Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Global warming and Bangladesh - we found another myth

Another big chunk falls out of the United Nations' wall. The IPCC's report is being found to be based, not on top-quality peer-reviewed research, but on anecdotes, students' term papers and popular press accounts. Bangladesh is said to be in trouble. Wrong! Investors Business Daily
According to the 2007 report, melting glaciers and polar ice would lead to rising sea levels and just a three-foot rise would flood 17% of the low-lying country of Bangladesh by 2050 and create 20 million refugees. Now comes a study from the Dhaka-based Center for Environment and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) that says the IPCC forgot to factor in the 1 billion tons of sediment carried by Himalayan rivers such as the Ganges and the Brahmaputra into Bangladesh every year. CEGIS director Maminul Haque Sarker told AFP that "studies on the effects of climate change in Bangladesh, including those quoted by the IPCC, did not consider the role of sediment in the growth and adjustment process of the country's coast and rivers to the sea level rise." Even if sea levels rose according to IPCC predictions, Sarker says, natural sediment deposits would cancel the effect of any rise.
They forgot the dirt. The article goes on to cite evidence that the sea level has not risen during the past 50 years.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Their big rush messed up the soda-pop tax

When you pass the final budget of many pages in a big rush violating your own rules - no time for it - you sometimes get something wrong. The soda-pop tax. Don't you just feel sorry for our legislature? They work so hard for so long that they just can't take time and energy for hearings on the details of the budget. They can't even let it be on the shelf long enough for all their members - or the public! - to read it. They went to extraordinary lengths this session to avoid even the normal daylight in the process. They held hearings with a few hours notice when the text of the bill was not available, violating Senate Rule 45. They scheduled hearings when the bill text was not available before the hearing began. They held the hearing for a bill that hadn't been introduced. SB 6835 was passed with only a title, no text, by the Senate Ways and Means Committee on February 9. Jason Mercier at WPC (pdf) This link details several of these actions. And they passed an amendment to a nonexistent law. EFF WA Heroic, eh? But this is inside politics, they say. No one will notice. What could possibly go wrong? They messed up one - so far - of their beloved tax increases. The soda pop tax proposal brought cries of pain from the in-state industry. So they were exempted. Supposed to be. But our Democrat leadership - aren't they smarter than us? - didn't know enough about the industry to properly exempt our industry and the final budget does not. Just one hearing would have disclosed the problem. After the budget was passed, but before it was signed, the error was discovered. Even House leader Frank Chopp asked Christine Gregoire to line-item veto this tax. Gregoire signed the budget Friday without vetoing the pop tax. After all, it would cut $38.1 million in revenue and another $35.3 million if it also affects bottled water. Washington State has the details:
Bottlers rushed to the Capitol the moment they sensed danger. They staged a rally on the Capitol steps the final Saturday of the session, and the hundreds of blue-shirted Pepsi employees and red-shirted Coca-Cola workers for once outnumbered the green and the purple shirts of the state employees. ... House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, came out to the Capitol steps and told the crowd that lawmakers thought their jobs were important. She said they’d found a way to help the mom-and-pop bottling operations around the state. Just two hours before, House and Senate negotiators had released the final version of their tax bill for public inspection, and it contained an exemption written especially for them. Every bottler would be exempted from tax on the first $10 million in sales. The House passed the bill a few hours later. All’s well that ends well, right? Just one problem. Most of the small bottlers don’t actually do any bottling. No one in the Legislature knew.
So the tax hits the local industry. This is just one cost of our Legislature intentionally removing their process's transparency. What other costs? The trust of the public...

Monday, April 26, 2010

No evidence on N-word after a month

Congressman John Lewis claimed that March 21, the day Obama's health care takeover passed, he, Rep. Andre Carson, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., and other black congressmen had the N-word shouted at them as they passed through a crowd outside the US Capitol building. But the evening news reporting this showed no video. Where is the tape? Andrew Breitbart offered $10,000, then upped it to $100,000, for a single video recording of the claim. Congressman Lewis got real quiet. Sound Politics My follow up on April 17 After a month the accusers are very quiet. Where is their video? Where is Rep. Andre Carson - the first accuser? Where is Honorable John Lewis - the big-name megaphone? Last month they were saying we need a dialogue about racism. OK. Let's have it now. Come out of hiding. Andrew Breitbart follows up. He has collected videos so he can reconstruct what happened.
Not only is the audio devoid of any racial slur, but the scene at Cannon clearly shows the congressmen coming down the steps completely unobstructed, and with a clear path to the Capitol. And, when we juxtapose the audio accusation Rep.Carson made moments after the alleged event occurred with actual video footage of the moment Rep. Carson claims he first heard the racial slur, it is as plain as day that Congressman Carson was not isolated by a mob and facing a racist throng that could conceivably hurl rocks at him. As you can see for yourself.
Honorable John Lewis, where are you?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

South Park bravery and O'Reilly cowardice

The South Park cartoon show on Comedy Central was brave enough to poke fun at the Islamic extremists. Those are the ones who if you say they are violent will say you are wrong and threaten to kill you. But the program was watered down. And who stood with the creators? Which bold protector of free speech in the entertainment industry? None. In the news media? How about brave Bill O'Reilly? Wash Examiner
... For rejecting both the threat of violence and the emotional blackmail emanating from Islam over critiquing Islam's prophet, the two "South Park" creators deserve a medal. "They're courageous -- no doubt that they are," said Bill O'Reilly of Fox's "O'Reilly Factor" this week. He was discussing the Islamic death threats against Parker and Stone that, naturally, followed the recent "South Park" Muhammad episode. The threats came in a jihadist video (caption: "Help Us Remove the Filth") portraying the writer-producers as likely victims of Islamic violence along with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Salman Rushdie, Geert Wilders, Kurt Westergaard and Lars Vilks. A photo of the slain body of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, his head nearly cut off on an Amsterdam, Netherlands, street in 2004 by a jihadist assassin, served as an example. Rather than praise Parker's and Stone's courage, however, O'Reilly went on to disparage their judgment. "Was it the smart thing to do in light of the Danish cartoonist and van Gogh?" he asked. "It's harmless to me," he continued about the episode in question. "But if you are a hard-core jihadist, any mention of Muhammad in any kind of way, particularly if you're poking fun at him, is a capital offense." According to whose law, Bill -- Islam's or ours? Or is our law now Islamic? Those are the question citizens of the Western world need to hear discussed. But not on The O'Reilly Factor. "See, I would have advised them not to do it," O'Reilly continued, "because the risk is higher than the reward." One reason there is such a high "risk" is because media people such as O'Reilly left Westergaard and now the "South Park" creators, as Parker put it, "out to dry." All media in America should have reproduced Westergaard's cartoon, just as all media in American should now applaud Parker and Stone for their defense of free speech against Sharia.
No free speech for Big Bill unless there is a "reward." He conveniently hides behind "is it safe?" Bill, you don't favor censorship, do you?

Oregon Coast

We are on the central Oregon Coast just north of Newport. Will report.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

This income tax is for you

Initiative 1077 is a tax increase. They claim it to be a reform for fairness. But supporters also say it is an increase. Seattle Times
WEA President Mary Lindquist said the tax proposal is "a welcome step" that would restore $700 million in education spending that was cut by the Legislature. Another powerful union, the Service Employees International Union, is also expected to help fund the I-1077 campaig
Bill Gates's income tax is "just for the rich." Fooled you. It won't raise enough money, since they always need more and more. So the Legislature will move the line for being "rich" lower and lower. Until it gets you. But Mr. Gates Sr. is sure the Legislature would never change his masterpiece:
I-1077 proponents said they have no intention of imposing an income tax on individual taxpayers whose incomes are below $200,000.... Gates acknowledged the Legislature has the authority to modify or repeal initiatives after two years and has done so many times. But he said he would be "astonished" if lawmakers unilaterally expanded the scope of an income tax.
Where has he been?
"I just don't believe that," said Paul Guppy, research director of the conservative Washington Policy Center. "Every other tax — and I could cite many examples — has started out with a low rate and then gone up from there. The federal income tax started out at 1 percent."
And the federal income tax started on only the very rich. Now part of your paycheck is held back for it. Richard Davis also comments in Everett Herald.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chocolate for your heart

It's good for you. EurekAlert
Easter eggs and other chocolate may be good for you – at least in small quantities and preferably if it's dark chocolate – according to research that shows just one small square of chocolate a day can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. The study is published online today (Wednesday 31 March) in the European Heart Journal [1]. Researchers in Germany followed 19,357 people, aged between 35 and 65, for at least ten years and found that those who ate the most amount of chocolate – an average of 7.5 grams a day – had lower blood pressure and a 39% lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to those who ate the least amount of chocolate – an average of 1.7 grams a day. The difference between the two groups amounts to six grams of chocolate: the equivalent of less than one small square of a 100g bar. Dr Brian Buijsse, a nutritional epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition, Nuthetal, Germany, who led the research said: "People who ate the most amount of chocolate were at a 39% lower risk than those with the lowest chocolate intakes. To put it in terms of absolute risk, if people in the group eating the least amount of chocolate (of whom 219 per 10,000 had a heart attack or stroke) increased their chocolate intake by six grams a day, 85 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 10,000 people could be expected to occur over a period of about ten years. If the 39% lower risk is generalised to the general population, the number of avoidable heart attacks and strokes could be higher because the absolute risk in the general population is higher."[2] However, he warned that...
There's always something.

Oregon coast in a 19-foot RV

Brian Cantwell of the Seattle Times and his wife spent a week RVing the entire Oregon coast to Brookings and back. Overview Seattle Times There are daily reports. His summary: Pros and Cons BTW: we are going to spend the next eight days on the Oregon coast. Not doing the entire coast and not in an RV or camping. One night in Astoria and seven at Otter Rock between Lincoln City and Newport.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Photo of the day - the Iceland volcano lightning

Wow. Look at this shot of Eyjafjallajokull Volcano in Iceland. Telegraph (UK)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blog maintenance

I am making some layout changes. My blog will remain available, but you might see it while it is at in-between states. Update: All done. It will never be the same. But I like the archives having the newest first, versus the oldest.

McGinn versus traffic relief

I have an idea. When we are replacing a bridge built 47 years ago let's not increase the capacity for automobile traffic. This will force masses of people to use rail. And at the same time making this change would delay building the new bridge and prolong the current traffic pain. Furthermore, it will have to be wider and have worse impact on the Montlake neighborhood. Elect this guy mayor of Seattle - Mayor McGinn. McGinn's ideas - Seattle P-I No, says Seattle Times Editorial This is a chance for leadership by Christine Gregoire.

Congress scores another own-goal with ObamaCare

Daily Caller
Congress may be fined tens of millions of dollars a year under its own health-care law, in part because the bill dumps members of Congress and their staffs from their current health-care plans. But no one really knows for sure what the bill does, not even the experts. For instance, exactly who qualifies as an “employer”—and therefore is subject to fines up to $3,000 per employee—is undefined in the bill. If Congress were subject to a $3,000 fine for each of its employees, it would need to shell out approximately $50 million each year to Uncle Sam. Congress’s research arm, the Congressional Research Service (CRS), informally confirmed the possibility to Republican aides. ... “That’s the irony — here we may be the first major employer in the country to be fined for not providing proper health insurance for our employees,” Rep. Dan Lungren, California Republican, told The Daily Caller while laughing. “Isn’t that contrary to the very premise of the bill?” State and local governments may be on the hook for the fines, but unlike for members of Congress and their staffs, the health-care bill doesn’t specifically dump them from their health-care plans. Before Congress incurs any fines, a complex series of events would be required to happen under the law. Generally speaking, an lower-tier aide — one not making a six-figure salary like some 2,000 House employees — would have to apply for government subsidies. The way the law works is that employers incur a $2,000 or $3,000 fine for each employee, depending on the circumstances, if only one of their employees obtains the subsidies. So one lowly staff assistant could think he’s just getting some health-care help, while actually triggering a $50 million annual fine for Congress.
No one deserves it more. They just had to pass ObamaCare in a panic, because the facts would get out if they took time to read it. But who will pay? You and me. Via Reason Magazine

Sunday, April 18, 2010

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Antarctica Cruise Daily Log

The Roys/Hebron family of four traveled to Antarctica on a 10-day cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina starting January 30, 2010 on Corinthian II operated by the luxury cruise line Travel Dynamics International. During the trip we bought a nice little log book which I wrote daily entries in. The following is pretty straight from the handwritten with some fragments turned into sentences and a few lectures placed by looking at the daily schedule (which several times changed due to weather or other events.) Each entry gives credit for its photographs and graphics. Antarctica Log - Day One - Ushuaia Red arrow at top of map. Antarctica Cruise Day Two Drake Passage first day Antarctica Cruise Day 3 Drake Passege second day and Elephant Island Purple arrow at middle right Antarctica Cruise Day 4 Antarctic Peninsula Brown Bluff and Joinville Island Green arrow at right and a bit above the blue arrow at right Antarctica Cruise Day 5 Cuverville Island and Neko Harbor Blue and purple arrows at lower center

* Mother-in-law Ruth went ashore and watched the gentoo penguins march by.

Antarctica Cruise Day 6 Vernadsky Station and Pleneau Berg Tour Blue and purple arrows at lower left Antarctica Cruise Day 7 Petermann Island and Port Lockroy Yellow and blue arrows at lower left Antarctica Cruise Day 8 Hannah Point and Deception Island Whalers Bay Green and yellow arrows at upper center

Update 3/8/2010: See the poem fellow traveler Bob Elroy placed in a comment on the Day 8 entry.

Antarctica Cruise Day 9 Drake Passage returning day one Antarctica Cruise Day 10 Drake Passage past Cape Horn Antarctica Cruise Ends in Ushuaia New May 10 - Map with location balloons - try it I am pushing this to the top to make it easier to find. Original post date: Feb. 19, 2010 The graphics are by Corinthian II crew/staff. Roys/Hebron group photo by me. Click to enlarge.

Queen Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi is the Queen of the United States. If you don't believe it, ask her. The size of jet used by previous speakers of the House were inadequate. She demanded a larger jet. And that's not enough. Some weekends she reserves its use, then lets it sit idle, while preventing its use by others. Queen? [Looking for link. Regard as rumor for now.] And not just for herself, but for her children and grandchildren. She went to a Demo fundraiser in Florida Friday and the security detail outnumbered the 18 guests present. The Palm Beach locals report:
When she showed up for a private dinner in Palm Beach, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi walked into the home of businessman and Democratic moneyman George Cloutier with a security detail 12 strong, mostly US Capitol Police. There were four additional Palm Beach cops. And two sheriff’s deputies. Oh, yes! Two police boats in the Atlantic Ocean, across the street from Cloutier’s house. And with 18 guests at the dinner last weekend, the wingding had fewer guests than lawmen!
The quoted text above has lots of links in the original, so you can verify if its content.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

No one has collected $100,000 for N-word evidence

Congressman John Lewis claimed that March 21, the day Obama's health care takeover passed, he, Emanuel Cleaver, Jesse Jackson, Jr., and other black congressmen had the N-word shouted at them as they passed through a crowd outside the US Capitol building. But the evening news reporting this showed no video. Where is the tape? Andrew Breitbart offered $10,000, then upped it to $100,000, for a single video recording of the claim. Congressman Lewis got real quiet. Sound Politics Another witness was found - Rep. Heath Schuler of North Carolina - reported by Associated Press. Did AP talk to their source to verify the story? No. But James Taranto did: James Taranto at WSJ
It may be the most celebrated missing recording since Watergate: the nonexistent or unaccounted-for video of the tea-party protesters at the Capitol who three black congressmen claim yelled racial slurs at them on March 20, the eve of ObamaCare's enactment. Jesse Washington, who covers the race beat for the Associated Press, tries to get to the bottom of things. Although he falls well short of establishing the truth or falsehood of the allegation, he comes up with some interesting findings along the way. First, there turns out to have been at least one report of a corroborating witness to the alleged slurs. Washington notes that in its March 23 edition, the Hendersonville (N.C.) Times-News published this interview with Heath Shuler, the local congressman, a Democrat who voted against ObamaCare: [quote] Shuler was walking with Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, an African-American, toward the Capitol building when the crowd starting yelling racial epithets at Cleaver, who was a civil rights activist in the 1970s. They even spat at him. "It was the most horrible display of protesting I have ever seen in my life," Shuler said. Multiple members of Congress reported racial epithets being shouted at African-American members over the weekend. "It breaks your heart that the way they display their anger is to spit on a member and use that kind of language," Shuler said. [end quote] But when we phoned Shuler's office this afternoon, press secretary Julie Fishman told us the local reporter misunderstood. According to Fishman, Shuler's comments to the Times-News referred to the general tenor of the protests, not to the black congressmen's specific allegations. Fishman said that Shuler was not walking with Cleaver and did not hear the "N-word." ...
There are videos of the event. They just don't show what John Lewis claimed.

Friday, April 16, 2010

People want limited government and liberty - tea parties

There were tea party gatherings around the state Thursday. In Olympia: There were 2,500 to 3,000 at the Capitol. Seattle Times reported "several hundred" gathered at Westlake Park in Seattle. A good crowd in Everett. I was at the Bellevue event. I estimate the crowd at City Hall was at least 300. The crowd was respectful, responding to the speakers' calls for limited spending, lower taxes, less government intrusion and end to one-party rule in Olympia. There were signs on all the big topics with plenty of humor. Against ObamaCare. Against the Mom in Tennis Shoes Patty Murray. "Don't tread on me" flags. A crew from KIRO 7 spent at least five minutes interviewing an over-65 couple with a sign "Cut taxes, not deals." Spokane had at least 3,000. Boise reported 2,000. The photo. This woman was dragging this huge ball on a chain labeled "Tax [something]" at Bellevue.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

State can't afford accountability

A million here $10 million there... But Washington can't afford $11,000 for accountability of how the millions and billions are spent. Well... Washington can afford it, but our elected Legislature lead by Sen. Lisa Brown, Rep. Frank Chopp and Christine Gregoire won't pay the pittance. They don't want accountability for how your money is spent. Evergreen Freedom Foundation
Government accountability was a casualty in this year's budget crisis. The legislature, which was frequently criticized this session for its lack of transparency, had a final flip of the bird for the public. The legislature's operating budget cut the funding for the Attorney General's Public Records Exemptions Accountability Committee (also known as the "Sunshine Committee"), which makes recommendations to the legislature for making government more open. There was talk in the legislature of eliminating the committee altogether, but they settled on a funding cut. The budget eliminated $11,000 that had been budgeted for the committee's 2011 operations. Janelle Guthrie, the AG's communications director, told me the AG's office will cover the costs from other parts of its budget.
It's so hard to find money for something you don't want. This is in addition to killing I-960's provisions to shine light the effects of tax increases and who votes for them. Sound Politics - Seattle Times

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blog migration! Will affect you

Blogger (Google) is ending the method I have been using to maintain the files in this blog. I will be migrating to their new method this week. This change will involve the blog being at a new URL within my domain. So your bookmarks will have to change. There might be redirection of the old for a while, but don't depend on it. If there is a problem I doubt it will affect current and new content. But old content, especially links to photos might be a problem.

Tax Day tea parties

Thursday April 15 come out and tell elected officials that you don't like raising taxes to pay for irresponsible spending - green buildings that don't save energy, pay increases during the recession and ever-increasing costs for every program with little consideration of alternate approaches like contracting out state services. Tax increases raise the cost of doing business, discourage investment and cost jobs. Washington State Tea Party Movement lists events in Olympia noon to 3:00 Bellevue 11:30 to 2:00 Seattle 5:30 to 7:30 Also Anacortes, Bellingham, Everett/Snohomish County, Moses Lake, Mt. Vernon, Okanogan, Prosser, Sequim, Spokane, Tri-Cities/Richland, and Walla Walla. Note: Clarkston/Lewiston and Yakima had events on April 10. See WS Tea Party Movement for details.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Debt and tax increases for what? Updated

Update 4/14: The legislature reduced the size of the "green schools" funding. What is so essential that our Legislature in desperation was forced, forced to raise many taxes and go farther into debt? - Tax increases that will increase the cost of business and cost jobs. First, the debt. This isn't just spending more than we are taking in, but choosing to go further into debt. You thought our Legislature had to balance the budget every year. I thought so too. But they didn't. HB 2561 will create $850 $500 million in new debt to pay for energy retrofits at schools in Washington. Given the past record of "green" projects like this for $850 $500 million in debt we can expect energy savings of maybe $200 million, maybe zero. Remember the track record of Seattle's new City Hall? Seattle P-I
Seattle's new City Hall was designed with the environment in mind, using the most energy-efficient technologies. ... It also uses 15 percent to 50 percent more electricity some months than the older, larger building it replaced, according to Seattle City Light utility bills. [Some months use about the same amount.]
So there goes $850 $500 million with the net benefit of bragging rights at conferences. And it's a debt burden on our future. What else? State employees pay about 11% of the cost of their health care. After this belt tightening they will be paying ... less than 12%. Many state employees get pay increases despite - or causing - the deficit that "required" raising taxes. The unions say those aren't pay increases, but step increases. They raise the employees pay. Isn't that an increase? [I haven't been able to verify if this is in the not-yet-final budget, though it was in every precedent.] Sound Politics 3/19/10 Priorities? Richard Davis asks why our Washington leaders are on auto pilot when so much has changed. They should be picking apart state programs to root out those that once made sense, but no longer do. So they can spend our limited funds on our current priorities. In Tacoma News Tribune:
... I’m thinking about lawmakers’ capacity to fool themselves about the state’s fiscal future. The inability to confront the new economic realities, of course, took the Legislature into extra innings, with most of the players picking flowers in the outfield. ... My impatience stems from this: The longest and deepest recession since World War II has yet to produce a fundamental reappraisal of the services state and local governments can realistically afford in the coming decade. Instead, the majority continues to treat the budget crisis as a spasm, a temporary contraction that will soon pass. Rather than reset, lawmakers have again bet on the come. Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, recently released a report identifying $8 billion in future costs stemming from budget decisions made by the 2009 and 2010 legislatures. While suspending the Initiative 728 “class size” initiative, lawmakers promise to restore it with interest next year. Ditto the I-732 cost-of-living pay hikes for teachers. And their failure to adequately fund pension obligations increases costs in coming years. As they duck current obligations, they commit themselves to new spending in the future. Among them: more taxpayer support for state employee health care, expanded early learning programs, and increased state aid to schools with low property tax bases.
Davis concludes:
State government is doing too much and paying too much to do it. It can’t go on forever. So when will it stop?

Friday, April 09, 2010

New course on conservatism at U Virginia

Students demanded it and made it happen at UVA. Virginia Gazette CHARLOTTESVILLE -- Conservative college students across the country are met with faculty and administration not simply in disagreement with them but openly hostile to their principles. But after a year's struggle, a group of students working with at the University of Virginia have successfully placed a class on conservatism in their school's catalogue, and they expect the 40 seats available to quickly be filled.
 "The idea originally came about when we found out that our university annually sponsors a class called Modern Liberalism," said Wes Siler, a student activist leader at UVA who worked with fellow students Rick Eberstadt, and Keenan Davis to start the for-credit course. "We thought, 'Why not balance the spectrum and have a class devoted to Modern Conservatism as well? 
As news of the course spread on campus, the student planners received responses from 11 professors eager to support their endeavors. The class is currently scheduled to seat 40 students, but based on early interest the limit may be raised to 100.
 "More than 40 students quickly joined a Facebook group we made for the course – and this happened before we began any official promotion. There's clearly a high demand from many students on campus for an education in conservatism," said Eberstadt.
 Over the summer, the three students plan to encourage students at other universities to host their own class on conservatism, contacting them through, an online hub for conservative and libertarian student activists.
 " has been very instrumental in our success," said Eberstadt. "The Campus Reform staff has provided us solid support and guidance throughout our fight, and we hope to work with them to make this a national movement."
 The students are optimistic about these plans based on their success at UVA. "There is a huge need for students to hear the different perspectives of conservative belief and the ideas that are normally disregarded in the university classroom," said Siler. "We are changing this at our university, and we hope to inspire students around the country to do the same."
 The course will be worth two credits and meet once per week. The syllabus features a wide variety of authors, including Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk, Fredrick Hayek, Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush. These authors and public figures, the students say, represent a canon of political and social thought that does not receive serious consideration in much of academia today. ...

Gregoire and Demos helping Idaho even more

Christine Gregoire and her molasses Democrats finally agreed on their beloved tax increases after 26 days. Though EFF WA sees signs of continued discontent. And who benefits? Idaho.
A business-and-occupation tax surcharge would raise the single largest amount of money, about $246 million through June 2011. It would increase from 1.5 percent to 1.8 percent the B&O tax paid by service businesses, with exemptions for hospitals and research and development. A tax credit for small businesses would be doubled. Seattle Times
Increase the taxes that hurt businesses. That will reduce the creation of jobs. That must be their thinking? What did they do about their increases in spending and pay increases for state employees during those 26 days? Nothing, of course. Gov. Otter of Idaho didn't expect more help so soon. Actually, he did, but still can't believe it. He welcomed Areva, a $3 billion plant and up to 400 jobs in March.

ObamaCare: You are fired, Stupak

Harry Reid is telling the press that he feels the love since he and Pelosi broke their own rules to push ObamaCare through. Rep. Bart Stupak is feeling the heat, so he has decided to spend more time with his family. He was Obama's hero who traded his pro-life principles for a meaningless executive order; the law of Congress overrules an executive order countering it. Now we know what "prolife Democrat" means = a vote for max-abortion Boss Pelosi. WADC Post
Stupak is expected to formalize it at a press conference at 12:30 pm in Marquette, Mich. Sources familiar with Stupak's thinking describe him as exhausted and burned out from the long fight over health care in which he emerged as the leading voice of pro-life Democrats wary about the possibility that the legislation would allow federal funds to be spent on abortions. Stupak eventually voted for the final bill after Obama signed an executive order re-affirming the idea that no funds from the legislation would go toward abortions. In the wake of that vote he was treated as a hero within the Democratic caucus, but the reaction toward him from activists on the right and left was significantly more vitriolic.
Who is next? Via Patterico.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Day trip to Whidbey Island

When people asked me what I would do when I retired I always responded "travel." "But that's expensive." Yes, traveling to Argentina and Antarctica is expensive, but that's not what I meant. I enjoy poking around. I enjoy finding obscure walks, especially beach access on Puget Sound and the other salt-water bodies around Seattle and I just enjoy walking and being outside. Whidbey Island - This is what I classify as a "one-day destination trip." Puget Sound has lots of places worthy of a day for the kind of explorer I am. One day and about a half tank of gas, lunch and, when available, admission to the local historical museum. We decided to go on Wednesday because it was the only day with a decent weather forecast, as of Sunday night. Well, Monday and Tuesday had sunspots and little or no rain; Thursday also. But Wednesday came out the worst, not the best. Mostly a high, dull overcast with rain as we were driving returning home. We drove to Mukilteo to take the ferry to Clinton at the south end of Whidbey Island. It is a shorter run than the cross-Puget Sound ferries, so it is both cheaper and more frequent. There is no need to look at the schedule, it is so frequent; just go. On the crossing to the starboard/right side (north) it was just a dull gray. To the port/left side it was more interesting because there were white caps on the water. Langley is a picturesque waterfront town very worthy of the stop. But we bypassed it because we were focussing on our hike. We took a scenic longer route by going past the Keystone ferry landing and Fort Casey on highway 20. (It ends at the ferry.) This give additional salt water view versus staying inland and doesn't add much distance. Fort Casey is one of the coastal gun emplacements from around 1920 and one of the best preserved. We have been there many times and bypassed it today. Continuing north just before reaching highway 20 we turned left/west for about a half mile then went south to Ebey's Landing. Ebey's Landing requires a whole line for its ownership designation - part state park, part Nature Conservancy, part national historic reserve and a bit of it is privately owned. It is one of the choicest beach walks in the Puget Sound area. It directly faces the Straight of Juan de Fuca and so get more wind and wave action than most areas. Plus is has a 230-foot high bluff. So your hike can be a great combination of the grand view while walking the bluff plus walking at the edge of the waves on the return. The weather stayed dull gray with a considerable wind. We didn't do the loop, but hiked the bluff to about 1/4 mile short of connecting to the beach trail, then retraced our steps. Today I preferred to double the high view time over walking the beach. Distance 3 plus miles. Time: one hour 15 minutes. Then we headed north less than five miles to Coupeville seeking hot coffee and dessert. Being a cloudy April Wednesday some businesses were closed. But someone directed us to the building on the end of the old dock. It has a "espresso/marine supply" store that was really espresso, snacks and gifts/trinkets, including some interesting spices and herbs. Coupeville is as picturesque as Langley. It has always been one of our waterfront favorites. We drove around the end of Penn Cove, seeing huge rafts that host famous Penn Cove mussels growing. Continuing a few miles to Oak Harbor. It's an OK town, but being military it is very utilitarian - more fast food and fewer business that take the extra time and extra care we like. Continuing north we did a short walk at Deception Pass bridge. The state park is Washington's most popular (and very large), but we skipped it today. We also bypassed Anacortes, which is our current favorite. We will make other day trips there. We made a quick pass through the tulip fields just west of Mount Vernon in the Skagit River delta. We didn't go to one of the destination mega tulip farms, due to the dull weather. So we had time for a brief exploratory trip to the Skagit Wildlife Refuge. We saw snow geese from a distance while driving through; they weren't close to the roads we were traveling. But we did see... it looked like a white tulip field, but some of the tulips took off and flew! This was on Fir Island, an island in the Skagit River delta, just west of Conway. Conway is just west of I-5. Soon we were on our way zooming home. And soon in the rain, though it never interrupted the many times we got out of the car. The photos: Ebey's Landing showing the cultivated field and edge of the bluff. The Couplville dock where we had espresso and pastry. Click to enlarge.

Senator Murray won't defend untrue attack by Democrat Senatorial Committee

The Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee aka DSCC created a web site for the sole purpose of attacking Dino Rossi, who is not a candidate for any office. The charges they make are untrue, according to the people who investigated the issues. Where is the Mom in Tennis Shoes, Patty Murry? Distinguished Senator Patty Murray is the number 4 ranking Democrat in the US Senate and former head of DSCC. She has some clout there. If Patty will tell them to shut up they will. Pudge at Sound Politics has followed this whole mess and tears apart the DSCC attack: Murray and Goldy mum about lies about Rossi by DSCC:
The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC), of which Senator Patty Murray is the fourth ranking member, and HA Seattle, run by our friend Goldy, have been spreading the inane claim that Dino Rossi has been involved in "shady" dealings and transactions. Of course, none of it backed up by a single fact, and attorney James Rigby's letter to HA puts all of the "shady" nonsense to rest. The letter can be summed up with: "if you have evidence no one else has, then provide it; otherwise, you're simply making it up." Here's the money quote: "I know more about Maestro and Heide's shady dealings than probably anybody alive. You don't know what you are talking about when you assert that Dino Rossi has any connection to their wrongdoings. Your tactic is guilt by association plain and simple." Rossi sent a letter to Murray asking her to ask her DSCC to pull back. She didn't respond, and chose to lie instead, saying "This is an issue between Mr. Rossi and the DSCC." If Murray were not highly ranked in the DSCC, that might fly, but she is obviously heavily involved in what the DSCC is doing. The DSCC also lied, saying "Significant questions remain unanswered surrounding your business deals, associates and what you have been doing since you last waged a campaign for public office." But no such questions exist, and if they do, the DSCC certainly isn't asking them. Instead they are hoping that by throwing enough insinuations against the wall, something will stick...
Why the silence from Patty?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

You will be able to pay more taxes

You want tax increases? Why make others pay when you are the high-tax fan? Soon you will be able pay more taxes out of your own pocket. Senator Don Benton introduced a bill to allow voluntary paying of taxes. [Apologies to US Senate candidate Benton for misspelling his name, then leaving for the day, unable to correct it.] Washington Policy Center
With Senate and House Democrats struggling over the details of their $800 million plan to tax Washingtonians more during a recession, one lawmaker has introduced a voluntary revenue proposal. Sen. Benton today introduced SB 6891: Creating the taxpayer choice act. From the bill: "The legislature with this act intends to provide an option for taxpayers to voluntarily contribute more to state government. The legislature recognizes that citizens who desire to contribute more to finance state government should have a convenient way to do so and therefore the taxpayer choice account is created in the state treasury." If adopted, Washington would join these eight states with similar voluntary contribution accounts for those who believe they are under-taxed.
For all the tax-loving people I have known, I have never known one to pay one extra cent in taxes. Sound Politics 3/31/10

Five things we have learned about ObamaCare since it passed

David Fredosso has the list. With digging we will find many more surprises. Wash Examiner
"[W]e have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., famously said that about President Obama's health care reform package. She was right. We are just finding out what was contained within that Obamacare law that Obama signed weeks ago. Here are five things we've learned so far: One: No sooner had Obamacare passed than the White House discovered that someone goofed. Despite all of Obama's promises and talking points, Obamacare as passed by Congress does not require insurers to cover children with expensive pre-existing medical conditions. Immediately, the White House got an assurance from the insurers. After demonizing them for months as callous profiteers on others' misery (in fact, the entire industry is barely profitable), Obama now tells Americans that they can trust health insurance companies to do the right thing out of the goodness of their hearts. Two: State governments discovered that they are no longer just required to guarantee payment for indigent patients' care under Medicaid. Obamacare changes Medicaid law so that now states must also guarantee treatment to the poor. This is a thorny issue: Many doctors refuse to see Medicaid patients because the program doesn't pay enough for them to break even. (In some states, payments to doctors have been delayed for months or years.) Some cash-strapped states expect this new definition to spawn court challenges, which will ultimately force them to pay exorbitantly high prices to doctors and hospitals for their existing patients. Three: Even as Medicaid's costs increase because of the above, so will the number of Medicaid patients under Obamacare's coverage provisions. Thanks to the "Cornhusker Kickback" -- the special Nebraska provision that was extended to every state in the final version of the bill -- the federal taxpayer is on the hook for 90 percent of the new patients' expenses. So remember those rosy budget projections about Obamacare reducing the deficit, or at least not costing too much? Forget it. Four: Douglas Shulman, commissioner for the Internal Revenue Service, announced this week at the National Press Club that Obamacare means he can take your tax refund from you. Obamacare requires Americans to purchase insurance, but contains no serious enforcement mechanisms. So, Shulman said, the IRS will collect penalties from those who fail to purchase "qualified" insurance by confiscating the interest-free loans that taxpayers make to the government throughout the year through employment withholding. Five: The ski-tourism industry suddenly realizes that it is endangered by Obamacare. Ski resorts must now provide health care or else pay a fine for each employee who works more than 120 days out of the year -- and many of their employees do. [end of quote]
There will be many more surprises. The monster has 2,000 pages - or 2,700 - so they hid lots of crap in it.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Guaranteed insurance - what could go wrong?

Under ObamaCare insurance companies will be required to insure everyone and despite pre-existing conditions. What could possibly go wrong? Massachussetts started a health system similar to ObamaCare about 4 years ago. But people game the system. They don't pay for insurance when they are well. When they need medical care they sign up, get the care. Then cancel the insurance. This result is what we call a "perfectly predictable surprise." * Boston Globe
Thousands of consumers are gaming Massachusetts’ 2006 health insurance law by buying insurance when they need to cover pricey medical care, such as fertility treatments and knee surgery, and then swiftly dropping coverage, a practice that insurance executives say is driving up costs for other people and small businesses. In 2009 alone, 936 people signed up for coverage with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts for three months or less and ran up claims of more than $1,000 per month while in the plan. Their medical spending while insured was more than four times the average for consumers who buy coverage on their own and retain it in a normal fashion, according to data the state’s largest private insurer provided the Globe. The typical monthly premium for these short-term members was $400, but their average claims exceeded $2,200 per month. The previous year, the company’s data show it had even more high-spending, short-term members. Over those two years, the figures suggest the price tag ran into the millions. Other insurers could not produce such detailed information for short-term customers but said they have witnessed a similar pattern. And, they said, the phenomenon is likely to be repeated on a grander scale when the new national health care law begins requiring most people to have insurance in 2014, unless federal regulators craft regulations to avoid the pitfall. “These consumers come in and get their service, and then they leave because current regulations allow them to do it,’’ said Todd Bailey, vice president of underwriting at Fallon Community Health Plan, the state’s fourth-largest insurer. The problem is, it is less expensive for consumers — especially young and healthy people — to pay the monthly penalty of as much as $93 imposed under the state law for not having insurance, than to buy the coverage year-round. This is also the case under the federal health care overhaul legislation signed by the president, insurers say.
This source those it quotes say Obamacare will allow the same irresponsible behavior. How can we afford to pay for people like this. They should pay for their own medical care. * "Perfectly predictable surprise" - I heard this term from a conservative female news analyst a few years ago; can't remember who.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Hill of Crosses in Lithuania

While watching a movie about Arthur Blessit: he visited the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania. What a remarkable place. It is a pilgrimage site about 12 km north of the city Šiauliai. In an area of about 200 yards by 70 yards there are thousands (estimated 100,000) of crosses: large, huge, small and tiny one hanging on the others. Also giant crucifixes, carvings of Lithuanian patriots, statues of the Virgin Mary and thousands of tiny effigies and rosaries have been brought here by Catholic pilgrims. It started after an uprising in 1831. Over the centuries, the place has come to signify the peaceful endurance of Lithuanian Catholicism despite the threats it faced throughout history. After the 3rd partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795, Lithuania became part of the Russian Empire. Poles and Lithuanians unsuccessfully rebelled against Russian authorities in 1831 and 1863. These two uprisings are connected with the beginnings of the hill: as families could not locate bodies of perished rebels, they started putting up symbolic crosses in place of a former hill fort. When the old political structure of Eastern Europe fell apart in 1918, Lithuania once again declared its independence. Throughout this time, the Hill of Crosses was used as a place for Lithuanians to pray for peace, for their country, and for the loved ones they had lost during the Wars of Independence. Soviet Occupation Most recently, the site took on a special significance during the years 1944–1990, when Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union. Continuing to travel to the Hill and leave their tributes, Lithuanians used it to demonstrate their allegiance to their original identity, religion and heritage. It was a venue of peaceful resistance, although the Soviets worked hard to remove new crosses (estimated over 7,000), and bulldozed the site at least three times (including attempts in 1963 and 1973).[4] There were even rumors that the authorities planned to build a dam on the nearby Kulvė River, a tributary to Mūša, so that the hill would end up under water. Credit to Wikipedia Here is a Google Earth KMZ file for it. Lithuania Hill of Crosses.kmz You must download (free) and install Google Earth to view it. When you view it in Google Earth make sure to turn on the Panoramio layer; there are dozens of photos linked over the aerial photo. If you have trouble with the Google Earth link or usage leave a comment. I haven't done such linking before.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

UN commemorates slavery but ignores Cuba

The United Nations commemorates slavery - the slavery that is historic and ended 140 years ago. But they conveniently ignore what is going on in their host country - Cuba. NY Post
Last Wednesday, a replica of the famed 19th-century slave-transport vessel Amistad concluded a 10-day tour through Cuban waters. Alas, it was not to bear witness to the political and economic repression that’s a daily reality for the Communist nation. Rather, the highlight of the UN-sponsored “educational” jaunt was the March 25 global “Day of Remembrance” for victims of the Atlantic slave trade — a date that also marked the 10th anniversary of the schooner’s launch out of Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport. During its visit to “Fidel’s Paradise,” Amistad hosted a three-hour simulcast on the history of the slave trade, connecting students in Cuban classrooms with counterparts across the Atlantic and in UN headquarters here. Well, the UN may consider itself historically aware. Too bad it’s also irony-challenged — commemorating centuries of slavery and oppression, while turning a blind eye to its modern-day manifestation just 90 miles from Florida. Sure, students learned about the slave trade — including the unknowable numbers who died during the Middle Passage transport from Africa. But how much did they learn about the countless Cubans who’ve suffered — and those who died — in the 50 years since Castro’s acension to power?
Answer, of course, is they learned nothing about what is happening today. No one has freedom and conditions are so bad that people risk their lives trying to escape. The UN always claims the moral high ground. But they ignore what is happening in front of their faces - in Cuba.

Easter - Resurrection Day

"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life..." He is risen. Click to enlarge.

Peeps Survivor

A Peeps diorama contest at the Fort Worth, Texas, Star-Telegram newspaper. Here is one example - Peeps Survivor: "The Peeps have spoken..." There are many more; follow the link. Click to enlarge.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Germans have given up on their religion of green

Germans have given up on their religion of the environment. Even prominent newspaper Der Spiegel says so. Telegraph UK
No people on earth are more righteously Green than the Germans. They built the foundations and set the tone of the modern Green movement in, ahem, the 1930s. They invented the phrase Atomkraft Nein Danke. They were the first country to allow nasty, dangerous Sixties eco-radicals to reinvent themselves as respectable politicians. They were the first place to buy, wholesale, into the solar power con, which is why so many of their rooves – especially on churches – shimmer and glow like reflective-coated crusties at a mid-Nineties rave, while the German taxpayer is ruing the day his government ever chose to subsidise (Achtung Herr Cameron!) this fantastically pointless scheme… (Hat tip: Robert Groezinger, et al) So when the Germans say “Auf Wiedersehn AGW” it really is time for the rest of the world to sit up and take notice. And that’s exactly what they just have said.
Leading newspaper Der Spiegel has done a number on AGW - one of the best and most comprehensive I’ve read in any newspaper anywhere – and it could hardly be more damning. They start with the ruined reputation of climate researcher Phil Jones:
Plagued by reports of sloppy work, falsifications and exaggerations, climate research is facing a crisis of confidence. How reliable are the predictions about global warming and its consequences? And would it really be the end of the world if temperatures rose by more than the much-quoted limit of two degrees Celsius? Life has become "awful" for Phil Jones. Just a few months ago, he was a man with an enviable reputation: the head of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, an expert in his field and the father of an alarming global temperature curve that apparently showed how the Earth was heating up as a result of anthropogenic global warming. Those days are now gone. Nowadays, Jones, who is at the center of the "Climategate" affair involving hacked CRU emails, needs medication to fall sleep. He feels a constant tightness in his chest. He takes beta-blockers to help him get through the day. He is gaunt and his skin is pallid. He is 57, but he looks much older. He was at the center of a research scandal that hit him as unexpectedly as a rear-end collision on the highway. His days are now shaped by investigative commissions at the university and in the British Parliament. He sits on his chair at the hearings, looking miserable, sometimes even trembling. The Internet is full of derisive remarks about him, as well as insults and death threats. "We know where you live," his detractors taunt. Jones is finished: emotionally, physically and professionally. He has contemplated suicide several times recently, and he says that one of the only things that have kept him from doing it is the desire to watch his five-year-old granddaughter grow up. '100 Percent Confident' One of the conclusions of his famous statistical analysis of the world's climate is that the average temperature on Earth rose by 0.166 degrees Celsius per decade between 1975 and 1998. This, according to Jones, was the clear result of his research and that of many other scientists. "I am 100 percent confident that the climate has warmed," Jones says imploringly. "I did not manipulate or fabricate any data." His problem is that the public doesn't trust him anymore. Since unknown hackers secretly copied 1,073 private emails between members of his research team and published them on the Internet, his credibility has been destroyed -- and so has that of an entire profession that had based much of its work on his research until now. Those who have always viewed global warming as a global conspiracy now feel a sense of satisfaction. The so-called climate skeptics feel vindicated, because Jones, in his written correspondence with colleagues, all of them leading members of the climate research community, does not come across as an objective scientist, but rather as an activist or missionary who views "his" data as his personal shrine and is intent on protecting it from the critical eyes of his detractors.
This is a skeptical report. They cover the "urban heat island effect:"
Critics reproach Jones for not taking one factor, in particular, sufficiently into account: the growth of urban areas. Stations that used to be rural are now in cities. And because it is always warmer in cities than outside, the temperatures measured at these stations are bound to rise. Environmental economist Ross McKitrick, one of McIntyre’s associates, examined all rapidly growing countries, in which this urban heat effect was to be expected, and found a correlation between economic growth and temperature rise. He submitted his study in time for the last IPCC report. Jones did everything he could to suppress the publication, which was critical of him. It proved advantageous to him that he had been one of the two main authors of the temperature chapter. In one of the hacked emails, he openly admitted that he wanted to keep this interfering publication out of the IPCC report at all costs, “even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”
The myth of monster storms:
The all-clear signal on the hurricane front is another setback for the IPCC. In keeping with lead author Kevin Trenberth’s predictions, the IPCC report warned that there would be more hurricanes in a greenhouse climate. One of the graphs in the IPCC report is particularly mysterious. Without specifying a source, the graph suggestively illustrates how damage caused by extreme weather increases with rising average temperatures. When hurricane expert Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado at Boulder saw the graph, he was appalled. “I would like to discover this sort of relationship myself,” he says, “but it simply isn’t supported by the facts at the moment.” Pielke tried to find out where the graph had come from. He traced it to the chief scientist at a London firm that performs risk calculations for major insurance companies. The insurance scientist claims that the graph was never meant for publication. How the phantom graph found its way into the IPCC report is still a mystery.
Der Spiegel's skepticism speaks a volume for the mind of the Germans.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Guam will tip over - Rep. Hank Johnson, D, Georgia

Newsbusters Regarding US Marines being stationed on Guam in the West Pacific: "I am concerned that the whole island will become so overpopulated it will tip over (gestures) and capsize." Despite being April 1, the Congressman is not joking. He is serious. Watch the video!

Obeying the law, Boeing? Answer to Congress

Update at bottom. Honorable Henry Waxman is irate that US corporations are obeying the law. So he has called them to Congress to answer for their actions. Boeing Co. expects to take a $150 million charge against first-quarter earnings because of recent government health-care changes. That is going to cost me. AT&T says costs of the new healthcare law for their company is $1 billion, John Deere & Co., $150 million; Caterpillar, $100 million; 3M, $90 million; AK Steel, $21 million; Valero Energy, $30 million; and most recently Prudential Financial Inc. said it will take a $100 million hit in its first quarter. Their accounting also estimated there would be thousands of lay offs, and consumer-cost increases. The disclosures, tied to a 2013 elimination of a tax break on retiree drug benefits, ultimately may shave as much as $14 billion from U.S. corporate profits, according to an estimate by benefits consultant firm Towers Watson. Human Events US corporations are required by law to report anything that impacts their bottom line or value - Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure requirements passed by Congress after the Enron scandal. Malkin So they obeyed it and are in trouble with Honorable Henry Waxman. He says it makes ObamaCare look bad. He is right about that. ObamaCare will impact our entire economy like this. It hurts, Henry.
Waxman, along with Rep. Bart Stupak (D.-Mich.), sent letters to AT&T, Verizon, Deere & Co., and Caterpillar, saying the committee wanted to hold a hearing to “examine the impact of the new law on AT&T and other large employers.” “We request your personal testimony at this hearing,” read the Waxman and Stupak letter. The letter questioned the accounting by the corporations, saying they "appear to conflict with independent analyses" showing the law would lead to a decrease in premium costs for the companies. Human Events The Democratic congressmen also requested a number of documents and explanations of accounting methods be provided to the committee by April 9
Henry says they announced these impacts now to hit back at ObamaCare. No, Henry. They acted to obey the law - passed by Congress. They are required to report negative impacts right away - can't wait. Where were you? Maybe Honorable Jim McDermott will talk some honesty into Henry. He was there too. Alt source: CNS News Update: WSJ catches distinguished Commerce Secretary Gary Locke getting it exactly backwards. He's just memorized the talking points. Cross posted at Economic Freedom.