Archive for March, 2010

Child molester priests and the Pope

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

UPDATE: The Catholic League is finally calling a spade a spade.

One of the AP stories on priestly sexual abuse admits that “The overwhelming majority of the victims were adolescents. That means very few guilty priests were pedophiles, a term mental health professionals reserve for those who target pre-pubescent children.” Fine. But then it says something which is positively remarkable: “Even though about 80 percent of victims were boys, the John Jay researchers and other experts on sex offenders say it does not mean the perpetrators were gay.” So what would they be? Heterosexual?

Read the rest.

First, I should say that I have not been inside a Catholic church in years with the exception of my son’s wedding last summer. The Church, as in the international organization based in Rome (or Heaven, if you prefer), has had a decade long scandal regarding the actions of priests who committed sexual activities with minors, some of them small children. There are several facets to this scandal. First, a minority of these cases involve clear child molestation. There were several outrageous examples. One of these defrocked priests was murdered in prison as child molesters do not do well with the men in prison.

There is a second group that involves homosexual activity between priests and adolescent boys. Some of those boys may have been experimenting with homosexuality but, once the scandal hit the press, they denied all of this undercurrent to get in on the huge financial settlements. We will never know the truth about many of these cases. The gay community has made frantic efforts to distance itself from the scandal by asserting that gay men, real gay men, are not interested in teenaged boys. They have been a large part of the conflating of the two separate scandals into one “child molestation” case. The men who were involved as 15 and 16 year olds have assisted in the interest of getting a piece of the pie and, perhaps, because their flirtation with homosexuality did not last.

There is an interesting book that has gotten little traction because of the successful effort to conceal the homosexual side of the scandal. It is titled, Goodbye Good Men and describes how, in the 1960s, a “pink mafia” took over the seminaries. Homosexual activity was combined with a leftist ideological slant. Radical nuns interviewed applicants and men who did not favor the ordination of women, were rejected as applicants for the priesthood. The author interviewed many rejected applicants and a number who had left the seminary. Many men leave the seminary because they find that they do not have the vocation and many fear they cannot live a celibate life. Read some of the reviews, many by former seminarians.

We see little about the fact that other denominations, especially those with a leftist slant in ideology, have had similar problems with sexual scandal, even though many allow marriage. The Eastern Orthodox Church, which shares the doctrines of the Roman Church, allows marriage and has had little scandal. Now the scandal seems to be reaching the Pope although it is a lie driven by politics. Maureen Dowd, for example, was raised Catholic. It is true that a number of bishops failed in their obligation to the parishioners by shifting around priests who had had problems instead of reporting them to police. One, some of these cases may have involved consensual acts but with underage boys (or girls in a few cases). Those may have seemed less serious but they are still illegal. Two, many of these bishops may have come from the same pink mafia seminaries and may be too sympathetic to the 60s philosophy that permeated these institutions.

Whatever the case, the Church had a serious problem and it may not be over. I think the only way it will be solved is by making celibacy optional. The politics of some of these seminaries need to be changed, as well. This is all part of the leftist revolution that has reached even to the White House.

Global Warming Research Must Become More Transparent, UK Report Says

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Crossposted

By Bradley J. Fikes

Thanks to Watts Up With That?, which provided the UK parliamentary report on the Climategate global warming scandal in PDF.

Inevitably, the report will be spun according to whatever political views one holds. Those who back AGW will probably say it vindicates Phil Jones and the other University of East Anglia’ Climatic Research Unit scientists, because it finds no evidence that the science is false. Global warming skeptics will say the report provides evidence that the scientists’ practices were inadequate and need to be improved.

Of course, these interpretations can both be true. It’s like the dueling claims that global temperatures in the last decade are the highest recorded, and that there has been no statistically significant global warming since 1995, or that there’s still a question about whether the Medieval Warm Period some thousand years ago could have been warmer than the present.

It all depends on which facts you emphasize.

Doublethink

However, the report is rather ambiguous on the evidence. in fact, it smacks of doublespeak and doublethink:

From Page 50, a troublesome paragraph:
“In addition, insofar as we have been able to consider accusations of dishonesty—for example, Professor Jones’s alleged attempt to “hide the decline”—we consider that there is no case to answer. Within our limited inquiry and the evidence we took, the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact. We have found no reason in this unfortunate episode to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, that “global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity”. It was not our purpose to examine, nor did we seek evidence on, the science produced by CRU. It will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel to look in detail into all the evidence to determine whether or not the consensus view remains valid.”

So, the report says:
“We have found no reason in this unfortunate episode to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, that ‘global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity’.”.

That seems clear enough. But in the very next sentence the troublesome paragraph states:
“It was not our purpose to examine, nor did we seek evidence on, the science produced by CRU. It will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel to look in detail into all the evidence to determine whether or not the consensus view remains valid.”

So the report authors say there’s no reason to challenge the scientific consensus on global warming, but they didn’t seek evidence on CRU’s science. And anyway, examining the consensus view is the job of the Scientific Appraisal Panel.

With such clarity in writing, you can see why they’re in government.

Associated Press Saves The Day

An Associated Press article by Raphael G. Satter ignores the contradiction in favor of a pro-AGW interpretation. That’s much easier for readers than pointing out the report’s flaws.

Of course, as a professional reporter for the AP, Satter is beyond bias. He’s just telling it like he sees it — the facts just always seem to come out in favor of global warming activism, which has nothing to do whatsoever with any personal agenda. Even in the unlikely event that the vast majority of journalists were well to the left of the American public, you’d never detect a hint of it in their objective reporting.

Just to show how totally fair Satter and AP are in covering global warming, here’s part of an earlier Satter “news” article on a petition blitz organized by the UK’s Met office to drum up political support for AGW activism.

A typically unbiased AP story on global warmingA typically unbiased AP story on global warming

Click the photo for more unbiased AP global warming reporting.Hiding evidence

Just to recap, here’s the troublesome paragraph in the report, with the confusing stuff AP has helpfully omitted in boldface:

“In addition, insofar as we have been able to consider accusations of dishonesty—for example, Professor Jones’s alleged attempt to “hide the decline”—we consider that there is no case to answer. Within our limited inquiry and the evidence we took, the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact. We have found no reason in this unfortunate episode to challenge the scientific consensus as expressed by Professor Beddington, that “global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity”. It was not our purpose to examine, nor did we seek evidence on, the science produced by CRU. It will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel to look in detail into all the evidence to determine whether or not the consensus view remains valid.

Highlighted -- the confusing stuff AP doesn't think you should know.Highlighted — the confusing stuff AP doesn’t think you should know.

And here’s Satter’s deft editing of that troublesome paragraph:

In their report, the committee said that, as far as it was able to ascertain, “the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact,” adding that nothing in the more than 1,000 stolen e-mails, or the controversy kicked up by their publication, challenged scientific consensus that “global warming is happening and that it is induced by human activity.”

A masterful job of editing out inconvenient truthA masterful job of editing out inconvenient truth

Isn’t it easier to understand when the narrative is predigested?

The Total Exoneration of Phil Jones And CRU*
*If you don’t pay attention to those emails about hiding and destroying data, which is totally acceptable practice among climate scientists.

Now let’s look at the second paragraph of Satter’s article, and then look again at the report.
Satter writes:

“The House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee said Wednesday that they’d seen no evidence to support charges that the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit or its director, Phil Jones, had tampered with data or perverted the peer review process to exaggerate the threat of global warming — two of the most serious criticisms levied against the climatologist and his colleagues.”

On pages 26-28, the report details allegations that the CRU violated the Freedom of Information Act, quoting from emails by Phil Jones and others.

This excerpt from a Phil Jones email to Michael Mann is on Page 26:
At 09:41 AM 2/2/2005, Phil Jones wrote:
Mike,[...]Just sent loads of station data to Scott. Make sure he documents everything better this time! And don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites – you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of
Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? – our does ! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it. We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that. IPR should be relevant here, but I can see me getting into an argument with someone at UEA who’ll say we must adhere to it !. [...]

The report then discusses these and other examples of emails that ask for research data to be hidden from skeptics.
On page 32, the report states:

It seems to us that both sides have a point. There is prima facie evidence that CRU has breached the Freedom of Information Act 2000. It would, however, be premature, without a thorough investigation affording each party the opportunity to make representations, to conclude that UEA was in breach of the Act. In our view, it is unsatisfactory to leave the matter unresolved simply because of the operation of the six- month time limit on the initiation of prosecutions. Much of the reputation of CRU hangs on the issue. We conclude that the matter needs to be resolved conclusively— either by the Independent Climate Change Email Review or by the Information Commissioner.

In other words, just because a bunch of scientists wrote emails to each other discussing the hiding or destruction of data to keep it from skeptics doesn’t necessarily means FOIA was breached. Or maybe it does. Let’s not be hasty about this. We’ll kick the can down the road and let someone else handle it.

Satter disposes of this complexity nicely.

Phil Willis, the committee’s chairman, said of the e-mails that “there’s no denying that some of them were pretty appalling.” But the committee found no evidence of anything beyond “a blunt refusal to share data,” adding that the idea that Jones was part of a conspiracy to hide evidence that weakened the case for global warming was clearly wrong.

So according to Satter, this email from Jones to Michael Mann isn’t evidence of a conspiracy to hide evidence that would weaken the case for global warming:

Just sent loads of station data to Scott. Make sure he documents everything better this time! And don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites – you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? – our does ! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it. We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that.

Obviously this email is totally innocent of unethical intent. It’s customary for climate scientists to be “worried” about FOIA requests and “hide behind” excuses not to honor them. Why should climate scientists share data with skeptics? They’re just trying to find something wrong with it! Real scientists should only share data with trusted colleagues, and keep the “dirty laundry” away from skeptics.

But the report insists on once again injecting doubt into what should be a total exoneration of these totally ethical scientists who would never, ever, practice deception or break the law.


In our view, it is unsatisfactory to leave the matter unresolved simply because of the operation of the six- month time limit on the initiation of prosecutions. Much of the reputation of CRU hangs on the issue. We conclude that the matter needs to be resolved conclusively— either by the Independent Climate Change Email Review or by the Information Commissioner.

All sarcasm aside, I’ll say one thing in favor of Satter and the Associated Press: The story included a link to the report, so people could read it for themselves.

AP's link to the UK parliament's reportAP’s link to the UK parliament’s report

Unfortunately, this is the message I got when clicking the link: http://bit.ly/c4VfsY

The AP's link to the reportThe AP’s link to the report

Surprisingly, those crazy climate denialist at Watts Up With That? managed to get a copy and even correctly posted it on their server.

Oh, that’s just the blogosphere. Everyone knows the news is defined by what professional journalistic outlets like AP cover, because they have an unimpeachable record of accuracy.

A consensus about what?

And what is this scientific “consensus” of which they speak? In the report, the consensus quoted on page 46 states that “global warming is happening [and] that it is induced by human activity’.”

That definition is most interesting for what it doesn’t mention. No mention of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases. It doesn’t even say how much warming is taking place, or whether it’s dangerous.

As a global warming skeptic, I find little objectionable in that bare-bones definition of “consensus.”

There is indeed strong evidence of human influence on climate, such as in the Himalayan glaciers. Research has found the glacial melting is almost entirely (90 percent) caused by soot and other aerosol particulates. Unfortunately for the alarmists, greenhouse gases are not aerosols.

The “global” aspect of this “consensus” definition is about the only thing I would take exception to. I don’t think this is conclusively proven. And someone tell the committee that prepared the report that “global warming” is out of fashion. The politically correct description is “climate change,” because it allows for both unusually hot and cold changes to be attributed to human influence.

But let’s say there is some global human warming influence. It’s quite plausible that human-produced aerosols, changes in land use or greenhouse gas emissions have some warming effect on global temperatures. But is the influence overwhelming, somewhat important, or minor in comparison with natural climate fluctuations? And what is the relative importance of these human-created warming influences? The quoted “consensus” definition doesn’t say.

What global warming skeptics like myself really object to is the hysterical we-stand-to-get-fried apocalyptic demonization of CO2 and the Draconian measures proposed to combat this unproven menace. But don’t expect most of the mainstream media reporters, who have swallowed the global warming Kool-Aid, to note the difference.

Such is the slippery, Janus-faced use of language about “consensus” by global warming alarmists.

Even Phil Jones now admits that a lot of warming isn’t due to CO2 after all, according to the UK Guardian.

But for the first time he did concede publicly that when he tried to repeat the 1990 study in 2008, he came up with radically different findings. Or, as he put it, “a slightly different conclusion”. Fully 40% of warming there in the past 60 years was due to urban influences. “It’s something we need to consider,” he said.

What’s not in the report
For a supposedly exhaustive investigation into whether CRU scientists unethically tried to suppress skeptical research, the report leaves a lot out.
Here’s one Climategate email from a scientist, Keith Briffa, seeking help about reviewing a skeptical paper. You can see that Briffa meticulously follows the norms of peer review as practiced in climate science.

From: Keith Briffa
To: Edward Cook
Subject: Re: Review- confidential REALLY URGENT
Date: Wed Jun 4 13:42:54 2003

I am really sorry but I have to nag about that review – Confidentially I now need a hard and if required extensive case for rejecting – to support Dave Stahle’s and really as soon as you can. Please
Keith

And returning the scientific courtesy ….
(email portion from Briffa omitted)
Hi Keith,
Okay, today. Promise! Now something to ask from you. Actually somewhat important too. I got a paper to review (submitted to the Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Sciences), written by a Korean guy and someone from Berkeley, that claims that the method of reconstruction that we use in dendroclimatology (reverse regression) is wrong, biased, lousy, horrible, etc. They use your Tornetrask recon as the main whipping boy. I have a file that you gave me in 1993 that comes from your 1992 paper. Below is part of that file. Is this the right one? Also, is it possible to resurrect the column headings? I would like to play with it in an effort to refute their claims. If published as is, this paper could really do some damage. . .

Isn’t the impartiality of climate science peer review a beautiful thing to behold?

Now, on to the news coverage:

Bloomberg says:
U.K. Climate Science ‘Damaged’ by Leaked E-Mails, Lawmakers Say

Canada’s National Post says
‘Climategate’ scientists didn’t manipulate data: lawmakers

The UK Independent says:
Climate change scandal: MPs exonerate professor

The UK Daily Mail says
Climategate university condemned for ‘unacceptable culture of secrecy’

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer says
House of Commons: No “Climategate”

Eureferendum says
It was never going to be any different

Climate Progress says
House of Commons exonerates Phil Jones

Uncommon Sense On Global Warming

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Crossposted

By Bradley J. Fikes

The Breakthrough Institute is a rarity among progressive think tanks: It repudiates the scare tactics, along with exaggeration and spin used by most left-wing lobbying groups, such as the deceptively named Union of Concerned “Scientists” and Center for American Progress.

This think tank members, such as Roger Pielke, Jr., recognize that the hard work of global warming skeptics is not necessarily “anti-science,” but represents a differing viewpoint that has been shut out of scientific discussion in favor of a phony consensus, driven by the politics of demonization instead of rational discussion. People like Steve McIntyre, (shown in cartoon below), have helped bring down that consensus, although the worst damage has been done by the global warming activists themselves.

The fearsome, well-funded global warming skeptic movement.The fearsome, well-funded global warming skeptic movement.

Now two of the Breakthrough Institute’s leaders have called for environmentalist organizations to abandon the 20-year quest to push all their interests, such as reducing energy consumption, under the global warming mantra. They want these subjects to be discussed on their own merits, without the global warming fear tactics. And I wholeheartedly concur.

Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus write in Yale 360 that not only have the wheels come off the supposedly invincible global warming juggernaut, but that the wreckage threatens other environmentalist goals. In short, the hysterical rhetoric has lost credibility with the public. Even some mainstream media reporters are experiencing synaptic activity over facts that have been obvious for months, if not years.

They write:

“While the urge to blame fossil-fuel-funded skeptics for this recent bad turn of events has proven irresistible for most environmental leaders and pundits, forward-looking greens wishing to ascertain what might be salvaged from the wreckage would be well advised to look closer to home. Climate science, even at its most uncontroversial, could never motivate the remaking of the entire global energy economy. Efforts to use climate science to threaten an apocalyptic future should we fail to embrace green proposals, and to characterize present-day natural disasters as terrifying previews of an impending day of reckoning, have only served to undermine the credibility of both climate science and progressive energy policy.”

Amen to that. Shameless appeals to fear don’t work any more. Many environmental goals are worthy in their own right, but they’ve been tainted as propaganda vehicles for global warming. Scientists are pressured to bring their research into line with the so-called consensus, prostituting the integrity of science. Even zoos and aquariums have been turned into propaganda vehicles.

At last, the dirty secret is out. While global warming activists claim to be motivated by science, their true agenda is enacting their far-left, anti-business agenda. Rational environmentalists are wise to keep their distance from them.

Earth Hour’s California Power Failure

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Crossposted

By Bradley J. Fikes

UPDATED at end of post.

The news media has stuffed us with a surfeit of naive, boosterish articles about the importance of Earth Hour, that self-congratulatory expression of feel-good environmental chic and global warming hype.

Leave it to the relentlessly factual Anthony Watts to illuminate what really happened in the eco-center of environmentalism, California: Nothing. Zip. Zilch, zero, nada.

According to power consumption records from the California Independent System Operator, the much-heralded Earth Hour made no perceptible difference in energy consumption. Below is a graph illustrating the great non-effect of Earth Hour:
earthhour2010

Watts writes:

If there was a big effect from Earth Hour, you’d see a step event like the street lights at 7AM as everybody turned off their home lights in California at 8:30PM (2030). Plus, the greens don’t seem to realize that no power plants get switched off, so there’s really no CO2 savings. The power plants are run based on demand forecast. Short term spikes from well intentioned stunts really don’t make a blip of difference to CO2 emissions.

Earth Hour is a failure in California and according to Richard North at the EU Referendum, a failure in Britain too.

It’s nice to see some real fact-checking taking place in the blogosphere, while the media’s faithful acolytes of the Church Of Global Warming continue to emit information pollution.

What did I do during Earth Hour? I was busy replacing old fluorescent lights at home. I celebrate the modern conveniences of life, and reject meaningless, atavistic stunts like Earth Hour — regardless of how wholeheartedly some people comply with it.

North Korea is so enviro-friendly, it observes Earth Hour continually!North Korea is so enviro-friendly, it observes Earth Hour continually!

UPDATE: Some in the media get it about this political event.
From the UK Telegraph

It’s time for “Earth Hour”, a pointless, hypocritical and silly stunt organised by the WWF in which people turn off their lights and other appliances and delude themselves into thinking they’ve made a difference. So here goes.
Click.
Click.
Where’s the oven switch? Ah, yes. Click.
Nearly forgot the loo! This one’s on a cord. Done!
Now to turn up the stereo.
Telly on, though sound off.
Laptop one: already on.
Laptop two: booting up now.
And why not the printer? Done.
Maybe my electricity bill will be a pound or two higher. And, of course, I won’t have shortened the planet’s life by a nanosecond, any more than the thousands of Guardian readers, Lib Dems, sad celebs, smug tech journalists and poor brainwashed children will have made a difference.
Still, if this is “Earth Hour”, might as well be able to see it properly, no?”

And while people have their lights and computers on, they might find it interesting to read about how the UN’s IPCC and other global warming activists have biased their “science” toward global warming alarmism.

Learning about the fallacies of that political movement would be a much more productive use of their time than mindlessly turning out the lights and holding candles to honor the anti-science political agenda of Earth Hour.

UPDATE X2
While Watts disdains political stunts like Earth Hour, he’s all in favor of rational energy conservation, and carries it out in his daily life. His latest home project was installing a new kind of LED that emits more pleasing, less harsh light. He’s installed some compact fluorescent lights, but doesn’t like their drawbacks, such as their use of mercury, and their often-poor quality.

I do much of the same energy-conservation lighting in my home, although the only LEDs I use now are night lights. I use no incandescents, not even in the refrigerator. And I’ve also found that most CFLs don’t live up to their promise. The ones that are heavily subsidized by utilities often are of the el cheapo variety, and don’t last long. In my home, I use a few of the better CFLs, but mostly rely on the regular 48? tube fluorescents — plenty of them. My vision is not the best, and I like being able to see where I’m going and what I’m doing.

Today, there are a plethora of low-mercury tube fluorescents that give off light tailored to most environments. A warmer hue is good for bathrooms, bedrooms and living rooms. I use the daylight-simulating kind in my home office. And at my desk there, I use a lamp with an extremely bright CFL from Feit Electronics, model BPESL23TM/D. The color temp of 6500 provides great contrast. It provides the illumination of a 100-watt incandescent using just 23 watts. And it emits a lot less heat than an equivalent incandescent, an important consideration in warm weather.

The proof of savings is in my electric bill, which most of the year is less than $30 a month.

Your mileage may vary. Some people prefer to use incandescents, and I say (no pun intended), more power to them. Such domestic decisions should be a matter of personal choice, not controlled by conformity-enforcing eco-fascists and their job-killing parasitical political hacks.

Technology is supposed to improve our lives. I’d rather use the same amount of light, or more, and consume less electricity year-round, than give up the blessings of electrical light and take a symbolic plunge back into the Dark Ages.

Bike jobs

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

The fundamentally unserious nature of this administration, including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, is illustrated by a new policy announced this week. Bicycles are are to treated equally with cars and freight trains in funding projects by the administration.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced a “major policy revision” that aims to give bicycling and walking the same policy and economic consideration as driving.

“Today I want to announce a sea change,” he wrote on his blog last week. “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of nonmotorized.”

Now, motorized transportation includes more than cars. Are bicycles to be treated equally with airplanes, for example ? Chicago needs a second airport southwest of the city but perhaps we will spend that money on bike lanes ?

Transportation agencies are urged to take action on a number of fronts, including the creation of pathways for bike riders and pedestrians on bridges, and providing children with safe biking and walking routes to schools.

They are also encouraged to find ways to make such improvements in concert with road maintenance projects and to protect sidewalks and bike lanes in the same manner as roads (by clearing them of snow, for example).

Mr. LaHood also indicated the department is discouraging “transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians.

Hmmm. So, if a new airport would make bike riders have to go around, it wouldn’t be funded ? Maybe an underground bike lane beneath the runways ? What do we do about ports? A suspension bridge for bikes ?

More looney leftist ideas. Now we know why Obama wanted pseudo-Republican LaHood in his cabinet and how wise Senator Gregg was to decline.

More on the Navy’s carrier attack drone

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

A couple of years ago I posted a photo of the new Navy drone, which will be carrier based.

Now, Popular Science has another photo of this drone which will make carrier landings next year. It is bigger than World War II carrier planes and is another step away from manned attack and fighter planes. Drones can take Gs that humans cannot, even with G suits. The experience with bigger and bigger drones in Afghanistan is going to change military aviation.

Afterthoughts

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

The HCR bill passed the House and, since it is identical to the Senate bill (which was an amendment by substitution of another House bill), it will go to the president for his signature. The “Reconciliation” bill will probably die in the Senate. What now ?

First comes the election. I don’t think the anger and determination to punish the Democrats will die down. I think they could lose 100 seats this fall. The Senators were less visible in the health care debate but there are a number of small scandals that will doom a number of members’ chances for re-election.

The first provisions to become effective in the bill will be the “shall issue” provision which prevents health insurance companies from turning down applicants for “pre-existing conditions.” Thus, we now have the case of the man whose house is burning down, buying fire insurance. This will have several effects. It will remove the motivation to buy insurance from all but the most conservative. The “mandate” does not take effect initially and the penalties are weak, so it will have little effect. Worse, it requires the purchaser to buy a product larded up with coverage for low probability events and unnecessary treatment types. This is a lobbyists dream, as it is in most states.

The taxes apply to income and investments, so there will be more drain on the economy. Take a look at a leftist’s account of the myths and fallacies in the bill which will become law tomorrow.


1. Myth This is a universal health care bill.

Truth The bill is neither universal health care nor universal health insurance.
Per the CBO:

Total uninsured in 2019 with no bill: 54 million
Total uninsured in 2019 with Senate bill: 24 million (44%)

2. Myth Insurance companies hate this bill

Truth This bill is almost identical to the plan written by AHIP, the insurance company trade association, in 2009. The original Senate Finance Committee bill was authored by a former Wellpoint VP. Since Congress released the first of its health care bills on October 30, 2009, health care stocks have risen 28.35%.

3. Myth The bill will significantly bring down insurance premiums for most Americans.

Truth The bill will not bring down premiums significantly, and certainly not the $2,500/year that the President promised.

Annual premiums in 2016, status quo / with bill:

Small group market, single: $7,800 / $7,800

Small group market, family: $19,300 / $19,200

Large Group market, single: $7,400 / $7,300

Large group market, family: $21,100 / $21,300

Individual market, single: $5,500 / $5,800*

Individual market, family: $13,100 / $15,200*

4. Myth The bill will make health care affordable for middle class Americans.

Truth The bill will impose a financial hardship on middle class Americans who will be forced to buy a product that they can’t afford to use.

A family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $5,243 per year for insurance. After basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income — out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible.

5. Myth This plan is similar to the Massachusetts plan, which makes health care affordable.
Truth Many Massachusetts residents forgo health care because they can’t afford it.

A 2009 study by the state of Massachusetts found that: 21% of residents forgo medical treatment because they can’t afford it, including 12% of children. 18% have health insurance but can’t afford to use it

Read the rest of it at the link. Jane Hamsher favors single payer on the model of Canada or the NHS and I disagree but this is an interesting picture of the bill from an intelligent leftist. I don’t understand some of her numbers. I don’t know why individual policies would be cheaper than individuals in the large and small group markets unless the policies are not the same in provisions. For example, many individual policies are high deductible. Her description of the early provisions is a bit different from what I understand but I have not made a detailed study of the bills.

Six months from the date of passage, children could not be excluded from coverage due to pre-existing conditions, though insurance companies could charge more to cover them. Children would also be allowed to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. There will be an elimination of lifetime coverage limits, a high risk pool for those who have been uninsured for more than 6 months, and community health centers will start receiving money.

I thought the ban on pre-existing condition exclusion applied to all ages.

Long term effects, assuming the bill stands, would erode the level of reimbursement to providers, would not reduce the number of people going to ERs, and would result in waits for care, especially primary care, as doctors retire and drop out of the system to practice for cash.

I also think the bill could be amended to remove most of the objectionable provisions and leave the few helpful ones, like insurance exchanges. We have to get some market structures in place if there is to be any effort at reducing costs. None of this will happen unless the political culture ion Washington changes. That is what we have to do in November.

Here is more on Obamacare’s early provisions.

Congressman McDermott speaks his mind

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Congressman McDermott, a former psychiatrist and Saddam supporter, spoke his mind yesterday in the House, ending with a biblical quote. This is James 2:15-17.

15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

That is not exactly the version McDermott uses but it is an interesting point. Which political philosophy, liberal or conservative, gives more to charity ? That biblical quote does not admonish the faithful to pass a law requiring everyone to give money to the poor brother or sister. It speaks of you.

yet you do not supply their bodily needs

The Congressman, aside from his rant about “teabaggers,” needs some Bible study. I don’t recall Jesus admonishing anyone to run for office or to force others to contribute to the poor.

McDermott has some odd friends, one of whom was hanged several years ago.

The alleged Saddam Hussein spy money that paid for Rep. Jim McDermott’s trip to Iraq in 2002 came after a stranger called a Seattle anti-war activist and offered to finance the prewar visit.

The Seattle activist, Bert Sacks, said he was making arrangements for the trip at McDermott’s request when he got the call out of the blue from a man who identified himself as a concerned Iraqi-American.

Federal prosecutors believe the money was illegally funneled from Saddam’s intelligence officials, through an unnamed intermediary, and to a Dearborn Heights, Mich., activist named Muthanna Al-Hanooti.

The Justice Department has said McDermott and two other Democratic congressmen on the trip did not know Saddam’s regime paid for it. They have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Al-Hanooti was indicted Wednesday for his alleged work on behalf of Saddam’s regime, including setting up the trip under the direction of Iraqi intelligence officials. He has pleaded not guilty and his attorney said he would “vigorously defend” himself against the charges.

Yes, McDermott could use some Bible study.

Why Tom Freidman will be disappointed

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

New York Times columnist Tom Freidman has expressed a wistful admiration for the Chinese government and its ability to get things done.

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

I think Tom is going to be very disappointed if this article is correct, and I think it is.

The world looks at China with envy. China’s economy grew 8.7 percent last year, while the world economy contracted by 2.2 percent. It seems that Chinese “Confucian capitalism” – a market economy powered by 1.3 billion people and guided by an authoritarian regime that can pull levers at will – is superior to our touchy-feely democracy and capitalism. But the grass on China’s side of the fence is not as green as it appears.

In fact, China’s defiance of the global recession is not a miracle – it’s a superbubble. When it deflates, it will spell big trouble for all of us.

Oh oh.

To understand the Chinese economy, consider three distinct periods: “Late-stage growth obesity” (the decade prior to 2008); “You lie!” (the time of the financial crisis); and finally, “Steroids ’R’ Us” (from the end of the financial crisis to today).

The first period is like Starbucks.

About a decade ago, the Chinese government chose a policy of growth at any cost. China’s leaders see strong gross domestic product (GDP) growth not just as bragging rights, but as essential for political survival and national stability.

Because China lacks the social safety net of the developed world, unemployed people aren’t just inconvenienced by the loss of their jobs, they starve; and hungry people don’t complain, they riot and cause political unrest.

So did Starbucks, sort of.

To achieve high growth, China kept its currency, the renminbi, at artificially low levels against the dollar. This helped already cheap Chinese-made goods become even cheaper. China turned into a significant exporter to the developed economies.

Normally, if free-market economic forces were at work, the renminbi would have appreciated and the US dollar would have declined. However, had China let this occur, demand for its products would have declined, and its economy wouldn’t have grown at roughly 10 percent a year, which it did during the past decade.

The more China sold to the United States, the more dollars it accumulated, and thus the more US Treasuries it bought, driving our interest rates down. US consumers responded to these cheap goods and cheap home loans by going on a buying binge.

However, companies and countries that grow at very high rates for a long time will inevitably suffer from late-stage growth obesity. Consider Starbucks: In 1999, it had 2,000 stores and was adding 1.8 stores a day. In 2007, when it had 10,000 stores, it had to open 5.5 stores a day in a desperate bid to keep growth rates up. This resulted in poor decisions and poor quality – a recipe for disaster.

In China, political pressure for full employment has led to similar late-stage growth obesity. In 2005, China built the largest shopping mall in the world, the New South China Mall: Today it’s 99 percent vacant. China also built up a lavish district in a city called Ordos: Today, it’s a ghost town.

Starbucks can close poorly performing stores. What will China do ? Stage II “You lie !”

All good things come to an end, and great things come to an end with a bang. When the financial meltdown erupted in 2008, US and global banks started dropping like flies. Countries everywhere suffered contraction.

Even China.

During the crisis, Chinese exports were down more than 25 percent, tonnage of goods shipped through railroads was down by double digits, and electricity use plummeted.

Yet Beijing insisted that China had magically sustained 6 to 8 percent growth.

China lies. It goes to great lengths to maintain appearances, including censoring media and jailing those who write antigovernment articles. That’s why we have to rely on hard data instead.

Sorry, Tom.

In the midst of the financial crisis, in late 2008, Beijing fire-hosed a $568 billion stimulus into the Chinese economy. That’s enormous! As a percentage of GDP, it would be like a $2 trillion stimulus in America, nearly triple the size of the one Congress passed last year.

It gets even more interesting. Unlike Western democracies, whose central banks can pump a lot of money into the financial system but can’t force banks to lend or consumers and corporations to spend, China can achieve both at lightning speed.

The government controls the banks, so it can make them lend, and it can force state-owned enterprises (one-third of the economy) to borrow and to spend. Also, because the rule of law and human and property rights are still underdeveloped, China can spend infrastructure project money very fast – if a school is in the way of a road the government wants to build, it becomes a casualty for the greater good.

Does that sound like anyone here that you know of ? Government controls the banks and makes them lend ?

Well, not yet anyway.

To maintain high employment, China has poured money into infrastructure and real estate projects. This explains why, in 2009, new floor space doubled and residential real estate prices surged 25 percent. This also explains why the Chinese keep building new skyscrapers even though existing ones are still vacant.

The enormous stimulus has exacerbated problems that already existed, threatening to turn China into a less shiny but more drastic version of debt-riddled Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

What happens in China doesn’t stay in China. A meltdown there – or even a slowdown – would have severe consequences for the rest of the world.

It will tank the commodity markets. Demand for industrial goods will fall off the cliff. Finally, Chinese appetite for our fine currency will diminish, driving the dollar lower against the renminbi and boosting our interest rates higher. No more 5 percent mortgages and 6 percent car loans.

That is why I am downsizing and getting fixed rate mortgages. The storm is coming and it will be really bad. I don’t know if we can stop it, even with a Republican Congress. After all, they helped bring it on.

Science By Petition

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

By Bradley J. Fikes

(Crossposted)

Global warming activists have had enough of being pummeled on blogs and in the press for errors in the 2007 IPCC report and bad scientific practices revealed in the Climategate emails. They’re frightened of the declining public belief that man-caused global warming is a serious threat.

So the climate change cheerleaders are doing what any self-respecting political group would do: circulate a letter and petition.

The letter, released Thursday, comes from the Union of Concerned Scientists, a left-wing pressure group. It calls for deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and bears the signatures of about 2,000 scientists and economists. It’s available on the Web site of the Union of Concerned Scientists.. (Indicative of this group’s role with the letter, two of its eight references are to UCS advocacy reports).

The letter is notable for what it doesn’t mention, namely, any other potential human causes to climate change, such as the increasingly well-known role of soot and dust deposits in melting glaciers, especially in the Himalayas and the Arctic.

For example, the letter, published in a slick PDF, contains this highlighted quote from Lonnie G . Thompson of The Ohio State University:

Over the last 30 years I’ve watched many glaciers shrink in South America. It’s also happening in Europe, North America, China, and the Himalayas. More than 90 percent of the world’s glaciers are receding—they have no
political agenda. Science is about what is, not about what any of us believe.

But scientific research reveals that blaming glacial melting solely on carbon dioxide — even assuming that human- released CO2 is causing global warming — is flatly inaccurate.

A study by a team led by Surabi Menon of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated that the vast majority of unusual melting in the Himalayas is caused by soot and dust

According to the study’s press release:
“Our simulations showed greenhouse gases alone are not nearly enough to be responsible for the snow melt,” says Menon, a physicist and staff scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division. “Most of the change in snow and ice cover—about 90 percent—is from aerosols. Black carbon alone contributes at least 30 percent of this sum.”

The findings are significant because they point to a simple way to make a swift impact on the snow melt. “Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for 100 years, but black carbon doesn’t stay in the atmosphere for more than a few weeks, so the effects of controlling black carbon are much faster,” Menon says. “If you control black carbon now, you’re going to see an immediate effect.”

The point bears repeating: Aerosols, fine particles suspended in air, are not greenhouse gases. And if 90 percent of unusual melting is caused by aerosols, and the effects of controlling them are much faster than reducing greenhouse gases, it makes no sense to obsess over the latter and ignore the former — unless the motive is political,not scientific.

A 2005 NASA study also found that soot could be hastening melting of Arctic ice. The study, by Dorothy Koch of Columbia University, New York; and James Hansen of NASA GISS appeared in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

No reference to this and other scientific research on aerosols appears in the letter. It contradicts the political crusade of global warming activists against greenhouse gases. And they’re counting on politicians just skimming the letter and looking at the names, and not analyzing the logic of its content.

In fact, the letter and petition is just another one in a series from the busy PR types at the Union of Concerned Scientists. For example, UCS released another such letter/petition in May of 2008, dutifilly reported by the media stenographers.

One of the quoted scientists in the letter, Benjamin Santer, also figures in the Climategate emails. Enraged at researcher Pat Michaels, Santer wrote to Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia:

“Next time I see Pat Michaels at a scientific meeting, I’ll be tempted to beat the crap out of him. Very tempted.”

You can read a context-less blog post on the petition at USA Today.