In Their Own Words: Obama On Health, Holder On Race

Pay for your own damn health care

In an interview with Bill O’Reilly, President O’bama said

What I hear you saying is that the notion that us saying to people that don’t have health insurance, don’t make me pay for your health insurance, if you get sick, you have a responsibility to make sure you have coverage. There’s nothing socialist about that. That’s saying to Americans, we’re going each of us be responsible for our own health care.

The sentiments behind these words are not consonant. If each citizen is responsible for his own health care, then each citizen should pay should he become ill or not pay if he remains healthy. He may also choose to contact a bookie and bet he will become ill, taking whatever odds he and the bookie negotiate. If he remains healthy, he loses the bet; but if he sickens, he wins and the bookie pays. If he chooses not to place a bet yet he subsequently sickens, then the resulting health care bill is his burden, not mine, not yours, and not Mr Obama’s. This system is simple and can be called the personal responsibility scenario.

The other scenario is Obama care, or health care socialism. Here, some citizens are forced to pay, regardless of desire or need, into a bureaucracy tasked to dole a fraction of these taxes back out for government-approved “health care” procedures. Many citizens pay nothing. All citizens receive the same level of minimum care. Richer citizens can, by paying still more, operate additionally under the personal responsibility scenario—unless, as often happens, the government decides this is not “fair” and bans departures from its mandated system. Both citizens and health-care providers become subservient to an unelected, self-satisfied bureaucracy.

It is clear to anyone with a rudimentary mathematical ability that proper “insurance” can only be found in the personal responsibility scenario. To call the mandatory payments under Obama care “insurance” is a deliberate obfuscation; it is newspeak: any enforced payment is a tax and nothing else. This is true even if you don’t want it to be.

A cowardly attorney on race

Attorney General Eric Holder called the American people “essentially a nation of cowards” because they would not “openly” discuss the issue of race. Evidently his definition of “openly” departs from its usual sense. Its context suggests Holder had in mind an antonym of “openly”, but that he had become confused by the time the words reached his lips, a not unusual symptom of politicians and lawyers.

But never mind. It is another, non-cowardly statement on race that is of interest today:

“The facts are clear,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Intimate partner homicide is the leading cause of death for African-American women ages 15 to 45.”

Yet we also learn that

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Justice Department’s own Bureau of Justice Statistics, the leading causes of death for African-American women between the ages 15-45 are cancer, heart disease, unintentional injuries such as car accidents, and HIV disease. Homicide comes in fifth — and includes murders by strangers. In 2006 (the latest year for which full statistics are available), several hundred African-American women died from intimate partner homicide…but far fewer than the approximately 6,800 women who died of the other leading causes.

Our task is to identify how Holder came to say what he did given these statistics. There are only two clauses in Holder’s statement which can produce confusion, “the facts are clear” and “the leading cause.”

Now, “the facts are clear” is so often a prefix to political statements that it is the equivalent to a clearing of the throat. And when we line up cases of “the facts are clear” with the actual facts, we find no correlation. Thus, though the phrase has a definite, literal English meaning, it is instead an idiom whose meaning is roughly, “I’m beginning to talk.” Holder, therefore, made no mistake in using it.

“The leading cause” is more problematic for our Attorney General. Each word is clear, and together their only potential ambiguity is if there are two or more causes tied for “leading” yet only one is mentioned. This is not the case here, where there is more than an order of magnitude separating the “leading” from the “least” (say) causes of death.

Thus, the only possible conclusions are that Holder lied, that he spoke in ignorance, or that he confused the word “leading” with “least.” If Holder lied, then we know our highest officer of the law is willing to lie for political gain. If he spoke in ignorance, then he is sloppy and apt to rush to judgment on matters racial. But if he confused those two words, then we are in for a lot of trouble.


  1. JH

    I don’t know if Holder has lied, but it’s also possible that he relies on Saginaw News as his primary source of information. ^_^

  2. Mike B

    You’ve missed an option, Matt — his was misinformed by his research staff. Heads will roll!

  3. Briggs

    Mike B,

    Quite right: but I lumped that in with the “ignorance” category.

  4. Bruce

    I live in BC Canada. My wife at an earlier age than normalhad cataracts in each eye. She was going blind in one and the other wasn’t far behind. The cataracts were rapidly progressing.

    There was a 6 month waiting list for surgery on eye one, then we could get on the list for eye 2 and wait another 6-9 months.

    She had a terrible fall in the driveway thanks to that waiting list.

    I decided to go private and pay 1500$ to have the first eye done.

    In between booking the private surgery and the date of the surgery, the government of BC announced that private surgery would be illegal again (it had been legal and illegal several times in the past).

    We quickly changed the surgery date to the last day before it was illegal at some horrible hour early in the morning.

    The surgery was a success. And we got the 2nd eye done in the public system. (The first eye had to heal anyway). It was the same surgeon, but the surgery was done in the hospital instead of his clinic.

    Within a few months private surgery was legal again due to bad publicity about the waiting lists.

    Within a year or two the same private surgical company was contracted by the government to reduce the waiting lists by several months.

    Then bad publicity from the evil socialists ended that.

    The wait list for catacts is now anywhere from 3 to 30 weeks depending on surgeon and region.

    Don’t let Obamacare live. They WILL end private medical insurance.

  5. Mike B

    Well, he is the Attorney GENERAL, not the Attorney Butter Bar, or Attorney Staff Sargent. 😉

    He’ll blame it on the staff. Maybe even his weatherman.

    Totally OT, but you’re ex-military: my son stumped me the other day. If a Major outranks a Lieutenant, why does a Lieutenant General outrank a Major General?

    And also, in your experience, were Majors and Bird Colonels exclusively staff positions, with Captains and L. Colonels being the line guys?

  6. Ray

    An example of the truth of the old joke.
    How can you tell when a politician is lying to you?
    Watch his lips. If they are moving he is lying.

  7. Eric Dailey

    Things are much worse than this but you will never understand from the mainstream TV, press or internet.

  8. Briggs

    Mike B,

    Think of it like Latin numbers: lesser ranks in front of greater ones subtract from the greater ones the amount of the lesser ones.

  9. Mike B


    Thanks! That is a sweet explanation. And since my son is a numbers guy, he’ll dig it.

  10. William Sears

    Mike B.

    The reason for the ranks is quite simple when you consider that this pattern repeats itself through the army as follows:

    Captain, Lieutenant, Sergeant Major
    Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel, Major
    General, Lieutenant General, Major General

    In all of these the Major is in charge of discipline and has direct contact with the lower ranks. The Lieutenant does the bulk of the work (administrative or otherwise) and the full rank gets most of the credit.


  11. Doug M

    Also confusing for military ranks — an officer in the Navy is on a higher pay scale than an officer with the same rank in the Army. i.e. a Navy Captain and a Navy Liutenant are higher ranking officers than an Army Captain and an Army Liutenant.

  12. Sander van der Wal

    The title should be “Responsible for one’s own damn health care financing”. If you are responsible for your own health care you must become a surgeon yourself if you need an operation, and perform the operation yourself too.

    To the main point. Ideology is all very nice, but there is no reason why a bunch of private business bureaucracies are automatically better, or worse, than a state bureaucracy in getting people to get the health care they paid insurance for.

  13. dearieme

    “They WILL end private medical insurance”: could be, but it’s survived in Britain. There was a nasty spell when the last Labour government introduced the rule that if part of your treatment for a condition was undertaken privately, so must the rest be. But a bit of publicity in the papers about one particular case led them to withdraw that little bit of malevolence.

  14. Jeremy Das

    “…there is no reason why a bunch of private business bureaucracies are automatically better, or worse, than a state bureaucracy in getting people to get the health care they paid insurance for.”

    During my lifetime British industry has seen questionable nationalisations and privatisations. The National Health Service, in particular, has suffered the imposition of nonsensical policies based on ideology, both left and right wing, rather than rationality.

    I don’t know what the answer is but competent management, accountability and transparency to scrutiny are necessary, whatever the system. What inclines me a little towards the Briggsian view on the particular issue of health care is that the system always has to reconcile the matters limited resources and competition between incommensurate demands: it seems to me that the “value judgements” necessary to make such a decision are perhaps more likely to be hidden in a state bureaucracy, as it has been, to a great extent, in the British NHS.

  15. Andy Strada

    In the Soviet Union under Stalin, when the house organs began with the statement “As is well known….” it was a clear signal to those with a strong sense of self preservation that what followed was not known at all, probably contradicted the party line of as recently as the day before, and had no relation to reality. Perhaps Holder’s “the facts are clear” can serve the same useful signaling function.

  16. sylvain

    ”Our task is to identify how Holder came to say what he did given these statistics. ”

    “Intimate partner homicide is the leading cause of death for African-American women ages 15 to 45.” Well it is true if you remove from the equation data you don’t like. You know like they do in climate science.

    So after you remove death by accident and diseases.

  17. Janet C.

    If you look at Holder’s job, he’s telling the truth as it is defined by his job. The word “prosecutable” is ASSUMED to be understood when he talks about causes of death. He is not a General reporting to the CDC. Regina Benjamin, the CDC “General” lessened by “Surgeon”, reports that just one whiff of secondhand smoke will kill you, and she will also tell you that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, since 20% of the population are smokers. If everyone stopped smoking, their deaths would undoubtedly have to be reassigned to something else. Reassigning these deaths to other causes will cost taxpayers an unconscionable amount of money, but they are slowly migrating “major preventable cause of death” to “obesity” and have lowered the recommended BMI to help accomplish help this.

    BOTH generals seem to be saying that death is preventable, dooming ALL of us to need an infinite number of years of police support, health insurance, and government supplied anti-depressants.

    Luckily, I’m planning on dying eventually, so I’m not particularly concerned about improving my chances of living forever.

  18. Regarding the perversion of the word ‘responsibility’ — this has been going on for some time; in California, we have ‘financial responsibility’ laws requiring that we have automobile insurance if we want to be free to travel via automobile.

    How strange that we consider ourselves ‘responsible’ when we try to socialize costs, to push them off onto our fellow man (as we do when we purchase insurance).

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