Oxycontin and the Right

When the stories first  came out yesterday that Levi Johnston’s mother was arrested on drug charges, I wondered if this could be tied into Wasilla’s reputation as the methamphetamine capital of Alaska.
It now looks like this is not the case. Instead we might have more insight into why Rush Limbaugh was such a strong supporter of Sarah Palin. It turns out that Sherry Johnston’s arrest was related to Oxycontin.

Previously I noted that The National Enquirer had alleged that Track Palin had been addicted to Oxycontin.  Yes, those small town values which Sarah Palin promotes are just so wonderfully superior to the values of the rest of us.

Caroline Kennedy Answers Questions But This Is Not Enough

Caroline Kennedy has received criticism for seeking Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat without facing the voters. This is partially a consequence of the seat being decided by appointment, but is is also important for the people of New York to believe that any appointee will be representing them. Kennedy has avoided answering questions and now unfortunately has chosen to limit her answers to questions to written responses.

I remain without a strong opinion either way with regards to her appointment. These responses do not affect my decision. I agree with her on some positions more than others, but any disagreements are no greater than those I might have with other Democrats I feel forced to support by default due to the extremism of the opposing party. Perhaps her most controversial answer will be her support for gay marriage. I’ve long suspected that many Democrats realize that this is the only just position but have been afraid to take this stand out of fear of the political backlash. The question was answered with a simple response that, “Caroline supports full equality and marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.”

If I have any interest in seeing Caroline Kennedy in the Senate it would be because of her choice of topics for some of her books. The positions which a politician chooses to concentrate on are often more important than how they would answer a string of questions submitted by others on a variety of questions. From my perspective, whether there is any great value in having Caroline Kennedy in the Senate would depend largely upon whether her interest in writing books on civil liberties and privacy means she would be a strong civil liberties advocate. I would learn far more about her if she were to present her ideology by making her own case as to why she should be in the Senate as opposed to only answering the questions of others in this manner.

Barack Obama Demonstrates Change in Government Attitude Towards Science


After going through eight years with an administration which has been hostile towards science, ignoring the facts whenever they disproved their ideological beliefs, it is a welcome change to see an incoming president who respects science. Science is the topic of Barack Obama’s weekly address with video above and full text under the fold.


GAO Report Shows Problems in Medicare Advantage Plans

A Democratic blog out of Texas, linking to one of my many previous posts on the problems with Medicare Advantage plans, also points out a new GAO report on Medicare Advantage plans (pdf format). After pointing out the financial problems with the plans costing 13 percent or 17 percent more to care for Medicare patients than under the government plan, they point out a few key problems with the plans:

Beneficiaries May Be Charged For Entire Cost Of Service: If beneficiaries in PFFS plans did not contact their plans before obtaining services to ensure that the service was covered, they may have had to “pay for the entire cost of the service if the coverage was later denied.” Enrollees in original fee-for-service Medicare are not charged the entire cost of a service unless the provider warns him or her that it may not be covered by Medicare.

Beneficiaries Charged Higher Cost Sharing: PFFS plans charged exorbitant cost-sharing to beneficiaries who did not “prenotify” a plan before obtaining services, a practice that may have violated laws governing PFFS plans. Medicare FFS plans, HMO, and PPO plans did not have prenotification requirements.

PFFS Plans Are Unpopular: Beneficiaries are noticing the poor treatment they’ve received from PFFS plans and are voting with their feet and are disenrolling at an average rate of 21 percent compared to 9 percent for other MA plans. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not comply with statutory requirements to mail information on MA plan disenrollment rates to beneficiaries.

Annoying People and Freedom of Speech

Here is some troubling legislation from elsewhere in Michigan (found via Ed Morrissey):

Ticking someone off could get you a ticket in one Michigan city. The Brighton City Council on Thursday approved an ordinance allowing police in the Livingston County community to ticket and fine anyone who is annoying in public “by word of mouth, sign or motions.”

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus of Howell reports the measure is modeled on a similar ordinance in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak.

A city attorney says there could be situations where the measure would violate freedom of speech, but that those cases will be reviewed by the city.

I wonder how often such enforcement wouldn’t be a violation of freedom of speech. Maybe there is some pertinent information available regarding the use of this ordinance in Royal Oak. Copious Dissent estimates that this would be a violation of freedom of speech pretty much all of the time:

First of all, 99% of the complaints are going to be Unconstitutional. Political speech is almost always “annoying.” If it weren’t annoying to some people, there would be an overall consensus on the issue, and there would be no reason to express one’s political views about the topic.

Second, now financial resources for the police and prosecutors are going to be wasted on malcontents who are hypersensitive to being annoyed. I could think of 1000 other better ways for law enforcement to serve the people.

Unfortunately, as I see far too often in conservative blogs when at first I agree with what they write, they degenerate to the anti-intellectualism which has become prevalent on the right, attributing this bill to the work of people who went to college. There is little doubt that this was written by people who went to college, but do they really think that legislation coming from people who did not go to college would make any more sense, or be any more respectful of civil liberties? The occasional support for civil liberties coming from the right wing blogosphere is certainly a welcome change from what is essentially an authoritarian movement which prefers to engage in such attacks on everyone thinks at all differently from them to consistently defending individual liberty.