Sunday, November 29, 2009

Any climate news?

The world is lit up with the news about the lead scientific promoters of human-caused global warming. Emails at ground zero of the climate-warming researchers - Climatic Research Unit at University of East Anglia in the UK - contain talk of manipulating the data to exaggerate the data to show warming during the recent years. The British research center's director, Phil Jones, wrote that he had used a "trick" to "hide the decline" in a chart detailing recent global temperatures.
From: Phil Jones To: ray bradley ,, Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000 Cc: k.briffa@xxx.xx.xx, Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm, Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow. I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998. Thanks for the comments, Ray. Cheers Phil
See also Telegraph UK - Powerline Blog 11/20 - 11/21 - 11/21 again on how to avoid a Freedom-of-Information-Act request - 11/23 There is also a similar case in New Zealand reported by Watt's up with That?. In the US Penn State University is investigating Michael Mann the scientist behind Albert Gore, Jr's "hockey stick." News Busters - PSU statement Any news about climate fit to print? A search at the Seattle Times for "climate" shows on top: "Climate conference just around the corner", "Leaders say momentum building on climate change", "Britain, France back global fund for climate ills" and such. The first page of 20 results shows no signs of the controversy. On the second page at #22 is the defense, which is not needed because there is no problem. I can't tell what page that ran on. At #23 a story on the business page. Who will find news there? So it's a small story. Is not the investigation of Prof. Mann news? Or only Obama going on another trip to Copenhagen to bow before foreign sovereigns and apologize for the US's actions preceding his election? While he is there it is expected that he will promise to hobble our economy for decades in the future because of man-made global warming. News?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cost of Obamacare went up $100M, no, $300 million

I don't know the source of Carter's optimism: Health care will not add to the deficit "because Senator Cantwell promised." How can she promise that when Distinguished Harry Reid is making multi-$100 million pork deals? It was reported that Senator Landrieu of Louisiana was going to vote for Obamacare last Saturday in exchange for $100 million in pork - I mean needed funds for her state. But Landrieu responded angrily that she wasn't so cheap. She got $300 million. Dana Milbank - Sweeteners for the South:
On the eve of Saturday's showdown in the Senate over health-care reform, Democratic leaders still hadn't secured the support of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of the 60 votes needed to keep the legislation alive. The wavering lawmaker was offered a sweetener: at least $100 million in extra federal money for her home state. And so it came to pass that Landrieu walked onto the Senate floor midafternoon Saturday to announce her aye vote -- and to trumpet the financial "fix" she had arranged for Louisiana. "I am not going to be defensive," she declared. "And it's not a $100 million fix. It's a $300 million fix."
Why, that's less than a billion. But it's only one senator and they add up. Newsweek says Landrieu is not a p*******. I am sure she will thank them for using that word. Another trick works so far Last week Speaker Nancy Pelosi hid billions in costs, so she would be able to claim she cut that amount in her Obamacare, HR 3961. This bill would cancel a planned 21 per cent cut in reimbursement to doctors. This offsets her Obamacare that makes the same kind of cut. Obama won't get credit for the savings if it already happened. It's confusing: they want Obama to get credit for the cost saving that is already scheduled. So they are canceling the cut, and including it in Obamacare, so Obama can do it and claim the savings. As I recall the Senate already turned back this trick.

787 still tracking for Dec. 22nd first flight

According to a good, nonofficial source. The airplane enthusiasts keep on top of what's going on and are pretty reliable. They have inside sources, plus they watch the flightline every day. They even gather to watch factory rollouts; it's not hard to do because it is next to a freeway and, even better, going to the flightline the aircraft cross the freeway. All things 787
According to sources Boeing is still tracking to a first flight on December 22nd. Boeing hopes to start testing the fix on the static air frame after the Thanksgiving holidays (next week) and verify what their computer models are telling them. Once that is complete then the way should be clear to restart pre-flight gauntlet tests followed by taxi tests and then first flight. Additionally, the remainder of the test fleet as well as the production models completed thus far should go through the side of body modification in fairly rapid order. I would expect that Boeing should have a good understanding if the side of body modifications work soon after they complete the tests. They will still have to review the test results with the FAA and get their approval prior to the continuation of the test program.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What is Christine Gregoire doing?

Washington's current budget was "stimulated" by Obama's 2009 stimulus package. Its huge gap was plugged by a generous $3.3 billion in money from people in other states. So we were in a hole and got a one-time shot. The revenue projections used in that budget are being clobbered by reality. The expected revenue has dropped by $760 million since September. Still in the hole. So have we stopped digging? That is, spending. Christine Gregoire says it is her duty to balance the budget.
“I will produce a budget balanced to this revenue projection because I am required to by law,” Gregoire said. “We all know a budget reflects the values of our state. All options must be on the table to produce a budget that works.”
She is tempted to raise taxes. But raising taxes will slow our economy. Here are 32 economists commenting on the specific situation in our state this year.
“Leaving earnings in the hands of individuals and businesses is the best way to help grow the private sector, create jobs and lead to higher levels of consumption,” the letter states. “Increasing taxes at this time will shift necessary capital from the private sector to the public sector, thereby depriving private enterprise of the source of true economic growth and making Washington state even less competitive for new businesses and jobs.”
And newspapers around the state are calling for no tax increases. The Columbian in Vancouver. State law says she doesn't have to wait for the Legislature to meet in January. She can take action on her own, indeed, she must take action. State law prohibits a cash deficit from occurring by requiring the Governor to take action. Here is what RCW 43.88.110(7) says:
If at any time during the fiscal period the governor projects a cash deficit in a particular fund or account as defined by RCW 43.88.050, the governor shall make across-the-board reductions in allotments for that particular fund or account so as to prevent a cash deficit, unless the legislature has directed the liquidation of the cash deficit over one or more fiscal periods . . .
She can call a special session in December rather than late until January. After all, what do they always do when they meet in January? They wait for the next revenue forecast. But don't think she isn't doing anything. She is very active going to D.C. to beg for more money. Also NPR. Before June 30 the trips were in violation of, first, her own, then the legislature's, travel ban. HT to Jason Mercier at Washington Policy Center.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Intellectual Ammunition - Health care - Welfare - Russia -

The nation's leading think tanks are continuing to produce critical information that expose and challenge the "big government solves everything" movement. There is excellent work being done in pockets all around the country. Get Your Intellectual Ammunition - John Hood - The Corner on National Review Online: • Writing for the Cato Institute, researchers from Cal State-Northridge and New York Presbyterian Hospital have a new study showing how and why America leads the world in medical innovation:
In general, Americans tend to receive more new treatments and pay more for them — a fact that is usually regarded as a fault of the American system. That interpretation, if not entirely wrong, is at least incomplete. Rapid adoption and extensive use of new treatments and technologies create an incentive to develop those techniques in the first place. When the United States subsidizes medical innovation, the whole world benefits. That is a virtue of the American system that is not reflected in comparative life expectancy and mortality statistics.
• The Heritage Foundation’s indispensable Robert Rector and two of his colleagues have just produced their latest summary of federal welfare spending. Years ago, Rector exploded the myth that only cash assistance to families with children was “welfare,” showing that Washington and the states spent hundreds of billions of dollars more on means-tested health benefits, day care, housing, and many other in-kind and cash programs strewn across dozens of agencies. For the 2008 fiscal year, the total welfare bill was $714 billion. Three-quarters came from the federal budget, the rest from the states. • Last month, Leon Aron of the American Enterprise Institute published a fascinating exploration of Russia’s massive economic and social problems as seen through the eyes of Russians residing in the country’s 460 company towns, or “monotowns.” Aron’s conclusion:
Intoxicated by the oil-fed economic boom, Putin's Russia has dispensed with such democratic shock absorbers as uncensored media, responsible and viable political opposition in the national legislature, and genuine local self-governance. With rigid recentralization putting the political center of gravity in the Kremlin and with the road signs and traffic lights of societal feedback largely obscured and darkened, the danger of a major accident in the next six to eight months is a distinct possibility. And monotowns are perhaps the deepest and most proximate potholes.
• Conservatives have opened up another front against Obamacare — the dubious constitutionality of federal encroachment on state budgeting and on the freedom of state residents to make their own health-care arrangements. Michael Ciamarra explains the argument well in a new piece for the Alabama Policy Institute. • If you were entertained or outraged by the disclosure this week that the federal government’s official site for reporting stimulus data has claimed tens of thousands of jobs created or saved in congressional districts that don’t actually exist, you have a network of conservative think tanks and watchdog groups to thank. As the Franklin Center reports here, the first stories on the screwup came from New Mexico Watchdog. Similar groups in other states soon followed up. The Montana Policy Institute then confronted the federal panel that oversees and got a revealing response. Read the whole thing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Places to cross-country ski for free (or almost) in the Methow

You can enjoy the Methow valley without paying $20 per person per day to tour the famed ski trails of the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association (MVSTA). With a little research and a Sno-Park permit ($21/day per car; $41 per season!), you can ski nearly (or completely) free on trails of all ability levels in our state's sunny winter wonderland. Follow the link for details. Most, but not all, require the Sno-Park permit and some research. Seattle Times Newspaper:

Obama Calls Stimulus Data Errors "Side Issue"

President 0 says to pay no attention to the massive errors in reporting spending the stimulus money. Did you know - accounting is an inexact science, he claims. Tell that to a corporate executive on trial because of a mismatch on his company's financial reports. Those reporting errors are guilty of trying to throw him off the trail, he says. And they are a side issue compared with the goal. There he is telling the truth, because the goal is rewarding his political allies with big bucks. He doesn't care if a huge amount went astray. :
President Obama brushed off criticism over his administration's inaccurate reporting on job creation Wednesday, telling Fox News the accounting is an "inexact science" and that any errors are a "side issue" when compared with the goal... ... "I think this is an inexact science. We're talking about a multitrillion-dollar economy that went through the worst economic crisis since 1933.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Obama creates 30 new jobs in one congressional district. Bad news: No such district

Phantom jobs created "or saved" in a phantom Congressional district. Los Angeles Times Blog: Chicago politics, where voting is such a revered civic duty that people do it even after they're dead, cold, stiff, stuffed, boxed and buried beneath the permafrost for years, has now come to D.C. with the Obama administration. This afternoon comes the most encouraging economic news, courtesy of our keen-eyed buddy Rick Klein over at ABC, that the Obama administration's $787-billion economic stimulus has, for example, thankfully created 30 new jobs in a little-known rural corner of Arizona at a cost to American taxpayers of only $761,420. That works out to only $25,380.67 spent to create each individual job. Seems like a lot per slot, but those 30 folks must be happy to be employed again and paying taxes. This will be a real feather in the cap of Vice President Joe Biden, who's been left behind and assigned by the ever-campaigning president to monitor the stimulus plan, its spending and effectiveness moving into the crucial midterm elections of 2010. Might the Democrats snatch that House seat? So the people of that 15th Congressional District in staunchly Republican Arizona should be pretty happy about this. Trouble is, there is no 15th Congressional District in Arizona. None. Nada. Zip. Zero. Doesn't exist. Not in Arizona. Not even on paper at the Democratic National Committee. There are only eight. Period. But the administration's much-vaunted website reported these jobs as being created there.

Why Obama bowed to Emperor

Click to enlarge.

Monday, November 16, 2009

'Penguin tourists' trapped in Antarctic ice

Of the Antarctic cruise ships there is one that is a real ice breaker; the others have hardened hulls that can handle brushing against floating ice, but are not ice breakers at all. The real ice breaker got itself in trouble four days ago - and still is. But their problem is only their schedule. This ship is designed and built to handle the ice it's in. 9 News - UK More than 100 penguin-loving tourists including dozens from Britain are trapped by ice off Antarctica aboard a Russian ice-breaker cruise ship. The Kapitan Khlebnikov is in a bay near Snow Hill island, located off the northeastern end of the Antarctic Peninsula, and cannot leave as the bay is sealed off with ice, the Russian transportation ministry said. "The wind has currently slowed down in the area and the massing of the ice has ended. Everything is calm aboard the ice-breaker, nothing is threatening the passengers and crew," the ministry said in a statement. "When the wind changes to a favourable direction, the ice-breaker will head into clear water and on to the port of Ushuaia," at the extreme southern end of Argentina. There were 105 passengers aboard the vessel and the total delay in the ship's scheduled trip could be around two days, it added. The ship has been at its current location for four days, German Kuzin, an official with the Far Eastern Shipping Company, the ship's owner, said in televised remarks. "There's nothing to worry about there," Kuzin said. "To put it plainly, the ship got stuck between an island and an ice massif." Many of the passengers are Britons who paid more than $18,000 for a tour whose highlight was seeing emperor penguins on Snow Hill island, according to Exodus, a British tour operator. Around 50 mostly British passengers booked their tours through Exodus and have been well cared-for while the ship has been stuck, Rob Dixon, a spokesman for Exodus, told AFP by telephone from London. "There's a lot of entertainment on board," Dixon told AFP. He said the weather was improving and predicted the ship would reach Ushaia by the end of this week, two or three days behind schedule. "They've certainly seen the penguins they came to see," Dixon added, noting that passengers had been able to leave the ship by helicopter.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Charlottesville Virginia

We are visiting grandchildren. Charlotteville is interesting and beautiful. Thomas Jefferson & U Virginia. Went to Richmond for more history. And lots of rain. I am limited to the Iphone keyboard, so more later.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Buy Obama's health insurance or go to jail - confirmed by committee

Big Government Today, Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (R-MI) released a letter from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) confirming that the failure to comply with the individual mandate to buy health insurance contained in the Pelosi health care bill (H.R. 3962, as amended) could land people in jail. The JCT letter makes clear that Americans who do not maintain “acceptable health insurance coverage” and who choose not to pay the bill’s new individual mandate tax (generally 2.5% of income), are subject to numerous civil and criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years. In response to the JCT letter, Camp said: “This is the ultimate example of the Democrats’ command-and-control style of governing – buy what we tell you or go to jail. It is outrageous and it should be stopped immediately.” Key excerpts from the JCT letter appear below:
“H.R. 3962 provides that an individual (or a husband and wife in the case of a joint return) who does not, at any time during the taxable year, maintain acceptable health insurance coverage for himself or herself and each of his or her qualifying children is subject to an additional tax.” [page 1] - – - – - – - – - - “If the government determines that the taxpayer’s unpaid tax liability results from willful behavior, the following penalties could apply…” [page 2] - – - – - – - – - - “Criminal penalties Prosecution is authorized under the Code for a variety of offenses. Depending on the level of the noncompliance, the following penalties could apply to an individual: • Section 7203 – misdemeanor willful failure to pay is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year. • Section 7201 – felony willful evasion is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years.” [page 3]
... According to the Congressional Budget Office the lowest cost family non-group plan under the Speaker’s bill would cost $15,000 in 2016. You Congressman intends this for YOU.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Obama's takeover is dropping like a rock

At Intrade people put their own money on the measurable outcome of events. This is a much stronger indicator than predictions by pundits, because every opinion is expressed by risking one's own money. Obama's health care takeover is running below 10% as of 6:30 AM Pacific time. Wow. Bid 6.0; Ask 9.8. Those are expressed as parts of 100, so they are effectively percentages. And it's for completion by the end of December, 2009. But we have to continue the fight, nevertheless. Nancy Pelosi is willing to lose her majority to complete this takeover of 1/6 of the economy. She views the long-term and having everyone dependent on the government is good for the big-government libs, even if - shock! - a Republican is on top. So Nancy will continue her reckless, hiding-the-truth course ignoring the danger until she hits the rocks. I usually view the top Intrade odds as a side benefit when I regularly read Donald Luskin's Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid - aka the Krugman Truth Squad.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Sunrise over Case Inlet

Case Inlet is a far branch of Puget Sound that from near the Nisqually Delta runs north. This is the view looking west from our cabin. The Moon at sunrise today, 11/4/09. Click the photo to enlarge. The Moon appears small because my IPhone's camera has no zoom!

$60 billion in medical fraud versus $8 bil in profits

The money in profits for health insurance companies is small compared to the money taken in fraud from Medicare and Medicaid.
All it took to bilk the federal government out of $105 million was a laptop computer. From her Mediterranean-style townhouse, a high school dropout named Rita Campos Ramirez orchestrated what prosecutors call the largest health-care fraud by one person. Over nearly four years, she electronically submitted more than 140,000 Medicare claims for unnecessary equipment and services. She used the proceeds to finance big-ticket purchases, including two condominiums and a Mercedes-Benz. Health-care experts say the simplicity of Campos Ramirez's scheme underscores the scope of the growing fraud problem and the need to devote more resources to theft prevention. Law enforcement authorities estimate that health-care fraud costs taxpayers more than $60 billion each year.... Investigators and prosecutors trained their focus on Miami after noticing two troubling patterns: · HHS investigators discovered that nearly half of 1,581 medical equipment companies they visited in the Miami area did not comply with basic Medicare requirements to be open during scheduled hours and to have a telephone number. The inspector general and the Government Accountability Office have flagged weak oversight of these kinds of suppliers for a dozen years, according to congressional testimony... Authorities say the strategy is working. They point to a $1.75 billion drop in Medicare claims in Miami since the operation began a year ago. But even government officials hope for a more comprehensive solution.
$60 billion in fraud. Versus $8 billion annual profits for insurance companies - all of them. Theses are large companies serving 100 million people. Those profits are not large for that size of operation. Isn't $60 billion stolen a real problem? Via Weekly Daily Standard

Thirteen New Taxes In House Democrat Health Bill

Americans for Tax Reform put together the tax increases in the latest version of Obama's health care takeover. Some of these are outright tax increases; some are reductions in deductions, which causes paying increased taxes; some lower the standard for the IRS to rule against the legality of a deduction, which increases the taxes. Especially insidious is the tax on medical devices on page 339. Obama wants a piece of my hip replacement. H.R. 3962, the "Affordable Health Care for America Act" has been introduced--all 1990 pages of it. This gargantuan beast contains thirteen new tax hikes. Here they all are, with description and page number (PDF version): Employer Mandate Excise Tax (Page 275): If an employer does not pay 72.5 percent of a single employee’s health premium (65 percent of a family employee), the employer must pay an excise tax equal to 8 percent of average wages. Small employers (measured by payroll size) have smaller payroll tax rates of 0 percent (<$500,000), 2 percent ($500,000-$585,000), 4 percent ($585,000-$670,000), and 6 percent ($670,000-$750,000). Individual Mandate Surtax (Page 296-97): If an individual fails to obtain qualifying coverage, he must pay an income surtax equal to the lesser of 2.5 percent of modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) or the average premium. MAGI adds back in the foreign earned income exclusion and municipal bond interest. Medicine Cabinet Tax (Page 324): Non-prescription medications would no longer be able to be purchased from health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs), or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). Insulin excepted. Cap on FSAs (Page 325): FSAs would face an annual cap of $2500 (currently uncapped). Increased Additional Tax on Non-Qualified HSA Distributions (Page 326): Non-qualified distributions from HSAs would face an additional tax of 20 percent (current law is 10 percent). This disadvantages HSAs relative to other tax-free accounts (e.g. IRAs, 401(k)s, 529 plans, etc.) Denial of Tax Deduction for Employer Health Plans Coordinating with Medicare Part D (Page 327): This would further erode private sector participation in delivery of Medicare services. Surtax on Individuals and Small Businesses (Page 336-37): Imposes an income surtax of 5.4 percent on MAGI over $500,000 ($1 million married filing jointly). MAGI adds back in the itemized deduction for margin loan interest. This would raise the top marginal tax rate in 2011 from 39.6 percent under current law to 45 percent—a new effective top rate. Excise Tax on Medical Devices (Page 339): Imposes a new excise tax on medical device manufacturers equal to 2.5 percent of the wholesale price. It excludes retail sales and unspecified medical devices sold to the general public. Corporate 1099-MISC Information Reporting (Page 344): Requires that 1099-MISC forms be issued to corporations as well as persons for trade or business payments. Current law limits to just persons for small business compliance complexity reasons. Also expands reporting to exchanges of property. Delay in Worldwide Allocation of Interest (Page 345): Delays for nine years the worldwide allocation of interest, a corporate tax relief provision from the American Jobs Creation Act Limitation on Tax Treaty Benefits for Certain Payments (Page 346): Increases taxes on U.S. employers with overseas operations looking to avoid double taxation of earnings. Codification of the “Economic Substance Doctrine” (Page 349): Empowers the IRS to disallow a perfectly legal tax deduction or other tax relief merely because the IRS deems that the motive of the taxpayer was not primarily business-related. Application of “More Likely Than Not” Rule (Page 357): Publicly-traded partnerships and corporations with annual gross receipts in excess of $100 million have raised standards on penalties. If there is a tax underpayment by these taxpayers, they must be able to prove that the estimated tax paid would have more likely than not been sufficient to cover final tax liability

Monday, November 02, 2009

IAM union bluffed Boeing and lost

Boeing's money isn't good enough for them. Last year's strike cost Boeing a lot of money and damaged the company's reputation by delaying the 787 by at least two months and by the delivery delays in other products and contracts. The Official Blog of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation:
... The 2008 strike was Boeing’s fourth in just two decades, and, at 57 days, the longest since the 69-day strike in 1995, which “poisoned morale for years.” According to the AP, the 2008 strike cost Boeing $100 million a day in deferred revenue and postponement of the 787. That kind of loss won’t be recouped for years. Boeing’s final offer to the machinists prior to last year’s strike included a 14 percent monthly pension increase, a 2008 lump-sum bonus worth about $3,900 on average, a generous new incentive-pay plan and other perks. All told, Boeing estimated the package was worth an additional $34,000 in extra compensation to the machinists over three years. But it wasn’t enough. The machinists’ unreasonable display of “solidarity” has landed them squarely in the boat of irrelevant (sic). Union leaders foolishly carried on as though competition from other states did not exist. “Given the country's economic condition, it would be hard for Boeing or any company right now to make the investments needed to put Charleston in the realm of a first-class aircraft-assembly site," Tom Buffenbarger, the machinists’ president told the Seattle Times this July. The union called Boeing’s bluff, and turned out to be wrong.
It wasn't a bluff.
For its part, Boeing had had enough. Just after the company made the South Carolina announcement, Boeing’s vice president of human resources and one of the lead negotiators in the talks with the machinists told the Times that the company was “unwilling to indulge the kind of last-minute brinkmanship that has been typical in all recent contract negotiations with the [machinists].” [The article linked at the Seattle Times has been removed by the Times.]

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The people of Honduras will decide their president

Honduras has overcome pressure to reinstate its ex-president who was legally removed. There appears to be wide acceptance of having an election rather than forcing Honduras to violate their constitution and reinstate him. Maybe I am assuming that the election follows their constitution. Key to the agreement is senior US Congressman Eliot Engel. This is very good news. It really hurt to see our government taking the questionable approach. Besides, Castro and President-for-life Hugo Chavez were big on it. That alone causes pause. The American, A Magazine of Ideas
After months of bickering among self-interested politicians and self-important foreign meddlers about the June 28 ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, late last night Zelaya accepted a proposal by the interim government under which the supreme court will decide whether the congress can review his removal from office. Although it is quite doubtful that the court and congress—which approved of Zelaya’s removal in the first place—will return him to power, this formula clears away international sanctions and ensures recognition of November 29 elections in which 4.7 million voters will choose a new president and congress. This solution represents a triumph for the Honduran people and their constitution, and it recognizes that Honduras’ future is much more important than Zelaya’s fate. The U.S. State Department and the Organization of American States (OAS) had painted themselves into a corner by suggesting that the international community would not observe or respect these elections unless Zelaya were restored to power. However, a key Democratic congressman—Representative Eliot Engel (D–New York), chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere—recently stepped up to state the obvious: the international community should support these elections as a logical solution to the political impasse. Representative Engel noted in an October 21 statement that all of the presidential candidates (including a representative of Zelaya’s own party) had asked OAS to observe the elections. “I urge OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza to grant this request,” Engel said, “so that an effective election monitoring effort can be put into place.” Engel’s leadership forced U.S. and OAS diplomats to back away from their absolutist position and recognize that the upcoming elections were more important than Zelaya’s return to power.