Sarah Palin’s Revenge

Death Panels are back, so, just like Joe Wilson’s impolite and impolitic outburst (You Lie!), she was right.

“Death Panels” Return: House Bill Has Potential Physician-Assisted Suicide Loophole

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 30, 2009 ( – They’re back. The provisions on advanced-planning directives labeled “death panels” by concerned observers have re-emerged in the final version of the US House of Representatives health-care reform bill. Moreover, the bill also lacks protective language that would prevent reimbursement of physicians counseling assisted suicide as a legitimate “end-of-life” option in states like Washington and Oregon.

Section 240 of H.R. 3962 “Affordable Health Care for America Act” requires insurance companies offering a “qualified health benefits plan” on the health insurance exchange to provide information related to “end-of-life planning” to enrolled individuals.

Let’s step back from the heated “framing” words like Death Panels (no matter how brilliant). Can some well-meaning liberal reading this post please give me a good reason why a) the government has any business “mandating” this, and b) why on earth anyone needs this type of counsel?

Climate, like the stock market, will fluctuate

The Earth Cools, and Fight Over Warming Heats Up

Added to the equations are such measurements as past temperatures, barometric pressure and sea salinity. Calculations about the influence of sunlight are entered. Then various projections of greenhouse-gas emissions are factored in. The computers run the equations and generate projections of global temperatures.

The models are only as good as the information they are fed. One big uncertainty is ocean temperature. Oceans trap huge amounts of heat, and the process by which they release it over time affects the temperature of the planet. But there isn’t a lot of actual data, because the vastness of the oceans makes gathering temperature data costly and arduous.

The success of the models also depends on the soundness of their assumptions. The effects of clouds, for example, are unclear. Depending on their shape and altitude, clouds can either trap heat, warming the earth, or reflect it, cooling the planet. The way that greenhouse gases affect cloud formation — and how clouds in turn affect temperature — remains a subject of debate. Different models treat these factors differently.

Re: Assumptions. For political reasons, everyone assumed that CO2 caused climate change, but if you really think about it. CO2 is much much more likely to follow warming, not the other way around.

Arnold going out with a Bang?

You just gotta love this story. (make sure you click the image)

While unfit for more tender readers, you will probably get a good laugh.

It’s almost enough to wish Arnold weren’t term limited. But then, it is probably only term limits that gave us this gem.

Your emotions are making me ill

Well Well Well, even “experts” get it right once in while.

Don’t Follow US in Treating ‘Emotions as Illness’-Expert

SYDNEY—Australians are being urged to not follow the “American trend” of branding “emotions an illness” and then being coaxed into expensive therapies to rectify them.

Associate Professor John Pead, from the Melbourne-based Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, said this approach could distract people from making the lifestyle changes required to be genuinely happy.

He spoke to AAP after giving a presentation at an occupational health conference, at which he also told attendees how the mental health ramifications of major traumatic events – such as Victoria’s bushfires – were often over-estimated.

“About 80 per cent of people who experience life threatening trauma get better on their own, without medication or any other intervention,” Dr Pead told attendees at the 4th Annual Occupational Health and Wellbeing Conference in Sydney.

“It’s an American trend to label your emotions an illness and then hire an expert to fix it for you … getting into dependent commercial relationships with those experts where you see them once a week.”

Dr Pead said people who needed counselling should aim to use it on an “as needs basis” and not routinely, as the key to effective treatment was that it be limited.

I suggest the following treatment, courtesy of The Eagles. No seriously, don’t pay me. It’s free!

Rating the Investments – “War vs. Education”

The article linked below is longer than most people have time to read, but it’s an important article nonetheless. I generally agree with its take, but challenge at least one point made.

Death Cometh for the Greenback

America’s debt-to-GDP ratio is slated to increase from 40.8 percent in 2008 to 70 percent or more by 2019, and if interest rates return to more normal levels of say 5 to 6 percent from their current range of 0.0 to 0.25 percent, it will mean the cost of paying interest on the debt will eat up a substantial fraction of tax revenue (20 percent or more)—unless taxes are raised. The costs of funding programs for the aging baby boomers will only put further strains on the budget.

Granted, deficits by themselves need not present a problem. Deficits are of course only one side of a country’s balance sheet. On the other side are assets. If a company borrows money to make high-return investments, no one is worried—so long as those investments do in fact yield returns.1 Our soaring deficit is not a concern if the money is spent on education, technology, infrastructure—all investments that historically have yielded very high returns, far higher than the interest rate the government has to pay—because then the returns to our society are far greater than the costs.

    But, if the money is spent on wars in Afghanistan or Iraq

, poorly designed bailouts for banks or tax cuts for upper-income Americans, then there will be no asset corresponding to the increased liabilities, and then there is cause for concern. This seems to be the road we have been heading down for the last eight years and, disappointingly, are to too-large an extent continuing to travel.

No one would argue with the overall point, but the attack on “money spent on wars” should be taken to task. It would be so easy to compare investment in a good education system to an investment in ‘war’, and pretend that the better choice is obvious.

It isn’t.

First, America takes a backseat to no nation in investing scads of money in bloated and unnecessary institutions call “school districts” and then loading those districts with needless overpaid and over-pensioned staff (both Admin and teachers). This is hardly a wise investment.

Next, while it may appear obvious that investing in “war” is less rewarding than even bloated education, please take the following fact into account. The 9/11 attacks destroyed billions of value in minutes, and that loss cascaded into greater billions in lost value and hastily enacted “investments” in security.

Saddam with a bomb (spare me the idiocy that he wasn’t a threat) is an extreme risk that no rational world would countenance. Getting rid of him could be viewed as a prudent investment in risk reduction. Furthermore, while the project is far from finished, 50 million free Iraqis and Afghans is an “investment” huge potential, as is creating a more democratic Muslim region. Lastly, while somewhat crass, we haven’t even begun to discuss the “investment” in the free flow of oil.

Of course, it is arguable that these investments could have been better allocated and deployed, just as I’ve argued we could deploy education dollars far more effectively than pouring money into the greedy maw of corrupt education bureaucracies and lying about how it’s “for the children.” Both of those are debates worth having.

Pretending the answer is “obvious” is just plain silly.

What if you could fix “warming” with a balloon and some hose?

Let us take a time out from our gloating about the earth actually cooling the moment the sun stopped putting out massive energy to point out that even if the world were warming, we may soon be able to access technology that allowed us to simply cool the planet.

Who knows, why couldn’t we just invent a way to pull CO2 from the atmosphere faster than we put it in.

Freaked Out Over SuperFreakonomics
Global warming might be solved with a helium balloon and a few miles of garden hose.

Suppose for a minute—which is about 59 seconds too long, but that’s for another column—that global warming poses an imminent threat to the survival of our species. Suppose, too, that the best solution involves a helium balloon, several miles of garden hose and a harmless stream of sulfur dioxide being pumped into the upper atmosphere, all at a cost of a single F-22 fighter jet.

Good news, right? Maybe, but not if you’re Al Gore or one of his little helpers.

The hose-in-the-sky approach to global warming is the brainchild of Intellectual Ventures, a Bellevue, Wash.-based firm founded by former Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold. The basic idea is to engineer effects similar to those of the 1991 mega-eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines, which spewed so much sulfuric ash into the stratosphere that it cooled the earth by about one degree Fahrenheit for a couple of years.

Mr. Gore, for instance, tells Messrs. Levitt and Dubner that the stratospheric sulfur solution is “nuts.” Former Clinton administration official Joe Romm, who edits the Climate Progress blog, accuses the authors of “[pushing] global cooling myths” and “sheer illogic.” The Union of Concerned Scientists faults the book for its “faulty statistics.” Never to be outdone, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman scores “SuperFreakonomics” for “grossly [misrepresenting] other peoples’ research, in both climate science and economics.”

In fact, Messrs. Levitt and Dubner show every sign of being careful researchers, going so far as to send chapter drafts to their interviewees for comment prior to publication. Nor are they global warming “deniers,” insofar as they acknowledge that temperatures have risen by 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century.

But when it comes to the religion of global warming—the First Commandment of which is Thou Shalt Not Call It A Religion—Messrs. Levitt and Dubner are grievous sinners. They point out that belching, flatulent cows are adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than all SUVs combined. They note that sea levels will probably not rise much more than 18 inches by 2100, “less than the twice-daily tidal variation in most coastal locations.” They observe that “not only is carbon plainly not poisonous, but changes in carbon-dioxide levels don’t necessarily mirror human activity.” They quote Mr. Myhrvold as saying that Mr. Gore’s doomsday scenarios “don’t have any basis in physical reality in any reasonable time frame.”

More subversively, they suggest that climatologists, like everyone else, respond to incentives in a way that shapes their conclusions. “The economic reality of research funding, rather than a disinterested and uncoordinated scientific consensus, leads the [climate] models to approximately match one another.” In other words, the herd-of-independent-minds phenomenon happens to scientists too and isn’t the sole province of painters, politicians and news anchors.

Part of the genius of Marxism, and a reason for its enduring appeal, is that it fed man’s neurotic fear of social catastrophe while providing an avenue for moral transcendence. It’s just the same with global warming, which is what makes the clear-eyed analysis in “SuperFreakonomics” so timely and important.

Nothing would be more fitting than to have Gore’s entire “eco-billionaire” rent-seeking project collapse, leaving him penniless. A man can dream.

Obama incompetence driving the nation Right

On one hand, it’s easy to critique the Obama Administration. Few people expected them to mess up so many things so fast. You’d think that with the experience of Bill Clinton and 1994 so fresh, any campaign smart enough to run a cleverly crafted center-left campaign would be smart enough not to do a hard left once they took power.

Apparently, the hard-bitten Chicago Machine hacks who provided the “intellectual” underpinnings of Obama’s manufactured aura thought they had converted the center-right USA into Mayor Daley’s Chicago overnight. DOH!

Axelrod ain’t no Rove. (Arguing in the alternative, maybe Rove was just lucky that he was on the center-right side of the divide)

I remain convinced that the Obama Administration, while completely incompetent at governing, are still dangerously competent at politicking, and may pull some rabbits out of the hat to forestall their well-deserved drubbing in 2010.

That said, nothing moves a nation right faster than an incompetent ultra-liberal who campaigned as a centrist, and then took a hard left. The question remains whether incompetent GOP leadership has the brains to capitalize on the shift. Winning 2010 by default will be a hollow victory.

Obama’s big change: He moves America to the Right

When you look at public attitudes toward the budget, health care, the environment, and other top issues, you see a similar picture: Republicans and Democrats are on either end of the spectrum, but independents aren’t exactly in the middle. They’re leaning a little bit right. And even though Republicans remain unpopular, voters seem willing to take a new look at them, if only by default.

On a related issue, the Gallup organization is finding a new trend toward conservatism. Gallup conducts thousands of interviews with Americans each year and always asks respondents to describe their political views. So far in 2009, 40 percent of those surveyed call themselves conservative. That’s up from 37 percent in 2007 and 2008, when the percentage of people who called themselves conservative fell to its lowest point in more than a decade.

The change is entirely attributable to movement among independents. In Gallup’s 2008 interviews, 29 percent of independents described themselves as conservative. This year, 35 percent do.

Gallup cites a lot of factors to explain the shift. An increasing number of people believe there’s too much government regulation of business; more people want the government to promote traditional values; more believe that labor unions are too influential in our politics; more oppose restrictive gun laws, and on and on.

I don’t have the time to find the link, but one election night (2008) poll showed the the “less services/lower taxation” versus “more services/more taxation” divide was around 60/40 on the “less government side. This on the night Obama trounced McCain.

Let that soak in.

Assuming that the Obama administration isn’t incompetent leaves one with only one alternative. They know that they have a narrow window to work with, and it’s better to enact all sorts of nonsense quickly, take the drubbing, and hope that once enacted, even idiocy (Obama care, Cap and Trade) can’t be repealed.

That window is closing, and they may already have blown it. For my part, I think anything they pass will be so bad that Congressional candidates across the nation can openly run on “repealing Obama’s first 2 years.”

One can only hope.

Ahh, the wonders of Ridicule

It’s time to start calling this the “Nixonian” presidency.

hat tip back yard conservative

Our exceedingly naive (or worse) President

Apparently, Obama understands next to nothing about negotiation. It’s either that, or he just doesn’t care about promoting US interests.

Despite Obama’s Concessions, Russia Remains Unhelpful on Iran: U.S. efforts are producing few results on nuclear problem (Joshua Kucera, October 26, 2009, US News)

[W]ashington’s hopes took a hit last week. First, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appeared to walk back that shift, saying, “Threats, sanctions, and threats of pressure in the current situation, we are convinced, would be counterproductive.” Visiting China the next day, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called talk of sanctions against Iran “premature.” The snub was sharper because Lavrov’s comments came shortly after he met Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Moscow, where she had traveled to discuss a host of issues, including Iran, with Russian leaders. Russian media reported that Michael McFaul, a National Security Council expert on Russia who accompanied Clinton, said the United States would back off of criticism of Moscow’s human rights record, another annoyance to Russia.

As my favorite blogger points out, once one party to a negotiation has gotten what it wants it has no real reason to continue negotiating. (though the world community might play with Obama the way a cat plays with a mouse).

“Thus, in the “negotiations” between Russia and the US, the former seeks our acquiescence on a range of security and human rights issues that directly effect Russia, whereas we seek their help on various matters extrinsic to Russia. To get them to the table, the UR agrees to their demands and then they’ll talk to us about what we want. Of course, having secured the stuff that matters to them, there’s no reason for them to help us out anymore.”

I’m getting sick of the people who call Obama “smart.” He appears quite below average to me.

Obama’s most disgusting act

Frankly, “disgusting” is too tepid a word. I think “evil” might be a tad too far, but if so, only by a little. That said, for those of us who knew from the beginning that Obama was nothing more than a well-spoken political hack for the extreme left, this single act proved us all correct.

Voices for Choice

Kevin Chavous is an African American and former Democratic city council member from Washington, D.C. He says he’s an Obama supporter, but he is distinctly unhappy with the president. Elections may have consequences, but no one expected that the White House would be so brazenly petty as to allow poor minority children in the nation’s worst school district to become the victims of political score-settling.

That’s exactly what happened when the Obama administration killed off the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program several months ago. Of course, if the White House thought that it could pay off the powerful teachers’ unions, and that the 750 kids in the program would be powerless to fight back, they made a serious miscalculation. Though Afghanistan, the economy, health care, and many other issues have been sucking up all the national-media oxygen, the school-choice efforts on the ground and in D.C. and in the halls of the Congress have been incessant and unyielding since the program was abruptly terminated.

The facts and events presented make an almost inarguable case for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program: The $7,500 vouchers cost about half of what it does to educate a student in D.C.’s dismal public schools; 36 percent of adults in D.C. are functionally illiterate; D.C. has the highest rate of child poverty in the country; the vast majority of D.C. residents are in favor of the program; a study earlier this year showed the program to be a success, but the Department of Education tried to squelch it. A prominent National Education Association teachers’-union leader explains why the powerful Democratic constituency protects the status quo in education: “It is not because we care about children. And it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power.”

Once you hear their brazen bragging over their power, it becomes clear that there is no more moral political crusade than to strip these disgusting people (NEA, Teacher’s Unions, oily school superintendents, and the entire Government/Education Complex) of their political power.

As I’ve said many times, School Choice is possibly the most potent issue in stripping liberals of their absurd self-congratulation over “caring for the poor.” Any liberal who cares for the poor is compelled by logic to support school choice. If they don’t, they are either uninformed, hypocrites, or liars.