ORWELL WATCH….Should pain and suffering awards to victims of medical malpractice be capped at $250,000? Or something higher?
“There is no particular magic in $250,000 as opposed to $350,000,” Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 3 Republican in the House, said after the vote. Blunt said the goal was simply to put patients first.
Putting patients first? Can I just say that I hope Roy Blunt never sees fit to put me first? I could do without his help, I think.
PARMENIDES’ FALLACY….A few days ago Philip Bobbit wrote in the New York Times about Parmenides’ Fallacy, the problem of comparing the present to the past instead of comparing the present to other possible presents based on different choices that might have been made. For example, he says it’s probably true that we are worse off now than we were before we invaded Afghanistan, but if we hadn’t invaded we’d be even worse off.
This reminds me of another way of looking at this, a method apparently endorsed by Robert McNamara during the Vietnam War. This is from Daniel Ellsberg’s book Secrets (p. 141):
McNamara said, “Dan, you’re the one who can settle this. Komer here is saying that we’ve made a lot of progress in pacification. I say that things are worse than they were a year ago. What do you say?”
I said, “Well, Mr. Secretary, I’m most impressed with how much the same things are as they were a year ago. They were pretty bad then, but I wouldn’t say it was worse now, just about the same.”
McNamara said triumphantly, “That proves what I’m saying! We’ve put more than a hundred thousand troops into the country over the last year, and there’s been no improvement. Things aren’t any better at all. The means the underlying situation is really worse! Isn’t that right?”
I said, “Well, you could say that. It’s an interesting way of seeing it.”
The punchline, of course, is McNamara’s own statement to the press ten minutes later:
Gentlemen, I’ve just come back from Vietnam, and I’m glad to be able to tell you that we’re showing great progress in every dimension of our effort. I’m very encouraged by everything I’ve seen and heard on my trip….
HONORED DEAD….I did a little web surfing after I wrote the post about Ginny Brown-Waite, the congresswoman who’s introducing a bill to dig up all the soldiers buried in France and Belgium and ship them back to the United States.
Just so everyone gets a good idea of what this nitwit is proposing, here’s a picture of the beautiful Colleville-sur Mer cemetery in France, overlooking Omaha Beach on the Normandy coast. It is one of 14 in France and Belgium operated by the American Battle Monuments Commission and is built on land that France ceded to the United States “in perpetuity without charge or taxation.”