Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bloggers, etc. I am Thankful For

Well, Thanksgiving day is over and I meant to write a post about the bloggers and others on the internet I am thankful for, but we had 25 people for Thanksgiving dinner and I did not get a chance. So now that I have some time, here are the bloggers and others on the internet that really make my days brighter and get me thinking, and why I am thankful for them:

Ann Althouse at Professor Althouse is really witty and doesn't take herself too seriously. She can talk about trivial topics like squirrels, wine and the childish behavior of other bloggers in one breath while handling more serious topics with ease. I love the way she links to and seems fairly friendly with her ex-husband, who has a blog of his own. She has an artist's eye and a psychologist's observation of human behavior that makes for great commentary when combined with her knowledge of the law and politics.

David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy who is the author of one of my favorite books, You Can't Say That!: The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws. I admire Bernstein's libertarian style and his willingness to take unpopular views and defend them with facts and intellect instead of shrill emotion and opinion.

Beccy Cole: The anti-Dixie Chick: Ms. Cole is an Australian singer who stood up to her fans who disapprove of her support for the Diggers, the Australian soldiers fighting in the Long War. Instead of sulking and acting like a bunch of rebellious adolescents like our own Dixie Chicks, Ms. Cole chose to act in a mature and reasoned manner by putting out a video that displayed her bravery and loyalty towards her country. Whenever I feel discouraged and start to think that many people are apathetic, or worse, show loyalty towards our enemies instead of our country, I realize that bravery and a will to fight for freedom still exists.

Michelle Malkin at Michelle I absolutely admire Michelle Malkin, she not only deals with verbal insults on a regular basis but stands up without fear to those who wish her harm. She is a role model to bloggers and women everywhere for her tenacity, bravery, and ability to withstand criticism without worrying about being popular to the masses. She is a terrific role model and citizen.

Jane Galt at Asymmetrical information : Libertarian Megan McArdle is a clear and clever writer and I like her views on economic and healthcare issues. She generates interesting discussion and I find I agree with her much of the time and even when I don't, I find myself being persuaded by her factual and straightforward positions.

And finally, of course, Instapundit, who seems to hear all and see all, even when I least expect it.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Prayer and Hatred at the Huffington Post

I have to wonder why some sites place a warning on the video of Michael Richard's statements as if people's ears are too sensitive to hear those words but no one places a warning on the Huffington Post when a writer prays for the death of Dick Cheney. Heart attack survivors everywhere should wonder about the cruelty and downright evil that possesses someone like the writer of this opinion piece to wish for the death of someone with heart disease. In my opinion, the latter statements about our Vice President are as bad or worse than those statements by Michael Richards. I wonder why one view is tolerated and probably exalted while the other is seen as vile and evil?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Potato Guns in the News

Watch out if you bought a potato gun last year like I did for Christmas presents--you might get arrested in Canada (Hat Tip: Say Uncle). Apparently, a 43 year old man was shooting a potato gun off a balcony and was arrested:

Officers swarmed the area and they, too, heard a sound like a gun being fired.

"We ... find out it’s this 43-year-old man and this potato gun. It’s a diversion of police resources [and] it’s a concern when we believe that we’re hearing gunshots.

"We haven’t found any damage or found anyone with injuries [but] the potential is obvious that someone could get hurt."

Getting hit by a potato would cause the same damage as a fast ball thrown by a major-league pitcher, said Sylven. Aiming a potato gun at someone can draw more serious charges than just firing it off a balcony, as this man is alleged to have done.

Okay, shooting those huge potato cannons off your balcony is just plain stupid. They could hurt someone. But, I still have a closet full of these little potato guns and was going to give out some more this year for gifts. Shush, don't tell anyone.

Outsourcing Compassion in Health Care?

I went yesterday to my regular check-up with my cardiologist and spent most of the session talking with him about socialized medicine and its repercussions. You know it's a sign your health is improving when your doctor talks more about what is going on in the wider world then your bum ticker. That is fine by me.

My cardiologist works in a large practice at one the local hospitals here in Knoxville. They have outreach care for heart patients in many of the small counties in this part of the state with physicians who are willing to drive many miles to see patients who cannot or will not come into Knoxville. Some of the cardiologists in my doctor's practice donate their time to the Interfaith clinic here in Knoxville that provides medical services to those who fall through the cracks:

In January, 1990 a twelve member committee worked together to create a place where people without insurance could receive affordable health care. On March 6, 1991 the InterFaith Health Clinic opened its doors to serve those earning too much to qualify for government subsidized insurance and too little to afford private insurance. Since opening, the clinic has served over 50,000 patients.

"What the general public does not realize," my cardiologist said, "is how much free work we doctors give away. We had a patient in here yesterday without insurance, nothing, and he was in the heart cath lab yesterday afternoon."

What will happen to this same patient of my doctor's if the United States had Universal Health Care? Would he have been put on a waiting list for the heart cath lab or for other necessary tests like so many in Canada? What will socialized medicine do to the compassion and/or working habits of doctors? Will taking away the free market in medicine start a new generation of doctors who see no incentive or reason to take on more patients when they draw a salary regardless of how many patients are seen? Have you ever dealt with HMO's who tried that approach? By paying doctors a fixed sum for so many patients, the incentive is to ration care, not provide more. In addition, if doctors are working for the government, they may see that as fullfilling their obligation already to the underprivileged etc., so they may not feel such a strong need to help out in extra ways.

Once the government is in charge, will doctors view their loss of autonomy over their practices as reason to turn compassion over the government? I think so. It is human nature to work for an incentive of some kind and to feel that one has some kind of autonomy over one's work--that is why capitalism is the only system that works, it allows people to reap the rewards of their own work and rewards those who are better than the competition. To completely take the market out of healthcare allows mediocrity to flourish. Can we really afford to do that with people's lives?

Shouldn't we be asking ourselves these questions before demanding that the government take charge of health care? Because asking them after the fact may be too little for many and too late for some.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Update on the "Lumpy" Case

It appears that the young man who attempted to rob Greg "Lumpy" Lambert that I posted about here is a suspect in another Tennessee murder (Hat tip: KnoxViews):

Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison says a man who allegedly tried to rob Knox County Commissioner Greg Lambert is a suspect in the murder of a Walgreens truck driver.

Sheriff Hutchison made the announcement today at the commission meeting.

Hutchison says he will ask a grand jury to indict 19-year-old Kane Stackhouse on murder charges Tuesday.

So far Stackhouse has not been charged with anything in connection with the murder of 53-year-old David Lindsey behind the Walgreens in Powell early in the morning on November 11th.

Stackhouse had not even been named a suspect until Monday.

But Stackhouse is charged with attempted robbery for allegedly pulling a gun on Commissioner Lambert about ten hours after Lindsey was found dead.

Deputies say Lambert foiled the alleged robbery by pulling a gun on Stackhouse.

Perhaps Mr. Lambert's quick thinking and act of self-defense saved other victims from further harm. Perhaps my hometown PC alternative rag The MetroPulse will eat the words they used in this sad editorial that described Mr. Lambert as a "clown" and his act of bravery as one of recklessness. What do they consider to be acceptable behavior when confronted with a gunman, groveling on the floor?

Health Care Podcast

Do you worry that we will be seeing Hillary Care or some version of socialized medicine in the near future? Is more government intervention into healthcare the answer? As a libertarian-leaning health service provider and psychologist, I say "no," it would be a step in the wrong direction with longer waiting times and horror stories for the truly sick. The healthy might think socialized medicine is an improvement because it's cheap, but you get what you pay or don't pay for. Imagine being put on a waiting list to have a life threatening condition like cancer or a heart condition evaluated. Isn't your life worth more than money?

In addition, do we really want the government making decisions about our healthcare and expanding the power it already has? I don't. American health care gets better and better, yet more and more Americans state they are dissatisfied with their coverage. Why? Are we a nation of whiners?

We talk with Dr. David Gratzer, a physician who has worked in both the Canadian and U.S. healthcare system and is the author of a new book, The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care. He discusses how capitalism can improve health care, why we are so unhappy with the current state of health care and his proposals for reform. Both Glenn and I read the book and it is chock full of information about how the current health care system originated and how to change it for the better.

You can download the podcast directly here or for dial-up users, listen here. You can visit our archives here to listen to previous episodes.

This podcast is brought to you by Volvo at

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Different New York

Okay, I was waiting for Megan McArdle, a lifetime New Yorker, to tell us her story of being robbed in the city for the first time in her 33 years...but the story has so far never materialized so I'll tell you my own "Robbery and the City" story. I am frankly amazed that it took 33 years for her to get robbed in NYC, for me, it was a matter of about a week or so before I was treated to what used to be a typical New York experience. But my experience in New York was a different one than the experience one would have in the city today--it was the 1980's, pre-Rudy Giuliani and during the crack epidemic around NYC. I was 21, a graduate student at the New School for Social Research and fresh from Tennessee where I had lived on my own for 3-4 years prior, but had never been robbed at knifepoint.

I had moved into an apartment on 11th street and first avenue in Manhattan over a rat infested bakery--that is a story for another day--but my graduate school was in walking distance of my apartment or I could take the subway from sixth avenue back to first on the L train. After class one night around 9, the other students and I walked out, most of the class was going in the opposite direction and one gallant fellow even offered to walk me to the subway. I, of course, declined, not being used to asking others to walk me anywhere.

I made my way toward the subway, thinking about what we had discussed in class, not paying attention to the fact that I was passing Union Square park, where drug dealers and junkies congregated, but for the most part, they just asked you if you wanted weed etc. This night, however, one of the junkies was hiding in the shadows near a building and grabbed my arm, branishing a knife. If you have ever been the victim of a violent crime, most likely, you will remember everything happening in slow motion, at least I did. The black male told me he had killed other women and made it clear that he would kill me. I felt sick as I gave him my high school class ring and a birthstone I had worn since childhood as well as the money I had in my pocket. I had no weapon and no way to protect myself, in New York at that time, it was illegal even to carry mace. I felt not only exploited by this perpetrator but by the city as well.

The story ends well for me, I noticed the junkie was high and he seemed shaky and nervous. I saw a cab coming towards us and I jumped in front of it, figuring it would be better to be hit by a cab and go to the hospital than risk getting knifed. Luckily, the cab stopped before it hit me and I jumped in and asked the driver to take me home. I had no money and the cab driver cursed me, even when I asked him to stop at my bank (I had my bank card in a pocket). When I told him I had been robbed, his reply was, "that was your boyfriend, quit trying to put one over on me." "Wow", I thought to myself, "welcome to New York."

My roommate just laughed when I got back to the apartment and told her I was going to call the police to report the crime and she was right, no one took it seriously.

I still wonder sometimes if this thief ever hurt someone else who didn't get away. I blame myself for not doing more to have stopped him, but I am grateful that I got away that night without being physically harmed.

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have lived in New York when Giuliani was mayor or afterwards, for it seems like night and day when I go to visit now. It is so much cleaner and nicer and I hear that the police take crimes more seriously now. Any mayor (along with the police department) who could so totally change that city from the post 80's New York that I knew to what it is today must surely have what it takes to be a fine President.