For Those Attending the Second Amendment Blog Bash,.

Where are y’all staying? I’d like to make hotel reservations where, you know, other bloggers will be.

UPDATE: Reservations made, but I’d rather not spend $120/night +15.08% tax, etc. and sleeping at the end of the Louisville Int’l Airport runway. I will be getting a rental vehicle, so if there’s somewhere else a bit less expensive, I’m open to canceling that reservation and staying elsewhere, and I can provide transport.

Shooting for South Carolina.

I believe Fred Thompson’s campaign strategy hinges on a good finish in South Carolina. If you really want to see Thompson on the 2008 ballot, he needs your support. I’d never donated to a campaign before, but I threw him $100 about a week before the Iowa Caucus. He’s trying to raise $540k by January 11 for the Jan. 19 South Carolina primary. Christmas bills are rolling in, and I am, somehow or another, going to the Second Amendment Blog Bash in May, but I’m going to chip in another $50. As of now he has about $270k.

By my count there are 135 bloggers who have announced that they support Fred Thompson listed at Flopping Aces. If we average $50 each, that’s another $6,750.

Representative democracy works for those that show up.

Show up.

Yes, That Would Explain Part of His Appeal…

This week’s edition of Time has an interesting op-ed, Why They Really Run, by Michael Kinsley. An excerpt:

There are presidential candidates for virtually every taste, yet citizens find the menu inadequate. They tell pollsters they are discontented with the selection and generally sick of politics and politicians. In part, they are just being polite. The notion that people hate politics and that politicians are all phonies is so ingrained that to tell a pollster that, yeah, politicians are O.K. and the system is not so bad would almost be a violation of democratic etiquette.

Yet voters are also right to feel that something is phony about democratic politics and that it’s getting worse. Even a candidate who agrees with you on all important issues and always has—no dreaded flip-flops—is forced by the conventions of politics to be disingenuous about at least one core issue: why he or she is running.

Ladies and gentlemen, they are running because they are ambitious. No, really, they are. You probably suspected as much. And yet you would abandon any candidate who dared to admit this, or at least they all believe that you would. We all are told at our high school graduations to be ambitious, then for the rest of our lives it becomes a shameful secret. Ambition can take many forms. Four decades ago, Norman Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary, created a sensation with a book called Making It that revealed how even intellectuals are ambitious. But the purest form of ambition is political ambition, because it represents a desire to rule over other people.

When you hear the presidential candidates carrying on about democracy and freedom, do you ever wonder what they would be saying if they had been born into societies with different values? What if Mitt Romney had come to adulthood in Nazi Germany? What if Hillary Clinton had gone to Moscow State University and married a promising young apparatchik? What if Barack Obama had been born in Kenya, like his father, where even now people are slaughtering one another over a crooked election? Which of them would be the courageous dissidents, risking their lives for the values they talk about freely—in every sense—on the campaign trail? And which would be playing the universal human power game under the local rules, whatever they happened to be?

Without naming names, I believe that most of them would be playing the game. What motivates most politicians, especially those running for President, is closer to your classic will-to-power than to a deep desire to reform the health-care system. Alpha males are alpha males (and alpha females, ditto): it’s true among apes, and it’s true among humans.

Compare and contrast (from just prior to the Iowa Caucus):

I left government and I and my family have made sacrifices to be sitting here today. I haven’t had any income for a long time because I figured to be clean, you’ve got to cut everything off. I was doing speaking engagements and I had a contract to do a TV show. I had a contract with ABC radio…and so forth. A man would have to be a total fool to do all those things and to be leaving his family which is not a joyful thing if he didn’t want to do it.

I am not consumed by personal ambition. I will not be devastated if I don’t do it. I want the people to have the best president they can have.

When this talk first originated from people around the country both directly and through polls, liked the idea of me stepping up and of course, you always look better from a distance.

But most of those people are still there. I approached it from the standpoint of a deal. A kind of a marriage. If one side of a marriage really has to be talked into the marriage, it probably ain’t going to be a good deal. But if you mutually decide it’s going to be a good thing. In this case, if you think this is a good thing for the country, then we have an opportunity to do some wonderful things together.

I’m offering myself up. I’m saying that I have the background, the capability and concern to do this and do it for the right reasons. I’m not particularly interested in running for president, but I think I’d make a good president.

Nowadays, the process has become much more important than it used to be.

I don’t know that they ever asked George Washington a question like this. I don’t know that they ever asked Dwight D. Eisenhower a question like this. But nowadays, it’s all about fire in the belly. I’m not sure in the world we live in today it’s a good thing if a president has too much fire in the belly. I approach life differently than a lot of people. People, I guess, wonder how I’ve been as successful as I’ve been in everything that I’ve done. I won two races in TN by 20 point margins in a state that bill Clinton carried twice. I’ve never had an acting lesson. I guess that’s obvious by people who’ve watched me…

When I did it, I did it. Wasn’t just a lark. Anything that’s worth doing is worth doing well. But I’ve always been a little more laid back than most. I’m only consumed by very, very few things. Politics is not one of them. The welfare of our country and our kids and grandkids is one of them.

If people really want in their president super type-A personality, someone who has gotten up every morning and gone to bed every night and been thinking about for years how they win the presidency of the United States, someone who can look you straight in the eye and say they enjoy every minute of campaigning, I ain’t that guy. So I hope I’ve discussed that and didn’t talk you out of anything. I honestly want – I can’t imagine a worse set of circumstances [than] achieving the Presidency of the United States under false pretenses. I go out of my way to be myself.

Fred Thompson doesn’t sound phoney to me. And he also doesn’t sound like someone with an overactive will-to-power and a deep-seated need to rule over the rest of the population. I hope he can hang in long enough to overcome the media resistance to his campaign, and build momentum. He’s already got a pretty good following in the blogosphere.

Dr. Helen on Obama

When I listen to people talk about Obama, I hear nothing but vague ideals mentioned such as “change, new ideas, something different than the mainstream, fresh voices,” yada yada yada. But one thing I don’t hear a lot about are his views on policy.

Interesting. And so is the link to a Dick Meyers CBS piece describing Obama as “a Rorschach test”.

So When is a Universal Health Care System not Actually Universal?

After it’s been in place long enough that the State can’t deny its inability to maintain it.

In Socialized Medicine, Everyone Is A Doctor

Health Reform: The British have found a way to shorten those long, annoying waits for care and lower the rising costs of their universal access system. They’ll let patients take care of themselves.

The London Telegraph reported Tuesday that the British government has a “plan to save billions of pounds from the NHS budget.” But it won’t come without enormous pain.

“Instead of going to a hospital or consulting a doctor, patients will be encouraged to carry out ‘self-care’ as the Department of Health tries to meet Treasury targets to curb spending,” the Telegraph explained.

So when is a universal health care system not actually universal? When Britain’s 60-year-old National Health Service can no longer support the weight of its clamoring clientele.

Granted, there should be more self-treatment in developed nations. Emergency rooms and doctors’ offices are often overcrowded with patients who aren’t in need of urgent need but who go anyway because their insurance or government is paying. That type of open access to health care has led to overuse of the system.

The NHS, though, is hoping to cut down on more than frivolous visits. It’s looking for patients with “arthritis, asthma and even heart failure” to treat themselves, the Telegraph said.

Some of the self-care that will be expected of patients includes the monitoring of heart activity, blood pressure and lung capacity using equipment that has been placed in the home.

Patients will be counted on to relate health information to doctors either by phone or computer link. To manage pain, they will administer their own drugs and other treatments.

Patients will also be asked to evaluate the significance of changes in their conditions as well as employ relaxation techniques that the government hopes will help them relieve their stress and avoid emergency room visits caused by panic.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown characterizes the policy changes as improvements that will allow patients to “play a far more active role in managing their own condition.” The British Department of Health calls it an “exciting opportunity.”

But what they’re really saying is “our universal health care system is broken, and you’re on your own.”

There’s more. Read the rest of the editorial, but the key question asked is the very next line:

And we ask yet again: Is this the sort of system we want in the U.S.?

Yet, like the many-headed hydra of Marxism and its ilk, we will be told by defenders of “universal health care” that this won’t happen here. No, the right people will be in charge, and everything will work properly this time. It’ll be fair, equal, and economical!

Here’s some more from (the formerly) Great Britain:

Waiting times target ‘will be missed’

Plans to eliminate excessive waiting times in the National Health Service stand no chance of succeeding, an independent think-tank claims today.

In a serious blow to Gordon Brown’s credibility, Civitas says the target of a maximum 18-week delay from GP referral to treatment by December is an “impossibility”.

Its report, Why are we waiting?, comes as the Prime Minister signals his intention to press ahead with a constitution for the NHS.

James Gubb, of Civitas, said this was completely unrealistic. Labour had tried to deal with massive waiting lists by imposing targets on all levels of the service – including a 48-hour maximum wait for a GP appointment by 2004, and a four-hour maximum wait in A&E.

By April 2006, 203,114 people were waiting longer than 13 weeks for a proper diagnosis, of whom 96,416 were waiting longer than 26 weeks.

The figure included 12,648 waiting for longer than 13 weeks for MRI scans and 2,488 for CT scans.

Since then improvements have been made, and virtually no one is waiting longer than 13 weeks for a CT scan and just 169 were waiting longer than this for an MRI scan. But in October 2007, there were still 30,832 patients waiting longer than 26 weeks for diagnostics, of which 16,551 were waiting over a year.

The Government committed itself to reducing the time between seeing the GP and going into hospital to 18 weeks by the end of 2008. There is an interim target of 85 per cent to be achieved by the end of March 2008, but Civitas claims it is “sure to be missed”.

Got cancer? A hernia? Thirteen weeks is a long time.

Predictably, nationalized health care is a political battleground:

Birthday politics

As the NHS turns 60, politicians fight to blow out the candles

NO SOONER had the new year begun than the parties grabbed scalpels and started scrapping for advantage in the operating theatre. In a message to health-service staff, Gordon Brown said this would be “the year in which we demonstrate beyond a doubt that the NHS is as vital for our next 60 years as it was for our last”. Since Labour founded the health service in 1948—an act opposed then by the Tories—the prime minister’s letter was pure politics. For his part, David Cameron, the Conservative leader, proclaimed an audacious ambition for the Tories “to replace Labour as the party of the NHS” in 2008.

The intense political focus on the health service springs from continuing public worries about its condition. Over the past decade, it has generally been rated the most important issue facing Britain, according to Ipsos MORI, a pollster. More recently it has slipped behind immigration and crime, but over the past year it has usually come second or third.

Even more important in the calculations of the two leaders, Labour no longer holds the commanding heights in health-care politics. For several years after winning power in 1997, Labour outscored the Tories by colossal margins as the party with the best policies for the NHS. This lead had collapsed by the time that Tony Blair stepped down as prime minister last summer. Beset by his own difficulties, Mr Brown is also in trouble. According to a recent poll by Populus, Labour is only narrowly ahead of the Tories as the best party for the NHS: 33% of respondents backed Labour, 29% preferred the Conservatives.

The public’s loss of faith in Labour is rooted in a sense of disappointment that too little has come of the record funding increases of the past decade.

Really? “Record funding increases”?

Although long waits for operations are a thing of the past and many more patients are being treated, other aspects of the health service are lacklustre. Cancer-survival rates are poor by international standards; family doctors no longer see patients on Saturdays; and hospital-acquired infections are frighteningly frequent. Fuelling public discontent, medical staff are astonishingly fed up, even though they have received a string of big pay increases.

Mr Brown is now trying to respond to some of these concerns. A new five-year strategy to combat and prevent cancer was unveiled a month ago.

Yes, the government is now your doctor.

So woe unto you if you smoke, drink, overeat, or are elderly.

You cost too much.

140,000 NHS patients leave hospital undernourished, government admits

Nearly 140,000 NHS patients left hospital last year suffering from malnourishment, the Government has admitted.

Health campaigners have frequently complained that the elderly are treated as second-class citizens, with nurses and staff failing to provide help with eating meals.

Families complain about trays being placed out of reach of incapacitated patients or taken away before they have had time to finish eating.

Now it has been revealed that last year 139,127 patients were discharged malnourished, an 85 per cent increase on the number when Labour came to power in 1997.

Despite an attempt by the Government to improve hospital food last year, there are also continuing concerns about the quality of many meals.

Shadow health minister Stephen O’Brien, who uncovered the new figures by asking Parliamentary questions, said: “It is a scandal that in 21st century Britain we allow vulnerable patients to be let out of hospital in a malnourished state.

“It is even worse that we allow thousands of patients to get more poorly while they are in hospital.”

The figures show that, in 2006-07, 139,127 patients were discharged with a diagnosis of malnutrition, nutritional anaemia or another nutritional deficiency, up from the 1997-98 total of 75,431 patients.

The number has increased every year in the last decade. It went up 14,795 in the last year alone. Most patients were already suffering from malnutrition when they were taken in.

A total of 130,594 were admitted to hospital in 2006-07 in a state of malnourishment – an 85 per cent increase from the 1997-98 total of 70,658 patients.

But the nutritional state of at least 8,500 patients worsened while they were in hospital last year, the figures suggest.

Mr O’Brien said: “Malnourished patients are more prone to infections, have more complications after surgery, and have higher mortality rates – yet the Government allows over 130,000 patients to enter hospital in the state.

“If patients are at risk of malnutrition then they should be offered extra support before going into hospital, and they should be cared for better while they are in.

“Nurses need to be given the time and equipment to get on with the job of caring for our most vulnerable patients.”

Health minister Ivan Lewis admitted last year that elderly patients were being starved because food was put out of reach or was inedible.

Some are given just a single scoop of mash as a meal, while others are “tortured” with trays of food thoughtlessly placed beyond their reach, he said.

He criticised the NHS for failing to realise that food is the key to good health, and set out plans for weekly weigh-ins of every patient and colour-coded trays to signal who needed help.

Color coded trays. Now there’s a bureaucrat’s response if I ever saw one.

Gordon Brown outlines NHS reforms

Britons wanting to be treated by England’s National Health Service may have to qualify to receive free care under a new plan, a report said Tuesday.

Smokers or people who are chronically overweight may have to agree to exercise or to other changes in their lifestyles in return for NHS treatment. Moreover, patients who miss or chronically arrive late for hospital appointments may have penalties imposed on them, The Times of London reported.

Gee, does that sound like universal health care to you?

Our system is far from perfect, but more government interference and involvement is not the answer.

He Read it, So You (OK, I) Don’t Have To…

Bob Leibowitz at his cleverly named Leibowitz’s Canticle slogged through the entire legal “brief” filed by the District of Columbia in the D.C. v Heller case, and summarizes it for the rest of us. The key line in the review:

There’s enough slippery slope language here to keep the NRA in rhetorical ammunition for a century.

Oh, hell. Now I’m going to have to read the thing.

(h/t: Dave Hardy)


Major Andrew Olmsted, “G’kar” in comments around the blogosphere, and a blogger for Rocky Mountain News was killed in action on January 3 in Diyala province in Iraq. He had made arrangements, in the event of his death, to have a final blog post put up at Obsidian Wings.

Go read.

(Thank you juris_imprudent for the email notification.)

CNN: The Most Trusted Name in News

If they say it, it must be true, no?

Hillary Clinton
Voted for a 10-year extension of the assault weapons ban. Voted for requiring extensive background checks at gun shows. Supports licensing and registration of handguns, mandatory trigger locks for handguns, holding adults responsible for their children’s use of guns, raising the youth handgun ban from age 18 to 21, limiting gun sales to one per month and allowing the Consumer Products Safety Commission (to) regulate guns.

John Edwards
Voted for a 10-year extension of the assault weapons ban. Voted for requiring extensive background checks at gun shows.

Barack Obama
Supports extending the assault weapons ban. Supports national law against carrying concealed weapons, with exceptions for retired police and military personnel. Supports limiting gun sales to one per month.

Bill Richardson
Opposed the 1994 assault weapons ban, but voted for the crime bill that included it. Later voted to repeal the assault weapons ban. As governor, signed law allowing adults 21 and older who pass background checks and take a gun safety class to carry a concealed weapon. Has a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Says he has had a gun in the house during his adult lifetime. Has an A rating from the NRA.

Rudy Giuliani
Has supported gun control measures as New York City mayor, but says a person’s individual right to bear arms should only be limited for strict Constitutional reasons. As a Senate candidate, supported licensing and registration of handguns and extended background checks at gun shows. As mayor, signed legislation requiring trigger locks for all gun sales. Banned sale of toy guns that resemble real guns. Supported the federal assault weapons ban.

Mike Huckabee
Opposes reauthorization of the assault weapons ban. Opposes mandatory trigger locks for handguns. Opposes waiting periods for gun purchases. Owns a variety of firearms. NRA member. Has a concealed carry permit.

John McCain
Sponsored legislation requiring background checks at gun shows. Voted against a 10-year extension of the assault weapons ban. Opposed legislation requiring trigger locks for handguns. Opposed 1994 crime bill, which contained the assault weapons ban. Has a C+ rating from the NRA.

Mitt Romney
As governor, signed into law a permanent ban on assault weapons. Supported the 1994 federal assault weapons ban. Supported the Brady Bill requiring waiting periods for handgun purchases, but says it is no longer needed due to instantaneous background checks. Joined the NRA as a lifetime member in 2006.

Fred Thompson
Opposed the 1994 federal assault weapons ban and opposes a 10-year extension of the ban. Opposed 3-day gun show background check requirement in favor of a 24-hour check. Opposes mandatory trigger locks for handguns. Says gun-control measures do not reduce crime.

Obama supports a federal law prohibiting concealed carry? I did not know that. One more reason to oppose him.

A Defensive Gun Use Failure.

(via Instapundit)

Armed customer thwarts grocery robbery

A 51-year-old man stopped a masked man from robbing a Southside grocery store and held him at gunpoint until police arrived.

Charlie Merrell was in checkout line at Bucks IGA Supermarket, 3015 S. Meridian St., when a masked man jumped a nearby counter and held a gun on a store employee at 5:17 p.m. Monday, according to a police report made public today.

While the suspect was demanding cash from the workers, the police report states that Merrell pulled his own handgun, pointed it at the robber and ordered him to put down his weapon.

When the suspect hesitated, Merrell racked the slide on his gun to load a round in the chamber, Officer Jason Bockting wrote in the report.

The suspect placed his gun and a bag of cash on the counter, dropping some of the money, police said. The suspect removed his mask and lay on the floor. Merrell held the suspect at gunpoint until officers arrived and took him away in handcuffs.
Merrell had a valid permit to carry the handgun, police said. Police recovered an unloaded .380-caliber handgun from the suspect and $779 in cash, according to the report.

Dwain Smith, 19, was arrested on initial charges of robbery, criminal confinement, pointing a firearm, battery and carrying a handgun without a license. Smith remained held this morning in the Marion County Jail with bond set at $30,000, records show.

Why was this defensive gun use a failure?

Well, if you use the criteria of the anti-gun forces, specifically that of Dr. Arthur Kellermann, a successful defensive gun use must result in a death.

Nobody died.

Hell, no shots were fired.

(“When the suspect hesitated, Merrell racked the slide on his gun to load a round in the chamber.” – More intimidating than merely cocking the gun, no matter how Hollywood sound effects try to influence us, but pulling (and pointing) a pistol with nothing in the chamber? That’s a good way to get shot. Thankfully Smith’s gun was apparently completely unloaded, though Merrell couldn’t know that. As Glenn says, “I suspect that Merrell will carry in Condition One from now on.”)