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3801  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: VDH: (In)Equality on: January 14, 2014, 11:18:58 AM

Great post!

Hanson:  "The problem with destroying liberty in service to mandated sameness is obvious, driven by Hesiod’s  second, destructive envy: It has never worked, because it is contrary to human nature — both man’s acquisitive habits and the fact that we are not all born into the world equal in every respect. Instead, forced equality erodes personal initiative, undermines the rule of law, ruins the honesty of language, and requires a degree of coercion antithetical to a free society."


If people don't choked up on emotion when they hear about liberty and freedom, then look at the efficiency side of it, getting everyone to do and be their best.  Inequality is the step-ladder.  If all incomes are the same, then they are low and there is no step up.  Wouldn't everyone like to think that a year from now they will be more skilled, more experienced and more valuable as a worker, wage earner or business owner than they are right now - and get paid more for it.   You in your prime and at your peak is the upside of you at the beginning with no experience or skills.  Do we really want no upside or to keep placing more limits on it?  The question should be how to get all people to realize their potential, not how to diminish those who did.


Hanson:  "The irony is that free people usually create far more wealth than the coerced, which makes the lower echelons better off, a fact that reminds “equality” is usually about empowering progressive elites rather than materially helping the poor."

Wasn't that exact point made recently here by our own G M ?!  )

3802  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Slate: 'The Democrat most likely to challenge Hillary', Brian Schweitzer on: January 14, 2014, 10:39:12 AM
It won't be Hillary so we might as well start looking at the other Dems.  I suggested Hickenlooper (Colo) but he will first be bogged down in a reelection contest.  Enter two term Governor of Montana Brian Schweitzer, he turned down the chance to run for an open Senate seat and headed to Iowa.  Move this guy up on the Hillary enemy list.

Two interviews, first a video on Iowa public tv: http://www.iptv.org/iowapress/episode.cfm/4116/video

Second is slate: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/01/brian_schweitzer_interview_the_former_montana_governor_is_the_most_likely.html

I just don’t think his administration [Pres. Obama] has been very good at doing things, about organizing things. It’s not just about the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. As governor I had four years to work with the Bush administration and four years to work with the Obama administration, and they’re just not good at getting things done.

Q: And how did Bill Clinton rank? Do you have any worries about the economic team than ran the place at the end of the ’90s, for example—about them coming back?

Clinton had a very good run. It was eight years of peace and prosperity. But do you recall what the music was, blaring, after they were elected?  Fleetwood Mac, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.” So what do we play next time? The Beatles, “Yesterday”? In England, a baby’s born and they know he’ll grow up to be king someday. We’re not England. We’re America.
3803  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Can't we at least agree to ban late term abortions? on: January 14, 2014, 09:33:05 AM
It seems to me that the longer you wait and the more you need to mull the decision over as the fetus develops, the more you admit there is another life involved.  At some point this goes from women's rights, rape victim, mistake etc. to ending an innocent life.  Can we all at least agree on that? 

The answer, according to the Supreme Court and this NY Times editorial, is NO:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/14/opinion/abortion-rights-a-good-ruling-stands.html?ref=opinion&_r=1
3804  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Another Senate Dem in trouble, Kay Hagan will not join Obama on visit to NC on: January 14, 2014, 09:11:19 AM
http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/senate-races/195248-hagan-wont-join-obama-in-nc
Hagan won't join Obama in North Carolina

President Obama won't be joined by Sen. Kay Hagan aboard Air Force One when he travels to Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday for a speech on the economy.

A spokeswoman for the North Carolina Democrat, who faces a tough reelection battle this fall, told The Associated Press the senator will remain in Washington to attend to Senate business.

Last week, Obama said he would join with companies and colleges at the speech to promote high-tech manufacturing programs. The address will be held on the campus of North Carolina State University.

Recent polls in the state suggest Hagan's reelection chances are a tossup, with the lawmaker garnering 43 percent approval and 49 percent disapproval in a Public Policy Polling survey released last month.

Hagan held a 2-point lead over state House Speaker Thom Tillis and was tied with the Rev. Mark Harris and nurse Heather Grant in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups addressed by PPP, a Democratic-leaning firm.

Obama didn't fare much better in the survey, with 44 percent of North Carolina residents saying they approve of his job performance. Half of the state's residents say they disapprove of ObamaCare, and 65 percent say the implementation has been unsuccessful.
3805  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 80% come to healthcare.gov for the subsidy, young people not signing up on: January 14, 2014, 08:53:26 AM
Obamacare, also known as Generational Theft 2.0, is advertising aggressively to young people.  It's hip, it's cool to go to the exchanges and get covered.  It is also kind of a silly (and wasteful) exercise to advertise that which will shortly be mandated.  We need young, healthy people who won't use the services to sign up and pay to cover old sick people who will sign up and use/over-use the services.

Real ads to sell things have prices in the ads: iphones, cars, tires, furnaces.  Healthcare coverage is just hip, and easy!  Just a click or two and give away every personal piece of information you have away from new coverage.

So how is the government healthcare ad campaign to young people going?

Besides the disappointing total number of people signing up, less than a quarter of them are young people when the targeted percentage was 40%.  

With its first public disclosure of Obamacare demographic data, the Department of Health and Human Services said that of the 2.2 million who enrolled in new health plans through federal and state exchanges by Dec. 28, just 24 percent were between the ages of 18 and 34. …

The White House, however, originally estimated that 2.7 million of a projected 7 million people — or nearly 40 percent — enrolling in Obamacare by the end of March would be from the youngest demographic.


http://washingtonexaminer.com/quarter-of-obamacare-sign-ups-are-young-adults-short-of-target/article/2542085

79% of all signups are eligible for subsidies. The small minority who do not receive subsidies (21%) are obviously not enough to pay the freight for the 79% who get government money, so it is hard to see how Obamacare can ever add up as a sustainable program. Unless the administration assumes that it will be an endless drain on the federal budget.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/01/obamacare-numbers-arent-adding-up.php
3806  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government programs: War on Poverty, Robert Samuelson on: January 13, 2014, 11:43:21 AM
Robert Samuelson, Washington Post:

"The War on Poverty's success at strengthening the social safety net... should not obscure its failure as an engine of self-improvement."

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/01/13/how_we_won_--_and_lost_--_the_war_on_poverty_121197.html
3807  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics of Health Care: Ezra Klein, What Liberals Don’t Get About Single Payer on: January 13, 2014, 11:40:14 AM
Ezra Klein is a liberal commentator, is correcting liberals here, and has a liberal idea of where healthcare should go.  Opinions and solutions aside, I think he does a pretty good job here getting at key facts on health care systems and participants.

What Liberals Don’t Get About Single Payer
By Ezra Klein Jan 8, 2014   Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-08/what-liberals-don-t-get-about-single-payer.html

Documentarian Michael Moore greeted the introduction of Obamacare with an admission many liberals will cheer. “Obamacare is awful,” he wrote.

Its awfulness, Moore said, stems from “one fatal flaw: The Affordable Care Act is a pro-insurance-industry plan implemented by a president who knew in his heart that a single-payer, Medicare-for-all model was the true way to go.”

Like Moore, I’d prefer a more nationalized health-care system. But his analysis relies on a common mistake that distorts both the benefits of single-payer systems and the deficiencies peculiar to Obamacare.

Insurers are the bogeymen of American health care. That’s in part because they do a lot of the unpopular stuff: They’re the ones who charge you money for health care, who say you can’t get something you want, who your bosses blame when they deduct more money from your paycheck to cover health costs. And it’s hard to see what value they add to the system.

Yet the problem with the Affordable Care Act isn’t the insurance industry. In fact, the main benefits of nationalized health care can be achieved in systems with hundreds, even thousands, of for-profit insurers.

Insurers aren’t even where the big money goes. In 2009, Forbes ranked health insurance as the 35th most profitable industry, with an anemic 2.2 percent return on revenue. To understand why the U.S. health-care system is so expensive, you need to travel higher up the Forbes list. The pharmaceutical industry was in third place, with a 19.9 percent return, and the medical products and equipment industry was right behind it, with a 16.3 percent return. Meanwhile, doctors are more likely than members of any other profession to have incomes in the top 1 percent.

In general, Americans don’t use more health care than citizens of other countries. But we pay a lot more for the health care we do get. Data gathered by the International Federation of Health Plans show that an MRI costs, on average, $1,121 in the U.S. and $363 in France. An appendectomy costs $13,851 in the U.S. and $4,782 in Switzerland. A birth by cesarean section costs $3,676 in the U.S. and $606 in Canada. A bottle of Nexium -- a common acid-reflux drug -- costs $202 in the U.S. and $32 in the U.K.

The dirty truth about American health care is that it costs more not because insurers are so powerful, but because they’re so weak.

There are few truly single-payer systems in the developed world. Canada has one, as does Taiwan. Most countries rely on many, many insurers. Germany, for instance, has more than 150 “sickness funds.” The Swiss and Dutch health systems look a lot like Obamacare’s health-insurance exchanges. In France, about 90 percent of citizens have supplementary health insurance. Sweden has moved from a single-payer system to one with private insurers. Yet all these countries pay vastly less for drugs, surgeries or doctor visits than Americans do.

Why? Because in every case the government sets prices for health-care services and products. Insurers in Switzerland don’t negotiate drug prizes with Pfizer. The Swiss government simply sets its drug prices and lets Pfizer decide whether to sell in Switzerland -- or not.

“The problem is that in the U.S. payers are fragmented while in other countries they are unified even if there are many insurers,” said Gerard Anderson, director of the Center for Hospital Finance and Management at Johns Hopkins University.

In the U.S., insurers negotiate with hospitals and drug companies on their own -- and they pay more as a result. In fact, because of their weak negotiating position they frequently use whatever price Medicare is paying as a baseline and then, because they lack the power to strike a similar deal, add a percentage on top. Joshua Gottlieb, an economist at the University of British Columbia, found that when Medicare increases what it pays for a service by $1, private insurers increase their payments by $1.30.

That leaves the U.S. with the worst of both approaches: Prices aren’t set by the market, but they also aren’t set by the government. Consequently, Medicare’s negotiating power is weakened by the threat that drug companies or hospitals will opt to do business only with higher-paying private insurers. We simultaneously miss out on the efficiency of a purely private system and on the savings of a purely public one.

If insurers lose on negotiating with medical providers, however, they’re much better than the government at innovating on insurance design. Co-pays and deductibles aren’t popular, but they work. Many insurers are experimenting with ways to create incentives for better health, including using personal technology -- everything from e-mails to smartphone cameras. (The disastrous introduction of the Obama administration’s HealthCare.gov website hardly instills confidence in the government’s capacity to exploit digital medicine with similar efficiency.)

“Single payer isn’t a panacea,” said Uwe Reinhardt, a health economist at Princeton University. “The magic they have is setting rates. But neither Medicare nor Canada has done anything innovative on the delivery side. Taiwan is trying a little bit but not a whole lot. By and large they just pay bills.” The limitations of single-payer systems became clear during the health-care debate, when the Congressional Budget Office projected that premiums for a public option would be higher than premiums for private insurance -- unless a public option could avail itself of Medicare’s pricing power.

A health-care system that followed international best practices would direct the government to set rates. Or it would let insurers band together and negotiate rates collectively -- a practice called “all-payer rate setting.” But it wouldn’t need to eliminate private insurers. It’s good for consumers to have a choice of insurers, who have real incentives to innovate and devise better ways to keep customers healthy and costs down.

It’s health-care providers -- not insurers -- who have too much power in the U.S. system. As a result, they have the most to lose if health-care prices fall. But, as is often the case, political power flows in part from popularity. So politicians who routinely rail against for-profit insurers are scared to criticize -- much less legislate against -- for-profit hospitals, doctors or device manufacturers (though drug companies come in for a drubbing now and then). These are the people who work every day to save our lives, even if they make us pay dearly for the privilege.
3808  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ted Cruz' will gain a new friend: Meet US Senate candidate Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska on: January 13, 2014, 11:31:14 AM
Good, long article on one of the US Senate seats that Dems will most certainly lose this year. 

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/368081/obamacares-cornhusker-nemesis-john-j-miller

41-year-old Benjamin Eric Sasse is a fifth-generation Nebraskan
high-school valedictorian
Harvard, “Not because of superior academics, but because of inferior athletics,”
Master’s degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md
Ph.D. in history from Yale,  (For the record, I selectively admire good academic credentials!)
Spent his summers “walking beans and detasseling corn” (weeding soybean fields and controlling corn pollination)
Chief of staff at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy
Assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services
During the final two years of the Bush administration, Sasse dealt with health policy every day
Held debates with former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean
President of Midland University, in his home town of Fremont, one of the fastest-growing colleges in the Midwest
String of high-profile endorsements: Senate Conservatives Fund, Club for Growth in November, and congressman Paul Ryan

"One of the reasons we wound up with Obamacare is because conservatives didn’t communicate an alternative.”
Sasse recommends a three-point approach: End the tax bias that has turned health insurance into a perk of employment, allow consumers to buy policies across state lines, and give states more responsibility for their social safety nets. “Democrats may be the party of bad ideas, but Republicans too often are the party of no ideas — and bad ideas will beat no ideas every time,”
3809  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Hill: Hillary's hit list on: January 13, 2014, 10:57:11 AM
A must-read for anyone obsessing on the upcoming Hillary candidacy.  When you look back at the way the rats fled the ship last time - at the first sign of a credible alternative, the inevitable looks far less inevitable.

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/195188-hillarys-hit-list
3810  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The New Race for the Arctic: on: January 13, 2014, 10:47:47 AM
"Surely the Navy, and this left wing Pravada are incorrect since global warming is false. "

I also detected sarcasm though I have been batting 0.000 when trying to read Bigdog's mind.

The WSJ is right wing only on the editorial page and 'mainstream' throughout the rest, IMO.   The caption of the map is a good MSM/Pravda example:  "Scientists forecast the ice will further extend its annual retreat..." published under ice maps of 2020 and 2030 drawn as if the models are accurate, the science is settled and the lines are already known.  By "scientists forecast" do they mean all scientists, or just the literal plural, meaning two or more.  US Navy is making plans based on IPCC accuracy?  [2013 ice coverage was the] "sixth lowest in recorded history".  That refers to what time frame - reliable satellite data goes back to about 1979.  What portion of earth's 4,540,000,000 year history is that?  The most recent "annual retreat" was the greatest annual ice coverage gain in recorded history, meaning thirty some years, not 4.5 billion.

"incorrect since global warming is false":  I don't know anyone who believes global warming is false, but straw arguments can be fun!  Wouldn't a person have to deny there was an ice age in order to deny there has been warming?  What some of us allege is that the predictions of the models, as illustrated on this map, and the claims of the alarmists, such as that Florida will be mostly under water shortly, are false.  2020 is not that far off.  We will see.  If the models are correct and global warming is straight line, why the 17 year pause?

The larger point relative to the US Navy, mostly unmentioned in the story, is that there are significant territorial disputes in the Arctic and armed conflicts could arise, ice or no-ice.

-----------------------------------------

Meanwhile, if the cause is warming and the area affected is global, similar routes will be opening in the Antarctic (or did we just find out otherwise):

NASA Announces New Record Growth Of Antarctic Sea Ice Extent,  22 Sept 2013
http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/natur/satellitenbild-der-woche-antarktis-meereis-erreicht-rekord-ausdehnung-a-928703.html

http://www.livescience.com/39720-antarctica-ice-record-highs-2013.html
Sea ice surrounding Antarctica hit a record high in August and is on track for another record-breaking month in September. Clocking in at a stunning 7.2 million square miles (18.7 million square kilometers), last month's sea ice extent was 4.5 percent above the 1981 to 2010 average and the largest extent since record-keeping started in 1979, according to data released today from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in its monthly State of the Climate Report.

3811  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: January 10, 2014, 02:03:03 PM
"hoping that confronting the 'facts' and the logic will find its way back to the emotions."
How is that working for us?


Lousy, agreed, though we are winning roughly half the elections with no leader or clear message.

I know you are right about emotions and I fully support that effort, but I don't know how to change emotions first.  

Continuously and consistently confronting false 'facts' and failed logic is still necessary; liberals are not entitled to their own set of 'facts':  Reagan made the economy worse.  Energy production is unregulated.  This will only affect the top two percent.  Ted Cruz shut down the government.  We ended the war in Iraq.  Poor people are poor because rich people are rich.  Republicans want dirtier water and dirtier air.  Democrats care more about the poor.  Young people will do better under Obama.  The housing crash was caused by the failure of the free market.  Healthcare was a free market before Obamacare.  Minimum wage raises incomes.  Not building the pipeline (or investments in crony solar) will help us move away from oil.  Compassion is measured in dollars spent.  A 3% increase is a slash in a program.  Al Qaida is on the run.  Etc. etc.  Most of these get left un-rebutted most of the time.  You can keep your health plan.  Except for the hard left, people's emotions begin to shift when they find out they are being lied to.
3812  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: January 10, 2014, 12:16:17 PM
Thank you, good points.

"most people "think backwards"-- they choose the position that expresses their emotions, then learn facts and reasons to justify them. "

This is true.  I support the search for how to address these people emotionally. 

For me, the only way I know is to persuade backwards, hoping that confronting the 'facts' and the logic will find its way back to the emotions.  We can react with nail the bastards before knowing the cause or the facts, but I can't let the implication go that this spill (or the financial crisis of 2008) happened because government got too small.  Regulated failures happen when government gets too incompetent, not too small. 

The best way to get government more focused and effective in its crucial responsibilities like protecting public health and safety is to quit sending it into the areas that are not its responsibility.
3813  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Water on: January 10, 2014, 11:51:48 AM
...what responsibility should our legal system place upon the company responsible for all this?

I assume they are liable for damages.  The loophole I fear is bankruptcy, but I don't believe bankruptcy releases anyone from environmental liability.  One might look back at Johns Manville for precedent.  They were the largest, richest company in Denver when I lived there and filed bankrupt because of the link between insulation of the past and asbestos poisoning.  They paid billions in settlements, bounced around in courts, and now are a Berkshire Hathaway company. http://www.asbestos.com/companies/johns-manville.php

If facts prove the thrust of the original post to be correct, criminal negligence would be on the table as well.  Accidents happen but environmental laws are not something to mess with.
3814  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: January 10, 2014, 11:16:29 AM
Ranting back...

What follows is a post by a FB friend on FB:

"So, WV is looking at one of the worst disasters it has ever experienced. Its directly related to energy companies. It's clear they didn't inform the DEP of any leaks or contamination. Water is 9 counties or more isn't even fit to TOUCH. You can't even boil it clean. If you boil it it put the hazards in the air.

"Seriously, someone takes an AR to a school and dramatically kills 12 little kids and the national media is all over it in seconds. People immediately rally behind banning dangerous weapons. BUT if we slowly poison our children with the water they drink, see a pattern of ignoring safety and environmental concerns and destroy the land we love, no one jumps to ban anything or even put tighter restriction or regulation on HAZARDS? Something is very, very, wrong and it needs to change."

I post this cry of anger and frustration here because it is one that we should be answering and frankly our side really does not.  It is something we need to rectify.

First, terrible tragedy!  Second, how is this political?  "Our side" favors recklessness?  "Their side" favors safety?  We don't have enough environmental safety laws?  Government has been hands off on energy?  I don't think so.  

"...see a pattern of ignoring safety and environmental concerns and destroy the land we love"

  - The water quality in America has never been better in our lifetimes.  Industrial safety has never been better.  Distorting facts doesn't solve problems.  The totalitarian governments with NO private sectors ALWAYS have worse environmental records than freer countries.  What industry in America is more highly regulated than energy?

"It's clear they didn't inform the DEP of any leaks or contamination."

  - That's sounds to me like a multiple felony allegation which may be true, but not a sign of an unregulated industry or a political side that doesn't care.

When you are in the middle of crisis, Fukushima or this one, it might seem reasonable to question everything and accuse everyone.  I have no idea what failed here.  In between crises, we as a society are constantly opposing policies that would power us more safely.  For example, pipelines are safer than trucks and rail, we know that yet we block pipelines.  Fracking natural gas is cleaner than coal, yet we attack fracking.  Transporting gasoline is dangerous yet we have no new refineries in America since the 1970s.  Nuclear is safer and cleaner than all the rest and we block it at every turn.  We let investments in shiny green objects like Solyndra distract us away from real investments in real solutions.  And those people who oppose all major energy sources seem to consume the most.

Clean water will be delivered into disaster areas using fossils fuels made possible by the fact that we are (still) a very prosperous, energy-based society.

In this case, the regulations and safety inspections already required should have prevented this and the company at fault should pay for the cleanup.  I don't understand the implication that our side thinks people should not be responsible for their actions.  Isn't it exactly the other way around.

Like a plane crash to an airline, a chemical spill to an energy company is not how you maximize profits.
3815  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Water, WV chemical spill on: January 10, 2014, 10:35:59 AM
Mentioned in Crafty's 'way forward' post.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/09/us/west-virginia-contaminated-water/

Memo to many in West Virginia: Don't drink the water
CNN  updated 11:07 AM EST, Fri January 10, 2014

Many without water after chemical spill

(CNN) -- Nearly 200,000 people in West Virginia awoke Friday to stark warnings about their tap water: Don't drink it. Don't cook with it. Don't even brush your teeth or take a shower.

The reason: a chemical spill in the Elk River in the central and southwestern parts of the state.

The news sent shock waves through the region as the worried headed to hospitals in search of reassurances they were OK.

A spokeswoman for West Virginia American Water Co., Laura Jordan, said the company had received calls about illnesses, but none of them were serious.

"We just advise customers if they are feeling something that isn't right to seek medical attention."
West Virginia\'s governor declared a state of emergency in nine counties.
West Virginia's governor declared a state of emergency in nine counties.

Many appear to have done just that.

"Our emergency rooms have been very busy with individuals unnecessarily concerned and presenting no symptoms," Charleston Area Medical Center said.

The water restrictions affected the hospital, too. It put into place linen conservation and alternative cleaning methods and turned away all but emergency patients.

Residents moved quickly to stock up on bottled water.

"We managed to get the last five bottles of water at 7-Eleven last night," Charleston resident Beth Turley told CNN. "We are OK right now on water. We're just drinking sports drinks and teas, things like that right now."

"There was a run on water at every Walmart and convenience store in the county," said Kent Carper, president of the Kanawha County Commission.

On Thursday evening, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency for nine counties.

"Right now, our priorities are our hospitals, nursing homes and schools," the governor said. "I've been working with our National Guard and Office of Emergency Services in an effort to provide water and supplies through the county emergency services offices as quickly as possible."

The declaration affects West Virginia American Water customers in Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam and Roane counties.

The company said on its Facebook page that the spill along the Elk River contaminated the Kanawha Valley water system.

President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

The leaked chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, is harmful if swallowed, said Thomas Aluise, a spokesman for the state's Department of Environmental Protection. It is used to wash coal before it goes to market.

Jordan, the water company spokeswoman, said she first suspected something was amiss Thursday morning when she noticed an odor like licorice in the air en route to work.

The Department of Environmental Protection and the Emergency Operations Center investigated, and they found the spill coming from a 48,000-gallon tank at Freedom Industries, a chemical storage facility about a mile upriver from the West Virginia American Water plant.

A toxicologist with Freedom Industries told the water company there is "some health risk" associated with this chemical, Jordan said.

"The safety sheet indicated there could be some skin or eye irritation if you come in contact, or possibly harmful if swallowed, but that's at full strength of the chemical," Jordan said. "The chemical was diluted in the river."

The do-not-use advisory was issued just before 6 p.m. as a precaution, she said.

She said the company was working with DuPont and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine the level of contamination. "We will determine a course of action at that point in time," she said.

No one from Freedom Industries immediately responded to a telephone call seeking comment.

Officials weren't sure when the water advisory would be lifted in the nine-county area.

"You've got 60 miles of this system, and it's full of this water," said Carper of the Kanawha County Commission. "And people aren't using the water."

Meanwhile, Jordan said that a dozen water tankers had arrived by Friday morning from Pennsylvania and that West Virginia American Water has bought four truckloads of bottled water from a local supplier.

The emergency's ripple effects included the closure Friday of the state supreme court of appeals in Charleston, courts in Boone and Lincoln counties, and the cancellation of classes at West Virginia State University.
3816  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics: Labor force participation rate worst since January 1978 on: January 10, 2014, 09:52:20 AM
http://www.cnbc.com/id/101326268
...continued shrinkage in the labor force. The labor force participation rate tumbled to 62.8 percent, its worst level since January 1978.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/u-job-growth-weakest-three-134853368.html
U.S. job growth weakest in three years

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/china-overtake-u-worlds-top-110600120.html
China to overtake U.S. as world's top trader

Other than American workers not working and American businesses not hiring, and other countries passing us up in world trade, things look pretty good. 
3817  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama made income inequality worse, whole nation should be a promise zone on: January 10, 2014, 09:32:41 AM
I am a bit busy right now, so I thank Sen. Ted Cruz for expressing my exact reaction to the President's new political economic proposals.
-------------------------------------------
http://washingtonexaminer.com/ted-cruz-blames-economic-inequality-on-president-obama/article/2541934

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, mocked President Obama's new "Promise Zones" initiative on Thursday...

"It's altogether fitting that President Obama is today talking about income inequality, because income inequality has increased dramatically as a direct result of his economic policies," he said.

Cruz criticized Obama for proposing more government spending and debt without addressing taxes and regulations that were choking job growth, suggesting that he was running out of new ideas to stimulate the economy.

"All of America needs to be a real 'Promise Zone' — with reduced barriers to small businesses creating private-sector jobs — and we should start by repealing every word of Obamacare, building the Keystone pipeline, abolishing the IRS and rolling back abusive regulations,” Cruz said.
3818  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the Republicans - Chris Christie on: January 10, 2014, 09:23:14 AM
Bringing CCP comments here:  "As for Christie I admit if he is thrown out (he won't resign) I know my taxes will go even higher.   And half of NJ will be cheering for that.

Yet I won't accept a liar.  I won't accept anyone who abuses his/her power.   He is full of crap.  He knew.  Just like Obama knew.  Just like the Clintons knew.

This kind of behavior from right OR left has got to stop.

We need people who are honest.  First and foremost.   For God's sake is this too much to ask?"


CCP is far closer to the situation than me.  My reaction was that IF he is telling the truth, then the way he handled it was masterful.  And if he is not, and caught, he is done (unlike Clinton, Obama, and other Dems caught in similar or worse situations).

CCP believes he is lying.  Maybe time will tell.  My question: If we go back in his political career and governance, are there (other) instances where he was proven a liar?  In the case of Clinton and Obama, looking back now, the answer is clearly yes.  With Christie, if so, I didn't know that.
3819  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Marco Rubio on: January 09, 2014, 11:27:20 PM
Extended segment, Sen. Marco Rubio takes questions from Bret Baier and the "Special Report" panel composed of George Will, Steve Hayes, and Juan Williams.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2014/01/09/special_report_online_sen_marco_rubio_answers_questions_from_the_panel.html
3820  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs: Port Authority Bridge Lane Closures on: January 09, 2014, 11:04:09 PM
The Chris Christie scandal in a nutshell, as explained in the media:  The Port Authority has a program to close lanes on a key bridge at busy times in order to study how much worse the congestion and traffic delays will be as compared to the usual lousy to horrible.  Some aide of Christie allegedly triggered this program for the wrong reasons, to retaliate against a Mayor who would not endorse the Governor for reelection. 

I disagree.  The scandal is the existence of such a program in the first place. 

3821  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government programs, spending: War on Poverty at 50 years on: January 08, 2014, 10:47:56 PM
$20.7 trillion was spent on the war on poverty.  This graph shows (nearly) 50 years of data.  Looks like no improvement to me.


http://socialwork.columbia.edu/sites/default/files/file_manager/pdfs/News/Anchored%20SPM.December7.pdf
http://www.nationaljournal.com/all-powers/what-the-50-year-war-on-poverty-tells-us-about-government-20140107
3822  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glibness 2007: My plan would maintain forces to target all al Qaeda within Iraq on: January 06, 2014, 11:18:19 PM
Falluja now lost, where did the plan go??

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBfXbidebWw
"In ending the war we must act with more wisdom than we started with." 
“That's why my plan would maintain forces in the region to target all al Qaeda within Iraq.”

So what happened to Obama’s “plan?” Where are the “forces in the region” ready to “target all al Qaeda within Iraq?  Those aren’t very serious questions, as everyone knows Obama was just lying.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/01/as-iraq-slides-downhill-what-happened-to-obamas-plan.php
3823  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 06, 2014, 07:07:11 PM
I'm not complaining, but to imagine the high temp in sunny Mpls today, 'real feel' of -45 , walk into a refrigerator, close the door and feel 80 degrees of warming.
3824  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: January 06, 2014, 06:56:46 PM
I'm fine with plastic in general being seen as having substantial external dis-economies.

I don't see that justifying a ban.   Charging something commensurate with the economic damage, perhaps 6 cents per bag, $600 for willful or neglectful littering and $6 million for harmful municipal level dumping might accomplish the same thing without ending personal choice.

The theory for banning uses also empowers government to decide which personal driving or air travel is allowed.  Healthcare is now a public cost so personal risk taking is now has an external dis-economy, same theory justifies banning my favorite sport - mountain skiing - or your industry.

Please click through the links at http://savetheplasticbag.com/ for an opposing view of the environmental effects.  A paper product not recycled is worse for the environment than a plastic bag in a landfill.  A re-usable bag used less than 13 times is worse than a grocery plastic bag re-used once.  What about plastic bags for garbage?  Allow these but not those?  Based on what?  Decided by whom?  I use only re-used bags for garbage now, but that could be gone.  Unbagged garbage has other issues.  Good luck stopping on the slippery slope in just the right place with no math or science-based, evidentiary requirement. 
3825  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Environmental issues: The Plastic Bag on: January 05, 2014, 03:27:14 PM
May I suggest pricing in the externality and/or banning the act of putting the bags in the oceans rather than have a government body decide ("plastic bags will still be available for bulk items such as nuts, fish, meat, grains, and fresh produce" - from the Hawaii link) which uses are valid and which are not.

I have no affinity to plastic bags although when I have one, I re-use it.  I have seen similar thinking - ban it - destroy valuable liberties. 

If the argument is that strong, why not use persuasion.  OTOH maybe there arguments on the other side.  See below.

"If people are too stupid to wash the re-usable bags..."  - We are talking about 97% of the people according to U. of Penn study cited.  Their E coli can quickly become your E coli.  "Person-to-person contact ...transmission of the bacteria can occur."  http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/infectious_diseases/ecoli/Pages/index.aspx  The fact is, if you ban plastic but offer paper, people take paper - triple the greenhouse gas emissions, 4 times the water consumption to produce, emits methane in the landfiull.  If you offer neither, the cloth re-use bags carry harmful bacteria, also viruses. http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/205/11/1639.full  We could require people to wash their bag.  But we might also ban hot water for washing, ban bleach, ban soaps or ban certain soaps.  (Not being facetious.)

Bags are not the only thing made of plastic and nearly all things have external dis-economies.  What principles guide us to ban this and not that?  Rock solid "science"?
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/environment/article2143689.ece

SERIES OF BLUNDERS TURNED
THE PLASTIC BAG INTO GLOBAL VILLAIN

March 8, 2008
By Alexi Mostrous

Scientists and environmentalists have attacked a global campaign to ban plastic bags which they say is based on flawed science and exaggerated claims.

The widely stated accusation that the bags kill 100,000 animals and a million seabirds every year are false, experts have told The Times. They pose only a minimal threat to most marine species, including seals, whales, dolphins and seabirds.

Gordon Brown announced last month that he would force supermarkets to charge for the bags, saying that they were “one of the most visible symbols of environmental waste”. Retailers and some pressure groups, including the Campaign to Protect Rural England, threw their support behind him.

But scientists, politicians and marine experts attacked the Government for joining a “bandwagon” based on poor science.

Lord Taverne, the chairman of Sense about Science, said: “The Government is irresponsible to jump on a bandwagon that has no base in scientific evidence. This is one of many examples where you get bad science leading to bad decisions which are counter-productive. Attacking plastic bags makes people feel good but it doesn’t achieve anything.”

Campaigners say that plastic bags pollute coastlines and waterways, killing or injuring birds and livestock on land and, in the oceans, destroying vast numbers of seabirds, seals, turtles and whales. However, The Times has established that there is no scientific evidence to show that the bags pose any direct threat to marine mammals.

They “don’t figure” in the majority of cases where animals die from marine debris, said David Laist, the author of a seminal 1997 study on the subject. Most deaths were caused when creatures became caught up in waste produce. “Plastic bags don’t figure in entanglement,” he said. “The main culprits are fishing gear, ropes, lines and strapping bands. Most mammals are too big to get caught up in a plastic bag.”

He added: “The impact of bags on whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals ranges from nil for most species to very minor for perhaps a few species. For birds, plastic bags are not a problem either.”

The central claim of campaigners is that the bags kill more than 100,000 marine mammals and one million seabirds every year. However, this figure is based on a misinterpretation of a 1987 Canadian study in Newfoundland, which found that, between 1981 and 1984, more than 100,000 marine mammals, including birds, were killed by discarded nets. The Canadian study did not mention plastic bags.

Fifteen years later in 2002, when the Australian Government commissioned a report into the effects of plastic bags, its authors misquoted the Newfoundland study, mistakenly attributing the deaths to “plastic bags”.

The figure was latched on to by conservationists as proof that the bags were killers. For four years the “typo” remained uncorrected. It was only in 2006 that the authors altered the report, replacing “plastic bags” with “plastic debris”. But they admitted: “The actual numbers of animals killed annually by plastic bag litter is nearly impossible to determine.”

In a postscript to the correction they admitted that the original Canadian study had referred to fishing tackle, not plastic debris, as the threat to the marine environment.

Regardless, the erroneous claim has become the keystone of a widening campaign to demonise plastic bags.

David Santillo, a marine biologist at Greenpeace, told The Times that bad science was undermining the Government’s case for banning the bags. “It’s very unlikely that many animals are killed by plastic bags,” he said. “The evidence shows just the opposite. We are not going to solve the problem of waste by focusing on plastic bags.

“It doesn’t do the Government’s case any favours if you’ve got statements being made that aren’t supported by the scientific literature that’s out there. With larger mammals it’s fishing gear that’s the big problem. On a global basis plastic bags aren’t an issue. It would be great if statements like these weren’t made.”

Geoffrey Cox, a Tory member of the Commons Environment Select Committee, said: “I don't like plastic bags and I certainly support restricting their use, but plainly it’s extremely important that before we take any steps we should rely on accurate information. It is bizarre that any campaign should be endorsed on the basis of a mistranslation. Gordon Brown should get his facts right.”

A 1968 study of albatross carcasses found that 90 per cent contained some form of plastic but only two birds had ingested part of a plastic bag.

Professor Geoff Boxshall, a marine biologist at the Natural History Museum, said: “I’ve never seen a bird killed by a plastic bag.




 
3826  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: HI plastic bag ban on: January 05, 2014, 10:06:29 AM

Sympathetic to the choice of bag or who should decide your choice of bag?  What could possibly go wrong with govt or simple majorities making the right choices for us?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/07/plastic-bag-ban_n_2641430.html
Plastic Bag Ban Responsible For Spike In E. Coli Infections

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2478235/How-bag-life-POISON-Expert-warns-reusable-carriers-contaminated-E-coli.html
97 per cent of people admit to never washing their reusable bags.

(http://citizensforconservationtt.org/main/index.php/culherit/culheritcarnival/142-stick-fighting  Stick-fighting banned, http://www.bbc.co.uk/tribe/tribes/suri/  Laws passed to ban stick-fighting)

3827  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Japan's Earthquake and nuclear radiation on: January 04, 2014, 12:10:22 PM
The scary words on the video at the link do not match the data or the observed story.  Radiation is measurable.  Steam is steam.  Let's get a story of this with real data.
3828  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Marijuana Overdoses - Hoax story on: January 04, 2014, 12:00:44 PM
I double checked before posting and found this is a HOAX.  Not very funny IMO.
http://www.snopes.com/politics/satire/overdose.asp

Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization
January 2nd, 2014

893242-drugs-overdoseColorado is reconsidering its decision to legalize recreational pot following the deaths of dozens due to marijuana overdoses.

According to a report in the Rocky Mountain News, 37 people were killed across the state on Jan. 1, the first day the drug became legal for all adults to purchase. Several more are clinging onto life in local emergency rooms and are not expected to survive.

"It's complete chaos here," says Dr. Jack Shepard, chief of surgery at St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver. "I've put five college students in body bags since breakfast and more are arriving...

"We are seeing cardiac arrests, hypospadias, acquired trimethylaminuria and multiple organ failures.
3829  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: damn hippies on: January 04, 2014, 11:49:46 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_Israel
From the entry:
Israel has maintained a system of socialized health care since its establishment in 1948, although the National Health Insurance law was passed only on January 1, 1995. The state is responsible for providing health services to all residents of the country, who can register with one of the four health service funds....
Participation in a medical insurance plan with one of the four national HMOs is compulsory for all citizens, who can select and participate in any one of them regardless of factors such as age, gender, or pre-existing conditions.

I think the importance of this post was missed and deserves addressing.  I was confused by the title and others went off on other tangents.  If I am not mistaken, Bigdog is asking, if this works in Israel, why not here?
3830  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Energy Politics & Science: Pipelines are safer on: January 04, 2014, 11:44:11 AM
Stymied by special interests, our President thinks we are better off moving our energy by the least safe means.  So what does that mean when the expected disaster happens in your town?  300 ft fireballs exploding in the Casselton, ND derailment, take a look at the news video - or this picture:
http://abcnews.go.com/US/casselton-residents-urged-evacuate-oil-train-collision/story?id=21376966


By not drilling, not refining, not transporting oil we will get off oil.  Meanwhile, how did the Pres. get to and from Hawaii, does anyone know?  What powered the 'Global Warming - Missing Antarctic Ice" expedition?  What powered the rescue?  It is 2014 and...WE USE OIL.  How about making it available, affordable, safe and clean until we move on shortly to other power sources?  We know the stats, why not make things as safe as economically possible.  Trucks and trains are less safe than pipelines.

http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/ib_23.htm
Pipelines Are Safest For Transportation of Oil and Gas

http://www.fraserinstitute.org/uploadedFiles/fraser-ca/Content/research-news/research/publications/intermodal-safety-in-the-transport-of-oil.pdf
When it comes to transporting oil, pipelines are the safest option, trumping trains and trucks

http://www.transcanada.com/pipeline-safety.html
Pipelines are the safest method for the transportation of petroleum products when compared to other methods of transportation. Steel pipelines provide the safest, most efficient and most economical way to transport crude oil.

http://www.pipeline101.com/overview/safe.html
Pipeline systems are recognized as both the safest transportation mode and the most economical way of distributing the vast quantities of oil from production fields to refineries and from refineries to consumers.


3831  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: truth, from a surprising source on: January 04, 2014, 11:19:55 AM

I like this piece a lot!  If not for the profanity I would pass it to my daughter and all young people I know for inspiration and direction.  Instead I will have to learn it better and try to communicate it myself the best that I can.
3832  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Henry Olsen, National Affairs: Conservatism for the People on: January 04, 2014, 11:13:50 AM
This is a fairly long and very good, scholarly article that contends no one since Reagan correctly understood how to position and communicate conservatism to the people.  I find he is very, very close to nailing the real problem of the struggling conservative movement and is not right on but very close to nailing the solution or 'the way forward'.  However I find that he cherry picks his facts and examples in the attempt to prove his point.

Link: http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/conservatism-for-the-people  (Read it all.)

Olsen contends that conservatives lately have advanced liberalism by constantly being against something instead of for something, and thus losing elections or winning by surrendering to their view.

Reagan OTOH had " profound respect for the aspirations of the common person".

"conservatives will not be given an opportunity to implement their vision until they show they understand and respect the average person's life."
...
Excerpt: Reagan's heirs have misunderstood his legacy because they have taken it to be largely a political legacy rather than an intellectual one. The political legacy was supposedly simple: Run against the liberals. As a result, for 30 years conservative campaigns have been run against the liberals, with liberals defined as people who opposed tax cuts and supported welfare expansion. In doing so, modern conservatives have fallen into the pre-Reagan trap of emphasizing what they are against rather than what they are for. This allowed them to avoid touching the core, expensive programs of the entitlement-welfare state, which have remained widely popular. Unfortunately, however, it also left conservatives powerless to change the course of those programs, leaving them powerless to change the course of our government more broadly.

This simple fact explains why we keep getting bigger government when we elect people who are running against liberals. This has happened time and again throughout the post-Reagan era. A revealing moment in the first presidential debate in 2012 helps us see why. In that debate, President Obama tried to pin Governor Romney down on how he would pay for his tax cuts by alleging that Romney would cut education spending. Romney responded, "No, I'm not going to cut education spending," thereby taking $91 billion in federal spending off the table.

Why would he do that? If you haven't thought about what government's role in education is — if your campaign is based on what you are not instead of on what you are — you get trapped in trying to explain what you're going to cut and what you're not going to cut. Because you're not offering any coherent, compelling vision for how the federal government can help improve education, the cut-or-fund question stands in for the question of whether you care about the issue. When this happens, by the time the campaign is over you have nothing left to cut or reform — and government grows. The post-Reagan era has thus resulted in an anti-liberal public consensus, but not a pro-conservative one.
...
The sense that the average person has a moral life that is worth leading and pursuing — and that he sometimes needs government to help him on his way — is central to American political identity but is disconnected from much of today's conservative thought. The Obama campaign created its majority by exposing this disconnection relentlessly.
3833  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: AQ retakes Fallujah on: January 04, 2014, 10:45:52 AM

"Ending two wars" meant surrendering.  The year after we left Iraq was one of the bloodiest years there.  No we did not negotiate to keep a military base there as a deterrent to this sort of thing or to attack future terrorist camps as they spring up.

How many American dollars and lives went into securing Falluja?  Ah, who cares.  Or as the former Secretary of State would say, "what difference does it make now".

The Honolulu Star captured the President's reaction to this troubling development:

http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/breaking/20140103_Obama_ending_2week_Hawaii_vacation_Saturday_night.html?id=238665611
3834  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: François Hollande concedes taxes 'too heavy' on: January 02, 2014, 10:01:29 AM
No kidding

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/francois-hollande/10546181/Francois-Hollande-concedes-taxes-too-heavy-in-admission-that-annoys-all-sides-in-France.html

"the unpopular socialist president - weakened by tax increases, rising unemployment and a shrinking economy..."
3835  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America on: January 02, 2014, 09:46:41 AM
New Year's morning is usually a quiet time in downtown Minneapolis, sometimes chosen for the scheduled implosion of vacant old building.  Yesterday at 8am and 4 below a building of Somali immigrants exploded.   MSP has the most Somalis anywhere outside of Mogadishu.  Some have ties to al Qaida.  A few were tied to the Kenyan mall massacre.  So far, this is just a fire.  The FBI is looking into it.

3836  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NY Daily News: If you like your President... on: January 02, 2014, 09:39:53 AM
http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/prez-article-1.1559989

If you like your Prez . . .
A very bad year for Mr. Obama
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, December 29, 2013

President Obama’s second inaugural conveyed a hunger to lead.

“We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect,” he said. “We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years and 40 years and 400 years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.”

Only 11 months later, a term that began with heady pledges and apparent momentum is in wreckage. Confidence in Obama has sunk like a cinder block hurled into the East River.

The embarrassing showing centers on his bungled implementation of Obamacare, raising doubts about its very viability, and extends to disastrous international zigs and zags that have sapped U.S. credibility among allies and foes. Call it the very worst year of this presidency.

Over and again in 2009, Obama promised: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”

Meaning: Efforts to extend coverage to the 40 million or 50 million Americans without plans would not disrupt life for the vast majority one bit.

They are 11 words that will go down in history most charitably as reckless spin, far more likely as a brazen lie, because this year, 4 million Americans got cancellation notices out of the blue.

Example: Deborah Persico, a 58-year-old, self-employed lawyer and two-time Obama voter who supported the health-care law, then found her policy cancelled, and only far more expensive policies available on new exchanges.

She told PBS’s “Newshour” that a new plan would cost her $5,000 more a year.

Why? Persico’s explanation: “The representative told me to look in the booklet that they had sent me, and I looked in the booklet. And in that booklet is a list of services that the ACA covers. Well, I have every one of those services, except maternity coverage and pediatric care.

“Now, I am 58 years old. The chance of me having a child at this age is zero. So, you know, I ask the President, why do I have to pay an additional $5,000 a year for maternity coverage that I will never, ever need?”

And that was just one piece of a nightmare rollout. HealthCare.gov, the engine that makes the new law work by letting the uninsured shop for plans, had just about the most screwed-up debut of any website in the history of the Internet. State exchanges were little better.

The Obama administration projected a half-million signups in the month of October alone. The President is now likely to celebrate jumping over that bar by year’s end, with fears that no matter how well the website eventually works, the broad public may not buy what Obama is selling.

Little wonder popular support for Obamacare ended the year at just 35%. Sixty-two percent of the American people now oppose a law that, especially in the early years, was supposed to deliver great benefits at low costs.

Adding salt to the wound: Obama has little to offer for the slow-motion crisis of joblessness that continues to squander human potential.

A 7% unemployment rate and monthly job creation now in excess of 200,000 conceals a labor participation rate — meaning, the percentage of working-age Americans who are an active part of the workforce — of just 63%. That’s near a generational low.

Obama can explain the problem. He can excoriate Republicans. But he cannot actually do anything to change the reality on the ground, and that is the ultimate measure of a President.

There are times when a President’s global stature buoys his standing at home. Not now.

As a civil war raged in Syria, fueled by the blistering brutality of Bashar Assad’s regime, Obama has looked worse than disinterested. He has seemed indecisive, if not bamboozled.

In 2012, the President had laid down a famous “red line” on chemical weapons. If they were used, there would be serious consequences. Read: American military consequences.

They were used. Women and children were killed as if they were insects. The commander-in-chief hemmed. He hawed. He punted to Congress, which balked. The Russians rushed in with a plan to dismantle the chemical weapons program; it may or may not work.

To this day, the Syrian murderer keeps killing his people.

On Iran, we’ve seen a similarly deflating pattern. The President has repeatedly promised that a nuclear-armed Tehran regime, which would fund terrorism with impunity and threaten Israel profoundly, is unthinkable.

Yet after punishing sanctions were at last bringing the regime to heel, Obama blinked and buckled — lifting some of them in exchange for the hollow promise of a six-month enrichment freeze.

Not least, but last, the administration failed a test with implications both at home and abroad:

After a thief of American secrets made off with thousands upon thousands of classified documents, Obama could not seem to credibly explain the surveillance powers the U.S. has wielded for years.

In a technologically complex landscape in which Islamist terrorists are plotting to kill, it is necessary for the nation to maintain an elaborate and sophisticated foreign intelligence apparatus.

But the President has acted haltingly as, month after month, the leaks have revealed the unimagined powers and practices of the National Security Agency. His potent powers of persuasion failed him, and us.
(more at link)
3837  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Will: The price of political ignorance is more government on: January 02, 2014, 09:34:28 AM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/george-will-the-price-of-political-ignorance/2014/01/01/7dbe2936-7311-11e3-9389-09ef9944065e_story.html

By George F. Will, Published: January 1, 2014

It was naughty of Winston Churchill to say, if he really did, that “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Nevertheless, many voters’ paucity of information about politics and government, although arguably rational, raises awkward questions about concepts central to democratic theory, including consent, representation, public opinion, electoral mandates and officials’ accountability.

In “Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter” (Stanford University Press), Ilya Somin of George Mason University law school argues that an individual’s ignorance of public affairs is rational because the likelihood of his or her vote being decisive in an election is vanishingly small. The small incentives to become informed include reducing one’s susceptibility to deceptions, misinformation and propaganda. And if remaining ignorant is rational individual behavior, it has likely destructive collective outcomes.

Somin says that during the Cold War in 1964, two years after the Cuban missile crisis, only 38 percent of Americans knew the Soviet Union was not a member of NATO. In 2003, about 70 percent was unaware of enactment of the prescription drug entitlement, then the largest welfare-state expansion since Medicare (1965). In a 2006 Zogby poll, only 42 percent could name the three branches of the federal government.

Voters cannot hold officials responsible if they do not know what government is doing, or which parts of government are doing what. Given that 20 percent thinks the sun revolves around the Earth, it is unsurprising that a majority is unable to locate major states such as New York on a map. Usually only 30 percent of Americans can name their two senators. The average American expends more time becoming informed about choosing a car than choosing a candidate. But, then, the consequences of the former choice are immediate and discernible.

Many people, says Somin, acquire political knowledge for the reason people acquire sports knowledge — because it interests them, not because it will alter the outcome of any contest. And with “confirmation bias,” many people use political information to reinforce their preexisting views. Committed partisans are generally the most knowledgeable voters, independents the least. And the more political knowledge people have, the more apt they are to discuss politics with people who agree with, and reinforce, them.

The problem of ignorance is unlikely to be ameliorated by increasing voter knowledge because demand for information, not the supply of it, is the major constraint on political knowledge. Despite dramatic expansions of education and information sources, abundant evidence shows the scope of political ignorance is remarkably persistent over time. New information technologies have served primarily to increase the knowledge of the already well-informed, which increases the ability of some to engage in “rent-seeking” from the regulatory state, manipulating its power in order to transfer wealth to themselves. And if political knowledge is measured relative to government’s expanding scope, ignorance is increasing rapidly: There is so much more to be uninformed about.

A better ameliorative measure would be to reduce the risks of ignorance by reducing government’s consequences — its complexity, centralization and intrusiveness. In the 19th century, voters’ information burdens were much lighter because important federal issues — the expansion of slavery, the disposition of public lands, tariffs, banking, infrastructure spending — were much fewer.

Political ignorance helps explain Americans’ perpetual disappointment with politicians generally, and presidents especially, to whom voters unrealistically attribute abilities to control events. The elections of 1932 and 1980 dramatically illustrated how voters primarily control politicians — by “retrospective voting,” refusing to reelect them.

Some people vote because it gives them pleasure — the satisfaction of expressive behavior — and because they feel duty-bound to cast a ballot that, by itself, makes virtually no difference, but affirms a process that does. And although many people deplore the fact that U.S. parties have become more ideologically homogenous, they now confer more informative “brands” on their candidates.

Political ignorance, Somin argues, strengthens the case for judicial review by weakening the supposed “countermajoritarian difficulty” with it. If much of the electorate is unaware of the substance or even existence of policies adopted by the sprawling regulatory state, the policies’ democratic pedigrees are weak. Hence Somin’s suggestion that the extension of government’s reach “undercuts democracy more than it furthers it.”

An engaged judiciary that enforced the Framers’ idea of government’s “few and defined” enumerated powers (Madison, Federalist 45), leaving decisions to markets and civil society, would, Somin thinks, make the “will of the people” more meaningful by reducing voters’ knowledge burdens. Somin’s evidence and arguments usefully dilute the unwholesome democratic sentimentality and romanticism that encourage government’s pretensions, ambitions and failures.
3838  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, NY Times Mis-Leads on Economics Too on: January 02, 2014, 09:30:29 AM
Times reporter David Kocieniewski falsely accused two economists, Craig Pirrong and Scott Irwin, of corruptly “reaping rewards” by “defending Wall Street” as “one part of Wall Street’s efforts to fend off regulation.” Specifically, Pirrong and Irwin have contradicted, on academic and empirical grounds, the perennial left-wing canard that “speculators” drive up prices in commodities markets. Kocieniewski’s reporting is wrong, and not even consistent, as it relates to Pirrong and Irwin.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/12/the-ny-times-looks-in-the-wrong-place-for-corrupt-academics.php

Now Professor James Hamilton (UCSD) has entered the fray. http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2014/01/a_lack_of_ethic.html 
He reprises the attacks that others have made on the Times’s dishonest reporting. He begins:

    David Kocieniewski of the New York Times is guilty of some outrageously bad journalism in the form of a groundless ad hominem attack on the reputation of two professors for the sole purpose of reinforcing the prejudices of his misinformed readers.

Harsh words, but Hamilton backs them up. Having established that Kocieniewski smeared the two economists groundlessly, he goes on to address the underlying question: are speculators responsible for rising prices in recent years of, for example, crude oil? This is a question that Kocieniewski did not directly address, but the whole point of his hit piece was to try to discredit those who have demonstrated that one of the Left’s favorite talking points is false. Hamilton writes:

    Let me pose the question a little more precisely for anyone who actually wants to investigate this issue. Do financial speculators drive the price of oil to a value at which the quantity physically produced exceeds the quantity physically consumed? Because if the answer to that question is no, then it is fundamentals of supply and demand, not financial speculators, that are all you would need to know to calculate what the price of oil will be.

That is an empirical question that can be answered, and the overwhelming weight of academic research demonstrates that the New York Times theory of commodity prices is wrong.
3839  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues - Slow Learners on: January 02, 2014, 09:24:22 AM
Politico has a headline for the ages up right now: “Management Experts Knock Obama.”  Management “experts” are just noticing now, after five years, that Obama’s lack of experience is significant.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/01/slow-learners.php
http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/obamacare-obama-management-experts-101620.html?hp=t1

“No one asked you to write code or be a technical expert, but the expectation is you can set up a process,” said Kellogg School of Management professor Daniel Diermeier. “Companies do it every day.”
----------------------------

Maybe in year seven Politico will find discover he is dishonest.
3840  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Elliot Abrams on David Kirkpatrick (NY Times) Benghazi story on: January 02, 2014, 09:16:41 AM
http://m.nationalreview.com/article/367247/times-benghazi-report-convenient-clinton-elliott-abrams

We’ll never know whom the Times thought it important to interview and whom it believed, but we do know that it had no access to the intelligence that members of Congress saw. And we are being told by members of Congress that the embassy staff had it right in saying the video was unimportant, and that there were some al-Qaeda links. So the much-ballyhooed Times story, based on months of reporting, seems to come down to this: Do you believe the intelligence our agencies collected and the reporting of our diplomats on the scene at the time, or do you believe what the New York Times was told by Libyans, many of them Islamic extremists and some of them terrorists, more than a year later?

The answer to that question probably depends on what position you hold in the Hillary Clinton campaign.
3841  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: POTH: Fed judge says FL requiring drug tests for welfare UnC'l on: January 02, 2014, 09:01:20 AM
I gotta right to your money!

Also the other way around, we have no right to place strings on how our money is used.  Is there not a right to turn down the money if the rules are too invasive?  As suggested, we don't have a right to the money we earn, but when we don't earn enough we have an unfettered right to money of others.

More important than the merits is the question of who decides.  One judge knows better than the sausage factory of self government - the people of Florida making mistakes and trying to correct them. Elected government is unfair and inefficient compared to proclamation by the elite.

What did Chief Justice John Roberts say, find a way to uphold legislative acts?  Only when it supports larger government.
3842  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Parts of Manitoba colder than Mars today. on: January 01, 2014, 11:34:46 PM
Parts of Manitoba colder than Mars today.  -53 C.   
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/winnipeg-deep-freeze-as-cold-as-uninhabited-planet-1.2479967
3843  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Icy Irony on: January 01, 2014, 09:24:26 PM

"Remember, this is summer in Antarctica."



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304591604579292611684898656?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop

Carbon to the Rescue
Fossil fuels to power retrieval of trapped climate scientists.

"...the helicopters and ships that participate in the next rescue attempt won't be powered by renewable-energy credits."

3844  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: December 31, 2013, 03:56:25 PM
Interesting.

A tangential observation:  some/most of us here disapproved when Obama failed to defend the DOMA.   What say we now with this?

Good question.  Our more centrist poster might see hypocrisy.  I say criticize but play under one set of rules, theirs if they won't play under ours.  NJ law was upheld without his support.  DOMA was (partly) struck down without Obama-ites making insincere arguments in its defense.

This is the beginning of positioning for 2016.  The anti-legal-gun-rights argument is not selling.
3845  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential, Christie declines to defend N.J. gun laws on: December 31, 2013, 10:41:10 AM
Christie declines to defend N.J. gun laws
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/12/chris_christie_declines_to_defend_nj_gun_laws_sparking_criticism.html#incart_river

The court upheld both laws anyway, finding that New Jersey has a "well-established record" of policing firearms and can place strict requirements on people seeking permits to carry concealed handguns.
3846  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Global warming researcher gets stuck in ice on: December 31, 2013, 10:38:38 AM
http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/saunders/article/Global-warming-researcher-gets-stuck-in-ice-5102720.php

Global warming researcher gets stuck in ice
Debra J. Saunders   December 30, 2013

A funny thing happened during Australian climate-change professor Chris Turney's venture to retrace a 1912 research expedition in Antarctica and gauge how climate change has affected the continent: Two weeks into a five-week excursion, Turney's good ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy got trapped in ice. It turns out, global warming notwithstanding, that there's so much ice down under that two ice-breaking vessels sent to rescue the research team cannot reach the Australasian Antarctic Expedition.

"Sea ice is disappearing due to climate change, but here ice is building up," the Australasian Antarctic Expedition acknowledges.
---------------------
 To the San Francisco Chronicle, Why is this in the Opinion section??

3847  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen.Ted Cruz was right on: December 31, 2013, 10:32:28 AM
Logically, he is right.

Right on so many levels, not just that it was Dems that shut down the government.

This legislation is bad for the country. He said so.  People now know he was right.

Congress is a co-equal branch with so-called power of the purse.  There should be nothing wrong with exercising that responsibility.

The  effort to stop Obamacare clarified that this is 100% a Democrat program, right before the trainwreck.  All Democratic Senators, including those facing reelection challenges across the heartland, were forced to double down on the program and put it ahead of every other government priority.

The size, scope and cost of government is the lower of what the House, Senate and President believe it should be - unless the smaller government body succumbs to bullying by the others.

3848  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Washington Post: 42% of Democrats are against Obamacare on: December 31, 2013, 10:13:12 AM
This should go in cognitive dissonance of the left.  Maybe everything should go there.

http://moneymorning.com/ob-article/obamacare-democrats.php?src=t-oc-dems

"Obviously, we didn't do a good enough job in terms of how we crafted the law," "I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me."  -  President Obama

"His major accomplishment was Obamacare, and the implementation of it now is questionable at best."  - 39th President Jimmy Carter

"I think we paid a terrible price for health care."  - Barney Frank, former Massachusetts Congressman:

"The Affordable Care Act's Rate-Setting Won't Work."  -  Former Democratic Presidential candidate and current Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean:

"Obamacare will cost taxpayers at least an additional $400 billion more than originally proposed."  - McKinsey report
3849  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Dogs' pot poisoning soars as pets dig through trash on: December 31, 2013, 09:50:53 AM
And we were worried about the children...  Legal pot of course is sold in all forms of food now too.  What could go wrong...

Dogs' pot poisoning soars as pets dig through trash, stash

http://www.sfchronicle.com/pets/article/Dogs-pot-poisoning-soars-as-pets-dig-through-5102991.php

Dr. Jill Chase examines Baby, a pug, at Ocean Beach Veterinary Clinic. Chase's Tibetan terrier was in a coma for three days after finding cannabis-infused butter in a neighbor's trash.
3850  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New U.S. Tax Regime is "Devastating"; Experts Say. FATCA on: December 31, 2013, 09:44:23 AM
Plowhorse!

Yes, like a heard on liberal radio last evening, nothing jolts an economy forward like a tax increase!

There is more:

http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/congress/item/17273-new-u-s-tax-regime-is-devastating-experts-say

Monday, 30 December 2013 16:49
New U.S. Tax Regime is "Devastating," Experts Say
Written by  Alex Newman

New U.S. Tax Regime is "Devastating"; Experts Say

Already facing “pariah” status worldwide due to onerous IRS requirements, millions of Americans living and working abroad are preparing to deal with a deluge of even bigger problems in 2014, when a byzantine new tax regime starts going into effect. Known as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, the deeply controversial and incredibly complex scheme is supposedly aimed at preventing tax evasion and gathering extra funds for the federal government. In reality, it will prove to be devastating, experts say — especially for middle-class Americans overseas and the U.S. economy.
...
About a dozen national governments have inked unconstitutional “agreements” with the Obama administration so far, laying the foundation for a global tax-information sharing regime. International bureaucrats working fiendishly for planetary taxation are celebrating, along with some attorneys and accountants hoping to profit, but serious concerns about the pseudo-treaties are growing.
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