Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I am going on vacation for a week over to Pismo Beach, so blogging will be light to non-existent for that time... after all, everyone needs a little sunshine!

And, speaking of sunshine, in the spirit of shining some light into dark places, here's Bill Whittle (h/t American Digest) on the enigma of Barack Hussein Obama.

To be honest, what's on BHO's birth certificate has always a secondary and relatively unimportant aspect of thereally critical questions that needed to be asked and answered about the left's metrosexual messiah: e.g., what substance, if any, lies beneath the carefully-crafted, fiercely controlled facade of this media-created personhood? What is the real history of Obama/Soetoro/Barack/Barry? And what is the true character of this man who came to mean all things to all people and who is now the President of the U.S?; Obama burst on the political scene like Athena springing forth full grown and fully armed from the head of some anonymous Zeus. He is a man who came out of nowhere; with no real accomplishments except a glib tongue and a exaggerated sense of self importance....

Personally, I find his appeal rather inexplicable; and his power over the useful idiots of the left rather frightening...even more so after two years.

Stay tuned for Part II from Whittle (not out yet).

Monday, April 25, 2011


Paul Krugman, professional moron economist argued in the NY Times recently that patients are not consumers and that it is "profoundly irresponsible" to say that they are. He actually has the audacity to cite the "special" relationship between doctor and patient as his justification for this position:
Here’s my question: How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as “consumers”? The relationship between patient and doctor used to be considered something special, almost sacred. Now politicians and supposed reformers talk about the act of receiving care as if it were no different from a commercial transaction, like buying a car — and their only complaint is that it isn’t commercial enough.

What has gone wrong with us?

What has "gone wrong" is that the government and wonks like Krugman have been instrumental in the systematic and ongoing destruction of that "special, almost sacred" relationship.

In fact, I remember very clearly when the relationship first began to go south: when Hilary Clnton used her position as firs lady to aggressively pursue "Hilarycare" (as it was then called) and generated all the redistributive euphoria (which came to full fruition with Obamacare more recently) back in the early 90's. Life was never the same for physicians after that early fiasco; the HMO started the disruption of doctor patient; and it even impacted how doctors were recruited and trained by medical schools (not necessarily for the better).

The doctor-patient relationship has never been the same since.

As patients had less and less to do with actually making decisions with doctors regarding their care because they were seduced by the idea of not having to pay for treatment; and, as the government and insurance company bureaucrats increasngly made those decisions INSTEAD OF either doctors or patients, it seemed that all the loca,l state and federal government programs that I was acquainted with simultaneously started referring to patients as "consumers." This remarkable change was clearly, I felt at the time, an attempt to downplay and disguise the reality that patients no longer had control over the money that was paid to doctors and no longer were even in the loop in deciding what care was thought to be "best" for them.

In fact, as a doctor, I absolutely hated calling patients "consumers"--not because they were not consumers of the product that I had to offer, but because the term was suddenly being deliberately and consciously used to denigrate and marginalize the doctor/patient relationship; and to make patients feel that they still had some power in that relationship.

They did not.

The only power they had was to see the doctor their plan told them to see.

Don't get me wrong, I think that patients are, and of right ought to be considered consumers. Who else has the biggest stake--both financially and physiologically-- in the outcome (and cost) of health care services? But calling them "consumers" in the current system of government/insurance-rationed health care is extremely deceiving.


Because it is the government (who whoever is mandated to pay for the health services) that has assumed the greatest stake and the bottom line IS ALWAYS A FINANCIAL ONE.

I have had more than 30 years working in this environment. Patients used to--when they actually were "consumers" of health care--used to decide all the time to pay for procedures and medications that they and their doctors decided were needed. They also used to negotiate if necessary, with doctors and hospitals on costs and repayment issues. This is not allowed to happen now as the government, hospitals, and insurance companies have squeezed the consumers out of the equation. You cannot get drugs that aren't on the formulary of a hospital (and at some large government hospitals, that formular is strictly controlled and does not include newer--and hence, more expensive drugs, even if they are better for some patients); and I can tell you first hand that it is extremely rare for considerations other than financial ones to be the bottom line. I think doctors still care about their patients, but they, too, are squeezed out. Patients are not consulted much at all, but told what treatments they will get and what will be paid for. Most health care "consumers" don't have much choice at all. Considering the enormous amount of money that is in question, Americans should be getting the best possible care if it is true that "you get what you pay for." But, you see, what used to be a simple consumer transaction between two individuals--a doctor and a patient--has become a circus of paperwork and middlemen; a factory of waste and stupidity (penny wise and pound foolish) and a carnival of thwarted commercialism.

Unfortunately, government medicine--whether at the local, state, or federal level, is not willing to pay the real costs of excellent health care. These administrative middlement have developed a number of very clever covers for this, always touting "evidence-based medicine" as their baseline for denying care. Their rallying cry is "there's no scientific evidence for that treatment over this cheaper one." But in a system where scientific research never seems to actually do those clinical studies that might prove that one treatment is better than another for a given individual (remember, that all these studies are statistical averages that don't take individual responses into account, but average them out)this trope is entirely bogus most of the time. Doctors don't treat "statistics" they treat individuals (as I tell my residents repeatedly).

And only individuals can make the decisions that are right for them at any given moment.

So why have health costs continued to skyrocket, even with all these new controls on spending in every facet of the doctor/patient relationship?

Carpe Diem says it is because patients are not spending their own money:
Krugman is correct that patients are not consumers, but for a completely different reason that Krugman misses entirely: Almost 90% of health care costs are paid with "other people's money" (insurance companies, government and employers, see chart above, data here), and only about 11% is paid "out of pocket" by patients. So patients are no longer the "consumers" of health care, and they haven't been for a long time, because the "consumer" paying almost the entire cost of medical care is a third party. Over time, the "consumer" paying the bill for health care services has gradually become third party payers, and the trends projected in the chart above indicate that it won't get any better in the future.

But Krugman seems to be arguing that regardless of who is paying for health care, "there’s something terribly wrong with the whole notion of patients as “consumers” and health care as simply a financial transaction." Krugman's further claims that “'Consumer-based' medicine has been a bust everywhere it has been tried."

Well, what about LASIK surgery, retail health clinics, concierge medicine, medical tourism and cosmetic surgery, to name just some of the successful "consumer-based" medical services?

When we think about soaring health care costs in the United States, isn't one of the main reasons precisely because patients have NOT been treated as consumers spending their own money? In that case, I think Krugman has it backwards. If the goal is to control health care costs, that will never happen until patients are treated like consumers.

There's a wonderful graph at the link that is quite instructive.

Krugman and other progressives have it (as usual) ass backwards. The real "doctor/patient relationship" was only healthy and thriving when patients were consumers of health care and were treated as such. They could demand equal stature with their doctors in making decisions; or choose to cede control to a doctor they trusted to act in their best interest. Now, of course, no one necessarily acts in the patient's (or the consumer's) best interest; but it's very telling that every one asserts they are, almost reflexively and defensively.

Just ask the patients who already are in all those lovely plans that ration their care and make decisions for them--especially the sick ones. I think you might discover that they don't feel they are really in the loop at all.

[Political cartoons by Dana Summers]

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Every spring, a renewal of the spirit is celebrated along with the awakening of new life and growth. These days in particular, it is a much-needed reminder that, no matter how terrible everything seems; no matter how insane or uncomprehensible the universe appears; and no matter how dark and gloomy and frightening the prospects for our species, life itself is ever reborn and the world renewed once more.


[Roses just picked this morning from my garden]

Thursday, April 21, 2011


In case you missed it, here is a rather perfect example of the underlying mindset of many on the political left, whose ideology is at heart is primitive, retrogressive, and anti-human--whether it is applied to environmental issues, political issues, or interpersonal issues:

As, Michael Walsh notes,
One thing you have to say about the Left: They never miss an opportunity to let the mask of hatred slip. It’s practically Pavlovian; they are so invested in the myth of their own righteousness that their “tolerance” fetish goes right out the window whenever they suffer the slightest affront to their delusional notion of how the world works.

Here's another example of the way the left does politics, in this case attacking a 16 year old Paul Ryan for taking government benefits after the death of his father:
Of all the banal and empty-headed Democratic debating tricks, this one is one of my least favorite: to pretend that somebody who believes a particular government service should be changed or reduced has a moral obligation to forgo the use of that service. That is the kind of sloppy thinking that should be self-refuting, but, alas, is not, particularly among our friends on the left, who are not famous for the rigor of their thinking or for the continence of their emotions, the most prominent of which is hatred.

Don't ever let those leftist 'progressives' get away with explaining to you how much more kind and compassionate their world view is....

Or, how "reality-based" their continuous appeasement and betrayal of fundamental values is...--from Andy McCarthy at The Corner who ironically noted:
I’ve been asking why the State Department has not designated the Taliban as a terrorist organization, and why Congress’s authorization for the use of military force supporting the war has not been updated to include the Taliban as part of the enemy, given that defeating the Taliban — a terrorist organization – is the stated rationale for our continuing combat operations in Afghanistan.

The obvious, if cynical, explanation seemed to be that we were planning to negotiate with the Taliban (or, at least, encourage Karzai’s negotiating with the Taliban). It is supposed to be U.S. policy — or, at least, it used to be — that we don’t negotiate with terrorists for to do so would reward and thus encourage their barbaric methods. Formally branding the terrorists as terrorists would thus complicate negotiations with them.

And, perhaps most importantly, don't ever allow yourself to believe that there is any real logic or consistency to their so-called "principled" stances.

Today's 'progressive' left is all about emotional immaturity and casual cruelty; the celebration of appearance over substance; feeling good about themselves as a necessary and sufficient condition for all political policies. The superficial mask of compassion and caring hides a profound degree of psychological denial and projection--and an intense hatred of the modern world; so much so that they are perfectly willing to drag us back to the middle ages (who does that remind you of?).

So, instead of being shocked that progressives actually are against progress (of the human sort, anyway), I figure it actually makes a psychotic sort of sense, if you appreciate the lunacy of it all.

And, oh yes. As long as we are ending our addiction to economic growth, we poor deluded non-leftists also obviously need to end our crippling addictions to reason, reality, truth and life too, because well... you know where those things will lead.

UPDATE: MORE 'ADDICTIONS' WE NEED TO BE FREED FROM! Specifically, did you know that "the rules of grammar discriminate against “marginalized” groups and restrict self-expression."? Neither did I:
Even noted composition scholar Peter Elbow, in his address, claimed that the grammar that we internalize at the age of four is “good enough.” The Internet, thankfully, has freed us from our previous duties as “grammar police,” and Elbow heralded the day when the white spoken English that has now become the acceptable standard, will be joined by other forms, like those of non-native and ghetto speakers.

Freed from standards of truth claims and grammatical construction, rhetoric is now redefined as “performance,” as in street protests, often by students demonstrating their “agency.” Expressions are made through “the body,” images, and song—sometimes a burst of spontaneous reflection on the Internet. Clothes are rhetorically important as “instruments of grander performance.”

I swear, these morons professional progressives will not be happy until the human species is once again living in caves, grunting unintelligibly and desperately scavenging for food.

It's no wonder they can relate so well to the Islamic fanatics of the world.

NOTE: You do realize that these are the people who are teaching your children, don't you?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


A daunting task:
A new McClatchy poll brings some bad news for Republicans in light of the House’s vote to adopt Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R., Wis.) budget proposal last week, which includes politically risky reforms to Medicare. According to the poll of registered voters, 80 percent oppose cutting Medicare and Medicaid to reduce the deficit, including 68 percent of self-identified conservatives and 70 percent of Tea Party supporters.

Granted, respondents aren’t asked to decide whether they would rather “save Medicare by reforming it for future retirees” (per the Ryan plan) or “pretend like everything’s fine even though Medicare is going bankrupt in nine years” (the ‘reelect Obama in 2012′ plan). But these results, which are consistent with those of similar polls, further underscore the momentous educational challenge facing Republicans as they attempt to sell Ryan’s plan to skeptical voters and stem the onslaught of Democratic demagoguery....

Or, as Hot Air notes: New Dem ad: In Paul Ryan’s America, your grandpa will strip to pay for health care"

Meanwhile, a poll suggests that Americans believe the best way to decrease the deficitis to tax the rich.


Do Americans really have the capacity anymore to do the hard thing? Or, have we like NATO become impotent to actually deal with the real world anymore? Are we simply suckers for a smooth-talking con artist and his gang of pickpockets? Are we still able to distinguish between substance and demagoguery; between reality and illusion?

Time (and the next election) will tell...stay tuned.

[Political cartoons by Eric Allie]

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Here is a detailed analysis of President Obama's budget proposals. Go and read it if you want to get beyond the rhetoric to see the man behind the curtain.
Today the President proposed:

1.a negotiating process;
2.deficit and debt targets;
3.a new budget process trigger mechanism;
4.and new spending cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, other entitlements, and defense.
Compared to the budget he proposed in February, he offers no new proposals in non-security discretionary spending (I think), taxes, or Social Security.

Hennesey then goes into detail about each of these issues and concludes:
Here are four broad reactions to the new proposal.

First, this is a short-term budget, not a long-term budget. There are three forces driving our long-run government spending and deficit problem:

2.unsustainable growth in per capita health spending; and
3.unsustainable promises made by past elected officials, enshrined in entitlement benefit formulas.
The President’s proposal addresses none of these forces. It instead spends most of its effort on everything but those factors. His proposed Medicare and Medicaid savings, while large in aggregate dollars, are quite small relative to the total amount to be spent on those programs, and he lets the largest program in the federal budget (Social Security) grow unchecked. While Bowles and Simpson focused their efforts on the major entitlements and also addressed other spending areas and taxes, the President’s proposal does the reverse, focusing on other mandatory spending, taxes, and defense. That’s a short-term focus.

Second, this proposal “feels” to me like the recently concluded discretionary spending deal. It’s the size of a typical deficit reduction bill that Congress usually does every five or so years. I’m sure the affected interest groups are even now preparing to invade Washington to explain how a 3-5% cut will devastate them. The problem is that our fiscal problems are now so big that they require much larger policy changes.

Third, while framed as a centrist proposal, the substance leans pretty far left. It’s deficit reduction through (triggered) tax increases on the rich, plus defense cuts, plus unspecified other mandatory cuts and process mechanisms that might cut Medicare provider payments. Centrist Democrat proposals do all of these things, but they also reform Social Security and Medicare, usually through a combination of raising the eligibility age, means-testing, and raising taxes.

Fourth, the President’s speech was campaign-like in its characterization of and attacks on the Ryan plan.

Whatever you might argue about the Ryan plan, it is a serious, substantive effort to cut federal spending and get a handle on the enormous debt that the Obama White House has done more than "inherit". Granted that debt and deficit spending was already an issue when Obamessiah came to power; but the fact remains that he has done nothing serious to address it; and on the contrary has added record levels of debt and entitlement spending with complete and utter disregard for the impact that this will have on ordinary Americans and future generations--all the time sounding as if he meant to deal with it, when in fact he doesn't.

He is, quite simply, beggaring America's future, not "winning" it.

And if you combine his frantic efforts to alienate allies and suck up to enemies (I believe he calls this "negotiation" and/or "resetting the button"); with his emphasis on American weakness and impotence; what we arrive at is a studied, deliberate policy to destroy once and for all, American leadership in the world--both in the national economic realm and in international policy realm.

This President is not only the worse American President in history, he is the first President who is deliberately and I believe consciously out to destroy American values and exceptionalism. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness mean nothing to this man except as a rhetorical springboard to forward his leftist and basically socialist agenda. I have a hard time imagining he even likes this country and what it has stood for for more than 200 years.

His real agenda can never prosper as long as America exists in the world.

Deliberate and conscious, you say?

There is no other conclusion that can be drawn from his rhetoric and watching his behavior (what he actually does). Hennessey's analysis is one important clue as to what's up.

He knows exactly what he is doing, His goal is to subsume America into an impotent international government; which I suspect he also intends to put himself forward to lead once this country is in ruins.

I dearly hope that the American public begins to really pay attention to the man behind the curtain--because he is all about putting on a magic show to impress and awe the gullible even as he is losing the future of this country.

Mark Steyn asks, "Question: How much do you have to invest in the future before you’ve spent it and no longer have one?"

Don't worry, we are on track to not having a future in somewhere between 2-6 years --however long the false wizard of hope and change remains in office.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Victor Davis Hanson writes that "Failure is Very Much and Option":
Lost in the furor over the budget is any discussion of the fact that, after a certain baseline point, redistributive payouts might be making things worse for those on the receiving end. Black middle-class flight from northern big cities, failing public schools like nearby Fresno City College, where yesterday it was announced that 70 percent of students (the majority of them on some sort of federal and state loan support) fail to receive a two-year AA degree — these are just a few indications that increasing reliance on government subsidies does not eliminate, and may well perpetuate, such ills as illiteracy, poverty, and hunger.
Read the whole thing. It's worse than Dr. Hanson writes, though, because failure is actually a really desirable outcome insofar as it can give more opportunities for the progressive left to increase their power and control over others. The ever-expanding culture of victimhood that has been exploited by the progressive left to continually expand its base and increase its political power, has done little or nothing to actually help the victims it routinely identifies and proceeds to infantalize. The only people being "empowered" by this culture are the intellectual elite of the left and their Democratic Party minions. Indeed, the constant jockeying among these identified victim groups; their competing claims as well as the continued failure of all the politically correct policies developed to cater to them, are evidence of the intellectual, moral and political bankruptcy of leftist ideas. For more than a century, the false promises of socialism and communism have been found to be empty. But even in failure, the left refuses to give up the failed policies that have brought individuals and nations to utter ruin--they just recycle them, like good little environmentalists. President Obama in his ridiculously vague and partisan oration on budgetary matters yesterday gives us a perfect example of the recycling technique perfected by leftists in denial. This is a man who promised "hope and change"--and now he is the master of the status quo. Paul Ryan, in his response to the President has this to say:
We cannot accept an approach that starts from the premise that ever-higher levels of spending and taxes represent America’s new normal. We have an obligation to fulfill the mission of health and retirement security for current retirees and future generations. We have a historic commitment to limited government and free enterprise. And we have a duty to leave the next generation with a more prosperous nation than the one we inherited. [...] If you are someone who agrees with the president that we cannot avoid this outcome without resorting to large tax increases, know this: No amount of taxes can keep pace with the amount of money government is projected to spend on health care in the coming years. Medicare and Medicaid are growing twice as fast as the economy — and taxes cannot rise that fast without a devastating impact on jobs and growth. If you believe that spending on these programs can be controlled by restricting what doctors and hospitals are paid, know this: Medicare is on track to pay doctors less than Medicaid pays, and Medicaid already pays so little that many doctors refuse to see Medicaid patients. These arbitrary cuts not only fail to control costs, they also leave our most vulnerable citizens with fewer health-care choices and reduced access to care. And if you believe that we must eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in these programs, know this: Eliminating inefficient spending is critical, but the only way to do so is to reward providers who deliver high-quality, low-cost health care, while punishing those who don’t. Time and again, the federal government has proved incapable of doing that. Medicare is projected to go bankrupt in just nine years unless we act to curb the relentlessly rising cost of health care. This cannot be done with across-the-board cuts in Washington. It has to be done by giving seniors the tools to fight back against skyrocketing costs. That’s why our budget saves Medicare by using competition to weed out inefficient providers, improve the quality of health care for seniors and drive costs down. The president’s proposals are aimed more at empowering government than strengthening the free market.
And that last sentence about sums up what's going on here. The very very compassionate left is so wrapped up in feeling good about themselves (note how they routinely emphasize that their opponents want women, children and the elderly to 'suffer'--some have even gone so far as to call it a 'genocide' or insist that Republicans and conservatives 'hate' everyone but wealthy white males. This is as pristine an example of psychological projection as you are likely to witness) that they could care less about the actual outcomes of their policies. If the economy is worse because of their frenetic spending, they quite naturally believe that spending MORE will make it better--that, and escalating the rhetoric (remember their terrible anguish about the lack of civil discourse and the conservative 'hate' not so long ago??) against those who, in good faith, are trying to deal with reality. Just watch as Paul Ryan--not the specifics of his plan--becomes the lightening rod for the incivility of the progressive left. Success is not the goal; nor do they want the economy to turn around if it is the free market and reducing their profligate ways that will accomplish that end.

They are all about the redistribution of wealth; the creation of entitled victimhood groups who will blindly support them; and the expansion of big government for the sake of holding on to their power over others. Oh yes, all that and posturing.

[Political cartoons by Nat Beeler]

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I get exceedingly tired of the constant refrain in this country about how the "rich get richer and the poor get poorer"; or statements to that effect by the intellectuals of the left. Well, on this topic, Kevin Williamson brings up a point that even I had not considered: yesterday's "rich" are not the same as today's:
The numbers generally cited in support of this argument do not actually tell us much about what has happened to the incomes of wealthy households over time. That’s because the people who are in the top bracket today are not the people who were in the top bracket last year. There’s a good deal of socioeconomic mobility in the United States — more than you’d think. Our dear, dear friends at the IRS keep track of actual households (boy, do they ever!), and sometimes the Treasury publishes data about what has happened to them. For instance, among those who in 1996 were in the very highest income group isolated for study — the top 0.01 percent — 75 percent were in a lower income group by 2005. The median real income of super-rich households went down, not up. The rich got poorer. Among actual households, income grew proportionally more for those who started off in the low-income groups than those that began in high-income groups.
When somebody says that that top 1 percent saw its income go up by X in the last decade, they are not really talking about what happened to actual households in the top 1 percent. Rather, they are talking about how much money one has to make to qualify for the top 1 percent. All that really means is that the 3 million highest-paid Americans in 2010 made more money than did the 3 million highest-paid Americans in 2000, the 100,000 highest-paid Americans this year made more money than did the 100,000 highest-paid Americans made in 2000, that the 50,000 highest-paid Americans made more money this year than did the 50,000 highest-paid Americans made in 2000, that the 1,000 highest-paid Americans this year made more money than did the 1,000 highest-paid Americans made in 2000, etc., which is not shocking. But, as the Treasury data show: They are not the same people. [emphasis mine]

These essential facts make the argument routinely trotted out by the left repeatedly to justify their various policies to "redistribute the wealth" completely ridiculous.

WEALTH IS CONSTANTLY BEING REDISTRIBUTED --not by their Marxist policies or 'compassionate' progressivism--but through the neutral, non-partisan and entirely non-judgmental workings of the Market. The "wealthy" are an ever-changing group of individuals. And, the poor are getting richer--not because of any actions by the clever denizens of the left, thank you very much.

Of course, the political lefts and their strategists have a rather vested interest in stirring up class warfare and stoking hatred against "the wealthy". As P.J. O'Rourke wrote in Eat The Rich, "Your money does not cause my poverty. Refusal to believe this is at the bottom of most bad economic thinking."

But that is one thing that the progressive left is incredibly good at--bad economic thinking.

Consequently, much to the puzzlement and annoyance of leftist intellectuals, in those places in the world where their wealth redistribution policies have already been implemented (i.e., in socialist and communist countries) wealth is disappearing; initiative is decline; and the human misery index is climbing. Instead of "sharing the wealth", people in those countries enjoy the benefits of "sharing the poverty" that inevitably occurs when bad economic thinking is translated into public policy--even with the best of good intentions (another thing the political left is particularly good at).

The "great experiments" in the Soviet Union failed abysmally even before it came crashing dowin in the early 1990's. In 1956, when Soviet tanks rolled into Hungary and violently crushed all dissent, it was obvious to anyone with half a brain that these socialist utopias were not all they were cracked up to be. Even today, many on the left cannot bring themselves to admit that the application of Marx to the real world had only succeeded in bringing about abject poverty, misery, death, and slogans. Many many slogans.

Instead of creating a utopia for the proletariat, Marx and his theories only generated the conditions for societal suicide. Look at Cuba. Look, if you can stand it at North Korea.

Marx was entirely wrong about the labor theory of value; and about the whole class warfare thing.

Far from rising up against their "oppressors", the proletariat--in a free system--will want to become wealthy themselves. In America, they have bought into the capitalist system and the "American Dream"--i.e., that they can achieve anything they want with hard work and perseverance-- in large numbers. The sharp differences between the classes have been eroding for generations primarily because of the social mobility that Williamson writes about; as well as the very human desire to improve conditions for themselves and their posterity. Nore and more of those who start out in poverty find their way into the middle class, thus gaining hope for themselves and their children.

Those who make their way up to the highest earners, will find that it is not a "given" to remain in that upper stratum and that they may tumble down without putting forth constant effort and thought (note the number of "instant" millioaires who, after winning the lottery, will waste away their windfall and end up worse off than they were when they won it). It takes more than the possession of money to hold onto wealth, it takes rational thought and effort.

That is why, to great astonishment of the socialists, many of the "oppressed" proletariat are relatively happy and content with their lot! That is why progressives have resorted to calling such individuals "class traitors" or "race traitors", because they dare to do well (without the progressive's compassionate programs; or in spite of them more likely) and are able to move themselves into entrepreneurship and beyond.

Happy and content people do not generally initiate violent revolutions nor rise up against their so-called oppressors--particularly when they don't feel oppressed, but feel empowered.

The legacy of Marx's "social justice" has been the neverending victimhood scam perpetrated by the left.

How inconvenient for the left that the clever capitalist system actually co-opts all those oppressed workers, and empowers them enter the dreaded "middle class"!

Marx always expected that the middle class would disappear as capitalism developed, since he believed that the only sustainable positions were the ones of his dialectic.

That is not what actually happens in the real world as it turns out.

Whenever people are given political liberty and allowed to pursue their own happiness (and not the mandates of the state), the ranks of the middle class expand and grow stronger.

In fact, the values and ideals of this particular economic group have come to anchor society in the United States.

Far from wanting to ignite a worker's revolution as Marx predicted, they enjoy the creature comforts of the capitalist system and feel themselves empowered by it. They even like their health care system for the most part and don't want it overhauled by some monstronsity created by Congressional know-nothings whose "cure" is going to be much worse than the actual disease.

But, even worse from the "progressive" viewpoint, is the typical person in the middle class who believes that he or she can better themselves by using the many opportunities offered by a free, capitalistic democracy. That's why the left are so desperate to create more victimhood constituencies who will proudly stand for all those unworkable policies. That's why they always resort to stoking the "evil rich" meme.

As O'Rourke suggests, they still believe that my money (and yours) causes everyone else's poverty. They have an intense psychological need to believe that because it justifies their stealing other people's wealth.

As long as they can seduce others into believing they are being victimized by the "rich", they are able to get away with supporting the same old, tired economic policies that make them feel good about themselves, but do little to improve the lot of the poor; or to give those who are struggling economically the opportunities that will help them escape perpetual poverty.

Bad economic thinking may be a hallmark of progressive policies, but perpetual poverty for all has always been the historical consequence of those policies.

Monday, April 11, 2011


The economy is not improving.
We're in debt up to our ears.
The world is going to hell in a handbasket....

It's time to stop and smell the roses! My first two blooms from the rose garden were fabulous this weekend!

And my new kitteh, Berbatov (Manchester United's central forward), is always there to show me how to relax and enjoy the simple things in life....

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Mark Steyn writes about non-breaking news on the war front:
What with all the budget talk, I was just wondering whether that third war – or kinetic scope-limited whachamacallit – was still going. You remember, it was in all the papers for a couple of days. So I guess things have gone quiet because it’s all wrapped up now? Apparently not.

Oh yeah, that one....Things aren't going so well, are they?

Glenn Reynolds reminds us that he said when this all began: "Waging war halfheartedly, on the cheap, and by committee is not a formula for success."

My father was a Marine in WWII who fought on Iwo Jima, a rather non-significant island in the Pacific, where there were 2,400 US casualties after only the first day of the battle which raged for weeks. About 19,000 Marines in total were killed during all of World War II --and one-third of those Marines killed in action died during the Battle of Iwo Jima! Amazingly, one in three Marines at the Battle of Iwo Jima was either killed or wounded.

I know this because I was raised on stories of WWII and still have my father's Marine scrapbooks. 50 years after the battle, he still talked about it and how proud he was to have served and fought for his country.

In those days, America was in it to win it. We didn't go to war unless we were determined to fight as if our lives and our freedoms depended on it.

Just once in my adult lifetime, I'd like to see us fight a war, sure of our values and our cause; and utterly determined to continue the fight until we have won.

From the left's perspective, I'm sure this makes me a bloodthirsty warmonger; but what's the effing point of all these timid, quarter-hearted (not even half)
kinetic military actions? The "rules of engagement" should be simple and direct: do what needs to be done to bring the fight to a successful end.

In the long run, not only will our wars be more successful; but I'll bet that the loss of live (both our own and any civilians) will be minimized (what a thought!). No wonder we don't want to hear about Libya anymore; or Iraq; or Afghanistan. Every war turns into a long, drawn out and pathetic standoff with the barbarians; who we will eventually appease and then surrender to so that they can come back to haunt us over and over again.

As Steyn says, "...if you wanted to devise a forlorn emblem of the impotence of the hyperpower, this non-war for non-victory is hard to beat."

Friday, April 08, 2011


The Democratic spin is that the elderly will starve, 32 million will die from lack of health insurance, children will grow up without educations; women and children will die horrible and painful deaths; puppies and kittehs will be mercilessly killed, and hell on earth will descend upon America. The Republican spin is that our country is drowning in unsustainable debt and to save everyone in it, we have to tighten our belts and cut spending.

Republicans were presumably elected on a wave of public discontent to deal with the crisis we face; but then they are routinely punished for doing so by death threats, recall threats and general harassment by certain elements of the electorate for trying to deal with it (Hooray for civility!). Their cuts are supposedly "too draconian" and people are mad mad enraged. It seems that many want the crushing debt to be fixed--but not if it means that their precious entitlements are going to be cut. Cut the other fellow's entitlements instead.

Of course, there are many who don't want the problem of the debt to be fixed at all. They are contemptuous toward those who are needlessly scaring everyone; primarily because they firmly believe that there is no crisis that can't be fixed by taxing the rich some more. Those dirty, grubbing rich people could fix our problems and all they would have to do is give us more of their money.

The country is almost evenly divided into people who insist that we don't have to make any cuts and can continue to fund entitlements and pet projects for forever; and those who think that we are headed for fiscal disaster along the lines of Greece, Portugal, and Ireland.

Who's right? Who's "reality based"? Whose policies are really "progressive" and will "win the future"?

Which side of this argument is attempting to adapt to an unpleasant reality? and which is exhibiting symptoms of dysfunction and maladaptation? Which side is in denial and which is avoiding reality instead of facing it?

The accusations and rhetoric are flying around on both sides; and this a favorite tactic left over from elementary school days. YOU did it! No, YOU did it....etc. etc. etc etc.

Each side claims the "facts" are on their side and that the other is generating hysteria.

But, guess what?!

There actually are logical and reasonable ways of assessing for yourself who may or may not be using maladaptive psychological defense mechanisms and avoiding reality--especially when "the facts" are claimed by both sides.

It's important to remember that anyone who is reasonably psychologically healthy is not afraid of examining their thinking processes; nor are they so wrapped up in their emotions that they are unable to appreciate their own psychological blind spots or challenges to their ability to determine what is real and what is a distortion.

Everyone who claims a modicum of psychological insight and awareness; or who claims to be "reality-based", needs to constantly monitor what they are thinking and feeling; and, in particular how their feelings might be influencing their ability to test reality.

Speaking as a psychiatrist, it is not very healthy or adaptive for either an individual or a group of individuals (i.e., a culture) to distort reality for very long. In the short-term the use of an immature or even a psychotic psychological defense (see here , here and here for details) can give a person time to adapt to painful reality without their sense of self falling apart. It gives them time to change themselves and adapt; or, alternatively, it can preserve the psychological self at the expense of the physical self. Generally, though, a significant injury or death is a rather high price to pay simply because accommodating the real world is too difficult or abhorrent.

Thus we come to the fundamental topic of this post. How does one assess if someone is using a maladaptive defense that is a symptom of an underlying refusal to acknowledge reality? Even more importantly, how can you tell when YOU YOURSELF are using maladaptive defenses to disguise your own biases and unacceptable feeliings?

Researcher George Vaillant makes the following pertinent observation:
“…whether a defense is normal or abnormal depends on the eyes of the beholder. We always regard our own vigilance toward our enemies as adaptive, but we view their mistrust of us as an unwarranted projection of their own shortcomings”

This is why accusations go back and forth in political debates that can best be summarized by the following exchange:

"You are in denial!" or "No! You are the one in denial!"
"No, you are!"
"See! What did I tell you?"

And so on. This gets rather tiresome to listen to; and we have been hearing it pretty regularly from both Democrats and Republicans. Each side in the argument believes they are free from the “contamination” of using an immature or primitive psychological defense like Denial; while the other person/side exemplifies its use.

Logically, of course one or the other may be correct in their assertion, both, or neither.

While feelings about the matter maybe useful pieces of data with which to understand reality, but they are certainly not the best tool for that purpose; and an overreliance on them to the exclusion of reason and critical thought is a strategy that cannot be successful if long-term survival is the goal. If feelings are going to be used in an argument (e.g., "I feel that you are deliberately killing women and children if you do that!") then to assess the appropriateness of one's feeling (especially in the absence of any factual evidence), the contents of the unconscious must be explored and brought to the conscious level and considered. Unconscious internal conflicts (e.g. coflicts between "ideology" and the real world, for example) can easily mask the inappropriate aspects of the feelings, making them worthless as a means of understanding what is real.

Taking this kind of action as a method of checking and understanding one's own feelings is a process called "insight" or "self-awareness". Some people do this quite naturally and honestly. Some learn in therapy or when they are in crisis. But if insight is absent then one's feelings have the potential to do great harm --both to one's self and to others.

Some unconscious factors, or psychological defenses, that can make one's feelings untrustworthy are: 1) the person you are responding to has become symbolic of someone else in your life (displacement, fantasy, or perhaps distortion); 2) focusing on one particular aspect of a person, you ignore other, more objective data that are available to you about the person (denial); 3) you place your own unacceptable feelings onto the other person--e.g., I'm not an angry person, -- he's an angry person! (projection or full-blown paranoia).

The truth is that there are countless ways that unconscious processes within ourselves can distort our responses to others and to reality itself.

Growing up and attaining maturity requires that we take a moment to consider such factors playing a role in our emotions before we act on those emotions. If we come to know ourselves and understand our own weaknesses, vulnerabilities, limitations and secrets; then our emotional responses to people or to the world can be very valuable tools to help interpret the world. But they are only tools, and if not used wisely, they can do more harm than good.

Feelings cannot be used in a court of law--for good reason. And they are not ultimate truth in the court of reality, either.

The key to gaining control over behavior that is motivated by maladaptive, unconscious defenses is to make them conscious. This requires that a person be able to reflect on his or her behavior or feelings and on the contents of one's mind; and with honesty and forthrightness develop some insight into why one feels, thinks, or acts a certain way. This is particularly important if the way one is thinking, feeling or acting is causing serious problems to one's self or to others.

Let us return to the acrimonious political debate mentioned earlier. How can you decide if someone is "projecting" or is in "denial" versus accurately responding to and interpreting objective reality? In other words, how do you tell if the use of a defense is a symptom of some underlying psychological problem versus whether it is adaptive and healthy?

In order to be adaptive, a psychological defense:

• should regulate, rather than remove affect – that is, instead of totally anesthetizing a person, the defense would just reduce the pain (and therefore make it easier to cope; rather than to avoid coping altogether)

• should channel feelings instead of blocking them (i.e., allow a healthy expression of those feelings in a way that can discharge them in socially acceptable ways rather than keep them hidden and motivating behavior)

• should be oriented to the long-term; and not simply short-term comfort or avoidance (or, short-term political gain)

• should be oriented toward present and future pain relief; and not focused past distress

• should be as specific as possible (i.e., be as a key is to a lock; not as a sledgehammer applied to a door)

• the use of the defense should attract people and not repel them (Vaillant points out that the use of the mature defenses --i.e., humor, altruism, sublimation etc.-- is perceived by others as attractive and even virtuous; while the immature defenses are generally perceived as irritating, repellant, and even evil).

A discussion of the factors that influence the development of mature defenses and healthy adaptation can be found here.

If we want to test reality and determine who is in denial and who is trying to face and adapt to an unpleasant reality, then we need to look at the behavior of both sides and apply the criteria listed above. Go for it.

Remember, one or both sides may be in denial; one or both sides may be coping with the situation in a childish and immature manner; and one or both sides may have the real "facts" of the economic situation or be ignoring the real facts. If both sides are in denial and/or childishly attempting to avoid reality, then it becomes a question of which side is closer to acknowledging and adapting to the real world.

Sometimes, especially with childish and immature children and adults, that is the best you can hope for.


Mary Katherine Ham is exactly right:
Alternate headline via Mary Katharine Ham, ever mindful of developing media narratives: “Small, state-wide election with vital national implications soon to have no national implications whatsoever.”

Hard core leftists and their Union and Democrat minions will now aggressively MoveOn to the next strategy to undermine fiscal restraint and to move their progressive agenda forward! (With the obligatory conspiracy fantasy in hand, of course--brought to you by the usual crooks and liars)

[Political cartoons by Glenn McCoy]

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


On the right to offend others, Mark Steyn today says that he is sick of "member(s) of the governing class far too comfortable with the idea that he and his colleagues should determine the bounds of public discourse." He gpes on to quote James Allan:
The only valuable sort of freedom of speech is the sort that allows people to do or to say what others find wrong-headed, offensive, distasteful and intolerant.

Being free to say and do what everyone else wants you to say and do is not a liberty or freedom you will ever have to fight for; it will make little difference to anything . . .

I think any good, well-functioning democracy requires its citizens to man up and grow a thick skin. If you’re offended, tell us why the speaker is wrong. Don’t ask for a court-ordered apology and some two-bit declaration.

When did our skins get so thin? When did a withering look, a contemptuous comment or displaying a complete indifference to people who are offensive and total idiots to boot get replaced by those politically correct "court ordered" apologies and the whining public displays of victimhood?

Like Steyn, I'm sick of it. In fact, any society that prides itself on being free and standing for individual rights should be rather nauseated by it.

Imagine the hurt feelings of all those Brits when our forefathers dumped their precious tea into Boston Harbor! Why, the horror of it all is just overwhelming! It led to war, but then we Americans weren't as afraid of the consequences of symbolic gestures and pushing the envelope of free speech. We believed we had a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

This is not my last word on freedom of is too important to leave to the likes of Lindsey Graham or intolerant Muslim clerics.

Damn their hurt feelings and outraged sensibilities and full speed ahead!

Monday, April 04, 2011


Lindsey Graham says, "Free speech is a great idea, but we're in a war." Reason appropriately notes:
...when we have a political class as routinely venal as Lindsey Graham—or Time's Joe Klein, who really did write that "Jones's act was murderous as any suicide bomber's"—that means that war-inspired censorship is always just a shout away.

In case Graham hasn't noticed, his statement has already been taken to the absurd by the PC minions in this country. Look at our academic campuses, supposedly the bulwark of intellectual freedom. "Free speech is a great idea, but you know, it might hurt someone's feelings."

Or, as Mark Steyn discovered when he was brought up before the Human Rights Commission in Canada for daring to write a book that was not expecially submissive, it might hurt tender, Islamic feelings in particular. Steyn says in reply to a post by Andrew Stuttaford:
...ever since I ran into a spot of bother in Canada, I’ve found myself giving speeches in defense of freedom of expression in Toronto, London, Copenhagen, etc. I did not think it would be necessary quite so soon to take the same stand in the land of the First Amendment against craven squishes of the political class willing to trade core liberties for a quiet life. I have no expectations of Harry Reid or The New York Times, but I have nothing but total contempt for the wretched buffoon Graham."

Stuttaford, for his part, had made this point:
Don’t get me wrong. I think Jones’s actions were ill-judged and unhelpful to what the U.S. is trying to do in the Islamic world. Nevertheless, if we start allowing Muslim mobs to dictate the limits of American free speech, this country will have sunk a very long way down.

Indeed. When we start allowing Muslims--or any group, for that matter; or all those politically correct speech codes and their enforcers; or buffoons like Graham and Reid to take an "idea" that is enshrined into the US Constitution as a merely "guidelines"--i.e., something to be discarded when it is convenient or scary to stand up for them; then it is only a matter of tme until all our liberties are at the mercy of any thug anywhere.

Disagree with Jones. Talk to him and try to convince him to give up his narcissistic attention-seeking ways (good luck). Whatever is within the scope of standing up for our values and our hard-won freedom. And, save the outrage for the perpetually outraged perpetrators of the only "non-virtual" crime being discussed.

Unless you think that burning a holy book justifies the murder of Jones himself (remember Theo Van Gogh?); or of any number of innocent infidels who offend Islamic fanatics by their mere existence. "Oh, but you say indignantly, "we only want to silence a provocateur like Jones, not kill him!"

Do any of those who are so quick to demand Jones be silenced really imagine that such an action would appease these Islamic thugs anyway? That they would stop killing people? You have to be Muslim for their code to even apply (and even then, it's very 'iffy' whether or not they might decide to kill you or not)....dealing with infidels honestly is not part of their "code."

Saturday, April 02, 2011


Terry Jones can burn a Koran if he wants to.

Not only that, he can also burn a Bible, a book on logic, or even a certain well-known book by George Orwell.

However, the latter books, in particular, might be a useful reference to have around these days to understand the doublespeak and groveling subservience to oppression exhibited by the worthless media:
Over a week ago, we discussed the relative lack of coverage of a burning of a Koran some days earlier in Florida. The overwhelming response from readers to that post was that they hadn’t even heard about the burning. It was interesting to compare the non-stop, over-the-top coverage from last fall with the more appropriate and restrained coverage in recent weeks.

But now that mobs in Afghanistan murdered nine humans and injured 81 others in response to the burning of the book, we’re seeing much more coverage. And the coverage is very interesting. It reminds me of something I was taught in college about rape. Basically, no matter how short the skirt the girl’s wearing, she doesn’t deserve to be raped. I always thought it was also wise to dress modestly but that wasn’t the point. The point was that the rapist is responsible for the rape, not the victim or society.

Murdering people who have nothing to do with the Koran burning is another animal from rape entirely, but it is still surprising to me to see how the media suggests that the pastor who oversaw the Koran burning — Terry Jones — is responsible for murders he didn’t commit.

So, for instance, here is NBC reporter Luke Russert on Twitter:
11 people lost their lives so Terry Jones could burn a Koran and feed the 24/7 news monster

Here’s The Guardian’s headline:
Terry Jones defiant despite murders in Afghanistan over Qur’an burning
US pastor is showing no regrets about an act of hatred that provoked a massacre of UN staff amid deadly riots

USA Today’s been covering the story and religion reporter Cathy Grossman asks:

Who’s responsible for the death in in Afghanistan today? The mob fired the guns but who handed them the ammunition? The news media? Or Terry Jones?

Um, the people who killed are responsible for the killing (unless, again, we think Muslims are subhuman or something). But apart from that, consider the major missing link in between Terry Jones and the mob. Here are some key details from someone at UN Dispatch on the ground in Kabul:
Tonight, the governor of Balkh province (of which Mazar-i-Sharif is the capital) is telling the international media that the men who sacked the UN compound were Taliban infiltrators. That’s rubbish. Local clerics drove around the city with megaphones yesterday, calling residents to protest the actions of a small group of attention-seeking, bigoted Americans. Then, during today’s protest, someone announced that not just one, but hundreds of Korans had been burned in America. A throng of enraged men rushed the gates of the UN compound, determined to draw blood. Had the attackers been gunmen, they would likely have been killed before they could breach the compound.....

This key detail — about how some middlemen fan the flames — was also under reported in stories about the Danish cartoons. Not that killing people or destroying buildings in response to cartoons is ever justified, but it’s also worth noting that clerics drafted new cartoons — far more offensive than anything that was actually published — and passed them off as also having been published. One picture they passed around was of a French comedian in a pig-squealing contest (complete with snout). But they claimed it ran in a paper with the caption, “Here is the real image of Mohammed.” So our options for considering who is responsible for the death and destruction in Afghanistan in recent days has to extend beyond the choices given above. And we can only get that full story with more thorough reporting — reporting that’s hard to do if we’re all obsessed about covering the relatively easy-to-cover and relatively accessible and English-speaking Terry Jones.

The great British philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty, "Strange it is, that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free discussion, but object to their being 'pushed to an extreme'; not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case."

The burning of Korans or any "sacred" book; the blasphemous art of a "Piss Jesus"; or the publication of some relatively inoffensive Danish Cartoons all raise the most important issue of our times: freedom of expression.

Are we in the west going to cave into pressure from societies with a medieval mindset, or are we going to defend our most precious freedom -- freedom of expression, a freedom for which thousands of people have paid the ultimate sacrifice?

Why the hell are we supporting rebels in Libya, if not for this freedom? Why have we spent our blood and treasure in Iraq and Afghanistan if not to stand up for this most precious value?

The most frightening thought in all this is that we no longer value freedom here in the West--at least not enough to unequivocally condemn the murdering barbarians of a medieval culture.

It has been said that, "A democracy cannot survive long without freedom of expression, the freedom to argue, to dissent, even to insult and offend. It is a freedom sorely lacking in the Islamic world, and without it Islam will remain unassailed in its dogmatic, fanatical, medieval fortress; ossified, totalitarian and intolerant. Without this fundamental freedom, Islam will continue to stifle thought, human rights, individuality; originality and truth."

The timidity of the media and the placing of blame for the horrific violence and mayhem going on now in Afghanistan brings up yet again what I consider to be a key issue in the decline of our culture: Western institutions no longer seem to be able to defend and stand up for the very fundamental ideas on which they are based

This sad situation, I submit, is the direct result of the West's descent into the abyss of political correctness and cultural relativity. This descent has been fueled by the ascent of postmodern political rhetoric which, among other things, rejects reason and rationality in political discourse and behavior.

The dual insanity and subversivenss of these two hallmarks of leftist thought are brought together in the following common, but wholly contradictory, threads of politically correct postmodern rhetoric: On the one hand, all cultures are equally deserving of respect; on the other, Western culture is uniquely destructive and bad.

This is why there is such a rush to condemn the evil Terry Jones. Not so much the poor, helpless Islamic murderers.

Let me be blunt. I don't care if anyone is upset or offended by the silly actions of a Terry Jones; or the inoffensiveness of some equally silly and intrinsically harmless cartoons.

I don't care if Korans get flushed, diced, sliced or pureed.

What I care about is the violent and irrational behavior repeatedly exhibited by Muslims the world over, as they scream and burn and generally throw a hissy fit and act like the thugees in their worship of Kali. The controversy is not about Terry Jones or the cartoonists; or even about Salmon Rushdie (who still has a death fatwa over his head after all these years).

It is about freedom. It is about choice. It is about standing up for the values of Western Civilization.

I may disagree with Pastor Jones (almost as intensely as I do with Obams's Pastor Wright), but by god, I will fight for their right to be as offensive and obnoxious as they want as they pave their own way to hell. I will not support them in any other way except for that.

For what is their sin? They have only behaved in a manner that accurately reflects their souls and the content of their character. AS HAVE THE MURDEROUS AND WHINING THUGS WHO KILL AND BEHEAD IN THE NAME OF SOME BLOOD-THIRSTY GOD.

The unacceptable and violent behavior that now seems to be sweeping Afghanistan (and who knows where it will stop??); and which is being done in the name of the so-called "religion of peace" truly demonstrates the fanatical, oppressive, and totalitarian soul of their religion and culture.


Bob Dylan wrote in his album "World Gone Wrong", “Toleration of the unacceptable leads to the last round-up.”

Unless we think this is the last round-up for Freedom, then I suggest we first stop tolerating the violent and mindless behavior of Islam and place the blame for their mindless violence precisely where it should be placed.

And, second, I suggest we inform our clueless media that we won't tolerate their cowardly submission to evil.