Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

Surprised that Americans Want Answers from Terrorist? Don’t be.

31.12.2009 (3:05 pm) – Filed under: National Security,Terrorism ::

Rasmussen reports that 58% of Americans polled want answers in a bad way from Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the terrorist who tried to kill over 250 people on a Christmas Day Northwest Airlines flight by detonating plastic explosive he’d secreted in his underwear. By bad way I mean bad enough to waterboard the radical Muslim.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of U.S. voters say waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques should be used to gain information from the terrorist who attempted to bomb an airliner on Christmas Day.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 30% oppose the use of such techniques.

The news that Americans with an opinion favor torturing this would-be murder to gain information about his support organization should dishearten the Obama administration, bent as it is on posturing as a new, cuddly, friendly America to our enemies overseas. Unfortunately though it’s likely that the president and his advisors do not care what Americans think on this issue. In their minds they are the ones who have all the answers, ample evidence to the contrary.

To whit, Christopher Hitchens recently lambasted the politically correct doggerel that passes for policy in the Transportation Security Administration, before closing with a chilling paragraph that should be required reading for every American:

What nobody in authority thinks us grown-up enough to be told is this: We had better get used to being the civilians who are under a relentless and planned assault from the pledged supporters of a wicked theocratic ideology. These people will kill themselves to attack hotels, weddings, buses, subways, cinemas, and trains. They consider Jews, Christians, Hindus, women, homosexuals, and dissident Muslims (to give only the main instances) to be divinely mandated slaughter victims. Our civil aviation is only the most psychologically frightening symbol of a plethora of potential targets. The future murderers will generally not be from refugee camps or slums (though they are being indoctrinated every day in our prisons); they will frequently be from educated backgrounds, and they will often not be from overseas at all. They are already in our suburbs and even in our military. We can expect to take casualties. The battle will go on for the rest of our lives. Those who plan our destruction know what they want, and they are prepared to kill and die for it. Those who don’t get the point prefer to whine about "endless war," accidentally speaking the truth about something of which the attempted Christmas bombing over Michigan was only a foretaste. While we fumble with bureaucracy and euphemism, they are flying high.

Judging from the Rasmussen result, nearly 60% of us understand that Hitchens is absolutely correct. Mindless rules requiring verbal statements about the handling of luggage and banning the use of restrooms during the last hour of flight are nothing more than placebos meant to demonstrate to the brain-dead that the government is doing something.

The truth is another matter altogether, because the government bureaucracy’s hands are bound so tightly by the constraints of political correctness that the profiling of potential – and known – terrorists is verboten, despite the risks that lack of action poses to airline passengers.

When will Americans understand that profiling is a good thing and that relying on actual facts and probabilities as relates to attack vectors will keep us safer?

That safety is one of the few things that Americans actually want government to provide. The vast majority of us do not want welfare, health insurance, or financial investments run by the government. What we do want is to have our borders and our infrastructure protected against terrorists, foreign and domestic.

If that means that Muslims in this country are subject to additional scrutiny as a result of their religion, heritage, and/or country of origin, so be it. Similarly, if a known terrorist caught in the act has to be roughed up a little in order for law enforcement to gain information necessary to expose his/her network of cohorts, that’s what we want.

Obama Still Doesn’t Get Iran

31.12.2009 (12:33 am) – Filed under: Iran,National Security ::

President Obama has been in office for nearly a year now and one of the most pressing issues in the realm of national security still seems to escape him, namely what to do with Iran. The Washington Post, no right-wing, war-mongering rag, says that Iran may very well be at the tipping point. That means it’s time for the POTUS to take make his unilateral support for dissidents in that country known to the world. The problem is that it’s unclear that such support exists in the White House.

Fear of a 21st-century Bay of Pigs-like episode may limit Mr. Obama’s actions and justifiably so. With the American military stretched like a taut wire, few resources exist to provide actual support for Iranian reformists on the ground. The Taliban in Afghanistan demonstrate another unfortunate reality: Guns and training that we give today’s resistance fighters can easily be used against our interests tomorrow.

Nevertheless it is clear that the Obama administration’s policy of engagement with Iran was doomed to failure from the moment it was conceived. Negotiation can only take place between two parties with compatible value systems who have something the other wants. Unfortunately, the west has nothing that the theocracy in Iran desires.

Conversely, the Iranian people seem to have a great deal of interest in opening their country to western influences like education and individual liberty, the very things that dictators like Khamenei must stifle due in order to maintain control over their citizens.

What Mr. Obama must eventually come to understand that this outcome is not possible without regime change. No amount of diplomacy, threats, sanctions, or bribes result in anything beyond the ayatollahs’ amusement at stringing America along while they continue their thuggery at home and abroad.

The simple fact is that the freedom fighters in Iran deserve support from the United States and the rest of the free world because their cause is just and their success in overthrowing the mullahs could make the world a significantly better place. The very least the Obama administration could do is make our moral support for their struggle clear and unequivocal while simultaneously putting an end to the international farce that has been our negotiations with Iran’s terrorist dictators. Finally, if there is any resolve in the administration to mount covert operations, now would be the time.

Cardiologists Foresee Their Profession Ending Under DemCare

29.12.2009 (11:55 pm) – Filed under: Health,Medicine,Politics ::

USA Today reports that cardiologists, one of, if not the, most elite of surgical specialties, have filed suit against Kathleen Sebelius and the Health and Human Services department in hopes of heading off the Obama administration’s plans to make deep cuts in the amount of money Medicare will pay for life-saving heart exams and surgeries.

Some readers undoubtedly understand the inevitability of this action. For others, let me say that this is exactly the thing that I’ve been writing about in recent columns: Without sufficient compensation to the best and brightest of our physicians they will not stay in their professions, period. Moreover, the pool of newcomers to blighted fields will necessarily be of lower quality.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, charges that the government’s planned cutbacks will deal a major blow to medical care in the USA, forcing thousands of cardiologists to shutter their offices, sell diagnostic equipment and work for hospitals, which charge more for the same procedures.

"What they’ve done is basically killed the private practice of cardiology," says Jack Lewin, CEO of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), which represents 90% of the roughly 40,000 heart specialists in the USA.

Any fool of a bureaucrat can cut costs in the short term by using the power of the government like a sledgehammer. I will never dispute that point. But what about the medium and long term effects? Is that even a consideration for this administration? Based on behavior, I would answer “No!”

Scott Smith, a cardiologist who works in rural Silver City, New Mexico had this to say:

“With all these cuts coming, it will make it impossible for me to break even seeing 40 patients a day.

"It’s so absurd, it’s kind of funny," he says. "I know ACC [American College of Cardiology] doesn’t think it’s funny. It’s an efficient way of getting rid of cardiology."

Surely that’s not an outcome desired by the Obama administration, is it? Perhaps it is. Health care must be allocated by some force, be it the market or the government. One way to shift costs from the elderly to younger, low-income patients would be to eliminate service offerings that cater to the former group.

Personally I don’t attribute such diabolical motives to the Obama administration. Nonetheless, such an outcome is in line with their stated goal of reducing Medicare spending while giving health insurance to the poor.

I do fear that this is merely the first of many instances of doctors being squeezed by government bureaucrats as a result of Democrats’ health care reform. As I’ve written before, such bully tactics are unacceptable and un-American. Doctors study long and hard to accumulate the knowledge and skill to execute their profession – longer and harder than any other – and they deserve to be rewarded in proportion to their talents and efforts. In no way should their income be constrained by the pay scale set forth by number crunchers in Washington D.C.

I’ll close with a question: Who do you want to take your 10-year-old daughter to see about heart surgery, a government-paid doctor with no incentive to do more than show up for an 8-hour day in the office and no chance to earn a better life for his/her own family or one who is free to practice medicine as he/she sees fit with the knowledge that any and all financial rewards are possible if positive results are attained in the O.R.?

(Consider conditions and outcomes at the government-run hospitals before answering…)

Taxing Cadillac Health Plans un-American

29.12.2009 (12:34 am) – Filed under: Health,Medicine,Politics ::

MIT professor Jonathan Gruber says that a plan to tax so-called “Cadillac” health care plans isn’t a tax at all. But what else could it be given Gruber’s own analysis of the Senate plan:

It would reduce the incentives for employers to provide excessively generous insurance, leading to more cost-conscious use of health care and, ultimately, lower spending. In other words, it "bends the curve." It would also be progressive, in that it would take from those with the most generous insurance to finance the expansion of coverage to those without insurance.

Admittedly I’m a mere public school simpleton, so there may be linguistic and economic nuances of which I’m incredibly ignorant. But where I’m from, if the government is going to “take from” one person and “finance the expansion of X” to another, that’s a tax. Dr. Gruber can pussyfoot around the wording until Judgment Day, but a tax is a tax is a tax. This all-to-common tendency on the part of liberals ne progressives to obfuscate rather than clarify is one of their more aggravating habits.

Call it what you will, the Senate plan Gruber endorses is un-American. Our Founding Fathers came to this country in order to live life on their own terms instead of kneeling to the government authority of their day. The notion that each man worked to provide for himself and his family and expected no assistance from outside that family is an integral part of the American story and perhaps THE essential element of our nation’s success.

(This is not to say that settlers didn’t work cooperatively and give charitably but rather that such group interactions were performed voluntarily and out of self-interest and so were in harmony with the idea of individualism.)

It is entirely noble of Democratic politicians to seek to provide medical care to the poor. Yet it is ignoble in the extreme to use the power of government to force charity from their unwilling fellow citizens.

Consider a land owner with a single apple tree on his property. He plants the seed one spring day in the hope that some years hence it will bear fruit. In the intervening years the man nurtures the plan, bringing it water from his well in drought and fertilizer in the proper amount from his stables, covering it against the cold and picking worms from among its leaves when they come. A decade passes and the man receives the first yield from the tree: 100 perfect Golden Delicious apples.

What claim does the government have on 40 of these apples? By what right does it deprive the man and his family of the fruit of his labor?

Of what concern is it to the government that the man’s neighbor to the left failed to plant a seed at all for fear of having to work to cultivate his own tree? Why should the government consider the neighbor on the right who planted a seed from the self-same core as the hard-working individual but through neglect or incompetence or drunkenness failed to raise a producing tree?

I am not immune from envy, though I try to steel myself against its soul-corroding effects. A health care plan costing $25,000/year would be a significant improvement for my family over our current coverage. But it is not my right to demand that a man in a more prestigious position or with greater wealth give me his plan so that we might be equal.

Such a demand flies directly in the face of every principle on which this country was founded. Moreover, a government that would enforce such a demand using its confiscatory and police powers is not one that bases its actions on the authority granted it by the Constitution.

Wisdom might indicate to such a man that his cup overfloweth and that Christian charity is called for. But if such mercy is not in the man’s heart, it is neither for Congress nor the president to force him to yield. This is, above all else, the singular principle that lies at the heart of what it means to be American. Destroy it and you destroy America.

Democratic Grinches Ruin Medical Care System on Christmas Eve

24.12.2009 (11:21 am) – Filed under: Health,Medicine,Politics ::

In a straight party-line vote, Democrats in the U.S. Senate today passed a health care system reform bill through their side of Congress, despite the fact that a sizable majority of voters oppose the measure. While it’s possible that the bill, which is over 2000 pages long at this point, may come apart in negotiations with the House, it’s more likely that this conglomeration of ill-thought, large parts of which are still unread by senators who voted for it, will become law.

This is a historic wrong on so many levels it’s nearly impossible to confront the flaws in this mess with a unified argument. To tackle them all would necessitate a book nearly the size of the bill itself, a daunting task and one certain to be without payback. The Democrats will ram this thing down the throats of real Americans – those who work and pay taxes and provide for their own medical care – regardless of what anyone who opposes them says or does.

According to Dianne Feinstein, a liberal Democrat from California, the industry “lacks a moral compass.” I’m sure that’s true, for the idea is in itself an oxymoron. Business does not exist for the purpose of exerting moral authority any more than governments do. Instead companies come into being for the sole purpose of providing goods and services for a price greater than what it costs to produce and provide them. Morality is not part of the equation on a systemic level, although individual actors within companies and industries of course guide their paths of development.

In the medical field it’s obvious to any casual observer that the primary actors in the system are doctors. The medical industry was created by men and women who provided health care services in exchange for payment. Undoubtedly some were moved by love of their fellow man; however, most were motivated to the field by a combination of aptitude and the desire to avoid the manual labor performed by their peers. In other words, doctors use their minds and skills to make a better life for themselves, their actions being the essence of the American Dream as it was defined by our Founding Fathers.

Remove doctors from the medical field and what are you left with? An empty shell, bereft of value to those who need its services. Democrats’ motives are in some respects admirable, but their thought process is lacking. Remove the advantages bestowed on members of the medical profession and you remove the motivation for the best and brightest among us to make the sacrifices needed to enter this important field.

Yes, others will certainly take their place in medical school and in practice, but the inevitable result will be a decline in the quality of care provided as a result of this mind shift. Yet the Democrats’ bill is focused, as it necessarily must be, on reducing costs and increasing systematic compliance, both of which have negative impacts on doctors and will inexorably lead, over time, to a brain drain in the medical field, a fact that Democrats doggedly ignore.

Liberals prefer instead to trumpet the need to provide medical insurance to people who cannot pay for it themselves, a goal that has some merit to it. What they conveniently ignore is history. Skyrocketing medical costs are a reality that effectively denies 5-10% of Americans access to medical services. But liberals fail to consider the key part in which their own past policies in creating this new, unfortunate situation.

Medicare, for instance, exists solely to shift the costs of late-in-life care away from those 60+ to current workers and their families. Providing medical care to the elderly is a noble goal; however, accomplishing it requires a massive transfer of wealth in order to reach it. Moreover, the inefficiency inherent in such government programs makes draconian cost-reduction measures a necessity on the provider side of the equation.

As is well-known, medical providers receive only 75-80% of the revenue from Medicare patients as they do from others. This has two effects: First, costs are increased for non-Medicare patients. This warps the health care market out of shape, the effect of which is effectively a hidden tax on working families; Second, some medical providers refuse to provide services to Medicare patients, thus reducing both convenience and quality of care to those the plan aims to help.

A second, more subtle problem with the Medicare entitlement is the mental attitudes that it fosters among both patients and physicians, namely that unlimited medical care is an essential right of every American and that equal outcomes, medically speaking, are both deserved and desirable for all Americans.

That neither is true has not stopped the creeping advance of the misguided notion that every conceivable medical treatment should be available to every American throughout every day of our lives, regardless of the cost and who must pay to provide marginally inefficient care. To put it simply, medical costs have increased in large part because Americans have come to believe the lie that they are entitled to use medical resources as if they had no cost, much like the air we breathe.

Now Democrats in Congress are on the verge of taking this fundamental wrong and increasing its scope to the breadth and width of the American populace. In fact, it may already be too late to stop this from happening – the wheels have been greased in part thanks to the hundreds of millions of dollars in “political bribes” paid to Senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

All that stands in the path of their success and the decline of our system of medicine is the willingness of House Democrats to compromise away their support for government funded abortion. This will happen, despite the inevitable whining from the fringe left who will have to wait a few more years to sneak their abortion agenda into the national plan.

Yet perhaps if Americans who oppose this plan’s enactment take time over the holidays to remind their congressmen of their wishes all will not be lost.

The vast majority of Americans have access to the finest health care that has ever been available. We demand that the profit motive that lies behind this system, the motive that is the sole reason for that system to exist, be respected. We demand that doctors be left free and unfettered to research and to provide care as they see fit. We demand that we be allowed to seek medical care according to our own desires to receive it and our ability to pay for it. We demand, in short, for government to restrict itself to its proper functions, none of which have anything to do with medicine.

Little Green Footballs Take Bad Bounces

21.12.2009 (11:04 pm) – Filed under: Media,Politics ::

Charles Johnson, proprietor of Little Green Footballs, is someone who used to make some sense, particularly with regard to the dangers of Islam. Sadly he’s recently dropped the ball and is now running like a headless chicken toward the wrong end zone, all the while shouting, “I’ve left the right! I’ve left the right!”

Johnson’s latest anti-Republican hit job is on Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota who, Johnson says, is anti-science and anti-gay.  Why? Because he believes in a Creator, that traditional marriage deserves its elevated position in society, and that local communities should have the right to define their own standards.

The horror! The horror! By denouncing Pawlenty, the erstwhile Johnson embraces the snake oil salesmanship of the radical left, a disassociative splinter group whose credo is “If it feels good, do it – unless it’s something we tell you not to do.” And Johnson has the brassies to comment on Tim Pawlenty’s “cognitive dissonance”? Sounds to me like it’s time to break out the lithium, ’cause Chaz’s head is about to explode from the internal shock waves.

Listen, if you want to believe that the trillions of stars in the universe, all of their surrounding planets, and all the rest of the incredible stellar phenomena that are known to exist sprang into existence without the organization and planning of an amazing mind, I say fine, believe what you want. But it’s a ridiculous argument on the face of it.

How can such a claim be made, you ask? Occam’s Razor clearly points to the origins of the universe being a planned, highly-controlled event. That’s simple logic. When compared with random chance, there’s no comparison. So am I anti-science?

Though Charles Johnson would undoubtedly say otherwise, that’s hardly the case, for I believe that true science can explain every mystery in the universe. I also believe that mankind will never reach the level of understanding required to answer the fundamental questions that we have about the world around us. But that doesn’t make me anti-science, merely realistic.

On the Potential Passing of Byrd, DemCare

21.12.2009 (10:26 pm) – Filed under: Medicine,Politics ::

Liberal blogger Matt Yglesias charges that Republicans are “hoping that they can stall long enough for Robert Byrd to die” in order to derail Democrats’ sweeping health care plans.

The fact is that Senator Byrd has lacked the mental and physical capacity to perform his duties for several years, perhaps a decade or longer. The man is a national disgrace for, while he undoubtedly loves serving his country in his way, he’s allowed pride and agenda to take the place of good sense, which would have had him resign long since.

Far be it from me to wish ill on Senator Byrd. It is nevertheless true that the fiasco Democrats are about to foist on American taxpayers demands opposition from every quarter, with all possible vigor, the whiny protests from liberals notwithstanding. The fact of the matter is that we don’t want Robert Byrd to die – we just want the left-wing do-gooders to leave us alone. That’s all and it doesn’t seem too much to ask, frankly.

Even CNN admits that more Americans want to see DemCare derailed than want to see it passed. Take a hint, kids, and maybe we’ll let you stay in office.

Dave Winer: Change is not in i…

04.12.2009 (4:20 pm) – Filed under: My Tweets ::

Dave Winer: Change is not in itself a valid reason for anything. // So true; and the #1 fallacy of the Obama narrative http://bit.ly/6STnGr

Not wishing a daughter’s carja…

04.12.2009 (1:41 pm) – Filed under: My Tweets ::

Not wishing a daughter’s carjacking on anyone… But it’s good for senators to confront real life once in a while… http://bit.ly/8NyAtP

Note to Islamic nut jobs like …

04.12.2009 (11:04 am) – Filed under: My Tweets ::

Note to Islamic nut jobs like those who killed 35 at mosque in Pakistan: Lunatics should blow themselves up FIRST… http://bit.ly/6p74XJ