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4201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Krauthammer: A shocking demonstration of his strategic shallowness on: January 21, 2014, 09:17:23 AM
The pains that the administration has gone to differentiate between core al Qaeda and all of these splinter groups:

It's not only an excuse, a way to explain his way out of why he has failed on all these issues; it's also a demonstration, a shocking demonstration of his strategic shallowness. You know, it's the example of, you know, it's not the Lakers. The whole strategy of al Qaeda as explained by al-Zawahiri and Obama bin laden was to establish regional and local insurgencies to attack the Arab states who they saw as acting in the interest of the infidels, starting with Saudi Arabia. The whole idea was local insurgencies with a global perspective. I think Obama still to this day after half a decade doesn't understand at all who we are and who he is up against in the war on terror.
4202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Barone: Millennials Unhappy With Obama's War on the Young on: January 21, 2014, 09:12:20 AM

What do young Americans want? Something different from what they've been getting from the president they voted for by such large margins.  Evidence comes in from various polls. Voters under 30, the millennial generation, produced numbers for Barack Obama 13 percentage points above the national average in 2008 and 9 points above in 2012.

But in recent polls, Obama approval among those under 30 has been higher than the national average by only 1 percentage point (Quinnipiac), 2 points (ABC/Washington Post) and 3 points (YouGov/Economist).  Those differences are statistically significant. And that's politically significant, since a higher percentage of millennials than of the general population are Hispanic or black.

The reasons for Millennials' decreased approval of Obama become clear from a Harvard Institute of Politics poll of 18- to 29-year-olds conducted in November.  That poll shows Obama's job approval dipping to 41 percent, down from 52 percent in April 2013 and the lowest rating in any HIOP survey.

One reason for the decline is Obamacare. Only 38 percent approved of Obamacare (39 percent approved of "the Affordable Care Act"). Only 29 percent of those who were uninsured said they would definitely or probably enroll in the health insurance exchanges.  Those results were registered five to nine weeks after the Oct. 1 rollout. Tech-savvy millennials must have been astonished that government produced a website that didn't work.  They also perceived, accurately, that Obamacare health insurance would cost them a lot. The law passed by Democrats elected in large part with millennial votes was designed to have people under 30 subsidize the insurance premiums of those older, less healthy people over 50.

The old tend to have significant net worth, and the young -- with credit card and student loan debt -- tend to owe more than they own. Evidently, the Obama Democrats think it's progressive for the young to subsidize the working-age old.  That, after all, is the essence of Social Security, whose benefits some left-wing Democrats want to increase.

But millennials, whose penchant for volunteering is admirably high, are not being simply selfish. The Harvard survey also finds that they tend to believe, by a 44- to 17-percent margin, that the quality of their health care will get worse under Obamacare.  That's speculation, of course. But it suggests a healthy skepticism about the ability of a government, a government that lied about whether you could keep your insurance and your doctor, and couldn't construct a workable website, to produce a system that will improve service delivery.

That skepticism may owe something to young Americans' experience with student loans. Some 57 percent of the Harvard study millennials say that student loan debt is a major problem for young people. The responses don't vary much by political party identification.

Once again, the millennials have a point. The Obama administration did not initiate government student loans, but it continues to speak of them approvingly.  Yet it's obvious that the vast sums government-subsidized student loans have pumped into higher education over the last three decades have been largely captured by colleges and universities and transformed into administrative bloat.

Economics blogger Timothy Taylor notes that if you count prices in 1982-84 as 100, the average cost of all items in the consumer price index increased to 231 in September 2012. Energy, housing and transportation all increased about that much.

But college and tuition fees increased to 706 -- seven times the level when the government started pumping money into higher ed. Medical care increased to more than 400.

Some things that young people buy increased much less -- apparel (127), toys (53) and televisions (5, thanks to quality improvement).

But suddenly, in their early adult years, millennials find themselves socked with the inflated costs of higher education and, thanks to Obamacare, those of older people's health care.

In the meantime, in the Obama new normal economy, they aren't finding jobs -- and may be giving up on looking for them.  Labor force participation among those 55 and over has held steady since 2009. But labor force participation among those younger has been declining, as have earnings of college graduates.  The combination of higher education and health care costs and the new normal economy amount to what analyst Walter Russell Mead calls "the war on the young."

No wonder they're unhappy with the president who promised hope and change. Maybe they're in the market for an alternative.
4203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Marco Rubio on: January 21, 2014, 09:06:50 AM
Keeping up with the Senator who won swing state Florida by more than a million votes.  Like Abraham Lincoln (and Barack Obama), he has no executive experience.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s East Asian and Pacific Affairs subcommittee, shakes hand with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before their talks in Tokyo, Jan. 21, 2014 (today).

Sen. Rubio Proposes Consolidating Poverty Funding
January 8, 2014
Sen. Marco Rubio, considered a leading GOP presidential candidate in 2016, called for the federal government to consolidate all of its antipoverty funding into one agency, which would then direct money to states so that its use can be tailored for local needs.

Rubio PAC Jumps In Big to Aid Tom Cotton in Arkansas
December 4, 2013
Sen. Marco Rubio plans to come to the aid of a House Republican colleague this week with an oversized TV ad buy in Arkansas supporting the Senate campaign of Rep. Tom Cotton.

Rubio Says He'll Oppose Yellen to Head the Fed
November 21, 2013
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) said he will oppose Janet Yellen, President Obama's nominee to lead the Federal
The Florida Republican and potential 2016 presidential candidate criticized the economic effects of the Fed’s recent stimulus efforts, which have been supported by Ms. Yellen, currently the vice chairwoman of its Board of Governors.
“Altogether, she has championed policies that have diminished people’s purchasing power by weakening the dollar, made long-term savings less attractive by diminishing returns on this important behavior, and put the U.S. economy at increased risk of higher inflation and another future boom-bust,” Mr. Rubio wrote in a statement Thursday. “I don’t have the confidence that she is the best choice to lead this independent institution in the years to come.”

Marco Rubio: No Bailouts for ObamaCare
November 18, 2013
The health-care law's 'risk corridors' could result in a huge taxpayer burden.
Rubio: "It is a damning indictment of ObamaCare's viability when the president's only response to people losing their health insurance plans entails putting them on the hook for bailing out insurance companies. The American people are already being directly hurt by ObamaCare's early failures, and it is unconscionable that they be expected to bail out companies when more failures emerge."
4204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Way Forward: What Scott Walker Learned Surviving the Recall on: January 21, 2014, 08:52:07 AM
This could go under 2016 Presidential but most certainly (IMO) goes under 'the way forward' for whomever wants to take the lessons learned reforming swing state Wisconsin on to national reform.

During the uproar over his reforms to Wisconsin's labor laws, Republican Gov. Scott Walker got used to shrugging off bad polls. He was jarred out of his complacency one day though when a woman asked him, “Scott, why are you doing this?”

That was because the woman was his wife, Tonette. He had assumed she understood what he was doing, only to learn that she was skeptical, too.

“If my own wife didn’t see why we needed to change collective bargaining, how could I expect the voters of Wisconsin to see it?” he recalled. He then redoubled his efforts to explain his reforms.

The anecdote comes from Walker's recently-published account of his epic 2011 legislative showdown and subsequent recall election, Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge. It isn't the definitive account -- that would be last year's More Than They Bargained For: Scott Walker: Unions, and the Fight for Wisconsin, by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporters Jason Stein and Patrick Marley -- but it is a candid, inside look at Walker's trials.

He draws a lot of lessons from the experience, and not always ones other conservatives will automatically agree with. He is simultaneously a bold, swing-for-the-fences guy and a pragmatic leader mindful that he governs a swing state.

Walker makes clear that he believes public-sector unionism is incompatible with good, effective government. He argues it is inherently corrupt because the unions' political clout makes elected officials indebted to them.

His initial plan was to simply end it in the Badger State altogether. But Republican statehouse leaders nixed this, cautioning that many would see it as an attack on the workers themselves.

Instead, their compromise allowed collective bargaining, but ended automatic dues deduction from workers’ paychecks, required annual union recertification votes and limited bargaining mainly to wages.

“The changes actually improved our bill because they put the unions’ fate in the hands of their own members,” Walker wrote. Many union members apparently appreciated this. Walker won 25 percent of their vote in the 2012 recall.

He warns that “austerity is not the answer.” Simply cutting government is not enough and will actually drive people away in hard times. Walker consistently made the case that his reforms would free up money to prevent government worker layoffs or drastic cuts in services. For example, they enabled Wisconsin schools to competitively bid for health insurance rather than using a union-affiliated company, saving millions.

Picking your battles wisely is another theme. Walker’s reforms were audacious but doable. Republicans had majorities in both statehouse chambers at the time. Even after 14 Democrats fled the state to deprive the GOP of a quorum, all that was needed was a little tweaking to push the bill through.

Turning the other cheek is also advocated. The governor was subjected to a torrent of abuse in 2011-12, but never responded in kind. This enabled him to claim the moral high ground. When he won the recall, he was tempted to use the protester’s chant, “This is what democracy looks like,” in his victory speech — but didn’t. He didn’t want to rub their noses in it.

And finally, Walker was, by his own admission, simply lucky. The state only allowed recall elections after the targeted official had been in office for a year, which gave him time to argue his reforms were working. He would have lost otherwise, he writes. A bitter split between the Democrats and the unions over who would challenge him also helped.

Conservative principles don’t automatically equate to electoral success. To win, he argues, Republicans must present themselves as forward-thinking reformers addressing real problems — and beholden only to the people: “When you set the pace of reform, voters will see you as someone who is constantly trying to make things better. And your opponents will be forced to respond to your agenda rather than setting one for you.”
4205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thomas Sowell: Fact Free Liberals on: January 21, 2014, 08:47:22 AM
Thomas Sowell, pointing out truths with clarity:

Fact-Free Liberals

By Thomas Sowell - January 21, 2014

Someone summarized Barack Obama in three words -- "educated," "smart" and "ignorant." Unfortunately, those same three words would describe all too many of the people who come out of our most prestigious colleges and universities today.

President Obama seems completely unaware of how many of the policies he is trying to impose have been tried before, in many times and places around the world, and have failed time and again. Economic equality?

That was tried in the 19th century, in communities set up by Robert Owen, the man who coined the term "socialism." Those communities all collapsed.

It was tried even earlier, in 18th century Georgia, when that was a British colony. People in Georgia ended up fleeing to other colonies, as many other people would vote with their feet in the 20th century, by fleeing many other societies around the world that were established in the name of economic equality.

But who reads history these days? Moreover, those parts of history that would undermine the vision of the left -- which prevails in our education system from elementary school to postgraduate study -- are not likely to get much attention.

The net results are bright people, with impressive degrees, who have been told for years how brilliant they are, but who are often ignorant of facts that might cause them to question what they have been indoctrinated with in schools and colleges.

Recently Kirsten Powers repeated on Fox News Channel the discredited claim that women are paid only about three-quarters of what a man is paid for doing the same work.

But there have been empirical studies, going back for decades, showing that there is no such gap when the women and men are in the same occupation, with the same skills, experience, education, hours of work and continuous years of full-time work.

Income differences between the sexes reflect the fact that women and men differ in all these things -- and more. Young male doctors earn much more than young female doctors. But young male doctors work over 500 hours a year more than young female doctors.

Then there is the current hysteria which claims that people in the famous "top one percent" have incomes that are rising sharply and absorbing a wholly disproportionate share of all the income in the country.

But check out a Treasury Department study titled "Income Mobility in the U.S. from 1996 to 2005." It uses income tax data, showing that people who were in the top one percent in 1996 had their incomes fall -- repeat, fall -- by 26 percent by 2005.

What about the other studies that seem to say the opposite? Those are studies of income brackets, not studies of the flesh-and-blood human beings who are moving from one bracket to another over time. More than half the people who were in the top one percent in 1996 were no longer there in 2005.

This is hardly surprising when you consider that their incomes were going down while there was widespread hysteria over the belief that their incomes were going up.

Empirical studies that follow income brackets over time repeatedly reach opposite conclusions from studies that follow individuals. But people in the media, in politics and even in academia, cite statistics about income brackets as if they are discussing what happens to actual human beings over time.

All too often when liberals cite statistics, they forget the statisticians' warning that correlation is not causation.

For example the New York Times crusaded for government-provided prenatal care, citing the fact that black mothers had prenatal care less often than white mothers -- and that there were higher rates of infant mortality among blacks.

But was correlation causation? American women of Chinese, Japanese and Filipino ancestry also had less prenatal care than whites -- and lower rates of infant mortality than either blacks or whites.

When statistics showed that black applicants for conventional mortgage loans were turned down at twice the rate for white applicants, the media went ballistic crying racial discrimination. But whites were turned down almost twice as often as Asian Americans -- and no one thinks that is racial discrimination.

Facts are not liberals' strong suit. Rhetoric is.
4206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the left: Divided Democrats on: January 21, 2014, 08:41:16 AM
Divided Democrats Put Obama in a State of the Union Squeeze
Liberals want the president to tackle income inequality; moderates want him to focus on economic growth.

Of course pursuing policies that 'tackle income inequality' is the exact opposite of pursuing policies that focus on positive economic growth.

And 'moderate Dem' is a term not seen since the rising of Pelosi-Reid-Obama.  Moderates who "want him [Obama] to focus on economic growth" sound like former Dems and likely 2014/2016 Republican voters.

News Flash:  The Democratic party is not the party of economic growth and opportunity.
4207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left - Krugman, The Undeserving Rich on: January 20, 2014, 05:27:38 PM
How much does Paul Krugman make, and what does he contribute, seriously.

I made the mistake of clicking on his column today.  Don't do that.  Let's have government decide how hard people work and how much they make.  Don't trust free people making free choices.

If David Ortiz and his batboy come to the ballpark at the same time, leave at the same time, why not the same pay? 

Link: NYTimes/unsubscribe

4208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics, No minimum wage = half the unemployment rate on: January 20, 2014, 04:58:41 PM
No half measures. 100 dollar an hour minimum wage!

Why screw up only the most crucial markets like labor, healthcare, food, energy, transportation.  Let's have a really high federal minimum price on everything - and see if that makes us richer!
-------------------  Neumark (University of California at Irvine), Wascher (Federal Reserve Board)
We conclude that the evidence still shows that minimum wages pose a tradeoff of higher wages for some against job losses for others, and that policymakers need to bear this tradeoff in mind when making decisions about increasing the minimum wage.

Regarding the minimum wage, here is some data for Western Europe:

There are nine countries (in Western Europe) with a minimum wage (Belgium, Netherlands, Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Luxembourg).  Their unemployment rates range from 5.9% in Luxembourg to 27.6% in Greece. 
The median country is France with 11.1% unemployment.

There are nine countries with no minimum wage (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland.)  Five of the nine have a lower unemployment rate than Luxembourg, the best of the other group. 
The median country is Iceland, with a 5.5% unemployment rate.

Still want to raise our minimum wage to $10?  The biggest country in Europe is Germany.  No minimum wage and 5.2% unemployment.  Germany used to have really high unemployment.  Then they did labor reforms to allow more low wage jobs, combined with subsidies for low wage workers.  Now they don’t have high unemployment.

Still want to raise our minimum wage to $10?
4209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Screwing up markets to help 11%(cont.): 11% of minimum wage workers are poor on: January 20, 2014, 10:15:31 AM
"Only 11.3 percent of workers who would gain from the increase live in households officially defined as poor."

Economists Joseph J. Sabia (San Diego State) and Richard V. Burkhauser (Cornell) examined the effects of state minimum wage increases between 2003 and 2007 and reported that they found no evidence the increases lowered state poverty rates.

Further, they calculated the effects of a proposed increase in the federal minimum wage to $9.50 on workers then earning $5.70 (or 15 cents less than the minimum in March 2008) to $9.49. They found that if the federal minimum wage were increased to $9.50 per hour:

. Only 11.3 percent of workers who would gain from the increase live in households officially defined as poor.
. A whopping 63.2 percent of workers who would gain were second or even third earners living in households with incomes equal to twice the poverty line or more.
. Some 42.3 percent of workers who would gain were second or even third earners who live in households that have incomes equal to three times the poverty line or more.
4210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Only 11 percent who purchased coverage under ObamaCare were previously uninsured on: January 19, 2014, 11:56:55 PM
A survey by management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that only 11 percent of consumers who purchased new coverage under ObamaCare were previously uninsured. The survey was based on a sampling of 4,563 consumers between November and January, according to The Wall Street Journal.
4211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Will snope be reviewing THIS false claim? on: January 16, 2014, 05:37:08 PM
President Obama has asserted this repeatedly:

“The climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or ten years ago.”

Today Senator Jeff Sessions asked EPA Director Gina McCarthy a simple question:

Is the claim that President Obama has made repeatedly, that the Earth has warmed more than predicted by the models over the last ten years, true?  Amazingly, she refuses to answer:

4212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: His Glibness received student financial aid as a foreigner FALSE says Snopes on: January 16, 2014, 05:11:00 PM
It is good to have false claims debunked.  Still there are quite a few other questions about his education that weren't asked or answered. 

The birth certificate question was always a non-starter.  His mom was a US citizen from Kansas.  Couldn't she give birth anywhere in the world and her viable fetus becomes a citizen?  It was the way they dodged the question that led people to think something else was there.
4213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential, MSNBC Brian Schweitzer (continued) on: January 15, 2014, 11:44:55 PM
Maybe he is only flavor of the week, but the sudden media obsession is interesting.  This piece, aimed at liberals, mostly sets a tone of ripping him for not only being the anti-Hillary, he is the anti-Obama.
4214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science - Coal on: January 15, 2014, 10:40:19 AM
While we were all fighting against fossil fuel pipeline, fracking, refusing to build refineries, making faux-investments in solar and wind and closing down nuclear plants in the name of safety around the world, guess what happened...

Coal was the fastest growing energy source in the world in 2013.

Does someone want to tell me that is cleaner or safer than nuclear, gasoline or natural gas?  Good luck.

Germany closes nuclear, opens coal:

4215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: January 15, 2014, 10:29:39 AM
About the author who hails from the political left; Mondale, Gore, Clinton.
The left loves to opine, "what about the poor".   I also ask what about the middle class?   70% live from paycheck to paycheck.  That is more than just the poor.
And what about the remarkable advantages the wealthy have that are not available to others? 
Some on the right speak we should not even focus on class.   America is not about classes.  We are not to be divided into such groups. 
I like Galston's attempt at trying to find some common ground.  But he still seems bent on what can the State do about it?   For example.  Today we know that a fair chance to succeed includes reaching Kindergarten with the ability to read.  Is this true?  ...

Galston: Where Right and Left Agree on Inequality

I should be happy with half agreement but what he says about poverty is bunk.  We don't have widespread real poverty in America.  We don't have real have-nots.  What we have are earn-nots.  Generations of people in many areas grow up in an environment where no one had to go out and earn everything that they have, no matter how much, no matter how little.  The nature of the dependency society is that we cannot end it.  I know we need a true safety net for people in real need.  But we can't even talk about the damage these programs do to millions and millions of recipients.  Look at debate over the extension of unemployment benefits to eternity in the new-normal, non-emergency economy.   An entrepreneur response is what a trained, skilled, resilient worker who has a family to feed does when he or she can't find someone else to hire them for a conventional job.  When we pay you not to do that, you will not do that, for the most part.  But politically, today, we can't even discuss it much less fix it.
4216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Ted Cruz' will gain a new friend: Meet US Senate candidate Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska on: January 14, 2014, 12:05:42 PM
He looks interesting, but he is running as a Washington outsider. Is this true, given these:
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

Close enough to see and know the mess.  Not close enough to have caused it.
4217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Obama's Impeachable Offenses Re: Benghazi... on: January 14, 2014, 11:23:35 AM
Not that I favor impeachment but funny that we take it off the table for political reasons before we know the offenses.  Yet Dems bring it up on a lane closure.
4218  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 ?!  )

4219  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:

Second is slate:

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.
4220  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:
4221  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
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.
4222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 80% come to 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.

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.
4223  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."
4224  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

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 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.
4225  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.

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,”
4226  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.
4227  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
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.

4228  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.
4229  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.
4230  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.

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.
4231  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.
4232  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.

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.
4233  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
...continued shrinkage in the labor force. The labor force participation rate tumbled to 62.8 percent, its worst level since January 1978.
U.S. job growth weakest in three years
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. 
4234  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.

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.
4235  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.
4236  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.
4237  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. 

4238  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.
4239  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??
"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.
4240  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.
4241  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 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. 
4242  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."  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.  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"?


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.

4243  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?
Plastic Bag Ban Responsible For Spike In E. Coli Infections
97 per cent of people admit to never washing their reusable bags.

(  Stick-fighting banned,  Laws passed to ban stick-fighting)

4244  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.
4245  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.

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.
4246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: damn hippies on: January 04, 2014, 11:49:46 AM
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?
4247  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:

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.
Pipelines Are Safest For Transportation of Oil and Gas
When it comes to transporting oil, pipelines are the safest option, trumping trains and trucks
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.
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.

4248  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.
4249  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:  (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.
4250  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:
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