It's Too Cold For Global Warming

The early fall warmth has fled New England for the time being, with chilly day time temps in the 40's being the rule in the northern half over the next few days. There's even the possibility of sleet or snow in the forecast for northern and central portions of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont some time in the next few days.

For the first time since last April we started a fire in the Official Weekend Pundit Woodstove. We've never had to use the woodstove this early. Usually it isn't until late October/early November that we start using it to heat The Manse. Yet here it is, the last day of September, and it's already being used.

The Farmer's Almanac has predicted a colder than normal winter in the Northeast, as well as most of the rest of the country.

The sun is experiencing an extended solar minimum (meaning minimal or no sunspot activity) and decreased luminosity. The start of next sunspot cycle is over two years overdue and solar astronomers expect this extended minimum to last for at least the next 30 years. The last time that happened we experienced a Little Ice Age.

Does anyone want to tell me about global warming again?


It's Time To Stop Campaigning And Get To Work

Unless one has been completely isolated from the various news media for the past 8 months, I think it's safe to say that more of us are wishing President Obama would get off the campaign trail he's been on since he entered politics.

Sooner or later it is going to occur to Barack Obama that he is the president of the United States. As of yet, though, he does not act that way, appearing promiscuously on television and granting interviews like the presidential candidate he no longer is. The election has been held, but the campaign goes on and on. The candidate has yet to become commander in chief.

He's still acting as if he's campaigning for office. But maybe that's because that's all he's ever done since he entered politics. He's never really performed the duties of his elected office for any great length of time before he set his sights on a higher office. But now that he's President of the United States, there is no higher office in the land for him to seek. That may be his problem.

If he doesn't get around to actually being president, then there's no way he'll win a second term come 2012 because everyone, including his supporters, will be bored to death with him due to his constant media exposure and “All we need to make the world perfect is for everyone to be like...me” attitude.

I'm already bored with his grandstanding.

It's time for him to get to work...but I'm not holding my breath.


Is Obama Really Disconnected From The Rest Of Us

As time has passed since Obama's inauguration it has become increasingly clear he is disconnected from a majority of the American people. He talks about lofty goals, yet never really gets around to explaining how to actually achieve them other than by spending a lot of money we don't have. His ideals are not those of the majority of Americans, but those of the liberal elite. He constantly makes apologies to our enemies, and snubs or insults our allies.

Obama plainly embodies that mindset of liberal elites. America is flawed. America has no distinct message or values, and its interests are entitled to no more weight than Belgium’s or Cuba’s. It’s wrongheaded to assert our national interests. We should be seeking consensus and righting the great wrongs that America has done to other nations—both its stinginess in redistributing wealth and its failure to cater to other nations’ geopolitical and psychological concerns. Russia needs reassuring. The Arabs need validation. And it’s the president’s job to lower America’s profile so as to not incur the wrath of hostile powers.

Average Americans don’t buy into any of this. They have the notion—ridiculed by Obama and his supporters—that America is unique, both in its attributes and in its role in the world. They might grow weary of the burdens and prefer shorter and less costly wars (what democratic people do not?), but the notion that we should simply go along with the crowd, avoid hurting Russian sensibilities, or accede to false historical narratives of Arab nations in contravention to our own interests and those of our allies are alien and off-putting to them. If Iran is a threat to the world, ordinary Americans expect their president to do something about it, not merely call another meeting to talk with thugs spouting genocidal nonsense.

Obama really doesn't appreciate that America is truly unique, that its society is far different from so many others because, like few others, we are a nation of diverse immigrants. We (hopefully) took the best from the cultures of all those who immigrated here and made it our own. This view doesn't fit in with his, and therefore he ignores it. He does so at his own political peril, for as it becomes evident to more Americans, more voters, that he really doesn't have our best interests at heart, support will fade and he will find he's speaking to no one but his fellow elitists. That's no way to stay in office.

How is it he can believe we would stand for his denigrating one of the greatest nations the world has ever seen? How is it he believes we will stand for his shabby treatment of our allies, the coddling of our enemies, and his contempt for our way of life, our nation's achievements, and our nation's great sacrifices over the past 233 years? How is it he believes we will put up with his wholly negative view of what America is and what he believes it should be – a weak nation kowtowing to those who are our enemies?

He believes these things because he has no real connection with a majority if Americans. He will become truly aware of them starting in 2010 and will realize his error when his 'inferiors' decide to fire him in 2012.

FairPoint On The Brink

For those contemplating the effects of the sale of some of Verizon's rural landline assets to Frontier Communications, one needs only look at what's happening with FairPoint Communications in northern New England to see it might be biting off more than it can chew.

As the October deadline gets closer for FairPoint Communications to make an interest payment on the $1.92 billion it borrowed to buy Verizon's landline assets in northern New England, FairPoint's CEO seems to be taking his company's perilous situation lightly, acting as if there will be no problem even if it ends up in bankruptcy. I doubt FairPoint needs that kind of laissez faire attitude in its chief executive.

For a man whose company may be heading into bankruptcy court any time now, FairPoint Communications CEO David Hauser exudes a surprising amount of confidence in his company and its prospects.

"I think the debt comes to a head one way or another in the next couple of months," Hauser said.

For a company that's seen its stock price plummet from $9.02 on the day of the acquisition to $0.46 per share (today's closing price) and is in danger of being de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange, the attitude is puzzling. But the state regulators of at least one of the three northern New England states has been taking it far more seriously.

The company's financial health was always a concern, New Hampshire regulators said.

"We thought that FairPoint would be overleveraged, that they would have too much debt and that they were being overly optimistic," said Meredith Hatfield of the Office of the Consumer Advocate.

FairPoint paid far too much for a business that's been on a slow decline for years as competition increased and wasn't worth what they paid for it. It's one of the quickest ways to go broke.

FairPoint has also been behind schedule for bringing broadband to underserved and unserved areas in the three states, which means it will start accruing penalties for failing to meet its targets for deployment. What's worse is the broadband technology it is deploying (DSL) can barely be considered broadband as the maximum data rates are far lower than that available through cable and Fiber To The Home. DSL is also distance limited, meaning maximum data rates are available only if the customer is close to the central office or local concentrator. The farther away, the lower the maximum data rate available. With some of the newer services available on the Internet, like streaming video and online gaming, FairPoint's DSL-based broadband won't be adequate to meet the bandwidth requirements for those services.

In short, FairPoint hasn't lived up to its promises, hasn't provided the services expected by its customers, hasn't been able to respond in a timely manner to its customers' needs and requests, and has managed to lose about 10% of its customers since it took over operations from Verizon back in February. On top of that they are on the edge of defaulting, and if reorganization fails and debt payments cannot be rescheduled, they will be forced into bankruptcy.

This is not what the consumers in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont signed on to when Verizon sold its landlines to FairPoint.


Thoughts On A Sunday

Deb, Beezlebub, and I went to Meadowbrook last night to see Alan Jackson in concert. To say it was an awesome show would do it an injustice.

I have to admit to being taken by surprise when he performed Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning. It wasn't the song that took me by surprise but my reaction to it. Too many memories of That Awful Day. Looking around I saw I wasn't the only one with tears in my eyes.


It appears there are examples in abundance why the American people should resist the pie-in-the-sky spending and regulation efforts of the Obama administration. All one needs to do is look at the failing states here in the US to see the results of that kind of financial pipe dream.

With all of the business regulations being proposed perhaps Obama and Congress should look to California to see how well heavy regulation is negatively affecting business, and in turn, their economy.

A recent study done by California State University – Sacremento shows state regulations costs the state's businesses and its economy upwards of $500 billion (that's billion with a 'b'), five times the state's budget and a third of California's gross domestic product.

Could it be one more reason why California's unemployment rate is 12.2% and businesses and workers are leaving the state? Do we really want to do the same thing nationwide?


You know the glow has faded when even the Washington Post is dumping on President Obama, calling him the narcissist he is as evidenced by his speech before the UN this past week.

Obama’s rhetorical method in international contexts -- given supreme expression at the United Nations this week -- is a moral dialectic. The thesis: pre-Obama America is a nation of many flaws and failures. The antithesis: The world responds with understandable but misguided prejudice. The synthesis: Me. Me, at all costs; me, in spite of all terrors; me, however long and hard the road may be. How great a world we all should see, if only all were more like…me.

Perhaps more of the MSM will come to realize they've hitched their wagons to an image with no substance and start distancing themselves from Obama.

Then again, maybe not.

Dr. Melissa Clouthier adds her thoughts on the matter, as does Flopping Aces.


Glenn Reynolds has been running a poll all week about who we'd like to see on the GOP ticket in 2012. The latest one let's us choose two candidates.

The two leading candidates as of 9AM today?

Sarah Palin with 52.9% and General David Petraeus with 23.4%. Mitt Romney was a close third.

Palin has been leading since the very first poll he ran earlier in the week.


Cap'n Teach fisks Wapo climate change propaganda puppet Juliet Eilperin on her report about the latest predictions from the UN Environment Program, which forecasts doom no matter what we do.

So why should we spend trillions to mitigate CO2 emissions if it will have no measurable effect? The simple answer: political power.

The report has it detractors among the MSM, including the New York Times.


Apparently we'll see the Obama Administration and the present Congress become the masters of the Law of Unintended Consequences, with one of them being the end of the sale of 'fixer-upper' homes because of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade energy bill. The provisions laid out in the bill will do nothing except depress the real estate market further by increasing the costs of housing to no good effect.

(H/T GraniteGrok)


Skip takes a lesson from yours truly and condenses a number of posts into a compilation (one of which is linked just above). Go check it out as there's plenty of good stuff.


Arthur Laffer gives us some insight about taxes, the Depression, and our present economic troubles.

More telling than the op-ed piece are the comments, particularly those from leftist history revisionists and economic ignoramuses. These folks need to take some history and (non-marxist) economics classes.


Here's yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences, this time with the government's new controls on credit cards: Banks and credit card issuers are raising interest rates before the new controls go into effect.

Barney Frank and Carolyn Maloney, the two behind the legislation imposing those controls, are shocked to find the card issuers would do such a thing.

As if the rest of us in the real world didn't see it coming.

(H/T Viking Pundit)


Blue Crab Boulevard reports on a disturbing trend in mortgage defaults: people with perfectly good credit, up to date on their mortgages with no financial difficulties just walking away from their homes.

These are called strategic defaults. A majority of those doing this have homes are in areas with concentrated negative equity markets, meaning the homes are worth considerably less than the mortgage on them. This is not the first time I've heard about this.

Some months ago a report on one of the major network news magazines covered the growing trend of people buying a second home not too far from to their first – usually worth far less than their primary home – moving in, and walking away from their first home. Again the cause of this phenomenon was the large negative equity in the primary home.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)


Confederate Yankee proves to us that you can't prevent stupid.

John Boehner's opposition to the fiasco that is Obamacare didn't kill Kimberly Young. Widespread Republican and Democratic opposition to a fatally-flawed bill offered up by radicals unwilling to compromise didn't kill her, either. Her own bad decisions led her not to seek care. Her own bad decisions put Kimberly Young in the morgue, when all she had to do was take advantage of existing health care right in front of her.

A fitting quote from one of my favorite philosophers, Heinlein, in regards to Kimberly Young's death: “Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.”


News the education lobby and the teachers unions don't want to hear: Charter schools outperform regular government schools.

The teachers unions vehemently oppose the Charter school option. Were it within their power, Charter schools would be banned and the students therein forced back into the failed government school system.

The clock is ticking relative to the fate of government schools as they are currently constituted. As is always the case in a free market economy, viable and successful choices have emerged that threaten the very future of the government school teachers unions and their low quality, poor outcome institutionalized agenda.

The world has and continues to change dramatically. Government schools have been standing still as the world has long since passed them by.

The unions also vehemently oppose homeschooling because they believe such education is inadequate. But plenty of studies show homeschooled children consistently outperform their publicly schooled peers. What the unions are trying to do is quash any competition, particularly if the competition offers a superior 'product'.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


Call it poetic justice in the Kelo vs New London decision.


The New England Patriots played the Atlanta Falcons in Foxboro this afternoon. Frankly, they aren't impressing me so far this season. With the loss of Tedi Bruschi from retirement and Richard Seymour being traded to Oakland, the Pat's defense has been struggling. Brady isn't 100% either, and Wes Welker is still out due to injury, both of which are certainly hurting the offense.

They still managed to win, 26-10.


Jennifer Rubin gives us four subjects that may well become the focus of the 2012 presidential campaign.

First: “It turns out experience matters.”

Second: “The American people were had.”

Third: “It’s Barack Obama’s economy — and debt.”

Fourth: “No bleeping way is America in decline.”

As the saying goes: Read The Whole Thing. And don't forget the comments.


Another one of those “This is just stupid!” incidents when state government pokes its nose where it doesn't belong. Why does the fact that this took place in Michigan not surprise me?


According to The Dartmouth, enrollment in New Hampshire's two year colleges has surged as the economy has worsened.

Enrollment in New Hampshire’s seven community colleges is up 12 percent this fall, an apparent reaction to the current economic climate. Students affected by the downturn — including recent high school graduates seeking an affordable way to continue their education, and older students looking to update their skills in a progressively more competitive job market — are turning to community colleges for help, according to Shannon Reid, director of communications for the Community College System of New Hampshire.

Although the state’s community colleges have seen steady enrollment increases over the past decade — typically between 3 and 5 percent — this year’s enrollment jump was the largest in recent memory, Reid said.

Apparently this is a nationwide trend. This is not surprising considering the cost of four-year colleges and the weak economy.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where it's been raining all day, the warm weather returns on Monday, and where the foliage is just starting to change.


Why The Skepticism About Government Health Care?

This was stolen shamelessly in its entirety from Maggie's Farm. It was too good to just link it. (The only changes made were in formatting and one or two minor spelling error corrections.)

I do not think it's so much because people want freedom and choice (although they do) as it is because people have no confidence in government entitlement programs (which the Dem plans are all about, ultimately). Why?

Social Security - bankrupt
Postal Service - bankrupt
Welfare - had devastating unintended consequences for which the nation still pays and from which the nation continues to suffer (eg huge rates - up to 70% - of single motherhood among beneficiaries)
Medicare - bankrupt
Medicaid - bankrupting the states
Government-run (ie union-controlled) schools: are people thrilled with them?
Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac - bankrupt
The "stimulus" - a failure, but it did create 25,000 new government jobs!

The future tax consequences of the above are daunting to people, and the idea of adding another trillion or so frightens the heck out of people who are thinking about their own well-being, their kids' futures - and also about the nation's.

The sad thing is that most of what people complain about in health care can be easily solved without giant government controls and bureaucracies:

1. Permit interstate competition among insurance companies so people can have a wide range of choices of types of policies including cheap major medical which is what makes sense for most people, and explain the basic fact that medical care has to be paid for, and even saved for, same as car repairs and house repairs and vacations (and legal costs). That is what grown-ups do. You can get major medical for a family for the price of a big-screen TV.
2. Portability of insurance - so you own it (that is complicated tho for companies that self-insure)
3. A law that says you cannot be canceled if you get sick
4. State "pools" for the uninsurable, same as for uninsurable drivers. We already have (bankrupt) Medicaid for the poor.

How easy and non-controversial would those changes be? Abundant, high quality, and fairly expensive medical care is one of the great blessings and privileges of a prosperous society, and thus an important economic engine. Why kill it? People want these things.

Do Americans want to be grown-ups, or children? It's our call.

The Barrister also suggests we contact our Senators and House Representatives and let them know our views on the Democrat health care reform plans. I have already done so and my congresscritter, Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH1), has made it quite clear she doesn't give a damn what I think. The same is true of one of our two senators, Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). But that doesn't mean I won't stop contacting their offices (I use snail-mail rather than e-mail because it's too easy to hit the Delete key), and let them know my thoughts on various issues and legislation.


Linux Versus Windows - One Similarity

No! Say it ain't so!!!

Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, says that Linux is now becoming bloated, much as Windows has.

Sometimes success has a down side.


Another Housing Meltdown In The Making?

It's bad enough Congress was complicit in part for making the housing meltdown a reality. Now they want to do it again.

(Remember the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting the results to be different this time.)

...[F]ew people noticed a hearing with an exceedingly boring title -- "Proposals to Enhance the Community Reinvestment Act" -- held last week in the House Financial Services Committee. But the session marked a key moment in the ongoing battle between Republicans and Democrats over what caused our current financial woes -- and how we might best avoid getting into the same trouble again.

At the hearing, and in others across Capitol Hill, Democratic majorities are pressing hard to expand some of the very policies that led to the reckless home lending that in turn helped lead to the great financial meltdown. If Chairman Barney Frank and his fellow Democrats have their way, we'll do it all again -- and more.

At issue last week was H.R. 1479, the Community Reinvestment Modernization Act of 2009, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. It would expand and strengthen the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, which required banks to make loans in low-income areas that many lenders had traditionally shunned.

The same legislation that forced banks to lend to borrowers incapable of repaying the loans is now being 'enhanced' to force banks to do even more of this kind of lending? If that isn't an example of fiscal insanity, I don't know what is.

Back in 2003 and again in 2007, President Bush tried to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-created financial organizations, because he believed they were getting in over their heads. Barney Frank, the same Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, blocked any attempts to do that, stating on more than one occasion that they were fiscally sound and required no such efforts.

He was wrong.

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac backed the irresponsible loans the banks were forced to make by taking them off the bank's hands and repackaging them, in effect collecting most of the risky home loans and holding on to them or repackaging them as mortgage backed securities. When these home loans stopped performing, as they were destined to do, both financial organizations failed and billions of dollars were lost in the financial markets and billions of dollars worth of real estate was foreclosed upon, leaving the taxpayers holding the bag.

Now these congressional idiots want to the same thing...again.

Do they really believe that this time there won't be a housing market collapse when banks are forced to give even more home loans to people incapable of paying them back?


NPR Gets It Wrong On Honduras

Listening to this report on NPR's Morning Edition one would get the impression an authoritarian military junta now ruled in Honduras.

Deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has taken refuge in Brazil's embassy. Zelaya was ousted in a June coup but slipped back into Honduras on Monday. (emphasis added)

On June 28, soldiers burst into Zelaya's bedroom and forced him at gunpoint onto a plane and then left him on the tarmac in Costa Rica in his pajamas.

Later that day, the Honduran Congress named Roberto Micheletti president.

Micheletti is demanding that Brazil hand over Zelaya to face criminal charges. Micheletti's administration has said for months that Zelaya would be arrested if he set foot on Honduran soil. Honduran soldiers have surrounded the Brazilian embassy.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told the defacto administration that Brazil won't tolerate a breach of its embassy, but he also warned Zelaya not to provoke Honduran security forces into invading the building.

The report makes it sound as if Zelaya was removed during a military coup and that he's trying to get reinstated to his rightful office. The media is playing it up as if he was illegally removed from office. But he wasn't.

He was tried and convicted of violating his country's laws, its constitution, by trying to remain in power even though by law he is allowed to serve only one term as president. He tried to force a referendum to illegally alter the Honduran constitution in such a way that he could have potentially become President-for-Life, just like his buddy Hugo Chavez. The other two branches of the government, the judicial and legislative, saw the move for what it was and it's illegality, impeached him, convicted him, and removed him from office.

Let's repeat the lesson:

Then president Manuel Zelaya tried to force referendum that would have illegally amended the Honduran constitution to make it possible for him to become a defacto dictator. The Honduran Constitution was set up to prevent just such a thing. What's worse, he conspired with a foreign nation, Venezuela, to make this happen. In most nations this is called treason. And in most nations treason is punishable by life imprisonment or death. He broke the law.

The Honduran Congress and Supreme Court followed the law and removed Zelaya using the process as laid out in their constitution. They followed the rule of law.

Now Zelaya's socialist backers, including Chavez, Castro, Morales, and the biggest socialist of all - our own President Obama - want Zelaya returned to office so he can usurp Honduran law and install himself as the next Latin American strong man, wiping away years of democratic reform and turning a free representative democracy modeled after our own into a socialist dictatorship.

Some have complained that Zelaya didn't have a fair trial, but under whose law did he have an unfair trial? Too many of his 'supporters' here in the US seem to think US laws and legal traditions apply. They do not. Only Honduran law applies, period. As the saying goes: different country, different laws.


Nuclear - Greener Than Wind/Solar? - Part II

One of the long standing arguments against the use of nuclear power has about what to do about the spent fuel, also called nuclear waste. For many years those against nuclear power have made the claim that the large amounts of waste were dangerous and there was no place safe to store it or sequester it for the time required to ensure it was safe. (Plutonium, one of the byproducts of fission, has a half-life of 25,000 years.) People argued the waste could be stolen by terrorists to make a nuclear weapon.

They were wrong.

The issue of nuclear waste is political, not technological.

First, we should look at exactly what is actually being argued about.

After fuel rods have spent a few years inside a nuclear reactor producing energy, they are removed from the reactor and placed in a cooling pool, held there until they have cooled to the point where they can be removed and placed into storage casks. 'Spent' fuel rods have used only a moderate percentage of the recoverable energy in the fissionable fraction of uranium that makes up the fuel. Each fuel rod assembly contains two different isotopes of uranium: U235, the fissionable isotope, and U238 which is not fissionable. The amount of U235 versus U238 is about 3% to 97%, meaning U235 makes up only 3% of the uranium in the assembly. After being used in the power reactor that ratio has changed, with the fraction of U235 being smaller, as is also the case of the U238. But now there's also a fraction of Pu239, or plutonium, as well as a few other radioisotopes.

At this point the spent fuel is supposed to be stored away someplace 'safe' for the next 25,000 years, something that really isn't practical. But that's what we're supposed to be doing with it. At this point it's considered waste. But is it really?

So is this material "waste"? Absolutely not. Ninety-five percent of a spent fuel rod is plain old U-238, the nonfissionable variety that exists in granite tabletops, stone buildings and the coal burned in coal plants to generate electricity. Uranium-238 is 1% of the earth's crust. It could be put right back in the ground where it came from.

Of the remaining 5% of a rod, one-fifth is fissionable U-235 -- which can be recycled as fuel. Another one-fifth is plutonium, also recyclable as fuel. Much of the remaining three-fifths has important uses as medical and industrial isotopes. Forty percent of all medical diagnostic procedures in this country now involve some form of radioactive isotope, and nuclear medicine is a $4 billion business. Unfortunately, we must import all our tracer material from Canada, because all of our isotopes have been headed for Yucca Mountain.

What remains after all this material has been extracted from spent fuel rods are some isotopes for which no important uses have yet been found, but which can be stored for future retrieval. France, which completely reprocesses its recyclable material, stores all the unused remains -- from 30 years of generating 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy -- beneath the floor of a single room at La Hague.

So why aren't we doing likewise?


We have the means to reprocess fuel, which in the process would reduce the total volume of spent fuel tremendously. Instead we put it in storage casks and in cooling pools because of a decision made back in 1975 by President Gerald Ford to stop fuel reprocessing. His executive order was issued because of the fear terrorist would steal the spent fuel and make a bomb. Ford's successor made the order permanent, which is surprising considering President Carter had been a nuclear engineer in the US Navy.

If anyone has ever seen how fuel is stored and how it's transported, those fears would be greatly reduced. Moving that stuff isn't easy, isn't fast, and would be very difficult to steal (and not because of the security but because of the sheer size of the transport casks). If terrorists want nuclear weapons it's easier for them get it from a renegade regime or buy it on the arms market. It's not likely they'd be able to process the fuel themselves in their garage or basement and turn it into weapons grade material.

When all is said and done, the amount of energy it's possible to generate using nuclear power is incredible, Wen one takes into account the total energy cycle, meaning the amount of carbon dioxide created for the planning, construction, commissioning, operation, and eventual decommissioning and dismantling of a nuclear power plant versus alternative energy sources, meaning solar and wind, nuclear is far greener. Nuclear power is such a dense energy source, generating far more electricity than any wind farm or solar farm while taking up a small fraction of the space of either of those alternatives.

Continued in Part III - Nuclear power and green energy 'sprawl'.


Thoughts On A Sunday

For the first time in a while we've had a quiet weekend, even though Deb and BeezleBub had to work on Saturday and Deb had her final exam today for a class she's been taking over the past two-and-a-half months.

I did the domestic thing on Saturday, cleaning up the house, doing laundry, and then heading outside to cut brush out behind The Manse.


Chris Wallace points out that this White House, meaning the Obama administration, hasn't got a clue when it comes to the press and what it's supposed to do. What it's not supposed to be doing is cheerleading and carrying water for the president.

“These guys, everything is personal. I gotta tell you, everything,” Wallace said. “They are the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington.”

Barack Obama is single-handedly destroying the concept of what it means to be “presidential.” He has cracked a joke at the expense of Special Olympians on late-night television; he has said a local police officer just doing his job “acted stupidly”; and he has mocked taxpayers wary of his policies as
“bed-wetters” and “folks waving tea bags around.”

Yeah, like that's the way to sway the American people over to your point of view, particularly those who do not see Obama as a messiah. But then again, Obama and his minions have been treating the American people as it they're too stupid to make decisions for themselves.

(H/T Instapundit)


If you don't like the message, then smear the messenger with 'creatively' edited video.


The Tea Party movement appears to be gaining even more adherents as witnessed by the latest Tea Party in Milwaukee.

Ten thousand Tea Party protesters showing up can't be considered small by anyone's measure, though I have no doubt those on the Left will try hard to make it seem that way.


If one replaced the word 'Afghanistan' with 'Vietnam' in this editorial it could one right out of the late 1960's. Do we really want to make the same mistake as we made in Vietnam, letting the media decide whether or not we should fight an intractable enemy?

Apparently the editor has forgotten the one big difference between Afghanistan and Vietnam: The Taliban were complicit with al Qaeda in the attacks on the US on September 11, 2001, providing them sanctuary and facilities for training terrorists. When they refused to surrender Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders, we responded with force, and rightfully so. They provided aid to those committing acts of war against us. To abandon Afghanistan to the tender mercies of the Taliban would return that nation to the living hell it was the last time they ruled that nation and send the wrong message to both our allies and our enemies.


Now that they are in power, the Left is finding out the Right was correct when they lamented the decline of civility in the US.

Now, after decades of spewing vitriol at the right ("Bush is Hitler" was a common anti-war sign), the left and many in the mainstream media have discovered that civility is a virtue. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is so terrified that violence is about to erupt, she had to choke back tears while asserting that the opposition should be held accountable for any incitement it might undertake.

No one on the left uttered the word "incitement" when actor Alec Baldwin said on national television that Republican Rep. Henry Hyde should be stoned to death. Only conservatives incite.

Ad hominem attacks are, apparently, perfectly civil if they come from the left.

Now that they are on the receiving end of such vitriol (though it appears to me the vitriol from the Right and the Center is nowhere near the level of that spewed by the Left over the previous eight years), they see it as uncivil. It's amazing how their perception changes when the shoe is on the other foot. On the other hand, many of the Tea Party protests have been far more civil than those taking place during the Bush years. They even clean up after themselves.


If there were ever an argument against ObamaCare, this is it.

Make sure to read the comments as they are far more telling than the post that generated them.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


Never mind taxing the rich, the Democrats have plans to tax the poor and the middle class, in spades. Never mind the fact there's a recession on, the Dems need the revenue to pay for ObamaCare and all their other grandiose programs.

(H/T Viking Pundit)


Here's a great video compilation of the myriad signs at the 9/12 protests from the folks at COTErack.com.

These folks are going on the blogroll.

(H/T GraniteGrok)


The New England Patriots lost to the New York Jets, 16-9. Frankly, the Patriots fell apart in the second half. Neither offense or defense were working worth a darn. It's like they figured they could coast because they were ahead at the end of the first half.


The “old guy”, Mark Martin, won the first race of NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

I like it when the old guys like me show the younger fella's how it's done.


Chris Wallace didn't get the opportunity to interview President Obama today, Fox News being persona non grata with the White House, but George Stephanopoulos must have channeled Wallace when he asked Obama a number of tough questions that caught the President off guard, leaving him “defensive and flummoxed.”

This is yet another indication the love affair the MSM has with the President is coming to an end. It also means Obama's in trouble.

With today's 5 interviews, Obama has now appeared in a total of 142, while at this point in their presidencies Clinton had appeared in 42 and Bush 40 interviews.


This is scary, and fitting:

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney reflects conservatives' growing confidence when he taunts Democrats, saying "I'll bet you never dreamed you'd look back at Jimmy Carter as the good old days."

As I said before, Obama's in trouble.


If reports are correct, President Obama has asked New York governor David Patterson not to run for election because he believes Patterson will have a negative effect on Democrat down-ticket candidates.

So now the Obamessiah is deciding which Democrats should and should not run for state and federal offices? Sounds like politics “the Chicago Way.” When does this crap end?


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where NASCAR won't be returning until next year, the weather is still summer-like...sort of, and where the locals are still boating.


Nuclear - Greener Than Wind/Solar? - Part I

Anyone reading my humble blog knows I am a proponent of nuclear power, probably one of the 'greenest' forms of generating electrical power when all factors are taken into account. Even one of the founders of Greenpeace, Dr. Patrick Moore, sees nuclear power as leading the way to a greener energy. So why aren't those in Congress pushing for reductions CO2 emissions by promoting more nuclear power?

Could it be it's an emotional issue, one that too many on the Left see as the so-called 'third rail' of environmentalism? It would appear (to me) that that's the case.

Three Mile Island and Chenobyl have been used for decades as an argument against nuclear power. While Three Mile Island was the worst accident at a commercial nuclear power station in the West, no one died, no one was injured, and the safety systems did what they were supposed to do even though the humans running the plant screwed up.

Chernobyl was a different matter...and a different reactor design. Between a very poor design (a graphite moderated reactor), lack of a containment vessel, and a major screw-up by both the plant engineers and the overseeing Soviet government, it's no wonder the reactor destroyed itself, killing hundreds (if not more) and making the surrounding area not habitable. One thing constantly overlooked by people against nuclear power: none of the RBMK type reactors like that at Chernobyl exist here in the US. But that doesn't stop people from being against nuclear power.

US designs have a great safety record, Three Mile Island notwithstanding. There's only one thing I can say I don't like about the nuclear power industry in the US and that's the lack of standardization. There are over 100 nuclear plants operating in the US (not counting those on US Navy ships and submarines), and every one of them is custom built. No two are alike, even those built side-by-side at the same time. If we ever get around to building the next generation of nuclear reactors for power production, we should go to a standardized design.

Standardization makes for less costly plants, the ability to use modular construction, and greater safety because all plants will be identical. The learning curve for workers moving from one plant to another becomes very shallow and very short because all the valves, switches, access panels, electrical components, and critical subsystems will be in the same place in every plant.

The newer designs have taken the lessons learned from the older plants to heart, making them simpler, more reliable and efficient, and easier and less expensive.

The next generation of reactors so-called Generation III units is intended to take everything that's been learned about safe operations and do it even better. Generation III units are the reactors of choice for most of the 34 nations that already have nuclear plants in operation.

The current generation of nuclear plants requires a complex maze of redundant motors, pumps, valves and control systems to deal with emergency conditions. Generation III plants cut down on some of that infrastructure and rely more heavily on passive systems that don't need human intervention to keep the reactor in a safe condition reducing the chance of an accident caused by operator error or equipment failure.

Nuclear plants also have an envious record in regards to the amount of 'up-time', meaning how long the plant is online generating power before it's shut down for routine maintenance or refueling. Fossil fuel plants require intense and frequent maintenance of their boiler systems, meaning they must be shut down far more often compared to nuclear plants. It is not uncommon for nuclear plants to run continuously for two years without a shut down. Fossil fuel plants (particularly coal plants) may have been shut down three or four times in that same period. And because nuclear plants run for much longer periods than conventional fossil fueled plants, both their operating costs and cost per kilowatt-hour are lower. They aren't affected by the fluctuations in fuel prices.

Continued in Part II - Why nuclear waste isn't an issue.


More Notable Quotes - Socialism

Winston Churchill also had the right of it in regards to the position which our nation finds itself – a crypto-Marxist president and a leftist majority in Congress.

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

In its history there is one thing socialism can claim without contradiction: Creation of massive misery, all in the name of “the people”. Socialism makes sure everyone suffers the misery the powers-that-be created. It seems Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are trying their darnedest to make sure everyone suffers, though there's no need for it. They couch their aspirations in language that makes them sound as if they're trying to fix the problems we face, even though it is they who are making the problems even worse.

From another British statesman (or in this case, stateswoman):

The problem with socialism is that eventually it runs out of other people's money. - Margaret Thatcher

Apparently Obama and his minions haven't realized that the American taxpayers are not a bottomless wallet from which to extract money the government hasn't earned an isn't owed. Eventually the wallet will be empty and there will be nothing left to take.

But that certainly won't stop them from trying.

More Wisdom From Robert Heinlein

Here's yet another timely quote from Robert Heinlein's Lazarus Long, one that is certainly close to the truth, particularly in regards to our present President and Congress.

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be expected---here and there, now and then---are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck".

It certainly seems to fit in with the times, with Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and the other leftists heaping scorn and derision upon those actually employing our citizens and creating abundant wealth. With the proposed taxes on “the wealthy” looming as well as other anti-business legislation, would it be any wonder if our nation's aggregate wealth were to decline as these people were prevented from doing what they do best – create jobs?

Smoot-Hawley Redux?

“Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” - George Santayana

“A generation which ignores history has no past – and no future.” -Lazarus Long (aka Robert A. Heinlein)

We cannot say they haven't been warned. There's no way they can claim ignorance about the outcome of actions they've taken or are planning to take. When the “fit hits the shan” and the economy grinds to a halt because they've singlehandedly managed to kill trade, and with it millions of American jobs, we know they'll claim “But we didn't know this would happen!”

Anyone with even a fair to middling understanding about trade protectionism, and particularly about the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act would know such protectionism in the name of saving American jobs usually has just the opposite effect. Sometimes only a few thousand people find their jobs disappearing, along with their customers. And other times, like just before the Great Depression, tens of millions find their jobs and customers have gone the way of the dodo.

The effects of “unintentional” trade protectionism built into the $787 billion stimulus package has already been felt, with some American manufacturers being locked out from being able to bid for local, state, or federal government contracts because they can't meet the “Buy American” provisions of the stimulus bill.

On paper, Tom Pokorsky would seem to be a clear beneficiary of the government's $787 billion economic-stimulus package.

Mr. Pokorsky runs Aquarius Technologies Inc., a company in Port Washington, Wis., that makes equipment to treat sewage. The stimulus plan earmarks some $6 billion for municipal wastewater projects that are right in his company's sweet spot.

But the bill's Buy American provisions -- meant to give U.S. companies a leg up on foreign competition -- are causing Aquarius and other U.S. companies a lot of grief with both suppliers and clients in Canada.

It hasn't helped that some Canadian business opportunities formerly open to American companies have now been closed because of “Buy Canadian” campaigns organized in retaliation.

Now that grief has boiled over into a major diplomatic row with the largest U.S. trading partner. Canadian communities angered by perceived American chauvinism have started a Buy Canadian campaign to exclude U.S. bidders from municipal contracts.

"If that sticks, well, there goes 25% of my business," said Mr. Pokorsky. "To me, Ontario may as well be Indiana."

Halton Hills, a town of 50,000 people about 25 miles west of Toronto, is one of about a dozen Canadian communities forging ahead with plans to amend their procurement policies to freeze out American companies. "We won't be taking any products from any country that is discriminating against us," said Mayor Rick Bonnette.

For those of you lacking any understanding of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 and the resulting worldwide economic meltdown, the tariffs were created by the act in order to preserve American jobs after the stock market crash of 1929. It did this by restricting foreign goods by making them far more expensive, causing our trading partners to do likewise to American goods. This had the effect of destroying almost all trade among nations. The result was that American companies lost customers (some lost all of their customers), which in turn caused them to fail. Workers lost their jobs because no one was buying American goods. Unemployment skyrocketed to 25%, and the economy collapsed. What had been a moderately severe recession was turned into a worldwide depression.

Here's where the scary part comes in:

Obama is playing the same game Herbert Hoover did, but somehow he expects the results to be different...this time. How is it he believes that if he slaps tariffs or other barriers on foreign goods coming into the country that somehow the foreign nations affected by his actions won't retaliate in kind? As we've seen from the “Buy American” requirement in the stimulus bill, that blowback has already started, and that from a nation that is our closest neighbor and biggest trading partner.

It just shows President Obama is neither a student of history or of economics. And we already know where that will lead us.


An Apt Description

A timely quote, particularly when it comes to those scientists claiming AGW is real and the science has been settled, and no others need apply:

Most “scientists” are bottle washers and button sorters. - Lazarus Long

'Nuff said.


Thoughts On A Sunday

It was a slow, lazy day yesterday, with rain starting some time just before noon. BeezleBub was down working at the farm and Deb was at school. I was in the radio studio between 9 and 11AM, guest-hosting on Meet The New Press, with the last half hour turning into Weekend Pundit Radio because the two main hosts, Skip and Doug, had to head out to attend an NHGOP and 9-12 Tea Party, respectively.

At least I wasn't alone since John Hawkins of RightWingNews was on the phone, discussing one of the more timely topics, health care reform. We both agreed that, as written, it's a scam, having little to do with actually reforming health care. Instead, it's a naked power grab.


With yesterday's 9-12 protest in Washington DC now in the rearview mirror, I find it interesting to see the crowd estimates varying so widely. Some in the MSM have downplayed it, stating only a few thousand attended, while others have said more than 2 million. Frankly, I believe it was far less than 2 million, though on one blog a commenter stated that a group had been counting the people as they came down towards the Capitol Building and stopped counting after 450,000.

Ironically, it was Democrats saying they expected to see 2 million protesting, but most folks (like me) figured they highballed the number in an effort to discredit the Tea Party movement by being able to state that far fewer people actually showed up, meaning the American people didn't really support the movement. Regardless of the actual number, the MSM took notice. No amount of videographic trickery would be able to hide the large crowd gathered in front of the Capitol Building (though some nutroots folks tried to claim it was all fakery, done with doctored video).

If the 2 million number is correct, then it makes one British press report about the attendees poignant:

Two million people with jobs.

That's quite different from the 'professional' protesters usually seen at protests and rallies run by the Left.


The large number of protesters in Washington DC aren't the only ones Obama and his Democrat water-carriers have to worry about. Sarah Palin is still a thorn in their sides.

As Dr. Melissa Clouthier called it, Palin is Barack Obama's nemesis.

He certainly needs one.


Also from Dr. Clouthier, some thoughts about 9/12 and the numbers fight. The best one:

The libs must be completely freaked out. They are obsessing over the details.



While I am not a rabid NASCAR fan, I have to say I am pleased as punch that “the old guy”, Mark Martin, is in the points lead in the Sprint Cup chase. As a fellow “old guy” I like to see when one of us shows the young whippersnappers that we've still got it, in spades.

NASCAR makes its next appearance up here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway next weekend. The track is less than 15 miles south of The Manse (as the crow flies).

I'll be watching that race from the best seat in the house: my recliner in front of the TV.


The gubernatorial election in New Jersey is only 7 weeks away an incumbent Democrat Governor John Corzine is 8 points behind his Republican challenger, Chris Cristie.

The smear campaign against Cristie has started, claiming he's a menace to society and isn't fit to be governor. One of his big crimes? Some speeding tickets. If that's the worst New Jersey Democrats can come up with, Corzine is doomed, and rightfully so. (I guess no one remembers Corzine's run in with New Jersey traffic laws back in 2007, one that damn near cost him his life.)

Cristie is a fiscal conservative, while Corzine has been instrumental in making the Garden State one of the most business hostile, high tax states in the country. Is it any wonder Corzine is in trouble?


An ABC World News report this evening showed the move by schools to go bookless, switching to e-book technology, either iPhone-like pads, laptops, Kindles, or other similar technology. When you think about it, it makes sense. Text books are expensive, take up a lot of space, and can weigh a lot, particularly when they're stuffed into a student's backpack.

Our engineering lab went bookless a number of years ago. Our thousands of data books took up over a thousand square feet of floor space, required floor to ceiling shelving, and needed constant updating and archiving of older data books. As the Internet became ubiquitous and vendors became web savvy, the need to keep data books disappeared. We finally made the switch and in an orgy of disposal, pitched every single data book out of our tech library windows into a dumpster from one of the local recycling companies. Now we go to the vendor's website, search for devices that fit our needs, and download the datasheets to our computers. Bits take up a lot less space than books.

It's about time our schools caught up to the rest of us.


Dana Loesch gives us a history of the Tea Party movement, including the motivations that created it. One of the biggest factors that brought the movement into being?

Nancy Pelosi.

(H/T Instapundit)


Is health care a right?

I can't find it anywhere in the Constitution. But that hasn't stopped Obama from believing it is.

I find it interesting that our president believes in ignoring parts of the Constitution he doesn't like or finds inconvenient, while finding rights in that same Constitution that aren't there, nor even implied. Maybe he'd like to bring back the old custom of law by decree once enjoyed by monarchs and present day tyrants and bypass the Constitution altogether.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where we don't want summer to end yet, boating is still in full swing, and where Monday has returned too darned soon.


Large Turnout For Washington DC 9-12 Protest

Looking At The Left has a report on the activities in Washington, DC where a reported 2 million anti-big government, anti-big spending protestors made their voices heard.

Some attending have called it “the conservative Woodstock.” I call it the usually silent majority finally finding their voices.

There were a number of differences between this protest and other protests held by those of a more progressive bent. I think the most obvious one was the scarcity of professionally printed signs. Almost all of them were hand-made. Another – most of the people there paid their own way to get there.

Another difference? In an e-mail to Glenn Reynolds an Instapundit reader wrote:

“I’ll tell you what I find impressive. I’m watching the Fox news video about 15 minutes after the end of the event. The crowd has thinned out enough that you can see the ground and there is not a speck of trash on the grass. Absolutely clean. To contrast, google ‘pictures of litter on the mall after the inauguration.’”

I noticed that too, and not for the first time. After the April 15th Tea Party protest in Manchester, New Hampshire it was the same thing: the park was clean. Does this mean conservative protesters care more for the environment than liberal protesters because they're willing to clean up after themselves?

Health Care Reform - Questions That Must Be Answered - Part II

While there is agreement amongst most parties that health care reform is something needed, it is the difference in approach that divides the nation (and more specifically, Congress).

Being the frugal Yankee that I am, I am all for making sure any reforms are sustainable, actually save money, and require no use of tax dollars to support. Is such a thing possible? I believe so, and I'm not the only one. Unfortunately far too many members of Congress and their 'supporters' believe the only answer is government control (and funding) of any and all reform. The only problem with that viewpoint is that it entirely overlooks the economics of such a system, to the peril of us all (and our wallets).

Peter Angerhofer in the September 6th Sunday Citizen (Laconia, NH) reminds us, again, that health care reform can't defy economics. (Sorry, no link available)

[I]f the current governmental health care reforms attempt to subvert basic economic laws, they are, at best, bound for failure; at worst, they could destroy the quality of care that most Americans enjoy.

While the problems of rising costs should be obvious for all to see, the president and his allies have proposed solutions that ignore the fundamental economic laws of supply and demand. I f we are to provide better access to health care, we need to recognize these basic laws and reduce prices by either reducing demand, increasing supply, or both.

The President and the leftists in Congress are basing their health care reform on the mistaken premise that the supply of health care is finite, that it is static and that it won't change. And because of that false premise, they'll try to force a drop in demand for health care as the means of reducing the costs. The only means of reducing demand is to ration care, to deny care, to decide who will and who won't be treated, who will live and who will die.

But the supply is not finite except at the present moment. Tomorrow there could be more. The day after there could be less. It is fluid. But should the government 'take over' health care, the finite supply will not expand. It will not be static. Instead, it will shrink.

How do I know that? History.

All one needs to do is look at every country that has instituted government provided/controlled health care. In every single case the quantity and quality of health care declined. In a few there were minor changes, mostly because the quality of health care wasn't all that great to begin with. In most others the decline was dramatic. Is that what we, the American people, really want to do here?

Of course not. But the Obama Administration and the leftists in Congress do. That desire has nothing to do with actually providing health care. Instead it's about control. They truly believe they know what's good for you better than you do. They believe they are the only ones that can possibly make the right decisions for you because you are incapable of making them for yourselves, that you're not smart enough. Only the government is wise enough to make those decisions. Of course we've seen the dystopian results of that before and we know we don't want to go down that path.

Should Congressional leftists ignore the economics of their health care reform bills, reform won't work. The burden placed upon the economy and the taxpayers will be too great. It will require the infusion of billions, if not trillions to ensure mediocre health care, increased morbidity, and increased suffering. A once great, though imperfect, health care system will have been reduced to a shadow of its former self. And the leftists will congratulate themselves for succeeding in pulling of the greatest swindle since Bernie Madoff.


A Meaningless Statistic

Heard on NPR’s Morning Edition Wednesday:

“The number of foreclosures this year are expected to reach 2 million, a number not seen since the Great Depression.”

Statistic 1: Population of the US in 1933*: 125 million

Statistic 2: Population of the US in 2009: 307 million (US Census estimate)

Statistic 3: Foreclosures as percentage of population 1933: 1.6% or 16 per 1,000

Statistic 4: Foreclosures as percentage of population 2009: 0.65% or 6.5 per 1,000

(* I used 1933 as the reference for the Great Depression as that's when the greatest number of foreclosures took place.)

Analysis: While the total number of foreclosures might be greater, as a percentage of all mortgages and population, the rate is less than half that of 1933.

Conclusion: The number presented in the NPR report has no meaning because there's absolutely no context. It just sounds bad.


Health Care Reform - Questions That Must Be Answered - Part I

One thing far too many people promoting national health care reform have overlooked has been the actual economics of the main proposal (HR3200). In their minds the numbers will come into alignment if we all just wish hard enough and keep our fingers crossed. But taking a look at the economics with a (hopefully) dispassionate eye reveals some disturbing issues that have been ignored, either by design or through ignorance. (I, being the kind of guy I am, am willing to give the proponents the benefit of doubt and assume it's from ignorance.)

Whenever government gets involved, and particularly the federal government, costs go up. It is inevitable. Our own history has shown again and again that is the case. Why does anyone doubt that it will happen again if government takes a broader role in health care? All anyone needs to do is look at what's been happening in Massachusetts, where their preview of nationwide health care reform has done nothing but increased costs and wait times. Can anyone say that won't happen across the board if Obama gets his way?

So before there's any progress on such reform, proponents cannot defy the economics of that reform and what it really means. Too many parts of the most well known health care reform bill – the aforementioned HR3200 – ignore the economic impacts, which in turn will lead to the failure of the reform measure while at the same time damaging or destroying the existing medical care infrastructure. That's no way to 'fix' the problem.

A few 'lowlights' of what we can look forward to if HR3200 should pass:

Massachusetts reduced its uninsured population by two-thirds — yet the cost would be considered staggering, had state officials not done such a good job of hiding it. Finally, Massachusetts shows where "ObamaCare" would ultimately lead: Officials are already laying the groundwork for government rationing.

The most sweeping provision in the Massachusetts reforms — and the legislation before Congress — is an "individual mandate" that makes health insurance compulsory. Massachusetts shows that such a mandate would oust millions from their low-cost health plans and force them to pay higher premiums.

The necessity of specifying what satisfies the mandate gives politicians enormous power to dictate the content of every American's health plan — a power that health care providers inevitably capture and use to increase the required level of insurance.


Those requirements can increase premiums by 14 percent or more. Officials further increased premiums by imposing new limits on cost-sharing.

Over time, as mandates eliminate low-cost options and price controls eliminate comprehensive options, both the Massachusetts and Obama reforms will march consumers into a narrow range of health plans.

As goes choice, so goes quality. Statistics on waiting times for specialist care in Massachusetts read like a dispatch from Canada. In 2004, Boston already had the longest waits among metropolitan areas. By 2009, waits had generally shortened in other metro areas (average wait: less than three weeks) but lengthened in Boston (average wait: seven weeks), according to the Merritt Hawkins survey.

Some may argue that the national version of this program won't suffer from the problems seen in Massachusetts, but anyone with even a little knowledge of history will understand that the problems with a national program will be far worse. In the end it will benefit no one but the government. Disincentives for health care workers will make sure the quality and quantity of health care available will fall, particularly after the more gifted and dedicated workers are finally driven out by frustration and stress. It's already started in Massachusetts and has been an ongoing problem in the UK.

One does not promote better health care by penalizing those giving exceptional care. But that's exactly what this latest version of socialized medicine will do.

I always thought the way to ensure more 'equality' when it came to any issue, be it economic, political, or medical, was to raise everyone up to a higher level, not pull everyone down to the lowest common denominator. That's what health care reform as proposed will do, making sure everyone but the most wealthy (and members of the ruling elite) will receive exceptional care. The rest of us will be left with an ever declining quality and quantity of health care because reform made it inevitable that it would be so.

If nothing else such a move should be considered criminal because it looks like just what it is: racketeering. And we must remember racketeering has a long, fruitful history in Chicago.

Another problem with health care reform is that viable, workable plans are being ignored. It could be because the plans are being proposed by people other than those belonging to the 'right' party. Never mind that they might actually work as compared to ObamaCare.

One would thing the Democrats would pay attention to some of those plans, particularly those put forth by knowledgeable health care professionals, like Dr. Arthur M. Feldman:

As a cardiologist and the administrator of a large practice that includes general internists and specialists, I spend much of my time trying to figure out how to provide care for a growing number of uninsured or underinsured patients. I also have to battle billion-dollar private insurance companies that don't adequately cover patients with preexisting illnesses and often deny coverage for necessary treatments.

On a basic level, I'm with the president: Our health-care system needs to be changed so that all of my patients, and all citizens, have access to the care they need. But I don't agree with how he wants to fix things. Most of my colleagues and I strongly oppose the health-care reform bills that Congress will take up again this week. The proposals leave enormous gaps unfilled.

Before President Obama addresses a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, I hope he will consider these 10 major reasons why I -- and doctors like me -- worry that the legislation on the table will leave us worse off.

1.Private insurance companies escape real regulation.
2.We urgently need tort reform, but it's nowhere to be seen.
3."Prevention" won't magically make costs go down.
4.Reform efforts don't address our critical shortage of health-care workers.
5.We need more primary-care physicians -- but we also need specialists.
6.We have to streamline drug development and shake up the Food and Drug Administration.
7.We can't fund health-care reform by cutting payments to doctors.
8.We can't forget about research.
9.Cutting reimbursements could shut some hospitals down.
10.We need to improve the quality of care.

Each of Dr. Feldman's points bear looking into. (In his article linked above, each of his ten points are explained in detail.) Failure to address these issues will cause health care reform to be a dismal failure, creating both medical and economic chaos. Of course, I always thought health care reform was supposed to make things better, not worse. But if Congress does not abandon its ill-advised course of action in this regard, we will all be worse off for no other reason than they made it be that way.

More to follow in Part II.....


It's Time To Treat AGW As A Theory

One thing far too many people have overlooked in regards to anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is the actual theory (or theories) about it, the data gathered, computer models, and how ongoing observations agree or disagree with the theory.

As a theory, AGW is starting to look pretty ragged, with more holes being poked into its fabric as time goes on. It is not standing up to scrutiny by third parties and predictions made by the theorists have not even come close to matching reality. But do these things stop the so-called alarmists from claiming AGW has been proven beyond all doubt? No, not in the least.

Far too many of the AGW faithful refuse to see the theory is seriously flawed. Instead they try to explain away the failure of the climate models, or point to the data that agrees with the theory while ignoring or trying to discredit all the data that disagrees with it by claiming it's faulty, tampered with, anecdotal, or trivial. Others try to put a spin on the 'anomalies'. One example: claiming the present cooling trend is proof of global warming. They also try to explain away any contradictory evidence by claiming that any weather trend that deviates from the theory can only be explained by AGW. It's the climatological version of “Heads I win, tails you lose.”

The argument that the science of global warming is settled is wishful thinking at best. No 'theory' is ever settled. A perfect example is Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. The original version was found to have serious flaws, but not until decades after Einstein presented it. Experimentation since then has proven major parts of the theory as valid and disproved others. The disproven portions of General Relativity have been revised until they matched with the observed phenomenon. That is how science is supposed to work. But AGW supporters have chosen to ignore the failure of the theory to match with observations made since the theory was first postulated. They keep claiming there is a concensus among all scientists that AGW is a fact. But others disagree.

To quote my favorite passage from Michael Crichton: “The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics… In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.” Or as my co-author Allen Simmons puts it “you don't get a bunch of scientists together and take a vote on the speed of light.” Science is not about opinions, not about polls, and certainly not about what is currently considered politically correct. In short, consensus science is bunk.

Recapping, five out of five predictions made by global warming alarmists, based on the theory of anthropogenic global warming, have been shown to be inaccurate or out right false.

Under normal circumstances a failure of the predictions to match observed conditions would mean the theory is incorrect and needs revision. Unfortunately the theory is unlikely to be modified to match observations. Instead observations or data will be 'corrected' or vaguely defined proxies will be substituted in to make the theory appear valid. Then the AGW faithful will continue on their crusade to force us into taking actions that aren't necessary, horribly expensive, and ineffective.


Totally Bass Ackwards

It's irony, writ large.

The EU is giving the US an unintended lesson about incentives (or in this case, disincentives).

"Only in `Alice in Wonderland' could a penalty be seen as promoting the activity on which it is imposed," the European Commission's Ambassador to Washington, John Bruton, said in a statement Friday.

Isn't that the truth? How much of that have we been seeing from the Obama Administration lately? (It was something Ayn Rand warned us about over 50 years ago.)

It seems the President and Congress are hell-bent on creating large disincentives for businesses to do well, in effect saying “If you succeed, we'll punish you for it.”

It's become quite obvious they have no understanding of human nature and what drives us to do what we do. If success is punished and sloth rewarded, you will end up with less of the former and more of the latter. Or put another way, “If you tax it, you get less of it. If you subsidize it, you get more of it.”


Has The 'Revolt Of The Masses' Begun?

Daniel Henninger is calling it the Revolt of the Masses, and rightfully so.

In a number of countries around the world the status quo is being upset by voters, turning out long established political parties from power and bringing new blood into their legislatures. Old leaders are being replaced with those that have had enough of creeping socialism and growing indebtedness.

It's no different here in the US, with the public becoming increasingly disenchanted with those in Congress as well as the present occupant of the White House.

In the U.S., political handicappers are predicting heavy Democratic losses in the House next November. This just four years after ending GOP control of Congress in the 2006 elections and two years after sweeping into office Barack Obama and his Democratic partners.

Congress's approval rating remains stuck around 30%. This number may be more important as an indicator of public sentiment toward the nation's leadership than presidential approval.

Some search for an ideological trend toward the left or right in these votes, but the only evident trend is to strike out at whichever blob is currently in power. Even as Americans turned over their country to liberal Democrats, opinion polls showed that the British people were turning toward the Conservatives for relief from listless Labour.

I have a feeling the American people will reverse that decision and move away from the big spenders presently sitting in Congress. It doesn't take a genius to figure out spending far more money than we really have is no way to run a country, particularly when the deficits created will be so much bigger than we've ever experienced.

One commenter to Henninger's piece thought he missed the actual cause of the growing discontent. Steven Flint wrote:

The author is on the right path, but he stopped short of the destination. He is blaming a symptom, not the root cause. He is correct that the problem isn't directly about left and right, but he misses the big picture -- its about up and down.

Lets start here in America. Let's throw all of the writings and lessons of the Founding Fathers into a big pot and bring it to a boil. Add in all of the reasons we fought our wars against ourselves and others, toss in the battles we fought at home for rights and freedom, and heck, even shovel in the adolescent rebellion of the boomers, and let the whole thing reduce to its most elemental. What you'll find when the rhetoric and the posturing is boiled away is the essence of America... a simple idea.

It is this: That everyday common people can run their lives and build a prosperous and fair nation without the ruling hand of their "betters"... whether those "betters" are aristocratic or meritocratic. That is the root of all freedom and all rights. Without that core idea all you have left are temporary dispensations to act and think and talk a certain way... until further notice. But that is not freedom, and those are not rights.

We don't want rulers, only temporary leaders. We don't need kings, be they hereditary or philosopher.

Other nations have their own balancing points, of course. They all have their own social compacts delineating what belongs to the people and what belongs to the elite. But in almost every nation, the political/academic/media/business elite have unilaterally abrogated these understandings. Not all at once, of course, but bit by bit, over the past 4 or 5 decades. We, the people are given empty promises, heavier chains, and shrunken horizons, while the elites gather power and privilege for themselves.

They've gotten good at selling slavery. Most folks volunteer for it, and feel noble while doing it. We have no problems anymore, only crisis. Catastrophe is always right around the corner. Flood the airwaves with experts (those with the "correct" opinions, of course). Cue the stock footage of the approved stock victims. Install the big, blinking guilt-button in the minds and hearts of the people, and press it repeatedly, until the people believe the world is a zero-sum game and they must nobly sacrifice for the good of society. But most of all, get 'em to hand over power and control... no, not to the approved victims, silly... upward! Pass it upward!

Maybe the folks are waking up around the world. Maybe they've noticed that, despite all of the noise and the drama, the elites haven't really fixed anything. Maybe they've noticed that the top-down, expertly planned society is a faux society, more dead than alive. Maybe they've noticed it only produces stagnation and decay. Maybe they realized that all of that debt is meant to cover up all of that stagnation and decay... to create an illusion of growth as their nation is hollowed out, by their own elites, all in the name of some sort of global equality... an equality the elites have no ability to create, but their egos prevent them from admitting so.

Maybe they remembered that the elites get all of their legitimacy from the people, and to withhold it is the greatest power of all.


I couldn't have said it better myself, so I'm not even going to try.


Is 'Instant' Communications Technology Breeding Social Morons?

I read this piece in WSJ's Online Journal some time last week. I had to think about this one for a while because what it reported sounded true, but I had my doubts. I wanted to check things out for myself. A few days of asking questions as well as observing the interactions between members of the so-called “Generation-Y” proved to me the piece wasn't far off the mark. What am I talking about?

Their inability to read non-verbal clues from those around them. Such a deficit can lead to all kinds of social problems because they won't catch the subtle clues about how others are reacting to them in face-to-face social situations.

In September 2008, when Nielsen Mobile announced that teenagers with cellphones each sent and received, on average, 1,742 text messages a month, the number sounded high, but just a few months later Nielsen raised the tally to 2,272. A year earlier, the National School Boards Association estimated that middle- and high-school students devoted an average of nine hours to social networking each week. Add email, blogging, IM, tweets and other digital customs and you realize what kind of hurried, 24/7 communications system young people experience today.

Unfortunately, nearly all of their communication tools involve the exchange of written words alone. At least phones, cellular and otherwise, allow the transmission of tone of voice, pauses and the like. But even these clues are absent in the text-dependent world. Users insert smiley-faces into emails, but they don't see each others' actual faces. They read comments on Facebook, but they don't "read" each others' posture, hand gestures, eye movements, shifts in personal space and other nonverbal—and expressive—behaviors.

How many times have we seen teens sitting off to one side during a family social gathering, busily tapping away at the keypads of the cell phones, texting friends rather than interacting with people in the same room. It isn't necessarily that the teens are being rude. Instead it's because they really don't know how to interact without that electronic crutch as an interface, be it a cell phone, computer, or Blackberry.

So far my son has been able to avoid the 'need' for such an electronic crutch. For him a cell phone is nothing more than something you use to make a phone call. Beyond that it has no allure for him at all. While he does chat occasionally with friends on Facebook, he's rarely at it for more than a few minutes before he returns to what he was doing before the chat window opened. He much prefers to talk with his friends face to face.

So do I.


Carol Shea-Porter Can't Be Bothered With The Facts

It appears Representative Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-1) has no problem with stating an outright lie as truth if the lie serves the purposes of her masters (Pelosi and Obama).

During both of her town hall meetings to 'debate' health care reform, she stated that tort reform wouldn't help health care costs and tried to use the 'failure' of tort reform in Texas as an example.

There's only one problem with her claim: it's a complete and utter falsehood.

On NHPR, she said of the Texas reform, "It didn't drive down costs." In Manchester on Saturday, she said it accomplished "nothing."

That would be news to Texans. The Dallas Morning News reported in 2007 that because of tort reform, "(t)he number of doctors applying to practice in Texas every year has increased more than 50 percent, relieving desperate shortages in some rural areas."

The cost of malpractice insurance dropped an average of 27 percent, according to the Texas governor's office. Shea-Porter pretends that didn't help patients because health care providers did not immediately lower their prices. It's true, they didn't.

"Instead, they're reinvesting the savings in more and better health care," the Dallas Morning News reported.

When confronted by a woman at the town hall meeting in Manchester about the inaccuracy of her claim, she told the woman to sit down and be quiet.

So much for polite discourse or reasoned debate.

Keep It Open...Or Else!

You've got to hand it to the French. When it comes to American companies they have no problems resorting to extortion to force them to make decisions that may not be in the best interest of the companies involved.

A French minister on Wednesday threatened to ask French automakers to blacklist an American electronics company if managers don't find a way to keep its French plant open.

Industry Minister Christian Estrosi has been trying to broker a deal with executives of Illinois-based Molex Inc., an electronic components maker. The company temporarily shut down its plant in southern France on Aug. 5 after charging that workers angry about the planned closure of the plant had injured an American manager and two security guards.

Unless Molex is willing to keep the plant open or to sell the plant to French interests, Estrosi is planning on instructing French automakers to “immediately suspend all orders for material including products made by the Molex group.”

In the US such an act might be considered a violation of RICO statutes, leaving the Minister open to corruption and racketeering charges.


Carol Shea-Porter Versus Frank Guinta - A Study In Contrasts

Carol-Shea Porter may have met her match, at least when it comes to town hall meetings and debate about health care reform. As we posted yesterday, Shea-Porter has proven she can dish it out but can't take it. On more than one occasion she has shown her contempt for her constituents.

The comes along her presumed Republican challenger for her seat in the 2010 elections, Manchester mayor Frank Guinta, holding his own town hall meeting. The dichotomy between the two sets of town meetings couldn't be any broader.

Some observations by someone attending both meetings:

First let me start by saying, I don't believe for a minute, CSP would have scheduled a town hall meeting if Mayor Guinta hadn't scheduled one first.

With only an HOUR to ask questions of the Holy one, oops, I mean Congresswoman CSP, and with CSP taking up 20 minutes of that hour to sell us on how awful the insurance companies are, a rare few individuals were able to ask a question. We were limited to 2 minutes and people like me were denied the opportunity to follow up our original question with facts that contradicted her answer.

After CSP mislead everyone at the meeting on tort reform in Texas, he knew I had information that contradicted what she had just said to a woman who questioned her on cutting healthcare costs. His ticket was pulled and he let me go up and confront her on her misleading information.

In stark contrast, Mayor Guinta's town hall meeting was open to as many people who showed up.We were "allowed" to ask our questions without any time constraints and we didn't have to HIT the LOTTERY in order to ask a question.

Mayor Guinta took questions for the first hour then decided to extend his meeting another hour to accommodate the others who still wanted to raise concerns or ask a question.

At the end of the second hour, it was time to end the meeting, however he again graciously told the crowd he would remain in the hall and those who still wanted to talk to him, could do so.

Shea-Porter couldn't be bothered to answer questions that disagreed with her 'vision' on this matter, but her challenger took on all questions and stayed until everyone had a chance to talk with him.

Of the two approaches, I prefer latter, not the former. It's too bad Carol Shea-Porter prefers the former.

Do you think she'll get the message after she's voted out of office?