February 22, 2008

The Arabs and Obama

by Lee Smith

(Editor's note: While I'm filling in for Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, Lee Smith offered to write an article for us here. Lee is a friend I know from Beirut. He is the former editor-in-chief of The Village Voice Literary Supplement, and his work regularly appears in The Weekly Standard and Slate. He is writing a book on Arab culture for Doubleday. -MJT)

Last week Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Tamara Coffman Wittes reported from a conference in Qatar that Barack Obama's candidacy is all the rage in the Arab Gulf states.
A friend from the Gulf tells me her young relative was so excited about the Democratic candidate that he tried to donate money over the Internet, as he'd heard so many young Americans were doing. Then he found out he had to be a U.S. citizen to do so. Another young woman, visiting from next-door Saudi Arabia, said that all her friends in Riyadh are "for Obama." The symbolism of a major American presidential candidate with the middle name of Hussein, who went to elementary school in Indonesia, certainly speaks to Muslims abroad.
That's an interesting way to make a point lost on most American commentators: Barack Obama's father was Muslim and therefore, according to Islamic law, so is the candidate. In spite of the Quranic verses explaining that there is no compulsion in religion, a Muslim child takes the religion of his or her father.

The point of course is not that Obama is really a Muslim, because in America he is whatever he says he is. American ideas about such things as choice, religion, freedom of expression – including the freedom to choose your own faith – are different from the rest of much of the world. For us, a man is whatever religion he wants to practice, or not practice. But for Muslims around the world, non-American Muslims at any rate, they can only ever see Barack Hussein Obama as a Muslim.

It's useful keeping in mind that difference between how Americans see our lives and our actions and how others see us, given that one of the chief conceits of the Obama campaign is that a president of his biological identity will redeem our reputation around the world after George Bush enflamed the better part of humanity by invading two Muslim countries.

Or, as Fareed Zakaria put it:

We're moving into a very new world… For America to thrive, we will have to develop a much deeper, richer, more intuitive understanding of them and their peoples. There are many ways to attain this, but certainly being able to feel it in your bones is one powerful way.

Perhaps this is the only obvious strategy available to a presidential candidate whose Washington experience to date has afforded him little time to grasp the niceties of policy-making. And indeed there's already evidence that some Middle Easterners, or the people in whose part of the world the United States has expended vast human and material resources over the last six years, are not impressed with Obama.

Over at From Beirut to the Beltway, Abu Kais gives low scores to a recent Obama recent speech about Lebanon.

From Now Lebanon:

"Washington must rectify the wrong policy of President George Bush in Lebanon and resort to an efficient and permanent diplomacy, rather than empty slogans," [Obama] added. He also said that the US must cooperate with its European and Arab allies to sponsor an inter-Lebanese consensus on a stable and democratic Lebanon.

To which Abu Kais replies:

What kind of diplomacy that has not been tried before by the "Europeans and Arab allies" will help Lebanon? I am not going to defend the Bush administration's policy in Lebanon. It may reek of "empty slogans" at times, but how does talking to criminals create solutions? And pray explain how supporting the Hariri tribunal, as Obama said he does, can be reconciled with chatting up the ones who killed him?

Lebanese journalist Michael Young and Iraqi blogger Iraqpundit have expressed their reservations about one of Obama's foreign policy advisers, Samantha Power. The self-described "Genocide Chick" seems to them insufficiently concerned that an American withdrawal from Iraq will lead to genocide. Her solution? Move people from one area to another and give money to Iraq's neighbors to stabilize the country. You can't blame her for basically parroting the egregiously cynical recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, but in reality this means that US forces should be complicit in the sectarian cleansing of Iraq and pay off countries like Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia that have themselves funded and supported death squads targeting Iraqi Shias, Kurds and Sunnis as well as US troops.

It's true that the Lebanese and Iraqis have benefited, and suffered, more than anyone from the Bush White House's regional transformation program, so you can't hold it against them if they're more interested in a man's ideas than in the faith he professes or the color of his skin.

Other Arabs apparently think that the color of man's skin should matter, but are not sure it will, like Hezbollah friendly-analyst Amal Saad-Ghorayeb.

"There's always the sense that African-Americans would be more sympathetic (to Arabs), because they're oppressed too," Saad-Ghorayeb said. "But," she added, "that wasn't really the case with Colin Powell or Condi Rice, was it?"

In fact, Secretary Rice really does believe that African-Americans and Arabs have something in common, which is why she has likened, for better or worse, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to Martin Luther King, Jr. and thrown all her weight behind a Palestinian state that only she seems to believe in at this point. She hasn't gotten much credit for her efforts, or her race for that matter. When she was named Secretary of State, the Saudi press outdid themselves in lampooning the first black woman to serve as America's top diplomat.

"They exaggerated her features and were amazingly crude and disrespectful in showing her body," Peter Theroux told me. Theroux was asked to serve under Rice as Persian Gulf director from 2003-2005 when she was the National Security Adviser. "One cartoon from the daily Al-Watan showed her as a boxer with boxing gloves, hitting a punching bag shaped like an Arab; with her wearing some form-fitting thing that showed the shape of her breasts. You never, ever see Saudi newspaper cartoons show any woman that way, let alone a senior official in an allied government. But with Rice being black, and a woman, an infidel, and wielding power - I think that just pushed them over the edge."

I was in Beirut when she first traveled there as Secretary in the summer of 2005 to show her support for an Arab society that had just come out of fifteen years of Syrian occupation. The pro-Syrian opposition protested her visit, including Hezbollah supporters who marched with placards that would have made a Klansman proud – "N----r," read one sign with a picture of Ms. Rice's face, "go home."

Sure, there are numerous instances of dark-skinned people who won respect in the Muslim world, like Bilal ibn Ribah, the first muezzin, a slave of East African origins whose allegedly sonorous voice won him the admiration of the prophet of Islam and earned him the right to call the early Muslim community to prayer.

And then there was the revolt of the Zanj, the East African slaves whose uprising in Basra against the Abbasids from 869 to 883 AD is a key historical episode for Arab, especially Iraqi, communists.

But generally, it should come as no surprise to anyone save the most cloistered third-world fantasists, that a society which discriminates against sex, religion, ethnicity, language, nation, tribe, and family is not likely to have very progressive attitudes about race. Arab society, like many others, has a race problem. For instance, abd, or slave, is a word commonly used to refer to blacks, regardless of a man's stature, or his faith.

لا تشتري العبد إلا والعصا معه ..... إن العبيد لأأنجاس مناكيدو

"Don't buy a slave unless you get a stick, too," wrote Al-Mutanabi, the incomparable tenth-century Baghdad poet. "For slaves are vile and vexing."

The poet directed the line at the black Muslim commander he had once served. I found it posted recently on a Syrian Web site as a comment on Obama's mild rebuke of the Damascus regime.

So, if we're concerned about how we look to the rest of the world, we should at least recognize how much of the world looks at things. Laugh as some may about the Bush Administration's idea to export democracy to the Middle East, they had the basic principle right. The world needs our help more than we need to petition its approval. We are a people who choose our own faith, and, after a civil war and a civil rights movement, a nation where the dignity of each individual human being is accorded respect, and men and women are equal regardless of race, sex, religion or creed.

The Middle East is not like that and George W. Bush thought it wise, for the sake of Arabs and Americans, to try to do something about it, an initiative that inspired some Arabs while it enraged others. (So now guess who the good guys are in the Middle East and who are the bad ones?) What made them like or dislike Bush wasn't the color of the president's skin or his religious faith, but his ideas. It's not clear to me why Americans seem now to be trying to export a very un-American idea - that a man's color and his faith matter.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at February 22, 2008 12:03 AM
Comments

If you attitude towards your choice of candidate is defined by the work "agape", it is time to reconsider involving yourself in making political choices. Obama's foreign policy makes sense as long as you are sufficiently worshipful towards his candidacy. In the context of historical analysis his foreign policy is a wreck, but it sounds like the right thing when he says it.

I want to be able to elect an African-American or an Indian-American or a Japanese American to the office of Presidency, but I am not going to ever cast my vote for the messiah. (The Messiah needs your belief, not your political actions or he's not the Messiah.) I can enjoy the movie "The Natural" and not let it define my politics, which is probably why I am no longer a registered Democrat.

I'm not going to vote for somebody who is going to get me in apocalyptic battles. That's the natural result of voting for the Messiah.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 12:56 AM

Electing Obama will, essentially, get us all killed [us Lebanese that is], the same way that France's [Qatari money-inspired] softening of tone and frequent calls/visits to Damascus resulted in the prolongation of our Presidential crisis and the deaths of about a dozen Lebanese as a result.

The truth of the matter is that (exactly as Abu Kais said it) all this preaching about "talking" has been done before to no avail. It has been tried and it has failed, and far worse, it has resulted in the deaths of dozens of Lebanese and Syrians working towards democracy, freedom and reform.

I STILL CAN'T BELIEVE NO ONE's CALLED OBAMA ON THE PRESENCE OF HIS SENIOR FRGN POLICY ADVISOR (BRZEZINSKI) IN DAMASCUSE (ON A "TALKING TRIP")WHEN MUGHNIYA (A TERRORIST ON THE US's MOST) WANTED LIST WAS FOUND TO BE HARBORING THERE!

Thats right, on a mission meant to highlight how nice and cooperative Syria can be, it was exposed for the terrorist haven that it is. What else is there to talk about?

Posted by: Blacksmith Jade Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 4:53 AM

Great essay, thanks for sharing.

Posted by: TallDave Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 8:31 AM

Blacksmith Jade - There are a myriad things that Senator Barrack Hussein Obama haven't been called to task on. The MSM jumped Hildabeast's ship when they had someone that basically thought the same way they did and was 100% more likable. This is also what you get from a party that stresses importance on race, gender and identity instead of ideas. I bet if you took a political IQ test of the basic Obama suppporter it be somewhere down in the low 30's. "I'm for Obama because he's for change and change is what I want. blah... blah... (hot air escaping) In my opinion it's amazing that we can see him at all considering how empty his suit is. It might come to a point that if you question Obama on anything you might be considered a rascist.

Posted by: PeteDawg Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 8:56 AM

"...The world needs our help more than we need to petition its approval..."
absolutely great quote!!!

Posted by: blitzingdog Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 10:08 AM

Here's the difference...it hasn't been Obama doing the talking to date. Haven't you seen women crying and swooning at his rallies? Do you think that Assad could withstand the tone, the phrasing, the pure RHETORIC that is Obama? Assad doesn't stand a chance.

/sarc off

McCain is a known quantity. He will continue the push toward freedom the Middle East with Iraq as the beachhead. This will be expensive, and may ultimately be doomed to failure, but it is a strategy to advance the cause of freedom.

Obama is almost a blank slate. He will abandon the Bush strategy to remake the Middle East, but there seems to be no plan to achieve the same goal through different means.

Obama will be tested by America's enemies in the first six months of his Presidency. How he reacts will set the tone for the rest of it. An ineffective response will harm America and set back the freedom movement in the Middle East. An appropriate response will signal that America supports freedom no matter who is in charge and may bolster the freedom movement and deflate its enemies.

Posted by: MartyH Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 10:09 AM

I take back what I said about Barrack Hussein Obama he isn't an empty suit. His typical supporter is an empty headed nincompoop. He's a committed leftist keeping his radicalism camouflaged around middle class tax cuts and stupid slogans like "Yes we can! and We are change.". His success is the laziness and ignorance of these people that don't want to vette this candidate.

MartyH- Obama is committed to freedom and democracy around the world, about as much as Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro are. As I've relayed to Michael all the candidates are getting detailed daily briefings from the Pentagon. It's something that President Bush decided to do last year. The scary thing is that Obama knows were winning. He knows how much turmoil and bloodshed will be unleashed in Iraq if we pull out. He knows that losing will be a blow to our military's psyche. He knows that the terrorist will spin this as a victory for their side. Yet, he's still committed to losing and abandoning our allies in Iraq. Messiah, yeah right. The Obama is nothing of the sort.

Posted by: PeteDawg Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 10:54 AM

Since Obama will probably be seen as an apostate of islam he'll probably turn out to be much tougher than bush on the islamofacists. I'm guessing that some radical mullah will quickly declare that obama has to be killed because he has left his father's religion and is apostate...and the penalty is death.
(or is it chocolate cake?)

After the first couple of attempts on his life, Obama will get the message. You don't negotiate with crazy people.

Posted by: Joe G Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 11:06 AM

Pete-

Obama is about "Hope" and "Change".

My Hope is that he will Change if he is elected and become an agent for freedom.

How's that for audacity!

Posted by: MartyH Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 11:43 AM

It's not clear to me why Americans seem now to be trying to export a very un-American idea - that a man's color and his faith matter.

You think that when people are considering voting for a presidential candidate, they are thinking primarily of how his skin pigment and religious beliefs will influence world opinion?

I think that they're probably more concerned with how he'll govern the US than anything else. In that regard, they aren't exporting anything.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 12:20 PM

PeteDawg,

As I've relayed to Michael all the candidates are getting detailed daily briefings from the Pentagon. It's something that President Bush decided to do last year. The scary thing is that Obama knows were winning.

Obama could very well choose to "know" nothing of the sort for some portion of the following reasons.
1. He does not believe the Pentagon briefing staff. A life in politics and zero experience with the military could very well leave him with the belief that everybody lies to make their position look good.
2. For some people the truth will set them free. For Obama the truth will keep him out of office.
3. Obama could be "unavailable" for the briefing in much the same way that he is missing a lot of controversial votes in the Senate just now. That tissue of plausible denial could be what he is using and later in the campaign he could "fire" the staffer who took the briefing and "neglected" to inform Obama.
4. Like many Ivy-league educated politicians he could be using the sophisticated mental skills he learned at the core of American academia to refute the briefings through this mantra: "LALALALALA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!! LALALALA!"

The question is when did he ignore what he ignored and who knows he did it? It is entirely possible that the senior officers assigned to provide the briefings for Clinton and Obama are about to retire in the next few months. In October these distinguished officers are going to get mighty talkative about what they unclassified material they briefed the candidates and what lies the candidates told afterwards.

Obama lies, how many will die?

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 12:39 PM

He's a committed leftist keeping his radicalism camouflaged around middle class tax cuts and stupid slogans like “Yes we can! and We are change.”.

As I usually consider Obama to be a moderate conservative rather than a screaming leftist, I'm always curious about these types of remarks, which are always stated as fact and never seemed to be backed up with anything. Maybe this time will be different.

Which policies does Obama espouse that are leftist?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 1:52 PM

DPU: I usually consider Obama to be a moderate conservative

Your Canadian-ness is showing.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 1:56 PM

Your Canadian-ness is showing.

Well, he doesn't even support universal healthcare coverage, which at least our Conservative Party does.

But my question remains: which policies make Obama "a committed leftist"? I mean, I'm a committed leftist, and I don't see much similarity between his policies and my own ideology.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 2:04 PM

Obama is neither a committed leftist nor a moderate conservative. There is a thick political space between those positions.

You're sort of comparing apples and oranges anyway. Conservatives in Canada are in favor of universal health care partly because it's the status quo up there. Here, it's a radical change from the status quo. So of course our conservatives and yours will have different points of view on that issue.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 2:13 PM

DPU-

There's a lot of ground between "leftist" and "moderate conservative".

In the States, there are many flavors of conservatives:

-Social Conservatives are opposed to abortion, illegal immigration, eminent domain takings ala Kelo, and gay marriage. They are pro-abstinence education, pro death penalty, think it is okay to reference God in the classroom, and hate it when criminals are released on technicalities. They also believe in a fairly literal reading of the Consitution.

-Fiscal conservatives believe that the government is too big, that earmarks should be banned, Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, and taxes are too high.

-Foreign policy conservatives fall into two camps: paleocon isolationists who are largely indifferent to the rest of the world and its opinions, and neocon interventionists who believe that isolationism is what ultimately led to 9/11. GWB went from a paleocon to a neocon, for example.

McCain is opposed by many Social Conservatives because of his stands on illegal immigration and constitutional issues (campaign finance, judges.) He is a strong fiscal conservative and supportive of the Iraq War, (like most conservatives, I would guess).

Obama does not align with the social conservatives; he is certainly not a fiscal conservative; he is not isolationist, nor is he a neocon. So on the US political spectrum, no one is going to mistake him for a conservative.

Posted by: MartyH Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 2:29 PM

Obama does not align with the social conservatives; he is certainly not a fiscal conservative;

An aside, but neither is Bush, apparently.

There's a lot of ground between “leftist” and “moderate conservative”.

I know, that's my point. I don't see Obama as any form of leftist whatsoever. There's a case to be made that he's a liberal on the US political scale (which makes him ideologically a conservative almost everywhere else in the world), but I still have seen no policies from the Obama campaign that strike me as leftist.

So is it just a groundless smear? Or what?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 2:47 PM

You're sort of comparing apples and oranges anyway. Conservatives in Canada are in favor of universal health care partly because it's the status quo up there.

That assumes a definition of conservatism that I don't buy into - opposition to change. The conservatives here have been fine with sweeping economic or political change when it suits their political ideology (the GST and NAFTA come to mind).

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 2:51 PM

Perhaps I shouldn't speak for PeteDawg, but what I think he meant is that Obama is part of the left-wing of the Democratic Party (rather than the centrist wing), which is true. Most actual leftists are to the left of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 2:54 PM

Michael- That is why you're the professional and I'm just amatuer. I do think he has leftist ideas up his sleeve.

Here's some stupid leftist ideas from his website, but I'm sure I can find more dumb ideas. I'm surprised that he didn't come up with a program to help Americans wipe their asses correctly.

Provide a Living Wage: Barack Obama believes that people who work full time should not live in poverty. Before the Democrats took back Congress, the minimum wage had not changed in 10 years. Even though the minimum wage will rise to $7.25 an hour by 2009, the minimum wage's real purchasing power will still be below what it was in 1968. As president, Obama would further raise the minimum wage, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs such as food, transportation, and housing -- things so many people take for granted.

This is good enough he needs to make the minimum wage $1,000,000 an hour.

Mandatory Coverage of Children: Obama will require that all children have health care coverage. Obama will expand the number of options for young adults to get coverage, including allowing young people up to age 25 to continue coverage through their parents' plans.

Barack Obama will prevent companies from abusing their monopoly power through unjustified price increases. His plan will force insurers to pay out a reasonable share of their premiums for patient care instead of keeping exorbitant amounts for profits and administration. His new National Health Exchange will help increase competition by insurers.

Still falls way to short, he should have the govenment provide a car at 18 and paid college tuition.

Provide Universal Health Care and Lower Health Costs: Barack Obama is committed to signing universal health legislation by the end of his first term in office that ensures all Americans have high-quality, affordable health care coverage. His plan will save a typical American family up to $2,500 every year on medical expenditures by providing affordable, comprehensive and portable health coverage for every American; modernizing the U.S. health care system to contain spiraling health care costs and improve the quality of patient care; and promoting prevention and strengthening public health to prevent disease and protect against natural and man-made disasters.

Expand Flexible Work Arrangements: Barack Obama will address this concern by creating a program to inform businesses about the benefits of flexible work schedules for productivity and establishing positive workplaces; helping businesses create flexible work opportunities; and increasing federal incentives for telecommuting. Obama will also make the federal government a model employer in terms of adopting flexible work schedules and permitting employees to petition to request flexible arrangements.

RESTORE U.S. LEADERSHIP ON CLIMATE CHANGE
· Create New Forum of Largest Greenhouse Gas Emitters: Obama will create a Global Energy Forum — that includes all G-8 members plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa –the largest energy consuming nations from both the developed and developing world. The forum would focus exclusively on global energy and environmental issues.
· Re-Engage with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change: The UNFCCC process is the main international forum dedicated to addressing the climate problem and an Obama administration will work constructively within it.

This one scares me the most. It is basically a blank check to DO anything in the name of combating Global Warming. In my opinion the only hot gases that are being emmitted are from the Obama's mouth.

Posted by: PeteDawg Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 3:27 PM

DPU-

Conservative does not mean maintaining the status quo-conservatism flows from certain beliefs and assumptions about the way the world works.

GST and NAFTA are both well within the realm of conservatism. GST is a consumption tax, which conservatives see as more fair than an income tax. NAFTA is a free trade agreement which is in line with conservativism's free trade agenda.

Regarding universal health care, my guess is that the Canadian Conservative view is similar to the American Conservative view on Social Security. Most American conservatives do not want to abolish Social Security, but they see an innefficient system that will be overwhelmed by demographics in the not too distant future and thus is in need of reform.

And you're right, Bush is not a fiscal conservative.

Posted by: MartyH Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 3:40 PM

4. Like many Ivy-league educated politicians he could be using the sophisticated mental skills he learned at the core of American academia to refute the briefings through this mantra: “LALALALALA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!! LALALALA!” Patrick S. Lasswell

This one made me laugh out loud. I could picture the Obama with his fingers in his ear and saying just that. Personally, I think you give him too much credit. He knows the truth about Iraq. He just doesn't give a crap.

Posted by: PeteDawg Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 3:48 PM
Conservative does not mean maintaining the status quo-conservatism flows from certain beliefs and assumptions about the way the world works.

...GST and NAFTA are both well within the realm of conservatism.

Those were both points that I was trying to make.

Regarding universal health care, my guess is that the Canadian Conservative view is similar to the American Conservative view on Social Security.

Or, following traditional conservative ideology, they view the issue as something in the realm of government because private enterprise cannot seem to do it well.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 3:50 PM

PeteDawg,

Do you have a link to an article about DoD briefings for candidates? I vaguely remember reading something like that a while ago, but I have no idea where.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 3:55 PM

Michael- I found one website that still had the story:

http://themoderatevoice.com/politics/hillary-clinton/15277/newspaper-bush-advising-clinton-and-other-democrats-on-iraq-war-rhetoric/

but I also remember reading it on the AP and Reuters. I'll keep looking. This website should give you more information to look with.

Posted by: PeteDawg Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 4:16 PM

DPU,

Can you differentiate for us the difference between Universal Health Care and Monopoly Health Care. From south of your border it is difficult to see the difference or the benefits gained by either one. How long was the delivery room care waiting list again? Why are all those patients at Bellingham surgeries driving up with B.C. plates?

If the conservatives in Canada can't see the problems with your health care system, does the label make them differently irresponsible?

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 5:20 PM

PeteDawg,

It's nice to know that my efforts are appreciated.

I don't think that Obama just doesn't care, it's just that he gains no real benefit from success in Iraq. I do not think that Obama sees a benefit to failure in Iraq, which I was a lot less certain of with Kerry. I prefer to think he is just ignorant about the military/strategic component of our national policy debate in any meaningful way.

If we were to posit a perfect score of 10 for Moltke the Elder as a person able to make and implement successful strategic military policy decisions; I would put Truman at 7, George W. Bush at 6, and Obama at a limping 3 on his best day. He may be just as smart as Truman, but his inexperience and philosophy cripple his ability to make successful choices. The scale is logarithmic, not linear. I believe that less than 5 in today's environment will lead to catastrophic failures within eight years.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at February 22, 2008 5:43 PM

Obama could very well choose to “know” nothing of the sort for some portion of the following reasons.

It's much, much simpler than that. The man is not unintelligent.

Right now, Obama is neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton. He needs every vote he can get.

A lot of Obama's early supporters were voting for him because of his opposition to the war. Hillary Clinton voted to depose Hussein, and voted to continue to fund military operations. The anti-war left refused to support her because of this, and Obama was the most appealing alternative. The anti-war left, combined with the black vote and the disgusted-with-the-Clintons vote makes up about half of the Democratic primary vote. Those factions can get him nominated, but he needs all of them.

Obama knows the surge is working. But admitting this would result in the anti-war left abandoning him, and his lead over Hillary Clinton is razor thin. He needs to build up enough support that he can afford to lose the anti-war types before he can change his position, and he doesn't have it now.

Posted by: rosignol Author Profile Page at February 23, 2008 4:10 AM

Do you have a link to an article about DoD briefings for candidates? I vaguely remember reading something like that a while ago, but I have no idea where.

I remember it, too, but don't recall where I saw it. Might have been a PJM story.

Posted by: rosignol Author Profile Page at February 23, 2008 4:18 AM

As JoeG alluded to early on in the thread, the true test of Arabs' (and non-Arab Muslims') affinity for Obama will come only if/after he is elected - specifically, when Obama does not recite the shahada in his inaugural address, nor does he then immediately begin to transform the USA into a shari'a state.

At that point, those in the ummah who see Obama as a Muslim first and foremost will be forced to confront the fact that he is, at most, a lapsed one. They may not all then line up behind the more radical imams who would surely begin calling for his death as an apostate, but at the very least this would spell the end of Obama's Arab/Muslim honeymoon.

As for Obama, pace JoeG it may not require an actual attempt on his life for him to get the message on this. Methinks the first threat to his life on this basis, that is brought to his attention by the Secret Service, will more than suffice. Nothing like the threat of death to focus the mind, don'tcha know.

Which brings us to, last but not least, the American public who will have voted Obama into the White House in the first place. Anyone who still seriously believes this war really has nothing to do with Islam will be rudely disabused of that notion the first time the President's life is threatened because he and his administration are insufficiently Islamic.

All of the above considered, it seems to me that, while Obama may be a flaming liberal with a messiah complex, his perceived Muslim identity is not a third strike against him. If anything it may actually be a point in his favor.

Posted by: Joshua Author Profile Page at February 23, 2008 9:47 AM

Can you differentiate for us the difference between Universal Health Care and Monopoly Health Care.

I think you will need to clarify that question.

From south of your border it is difficult to see the difference or the benefits gained by either one.

Have you investigated the issue? Or just going on general impressions? You have a history of doing the latter when it comes to Canadian matters.

How long was the delivery room care waiting list again?

Delivery rooms? For pregnancies? Again, sorry, you'll need to clarify that question.

Why are all those patients at Bellingham surgeries driving up with B.C. plates?

Can you provide your source for that? I don't personally know a single Canadian that has ever gone to the US for treatment, although I've heard of a few that have gone for specialized treatment not available in Canada. I know that there's a persisten myth in the US, spread by parties unknown, that we Canadians flood south for treatment, but it's just that, a myth. Is that what you're referring to here?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 23, 2008 2:10 PM

If the thread is turning to discussion of the Canaian health care system, you might want to read this, written by an American in Canada, that debunks several misconceptions that some may have of the Canadian health care system. As someone who uses that system, let me assure you that it is accurate.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 23, 2008 2:20 PM

DPU: I don't personally know a single Canadian that has ever gone to the US for treatment, although I've heard of a few that have gone for specialized treatment not available in Canada.

According to one report, as many as 300,000 Canadians (or 1% of the population) go abroad for medical treatment every year.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080123.wmedtourism23/BNStory/specialTravel/home

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at February 23, 2008 2:39 PM

Has anybody read the new article in Rolling Stone on Iraq: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/18722376/the_myth_of_the_surge/

It looks to be written by somebody willing to look very hard at every possible place the surge can fail, and then announce that it has failed. There is a lot of stuff out of context or written without necessary depth. For instance:

After processing, Sabrin is moved to a "detainee holding facility" at Forward Operating Base Prosperity. At least 25,000 Iraqis are now in such U.S. facilities — up from 16,000 only a year ago.

I know for a fact that the US Air Force and Navy are standing up a lot of prisoner detainment units. I saw the weird new Air Force uniforms in Fort Lewis last fall and asked the folks in the hideous green boots (shudder - green is a bad color for boots because that dye is usually destroys leather integrity) what they were doing. The people in the pixellated tiger stripe (more proof that the zooomies need help dressing themselves) were training to go guard detainees in Iraq. Some sailors in DCU were doing the same thing. We have more detainees because we can guard more detainees properly.

It's not a hit piece, but it sure looks like a scare piece.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 10:01 AM

At least 25,000 Iraqis are now in such U.S. facilities — up from 16,000 only a year ago.

Has it occured to the writer that this is part of the reason violence is down?

This reminds me of that silly reporter (I forget his name) who writes an article every year that says incarceration rates are up despite a drop in crime.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 10:14 AM

According to one report, as many as 300,000 Canadians (or 1% of the population) go abroad for medical treatment every year.

I find that estimate more than doubtful, but it's irrelevant. The article discussed medical tourism to third world nations, which I think that citizens of the US are also increasingly utilizing. What I was looking for was Patrick's source of information that said Canadians were utilizing medical services in the US. Reports that I've seen suggest that the number doings so are insignificant.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 10:52 AM

As Patrick hasn't been able to locate the source of his information, it looks like he misspoke or something.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 10:54 AM

DPU: The article discussed medical tourism to third world nations, which I think that citizens of the US are also increasingly utilizing.

Yeah, but I assumed the 300,000 "going abroad" figure was mostly to the U.S. I don't have proof, though.

It would be very interesting if more Canadians were going to third-world countries for treatment than to the United States.

Maybe if the surge succeeds they'll start going to Iraq?

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 11:02 AM

Michael,

I think Rolling Stone published the piece they commissioned. I doubt that they can publish anything unexpected anymore, at least not with a political angle.

This part also bothered me:

I try to tell the soldiers they've made a mistake — it looks like the Iraqis had been trying to connect a house to a generator — but the Americans don't listen.

Or maybe they didn't trust him because he's a journalist who is in the process of writing a scare piece. Or just because he's a journalist. Or he impressed the military as a somebody with an ideological bias that benefits from dead troops. Ignoring somebody who asks you to violate life-saving procedure looks a lot like not listening, when the military is being polite.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 11:16 AM

It would be very interesting if more Canadians were going to third-world countries for treatment than to the United States.

Cosmetic surgery is not covered by universal coverage in Canada. It's quite expensive in the US, and ridiculously cheap in third world countries. Some non-critical surgeries in Canada have longer waiting times, so some may opt for a quick and cheap alternative in the third world. Same applies to US citizens, of course.

Keep in mind that if Canadians opt for medical treatment in the US, they're facing some substantial bills. Faced with waiting a year for, say, surgery to fix some minor knee pain vs. paying 25 thousand dollars in the US, which would you pick?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 11:31 AM

I KNEW there was a good reason I don't read Rolling Stone. What an Asshat.

Posted by: Lindsey Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 12:32 PM

"Faced with waiting a year for, say, surgery to fix some minor knee pain vs. paying 25 thousand dollars in the US, which would you pick?"

Could you, say, pick a more biased example of health care choice DPU? Just to illustrate your mindset a bit more?

"What I was looking for was Patrick's source of information that said Canadians were utilizing medical services in the US. Reports that I've seen suggest that the number doings so are insignificant."

Perhaps not so insignificant to those needing the medical services.

Private/capitalist vs government controlled health care; hmmm, which would I prefer? Anything that Paul Krugman, Hillary Clinton and Michael Moore agree on I would probably be against, just by default (see http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_3_canadian_healthcare.html).

Have to admit you do have good beer. Makes the winters more bearable.

Now back to Middle East Journal topics......

Posted by: rsnyder Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 4:17 PM

20 Myths About National Health Insurance, courtesy of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Interesting stats regarding Canadian, U.S. and European health care systems, including this:

....hospitals in British Columbia contract with U.S. hospitals across the border in Seattle to perform heart surgery on Canadian patients. There is a similar arrangement between Ontario hospitals and those in Detroit. Canadian hospital managers apparently have concluded they make a "profit" on these transactions, and at the same time reduce the public outcry over long waiting lists.

Enjoy...

Posted by: Dogwood Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 5:24 PM

Could you, say, pick a more biased example of health care choice DPU? Just to illustrate your mindset a bit more?

It's not biased. As I said above and was clearly mentioned in the article linked to earlier, there are rarely waits for critical conditions. The knee issue is one that I picked intentionally, as I know there are waiting lists for that.

Or is that not what you meant?

Perhaps not so insignificant to those needing the medical services.

And once again, I'm not sure what this means. Is the implication that those seeking care in the US need to do because they have significant illnesses and have to get care in the US? No, most people receiving US care are getting it because they're vacationing in the US when they require it, or because they're in a hurry to get a non-critical service that they need to wait a while for on Canada and can afford it in the US. But that is a very small number of people.

Private/capitalist vs government controlled health care;

Well, now I know that you don't know what you're talking about. Canada doesn't have government-controlled health care. That's a pretty basic fact to get wrong. Possibly you need to research this a bit.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 5:33 PM

…hospitals in British Columbia contract with U.S. hospitals across the border in Seattle to perform heart surgery on Canadian patients.

How many hospitals? Which ones? How many patients? One? Five? A thousand? And for what reason? Is the arrangement reciprocal?

By the way, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a conservative and libertarian think tank. They're hardly an unbiased group.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 5:41 PM

I'm reading through that Mackinac report. Pretty desperate, and fairly funny.

Myth 1 - explaining away why other industrialized nations pay far less for health care, but provide access to all citizens. Myth 2 - the citizens of every other industrialized country live longer than US citizens, but that has nothing (nothing!) to do with health care. Myth 3 - Access to health care in other countries isn't as equal as they say, but let's not talk about the tens of millions of US citizens without coverage.

It's amazing the number of people that want to tell me, a Canadian with a lot of experience with the Canadian system, how bad the Canadian system is. And get everything wrong in the process.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 5:53 PM

DPU,

Every American has access to health care. All they have to do is walk through the emergency room door. They will be treated with no questions asked and no obligation to pay if they don't have insurance, Medicaid or Medicare.

I've yet to hear a good argument why my neighbor's sinus infection or broken leg is my problem.

Posted by: Dogwood Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 6:12 PM

DPU,

As I said above and was clearly mentioned in the article linked to earlier, there are rarely waits for critical conditions.

In a very real sense, when the same body that is charge of defining critical conditions is in charge of oversight, your statement is always true. All of the available evidence shows clearly nothing is wrong, and in fact, nothing can go wrong. You are living in best system, in the best of possible worlds.

The problem is that 100% of the people in the Canadian health system are going to die...someday. The quality of life until that terminal statistic hits is dependent on some factors well out of individual control and substantially resistant to necessary change.

There are a lot of conditions that are not critical in themselves that if not treated quickly lead to cascade failures. This is true of both the human body and bureaucratic systems. A lot of us are deeply suspicious about Universal Health Care because we've watched both kinds of systems fail because of ignoring early warnings and minor problems.

Just because I enjoy tweaking your nose over the health care system failures (a lot) doesn't mean that I'm wrong or that bureaucratic systems should be allowed to police themselves.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 6:27 PM

DPU,

I just read a lengthy comparison of the U.S. and Canadian health care systems over at Wikipedia (yeah, yeah, I know, its Wiki). Care to give it a read and let me know if it seems accurate to you?

I thought it was fairly even handed, but I only have experience with the American system, so I would be interested in your take.

Thanks.

P.S. Maybe if we keep hijacking this comment section Michael will throw us another post to chew on!

Posted by: Dogwood Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 6:46 PM

About the "slave" reference; even the most cursory examination of the roots of the slave trade will discover that the Arabs were the collectors and sellers to the West; a little contemporary research will discover that there are still covert slave economies in a number of Arab enclaves throughout the area.

To imagine that Arabs could admire blacks (despite their deep history of abuse and contempt) is to base one's opinion on some stupid computation like, "Well, their (Arabs') skin is browner than ours so they must like Negroes better." I betcha if you scratch a liberal hard enough something like that will pop out.

Posted by: Brian H Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 8:05 PM

"Perhaps this is the only obvious strategy available to a presidential candidate whose Washington experience to date has afforded him little time to grasp the niceties of policy-making"

1) The experience argument is completely ridiculous... he has more experience in washington than bush or clinton did before they were elected to their first terms. Additionally Obama has a ton of legislativ experience from his many years in the Illinois state senate. You must be either a complete partisan hack or haven ot been paying attention to domestic politics at all if you truly believe this line.

2) Extremely hypocritical to say this coming from someone who voted for Bush I who had zero washington experience when he was elected.

"What made them like or dislike Bush wasn't the color of the president's skin or his religious faith, but his ideas."

So you are basically saying "they hate us because they hate freedom." I think this is why you neocons have gotten the war so wrong and why things have gone so wrong is that you fundamentally believe this. No, they dont hate us because of that. They hate us because they see us as an evil foreign occupying force (no matter how good our intentions are). The same thing happened in Vietnam 40 years ago... we saw it as a war on communism and to promote democracy while the locals saw it as a war of independence and against a foreign occupying force.

For a county (ours) that was born out of a revolution against an evil foreign occupying force, we should keep in mind how powerful such ideas are (see Al-Sadr's support). I think Al Sadr's supporters dont support him because they hate democracy/freedom but instead because they hate the evil foreign occupiers (us). Your argument here completely glosses over the power of nationalism.

Posted by: responsiblelib Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 8:51 PM

responsiblelib,

The experience argument is completely ridiculous… he has more experience in washington than bush or clinton did before they were elected to their first terms.

While it might be more accurate to describe George W Bush as more of a Texan than his father, describing him as a Washington outsider is comical. The grandson of Senator Prescott Bush, the son of (Congressman, Representative, Ambassador to the UN, Chairman of the RNC, Director of CIA, Vice President and President) Bush is almost genetically a DC insider. While 43's direct experience of Washington politics might be limited to a lifetime of involvement in one of the most powerful families on the planet, for most people, that marks him as experienced.

In his own right, he was governor of Texas, a $1.03 Trillion economy that borders on another nation. While this is not necessarily Washington experience, it is executive experience that Obama does not posses.

Extremely hypocritical to say this coming from someone who voted for Bush I who had zero washington experience when he was elected.

Bush 41 had four years off in the twenty-two years before he was elected President where he wasn't in daily contact with D.C. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

They hate us because they see us as an evil foreign occupying force (no matter how good our intentions are). The same thing happened in Vietnam 40 years ago… we saw it as a war on communism and to promote democracy while the locals saw it as a war of independence and against a foreign occupying force.

Except that in Vietnam we supported a deeply corrupt local government and in Iraq we kicked the whole thing off by beating the snot out of the deeply corrupt local government. And the part where there was no organized South Vietnamese resistance after Tet in 1968, where the all died. And the part where many Iraqi's who hated us, hated us before 1990. And the part where Iraqi's rejoiced in Saddam's downfall. And all those other parts where Iraq is nothing like Vietnam.

For a county (ours) that was born out of a revolution against an evil foreign occupying force, we should keep in mind how powerful such ideas are (see Al-Sadr's support).

Here's where I'm going to really be unkind. The United States did not fight an insurgency against a foreign occupying force, we fought a colonial revolution against the Empire we were part of. Most people in the Colonies thought of themselves as English, but a lot of them were descendants of Englishmen who could not stand the excesses of the Crown. The Puritans and the Catholics both had reasons to want to usurp the power of the British crown, although those reasons were wildly different.

The most relevant fact regarding the American Revolution is that in 1775 the average lifespan of an English Colonist in what became the United States was 59 years and an English subject in England was 42 years. Seventeen years marked the difference between freedom and tyranny and our nation's forefathers chose life over monarchy. Nobody from the US is trying to establish monarchy in Iraq and nobody from the US is trying to diminish the quality of life of the Iraqi's.

If you want to be a responsible liberal, you would do well to take a more serious look at history. You display grievous misunderstandings of basic historical knowledge and undermine the points you are trying to make. I recommend without reservation the works of David McCullough and suggest you start with "Path Between the Seas" because it is not so close to current events to be poisoned by the material that is infecting your thought. With that as a foundation, then work back McCullough's work on Adams, Jefferson, and Washington. (Save Washington for a bit, he is going to blow your mind.)

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 9:54 PM

Responsible Lib-

Let me echo Patrick's thoughts regarding "experience." Executive experience, like that of a Governor, is the type of experience Obama lacks. Legislators get to vote "Present"; oppose a bill that they know is going to pass in order to please a constituency or make a point. A good legislator uses arcane rules to manage the flow of legislation. A legislator can vote to authorize force and then say, "I really didn't mean it" later.

Executives decide. They have no peers to cower with if things go awry; they feel the impact of every decision they make. They cannot appear petty or vindictive towards the second guessers in the Opposition or the Press.

The Presidency ages people in dog years. The fact that the Senate doesn't is proof that the Senate is a totally different arena.

Posted by: MartyH Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 10:20 PM

1) The experience argument is completely ridiculous… he has more experience in washington than bush or clinton did before they were elected to their first terms.

You're posting on a blog titled 'Middle East Journal'. Take it as a given that when someone around here talks about 'policy', what they are referring to is foreign policy.

Additionally Obama has a ton of legislativ experience from his many years in the Illinois state senate. [ad hom snipped]

Domestic state-level legislative experience does not prepare someone to deal with foreign policy. Remember, Obama is the guy who wants to talk to the Presidents of Iran, Cuba, and North Korea (hostile governments) and send troops into Pakistan (an ally) without Pakistani approval.

2) Extremely hypocritical to say this coming from someone who voted for Bush I who had zero washington experience when he was elected.

...and Bush knew it, so he recruited a bunch of very experienced DC hands to serve in his administration. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, and others. Who's going to be guiding Obama through DC? The experience he got as a freshman Senator isn't going to cut it.

Posted by: rosignol Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 10:26 PM

A lot of us are deeply suspicious about Universal Health Care because we've watched both kinds of systems fail because of ignoring early warnings and minor problems.

When government is the body that is responsible for paying for health care, and the government can also be voted out of office by a dissatisfied electorate, I think you will find a greater government emphasis on early detection, early treatment, and prevention.

And if you look at the statistics for the Canadian population as a whole, you will see that they are in better shape than Americans, that they live longer than Americans, that less of their children die as infants, and that we pay significantly less for a health care system that covers everyone in the population equally.

It's fine to be suspicious of large government. But the results should indicate that our system is working. And the fact that I see an large amount of misinformation floating around about the Canadian system shows to me that there's a lot of fuzzy thinking going on about it.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 10:57 PM

Dogwood: Every American has access to health care. All they have to do is walk through the emergency room door. They will be treated with no questions asked and no obligation to pay if they don't have insurance, Medicaid or Medicare.

Then one would have to wonder why anyone pays for insurance, and why the insurance companies are still in business.

Do you have insurance? If so, why?

And if you do, how much do you pay? I pay somewhat over $100 per month. Can you just walk into any doctor's office or hospital and be guaranteed treatment? I can. How many administrators deal with insurance claims in your doctor's office? My regular clinic, which has five doctors, several psychologists, a couple of pharmacists, and four nurse/practitioners, has an administration staff of three, and they mostly answer phones and make appointments. There is very little in the way of bureaucratic overhead, and that cuts way back on medical costs.

My son was struck by a car last year, and hospitalized with head trauma. The care he had was excellent, with no waiting for anything, with full access to all tests and treatment, didn't costs me a cent, and the paperwork that was required was zero. I showed the staff his health care card, and they scanned it. Took less than 30 seconds.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 11:10 PM

Care to give it a read and let me know if it seems accurate to you?

As it's mostly facts and figures, I have to take it at its word. Also, different provinces in Canada administer health care dollar allocation differently, and I'm mostly familiar with the system in BC.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 24, 2008 11:19 PM

DPU, "Canada's health care system is a group of socialized health insurance plans that provides coverage to all Canadian citizens. It is publicly funded and administered on a provincial or territorial basis, within guidelines set by the federal government." This quote is from http://www.canadian-healthcare.org/

If an organization is financed by public transfer payments, as your National Health Care is, I put that in the government controlled category. I did not say that health care itself was provided by Federal, Provincial or Territorial Governments.

On a basic level of private versus public, it would a bit of a challenge to say that your Health Care System is in the former category.

Even among "experts" who are generally recognized as knowledgeable on all of Canadas Health Care system(s), which you are not, there is a high level of disagreement of what it is, what it is not, where it is effective and where it is not.

Posted by: rsnyder Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 5:13 AM

Most people buy insurance to protect themselves from unforeseen catastrophic loss. They also have a deep sense of personal obligation to pay their own bills, even if they didn't have to. I would never dream of using the emergency room for health care and then not paying. My health is my responsibility, not my neighbors. You can blame my parents for this attitude.

didn't costs me a cent

You pay taxes don't you?

I pay $289 a month for a new insurance policy and get to see our regular physicians whenever we need to. Most insurance networks are so broad that they include most physicians in a specific geographical area. Not all, but usually close to it.

My physician has one employee to process insurance claims, the other two are appointments and medical records. Every system has bureaucracy, just a question of "at what level".

I doubt a nationalized or single-payer system will be adopted in the U.S. because most people tend to be satisfied with the coverage they have. No need to revolutionize the system when the uninsured is limited to 10 percent of the population. There are other, less intrusive alternatives, to dealing with that problem.

Posted by: Dogwood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 5:49 AM

Some interesting comments. I have talked to more than a few Muslims about Obama. The general feeling is that he was never a Muslim.

His father was non religious and an alcoholic. I have been told that the place where his father came from has a tenuous hold on Islam anyway. As one Muslim told me "he never made the shahada (Muslim affirmation of faith) so he is not, nor was he ever, a Muslim".

As to racism in the Arab world, it a huge problem. I have seen open racism in many places in the Middle East, from Africans and their treatment in the Gulf, to Ethiopian and Sephardic Jews and their treatment in Israel.

The whole experience thing about Obama doesn’t bother me. Bush the Second never had any foreign policy experience either. It is all about the advisors and the policy makers that the President employs that count. Look at those that Bush surrounded himself with that insisted American troops would be given rice and rose water when they entered Baghdad.

Obama would have a very hard time employing advisors who could give him worse information than that.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 6:59 AM

Most people buy insurance to protect themselves from unforeseen catastrophic loss. They also have a deep sense of personal obligation to pay their own bills, even if they didn't have to.

Does this mean that you pay the police department and fire department directly? Do you send a monthly check directly to the US military?

I would never dream of using the emergency room for health care and then not paying.

And this is what inspires the couple of hundred million other insured Americans? They won't use a free service out of this same sense of civic obligation?

My health is my responsibility, not my neighbors. You can blame my parents for this attitude.

My health, and the health and well being of my neighbors, is my responsibility. Would just you walk by an accident scene saying "not any of my business"? Most people try to help others around them. The same applies here.

I pay $289 a month for a new insurance policy and get to see our regular physicians whenever we need to. Most insurance networks are so broad that they include most physicians in a specific geographical area. Not all, but usually close to it.

My system is better in that regard, then. 100% of the population can see any doctor they want, any time, in any area. And I pay $108 for a family of three for that.

My physician has one employee to process insurance claims, the other two are appointments and medical records. Every system has bureaucracy, just a question of “at what level”.

Then the level I experience is better. Your single doctor has three administrative employees, whereas my clinic has three administrative employees for five doctors. I have never seen a clinic that has more than one administrative staff per doctor. There is almost no bureaucracy of that type here, and the costs are lower as a result.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 7:51 AM

Double plus ungood;

Most of my European relatives have private insurance because they don't want to wait 6 months to see a specialist. According to them, the socialized system works well for urgent cases (accidents, head traumas, etc ..). It sucks for the rest.

One relative had to wait so long to see an oncologist, his tumor metastasized (he didn't have private insurance). I have other stories that are too long to list here.

The most sad-funny difference between the two systems came to the fore when I mentioned my father was going for a cataract operation. A relative asked me if he was using a cane. The question seemed ridiculous until I realized that, in their system, you have to wait so long for non-emergency surgery that you are pretty much blind when it's your turn to get that cataract removed.

Americans will never tolerate the delays that come with socialized care. Its prospects for implementation are rather bleak and all those stories about Canadians coming south of the border for care will hasten its doom.

Posted by: Boojum Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 8:57 AM

DPU- The Canadian Health system is a joke. It's easy for your government to spend all this money on a inefficient, bureaucrats wet-dream, money pit when the United States is subsidizing your defense. From what I've been reading about the Canadian defense force they might go the way of the Belgians and start training with wooden guns. When Canada can defend itself; maybe I'd consider its health care system.

Responsiblelib- Obama is a lightweight. You are comfortable with electing a man with a pathetic legislative record. No state or federal legislative accomplishments. No executive business experience. NO state or federal executive government experience. The head of the Dog Catchers in New York City has more executive experience than the Obama. If the Democrat Party was still a serious party Barrack Hussein Obama would've been at most a super delegate. You might consider putting an IR in front of your name.

Reading the Obama's web page was really light reading, if you didn't know it was for a presidential contender you would've thought it was a gag page. I was expecting him to come up a with a line "See this wand I'm going to wave it in the air and fix ...((insert whatever))."

Posted by: PeteDawg Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 9:18 AM

Americans will never tolerate the delays that come with socialized care.

First, Canada does not have socialized care., we have universal coverage (another oft-repeated myth about the Canadian system). Secondly, how long does it take for someone without insurance to get a cataract operation? Thirdly, US patients have similar waiting times. From an article in Business Week:
In reality, both data and anecdotes show that the American people are already waiting as long or longer than patients living with universal health-care systems. ... All this time spent "queuing," as other nations call it, stems from too much demand and too little supply. Only one-third of U.S. doctors are general practitioners, compared with half in most European countries. On top of that, only 40% of U.S. doctors have arrangements for after-hours care, vs. 75% in the rest of the industrialized world. Consequently, some 26% of U.S. adults in one survey went to an emergency room in the past two years because they couldn't get in to see their regular doctor, a significantly higher rate than in other countries.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 9:24 AM

DPU- The Canadian Health system is a joke.

I haven't seen anyone, especially you, demonstrate why this might be true. And from what I've heard from friends who have lived in the US, your system is the joke.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 9:26 AM

If an organization is financed by public transfer payments, as your National Health Care is, I put that in the government controlled category. I did not say that health care itself was provided by Federal, Provincial or Territorial Governments.

If Canada has government control of the health care system based on that argument, then the US has insurance company controlled health care. Is that definition accurate?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 9:29 AM

It's easy for your government to spend all this money on a inefficient, bureaucrats wet-dream, money pit when the United States is subsidizing your defense.

This argument might have merit except for the fact that we pay way less for health care than the US does.

Really, Pete, you should look into these things a bit before making your pronouncements.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 9:32 AM

Double plus ungood;

How long does it take for someone without insurance to get a cataract operation?

Not long enough to need a walking cane.

How many Americans are going to other countries to avoid delays versus how many Europeans/Canadians are coming to America?

Posted by: Boojum Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 9:52 AM

Not long enough to need a walking cane.

Really. The uninsured can get cataract surgery quickly? What is your source for that information?

How many Americans are going to other countries to avoid delays versus how many Europeans/Canadians are coming to America?

An excellent question. I assume you have the figures at hand?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 9:56 AM

DPU,

You rightly ask for reasons why Canada's health care system is good/bad beyond anecdotal evidence, but you criticize America's health care system with only anecdotal evidence? I'd like more than "I hear you pay more", or "based on this one example you pay more"

Honestly as an American I like our system, but realistically both seem to work well enough. Ours has problems, sure, but what system doesn't?

Personally I like being able to choose who I pay to cover my health care costs- if someone comes up with a better deal I can take their offer. It seems with Canada's system you have to elect new politicians who promise to fix it for you. I prefer the direct monetary accountability.

Anyway, that's only theorycraft and I'm sure both systems have their trade offs. Yes we have a problem with the uninsured, but honestly most hospitals I know work with uninsured patients with payment plans and flat cost reductions just because they know they can't pay full price. Hardly a systemic problem that proves the superiority of public controlled health care.

Posted by: SeiginoRaikou Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 10:15 AM

"...Look at those that Bush surrounded himself with that insisted American troops would be given rice and rose water when they entered Baghdad...."

We were greeted with flowers and all those things, too many eyewitnesses, inc. John Burns of the NYTimes. Burns maintains that the looting and subsequent stumbles soured the Iraqis on us. But yeah, they greeted us as liberators.

"....Obama would have a very hard time employing advisors who could give him worse information than that....."

Samantha Powers and Robert Malley on Israel. Also Zbignew Breszinsky, Carter's foreign policy advisor, who went to Damascus a few weeks ago to talk to Assad.

(I am still boggled by the idea that any presidential candidate would blatantly contravene our official foreign policy. This is close to treason. As far as I know this has never happened before in a political campaign.)

So yeah, Obama gets really really bad advice.

Posted by: Yehudit Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 10:52 AM

You rightly ask for reasons why Canada's health care system is good/bad beyond anecdotal evidence, but you criticize America's health care system with only anecdotal evidence? I'd like more than “I hear you pay more”, or “based on this one example you pay more”

Welcome to the DPU-verse. The amazing thing is that DPU seems to be completely unaware of the double standard.

Posted by: rosignol Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 11:42 AM

What Canada Tells Us About Government Health Care By Doug Wilson
Monday, February 25, 2008

"Since the 1960s, Canada has operated a system of socialized medicine, while also forbidding the private sector from insuring medically necessary care."

"The verdict: Canadians pay more for their health care and get less. That’s according to the Fraser Institute, an independent research and educational organization based in Canada. Fraser’s recently released study, “Paying More, Getting Less: Measuring the Sustainability of Government Health Spending in Canada” calls our attention to the painful realities of government-funded health care."

"How, exactly, do Canadians pay more for their health care? Taxes, naturally—and higher and higher ones at that, for there is no other way to maintain such an enormous entitlement. Consider that by 2035, six of 10 Canadian provinces will spend half of their taxpayer-generated revenue on health-related expenses."

Posted by: Tom in Texas Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 12:29 PM

Yehudit,

American troops were welcomed by SOME segments of the Iraqi community, just as they were by the British in the early part of the last century. Like the British, this welcome by segments of the Iraqi population was rather short lived.

Some Shi'a and the Kurds certainly welcomed the Americans, whereas the Sunni were overwhelmingly against the US occupation, as well as some Shi'ite groups such as al Jaysh al Mahdi.

Calling someone's actions treasonable is pretty harsh. It is clear that if we are not going to physically impose our will on the people's of the area a certain amount of talking must and will happen.

In the long run I think it is in the US government's interest to see the government in Syria stay in power, just like we support many such dictators in the area. The minority Shi'ite sect that is currently in power is better than the Muslim Brotherhood or other Sunni Islamist group that would come to power.

America's disaster in demanding elections in Palestine comes to mind.

There are three choices with Syria, either use military force to depose them and let the Islamists take power, continue sanctions which will not work, or engage them. Got any other ideas?

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 12:46 PM

I'd like more than “I hear you pay more”, or “based on this one example you pay more”

Sure. Here:
The U.S. spends much more on health care than Canada, both on a per-capita basis and as a percentage of GDP. In 2005, per-capita spending for health care in the U.S. was US$6,401; in Canada, US$3,3326. The U.S. spent 15.3% of GDP on health care in that year; Canada spent 9.8%. Studies have come to different conclusions about the result of this disparity in spending. A 2007 review of all studies comparing health outcomes in Canada and the U.S., in a Canadian peer-reviewed medical journal, found that "health outcomes may be superior in patients cared for in Canada versus the United States, but differences are not consistent."
Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 1:02 PM

Welcome to the DPU-verse. The amazing thing is that DPU seems to be completely unaware of the double standard.

Are we going to take another debate meta? Is it because you are not able to formulate an effective argument?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 1:04 PM

“Since the 1960s, Canada has operated a system of socialized medicine, while also forbidding the private sector from insuring medically necessary care.”

"Socialized medicine" means that the government runs the health care system. Our government does not do that.

“The verdict: Canadians pay more for their health care and get less. That’s according to the Fraser Institute, an independent research and educational organization based in Canada. Fraser’s recently released study, “Paying More, Getting Less: Measuring the Sustainability of Government Health Spending in Canada” calls our attention to the painful realities of government-funded health care.”

The Fraser Institute is a right-wing think tank the reflexively supports proposals that conform to conservative ideology.

“How, exactly, do Canadians pay more for their health care? Taxes, naturally—and higher and higher ones at that, for there is no other way to maintain such an enormous entitlement. Consider that by 2035, six of 10 Canadian provinces will spend half of their taxpayer-generated revenue on health-related expenses.”

Yet we still pay a third less for our health care than the US.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 1:09 PM

"My health, and the health and well being of my neighbors, is my responsibility. Would just you walk by an accident scene saying “not any of my business”? Most people try to help others around them. The same applies here."

Hmmm. "The health and well being of my neighbors is my responsibiliy." If my neighbor were to say that to me I would give him a quick reminder that my health and well being is my business and responsibility, and none of his.
And you comparing this to someone driving past a wreck is ridiculous. Most would help here, as well. But I doubt you'll be seeing any laws requiring people to help.
This seems to be the old debate between personal responsibility and government-forced lifestyle. It's a matter of two very different value systems (and thus, each side's system of health care reflects what they hold to be most important).

For my two cents: I had a chronic condition discovered, needed surgery, the whole nine yards that enabled me to have a healthy sized tour of our medical system, and as an uninsured college student to boot. Our system has its problems, but nothing egregious, and I wouldn't trade it for a Universal Healthcare system if you paid me (hey, relax with demanding figures, it's just one person's experience as compared to the experience of friends who have had health care in Europe and India).
Many when talking of uninsured citizens forget to include it in the context on whether or not they are uninsured because they truly are too poor to afford it (and not spending the money on, say, flat-screen TV's, Playstation 3's, DVD players, a case of beer every night, aka: unnecessary consumer goods/luxuries). In that regards, it may be a very similar situation to the country's economic "recession": many Americans are living beyond their means, but most choose to do so.
And for the record: I was uninsured, but admitted to the emergency room and kept 3 days, returned a month later after graduation for surgery, stayed nearly a week recovering, and all with the full knowledge of the hospital that I was uninsured. The state of Indiana paid for most of this bill (yes, I was one of THOSE who ate up tax-dollar sponsored health assistance...then again you don't see me turning around and bitching about the system), and the rest is a nice black mark on my credit report (that someday I will hopefully be able to dutifully repay). There could be worse penalties than the shame of being "one of them" and a blackened credit score, and that story goes to show you that anyone claiming the uninsured are left uncared for are wrong. I received top-flight care.

Posted by: Joe Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 1:41 PM

"Yet we still pay a third less for our health care than the US."

I think you are kindof missing an important point: you don't actually pay less, it merely seems that way from your outright expenditures every month. The argument is that such a large amount of tax-dollars is needed that you pay for the difference (difference between Canadian and US monthly insurance payments) and then some by paying quite a bit more in taxes (that are used to sustain the Universal system). So in the end, it is more expensive. You just spread the cost around so it's not as visible. Or is your argument that, even taking that into account, it is still cheaper?

Posted by: Joe Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 1:46 PM

Or is your argument that, even taking that into account, it is still cheaper?

The figures given above are costs from all sources. So yes, overall we pay about a third less in terms of GDP, and almost half when calculated per capita.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 1:58 PM

There could be worse penalties than the shame of being “one of them” and a blackened credit score, and that story goes to show you that anyone claiming the uninsured are left uncared for are wrong. I received top-flight care.

If you had been insured, and were having regular check ups with a GP, could the condition have been caught earlier when it was cheaper to to fix?

I suspect that part of the reason the US system eats up a lot of cash is this problem. Too much catastrophic care in emergency, and less on preventative care.

Hmmm. “The health and well being of my neighbors is my responsibiliy.” If my neighbor were to say that to me I would give him a quick reminder that my health and well being is my business and responsibility, and none of his.

Except that you are already paying for your neighbor. Either your neighbor is insured, and your premiums will go the his or her health care if they are sick, or your neighbor is uninsured, and will be treated for free in emergency (probably at great cost), and this cost is passed on to paying patients or taxpayers.

Am I missing something?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 2:04 PM

Oh man, has there been a discussion of "universal healthcare" here? The wonderful system where people go to hospital for "free"?

Friends, there is no such thing as a truly "Free" healthcare. You do have to pay for it, and yes, sometimes hospitals in certain countries can reject yo when the line gets long. Sure, other nations have better healthcare than ours, but come on.

Posted by: lee Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 2:47 PM

Are we going to take another debate meta? Is it because you are not able to formulate an effective argument?

No, debating you is pointless. Your tangential comments cause so much topic drift that it is impossible to stay focused on one issue, as indicated by the way an article on how a US Presidential Candidate is viewed in the middle east became a discussion about the location of the 'political center', which morphed into a discussion of the Canadian health care system.

Let me know when something related to the middle east is up for discussion.

Posted by: rosignol Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 2:56 PM

Lee- Not my fault... Rosignol is correct. DPU went got bent because I called the Obama a leftist. (Which if you look on DPU website the Obama is considered right of center; which just proves his chart needs to be recalibrated.) Then I was accused that it was baseless accusation. Which I then posted some stupid leftist ideas on his shallow and empty website and DPU took it from there. The thing is if the Obama is elected he's going to be the best recruiting tool for the terrorists.

Posted by: PeteDawg Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 3:03 PM

No, debating you is pointless. Your tangential comments cause so much topic drift that it is impossible to stay focused on one issue, as indicated by the way an article on how a US Presidential Candidate is viewed in the middle east became a discussion about the location of the 'political center', which morphed into a discussion of the Canadian health care system

If this is not taking the conversion in to meta-discussion involving personalities, I don't know what is.

Let me know when something related to the middle east is up for discussion.

You could have just ignored a comment thread that you did not want to participate in in the first place.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 3:08 PM

DPU went got bent because I called the Obama a leftist.

How is asking how Obama is a leftist getting "bent"?

Which I then posted some stupid leftist ideas on his shallow and empty website and DPU took it from there.

No, the health care discussion was an offshoot of the statement I made speculating why the Conservative Party of Canada supported universal access to health care. Patrick asked a question, as did several others, and then a reasonable discussion occurred about the two systems.

Followed by your thoughtful and insightful "rhe Canadian Health system is a joke" remark.

By the way, the "leftist" Obama platforms that you listed are all solidly liberal, not leftist. An example of a leftist platform would be the nationalization of critical industries. And the graph on my blog is not my graph, it's from the Political Compass (it's listed clearly on the post, how did you miss it?). Maybe you should email them and let them know the correct position to put Obama in. You have a degree in political science, don't you?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 3:21 PM

OH, DPU- You are more fun than a slinky I had when I was 6 six years old.

Who walks the stair without a care
It shoots so high in the sky.
Bounce up and down just like a clown.
Everyone knows its Slinky.

The best present yet to give or get
The kids will all want to try.
The hit of the day when you're ready to play
Everyone knows it's Slinky.

It's Slinky, It’s Slinky
for fun it's the best of the toys
It's Slinky, It’s Slinky
the favorite of girls and boys.

;p

Posted by: PeteDawg Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 3:28 PM

OH, DPU- You are more fun than a slinky I had when I was 6 six years old.

Are you sure you weren't playing with lawn darts around the same time?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 3:44 PM

DPU- Naw, no lawn darts... is that a leftist code word for something. It was definetly a slinky. All you had to do is give a nudge... and down it went step by step.

It's Slinky, It's Slinky...

Posted by: PeteDawg Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 3:54 PM

You could have just ignored a comment thread that you did not want to participate in in the first place.

Back when I joined it, it was still about the middle east.... but you're right, it's not about the middle east any more, and I'm not interested in discussing the details of the Canadian healthcare system, or in casting aspersions upon those who do, so I will take your suggestion, and bow out.

Seeya next thread.

Posted by: rosignol Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 4:19 PM

"....Calling someone's actions treasonable is pretty harsh. It is clear that if we are not going to physically impose our will on the people's of the area a certain amount of talking must and will happen...."

Marc, the point is that presidential candidates are conducting their own foreign policy which undermines the official foreign policy of the country they plan to serve. (The one the Obamas are having such a struggle being proud of.)

Whether or not the US talks to whoever is the decision of the current president and his advisors. If you want to critique that, fine. But conducting your own foreign policy, especially undermining our official foreign policy by doing under the radar diplomacy with leaders who are officially off limits, is feckless at best, treasonous at worst.

it is irresponsible in the extreme - these are people who are campaigning for the highest office in our land and they are loose cannons. And they have no understanding of why it's not ok. One of the many reasons I will not vote Democratic. It's not just that I disapprove of most of their positions, it's that they act like rebellious teenagers instead of adults.

McCain is going to have SO much ammunition....

Posted by: Yehudit Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 5:37 PM

"...An example of a leftist platform would be the nationalization of critical industries. ..."

Like this? It's not quite nationalization, but close. I hate to play the Nazi card, but isn't that what they did?

Posted by: Yehudit Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 5:44 PM

"....And you're right, Bush is not a fiscal conservative......"

He did lower taxes, which freed up money for business expansion, which led to the longest period of continual job growth in US history. Which has reduced the deficit while supporting a war. And all that starting from the collapse of a bubble and only a little while later a huge terrorist attack on a center of our economy.

Yeah, there's too much spending in DC, but that looks like fiscal conservatism to me.

Posted by: Yehudit Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 5:50 PM

Yeah, there's too much spending in DC, but that looks like fiscal conservatism to me.

... if you define "fiscal conservative" as a spendthrift statist on a bender with our children's money.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 7:10 PM

Yehudit,

I think it would be more fair to say that George W. Bush was insufficiently conservative to keep the Republicans in power. On the other hand, from before he raised his hand he was under full attack. The only legacy of those attacks is that government got worse. They aimed at Bush and hit the government. Instead of reasonable oversight of the executive branch, the Bush administration had to defend against unrelenting attacks. While we had troops in the field and the largest overhaul of our domestic security apparatus, the opposition party abandoned its responsibility to improve legislation and did its best instead to stop the governance of the nation.

The presumption was that if they could make the government fail, they could make their assaults on Bush seem justified. I don't think Bush is all that talented a President, but he has survived a lot and that's not nothing. I just wish that the political opposition were half as interested in improving the nation as they showed themselves to be in dragging Bush down. After eight years of unending attacks, I just don't see them with a decent slate of people capable of governing the nation. The skills that get you advanced in the opposition today are not the skills of leadership of the nation.

Which brings us to Obama. What change is he going to bring about? We've got a good economy, regardless of the pundit-gloom of the media. We've got an astonishingly well run war (4,000 casualties in five year for only a trillion dollars is cheap by any rational definition). We've even got Europe turned away from the insanity that was dragging them down. Falling off a cliff is change, too.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 7:58 PM

Like this? It's not quite nationalization, but close. I hate to play the Nazi card, but isn't that what they did?

Not quite nationalization? How is that even close to nationalization?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 8:12 PM

Which has reduced the deficit while supporting a war.

Huh?
As has been widely publicized, the Bush era deficits reversed the effects of the deficit reduction from the Clinton years. We will almost certainly end the Bush years with a higher debt to GDP ratio than we had at the start of the Clinton presidency. That is not a disaster, but the next administration will not have the luxury of allowing the debt to increase in the same way.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 8:17 PM

"...An example of a leftist platform would be the nationalization of critical industries. ..."

Like this? It's not quite nationalization, but close. I hate to play the Nazi card, but isn't that what they did?

I'd call it Fascism; the capital is kept in private hands, but the State directs industrial policy.

It's another one of those awful "targeted tax cuts". Every time I hear a politician talk about one of those, I want to ask, "Why are you so desperate to tell me what I should do with my money?"

Posted by: Ted Schuerzinger Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 8:41 PM

Hey, DPU- the title of this article is "The Arabs and Obama." Why don't you (and the people disputing which healthcare system sucks the least) take it elsewhere.

Posted by: Mystery Meat Author Profile Page at February 25, 2008 10:07 PM

MM, Valid Point. DPU, start the thread on your blog and wait for people to come over to it.

Posted by: rsnyder Author Profile Page at February 26, 2008 3:18 AM

"But Mom! Double-Plus-Ungood started it!"

"I don't care. ALL of you stop it."

"But MOM! I didn't DO anything! It's Double-Plus-Ungood's fault! MOMMMMIEEEEEEE!"

Posted by: Creamy Goodness Author Profile Page at February 26, 2008 6:29 AM

Ha well then let me continue the discussion, by all means!

"If you had been insured, and were having regular check ups with a GP, could the condition have been caught earlier when it was cheaper to to fix?"

Unfortunately, no. Which was actually something that threw them off the trail, because what I have usually will have at least some symptomatic run-up (even if it isn't enough to really change what the eventual solution is). Looks like you're fishing for some disadvantage I was at due to being in the US sytem ;-) Truth of the matter is, it is impossible for me to say whether or not any aspect would have been better or worse in Canada, Europe, or India. I can only speak for the care I received, and as shitty as the whole deal was I am incredibly grateful for God blessing me with the care and type of people who were there to treat me and who made the whole ordeal as bearable as possible (being hospital-bound is shitty no matter where you are). Couldn't have asked for anything better, as they were amazing.

Posted by: Joe Author Profile Page at February 26, 2008 7:00 AM

Hey, DPU- the title of this article is “The Arabs and Obama.” Why don't you (and the people disputing which healthcare system sucks the least) take it elsewhere.

Mystery Meat, rsnyder, did Michael turn his blog over to you guys recently? Or don't you think it presumptuous to give orders on someone else's blog?

Or maybe you're just new to the internet and blogging? If so, conversations within comment sections often meander from the original topic, as side discussions come up. This is fairly normal, and there is no actual rule that they need to stay within the bounds of the blog post.

After you've been around for a while, you'll get used to it, and won't feel the need to be issuing directions and orders on another person's blog.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 26, 2008 7:37 AM

I'd call it Fascism; the capital is kept in private hands, but the State directs industrial policy.

Fascism is considerably more than directing corporate policy. If that were all that fascism was, then almost every government would be considered fascist.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 26, 2008 7:58 AM

health care- yawn!!!!

Let me extend a "Happy World Trade Center I" to all those terrorists that might be checking out Michael's excellent blog. It was on this day Feg 26 that 6 people died and 1000+ were injured. President Clinton took terrorism so seriously that he never once went to the site of the bombing. He also sent out the FBI to investigate. That showed you guys how serious he was. ahhh, the nineties. Nothing like sticking your head in the sand.

Don't worry Jihadis... America is about to revert to the Clinton & Carter Foreign policy. The Obama is coming...

Posted by: PeteDawg Author Profile Page at February 26, 2008 8:11 AM

Watch out Pete, you're off topic.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at February 26, 2008 10:47 AM

DPU- LOL, c'mon are you for real. It certainly has more relevance than the Canadian Health Care system.

Seriously, I do admire your tenacity. If you ever vacation in Napa I want to buy you a drink. Beer, Wine, Wheatgrass... They don't have an oxygen bar here, though. So your screwed if your into oxygen.

Posted by: PeteDawg Author Profile Page at February 26, 2008 3:00 PM

Buy DPU an ice cream cone. That's what he's promised Michael if he comes to Vancouver.

"....Fascism is considerably more than directing corporate policy. If that were all that fascism was, then almost every government would be considered fascist......."

Er, only the socialist ones (the difference btwn fascism and socialism is of degree, not kind). Does the Canadian government direct corporate policy in Canada? I doubt it.

No one said fascism was ONLY ordering businesses around. But that is one aspect of it. Dictators of whatever flavor and market economies don't mix.

Posted by: Yehudit Author Profile Page at February 26, 2008 8:10 PM

Iraqis have had a unique lesson in Islam. Violence Leaves Young Iraqis Doubting Clerics. NYT, 2008-03-04. BION. The left wants the US out ASAP so that this lesson cannot be consolidated and communicated to the rest of the ME.

Posted by: Brian H Author Profile Page at March 5, 2008 6:27 PM

I dont know how the Americans think about Obama But my advice DO NOT TRUST A MUSLIM

Posted by: Guivalu Author Profile Page at March 6, 2008 8:39 PM
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