Wednesday, 28 October 2009

MURDOCH'S PAPER CRITICIZES MURDOCK'S NETWORK

Ken Berwitz

Here is a column from the (Rupert Murdoch-owned) Wall Street Journal that strongly attacks the (Rupert Murdoch-owned) Fox News Channel.  It is written by Thomas Frank, and pulls no punches.

I won't excerpt this piece, you should read every word, so that the anti-Fox position gets a full hearing:

Obama Is Right About Fox News

But the criticism was clumsy.

By THOMAS FRANK

Journalism has a special, hallowed place for stories of its practitioners' persecution. There is no higher claim to journalistic integrity than going to jail to protect a source. And the Newseum in Washington, D.C., establishes the profession's legitimacy with a memorial to fallen scribes, thus drawing an implicit connection between the murdered abolitionist editors of long ago and the struggling outfit that gave you this morning's page-one story about cute pets in Halloween costumes.

But no journalistic operation is better prepared to sing the tragedy of its own martyrdom than Fox News. To all the usual journalistic instincts it adds its grand narrative of Middle America's disrespectful treatment by the liberal elite. Persecution fantasy is Fox News's lifeblood; give it the faintest whiff of the real thing and look out for a gale-force hissy fit.

As the Obama administration has discovered by now. A few weeks ago, after Fox had scored a number of points against administration figures and policies, administration spokesmen decided it was time to start fighting back. Communications Director Anita Dunn called the network "a wing of the Republican Party," while Obama himself reportedly dismissed it for following "a talk radio format."

The network's moaners swung instantly into self-pitying action likening the administration's combative attitude to Richard Nixon's famous "enemies list."

They should remember that it wasn't just the keeping of a list that made Nixon's hostility to the media remarkable. Nearly every presidentand probably just about every politicianhas criticized the press at some point or other. What made the Nixon administration stand out is that it also sued the New York Times to keep that paper from publishing the Pentagon Papers. It schemed to ruin the Washington Post financially by challenging the broadcast licenses for the TV stations it owned. It bugged the office of Joseph Kraft, a prominent newspaper columnist. One of its most notorious henchmen was G. Gordon Liddy, who tells us in his autobiography that under certain conditions he was "willing to obey an order to kill [columnist] Jack Anderson."

 

It is interesting to note that Mr. Liddy, that friend of the First Amendment, appeared frequently in 2006 on none other than the Fox News network. In fact, the network sometimes seems like a grand electronic homage to the Nixonian spirit: Its constant attacks on the "elite media," for example, might well have been inspired by the famous pronouncements on TV news's liberal bias made by Mr. Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew.

And, of course, the network's chairman, Roger Ailes, was an adviser to Mr. Nixon in the 1968 presidential campaign; his signature innovation back then was TV commercials in which Mr. Nixon answered questions from hand-picked citizens in a town-hall style setting.

Although they cry persecution today, the network and its leading lights have not really distinguished themselves on the issues surrounding clashes between the government and the press. When Mr. Ailes was on the other side of the politician/press divide, making ads for the presidential campaign of George H. W. Bush, the Washington Post once found out in advance where one of the commercials was going to be filmed. According to an article that appeared in that paper in 1988, Mr. Ailes was moved to comment thusly on the situation: " 'These leakers!' he told an inquiring reporter the night before the planned event. 'I think they should all be executed and tortured.'"

Mr. Ailes was joking on that occasion. But faced with one of the biggest First Amendment cases of our own timethe New York Times's 2005 story on the George W. Bush administration's domestic wiretapping programhow did Fox News react? By impugning the motives of the Times, of course, with different Fox personalities speculating that the Times deliberately published the story when it did in order to dissuade the U. S. Senate from reauthorizing the Patriot Act.

To point out that this network is different, that it is intensely politicized, that it inhabits an alternate reality defined by an imaginary conflict between noble heartland patriots and devious liberalsto be aware of these things is not the act of a scheming dictatorial personality. It is the obvious conclusion drawn by anybody with eyes and ears.

Still, one wishes that the Obama administration had taken on Fox News with a little more skill. As cultural criticism goes, this was clumsy, plodding stuff. What the situation required was sarcasm, irony, a little humor. Simply feeding Fox a slice of raw denunciation was like dumping gasoline into a fire. It did nothing but furnish the network with a real-world validation of its long-running conspiracy theoriesand a nice bump in its ratings.

You may or may not agree with Mr. Frank's commentary.  But let's give credit to the Murdoch people who allowed this critique to be published.

Now grow old waiting for anything like it from NBC about MSNBC.


ACORN: STILL SUCKING MONEY OUT OF THE TAXPAYERS

Ken Berwitz

Did you really think ACORN would stop getting taxpayer money? 

Forget about it.  This is the Obama administration and a Democrat-majority congress - both houses of it.  So you may think that ACORN is shut out, but they will find ways to funnel money to this sorry, corrupt, partisan organization.

Here's one, uncovered by Chelsea Schilling of www.worldnewsdaily.com (and no doubt available to more mainstream media; but try and find a story about it there):

JUST PLAIN NUTS
ACORN affiliate listed as federally approved charity
Government employees may donate portion of paychecks directly to group


Posted: October 27, 2009
10:43 pm Eastern

By Chelsea Schilling
 2009 WorldNetDaily

 

The federal government has listed an ACORN  affiliate in its catalog of approved charities allowing federal employees to set up payroll deductions and donate a portion of paychecks directly to the group.

 

The ACORN Institute, an affiliate of the national umbrella organization of ACORN, is featured in the Office of Personnel Management's 2009 CFC list of participating national and international organizations.

 

The government's annual workplace charity campaign allows federal employees to contribute to qualified charities with cash, checks or payroll deductions.

 

According to a Washington Post report, ACORN transferred millions of dollars in charitable contributions meant for the poor to arms of ACORN that have political and even profit-making missions in 2006. Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, released a report warning, charities "are being used to raise monies which are then funneled to other charities or to other organizations for purposes other than what the donor may have intended. . . . Dollars raised for charitable [purposes] appear to be used for impermissible lobbing and political activity."

 

Grassley asked that the ACORN Institute and other ACORN affiliates be taken off the list of approved charities.

"The acts perpetrated by ACORN employees were impermissible and should not be supported with CFC dollars," Grassley wrote in a Sept. 22 letter to Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry.

 

ACORN is under investigation for voter registration fraud, embezzlement and other charges. As WND reported, independent filmmaker James O'Keefe and student Hannah Giles ran an undercover sting on ACORN, revealing a multitude of recommendations from employees of the community organizers on how to facilitate underage prostitution and avoid taxes. The stings resulted in both houses of Congress voting to stop funding ACORN and both the U.S. Census Bureau and the IRS cutting off their partnerships with the group.

 

Berry replied to Grassley's letter on Oct. 17, stating that the ACORN Institute is the only ACORN affiliated group listed in the CFC catalogue of charities.

 

"[T]he activities of certain offices of ACORN that have been reported in the media do not provide legal basis for excluding the Institute from the CFC," he wrote. "Nor is such a basis provided by the recent continuing resolution which prohibits Federal funding of ACORN or its affiliates, because the ACORN Institutes does not receive Federal funds by virtue of its participation in the CFC."

 

He also said the ACORN Institute is a legally separate organization from ACORN, holding 501(c)(3) status.

 

"While Federal monies are, of course, used to accomplish the mission and operations of OPM and other agencies as they execute payroll allotments and perform duties related to the CFC, Federal monies are not 'provided to' the ACORN Institute, Inc., within the meaning or scope of the CR [Congressional resolution]," Berry said.

 

According to the Post report, Grassley responded in a statement: "The Combined Federal Campaign is a federal program for federal employees. By keeping ACORN charities on the list, the federal government is giving its seal of approval to a group that advised people to lie to the IRS. And this position is inconsistent with congressional intent, as well as the IRS and Census Bureau's stand that they no longer want to do business with ACORN."

Executive director Brennan Griffin told the newspaper that the ACORN Institute has received less than $50,000 from the CFC since it applied to join in January 2007.

 

The ACORN Institute website states, "The ACORN Institute operates a countrywide network of ACORN Centers which provide free tax preparation, benefits enrollment, and foreclosure prevention services. In partnership with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), our network of ACORN Centers aims to create community and family stability in low- and moderate-income communities by putting more money into the local economy and allowing individuals to gain access to appropriate resources needed to take care of their families."

 

The group also works with ACORN to provide leadership development and training.

 There you have it.  A story that has been developing for over a month, about a corrupt organization the public thinks has been dropped by the federal government but, in reality, has not.  And do we see it in the mainstream media?  No we do not.  It takes an internet web site for us to read about it. 

But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.


PROVERBS WORTH REMEMBERING (OR SOMETHING)

Ken Berwitz

West Coast Russ just sent me a bunch of proverbs, supposedly from Larry the Cable Guy (a character I am not at all taken with).

Some are funny, some are not.

Here, at least in my view, are the 10 funniest:

  1. A day without sunshine is like night.

  2. Remember, half the people you know are below average.

  3. Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

  4. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese in the trap.

  5. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

  6. How many of you believe in psychokinesis?  Raise my hand.

  7. OK, so what's the speed of dark?

  8. Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

  9. What happens if you get scared half to death, twice?

10. Why do psychics have to ask you your name?


CORZINE: BUYING ANOTHER ELECTION?

Ken Berwitz

How do you feel about being spoken to as if you were 6 year old with below-average intelligence?

If you're not particularly fond of it, you probably won't like what you are about to read.

Excerpted from an article in today's Newark Star-Ledger:

Corzine's money fuels his comeback

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Josh Margolin and Claire Heinin

STATEHOUSE

AND CLAIRE HEININGER

Gov. Jon Corzine continues to tap into his personal fortune to dramatically outspend his opponents in a comeback bid for a second term, reports released yesterday show.

Corzine, a former Wall Street executive, has spent $23.6 million on the general election, compared to Republican Chris Christie's $8.8 million and independent Chris Daggett's $1.2 million, according to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Corzine donated or loaned his general election campaign $22.6 million of its $24.1 million, writing checks to cover TV ads, several pollsters and a $15,000 hall rental for President Obama's visit to Fairleigh Dickinson University.

The Democrat has now dedicated more than $120 million of his own money in his campaigns. He spent a combined $100 million on successful bids for U.S. Senate in 2000 and governor in 2005.

The governor dismissed questions about his spending yesterday, saying "I have no idea" whether the financial advantage enabled him to pull even in recent polls.

Corzine says he has no idea of whether outspending his opponent, $23.6 million to $8.8 million (a disparity that will surely grow in this last week of the campaign) has had an effect on the campaign?

That is talking to New Jersey voters as if we are a bunch of 6 year olds with below-average intelligence. 

And what about the fact that almost 95% of Corzine's entire campaign is self-funded?  Does anyone contribute to this guy except himself? 

Christie, who is a pauper by comparison, is getting his chump change (relatively speaking) from donations and matching funds.  In other words, the people are funding him, not the bonuses Corzine raked in at Goldman-Sachs before he decided to buy elections.

Let me say, as I have before, that I'm not that hot to trot on Christie.  But, given his success as a prosecutor, combined with the disparity in campaign funding and that enormously insulting comment by Corzine, I would vote for him 100 times out of 100.

He'll get one of my 100 next Tuesday.


OBAMA'S LATEST ISRAEL-HATER

Ken Berwitz

From www.yidwithlid.blogspot.com:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Obama Appoints Another Israel-Hating Adviser: Chuck Hagel

 

President Obama is adding to his anti-Jew crew. Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel has been  named co-chair of President's Intelligence Advisory Board.  Hagel will be charged with overseeing the work of the intelligence agencies for the president and investigating violations of law by the clandestine community. Hagel joins Anti-Israel appointees such as Samantha Power and General Jones on the President's "anti-Jew" crew.

Steve Clemons, foreign policy head of George Soros' New America Foundation, announced Hagel's move at the Tuesday evening gala dinner hosted by the Anti-Israel organization J Street as part of their first annual conference.


How Anti-Israel is Chuck Hagel? Well, don't take my word for it, in an attempt to be bi-partisan below is what the the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), said about  Sen. Hagel's lousy record on Israel last year:

 

          In August 2006, Hagel was one of only 12 Senators who refused to write the EU asking them to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

 

         In October 2000, Hagel was one of only 4 Senators who refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel.

 

         In November 2001, Hagel was one of only 11 Senators who refused to sign a letter urging President Bush not to meet with the late Yassir Arafat until his forces ended the violence against Israel.

 

         In December 2005, Hagel  was one of only 27 who refused to sign a letter to President Bush to pressure the Palestinian Authroity to ban terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian legislative elections. 

 

         In June 2004, Hagel refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to highlight Iran's nuclear program at the G-8 summit.

 

I don't want to leave you with the impression that everyone hates Hagel's record on Israel. The same NJDC article did cite one group that supported Hagel's Middle East efforts--CAIR, a group shown to support Hamas during the Holy Land terrorist funding case.

 

Potential presidential candidates for 2008, like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe Biden and Newt Gingrich, were falling all over themselves to express their support for Israel. The only exception to that rule was Senator Chuck Hagel [Council on American-Islamic Relations, 8/28/06]

Then there was that nice little speech he made during the Senate debate about the surge where he seemed to justify terrorism by the Palestinians "who have been chained down." (see video below).

Folks, think about this long and hard. President Obama has been throwing Israel under the bus since right after election day, this is only one more example. Obama can show such disdain for Israel, by publicly dissing Israel at every opportunity while making no demands of the Palestinians, supporting the division of Jerusalem and adding advisers with a strong Anti-Israel stance, like Chuck Hagel to his administration.  It is clear that Obama's attitude is the opposite of former Secretary of State James Baker, who exclaimed F**K the Jews, they wont vote for us anyway.  Obama's version is F**K the Jews, they WILL vote for us anyway. Lets hope he will be surprised in the next election.

One additional point to be made:  When James Baker said "F#*k the Jews, they won't vote for us anyway" he was right.  Whatever his feelings for or against Israel (and my remembrance is that he was no fan), it was his political view that money put against a group so deeply owned and operated by the Democratic Party was wasted.  Personally, I would have come to the same conclusion.

Sadly, however, Sammy Benoit (who writes yidwithlid.com) is spot-on in his assessment about Obama.  As with the virtually monolithic Black vote, Democrats can screw pro-Israel Jews over time and time again.  And for reasons that become harder and harder to understand, he will still wind up with a huge majority of their votes anyway.

In the last election, exit polls indicated that 78% of the Jewish vote went to Barack Obama.  I hope those people are happy with what they got.

Speaking as one of the other 22%, I can assure you that I am not.


OBAMA'S D&D INDEX FOR AFGHANISTAN

Ken Berwitz

The President Obama Afghanistan D&D (Dither & Dawdle) index is at two months and counting.

Here, from CBS News, is Mr. Obama's schedule for today:

10:00AM: President Obama departs Miami, Florida en route Sarasota, Florida

10:50AM: President Obama arrives in Sarasota, Florida

12:10PM: President Obama tours DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center

12:25PM: President Obama delivers remarks

2:05PM: President Obama departs Sarasota, Florida en route Norfolk, Virginia

3:50PM: President Obama arrives in Norfolk, Virginia

4:55PM: President Obama delivers remarks at rally for Creigh Deeds

6:05PM: President Obama departs Norfolk, Virginia en route Andrews Air Force Base

6:50PM: President Obama arrives at Andrews Air Force Base

7:05PM: President Obama arrives at The White House

Will any of this result in Mr. Obama making a decision on whether to send the additional troops that his commanding General, Stanley McChrystal, says are imperative for the war in Afghanistan? 

Every day that Barack Obama dithers and dawdles away without a decision endangers our men and women in uniform - and brings us closer to losing this war.

His press secretary, Robert "Baghdad Bob" Gibbs, tells us the President needs more time to make his decision.

Will touring a solar energy plant and campaigning for Creigh Deeds move that decision along?  Are they more important than acting as commander in chief to protect our troops?

We deserve this.  We elected a Chicago machine politician without any qualifications for the Presidency, and handed him a lopsided majority in both houses to back his actions up.

But does our volunteer army deserve this --  especially those who are at risk in Afghanistan? 

Mr. President, when are you going to DO SOMETHING?


WHEN SCHOOLS SUBSTITUTE POLICY FOR THINKING (CONT.)

Ken Berwitz

Here is another example of a school administration using policy as a substitute for using its heads.

Here is the story, from KCCI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa.  Be sure to have a pillow under your jaw, because it probably will drop wide open:

Student Suspended Over Show-And-Tell Souvenir

POSTED: 4:33 pm CDT October 27, 2009
UPDATED: 6:10 pm CDT October 27, 2009

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A Des Moines girl was suspended after school officials said she violated their weapons policy.

 

Jazmine Martin, 12, brought an empty shotgun shell to school on Monday, a souvenir from a summer vacation to South Dakota. The shell was empty and had the word "blank" written on the front.

 

"We went to South Dakota and went to the Circle B Ranch," said Chenoa Martin, Jazmine's mother. "There's a show of the old West -- a stampede. Had a gun shoot-out and stuff like that. When they fire their rifles, they do it into the crowd. It posed no risk."

 

"We went around the building to look for them and they said they don't care if we have them so we picked up all of them," said Jazmine Martin.

 

"They picked up the shells as souvenirs of that event -- it was wonderful," said Chenoa Martin.

 

"I wanted to show it to my science teacher because he's into stuff like this," said Jazmine Martin.

 

Jazmine Martin said she never got the chance to show her teacher. During fourth period last week, she got pulled out of class and was questioned about her summer souvenir.

 

"They called me to the office and when I was walking through the hallway I am like 'what did I do?'" said Jazmine Martin.

 

"This young lady brought a bag of shell casings and shared them with other kids," said Randy Gordon, Brody Middle School principal.

 

Gordon said that even though they were empty, the shell casings are considered ammo, which violates the school's weapon policy.

 

"Well, it's kind of like toy gun problems schools have had. We suspend kids for bringing toy guns also. We want to make it clear to kids not confusing at all that anything with weapons, guns, it doesn't belong in school," said Gordon.

 

"I called the principal and asked about this and he said it was something that posed a risk," said Chenoa Martin. "I thought it was the most absurd thing I'd heard because it's empty and it says 'blank' right on the shell itself."

 

School officials said the one day suspension will go on Jazmine's school record.

 

Jazmine's mother said she plans to appeal to the school board to keep it off her permanent record.

Got that?  She saw an enactment of a wild west shootout, in which blanks were fired.  She brought some of the used, blank shells to school to show her science teacher.  And she was suspended for bringing ammunition into the school.

Again:  The "ammunition" consisted of some used shells, that were blanks to begin with, that she collected after a show.

That is the equivalent of suspending a student for bringing in the bladeless handle of a toy knife.

Are these people determined to act like idiots? 

Or are they so devoid of common sense and rudimentary brain function that they will hide behind a "no ammunition" policy to justify the suspension of a 12 year old girl who didn't bring any ammunition to school in the first place? 

Oh, wait, that would be acting like idiots, wouldn't it?

And these are the ones entrusted with educating children?

Yikes.

BOBW I THINK LAUDING AND SINGING NO-BAMA CHANTS IS FAR MORE DANGEROUS (10/28/09)


TAKE A DOZEN OYSTERS, GET SICK, AND SEE ME IN TWO YEARS

Ken Berwitz

There is an old joke about a guy taking a certain liberty with his date.  The punch line is that his presumably outraged date notices how what he is doing feels, and says "I'm warning you...you have 20 minutes to stop doing that!"

Tell you what, though;  that's funny as a joke, but it isn't funny as an FDA strategy to prevent people from getting sick. 

Excerpted from an Associated Press Article:

FDA to ban raw Gulf oysters unless treated for bacteria; proposal would take effect in 2011

By The Associated Press

October 27, 2009, 2:55PM

 

 

NEW ORLEANS -- Federal officials plan to ban sales of raw oysters harvested from the Gulf of Mexico unless the shellfish are treated to destroy potentially deadly bacteria -- a requirement that opponents say could deprive diners of a delicacy cherished for generations.

 

The plan has also raised concern among oystermen that they could be pushed out of business.

 

The Gulf region supplies about two-thirds of U.S. oysters, and some people in the $500 million industry argue that the anti-bacterial procedures are too costly. They insist adequate measures are already being taken to battle germs, including increased refrigeration on oyster boats and warnings posted in restaurants.Federal officials plan to ban sales of raw oysters harvested from the Gulf of Mexico unless the shellfish are treated to destroy potentially deadly bacteria _ a requirement that restaurants say could deprive diners of a delicacy cherished for generations. The plan has also raised concern among oystermen that they could be pushed out of business.

 

About 15 people die each year in the United States from raw oysters infected with Vibrio vulnificus, which typically is found in warm coastal waters between April and October. Most of the deaths occur among people with weak immune systems caused by health problems like liver or kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, or AIDS.

 

"Seldom is the evidence on a food-safety problem and solution so unambiguous," Michael Taylor, a senior adviser at the Food and Drug Administration, told a shellfish conference in Manchester, N.H., earlier this month in announcing the policy change.

 

Some oyster sellers say the FDA rule smacks of government meddling. The sales ban would take effect in 2011 for oysters harvested in the Gulf during warm months.

Am I missing something here?  What the FDA appears to be telling us is that there is a clear and immediate danger of eating untreated oysters harvested from the Gulf of Mexico.  So they must be treated for bacteria (side note:  don't they mean treated against bacteria?) to assure that people don't get sick or even die.

But go ahead and eat them, untreated, until 2011, which is over a year from now.

That, friends, is how agencies of the federal government work.  The same federal government that, if we let them, is going to take over health care in this country.

Think about it.


ANN COULTER ON THE SO-CALLED "OPT OUT" OPTION

Ken Berwitz

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  There are a lot of things about Ann Coulter that I do not like.  But sometimes she just plain nails an issue.

And the so-called "opt out option" - as phoney-baloney a fraud as you will ever come across - is one of them.

Here is her latest column - the bold print is mine:

 

I'LL PASS ON 'OPTING OUT'
October 28, 2009


The Democrats' all-new "opt out" idea for health care reform is the latest fig leaf for a total government takeover of the health care system.

Democrats tell us they've been trying to nationalize health care for 65 years, but the first anyone heard of the "opt out" provision was about a week ago. They keep changing the language so people can't figure out what's going on.

The most important fact about the "opt out" scheme allegedly allowing states to decline government health insurance is that a state can't "opt out" of paying for it. All 50 states will pay for it. A state legislature can only opt out of allowing its own citizens to receive the benefits of a federal program they're paying for.

It's like a movie theater offering a "money back guarantee" and then explaining, you don't get your money back, but you don't have to stay and watch the movie if you don't like it.
That's not what most people are thinking when they hear the words "opt out." The term more likely to come to mind is "scam."

While congressional Democrats act indignant that Republicans would intransigently oppose a national health care plan that now magnanimously allows states to "opt out," other liberals are being cockily honest about the "opt out" scheme.

On The Huffington Post, the first sentence of the article on the opt-out plan is: "The public option lives."

Andrew Sullivan gloats on his blog, "Imagine Republicans in state legislatures having to argue and posture against an affordable health insurance plan for the folks, as O'Reilly calls them, while evil liberals provide it elsewhere."

But the only reason government health insurance will be more "affordable" than private health insurance is that taxpayers will be footing the bill. That's something that can't be opted out of under the "opt out" plan.

Which brings us right back to the question of whether the government or the free market provides better services at better prices. There are roughly 1 million examples of the free market doing a better job and the government doing a worse job. In fact, there is only one essential service the government does better: Keeping Dennis Kucinich off the streets.

So, naturally, liberals aren't sure. In Democratic circles, the jury's still out on free market economics. It's not settled science like global warming or Darwinian evolution. But in the meantime, they'd like to spend trillions of dollars to remake our entire health care system on a European socialist model.

Sometimes the evidence for the superiority of the free market is hidden in liberals' own obtuse reporting.

In the past few years, The New York Times has indignantly reported that doctors' appointments for Botox can be obtained much faster than appointments to check on possibly cancerous moles. The paper's entire editorial staff was enraged by this preferential treatment for Botox patients, with the exception of a strangely silent Maureen Dowd.

As the Times reported: "In some dermatologists' offices, freer-spending cosmetic patients are given appointments more quickly than medical patients for whom health insurance pays fixed reimbursement fees."

As the kids say: Duh.

This is the problem with all third-party payor systems -- which is already the main problem with health care in America and will become inescapable under universal health care.

Not only do the free-market segments of medicine produce faster appointments and shorter waiting lines, but they also produce more innovation and price drops. Blindly pursuing profits, other companies are working overtime to produce cheaper, better alternatives to Botox. The war on wrinkles is proceeding faster than the war on cancer, declared by President Nixon in 1971.

In 1960, 50 percent of all health care spending was paid out of pocket directly by the consumer. By 1999, only 15 percent of health care spending was paid for by the consumer. The government's share had gone from 24 percent to 46 percent. At the same time, IRS regulations made it a nightmare to obtain private health insurance.

The reason you can't buy health insurance as easily and cheaply as you can buy car insurance -- or a million other products and services available on the free market -- is that during World War II, FDR imposed wage and price controls. Employers couldn't bid for employees with higher wages, so they bid for them by adding health insurance to the overall compensation package.

Although employees were paying for their own health insurance in lower wages and salaries, their health insurance premiums never passed through their bank accounts, so it seemed like employer-provided health insurance was free.

Employers were writing off their employee insurance plans as a business expense, but when the IRS caught on to what employers were doing, they tried to tax employer-provided health insurance as wages. But, by then, workers liked their "free" health insurance, voters rebelled, and the IRS backed down.

So now, employer-provided health insurance is subsidized not only by the employees themselves through lower wages and salaries, but also by all taxpayers who have to make up the difference for this massive tax deduction.

How many people are stuck in jobs they hate and aren't good at, rather than going out and doing something useful, because they need the health insurance from their employers? I'm not just talking about MSNBC anchors -- I mean throughout the entire economy.

Almost everything wrong with our health care system comes from government interference with the free market. If the health care system is broken, then fix it. Don't try to invent a new one premised on all the bad ideas that are causing problems in the first place.

That's a lot to think about.

I suggest we all do a lot of thinking.


TO THE GENIUSES WHO GAVE US AN OCTOBER/NOVEMBER WORLD SERIES

Ken Berwitz

Dear Geniuses of Major League Baseball:

Please read this excerpt from the Denver Post, and think about the fact that Colorado could have been in the World Series this year:

By Tom McGhee and Victoria Barbatelli
The Denver Post

Posted: 10/28/2009 01:00:00 AM MDT

Updated: 10/28/2009 05:53:20 AM MDT


Weather observers could be measuring snowfall in feet in parts of Colorado over the next two days, with as much as 18 inches expected in parts of metro Denver.

 

The alarming early-season forecast placed local governments and airlines at Denver International Airport on notice. City vehicles were fitted with plows Tuesday in advance of the storm, and some airlines offered limited fee waivers to travelers worried about possible flight cancellations.

 

In the foothills, up to 24 inches of snow is possible. Higher elevations could get 3 feet.

And remember:  The Bronx and Philadelphia can get snow this time of year also.  Even if they don't get snow, they can get snow-cold temperatures.

When I was growing up, October 28th meant the world series was over about 3 weeks ago.  But in 2009, October 28th is when they start.  And if the series goes to seven games, it will end on November 5th.  Baseball in New York and Philadelphia in November.

Could you guys maybe rethink this? 

Thank you.


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