

    That is their wish, and their message must conform to the prerequisites of that wish. The prerequisite that you must first fool the people into supporting such redistributionist wealth policies. They must be convinced that it is they who will get the biggest share of the redistributed wealth. That is what dupes are for. And that is why they will always exist.

    You see, they are not for or against redistribution of wealth. For example, people in America decry outsourcing because it redistributes wealth from the rich people in America, the workers, to the poor people in Indian, who can’t speak English and have sub-standard nutrition, health, and retirement prospects.

    The people of America Are Not in Favor of Wealth Redistribution. They are in favor of “Me”. They are in favor of “gaming the system” and “getting their fair share of the loot”.

    That is what they are in favor of. And why is that? Because hard work has been devalued. Personality responsibility, when destroyed, becomes replaced with leeching and parasitism. They are in favor of such because it is easier to steal wealth from others than to make it for yourself. They are in favor, because no matter how many times the Left lies their ass off, the truth of human greed will always remain with us.

  • addison

    Regarding D. Hannan’s speech: The reason the latest speech is so well known is because Rush Limbaugh played it almost in its entirety on his show Wednesday.

  • Mike Devx

    addison #10:
    >> Regarding D. Hannan’s speech: The reason the latest speech is so well known is because Rush Limbaugh played it almost in its entirety on his show Wednesday.

    Thomas linked to it here at 7 am, hours before Rush. I saw it near 11am, and profusely urged everyone to watch it, again, without Rush’s help.

    In Great Britain, it went viral well before Rush.

    Now Rush certainly does have a huge listening audience. But this video was going viral without Rush’s help already. There can be no doubt that Rush gave it a large boost. But even then the massive response to this video – and the deep resonance of the response – has nothing to do with Rush.

    Rush has played audio many times before now, and the effects always vary. It seems disingenous – and perhaps deliberately dismissive – to play this as merely a Rush Limbaugh effect.

    I certainly had spent hours investigating Daniel Hannan’s videos and blogs before I ever heard that Rush had highlighted this particular video as well. (I’ve been too busy and distracted during the early afternoon to catch even one Rush show in the last week and a half…)

  • addison

    It was not an attempt to be dismissive; it was merely an observation. If I was in err, I was in err.

    [Currently, the number three site for links to the video is Limbaugh's--behind Mr. Hannan's personal site and Google Video (and the latter's contribution is merely to highlight what is being watched). An official blog of the Guardian links to a story that gives Limbaugh some credit for the spreading of the video.]

    Nevertheless, your point stands. So perhaps I should have begun my comment with “Part of the reason…” and apologize for the mis-attribution of credit where it did not fully belong.

    I imagine some part of the response to the video is that it few–particularly fellow Americans–have ever seen a public official addressed in such a manner. I saw someone address Tony Blair in near fashion years ago but he lacked that requisite ingredient of truth to give his fusillade lasting effect. And it is no secret Mr. Gordon Brown is largely disliked within Britain for his policies and manner, so its popularity in Britain itself would be of little surprise.

    And I think there is tremendous concern from those who are particularly disturbed by the aspect of governments repeating the mistakes of the Great Depression (see current EU President’s remarks on Obama’s “path to Hell”).

    From a casual glance through the reasonably literate YouTube comments (of which there are few), it appears quite a percentage wish nothing more than for someone to speak to Obama/Congress in such a manner. As far as I have seen, there is no such American elected official who could act as this spokesman. At least I have not heard of such a person in Congress. Most elected Republicans follow the go-along-to-get-along style and for that we all suffer a loss.

    Perhaps when crippling inflation comes years from now as an obvious consequence of trillions of debt-laden dollars being printed, that spokesman will come to the fore…but that person was needed prior to the election, before America elected Mr. Platitude-on-a-stick.

  • Mike Devx

    addison #12:

    Great post! I enjoyed it very much and agree completely.

    I stand corrected, too: Rush had a bigger impact than I’d expected compared to others…

    But the stats on YouTube do appear a little odd to me. Maybe they should be taken with a grain of salt? Hard to say… Rush’s #3 YouTube ‘click-to’ rating is based on the following under ‘Stats’ on the video’s YouTube page:

    17,321 http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/daniel_hannan/blog/2009
    13,059 http://video.google.com/
    11,978 http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/today.guest.html
    9,954 http://video.google.com/?hl=en&tab=wv
    8,658 http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2009/mar/26/

    But the total # of views is listed as:
    1,167,339 views

    So the top five links to the video comprise about 6% of the total views. So a lot of people have gotten to this video via other linkages (and I’m sure the views total is influenced by some % of people watching the video more than once).

    In any case, if Rush has 20 million listeners, we did not see a “rush” of a million of them to rushlimbaugh.com, to click on his link to the video. There were 12,000 of them, which actually seems kind of a small number to me given the size of his listener-ship.

    As an aside, I’m interested in how the ‘views’ numbers increase, over the next week or so. The movie business plots ticket revenue day-to-day, week-to-week, and weekend-to-weekend, and they can see “a hit with legs” based on those numbers. They can spot a crashing failure (such as Watchmen) by examining precipitous declines in those numbers. It’d be interesting to have numbers on YouTube video viewings that would spot similar trends on videos that go viral (ie, are a hit), and then examining subsequent viewership to spot those with legs vs those that flame out quickly.

  • Mike Devx

    Reposting with disguised links in my stats cut and paste. Those links sent my comment straight to moderation!

    addison #12:

    Great post! I enjoyed it very much and agree completely.

    I stand corrected, too: Rush had a bigger impact than I’d expected compared to others…

    But the stats on YouTube do appear a little odd to me. Maybe they should be taken with a grain of salt? Hard to say… Rush’s #3 YouTube ‘click-to’ rating is based on the following under ‘Stats’ on the video’s YouTube page:

    17,321 blogs telegraph.co.uk/daniel_hannan/blog/2009…
    13,059 video google DOT com
    11,978 www rushlimbaugh DOT com/home/today.guest.html
    9,954 video google DOT com/?hl=en&tab=wv
    8,658 www guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2009/mar/26/…

    But the total # of views is listed as:
    1,167,339 views

    So the top five links to the video comprise about 6% of the total views. So a lot of people have gotten to this video via other linkages (and I’m sure the views total is influenced by some % of people watching the video more than once).

    In any case, if Rush has 20 million listeners, we did not see a “rush” of a million of them to rushlimbaugh.com, to click on his link to the video. There were 12,000 of them, which actually seems kind of a small number to me given the size of his listener-ship.

    As an aside, I’m interested in how the ‘views’ numbers increase, over the next week or so. The movie business plots ticket revenue day-to-day, week-to-week, and weekend-to-weekend, and they can see “a hit with legs” based on those numbers. They can spot a crashing failure (such as Watchmen) by examining precipitous declines in those numbers. It’d be interesting to have numbers on YouTube video viewings that would spot similar trends on videos that go viral (ie, are a hit), and then examining subsequent viewership to spot those with legs vs those that flame out quickly.

  • Mike Devx

    I wanted to post two questions on the banking/investment firms, here on this open thread, because I genuinely am puzzled and cannot come up with a definite answer of my own. If you have thoughts on these questions, please respond!

    (you can always email me at michaeld1@peoplepc.com if you don’t want to put out objectionable opinions – or opinions you’re so unsure of that you don’t want them public yet – on a public forum)

    In 1999 (under Clinton) the Glass-Steagall act was replaced by a new act with broad bipartisan support. (I forget the name of the new act.) The Glass-Steagall act kept banks and investment firms separate. Banks could handle assets such as savings and checking accounts, and were controlled/regulated, and deposits insured, by the FDIC. Investment firms handled, well, investments, including the very small category of CDOs, including Credit Default Swaps, which at the time measured in the small billions of dollars, but which, by 2008, measured to 52 trillion dollars.

    After Glass-Steagall, banks could participate in all the same investment activities that investment firms could. One result of the speculative frenzy in the housing bubble, coupled with cash infusions from China and the incredibly low interest rates under Greenspan for so many years, was that the CDO market collapsed (think Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Goldman-Sachs, Lehman, AIG, CitiBank, JPMorgan/Chase-Bank, IndyMac Bank, etc, etc, etc).

    My first question: Was the new act a good idea, or not? (Specifically, the part that allowed banks to participate in investments, which are far more speculative in nature; even while part of the assets they manage are strictly controlled by the FDIC? Where the FDIC refuses to allow genuine risk across the entirity of savings accounts – removing moral hazard? While supposed risk/reward scenarios can run rampant across the investment portion of their assets?

    My second question: We’re being told repeatedly that many of these bailouts – which create incredible moral hazard in the risk/reward underpinnings of the speculation involved in investment decisions – many of these bailouts are for firms that are “too big to fail”. In a capitalist system, what does it MEAN for an entity to be “too big to fail”? Why can they even fail, if they’re too big to fail? If their failure implies total catastrophe for our system, what does THAT mean? Many conservatives signed on to the concept that they were “too big to fail” and therefore it must not be allowed? Why not? Are they still conservatives if they agree on the idea that a capitalist business is “too big to fail” and therefore cannot?

    I’m not at all sure of my own answers, and I’m confused. Any thoughts would be helpful!

  • suek

    I’m with you. I’m still very confused.

    Still have opinions, though. I’d never let a little confusion deprive me of having an opinion!

    Question 1: Revision of the Glass-Steagall Act. I think it was a big mistake. I found this on Wikipedia:

    “The bill was killed in 1998 because Senator Phil Gramm wanted the bill to expand the number of banks which no longer would be covered by the CRA. He also demanded full disclosure of any financial deals which community groups had with banks, accusing such groups of “extortion.” In 1999 Senators Christopher Dodd and Charles E. Schumer broke another deadlock by forcing a compromise between Gramm and the Clinton administration which wanted to prevent banks from expanding into insurance or securities unless they were compliant with the CRA.”

    Somehow these two are interconnected, but I’m not sure where and how. That is to say, I’m not sure exactly who was supporting what and why they were supporting what they did. Some of it I know – I know that everytime you bring up CRA by Clinton, people blame it on Gramm. Gramm was resisting it, but then got something he wanted – removing Glass-Steagall? – and agreed. They were both part of the same bill (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act – notice they put Gramm’s name first. Is there a protocol for this?).

    Question 2: “Too big to fail”. I think the idea of this is “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” and there are always bunches of hanger-oners who are going to fall as well. I sort of picture the new Geico ad, with the president expecting the chameleon to catch him. Somebody is going to get smooshed. I think that when they’re too big to fail, the thought is that if the first domino falls, the whole table of dominos will fall as well, leaving no one standing.
    To be honest, I’m not sure that’s true. It’s too easy to say and too few people who know enough to gainsay it. I suspect that since we’ve seen billions paid out to European countries, I think that maybe we’re talking about causing the downfall of a number of other countries’ economies if we didn’t plug holes in the dike. Would that have been a bad thing? I don’t know. There’s also the one currency thing out there…is there a plan to establish a one world currency? Was it necessary to create this crisis in order for that to become a reality?

  • suek

    Went to Wikipedia on Phil Gramm, and found this:

    “Some economists state that the 1999 legislation spearheaded by Gramm and signed into law by President Clinton — the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act — was partly to blame for the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis and 2008 global economic crisis.[8][9] The Act is most widely known for repealing portions of the Glass-Steagall Act, which had regulated the financial services industry. Gramm responded to criticism of the act by stating that he saw “no evidence whatsoever” that the sub-prime mortgage crisis was caused in any way “by allowing banks and securities companies and insurance companies to compete against each other.”[10] The Act, it should be noted, passed the House by an overwhelming majority and passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, though it was introduced on the last day before Christmas holiday and never debated by either congressional body. [11]

    The Washington Post in 2008 named Gramm one of seven “key players” responsible for winning a 1998-1999 fight against regulation of derivatives trading.[12] Gramm’s support was later critical in the passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which kept derivatives transactions, including those involving credit default swaps, free of government regulation.”

    This seems to me to indicate that the crisis is two pronged: first, the lack of regulation of the credit default swaps, which then – as a result of that deregulation, and the fact that the CRA required banks to loan to unqualified borrowers – was undermined by the number of foreclosures on home loans. Not permitting one of either of these would probably have prevented our present crisis.

    By the way…on Fox news this am…there was a gentleman with a website (which I’ve forgotten because I didn’t write it down right away!) that says three little words may help someone prevent foreclosure. Three little words? in court, if someone is trying to foreclose on your house, you should simply ask the complainant – the bank – to “produce the note”. If they can’t, you can’t be foreclosed upon. The goal is not to avoid the foreclosure – that’s not going to happen permanently – but to buy time and possibly pave the way for negotiations. Apparently, because they buy and sell so many notes, banks may not hold your note. Interesting…

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    There were 12,000 of them, which actually seems kind of a small number to me given the size of his listener-ship.

    That’s not what matters. Given the traffic google provides, that is the number you need to use for comparison purposes.

  • suek

    Whoa! between comments today, suddenly the reply box has blossomed with html code boxes! How’d that happed???

  • suek

    happen…

  • suek

    Found another goodie. Still haven’t really figured it out…but eventually….!!!!

    http://nooilforpacifists.blogspot.com/2009/03/banking-opacity-and-financial.html

  • suek
  • Mike Devx

    Good article link on #21, suek. Boy, that “one quadrillion” value simply seems impossible. But the source is a reputable institution…

    I know two wrongs don’t make a right, but at the same site I ran across this. Which I think I will put on a T-shirt when I attend the Apr 15th protest Tea Party here in Dallas.

    http://nooilforpacifists.blogspot.com/2009/03/bumper-sticker-of-day_25.html