Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Christmas Story: Good-Hearted Stranger Pays $983 Restitution to Prevent Felony Conviction

From Aimee Green
Colin Murphy
Colin M. Murphy, a civil attorney who handles business disputes, was sitting in a courtroom’s gallery waiting for his case to be called when he overheard a defense attorney and a prosecutor talking about a different case scheduled 15 minutes ahead of his. 
They were saying what a shame it was that a defendant was about to blow a plea deal that would give him an opportunity to be sentenced to a misdemeanor instead of a felony for his role in stealing a pickup truck. 
According to police reports, Castor Majuro Conley had bought a 1993 Nissan pickup truck from a thief, then sold it to someone else who sold it to a car-crushing yard for scrap. 
Caster Conley
Court records show that Conley, married with a 17-month-old child, had only one misdemeanor conviction on his record, a fourth-degree assault in 2011. 
Murphy wasn’t familiar with many of the details of Conley’s life or most recent case. But he knew the DA’s Office was willing to offer the man a break. He also knew that a felony conviction meant Conley could very well lose his job, any good future job prospects and rental housing.
And that’s when Murphy spoke up in Judge Stephen Bushong's courtroom and offered the loan. 
“All of us sometime in our lives have done something we would rather not have done,” Murphy told The Oregonian on Monday, explaining why he decided to act. “And the time will come when perhaps we are going to be held accountable. And I think at that point we would like to have somebody show us mercy.”
Mercy. The word becomes more meaningful as we age and make mistakes and bad choices.

It's pretty special to give almost $1,000 to help out a stranger. The Christmas story is about God giving His son to pay the debt each one of us owes for the lies, thefts, broken promises and selfish acts that are a part of not so good life choices. We all need forgiveness and new starts in life. Castor Conley (and I) are worth a lot more to God than $1,000, $10,000 or even $10 million. We are worth the life of His son.
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth, peace, goodwill toward men!"
(Luke 2:14)
Peace on earth and goodwill to men indeed!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Christmas Letter from Prison

Pastor Saeed Abedini
before being imprisoned
Pastor Saeed Abedini writes a moving, thoughtful letter about the first Christmas and its hardships and his own present sufferings in an Iranian prison.
Rajai Shahr Prison 2014
Merry Christmas!
These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.
These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fianc├ę that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.
Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.
Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.
Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.
The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!
So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.
Pastor Saeed Abedini
Soaking in the lava love of Christ

First Time in Over 20 Years Public Supports Gun Rights Over Gun Control

The Pew Research Center reports that a majority (52%) of Americans favor gun rights over gun control (46%).

This is the first time since 1993 that a Pew Research Center poll has shown more Americans in favor of gun rights.

Why the change? A whopping 57% of Americans now believe that gun ownership protects people from being victims of crime. Only 38% say that gun ownership puts people's safety at risk.

The biggest shift on the issue has come from blacks. Two years ago, after the Newtown school shootings, only 29% of blacks thought guns protected people from being victims of crime. Now, 54% of blacks think guns protect from crime--a 25% increase. However, a majority of blacks still view gun control (60%) as a priority over gun rights (34%). (see table below)

The dramatic change in black attitude on guns protecting victims was mirrored in a more moderate manner among every major Pew grouping except "liberal democrats".

Here is Pews's list of  "protect from being victims" view changes:

Total +9%
Men +8%
Women +11%

White +8%
Black +25%

Republican +17%
  conservative Rep +16%
Independent +9%
Democrat +2%
  conservative/moderate Dem +8%
  liberal Dem -3%

Gun control is still predominant for women, 18-49 year olds, blacks, Hispanics, college graduates, Democats, and urban dwellers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ethanol Gas and Electric Powered Vehicles Worse for Environment than Gas Powered

Uh-oh. Oregon's ethanol mandate (ORS 646.913) and maybe a third of its electric car use cause worse environmental damage than conventional gas powered cars. So says a new study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Electricity produced by coal is worse for the environment than conventional gasoline. Turns out a third of Oregon's electricity is produced by coal.

Oregon Department of Energy graphic
Worse, turns out the ethanol mandate requiring 10% ethanol (E10) in all* gas sold in Oregon passed in 2007 (HB 2010, Section 18) actually harms the environment more than regular gas. This was bipartisan stupidity. In the Oregon House and Senate votes only 7 Oregon legislators voted against it. But, for the record, all 7 of those were Republicans:
Sens. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, Roger Beyer, R-Molalla, Larry George, R-Hillsboro
Reps. Linda Flores, R-Clackamas, Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, Susan Morgan, R-Myrtle Creek, Wayne Scott, R-Oregon City
Also, for the record, two better known Oregon Democrat figures voted for increased ethanol pollution. They are now U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader.

All Oregon Democrats and most Oregon Republicans just listen to whatever they are told especially by environmental groups. No careful investigation or waiting for the science, just do what feels good at the time. The people and the environment pay for that shallowness.
*SB 1079, Section 4 passed in 2008 fixed a big problem by allowing vehicles which don't run well on E10 like aircraft, antique vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, racing vehicles, snowmobiles, tools, and watercraft exemption from the E10 requirement.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Free Digital Versions of U.S. Supreme Court Decisions (1991 to 2008)

You can get a free digital copy of the bound Supreme Court decisions from 1991 to 2008 at:

Opinions from 1937 to 1975 (a text file in all caps--ugh!--but it's free) can be found here:

Oregon Democrats Vote to Shut the Government Down

Update: Jeff Mapes at the Oregonian finally got a story out on the Oregon Democrats' vote, but not a word about their votes being for a government shut down and completely contrary to their stated views a year ago.

 Tonight all of Oregon's Democratic U.S. Representatives voted "no" on H.R. 83 which was a vote to not fund the U.S. Government.
The House on Thursday approved a $1.1 trillion bill funding most of the government through September despite an outcry from Democrats and significant defections in both parties.
By a vote of 219-206, the House sent the bill to the Senate, where a similar debate may break out between liberal Democrats and the White House.
The vote split Democratic leaders, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) opposing the bill and criticizing the White House, but Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) backing it. Fifty-seven Democrats voted for the bill, while 139 opposed it.
The House also voted by unanimous consent on a two-day continuing resolution that would expire on Saturday. This is meant to keep the government funded and give the Senate cushion to consider the "cromnibus" package.
, , ,
Democrats objected to changes to the Wall Street reform bill that were included in the 1,600-page bill, and many were unswayed by a last-ditch White House lobbying push that included a visit to the conference by White House chief of staff Denis McDonough.
. . .
Conservative Republicans, meanwhile, opposed the bill for not doing more to curtail President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. While 162 Republicans voted for the bill, 67 rejected it.
For much of the afternoon and evening, the bill looked to be at death's door as a government shutdown loomed at midnight.
[emphasis added]
Oregon Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader all voted with Republican conservatives Reps. Michelle Bachmann (MN), Marsha Blackburn (TN) and Tom Cotton (AR) (soon to be Senator Cotton) to not fund the government starting tomorrow if certain changes were not made in the spending bill.

Strange how things can change for some people in the space of year. In 2014 all these seven U.S. Representatives think a partial government shutdown is the lesser of two evils.

In 2013 the Republicans thought the issues were worth a partial shutdown, but Oregon Democrats could only speak of the misery and suffering caused by partial government shutdown.

Bachmann - "How can I in good conscience not continue fighting to protect these families from Obamacare’s disastrous consequences?

"I was proud to vote for two separate bills that fully fund the entire government, except for Obamacare. And I’m glad we were able, at the very least, to agree that our men and women in the military should continue to receive their pay.

Blackburn - “Just as we have watched support for the President’s health care law crumble under a mass of broken promises, we are now seeing our government and it’s people suffer as a result of his failure to work with us. House Republicans remain committed to ending this government shutdown and fighting to protect the American people from Obamacare. It’s time for the Senate and President Obama to join us so we can find a workable solution that achieves fairness for all.”

Cotton - "I regret that Senate Democrats would rather keep their special Obamacare exemption than keep the government open.  Their decision will cause needless hardship for many Arkansans, including dedicated public servants."

Oregon's Democratic U.S. Representatives on the suffering caused by a partial government shutdown in 2013:

Blumenauer - "It is difficult to tell exactly what the effects will be, since the last shutdown ended in 1996, but we know that millions of families across the country will suffer."

Bonamici - “Today the House leadership forced a government shutdown in an attempt to block or delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I am deeply disappointed. It is a reckless path that will hurt our economy and cast a shadow of instability and uncertainty over the country."

DeFazio - “This government shutdown will deny countless essential government services to Americans, send hundreds of thousands of federal employees home without pay, and further erode the reputation of the U.S. government.”

Schrader - "I hope that this bill serves as a wake up call to my colleagues that it is inappropriate to shut down the federal government and threaten the livelihoods of millions of Americans for the sake of political posturing. There are bipartisan solutions to every problem. I suggest my colleagues join me in working to find them or put their paychecks on the line.”

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Reed College #1 in US in Increased Reported Sexual Assaults on Campus; Willamette University #10

Oregon colleges are leading the nation in something, but it's not a good race to the top. Reed College leads the nation in colleges with the largest increase in the rate of reported sexual assaults. Willamette University comes in at #10. From the Washington Post:

The two Oregon colleges' records are slightly better in actual rate of reported sexual assaults. Reed College drops to #3 and Willamette University to #15.

It turns out one problem at Reed has been its privacy policy.
"A June 2010 article by InvestigateWest in The Oregonian disclosed that three students who reported rape to the college were discouraged from calling police, instead routed to the Judicial Board and a process that required such strict confidentiality one student was unsure she could tell her mother about it. The students said the process had the effect of cutting them off from support after reporting rape at Reed, and all interviewed reported being dissatisfied with the outcome."
But a bigger problem in college sexual assault cases is the lack of consequences for the perpetrator.
"The article was produced in collaboration with a national investigation into campus assault by the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C., which found that students deemed “responsible” for sexual assault on campuses across the nation often faced little or no consequence for their acts, while their victims╩╝ lives were frequently left in turmoil. Often, victims left school while the alleged attackers graduated, the Center’s and InvestigateWest’sinvestigation (sic) found."
The Washington Post gives a little glimmer of hope to the two Oregon schools:
"It’s possible that Gallaudet, Grinnell, and Reed are the most sexually violent campuses in the nation, but it’s more plausible that these campuses have cultivated an environment where survivors feel more comfortable speaking out."

Saturday, December 06, 2014

The Deadly Impact of Too Many Laws

Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter has a good piece on the problem with too many laws--including hundreds of thousands of administrative laws. He writes in the context of Eric Garner's death from a police choke hold.
"The problem is actually broader. It's not just cigarette tax laws that can lead to the death of those the police seek to arrest. It's every law. Libertarians argue that we have far too many laws, and the Garner case offers evidence that they're right. . . . Better [law enforcement] training won't lead to perfection. But fewer laws would mean fewer opportunities for official violence to get out of hand.
. . .
"In addition to [3000 crimes in federal law], [in Overcriminalization legal scholar Douglas Husak] writes, an astonishing 300,000 or more federal regulations may be enforceable through criminal punishment in the discretion of an administrative agency. Nobody knows the number for sure."
It is astonishing that there were a slew of police officers trying to arrest a man selling loose cigarettes in New York City. Just as it was to see a BLM swat team on Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch over a cattle grazing issue.

Carter sums up by saying he is not criticizing the cops who carry out the legislative will, but the unthinking legislators who add law upon law without thinking of the consequences.
"The criticism is of a political system that takes such bizarre delight in creating new crimes for the cops to enforce. It's unlikely that the New York legislature, in creating the crime of selling untaxed cigarettes, imagined that anyone would die for violating it. But a wise legislator would give the matter some thought before creating a crime. Officials who fail to take into account the obvious fact that the laws they're so eager to pass will be enforced at the point of a gun cannot fairly be described as public servants."
Willingness to pass myriads of laws on trivial offenses or give free rein to administrative agencies to make and enforce their own laws is not only destructive of civil and human rights, but of our system of a limited government with enumerated powers.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Samuel Johnson on the Vanity of Human Hopes

Samuel Johnson bust (in the National Portrait Gallery, London)
"No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes, than a publick library; for who can see the wall crowded on every side by mighty volumes, the works of laborious meditation, and accurate inquiry, now scarcely known but by the catalogue . . . ."*
(The Rambler, No. 106. SATURDAY, MARCH 23, 1751.)
Heh. Yes, public libraries are a monument to literary vanity which has ended in forgotten books and authors which predominate in the thousands of miles of public library shelving. (The Library of Congress has almost 130 million items on about 530 miles of shelves.)

I've been reading Samuel Johnson's essays in The Rambler. Some of the entries are interesting as sidelights (like Johnson's take on the proper scope and pitfalls of pastoral poetry). But, Johnson isn't famous for nothing. There's a surprising amount of wisdom vividly expressed. Like the quotation above.

Most of what he writes isn't surprising or new, for as Johnson says in Rambler, No. 2:
"What is new is opposed, because most are unwilling to be taught; and what is known is rejected, because it is not sufficiently considered that men more frequently require to be reminded than informed."
[emphasis added]
Johnson does a lot of great reminding. Which, when one comes to think of it, is what good blogging is about. Johnson published his Rambler opinion pieces twice a week.
*rest of the quotation: "and preserved only to increase the pomp of learning, without considering how many hours have been wasted in vain endeavours, how often imagination has anticipated the praises of futurity, how many statues have risen to the eye of vanity, how many ideal converts have elevated zeal, how often wit has exulted in the eternal infamy of his antagonists, and dogmatism has delighted in the gradual advances of his authority, the immutability of his decrees, and the perpetuity of his power?"

Monday, November 24, 2014

Celebrating William F. Buckley, Jr.

on Firing Line 1971
Today would have been William F. Buckley, Jr.'s 89th birthday. He was a great man--not only because of his brilliance in political debate, thinking and writing, but because he was genuinely a kind, loving man. I was blessed to have his friendship for almost 40 years. He was unfailingly encouraging, generous and kind. Thank you, Lord, for giving us Bill Buckley.
"So during those moments when doubt will assail you, moments that will come as surely as the temptations of the flesh, I hope you will pause. I know, I know, at the most hectic moments of one's life it isn't easy--indeed, the argument can be made that neither is is seemly--to withdraw from the front line in order to consider the general situation philosophically. But what I hope you will consider, during these moments of doubt, is the essential professional point: Without organized force, and the threat of the use of it under certain circumstances, there is no freedom, anywhere. Without freedom, there is no true humanity."
(from "John Kerry's America" a commencement address at the United States Military Academy, West Point, N. Y., June 8, 1971 in Let Us Talk of Many Things)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Social Justice Advocate Jim Wallis' Sojourners Compensation Rises to $120/hr

Sojourners and Jim Wallis keep sticking it to their contributors and winking at their social justice principles.

The mission of Sojourners, Inc. according to their income tax filing is "to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building movement to transform individuals, communities, the church and the world."

They certainly have transformed one individual--their director. Jim Wallis' compensation has skyrocketed from $25,000 per year in 2003 to $218,000 in 2013. His compensation for 35 hours per week of work is now equivalent to almost $120/hr. Now that's hope! By contrast, the average American's hourly wage is about $25/hr in October of 2014. That's about what Jim Wallis' hourly compensation was in 2003 when he worked 20+ hours a week for Sojourners.

Wallis' compensation keeps rising even though the organization's assets are falling. From a high of $5.9 million in 2007 Sojourners' assets have dropped to $2.4 million in 2013. That's a drop of about 60%.

During the same time period Wallis' compensation soared from $153,000 to $218,000. That's a rise of over 40%.

Interested in social justice? You might want to look somewhere else than at Sojourners and Jim Wallis.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bail Security: A Penalty Rather Than Security for Appearance in Court

photo from
A friend of mine was recently jailed locally, and though poor himself was bailed out after spending about a week in jail. This led me to a process of discovering that bail security posted is not primarily to assure that the person released will show up for his court appearances. It is used as a way to fine the person who posts the bail security and gain money for the state.

In Oregon the security required is 10% of the total bail. (ORS 135.265) It is used by the state whether the defendant attends court appearances and maintains good conduct or not.

In the first place, the state takes 15% of the security for administrative costs. Huh? Not a standard fee, but 15% of whatever it is. If the bail is $20,000, the security is $2,000, and you just lost $300. If the bail is $200,000, the security is $20,000, and you just lost $3,000.

Second, they can use the bail security money for pretty much anything they want having to do with the defendant. It is regarded as the defendant's funds not the person's funds who posts the bail.
"Security deposit provided by third party is regarded as belonging to defendant and may be withheld to pay obliga­tions of defendant. State v. Grant, 44 Or App 671, 606 P2d 1166 (1980)"
Further, it can be used to pay anything related to the defendant whether it has to do with the charges in question or not.
"Security deposit may be withheld to pay obliga­tions of defendant unrelated to matter for which security was given. State v. Baker, 165 Or App 565, 998 P2d 700 (2000), Sup Ct review denied"
You can be pretty sure that they will find a use for all of it in some relationship or other to the defendant.

Here are some arguments from Robert L. Wolf setting forth the problems with the current system.

1. When the state takes security money from a third party who posts the bail, they are punishing an innocent person.
"If the money is posted by a third party, that third party becomes personally responsible for the entire judgment if for whatever reason the defendant's release is revoked. Similarly, if the defendant fully complies will the release agreement, then the money is returned to the third party, and not to the defendant. Any bail money posted by a third party remains property of the third party, and not property of the defendant. Therefore, if bail money is seized by the court - despite the defendant complying with all conditions of the defendant's release - and used to pay any other financial obligation of the defendant, the state has engaged in an unlawful taking under both the state and federal constitutions. Article 1, section 18 of the Oregon Constitution, and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Only money that belongs to the defendant can be seized and used to pay that defendant's personal obligations - not money that still belongs to third parties." 
2. Taking the bail deposit of third parties whether or not the defendant shows up in court, "will have a chilling effect on suspects ability to secure and have bail posted for them." Chilling, indeed.

3. By legislation the purpose of bail is only "to secure that a suspect on release both returns to court and does not commit any misconduct while on release." It "is not intended to provide revenue to the state."
"The Owens court specifically held that the security amount must not be set so high as to "make it impossible, as a practical matter, for a prisoner to secure his release." 285 Or. at 80. The bail amount, therefore, must be a realistic amount set allowing defendants of all classes to be able to secure their release. If bail posted by third parties is subject to seizure - despite a defendant's full compliance with all the terms of a release agreement - then the courts will be discriminating against those who do not have financial ability to make bail on their own. . . . The result is that defendants are forced to stay incarcerated, not because they are poor candidates for release on bail, nor because they cannot find the money to post a security, but because they are unable to have enough to pay an entire bond to the county."
It is true that the bail security agreement requires the person giving the security to agree to give "all or part of the amount posted" to "court ordered obligations, such as payment of restitution, child or spousal support, fees, expenses, court costs or court appointed attorney fees." But, it's the only game in town. The signer has a gun to his head. Sign or the supposedly "innocent until proven guilty" person sits in jail until trial.

Of course, this is especially egregious for the poor. My friend who was bailed out would be sitting in jail until his trial date. Incidentally it is about the same amount of time he would serve if declared guilty of the charges against him. Wow, lose-lose. Serve the time whether you are guilty or not or pay a big fine. Nice choice.

Oh, and the plea deal was plead guilty and serve only a third of the time a conviction would require and be on parole. If you were poor, with no one to post bail, would you choose pleading guilty even if you weren't and serve only a third of the time you would serve anyway until the trial date? I wonder how many poor defendants plead guilty just not to serve the time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

God bless you, veterans!

Local kids celebrating Veterans Day
I went to a local school celebration of Veterans Day. Two older vets were sitting on the right in the row in front of me both with their caps on. On standing for the presentation of the colors, one vet removed his cap. The other vet kept his on, and the first vet did a light flip of the other's cap bill to alert the second vet to remove his cap. The hint didn't take, and the second vet kept his cap on the whole time even during the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the Star Spangled Banner. It was a funny little vignette.

God bless both those guys! And my vet dad who was sitting next to me watching his granddaughter who played in the band. God bless all you vets! Thank you!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Fox News Beats Networks in Election Coverage

Looks like free isn't a good enough price any more to make up for second rate content. Mediabistro reports:
At 10pmET, when the broadcast networks aired special reports, Fox News averaged 6.6 million viewers, topping No. 2 CBS which averaged 5.4 million viewers. This marks the first time during election coverage that Fox News topped all the broadcast networks in the A25-54 demo.
  • 10pmET: (Total Viewers | A25-54 demo)
FNC: 6,607,000 / 1,825,000 A25-54
CBS: 5,408,000 / 1,548,000 in 25-54
NBC: 4,225,000 / 1,484,000 in 25-54
ABC: 3,147,000 / 1,083,000 in 25-54
CNN: 1,936,000 / 912,000 in 25-54
MSNBC: 1,594,000 / 566,000 in 25-54
  • 8pmET – 11pmET:
FNC: 6,310,000 / 1,662,000
CNN: 2,107,000  / 909,000
MSNBC: 1,687,000 / 525,000

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

12 Heroes Who Died August 12 to October 24, 2014

August 12 - Sgt. 1st Class Samuel C. Hairston, 35, of Houston, Texas, died in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit was engaged by enemy small-arms fire.

August 20 - Sgt. 1st Class Matthew I. Leggett, 39, of Ruskin, Florida, died in Kabul, Afghanistan, of injuries received when he was engaged by the enemy.

August 22 - Sgt. Christopher W. Mulalley, 26, of Eureka, Calif., died in Gardez, Afghanistan, as the result of a non-combat related incident. The incident is under investigation.

September 4 - Spc. Brian K. Arsenault, 28, of Northborough, Massachusetts, died in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit was engaged by enemy small-arms fire.

September 15 - Sgt. Charles C. Strong, 28, of Suffolk, Virginia, died in Herat province, Afghanistan while conducting combat operations.

September 16 - They died in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from an enemy attack. Killed were:
- Maj. Michael J. Donahue, 41, of Columbus, Ohio.
- Stephen Byus, 39, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, a member of the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime in Columbus, Ohio, working as a supply specialist, and assigned to the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan while deployed.

September 30 - Sgt. 1st Class Andrew T. Weathers, 30, of DeRidder, Louisiana, died at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, from wounds sustained when the enemy attacked his unit with small arms fire Sept. 28, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

October 1 - Maj. Jonathan D. Walker, 44, of Merriam, Kansas, died in Doha, Qatar, of a non-combat related incident at Camp As Sayliyah. The incident is under investigation.

- Cpl. Jordan L. Spears, 21, of Memphis, Indiana, was lost at sea Oct. 1 while conducting flight operations in the North Arabian Gulf. He was initially classified as a non-global war on terrorism casualty.

October 23 - Lance Cpl. Sean P. Neal, 19, of Riverside, California, died in Baghdad, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident. The incident is under investigation.

October 24 - Cmdr. Christopher E. Kalafut, 49, of Oceanside, California, died in Doha, Qatar, of a non-combat related incident at Al Udeid Air Base. The incident is under investigation.

Oregonian Circulation Plunges

Update: 2020 circulation news here.

Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) reports have become worthless to track circulation statistics. AAM statistics now can count as five subscribers an individual who accesses the same newspaper edition via print, desktop, laptop, tablet, and smart phone. AAM also includes "branded" editions which are free editions made up of a tiny amount of article content and lots of advertising circulars.

So, anyone interested in serious study of a newspaper's true circulation status has to rely on the annual report (Statement of Ownership) required by law that is included in newspapers and magazines. The Oregonian prints its report in an October edition, the latest report coming out on October 17, 2014, for the daily edition.*

The news is not good. Here are the stats for 2012, 2013 and 2014.**

The September 14, 2012 (Friday) edition had a paid circulation of 219,917.

The September 13, 2013 (Friday) edition had a paid circulation of 203,051.

The September 12, 2014 (Friday) edition had a paid circulation of 163,635.

That's more than a 25% drop in two years.  Ouch!
*There is also a report on the Sunday edition that was published in the October 19, 2014 (Sunday) edition.
**Comparison with AAM statistics prior to 2012 is ballpark possible, but there is a difference. For example, AAM's September 2012 paid circulation figure was 228,599 compared to the Statement of Ownership report of 219,917. AAM's figure is about 4% above the Statement of Ownership report, This could be due to the changing AAM metrics which started in 2011.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wall Street Journal Only Major News Source Trusted Similarly Across Political Spectrum

Pew Research Center poll, March-April, 2014
Pew Research Center again has an interesting poll up. This one is on how trusted major news sources are across the political spectrum. The only major news source trusted about the same by liberals, moderates and conservatives is the Wall Street Journal. Interesting that liberals trust it a little more (35%, 34%), and moderates (28%) trust it the least. Conservatives are in the middle (32%, 30%).

In overall trusted average, the Wall Street Journal (31%) rates 11th, just behind the New York Times (34%) and USA TODAY (33%), which are the top trusted newspaper sources.

It would be interesting to find out what percentage of people irrespective of political position trust these sources. Since about 38% of Americans self-identify as conservative, 34% as moderate, and only 23% as liberal, weighting the responses by those indicators gives a ballpark figure.

Here's how the top 13 come out when combining consistently and mostly liberal as well as consistently and mostly conservative and multiplying those averages by the percentage of Americans who self-identify as liberal and conservative. Then multiplying the "mixed" percentage by the moderate 34%.

50.3% - Fox News
44.8% - CNN
42.8% - ABC News
42.1% - NBC News
39.0% - CBS News
31.0% - MSNBC
30.3% - PBS
29.2% - Wall Street Journal
29.1% - BBC
28.8% - USA TODAY
26.0% - New York Times
22.1% - NPR
21.7% - Washington Post

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Oregon Juvenile Crime Treatment Failing

Charles French and John S. Foote's study Juvenile Justice in Oregon gives a grim view of the effectiveness of the current juvenile justice philosophy in most Oregon counties. Three of the counties (Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas) include 45% of Oregon residents. They have bought into the Annie E. Casey Foundation philosophy that limiting youth detention and lower involvement of formal justice institutions such as the courts in their cases will result in less juvenile crime. 

The idea is that through an evaluation process it be can determined which juvenile offenders are most likely to need official intervention and the others are better left to their normal home environment. An expected side benefit is that a lower incarceration rate will mean lower state expenses to house and oversee juvenile offenders.

However, the data shows that Oregon's arrest rate (6,699 in every 100,000) is much higher than the national average (4,897 in every 100,000) and juvenile corrections costs per capita ($64.01) is 2nd highest in the nation at almost three times the national average ($20.14).

Juvenile Justice in Oregon by Charles French and John S. Foote, p. 86

The Casey-implanted philosophy of fewer detentions and interventions as regards juvenile offenders is in opposition to Oregon's stated statutory philosophy of "'early and certain intervention and sanctions' as the most effective way to hold juveniles accountable for their criminal behavior. (ORS4l 9C.00 1 )" 

Oregon's juvenile arrest rate in 2010 was 12th highest in the nation. So, just in terms of cutting arrests, Oregon is not doing well compared to the other states. In 2011 Oregon's juvenile arrest rate for property crimes was 12th highest in the nation and almost worst in the nation at 2nd highest for juvenile drug arrests.  
In at least one area of juvenile crime, adolescent drug abuse and resultant drug addiction, Oregon’s performance in the Casey Foundation era borders on catastrophic, deteriorating over a decade from better than average to the second worst rate in the nation. In Oregon today, as many minors use illegal drugs as drink alcohol. (p. 4)
Oregon did well only in juvenile violent crime arrest rate. Oregon scored below the national average at 38th highest in the nation. However, as French and Foote point out it is exactly in the violent crime area that there is much less discretion on applying Casey standards because juveniles ages 15 and up are treated as adult offenders.
The contrast between the performance of Oregon’s juvenile and adult systems is best seen in the area of major violent crime, where twenty years ago adult jurisdiction was mandated by state statutes for juveniles 15 years of age and older for major violent crime. Since the implementation of adult jurisdiction for major violent crimes in 1995, violent juvenile crime has decreased by 68%, one of the very best performances in the nation. (p. 4)
Multnomah County has paid $6,000 for an analysis critical of French/Foote "logic", but has not denied the facts presented.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Lunar Eclipse - October 8, 2014

The clear sky last night to see this was a blessing from the Lord. This photo was taken near the darkest point  at 3:56 am (and has been enhanced in Photoshop).  I used a Canon SX50, and this shot was taken with a 1 second exposure, f6.5, ISO400, 1200mm equivalent.

What great beauty--just because of a shadow. It puts me in mind of the verse that says God rested after the six days of creation. Even this "little" piece of process creation is first class work.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hispanic Families Join Black Families in Major Decline

There has been a lot of coverage of the demise of the black family structure. Hispanic families are joining that danger line. 

A recent Pew Research Center poll shows very similar rise lines for never-married blacks and hispanics. Rises among whites and Asians were more moderate.
"The share of never-married adults has gone up for all major racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., but the rate of increase has been most dramatic among blacks. Among black adults ages 25 and older, the share who has never been married has quadrupled over the past half century—from 9% in 1960 to 36% in 2012. For whites, the share has doubled (from 8% to 16%).
"Among Hispanics and Asian Americans, whose numbers have swelled in recent decades due to a large influx of immigrants, the share of adults who have never married also has increased. Among Hispanic adults, the share has doubled since 1980 (12% vs. 26%). And for Asian American adults, the share has gone up from 13% in 1980 to 19% in 2012."
Pew links to a National Health Statistics Report on cohabitation rates. The data shows that white woman are two to three times as likely to get married when a pregnancy results from cohabitation as black or Hispanic women.

This does not bode well for communities that have traditionally valued family/community over rugged individualism. One wonders if the U.S. welfare structure and encouragement of family break up by not enforcing border security and immigration laws have been a major factor in decline in marriage among Hispanics.

It also calls into question the impact of the church (especially Protestant for blacks and Catholic for Hispanics) on these communities. Their values seem to be coming from surrounding societal circumstances rather than from the church.

Friday, September 26, 2014

72% of Americans See Religion Losing Influence and 56% Think It a "Bad Thing"

Pew Research Center has found that 72% of Americans think religion is "losing influence in American life". A solid majority (56%) think this is a "bad thing".
"Nearly three-quarters of Americans (72%) now say that religion is losing influence in American life, the highest share to hold this view in Pew Research surveys going back to 2001.
"As in previous surveys, most people who say religion is losing its influence in American life see this as a negative development, with 56% of the public as a whole saying it is a 'bad thing' that religion is losing sway in the U.S."
Interesting that 9% of White mainline Protestants and 9% of Hispanic Catholics think losing influence is a good thing. Also, strange is that only 50% of Hispanic Catholics think losing influence is a bad thing. Doesn't sound like Hispanic Catholicism is either deep or growing.

(Apparently Pew Research found Black Protestants for this poll, who they missed for a previous poll. However, there are now no Hispanic Protestants or Black Catholics. What's with Pew Research?)

Portland Scenes: Dog on Max; Low Slung Pants; For Those Who Identify

MaxRedline has a post on four dogs recently on the Max train one of which killed another dog.

It reminded me of a trip I took on Max earlier in the summer, and there was a dog on the train taking up a seat.

On the same trip, strange but not illegal, a young man entered the train holding his pants up as he walked. Of course, low slung pants are the style nowadays, but the young man had chosen blue shorts with stars, and so it kind of stood out. And he was wearing his pants slung so low there was no way to keep them up except hold them if he walked any distance at all. What kids endure to be stylish.

Finally, there is the downtown church that wants everyone to feel comfortable using their restrooms. However, I didn't see any street people using the restrooms or other very nice meeting room facilities. So, maybe the restrooms are only for certain people who identify. You can't make these things up.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pew Research Poll Finds Blacks and Conservatives Share Important Values to Teach Children

Recent Pew Research polling shows that blacks have conservative beliefs about the important values that children should be taught.

Consistently liberal people value tolerance (88%), empathy for others (86%), curiousity (82%) and creativity (85%).

Consistently conservative Americans value religious faith (81%) and obedience (67%). Both liberals and conservatives value being responsible, hard work, being well-mannered, helping others, independence, and persistence.

As can be seen in the side chart, blacks value teaching religious faith to children (69% compared to 26% for consistently liberal respondents) and teaching obedience (70% compared to 35% for those who are consistently liberal). This is a 2 to 1 or more margin over the consistently liberal.

This big divide in liberal and black values is why gay marriage failed in California at the ballot (though not in the courts). It also shows the possibility for conservative inroads into the black vote if the issues can be framed in terms of values rather than by political party.

(Strange that the Pew Poll only included white evangelicals and white mainline Protestants in their polling breakout on religious affiliation and child rearing values, but no black Protestants.)

Strange Late Afternoon Sun

I was out and about Monday afternoon, and about 4:30 pm caught this view of the sun in the Portland sky. It looked very dying sun sci-fi.

I wasn't sure what could be the cause, but Max gave a hint that it might be due to smoke from Oregon wildfires.

Sunday, September 07, 2014


It's the time of year to collect seeds for next year's planting. Two of the seeds we are collecting are for lavatera "silver cup" and canterbury bells.

canterbury bell seeds
lavatera seeds
The difference in the seeds is interesting. The canterbury bell seeds are extremely tiny and look round until you get them under a macro lens and see that they are oblong.

By contrast, the lavatera seeds have shell-like sculpting and are maybe a hundred times bigger than the canterbury bell seed. Why? Who knows why a plant that grows maybe half again as tall as the other would have a seed many times bigger. It's a wonder of God's creation. Figuring out the seed configuration was perhaps just one small detail of why He called it work--very good work.

canterbury bell pods
Canterbury bells usually reseed just fine. Hundreds of these little seeds come out of the dried, brown seed cups on the top. But, we put down a good layer of barkdust this year to cut back on the weeds. And barkdust is not great for either weeds or reseeding. So, we are gathering the seeds to hand start the plants next year.

lavatera seed pods--green (still maturing) and black (matured)
The lavatera is supposed to reseed and puts out a good quantity of seed as each flower leaves a seed pod (they are green and turn to black when dried--both can be seen in the photo) with 15 or so seeds in each one. But, they rarely seem to survive the winter, and now they too are surrounded by barkdust. So, for sure they won't reseed for next year.

We're having fun planning for next year's planting and the macro lens has given a little extra interest in the seeds themselves.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Somebody Is Raising Turkeys in the Suburbs

I got this photo about a minute too late. Five turkeys came walking single file across a medium-traveled Portland road (with a flashing red light at two intersections) stopping my car going eastbound and another car going westbound. By the time I had grabbed my camera from the glove box and pulled on to the shoulder, they were in a yard happily heading toward munchies, and one was already behind the tree. I figure they knew their way home.

It's the first time I've seen a live turkey in Portland ever. But what a fun sight--especially single file. I guess people usually look funny walking single file too. I think of Buster Keaton in Sherlock Jr. closely following his rival. (about the 14 minute point here)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Take Down/Remove Hampton Bay Ceiling Fan/4-Light Unit AC 552

There are a lot of different Hampton Bay Model AC 552 units with completely different configurations. Ours is a four light unit. The unit stopped working after about 20 years of use (not bad!). So, we needed to take it down.

First: Make sure all power is off to the unit/room.

Removing the glass light fixtures was easy. Just press in two metal fingers that hold each of them in place.

Removing the light fixture was also easy with three phillips screws to be removed and the plastic electrical assembly wire unit unhooked (via a push in tab).

Then the blades were taken down by turning each blade to a cut out section of the metal plate below them (held on with a nut that cannot be easily removed and is not supposed to be removed) and taking out the two phillips screws that hold each of the five fan blades in place.

That left the main unit with no clear way to get it down. The screws at the very top were hidden. You access them by turning the unit counter-clockwise. This may be hard to do if the unit has been in place for a long time. We took a butter knife and ran it around the top of the unit between the unit and the ceiling, and that loosened it enough to turn it the inch or so to reveal the screws.

Remove the screws and lower the unit to allow taking off the plastic caps and unhooking the wires. Again: Make sure all power is off to the unit/room and even then treat the wires as though they were live by only touching the wire casing.

The only tricky part is revealing the hidden screws at the top of the unit (which is why I am posting this). My brother knew about them. We were at a standstill in removing it without his help.

Monday, August 11, 2014

26 Heroes Who Died April 15 to August 5, 2014

April 15 - Spc. Kerry M. G. Danyluk, 27, of Cuero, Texas, died at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, of injuries sustained April 12 when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire in Pul-e-Alam, Logar province, Afghanistan.

April 28 - Pfc. Christian J. Chandler, 20, of Trenton, Texas, died in Baraki Barak District, Logar province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.

Sgt. Shawn M. Farrell II, 24, of Accord, New York, died in Nejrab District, Kapisa province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.

May 3 - Pfc. Daniela Rojas, 19, of Los Angeles, California, died in Homburg, Germany, due to a non-combat related illness.

May 11 - Chief Warrant Officer Deric M. Rasmussen, 33, of Oceanside, California, died in Mazar E Sharif, Afghanistan, as the result of a non-combat incident.

May 13 - Command Sgt. Maj. Martin R Barreras, 49, of Tucson, Arizona, died in San Antonio Military Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, from wounds suffered on May 6, in Harat Province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.

May 17 - Spec. Adrian M. Perkins, 19, of Pine Valley, California, died in Amman, Jordan, from a non-combat related injury.

May 28 - Pfc. Jacob H. Wykstra, 21, of Thornton, Colorado, died in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained as a result of an aircraft accident. The incident is under investigation.

June 2 - Capt. Jason B. Jones, 29, of Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, died in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, of wounds received from small-arms. The incident is under investigation.

June 5 - Pfc. Matthew H. Walker, 20, of Hillsboro, Missouri, died in Paktika province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by enemy fire.

June 9 - Spc. Terry J. Hurne, 34, of Merced, California, died in Logar province, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.

- They died in Gaza Village, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered while engaged in a combat operation. The incident is under investigation. Killed were:
Staff Sgt. Scott R. Studenmund, 24, of Pasadena, California;
Staff Sgt. Jason A. McDonald, 28, of Butler, Georgia;
Spc. Justin R. Helton, 25, of Beaver, Ohio;
Cpl. Justin R. Clouse, 22, of Sprague, Washington; and
Pvt. Aaron S. Toppen, 19, of Mokena, Illinois.
Statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby:
"Five American troops were killed yesterday during a security operation in southern Afghanistan. Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen."

June 20 - Killed were:
Staff Sgt. David H. Stewart, 34, of Stafford, Virginia, died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Lance Cpl. Brandon J. Garabrant, 19, of Peterborough, New Hampshire, died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. 
Lance Cpl. Adam F. Wolff, 25, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. 

June 25 - Sgt. Thomas Z. Spitzer, 23, of New Braunfels, Texas, died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

July 24 - Pfc. Donnell A. Hamilton, Jr., 20, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, died at Brooke Army Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, from an illness sustained in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.

- They died in Mirugol Kalay, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the enemy attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Killed were:
Staff Sgt. Benjamin G. Prange, 30, of Hickman, Neb.; and
Pfc. Keith M. Williams, 19, of Visalia, Calif.

July 28 - Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Yeshabel Villotcarrasco, 23, of Parma, Ohio, died as a result of a non-hostile incident June 19 aboard USS James E. Williams (DDG-95) while the ship was underway in the Red Sea.

August 3 - Staff Sgt. Girard D. Gass Jr., of Lumber Bridge, North Carolina, died in Jalalabad Air Field Hospital, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident while on patrol that occurred in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.

August 5 - Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, 55, of Schenectady, N.Y., died in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by small arms fire. The incident is under investigation.
"The two-star U.S. Army general who was killed in Afghanistan in an insider attack Tuesday was a native of upstate New York who held three advanced degrees from USC and whom colleagues described as a family man and a brilliant logistician with a quick sense of humor.
"Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, 55, known to friends as Harry, was believed to be the highest-ranking U.S. military official killed in action since the war began in Afghanistan in 2001. The shooter, who was wearing an Afghan army uniform, was also killed in the attack near Kabul, but not before he wounded 14 others."

Roku 3 Headphone Jack Not Working

My Roku 3 remote headphone jack suddenly stopped working between one session and another after I had unplugged the roku set. I tried unplugging and replugging the headphones. I tried another set of headphones. I tried the volume button on the side. No luck.

Searching online revealed nothing about roku headphone jack problems and neither did a search on the roku site.

So, I did the most basic thing. I removed the batteries and put them back in the remote. It worked. Somehow the remote just needed to be reset.

UPDATE: The batteries were wearing out, so I replaced them too.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

More and More Americans Have Unfavorable Opinion of Obamacare and Say They Are Directly Hurt by It

from the Kaiser Family Foundation (

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds that 53% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the new healthcare law. This is the highest unfavorable response since the poll was first taken in April of 2010 just after the Affordable Care Act was passed.
After remaining steady for several months, the share of the public expressing an unfavorable view of the health care law rose to 53 percent in July, up eight percentage points since last month’s poll. This increase was offset by a decrease in the share who declined to offer an opinion on the law (11 percent, down from 16 percent in June), while the share who view the law favorably held fairly steady at 37 percent, similar to where it’s been since March.
It looks like the undecideds are breaking against the law. Also, Democrats and Independents as well as Republicans are liking the healthcare law less.

Some of the details

Among Democrats disapproval rose 6 points (from 19% in June to 25% in July).

Among Independents disapproval rose 6 points (from 53% in June to 59% in July).
Among Republicans disapproval rose 8 points (from 74% in June to 82% in July).

Among those making less than $40,000/yr disapproval rose 8 points (from 40% in June to 48% in July).

Among those making from $40,000 to $89,999 disapproval rose 12 points (from 47% in June to 59% in July).
Among those making $90,000 and up disapproval rose 6 points (from 50% in June to 56% in July).

Among Blacks disapproval rose 9 points (from 17% in June to 26% in July).

Among Hispanics disapproval rose 14 points (from 24% in June to 38% in July).
Among Whites disapproval rose 8 points (from 54% in June to 62% in July).

Among those insured under age 65 disapproval rose 6 points (from 45% in June to 51% in July).

Among those uninsured under age 65 disapproval rose 14 points (from 42% in June to 56% in July).

The rise in disapproval hinges on personal experience. Byron York gives the following snapshot:

15% directly helped (up from 14% in June)
28% directly hurt (up from 24% in June)
56% no impact (down from 60% in June)

York draws the conclusion that Obamacare is hurting more people by making them pay higher premiums than it helps by giving them better access to health care coverage. 
A majority of the people who said Obamacare has directly helped them said its prime benefit was greater access to health coverage and care. A majority of those who said Obamacare has directly hurt them said its main effect was to increase their health costs.
Overall, the numbers reflect Obamacare's design; it was intended to offer taxpayer-subsidized health coverage to a relatively small group of people (the roughly 15 percent of the population that had no health coverage) by imposing costs on the far larger group who had coverage and were satisfied with it. Given that, it's not surprising more people report a negative than positive Obamacare experience.
[emphasis added]
By contrast, Kaiser's big takeaway is that a majority still want Obamacare to be improved (60%) rather than repealed and replaced (35%). This divide has remained fairly stable despite rising disapproval of Obamacare.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sarah Palin Channel

(30 second Wall Street Journal version is here)

The Sarah Palin Channel looks intriguing.  You can watch it on your computer, tablet or smart phone. Cost is $9.95/mo or $99.95/year. (Those who sign up by August 1 get an extra two free months.)

Palin is on the cutting edge of major political figures using technology to reach the popular audience. She's not afraid to think outside the box--which is what we need in light of the crumbling credibility of all branches of the federal government and the news media.

It reminds of Ronald Reagan's over 1,000 radio addresses given between 1975 and 1979 before he became president. In these he reached out to the popular audience via the easy access technology of his day. He also honed his stand and presentation of the pressing issues facing the nation. Palin has looked at Reagan's actions as well as his political philosophy and learned from them.

H/T MaxRedline

Thursday, July 03, 2014

NY Obamacare Premiums Set for Double-Digit Rise; What about Oregon's?

From the New York Post:
Insurance firms participating in New York’s ObamaCare health exchange are seeking double-digit hikes for patient medical premiums in 2015, new figures reviewed by The Post reveal.
The average hike sought by insurers for individual plans is 12 percent—but a number of firms serving large numbers of patients want to boost individual premiums by nearly 20 percent.
What about the requests now going to the Oregon Insurance Division?

It looks like Moda (which now covers more than 40% of Oregon's individual market) is also asking for double-digit hikes: an 11-13% raise in the Portland area for the three categories listed (21 year olds; 40 year olds; and 60 year olds). Moda's small group increase proposals are in the 8-11% range. Below is the chart for individual 21 year old coverage.

As the New York Post notes:
The proposed rate increases call into question one of the goals of the Affordable Care Act — curbing runaway health-care costs.
Indeed. Weren't savings supposed to be something like $2,500 per family?

H/T Byron York

Monday, June 30, 2014

Supreme Court: "Closely Held For-Profit" Corporation Owners Have Religious Rights

In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that "closely held" corporation owners have religious rights protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
(a) RFRA applies to regulations that govern the activities of closely held for-profit corporations like Conestoga, Hobby Lobby, and Mardel. Pp. 16-31.
The Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS) mandate requiring all for-profit employers to provide twenty free contraceptive types (including four which stop an already fertilized egg from developing) restricts the free exercise of religion. Hobby Lobby, Conestoga and Mardel were willing to pay for sixteen of the twenty which did not kill already fertilized eggs.
(b) HHS’s contraceptive mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion. Pp. 31-38.
Even though the Court assumed the Government's argument that providing free contraceptives was of compelling state interest, the Court ruled that the Government had not used the "least restrictive means" to reach that goal.
(c) The Court assumes that the interest in guaranteeing cost-free access to the four challenged contraceptive methods is a compelling governmental interest, but the Government has failed to show that the contraceptive mandate is the least restrictive means of further that interest.  Pp. 38-49.
A significant problem for the Government was the fact that they had found a "least restrictive means" for religious and non-profit organizations. That there was a less restrictive means was shown by the Government itself in its "accommodation" for those religious and non-profit employers.
(c) (2) The Government has failed to satisfy RFRA’s least-restrictive-means standard. HHS has not shown that it lacks other means of achieving its desired goal without imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion. The Government could, e.g., assume the cost of providing the four contraceptives to women unable to obtain coverage due to their employers’ religious objections. Or it could extend the accommodation that HHS has already established for religious nonprofit organizations to no-profit employers with religious objections to the contraceptive mandate. That accommodation does not impinge on the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs that providing insurance coverage for the contraceptives at issue here violates their religion and it sill serves HHS’s states interests. Pp. 40-45