Fox News: the decider

As mentioned, I don’t watch any Fox News to make direct comments.  But Andrew Sullivan does, he’s decided that Ron Paul has his Republican endorsement (though, he still prefers Obama over any of these guys) and he’s quite mad about the way Fox is going after Ron Paul:

Notice how Wallace is entirely of the Republican Media Establishment. They (and his boss, Roger Ailes) have decided quite consciously to erase Ron Paul from coverage, or have discussion of him (as with Hannity’s dredging up the old racist newsletters as the first item when discussing Paul last night) loaded immediately with scorn, and derision. Notice how Wallace is already spinning a Paul victory as one that would discredit Iowa voters. He’s doing that not as an analysis after the event, but as spin before it. He’s basically saying that the votes of Iowans do not count in advance if they decide for Ron Paul. Between what Ailes demands and the voters want, there is no contest.

I think Drum largely refutes Sullivan’s hyperbole, but I’m interested in the point about the power of Fox News to determine things for Republican voters.  As mentioned, I think Fox marks the largest– and potentially insurmountable– obstacle to Gingrich winning the nomination.  If Roger Ailes decides Gingrich just cannot be the nominee the treatment that Ron Paul’s been getting will be even worse for Gingrich.  And for a Republican, there’s no overcoming that.

On not having children

Interesting post from Andrew Sullivan:

An anonymous philosopher recounts her struggle to convince her male doctors that she was, in fact, okay with a procedure that would leave her infertile. In the end, she got approval only after visiting a female physician:

The attitude of most of the doctors I dealt with made me feel like my preference for childlessness was somehow unnatural, and shouldn’t be given the same respect as most women’s preference for having children. And what upsets me most about this, on reflection, is not what happened to me specifically, but what must surely happen to many women like me.

There’s more, but I’m going to stop there to make a point.  Choosing not to have children is unnatural.  Reproduction, and the drive to do so, is a fundamental aspect of every single living organism.  One could easily argue that there are few thing more essential to our nature.  I get that some people don’t want to have children.  Fine.  Not to mention, it probably is best that people who don’t want children don’t try and raise them.  That said, it’s nonetheless unnatural.

Photo of the Day

From Reuters‘ best photos of 2011 compilation:

Caption: An aid worker using an iPad films the rotting carcass of a cow in Wajir near the Kenya-Somalia border, July 23, 2011. REUTERS/Barry Malone 

The photographer in me especially loves this compilation as it includes the camera settings for each photo.

An ounce of prevention = a gram of cure

I, like most liberals, used to buy the thinking that spending money on prevention actually saves money because you are avoiding more expensive medical procedures down the road.  Turns out it’s not really true.  At least for most procedures.  Does that mean we should forget about prevention?  Of course not.  Just that, alas, it’s no panacea and, like with the rest of medical care, we need to make sure that our preventative dollars are spent as smartly as efficiently as possible.  Sarah Kliff had a nice post summing up the issues last week:

Only 20 percent of those regularly used preventive measures are “cost saving,” reducing costs while improving the quality of health, the research found. The rest tend to buy improved health care but do so at a cost…

“The evidence of hundreds of studies over the past four decades has consistently shown that most preventive interventions add more to medical spending than they save,” Russell concludes…

How can this be? The idea that prevention saves money feels intuitive. “When we think of prevention, we tend to think of the individual who benefited,” Russell writes. We conjure up an image of the woman who caught breast cancer early, averting expensive treatments, or the man who brought his weight down and lived a long, healthy life. That, however, discounts all the mammograms that didn’t detect cancer and didn’t prevent anything and all the individuals for whom weight management programs didn’t work. All those costs add up to the point that most preventive interventions cost more than they save.

Of course, even if it costs more, we certainly should be willing to pay for improved quality of health.  And presumably we need to invest even more in that 20%.  The research Kliff reviews here concludes that some preventative treatments provide way more bang for the buck than others.  In a world of limited health care resources, these are the treatments that should really get our focus.  E.g.,

In her chapter, Russell also runs through what $1 million invested in a given treatment buys us in Quality Life Years. Investing $1 million in screening men over 55 for colon cancer would, according to the research, translate into a gain of 577 quality life years. Investing the same amount in cholesterol-lowering medications for high-risk, middle aged men would only translate into 12 additional quality life years. Not all preventive interventions, it turns out, are created equal.

Wow– if as if I wasn’t already skeptical enough about Statins.  Of course, if those are your 12 quality life years, you’ll be glad to have them, but if we cannot have everything, I’d like to see my money go towards increasing screenings and those 577 quality life years.

And, of course, in the future, I’ll make sure that I don’t try and argue for more preventative health care as a way to save money.  It would be awesome if it did, but I still think it’s worth arguing for dramatically improving many, many persons quality of life through preventative treatment, even if it costs something.

99% Win

Nice piece from Dave Weigel (who’s had a lot of really good stuff lately) about four things we can learn from a recent NBC/WSJ Poll.  Didn’t actually find all of them something we “learned.”  I.e., I’m pretty sure everybody already knows that everybody hates Congress.  That said, I was quite intrigued by this:

3) The 99 percent won, at least on messaging. Most people think that the wealth gap or the overall bad economy was the worst development of 2011.

Screen shot 2011-12-14 at 12.07.52 PM

I’m skeptical about how much “messaging” matters when you don’t have results to show off, but if the Occupiers hadn’t shown up, what would have been the conversation in the last three months of 2011? The Balanced Budget Amendment? The need for entitlement cuts? They really did change the conversation, even though the image of OWS has fallen from 32/35 percent negative/positive to 27/44 percent negative/positive.

Wow!  Seriously?!  “The wealthiest one percent getting richer and the middle class declining being” is the plurality winner for “the most disappointing event of the past year for you personally?”  Raise your hand if you could have ever predicted that 6 months ago.  As for whether “messaging matter” I would say that this kind of dramatic change in the political conversation is results.  In politics, the nature of the political agenda is hugely important and invariably affects the political outcomes.  Real life-changing effects may be down the road, but it’s hard to argue that this kind of change in our national political dialog is not an important (and very good) “result.”  It’s pretty clear that whatever happens to the Occupy movement, it has done tremendous good by focusing the attention of so many Americans on this very real problem.

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