Bush and Cheney Implicated in Plamegate Scandal

Former Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s book will be coming out in April and reportedly the book implicates several members of the Bush administration in the Plame scandal, including George Bush. Editor and Publisher reports on this excerpt:

“The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

“There was one problem. It was not true.

“I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President’s chief of staff, and the president himself.”

New Stem Cell Technique Might End Religious Objections

Other than for a difference in technique, and hopefully greater likelihood of success, this story sounds a lot like a story from January. A new technique has been developed which apparently will turn human skin cells into embryonic stem cells. If true this could finally allow for research taking advantage of stem cells without hindrance caused by the religious opposition. Hopefully this research will pan out, but there is also the possibility that this technique might turn out to have limitations as with amniotic stem cells. It would be a tremendous help in ending the opposition to stem cell research if this technique is effective but the underlying principle of preventing religious views from overly influencing government policy and impeding life-saving scientific research must continue to be defended.

Libertarians Questioning Paul’s Connection To Extremist Right

While Paul supporters see him as a threat to the status quo, I’ve seen his campaign as more of a threat to libertarian ideas. Confusing Paul’s social conservativism with libertarianism reinforces the view that libertarians are just Republicans who have tried marijuana. Unfortunately, while I would hope that libertarians might have some influence on the authoritarian trends in the Republican Party, the reverse has occurred. The association between libertarians and the Repubican Party has influenced libertarian thought to the point that libertarianism to be closer to traditional conservative views. The one difference is that in the past conservatives like Barry Goldwater opposed the religious right while Paul embraces many of their views in his rejection of secularism and separation of church and state.

Paul’s campaign presents additional problems to the reputation of libertarians by the association with far right extremist groups. While Paul’s supporters naively cry that this is “guilt by association” this association is far too often fueled by Paul’s own actions. Simply returning the contribution from Don Black would have gone a long way towards restoring Paul’s credibility. Any serious candidate would have done so, and Paul’s failure to return the donation at very least shows that his campaign is not ready for prime time. At worst it suggests some affinity for the views expressed by such groups.

Sometimes when diverse groups support a candidate it is a sign of broad appeal, however when both libertarians and neo-Nazis claim Paul as their preferred candidate at least one of these groups must be badly mistaken. The tactics used by many Paul supporters who habitually spam blogs which say anything negative about him further compounds the problem. The comments by Paul’s supporters far too often are characterized by total lack of respect for opposing viewpoints, racism, and belief in conspiracy theories. Any disagreement with Paul, and anything short of one hundred percent approval of his actions, is treated as a sign of either idiocy or evil motives by his supporters.

I’ve recently half-jokingly suggested that it might be in the best interests of libertarians if a publication such as Reason were to distance themselves from Paul. I’m finding an increasing number of libertarians who have expressed similar views, or least frustrations with aspects of Paul’s campaign. Liberty Papers has frequently noted such concerns and and summarizes them in a post today. Freedom Democrats expresses concern with Paul’s “association with the cultural right.” Other blogs are also discussing this subject.

Publius Endures writes:

The fact is, if Paul and his core supporters continue to refuse to distance themselves from the Stormfront, neo-Nazi, and conspiracy theorists, the Paul campaign will have a net negative effect on the libertarian movement in this country. If, however, he and his core supporters DO make a bona fide effort to distance themselves from this crowd, the Paul campaign has tremendous potential to advance the libertarian movement more than any other event since Atlas Shrugged. But in order for this to happen, Paul and his core supporters must acknowledge that the prominence of the nutcases poses a legitimate problem that must be dealt with.

Ron Bernstein writes:

Ron Paul is a tempting protest vote, and I did support him in 1988 when he ran as a Libertarian, but he strikes me as running less of a “libertarian” campaign than a pacifist, populist campaign that does have some appeal to young and idealistic libertarians, but has too much appeal to the old, paranoid, and racist pseudo-conservatives. There seems to be a right-wing version of the Popular Front mentality among many Paul supporters: just like it was okay for Social Democrats to ally with Stalinists for “Progressive” ends in the old days, it’s okay to ally with 9/11 and various other conspiracy theorists, southern secessionists, Nazis and fascists, anti-Semites and racists, against the common enemy of the modern “welfare-warfare” state. Count me out!

It is encouraging to see that more people are recognizing this problem.

Lack of Insurance Coverage for Many Cancer Survivors Not Named Giuliani, Thompson, or McCain

The Los Angeles Times examines a major flaw in the health care proposals of Rudy Giuliani and other Republicans–the market has failed to make health care available for many who have serious medical problems. When decisions are made purely based upon maximizing profits, the wisest course is to avoid selling insurance to those with costly claims. Three of the Republican candidates are cancer survivors:

All three have offered proposals with the stated aim of helping the 47 million people in the U.S. who have no health insurance, including those with preexisting medical conditions.

But under the plans all three have put forward, cancer survivors such as themselves could not be sure of getting coverage — especially if they were not already covered by a government or job-related plan and had to seek insurance as individuals.

“Unless it’s in a state that has very strong consumer protections, they would likely be denied coverage,” said economist Paul Fronstin of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, who has reviewed the candidates’ proposals. “People with preexisting conditions would not be able to get coverage or would not be able to afford it.”

If the arguments against the Democratic presidential candidates’ healthcare plans include higher taxes and greater government involvement, then the Achilles’ heel of the GOP plans is their dependence on the private market, which often rejects applicants with health problems.

Republicans want to expand the existing private insurance system, offering new tax breaks as a way of helping people buy insurance individually. But they also want to avoid federal regulation that would tell insurers whom they have to cover and how much they may charge.

That means the self-employed and others seeking individual coverage would be subject to a marketplace in which insurers generally pick the healthiest applicants and turn the rest away. Cancer survivors — even if they have been free of disease for several years — are routinely denied health insurance when they try to purchase it as individuals.

Even if coverage is offered, it often comes with restrictions or high premiums that many find unaffordable.

Tax breaks won’t help if coverage is not offered at a reasonable price, or if insurance companies can drop subscribers as soon as they find they are too expensive to keep. I fear that the present problems will be much worse as our ability to predict future medical problems becomes greater and insurance companies know which problems applicants are genetically prone to. As long as Republicans fail to address these problems their plans are of little value.