Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rip Caswell's Admiral Nimitz

Update: The statue will be on public display at Mayor’s Square City Park on East Columbia River Highway through August 5th.

Update 2: A (sometimes shaky) 7 minute video reprise of highlights of the unveiling ceremony is included at the end of the post.

Today was the unveiling of Rip Caswell's larger-than-life bronze statue of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz in Troutdale, Oregon. The 8' sculpture was commissioned to be installed next to the USS Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor and will be shipped to the Memorial next week. The beautifully crafted statue is a fitting tribute to a great American military commander (and showcases Caswell's artistic brilliance).

As the U.S. representative, Nimitz signed the Japanese surrender document at the signing ceremony on the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945. There were over 1,200 ships on both sides in one battle (Battle of the Philippine Sea) Admiral Nimitz was involved in during World War II (compared to the current U.S. Navy count of under 300 ships).

At the ceremonies honoring Nimitz were a number of World War II veterans proudly wearing identifying caps. Below are photos of Rip Caswell and son Chad (partially hidden by the flag) at the presentation of the colors, Caswell's Nimitz statue, and an autographed photo from the Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, of Nimitz signing the surrender document.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Word on Behalf of Anthony Weiner

Max has a good post up commending Senator Ron Wyden. Wyden deserves praise for standing strong on the 4th Amendment and against government spying on and collecting data on the whole of American citizens without probable cause.

Anthony Weiner
Not exactly in the same vein, because Anthony Weiner's problems go beyond political disagreement, I appreciated the New York Sun's editorial remembering Weiner's courage in standing up for American citizens born abroad--specifically those born in Jerusalem
Guess who turns out to be at the center of the great Jerusalem Passport case that is going to be appealed for a second time to the Supreme Court. This is the case that determines whether the president must obey a law passed almost unanimously by Congress, granting to Americans born in Jerusalem the right to have a passport and other official documents listing their place of birth as Israel.

It turns out that the measure was introduced in the Congress by none other than Anthony Weiner. This was back in 2001, when the current candidate for mayor of New York was a member of Congress from Brooklyn.
. . .
Mr. Weiner didn’t have to pick up this issue. He would have been handily re-elected if he had not. But he did because he and his constituents believe profoundly in the issue. So the law to require the state department to honor the request of an American born in Jerusalem to have the proper birth documents, this was a creative and admirable demarche. It bespeaks the kind of creativity and gumption that are the good side of Anthony Weiner.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Union Leadership: Obamacare Takes from Workers and Gives to Big Companies

From the Wall Street Journal:
Moreover, a tax under the law would cost [union multiemployer] plans $63 per covered individual, or $630,000 for a plan covering 10,000 people, [Terry O'Sullivan, president of Laborers International Union of North America] wrote. The proceeds of the tax will be used to subsidize insurance companies offering health plans in the Health Exchanges.

“In effect, ACA takes money from the pockets of each laborer covered by a health and welfare fund and gives it to for-profit insurance companies,” Mr. O’Sullivan wrote. Those added costs will eventually impact collective bargaining agreements, he said, making union construction companies less competitive than nonunion ones and resulting in less work for union laborers.
H/T Byron York

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Union Leaders See Obamacare Gutting Workers' Wages and Benefits

The following letter shows just how many Reagan Democrats are out there to swing the next few elections. Sarah Palin is right. Blue collar voters are the key to Republican political success and where common sense lies.
Dear Leader Reid and Leader Pelosi:

When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat. Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.

Like millions of other Americans, our members are front-line workers in the American economy. We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision.

Now this vision has come back to haunt us.

Since the ACA was enacted, we have been bringing our deep concerns to the Administration, seeking reasonable regulatory interpretations to the statute that would help prevent the destruction of non-profit health plans. As you both know first-hand, our persuasive arguments have been disregarded and met with a stone wall by the White House and the pertinent agencies. This is especially stinging because other stakeholders have repeatedly received successful interpretations for their respective grievances. Most disconcerting of course is last week’s huge accommodation for the employer community—extending the statutorily mandated “December 31, 2013” deadline for the employer mandate and penalties.

Time is running out: Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it. The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios:

First, the law creates an incentive for employers to keep employees’ work hours below 30 hours a week. Numerous employers have begun to cut workers’ hours to avoid this obligation, and many of them are doing so openly. The impact is two-fold: fewer hours means less pay while also losing our current health benefits.

Second, millions of Americans are covered by non-profit health insurance plans like the ones in which most of our members participate. These non-profit plans are governed jointly by unions and companies under the Taft-Hartley Act. Our health plans have been built over decades by working men and women. Under the ACA as interpreted by the Administration, our employees will treated differently and not be eligible for subsidies afforded other citizens. As such, many employees will be relegated to second-class status and shut out of the help the law offers to for-profit insurance plans.

And finally, even though non-profit plans like ours won’t receive the same subsidies as for-profit plans, they’ll be taxed to pay for those subsidies. Taken together, these restrictions will make non-profit plans like ours unsustainable, and will undermine the health-care market of viable alternatives to the big health insurance companies.

On behalf of the millions of working men and women we represent and the families they support, we can no longer stand silent in the face of elements of the Affordable Care Act that will destroy the very health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans.

We believe that there are common-sense corrections that can be made within the existing statute that will allow our members to continue to keep their current health plans and benefits just as you and the President pledged. Unless changes are made, however, that promise is hollow.

We continue to stand behind real health care reform, but the law as it stands will hurt millions of Americans including the members of our respective unions.

We are looking to you to make sure these changes are made.

James P. Hoffa
General President
International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Joseph Hansen
International President

D. Taylor
H/T MaxRedline

Jeantel: Trayvon Thought George Zimmerman Was a Gay Rapist

This explains a lot about Trayvon's fierce response.

Why didn't Trayvon run home He was afraid that the gay predator might go after his little brother. Here's the next part of the interview which isn't in the Mediaite clip [Update: a clip of the following quote is here]:
"And people need to understand, he didn't want that creepy ass cracker going to his father or girlfriend's house to go get -- mind you, his little brother was there. You know -- now, mind you, I told you -- I told Trayvon it might have been a rapist."
Political Correctness is in crisis. Black people fearful of homosexual predators? Piers Morgan is probably in crisis too.

H/T Rush Limbaugh

Byron York: The Nuclear Option and Coming Nuclear Winter

My favorite political reporter is Byron York. He is unique in that his reporting actually helps the reader understand the inner workings and meaning of political events and maneuvering.

In an article published yesterday York traces the recent history of the Senate majority threatening to stop the power to filibuster presidential nominees. In 2005 the Republican majority found an
"an arcane parliamentary maneuver that they claimed would allow them to change the Senate's rules with a simple majority -- 51 votes. Democrats were not just opposed; they believed using that method to eliminate the judicial filibuster would be nearly the end of the world. The tactic earned its name: the "nuclear option."
The change in Senate rules was averted in 2005 when a bipartisan "Gang of 14 [senators] began negotiating a way out of the deadlock."

Now, with Democrats in power in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid is threatening the nuclear option again by changing Senate rules to stop Republican filibustering confirmation of President Obama's nominees.

York doesn't stop with telling the story, he tells the reader the "inside baseball" effect this will have on the Senate. York calls it "a nuclear winter".

First, Republicans will be able to shut down the Senate by refusing "unanimous consent".
For example, nearly everything the Senate does requires that senators first agree to direct the body's attention to this or that subject. That is usually done through a routine procedure called unanimous consent. But if just one senator wants to stop things, he or she can.
. . .

If Reid goes ahead with his threat, Republicans will certainly shut down the Senate for a while; a nuclear winter will follow the nuclear option.
But, that won't be the worst.  In the future, when Democrats are in the minority, they will not have the shield of the filibuster to protect their own key interests. York explains:
Far more serious is the GOP retaliation that is sure to come at some point in the future.

Someday, there will be a Republican majority, and there will be some issue critical to minority Democrats, or some nominee key to their future, or some GOP initiative they believe it is vital to stop. That's when Republicans will take their revenge. For better or worse, for all its vaunted gentility, the Senate operates on an eye-for-an-eye basis. If Democrats break the filibuster today, someday they will find themselves hoist by their own petard, with no Senate rule to use in their defense.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Portland Area Bronze Medical Care Plan Premiums for Lower Income Users to Spike Under Obamacare

With the publication of healthcare monthly premium costs in the Portland area, it's clear that healthcare costs will be spiking for the lower income person/family who is the natural candidate for the lower level, "bronze" healthcare plans.

The young lose on all the plans compared to current rates for the same plan, but middle-aged and older people able to afford the "gold" plan may see a slight reduction in monthly fees.

Under Kaiser Permanente's proposed Portland area Obamacare bronze plan, 21 year olds are slated to pay $72** more a month; 40 years olds $42 more per month, and 60 years olds $68 more every month for the same or similar coverage as they can get through Kaiser right now.

Comparing Kaiser Permanente's current rates for 21, 40, and 60 year old males* and the approved rates once Obamacare kicks in, those with bronze level coverage (which pays "an estimated 60% of medical costs") will see a significant cost increase. A 21 year old single male will pay a whopping 85% more (from $85/mo to $157/mo) for the same coverage in 2014 that he would get if he signed up August 1, 2013. A 40 year old's premiums will go up 26% (from $159/mo to $201/mo). A 60 year olds' payments will increase 19% (from $359/mo to $427/mo).

In contrast 40 and 60 year olds with gold plan coverage (which pays "an estimated 80% of medical costs") will see an 8% and 13% decline respectively (from $329/mo to $302/mo for 40 year olds and $741/mo to $641/mo for 60 year olds). However, 21 year olds will still see a sharp increase of 35% even in the gold plan (from $175/mo to $236/mo).

This begs the question of whether health insurers are spiking the rates at the low end because they realize that government subsidies will pay costs for many newly insured. Thus, there is no need to have competitive rates in the bronze area since government funds roll in no matter what. There has been no data presented on why current bronze rate payers will suddenly cost 85% (or 26% or 19%) more whereas silver and gold plan users will not.

Maybe health insurers foresee that the 11 million newly insured (subsidized by the government) will still not be able to pay the 40% of costs the insured is to pay under the bronze plan (or 30% of costs if most buy the silver plan). So, emergency room care previously given to the 11 million will likely continue (as it has in Massachusetts). And the 40% of medical expenses not covered, as well as co-pay and prescription expenses will not be paid either. Certainly the health insurers will not legally (or ethically) be able to deny service to people whose premiums have been paid but are unable to pay the 40% still owing not to mention co-pays and prescription fees.

What better way to recoup those funds than to increase charges to the class of people tax subsidies will pay for? At least the subsidized premiums of those users will roll in. But in the end the losses may be so big (imagine not receiving 40%+ of every dollar billed) that all premium payers will see a hefty rise in healthcare fees to cover those bad debts.
*Actual rates vary as Kaiser currently has two gold plans, three silver plans, and two bronze plans. The highest current plan rate was used as the basis for comparison so that differences in the two rates are skewed in favor of the Obamacare rate.

**All Obamacare rate figures are for non-tobacco users. For tobacco users add $125/mo more for 21 year olds, $160/mo for 40 year olds, and $341/mo for 60 year olds.

Portland Obamacare Rates and Penalty

MaxRedline links to a chart of approved healthcare rates for the Portland area.

If you want to find out the penalty for not buying insurance depending on your individual/family case, there is an easy calculator at

The initial flat penalty for those earning less than $37,000 will be $95 per individual for 2014 rising to $695 per individual in 2016.  For higher income non-insured the penalty is 1% of adjusted gross income in 2014 rising to 2.5% in 2016.

Under Obamacare you will be able to use hospital emergency rooms for care if you don't have insurance and will be able to get full coverage for any serious conditions that arise by signing up for healthcare coverage after the condition becomes known.  However, there may be a wait to the next calendar year before coverage kicks in.
“It’s going to be important at the end of open enrollment to convey a sense of urgency and now is the time [to get covered],” Gary Cohen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, told a recent Washington forum on the health law. “You can make the decision not to buy and wait until you get sick, but you will have to have until the next year and whatever costs you have in that intervening period are yours to bear.”
Though you may not save as much as Gary Cohen indicates. The bronze level can require the patient to bear 40% of the cost along with prescriptions and medical appointment/exam co-pays. Even 50 somethings might come out ahead in paying the fine and getting health care just when they need it and relying on hospital emergency room services for the unexpected.

H/T Byron York

Friday, July 12, 2013

Only 28% of Americans Think Journalists Contribute A Lot to Society's Well-Being

Americans' view of the value that journalists bring to society has sunk to a new low.  Slightly more than 1/4th of Americans think journalists contribute significantly to society's well being. The significant drop in esteem for journalists in the last four years cuts across party lines. 

From The Pew Forum:
The decline in public views about journalists’ contribution to society since 2009 is more pronounced among women than men. Roughly three-in-ten women (29%) say journalists contribute a lot to society’s well-being, down 17 percentage points from 46% in 2009. Men’s views on this are about the same today as they were in 2009.

The decline in the perceived contribution of journalists cuts across partisan leanings, age and education level. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents as well as Republicans and Republican-leaning independents all are less likely to say journalists contribute a lot to society’s well-being today (down 8 points among Republicans/leaning Republicans and 10 points among Democrats/leaning Democrats).
Though journalists were viewed most favorably by Democrats (36%) there was still a drop of 10% favorability from 2009 (46%).  It seems that the public at large has noticed the lack of journalistic competence and contribution during the Obama administration years.  Every segment of society now sees the contribution by journalists to society's well-being as minimal.

It's not just the digital age that is hurting print journalism.  The incompetence and bias of journalists keeps them from turning out a product of significant worth to society.

I'm reminded of a poll conducted September 8, 2008, in which Rasmussen found that "46% of voters say they most trust information about the presidential campaign from family and friends as opposed to 32% who trust the information from news reporters more."

If family and friends (amateurs) do better at giving good information than the professional information gatherers, the problem is at crisis stage.  Think of what it would say about the competence of the medical community if 46% of Americans trusted medical advice from family and friends over medical advice from doctors and only 32% trusted their doctor's advice more.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

PCWorld to Become Digital Only

PCWorld just announced that it is going to cease print publishing and go all digital.

Harry McCracken commenting on this for Time magazine writes:
In the age before the web, if you were serious about this stuff, you didn’t just read one computer magazine. You read several, and you probably couldn’t wait to get your hands on them.
[emphasis added]
The web with its access to thousands of good news and review sources has changed what people are willing to pay for. 

The recent Oregonian slide to four day print publishing is another indicator of the impact of the massive expansion of free, easily accessible online news sources.

The problem is generational as well as practical.  When a few minutes of easy entertainment was needed, the older generation would pick up a newspaper or magazine to browse.  The younger generation, now plays a tablet or phone game.  They aren't going to turn to digital reading for quick, fill-in entertainment.  But neither is the older generation going to be happy with firing up a tablet or phone for quick digital reading.

Print media like PCWorld is caught between two stools.  The public that finds their brand of entertainment appealing does not reach for digital first.  The public that naturally turns to digital prefers games to informational entertainment.

So, as a print subscriber am I going to sit back in my easy chair or lay back in bed and enjoy the digital magazine (or newspaper) as I did the print edition?  Not really.  The extra effort makes it less likely that I will read the magazine for fun.   Digital does allow for exact navigating to particular articles (a bane in many print magazines) and seamlessly provides text for "large print" reading years.  But, those are the major digital pluses I can think of for the average reader wanting just a bit of easy fill-in or before bed entertainment.

And then there are the technical glitches.  (Read some of the 1 star reviews here.)  It's not just crabby people or technical bozos commenting.  I ran into one issue myself.  I have an older 9" tablet that I bought a mere two years ago.  The magazine app doesn't work with it.  Two year old hardware is already a dinosaur for digital subscriptions.  So, to view my magazine subscription I have to get new spendy computer hardware.  Granted I got my 7" tablet for about $100 for the fun of fooling around with a newer android version.  But, a $100 hardware purchase every few years to read a $20 yearly digital subscription?  Not so great.

Except for books (which are a lot lighter and easier to handle on my Kindle, Nook, tablet or even android phone than a print version), digital print media is not easier or more fun than print media.  Since most print reading subscriptions are based on entertainment, that's a big hurdle digital has yet to overcome.

I wish PCWorld luck in their venture.  I don't think I will stop my subscription for the year and a half left--or ask for a refund for the lesser service.  But, since some of the fun will be gone, I probably will spend a lot less time reading/browsing the digital version than I did with the print edition.  That doesn't bode well for subscription renewal in 2015.


Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Mariano Rivera: A Man of Faith

In Sunday's game with the Orioles, the great Mariano Rivera came out with some new tennis shoes. On the outside, rear heel of each shoe was printed "PHIL 4:13". [I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.--Philippians 4:13]

The sports commentators announcing the game focused on the new shoes but either missed the verse or did not want to comment on it.

Rivera, the greatest closer baseball has ever known with 637 saves* joins athletes like Tim Tebow in having Bible verses printed on his clothing or person to publicly testify to his faith.

Rivera gave verbal testimony in his retirement announcement:
5. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you on a baseball field?

“The best thing for me that happened was just the Lord blessing me with this uniform. Putting the New York Yankees uniform on. And being thankful for every minute that I wore this uniform, to the day that I retire. The last day that I throw my last pitch, I will be proud than anything. Not because what we accomplished. But what the Lord allowed me to wear, the New York Yankees uniform."
Rivera carries his greatness with humility.
4. For many years, people have called you the greatest of all-time. How do you want to be remembered?

“First of all, I don’t feel I’m the greatest of all-time. The reason I say this is because I’m a team player. If it wasn’t for my teammates, I would never had the opportunities. But I would love to to be remembered as a player who was always there for others. Trying to make them better. Didn’t think about himself at all. That’s the legacy that I want to leave. That I was there for others.”
Rivera will be retiring while still at the top of his game. This season his record so far is 28 saves of 30 attempts. He has been a bright spot for the struggling Yankees who have four star players out because of injury: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson.

The New York magazine has recently published an article profiling Rivera and his deep faith in Christ.
*In second place with most MLB saves is Trevor Hoffman with 601.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Major Change among Catholics on Gay Marriage/Rights

The Barna Group has tracked changes in belief among Americans on gay marriage, gay rights and the definition of marriage from 2003. They just published their findings.

The change among practicing Catholics is astonishing.

                                               2003   2013
marriage defined as one man/one woman:  
practicing Catholic (-14%)           64%    50%
practicing Protestant (-5%)         75%    70%
all Americans (-4%)                    52%     48%

acceptability of same-sex sexual relationships:
practicing Catholic (+18%)         19%    37%
practicing Protestant (+3%)       12%    15%
all Americans (+7%)                  30%    37%

Practicing Catholics are three to six times as likely to have changed their views on this social and moral issue as practicing Protestants and the American public at large.

With only a -4% and a +7% shift, the change in general public opinion has not been as significant among the general public as the strong media/entertainment pro-gay emphasis might be supposed to have caused.

However, the change in views among practicing Catholic has implications about the effectiveness of Catholic teaching and discipleship within their own communion.   Catholics view marriage as one of the seven sacraments (imparting divine grace).  So, teaching on marriage for Catholics rises above merely a practical Christian living emphasis into the arena of salvation itself.

Interesting that this change occurred in the same decade that the same-sex scandal of priests having sexual relationships with young and adolescent boys was rocking the Catholic church.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Golden Moon

I took our dog out early this morning and saw this golden moon.

20 Heroes Who Died May 26 to June 28, 2013

May 26 - Spc. Christopher R. Drake, 20, of Tickfaw, La., died in Bagram, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his vehicle was attacked by a rocket propelled grenade.

May 30 - Staff Sgt. Joe A. Nunezrodriguez, 29, of Pasadena, Texas, died in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when his vehicle struck an Improvised Explosive Device. 

June 1 - Spc. Ray A. Ramirez, 20, of Sacramento, Calif., died in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when his unit was attacked by an improvised explosive device.
- Spc. Kyle P. Stoeckli, 21, of Moseley, Va., died in Maiwand, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained when his unit was attacked by an improvised explosive device.
- Pfc. Mariano M. Raymundo, 21, of Houston, Texas, died in Sharan, Afghanistan.  The incident is under investigation.
-Staff Sgt. Job M. Reigoux, 30, of Austin, Texas, died in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with a rocket propelled grenade.

June 2 - Warrant Officer Sean W. Mullen, 39, of Dover, Del., died in Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

June 3 - They died in Tsamkani, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when their unit was attacked by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. Killed were:
- 2nd Lt. Justin L. Sisson, 23, of Phoenix, Ariz., and
- Spc. Robert A. Pierce, 20, of Panama, Okla.

June 8 - They died in Sharana, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered from small arms fire received at Zarghun Shahr, Afghanistan. Killed were:
- Lt. Col. Todd J. Clark, 40, of Evans Mills, N.Y., and
- Maj. Jaimie E. Leonard, 39, of Warrick, N.Y.

June 10 - Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Thomas Jr., 31, of Pensacola, Fla., died in Helmand, Afghanistan. The incident is under investigation.

June 16 - Lance Cpl. Jared W. Brown, 20, of Youngstown, Fla., died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

June 18 - They died in Bagram, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with indirect fire.  Killed were:
- Sgt. Justin R. Johnson, 25, of Hobe Sound, Fla.,
- Spc. Ember M. Alt, 21, of Beech Island, S.C.,
- Spc. Robert W. Ellis, 21, of Kennewick, Wash., and
- Spc. William R. Moody, 30, of Burleson, Texas.

June 23 - Spc. Javier Sanchez Jr., 28, of Greenfield, Calif., died in Sar Rowzah, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device while on mounted patrol.
- Sgt. Corey E. Garver, 26, of Topsham, Maine, died in Zormat, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

June 28 - Sgt. Justin R. Rogers, 25, of Barton, N.Y., died in Bagram, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident currently under investigation.