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May 2012

Embarrassed yet?...The sequel

Check out this news story from AFP:

The White House on Wednesday shrugged off Polish demands to express more than mere 'regret' after President Barack Obama mistakenly referred to a Nazi Holocaust site as a "Polish death camp."

"We regret the misstatement, but that is what it was," said Obama spokesman Jay Carney, reiterating that the president "misspoke" during a ceremony awarding the highest US civilian honor to late Holocaust hero Jan Karski.

"He was referring to Nazi death camps in German-occupied Poland."

Hey, Jay, how can you "misspeak" when you're reading prepared remarks off a Teleprompter? The plain fact is that no one with an IQ above room temperature vetted the speech before Obama read it. Tell me again why I'm supposed to respect the office of the president—especially when it's quite clear that this man has zero respect for anyone except the man in the mirror. So yes, this statement of regret is also an embarrassment.

The double irony here, of course, is that Jan Karski never got any respect, nor was he listened to when it could have mattered. FDR, Churchill, and Felix Frankfurter, to name only the most prominent, did not believe (or care) what he had to say about the death camps.

Embarrassed yet?

The Telegraph's Nile Gardiner pretty much nailed it when he wrote: Barack Obama has insulted 38 million Poles with his crass and ignorant 'Polish death camp' remark.

Here's a key paragraph:

Weasel words from the White House will do little however to calm Polish anger. After all, these were carefully scripted remarks by the president reading off a teleprompter. Six millions Poles died at the hands of Nazi Germany during World War Two, including three million Polish Jews during the Holocaust. The president’s use of the term “Polish death camp” is hugely insulting to the Polish people, and will reinforce the growing image across Eastern and Central Europe of an American presidency that cares little for key US allies, especially against the backdrop of its controversial and weak-kneed “reset” policy towards Russia. For a US administration that likes to boast of “smart power,” this was an act of staggering historical ignorance as well as crass insensitivity.

Yes, friends, this one ranks right up there with Obama's comment that it is "unprecedented" for the Supreme Court to overturn laws.

Evidently, there is no limit to the gaffes and stupidity that his fan boys (and girls) will allow this pathetic empty suit, who, quite sadly, is our president. In Hans Christian Andersen's story, the public eventually realized that the emperor had no clothes, but I guess that sort of reality only happens in fairy tales.

Health care information technology: Is "IT" the answer?

One of the most highly publicized aspects of Obamacare involves the forced implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Billions of dollars have been set aside to encourage health care providers to develop "meaningful use" of EHRs.

My latest HND piece takes a hard look at EHRs, and the general impact of technology on health care. I note, for example, that health care is the only field of endeavor whereby technology has increased, rather than decreased costs. I delve into the dark side of why the government is really pushing EHR implementation, and how they are missing the boat on monitoring outcomes.

Also included is a plug for an up-and-coming computer tech support company, based in New England.

Read the complete article.

Why Facebook doesn't have any friends

There are numerous articles on the Web about the Facebook IPO fiasco, which ended up making money for only a very few insiders. I had wondered—from the outset—how the geniuses behind this social networking giant figured on monetizing their website.

The secret way, of course, would be to sell private user information to businesses. The public way would just be to sell advertising. How original!

Compare search engine advertising, which targets people actually looking for a particular product or service to Facebook's plan, which at best can only target vague demographics, who may or may not have any intention of buying anything. And, as it is, with more users accessing Facebook via smart phones, the ad possibilities are even more limited.

More than that, people are making way too much of all this personal data coming from Facebook's users. What, pray tell, is a marketer really going to do with it? Perhaps the technology does exist to intercept messages indicating an imminent purchase, which will then broadcast a relevant ad at that moment. How do you think the average consumer would react to such an incredibly intrusive move?

Advertising is only tolerated when it can be ignored, and that proverb seems to have been lost on the brain trust. Maybe Zuckerberg should propose a paid version of Facebook with no ads. Then, we would see just how essential Facebook really is. At least the spammers "like" it.

Can caffeine become a drug of abuse?

This week's HND piece looks at the world's number one psychoactive drug, and those rare instances in which it actually can be abused.

Back in 2002, the so-called "CABs" or Caffeinated alcoholic beverages were introduced. It did not take very long before these were widely abused by youth—the principal "benefit" being that one could achieve a state of "alert intoxication." Of course, they were still impaired, and in some cases could reach near toxic levels of alcohol, since the usual protective mechanism of falling asleep would not occur. Driving was another problem.

The FDA forced most of these products off the market, but now there is new wrinkle: Caffeine powders, which can be added to any beverage. These are cheaper to obtain and are easier to use than the CABs, and have caused quite a controversy.

Read the complete article.

Liz Warren is a sick joke

Blogger William Jacobson, over at Legal Insurrection, brings us the definitive statement on senatorial candidate Liz Warren's Fauxcahontas fiasco.

Retired academic Robert Greenberg and others have long observed that lying is a form a initiation for liberals. They lie all time, of course, and every lie that is uttered demonstrates that the liberal liar is proving his trustworthiness in his cause.

As David Yeagley notes: He is earning his place in the party. "It is a political genuflection. The liar has branded his soul for the cause. Lying is an established method of social management. And there is no market for unmitigated truth."

Incredibly, now the Warren campaign offers the cookbook defense.

I only make a big deal about this since it is quite definitely a big deal to Warren. The lie worked for a long time, Liz, but now you've been called on it. After this plays out, we can ask her why she continues to use the name "Warren," even though she divorced Mr. Warren in 1978, marrying Bruce Mann in 1980, whom she is still married to.

Meeting Evil

Underappreciated by most critics, but you should really check this one out. Fortunately, it is available as a video-on-demand. There's much more going on here than just a killer-on-the-rampage thriller. A number of mordant themes are hidden within this little shocker.

Read my complete review.

The dangers of going off-label with prescription drugs

This week's HND piece explores a phenomenon that is more widespread than most people think. For starters, some estimates peg the extent of this practice at around 20 percent of all prescriptions written.

Not to make too fine a point of it, but since the use is off-label, by definition, there is little if any conventional scientific validation of these drug indications. Of course, given the state of science these days, as well as the politics of drug approvals, some of the best-selling FDA-approved drugs don't have much science behind them, either.

For the most part, off-label use is based on plenty of anecdotal evidence that such practices are safe and effective—unless the off-label use is strictly driven by cost. Sadly, that is definitely the case regarding the off-label use of Avastin®—a cancer drug—instead of Lucentis®, for the treatment of neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration. Lucentis carries an FDA approval for this indication, and Avastin does not.

To make matters worse, part of the reason that Avastin is cheaper than Lucentis is that practitioners are compounding individual doses of it from bulk supplies, and many cases of infection are attributable to such activities. As you might suspect, these eye infections can be quite serious.

But, as we have said so many times in the past, the very most important thing in health care—on a superficial level, anyway—is cost, so by all means keep on compounding. I guess such practices are are whole lot easier than actually addressing the real sources of out-of-control health care costs.

Some day, we can talk about the outrage whereby at least 40 percent of all radiology is done for defensive purposes, only. Think that might be driving up health care costs? Then there's the indisputable fact that hospital residents (except for surgeons and anesthesiologists) spend at least 70 percent of their time on paperwork. For primary care docs is can be as high as 90%. Trust me, these factoids are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Eliminate waste and fraud, and you can save at least half of the current health care budget. Probably much more than that.

Read the complete article.