Barack Obama Killed Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson


Barack Obama Killed Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. At least that is what I expect to hear from Rush Limbaugh tomorrow following his ridiculous comments of today.

Speaking of ridiculous comments, my wife called me at the office earlier to tell me about how bad CNN’s coverage of Michael Jackson was. For example, she says they were saying you needed to seek medical attention quickly if you have a cardiac arrest. If you had a cardiac arrest you are in no longer in any condition to seek medical attention or do anything else–but hopefully someone else will be around to respond to the emergency.

I don’t know where Sanjay Gupta was, but it sounds like having CNN’s anchors talk about medical issues leads to as many absurdities as having Republican pundits talk about health care reform.



Rush Limbaugh Blames Obama for Sanford’s Affair

We expect to see conservatives blame Obama for the economic crisis which began under Bush. We expect to see conservatives blame the health care crisis on past government involvement and deny the fact that health care is an area which the market is unable to handle on its own. While there are many policy areas where we expect the Republicans to be in denial about the failure of their views and blame others, Rush Limbaugh is taking this to new extremes in blaming Barack Obama for Mark Sanford’s affair.

Hat tip to Talking Points Memo for the audio embedded above and here is a partial transcript from The Plank:

[Obama’s] trying to kill spirit. All this ‘hope’ and ‘change’–he’s trying to kill it. You know how many frustrated Americans there are out there at what’s happening?

This Sanford business: I’ve got to tell you, one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind…. What he did defies logic…. He up and leaves for five days, doesn’t leave anyone in charge of the state in case there’s an emergency. This is almost like, ‘I don’t give a damn, the country’s going to hell in a handbasket. I just want out of here.’ He had just tried to fight the stimulus money coming to South Carolina. He didn’t want any part of it. He lost the battle. He said, ‘What the hell. I mean, I’m — the federal government’s taking over — what the hell, I want to enjoy life.’…

I’m not [kidding]. My first thought was he said, ‘To hell with this. The Democrats are destroying the country. We can’t do anything to stop it. I gave everything I had to stop it here in South Carolina.’ … Folks, there are a lot of people looking at life and saying, ‘screw it.’ They’re saying, ‘screw it.’ Before Obama takes away their money, before Obama takes away their house, or the economy takes away their house, there are people who are saying, “To hell with all this…. I’m just going to try to enjoy it as much as I can.’

If Sanford had not returned and had remained in Argentina with his mistress, would conservatives have said he had gone Galt and proclaimed him a hero?

The next time Rush is caught using OxyContin, will this be Obama’s fault?

Is Barack Obama Too Perfect?

Sometimes it seems that the writers of Politco just love to create controvesy. Today they raise the question of whether Barack Obama is too perfect:

Let’s be honest: Barack Obama is better than you are.

He’s a better father — taking breaks from running the world to cheer on his daughters at soccer and basketball games.

He’s a better husband — zipping his wife off for dinner in New York and Paris.

He’s got a better diet — nibbling on vegetables from his homegrown garden to keep his love handles in check.

And he’s got a terrific jump shot.

You? Not so much.

Call it the politics of personal perfection. The Barack Obama brand is as much about being a personal example to the nation as it is about being a political figure. But the danger of that frothy mix of glamour and domesticity is that President Obama could become in the public mind something he never sought to be: the Martha Stewart of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

And political veterans say the fine line between what’s inspiring and what’s annoying can be difficult to spot in advance.

Obama veered further toward Martha Stewart Living territory in an interview with a Pakistani newspaper on June 21. He told the interviewer about his college travels in Pakistan and talked about the exotic dishes he learned to cook there.

“Keema … daal … you name it, I can cook it,” Obama said.

Also, the president noted, he reads Urdu poetry.

All this is driving certain people — mostly Republicans — nuts.

Palin Blasts Blog For “Malicious” Photo


After the David Letterman controversy you would think that everyone would just stay away from anything remotely related to Sarah Palin’s kids. Palin is now blasting a blog which placed the face of Eddie Burke, an Alaska talk show host, on Trig’s body in a picture in which Sarah is holding Trig.

This is clearly making fun of Burke and Sarah Palin, but it was easy to predict Palin would take advantge of this to get  coverage and sympathy. There’s  no reason to give Palin such an opportunity by doing anything which can plausibly be seen as involving her kids. I imagina the PUMAs will soon be on the attack over this.

What if Tobacco Was Treated Like Marijuana?

Derek Thompson compares the laws on tobacco to those on marijuana. He uses Barack Obama as an example of someone trying to stop using tobacco:

Altria and other tobacco companies, Saletan said, are increasingly feeling the heat to make alternative tobacco products — like tablets and snus — contain fewer carcinogens in reaction to public opinion on the issue of tabacco safety.

But at the same time, the government would be insane to outlaw cigarettes. People will just find other places to buy them. Obama, as Saletan rightly notes, has had every reason to quit smoking — for his wife, his kids, the Fox News cameras — and he’s still struggling. What happens when you outlaw a product with that kind of demand that cannot be met by the legal market? It goes underground.

Which brings us to drugs. The government’s effort to manage tobacco rather than make it illegal is exactly what belongs in the debate over pot and other illegal substances that could, at the very least, provide significant boons to medical pharmacology. The FDA has rejected the possibility of making cigarettes illegal by saying the underground product would be “even more dangerous than those currently marketed.” So when you make popular products illegal, it has the potential to make those products more dangerous. Gee, ya think?

Supreme Court Rules Against School Performing Strip Search For Ibuprofen

In April I noted a case going to the Supreme Court involving the strip searching of a teenage girl at school to search for suspected contraband Ibuprofen. The court ruled today that her rights were violated. The New York Times reports:

In a ruling of interest to educators, parents and students across the country, the Supreme Court ruled, 8 to 1, on Thursday that the strip search of a 13-year-old Arizona girl by school officials who were looking for prescription-strength drugs violated her constitutional rights.

The officials in Safford, Ariz., would have been justified in 2003 had they limited their search to the backpack and outer clothing of Savana Redding, who was in the eighth grade at the time, the court ruled. But in searching her undergarments, they went too far and violated her Fourth Amendment privacy rights, the justices said.

Had Savana been suspected of having illegal drugs that could have posed a far greater danger to herself and other students, the strip search, too, might have been justified, the majority said, in an opinion by Justice David H. Souter.

“In sum, what was missing from the suspected facts that pointed to Savana was any indication of danger to the students from the power of the drugs or their quantity, and any reason to suppose that Savana was carrying pills in her underwear,” the court said. “We think that the combination of these deficiencies was fatal to finding the search reasonable.”

In fact, no pills were found on Savana when her underwear was examined by two school officials, both women, who were acting on a tip passed along by another student.

Thursday’s ruling sends the case back to the lower courts to assess what damages, if any, should be paid by the school district. But, by a vote of 7 to 2, the Supreme Court held that the individual officials in the case should not be held liable, because “clearly established law” at the time of the search did not show that it violated the Fourth Amendment.

The Problem With The Insurance Industry

Ezra Klein points out a major reason why the market, while best at providing most services, is unable to handle health care. He describes testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee by Wendell Potter, a former senior executive at Cigna. The insurance industry, when motivated by maximizing profits, has found that the best way to do this is to find ways to deny care, including dropping people from the plan once they actually need to use the insurance coverage:

The best way to drive down “medical-loss,” explains Potter, is to stop insuring unhealthy people. You won’t, after all, have to spend very much of a healthy person’s dollar on medical care because he or she won’t need much medical care. And the insurance industry accomplishes this through two main policies. “One is policy rescission,” says Potter. “They look carefully to see if a sick policyholder may have omitted a minor illness, a pre-existing condition, when applying for coverage, and then they use that as justification to cancel the policy, even if the enrollee has never missed a premium payment.”

And don’t be fooled: rescission is important to the business model. Last week, at a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, Rep. Bart Stupak, the committee chairman, asked three insurance industry executives if they would commit to ending rescission except in cases of intentional fraud. “No,” they each said.

Potter also emphasized the practice known as “purging.” This is where insurers rid themselves of unprofitable accounts by slapping them with “intentionally unrealistic rate increases.” One famous example came when Cigna decided to drive the Entertainment Industry Group Insurance Trust in California and New Jersey off of its books. It hit them with a rate increase that would have left some family plans costing more than $44,000 a year, and it gave them three months to come up with the cash.

The issue isn’t that insurance companies are evil. It’s that they need to be profitable. They have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize profit for shareholders. And as Potter explains, he’s watched an insurer’s stock price fall by more than 20 percent in a single day because the first-quarter medical-loss ratio had increased from 77.9 percent to 79.4 percent.

The reason we generally like markets is that the profit incentive spurs useful innovations. But in some markets, that’s not the case. We don’t allow a bustling market in heroin, for instance, because we don’t want a lot of innovation in heroin creation, packaging and advertising. Are we really sure we want a bustling market in how to cleverly revoke the insurance of people who prove to be sickly?

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