Thursday, January 30, 2014

Palin's Response to Obama's State of the Union Address

November, 2013

Governor Palin:
Later, reading the President's remarks on my cell phone made sitting on sticky steel bleachers (that exacerbate parents’ sore backs) that much more uncomfortable. It was all confirmation that we HAVE heard it all before – how more government is supposedly the answer. But the extreme hubris and naïveté that emanated from that speech was something new and alarming.

Ronald Reagan said the nine most frightening words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Well, last night's promise to grow even more unaffordable, unsustainable bureaucracy confirms we need rescuing from government like never before.

Consider all the “help” a bloated bankrupt federal government has given us…

In an attempt to “fix” our health care system, government has taken away our health insurance and forced us to buy worse plans we don’t want and can’t afford.

To “stimulate” the economy, government blew a trillion dollars on a failed stimulus scheme that sunk us deeper into such a pile of debt that our great-great-great grandchildren won’t be able to pay it off. And our government still wants to blow more money we don’t have on “investments” that will incur more deficits year after year.

To “lead” us to energy independence, government throws billions at bankrupt boondoggle green energy gimmicks that conveniently reward campaign donors. Meanwhile, the President stymies development of conventional resources that we actually use and he kills a pipeline that’s guaranteed to provide jobs and reliable energy.

To “create” jobs, government has created more burdensome regulations and requirements and sat back to watch as a record number of Americans simply quit the workforce and gave up trying to find jobs that government can never create.

Speaking of which, while claiming to be concerned with job creation for American workers, our government is trying to ram through amnesty, which will result in a flood of foreign workers competing with Americans for the few jobs there are.

These examples prove that growing government isn't the answer; rather, it’s the problem. It’s tempting to tune out rhetoric like last night's naive promises that this time will be different, but we must not ignore it! Between the hubris of an executive branch governing by fiat, to the arrogance of believing it can spy on citizens’ communications and unleash the IRS to harass people who happen to disagree with the President, it’s now more important than ever for us to press in and pay attention.

Why? Because we’re obviously on a dangerous path, but “We the People” don't have to be “We the Sheeple” and just get shepherded towards a fundamental transformation that’s against America’s will. There’s another way! This nation can shine again with the elbow grease we as individuals can provide! But we mustn’t let a statist-leaning government dull our dedicated efforts. So pay attention. Get involved. Understand the way words are manipulated by politicians who practice to deceive, so that we can DO something about it. For instance, proving he’s immune to irony, the President used the phrase “fairness and equality under the law” at the end of last night’s address. This is the same President who has been arbitrarily amending his signature legislation, Obamacare, practically every other day to give breaks to his cronies and leave the rest of us without “connections” out in the cold. I guess some of us are less fair and equal under Obama’s laws.

The last thing we need right now is more “help” from big government. In this mid-term year, we need to send new leadership to D.C. to get government back on our side and off our aching backs.

Thankfully, November is just around the corner.
(emphasis added)

MaxRedline: Arrows

MaxRedline has a particularly brilliant posting today entitled "Arrows".

It's basically a primer on what scientific method is about--and it's not about "consensus", unproven assumptions, or even assumptions that have been "proven" but there's this one eensy-weensy problem.

You would think that all the changes and course reverses in what scientific "consensus" says would breed a little humility among the scientific establishment. But, you would be wrong.

The article Max starts his comments on is here. One of its points is that man's ability to describe may not lead to an ability to understand anything significant. In other words, science may be worthless as a tool for understanding the universe in any useful way.
The sheer number of features for any given organism makes complexity an ineffable trait to grasp, says Dan McShea, an evolutionary biologist at Duke University in Durham, N.C. Shell designs and tooth bumps aren’t inherently perfect reflections of complexity, they’re just amenable to study. Furthermore, he says, people often choose to define complexity by what puts humans on top. If complexity were instead defined by features that allow an organism to survive successfully, he says cyanobacteria might be at the pinnacle level, because they have flourished for 3.5 billion years while many lineages of mammals have gone extinct within a fraction of that time. McShea warns, “This impression of directionality may be an illusion.”

Perhaps the fact that people are stunned whenever organisms become simpler says more about how the human mind organizes the world than about evolutionary processes. People are more comfortable envisioning increasing complexity through time instead of reversals or stasis. Physicist Sean Carroll calls humans “terrible temporal chauvinists” for this reason, because they desperately want the street from the past to the future to run in one direction. The textbook scenarios on early animal evolution might be correct, but they should be treated as hypotheses built by temporal chauvinists. When new data suggests a rearrangement, it must be considered no matter how perplexing the conclusion seems.
(emphasis added)
One scientist ends up saying that whatever happens is evolution.  Doesn't have to fit with any clear theoretical structure. Which means, of course, that "evolution" is a meaningless term because it just means "what is" and is not subject to verifiability.
When asked whether de-evolution, a reversal from the complex to the simple, happens frequently, Dunn replies, sure. “But,” he adds, “I wouldn’t call that de-evolution, I’d call it evolution.”
Max continues:
. . . animals, it seems - and plants as well - began as complex systems. Right from the start.
“When I was younger, and we knew less, we thought that organisms gained genes over millions of years and that the earliest animals were genetically very simple,” says Bill Pearson, a computational biologist at the University of Virginia who developed some of the first techniques to compare protein sequences among organisms. “We think that less now,” he adds.
. . .

So what else didn't we know?

Well, we know that time is an arrow of linear causality; the past leads to the present, which leads to the future. Nobody can know what the future will bring, and the future cannot in any way influence either the present or the past. Right?

Yeah, about that....
“The answer to the question, ‘Could the world be such that we do have a limited amount of control over the past,’ ” Price says, “is yes.” What’s more, Price and others argue that the evidence for such control has been staring at us for more than half a century.

Price’s collaborator, theoretical physicist Ken Wharton of San José State University, argues that retrocausality is a natural way to understand a process known as frustrated spontaneous emission. An atom that normally emits light will cease emitting when its surroundings become incapable of absorbing that light. Thus one event (emission) depends on something that does or doesn’t happen in the future (absorption). “That’s one of the examples of a particle probing the future and seeing what’s there, and then making a decision based on it, and just not decaying,” Wharton says. “It’s hard to understand in a causal model.”
So to sum it all up, it's been recently discovered that the scientific consensus on evolution was wrong, and has been wrong for well over a century. Even the longer-term consensus regarding the "arrow of time" doesn't stand up to scrutiny under certain conditions, so it's likely in need of refinement.
We scientific 21st century people may not know lots of things, but we know for sure there isn't a God and that evolution is the word that explains everything. Even the things that are contrary to our understanding of evolution are still "evolution". How convenient.

Yet, despite huge reversals in what scientists have said are true about lots of different things (here's a link to Max's recent post on reversals in understanding of the age of the Grand Canyon), the scientific establishment still talks as if it knows and has the moral authority to pronounce what is true on all sorts of issues--scientific, economic, political and supernatural.

Pride goes before a fall, and, unfortunately, fools don't learn humility from falls.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Brookings Institution: Lower Middle Class Will Suffer Most Under Obamacare

The chart included in the Brookings Institution team findings shows that the 2nd and 3rd deciles (lower middle class or working class) will lose the most in income redistribution from Obamacare (Affordable Care Act).

H/T Byron York

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Would the City of Portland Give Bill Sizemore the Same Deal Offered to Elizabeth Nichols?

MaxRedline highlights an interesting piece of Portland legal politics.

In the aftermath of the Occupy Portland group that took over the Plaza park blocks in October-November of 2011, protesters tried to occupy banks. One of the group who was sprayed with pepper spray, Elizabeth Nichols, sued the City of Portland for use of excessive force.

When a jury decided against her, "[d]eputy city attorney David Landrum said he offered to drop the city's pursuit of costs if Nichols agreed to waive an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals." The costs didn't include City staff time in working on the case.

What a sweet deal. One wonders if the City would have given Bill Sizemore the same chance? (The State of Oregon didn't.) Undoubtedly not, since the City doesn't like Sizemore. Just as the City wouldn't allow a group it didn't like to take over a city park for more than a month--say a group of pro-life supporters. No, those people have to get all the right permits and do everything strictly according to code.

But, the Occupy people were political friends of the City, so rules for regular folks didn't apply to taking over and trashing public property to the tune of $85,000 (not to mention the $1.29 million in police overtime costs) as happened with the Occupy Portland movement.

Apparently the same here. You get a special deal if the City likes your politics. You don't have to pay the real cost of a legal challenge, and if you agree to not press the matter, you don't have to pay anything. Nice work if you can get it, and you can get it if you agree with the politics of City leaders.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Missing Sonja Schmidt

Sonja Schmidt is one of the most talented and funny political commentators ever.

The last PJTV segment she did was in late 2011. Her last tweet was in June of 2012.

I couldn't find anything recent. I hope all is well with her. I miss her enough to have gone looking--and, unfortunately, not found a new Sonja venue.

Less Than a Third of Americans Believe in Evolution Due to Natural Processes

According to the PEW Research Center 60% percent of Americans say that “humans and other living things have evolved over time", but only 32% believe that human evolution is due to natural processes.
"About half of those who express a belief in human evolution take the view that evolution is “due to natural processes such as natural selection” (32% of the American public overall). But many Americans believe that God or a supreme being played a role in the process of evolution. Indeed, roughly a quarter of adults (24%) say that 'a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today.'"
Assuming that the 24% who believe God played a role in directing evolution and the 33% who believe "humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time" also believe God had a role in creation, you have 57% of Americans who believe in some form of intelligent design.

White mainline Protestants (36%/36%) and white Catholics (33%/33%) are split over whether God had a part in evolution or not.  Both Black Protestants (25%/17%) and White evangelicals (18%/8%) heavily favor divine intervention.  Hispanic Catholics believe natural processes prevailed (19%/27%).

Friday, January 03, 2014

Dazzling Sunset Tonight

Corporate Greed Killed the Incandescent Light Bulb

Timothy P. Carney:
For more than a century, the traditional incandescent bulb was the symbol of American innovation. Starting Jan. 1, the famous bulb is illegal to manufacture in the U.S., and it has become a fitting symbol for the collusion of big business and big government.

The 2007 Energy Bill, a stew of regulations and subsidies, set mandatory efficiency standards for most light bulbs. Any bulbs that couldn't produce a given brightness at the specified energy input would be illegal. That meant the 25-cent bulbs most Americans used in nearly every socket of their home would be outlawed.
 . . .

Competitive markets with low costs of entry have a characteristic that consumers love and businesses lament: very low profit margins. GE, Philips and Sylvania dominated the U.S. market in incandescents, but they couldn’t convert that dominance into price hikes. Because of light bulb’s low material and manufacturing costs, any big climb in prices would have invited new competitors to undercut the giants — and that new competitor would probably have won a distribution deal with Wal-Mart.

So, simply the threat of competition kept profit margins low on the traditional light bulb — that's the magic of capitalism. GE and Sylvania searched for higher profits by improving the bulb — think of the GE Soft White bulb. These companies, with their giant research budgets, made advances with halogen, LED and fluorescent technologies, and even high-efficiency incandescents. They sold these bulbs at a much higher prices — but they couldn’t get many customers to buy them for those high prices. That's the hard part about capitalism — consumers, not manufacturers, get to demand what something is worth.

Capitalism ruining their party, the bulb-makers turned to government. Philips teamed up with NRDC. GE leaned on its huge lobbying army — the largest in the nation — and soon they were able to ban the low-profit-margin bulbs.
[emphasis added]
H/T Byron York

Study Finds Increased Oregon Medicaid Coverage Ups Emergency Room Visits 40%; No Significant Health Improvement

A team including MIT, Harvard and Columbia researchers has found that emergency room visits increase substantially when health care expands. The Oregonian's Nick Budnick explains:
"Researchers poring through hospital administrative records found that expansion of the Medicaid-funded Oregon Health Plan in 2008 led to a 40 percent increase in emergency department usage by people in the 15 months after they enrolled, according to a study released Thursday in the journal Science.

"The findings 'explode the myth that health insurance access will reduce the strain on emergency services' said an editorial accompanying the study."
[empasis added]
Expanding medical care coverage doesn't cut down on emergency room visits for conditions easily treatable in normal doctor/health care visits. The study found emergency room visit increases even "for conditions that may be most readily treatable in primary care settings."

Even more surprisingly, expanding medical care coverage does not significantly improve health of the individuals covered.
"Oregon is again starring in the debate over national health care reform after a study tracking 12,000 low-income Oregonians between 2008 and 2010 found that newly enrolled Oregon Health Plan members showed no significant physical health benefit."
Those covered did not show significant improvement over those without health care coverage in terms of "blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. Studies show those measures can change quickly under treatment, [Harvard School of Public Health professor Katherine Baicker] said."

Still, health care costs rose 35%. "People enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan used health care more, leading to an increase of $1,172 in per-patient costs, or 35 percent."

The only upsides were:
"Those with coverage spent less out-of-pocket on their health.

"Only about 21 percent of the group with coverage reported depression, compared to 30 percent with depression in the group that was denied Oregon Health Plan coverage."
[emphasis added]
So, expect costs and emergency room visits to explode under Obamacare, with little improvement in health. And one might find that depression actually increases significantly under Obamacare especially for those with significant health problems who used to have health care plans they liked.