With or Without Health Care Reform, We’re Screwed

Wikipedia is “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”

It’s also a resource many American doctors use to find medical information.

According to a survey of 1,900 physicians by Manhattan Research, a health care market research firm, nearly half of doctors going online for professional purposes reported using Wikipedia as a source of medical information. That number has doubled in the past year alone.

The threat is obvious. Can you imagine your doctor stepping out from the exam room, tapping away at his or her computer seeking the advice of Wikipedia? Research has documented the danger. A study from The Annals of Pharmacotherapy compared drug information from Wikipedia with the Medscape Drug Reference, a resource whose information is reviewed by pharmacists. Researchers found that Wikipedia omitted important information, including drug side effects. Another entry overlooked a commonly prescribed pain medication’s association with miscarriages.

Forget the debate over single payer health care.  Forget the talk about a public option.  Quality health care is a pipe dream if doctors are cheap, stupid, or lazy enough to rely on a nonauthoritative, easily vandalized resource like Wikipedia for health information.

A Typical Conservative

Writing at Big Hollywood, John T. Simpson describes his life as a conservative Republican:

I go to bed full of hate and wake up the same.  I hate blacks, Hispanics, gays, women, abortion doctors, liberals, Lefties, Democrats, you name ‘em, I hate ‘em if they’re not like me. I especially hate President Obama for being black. Just ask Janeane Garofalo, although being a Stalinist Socialist doesn’t help Obama’s cause any with me. Fact is, Obama could be a GOP Michael Steele Uncle Tom, and I’d still hate him even more than liberals hate Steele. Skin color trumps all. Thank God I was born the right color, or I’d probably kill myself. Wait, the hoods are dry! Be right back.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Joe is my hero and role model, Archie Bunker a distant second, Ted Nugent a close third. I have posters of all of them lining my walls, alongside such conservative Republican heroes as Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Richard Nixon, Adolf Hitler and Darth Vader.

I used to have one of Robert C. Byrd, but he lost me when he left the Klan and became the Conscience of the Senate. Whatever that means. Didn’t know the Senate had one. But I never understood that. How can a white guy in good conscience leave the Klan?

The “Bush lied, people died” crowd and their celebrity mouthpieces delight in encouraging these stereotypes among centrists, independents, and so-called “low information” voters.  It isn’t ignorance, it’s an ongoing political strategy at work every day in American classrooms and newspapers.

Unfortunately, it seems to be a winning strategy.  Ridiculing it is a good first step, but not one that will win elections.  Until conservatives can recapture their role in shaping the political narrative, their message will be ignored by the voters in the middle who are unwilling to align themselves with what they see as the party of hate.

Sarahcuda Unbound

Sarah Palin’s political career has been declared dead on the vine by a bandwagon teeming with armchair pundits and D.C. insiders.  The announcement that she would leave office before the end of her first gubernatorial term has spun the commentariat into a frenzy, their musings equal parts funeral dirge and “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.”  Her resignation is widely considered to be career suicide.

Do we really live in a country where a resignation is an act of political suicide, but serving as Klan kleagle is acceptable training for decades in the Senate?

Robert Byrd (D-KKK) cut his teeth as a recruiter for the Klan before becoming the longest serving member of the United States Senate.

Ted Kennedy (D-MA) drove his car off a Chappaquiddick bridge and failed to notify authorities, abandoning his 28-year-old passenger to death by drowning.  He is currently serving his ninth Senate term.

Unlike these men, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has no blood on her hands.  She doesn’t even have dirt on her cuffs, having beaten every charge in the litany of frivolous ethics complaints flung in her direction by the liberal attack machine. If men like Byrd and Kennedy remain successful in national politics, how can Sarah Palin’s resignation possibly be considered political suicide?

As mayor of Wasilla, chair and ethics officer of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin never cleaved to conventional political strategy. Why should she start now?  As The Other McCain observes, “Just because you don’t know what Sarah Palin is doing doesn’t mean that she doesn’t know what she’s doing.”

Sarah Palin is not a tragic case of political seppuku or a casualty of the liberal war on conservative women.  She is a success story unfolding before our eyes.  Assured that a competent lieutenant governor is on hand to take her place, Sarah Palin doesn’t have to sit back helplessly and allow the liberal obsession with her uterus and her daughters to impede the agenda she set forth when she became governor.

Palin is finally responding to the rallying cry heard from her supporters during the 2008 campaign: Free Sarah!

At the end of the month, the shackles will slide off, and with them, the gloves.  Sarahcuda will be unleashed, unbound, and free to speak her mind, unencumbered by the concern that Alaskans are paying for the pulsating red target affixed to her back by the chattering classes.  She’ll be free to take speaking gigs, campaign for conservative candidates, join a policy institute, or start a foundation of her own.

The talking heads have speculated that Palin’s resignation is an implicit victory for the politics of personal destruction, proof that relentless attacks are indeed the way to bring a politician to her knees.  Quite the contrary, Palin has ensured that savvy political strategists and pundits will think twice before working feverishly to intimidate a popular politician into resigning.  Liberal strategists aren’t shaking in their Uggs yet, but they will be once they experience Sarah Palin unrestrained by the formality of office and the boundaries of Alaska.

Amy Siskind, president of The New Agenda, called Palin’s announcement a “dark moment for our country.”  A stalwart Palin defender, Amy saw the announcement as evidence that sexism and the politics of personal destruction had triumphed yet again.  “What am I going to tell my daughter?” Amy wondered.

While Sarah Palin’s resignation may be a reminder of the misogyny and classism that plagued the last election season, it is also a vindication of her resilience and adaptability.  Palin did what all women find themselves wanting to do at some point in their lives: she opted out of playing the game on everyone else’s terms.  She decided to thumb her nose at the critics, plow through the obstacles, and shape her own destiny.

Amy can assure her 11-year-old daughter that Sarah Palin remains the very embodiment of choice and self-determination.  She can explain that a true leader goes where she’s needed most, and right now, Sarah Palin can accomplish far more for our country outside of the Alaska governor’s office.

This is not a day to write Sarah Palin’s political obituary.  Her vitals are strong.  She’s no one’s marionette and conservatives have a newly minted activist to lead their cause.  Sarah Palin will be free to be Sarah Palin.