Desperation shows in the anti-warming camp

June 30, 2010

Willis Eschenbach, whose credentials I do not know, is back for another guest post at Watt’s Up With That.

Eschenbach contests conclusions drawn by the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, about the effects of warming in New England.

In a probably-unintentionally humorous way, Eschenbach shows just how desperate grow the anti-warming camp.  The purloined e-mails show no wrong-doing, and worse for denialists, no significant errors in the case that global warming occurs and is problematic.  Legislation to fight climate change has a chance of passing this Congress.  EPA promulgated rules on measuring CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s resolution to stop EPA failed in the Senate.  There was the hoax about the fourth-grade science project claimed to refute Nobel-quality research, and then there was the bungled story that mistakenly claimed a solar-energy company sent a non-working bomb to an economics professor in Spain in revenge for his paper against government support of green energy.  One can see how such a string of losses might set back the hopes of even the most delusional denialist.

Either ignorant of Godwin’s Law, or so desperate he thinks it worth the gamble, Eschenbach quoted somebody (did he ever name who?) going on about the Big Lie technique attributed to the Nazis in establishing policy in Germany before and during World War II.

Mike Godwin, discoverer of Godwin's Law - Wikimedia image

Mike Godwin, discoverer of Godwin's Law - Wikimedia image

Is there a more plaintive or pitiful way to say one is over one’s head and has run out of argumentative gasoline?

Eschenbach’s case is not particularly strong — he pulled temperature data (he said) from the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) to make charts showing, Eschenbach claimed, there is no 4°F rise in average New England winter temperatures since 1970.

After a couple of skirmishes to see whether Watts’ watchdogs still prevent my posting, I offered a small rebuttal that, of course, slipped quickly into the abyss of Watts Moderation.  It may eventually escape that particular eddy, but in case it doesn’t, here’s the post:

Tim Neilson asks:

PS Ed Darrell – do you have any evidence refuting the post?

Most claims of someone practicing “big lie” tactics are self-refuting, the opposite of a self-proving document under the law. Is this any exception? Mr. Eschenbach offers no evidence to suggest that a committee of Congress publishes material it knows to be wrong for propaganda effect. (The quotes relating to Hitler comprise a grand rhetorical tactic known as “red herring.” The mere presence of that material, were we to apply Godwin’s law, refutes Mr. Eschenbach’s case.)

There is no evidence to refute.

Mr. Eschenbach offers a few jabs at data that show the effects of warming in New England, but he does not appear to bother to look at the data the committee used. This is a bait-and-switch tactic of argumentation that most rhetoricians would label a spurious. Does Eschenbach rebut or refute the committee’s data? How could anyone tell?

The site of the committee, the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, offers several arguments to suggest changes in New England from warming might pose problems. So far as I see, Mr. Eschenbach addresses only one of those arguments, and that one incompletely.

1. The committee claims that average winter temperatures in New England have risen by 4 degrees F since 1970. Eschenbach offers a chart that, so far as I can tell, confirms the committee’s claim — but Eschenbach uses a chart that covers a much longer period of time, and offers it in a way that makes it difficult to determine what temperatures are, let alone what the trend is (IMHO, the trend is up, and easily by 4 degrees in Eschenbach’s chart). Oddly, he illustrates the chart by showing a surfer in a wet suit, surfing in winter in New England. Surfing is generally a warm-weather enterprise, and though the man has a wetsuit, and though the Gulf Current would warm those waters, the picture tends to deny Eschenbach’s claim, doesn’t it? If it’s warm enough to surf in winter, it’s warmer than the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

And look at the actual numbers — Eschenbach confesses a rise of 2.7 degrees, roughly 9/13 of the rise he intends to deny. Heck, that nearly-three degree rise is enough to cause concern, or should be.

2. The committee notes warmer temperatures would put more precipitation as rain, and not snow. Eschenbach offers no comment on this. Ski seasons in New England have suffered recently because it’s been too warm to keep natural snow, and too warm to make artificial snow (68 degrees F on January 6, 2007). (This is a national concern, by the way.) If the committee errs in this claim, Eschenbach offers no data.

And especially, he offers no data to back his “big lie” claim, that the committee knows differently from what it says.

3. The committee notes that warmer temperatures produce later autumns — a huge impact on tourist revenue in New England, where an enormous travel industry has built up around watching the changing colors of the trees. Such a change would be consistent with other long-term observations, such as those by the Department of Agriculture and Arbor Day Foundation, that the plant zones across America show warming (and some cooling).

Eschenbach doesn’t contest this in any way. Should we presume this is Eschenbach’s agreement that this claim is not a “big lie” claim?

3. The committee refers to warming oceans, and the potential effects on certain parts of the fishing industry, especially cod and lobster. This is caused by ocean warming, not atmospheric warming — so Eschenbach is again silent on this claim. The committee’s claim tends to undercut Eschenbach’s claim of a “big lie” here, and Eschenbach offers no support for his own argument.

4. The committee refers to greater storm damage due partly to rising sea levels. Eschenbach offers no rebuttal of any sort.

Eschenbach fails to make a prima facie case for his big lie claim, and his rebuttal is restricted solely to one measure of temperature that Eschenbach fuzzes up with an unclear chart.

May I ask, since you style yourself a skeptic, what evidence you found in the post that makes a case at all?

Will it ever see light of day at WUWT?

Update: Yes, it sees the light of day at WUWT.  Maybe all my kvetching had an effect.

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Climate denialism as Mrs. Gump might see it

May 7, 2010

Stupid is as stupid does.

Climate denialists trumpeted a hearing scheduled for Thursday before a select committee of the U.S. House of Representatives at which the madcap, veracity-challenged Christopher Monckton will carry the banner for denialism:

Also testifying to the panel will be another Briton, Lord Christopher Monckton, a hereditary peer in the House of Lords and prominent critic of the scientific consensus supporting anthropogenic climate change.

Of course, Monckton is not a hereditary peer of the House of Lords.  He has a peerage, but in Britain, they won’t let him near the levers of government.  No one has a hereditary peerage any more, and Monckton has never sat in Lords or Commons.

If Monckton can lie about stuff like that, what won’t he lie about?  If the denialists can be suckered so easily, what makes anyone think they are skeptics, and not gullibles? Bogus history, voodoo history, and voodoo science from the Republican end of the Select Committee.  Astonishing.

At the hearing a letter from 250 scientists, members of the National Academy of Sciences, called on Congress to act wisely and soon to fight human-caused global warming.

Incredibly, Monckton was the sole witness from the Republican side.  Remember the title of Chris Mooney’s book, The Republican War on Science? It’s still a valid title, it appears.

Witnesses at May 6, 2010 hearing before House Select Committee on Global Warming

Monckton squirms among the scientists: From left, Dr. James Hurrell, Dr. James McCarthy, Lord Christopher Monckton, Dr. Chris Field, Dr. Lisa Graumlich; photo from the Select Committee

The hearing was before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, chaired by Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass.

Written statements from the May 6 hearing:

Statements are in .pdf format.

  • OPENING STATEMENT: Chairman Edward J. Markey
  • Dr. Lisa Graumlich, Director, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona, and member of the “Oxburgh Inquiry” panel
  • Dr. Chris Field, Director, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, and co-chair of “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” portion of new IPCC report due in 2014
  • Dr. James McCarthy, Professor of Biological Oceanography, Harvard University, past President and Chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, co-chair of “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” portion of IPCC report published in 2001
  • Dr. James Hurrell, Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research, contributor to IPCC reports
  • Lord Christopher Monckton, Chief Policy Adviser, Science and Public Policy Institute

The hearing got precious little press, but it’s interesting to see the blogs that lead the denialism charge try to ignore most of the hearing.


Immigration anniversary

May 6, 2010

Today is the anniversary* of our nation’s first** law generally governing immigration.

Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese immigrants from the United States for 10 years.

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, page 1 - National Archives

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, page 1 - National Archives

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, page 2 - National Archives

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, page 2 - National Archives

____________

*    I note the image says it was approved by President Chester Alan Arthur (who had succeeded to office after President James Garfield was assassinated a year earlier).  The New York Times calls May 6 the anniversary of Congress’s passing the law; if Arthur signed in on May 6, it was probably passed a few days earlier.  May 6 would be the anniversary of its signing into law.

**  The Chinese Exclusion Act was preceded by the Page Act of 1875, which prohibited immigration of “undesirable” people.  Who was undesirable?  “The law classified as undesirable any individual from China who was coming to America to be a contract laborer, any Asian woman who would engage in prostitution, and all people considered to be convicts in their own country.”  It was not applicable to many immigrants.  The Page Act was named after its sponsor, Rep. Horace F. Page of California.


Do as I shout out inappropriately, not as I do . . . (Joe Wilson)

September 13, 2009

South Carolina’s U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson voted to provide medical care to illegal aliens.  See solid coverage of the vote and issue at Open Congress.  (Open Congress is a good site — government teachers, bookmark it.)

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End the hoaxes, part 3a: Government plans pay for cancer treatment, private insurance no better

August 23, 2009

Sad story out of Oregon, but a familiar story to anyone who has followed health care issues during any part of the past 40 years:  A woman gets cancer, her physician recommends a pharmaceutical or surgical procedure, but the insurance company denies coverage.

In this case, the story is being pushed by opponents to health care reform as a scare tactic.  ‘Health care reform means cancer-fighting drugs won’t be covered.’  The tenuous link to reality this argument has is this:  The woman is insured by Oregon’s public insurance alternative, a one-state effort to do what private insurance failed to do.  So, the critics reason, if she can’t get coverage under Oregon’s public plan, no one will get coverage under any government plan.

The pharmaceutical is a recently-developed cancer fighter, Tarceva.

It’s a crude bluff.  Reality is different.

  1. Medicare may pay for coverage of the drug in question, Tarceva. The Oregon public program has a rather high standard for coverage — 5% chance of survival for 5 months or more, established in clinical trials — but Medicare supplemental insurance plans, a federal program, will pay for Tarceva for non-small cell lung cancer treatments.  Oregon’s program may not be equivalent to the federal program proposed.
  2. Private insurance companies often deny coverage for cancer treatments. The story from Oregon shows the disparities in care, and it demonstrates well that rationing of health care is a key feature of the current system, a key reason to work for reform.  But denial of coverage occurs across the nation, and, I think statistics would show, more often from private insurance companies, often for less judicious reasons.  In Kansas, Mary Casey got the rejection from her private insurance company:  “But when Casey went to fill her Tarceva prescription at the pharmacy, her insurer, Coventry Health Care of Kansas, denied her coverage for the drug, saying it considered Tarceva experimental in her case, even though Tarceva is FDA approved for other lung and pancreatic cancers.”  There is no significant difference between private coverage and the Oregon public plan.
  3. Private insurance failed:  This woman is on the Oregon plan because private insurance didn’t provide any coverage for her.

Barabara Wagner’s story troubles anyone with a heart.  It’s not an argument against reforming health care and health care insurance, however, because Wagner wouldn’t be alive to this point without a government plan in Oregon, analogous to the public option proposed in the House bill; because private insurance does not differ significantly in its coverage of cancer victims; and because this woman is on a public program in the first place because private insurance simply failed to cover her at all.  Under private insurance, this woman would have been dead months ago, if not longer.

Other notes:


“Death panel” as fiction

August 22, 2009

Odd observation: Electronic searches of H.R. 3200, ‘”America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009,” find that the word “death” occurs only twice in the bill, on pages 588 and 596.

On page 588, the reference is to fines to a “skilled nursing facility” for lapses in care that result in the death of a patient. On page 596, again the reference is to a fine to a nursing facility for a lapse in care that results in the death of a patient.

In each case in which the word “death” occurs, the context is a fine for causing death.

The word “mortality” occurs once, on page 620. It occurs in a section that requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to set priorities in national health care quality improvement, and to give priority to ideas that “have the greatest potential to decrease morbidity and mortality in this country, including those that are designed to eliminate harm to patients.”

In the only case in which “mortality” occurs, the context calls for reducing mortality.

Don’t take my word for it. Go search the bill yourself.

Critics appear not to have read the bill.  When writing fiction, sometimes it’s best not to be bound by reality.  However, when one is not bound by reality, one is writing only fiction.


MomsRising Healthcare Truth Squad

August 22, 2009

I get e-mail.  In all the discouraging folderol on the health care debate, it’s nice to know that a few people are carrying the torch for democracy and good republican government like these ladies.

Red caped mothers and others in Baltimore, before the U.S.S. Constellation, campaigning to dispel false rumors about health care reform, on August 19, 2009.  Image from MomsRising.com

Red caped mothers and others in Baltimore, before the U.S.S. Constellation, campaigning to dispel false rumors about health care reform, on August 19, 2009. Image from MomsRising.com

Watch for the ladies in red capes.  Barney Frank won’t ask what planet they spend their time on, I’ll wager.

Note links to more information, or to join in their merriment, in the letter.

Faster than a toddler crawling toward an uncovered electrical outlet and more powerful than a teenager’s social networking skills, moms across the country have been fanning out to dispel the unfounded rumors, misconceptions, and lies about healthcare reform.

MomsRising Healthcare Truth Squad members, dressed in red capes, have been distributing powerful truth flyers across the nation to passersby to educate them about what healthcare reform will really do, and about how it will help to ensure the economic security of families across the country.

“I must admit that I don’t normally wear a cape in public, but it was oddly empowering.  We knew we were having an impact on the larger conversation about healthcare when a news camera starting following us around. I definitely recommend life as a superhero,” say Donna, a cape wearing SuperMom for Healthcare.

*Let’s give our caped myth-busting moms some “online backup” by Truth Tagging friends with healthcare reform myths & facts today–it’s a virtual distribution of the same facts that the MomsRising Healthcare Truth Squad members are handing out in-person:

http://momsrising.democracyinaction.org/o/1768/tellafriend.jsp?tell_a_friend_KEY=4728

It’s going to take thousands of super heroines speaking up in order to get the healthcare debate back on track. We can’t all be out on the streets in capes, so please take a moment now to spread the word and bust some myths via email to friends and family by clicking the link above.

Why’s this so important to moms right now? Over 46 million people in our nation don’t have any healthcare coverage at all, including millions of children. Not only are families struggling with getting children the healthcare coverage they need for a healthy start, but 7 out of 10 women are either uninsured, underinsured, or are in significant debt due to healthcare costs. In fact, a leading cause of bankruptcy is healthcare costs — and over 70% of those who do go bankrupt due to healthcare costs had insurance at the start of their illness. Clearly we need to fix our broken healthcare system!

Don’t forget to help put some more truth into the mix of the national dialogue on healthcare reform right now:

http://momsrising.democracyinaction.org/o/1768/tellafriend.jsp?tell_a_friend_KEY=4728

Onward!
–Kristin, Joan, Donna, Ashley, Julia, Dionna, Katie, Anita, Sarah, Mary, and the entire MomsRising Team

P.S.  We’ve been hearing so much positive feedback about our caped crusading moms that it might be time to lead a giant march of moms on the National Capitol Mall.  Tell us what you think: http://www.momsrising.org/blog/bust-a-myth-tag-a-friend-with-the-truth-about-healthcare/

P.P.S.  Want to get more involved with the MomsRising Healthcare Truth Squad members? Click here: http://momsrising.democracyinaction.org/o/1768/t/9251/signUp.jsp?key=4284

P.P.P.S. When you go to the Truth Squad Tag page, you can also see a video of our MomsRising Healthcare Truth Squad in action wearing capes! http://momsrising.democracyinaction.org/o/1768/tellafriend.jsp?tell_a_friend_KEY=4727

Here’s the video:


End the hoaxes, part 1: Health care costs cause bankruptcies

August 17, 2009

Health care costs, especially coupled with lack of adequate insurance even for insured people, drove our nation to the brink of economic collapse.

We need health care reform now, to help get our economy back on its feet.

“Unless you’re a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, you’re one illness away from financial ruin in this country,” says lead author Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., of the Harvard Medical School, in Cambridge, Mass. “If an illness is long enough and expensive enough, private insurance offers very little protection against medical bankruptcy, and that’s the major finding in our study.”

Woolhandler and her colleagues surveyed a random sample of 2,314 people who filed for bankruptcy in early 2007, looked at their court records, and then interviewed more than 1,000 of them. Health.com: Expert advice on getting health insurance and affordable care for chronic pain.

They concluded that 62.1 percent of the bankruptcies were medically related because the individuals either had more than $5,000 (or 10 percent of their pretax income) in medical bills, mortgaged their home to pay for medical bills, or lost significant income due to an illness. On average, medically bankrupt families had $17,943 in out-of-pocket expenses, including $26,971 for those who lacked insurance and $17,749 who had insurance at some point.

Overall, three-quarters of the people with a medically-related bankruptcy had health insurance, they say.

“That was actually the predominant problem in patients in our study — 78 percent of them had health insurance, but many of them were bankrupted anyway because there were gaps in their coverage like co-payments and deductibles and uncovered services,” says Woolhandler. “Other people had private insurance but got so sick that they lost their job and lost their insurance.” Health.com: Where the money goes — A breast cancer donation guide.

Personal bankruptcies played a large role in the banking crisis of late last year and early 2009.  Personal bankruptcies played a huge role in the collapse of mortgage securities markets, which prompted the banking crises.

If anything, current proposals do not go far enough in reforming insurance.

“To ignore the fact that medical costs are an underlying problem of the economic meltdown we’ve experienced would be to turn a blind eye to a significant problem that we can solve,” she said [Elizabeth Edwards, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress].

Edwards was joined by Steffie Woolhandler, a co-author of the Harvard study [discussed above] who sharply criticized current reform efforts.

“Private insurance is a defective product that leaves millions of middle-class families vulnerable to financial ruin. Unfortunately, the health reform plan now under consideration in the House would do little to address this grave problem,” Woolhandler said.

Without new legislation along the lines of the Democratic proposals in Congress, our nation faces economic doom.

Phony assertions of “death panels,” phony assertions of “creeping socialism,” phony claims about bad care in England, Canada and France, are all tools that help push our nation to economic failure.

Please do not be hoaxed.

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Another way to tell Republicans and opponents of health care reform have lost their minds, or their hearts, or their conscience

August 1, 2009

Republicans and opponents of health care reform make Dave Barry look like the prophet Isaiah with greatly improved accuracy.  You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried, as Dave Barry often says.

I have the right to protection, pleads this innocent little boy, in a poster for the State of Arizona Crime Victims Services division of the Department of Public Safety.  The Heritage Foundation ridicules federal support for child abuse prevention programs as unnecessary federal intrusion.

Included in the massive health care reform bill is some extra money to help out states and communities that have had difficulty getting effective programs going to combat child abuse.  Pilot programs demonstrated that community health workers could provide a few parenting programs and dramatically reduce child abuse.

These are programs that prevent dead babies.

According to the text of H.R. 3200, “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act,” starting on page 838 is a description of a program under which states and communities can get money to fight child abuse, if they have large populations of poor families, where child abuse is a problem, and where anti-child abuse programs need more money.  That’s pretty straightforward, no?  [That’s a hefty .pdf file, by the way — more than 1,000 pages.]

Parenting instruction and help can be offered, in private settings, and in homes where struggling parents need help most.

Money goes to states that want it and can demonstrate a need.  Parenting help programs are purely voluntary under H.R. 3200.

Who supports child abuse?  Who would not support spending some of the money in health care reform to save the saddest cases, the children who are beaten or starved or psychologically abused?

Is it not true that the prevention of child abuse would contribute to better health care for less money?

This is politics, you know.  Non-thinking conservatives pull out the stops in their desire to drive the health bill to oblivion, claiming that these anti-child abuse sections are socialism, liberty-depriving, and a threat to the designated hitter rule.  (I only exaggerate a little on the third point.)

This isn’t stripping liberties is it, we want someone else coming into our homes and telling us how to raise our children and live our lives.

This is right out of the Book 1984. If you had not read it I suggest it.

“Right out of 1984?”  Isn’t this a violation of  Godwin’s Law?

The Heritage Foundation appears to have taken a turn to radicalism, now advocating against fighting child abuse, and calling anti-child abuse programs a “stealth agenda.”

Have the Heritage Foundation, and these other people, lost their collective minds? They complain about the provisions of this bill because — this is their words:

One troublesome provision calls for a home visitation program that would bring state workers into the homes of young families to improve “the well-being, health, and development of children”.

Well, heaven forbid we should improve the well-being, health and development of children!

It is fair to conclude from this report that the Heritage Foundation does not want to prevent dead babies.

Years ago, when Father Reagan presided over the Conservative Church, one of the Heritage Foundation favorite deacons, a guy named Al Regnery, was appointed to be assistant attorney general over programs dealing with youth — juvenile delinquents, drug users, etc.  His chief qualifications for the job included that he was a faithful aide to Nevada Sen. Paul Laxalt, and that he toed the party line on almost all issues, including shutting down federal funding for programs that might prevent juvenile delinquency, or treat it.

Republicans controlled the Judiciary Committee under Sen. Strom Thurmond, so Regnery’s confirmation was never doubted.  But as if to throw gasoline in the face of advocates of anti-delinquency programs, When Regnery drove up to the Senate office buildings for his nomination hearing, his car had a generally humorous bumper sticker.  “Have you hugged your kid today” showed on about 200 million of the 100 million cars in America at the time — it was a cliché.  To fight the cliché, Regnery had the anti-fuzzy bumper sticker, “Have you slugged your kid today.”

When the issue hit the news, Regnery backpedalled, and said it was just a joke sticker that he probably should have taken off his car under the circumstances, but he forgot — and Regnery disavowed the bumper sticker, as humorous or anything else.

Comes 2009, we discover that the Heritage Foundation wasn’t kidding — slugging your kid is acceptable behavior to them, and creating programs to fight child abuse, is evil — to the Heritage Foundation.

Ronald Reagan would be ashamed of them.  Somebody has to be ashamed — there appears to be no shame at Heritage Foundation offices.

One wouldn’t worry — surely common sense American citizens can see through these cheap deceptions —  except that Heritage has a massive public relations budget, and there is a corps of willing gullibles waiting to swallow as fact any fantasy Heritage dreams up — see this discussion board on ComCast, where the discussants accept Heritage claims at face value though anyone with even a dime-store excrement detector would be wary; or see this blogger who says he won’t let the feds “take away” his liberties (to beat his children, or the children of others?); or this forum, where some naif thinks the bill will create a federal behavior czarGlenn Beck, whose religion reveres children, can’t resist taking a cheap shot at Obama, even though doing so requires Beck to stand up for child abuse.

Beck falls into the worst category, spreading incredible falsehoods as if he understood the bill:

This doesn’t scare me! No way. Just the crazies like Winston Smith — you know, the main character from “1984.”

When did we go from being a nation that believed in hard work and picking yourself up by the bootstraps, to a nation that wants government to control everything from our light bulbs to our parenting techniques?

This bill has to be stopped.

Gee, Glenn — when did we go from a nation that thought government was for the people, as demonstrated by the Agricultural Extension Service, or the Air Traffic Control System, or the Tennessee Valley Authority, to a nation that fights to bring back Czarist Russian government in the U.S.?  Stopping this bill won’t resurrect Czar Nicholas, and it will kill at least a few hundred American kids.  Excuse me if I choose living American kids over fantasies of a new and oppressive monarchy.

These people are not journalists. Beck isn’t like Orwell — maybe more like Ezra Pound, in Italy.  These people are not commentators, or columnists.  These people are not editorial writers.  They are not, most of them, lobbyists who give out  information for money, having sold their souls away from the angels of serious public discourse.

They are crass propagandists. They should be regarded more like the guy Tom Lehrer warned us about, the old dope peddler in the park, who always has just a little bit of poison for the kids or anyone else.  (“Don’t worry; you won’t get hooked.”)

How many other provisions of the health reform act are being distorted by conservatives in a desperate attempt to keep President Obama from “looking good,” despite the costs to America’s children and families?

These attacks on the health reform bill fall out of the category of robust discussion.  They disgrace our polity, and they erode the dignity of our democratic system.

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Below the fold:  An example of the type of program Beck and Heritage call socialism, 1984-ish, and dangerous.

Read the rest of this entry »


Jesus would have wept, but He was dehydrated from the heat

June 30, 2009

This rather captures it well, don’t you think?

But if you watched the debate [on climate change fighting legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives] on Friday, you didn’t see people who’ve thought hard about a crucial issue, and are trying to do the right thing. What you saw, instead, were people who show no sign of being interested in the truth. They don’t like the political and policy implications of climate change, so they’ve decided not to believe in it — and they’ll grab any argument, no matter how disreputable, that feeds their denial.

Indeed, if there was a defining moment in Friday’s debate, it was the declaration by Representative Paul Broun of Georgia that climate change is nothing but a “hoax” that has been “perpetrated out of the scientific community.” I’d call this a crazy conspiracy theory, but doing so would actually be unfair to crazy conspiracy theorists. After all, to believe that global warming is a hoax you have to believe in a vast cabal consisting of thousands of scientists — a cabal so powerful that it has managed to create false records on everything from global temperatures to Arctic sea ice.

Yet Mr. Broun’s declaration was met with applause.

Those are the words of Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman.  If Krugman gets a second Nobel for following the IPCC’s Nobel-winning advocacy, Rep. Broun will cite that as evidence of conspiracy, probably claim it as a conspiracy of “smart, intelligent people.”

See all of Krugman’s column in the New York Times.


Clean energy bill needs your help

June 25, 2009

Call your Congressman, the person who represents you in the U.S. House of Representatives, and urge a “yea” vote on the comprehensive clean energy bill.

You can check your representative at several places, or follow the instructions through RePower America, listed below the video from our old friend Al Gore.

Repower America said in an e-mail:

Clean energy bill needs our support

Any moment now, the House will be voting on the boldest attempt to rethink how we produce and use energy in this country. The bill’s passage is not assured. Call your Representative today.

  • Call 877-9-REPOWER (877-9-737-6937) and we’ll connect you to your Representative right after providing you with talking points. (We’re expecting high call volume, and if you are unable to be connected please use our secondary line, 866-590-0971.)
  • When connected to your Representative’s office, just remember to tell them your name, that you’re a voter, and that you live in their district. Then ask them to “vote ‘yes’ on comprehensive clean energy legislation.”

They’d like you to report your contact, here.

What?  You haven’t been following the debate?  Here’s what the pro-pollution, give-all-your-money-to-Canada, Hugo Chavez, and the Saudis group hopesHere’s where the anti-pollution, pro-frog and clean environment people say the proposed act is way too weak as it stands.  Here’s the House Energy and Commerce Committee drafts and discussion of the billConsumer Reports analyzed the bill here (and said it can’t be passed into law fast enough despite its flaws).

Call now.  Pass the word to your friends.  Tell your children to call — their kids deserve better than the path we’re on now.

More information and discussion:


When earmarks were good Congressional policy

May 28, 2009

Once  upon a time earmarks on legislation promoted the best inventions, and consequently, the economic success of the United States.  Below is the image of a vote count made by Samuel F. B. Morse on the bill to provide money to develop the telegraph.  Image and the text of explanation both come from the Morse Collection at the  American Memory Project at the Library of Congress.

Member list of the U.S. House of Representatives, with notations by Samuel Morse on vote of February 23, 1843

Member list of the U.S. House of Representatives, with notations by Samuel Morse on vote of February 23, 1843

By 1842, funding from the U.S. Congress was essential if the now-impoverished Morse was to be able to build and prove his telegraph system. On February 23, 1843, his bill for appropriated funding passed in the House of Representatives by a slim majority of 89 to 83 (with 70 not voting), but obviously every vote was crucial. This annotated member list of the twenty-six states may have been used by Morse before, during, or after the vote. The symbol “O” is thought to indicate an assenting vote, “-” a dissenting vote, and “>” no vote.


π day forever

March 23, 2009

π day comes around every year on March 14, right?  3.14.

With all the other commemorative resolutions that zip through Congress, how could anyone vote against an official, federal designation of π day?

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz voted against the resolution.  Does he have a point?  He’s either a fool or a genius, Burr and Canham report in the Salt Lake Tribune:

Quote of the Week

“How can you vote in favor of Pi Day, if it’s just one day. Pi Day should be forever,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

Chaffetz was one of just 10 members of Congress to oppose designating March 14th as Pi Day, meant to encourage math education. It honors the famous number pi (the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter), which starts as 3.14 and goes on forever.

When asked if this is really why he voted against the resolution, Chaffetz said, “Absolutely.”

391 other members voted for the resolution.  H. Res 224, Supporting the designation of Pi Day and for other purposes, sponsored by Rep. Gordon Bart of Tennessee and 15 cosponsors, passed.  Full text below the fold, from the Library of Congress tracking application, Thomas.

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Republicans: ‘Sorry, we can’t afford to save America’

February 8, 2009

Krugman’s got his figures half-way done, and the numbers already show that the stimulus package Congress has before it is too small to do the job.

Obama had the right view:  Yes, there is a lot of spending, that’s what a stimulus package is all about.

But the Republicans refused to budge.  ‘Can’t use the ring-buoy to save the drowning nation — the rope might get wet.  If we pulled it in, we’d have to pull it into the boat, and the boat would get wet.  Why not leave it in the water a while longer — we can recover the body with a dredge, it will look pretty much like it looks now.  What’s the problem?’

At his blog at the New York Times site, Krugman lays it out concisely:

I’m still working on the numbers, but I’ve gotten a fair number of requests for comment on the Senate version of the stimulus.

The short answer: to appease the centrists, a plan that was already too small and too focused on ineffective tax cuts has been made significantly smaller, and even more focused on tax cuts.

According to the CBO’s estimates, we’re facing an output shortfall of almost 14% of GDP over the next two years, or around $2 trillion. Others, such as Goldman Sachs, are even more pessimistic. So the original $800 billion plan was too small, especially because a substantial share consisted of tax cuts that probably would have added little to demand. The plan should have been at least 50% larger.

Now the centrists have shaved off $86 billion in spending — much of it among the most effective and most needed parts of the plan. In particular, aid to state governments, which are in desperate straits, is both fast — because it prevents spending cuts rather than having to start up new projects — and effective, because it would in fact be spent; plus state and local governments are cutting back on essentials, so the social value of this spending would be high. But in the name of mighty centrism, $40 billion of that aid has been cut out.

My first cut says that the changes to the Senate bill will ensure that we have at least 600,000 fewer Americans employed over the next two years.

The real question now is whether Obama will be able to come back for more once it’s clear that the plan is way inadequate. My guess is no. This is really, really bad.

Is there any economist who thinks the situation is not so dire, or that this legislation spends enough money?

Politics triumphs over economics, common sense and national welfare, once again.

Call your Congressional representatives, let ’em know your thoughts.

Update: I regret I didn’t make the connection earlier — go read “The Pony Chokers” at Edge of the West. Don’t let stiff-necked Congressional representatives choke your pony.


Strange bed bugs

May 18, 2008

You can’t make this stuff up.

Alaska’s lone congressman cosponsored a bill last week to provide help to the states to inspect hotels and motels for bed bugs. Chief sponsor is Rep. G. K. Butterfield of North Carolina. H.R. 6068 was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The title: The Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite Act of 2008.

While an Alaskan newspaper noticed the bill, neither chief sponsor Butterfield nor any cosponsor submitted a statement accompanying introduction, nor have they put out a press release. The blog NY vs Bed Bugs is all over it already.

Funny title but serious business? Can’t tell. Watch that space.

Full text of the bill below the fold.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Dr. Bumsted.

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