The Best Of Taranto

I've pleaded with everyone, conservative and liberal scum alike to read James Taranto's daily Best of the Web column, but it would appear that my exhortations have been in vain. I know it's a lot to ask since his columns are long, and there's much throwaway humor, so I thought that, from time to time, I'd simply post the best aspects. And we begin with a recurring Taranto theme.

The always idiotic Paul Krugman, an economist who should even be writing about THAT subject, wrote a column back when in which he states categorically that all the horror stories we hear about the British health system "are false."

Mr. Taranto now cites many of them on a weekly basis and clearly intends to never let Krugman escape his outrageous pronouncement…


Great Moments in Socialized Medicine
"Patients who do not get the treatment that they need from the NHS within 18 weeks are to be given the legal right to free private care," reports London's Times:

The Cabinet agreed this week that the legislation, placing maximum waiting times on the statute book for the first time, should be rushed through Parliament before the next election.

Cancer patients, in particular, will receive funding for private treatment if they have not seen an NHS specialist within two weeks of GP referral.

Downing Street says that the two legal rights, which will be unveiled in next month's Queen's Speech, are designed to entrench the dramatic reduction of NHS waiting lists over recent years.

Hmm, so the British medical system has waiting lists. It also has death panels, another Times story suggests:

A father whose son was born with a rare neuromuscular condition will go to the High Court today to try to stop a hospital withdrawing support that keeps the child alive.

Doctors treating the one-year-old boy say that his quality of life is so poor that it would not be in his best interests to keep him alive. They say that they are supported in their action by the baby's mother. The couple are separated.

The child, known for legal reasons as Baby RB, was born with congenital myasthenic syndrome, a muscle condition that severely limits movement and the ability to breathe independently. He has been in hospital since birth.

If the hospital doctors succeed in their application it will be the first time that a British court has gone against the wishes of a parent and ruled that life support can be discontinued or withdrawn from a child who does not have brain damage.

And the Independent, a left-wing London paper, reports that "NHS whistleblowers are routinely gagged in order to cover up dangerous and even dishonest practices that could attract bad publicity and damage a hospital's reputation":

Some local NHS bodies are spending millions of taxpayers' money to pay off and silence whistleblowers with "super gags" to stop them going public with patient safety incidents. Experts warn that patients' lives are being endangered by the use of intimidatory tactics to force out whistleblowers and deter other professionals from coming forward.

On the other hand, according to former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, "In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We've all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false." That's a relief!


No matter the outcome of New York 23 tomorrow, I'm very pleased that the liberal Republican was forced to drop out. And that she made the point for all conservatives by turning around and endorsing her Demoscum challenger over the conservative Hoffman. Here's how Taranto sees it…


It looks as if we were right on Wednesday when we suggested that the Democrats had written off Dede Scozzafava, the Republican nominee for a special election to a New York state House seat tomorrow, and were waging a two-man race against the Conservative, Doug Hoffman. It was a busy weekend for Scozzafava, as the Washington Post reports. On Saturday, she dropped out of the race, and on Sunday, she endorsed Democrat Bill Owens

The Associated Press, reporting Saturday on Scozzafava's withdrawal from the campaign, described the larger implications this way:

Some have called the race a test of the GOP's future: whether traditional conservative ideology would lead the way forward or if a more inclusive approach would draw more people back to the party. Hoffman and his backers said Scozzafava was too liberal to truly represent the Republican party, specifically noting her support of abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

There's a scene in the 1984 rock mockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap" in which the band's manager is asked about its dwindling audience, and he says that "their appeal is becoming more selective." Before Scozzafava withdrew, her appeal was rapidly becoming more selective, with her poll numbers almost down to 11.

Of course in the artistic and commercial worlds, it is quite common to seek out a selective audience. But electoral politics is inevitably a form of mass marketing: A candidate wins not by carving out a niche but by getting more votes than anyone else. Call it being "inclusive."

So how is it that the AP's Valeria Bauman credits Scozzafava with "a more inclusive approach" than those of the candidates who actually seemed to be persuading people to vote for them? That's actually partly explained in the paragraph quoted above. "Her support of abortion rights and same-sex marriage" apparently were central to what made her "inclusive" in the Bauman's view. In practice, that support alienated people who disagreed on those subjects, but it seems Bauman doesn't consider those people worth including. The AP itself may be aspiring for a more selective appeal.

And Bauman isn't the only reporter to editorialize against Scozzafava's conservative detractors. The phrase: "too moderate" turns up four times in stories about Scozzafava on the New York Times Web site, three times in Times stories and once in an AP dispatch. All describe the reason that conservatives supposedly bucked Scozzafava–but all are the reporters' words. We'd be surprised if any actual conservative put the complaint in these terms.

To be sure, the question here is not whether conservatives would agree with the characterization of their views but whether it is accurate and fair. Let the following datum inform your evaluation of this question: A Factiva search shows that in the 2006 Connecticut Senate campaign, neither the Times nor the AP ever described Joe Lieberman's Democratic opponents as deserting him because he was "too moderate."

With reporters busy editorializing against conservative Republicans, liberal editorialists are forced to step things up to hold onto their own selective appeal. The Times's Frank Rich, a onetime drama critic who seems to have lost the sense that it's possible to be overly dramatic, describes the contretemps as "a riotous and bloody national G.O.P. civil war" and "a G.O.P. killing field." He claims that "the right has devolved into a wacky, paranoid cult that is as eager to eat its own as it is to destroy [President] Obama." He says that conservatives "would gladly see the Republican Party die on the cross," want to send Scozzafava "to the guillotine," and are committing "a double-barreled suicide." Also, they "are re-enacting Stalinism in full purge mode."

Oh, and they are exhibiting "seething rage . . . and a Freudian tendency to mimic the excesses of political foes." Frank also twice uses antigay slurs to describe tea-party protesters.

Sorry Frank, but you're way too moderate for us.


Here's a question to ponder… what are we doing writing on our views about things when Taranto usually says it all so much better?

One last thing… no less than the New York Times reports that half the jobs the Bobo administration is counting as saved are TEACHERS. You can draw your own conclusions.

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About tedwest

A longtime veteran of comedy and political forums, I decided that I needed a more restful venue because... well... I finally hate everybody. Except my wife that is... and my ex-wife.. and... no, that's about it. I lead about as simple a life as one can, preferring activities that include anything that doesn't involve going out and seeing YOU! And I particularly enjoy what I call "Get the Bitch" movies on Lifetime. You know the ones where the intended victim finally does something so incredibly stupid that she forfeits her right to live, and from that moment on you're rooting for the stalker. Of course, it rarely works out the way you want, but when it does, the feeling you get is... well, there's nothing else like it, other than, maybe, eating chocolate chip cookies. Oh, and I'm proudly anti-wildlife, both foreign and domestic, and anti-environment - especially foreign environments. I think Howard Stern put it best when he said, "If fifty percent of the population died tomorrow, I can live with that." And I feel the same about the other fifty percent, so together, we've pretty much got it all covered.
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