November 20, 2009

Ohioans Should Demand An Answer From Sherrod Brown As to How He Will Vote This Weekend

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:55 pm

NoObamaCare0809It seems like a long shot, but Buckeye Staters who want this country to be saved from statist health care ought to pursue it any way.

After spending 25 minutes on hold waiting to talk to someone at Sherrod Brown’s Washington Office, I was told that the Senator has not decided on whether to support the Senate vote on Saturday that would be designed to “move the issue forward to debate.”

Given that Brown has previously expressed support for the so-called “public option” as a necessary element of any legislation, and for inclusion of taxpayer-funded abortion coverage, this alleged non-commitment seems like a ploy to keep furious callers at bay.

But just in case he is reading the polls, the outraged op-eds, and paying attention to his calls and e-mails, and beginning to waver, I would suggest contacting his office (202-224-2315) or e-mailing him (contact form here), or doing both, at once.

Having reminded the Brown staffer that no less than the Dean of the Harvard Medical school in so many words came out and opposed ObamaCare today in the Wall Street Journal (“I’d give it a failing grade …. Speeches and news reports can lead you to believe that proposed congressional legislation would tackle the problems of cost, access and quality. But that’s not true.”), I let him know that I expect a “no” vote.

Let Senator Brown’s staff know that hundreds of thousands of Ohioans will work as hard as they possibly can to remove him from office in 2012, if not sooner (which sadly does not appear possible), if he supports this statist takeover.

Also, while I’m posting, let me remind the never-reliable Senator Voinovich (202-224-3353; contact form) that we expect a vocal “no” from him.

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UPDATE: It might be worth letting Senator Brown know that Ohio’s 10.5% unemployment rate is already way too high, and that statist health care will only make it worse.

UPDATE 2, Nov. 22: Here’s the roll call. Straight party line. As Bill pointed out in the comments, Voinovich didn’t vote. His fingers were broken?

AFP Writes Up Proposed Tax With ‘Next to No Chance’ of Passage to Set Stage For the Real Thing

AfghanWarAFPphoto1109

You’ve got to hand it to the propagandists at the AFP. When heavy-hitting members of the party they favor announce an idea whose main purpose is, as the New York Times suddenly “discovered” last weekend, to remind people that wars cost money and distract from supposedly more important priorities, the wire service leaps into action.

Even AFP acknowledges that the tax proposal by several top-tier Democrats has no chance of becoming law. But again, that’s not the point. Their proposal’s purpose is to remind people that spending money on wars supposedly takes money out of the mouths of children and other living things, even those in non-existent congressional districts, and to attempt to make the climate for increasing taxes in the near future more favorable.

Here are key paragraphs of the unbylined report (bolds are mine):

US lawmakers: New tax should pay for Afghan war

Influential US lawmakers on Thursday called for levying a new income tax to pay for the war in Afghanistan, warning its costs pose a mortal threat to efforts like a sweeping health care overhaul.

“Regardless of whether one favors the war or not, if it is to be fought, it ought to be paid for,” the lawmakers, all prominent Democratic allies of President Barack Obama, said in a joint statement.

The proposed “Share The Sacrifice Act of 2010″ came with Obama set to announce within weeks his decision on whether to send more US troops to fight the war, now in its ninth year.

The group included House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey; Representative John Murtha, who chair that panel’s defense subcommittee; and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank.

The proposal, a heavily symbolic measure seen as having next to no chance of becoming law, would impose a war surtax on income beginning in 2011 — though it would allow the president to delay implementation by one year upon deciding the US economy is too weak to sustain such a tax shift.

….. If the war is not paid for, its costs “will devour money that could be used to rebuild our economy by fixing our broken health care system, expanding educational opportunities and job training possibilities, attacking our long term energy problems and building stronger communities,” they said.

The measure would create a three-tiered change in income tax with the goal of paying for all of the war’s costs. Couples earning up to 150,000 dollars per year would see a one-percent increase in their regular tax level, from 15 percent currently to 15.15 percent.

For those making between 150,000-250,000 dollars per year or 250,000 dollars or above, the president would have to set the rate increase high enough to pay for the remaining war costs, and in such a way that the middle-tier earners pay half what the top earners do.

Currently, the war costs roughly 68 billion dollars per year, which would mean that the middle tier would see its rate rise from 28 percent to 29.5 percent, while the top would climb from 33 percent to 36.6 percent, according to a person familiar with the plan.

The numbers and spin in the final paragraph would appear to indicate that the administration is putting the idea out there now as a prelude to justifying what it and Democrats in general have been referring to as an end to the Bush tax cuts — something that should really be seen as a tax increase above what everyone has gotten used to during the past six years — as necessary to pay for the Afghanistan War, and to try to rhetorically hogtie gullible conservatives into acquiescing to it (“You do want our soldier to have what they need, do you not? Then you’ll just have to agree to let taxes increase”).

AFP is clearly willing to play along and try to set the stage for that.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Big Hack Attack: Global Warming Exposed as ‘Globaloney’?

GlobalWarming

Two months ago, there was the “Dog Ate My Global Warming Data” episode. As noted at NewsBusters and at BizzyBlog (original source: National Review Online), we learned that important original information forming the underpinning of global warming alarmists’ claims about the earth heating up has vanished. It is longer available and apparently can’t be reverse engineered.

Today, e-mails hacked from a UK climate research facility appear at a minimum to indicate a willingness by scientists to fudge the data to make alleged warming trends more clear and convincing. At worst, the whole enterprise could be totally discredited.

Important and damming passages from certain of the e-mails have been acknowledged as authentic.

The Australian Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt claims, as paraphrased by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, that “that those e-mails expose a conspiracy to hide detrimental information from the public that argues against global warming.”

Here are key paragraphs from Bolt’s blog post (presented out of order because of frequent updates at that post):

Hackers have broken into the data base of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit – one of the world’s leading alarmist centres – and put the files they stole on the Internet, on the grounds that the science is too important to be kept under wraps.

The ethics of this are dubious, to say the least. But the files suggest, on a very preliminary glance, some other very dubious practices, too, and a lot of collusion – sometimes called “peer review”. Or even conspiracy.

(excerpt from a hacked e-mail; bold is Bolt’s–Ed.)

From: Phil Jones

To: ray bradley ,mann@XXXX, mhughes@XXXX

Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement

Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000

Cc: k.briffa@XXX.osborn@XXXX

Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,

Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow.

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

(end excerpted e-mail)

Surely these emails can’t be genuine. Surely the world’s most prominent alarmist scientists aren’t secretly exchanging emails like this, admitting privately they can’t find the warming they’ve been so loudly predicting?:

(a second excerpt from a different e-mail; I removed most of Bolt’s bolds in this instance–Ed.)

From: Kevin Trenberth

To: Michael Mann

Subject: Re: BBC U-turn on climate

Date: Mon, 12 Oct 2009 08:57:37 -0600

Cc: Stephen H Schneider , Myles Allen , peter stott , “Philip D. Jones” , Benjamin Santer , Tom Wigley , Thomas R Karl , Gavin Schmidt , James Hansen , Michael Oppenheimer

Hi all

Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming ? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low.

….. The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.

(end excerpted e-mail)

This has to be a forgery, surely. Because if it isn’t, we’re about to see the unpicking of a huge scandal.

I mean, the media will follow this up, right? In the meantime, use with care.

(in an Update)

So the 1079 emails and 72 documents seem indeed evidence of a scandal involving most of the most prominent scientists pushing the man-made warming theory – a scandal that is one of the greatest in modern science.

Well, the UK Guardian, of all places, has followed up to an extent:

Climate sceptics claim leaked emails are evidence of collusion among scientists

Hundreds of private emails and documents allegedly exchanged between some of the world’s leading climate scientists over the past 13 years have been stolen by hackers and leaked online, it emerged today.

The computer files were apparently accessed earlier this week from servers at the UK’s University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, a world-renowned centre focused on the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change.

Climate change sceptics who have studied the emails allege that they provide “smoking gun” evidence that some of the climatologists colluded in manipulating data to support the widely held view that climate change is real and is being largely caused by the actions of mankind. So far the veracity of the emails has not been confirmed and the scientists involved have declined to comment on the story, which broke on a blog called The Air Vent.

The files, which in total amount to 61MB of data, were first uploaded onto a Russian server, before being widely mirrored across the internet. The emails were accompanied by the anonymous statement: “We feel that climate science is, in the current situation, too important to be kept under wraps. We hereby release a random selection of correspondence, code, and documents. Hopefully it will give some insight into the science and the people behind it.”

The Guardian hedged on the e-mails’ authenticity, but that question seems to have been for the most part settled, i.e., they have been acknowledged by their authors as genuine.

So perhaps global warming really is a bunch of what yours truly and others have called “globaloney” for years.

I get the sense that the fun has just begun, with or without U.S. media coverage. I would strike a cautionary note that it all seems too perfect. But maybe they are really are that dumb to leave such obvious tracks.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Real Climate’s “yeah, right” statement of the day

The timing of this particular episode is probably not coincidental. But if cherry-picked out-of-context phrases from stolen personal emails is the only response to the weight of the scientific evidence for the human influence on climate change, then there probably isn’t much to it.

Yeah, “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t” is sooooo lacking in “context.”

The problem is that it isn’t the only response, guys, and you know it. Cherry-pick this (HT Global Climate Scam).

Dean of Harvard Medical Gives Romney/ObamaCare an ‘F’

Filed under: Activism,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 10:23 am

NoObamaPelosiReid1109NoToObamaCareRomneyNo0808-1Mitt Romney, call your office (emphasis mine).

Remember Mitt? The guy who keeps insisting that he could make RomneyCare work nationally?

From Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal

By JEFFREY S. FLIER
As the dean of Harvard Medical School I am frequently asked to comment on the health-reform debate. I’d give it a failing grade.

Instead of forthrightly dealing with the fundamental problems, discussion is dominated by rival factions struggling to enact or defeat President Barack Obama’s agenda. The rhetoric on both sides is exaggerated and often deceptive. Those of us for whom the central issue is health—not politics—have been left in the lurch. And as controversy heads toward a conclusion in Washington, it appears that the people who favor the legislation are engaged in collective denial.

…Speeches and news reports can lead you to believe that proposed congressional legislation would tackle the problems of cost, access and quality. But that’s not true. The various bills do deal with access by expanding Medicaid and mandating subsidized insurance at substantial cost—and thus addresses an important social goal. However, there are no provisions to substantively control the growth of costs or raise the quality of care. So the overall effort will fail to qualify as reform.

In discussions with dozens of health-care leaders and economists, I find near unanimity of opinion that, whatever its shape, the final legislation that will emerge from Congress will markedly accelerate national health-care spending rather than restrain it. Likewise, nearly all agree that the legislation would do little or nothing to improve quality or change health-care’s dysfunctional delivery system. The system we have now promotes fragmented care and makes it more difficult than it should be to assess outcomes and patient satisfaction. The true costs of health care are disguised, competition based on price and quality are almost impossible, and patients lose their ability to be the ultimate judges of value.

…There are important lessons to be learned from recent experience with reform in Massachusetts. Here, insurance mandates similar to those proposed in the federal legislation succeeded in expanding coverage but—despite initial predictions—increased total spending.

A “Special Commission on the Health Care Payment System” recently declared that the Massachusetts health-care payment system must be changed over the next five years, most likely to one involving “capitated” payments instead of the traditional fee-for-service system. Capitation means that newly created organizations of physicians and other health-care providers will be given limited dollars per patient for all of their care, allowing for shared savings if spending is below the targets. Unfortunately, the details of this massive change—necessitated by skyrocketing costs and a desire to improve quality—are completely unspecified by the commission, although a new Massachusetts state bureaucracy clearly will be required.

…Selling an uncertain and potentially unwelcome outcome such as this to the public would be a challenging task. It is easier to assert, confidently but disingenuously, that decreased costs and enhanced quality would result from the current legislation.

So the majority of our representatives may congratulate themselves on reducing the number of uninsured, while quietly understanding this can only be the first step of a multiyear process to more drastically change the organization and funding of health care in America. I have met many people for whom this strategy is conscious and explicit.

We should not be making public policy in such a crucial area by keeping the electorate ignorant of the actual road ahead.

Read the entire post here. Perhaps now that someone from “Haaaavad” has defined the fatal flaws in this whole power grab, someone will listen?

Yeah, I won’t hold my breath either.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Kelo, GM, and the Stimulus: Three Examples of Government-Induced Failure’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:26 am

UncleSamDumpingMoneyGovtMotorsKeloIt’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Sunday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

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Supplement: The column points out what should be obvious, but isn’t to many — Where government goes, trouble follows.

Of course there are private boondoggles too, but I don’t think anyone can cite a case of not government-assisted property development efforts result in dozens of property owners forced out against their will, $78 million in spending …. and a vacant wasteland.

I also don’t think anyone can name a private manufacturer that still loses money bigtime after walking away from about $30 billion in debt and receiving almost $50 billion in gifts (make that two; less-visible Chrysler is probably as bad or worse in proportion to its shrinking size).

The final example cited in the column, the Obama administration’s misnamed “stimulus” plan, appears destined for the top spot in the all-time Waste, Fraud, and Abuse Hall of Shame.

Ohioans should and I suspect will never forget that Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown flew into DC on a chartered jet after his mother’s funeral just so he could cast the decisive final vote needed to pass this monstrosity.

Instead of logically concluding that the government can’t, won’t, and almost never will perform as well as the private sector and creating an environment where the economy and business can thrive, power-hungry statists want more.

This weekend they’re coming for health care. What conceivable reason would anyone have to believe this initiative, if passed, would would turn out any differently?

Positivity: Unprecedented coalition of religious leaders call Americans to stand for sanctity of life, marriage, and religious freedom

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:40 am

From Washington:

Nov 20, 2009 / 01:21 am

An unprecedented coalition of prominent Christian clergy, ministry leaders, and scholars has crafted a 4,700-word declaration addressing the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty. The declaration issues “a clarion call” to Christians to adhere to their convictions and informs civil authorities that the signers will not “under any circumstance” abandon their Christian consciences.

The statement, called “the Manhattan Declaration,” has been signed by more than 125 Catholic, Evangelical Christian, and Orthodox leaders, and will be made fully public at a noon press conference in the National Press Club in Washington DC on Friday.

“We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence,” the statement says.

“We recognize the duty to comply with laws whether we happen to like them or not, unless the laws are gravely unjust or require those subject to them to do something unjust or otherwise immoral,” the signatories explain.

But they also made clear that “we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriage or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.”

The Manhattan Declaration is the result of several months of dialogue among Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christian leaders culminating in a gathering of approximately 100 leaders in New York City on September 28, 2009.

Attendees considered an early draft of the “Manhattan Declaration, A Call of Christian Conscience,” but the document was entrusted to a drafting committee that included Dr. Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, Dr. Robert P. George of Princeton University, and renowned Evangelical leader Charles Colson.

The signatories explained that they speak now because in order “to defend principles of justice and the common good that are now under assault.”

“We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but we will under no circumstances render to Caesar what is God’s.” ….

Go here for the rest of the story.

NYT Discovers That Wars Cost Money

12afghan

Really, who knew?

In what appears to be the opening round of a rearguard action against what leftists used to call “the good war” (only because they felt they needed to pretend they had pro-war bona fides to make their anti-Iraq War arguments look stronger to the general populace), the New York Times’s Christopher Drew reported last Saturday for the Sunday print edition that sending more troops to Afghanistan as General Stanley A. McChrystal has requested might cost tens of billions of dollars.

Imagine that:

High Costs Weigh on Troop Debate for Afghan War

While President Obama’s decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan is primarily a military one, it also has substantial budget implications that are adding pressure to limit the commitment, senior administration officials say.

The latest internal government estimates place the cost of adding 40,000 American troops and sharply expanding the Afghan security forces, as favored by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American and allied commander in Afghanistan, at $40 billion to $54 billion a year, the officials said.

Even if fewer troops are sent, or their mission is modified, the rough formula used by the White House, of about $1 million per soldier a year, appears almost constant.

So even if Mr. Obama opts for a lower troop commitment, Afghanistan’s new costs could wash out the projected $26 billion expected to be saved in 2010 from withdrawing troops from Iraq. And the overall military budget could rise to as much as $734 billion, or 10 percent more than the peak of $667 billion under the Bush administration.

Such an escalation in military spending would be a politically volatile issue for Mr. Obama at a time when the government budget deficit is soaring, the economy is weak and he is trying to pass a costly health care plan.

…. At a stop at a military base in Alaska on Thursday, Mr. Obama told a gathering of soldiers that he would not risk more lives “unless it is necessary to America’s vital interests.” He added during his visit to Tokyo on Friday that he wanted to avoid taking any step that could be seen as an “open-ended commitment.”

The administration said Friday that it planned to cut up to 5 percent at domestic agencies in fiscal 2011 as part of an effort to reduce the federal budget deficit, which rose to $1.4 trillion with the economic stimulus and financial bailouts.

All of a sudden the administration has found a place where spending money is a problem. They’re quibbling over a net spending increase of $14-$28 billion (between $40 billion and 54 billion minus $26 billion), a net amount that would be about 0.4%-0.7% of the government’s annual spending rate of $3.5 trillion per year.

Oh, it’s not a problem when hundreds of billions go into a “stimulus” program that hasn’t stimulated anything except howls of outrage over misdirected funds, exaggerated results, and reports of billions going to non-existent congressional districts. It’s not a problem when discussing having the government take over health care. It’s not a problem when funneling funds into two failing car manufacturers, one of which just reported a “managerial net loss” of $1.2 billion in its first period under government control despite having walked away from almost $30 billion in debt and getting at least $50 billion in government aid, the vast majority of which was taken into income by its bankrupt predecessor.

And of course the administration has coupled this with telegraphed plans for significant cuts elsewhere that no one believes will ever happen, and the mere mention of which will bring out howls of protest from bureaucrats and leftist constituencies who will make sure they never happen.

This should be seen as yet another stage in the seemingly endless Afghanistan dither that has been on since summer. The president seems to want to find something, no matter how specious and contrived, to justify not giving McChrystal what he wants. That the Times is providing boot-licking assistance should surprise no one.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.