Archive for August, 2009

The one where F’RNC jumps the shark

Below is a fundraising “survey” on health care apparently mailed out by the Republican National Committee. Take a look at Question 4.

That inspires a question of my own:

Does the RNC really believe the American people are that stupid? Did they sit around at RNC headquarters, a little giddy at their success in selling the death-panel nonsense, and decide that there really were no limits on what they could peddle to those willing to believe?

Fortunately, we don’t have to answer those questions through mere conjecture. Below, we have newly released video of that very moment:

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A story to make you cry in your (increasingly expensive) beer

Now here’s a topic that could cause some cognitive dissonance among certain regulars:

Two huge international conglomerates — Anheuser-Busch Inbev and MillerCoors —  now control 80 percent of the U.S. beer market. That dominance is the result of a recent joint venture between Miller and Coors, formerly the No. 2 and 3 biggest brewers in the U.S. market.

As a column in the New York Times notes, the two top surviving companies are now “raising prices at the same time, during a recession and while beer demand is slumping.” That’s the kind of pricing power that a noncompetitive market can provide. The column suggests that “the move almost begs for an antitrust review” by the Obama administration.

It also notes that “years ago, the Justice Department sued to prevent the merger of Pabst, then the 10th-largest brewer, with the 18th biggest, Blatz. The case went to the Supreme Court, which in 1966 ruled the deal was anticompetitive and forced Pabst to divest Blatz.”

The TImes offered …

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Cheney’s torture memos do not back his claim

Vice President Dick Cheney has claimed for months that two secret CIA memos would confirm his claim that “enhanced interrogation techniques” — a euphemism for torture — was essential in getting captured al Qaida operatives to sing to U.S. intelligence officers. He demanded that those memos be made public.

This week, both memos were released. They do not prove Cheney’s claim; they do not even address Cheney’s claim. Both memos are absolutely, thunderously silent on any role that “enhanced interrogation” may have played in extracting information.

The reports do describe the nature of the information acquired from detainees and its usefulness both in halting potential plots and understanding the nature and organization of al Qaida. However, if you read the memos through, nowhere do they state, imply, hint or suggest that information was acquired or could only have acquired through torture or “EITs.”

To the contrary, in the more than a dozen instances in which the documents …

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Here’s proof the Mayans got it wrong with their calendar

The world is ending well before December, 2012. It now officially ends on Oct. 13, 2009, the date when Bob Dylan releases his album of Christmas classics.

According to the New York Times, “among the traditional songs that Mr. Dylan will perform on the album, which Columbia Records is to release on Oct. 13, are “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Little Drummer Boy” and “Must Be Santa.”

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Here’s a way to double-down into cardiac arrest

You know, the most perfectly designed and generously funded health-care system in the world won’t help us much if we keep doing things like this to ourselves:

That’s the “Double Down Chicken Sandwich” now being test-marketed by KFC for the low low price of $6.99.  In case you can’t believe your eyes, that’s two chicken fillets — fried of course — with cheese, bacon and sauce in between.
American ingenuity, at its best.

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Ted Kennedy, in the end the biggest Kennedy of them all

Ted Kennedy was a spoiled rich kid whose mischief ended up killing a girl one night, and only his family’s wealth and connections saved him from prison.

That’s one way to tell the story, and as far as it goes, it’s tragically accurate. That’s also the one-sentence version of a complex life that many of his bitter enemies preferred to tell and would still prefer today, at Kennedy’s passing at the age of 77.

kennedy

But Kennedy, to his credit, refused to let that sentence or that night confine him, and the country is a better place as a result.

In a strange way, the accident on Chappaquiddick may even have magnified Kennedy’s place in the history books. If it prevented him from becoming president, the supposed pinnacle of political achievement, well, presidents come and go. Even while in office, their impact on the country’s course is often exaggerated, and once their term ends, their power ends and they wander off into a long anti-climax.

Chappaquiddick helped ensure that Kennedy’s …

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Sen. Coburn, let’s talk about ‘world’s best health care’

Here’s an exchange on CNN, in which a desperate woman tries to explain her plight to U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., at a health-care town hall meeting. Watch it:

“Senator Coburn, we need help,” she says. “My husband has traumatic brain injury. His health insurance will not cover him to eat and drink. And what I need to know is, are you going to help him, where he can eat and drink? We left the nursing home, and they told us we were on our own.”

Those words, written on the page or screen, do not convey the anguish in her voice or in her heart. Based on her description of the situation, an insurance company is rationing care. It is denying him the assistance that he apparently needs to live, a decision made and confirmed by insurance company bureaucrats and lawyers, not by the man’s doctor. Those bureaucrats and lawyers, you might say, constitute what some might call a “death panel.” This, in a country where supposedly no one goes without health care, where we have the best …

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South Fulton politicos making a bad situation worse

Years of acrimony and in some cases outright animosity between north and south Fulton County have already forced a redrawing of the map of Georgia.

A handful of new cities — Sandy Springs, Milton, Johns Creek — have been incorporated in the last few years largely because north Fulton citizens wanted to snip ties with Fulton County government in Atlanta.

Now, encouraged by that success, they want to make the separation complete by cutting Fulton County in half and creating a brand new Milton County in the northern section. And because the issue involves the unholy trinity of race, class and partisan politics, it has sometimes brought out the worst in people.

South Fulton, which is largely black, mostly Democratic and less affluent, holds the balance of power because of its larger population base. North Fulton, by contrast, is largely white, prosperous and Republican. Almost every important issue to come before county leaders is filtered through those two perspectives, with each …

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When vacation ends, Obama’s to-do list will be daunting

While President Obama takes a well-deserved and no doubt needed vacation, things back at the office aren’t getting any easier.

In Afghanistan, an election intended to boost the legitimacy of the Karzai regime may not end up having that effect. Allegations of fraud are widespread, and Jim Moody, the head of the U.S. election monitoring effort, was less than convincing in his defense of what happened.

“”Our preliminary conclusion is that it is conceivable that this was a fair election,” he told the Washington Times. “It is hard to tell. A lot of people voted properly.”

Karzai’s finance minister has announced that the current president won re-election with 68 percent of the vote, easily enough to avoid a runoff. But Bloomberg reports that Karzai has distanced himself from that claim. His campaign is “not able to confirm the figures from Mr. Zakhilwal,” said Jaafar Rasuly, an official at the president’s headquarters.” We are not sure why he mentioned this. It’s outside his …

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Is VA pushing vets to accept death? Judge for yourself

In the latest iteration of the “death panel” absurdity, the Veterans’ Administration is being accused of trying to push veterans into accepting an early death in an effort to save taxpayers’ money.

The focus of the controversy is a 52-page VA booklet published in 1997. The Obama administration says it hasn’t been in use since 2007; its critics claim otherwise, and the facts are a little muddled at this point. The most accurate way to put it may be that the booklet was officially withdrawn for revision but some parts of the bureaucracy might not have gotten the word.

But before you get the talking points from one side or the other, take your own look at the actual document and see what it actually says, in context. Then, if you so choose, report back here with your honest reaction.

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