… I think. My crystal ball is out for re-calibration so I cannot be absolutely certain, but I’ve been expecting a crisis or bundle of intersecting catastrophes for some time now. There have been murmurings for the last year regarding the probability of Ebola spreading out of Africa. And now it has happened – a person sick with it has exposed lord only knows how many other people on his way back to Dallas from a visit to Africa. Which is horrific enough, but just getting started. Meanwhile, an enterovirus which attacks the respiratory tract and in some instances has an effect very like that of polio has been here for some months, sickening children – especially those who have respiratory difficulties.
Archive for the 'Just Unbelievable' Category
Between my English and Scots-Irish-English grandparents, a deep and abiding love of English literature and history, a fair number of English friends, and two long-ago summers sojourns in Britain doing the youth hostel and Brit-Rail Pass, I’ve always looked on the place as my metaphorical second country. I know it about as well as any American could and not actually be in residence there, and I’ve always kept in touch – through English magazines, newspapers and yes, in recent years through websites. Yes, and I score sufficiently high on any number of those quizzes testing American knowledge of British slang to say, with perfect truth, that I speak fluent Brit. (Although I can’t place British regional accents … something to do with acquiring most of this knowledge from the printed page rather than the spoken word.)
So ever since I happily discovered The Internet, and began following more news than was available in the local newspaper and mainstream print publications, I’d been reading English news sites – starting with, I think, The Times of London and The Spectator – before they put the good stuff behind a pay-wall, and moving on to the Telegraph. I had a print subscription to the Guardian Weekly, for years – and occasionally checked out their website before the burden of wading through waist to neck-deep oceans of political-correctitude got to be too much of a chore. Now my guilty tabloid pleasure is to scan the Daily Mail; I know, in the eyes of the grand and the good, this is about one step above the Star or the National Enquirer. But the Mail and the Enquirer have of late begun to commit regular acts of non-partisan journalism – especially when it comes to the American political scene, in contrast to the supposedly more respectable publications.
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It’s a German word – it means “frightfulness“ – and it was used, if memory serves and a brief internet search conforms – as a sort of shorthand for the reprisals exacted by the German Army against civilians during both wars. If not an actual German military field policy in WWI, it had certainly become one by WWII; brutally persecute, torture and execute civilians, and make certain that such horrors became well-known through extensive documentation within the theater of operations, and outside of it. To encourage the others, as the saying goes, but on a grand scale – to make war on a civilian population, once all effective military have departed the area – in hopes of cowing everyone who sees and hears of what brutality has been meted out on the helpless, and especially the helpless.
Was it an explicit policy of the German armies to apply the principle of schrecklichkeit – by that name or another – in the field in those wars?
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The more than 90,000 children who crossed the Mexican border into the U.S. and were apprehended this year, and the more than 140,000 expected next year, could and should turn the immigration issue into a GOP weapon against Democrats.
Instead of sending them back home to their parents, Attorney General Eric Holder made it a priority to hire taxpayer-funded lawyers for them. Why don’t we hear Cantor, Ryan and other GOP leaders shout that Democrats are exploiting children to further their political agenda?
The main thing the Republicans have going for them is that the Democrats are worse.
I’ve been surfing my usual internet hangouts over the last week or so – in between working on various editing, formatting and sales projects for the Tiny Publishing Bidness – so although I did surf, and read and observe reports on a number of different and rather disturbing events – I didn’t have time to write anything about them until after I had finished the biggest of the current projects on my plate.
The biggest of them was the new-old range war of the Bundy ranch. I suppose that technically speaking, the Fed Gov had some small shreds of technical justification in demanding grazing fees … but the longer one looked at the whole of L’affaire Bundy, the worse it looked … which is doubtless why the Fed Gov backed down. A tactical retreat, of course; The optics of a shoot-out between the minions of the Fed Gov and the various Bundy supporters would not have been good, for Harry Reid and his clan and friends most of all, although they may eventually act – seeing that they have a position which will be at risk by tolerating defiance.
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To put it in simple terms, that’s what I call it when a whole group, or sub-set of people are deemed the Emmanuel Goldstein of the moment by a dominant group, and set up as a focus for free-wheeling hate. In practice, this hate may range all the way from a mild disinclination to associate professionally or socially, all the way to 11 in marking the object of that hate as a suitable target for murder, either singly or in wholesale lots – and sometimes with the cooperation and blessing of the state. It’s more something that I have read about – either in the pages of history books, or in the newspapers – and increasingly on-line. Still, it is no end distressing to see it developing here in these United States in this century. Am I paranoid about this current bout of ‘otherizing’? Perhaps – but don’t tell me that it cannot happen here.
Some hundred and fifty years ago, the ‘otherizing’ reached such a pitch that young men marched against their countrymen – they were clad in blue and grey, and fell on battlefields so contested that lead shot fell like a hailstorm, and swept away a large portion of men recruited by regional-based units. Passionate feelings, words and small deeds, public and private regarding slavery were balanced against states’ rights. The pressure built up and up, like steam in a boiler – and finally there was no means for them to be expressed but in death wished upon the ‘other’. By the end of twenty years of editorials, speeches, and political campaigns had been worked to a fever pitch. Civil war became not only possible – but in the eyes of the editorialists, the speech-makers and the politicians – a wholly desirable outcome. And a goodly portion of a generation lay dead, as if a scythe had swept over a wheat-field. Everyone was very sorry afterwards, but the words could not be unspoken, the hatred and resentment re-bottled in a flask, or the dead re-animated, to go about their ordinary lives as if the great divisive issue of mid-19th century America had never been.
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I must have been in college (or possibly even just high school), when I read a thoughtful essay in TV Guide, of all places, to the effect that people all over the world who had never met an American, or been to the United States, almost always formed their impressions of us based on what they saw in the movies, or in television shows. As one of our AFRTS public service announcement tag-lines had it – foreigners don’t know America, they just know Americans – and the Americans which the overseas movie and television audience saw was usually not a very favorable one. This essay must have been put out in the early 1970s, so I imagine the general picture is even less favorable now. Just think of current popular TV shows with an American setting – and consider how America would look to you if that was all you saw, and all you knew was Breaking Bad, a dozen cop shows set in big cities, and half a dozen sit-coms where the characters spend most of their time in suspiciously well-decorated living rooms.
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Covered here, at length, I am certain that New Mexico, or at the very least, the Hidalgo County PD needs a new motto. This takes ‘search and seizure to whole new levels. I’ve seen this story linked on a couple of different independent blogs, but now it goes to a whole new level of ‘WTF?’
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You know, the last eight years or so have educated me – at least socially and politically – as much as the eight years that I spent in high school, college and the first year in the military ever did. Who says you stop intellectually developing after your mid-forties? I suppose the most-eye-opening development is that I have now seen for real and in real-time that which I had only read about in history books; mainly the development, perpetuation, care and feeding of “The Big Lie.” As defined by the erratic but invaluable Wikipedia, that is “a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”
But the ‘big lie’ has worked, over and over again – and most especially and effectively when it is chorused from every corner and by every authority. The latest example and the one which I find most personally outrageous is this one; (found through Legal Insurrection at the National Review); one Alan Grayson, a Democrat member of the House of Representatives has sent out an email to his supporters casually equating the Tea Party with the KKK. As a southern Democrat, Rep. Grayson is, of course, an expert on the KKK, seeing that they served as the shock troops of Southern Democrats. Other leading Democrat Party figures have passed remarks just as disparaging of the Tea Party; I suspect that they are actually mistaking the straw-man Tea Party construction of their own mind, rather than the earnest, hardworking and mostly middle-class fans of fiscally-responsible, strict Constitutionalist and free-market policies which made up most of the Tea Party members I am acquainted with. How such a body of people can be made out to be the sinister Goldsteins and calumniated with such vicious enthusiasm, solo and chorus is almost beyond belief – but they are, and it is only getting worse.
A good portion of the citizens of the United States are being ‘othered’ by those who disagree with them politically and philosophically – and by people you would have thought would know better. The establishment media and pop-culture organs are aiding and abetting this, not realizing that it is only a short step from ‘othering’ to declaring open season – literally. The next step is already being contemplated, although it is hard to tell how seriously the petition to arrest and try the leaders of the Republican Party for sedition, merely for having had the temerity to oppose the current administration. There is something bad in the water, when being in political opposition is considered ground for criminal charges. The comments appended to this story, and this one are dispiriting to read, for too many commenters voice enthusiastic agreement and approval. To be fair, a good few commenters warned against this criminalization of political dissent – since the sauce for the Tea Party goose might just as easily be served up with the progressive gander. Taken all together, this does not augur well and it certainly heats up the cold civil war a couple of more degrees.
(Sorry, no history post today – just too much going on and I am too steamed about this particular First Amendment issue. It seems that in the eyes of certain parties, our current president may not be mocked by the peasants.)
That useful concept (thank you, the French language for putting it so succinctly!) is defined “as an offense that violates the dignity of a ruler” or “an attack on any custom, institution, belief, etc., held sacred or revered by numbers of people.”Well, it appears that our very dear current occupant of the White House is certainly held sacred by a substantial percentage of our fellow citizens. How else to account for the perfectly earsplitting howling from Missouri Democrats and the usual suspects over a rodeo clown wearing an Obama mask to yuck it up before the crowd – most of whom seem to be laughing their heads off. All but the desperately sensitive, who breathlessly insisted that it was just like a KKK rally, practically. The rodeo clown’s name apparently is Tuffy Gessling; his supporters, and those who, as a matter of fact, support the rights of a free citizen to mock authority figures of every color and persuasion, have set up a Facebook page. He’s also been invited by a Texas congressman to come and perform the skit at a rodeo in Texas.
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(I usually don’t post my rants here, but this is something that I have been simmering about for days. I’ll be back to my usual historical considerations following this brief interruption of temper.)
You know, I am reminded of my own relative naiveté whenever I open a tab on my browser and go to my usual news and political websites these days. I remember when I could innocently assume that the elected representatives of the greatest democratically elected republic on earth could be assumed not to be professional sc*mbags not primarily interested in re-election and being able to soak up enough goodies through their connections to be able to retire as millionaires. I remember when it was confidently expected that they would do the business of administering to the needs of the republic – at least most of the time – with some pretensions at doing what would benefit the public at large, not just themselves, their scummy relations, present and former staff, and their media enablers.
I remembered when feminism meant basically that women should have the same opportunities for education, for employment – and without lowering the standards for either – the same pay for doing the same job, to be considered creditworthy without regard to sex, not be fired from your job on the instant of marrying and/or becoming pregnant, and to have the opportunity to seek election to any political office in the land. Big damn whoops there! Apparently the program of modern feminism means that you can be as ugly to the males in your personal life and those misfortunate enough to attend class or work with you as you please, to have unfettered access to abortion at any stage of the pregnancy, and to demand that your birth control be paid for by others. OK then – and that being considered for any political office while possessing the uterus and tits from your original issue – is also contingent upon being a graduate of an approved university, possessing a non-hickish accent, being the spouse or spawn of one of the accredited political families, and genuflecting before all the right altars of properly progressive thought.
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Michael Skapinker, writing in yesterday’s Financial Times:
A few weeks ago I received an email from a US professor whose dean had reprimanded him for trying to teach his students how to write. The professor, who has been teaching business and law students at some of America’s top universities for 50 years, told an MBA class that clear writing would be essential in their careers.
The consequences of bad writing within a company can also be quite malign. If your proposal for an improvement to the Gerbilator product line is sufficiently confusing, it’s likely nobody is going to bother investing the time needed for all that back-and-forth to understand what you are actually trying to say. More likely, they will choose to devote their attention to someone else’s crystal-clear and well-reasoned proposal to spend the engineering and marketing efforts on something else entirely.
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin.
“The president has put in place an organization that contains the kind of database that no one has ever seen before in life. That’s going to be very, very powerful. That database will have information about everything on every individual in ways that it’s never been done before.” Rep. Maxine Waters
Who expected that 1984 has arrived? I recall that in the actual year of 1984, a great many commenters in the political arena rejoiced that the whole Big Brother thing had not arrived, but it looks like such rejoicing was premature. Now we have the NSA collecting telephone records from Verizon wholesale for the ostensible purpose of security reasons … not so much for tracking specific suspected terrorists, but rather for data-mining … and very likely for opposition research. The revelations of the IRS stalling Tea Party groups’ applications for 501 status? Almost certainly this distracted or discouraged those groups from going all-out in last year’s election season, which I believe was the primary purpose.
This photo has been making the rounds lately; the leader of the free world in (yet another) awkward moment.
I first saw this when watching the news with my wife, and I blurted out – “did they really need to have the Marine hold that umbrella? How insulting to the Corps. It doesn’t look like it is even raining very hard.” My wife laughed and said (wisely) “why on earth would you expect anything different from Captain Zero?”.
And what in blazes is the President doing touching that Marine? If he wants the umbrella adjusted, couldn’t he just ask him to raise it a bit higher?
I also noted to my wife at the time that it is likely against uniform code for the Marine to hold the umbrella, and that was proven to be correct (no males in any US armed services are allowed to hold an umbrella while in uniform). However, I am sure that following orders (especially from the CIC) outweigh that detail, and the Marine did what he was told. As always.
But, you know, sigh.
This last five years have been absolutely brutal for Obama and his handlers in all sorts of public situations, over and over and over. The President’s handlers either are just a bunch of idiots, or Obama is simply not listening to them. They have no understanding of what the cameras will capture, how things will look ahead of time, or what protocol even is. Someone in that office should have seen the forecast and mentioned to the President that if it rains, would he perhaps like a STAFFER to hold an umbrella for him, or does he simply want to be tough and soak up a raindrop or two, or (insert many non embarrassing options here).
But no. Again, we get another breakdown and millions of people get to point and laugh or shake their heads in disgust at the President and his staff for being insensitive, and just downright lazy and dumb.
It makes me worry that the whole damned administration is run like this. Amateur hour at the White House, as a friend of mine recently said.
I hereby apologize to our friends across the pond for our current administration not sending anyone (my opinion is that at LEAST they should have sent Biden, but I would have preferred the President himself) to the funeral of Baroness Margaret Thatcher. I guess it was halfway expected. Just Unbelievable.
Cynic that I am, I am deriving a great deal of amusement from some of the media-political-general public storms whipped up in the wake of the horribly tragic Newtown shootings, and the deaths of two firefighters in an ambush set by an ex-convict in upstate New York. As if the shootings weren’t horrible and tragic enough in themselves, now we get to enjoy the reflexive Kabuki dance of ‘we must ban those horrid gun-things!’ being played out – especially since some of the very loudest voices in this chorus are politicians and celebrities who live with a very high degree of security at their workplaces and homes, and whose children attend rather well-protected schools. Such choruses appear to be completely oblivious to the fact that for many of the ordinary rest of us, poor and middle-class alike, the forces of law and order are not johnny-on-the-spot in the event of an attempted robbery, rape, break-in or home invasion. To rely on the oft-used cliché, when moments count, the police are minutes away. In the case of rural areas in the thinly-populated flyover states law enforcement aid and assistance might be closer to being hours away.
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So it is not like violence by union members in Michigan against pro-right-to-work activists came as any big surprise to me … or should have to any other sentient being. I mean, this comes after a couple of years of incidents involving members of the SEIU – better known as the Purple People Beaters – and Tea Party protesters going at it. Not that our gutless establishment press organs ever seemed to take notice … or as little notice as they can and still retain a few lingering shreds of credibility, while they remain prostrate and adoring the mighty figure of Ozymandius … sorry, Obama. And in pop-culture circles, historically unions seem to enjoy at least a token respect, for which I hold Hollywood responsible. Why the entertainment industry adores unions, as they are full of plucky, honest blue-collar laboring types, and if it weren’t for unions, why we would be working seven days a week, up to our knees in toxic sludge, owing our soul to the company store, and breaking rocks in the hot sun … oops, sorry, flashback there to about a million Phil Ochs pseudo-folk songs.
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It looks really weird to me, this last Veteran’s Day weekend … not even a week after the election results came in. A couple of days after General Petraeus put in his resignation as head of the CIA – conveniently for the American news cycle – on a Friday before a three-day weekend. So, kind of astonished over that – a mere several days before he was to testify about whatever was going on with regard to our quasi-official establishment in Benghazi on the 11th of September last. Of course, the second most astonishing aspect to me is that the head of the CIA can’t keep an affair secret, and the third most astonishing is that someone so politically wily as to be able to pin on four stars would still be stupidly reckless enough to engage on such a very public affair. What, were they doing the horizontal mambo in the middle of the parade ground at reveille at whatever base they were at in Afghanistan? Read the rest of this entry »
Reynolds’ tone is usually light, a bit ironic; this entry has trouble reaching that objectivity – but I assume someone whose day job is explicating the Constitution (or who knows history) may have trouble achieving distance. Hell, I teach a couple of the Federalist Papers and do. Of course, spending the summer acccidentally watching a lot of WWII propaganda movies hasn’t helped. (Last night was The White Cliffs of Dover.) Or maybe it has. History repeats and repeats – and it only takes a generation or two to educate Airheads who don’t know the history of their grandparents, let alone any farther back.
Anyway, if we re-elect this guy, we have proven that we don’t know our history, we don’t know history, and we don’t know ourselves. That is clearly true of the execrable journalists. The Boomers are getting old; we remain divided. But do any of us think that this is the way a great country acts? Do any of us think the obsession not with what Romney said nor with what Obama did and did not say but rather with the gotcha questions appropriately represented this country’s values?
(I don’t know what the “Just Unbelievable” category is really supposed to be – if it doesn’t fit, Jonathan, change it and take out this line. On the other hand, what better sums it up? Don’t talk to me about Japanese internment. I don’t want to defend it, but I can – that was human nature. This is the nature of a police state.)
OK, so call me retrograde, old fashioned, a bigot or the ever-popular ‘raaaaacist’ but I actually believe in free speech and free thought; for everybody, not just the ones that I agree with.
There is the caveat to this, of course. If you depend upon the larger public finding your persona, your manufactured or intellectual output appealing enough to purchase it … well, there might be potential customers disenchanted and disinclined to do so, should they find your exercise of free speech insulting or offensive. They are perfectly free to refrain from partaking in your product or purchasing it … it is, so I have been assured, still mostly a free country. Buy Chick-fil-A, or not. Listen to the Dixie Chicks … or not. Read the New York Times … or not. Watch Game of Thrones… on not, depending on how much you feel strongly about personal opinions. The right to speak is, has been, and ought to still be paramount.
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I received a spam email today, entitled: “Your 401K can Earn Up to 6.9%”.
Not so long ago the scams and get-rich-quick schemes offered multi-hundred percent annual rates of return on investment capital.
Today’s hot come-on is the promise of a point or two over the old T-Bill rate, for retirement savings. (And before you say that this is probably an offer of annuities, and therefore close to realistic, consider that it came in an unsolicited message to my @chicagoboyz email account, which attracts a lot of spam. Spammers go for popular themes and fantasies, like easy sex or quintupling your money on penny stocks. But an offer to plunge on a 7% return on a retirement account, not much more than the most conservative investors once took for granted? Pathetic.)
In a robust economy with a reasonable Fed and credit markets you’d be able to earn 2-4% above the inflation rate with essentially no risk. In today’s economy even spammers are reaching for yield.
I am not one of those people who thrive on discord – which may be one of the reasons that I gave up posting on Open Salon yea these many months ago. I am at heart a rather peaceful and well-mannered person who does not actively seek out confrontation, on the internet or in real life … no really, stop laughing! I merely present myself as someone who doesn’t suffer fools lightly, and who will not hesitate to squash them, which has the pleasing result of not being very much bothered by fools. It’s called ‘presence’… and has worked out pretty well, actually online and in real life. I can easily count the number of fools I have squashed … only a dozen or so that I remember. And none of them came back for seconds.
I don’t deliberately slow down to gawk at epic highway pileups either … except that in real life, everyone ahead of you has slowed down anyway, and the full spectrum of destruction is spread before you. And as for epic internet crackups … one can go for months without being made particularly aware of them, but this week my attention was caught by news of the mother-in-law-of all internet crack-ups to do with books. This one I must pay some attention to, as books are my vocation. It’s a more appalling spectacle than the Great Books And Pals/Jacqueline Howett Review Crackup of 2011, which should have served as an object lesson in how an author should not respond to a mildly critical review. This fresh slice of internet literary hell is what I am dubbing the Great Stop the Goodreads Bullies Cluster of 2012.
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“I have never made but one prayer to God; a very short one: ‘Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.’ And God answered it.”
Really? I mean, really???
The White House said President Barack Obama misspoke on Tuesday when he referred to a “Polish death camp” while honoring a Polish war hero.
The president’s remark had drawn immediate complaints from Poles who said Obama should have called it a “German death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland,” to distinguish the perpetrators from the location. Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski called it a matter of “ignorance and incompetence.”
Obama made the comment while awarding the Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a resistance fighter against the Nazi occupation of Poland during World War II. Karski died in 2000.
During an East Room ceremony honoring 13 Medal of Freedom recipients, Obama said that Karski “served as a courier for the Polish resistance during the darkest days of World War II. Before one trip across enemy lines, resistance fighters told him that Jews were being murdered on a massive scale and smuggled him into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself. Jan took that information to President Franklin Roosevelt, giving one of the first accounts of the Holocaust and imploring to the world to take action.”
Sikorski tweeted that the White House would apologize for “this outrageous error” and that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk would address the matter on Wednesday.
“It’s a pity that such a dignified ceremony was overshadowed by ignorance and incompetence.”
Either the President has what are easily the worst handlers in presidential history, or he just doesn’t care. Maybe both.
*apologies on the formatting on the copy and paste quote – Jonathan told me how to fix it once but I forgot – perhaps a refresher is in order.
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 15th May 2012 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
The Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of Obamacare this year. The arguments and the issue which got the most publicity was the individual mandate. I don’t actually care much about this although it may well violate the Constitution. There are far worse things in the legislation and they should be emphatically rejected by the Supreme Court. The worst of the issues is discussed in detail here. This is a really frightening piece of legislation and I cannot imagine that the Court will let it stand. Of course, given the absence of argument, the Court will have to find this hidden provision itself.
Perhaps nothing in the Obamacare legislation embodies the top-down, command-and-control nature of Progressive healthcare more than the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a 15-member panel of “experts” to be appointed by the President. There are three particular features of the IPAB that illustrate this fact: The IPAB will control all healthcare spending, public and private. The IPAB has been awarded near-dictatorial power. And the IPAB is designed to be a nearly immutable entity.
How is this accomplished ?
Specifically, Section 10320 (in the Managers’ Amendments portion of the legislation) grants the IPAB, beginning in 2015, the authority to limit all healthcare expenditures, that is, all healthcare expenditures, and not just expenditures by Medicare or government-run programs.
To emphasize this expanded authority, Section 10320 changes the name of the “Independent Medicare Advisory Board” to the “Independent Payment Advisory Board.” It directs the IPAB, at least every two years, to “submit to Congress and the President recommendations to slow the growth in national health expenditures” for private healthcare programs. Furthermore, it designates that these “recommendations” may be implemented by the Secretary of HHS or other Federal agencies “administratively” (that is, without any action by Congress).
Thus the federal government can control, under penalty of criminal prosecution of doctors, private health care spending ! This goes well beyond Medicare and Medicaid. It will prevent, unless stopped, people from spending their own money on health care.
That is not the worst of it. The IPAB cannot be changed or repealed by Congress. This is unprecedented in US law. Even the ill-advised Prohibition Amendment, promoted as another moral obligation by progressives after World War I, could be repealed by another constitutional amendment.
A quick reading of Section 3403 might leave one with the impression that the IPAB is a sort of Mr. Rogers of healthcare – a mild-mannered, friendly, always-helpful, but ultimately undemanding agent for good. This is the impression imparted by the first few paragraphs of the Section, which paint the new entity as an “advisory” board, whose main task is to develop “proposals” and “advisory reports,” which “proposals” and “advisory reports” would solely consist of various “recommendations,” that ought to be “considered” for the purpose of cost reduction.
Nothing could be further from the truth. This language is simply another example of supplying a new law, which is far more radical than the authors would like people to know, with a soothingly misleading introductory paragraph. The IPAB is actually designed to be as all-powerful as it’s possible to be.