Friday, January 30, 2009

Four years for Bush's 'Google Bomb,' Google Quickly Defuses Obama's

It's just a coincidence. Nothing to do with the fact that CEO Eric Schmidt hit the road to campaign for Obama. It took four years for Google to address the "Google bomb" that was lobbed at former President Bush. But it took the Internet behemoth only a few days to defuse the same attack on President Obama. Four years versus a few days ... Some Googlers are asking why.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Economists who do not support massive debt for pork aka Stimulus

There are many economists who disagree with the stampede for a massive "stimulus." Massive debt to pay for massive pork didn't work in 1929 - it caused the US to have a far worse depression than Europe - and won't work now. Cato instutute - Fiscal Reality Central:
Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan's "lost decade" in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today. To improve the economy, policy makers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, saving, investment and production. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stimulus won't work - top Obama economist

Larry Summers says Nancy Pelosi' proposal would be worse than the disease. Summers v. Summers - Andy McCarthy - The Corner on National Review Online: Who says a stimulus plan of the type contemplated by the Obama Dems won't work? Why, the head of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, that's who. At Heritage, Conn Carroll points out that, not so long ago, Larry Summers had this to say about stimulus plans: Poorly provided fiscal stimulus can have worse side effects than the disease that is to be cured.... [F]iscal stimulus, to be maximally effective, must be clearly and credibly temporary – with no significant adverse impact on the deficit for more than a year or so after implementation. Otherwise it risks being counterproductive by raising the spectre of enlarged future deficits pushing up longer-term interest rates and undermining confidence and longer-term growth prospects. As Carroll elsewhere points out (citing, for example, the Medicaid bailout, Medicaid expansion, family planning loophole, education bailout, and education shopping spree), the Democrats' proposed package is anything but temporary . . . and a Thomas Barthold, Deputy Chief of the Joint Committee on Taxation's staff has conceded (notwithstanding rosy predictions by President Obama and Speaker Pelosi) that the Committee has no estimates indicating any meaningful amount of jobs or economic growth would actually result.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Nancy Pelosi claims that $100 million for contraception will 'stimulate' the economy

The left has one priority that always stays on top. Abortion - call it something else, but it's still abortion. Will her proposed funding do what she claims? Prove it. But it does end a lot of lives. Priorities. American Thinker Blog STEPHANOPOULOS: Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus? PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government. STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apologies for that? PELOSI: No apologies. No. we have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Midlife coffee may help stave off dementia

Drinking coffee is good for you. Study after study finds good effects. And some find bad effects. But the balance is not negative. So, drink up. Midlife coffee drinking may decrease the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease later in life, researchers in Sweden and Finland said. The study was conducted at the University of Kuopio in Finland in collaboration with Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, and the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki, Finland. Participants were the survivors of two population-based studies. After an average follow-up of 21 years, 1,409 individuals ages 65 to 79 completed the re-examination in 1998. Sixty-one cases were identified as having dementia and 48 with Alzheimer's disease. Lead researcher Miia Kivipelto of the University of Kuopio and Karolinska Institutet said at the midlife examination, the consumption of coffee and tea was assessed with a semi-quantitative food-frequency questionnaire. Coffee drinking was categorized into three groups: zero to two cups cups, three to five cups and more than five cups per day. Tea consumption was characterized as zero cups a day, or more than one cup a day. The study, published in the the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, found that coffee drinkers at midlife had lower risk for dementia and later in life compared to those drinking no or only little coffee. The lowest risk -- 65 percent decrease -- was found among moderate coffee drinkers drinking three to five cups of coffee a day. Tea drinking was relatively uncommon and was not associated with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, the researchers said.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Financial fear in the UK

The UK got more overextended than the US. Not as bad as Iceland, but frighteningly bad. Reykjavik-on-Thames - International Herald Tribune

LONDON: An island nation that bulked up on debt and lived beyond its means. A plunging currency. And a financial system edging toward nationalization.

With the pound at a seven-year low and still falling, and the British banking system requiring ever-larger rounds of government support, it is no wonder that observers in recent days have pronounced this city "Reykjavik-on-Thames."

While that judgment seems exaggerated, there are uncomfortable echoes of Iceland's financial downfall in Britain's trajectory. And for ordinary consumers, who enjoyed a long boom that transformed the drab United Kingdom of old into Cool Britannia, fears are growing that Britain could return to the economic stagnation of the 1970s.

The pound has dropped 7.6 percent against the dollar this week and 4.2 percent against the euro.

Even though there has been a steady drumbeat of gloomy economic news for months here, the mood this week has darkened dramatically.

Cloudy SoCal

I flew to Orange County, Calf. on Tuesday, an 80-degree day. But they say I brought Seattle weather with me. High just above 60 and cloudy! That may be shirt-sleeve weather in the Pacific NW, but not here. But no rain yet.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hammas fires rockets from inside the Al Arabiya news studio building

Why Israel fired on a news bureau building in Gaza. The Weekly Standard:
But we have at least one confirmed incident of Hamas's launching rockets from a media headquarters: Al Arabiya reporter Hannan al-Masri is live on the air in Gaza when she is told that Hamas has just fired rockets from inside the Al Arabiya studio building, news which apparently strikes her as quite humorous. Watch the video below and turn on the subtitles feature. The first laugh might be dismissed as nervous laughter, but the second one can't. She is clearly amused by the launch. If the Israeli Air Force responded by striking the building housing Al Arabiya, it would have been completely justified in doing so.
Follow the link to watch the video.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bush did great on China

Thomas PM Barnett has lots of negative findings on President Bush. But he will admit success also. A big one Excerpts from Great Powers, part 1 (Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog): A Bush administration success greater than its failures in Iraq "The lack of a serious U.S.-China confrontation in the years since 9/11 is the most important dog that did not bark during the Bush-Cheney administration. In the grand sweep of history, this is arguably George W. Bush's greatest legacy: the encouragement of China to become a legitimate "stakeholder" in global security--[Deputy Secretary of State Robert] Zoellick's term. This sort of effort at grooming a great power for a greater role in international affairs is a careful balancing act, and the Bush team sounded most of the right notes, from reassuring nervous allies in Asia, to avoiding the temptation of trade retaliation while simultaneously pressuring Beijing for more economic liberalization, to drawing China into the dynamics of great-power negotiation over compelling regional issues like the nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran. We can always complain that Bush-Cheney didn't do more to solidify what was the most important bilateral relationship of the twenty-first century, but we cannot fault them for any lasting mistakes, and that alone is quite impressive. Indeed, history will be likely to judge this success as greater than the Bush administration's failures in Iraq." (pp. 8-9)

The biggest boondoggle yet

Majority Leader John Boehner shows that Obama's stimulus is a lot of pork. A huge amount. Via Powerline Blog A Dozen Fun Facts About the House Democrats' Massive Spending Bill 1. The House Democrats' bill will cost each and every household $6,700 additional debt, paid for by our children and grandchildren. 2. The total cost of this one piece of legislation is almost as much as the annual discretionary budget for the entire federal government. 3. President-elect Obama has said that his proposed stimulus legislation will create or save three million jobs. This means that this legislation will spend about $275,000 per job. The average household income in the U.S. is $50,000 a year. 4. The House Democrats' bill provides enough spending - $825 billion - to give every man, woman, and child in America $2,700. 5. $825 billion is enough to give every person living in poverty in the U.S. $22,000. 6. $825 billion is enough to give every person in Ohio $72,000. 7. Although the House Democrats' proposal has been billed as a transportation and infrastructure investment package, in actuality only $30 billion of the bill - or three percent - is for road and highway spending. A recent study from the Congressional Budget Office said that only 25 percent of infrastructure dollars can be spent in the first year, making the one year total less than $7 billion for infrastructure. 8. Much of the funding within the House Democrats' proposal will go to programs that already have large, unexpended balances. For example, the bill provides $1 billion for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which already have $16 billion on hand. And, this year, Congress has plans to rescind $9 billion in highway funding that the states have not yet used. 9. In 1993, the unemployment rate was virtually the same as the rate today (around seven percent). Yet, then-President Clinton's proposed stimulus legislation ONLY contained $16 billion in spending. 10. Here are just a few of the programs and projects that have been included in the House Democrats' proposal: · $650 million for digital TV coupons.
· $6 billion for colleges/universities - many which have billion dollar endowments.
· $166 billion in direct aid to states - many of which have failed to budget wisely.
· $50 million in funding for the National Endowment of the Arts.
· $44 million for repairs to U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters.
· $200 million for the National Mall, including grass planting.
· $400 million for "National Treasures." 11. Almost one-third of the so called tax relief in the House Democrats' bill is spending in disguise, meaning that true tax relief makes up only 24 percent of the total package - not the 40 percent that President-elect Obama had requested. 12. $825 billion is just the beginning - many Capitol Hill Democrats want to spend even more taxpayer dollars on their "stimulus" plan.

An Obama appointment I can support

Obama's nominee for "regulatory czar" is Cass Sunstein of Harvard Law School. Wonk Room How would progressives respond if President Bush nominated as “regulatory czar” a person who:
– Once called for changing the Clean Air Act to require a balancing of costs and benefits in setting national clean air standards – a fundamental weakening long sought by big polluters who believe it would help them resist cleanup; – Urged the federal government to devalue senior citizens in calculating the benefits of federal regulations because “A program that saves young people produces more welfare than one that saves old people.” This is a concept dubbed the “senior death discount,” and that environmentalists forced EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman to renounce in 2003; – Argued that it “might be better” to help future generations deal with global warming by “including approaches that make posterity richer and better able to adapt” than by “reducing emissions.” – Even raised questions about the value of cleaning up Love Canal, reducing arsenic in drinking water and using child restraints in automobiles?
Progressives would’ve screamed, of course. But what will they do now that President-elect Obama appears poised to nominate Harvard Law School Professor Cass Sunstein to head the White House Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)? For it’s actually Sunstein who has articulated the views noted above regarding clean air and the other issues involving costs, benefits and risk.

Harvey Roys, Jr., MD 1918-2009 slide show - bumped

We put together a slide show of Dr. Roys's, my father-in-law, life - from infant through childhood, military service, marriage, raising children, until 6 months ago with my grandchildren. The slide show in iPhoto had captions, which are essential for identifying his sisters, etc. I don't know how to preserve the captions in this movie format. I know I can build a DVD with the captions. I will explore all options. Dr. Roys' obituary

Is Putin the Greens’ poster boy

President Medvedev, I mean Vladimir Putin, of Russia is doing his best to reduce energy use in Europe. The Brussels Journal: The cheery chappies over at the Competitive Enterprise Institute have noticed an interesting thing about Putin’s gas shenanigans with Ukraine. He is of course helping drive down the usage of energy in Europe, a goal so beloved of the green wallas. Chevron have been running a campaign wearing their Corporate Social Responsibility hat, called ‘I Will Use Less Energy’.
I will use less energy. And we will too. The world demands more and more energy. Where will it come from? We at Chevron are working to provide more of it, both responsibly and efficiently. And we’re developing alternatives. But it’s just as important for all of us to do more with less.
So should Putin be Chevron’s poster boy? They give credit to CEI, but I can't find it at their site. My favorite Putin defender will explain to you how the problem is all Ukraine's. But he is so one-sided that he isn't interesting to rea.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bush Vindicated on Wiretapping

Bush is vindicated. He was right that he had the right to wiretap foreign telephone conversations. I will bet that Obama makes sure this stays in place. He might even do an Algore and speak against it in public, but make sure in court that he keeps the tool for when he needs it. The Wiretap Vindication - Ever since the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program was exposed in 2005, critics have denounced it as illegal and unconstitutional. Those allegations rested solely on the fact that the Administration did not first get permission from the special court created by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Well, as it happens, the same FISA court would beg to differ. In a major August 2008 decision released yesterday in redacted form, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, the FISA appellate panel, affirmed the government's Constitutional authority to collect national-security intelligence without judicial approval. The case was not made public before yesterday, and its details remain classified. An unnamed telecom company refused to comply with the National Security Agency's monitoring requests and claimed the program violated the Fourth Amendment's restrictions on search and seizure. But the Constitution bans only "unreasonable" search and seizure, not all searches and seizures, and the Fourth Amendment allows for exceptions such as those under a President's Article II war powers. The courts have been explicit on this point. In 1980, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held in Truong that "the Executive need not always obtain a warrant for foreign intelligence surveillance."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rehabilitating Bush - starting this week

Bush is being rehabilitated already. Charles Krauthammer Except for Richard Nixon, no president since Harry Truman leaves office more unloved than George W. Bush. Truman's rehabilitation took decades. Bush's will come sooner. Indeed, it has already begun. The chief revisionist? Barack Obama. Vindication is being expressed not in words but in deeds — the tacit endorsement conveyed by the Obama continuity-we-can-believe-in transition. It's not just the retention of such key figures as Secretary of Defense Bob Gates or Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner, who, as president of the New York Fed, has been instrumental in guiding the Bush financial rescue over the last year. It's the continuity of policy. It is the repeated pledge to conduct a withdrawal from Iraq that does not destabilize its new democracy and that, as Vice President-elect Joe Biden said just this week in Baghdad, adheres to the Bush-negotiated status of forces agreement that envisions a U.S. withdrawal over three years, not the 16-month timetable on which Obama campaigned. It is the great care Obama is taking in not pre-emptively abandoning the anti-terror infrastructure that the Bush administration leaves behind.

The Endive - The News Leader of the Known Universe

A new humor site. Take a look. The Endive - The News Leader of the Known Universe: In 2009, Cuba celebrates 50 years under the communist regime of Fidel Castro, and the world marks 50 years since the birth of Chevrolet’s El Camino – two of the world’s greatest sources of confusion. “I still don’t get it,” said United States President George Bush, “I have no idea if that El Camino thing is a car or a truck. Dammit, that’s frustrating.”

A Secretary of the Treasury who doesn't pay his taxes?

Our tax system is too complex if the top guy can't figure them out. Or did he just decide to keep the money if he could get away with it? Either he is the wrong person, or our system is broken American Thinker Blog: Geithner should not be Secretary of the Treasury:
We are asked to believe that a man of supposedly great financial sophistication couldn't understand a tax liability that tens of millions of Americans (including me) must pay every quarter.
There are other reasons to question Giethner's judgment. Jeff Gerth of Politico writes:
As president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, Timothy Geithner often preached that gargantuan financial firms like Citigroup should be held to the highest regulatory standards to make sure they couldn't take on too much risk. But when it came to supervising Citigroup in recent years, the record shows that the New York Fed eased the reins as the company blew billions on subprime mortgages and other risky deals that ultimately forced the biggest bank rescue in U.S. history. ... Poor risk management and weak capital levels were central to Citigroup's undoing. One enforcement agreement in place before Geithner took office in 2003 - an order requiring quarterly risk reports - was lifted during his watch. A ban on major acquisitions also was eliminated a year after it had been imposed in 2005. Afterward, in 2006 and 2007, Citigroup aggressively expanded into the subprime mortgage business and bought a hedge fund and Japanese brokerage, among other assets. A year later, as the global financial crisis took hold, Citigroup took losses and writedowns of more than $50 billion. The New York Fed brought no public enforcement case, although examiners privately sent a critical letter to the company in the first half of 2008.
Byron York in NRO
Geithner accepted reimbursement for taxes he didn't pay.
What if I didn't pay taxes? - Roger Simon -
Would it be OK if I stopped paying my taxes until Barack Obama names me to be his secretary of the treasury? That is a deal I would like to get. That is the deal financial wizard Timothy Geithner got. He didn’t pay all of his federal taxes for years. Then, after Obama decided to name him treasury secretary, Obama’s vetting team discovered Geithner’s little oversight. Not paying your taxes is considered serious for some people. But not for Geithner, a Wall Street “wonder boy”...
The coverup
... So in November, Team Obama announced that Geithner had this little problem and was paying his back taxes with interest and that it was all an honest mistake and no big deal, right? Wrong. They decided to keep it a secret. But The Wall Street Journal discovered it and blew the whistle Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Liberal principles and talk radio

Camille Paglia speaks in defense of talk radio, even though it is almost all conservative and she is not. Camille Paglia in Salon : If there's anything that demonstrates the straying of the Democratic Party leadership from basic liberal principles, it's this blasted Fairness Doctrine -- which should be fiercely opposed by all defenders of free speech. Except when national security is at risk, government should never be involved in the surveillance of speech or in measuring the ideological content of books, movies or radio and TV programs. Broadcasters must adhere to reasonable FCC regulations restricting obscenity, but despite the outlandish claims of Democrats like Sen. Charles Schumer, there is no analogy whatever between pornography and political opinion. Nor do privately owned radio stations have any obligation to be politically "balanced." They are commercial enterprises that follow the market and directly respond to audience demand. The Fairness Doctrine is bullying Big Brother tyranny, full of contempt for the very public it pretends to protect. As a fan of AM radio since childhood, I adore the proliferation of political talk shows spurred by Rush Limbaugh's pioneering rise to national syndication in the late 1980s. It represented a maturation of the late-night coast-to-coast radio programs that I had been listening to in the 1970s, such as Herb Jepko (broadcasting from Salt Lake City), Long John Nebel (from New York) and Larry King (from Miami). However, I do lament the gradual disappearance of small, quirky local shows due to the trend toward national syndication. And I often get bored and impatient with the same arch-conservative message being drummed out 24/7. But let's get real: Liberals have been pathetic flops on national radio -- for reasons that have yet to be identified. Air America, for example, despite retchingly sycophantic major media coverage, never got traction and has dwindled to a humiliating handful of markets. The Democrats are the party of Hollywood, for heaven's sake -- so what's their problem in mastering radio? Instead of bleating for paternalistic government intervention, liberals should get their own act together. Radio is a populist medium where liberals come across as snide, superior scolds. One can instantly recognize a liberal caller to a conservative show by his or her catty, obnoxious tone. The leading talk radio hosts are personalities and entertainers with huge rhetorical energy and a bluff, engaging manner. Even the seething ranters can be extremely funny. Last summer, for example, I laughed uproariously in my car when WABC's Mark Levin said furiously about Katie Couric, "What do these people do? Open fortune cookies and read them on air?" The best hosts combine a welcoming master of ceremonies manner with a vaudevillian brashness. Liberal imitators haven't made a dent on talk radio because they think it's all about politics, when it isn't. Top hosts are life questers and individualists who explore a wide range of thought and emotion and who skillfully work the mike like jazz vocalists. Talk radio is a major genre of popular culture that deserves the protection accorded to other branches of the performing and fine arts. Liberals, who go all hushed and pious at Hays Code censorship in classic Hollywood, should lay off the lynch-mob mentality. Keep the feds out of radio!

American Founder Benjamin Franklin and Faith

Benjamin Franklin helped write Pennsylvania's 1776 Constitution, which stated in Frame of Government, Chapter 2, Section 10:
"Each member of the legislature, before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration: 'I do believe in one God, the Creator and Governour of the Universe, the Rewarder of the good and Punisher of the wicked, and I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration.'"
Via American Minute

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Golden retirement for public employees - unfunded

An ice-berg problem. It doesn't look large: it only shows 1/10 of its size. But below the surface it is huge. Elected officials are happy to kick it down the field - it will hit the future, not them. And the beneficiaries know it's huge, but are happy to let it hit you and me later. The American Spectator : Golden Apples:
But an even more fractious battle is emerging over the array of generous defined-benefit pensions, employer-subsidized healthcare plans, job protections and degree- and seniority-based pay scales struck by states, districts and locals of the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers. Evidence that such compensation fails to reward high-quality instruction or lure collegians into teaching, along with No Child's provision that all teachers must be well-versed in the subjects they teach, are forcing states and districts to rethink teacher compensation. The development of a statistical technique called value-added assessment -- which allows individual student test-score growth to be measured against those in the same grade -- also means that teacher performance can be objectively measured and rewarded accordingly. This is a battle already seen in districts such as D.C. Public Schools, where Chancellor Michelle Rhee is sparring with the AFT local over a pay plan that would allow teachers to increase pay by as much as $43,000 a year if they subject themselves to more-rigorous performance evaluations, as I've noted this month in Labor Watch, a newsletter on labor reform published by the Capital Research Center. But it is the mounting costs of the lavish retirement deals -- fueled by the upcoming retirement of Baby Boomers -- that will likely force states into embracing performance-based pay plans.
This article is at the national level, but we have the same huge problem in Washington.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hamas' other war & Stealing aid

Hamas is killing Palestinians. No news here; move on. Washington Times - MAY: Hamas' other war : Palestinian civilians continue to be murdered in cold blood - several dozen just last weekend. Many of the victims were gunned down inside hospitals and schools. If you've been following the latest Middle East conflict, this will not surprise you. What might: The fact that the assailants were Palestinians - Hamas members targeting those affiliated with the rival Fatah organization. Only scattered and buried mentions of these attacks have appeared in such newspapers as the New York Times and The Washington Post. There has been little or nothing on television. But Khaled Abu Toameh - the brave and distinguished correspondent for the Jerusalem Post (and, incidentally, an Arab) - has reported that 35 Fatah activists have been summarily executed, while more than twice that number have have legs or hands maimed. --------------- Hamas is stealing aid goods. Jerusalem Post : Hamas on Monday raided some 100 aid trucks that Israel had allowed into Gaza, stole their contents and sold them to the highest bidders. The IDF said that since terminal activity is coordinated with UNRWA [The UN's agency for relief] and the Red Cross, Israel could do nothing to prevent such raids, Israel Radio reported.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Fight federal take-over of all Health Care

We are at a great disadvantage. We have to prepare to fight to avoid a total Big Brother health care system. Opinion: Fight Obama on Health Care - Perhaps the greatest missed opportunity of the past eight years was the chance for Republicans to fundamentally reform the terribly broken American health-care system. Access to quality health care has long been a professed priority, yet Republicans have been reluctant to tackle the issue. As a physician, this is deeply disappointing to me because patient-centered health care is, at its core, conservative. Health care is fundamentally a personal relationship between patients and doctors. To honor this relationship -- consistent with Republican ideals -- our goal should be to provide a system that allows access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans, in a way that ensures medical decisions are made in doctors' offices, not Washington. Republican unwillingness to address the issue, however, has left us facing an emboldened Democratic Party well equipped to push a government-centered health-care agenda. While Democrats are still dangerously misguided in their policies, this time they are prepared to avoid the political mistakes of the Clinton administration. For a preview, look no further than "What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis," a book published this year by former Sen. Tom Daschle, President-elect Barack Obama's choice for secretary of Health and Human Services. Atop the list of worrisome ideas proposed by Mr. Daschle is the creation of an innocently termed "Federal Health Advisory Board." This board would offer recommendations to private insurers and create a single standard of care for all public programs, including which procedures doctors may perform, which drugs patients may take, and how many diagnostic machines hospitals really need. As with Medicare, for any care provided outside the board's guidelines, patients and physicians would not be reimbursed. Mr. Daschle is quick to note the board's standards would serve only as a suggestion to the private market. Yet to ensure that there are no rogue private insurers, he has proposed making the employer tax deduction for providing health insurance dependent on compliance with the board's standards. In an overtly political ruse, Democrats will claim they are dictating nothing to private providers, while whipping noncompliant insurers in place through the tax code.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Do the Math: The Best and Worst Jobs in the U.S. -

Mathematicians Land Top Spot in New Ranking of Best and Worst Occupations in the U.S. The Best and Worst Jobs in the U.S. - But remember: We are the people who enjoy doing story problems.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Harvey C Roys, Jr., MD - 1918-2009

My father-in-law passed away Saturday morning, 1/3/09.

Harvey C Roys, Jr., MD - 1918-2009

Harvey C. Roys, Jr., MD was a leader in medicine and the church in the Seattle area for 50 years. He improved many lives in both areas. He was in college in the late 1930s preparing for medical school when the University of Oklahoma took young men into medical school after 3 years of college. He earned the MD in 1943, did a one year internship, then entered the Army and served in The Battle of Okinawa in a field hospital for the 57th Field Artillery Batallion & earned the Bronze Service Star. Seeing ugly, painful tropical skin diseases, he chose to specialize in dermatology. He married Ruth Jacobson of Seattle on Aug 9, 1947. They traveled to New York City for his specialty training. He had a private practice in the Medical-Dental Building downtown from 1950 to 1988, then he worked with family practitioners, teaching them about skin diseases. Adjunct Prof at the University of Washington Medical School. He was board certified and became a "go to" guy: When you don't know what you are seeing or need a second opinion ask Harvey Roys. He retired in the early 1990s, but he continued to care for people, i.e., be a medical doctor, the rest of his life. Active in the Southern Baptist Church, he was a popular preacher and often took the place of sick or vacationing pastors. He started at least 3 churches in the Seattle area - Lake Washington, now Lake City, Baptist in Lake City, Seattle, Bothell First Baptist and one in Juanita/Kirkland. He was the senior pastor at Brooklyn Avenue Baptist Church in the University District of Seattle in the 1960s. He continued preaching until about age 75. He always enjoyed telling jokes and playing chess. He is survived by Ruth Jacobson Roys of Seattle, sons Harold in Upland, California, Curtis in Issaquah, Washington and Charles in Eastham, Massachusetts and daughter Virginia Hebron in Lake Forest Park, Washington. Service: 2 pm Saturday, January 10 at Bayview Manor, 11 W. Aloha St., Seattle. Note: Parking is very limited at Bayview Manor. Arrive early to park on the street and walk a few blocks. HIs obituary was in both Seattle newspapers on Wednesday. Seattle Times

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Cuba - 50 year of failure

Ignore the platitudes for Fidel. "But everyone gets free heath care." Health care has to be free when everyone is a slave. Look at the facts. The real story is that a prosperous Cuba was turned into ruins in just five decades. Investors' Business Daily editorial Its inflation-adjusted gross domestic product is a mere 5% of what it was in 1958, the year before Castro took over, according to Jorge Salazar-Carillo of Florida International University. "It's a major failure," Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a University of Pittsburgh economist, told IBD. "Cuba is unable to increase food production to meet its needs and now imports 84% of its food. Cuba produced 7 million tons of sugar in 1952. This year, it's 1.5 million tons. This is the result of economic policy of collectivization, killing of individual incentive, inefficiency, constant changes of policy." Reliable data are hard to come by. S&P refuses to rate the country for that reason. The regime conceals its failures. But if long lines at the Spanish embassy seeking immigration aren't enough of an indicator, the chronology of Cuba's economy tell an important story: 1957: Cuban GDP is about $2.8 billion, unadjusted for inflation. 1959: Castro and his guerrillas take over and begin confiscating U.S.-owned private businesses. 1960: President Eisenhower imposes trade embargo, excluding food and medicine; Castro responds by "rapidly nationalizing most U.S. enterprises," as he himself wrote. 1961: President Kennedy tightens the embargo. Castro blames it for plant shutdowns, parts shortages and 7,000 transportation breakdowns a month, leaving 25% of public buses inoperable. He then targets Cuban companies for expropriation. 1962: Begins food rationing. Half of passenger rail cars go out of service from lack of maintenance. 1963: President Kennedy freezes Cuban assets in the U.S. 1965: Signs deal with USSR to reschedule $500 million in debt. 1966: Signs new deal with Soviets for $91 million in trade credits. 1968: Begins petroleum rationing, says Soviets cut supplies. 1969: Begins sugar rationing in January, announces state plan to produce 10 million tons of sugar by the following year. 1970: Castro announces only 8.5 million tons of sugar produced. Blames U.S. Diverts 85% of all Cuban trade to the USSR. 1973: Tries for the first time to tie wages to productivity. 1974: Ramps up wartime spending to send 3,000 Cuban troops to Africa. It hits $125 per person, highest in Latin America, by 1988. 1975: President Ford announces softening of the embargo, letting foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies sell products in Cuba. 1979: President Carter lets Cuban-Americans visit family in Cuba. Soviet aid totals $17 billion from 1961-79, or 30% of Cuba's GDP. 1980: Economic hardship forces Castro to permit farmers to sell surplus to state quotas in private markets with unregulated prices. 100,000 Cubans flee the island for the U.S. via the Mariel boatlift. 1982: Cuba doubles military spending. President Reagan re-establishes travel ban and prohibits spending money on the island. 1983: Cuba signs accord in Paris to refinance its foreign debt. 1984: "Armed Forces of Latin America" yearbook says: "Cuba is probably the world's most completely militarized country." 1985: Cuba signs new debt restructuring, blaming Mexico's crisis for its debacle. Permits selling of private housing for the first time. Total aid from USSR since 1961 hits $40 billion. 1986: Castro defaults on $10.9 billion in Paris Club debt. Blames sugar prices. Abolishes coffee breaks, cuts subsidies. Soviets give $3 billion more in credit and aid. Castro bans farmers markets. 1987: Stops paying entirely on $10.9 billion Paris Club debts. 1988: Forbids release of inflation data, making it impossible for researchers to assess Cuban economic performance. 1990: By official statistics, GDP per capita declines 10.3%. 1991: Sugar crop falls to 7 million tons. Politburo purged. USSR ends $5 billion in subsidies. "Special Period" of austerity begins. 1992: Horse-drawn carts replace cars, oxen replace Soviet tractors. Time magazine reports tin cans are recycled into drinking cups and banana peels into Cuban sandals. 1993: World Bank says GDP contracts 15.1% per capita, as industrial output plunges 40% per person. 1994: Some private-sector activity permitted. GDP per capita shows no growth, but Castro hails "recovery." Agricultural output down 54% from 1989, with sugar at 4 million tons. Castro blames bad finances, and "errors and inefficiency." Food consumption, according to USDA, falls 36%. Some 32,000 Cubans flee for Florida. 1995: Havana admits GDP fell 35% from 1989 to 1993. Vice President Carlos Lage claims GDP grew 2.5%, as inflation hits 19%. 1996: Castro hikes private business taxes. President Clinton tightens embargo. Castro claims GDP rose to 7% in year. 1997: GDP reported up 2.5%, falling short of 5% projection. Failed sugar harvest, bad weather, crop pests, foreign debts blamed. 1998: GDP growth claimed at 1.2% with no inflation. U.S. embargo, global financial crisis, low commodity prices, too much rainfall, Hurricane Georges and severe drought blamed. Castro urges other debtor nations to form a cartel. 1999: GDP claimed at 6.2%. Subsidies from Venezuela begin. Castro blames U.S. dollar for woes and urges use of the euro. 2000: Cuban court rules U.S. owes Cuba $121 billion for embargo. 2001: 3.6% GDP growth, output remains below 1989. Blames loss of subsidies, second-worst sugar harvest ever at 3.5 million tons. 2002: Freezes dollar sales to preserve foreign reserves. Shuts down 118 factories due to power shortages. Buys $125 million in U.S. food. Defaults on $750 million in Japanese debts. 2003: Earns more tight sanctions from President Bush and European Union over dissident roundups. GDP rises just 1.8%. 2004: Castro declares GDP a capitalist instrument, adjusts calculations, declares GDP growing at 5%. 2005: Foreign firms asked to leave and market liberalization scrapped. Imports hit three-times the level of exports. Hurricanes blamed for falling farm output. Sugar figures not released. Castro calls economic crisis an "enemy fabrication." Claims GDP up 11%. 2006: Castro claims 12.5% economic growth, "despite the crippling effects of the U.S. embargo," Luxner News notes. 2007: 7.5% GDP growth claimed; adverse weather said to have affected construction and agriculture. 2008: 4.3% GDP growth claimed, far short of 8% forecast. "One of the most difficult years since the collapse of the Soviet Union," economy minister says. Hurricanes and fuel prices blamed. That, in sum, is Cuba after 50 years. But lest you get the wrong idea, Cuba hasn't failed at everything: "Given [Castro's] goal — to destroy capitalism and entrench themselves — they're a success," said Humberto Fontova, an expert on Castro's regime.

Friday, January 02, 2009

An atheist who believes Africa needs God

This atheist admits what he sees: that Christian missionaries make a big difference. Not just the physical things accomplished, but the changed lives. Matthew Parris - Times Online :
Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good. I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith. But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing. First, then, the observation. We had friends who were missionaries, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional rural African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall. ... Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I've just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates. Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted. And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.
Read the whole thing.

Twas the night before in Seattle

"Twas the week before Christmas, and next to the Sound, Not a creature was stirring, for all were snowbound. Greyhound busses quit running, no matter the fare, And the mail men and garbage said they just couldn't get there! The children were sliding Queen Anne Hill on their sleds. While roofs were collapsing on old people's heads. And mamma in her boots and I in my cap, Were stuck in the snow and ice and such crap. When at the Home Depot there arose such a clatter, I trudged from my car to see what was the matter. A group of sad souls were waving their cash, They couldn't buy shovels, they'd sold in a flash. Tires were spinning and just wouldn't go, And chains lay broken in the dirty old snow. Then, what to my surprise did my eyes look over and see? Eight representatives of SDOT, With a fat politician so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it was Mayor "Salt Nick". More rapid than gun bans, his excuses they came, "To save our environment the roads stay the same! On Broadway! On Boren! On Yesler and Denny!, To clear off these roads would cost such a penny! Sliding down Thomas and onto a wall! The busses hung over I-5, ready to fall! Still, he insisted it wasn't his fault, As the world's greenest mayor he wouldn't use SALT! That stuff's corrosive, could hurt the fish. (But the Puget Sound's SALT WATER you ignorant kish !) So snowy Seattle continued to stew, But Mayor "Salt Nick" just hadn't a clue. [Mayor Greg Nickels] While I stood there astonished, on nearby TV sets, I saw the airport was packed, no de-icer for jets. Since others couldn't get down the roads to the ferry, The city decided to close Denny and Cherry. Police cars and firetrucks were highly impaired, Citizens got no impression that Mayor Salt Nick cared. A house that caught fire, or a rape in progress, Was less important than "going green" in Seattle - I guess! An accident closed the I-90 bridge, And people couldn't drive down Phinney Ridge. Shovels, and salt had just flown off the shelf, And I laughed when I heard him in spite of myself. A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, He tried to convey we had nothing to dread; He spoke many words, but did little work, Yet Seattle knew they should never have elected this jerk. Then thumbing his nose at his citizens' plight, He turned to the crowd and exclaimed "We've done right!", And then to his limo refusing to yield, He left to get solar panels installed on Qwest Field. But I heard him exclaim, as he skidded past me "Happy Christmas to all, heck, I give myself a 'B' ". from my friend Lisa.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Depression? We have no idea

During the Great Depression of 1929 to 1940 there was no waiting line at Outback Steakhouse, which we saw last week. Everyone was hungry!
What about now? Current unemployment has climbed from under 5 per cent to 7 per cent. During the real depression it was over 15 per cent for over 4 years; spend years above 20 per cent and reached 25 per cent. It didn't get below 15 per cent until World War II. FDR's takeover of the economy didn't end it, but prolonged it!
Via Carpe Diem, the blog of Prof M. J. Perry

Canada's health care monopoly: A Short Course in Brain Surgery

Many people want the dream of taking all health-care decisions away from individuals and leaving them to the "single payer" government. And no one is uninsured. But look at Canada. That benefit comes at the high cost of denied care. The high-tech, higher-cost procedures are burdened by long waiting times and DENIAL. When the caring bureaucrats says "No," it doesn't mean the system won;t pay for it, but You Can't Have the Surgery. Just plain NO. Canadians have a safety outlet - the US border. Every day Canadians drive or fly into the US and pay for their own care - that Canada denied. The key factor is often time. In many cases the bureaucrats will eventually approve, then the wait of weeks or months for the surgeon and facility to be available. If the patient survives, she gets the care. But many don't survive. On The Fence Films :: A Short Course in Brain Surgery:
In A Short Course in Brain Surgery, filmmaker Stuart Browning shows the callousness of "single-payer", government-run health care systems as practiced in Ontario, Canada. His film highlights the plight of Lindsay McCreith, an Ontario man with a cancerous brain tumor who went to Buffalo, NY to receive the timely medical care that is rationed in his home country.
It's only a few minutes. Watch it.

Chicago Politics: From Scandal to Surrealism to Burris

Too strange. Blago's pick for US Senate: Roland Burris. Radio host David Boze at Roland Burris, Blago's pick for United States Senator, has built a monument to himself...literally. The mausoleum he built for himself in Oak Woods Cemetery on Chicago's South Side includes a bold text "TRAIL BLAZER" and a list of "MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS" just in case anyone walking through the graveyard wants to see what a powerful man he was...or is since he's still alive. AWESOME WEIRD