The Democratic Daily Continues Their Personal Smears

I’m working off of a Palm in an airport and therefore am limited in what in posting until I get to a real computer. Regular readers know how this blog was started as I left The Democratic Daily as a result of the support of anti-Semitism and their atmosphere of insistence in a lockstep adherence to their increasingly looney beliefs. This included everything from belief in ghosts and astrology to conspiracy theories. Since then they have engaged in slandering me as opposed to responding to my arguments. When I finally decided to speak out against their tactics they tried to call this sexism. Arguments on blogs sometimes get heated and we all write things we would not write in the heat of anger, but it is a perversion of feminism to hide behind this when someone responds to their attacks. The blogosphere can be a rough place in terms of what is read, and most treat both men and women the same in such arguments. It is also easy to make such comments sound much worse, or take on a totally different meaning, when people like Todd take them out of context.

Recently we’ve had disagreements over belief in 9/11 conspiracy theories. I guess they couldn’t handle the fact that more evidence came out today proving they were wrong so they launched another personal attack.

I will respond more when I get to a real computer. Fot now I will note that about the worst they can come up with is a picture vaguely revealing a nipple in a post mocking Lindsay Lohan. The blog censors of The Democratic Daily are at it again. I guess this isn’t as bad as their blocking criticism of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

Computer Simulation Disputes 9/11 Conspiracy Theories


This report comes at a good time following recent posts on 9/11 conspiracy theories, with animation of the collision above. Hopefully this puts an end to this nonsense, but past experience has demonstrated that facts rarely have any impact on conspiracy theorists.

A computer simulation of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks supports a federal agency’s findings that the initial impact from the hijacked airplanes stripped away crucial fireproofing material and that the weakened towers collapsed under their own weight.

The two-year Purdue University study, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, was the first to use 3-D animation to provide visual context to the attacks, said Christoph Hoffmann, a professor of computer science and one of the lead researchers on the project.

“One thing it does point out… is the absolute essential nature of fireproofing steel structures,” Hoffmann told The Associated Press. “This is something that wasn’t done originally in the World Trade Center when it was built. It wasn’t code at that time.”

Mete Sozen, a professor of structural engineering and a lead investigator on the simulation, said Purdue researchers hope their work leads to better structural design and building codes to prevent similar collapses.

“In the unfortunate development that we shall have to design structures to survive such events, the methods we have developed and will be developing will be of great use to designers,” Sozen said.

The animation, intended in part to help engineers design safer buildings, begins with a map of lower Manhattan as it appeared on Sept. 11, 2001. The video then shows a plane slicing through several stories of the World Trade Center’s north tower and follows the disintegrating plane through the interior and out the opposite side.

The report concludes that the weight of the aircraft’s fuel, when ignited, produced “a flash flood of flaming liquid” that knocked out a number of structural columns within the building and removed the fireproofing insulation from other support structures, Hoffmann said.

The simulation also found that the airplane’s metal skin peeled away shortly after impact and shows how the titanium jet engine shafts flew through the building like bullets.

Bill Richardson on Iraq

I really want to like Bill Richardson, thinking that someone with his experience and potential to bring in support from the west could be of value. I’ve noted some of his more libertarian positions, and gave him credit for supporting legalization of medicinal marijuana. Despite his experience, far too often his campaign appears to not yet be ready for prime time.

Ryan Lizza criticizes Richardson’s use of the Iraq war.  Just as I was unimpressed with Edwards’ attempt to use Iraq in the New Hampshire debate, I do not see Ricardson gaining any ground by exaggerating differences between himself and his opponents.

This is not to say that Richardson does not deserve some attention for his push to get all the troops out more quickly than advocated by most of the other candidates. I just do not believe that such details matter in winning the nomination. The situation on the ground may be different than it is now, and some flexibility is needed once we have a President who is willing to engage in diplomacy while pursuing a reasonable exit strategy.

I do not believe voters care for the specifics as much as wanting to be certain that the next President will concentrate on getting us out of Iraq as opposed to maintaining the present course. On issues such as the details of leaving Iraq, it also might be better to simply say you’ve changed your mind as opposed to running the risk of appearing to be hiding such a change in the minds of reporters such as Lizza.

Update: A Richardson supporter has defended Richardson from Lizza’s criticism. He makes a sound argument that Richardson has maintained the same views against the war, has wanted to go beyond Reid-Feingold, and that the campaign simply removed reference to Reid-Feingold after it failed as it was no longer on the table.

John Edwards, Class Warfare, and Michael Bloomberg

If we can rely on The Politico, it sounds like Edwards plans to return to class warfare. His “two Americas” theme will appeal to some but alienate many more. It might work in the primaries, if his target voters can forget his mansion and $400 haircuts. Perhaps that is all that will be needed following Bush. This certainly will not help the Democrats keep the support of the moderates and “Starbucks Republicans” who supported them in 2006.

If I was Michael Bloomberg, I would be very happy to see this development, and would root for Edwards to win the Democratic nomination. On the other hand, Edwards might see the possibility of Bloomberg entering the race as allowing him to attempt this strategy.

I have a difficult time seeing how Bloomberg could win enough states to win in the electoral college, but the possible entry of Bloomberg in the race could have a major impact which might help Edwards. While Edwards would have a tough time with many of those moderate voters in any event, Bloomberg might take those votes and keep them from returning to the Republicans, allowing Edwards to achieve a plurality.

The Politico also reports that, “Edwards is trying to cast himself as the candidate of substance, with the most specific plans on health care, energy and Iraq.” Presenting plans written by others might create the illusion, but does not represent true substance. True substance might come from the experience of working on the details of legislation or governing. Edwards’ dabbling in politics does not count for much.

A Review of Michael Moore’s Sicko


Last night I took Michael Moore up on his offer and watched Sicko prior to its official release, with the trailer appearing above. The documentary made many excellent points on health care, but after seeing its overall philosophy, I am surprised that it received favorable reviews from Fox News and The Wall Street Journal. Perhaps their reviewers also have had unpleasant experiences with the health insurance industry.

Moore briefly mentions the problems of the uninsured, but concentrates on the millions who do have health insurance yet still run into problems. He shows people having financial difficulties after paying their deductibles and co-pays, or paying the bill when an insurance company refuses to cover a necessary service. He shows how insurance companies cherry pick the healthiest applicants and deny those it expects to have to pay out on.

Moore might give a false impression that people with chronic diseases cannot obtain coverage at all. In many states they can receive coverage in theory–if they can afford the rates. The chances are better if covered by an employer as opposed to needing to obtain individual coverage, but a catastrophic case might also cause an employer to drop or reduce coverage. Michael Moore has a valid point that insurance companies are in the business to make money, and that often means finding ways to avoid paying claims as opposed to covering medical care for the sick. Similarly, viewers might get the impression that insurance companies find ways out of paying every claim. They actually do pay out on a sizable number, but that doesn’t help the many people, such as those shown in Sicko, who do not have their bills paid.

Moore shows not only victims of the health care system, but those who worked for insurance companies and are now confessing about the tactics used. This includes medical directors for insurance companies who were well paid for finding justifications to deny claims. The health insurance companies attempted to rationalize this to their medical directors by claiming they were working only to deny payment, not medical care.

The more controversial aspects of the movie are sure to involve the visits to Canada, Great Britain, France, and, most of all Cuba. I prefer to stick with aspects of the movie I’m personally familiar with, health care in the United States, as opposed to debating health care plans in foreign countries I have only read about. Moore also goes beyond health care to support considerable more government services than many who are pushing for health care reform in this country are advocating. I’m sure that Michael Moore does white wash many of the problems in other countries, but the fact remains that all these countries are able to provide health care for all its citizens. That does not mean that we should necessarily follow any of these particular models, but universal health care is something an affluent society such as ours should be able to find a way to provide.

Detractors of Michael Moore are bound to attack his more leftist economic positions and attempt to claim that the Democrats are as far left as him. As noted in a previous post, Michael Moore believes that none of the Democratic candidates, including Dennis Kucinich go far enough. Only Kucinich backs a single payer plan, with the rest of the Democratic candidates advocating plans which preserve private insurance plans as well as private medical practices. The plans advocated are actually very similar to those enacted by Republican governors in California and Massachusetts. I’ve seen claims that Sicko is virtually a Hillary Clinton campaign ad. It is true that the movie takes a highly favorable view of Hillary Care while ignoring the problems, but Moore ultimately attacks Clinton for selling out to the insurance companies.

There is no way that Michael Moore will receive anything but opposition from the insurance industry, but he does try to appeal to doctors. In both England and France he makes a point of showing that, despite “socialized medicine,” the doctors continue to have an excellent standard of living. On top of that, they don’t have all the paper work hassles we receive from the insurance companies, as well as denial of payment. Michael Moore is receiving support from groups of doctors and nurses who have joined together in Scrubs for Sicko to give information to movie goers.

Moore looks at previous health care legislation, including portions of the Nixon White House tapes showing Nixon’s true motives for pushing HMO’s as a means to deny care. He also shows how George Bush’s Medicare Part D plan was really a scheme to provide greater payments to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, but he does leave out many of the details. Moore could have said more about how many patients who were eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare had their prescription coverage changed from plans which negotiated lower prices to new plans which paid the pharmaceutical companies significantly more. He also said nothing about the Medicare Advantage Plans included in the legislation. Under these plans, insurance companies are paid more than it costs to treat regular Medicare patients, even though they cherry pick the healthier patients and engage in dishonest sales techniques.

Moore makes a variation of an argument which I have often made to libertarian-leaning friends who question why I would support changes in health care, even if far less than those advocated by Moore. As Michael Moore points out, we already have “socialized” police, fire fighters, soldiers, and teachers. In the rest of the developed world universal health care is also seen as the norm, although Moore does brush over the fact that many countries do provide universal care through utilizing private insurance. In the case of health care, the insurance industry has simply failed, substituting a business model based upon avoiding payments as opposed to providing a service.

There’s bound to be denial from the right as to the accuracy of the movie. While it certainly doesn’t excuse the other problems in their system of government, I’ve previously provided information on the validity of Moore’s comments on health care in Cuba. The National Coalition on Heallth Care has reviewed health care costs, as well as the number of people, including those with insurance, who declare bankruptcy due to health care costs. The American Society of Registered Nurses has also reviewed Moore’s facts and found those on the US insurance system to be accurate. Among their findings:

When we surveyed select counties across the world for life expectancy, which was defined as the life expectancy at birth for both sexes, the U.S. fared very poorly.

The U.S. came in 17th, tied with Cyprus, with a life expectancy of 78.0. Here are the countries in the top 17: Japan (81.4); Switzerland (80.6); Sweden (80.6); Australia (80.6); Canada (80.3); Italy (79.9); France (79.9); Spain (79.8); Norway (79.7); Israel (79.6); Greece (79.4); Austria (79.2); New Zealand (79.0); Germany (79.0); U.K. (78.7); Finland (78.7); Cyprus (78.0); and the U.S. (78.0).

In our survey of select countries across the world for infant mortality, which was defined as the number of deaths per 1,000 live births, the U.S. again did poorly.

The U.S. came in 16th, below South Korea, with an infant mortality rate of 6.4. Here are the countries in the top 16: Sweden (2.8); Japan (3.2); Finland (3.5); Norway (3.6); Czech Republic (3.9); France (4.2); Spain (4.3); Denmark (4.5); Austria (4.5); Canada (4.6); Australia (4.6); Portugal (4.9); UK (5.0); New Zealand (5.7); South Korea (6.1); U.S. (6.4).

The next question is whether the U.S. truly spends more than any other country in the world on health care. This would indeed indicate a mismanagement of funds budgeted for the health care system…

Again, Moore’s facts checked out. The U.S. spends $5,711 per person. That’s a whopping 33% more than the next highest spending country, Norway. Norway spends only $3,809 per person.

Here are the top 27 highest per capita spending countries in the world: U.S. ($5,711); Norway ($3,809); Switzerland ($3,776); Luxembourg ($3,776); Iceland ($3,110); Germany ($3,001); Canada ($2,989); Netherlands ($2,987); France ($2,902); Australia ($2,874); Denmark ($2,762); Sweden ($2,704); Ireland ($2,496); U.K. ($2,389); Austria ($2,306); Italy ($2,266); Japan ($2,244); Finland ($2,108); Greece ($1,997); Israel ($1,911); New Zealand ($1,893); Spain ($1,853); Portugal ($1,791); Slovenia ($1,669); Malta ($1,436); Czech Republic ($1,302).

It is not necessary to agree with all of Michael Moore’s personal beliefs to see the movie and acknowledge that we do have a problem. Nor must we necesarily agree with Michael Moore’s solutions. The problem is only worsening as the number of uninsured , as well as under-insured, continues to grow.