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August 30, 2010


Brendan tweets that an "attempt to redefine 'death panels' as future cost-induced rationing" is "not what Palin said."

Let's go to the videotape.

Palin wrote in her famous Facebook statement:

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course.

Now if that's not about future cost-induced rationing, then what the hell is it about?

Palin went on to express her fear of "Obama's 'death panel'" in which "bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,'” who is "worthy of health care." The quoted reference is to views expressed in publications by key Obama health care advisor Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who also happens to be the brother of Obama's Chief of Staff, and who is referred to by name later in Palin's Facebook statement. (Subsequent to Palin's statement, Dr. Emanuel told the Washington Times his "thinking has evolved" and that "we would have absolutely no reason to even consider rationing except in a few cases.")

Palin's rhetorical use of the term "death panel" may well have been incendiary, but let's please acknowledge that it was precisely about future cost-induced rationing. In Brendan's defense, his Twitter comment was no doubt written quickly and somewhat offhandedly and didn't have the benefit of the careful thought and analysis that Sarah Palin was able to bring to her Facebook statement.

Funniest thing is that in his article, Avik Roy actually provides a two paragraph quote of Palin, but according to Brendan it's still not "what Palin said".


Excellent group of provocative tweets, Brendan.

1. Re the "____ and bin Laden agree" genre: I'm sorry to see Brendan following the NY Times editorial board's unwritten rule. Criticism of a current misdeed by a Dem must include similar criticism of a Rep, even if the Rep's misdeed was many years ago. OTOH criticism of a current misdeed by a Rep requires no such "balance."

2. Re: the economy. Political junkies sometimes don't realize how callous they sound. Jeremy P. Jacobs thinks an improved political approach to the economy (if such is possible) would be just as good as an improved economy. That's true politically, but it ignores the real suffering that millions of Americans are experiencing.

3. Crist couldn't be more deserving of his electoral problems.

4. Rob demolished Brendan's death panels tweet. Also, Brendan made the assumption that Sarah Palin has so much power that once she uses a term, it must be forever used as she decreed. That's quite a compliment to an out-of-work politician who sometimes posts comments on her site.

5. Obama said, "I can’t spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead," in response to questions about his religion, not his place of birth. I won't claim that this careless error means that Obama is a moron. However, when George Bush made similar mistakes, Dems did make that sort of claim. And, some Dems even believed it.

6. I feel close to Adam Serwer, because my sister is close friends with his parents. I was friendly with his uncle, Drew Days, the former Solicitor General. Since Adam is half-black, I can't blame him for racial sensitivity.

However, Limbaugh's approach to race is to treat it like any other characteristic. His comment about "some African American" is no different in tone from how he mocked Clinton's Arkansas background or Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts background. In this way, he treats African Americans as equal to other groups. (I won't mention that Democrats mockery of Bush was much nastier than anything Limbaugh said.)

Limbaugh doesn't demean blacks by implying that they need exceptional babying. Now, Limbaugh's approach is quite the opposite of what's permissible on campuses and in lots of other spheres. One can debate the pro's and con's of Limbaugh's approach. However, IMHO his use of politically incorrect language doesn't mean he's a racist.

7. Birthright citizenship is a complex issue. The Constitution is ambiguous in that it grants birthright citizenship only to those "subject to [US] jurisdiction."

According to Wikipedia, there are federal laws interpreting the 14th Amendment. These laws define who does or does not receive birthright citizenship. A new law taking that right away from the children of illegal immigrant might or might not stand up in Court. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthright_citizenship_in_the_United_States

Brendan finds the false claims about death panels frustrating. What I find frustrating is that we're all clueless about how the law will work.

• None of us has read the law.
• The people we rely on haven't read it, either.
• Simply reading the entire law would be inadequate, because it's written in legalistic jargon
• Even if one read the entire law and could work through the language, much of the law will depend on administrative decisions yet to made by a multitude of new agencies.
• Even if we knew how these agencies would initially rule, we don't know how they will adapt as costs inevitably escalate beyond affordibility.

To see how ignorant we are, let's take some fundamental questions:

• Medicaid care is so bad that some think it does more harm than good. Medicare care is excellet. How good will the care be under the new health reform Plan?
• We can be sure that there will be limitations on coverage. What will those limitations be?
• Will private insurance companies be forced to shrink or driven out of business over time?
• Many experts believe this Plan will have a detrimental effect on medical research. If so, how large will this effect be?
• How much will the Plan actually cost?
• Will the cost of the Plan take money from other government programs? If so, how much, and from which programs?
• Will the cost of the Plan have an adverse impact on federal solvency? How big will be effect be?
• Will the cost of the Plan cause a tax increase. If so, how big will that increase be? Which taxes will increase and by how much?

These are fundamental questions. None of us could answer any of them. Instead, we quibble about semantics.

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