Obama to Address Congress on “Health Care Reform”

President Barack Obama will pitch his plan for government-controlled medicine in an address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, September 9, during prime time, according to various news reports. Look for outright lies and deception from this president on this catastrophic legislation. Like Bush pushing Medicare drug subsidies through Congress, by one vote after time on the clock had expired, President Obama will do anything to force this morally bankrupt idea into law.

Pop Music: Whitney Houston’s ‘I Look to You’

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The most anticipated comeback album (I Look to You by Whitney Houston) in recent memory is a good effort.

Available through iTunes and on compact disc (CD), I Look to You, which I reviewed on CD, is neither terrible nor terrific and it is definitely worth a listen. The troubled singer’s previous work includes a multitude of inspirational songs, such as “The Greatest Love of All” (her bestselling cover of the song from the biographical film, The Greatest, about boxer Muhammad Ali) and other megahits. This 11-song collection, with mid-range ballads, light rhythm and blues and a softer, less manic vocal style, is a realistic start. She sounds like a damaged pop star who is learning to crawl all over again. I am cheering for her success.

Welcome back, Whitney.

Is Marvel Comics Deal the End of Walt’s Disney?

Disney Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Robert Iger, briefly profiled in Newsweek in this gushing piece, announced yesterday that the Walt Disney Studios is acquiring the lucrative new Hollywood mini-studio Marvel Comics (Spider-Man, Iron Man, X-Men) for $ 4 billion. Marvel’s a solid player with potential and Disney is one of the best studios and both have their own relatively consistent brands.

What does one add to the other in creative terms? Disney’s driving philosophy had been, until recently, an American, which is to say benign, sense of life expressed with positive characters in story-driven material, whether in a theme park (Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure) or in a movie. Marvel’s brand of comic book characters is rooted in marginally heroic, or at least not completely anti-heroic, cartoon figures (The Incredible Hulk) with broad appeal. Both derive success from plots that seem to attract general audiences.

Unlike Pixar Animation Studios, which Disney also acquired under Mr. Iger, Marvel’s catalog does not possess a quality that can easily or identifiably be assimilated into Disney’s wholesome, family entertainment. Sure, the Marvel pictures are noticeably less cynical than the competition, but that’s not saying much. This move further dilutes the Disney brand and may make the studio more relevant in the short term at the expense of being markedly less original in the long term. It has been 15 years since The Lion King, 20 years since The Little Mermaid, and 65 years since Disney released the classic Dumbo in movie theaters. I doubt that the un-Disneylike Enchanted, Pixar’s middling Up, or anything with Hannah Montana will be remembered with as much affection. While Marvel makes good popcorn movies, their stories hardly express childlike wonder, adventure, and innocence, something Disney used to imagine and reimagine in timeless tales. Besides, with politically correct Disney’s ban on smoking in movies, it’s hard to imagine Iron Man’s alter ego, Tony Stark, lighting up the occasional cigar, which raises the question of whether this hyped deal may end up as a lose-lose proposition that signals the end of the legendary Walt’s creative influence in an age of dying Americanism.

Dominick Dunne, 1925-2009

Writer Dominick Dunne, a voice of reason, particularly during the outrageous trial of the Butcher of Brentwood, O.J. Simpson, died yesterday. Mr. Dunne was a Hollywood studio executive, author of The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, and he was the survivor of a murder victim (his daughter, Dominique). His articles were published in the insufferably trendy Vanity Fair but he is best remembered by this writer for his unwavering sense of justice and his cogent reports from the Los Angeles courtroom calling out a monster that was literally getting away with murder.

Summer of Socialized Medicine

Amid talk that the administration will re-name its plan for socialized medicine after the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy and re-package the national health care campaign as an American tribute to a 47-year veteran of the U.S. Senate who persistently opposed capitalism, comes word that the President of the United States will deliver the eulogy for Kennedy, who died yesterday. This is an especially swift public announcement and a clear signal that the White House intends to use the senator’s death as a platform for re-launching its controversial and ominously undefined proposal for government-run medicine.

Watch for the White House to do precisely that and look for their biggest accomplices to be Republicans. Every major leader of the Grand Old Party (GOP)—Romney, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Palin, Huckabee, McCain—accepts the moral premise of socialized medicine, that health care is a right. Not one major Republican legislator has mounted an ethical challenge to the administration’s plan, which is the most practical and only serious grounds for opposition. To the contrary, McCain urges compromise, Gingrich, who abandoned Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) in the 1994 Contract with America, supports government intervention, and the others, especially religionist Romney, who enacted a state-run health system when he was governor of Massachusetts, share the President’s philosophy that health care is a right. The case for capitalism is being made by the Ayn Rand Center, on the airwaves by Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and by a grass-roots coalition of Americans in congressional offices, town halls, and Internet forums.

Sen. Kennedy understood the nature of the battle, which is why he incrementally but conclusively held out for what he once had within his grasp in his negotiations with the Nixon administration: economic fascism in medicine—an anti-capitalist system in which the medical profession, including the doctor, hospital, insurer, pharmaceutical business, and other producers, superficially operate as a “private” business while actually being controlled by the state. Kennedy, stung by the scandal of his actions at Chappaquiddick (which derailed his 1972 presidential candidacy), rejected the pragmatic President Nixon’s offer for de facto state-sponsored medicine. Kennedy took the slower approach, carving an intricately complicated system (try reading his HMO Act or the subsequent acts creating PPOs) forcing Americans into a mongrel system of government dictates which conditionally allows for what amounts to socialism with a dollop of free market competition. Forty years later, we are living in the system he created, marching toward totalitarianism in medicine. Unless Americans wake up, the nightmare lives on.