Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Oops, Wrong Door

These guys want to rule the world and think they can change the weather -- but they can't find their way to the conference room and walk into a supply closet instead.

Monday, December 21, 2009



EDITORIAL: Climate folly

Copenhagen conference a sham

Has there ever been a more pitiful example of misguided nonsense, aggressive idiocy and functional stupidity than last week's climate change conference in Copenhagen?

The weeklong orgy of excess -- to which most participants arrived in plush, carbon-emitting private jets and were shuttled around in limos -- was nothing more than another leftist shakedown of wealthy nations on behalf of "developing" countries. This time in the name of saving the planet.

Promoting panic in the name of global warming is the Trojan horse for those who seek to overhaul the world economy by subverting capitalism and advancing collectivism. There is absolutely no evidence that mandating strict carbon emission standards will do anything at all to solve the perceived problem. Instead, we were treated to another U.N. gathering at which Third World hacks such as Hugo Chavez are applauded while Western ideals are dismissed and derided.

Unless, of course, those Western nations agree to cough up cash to dictatorial kleptocrats.

The most significant part of the bogus and nonbinding "deal" brokered by President Barack Obama, for instance, is a $30 billion, three-year program intended to help poor countries address environmental degradation and develop alternative energy. That figure is supposed to rise to $100 billion a year by 2020.

Suffice it to say that none of that money will go toward providing the citizens of "poor" countries with the means to become freer and more prosperous -- and thus more likely to be good environmental stewards.

Instead of offering more and more handouts, President Obama should have stood tall and explained that wealthy nations are wealthy for a reason: They stand atop political and cultural institutions that respect private property, contract law, individual liberty and capitalism.

Instead of sending cash to Chad, Laos, Guyana and Niger under the guise of mitigating global warming, we should send the works of Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, John Locke and the founding fathers. Then toss in tomes by Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand.

"Want to know the best way to heal the planet?" asked sydicated columnist Jonah Goldberg. "Create more rich countries. Want to know the best way to hurt the planet? Throw a wet blanket on economic growth."

Guess which option most of the Copenhagen "activists" prefer.

Friday, December 18, 2009


The Dog Ate Global Warming
Interpreting climate data can be hard enough. What if some key data have been fiddled?
By Patrick J. Michaels

Imagine if there were no reliable records of global surface temperature. Raucous policy debates such as cap-and-trade would have no scientific basis, Al Gore would at this point be little more than a historical footnote, and President Obama would not be spending this U.N. session talking up a (likely unattainable) international climate deal in Copenhagen in December.

Steel yourself for the new reality, because the data needed to verify the gloom-and-doom warming forecasts have disappeared.

Or so it seems. Apparently, they were either lost or purged from some discarded computer. Only a very few people know what really happened, and they aren’t talking much. And what little they are saying makes no sense.

In the early 1980s, with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, scientists at the United Kingdom’s University of East Anglia established the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) to produce the world’s first comprehensive history of surface temperature. It’s known in the trade as the “Jones and Wigley” record for its authors, Phil Jones and Tom Wigley, and it served as the primary reference standard for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) until 2007. It was this record that prompted the IPCC to claim a “discernible human influence on global climate.”

Putting together such a record isn’t at all easy. Weather stations weren’t really designed to monitor global climate. Long-standing ones were usually established at points of commerce, which tend to grow into cities that induce spurious warming trends in their records. Trees grow up around thermometers and lower the afternoon temperature. Further, as documented by the University of Colorado’s Roger Pielke Sr., many of the stations themselves are placed in locations, such as in parking lots or near heat vents, where artificially high temperatures are bound to be recorded.

So the weather data that go into the historical climate records that are required to verify models of global warming aren’t the original records at all. Jones and Wigley, however, weren’t specific about what was done to which station in order to produce their record, which, according to the IPCC, showed a warming of 0.6° +/– 0.2°C in the 20th century.

Now begins the fun. Warwick Hughes, an Australian scientist, wondered where that “+/–” came from, so he politely wrote Phil Jones in early 2005, asking for the original data. Jones’s response to a fellow scientist attempting to replicate his work was, “We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”

Reread that statement, for it is breathtaking in its anti-scientific thrust. In fact, the entire purpose of replication is to “try and find something wrong.” The ultimate objective of science is to do things so well that, indeed, nothing is wrong.

Then the story changed. In June 2009, Georgia Tech’s Peter Webster told Canadian researcher Stephen McIntyre that he had requested raw data, and Jones freely gave it to him. So McIntyre promptly filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the same data. Despite having been invited by the National Academy of Sciences to present his analyses of millennial temperatures, McIntyre was told that he couldn’t have the data because he wasn’t an “academic.” So his colleague Ross McKitrick, an economist at the University of Guelph, asked for the data. He was turned down, too.

Faced with a growing number of such requests, Jones refused them all, saying that there were “confidentiality” agreements regarding the data between CRU and nations that supplied the data. McIntyre’s blog readers then requested those agreements, country by country, but only a handful turned out to exist, mainly from Third World countries and written in very vague language.

It’s worth noting that McKitrick and I had published papers demonstrating that the quality of land-based records is so poor that the warming trend estimated since 1979 (the first year for which we could compare those records to independent data from satellites) may have been overestimated by 50 percent. Webster, who received the CRU data, published studies linking changes in hurricane patterns to warming (while others have found otherwise).

Enter the dog that ate global warming.

Roger Pielke Jr., an esteemed professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, then requested the raw data from Jones. Jones responded:

Since the 1980s, we have merged the data we have received into existing series or begun new ones, so it is impossible to say if all stations within a particular country or if all of an individual record should be freely available. Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e., quality controlled and homogenized) data.

The statement about “data storage” is balderdash. They got the records from somewhere. The files went onto a computer. All of the original data could easily fit on the 9-inch tape drives common in the mid-1980s. I had all of the world’s surface barometric pressure data on one such tape in 1979.


If we are to believe Jones’s note to the younger Pielke, CRU adjusted the original data and then lost or destroyed them over twenty years ago. The letter to Warwick Hughes may have been an outright lie. After all, Peter Webster received some of the data this year. So the question remains: What was destroyed or lost, when was it destroyed or lost, and why?

All of this is much more than an academic spat. It now appears likely that the U.S. Senate will drop cap-and-trade climate legislation from its docket this fall — whereupon the Obama Environmental Protection Agency is going to step in and issue regulations on carbon-dioxide emissions. Unlike a law, which can’t be challenged on a scientific basis, a regulation can. If there are no data, there’s no science. U.S. taxpayers deserve to know the answer to the question posed above.

— Patrick J. Michaels is a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and author of Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know.


"The pseudo-science of global warming is a global laughing stock and Copenhagen is a farce."

Copenhagen climate summit: 'most important paper in the world' is a glorified UN press release

By Gerald Warner Last updated: December 18th, 2009

When your attempt at recreating the Congress of Vienna with a third-rate cast of extras turns into a shambles, when the data with which you have tried to terrify the world is daily exposed as ever more phoney, when the blatant greed and self-interest of the participants has become obvious to all beholders, when those pesky polar bears just keep increasing and multiplying – what do you do?

No contest: stop issuing three rainforests of press releases every day, change the heading to James Bond-style “Do not distribute” and “leak” a single copy, in the knowledge that human nature is programmed to interest itself in anything it imagines it is not supposed to see, whereas it would bin the same document unread if it were distributed openly.

After that, get some unbiased, neutral observer, such as the executive director of Greenpeace, to say: “This is the single most important piece of paper in the world today.” Unfortunately, the response of all intelligent people will be to fall about laughing; but it was worth a try – everybody loves a tryer – and the climate alarmists are no longer in a position to pick and choose their tactics.

But boy! Was this crass, or what? The apocalyptic document revealing that even if the Western leaders hand over all the climate Danegeld demanded of them, appropriately at the venue of Copenhagen, the earth will still fry on a 3C temperature rise is the latest transparent scare tactic to extort more cash from taxpayers. The danger of this ploy, of course, is that people might say “If we are going to be chargrilled anyway, what is the point of handing over billions – better to get some serious conspicuous consumption in before the ski slopes turn into saunas.”

This “single most important piece of paper in the world” comes, presumably, from an authoritative and totally neutral source? Yes, of course. It’s from the – er – UN Framework Committee on Climate Change that is – er – running the Danegeld Summit. Some people might be small-minded enough to suggest this paper has as much authority as a “leaked” document from Number 10 revealing that life would be hell under the Tories.

This week has been truly historic. It has marked the beginning of the landslide that is collapsing the whole AGW imposture. The pseudo-science of global warming is a global laughing stock and Copenhagen is a farce. In the warmist camp the Main Man is a railway engineer with huge investments in the carbon industry. That says it all. The world’s boiler being heroically damped down by the Fat Controller. Al Gore, occupant of the only private house that can be seen from space, so huge is its energy consumption, wanted to charge punters $1,200 to be photographed with him at Copenhagen. There is a man who is really worried about the planet’s future.

If there were not $45trillion of Western citizens’ money at stake, this would be the funniest moment in world history. What a bunch of buffoons. Not since Neville Chamberlain tugged a Claridge’s luncheon bill from his pocket and flourished it on the steps of the aircraft that brought him back from Munich has a worthless scrap of paper been so audaciously hyped. There was one good moment at Copenhagen, though: some seriously professional truncheon work by Danish Plod on the smellies. Otherwise, this event is strictly for Hans Christian Andersen

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Swine Flu Warning

One of my co-workers came down with swine flu and the management sent out a warning to the rest of us.

Swine Flu Advisory
If you wake up and don't feel quite like your old self ...




















... don't come to work!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

PERSECUTION TODAY: NOT AN ABSTRACT IDEA

from catholicculture.org
Posted Aug. 17, 2009 3:53 PM || by Phil Lawler || category Inside Out


From Mumbai, India, reader Alex Kannattumadom writes:
We acknowledge and appreciate the efforts you put up for a good cause. It is high time you look beyond your own territories to see, especially, the Church in India. She is going through a very precarious situation. You see the media headlines: Church burnt in Karnataka state, Bible burnt in Gujarat, Priests murdered in broad daylight in Arunachal, Nuns raped in Uttar Pradesh. The Clergy and the laity had to flee to thick forests and had to stay there for weeks in Orissa. The Holy Host is desecrated in public.

Still we keep the lamp lit, unflickering, on a high lamppost. We In India deserve a moral boost and assistance from you.
Over the years we have carried literally hundreds of stories about the sufferings of Christians in India-- as well as the trials that our Christians brethren face in other countries. (See today's Feature about the latest fervent pleas by Vietnamese Catholics for an end to government oppression.) But I'm sorry to say that these stories attract fewer readers than most other CWN headlines. That's a shame-- literally-- because Alex Kannattumadom is right. Wherever Christians are suffering for the faith, they deserve our support.

Maybe there isn't much that we can do to help our fellow Catholics living thousands of miles away, apart from praying for them. But prayer is the most important step that we could take to preserve their hope and their courage. And the knowledge that we are praying for them should bolster their morale.

Beyond that, if we are informed about the struggles that the Church faces in other countries, we can do our part to persuade government leaders that they should exert diplomatic pressure on the offending countries to ease the oppression. Persecutors always prefer to do their dirty work without attracting notice. If we can expose their offenses, we are on the way to correcting them.

Would you please join me in saying a prayer-- right now-- for suffering Christians in India, Vietnam, and other countries where religious freedom is not protected? Would you please make a commitment to keep informed about the trials of Catholics in these lands, so that you can be involved in the political efforts to help them?
Meet the New Disney Character: Odumbo!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Under ObamaCare, You'll Get Waiting Lines, Lower Quality and Less Innovation -- Usually All Three

Great editorial in today's Wall Street Journal
Obama's Senior Moment

Why the elderly are right to worry when the government rations medical care.

Elderly Americans are turning out in droves to fight ObamaCare, and President Obama is arguing back that they have nothing to worry about. Allow us to referee. While claims about euthanasia and "death panels" are over the top, senior fears have exposed a fundamental truth about what Mr. Obama is proposing: Namely, once health care is nationalized, or mostly nationalized, rationing care is inevitable, and those who have lived the longest will find their care the most restricted.

Far from being a scare tactic, this is a logical conclusion based on experience and common-sense. Once health care is a "free good" that government pays for, demand will soar and government costs will soar too. When the public finally reaches its taxing limit, something will have to give on the care and spending side. In a word, care will be rationed by politics.

Mr. Obama's reply is that private insurance companies already ration, by deciding which treatments are covered and which aren't. However, there's an ocean of difference between coverage decisions made under millions of voluntary private contracts and rationing via government. An Atlantic Ocean, in fact. Virtually every European government with "universal" health care restricts access in one way or another to control costs, and it isn't pretty.

The British system is most restrictive, using a black-box actuarial formula known as "quality-adjusted life years," or QALYs, that determines who can receive what care. If a treatment isn't deemed to be cost-effective for specific populations, particularly the elderly, the National Health Service simply doesn't pay for it. Even France—which has a mix of public and private medicine—has fixed reimbursement rates since the 1970s and strictly controls the use of specialists and the introduction of new medical technologies such as CT scans and MRIs.

Yes, the U.S. "rations" by ability to pay (though in the end no one is denied actual care). This is true of every good or service in a free economy and a world of finite resources but infinite wants. Yet no one would say we "ration" houses or gasoline because those goods are allocated by prices. The problem is that governments ration through brute force—either explicitly restricting the use of medicine or lowering payments below market rates. Both methods lead to waiting lines, lower quality, or less innovation—and usually all three.

A lot of talk has centered on what Sarah Palin inelegantly called "death panels." Of course rationing to save the federal fisc will be subtler than a bureaucratic decision to "pull the plug on grandma," as Mr. Obama put it. But Mrs. Palin has also exposed a basic truth. A substantial portion of Medicare spending is incurred in the last six months of life.

From the point of view of politicians with a limited budget, is it worth spending a lot on, say, a patient with late-stage cancer where the odds of remission are long? Or should they spend to improve quality, not length, of life? Or pay for a hip or knee replacement for seniors, when palliative care might cost less? And who decides?

In Britain, the NHS decides, and under its QALYs metric it generally won't pay more than $22,000 for treatments to extend a life six months. "Money for the NHS isn't limitless," as one NHS official recently put it in response to American criticism, "so we need to make sure the money we have goes on things which offer more than the care we'll have to forgo to pay for them."

Before he got defensive, Mr. Obama was open about this political calculation. He often invokes the experience of his own grandmother, musing whether it was wise for her to receive a hip replacement after a terminal cancer diagnosis. In an April interview with the New York Times, he wondered whether this represented a "sustainable model" for society. He seems to believe these medical issues are all justifiably political questions that government or some panel of philosopher kings can and should decide. No wonder so many seniors rebel at such judgments that they know they could do little to influence, much less change.

Mr. Obama has also said many times that the growth of Medicare spending must be restrained, and his budget director Peter Orszag has made it nearly his life's cause. We agree, but then why does Mr. Obama want to add to our fiscal burdens a new Medicare-like program for everyone under 65 too? Medicare already rations care, refusing, for example, to pay for virtual colonoscopies and has payment policies or directives to curtail the use of certain cancer drugs, diagnostic tools, asthma medications and many others. Seniors routinely buy supplemental insurance (Medigap) to patch Medicare's holes—and Medicare is still growing by 11% this year.

The political and fiscal pressure to further ration Medicare would increase exponentially if government is paying for most everyone's care. The better way to slow the growth of Medicare is to give seniors more control over their own health care and the incentives to spend wisely, by offering competitive insurance plans. But this would mean less control for government, not more.

It's striking that even the AARP—which is run by liberals who favor national health care—has been backing away from support for Mr. Obama's version. The AARP leadership's Democratic sympathies will probably prevail in the end, perhaps after some price-control sweeteners are added for prescription drugs. But AARP is out of touch with its own members, who have figured out that their own health and lives are at stake in this debate over ObamaCare. They know that when medical discretion clashes with limited government budgets, medicine loses.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Michael Ramirez Depicts Obama's
Socialized Health Care Plan


The Great Irony Of Health Reform: Middle Class, Not Rich, Get Shaft

By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON | Investor’s Business Daily | Posted Monday, August 03, 2009 4:20 PM PT

That's the great irony of President Obama's ambitious health care agenda: His administration, which seems to feel little empathy for the rich, is paving the way to a two-tiered system in which only the very rich would have a choice.

Under ObamaCare, the rich would continue to get the care they want — whether here or abroad — by paying for it out of their own pockets. The rest of us would stand in line and wait for rationed care.

Most Americans want consumer freedom. They want to be able to shop for health care value — for the best care, at the best prices. They'd like to have a lot more freedom to shop for such value than they currently have.

That's why Democrats are couching their proposed expansion of government-run health care in the language of competition and choice.

Listen to the president as he pitches the centerpiece of that agenda — a "public option," a form of Medicare for all. He says it's merely a way to give Americans another choice: People can buy private health insurance, just like now, or they can instead choose the government option.

But millions of middle-class Americans who are currently happy with their employer-provided insurance would soon find that the choice isn't theirs to make.

The government would make it cheaper for employers to contribute to the government-run option than to continue providing private insurance. Millions of employers would do the math and pick the government option. The "public option" would indeed provide a choice — for millions of employers, against the wishes of millions of employees.

The Lewin Group, a prominent consulting firm, estimates that a widespread "public option" with Medicare-like reimbursement rates would result in 118 million Americans losing their private insurance and being forced into government-run care.

Meanwhile, private insurance wouldn't be able to compete on the uneven playing field that Congress would establish. In its competition with FedEx and UPS, the Post Office at least has to provide an actual service.

But the "public option" would merely use government's coercive powers to dictate the prices and availability of services provided by others — by doctors, nurses, hospitals, etc. Private insurance cannot similarly fix prices and would be run out of business.

Lower reimbursement rates, coupled with a dwindling pool of private insurers to whom to pass on costs, would mean lower incomes for medical professionals. The eventual result would be fewer people entering the medical profession. If you question this, do you think higher salaries attract teachers?

A two-tiered system would then emerge: The very rich would take their spots like first-class passengers on the Titanic, paying for fine care and not asking the price. The rest of us would take our spots in steerage class, awaiting the inevitable collision between government-run health care and the iceberg of budgetary disaster.

White House budget director Peter Orszag recently opined that "the deficit impact of every other fiscal policy variable" is "swamped" by the deficit threat posed by Medicare and Medicaid. President Obama's solution? A massive new Medicare-like program!

Medicare may not pay much to doctors, but taxpayers pay plenty to Medicare. As my recent Pacific Research Institute study shows, since 1970, Medicare's costs have risen 34% more, per patient, than the combined costs of all health care in America apart from Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicare's costs have risen $2,511 more per patient. Across nearly four decades, government-run health care has been far more expensive than privately run care.

It comes down to a simple comparison and an obvious verdict: Privately run care offers choice and is cheaper. Government-run care denies choice and is more expensive.

But the particular losers under Obama-Care would be the middle class. The uninsured poor would largely benefit, although they might benefit even more — while hurting others far less — from fixing the unfairness in the tax code and giving them the health care tax break that millions of insured Americans already enjoy.

The truly rich would be largely unaffected, as they never really needed private insurance anyway. They would continue to pay for the care they want, because they can.

Middle-class Americans wouldn't enjoy that freedom. They would lose their employer-provided insurance and be left with only the government-run "option." And, under a government monopoly, they would get rationed care.

And every April 15, they would get a higher tax bill for their troubles, which just might make them feel sick enough to get back in line.

Anderson is a senior fellow in health care studies at the Pacific Research Institute and was the senior speechwriter for Secretary Mike Leavitt at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.



THE ONE WORD TO DESCRIBE OBAMACARE

Print

Written by Dr. Dave Janda

Thursday, 23 July 2009


As a physician who has authored books on preventative health care, I was given the opportunity to be the keynote speaker at a Congressional Dinner at The Capitol Building in Washington last Friday (7/17).

The presentation was entitled Health Care Reform, The Power & Profit of Prevention, and I was gratified that it was well received.

In preparation for the presentation, I read the latest version of "reform" as authored by The Obama Administration and supported by Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid. Here is the link to the 1,018 page document:
http://edlabor.house.gov/documents/111/pdf/publications/AAHCA-BillText-071409.pdf

Let me summarize just a few salient points of the above plan. First, however, it should be clear that the same warning notice must be placed on The ObamaCare Plan as on a pack of cigarettes: Consuming this product will be hazardous to your health.

The underlying method of cutting costs throughout the plan is based on rationing and denying care. There is no focus on preventing health care need whatever. The plan's method is the most inhumane and unethical approach to cutting costs I can imagine as a physician.

The rationing of care is implemented through The National Health Care Board, according to the plan. This illustrious Board "will approve or reject treatment for patients based on the cost per treatment divided by the number of years the patient will benefit from the treatment."

Translation.....if you are over 65 or have been recently diagnosed as having an advanced form of cardiac disease or aggressive cancer.....dream on if you think you will get treated.....pick out your coffin.

Oh, you say this could never happen? Sorry.... this is the same model they use in Britain.

The plan mandates that there will be little or no advanced treatments to be available in the future. It creates The Federal Coordinating Council For Comparative Effectiveness Research, the purpose of which is "to slow the development of new medications and technologies in order to reduce costs." Yes, this is to be the law.

The plan also outlines that doctors and hospitals will be overseen and reviewed by The National Coordinator For Health Information and Technology.

This " coordinator" will "monitor treatments being delivered to make sure doctors and hospitals are strictly following government guidelines that are deemed appropriate." It goes on to say....."Doctors and hospitals not adhering to guidelines will face penalties."

According to those in Congress, penalties could include large six figure financial fines and possible imprisonment.

So according to The ObamaCare Plan....if your doctor saves your life you might have to go to the prison to see your doctor for follow -up appointments. I believe this is the same model Stalin used in the former Soviet Union.

Section 102 has the Orwellian title, "Protecting the Choice to Keep Current Coverage." What this section really mandates is that it is illegal to keep your private insurance if your status changes - e.g., if you lose or change your job, retire from your job and become a senior, graduate from college and get your first job. Yes, illegal.

When Mr. Obama hosted a conference call with bloggers urging them to pressure Congress to pass his health plan as soon as possible, a blogger from Maine referenced an Investors Business Daily article that claimed Section 102 of the House health legislation would outlaw private insurance.

He asked: "Is this true? Will people be able to keep their insurance and will insurers be able to write new policies even though H.R. 3200 is passed?" Mr. Obama replied: "You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you are talking about."

Then there is Section 1233 of The ObamaCare Plan, devoted to "Advanced Care Planning." After each American turns 65 years of age they have to go to a mandated counseling program that is designed to end life sooner.

This session is to occur every 5 years unless the person has developed a chronic illness then it must be done every year. The topics in this session will include, "how to decline hydration, nutrition and how to initiate hospice care." It is no wonder The Obama Administration does not like my emphasis on Prevention. For Mr. Obama, prevention is the "enemy" as people would live longer.

I rest my case. The ObamaCare Plan is hazardous to the health of every American.

After I finished my Capitol Hill presentation, I was asked by a Congressman in the question-answer session: "I'll be doing a number of network interviews on the Obama Health Care Plan. If I am asked what is the one word to describe the plan what should I answer."

The answer is simple, honest, direct, analytical, sad but truthful. I told him that one word is FASCIST.

Then I added, "I hope you'll have the courage to use that word, Congressman. No other word is more appropriate."

Dr. Dave Janda, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon, and a world-recognized expert on the prevention of sports injuries, particularly in children. His website is noinjury.com.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

How's That 'Hope' and 'Change' Working Out For You?
"I feel like I've been punked"

The annoited one hasn't even been president for a year, but for some those heady days of Camelot have come to an end. Saw this intersting piece from the Washington Post via Commentary's Contentions blog:

Re: The Obama Effect

Posted By Jennifer Rubin On August 5, 2009 @ 9:41 AM In Contentions | Comments Disabled

Yesterday I wondered whether Obama was weighing down the Democrats in this year’s two gubernatorial races. A Washington Post reporter, in a story titled “Some Obama Voters Start to Express Regret,” expresses similar thoughts on the Virginia race:

The president will make his first appearance in the campaign Thursday, when he headlines a fundraiser for R. Creigh Deeds (D) in McLean, in part to try to help the state senator from Bath County win over wavering Democrats such as Cleland.

But Obama’s entry into the race presents a challenge for Deeds: How does he continue the momentum created by Obama, the first Democratic presidential candidate in more than four decades to carry Virginia, without being saddled with the baggage the president now carries?

His answer has largely been to distance himself from the president’s policies despite attempts by Republican Robert F. McDonnell to force him to take positions on issues such as unions, climate change and health care.

But at least so far that tactic hasn’t been working. The voters interviewed by the Post are already fed up with Obama and want to give the Republicans another shot. Yes, Obama is in D.C., and the race at hand is for the governor’s mansion in Richmond, but right now the ballot in November is the only way Virginians can register their views. This from an Obama voter:

“He’s just not as advertised,” she said. “Nothing’s changed for the common guy. I feel like I’ve been punked.” . . . She’s seen enough of Obama’s leadership to know that she is open to voting for a Republican this fall. “We really needed something different,” she said, “but instead we are doing the same things over and over and over.”

Again, we are a long way from November, but Deeds will need to change the dynamic in the race. Otherwise, he will be another victim of the Virginia curse – the unbroken string of candidates dating back to 1977 who lost the gubernatorial race after their party took the White House the preceding year.

URL to article: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/rubin/75352

ABORTION AND THE OBAMA HEALTH-CARE PLAN: THE ESSENTIAL FACTS

by Phil Lawler

August 4, 2009

from catholicculture.org


The following information-- which is not my own work, but the work of astute friends in Washington, DC-- provides all you need to know about the Obama White House plans regarding abortion and health-care reform:

From the latest polls:

  • 51% of Americans self-identify as pro-life (Gallup Poll, June 2009)
  • 61% of Americans say abortion is an important issue and 52% think it is too easy to obtain an abortion in America (Rasmussen Survey, June 2009)
  • 62% of Americans want more limitations placed on abortions and only 36% believe abortion should be generally available (CBS Poll, June 2009).

Elections have consequences:

1) One of President Obama's funding requests, the Financial Services Appropriations bill, allows publicly funded abortion in the District of Columbia. This overturns a 13-year ban on taxpayer-funded abortions in the nation's capital. Amendments to restore the ban were either blocked or defeated by the majority. Currently, over 41% of pregnancies in DC end in abortion, giving the capital city the highest abortion rate in the nation.

2) Senator Durbin's amendment to the Financial Services Appropriations bill cleared the way for taxpayer-funded abortions through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which covers 8 million federal employees. The FEHBP has been repeatedly discussed as an example of what a government-run health care system could be.

3) The House of Representatives voted against the Pence Amendment to the Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations bill. The amendment would have prevented Planned Parenthood or any business doing abortions from receiving taxpayer funds. Last year Planned Parenthood performed over 300,000 abortions. The Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, reports that abortions increase by 30% when taxpayers foot the bill.

4) Through an amendment offered by Senator Lautenberg, the Senate has permanently reversed the Mexico City Policy, which banned taxpayer funds going to international agencies that perform or promote abortions. This gives the existing policy of funding international abortion services-- set by President Obama's Executive Order on January 23-- the force of law. Future presidents will be unable to re-establish the funding ban.

5) Following President Obama's instructions, Congress has completely defunded abstinence education and has designated a minimum of $164 million for contraceptive-only comprehensive sex education. In addition, the Secretary of HHS has a $640 million fund which can be used for family-planning services, if pro-Planned Parenthood Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius so desires. A Zogby poll found that 80% of parents want more abstinence education. Studies prove that abstinence education is more effective in delaying the onset of sexual activity in young people than is comprehensive sex education. CSE has demonstrated no effect on teen behavior. (And do you find that surprising?)

6) President Obama is supporting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which, through its affirmation of "sexual and reproductive health," recognizes an international right to abortion. He is urging the Senate to ratify the treaty, which sets up an international committee to decide whether the United States complies with the treaty's provisions. If ratified, the treaty would take precedence over all federal and state laws dealing with the disabled. The Vatican objects to the inclusion of the phrase "sexual and reproductive health" because it "may be used to deny the very basic right to life of disabled unborn persons." Like CEDAW (the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, which contains an international mandate for access to abortion services) and CRC (the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which interferes with parental rights over their children) which Obama also favors, this is a treaty that the United States should not ratify.

Heath-care reform:

1) The House version of the health care bill creates an "Advance Care Planning Consultation" for Medicare patients to be counseled on end-of-life decisions. Such consultations would take place every five years, or more frequently if there was a significant change in the individual's health. Two pro-life Congressmen state that "This provision could create a slippery slope for a more permissive environment for euthanasia, mercy-killing and physician-assisted suicide because it does not clearly exclude counseling about the supposed benefits of killing oneself."

2) Senator Mikulski (who identifies herself as a Catholic) offered an amendment to the Senate health-care bill that would provide for any service deemed "medically necessary or medically appropriate." When pressed by Senator Hatch, she admitted this would require the coverage of abortion services by health-insurance companies.

3) As currently written, both the Senate and House health care bills would allow federal officials to require the inclusion of abortion coverage in virtually all health plans, as well as taxpayer funding of abortions, and would expand the number of abortion providers in most parts of the country. Abortion services have been defined by legislatures and courts as being included in the term "essential health care." Because abortion would be "essential," it would be necessary to provide access to abortion, thereby mandating subsidizing the practice with taxpayer monies and increasing the number of abortionists and opening more abortion facilities in areas of the country that now do not have them. Catholic health-care professionals would be required to participate in abortions or run the risk of being charged with "patient abandonment," which could mean the loss of their license to practice.

4) The Capps Amendment to one of the health-care reform bills, presented as a compromise, is not: the government-run health plan offered in every region of the country will include whatever abortions are eligible for public funding and will include all abortions if so approved by the HHS Secretary.

5) A provision of the health-care bills establishes the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality which would do comparative effectiveness research-- that is, it would determine the most cost-effective treatment for a specific medical condition and would override the doctor's decision for his patient. A government bureaucracy dictating health care decisions has, in England, led to rationing of health care, selection of inappropriate or ineffective treatments for individual patients and premature deaths. When a pro-life Senator offered an amendment in committee to prevent rationing of health care services for the old, the infirm and the chronically ill, it was voted down by the majority. President Obama said recently that "the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for 80% of the total health care bill."

6) The health-care bills call for a new health-benefits advisory committee whose task it will be to define benefits for all health plans in the United States. As it will be an unelected committee named by the Secretary of HHS, there will be no accountability to the citizenry for what the committee determines will be the necessary components of health coverage.

7) Under the current health-care reform bills, there is no conscience clause allowing an individual or an organization with a religious affiliation to opt out of health plans that include an abortion component. The Senate bill contains a very weak conscience clause for those religions that, as a tenet of their faith, do not seek medical care (they would not be required to carry insurance coverage). Catholic institutions and organizations with Catholic affiliations would be forced to offer abortion coverage in their employee health insurance package.

8) The Senate health care bill contains a hidden provision that matches the provisions of the Freedom of Choice Act; it would preempt any state law hindering a woman's access to "essential health services"-- again, a phrase that includes abortion services. Federal health care legislation would overturn the following state laws:

  • 42 states have physician-only laws that limit the practice of abortion;
  • 32 states follow the funding limitations of the federal Hyde Amendment (no taxpayer funding of abortions);
  • 27 states have abortion clinic regulations to protect the health of women;
  • 30 states have informed-consent laws (women receive information about fetal development, fetal pain or the causal link between abortion and breast cancer; or are offered an ultrasound exam);
  • 24 states require a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion;
  • 36 states require some kind of parental involvement: either parental notice (11 states) or parental consent (25 states);
  • at least 5 states have funded abortion alternatives (pregnancy centers, prenatal assistance, adoption promotion).

9) The Hyde Amendment cannot take care of the abortion issue in the various health care bills. Abortion must be explicitly excluded from coverage. Access to abortion also must be explicitly excluded or taxpayer funds will be used to fund abortions and the expansion of abortion services and facilities. This means there must be language in the actual legislation that excludes abortion in "medically necessary or medically appropriate" and "essential" health care.

10) The health-care system in the United States accounts for 14% of our economy. (It equals the size of Great Britain's entire economy.) Any plan to revamp that large a piece of any economy requires thoughtful decision-making, not a rush-to-completion with a majority of the Congress not even reading the legislation. Congressman Conyers said: "What good is reading the bill if it's a thousand pages and you don't have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you've read the bill?" It should be noted that lawyers make up 54% of the Senate and 36% of the House of Representatives.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Get Ready for Obamacare's State-Mandated Euthenasia

I haven't spent a lot of time studying Obama's health care program. It's no surprise to me, however, that one of its features is likely to be government-imposed euthenasia. Of course, no one would ever call it that, but after reading this article, that's the inevitable conclusion.

The article, "Harry and Louise Must Die", is from the liberal web magazine salon.com. The gist of the article is that government healthcare programs spend way too much money on "end of life" care. The message you are supposed to take away is: these people are goners anyway, so let's stop wasting scarce medical resources on them.

Here are some snippets that they use to drive home their message:
  • At the end of our long and increasingly longer lives, when we are terminally ill and in the last months of life, we must accept our bodies' decline, face our own mortality, gather our families and say goodbye. Say no to feeding tubes, ventilators, resuscitators, the isolation of ICU.
  • Medical experts say feeding tubes extend life for those who, in the past, would die naturally, without medical intervention. When people near death, some can't swallow, some with dementia don't recognize food, others aren't interested in eating. In many nursing homes, when a patient doesn't eat, the choice is to accept end-of-life hospice care or be fitted with a feeding tube. Loss of appetite is simply a stage in dying. Dying patients who stop eating drink water, sleep a lot and typically die within two weeks, of dehydration. It can be a gentle death.
  • Why should we care which path people take? Well, it comes out of our pockets. Medicare is funded by Social Security payroll taxes, and 75 percent of those who die each year are 65 or older, enrolled in Medicare. If we died more gently, we'd cut spending.

This is the kind of thinking behind Obamacare. First, they'll kill off those who are "too old" or "too sick". The rationale being that their deaths are inevitable (isn't that true for everyone?), and that the government is spending too much money merely prolonging their lives a few more days or a few more weeks.

Next is sure to be killing off those who have a "poor quality of life" -- those with chronic diseases (except AIDS of course), who are in chronic pain, or "defectives" like kids with Down's Syndrome.

Inevitably, look for Obamacare to dicate contraception and abortion. Once government gets into the healthcare business and can dictate who gets medical care and who doesn't, it can't be inconceivable that some government apparatchik dictates that we can save even more money by ensuring that some children should not be allowed to be born in the first place.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cogitations from Today's Paper

One of the good things about getting older is the sense of perspective you get for news and events; being older also tends to develop a healthy level of skepticism for what you read -- and don't read -- in the news. Here's some examples.

Pay to Play

The first item is this article from today's WSJ on the looming bankruptcy of commercial lender CIT: "CIT Staked All on Government Aid". What caught my eye was this sentence:
CIT had been trying for months to improve its connections in Washington. It spent close to $90,000 last year on lobbying, and $60,000 in the first quarter of 2009. It brought onto its board of directors former Congressman Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican.
I see a couple of troubling things here. It used to be that for a business to be successful, it needed to do a couple of things -- like provide a product or service people were willing to buy, provide good customer service, maybe do a little advertising to develop awareness of their brand and their product or service.

No more. Now, in order to be successful, a company has to have the *blessing* of who knows how many beauracrats running the plethora of various governmental agencies in Washington. It's one thing to need licenses, permits, and permissions from the government to run a nuclear power plant; it's another to require the permission of numerous government agencies to run a small business.

What's even more offensive here is that the government does not confer their *blessings* equally. No, you need to have the right "connections" in Washington. To do that, you need to spend obscene amounts of money on lobbyists who can provide you access to lawmakers who (in exchange for ... ?) then confer those blessings.

We call people who require payoffs in exchange for permission to conduct business mobsters, and their business is called a "protection racket". But, in Washington it's called "connections" and the payoffs are called "campaign contributions".

Guess the Political Party

The next story that caught my eye was this one about the financial problems in yet another big city: "Philadelphia Halts Payments in Crunch".

What makes this story intersting is not what's said in the story, but what's not said. The story is about Philly Mayor Michael Nutter's whining that the Pennsylvania legislature hasn't raised taxes to help bail him out of the City's financial mess.

Hmm. It's not mentioned in the story, but I wonder what political party this mayor might belong to? Let's check wikipedia.

Gosh -- he's a Democrat! In fact, so was his predecessor (John Street), and so was Street's predecessor (Ed Rendel), and so on and so on. In fact, there have been an uninterrupted line of Democrats as Mayor in Philadelphia back to 1952.

That's almost a sixty year legacy -- of failure. You can see this track record in just about every other large American city. But the mainstream media very conveniently ignores it. But facts are facts and, as John Adams said, "facts are stubborn things".

The stubborn fact here is that Democrats have been in charge of a lot of major American cities for the past 50 years and have largely managed to turn them into crime-infested, business-hostile, crumbling wastelands.

Think I'm exaggerating? Let's look at a couple of others (in no particular order):

Chicago: Exclusively Democrat Mayors since 1931 (78 years)

Detroit: Exclusively Democrat Mayors since 1962 (47 years)

Boston: Exclusively Democrat Mayors since 1934 (75 years)

Pittsburgh: Exclusively Democrat Mayors since 1934 (75 years)

Washington D.C.: Exclusively Democrat Mayors since 1975* (34 years)
* before '75, D.C. was administered by the a board appointed by the President of the U.S.

A Tragic Combination: Dangerous Pets and Human Stupidity

In the News Briefs section, there was a blurb about a new effort in Florida to track and eliminate non-native snakes (like pythons) from the Everglades. It seems that these snakes are becoming a threat to native species and humans. The tragedy that triggered this scrutiny occurred earlier this month when a pet Burmese python *escaped* from its cage and killed a two-year-old girl.

I use the word escape loosely though. Many stories simply reported like this:
Lt. Bobby Caruthers of Sumter County Sheriff's Office said the python was a family pet that apparently broke free from inside a glass aquarium in the home's living room.

The snake then made its way into the girl's bedroom and apparently strangled her in the middle of the night, according to authorities.
I looked at a couple of places though and found the background to be much more disturbing. This 12-foot long python was "secured" in its enclosure with a quilt laid over the top which was tied down. How hard could it be for a 12-foot snake to push its way past a blanket?

"Escape" implies some effort was necessary to effect the release. In this case, it took no effort for this snake to "escape" its enclosure thanks to the galactically stupid owner; unfortunately, his stupid led to the death of a little girl.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Problem with Big Government is in the Little Details

There was an enlightening article in the WSJ last Friday that has gnawed at me all weekend. The article was about how the State of California has sent letters to hundreds of the vendors who provide goods and services to the State asking them for a 15% price cut in order to help the State reduce its costs. It was not an especially momentus article, but there were certain things about the story that really stuck with me.
Meridian Food Services owner Rebecca Kitchings received a fax from the state's Department of General Services Wednesday night.

"We need your help!" said the letter. An attached worksheet invited the Riverside-based contractor to list ways she proposes to cut the costs of her $15,000 contract to supply cornstarch to prisons.

"Oh, for heaven's sake," Ms. Kitchings said in an interview. "It's a contract. If something happened to my company and I said, 'I mis-bid that and I need another half a penny,' they'd say no way."
Great point by Ms. Kitchings. Anyone who has ever worked on a government (state, local or federal) can recall just how unforgiving they are. Your bid is three minutes late? Too bad, you're disqualified. Made a mistake in your pricing. Too bad, you should've been more careful. Going to be one day late in performing the contract. Too bad, get ready to pay a hefty penalty.

Now, however, the State is in a financial crisis -- of its own making -- and they come crying to the hard-working vendors (who've already been bled dry by the State through their onerous contracts and pricing) and want them to foot the bill to bail the State out.
Among the contractors who got these letters are food companies, information-technology contractors that provide computers for state offices, and others. Mr. Lamoreux said companies that got the letters include Western Blue Corp., a technology consulting firm, and VanWrite, a consulting firm that trains employees on writing, for example, memos and emails.
This was the real "money quote" of this article for me. The State is actually paying a consulting firm to teach State employees how to write memos and e-mails. EXCUSE ME?? Talk about government waste. How many private employers could afford to stay in business if the people they hired didn't even know how basic communication skills?

What really frosts me is the hypocrisy and arrogance of politicians (everywhere, not just in California) who threaten to close parks, lay-off police, release criminals from prison, etc. because they don't have enough money.

OK. I understand that times are tough and government needs to cut back if they can't raise taxes. But, how about saving money by dumping these wasteful things like paying a consultant to teach state employees how to write memos and e-mails.

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