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3301  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: February 01, 2014, 08:35:50 AM
One politburo member's answer. 

****Why Does Health Care Cost so Much in America? Ask Harvard’s David Cutler

BY Paul Solman  November 19, 2013 at 5:23 PM EST

By David Cutler

The American health care system is structured differently from systems in other countries, making it more expensive. Photo courtesy of Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Paul Solman: Harvard’s David Cutler is among the country’s foremost health economists, famous for — among other research — a controversial paper arguing that even our exorbitant health care industry, in terms of increased productivity and life span outcomes, delivers more than what we pay for it.

Cutler, who was profiled by Roger Lowenstein in the New York Times Magazine in 2005, subsequently worked for President Barack Obama on health care issues, and talked to us recently for a story about cost savings. But far more of what he had to say seemed worthwhile than what we have time to air. Here is some of it.

Paul Solman: Why does health care cost so much in America?

David Cutler: Let me give you three reasons why. The first one is because the administrative costs of running our health care system are astronomical. About one quarter of health care cost is associated with administration, which is far higher than in any other country.

Paul Solman: What’s the next highest?



MORE FROM THE BUSINESS DESK:

Harvard’s David Cutler on How to Cut Health Care Costs


David Cutler: About 10, 15 percent. Just to give you one example, Duke University Hospital has 900 hospital beds and 1,300 billing clerks. The typical Canadian hospital has a handful of billing clerks. Single-payer systems have fewer administrative needs. That’s not to say they’re better, but that’s just on one dimension that they clearly cost less. What a lot of those people are doing in America is they are figuring out how to bill different insurers for different systems, figuring out how to collect money from people, all of that sort of stuff.

The second reason health care costs so much in America is that the U.S. spends more than other countries do on many of the same things. Drugs are the most commonly noted item, where a branded drug will cost much more in the U.S. than in other countries. But, for example, doctors also earn more for doing the same thing in the U.S. than they do in other countries, and a lot of suppliers charge more for things like durable medical equipment in the U.S. than in other countries.

Paul Solman: And that’s not only doctors being paid more in this country, but the United States making the decision as a government not to buy drugs in bulk and therefore to bid down the price that pharmaceutical companies can charge.

David Cutler: The lowest prices for pharmaceuticals, and a variety of other medical devices and payments to physicians, are in government plans. So Medicaid gets the best prices on pharmaceuticals. In terms of physician payments, Medicaid payments are the lowest. Medicare payments are above that and private payments are above that. The more leverage the buyer has, the lower the price they get. That’s true in every industry. In health care, the United States doesn’t utilize that leverage as much as other countries do.

Paul Solman: Okay, so that’s two and what’s the third reason?

David Cutler: The third one is Americans receive more medical care than people do in other countries, not so much in terms of doctor visits, but if a person has a heart attack in the United States, they’re much more likely to get open heart surgery than they are in most other countries.

Go back to Canada. In all of Ontario there are 11 hospitals that can do open heart surgery. Pennsylvania has roughly the population of Ontario and it has a bit over 60 hospitals that can do open heart surgery. So there’s no way you can operate on as many people in Ontario as you can in Pennsylvania even if you operated around the clock.

Paul Solman: But that means that the people in Canada or in Ontario have to wait longer right?

David Cutler: Sometimes they wait longer. What’s much more common is that there’s a lot of gray area where it’s not clear if you need the open heart surgery or not, and in the U.S., people will get it and in Canada, they don’t. The interesting thing about it is that life expectancy or one-year mortality after a heart attack is the same in the two countries.


Is The Rise of Costs Inevitable?


Paul Solman: Are medical costs going to inevitably go up because there will always be new technologies and new technologies are always expensive?

David Cutler: Technology is the underlying driver and there will always be some of that, which is why health care will not be like other industries in terms of always, always going down in price.

On the other hand, there’s so much waste in the system — our best guess is that about a third of medical spending is not associated with improved outcomes — that for the next 15 to 20 years people believe that costs could be stable or falling as a share of the economy without cutting into necessary services — just by eliminating the things that are not necessary…

What we’ve done in Massachusetts is we’ve said, don’t just give people very high cost-sharing in general; do what’s called tiering it — that is, tell people that if you look for basic levels of care, you’re not going to face very high costs, but if you want to go to the teaching hospital for the routine procedure, you’re going to have to pay a lot for that. And we mandate that insurance companies have to tell people the price of any service. So if your doctor says you need an MRI, you can go on the computer and your insurance company’s website and figure out exactly your cost sharing at each place where they would do the MRI.

Paul Solman: So that will provide comparison shopping.

David Cutler: That’s on the demand side. Give people more skin in the game and give them the information so they can do real shopping.

Paul Solman: More skin in the game, meaning higher co-pays?

David Cutler: Higher co-pays. We know that people respond to co-payments and they like cheaper care. So the hope is to steer people to less expensive sites. We’ve also pushed very strongly that insurance payments to doctors and hospitals and other care providers not be based on volume (so-called “fee for service”), but instead be value-based payments.

So say, here’s a person with coronary artery disease. Pay a fixed amount for that person and let the medical professionals figure out how to treat that person, not with the incentive to do more and earn more, but with the incentive to figure out how to do what’s right and keep them from using very expensive services.

Paul Solman: But doesn’t that provide an incentive or a prod to the provider to stint on the services, stint on the MRI, say, that I might otherwise get?

David Cutler: What that’s being coupled with is a very aggressive approach to measuring quality. … Really what we’re doing is two things: one is on the demand side trying to make people smarter consumers, and the second is on the provider side, eliminating the monetary incentives to do more testing and procedures. Instead, let’s move to a system that says, “do what’s appropriate, make the patients better and you’ll get rewarded for it.”


What If I Want a Certain Procedure?


Paul Solman: Well it sounds ideal, but I just keep thinking that I’d want to go to the dermatologist every six months, say, just to check out every possible discoloration. I’m a little crazy that way, but also, I feel, maximally prudent.

David Cutler: A lot of provider organizations are putting the doctors on a salary basis. Let’s gather our doctors together to figure out what the evidence says is right. If the literature is clear, let’s make sure we do that 100 percent of the time. If the literature is not clear, let’s go through our records and see how we can do better. If the patient then wants more, then say, “Okay, fine, you can have that, but you’re going to pay a little more because that’s not what the literature says is necessary in your case.”

Paul Solman: Well, of course, presumably my insurance company is already trying to do that.

David Cutler: Typically they’re very bad at it though, and when they tell the doctors they’ve imposed this, it goes poorly.

Paul Solman: So right now, I go to a dermatologist on a regular basis — I’ve always had some skin difficulties, but I’ve never had a melanoma — and that’s covered by my insurance. You’re saying, hey, if I’m a little paranoid with regard to discolorations, fine, let me go, but then I ought to pay to do that?

David Cutler: Increasingly, I believe insurers will make you pay more for care that you want to do that’s not medically necessary.

Paul Solman: Well medically necessary by what standards?

David Cutler: Care that’s ordered; that’s not following some accepted standard. You see this in certain parts of the country where the insurers say, “We’ll pay only a fixed amount for a knee replacement. We’ve determined that high quality knee replacement can be had for $8,000 nearby you. So we’ll give you $8,000. Now if you want to go to someone else who charges $20,000, fine, but you’re gonna pay the extra $12,000.”

Paul Solman: And my insurer did that recently with regard to a bronchial inhaler and said, “No, you can’t get that one; you can only get this cheaper one.”

David Cutler: Exactly, it’s what they’ve been doing with drugs for quite a long time. The generic version is very cheap; the branded drug is much more expensive.

In a lot of parts of the country, they’re just saying, “Look, if you want this service at all, you’re going to pay a lot of money.” The trend in health care nationally is to put more and more on the patient.****
3302  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: January 31, 2014, 08:16:23 PM
Crafty what is your take on the Beck mea culpa on Megan Kelly recently?  Someone asked me this and I said I have no idea.
3303  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / expanding on GMs post on: January 31, 2014, 08:47:54 AM
GM,

Yes the economy is improving for the few, and not the wealthy.  Like Forbes said, my father taught me one can make far more money recommending stocks than investing in them.  Wesbury knows he can make far more money giving advice than following it.

In health care the big businesses are getting wealthy.  There is huge consolidation, huge squeezing of smaller guys and increased demands on all the workers.  I believe it is the same every other segments of the economy.  I don't recall in my lifetime seeing the gap from the very rich to the vast majority of Americans expanding any faster as it has under this President.

Yet the Republicans seem totally unable to articulate any consistent messages to reach those same "vast majority of Americans".   The ineptitude of the Republican leadership (in what is not any longer my party) is breathtaking.

I have no motivation to vote.  Why bother?  Should I vote for the big government Republican or the outright liberal?  Little difference.  They are all giving the citizens country away.

Victor David Hanson was on Marc Levin last PM.  He more or less agreed the immigration cave in is quite likely the end of the ball game for America as we knew it.  He doesn't understand why Republicans cannot reach out to the  majority of citizens and connect. 

All I can say is many talk show hosts blow away any political articulators in the repub leadership.

As of now I will stay home and not vote period.  I didn't bother to vote for Christie either.  I don't like him and he has done nothing for me or the bill payers in NJ - nothing.

3304  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The top headline news "search" on Yahoo news. on: January 31, 2014, 08:34:56 AM
Does anyone actually believe this is the top news search on Yahoo at this time.  There has to be some computer generated volley of contrived searches to get this promoted to the top so people will read this.  A form of advertising.  Does anyone believe anyone would otherwise care about this persons appearance on some up coming program?  I wonder how many other things we read on news is similarly so.  I wonder if Yahoo is paid for this or just the financiers behind this person have paid people to generate hits to promote this to the top:

https://news.search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A0LEVw1gs.tSP0IAU5lXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0NTc0NGpzBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1ZJUDMyMl8x?p=Dianne%20Wiest&fr2=cosmos
3305  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A short synopsis of Gandhi's main ideology on: January 31, 2014, 08:18:13 AM
http://www.indianchild.com/mahatma_gandhi.htm
3306  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Quote on Gandhi by Einstein on: January 31, 2014, 08:14:26 AM
“On the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi's 70th birthday. "Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.”

― Albert Einstein

Gandhi was murdered by Hindu extremists.

Gandhi - one of the greatest human beings to have walked the Earth.

(I will add we do not see anything like it today in American leaders.)
3307  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / $1.49 on January 6, 2003 on: January 31, 2014, 08:03:33 AM
Now near $1200.   I wonder if even one person bought then and still owns now?   Lets see $1000 then now ~ $775,000 now.   The dreams stock markets are made of:

http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=PCLN+Interactive#symbol=pcln;range=my;compare=;indicator=volume;charttype=area;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=off;source=;
3308  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: January 30, 2014, 11:45:19 AM
"“It’s been frustrating because of the extremism of Tea Party Republicans,” Mr. Waxman said in an interview on Wednesday."

Yes.  A scumbag to the very end.   His beloved Democrat party.  Good riddance.  But as Levin says, there is no end to those right behind him ready to fill in and reclose ranks as the Socialist movement "marches forward".
3309  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2nd post on: January 30, 2014, 11:34:57 AM
From drudge but I think he is right.  Immigration leniency is bad for American workers.  Look we can always scour the world and find people who will do any work whatsoever for less than someone who is already here.  Allow them in by the tens of millions and at the same time raise the minimum wage.  It is all crazy.

****Sessions Warns House GOP: Immigration Bill Is Bad Politics, Bad Policy

Offers a better way forward.

11:18 AM, Jan 29, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER

Yesterday afternoon, before President Obama's State of the Union Address, Senator Jeff Sessions' staff hand-delivered to each Republican member of the House an important memo on the so-called immigration reform bill being debated on Capital Hill. The 3-page document, written by Sessions, argues that pushing the current immigration legislation forward is bad politics, bad policy, and that there's a better way for Republicans.

Sessions believes House Republicans are at risk of falling into President Obama's trap. "[A]ccording to news reports, House Republican leaders are instead turning 2014 into a headlong rush towards Gang-of-Eight style 'immigration reform,'" writes Sessions. "They are reportedly drafting an immigration plan that is uncomfortably similar to a 'piecemeal' repackaging of the disastrous Senate plan—and even privately negotiating a final package with Democrat activists before consulting with their own members."

It's bad politics, Sessions writes. "In the rush to pass an immigration bill, there has been a near absence of any serious thought about the conditions facing American workers. The last 40 years has been a period of record immigration to the U.S., with the last 10 years seeing more new arrivals than any prior 10- year period in history. This trend has coincided with wage stagnation, enormous growth in welfare programs, and a shrinking workforce participation rate. A sensible, conservative approach would focus on lifting those living here today, both immigrant and native-born, out of poverty and into the middle class—before doubling or tripling the level of immigration into the U.S.

   
 
 

 
3310  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: January 30, 2014, 10:55:13 AM
"Israel was not suckered.  It has been let down-- but don't think they did not see it coming."

Agreed.  And I would add, not only let down but foiled from taking action themselves and possibly "drawing the US in".

3311  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: January 30, 2014, 10:18:53 AM
"Anyone think this wasn't the plan all along?"

Bush was hamstrung in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I don't guess (because I really don't know) that he would have allowed this otherwise.  I certainly don't thing Rumsfeld or Cheney would have.  I admit myself I didn't see this back in '03.  I was for bombing Iraq and now I admit it was a mistake though all those horror stories coming out of Saddam's tortured country were hard to read and think how can we just sit here and allow this to continue.  Yet after all America has done for Iraq the killing still goes on and Iran was unchecked.  We should have been bombing Iran's nuclear facilities all along IMHO.  Now while still not too late, there is no will.

As for Obama he certainly couldn't care less about Israel or Jews.  The American military does seem to have concluded 'containment' is better than pre-emptive attacks fro some years now.

Any talk of "military action is still on the table" was and has been just PR crap.  It never was "on the table".  Obviously Iran's leaders saw through this for the past decade.

Israel has been suckered.  I guess we can only hope for an outcome similar to the Cold war.

 
3312  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: January 30, 2014, 10:11:49 AM
THis guy Priebus really sounds like a person who has been bribed [to say this stuff].  Bought off by business interests?  

I'm with Coulter.  I have no clue how any Republican can try to argue having tens of millions more immigrants who vote Democrat to attain benefits confiscated from people who have lived here longer and doled to them is good for the party, country or present day US citizens.  I just have no clue.

*****RNC’s Priebus: ‘General consensus’ that something big has to happen on immigration

By David Sherfinski

The Washington Times

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said Wednesday that there’s a “general consensus” in his party that something big needs to happen on overhauling the country’s immigration laws and that more specifics would be unveiled this week at House Republicans’ annual retreat.

“I think politically speaking it’s a mixed bag, but the question is whether or not it’s something we have to do as a country, and I think that’s what’s trumping the political answer,” Mr. Priebus said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “You see in our party, whether it’s [Kentucky Senator] Rand Paul, who’s called for massive immigration reform, or [Florida Senator] Marco Rubio, I think you have general consensus that something big has to happen.”

Mr. Priebus said House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, has pledged to come up with a set of principles at the party retreat this week and the principles would be shared with the press “as soon as it was done.”

“So that’s a commitment from the Speaker of the House, and there’s a commitment among the most conservative members of our party and the most moderate members of our party that it’s something that we have to get serious about, and I think you’re seeing that,” he said.****

3313  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: January 30, 2014, 09:52:48 AM

Many chronically ill Americans unable to afford food, medicine

Reuters
By Allison Bond 42 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - One in three Americans with a chronic disease such as diabetes, arthritis or high blood pressure has difficulty paying for food, medications or both, according to a new study.

People who had trouble affording food were four times more likely to skip some of their medications due to cost than those who got plenty to eat, researchers found.

"This leads to an obvious tension between 'milk' or 'med,'" said Dr. Niteesh Choudhry, who worked on the study at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "If you have a fixed income, should you treat or should you eat?"

The findings are based on data collected by the 2011 National Health Interview Survey, a questionnaire that offers a snapshot of the U.S. population as a whole. Nearly 10,000 people age 20 and up filled out the survey and reported having one or more chronic illnesses like cancer, asthma, emphysema or a psychiatric illness.

Among those participants, 23 percent took their medication less often than prescribed because of the cost, 19 percent reported difficulty affording food and 11 percent said they were having trouble paying for both food and medications. In the end, about one in three had trouble affording food, medication or both.

These rates are high but are similar to figures found in previous studies, said lead author Dr. Seth Berkowitz, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Yet the link between difficulty paying for food and for medications is a novel one.

"The idea of tradeoffs that people might make (between buying medications or food) is something we haven't seen before," said Berkowitz.

The researchers also found that patients who had difficulty paying for both food and meds were 58 percent more likely to be Hispanic or African American.

With each additional chronic illness the patients reported, their risk of having a tough time affording those items went up by 56 percent, according to the findings published in The American Journal of Medicine.

Finally, people having trouble affording medications and food were 30 percent less likely to have public, non-Medicare insurance like Medicaid, and about 60 percent less likely to participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC. This program provides supplemental food and healthcare referrals for certain women and children up to age five.

By removing some of the financial pressure from people struggling to afford food, assistance programs like WIC may also help them afford their medications, Berkowitz said.

For that reason, for people struggling to pay for either food or medications, the authors recommend looking into eligibility for food assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and WIC, along with community support services like food banks.

When it comes to medications, there may be cheaper alternatives or assistance programs for the medication a patient is already taking.

"The most important thing people can do is talk with their doctors about it," said Berkowitz.

It's also important for people to be honest with their doctor if they are unable to afford enough food, since that may affect which medications and dosages are best.

"If you are eating very irregularly, a medication that might be perfectly safe when you are eating regularly could cause low blood sugar," or other complications, Berkowitz told Reuters Health.

If patients don't bring up the fact that they are struggling to afford medications or food, Berkowitz said, the doctor won't know to adjust medications accordingly.

He said people should "not be embarrassed or ashamed" to bring up the topic with their doctor.

SOURCE: bit.ly/1evzX7V The American Journal of Medicine, online January 21, 2014.*****

*****""This leads to an obvious tension between 'milk' or 'med,'"  Only a liberal could say this. 

""The most important thing people can do is talk with their doctors about it,"

Is this guy putting me on.  Patients have always complained when they can't afford health care.

""The idea of tradeoffs that people might make (between buying medications or food) is something we haven't seen before," said Berkowitz."

How old is this fool.   This has always been the case.  How about people who always seem to afford cigarettes or booze when they want to yet are always short for more important stuff.   Oh this never happens. 

This is the problem with Ivy league liberals.  This was not a "study".  Did tax money go to fund this stuff?
3314  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 30, 2014, 09:27:40 AM
Newt, like recently Barbara Bush heap praise on Bill Clinton.  With Republicans like this we have NO chance.
3315  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Isis on: January 30, 2014, 09:21:41 AM
Correction.  The chart was what I meant to post:

http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=ISIS+Interactive#symbol=isis;range=my;compare=;indicator=volume;charttype=area;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=off;source=;
3316  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / I signed. Thanks. EOM on: January 29, 2014, 06:25:53 PM
I signed.
Thanks.
3317  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Too late; ball game over on: January 29, 2014, 06:15:37 PM
Iran can now break out if it chooses to do so.   shocked  cry

http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-now-has-nuclear-breakout-capability-us-intel-reports/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
3318  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / R.I.P. Nine year old hero on: January 29, 2014, 06:04:33 PM
True love for family.  Teachings of a 9 yo boy:

http://news.yahoo.com/ny-boy-hailed-saving-6-honorary-firefighter-211520670.html cry
3319  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Isis!Wow!OMG! on: January 29, 2014, 11:51:30 AM
I haven't paid attention to Isis in years.  I remember when anti- sense was all the rage late 90's.  Then fell out of favor after it didn't work.  I recall posts on the old DMG board on this.  Now look at it.  Hindsight is everything in the stock market.  I recall my uncle telling us the story of how his friends advised him to buy into resorts international in the 70's which was the first Atlantic City casino approved by the regulators.  He thought it too risky.   His friends made millions.  He then added, "everything I did in the stock market was wrong...."

I am not sure if I every bought ISIS but I know I watched it for years.  I look at this and weep:

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/pr?s=ISIS+Profile
3320  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Keystone Pipeline limbo on: January 29, 2014, 11:07:56 AM
The war on our friends continues.  Not unlike the war on America:

*****By Charles Krauthammer,   Published: January 23 E-mail the writer
 
 Fixated as we Americans are on Canada’s three most attention-getting exports — polar vortexes, Alberta clippers and the antics of Toronto’s addled mayor — we’ve somewhat overlooked a major feature of Canada’s current relations with the United States: extreme annoyance.

Last week, speaking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Canada’s foreign minister calmly but pointedly complained that the United States owes Canada a response on the Keystone XL pipeline. “We can’t continue in this state of limbo,” he sort of complained, in what for a placid, imperturbable Canadian passes for an explosion of volcanic rage.
 
Canadians may be preternaturally measured and polite, but they simply can’t believe how they’ve been treated by President Obama — left hanging humiliatingly on an issue whose merits were settled years ago.

Canada, the Saudi Arabia of oil sands, is committed to developing this priceless resource. Its natural export partner is the United States. But crossing the border requires State Department approval, which means the president decides yes or no.

After three years of review, the State Department found no significant environmental risk to Keystone. Nonetheless, the original route was changed to assuage concerns regarding the Ogallala Aquifer. Obama withheld approval through the 2012 election. To this day he has issued no decision.

The Canadians are beside themselves. After five years of manufactured delay, they need a decision one way or the other because if denied a pipeline south, they could build a pipeline west to the Pacific. China would buy their oil in a New York minute.

Yet Secretary of State John Kerry fumblingly says he is awaiting yet another environmental report. He offered no decision date.

If Obama wants to cave to his environmental left, fine. But why keep Canada in limbo? It’s a show of supreme and undeserved disrespect for yet another ally. It seems not enough to have given the back of the hand to Britain, Israel, Poland and the Czech Republic, and to have so enraged the Saudis that they actually rejected a U.N. Security Council seat — disgusted as they were with this administration’s remarkable combination of fecklessness and highhandedness. Must we crown this run of diplomatic malpractice with gratuitous injury to Canada, our most reliable, most congenial friend in the world?

And for what? This is not a close call. The Keystone case is almost absurdly open and shut.

Even if you swallow everything the environmentalists tell you about oil sands, the idea that blocking Keystone would prevent their development by Canada is ridiculous. Canada sees its oil sands as a natural bounty and key strategic asset. Canada will not leave it in the ground.

Where’s the environmental gain in blocking Keystone? The oil will be produced and the oil will be burned. If it goes to China, the Pacific pipeline will carry the same environmental risks as a U.S. pipeline.

And Alberta oil can still go to the United States, if not by pipeline then by rail, which requires no State Department approval. That would result in far more greenhouse gas emissions — exactly the opposite of what the environmentalists are seeking.

Moreover, rail can be exceedingly dangerous. Last year a tanker train derailed and exploded en route through Quebec. The fireball destroyed half of downtown Lac-Megantic, killing 47, many incinerated beyond recognition.

This isn’t theoretical environmentalism. This is not a decrease in the snail darter population. This is 47 dead human beings. More recently, we’ve had two rail-oil accidents within the United States, one near Philadelphia and one in North Dakota.

Add to this the slam-dunk strategic case for Keystone: Canadian oil reduces our dependence on the volatile Middle East, shifting petroleum power from OPEC and the killing zones of the Middle East to North America. What more reliable source of oil could we possibly have than Canada?

Keystone has left Canada very upset, though characteristically relatively quiet. Canadians may have succeeded in sublimating every ounce of normal human hostility and unpleasantness by way of hockey fights, but that doesn’t mean we should take advantage of their good manners.

The only rationale for denying the pipeline is political — to appease Obama’s more extreme environmentalists. For a president who claims not to be ideological, the irony is striking: Here is an easily available piece of infrastructure — privately built, costing government not a penny, creating thousands of jobs and, yes, shovel-ready — and yet the president, who’s been incessantly pushing new “infrastructure” as a fundamental economic necessity, can’t say yes.

Well then, Mr. President, say something. You owe Canada at least that. Up or down. Five years is long enough.

 Read more from Charles Krauthammer’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook. ******
3321  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: January 29, 2014, 09:55:21 AM
"Intellectuals’ obsession with income statistics — calling envy “social justice” — ignores vast differences in productivity that are far more fundamental to everyone’s well-being. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg has ruined many economies."

And last night we just had a President who will force this upon us whether we like it or not.

Someone should tell him, "hey we won" [Congress].    cool

Why so many in the media insist he is a "nice" guy I do not know.
3322  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Republicans again show their ineptitude on: January 29, 2014, 09:49:26 AM
 shocked shocked shocked shocked shocked:  From Forbes:

Matthew Herper
Matthew Herper, Forbes Staff

I cover science and medicine, and believe this is biology's century.

1/28/2014 @ 4:14PM |185,868 views
 
The Proposed Republican Replacement For ObamaCare Is A Big Tax Hike

Sen. Orrin Hatch (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Orrin Hatch (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Yesterday, three Republican Senators — Tom Coburn (Okla.), Richard Burr (N.C.), and Orrin Hatch (Utah) – put forward a plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. They call it the Patient CARE Act, and my colleague Avik Roy says it is “the most credible plan yet” offered by the GOP.


Senate Republicans Develop The Most Credible Plan Yet To 'Repeal And Replace' Obamacare  Avik RoyAvik Roy Forbes Staff

   ObamaCare Raises Health Insurance Premiums, Especially For The Young  Matthew HerperMatthew Herper Forbes Staff

   The Chart That Could Sink Obamacare  Chris ConoverChris Conover Contributor

Except the Coburn-Burr-Hatch plan (read it here) amounts, among other things, to a big tax increase. The main way that it remains budget neutral is by making employer-provided health insurance plans, which are currently not taxed, partially taxable as income. In fact, this income replaces income that, under ObamaCare, comes from taxing companies, including the tax on medical device companies paid by firms like Medtronic  and Stryker .

This fact has not escaped the notice of some prominent health reform allies. “It is a huge tax increase on workers without any confidence that they will be able to afford health insurance in the future,” says Bob Kocher, a partner at venture capital firm Venrock who previously worked in the Obama administration.

It is “essentially a very large Republican tax increase,” says Ezekiel Emanuel, the Diane V.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania and another former Obama advisor. “It’s quite clear the plan is to put a bigger burden on middle class Americans.”

Here’s what the Senators propose: right now, health insurance is not taxed as income. This is arguably the original sin of the U.S. healthcare system, which has insulated consumers from health costs and allowed prices to skyrocket. During World War II, wages were frozen but pensions and benefits were exempted; in 1943 the Internal Revenue Service ruled that these benefits weren’t taxable, either.

Many health economists believe this is a bad thing, because it shields people from paying their own premiums, and Coburn, Burr, and Hatch deserve credit for tackling this head on. But that doesn’t make this any more politically workable – or appealing to those of us who get health insurance through our employers.

They write:


Therefore, our proposal caps the tax exclusion for employee’s health coverage at 65 percent of an average plan’s costs. The value of employer-sponsored health insurance would be capped and indexed to grow at an annual rate of CPI +1.

Taxing 35% of the average plan – and more than that for plans that are above-average, as half are, could amount to a substantial tax. Tying the growth of the tax-exempt portion of the plan to the Consumer Price Index would also limit the cost of plans, pushing cost-saving measures.

How big a tax might this be for an average American family? Ezekiel has some numbers. The average employer health plan for a family of four costs $16,351, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the employer covers 72% of that, or $11,772. Thirty-five percent of $11,772 is $4,120.35. The employee’s share of the Social Security and Medicare payroll tax is 7.65%, or $315.21. Assuming this family of four is in the 25% marginal income tax bracket, that would add another $1,030.09, for a total tax increase of $1,345. (For more from Emanuel, see this Times piece.)

Up to 300% of the poverty line, there would be subsidies to help people buy insurance. It’s not immediately clear how these compare to the subsidies offered by Obamacare; they don’t look greater.

Removing a bunch of corporate taxes so that the middle class can pay more seems like a political non-starter, even given the public backlash against Obamacare. This plan would likely mean that more people would lose insurance, or be forced to go to smaller networks of doctors. Those are the same criticisms levied against the Affordable Care Act.

Another notable thing about the proposal is how much of the ACA it keeps: it gets rid of state healthcare exchanges, but it keeps the basic structure of trying to keep people in the insurance system (in this case by making pre-existing conditions something that insurers can’t use against you until you fail to sign up for coverage – and then you get slammed) and of paying subsidies to help poor people get insurance. Allowing less comprehensive benefits and allowing insurers to charge five times as much for their sickest and oldest customers as for their youngest and healthiest, compared to three times under Obamacare, could lower the cost of insurance for young people and get more of them in the system.

“The plan makes specific proposals worthy of serious consideration- although I doubt it receives it at this moment,” says Ronald Williams, the former chairman of Aetna. “Perhaps in the future it could be the foundation of serious conversations which could lead to bipartisan evolution of the current bill.”

What the plan does emphasize is the degree to which any plan to reform the insurance system can seem like a zero-sum game – the money has to come from somewhere. For insurers involved in the ObamaCare exchanges, like Humana, Molina Healthcare, and Centene, the legislative roller-coaster ride may be far from over.

Senator Hatch’s office did not return a request for comment.
3323  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Flu map CDC; One can run but one can't hide: on: January 28, 2014, 10:00:56 PM
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/usmap.htm
3324  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gov. Chris Christie on: January 28, 2014, 09:50:32 PM
Thanks to Christie we are only number two among states in the Democrat party extortion racket:

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Media/Slideshow/2014/01/28/10-Worst-States-Taxes-2014?page=1
3325  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Will starbucks get into the pot business? on: January 28, 2014, 08:35:48 PM
Sativa or Indica?   Say what?  In my day (I heard rumors) it was Mexican, Jamaican, Columbian, Panama Red, Thai sticks, Hash, or Hash oil.  Somewhat in that order, so I was told.

I think the THC content was at most 2 to 10 %.  Only oil was more.  Now the THC content in the run of the mill stuff is more.  A lot more.

From the Economist:
 
****Marijuana legalisation

High time

Colorado embarks on an unprecedented experiment
 Jan 11th 2014  | DENVER  | From the print edition

Sativa or indica?

FOR reasons as hazy as a cloud of Sour Diesel smoke, the number 420 is cherished by America’s stoners. So it was fitting that on January 1st, 420 days after Coloradans awoke to discover that, along with Washington state, theirs had become the first jurisdiction in the world to vote to remove the criminal prohibition on recreational marijuana, around 40 state-licensed pot shops flung open their doors to all-comers. Four-hour queues snaked along the streets of Denver and other cities. Swamped by newbies, many from out of state, shop staff toiled to explain the difference between sativa (which delivers a “cerebral”, energetic high suited to daytime use) and indica (a depressive effect; better consumed late).

“Should’ve done it 40 years ago!” growls a middle-aged man making his first purchase at Medicine Man, one of Denver’s biggest retail outlets. (A home-grower, he later confides that he got bored smoking the same old strains.) For optimists, the votes in Colorado and Washington suggest that America’s war on drugs is finally winding down. The casualties have been legion: 750,000 people are arrested each year for marijuana alone; the subsequent blotted records can derail lives. Some 40,000 people languish in prison for pot-related offences. Murderous gangs fill the supply gap created by prohibition.

Public opinion appears to have reached a tipping point. Most Americans now favour legalisation; something that was unthinkable a generation ago (see chart). Advocates have waged savvy campaigns, gaining footholds by legalising marijuana for medical purposes (so far in 20 states and Washington, DC) and presenting a clean-cut, besuited image worlds away from the tie-dyed stereotypes. More states may free the weed before long.

Yet legalisation is just the beginning of a process, and Colorado and Washington have taken different routes. Colorado has built on the foundations of its medical-marijuana system. Until October (and 2016 in Denver) only medical-marijuana operators may receive licences to serve recreational customers, which is why many of the shops that welcomed newcomers on January 1st have names like Citi-Med and Evergreen Apothecary. (Retailers exult that they are no longer obliged to speak of “medicine” and “patients”.) During this time Colorado’s retailers must grow at least 70% of the marijuana they sell.

Washington, by contrast, is creating a recreational market from scratch; this is why its shops are not expected to open until May or so. It will have a three-tier system, with separate licences for cultivation, processing and retail. The state will determine, Soviet-style, consumers’ annual needs in advance and cap overall production. The fate of its medical system, more chaotic than Colorado’s, is uncertain.

Under federal law, marijuana remains illegal. The feds have pounced on dispensaries in states with badly run medical systems. But in August the Department of Justice suggested it would let the experiments in Washington and Colorado proceed if they did not impede eight “enforcement priorities”, including stopping pot from being trafficked by gangs, sold to minors or smuggled into other states.

Worryingly for Colorado, its record in these areas is not stellar. Plenty of teenagers are getting their hands on medical marijuana procured by adults. Police in neighbouring states such as Kansas complain of Coloradan marijuana flooding border areas. Colorado has a fat rule book and most dispensaries are well run, but they can do little about customers passing pot to children or taking it across state lines. And in Colorado (but not Washington) anyone may grow up to six marijuana plants without a licence.

Legalisation may prompt people to smoke and eat more marijuana. Prices for recreational pot are comparable to those in the illicit market ($55-$60 for an eighth, according to Darin Smith of the Denver Kush Club, a retail outlet). Some non-tokers will surely be tempted to take up the habit now that they need not deal with intimidating criminals in dark alleys; others may get high more often.

The ill-effects of marijuana, including cognitive impairment and a risk of dependency, are fairly well documented (though more research would help). Around 20% of users account for 80% of consumption; as Mark Kleiman, an analyst, points out, it is in a profit-seeking industry’s interest to target these problem users. Set against this is the genuine pleasure that smoking or eating marijuana brings millions of adults. Moreover, increased marijuana use may turn out to be a net positive for public health if, as some studies suggest, it replaces some consumption of alcohol—a far more destructive drug by most measures.

That is not the only reason for officials to welcome legal weed. Hefty excise and sales taxes will boost state coffers. In Colorado the Department of Revenue oversees regulation; this, says Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver, is good news for the industry, for “marijuana may not be addictive, but money certainly is”. The costs of enforcement—including 22 field inspectors—will be more than covered by the fresh revenue.

Perhaps the biggest sign of change is that even foes of legalisation accept the need to try to make it work. All-out drug warriors are hard to find in Colorado. For their part, campaigners now focus on technical matters. For example, many pot businesses struggle to obtain basic financial services because banks fear violating federal money-laundering rules. Colorado’s experiment will doubtless hit many hurdles along the way, but if it looks like working, others will copy it.
3326  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: January 28, 2014, 08:21:41 PM
"On this WD story, I think our side would do better focusing on the fact that her older, rich husband stayed home to raise the children, and the day after he paid off her tuition loans, she dumped him.  EVERYONE, man and woman, knows that what story reveals is as revolting as it is revealing."

Excellent point.   Is this the kind of person one wants as their leader?  If she could do that to her husband and caretaker of her own children just think what she could do to an electorate. 
3327  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: January 28, 2014, 08:11:30 PM
"I have previously predicted:  
a) She won't run.  
b) If she runs, she won't be the nominee.
c) If she is the nominee, she won't win.
d) When this proves true, it will appear so obvious in that I won't be able to brag about this prediction."

Doug,  

I will personally pay for an ad in the WSJ the moment this comes true giving you credit for knowing it before anyone else.  The Dog Brothers' version of Nostradamus! grin

I am rooting for you.
3328  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: January 27, 2014, 05:54:44 PM
Hillary' biggest regret are the deaths in Benghazi?

What a stinking slime bucket she is.  After lying before an election and trying to hide behind a cover-up NOW she expresses her regrets.

And of course her slime-ball supporters will be defending her from now on saying, " what more do you want?"  "She expresses her regrets".  "She is taking responsibility".

This is not taking responsibility!  If there is a God she should not get away with this. angry

Doesn't American deserve better than this?  Selfish lying scum bucket. 

Not another 8 years of this please. 
3329  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Another Clinton election theme now emerging on: January 26, 2014, 07:12:30 PM
Besides the babe factor I just started hearing about this so called "split" in the Democrat party between, guess what, and get this, the "moderate" Clinton camp and the "progressive" Obama camp.   The coronation continues:

http://www.ksat.com/news/politics/Post-Obama-Democratic-divide-grows/-/2567674/24124676/-/xxd1wl/-/index.html
3330  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: January 26, 2014, 11:36:43 AM
Crafty has suggested we keep Huckabee in mind.  I like this concept from Mike.  The RNC really has NO clue what they are doing.

https://news.yahoo.com/mike-huckabee-wants-republicans-to-fight-back-on--war-on-women--rhetoric-215125924.html
3331  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: January 26, 2014, 11:05:39 AM
"Let them smoke all the pot they want, maybe they will get less done!"

I would rather this then a new giant divisions of the DEA, ATF (Alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and ? marijuana?) regulating everything about it along with hoards of State government bureaus, and endless cottage industries designed for now better purpose then to make money off the expanded bureaucracy and how to circumvent it.

Just make it legal already.  Enforcing the law as it is now is and has been a farce anyway since the 60's.
3332  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: January 25, 2014, 10:16:09 PM
Addendum clarification to my previous post:

The thought of having legalized pot does not bother me.  The thought of government regulating it from top to bottom (yes, I know the funds could go to drug treatments, education, and more wonderful ladeedaa things for "our children")  gives me a headache. 

Is there any cure for government metastasizes?

Government regulation really is a societal cancer.  No cure but slow and painful death.
3333  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Cynthia Tucker's article is worthless on: January 25, 2014, 10:08:56 PM
But I enjoyed the different views in the comments section that follow her agenda laden comments:

http://news.yahoo.com/regardless-cold-winters-global-warming-fact-050113690.html
3334  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Wolves, Dogs and other canines on: January 25, 2014, 09:47:38 PM
I wonder what the owl was really "thinking".  Friend or foe?  I don't know.

If the pooch had been smaller shocked

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2468601/posts
3335  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / When one professional wrestling match turned into a real fight on: January 25, 2014, 09:43:06 PM
Read the details of the first match and then see the video:

http://www.cracked.com/article_20006_5-moments-in-fake-professional-wrestling-that-got-too-real.html
3336  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Malken: Chamber of Comm. = cronyism on: January 25, 2014, 09:20:39 PM
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce vs. America

By Michelle Malkin  •  January 24, 2014 09:03 AM


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce vs. America
 by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2014

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a politically entrenched synod of special interests. These fat cats do not represent the best interests of American entrepreneurs, American workers, American parents and students, or Americans of any race, class or age who believe in low taxes and limited government. The chamber’s business is the big business of the Beltway, not the business of mainstream America.

If you are a business owner who believes your country should strictly and consistently enforce its borders and deport illegal immigrants who violate the terms of their visas, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t represent you.

If you are a worker who believes the feds should punish illegal aliens who use fake documents to obtain jobs instead of rewarding them with “legal status,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t champion you.

If you are a parent or educator who opposes top-down federal education schemes such as Common Core that undermine local control, dumb down rigorous curricula and threaten family privacy while enriching big business and lobbying groups, the U.S. Chamber od Commerce doesn’t speak for you.

If you are a taxpayer who has had enough of crony capitalism and publicly funded bailouts of failing corporations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t work for you.

Last year, the chamber poured more than $52 million into K Street lobbying efforts on behalf of illegal alien amnesty, Fed Ed Common Core programs and increased federal spending. This year, chamber bigwigs are paving the perilous pathway to GOP capitulation. The left hardly needs to lift a finger against tea party candidates and activists who are bravely challenging the big government status quo. The chamber has already volunteered to spend $50 million subsidizing the Republican incumbency protection racket and attacking anti-establishment conservatives.

Allow me to say, “I told you so.” In 2010, when President Barack Obama hypocritically attacked the chamber for accepting “foreign donations” just before the midterm elections, many on the right rushed to the group’s side. But as I warned then, the purported enemy of my enemy is … sometimes my worst enemy. Barely three months after their Kabuki campaign fight, Obama and the chamber had already kissed and made up.

The chamber joined hands with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations on a joint campaign to support Obama’s increased government infrastructure and spending proposals, stuffed with Big Labor payoffs.

The chamber is one of the staunchest promoters of mass illegal immigration, and joined with the AFL-CIO and American Civil Liberties Union to oppose immigration enforcement measures.

The chamber opposed E-verify and sued Arizona over its employer sanctions law.

The chamber supported a pro-Obamacare, pro-TARP, pro-stimulus, pro-amnesty Democrat in Arizona over his free-market GOP challenger.

The chamber supported the George W. Bush/Obama TARP, the Bush/Obama auto bailout and the billion-dollar, pork-stuffed stimulus.

This isn’t about letting the best ideas and businesses thrive. It’s about picking winners and losers. It’s about “managing” competition and engineering political outcomes under the guise of stimulating the economy and supporting “commerce.” What’s in it for the statist businesses that go along for the ride with Obama and his team of corruptocrats? Like they say in the Windy City: It’s all about the boodle — publicly subsidized payoffs meted out to the corruptocrats’ friends and special interests.

In the case of Common Core, the chamber has made common cause with the left-wing, corporate-bashing Center for American Progress in a new Baptists and Bootleggers coalition. They are seemingly strange bedfellows who both profit from increased federal government intervention. For giant corporate publishers, such as Pearson and other big-business ventures backed by the chamber, it’s all about cashing in on the public schools’ Common Core captive guinea pigs in testing, teaching, data collection and data analysis.

For big government advocacy groups, such as CAP, it’s all about diminishing state, local and parental control over local education and curricular decisions; expanding Washington’s regulatory reach into the classroom; and ensuring the perpetuation of the Fed Ed bureaucracy.

When businesses get in the government handout line, it’s not a “public-private partnership.” It’s corporate welfare. Venture socialism. Whatever you call it, it stinks as much under Democrat administrations as it does under Republican ones.

Always beware of Washington business-boosters wearing false free-market facades.
3337  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Images of Sochi - a Black Sea resort on: January 24, 2014, 09:10:47 PM
https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A0oG7havKuNSLF0AgVJXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0bHRnZzgyBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2FjMgR2dGlkA1ZJUDA0OF8x?_adv_prop=image&fr=yfp-t-200&va=sochi
3338  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Dick Morris and the class action ambien attorney on: January 24, 2014, 08:10:52 PM
http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2014/01/22/dick-morris-speaks-with-attorney-susan-chana-lask-about-ambien-allegedly-triggering-bizarre-behaviors/

PS  Lunesta is not used nearly as much for one reason - it ain't generic.  No one wants to pay for it.
3339  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: January 24, 2014, 07:52:18 PM
"by introducing alternative "drug courts" that offer treatment and softer penalties for minor offenses,"

Offer treatment?  What does he mean?  What treatment?  Who pays for that?  For smoking dope?

How the hell do you treat that?

Minor offense?   

This sounds ridiculous. 

Why bother with half measures.  It is either legal or not. 

Perry is trying to have it both ways and at least to me sounds even more absurd by muddying the issue even more.
Might as well make it legal.
3340  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Demographics on: January 24, 2014, 07:45:58 PM
"Here 99 percent of the 313 pupils have an immigrant (Muslim) background. For 285 of those, the parents receive financial support from the state."

Velcome to Germany.   The immigrants of today are not the immigrants of my grandparents.  Even in Germany it appears.
3341  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 22, 2014, 06:49:50 PM
I am not sure you understood my question.

"However, science must rule and the global warming hypothesis is fairly challenged e.g. in this thread"

My point is I don't know which science to believe.  I don't know what to conclude.   I don't know who to believe. 
3342  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 22, 2014, 12:19:11 PM
"they are targeted for destruction by both the Democrat establishment and the media, and even establishment Republicans"

Yup.
3343  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: January 22, 2014, 12:18:28 PM
The left MSM blitz/tsunami on girl power like the gay infatada before it is going to badger us like no tomorrow.  All in setup for their hero - Hillary.

To think they glamorize a filthy mouth like Sarah Silverman just further goes to show us how demeaned our culture has become:

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Hollywood/2014/01/21/pbs-women-honors-sarah-silverman-dunham
3344  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: January 22, 2014, 11:11:25 AM
Why in the world would they accept gifts like this?  The gifts were to family members which under Virginia is legal though they maybe avoided reporting them which is not.
The investigation seems to have sprung unexpectedly from some items stolen from a kitchen by a chef who was obviously given some plea deal in exchange for dirt on the bigger fish. 

Yet I wonder why Federal investigations seem to be successful against Republicans but seem to go no where with Democrats.   And to think McDonnell's gifts of 160K were such a big deal when Virginia just elected a far bigger crook McAullife as governor?  That guy has become a multimillionaire with his insider deals.   Some people are just wiser at skirting the laws when they take bribes I guess. 

****Ex-Governor of Virginia Is Indicted on Charges Over Loans and Gifts


By TRIP GABRIELJAN. 21, 2014
Former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, could face decades in prison if convicted. Steve Helber/Associated Press

Former Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia and his wife, Maureen, were indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on charges of accepting more than $140,000 in loans and gifts in exchange for promoting the business of a political patron who was seeking special favors from the state government.

The 14-count indictment filed by the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia included charges of fraud and soliciting loans and gifts from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the chief executive of Star Scientific, a maker of dietary supplements, who hoped to use the governor to promote his products.

The indictment accuses the McDonnells of accepting some $135,000 in cash from Mr. Williams, thousands of dollars in golf outings, designer clothing and a Rolex watch engraved “71st Governor of Virginia” on the back. It accuses the former first couple of lying about the gifts on loan statements and to government investigators.

Once a rising Republican star, mentioned as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney in 2012 and as an aspirant for his party’s 2016 presidential nomination, Mr. McDonnell has taken a spectacular fall since details of his relationship with Mr. Williams surfaced last spring. Under Virginia law, he was limited to one four-year term, but details of his relationship with Mr. Williams and the threat of his indictment colored the race to succeed him.

“Today’s charges represent the Justice Department’s continued commitment to rooting out public corruption at all levels of government,” the acting assistant attorney general, Mythili Raman, said in a statement. “Ensuring that elected officials uphold the public’s trust is one of our most critical responsibilities.”

At a news conference in Richmond on Tuesday night, Mr. McDonnell said he had been “falsely and wrongly accused” and that prosecutors had “stretched the law to its breaking point” to bring charges. He said he did no special favors for Mr. Williams. He appeared with his wife and took no questions.


Earlier, a lawyer for Ms. McDonnell, William Burck, said she was innocent.

Mr. McDonnell, who last summer announced that he was returning the gifts and loans, has long maintained that he never did anything for Mr. Williams or his company that he would not have done for any other Virginia business.

He apologized in his last address to the General Assembly on Jan. 8 for the scandal, which cast a shadow over the campaign of the Republican candidate who sought to succeed him, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II. Mr. Cuccinelli lost in November to the current governor, Terry McAuliffe.

A lawyer for Mr. Williams, Jerry W. Kilgore, declined to comment. Mr. Williams stepped down as chief executive of Star Scientific last month and the company changed its name.

If convicted, the McDonnells could face decades in prison.

As detailed in the 43-page indictment, Mr. Williams ingratiated himself with the McDonells by giving them lavish gifts and loans, many of which it said Ms. McDonnell solicited with the promise that she and the governor could help his company.

Mr. Williams, an entrepreneur whose publicly traded company developed dietary supplements and cosmetics derived from a tobacco extract, sought to use the McDonnells to impress investors, as well as to enlist the governor’s support in winning state-funded research on his product.

In April 2011, the government charges, Ms. McDonnell asked Mr. Williams to buy her an Oscar de la Renta gown in New York for a political event at the Union League Club. She promised to seat him next to the governor.

Later that year, the indictment charges, Ms. McDonnell told Mr. Williams that she and her husband were having severe financial difficulties because of real estate investments in Virginia Beach. She asked for a $50,000 loan. Mr. Williams agreed to lend the money, telling the governor that “loan paperwork was not necessary,” according to the charges.

ELSEWHERE ON NYTIMES.COM
 

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Shortly after, Mr. Williams paid $15,000 to cater the wedding of the McDonnells’ middle daughter, and Ms. McDonnell agreed to fly to Florida on Mr. Williams’s private jet to promote a dietary supplement called Anatabloc, made by Star Scientific.

“Thanks so much for all your help with my family,” the governor wrote to Mr. Williams, in an email included in the indictment. “Your very generous gift to [CM] was most appreciated as well as the golf round tomorrow for the boys,” he added, with “CM” apparently a reference to the governor’s middle daughter.

“Maureen is excited about the trip to fla to learn more about the products,” he added.

At the governor’s request, according to the indictment, the Virginia secretary of health asked policy advisers to meet with Mr. Williams, who was interested in having Virginia’s public universities conduct scientific studies of the health benefits of the active ingredient in Anatabloc, which he would be able to point to for investors.

In a meeting with the health policy adviser, Mr. Williams said he had discussed with the governor having the studies paid for by the State Tobacco Commission.

Later, when the governor met with a top state official about ways to reduce health care costs, Mr. McDonnell pulled out some Anatabloc from his pocket, said he took it personally and asked the official to “reach out to the ‘Anatabloc people’ and meet with them,” according to the indictment.

In the summer of 2011, when Mr. Williams offered a mountain lake home he owned to the McDonnells for a getaway, Ms. McDonnell asked if Mr. Williams’s Ferrari would be available for their use. Mr. Williams had an employee drive the car to the lake house for the McDonnells’ enjoyment, according to the indictment.

The government charges that after Ms. McDonnell met with investigators in February 2013, she wrote a note to Mr. Williams trying to cover her tracks by making it appear that she had agreed to return the designer luxury goods to him rather than keep them.

The governor was charged with routing Mr. Williams’s loans and other largess through family members and “corporate entities” to avoid revealing them on annual gift disclosure filings. When details of some of the gifts emerged publicly last year, Mr. McDonnell said they had been made to family members, not himself, and therefore he was not required to disclose them.

Speaking to radio listeners last spring, Mr. McDonnell said, “I think it’s important that the people of Virginia know that nothing has been done with regard to my relationship with Mr. Williams or his company Star Scientific to give any kind of special benefits to him or his company.”

Although Mr. McDonnell said he had returned all the gifts, the indictment includes a list of property that he and his wife would be required to forfeit if they are convicted. The list includes Mr. McDonnell’s silver Rolex, two gold Oscar de la Renta dresses, an Armani jacket and matching dresses, two pairs of Foot Joy golf shoes, a baby blue striped Peter Millar golf shirt, a Ping Kinloch golf bag, two sets of golf clubs, two iPhones and 30 boxes of Anatabloc.****
3345  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Organized Crime - bigger than ever - just less violent; Economist on: January 22, 2014, 10:24:08 AM
Only when it was violent and too political to ignore.  Now it is worse because of the electronic world we live in and the international nature of some of it.  I as everyone has heard ad nauseum noted what I experienced in the music industry and how law enforcement does essentially nothing to even try to stop it.  The growing and exponential spread of big data will hitting everyone now in ways they don't even see or realize.  There is not and has not been enough outrage to get the politicians or law enforcement people even remotely interested in protecting us.  The focus is on Muslim terrorists.  What about the other form of white collar terrorism?  Yeah so there are not dead bodies strewn around.   Until people get serious about theft and other forms of corruption we will all continue to be victims.

****Organised crime

Earning with the fishes

As globalised gangs profit from new regulations and markets, governments are struggling to keep up
 Jan 18th 2014  | LONDON AND NEW YORK  | From the print edition

SOME lawmen chase villains down mean streets. Others chase fraudsters across balance-sheets. In the stomach-churning stench of the Vetport at John F. Kennedy International Airport, yet others don surgical masks, goggles and rubber gloves, and peer with penlights into crates holding thousands of little birds.

These inspectors with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) examine not just live animals entering America—such as the 45 outlaw jays they found lurking in a legal shipment of thousands of birds—but plants and animal products such as handbags and caviar. In 2011 FWS agents raided Gibson Guitar facilities in Tennessee and seized wood worth hundreds of thousands of dollars that they suspected had been illegally imported from India and Madagascar.

The buyers may be besotted ornithophiles, air-brained fashionistas or greedy gourmets. But the sellers are crooks, supplying a market which, according to America’s Congressional Research Service, is worth as much as $133 billion annually. Commodities such as rhino horn and caviar offer criminals two benefits rarely found together: high prices and low risk. Rhino horn can fetch up to $50,000 per kilogram, more than gold or the American street value of cocaine. Get caught bringing a kilogram of cocaine into America and you could face 40 years in prison and a $5m fine. On January 10th, by contrast, a New York court sentenced a rhino-horn trafficker to just 14 months.

The appeal of such trade is increased, however unwittingly, by governments trying harder to protect what is precious and rare. “When we finally get it together to agree that we’ll only take ten tuna out of the water this year because that’s all we can afford to take, that 11th tuna will be worth a lot of money,” says Theodore Leggett of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). As with tuna, so with ebony, ivory and rhino horn—all being regulated more tightly, and all still desirable.

The world is their oyster

Organised crime is globalising and diversifying. Mono-ethnic, hierarchical mafias are being replaced by multi-ethnic networks that operate across borders and commit many types of offence. In an ongoing investigation into rhino-horn trafficking, the FWS arrested Irish travellers using indigent Texans to procure material for Chinese and Vietnamese buyers. Europol, the European Union’s law-enforcement agency, estimates that just a quarter of Europe’s roughly 3,600 organised-crime groups have a main nationality, and that some operate in dozens of countries. A third are involved in more than one criminal enterprise, with half of those linked to drug-trafficking.

And though traditional trafficking in drugs, guns and people is still lucrative, gangs are increasingly moving into lower-risk, higher-reward areas—not just wildlife, but fraud and illegal waste-disposal. The UNODC says the value of cross-border trade in counterfeit goods could be as much as $250 billion a year. On January 14th it launched a campaign to tell consumers about the dangers posed by fake electronics, food, medicines and the like—and how the buyers of knock-offs enrich some highly unpleasant people.

Gangs in Britain make around £9 billion ($14.8 billion) a year from tax, benefit, excise-duty and other fraud—not much less than the £11 billion they earn from drugs. In America cigarette-trafficking deprives state, local and federal governments of $5 billion in tax revenues annually. The European Union estimates that losses within its borders from cigarette smuggling, tax fraud and false claims on its funds by organised groups total €34 billion ($46.5 billion) a year. But member states bring fewer than ten cases each a year for defrauding the EU, and sentences tend to be light.

According to the FLARE Network, an international group of campaigners against organised crime, criminal groups in Italy make around €14 billion a year from being mixed up in agriculture. In some parts of the country mafias control food production and distribution; Franco La Torre, FLARE’s president, says they also enrich themselves through fraudulent claims on EU agricultural funds. Increasingly strict regulation of waste disposal has created another profitable opportunity for organised crime in Europe—particularly, according to Europol, for the Italian Camorra, ’Ndrangheta and Cosa Nostra.

Where politics is corrupt and law enforcement weak, as in much of Latin America, gangsters still look much as they have for decades: brutal and keen on the brand-enhancing effect of highly visible violence. But in the rich world, the shift to new lines of business is changing the face of organised crime. The FBI estimates that the four big Italian Mafia groups still have 3,000 members and affiliates in America. But as traditional industries have shrivelled so, too, have the unions and tight-knit neighbourhoods that were once their fertile breeding grounds.

Old-style loan sharks and drug-dealers are finding a new role as distributors for the modern mobsters who manage the supply chains, marketing, finance and human resources needed to move goods, money and people across borders. “The new generation are very talented businessmen and technologically advanced experts,” says Mr La Torre. They prefer invisibility to showy violence. Many also have legitimate business interests.

Clever criminals acting across borders are extremely difficult to prosecute. They profit from gaps in enforcement and regulation, and conceal their illegal acts in complex supply chains. If a network of Nigerian scammers based in Amsterdam defrauds French, Australian and American credit-card holders, where does the crime occur? And who has the motivation, not to mention the jurisdiction, to prosecute?

A commodity such as oil, ivory or fish will be transported on a ship flying a flag of convenience, explains Mr Leggett. The ship will be owned by a holding company registered in a tax haven with a phoney board. Thus the criminals can disguise the provenance of their ill-gotten goods and middlemen can plead ignorance.

Governments are reacting by getting law-enforcement agencies to work together. America is trying to improve the flow of information between them. Britain’s recently created National Crime Agency will have the power to order local police forces to make arrests, unlike the body it replaced. Europol analyses and distributes information from EU member states.

But organised crime sells things that people want—not just drugs and sex, but handbags, sushi and wardrobes, too. Businesses and consumers will have to accept, says Mr Leggett, “that there is no such thing as just wood. It has to be wood from somewhere.” And they will have to agree not to sell or buy illegally harvested wood, however beautiful or cheap.

Until then, illicit goods will keep coming in quantities too great for governments to stop. One FWS inspector estimates that for all the peering, prodding and chirping, for all the rewards promised and rhino-horn traffickers caught, the agency picks up perhaps 5% of wildlife brought illicitly into America. For criminals, that is merely a light tax on the profits from the rest.

Copyright © The Economist Newspaper Limited 2014. All rights reserved.
                   

   
 
3346  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: January 22, 2014, 10:12:17 AM
Good post.  This is precisely why the left, including Democrat Blacks will go after any Blacks like Sowell, like Carson, or recently like that NAACP guy went after Senator Scott with a vengeance and with putrid virulence.   They fear they are right.  In their hearts they cannot bear the truth.  Unfortunately the left controls most of the education system AND the media.   And of course it is easy to buy off voters with the "Christmas gifts".

Why cannot the right come up with their Barack Obama?  Let them call him or her an Uncle or Aunt Tom.   The message needs to get out and wake some people up.

As for history it truly is remarkable how fast people forget.   Within a single generation lessons are lost into the sunset of time. 
3347  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: January 22, 2014, 10:06:15 AM
GM says:

"One website says Kruggy has a personal wealth of 2.5 million.

I'm sure he's given it all away to the poor, right?"

I have been an advocate of the left's wishes on this board a number of times.   All wealthy liberals should be taxed at 90% and their wealth handed over to big government welfare programs.  The rest of us can be left alone.

Doug,

Sowell does it again.  I am sick and tired of hearing how women do't get paid the same as men.  I can tell you in health care that is simply bogus.   Women may make less than men overall but that is by THEIR design.  There is NO conspiracies going on to KEEP WOMEN DOWN.  They get reimbursed the same from Medicare, Medicaid, insurers the same as the rest of us.  They may make less because THEY choose jobs that have easier hours.   To some extant this is so they can take time off for pregnancy leave with generous guarantees their job is secure and waiting for them when they choose to come back.

They also do not choose high paying surgical careers as much.  These tend to have long hours and be more demanding.  Yes, surgeons historically had been an all boys club, no doubt, but this is not the case now.  Women have quite good.  They have it both ways.  Nonetheless we will be hearing the none stop propaganda machine from the left MSM setting up for Hillary.  It is all about getting her elected now.   
3348  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 22, 2014, 09:55:06 AM
I don't know who to  believe or what to think.  ON Drudge is posted two agencies one being NASA that claim the hottest years globally on record are recent.   I am not fan of lets all drive electric junk and  tax how many times I flush my toilet but if the world is being affected to humanities future detriment what do we do?  I'll be long dead I guess....
3349  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How would we know? on: January 22, 2014, 09:51:13 AM
"We are repeatedly told by defenders of the NSA bulk data seizure program that there has not been a single example of any abuse by the NSA of this database. Set aside the information that the NSA regularly violated its own rules. Set aside the fact that the so-called FISA “court” lacks the independent information needed to oversee such abuses.  Set aside the information we have that some NSA employees used their access to this data to cyberstalk their love interests, giving rise to the internal nickname “LoveINT.”  Set aside the fact that Edward Snowden managed to get his hands on “literally everything” without authorization. Set aside that this was likely made possible due to the absence of internal monitoring of data collection at the NSA, so it cannot be effectively audited and held accountable.  And, above all, set aside the fact that this is a top secret program, the operational details of which we have no direct knowledge. Query whether government officials such as the Attorney General, or even the President himself, are privy to how the program actually works. After all, the concept of “deniability” was invented to shield them from such information so they can deny any such knowledge."

That was exactly my point when I heard Congressman King on Geraldo ranting about "show us one shred of evidence of abuse".

Sorry folks.  I will never ever support this guy for anything.  Anyone who talks like that is either naïve, stupid, or a liar.

How the heck are we the people supposed to come up with evidence against the NSA?  You  tell us KIng you stupid bastard.   HOw can we even know?  
3350  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hedy Lamarr helped invent CDMA on: January 21, 2014, 10:57:09 PM
http://www.bubblews.com/news/1938391-hedy-lamarr-and-the-cellphone
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