Friday, March 25, 2011

Obamacare Pre-Existing Coverage Not Much Needed

One of the main emotional selling points of Obamacare was that now millions with pre-existing conditions could get coverage previously denied to them. A 2010 American Medical Association report said:
"Although the state high-risk programs serve about 200,000 people, many more might qualify. The GAO report estimated that 4 million people could meet the state coverage standards. This year alone, 375,000 people might obtain high-risk coverage under the federal program, according to an analysis released in December 2009 by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Chief Actuary Rick Foster."
It would be a real problem if only 5% (200,000) of the estimated 4 million with pre-existing conditions had access to medical coverage. Surely, a mere 10% of them (375,000) would jump at the chance for coverage. States were "deluged with high risk pool interest". Apparently only "interest" and not applications.

The coverage began July 1, 2010, but as of February, 2011, enrollment "still lags" according to the headline of a The Hill article. "Lags" is a bit understated. Though 375,000 enrollees were expected, only 12,000 showed up. That's only 3% of those expected to enroll in the first 6 months. And less than a third of 1% of the additional 4 million supposedly needing help.
"Enrollment in new high-risk insurance pools created by healthcare reform is up 50 percent over the past three months, but participation is still far behind original projections, according to new administration figures released Thursday.

"More than 12,000 individuals are enrolled in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, up from 8,000 a few months ago, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

"The Medicare actuary had originally predicted the new pools, created for individuals who cannot obtain coverage because of preexisting conditions, would enroll 375,000 people by the end of 2010, but high enrollment costs have frequently been cited for keeping people away."
High enrollment costs? Isn't that what the initial $5 billion allocated to the program was supposed to help with? That would have been $13,300 (more than $1,000/mo) for each enrollee if the 375,000 had signed up and were looking at the projected $140 to $900 monthly premiums. AP/CBS:
"President Barack Obama's new health coverage for uninsured people with health problems won't be cheap--monthly premiums as high as $900, administration officials said Wednesday.

"Prices will vary by state and type of coverage from a low of $140 a month to as much as $900, said Richard Popper, deputy director of a new insurance office at the federal Health and Human Services department."
As is the $5 billion averages out to over $400,000 each for the 12,000 who have signed up. The CBO initially had concerns about the $5 billion running out.
"At this point, therefore, CBO can provide only a preliminary range of
estimates reflecting some assumptions about an uncapped program’s
specifications. If the program covered about 65 percent of enrollees’ costs
for health care, federal spending through 2013 would probably fall between
$10 billion and $15 billion—or $5 billion to $10 billion more than the cap
specified in PPACA. Total enrollment in the federal high-risk pool program
would be expected to grow from roughly 400,000 in 2011 to about 600,000
or 700,000 in 2013."
Not to worry.

It seems that pre-existing conditions aren't that big a problem. Instead of revamping US health care, why not just cut everything but the $5 billion and fund current state high-risk pools to cover the 12,000 new enrollees and help the 200,000 previously enrolled in state plans?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Victor Davis Hanson: The Fragility of Complex Societies

Again, Victor Davis Hanson gives crucial perspective. A few snippets from The Fragility of Complex Societies:
"The hydraulic dynasties of the Near East and the pharaohs’ Egypt, despite their centuries of existence, were likewise vulnerable in a way that both Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt was not. Less than 3,000 hidalgos under Cortés decapitated the Aztec Empire in less than three years. In our time, we have seen, with the implosion of the Soviet system, the wages of central planning and a redistributive economy."
. . .
"While a disaster comparable to Tokyo is certainly possible here in California, Americans are by nature less prone to rely on centrally provided resources, and are still uneasy with high urban densities. We forget that the suburbanite — ranch house, three cars in the garage, and distance from the urban center — is not just an energy waster in comparison with his Euro apartment-dwelling, single Smart-car-driving, train-commuting counterpart, but a far more independent-minded, free, and self-reliant citizen as well."
. . .
"We need these cranky independent people, if only as a minority to remind the rest of us who are plugged into huge conglomerations, both private and public, for our wages and sustenance that there are dangers with reliance on hierarchy, centralized government, and high density — which, well beyond fragility, inevitably results in groupthink, fad, and cultural uniformity.

"So it is not mindless to resist high speed rail (here in California it would be far wiser and cheaper first to ensure a three-lane, safe north-south freeway 99 or I-5). Our larger corporate farms, given the lack of ground water on the West Side, are dependent on centralized federal water projects, which, when abruptly cut off, can end production altogether — quite a contrast to the eastern side of California where smaller farmers, a shallower water table, and ancestral, local, and gravity-fed, Sierra-sourced water districts, funded by farmers themselves, are more resilient."
. . .
"I could go on, but all this suggests another danger of complexity — the inability to transmit knowledge and the dire wages of specialization. The original architects of such systems are now mostly dead, and we, their replacements, often lack their education and respect for civilization’s protocols. The result is that millions of Americans are simply enjoying a system built for them by others which they are not quite able to use, repair, expand — or understand."
. . .
"Are we becoming like Dark Age Greeks (1100-800 BC) who wandered amid the ruins of the Mycenaean palaces, curious how such “hemi-gods” and “Olympians” were able to build things like the Lion Gate and the tholoi tombs, so far beyond their own competence that they deemed them the work of all-powerful mythological gods? Or maybe we will become 8th-century AD Greeks and Romans who looted the marble from their predecessors’ temples and majestic gravestones to scavenge the lead seals and the iron clamps or to melt down the stones for lime — or simply to seek shelter in abandoned shrines and temples.

"The apocalyptic movies have it wrong: we do not need a nuclear holocaust, earthquake, or asteroid to put us back to The Road. We can get there easily with rising ignorance and illiteracy as we drift among an infrastructure we demand, but do not understand or appreciate: Not with a bang, but with a whimper."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Palins Guests of Netanyahus

And some stills from the Israeli Government Press Office:

This showed courage on the part of Netanyahu as well as his respect for Governor Palin and gratitude for her strong support for Israel. The Jerusalem Post reports:
“J Street officials, who are in Israel for a meeting of the Knesset Diaspora Affairs Committee, complained on Monday that Netanyahu had refused a request to meet with them but had chosen to meet with Palin.

“The left-wing American lobby’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, said he had wanted to meet with Netanyahu ‘to introduce ourselves and explain how we can work together as allies.’

“Ben-Ami wrote in a letter that ‘while the Prime Minister doesn’t have time to meet a movement that now represents over 170,000 pro- Israel, pro-peace supporters, he has time to host Sarah Palin for dinner.’”
Maybe the Prime Minister knows that Palin represents millions of staunch supporters of Israel which are more important to Israel's survival than the fair weather J Street set.

Also, Prime Minister Netanyahu wanted a more formal, full blown meeting with Governor Palin. This was to have been a major reception of the kind given to important governmental figures.
"Ahead of the meeting, Netanyahu’s office checked with Palin to see whether they could expand it to a full reception for her with other politicians and aides, but she politely declined.
. . .
"In private conversations, she vowed to return soon – for a full week – and said she would meet with more politicians and the media then."
H/T Josh Painter

Presidential Candidate Baggage 1980 and 2012

A common direct or implied criticism of a Palin presidential campaign is that she already has drawn too much controversy. Kathryn Jean Lopez, says something similar today when she intimates that Palin will probably not be the 2012 Republican candidate. Rather it will be:
". . . someone who doesn’t evoke the passions of a wounded culture in quite the same way."
That's complementary to Charles Krauthammer's call for an "absence of charisma" candidate.

Governor Palin does not have an absence of charisma. She does arouse passion. But think of it, so did Ronald Reagan. And the main hit in the wider culture on both of them has been the same.

Though Reagan was intensely criticized the main sticking point was not so much about his policies or political philosophy. He was criticized for being, well, dumb and second rate. An "amiable dunce". A "B" grade actor (Bedtime for Bonzo). Not up to handling details or even staying awake in staff meetings. An aging dotard. Because most Americans were (and continue to be) conservative, it was difficult to gin up resentment on the basis of Reagan's views.

The main recurring criticism of Palin is also about her competence and intelligence. Her policies like the well-known "drill, baby, drill" or government healthcare bureaucracy as "death panels" are more popular than not. President Obama has the opposite problem.

No one has been able to paint Palin as cold or mean-spirited--just as no one was able to paint Reagan that way. That's a huge political plus of not having to prove basic character. It's also not a bad starting place for a 2012 presidential campaign where the economic environment is likely to force attention to policy issues and philosophy of government as happened when a sitting president was challenged in 1980.

Note: Thanks to whoever did the great photoshop version of Reagan and Palin on horseback.

Palin Book Sales

Publishers Weekly reports that Sarah Palin sold 2.67 million copies of Going Rogue in 2009. Her newest book, America by Heart was #5 in 2010 for hardcover nonfiction sales at 797,955.

George W. Bush's sales for Decision Points was 2,653,565 in 2010 just a smidgen less than Palin garnered in 2009 for Going Rogue (2,674,684).

Top thirty nonfiction hardcover for 2010:
"1. Decision Points. George W. Bush. Crown (11/10) 2,653,565
2. Broke: The Plan to Restore Our Trust, Truth, and Treasure. Glenn Beck. Threshold Editions (10/10) *860,0002
3. Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything. Geneen Roth. Scribner (3/10) *850,000
4. Life. Keith Richards with James Fox. Little, Brown (10/10) 811,596
5. America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag. Sarah Palin. HarperCollins (11/10) 797,955
6. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race. Jon Stewart. Grand Central (9/10) 782,871
7. Sh*t My Dad Says. Justin Halpern. HarperCollins/It Books (5/10) 761,000
8. Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? Ina Garten. Clarkson Potter (10/10) 722,608
9. Pinheads and Patriots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama. Bill O'Reilly. Morrow (9/10) 662,950
10. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang. Chelsea Handler. Grand Central (3/10) 653,321
11. Straight Talk, No Chaser: How to Find, Keep and Understand a Man.
Steve Harvey. Amistad (12/10) 626,732
12. Spoken from the Heart. Laura Bush. Scribner (5/10) *605,000
13. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. Michael Lewis. Norton (3/10) *600,000
14. The Power. Rhonda Byrne. Atria (7/10) *525,000
15. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Laura Hillenbrand. Random House (11/10) 518,000
16. Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime. John Heileman and Mark Halperin. HarperCollins (490,298)
17. Obama's Wars. Bob Woodward. Simon & Schuster (*430,000)
18. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Rebecca Skloot. Crown (393,064)
19. The Pacific. Hugh Ambrose. NAL Caliber (330,000)
20. So Long, Insecurity (You've Been a Bad Friend to Us). Beth Moore. Tyndale (327,180)
21. Autobiography of Mark Twain, edited by Harriet Elinor Smith. University of California
22. Double Delicious. Jessica Seinfeld. Morrow (300,434)
23. The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman. Timothy Ferriss. Crown Archetype (299,176)
24. The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Ree Drummond. Morrow (291,860)
25. The Grand Design. Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow. Bantam (286,000)
26. Decoded. Jay-Z. Random/Spiegel & Grau (283,000)
27. Have a Little Faith: A True Story. Mitch Albom. Hyperion (275,234)
28. Cleopatra. Stacy Schiff. Little, Brown (271,327)
29. Power Thoughts: 12 Strategies to Win the Battle of the Mind. Joyce Meyer. FaithWords (266,958)
30. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. Tony Hsieh. Grand Central (263,028)"
[emphasis added]
H/T Ian Lazaran

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beautiful Moon

Beautiful moon tonight. Supposed to be at its closest (perigee--221,575 miles) in this year's cycle which coincides with a full moon. Taken with my Canon SX30.

Levin's Superb Comparison of Reagan and George W. Bush

Mark Levin responds to Peter Wehner in a long, superb piece comparing Reagan's conservatism with George W. Bush's in terms of illegal immigration, the Supreme Court, taxes, spending, entitlements, terrorism, social issues, constitutional issues and Israel. Well worth the read. An example is the section on spending:
"Spending. Pete writes: 'President Reagan gets the nod over Bush on federal spending, especially in his first year, when Reagan made a real run at cutting domestic spending. Still, under Reagan, spending increased by around one-quarter in real terms. Federal spending as a percentage of the economy was higher during the Reagan years than during the Bush years, though Bush inherited a more advantageous starting position. Under Reagan, the national debt increased from just over $700 billion to more than $2 trillion (this included the defense build-up at the end of the Cold War); for Bush, the figure increased from $3.4 trillion to $5.8 trillion (including the costs of two wars). Some conservatives are highly critical of Bush’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), though history will vindicate that decision because much of the TARP money has been repaid, and its cost to taxpayers is lower than even its strongest early supporters expected (see here).'

"This is a misleading. The figures provided by the CBO, linked through Wikipedia, show the following respecting the national debt as a percentage of GDP: the end of Reagan's first term 43.8%, the end of Reagan's second term 53.1%; the end of Bush's first term 63.5%, the end of Bush's second term 83.4%. Furthermore, the problem with TARP was not only the enormous amount of taxpayer money used to subsidize financial institutions but the fact that it created a precedent for government intrusion in the marketplace not seen since Herbert Hoover laid the foundation for Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. The size and scope of Bush's federal intervention cannot be easily dismissed. Bush used $17.4 billion in TARP for loans to GM and Chrysler, even though Congress had rejected subsidizing those companies -- and, as best I can tell, without specific statutory authority. He also signed the $152 billion Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 and the $300 billion Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.

"In 2007, before much of Bush's massive increases in discretionary spending, the CATO Institute compared the annual growth of spending by presidents since 1964, adjusted for inflation. It concluded that Bush's increase in discretionary spending far exceeded not only Reagan's, but LBJ's: Bush 5.3%, LBJ 4.6%, Ford 3.0%, Carter 2.4%, Reagan 1.9%.

"Also, look here and here and here and here and here and here and 1000 other reliable links.

"Last month, Dan Mitchell wrote: 'Since February is the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth and I still haven't gotten over my man-crush on the Gipper, I figured it would be interesting to look at Reagan's fiscal record, particularly to see whether he was successful in restraining the growth of domestic spending.

"'There is lots of good information in the Historical Tables of the Budget, which is produced by the Office of Management and Budget. I was particularly fascinated by the data on inflation-adjusted total domestic spending (discretionary and entitlements), which can be obtained by adding columns E and H of Table 8.2.... Reagan managed to limit average domestic spending increases to less than one percent per year. These figures, which are adjusted for inflation, show that spending has grown more than five times as rapidly during the Bush-Obama years.'

"Frankly, it is absurd on every level to compare Reagan's spending (and tax) record to Bush's. Bush was an enthusiastic interventionist."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Labash's (and The Weekly Standard's) Tasteless Sexism

Professor William Jacobson takes Matt Labash and The Weekly Standard to the woodshed for sexism and tasteless writing.
"I expect cheap shots at Sarah Palin from Politico."
. . .
"But I do not expect name calling and cheap tricks from The Weekly Standard. Yet Matt Labash of The Weekly Standard is Politico's newest best source of anti-Palin quotes, like the one Politico splashed on its home page today . . . .

"Here is the quote (emphasis mine):
'The appeal of conservatism is supposed to be people taking responsibility for their own actions,' said Labash. 'But if you close your eyes and listen to Palin and her most irate supporters constantly squawk or bellyache or tweet about how unfair a ride she gets from evil mustache-twirling elites and RINO saboteurs, she sounds like a professional victimologist, the flip side of any lefty grievance group leader. She’s becoming Al Sharpton, Alaska edition. The only difference being, she wears naughty-librarian glasses instead of a James Brown 'do.''
"Naughty-librarian glasses? Real classy. As if comparing Palin to Sharpton were not bad enough.

"Does being a conservative now require that we engage in the types of sexualized portrayals of conservative women perpetrated by the left-blogosphere?

"What's next, Mr. Labash, should we double-check to see if Palin had breast enlargement surgery? That will get you quoted in Gawker, too.

"Hey, how about some Palin 'hand job' jokes at the next Weekly Standard lunch meeting, that should get a round of laughs."
I subscribed to The Weekly Standard up until the end of last year. I quit because of Matt Labash's tasteless writing. Now Labash, identified in the Politico piece as "a longtime writer for the Weekly Standard", adds sexist put downs to his portfolio and, unfortunately, to The Weekly Standard's as well.

It's sad to see a serious publication getting its reputation shredded. Someone never taught either Labash or Weekly Standard editors that

A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

It's easy to lose a good reputation, and hard to gain it back.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The State of Newspapers from PEW’s 2011 Report

Some observations on newspapers from PEW’s 2011 State of the News Media report:

- though ad revenues for most other media rose in 2010 by 5%+, newspapers saw a 6.4% decline (though this was less than the 26% drop in 2009)

- print circulation dipped 5% for the daily and 4.5% for the Sunday in the April-September, 2010, count, but this was half the 2009 drop

- most newspapers are making a profit averaging at about 5%; this is less than 1/4th of the profit newspapers were making in the 1990s

- recent online pay experiments have shown that less than 1% of readers are willing to pay for online access

- the New York Times is considering a metered pay wall which would allow “free access to the home page and to articles from links and search engines,” but charge when an individual had reached a defined threshhold of articles accessed in a month

- hyperlocal news coverage is being rebuilt at some metro papers like the Oregonian; this model relies on most content coming from volunteer or semi-professional reporters, with some professional staff, editing and coordination

- after newsprint prices fell in 2008 and 2009, they were back up 20%-30% in late 2010 and early 2011

- newspaper readership is edging down to a third of Americans: “37% of Americans report reading a newspaper in any form ‘yesterday,’ down from 39% in 2008 and 43% in 2006"

- though circulation continues to decline, hikes in single issue and circulation charges have held the revenue decline to a drop of about 10% from the peak of $11.2 billion in 2003; advertising revenue, by contrast, has fallen 40%

- to compensate for higher costs, news reports are getting “skinnier” with concern that this will result in even more loss in audience

- “Full-time newsroom employment fell by 11,000 from 2007 to 2009, to 41,500. That is down 26% from its peak at the turn of the century.”

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This Guy Should Be Writing at the Wall Street Journal Instead of Peggy Noonan

Pejman Yousefzadeh takes on Peggy Noonan's recent column on Rumsfeld's memoir. (or here if you can't get through WSJ's pay wall to see how precisely Yousefzadeh parodies Noonan)

Wow! This guy can write. And think. And create zingers. Some examples:
"She has been a columnist since the paleolithic era, amusing herself with the belief that she has been in the innermost councils."
. . .
"When she doesn’t do this, when she merely asserts, defends and rhapsodizes, you feel overwhelmed, again, by the terrible thought that there was no overall, overarching strategic thinking. There is only a second-rate mind busily, inconsequentially at work."
. . .
". . . but Noonan doesn’t bother to dig out any Rumsfeldian memos she thinks were stupid, since Rumsfeld’s book 'overwhelm[s] [her] with wordage, with dates and supposed data, [and bores her] into submission, and at the end she’s going to throw up her hands and shout, 'Pudding!' ' Or something. Anyway, for Noonan, thinking is hard."
. . .
"Noonan believes that most memos prove nothing. She is disturbed that so many Bush-era memoirs rely so heavily on them. Noonan won’t tell us which ones, or why a written document can’t prove anything, or why it is disturbing that a memoir might rely on archival material to back up the claims found within the memoir. But she can assert like no one’s business.

"But the terrible thing about the Noonan column, and there is no polite way to say this, is the half-baked nature of the thinking within it. The quality of analysis and understanding of history is so mediocre, so insufficient to the moment."
. . .
"From that moment—the moment [Bin Laden] escaped his apparent hideout in Tora Bora and went on to make his sneering speeches and send them out to the world—from that moment everything about the Afghanistan war became unclear to people like Noonan, who train their myopic eyes upon a single person, rather than training them upon a terrorist organization, causing life outside the world of 'pudding!' to become unfocused, murky and confused. Noonan’s focus shifted, she took her eye off the facts, and her column is now what it is."
. . .
"Needless to say 'there were numerous operational details,' all of which likely 'overwhelm[s] [Noonan] with wordage, with dates and supposed data, [and bores her] into submission, and at the end she’s going to throw up her hands and shout, 'Pudding!' ' So she won’t talk about what those operational details were, and why they might have been important. And of course, in a typical Noonanian touch, she says that Rumsfeld later learned CIA operatives on the ground had asked for help, but 'I never received such a request from either Franks or Tenet and cannot imagine denying it if I had.' Noonan can. She likely can also imagine unicorns, leprechauns with pots of gold, and the Cubs winning the World Series in at the end of the 2011 baseball season, none of which imply that unicorns, leprechauns with pots of gold, and/or a giant tickertape victory parade down Chicago’s famed Michigan Avenue in October or November of this year are in the offing."
. . .
"Osama bin Laden was not 'one man on the run,' in Noonan’s eyes. Except, you know, he was. And still is–unless he is dead. He is the man who did 9/11, which does not change the fact that he was, and still is 'one man on the run,' assuming that he is not dead. He had just killed almost 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, in a field in Pennsylvania. He’s the reason people held hands and jumped off the buildings. He’s the reason the towers groaned to the ground. He also had lots of people helping him, people Noonan ignores. Lots of those people got captured or killed, but Noonan believes that war is a chess game, and that it doesn’t matter if you capture all of the pawns, the rooks, the knights, the bishops, and the queen so long as the king is still on the chess board (even if he is deprived of material support). Thus, the war effort was a complete catastrophe in her myopic, pudding-craving eyes.

"It is the great scandal of the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page that it employs Peggy Noonan. It is the shame of this column that Peggy Noonan lacks the brains to see it, or the guts to admit it."
Unfortunately, I have to agree with Yousefzadeh. One had questions before about Noonan's odd statements. But, since Noonan started screeching at Sarah Palin, all the while touting her book Patriotic Grace which urged civility and graciousness toward political opponents, Noonan has clarified that she is "a second-rate mind busily, inconsequentially at work."

One of the strange twists of fate was that Noonan only foresaw Obama as arousing conservative ire. So, Patriotic Grace was running with the zeitgeist in urging conservatives to be cool and kind toward political opponents, especially the young, history-making first black president.

All was going so well. Then young, first woman governor of Alaska, first female GOP presidential ticket candidate Sarah Palin came along. What was God doing? Playing dice with the universe? Palin provoked flustered anger and at times incoherent rage among the "sweetness and light" conservative pundit set. No patriotic grace to Palin was possible by such as Noonan.

Who knows how long Noonan has been losing the struggle with believing one thing and saying another or if she has just been great at flimflamming for a couple of decades living off Ronald Reagan's reputation. It's certainly not worth the effort to do an in depth study on the train wreck that Noonan has become.

As Noonan fades, it's far better to turn to reading James Taranto, Daniel Henninger and William McGurn, and hope WSJ eventually picks up someone like Yousefzadeh.

For another well written take down, read Victoria Coates on Noonan's Rumsfeld column and pundit demise.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Really Important Vote in Wisconsin

Professor William Jacobson again cuts through the smoke and mirrors to the central issue:
"There will be a vote in Wisconsin which will shake the political landscape of the nation."
. . .
"The vote will be taken with the feet of tens of thousands of Wisconsin public employee union members, who will have the choice for the first time in memory of deciding whether to join the union and pay the union dues, which have been estimated in the $700-1000 per year range.

"The public employees will have to make a choice, take a pay increase or pay the union.

"I think we know how that vote will turn out, and whether the employees -- once given a choice -- will buy what the unions are selling."

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Small Kerfuffle with Burned Out CFL Bulb

Small kerfuffle today. My dad had a burned out Compact Fluorescent Light bulb. He asked, "Can I just throw this in the garbage?" Heh.

NO!!! These light bulbs cannot just be put in the garbage can. If they break, it's a mini hazmat disaster.

I went online and found a recycling event happening about eight miles away near the end of the month. So, he can take the light bulb and dispose of it "safely" there.

When his small stock of CFL's expire (they're dying a lot faster than the advertised 5 year life span), he will be back to the safe and easy, throw it in the garbage style of light bulb. Whew!

For now, we're stockpiling the old incandescents while they're still legal to buy, but hoping new legislation will lift the ban.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Tony Blankley Knows Political History Others Forget

Some conservative pundits continue to make strange assertions about upcoming elections. Charles Krauthammer tonight said that if Palin ran for the Republican nomination and lost, her "stature" would be diminished. So, she won't run.

Hmm. I remember voting twice for Reagan when he ran for the Republican nomination and lost. True, the first time, in 1968, he didn't actively campaign. But, in 1976 he very actively campaigned and lost. Somehow that loss didn't diminish his stature since he came back to win both the nomination and the presidency in 1980.

In my memory even losing not just in the primaries, but an actual presidential run, hasn't caused irreparable damage. Richard Nixon lost to Kennedy in 1960 and ran again and won the presidency in 1968.

So, having actually lived through elections that contradict what currently passes as wisdom, I tend to take these political wizards with a grain of salt as to what is and is not necessary to win. It's refreshing to find someone who does know a little political history. Here's Tony Blankley:
And last week was also the moment for prominent and respected Republicans (George Will[*] and former Gov. John Sununu) to pronounce various of the likely Republican contenders unfit for nomination or election to the presidency. But then, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama were all written off as either unelectable or unfit by various prominent members of their respective parties. They all ended up being respectfully called "Mr. President," often by the very people who disparaged their chances a year before.
Blankley seems to be one of the few pundits who actually knows the political history of the last 50 years and applies it to his analysis.
*Link to Will's column

Monday, March 07, 2011

Matt Continetti: Bad for Palin to Run, But Not for Bachmann

Go figure. Twenty-nine year old Matt Continetti, one of the bright young guns at The Weekly Standard, apparently has different weights and measures in his bag according to which candidate he's talking about. On a Ricochet podcast at about the 1:03:00 mark, Continetti weighs in on presidential prospects for Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann (transcript below).

First there's Continetti's statement that if Chris Christie or Mitch Daniels don't run the Republican presidential field will not be "exciting". Imagine living in an intellectual world in which things can only be exciting if Christie or Daniels are a part of it.

Then there's Continetti's sword of Damocles hanging over Palin's head. If she runs for president she will, wait for it, find "media scrutiny . . . even more intense than it’s been in the past." This from the guy who wrote The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star.

Did Continetti overhype media "persecution"? How much more intense can you get than persecution? It looks like Continetti is either admitting his own flawed judgment in his previous work or trying to say there is something worse than media persecution. What? Torture? Continetti never explains.

But, Continetti apparently sees no real downside for intense media scrutiny for Michele Bachmann--not to mention intense media scrutiny on the really exciting guys like Christie and Daniels. Why intense media scrutiny would be hard for someone like Palin who has gotten it non-stop for more than two years but not for candidates who haven't gotten a real whiff of it yet is hard to explain. And Continetti doesn't try.

Also, according to Continetti, a real downside for Palin is that she will have to debate "serious governors" if she runs for president. Besides the question of what makes one governor "serious" and another not, Continetti never brings up that Bachmann would have the same problem. Maybe worse, since Bachmann, never having been a governor, would presumably find it even more difficult to debate "serious governors".

Then there's Palin's supposedly already great gig in endorsing candidates and energizing conservatives. Running for president would, by Continetti's lights, be a "demotion". That's a head scratcher.

By what standard is the Presidency second to successfully endorsing candidates or energizing one's base? The presidential veto alone is equivalent to electing 2/3rds minus 1 of the Senate and House. The idea of the Presidency being a demotion in terms of any other political position is nothing short of laughable.

How else to interpret "demotion"? Will lose supporters if she runs for president? Nah. Will lose her current status as an elder statesman who is thoughtfully listened to when she opines on candidates and issues? Nah. I can't figure out a way in which Continetti's use of "demotion" makes sense.

Back to Bachmann, about whose possible presidential run Continetti finds no downside. Bachmann has money. There's "political opportunity", and "she's smart" having been a "tax lawyer". She, like Palin, gets conservative audiences "excited". Bachmann is "also older and a little bit more seasoned than Palin."

More seasoned? How? It looks like the only "seasoning" she has over Palin is having spent hours in being interviewed by Continetti. I like Bachmann, but Bachmann hasn't been a governor in a time of recession, hasn't been through a national presidential campaign, and hasn't undergone a fraction of the intense media scrutiny and criticism that Palin has.

Also, why would Bachmann (or anyone else), who also currently does well on energizing the base and campaigning for others, seek the "demotion" of a presidential campaign?

The only answer I can come up with is this all makes sense in Continetti's private universe, but not in American politics.

Here's the transcript:
[Matt Continetti:]“So, a field without Christie or Daniels is not an exciting field, as I think Peter [Robinson] implicitly concedes in his scenario he lays out."
. . .
"I don’t think Palin’s going to run. I don’t see her doing anything to set up a major presidential campaign. I think, it’s Ann Coulter actually had the best line on this where she said if Palin were to run for president it would be a demotion. She’s far more powerful sitting on the sidelines being the king or queen maker. You know, doling out her endorsements, energizing the conservative voters, the conservative grass roots than she would be, as soon as she becomes a candidate the media scrutiny is there even more intense than it’s been in the past. She actually will have to, you know, debate serious governors like, like Pawlenty or Barbour or Daniels if he runs like Peter mentioned. I think she understands that she’s better off not running. And so everything I see right now suggests that’s what she’s going to do--not run.

[James Lileks:] "Do you think Michele Bachmann is going to run?

[Continetti:] "Yeah, I actually think Bachmann, I think Bachmann is moving toward a run. She’s visiting all the primary and caucus states. She has a pretty big PAC. She has money left over from last time, and she also sees political opportunity which is that a field without Palin is a field where Michele Bachmann can make an impact. And, people, I mean, people underestimate Michele Bachmann. I spent quite a bit of time with her for a profile that’s never actually been published, but she, she’s smart, you know. Not only do conservatives love her because she is a energizer bunny, she just gets conservative audiences excited, but she’s smart. This lady was a tax lawyer before she ran for congress. You know, and she’s also older and a little bit more seasoned than Palin. So, I wouldn’t underestimate her either.

[Lileks:] "No, she’s generally regarded here on the left in Minnesota as just an absolute, total idiot. And she’s not. And she’s also . . .

[Continetti:] "But, what conservatives do the left not consider as idiots? . . . ."

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Eminent British Historian: Palin Has Courage Like Reagan and Thatcher

In the Wall Street Journal from Brian Carney's interview with British Historian Paul Johnson:
"Then he deepens his voice for effect and adds: 'And I like that lady—Sarah Palin. She's great. I like the cut of her jib.'

"The former governor of Alaska, he says, 'is in the good tradition of America, which this awful political correctness business goes against.' Plus: 'She's got courage. That's very important in politics. You can have all the right ideas and the ability to express them. But if you haven't got guts, if you haven't got courage the way Margaret Thatcher had courage—and [Ronald] Reagan, come to think of it. Your last president had courage too—if you haven't got courage, all the other virtues are no good at all. It's the central virtue.'"
Heh. Lots of people will be calling their office after this interview including a well known opinion writer at the Wall Street Journal.

Palin: Courage Is Doing Right Thing Even When You Don't Have To

Governor Palin:
"And with all due respect to Governor Christie, you know he has no choice but to cut budgets because he’s broke, his state is broke. What courage really is, is in the face of having a surplus when you have opportunity to spend spend spend other people’s money, you still choose to reign in government to let the private sector soar. That’s real courage, and by the way that’s what I did as Governor here when I engaged in hiring freezes and reduced earmarks by 86% and vetoed the largest amounts in our state’s history. Despite having a surplus that’s real leadership and that’s courage.

"But I do appreciate that Governor Christie is willing to face the reality in his state and that is that they are going bankrupt. So he has to cut, he has no choice."
Gov. Christie started the back and forth by commenting on Palin's communication style and saying Gov. Palin can't be elected if she doesn't get into Christie type "not scripted" question/answer sessions as in his townhall meetings.

Gov. Palin moved the fight to "not scripted" policy substance. Touché.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

VDH: Drill, baby, drill!

Victor Davis Hanson:
"It is past time for the Obama administration to speak in one voice — prudently, consistently, and forcefully — on behalf of nonviolent transition to secular constitutional government in the Middle East. Meanwhile, to preserve our autonomy and options, America in the short term needs to stop borrowing money and to drill like crazy for oil and natural gas, as we fast-track coal and nuclear power.

"Anything less would be near-criminal negligence."
Dr. Hanson and Gov. Palin agree.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The London Health Sciences Centre in Ontario Sues to Force Parents to Consent to Killing Child

Talk about death panels. The London Health Sciences Centre in Ontario hospital staff and doctors went to court to order parents of a child to consent to the killing of their son by stopping medical treatment. Not only does the hospital not want to do a fairly simple surgical procedure (a tracheotomy) but wants to stop all treatment and force the parents to say they agree. Nicely totalitarian. You not only have to act like we say but publicly say we're right.
"Joseph has a fatal neuro-degenerative disease and can only survive with the aid of a ventilator.

"His parents Moe Maraachli and Sana Nader want to him to have a tracheotomy, which would allow him to breathe without the respirator and which they believed could prolong his life by up to six months.

"Then they want to take him home so he can die surrounded by relatives.

"But doctors are refusing to do the tracheotomy, saying that it would needlessly prolong his life. Instead they wanted to turn off the life support machine and let him die on the ward.

"Today the hospital announced it has backed down on its refusal to let the family take Joseph home and let him die there.

"But officials are standing strong over the tracheotomy, instead insisting that hospital staff take Joseph off the ventilator once he gets home - perhaps only giving him minutes to live.

"Joseph has been on life support at the Centre since last October."
. . .

"The matter went* to court where a judge ruled in the hospital’s favour and ordered the parents to give their consent to remove Baby Joseph’s breathing tube so he could die at the hospital."

They have refused to do so and are considering an appeal so their little boy can pass away ‘on God’s time’.
So much for advance directives. In Canada they can just order you to consent to your own death or the death of another.
"Ms Nader added: ‘When I’m in the hospital, I don’t feel I’m in Canada, I feel I’m in some country with no human rights.’"
Poor Canadians. Maybe they should be fleeing legally or illegally to the U.S. Oregon might be a good choice because courts here order parents to give medical treatment to children and remove children from parental custody when treatment is not given.
"'It is not our preference to prosecute parents for failing to give their children medical care,' [Clackamas County District Attorney John] Foote wrote. 'Our first preference is to have parents take on that responsibility so that children do not die.'"
*Actions don't go to court on their own. The passivity in this sentence shows a bit of the reporter's bias. The hospital sued to force the parents to say what the parents do not believe. And the court agreed that you can make people say what they don't believe. A modern, judicial rack.