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Signed, Nobody

Free speech, no responsibility. McCain's chess pieces. Sister Sarah's health care: an exchange. Freddie hearts Obama. Plus more.

9.9.08

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ANONYMOUS
Re: Peter Hannaford's False Free Speech:

That's why I use my real name wherever I go on the Internet. It keeps me honest. (Also identifiable, but that's a side benefit.)
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

I agree with Peter Hannaford's statements that web posters should be identified just like writers of newspaper letters to the editors are. What I didn't like was the Spectator's sub-head on his article: "Should the First Amendment protect the cowardice of slanderers who hide behind anonymity on the Internet?" Of course it should. As Mr. Hannaford implies, respectable websites will practice self-restraint and ban anonymous posts. But websites need to have the legal right to allow such anonymous posting. Those that do readers can dismiss as not being worthy of taking seriously. I frequently "tune out" of websites when the posters go crazy. People libeled by anonymous posters can take legal action against the website operators if they like (and it would be easier than attempting to sue someone posting libelous material on a bathroom wall). With current challenges against the American exceptionalism that is demonstrated in at least one way by the First Amendment, it is important to remember that "no" means "no" when it comes to laws Congress can pass restricting free speech.
-- Michael Landry
Fayetteville, Arkansas

Why am I not surprised that Peter Hannaford, an editorial page editor from the old media, would offer us a false Hobson's Choice when it comes to anonymous free speech? And how rich is it that Mr. Hannaford cites as an example for his hand wringing, a "law school message board...for prospective and actual college and law students"? You mean to tell us that it's the intellectual elites that engage in this form of distasteful ribald self-expression, and not those Neanderthal conservatives? Hmmm, what's this world coming to?

Mr. Hannaford is either ignorant of, or forgets, that anonymous vilification is as old as our republic itself. The very roots of our revolution were sowed from the vitriolic writings of anonymous pamphleteers: Thomas Payne, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, to name but just a few. Now, this is not to say that hate-filled profanity, ad hominem and vile comments, that are too often found on blogs and websites, are to be confused with this genre of anonymous satire, but Mr. Hannaford's reaction and solution to this dilemma is as draconian and iron-fisted as what we've come to expect from our leftist elites. Mr. Hannaford offers up self-restraint, in the form of a self imposed gag order, all in the name of civility. Civility trumps discourse any day in today's politically correct world. He concludes with the Orwellian refrain that self-restraint advances free speech. Well, only in the mind of an elitist. While the disclosure of one's actual identity would indeed weed out the vile and the prurient, it would also kill hard edged ridicule of the pompous and the powerful, that only anonymity affords. I'm not convinced Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid would take to kindly to criticism that has a name associated with it, are you?

Responsible websites have policies that protect from the extreme circumstances. Any website that doesn't, well, why would you even pause to consider these comments, let alone take offense? So, Mr. Hannaford, if your solution to the people's right to unfettered free speech is to kill it, I hope you won't be offended if I say that I'm not the least bit surprised that you're comfortable as an editorial board editor.
-- A. DiPentima

Peter Hannaford's column re-emphasizes one of the bedrock principles of American law: the ability to face, or in the case of the Internet, identify one's accusers. Being required to include a name and a number with a rant should seriously cull the herd of self-aggrandizing cockroaches whose intellectual "prowess" runs the gamut from curses to incoherence.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.
-- Arnold Ahlert (really)
Boca Raton, Florida

THREE OF A KIND
Re: The Prowler's Fannie, Freddie, and Obama:

With cheer leading for what amounted to laissez-faire capitalism, an abhorrence of any government regulation and plenty of liquidity provided by the Fed under the leadership of Al Greenspan, realtors, mortgage brokers and bankers, along with irresponsible home buyers and speculators, set the stage for what is arguably the most serious economic crisis we have faced as a nation since the Great Depression. As Bernanke and Paulson try to save our economy by bailing out Fannie and Freddie and put it on a sounder footing for the future by looking at increased governmental regulation, The Prowler worries about who, Obama or McCain, was first briefed by Paulson. Why? Because Paulson and his wife, who have "strong ties to the Democrat party, would not be an honest broker with Republicans."

As we argue over who is most responsible for this mess, borrowers or lenders, it might be helpful to remember a couple of things. I don't recall the current administration or any of the mortgage brokers or bankers, Republicans and Democrats alike, fervently urging Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson, former CEOs at Fannie Mae, to closely examine each loan application and to exercise the utmost prudence before making a loan. Also, did I misinterpret TV commentator Larry Kudlow when he was talking about "the greatest story never told"? I thought I heard him urge Bernanke to lower interest rates in order to keep the party going. Was he really crying in the wilderness about how we were, as a nation, on the road to economic perdition? Nevertheless, isn't it time to stop playing the blame game and insist that our political leaders from both parties work together to solve this problem? All of us, Republicans, Democrats. Libertarians, Independents et al. have a little bit at stake here, folks.
-- Mike Roush

MCCAIN, CHESSMASTER
Re: Jeremy Lott's Cold, Calculating McCain:

Mr. Lott is quite correct in his assessment of John McCain choice of V.P. However, if you look at the polls and see the remarkable turn of event in favor of the Republican ticket, to me it looks like Americans were looking for a reason not to vote for Obama. He is after all the nominee with the least qualifications to be President, but many are probably sensitive to voting against Obama at risk of being branded racist. Placing a woman on the ticket changes the "Old white guy" image, and eliminates that sense of guilt.

Who knows, maybe this was part of Mr. McCain's strategy.
-- Angelo Zenga
Mississauga, Ontario

I am beginning to think that the Democrats and their media hand maidens actually want McCain to win. How else do you explain that they're falling into the same trap again going after Governor Palin?

Consider the emerging pattern: media pundits ask when Palin will be available to answer questions. They ask Joe Biden about it and he adds to it but seems suspicious about taking the bait but does anyway. The new mantra is she gave a good speech but will be eaten by the sharks. She's hiding! She's afraid! At some point she will have to come out! We'll be waiting!

"Who cares if she can talk to Time magazine?" The dopes are begging to be roped again! The McCain campaign further responds with you'll get to talk to her when we're good and ready; when the media starts treating her with respect! This only fans the flames and then the ABC news exclusive interview is announced but no word on exactly when and where the interview will take place.

No doubt there will be speculation about what the questions will be and ABC news will use this to their marketing advantage by hyping up the interview. Ring up another 45 million viewers. Tack on another 2 points to the next poll.

The same pattern will emerge leading up to the much anticipated VP debates (50 million viewers?). She doesn't know one-tenth what Joe Biden knows. She'll be trounced. Will she be treated gently? How will he bring her down? It's already started.

What comes after fool me twice, shame on me?
-- Diamon Sforza
Bartlett, Illinois

John McCain would, indeed, have made a fine general. With his gene pool, how could he NOT have made a fine general?

The way he both introduced Governor Palin and subsequently handled the media challenges were breathtaking. As president, he is going to have to deal with foreign leaders who may be just as mean-spirited as the drive-by media but a whole lot smarter. This was a warm-up. A spectacular tour-de-force, for sure, but only a warm-up. We've seen leadership from Senator McCain. We are still waiting for his opponent.

The American people have been given the opportunity to see a decent and good man making tough decisions under fire with dignity and grace. Senator McCain's opponent has been given such a spectacular pass by the media that the contrast is obvious. I have full faith in the essential goodness and intelligence of the American people that they will see this episode for what it is and hand the drive-by media the rebuke they deserve by electing Senator McCain and Governor Palin to the highest offices our nation has to offer.
-- M. Merritt
Fiddletown, California

OK, Jeremy. If McCain's that smart, I definitely want him in there fighting Iran, et al. Of course, he still has to win the election. So, let's flesh this out. It isn't the Obamanation he's really up against, it's Billary. How does he get Hillary to give Obama such lukewarm support, that enough of her diehards vote for McCain, Obama loses, and Hillary is back in 2012 against Palin family values? Sure would top this presidential campaign for press coverage. Now, if the press had any brains, ah, the press, gotta love 'em, they'd figure this out, start cutting McCain some slack, hold unflattering interviews with Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers on every Sunday morning show, and have Tony Rezko's mug shot on CNN every night from now until November 4.

Works for me!
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

HOW DID SHE DO THAT?
Re: Robert Stacy McCain's The Miracle Worker:

Understanding the appeal of Sarah Palin is easy: Americans instinctively know a straight-shooter when they see one. They're also excited by the fact she's a genuine outsider, far removed from the fevered, know-it-all swamps of Washington D.C.

The popularity of the "political establishment?" 14% for Congress, 30% for the administration. Sarah Palin? 58%.

'Nuf said.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida


Re: Robert M. Goldberg's That '70s Showoff:

Americans should not be denied the right to buy pharmaceuticals imported from other nations. However, were it to do so, the U.S. should protect the profits of our wonderfully creative and miracle-working pharmaceuticals producers by demanding a surcharge from the exporting government for all American-designed and -produced pharmaceuticals re-entering the U.S. -- a surcharge in the amount equivalent to that government's subsidy -- and pass it along to Pfizer, Merck, etc., so they can take their rightly earned profit. Make their taxpayers pay for undercutting American drug makers.
-- Rob Stiles
Charleston, West Virginia

BAD CON-NOTATIONS
Re: David Catron's Palin Bucks the Health Care Establishment:

In response to Mr Catron's piece on Gov. Palin's health care record:

When speaking in favor of her bill to eliminate Alaska's Certificate of Need Program, Gov. Palin referenced a recent paper authored by the Federal Trade Commission as support for her position; I'd note that the document was written during the present administration, one that has not been noted for an even-handed approach to science, analysis, and research. In fact, the FTC report clearly states its intent to encourage movement to a "consumer driven" health care system that relies on market forces to determine costs access and quality. In addition to the FTC report cited by Palin, another study from twenty years ago (based on 1983 and 1984 data) concludes that there is "no evidence that CON programs have led to the resource savings they were designed to promote, but rather indicates that reliance on CON review may raise hospital costs."

The study goes on to say that were states to significantly relax their regulatory thresholds, "total hospital costs would not increase, but rather would decline by 1.4 percent."

Turns out that the FTC (then and now) may have missed something -- a 1998 Duke University study found "Mature CON programs are associated with a modest (5 percent) long-term reduction in acute care spending per capita, [emphasis added] but not with a significant reduction in total per capita spending." And this is supported by more recent research, which clearly indicates the supply of health care facilities drives demand, not the other way 'round.

Ohio eliminated their CON program in 1995. Over the next four years, there were 19 new hospitals built, a five-fold increase in the number of freestanding MRIs, and the number of ambulatory surgical centers grew by 600%. These weren't being built to reduce costs.

Manufacturers have also seen benefits from CON regulations. The big three automakers all compared costs in CON v non-CON states, and found that states with substantial CON programs had significantly lower health care costs. In fact, when considering locating plants and facilities, the big three consider CON "as a positive factor." Chrysler found that their per-employee health care costs were substantially lower in CON states than in non-CON jurisdictions, with costs as much as 164% lower in CON states. GM found its health care costs were nearly a third less in CON states in a similar analysis. Their report states "Some argue that deregulating health facility expansion will trigger free-market forces of supply and demand, and lead to lower costs. On the contrary, General Motors has not found that to be true based on our vast experience in states that have varying degrees of CON regulation."

And an analysis by Ford found that inpatient and outpatient hospital costs were 20% lower in CON states.

Specific procedure prices were also lower in CON states, refuting Palin's contention that freeing up the market to more competition will reduce costs. MRIs were at least 11% more expensive, and coronary bypass operations were at least 20% more expensive. Ambulatory surgery center charges were also 25% lower.

Quality is also higher in CON states.

A study published in JAMA found that the quality of outcomes in coronary artery bypass surgery was directly linked to the CON process. Those who had CABG in non-CON states were significantly more likely to die (5.1% chance v 4.4% in CON states) due primarily to the higher volume per facility in CON states. Notably, in states that repealed CON laws, the percentage of patients undergoing CABG in low-volume hospitals tripled.

The CON legislation Palin supported has yet to be approved by Alaska's legislature, and continues to face strong opposition from within the state. Palin's doctrinaire position on health care is in lock-step with the GOP -- it relies on an unfounded and unsupported faith in the free market's ability to somehow reduce health care costs and increase quality, despite all evidence that there is no such linkage.
-- Joseph Paduda
Principal
Health Strategy Associates, LLC

David Catron replies:
Joseph Paduda's letter concerning my recent article on Governor Palin's attempt to repeal Alaska's Certificate of Need (CON) statute is an amusing mixture of irrelevant Bush bashing, misunderstood data, straw men, and unsupported assertions.

Paduda begins by suggesting that we should ignore an FTC paper referenced by Governor Palin because "the document was written during the present administration, one that has not been noted for an even-handed approach to science, analysis, and research." He further indicts the FTC of an "intent to encourage" so-called consumer driven health care (CDHC).

Such animosity toward the Bush administration is, of course, quite common among liberals, but it hardly constitutes an intellectually sound basis for challenging the FTC's findings, even when augmented by that tired canard about the administration's mythical hostility to science. Nor does the FTC's alleged "intent to encourage" CDHC affect that agency's credibility.

When Paduda gets around to dealing with objective data, it becomes clear why he prefers partisan innuendo. He quotes a ten-year-old Duke University study as follows: "Mature CON programs are associated with a modest (5 percent) long-term reduction in acute care spending per capita, but not with a significant reduction in total per capita spending."

The irony here is that the Duke study supports Governor Palin's position. The main rationale for CON statutes is that they allegedly reduce aggregate health care spending by preventing duplication of services in what progressives style "the medical arms race." If there is no reduction in total per capita spending, the CON program has accomplished nothing.

Paduda next tells us that Ohio eliminated its CON program with the result that (gasp) more health care facilities were built. He provides the totals for each type of provider, then delivers what he presumably imagines to be the coup de grace for this part of his argument: "These weren't being built to reduce costs."

This is a straw man, of course. Proponents of CON repeal don't claim that new facilities reduce costs. What Palin and others do say is that competition reduces cost. If your local hospital charges $1,500 for an MRI and a nearby MRI clinic starts charging $1,000, the hospital will be forced to reduce prices or lose business. But you can't benefit from such competition if a CON law prevents the MRI clinic from being built.

Paduda also tells us that quality of care is better in CON states. Quoting a JAMA study, he says that patients who had bypass surgery in non-CON states "were significantly more likely to die (5.1% chance v 4.4% in CON states) ..." I'm not sure that seven-tenths of a percent would be considered "significant" by many statisticians, but I am sure that this is one of the weakest pro-CON arguments I have encountered.

The letter is generously padded with a variety of unsupported assertions, including claims that the big three automakers "found that states with substantial CON programs had significantly lower health care costs" and that "specific procedure prices were also lower in CON states." These are popular talking points among CON proponents, but Paduda provides no empirical data to support either claim.

Paduda closes by correctly pointing out that Governor Palin's plan to repeal Alaska's Certificate of Need statute "continues to face strong opposition from within the state." Like Mr. Paduda, the health care establishment of Alaska is very fond of the status quo. They want the state to keep protecting them against competition. They had better hope that Sarah Barracuda moves to Washington in January.

McBRILLIANT & CO.
Re: Philip Klein's Grand United Party:

"While unifying the party itself is not sufficient to win the election, it certainly means McCain will be able to count on more foot soldiers." You bet it does. A lot more.

And it means that the opposition, including Obama's thugs and thugettes in the very wrongly named MSM, won't be able to use the previous division to point to confusion in Republicans and conservatives.

And it also means that the undecided public sees unity among Republicans and conservatives, while the opposition's big tent continues collapsing and fractiousness continues to characterize their campaigning.

McBrilliant and Gov. Palin at next year's inauguration? Absolutely.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

ON THE FLOP SIDE
Re: Philip Klein's Grand United Party and John Tabin's A Conventional Flop:

It appears the Republican Party and its supporters have written off trying to hold on to the current number of seats we have in the House and Senate. It appears we have accepted the MSM's and Democrats' conclusion that we are going to take huge losses in November. Hey, but isn't it great we are now energized, thrilled, and apparently satisfied about keeping the White House!

If the convention was a flop, that is why. Despite the fact that House Republicans gave us much economic news to talk about in the previous weeks, the convention failed to spread the news. The Democrats are correct to say there was no talk about economic issues. That probably did not go unnoticed by all voters, including this conservative. The House Republicans made it possible to create a couple of great convention mantras for the speakers and delegates who should have endlessly repeated them during the convention, and which could have been used for the remainder of the campaign.

Couldn't the convention planners have shown replays of the incident that occurred on the House floor when the Democrats ended the current session to go on vacation while some Republicans stayed and insisted on canceling their vacations to debate the "drill now" issue? Imagine seeing the actual footage of the Republicans wanting to stay in session to debate the drilling issue, and the lights being turned out by Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats. I guess no one on our side made an effort to get a C-SPAN tape of it, or any tapes of the live news reports of the incident. Many may think it was a gimmick, or came to believe that after hearing the MSM report on it. However, it was an accurate way to distinguish the Republicans and Democrats.

Simply talking about drilling offshore helped cause the per barrel price of oil, and the gas prices at the pumps, to dramatically decrease in the few weeks prior to the convention. If the drilling issue and price of oil were mentioned by some, it surely wasn't talked about often enough or in strong enough terms.

The Friday after McCain's speech, the MSM and Democrats proudly reported the new unemployment rate had jumped to 6.1 percent. Surely McCain was aware, before his speech that would be in the news the next day. He could have been emphatic during his speech that drilling now would create many 10's of thousands of well-paid jobs.

I am not an expert on the oil and gas industry, but I will assume people would need to be hired to make the parts to build new drilling rigs; people would have to be hired to actually build and then maintain the drilling rigs; people would have to be hired to make the parts to build the new refineries that would be needed; people would have to be hired to actually build and then maintain the refineries; and all types of truckers and shippers would have to be hired to transport all of the above parts and equipment from place to place. I believe those are the types of well-paying jobs that many Americans would love to have. As an aside, McCain could have mentioned building and running nuclear power plants and the jobs that would create.

Maybe McCain and his strategists are waiting for the right time to hammer home those points, as they did with the perfect timing in revealing Palin as his VP pick. Even if that is true, they missed a great opportunity to share a winning part of the conservative message with 37-40 million viewers both Wednesday and Thursday nights last week. That message would also have helped many House and Senate members keep or gain their congressional seats.

Maybe the McCain team has written-off having any coattails at all. I don't know why when one considers congressional approval was at 22% when we lost the congress in 2006, and it is now 9% with the Democrats in control. Also consider the excitement over the selection of Palin. It is a big mistake to accept what the MSM tells us about our election chances for November. Conservatives have already wasted the time and opportunity that our convention presented. McCain's team should take advantage of the drilling question and the lower oil and gas prices the issue has produced. It is a winning issue for us and our side should take complete advantage of it.
-- David Tomaselli

DEATH TAX NUANCE
Re: Peter Ferrara's Morning in America:

Mr. Ferrara writes about Sen. McCain that he will be "...maintaining the phase out of the death tax."

This is incorrect. Although the Republican Party platform calls for ending the estate tax, McCain plans to keep the estate tax on estates over $5 million. (In comparison, Sen. Obama plans to keep the estate tax on estates over $3.5 million.)

Please issue a correction.
-- Lee Farris

LADY DI ADDRESSES SUBJECTS
Re: Reader letters under "Bungled" in Reader Mail's Post-Conventional Wisdom:

Can someone tell me what this absolute need is, by certain of your regular Readers Comments correspondents to iterate and reiterate ad nauseam, their visceral dislike of John McCain? We all know the ones -- I could recite them in my sleep. They are the people who preface everything with "I've said it before and I'll say it again..." My inward plea is "Please don't."

Now we have an even more stinging rebuke -- the desire for an upside down ticket. Sarah Palin has stolen their hearts away with her Dolly Parton down-home feistiness. And that is not meant to detract from Ms. Palin. Dolly Parton is no slouch in the brains department, either. Her funniest line ever to stop her detractors was "Y'all may laugh, but it costs a fortune to look this cheap!" Keep up this steady drumbeat and our ticket will be a one way one to oblivion. It could still go to Obama if Republicans insist on this unrelenting whining. We are like ungrateful children who beg for a bike all year long and then complain because it is a Huffy and not a Schwinn. Or whatever is popular now. It was Schwinn when I was buying bikes.

Even Bill Oaf Reilly on Friday gave his critique of McCain's speech. "He seemed stiff. Couldn't he stop folding and unfolding his hands in front of him? Why didn't he just put his hands in back of him...?" Well, maybe, Bill, because at the Hanoi Hilton they put his hands and arms in back of him and above him and let him hang there for days and it disabled him for any future graceful posing. Trauma to the joints (ask Joe Namath) causes arthritis later in life, you boob. Having your arms twisted at the shoulders is hard on the acromio-clavicular joints and damned uncomfortable, to boot.

And O'Reilly is not the only boob. So McCain is not your first choice. He was the party's choice. You sound like the passenger flying in first class years ago when they were still serving decent meals. They raised hell the whole flight because they didn't get the entree they wanted. You'd have thought they only got on the plane for a filet mignon and getting to New York was secondary.

Contemplate as we approach 9/11, how a President Obama will handle a disaster such as 9/11/01, should the sleeper cells awaken. How will Obama organize our community as we watch the smoldering ruins of another terrorist attack? Maybe P. Diddy will be our Homeland Security Chief.

Oh, and speaking of Obama, I saw a syrupy mini-bio of him over the weekend which included things I had never heard before. He hung out with dopers, did a little "blow" himself. Drifted and sometimes had no address of his own. The narrative went "once woke up in an alley..." My, he's really been there! And during this time, he traveled to Pakistan -- a fact-finding mission, looking for more dope? with some bad guy name of Sadiki (sp?). How does an upstanding community organizer attract so many shady pals? Where does a student get the money to fly to Pakistan? There was even a quick mention of Tony Rezko, the scum slum lord Daddy Warbucks to Little Orphan Obama and Tony's financial ties to the Church of Islam. Sadly, I did not tape the program, to re-play for a cast of characters in his rise to fame.

If we spend a little more time thinking about an Obama administration, perhaps we can lighten up on bemoaning the Republican choice. Meanwhile, suck it up.
-- Diane Smith

INDEPENDENT SOURCE
Re: Mike Roush's letter (under "Rallying Palin") in Reader Mail's Post-Conventional Wisdom:

Is Mike Roush pretending to be an independent? He needs some major work if he is trying to pull this off. Nobody should give away his tells. Why do so many lefties like to pretend they are something else? My theory is that they know their limitations. Sometimes a crazy person knows that they are crazy. Let's get this straight. Mike is not really pro-Obama, he is anti-Palin. It is a good thing she came along! He is so anti-Palin that he doesn't want to even consider the racist huckster he indirectly supports. I'd call that downright incurious on his part. It's such a pity; he seems to have discovered a great affection for Senator McCain. Recently I have developed an improved view of Senator McCain as well.
-- Clifton Briner

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