There are Boycotts, and then there are Boycotts

As Tom Blumer points out:

It becomes more obvious with each passing month that General/Government Motors and Chrysler have permanently lost a large percentage of consumers who won’t buy a vehicle from a bailed-out and/or state-run company. Recent proof: Neither maker had an entry in the top 10 list of the most purchased vehicles under the cash-for-clunkers program (Toyota and Honda had three each, while Ford had two). GM’s share of sales from clunker trade-ins was only 17.6%, well below its already declining market share.

The press probably won’t recognize the informal GM-Chrysler boycott unless and until the doors shut for the final time at these companies, if even then. They’re too busy promoting usually ineffective boycotts with which they agree.

Wonder which boycott will be more effective in the long run? Here’s some anecdotal evidence for you: I will go out of my way to shop at Whole Foods. The chances that I will ever buy another GM product are vanishingly small.

The Moral Crusade of the Rabbit People

They do not trust the government to administer “end of life” panels, even though such services are common in medicine today, because they are afraid they will become “death panels.” They do not want to give the government power to take over the Internet in “emergency situations” because they suspect, and rightly so, that it would facilitate censorship. They do not want big government because they suspect, and rightly so, that the cost of big government is the loss of Liberty. Yet somehow they have managed to convince themselves that they must elevate government use of torture in the interest of “security” to the status of a holy cause. Is it that difficult to grasp the logical disconnect? Throw me a bone here.

Rathergate Revisited: Mary Mapes Knew

This news brings back fond memories of watching Dan Rather dangle in the breeze after the blogosphere handed him his rear end on a platter. I still chuckle when I think of his earnest mien as he told us, “If the documents are not what we were led to believe, I’d like to break that story,” days after bloggers like Charles Johnson at LGF had utterly demolished any shred of doubt that his memo was anything but a crude fake. It will come as no surprise to those who were following the story at the time that Rather’s producer, Mary Mapes, was not an innocent victim of his latest bit of flimflam. The pecker tracks were pretty obvious. Now, as Johnson points out, we have the smoking gun.

Release the Hounds! Glenn Beck and the Left’s Latest Witch Hunt

It is noteworthy that the response of the left to the release of the CIA Inspector General’s report on torture has been remarkably subdued. If the responses of Huffpo, Kos, TPM, and the rest of the usual suspects are any guide, the left is still as facile as ever in turning its virtuous indignation on or off as political expedience would demand. At the moment, their overriding concern is, apparently, health care, so they are reducing the usual moralistic posing on other issues to a minimum to avoid rocking the boat.

However, when it comes to the matter of Glenn Beck calling the president a “racist” the left’s familiar ostentatious public “outrage” is, once again, on full display. The professionally pious guardians of the nation’s virtue never seem to raise an eyebrow when charges of racism are thrown about recklessly by the likes of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. When Glenn Beck does it, however, it’s a different matter. First of all, you see, Beck has white skin, which disqualifies him from using the term “racism” in the first place. More importantly, Beck is smart, articulate, and an effective advocate of conservative causes. That’s the real reason for this latest display of contrived “indignation” on the left. You see, citizens who disagree with these “progressives” cannot simply have a different opinion about what’s best for the country. They must necessarily be evil. For today’s left, it isn’t a matter of debating opposing points of view. It’s a matter of demonizing and silencing them.

As noted here and there in the blogosphere, this time their campaign of vilification includes an attempt to muscle corporate sponsors into pulling their advertising from Glenn’s show on FOX. Those craven enough to cave to the bullying and collaborate in the suppression of freedom of speech include Geico, Proctor & Gamble, Sargento, and CVS, among others. Apparently Geico has already lost thousands of customers as a result. One hopes that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits and Health Care Costs

We are now in the midst of a great national debate over the nationalization of health care. It would be more useful to nationalize the legal profession, for we are fast becoming what the great political theorist Milovan Djilas called a “Land without Justice.” Like the proverbial frog in boiling water, we tolerate the gross injustices we must endure on a daily basis because they have become normal. The legal system didn’t collapse overnight. It became rotten in small increments. We just got used to it. It now amounts to an officially sanctioned, pervasive, and massive system of bribery under which economic existence requires payoffs to legions of lawyers whose “services” to the country are more or less on a par with those of common burglars.

Consider what happens when someone sues their neighbor in this country. Regardless of whether the defendant is innocent or guilty, it will be necessary for him to bear potentially crippling legal fees, not to mention a psychological burden of insecurity that will last for years as the litigation proceeds through the courts. Can anyone explain to me how it is “just” that thousands upon thousands of innocent people must suffer such punishment in our country every year? If we are to avoid this punishment, we are required to pay substantial bribes to the lawyers in the form of high premiums for health, car, and legal insurance. The situation has become intolerable. If we must have big government, let us start by nationalizing the legal industry.

Let us consider how this works out in the case of health care costs. The lawyers tell us that the cost of medical malpractice insurance is insignificant, amounting to less than 2% of total health care costs. According to a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report they often cite, that is quite true. It is also irrelevant. One can see that by looking at a pie chart (hattip Health Guide USA, see below) of our total health care costs. Those costs include a great number of things, such as research, structures and equipment, home health care, hospital care, etc., which figure either relatively little or not at all in the overall medical litigation picture. In fact, such litigation is concentrated overwhelmingly in the “physicians and clinical services” portion of the pie chart, and to only a fraction of that. It is cold comfort to the many physicians who must pay exorbitant malpractice insurance premiums, amounting to many tens, and, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, that those premiums only amount to 2% of the nation’s total health care costs of about $2.5 trillion. For them, the burden is a lot more than 2% of their income. The argument is about as logical as a burglar attempting to justify his acts because, after all, the total take of thieves in the U.S. is less than 2% of the total military budget.

In return for this extortion, the lawyers explain to us that we all profit by improved health care. In fact, according to the CBO report they so often cite themselves,

Defenders of current tort law sometimes argue that restrictions on malpractice liability could undermine the deterrent effect of such liability and thus lead to higher rates of medical injuries. However, it is not obvious that the current tort system provides effective incentives to control such injuries. One reason for doubt is that health care providers are generally not exposed to the financial cost of their own malpractice risk because they carry liability insurance, and the premiums for that insurance do not reflect the records or practice styles of individual providers but more-general factors such as location and medical specialty. Second, evidence suggests that very few medical injuries ever become the subject of a tort claim. The 1984 New York study estimated that 27,179 cases of medical negligence occurred in hospitals throughout the state that year, but only 415—or 1.5 percent—led to claims. In short, the evidence available to date does not make a strong case that restricting malpractice liability would have a significant effect, either positive or negative, on economic efficiency.

In a word, the only ones who gain anything from the suffering and expense that health litigation entails are the lawyers themselves. They gain big time, and that’s the only reason our organized system of bribery continues. This is true not only of health care, but of accident litigation and any other activity in which lawyers can exploit human greed to inflict their “services” on the rest of us.

Suppose, however, that the effects of all this costly litigation are really all the lawyers tell us they are. Suppose it really does weed out bad doctors. Suppose it really does improve health care. Suppose it really does compensate the victims of malpractice, and only them, for the injury they have suffered. Would that, somehow, justify punishing the innocent with the guilty, forcing them to bear high legal fees, years of anxiety, and days wasted in litigation? Was that the dream of our founding fathers? “Let 100 innocent suffer as long as we can catch one who is really guilty?” That was the ethic of the Gulag. It seems to me that only those who have been profoundly corrupted by greed can really believe such a thing. And yet that is the kind of system we have, not only in medical malpractice, but in all other tort litigation. Odd, isn’t it, that all the worthy “experts” in ethics our universities have been pumping out never seem to object to this travesty of justice, or at least not loudly enough to make themselves heard?

The private practice of law in the United States has been corrupted beyond repair. The government has nationalized large sectors of the financial and automobile industries, and is in the process of nationalizing health care. While they’re at it, they should do something really useful, and nationalize the legal profession.

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The Morons Have Ye Always With You…

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Just when I thought the “progressive” boycott of Whole Foods took the cake for stupidity, these pinheads show up at an Obama event.

Pinheads, that is, unless they are agents provocateurs. In that case they are brilliant, because it’s hard to imagine a more effective way of dealing a blow to gun rights and private health care. As an added bonus, they played nicely into the hands of European hatemongers, who can be relied on not to miss such a golden opportunity to feed the anti-American stereotypes of their readers.

Update: According to LGF, they’re not agents provocateurs.

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Whole Foods Joins the Dark Side

Say it ain’t so, ABC! Could a chain as impeccably politically correct as Whole Foods really have succumbed to the blandishments of the forces of evil? My impressions of the clientele, not to mention the cars in the parking lot, are in substantial agreement with those of Babalu. Will they now be replaced by the likes of Oliver North and G. Gordon Liddy in their Hummers?

Well, if the “progressive” left wants to once again wear its allergy to any opinions not in accord with its ideological dogmas on its sleeve, that is certainly its perfect right. However, they might discover a denizen of the blogosphere here and there who finds their persistent attempts to bully anyone who disagrees with them tiresome. After all, it’s in poor form for the pot to call the kettle black.

As for the boycott, I can assure you I will be spending many more of my grocery dollars at Whole Foods from now on.

The Media Assassination of Richard Nixon: 35 Years Later

It has now been more than a week since the 35th anniversary of the resignation of Richard Nixon on August 9, 1974. Other than comments by an occasional blogger (for example, here, here and here) one finds little to commemorate the event on the Internet. The media silence over their “heroic” role in Watergate is particularly surprising. It’s as if they were afraid public opinion might finally catch up with them.

In fact, there was nothing heroic about the Watergate Affair. Its real significance shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s noticed the incredible venom and obsessive persistence of the legacy media’s attacks on Sarah Palin since the day she became McCain’s running mate. Imagine the attacks on Palin ratcheted up about an order of magnitude, continuing for a year and a half, with no blogosphere or talk radio to push back. That was Watergate. It amounted to the media assassination of a freely elected and effective President.

Oh, I know all about all of Nixon’s crimes and misdemeanors in excruciating detail. You had to know about them if you were alive during the affair, because the media hammered Nixon day after day. So obsessed were they that they hardly bothered to inform the American people about anything else. Their vendetta against Nixon was the be all and end all for them. He had dared to challenge them, and they were bitterly determined to get him. They kept up their attacks day after day, month after month, to the bemusement and consternation of foreign leaders, who couldn’t imagine what all the fuss was about. They weren’t stupid. They knew what Nixon had done. They also knew that any number American Presidents had done as much and worse with impunity. The idea that the media took Nixon down out of a noble sense of responsibility to the American people is one of the more absurd myths of the 20th century. They assassinated Nixon because they hated him.

It wouldn’t be easy for anyone living today to get a true sense of the reality of the Watergate Affair. Most of the book length accounts have been written by journalists, whose attempts to write history are almost uniformly useless, except, perhaps, to psychologists, because of their persistent tendency to interpret the world in terms of noble good guys and evil bad guys. One would have to go back to the source material. Archives of the Washington Post or the New York Times for the six months leading up the resignation would be a good place to start.

In the end, Nixon was forced to resign because his own party deserted him. They had tired of the struggle, and were even beginning to swallow the media propaganda themselves. Remember, there were no significant public voices to counter the media slant. If Watergate had happened today, I suspect they would never have dared to abandon their chief. Such an act would likely have been rightly condemned as a craven act of betrayal and treachery by the powerful voices that have risen to challenge the legacy media in the decades since Watergate. The changed nature of the media landscape is a development we should all be truly thankful for, and fight to protect.

It is a good thing that the aftereffects of Watergate were relatively benign. The outcome of the media’s blind rage and fury, culminating in the deposing of a democratically elected leader, could have been much worse. The destabilizing effects of their irresponsible abuse of the great power they controlled might have torn apart a country with a weaker tradition of responsible government and the rule of law. It is unlikely that the similarly irresponsible attempts to impeach Clinton would ever have happened without the precedent of Watergate. We must hope that the affair’s baneful effects won’t come back to haunt us at some future date.

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Obama and the Stock Market

According to Bloomberg back on March 6,

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 20 percent since Inauguration Day through yesterday, the fastest drop under a newly elected president in at least 90 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The gauge lost 53 percent from its October 2007 record of 14,164.53, slipping 4.1 percent to 6,594.44 yesterday.

Obamas enemies duly fastened the Dow Jones millstone around his neck, for example, here,

Well guess what, folks…as ANY economist will tell you, capital markets are forward-looking. The Dow Jones Industrial Average usually rises and falls based on expectations of what will happen, not based on what’s happening right now. In other words, if stocks fall, it is because investors believe the future is looking bleak, not because the present state of the economy is bad. Note that the stock market collapsed in 2001 in anticipation of the recession that followed. The stock market is collapsing now in anticipation of the fact that Obama’s plan will be ineffectual.

and here,

To those critics who claim that Obama can’t possibly “own” the decline in the stock market sincehis election, recall that these indices are a kind of futures market, with investors buying in (or selling as the case may be) based on how they believe the economy will do.

Let’s see, the stock market stood at 7949.09 at the close on Inauguration Day. Today it closed at 9361.61. Is there an economist in the house? Do these arguments work both ways, or are we dealing with what scientists call an irreversable process? Seems like it’s risky to play the stock market, both economically and politically.