Monday, July 31, 2006
I Didn'tFans of Senator Ted Kennedy's work on the Senate Judiciary Committee may find this irksome.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:17 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:17 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:38 PM
Joshua Holland argues in favor of "opening up the Medicare program to anyone who wants to enroll." He argues that such a system would cost Americans less than our current health care system for various reasons, one of which, he said, is that Medicare has lower administrative costs than private insurers.Next up: Why one should be skeptical of claims the U.S. has worse health outcomes than nations with single-payer health systems.
I dispatched that argument in my last post by showing that 1) administrative costs for Medicare are in fact higher than are commonly reported, and 2) Medicare's lack of administrative oversight results in greater costs in waste and fraud than the amount incurred by the private sector.
Now let's move on to Holland's other reasons why a "Medicare for All" single-payer health care system would cost less.
This passage from Holland sums up his other reasons:Medicare costs less than private insurance across the board, not only in terms of administrative costs but also because Medicare has a huge amount of bargaining power with healthcare providers (except for Bush's new prescription drug plan, in which lobbyists from Big Pharma prevented the government from negotiating prices).First, a point of clarification. Medicare does not bargain, per se. Rather, it sets its prices for both hospitals and physicians. It does so based on various formulas. (See here for hospitals and here (part (d)(4)) for physicians.)
So, opening up Medicare starts a virtuous cycle (what private insurers and doctors would view as a vicious cycle). Employers would switch in a flash. Sure, they dump millions into think-tanks that bemoan the evils of single-payer healthcare, but if they're able to have contented employees and cut costs by 30-40 percent, they will. Then there are millions, like me, who want health insurance, are nowhere near the poverty line, but still can't afford private insurance. They'd sign up in droves, and the number of uninsured patients would decrease.
Uninsured patients often forego preventative care, and only seek treatment when they get sick and have to be treated, which results in higher costs. Lowering the number of uninsured will decrease overall healthcare expenses in the U.S. Having many more patients in the system will, in turn, expand Medicare's buying and negotiating power, resulting in further cost reductions (which would bring still more people into the system).
Exactly how employers dumping their employees into Medicare will cut employers' costs is difficult to see. It will require money for Medicare to pay for all those new enrollees, and that money won't grow on trees. It will take the form of new taxes; thereby offsetting whatever cost savings employers might get by eliminating their private coverage. (And that's to say nothing of businesses that don't currently offer coverage but will have to pay new taxes to fund "Medicare for All" -- their costs will go up.)
Holland may believe most of that would be offset by lower costs due to newly-insured people seeking more preventative treatments, thereby reducing larger costs down the road. An examination of our past experiences with Medicare can help us evaluate that claim.
Despite funding preventative care, Medicare can't seem to keep its costs down. For example, the monthly premiums for Medicare Part B -- which funds doctor visits and other outpatient care -- have risen from $50 in 2001, to $54 in 2002, $58.70 in 2003, $66 in 2004, $78.20 in 2005, and $88.60 in 2006. Those are increases of 8%, 8.7%, 12.4%, 18.5%, and 13.3%, respectively. While the deductible for Part B stayed steady at $100 for a number of years, in 2005 and 2006 it took jumps of 10% and 12.7%, respectively.
Looking at the doctors' fees of Part B also shows that Medicare costs are growing rapidly. The formula used to determine these fees is set so that if Medicare expenses in Part B rise too quickly year-to-year, the fees are to be cut. That is exactly what has now happened. Indeed, it is possible the fees paid to doctors under Medicare may have to be cut annually for the next ten years (after doctors protested, Congress delayed the scheduled cut for this year and may do so again next year), which inevitably would cause many doctors to stop accepting new Medicare patients just as the huge "baby boom" generation begins becoming eligible for Medicare. As David Gratzer noted in the January 26 Wall Street Journal, over 30% of American doctors already do not accept new Medicare patients.
So why doesn't Medicare reduce health care costs? It is likely due to two reasons. First, since Medicare is a government program, the bureaucrats who run it have to find ways to hold down costs. One way is to delay the approval of payments for new procedures until it is near certain that they are cost-effective. Consider colonoscopies. It was well established by the early 1990s that colonoscopies were good for preventing colon cancer. Yet, it wasn't until 2001 that Medicare decided to fund them for most recipients. Thus, Medicare was slow to reap preventative benefits of colonoscopies. Medicare patients were as well.
A second reason is overuse. When people perceive that they are getting something for free or -- in the case of Medicare -- at a discount, they use more of it than if they were paying the full cost. As Medicare recipients overuse all types of services, it offsets any cost reduction that might be achieved from preventative care. (In fact, overuse of preventative care contributes to the cost, as this article on colonoscopies shows). Overuse is a reason why nations such as Canada and Britain have bursting health care budgets and resort to rationing measures such as waiting times and cancelled surgeries.
Opening Medicare to anyone who wants in would result in a vicious circle of escalating costs. As people overuse care, more and more taxes will be required to pay for Medicare. The government will respond by rationing care. This reduced quality of health care will eliminate preventive care cost savings, in turn leading to higher health care costs.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:09 AM
Take corn-based ethanol. In the U.S., the industry currently produces 3.4 billion gallons, used mostly as an octane-boost additive in gasoline. Billions of dollars in annual federal subsidies doesn't change the fact we don't and -- due to limitations on the amount of land, can't -- grow nearly enough corn to meet our food and energy needs.There's more. Read Dana's full piece, "Oil Addiction Fiction," on the web at National Review Online.
Some experts question whether the production of ethanol even nets a positive amount of energy. Scientists David Pimentel of Cornell University and Tad Patzek of University of California Berkley found after considering energy inputs to separate, ferment, distill, and extrude the corn, that ethanol uses 29 percent more fossil fuel in its making than it yields for energy use. If the findings are true, it makes absolutely no sense for the government to spend billions of tax dollars subsidizing an entity that uses more energy than it gives off.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:20 AM
Continuing my deconstruction of Joshua Holland's AlterNet polemic in favor of single-payer health care, let's now look at administrative costs.(To read David Hogberg's first installment in this series, please go here.)
Holland claims:People grumble quite a bit about their private HMOs, but survey after survey -- for years -- have shown high levels of satisfaction among Medicare patients. Two percent of Medicare's costs are administration and management while 20 percent of private "Medigap" plans are sucked up by administrative costs. Medicare, which doesn't need to turn a profit, does that with a much sicker (and more treatment-intensive) population than private insurers deal with.In that first sentence Holland seems to suggest (it's not fully clear) that recipients of Medicare are much happier, on average, than those with private insurance.
Holland should check out the 2005 Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Survey (pdf). On a variety of ratings, the CAHPS survey shows that only slightly more people are dissatisfied with their private plans than are dissatisfied with Medicare -- Medicare is hardly winning a popularity contest by a wide margin.
(And, for those thinking that government health care programs result in higher patient satisfaction, be advised: The worst patient satisfaction ratings are for Medicaid.)
Holland's claims about administrative costs are even more misleading. As a policy study (pdf) from the Council for Affordable Health Insurance states, comparisons of administrative costs are inaccurate because:The primary problem is that private sector insurers must track and divulge their administrative costs, while most of Medicare's administrative costs are hidden or completely ignored by the complex and bureaucratic reporting and tracking systems used by the government.Some of the administrative costs that are factored into private sector calculations, but not Medicare, include:1. Collecting Revenue. What it costs employers and the IRS to collect the payroll tax needed to fund Medicare is not included in Medicare's administrative costs.When such factors are included, Medicare's administrative costs are over 5%, not 2%.
2. Company Policy. While the salary cost of executives and boards of directors who set company policy are included in private sector administrative costs, the salaries of members of Congress and their staff members who set Medicare policy are not factored into Medicare's administrative costs.
3. Management. The salaries of the folks who run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the costs of the buildings where they work are excluded from Medicare's administrative costs. No such luck for the private sector.
Furthermore, as the CAHI paper notes, Medicare's lower administrative costs may actually reflect Medicare's greater inefficiency:Medicare calculates administrative costs as a ratio of identified administrative costs divided by claims. In 2003, the average medical cost for Medicare was estimated to be about $6,600 per person per year (because of the nature of Medicare's beneficiary pool of older and disabled people), while the average medical cost for private health insurance, excluding out-of-pocket cost, was $2,700 per person per year. Because of the higher cost per beneficiary, Medicare's method of calculation makes administrative costs, albeit unintentionally, appear to be lower than they really are. Indeed, if the numbers were adequately "handicapped," they would be in the 6 to 8 percent range.That paragraph suggests another important point about administrative costs: They are not necessarily superfluous. Administrative costs in the private sector are used to help keep costs down by stopping unneeded care. This lack of oversight is a big problem for Medicare. As Jonathan Skinner, Elliot Fisher, and John E. Wennberg pointed out in a paper for the NBER, "nearly 20 percent of total Medicare expenditures [appear] to provide no benefit in terms of survival, nor is it likely that this extra spending improves the quality of life."
Or how about administrative costs used to prevent fraud? Medicare has been plagued by fraud for years, far worse than the private sector. Ultimately, what matters when evaluating administrative costs is whether they are cost effective. If you spend $1 million on administrative costs, you aren't wasting $1 million if it reaps $2 million in benefits.
In sum, most estimates of Medicare's administrative costs are inaccurate because they leave out important factors that are included in private sector calculations.
To put most of our population in Medicare would put them in a system that is lousy at weeding out unnecessary care and fraud -- hardly a recipe for "efficiency."
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:54 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:13 AM
Over at AlterNet, Joshua Holland argues that the way to universal coverage - which he inexplicably supports -- is to open Medicare to all of those who want to join, not just those age 65 and older.Coming next: Administrative costs.
Holland's article is so riddled with ignorance that it is going to require more than one blog post to set it straight.
Let's begin with the type of health care system that Holland believes is superior to the one in the U.S.:Holland: The day you pass a law opening up Medicare enrollment to everyone who wants in is the beginning of the end for our bloated, overpriced private health care system. Within ten years, we'd have universal, single-payer health care, with just a small percentage of Americans sticking with private insurance (like in the UK).If we were to go the UK route, we would soon end up with a health care system that would be overused because people would think (erroneously) they are getting something for free. In response, the government would have to ration care, yielding a system characterized by bureaucracy and inefficiency:-We could have a system that results in over 770,000 people on a waiting list to get surgery, like in the UK.Thanks, but I will take what Holland calls "our bloated, overpriced private health care system" over the UK's any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
-We could have a system that results in children with heart defects on waiting lists to see a specialist, sometimes for two years, like in the UK.
-We could have a system that results in about 61,000 surgeries cancelled annually due to lack of resources, like in the UK.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:06 PM
Anti-Israel Activities of NoteRyan says there are many more.
* 'Zionism is racism': In November of 1975, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 3379, which determined, "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” The resolution stood for 16 years, until the General Assembly repealed it in 1991 by a vote of 111-25 (the vote included 13 abstentions and 17 absent or non-voting delegations).
* UNESCO World Heritage: Israel has twice witnessed its management of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls thwarted by UNESCO, the U.N. educational, scientific and cultural body that manages a list of significant sites of 'World Heritage,' In the early 1980s, UNESCO permitted Jordan to nominate Jerusalem as World Heritage, although Israel governed the city and was not a party to the World Heritage Convention. Within a year, Jerusalem became listed as one of the 31 sites 'in danger,' a designation it retains today.
* Human Rights Discrimination: The newly 'reformed' U.N. human rights body voted 29-12 in June of 2006 to adopt a resolution requiring UN investigators to report at each Council meeting "on the Israeli human rights violations in occupied Palestine.” The previous U.N. Commission on Human Rights (defunct since March 2006) referred to Israel in 30 percent of its resolutions condemning human rights violations.
According to Anne Bayefsky of the Hudson Institute, the U.N. has never issued a specific resolution on anti-Semitism or issued a single report on discrimination against Jews. In 2003, the first resolution on anti-Semitism was offered before the General Assembly but withdrawn because of Arab and Muslim opposition. The first mention of the word "anti-Semitism" in a U.N. resolution occurred in November of 1998 on a document to eliminate racism and racial discrimination.
* Singled Out: According to the Permanent Mission of Israel to the U.N., the "General Assembly devotes seven out of 179 items of its agenda to issues concerning Israel" and annually adopts 19 anti-Israeli resolutions.10 Of the 10 emergency sessions of the U.N. General Assembly, six of them have concerned Israel. The Tenth Special Session on the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is convened without end.
* Second-State Status: Israel is the only U.N. member country not to have permanent membership in one of the five U.N. regional groupings, which are organized by geography. In May of 2000, Israel accepted temporary membership (extended in 2004) in the Western European and Other States Group (WEOG). Therefore, Israel may participate in WEOG meetings in New York, but this designation prevents Israel from seeking membership on many U.N. agencies that are not organized by the WEOG.
Anti-Semitic Remarks of Note
* "Is it not the Jews who are exploiting the American people and trying to debase them?" - Dr. Ali Treiki, Libyan Representative to the U.N. before the U.N. General Assembly
* "The Talmud says that if a Jew does not drink every year the blood of a non-Jewish man, he will be damned for eternity." - Marouf al-Dawalibi, Saudi Arabian delegate before the 1984 U.N. Commission on Human Rights conference on religious tolerance
* In 1991 Farouk al-Chareh, the Syrian Representative to the U.N., accused Jews of using the blood of Christian children in their religious rituals.
* In 1997 Nabil Ramiani, Palestinian Representative to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, accused "Israeli authorities" of injecting "300 Palestinian children with the HIV virus during the years of the intifada.”
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:55 PM
Global warming isn't the only issue where it seems Congress only wants to hear one side of the story.Don't worry, Ms. Schuett. One day we'll have a Republican Congress, and left-wing pork like this will end.
In fall of 2005, when Senate hearings on the Violence Against Women Act were upcoming, Phyllis Schlafly attempted to get me an invitation to the hearings, as I've researched the issue extensively, know the agencies well, and she felt another side of the issue needed to be aired. While it's far more complex than can be covered in a single e-mail, our stance is that the vast network of over 2000 programs and services funded by VAWA provide to victims little or no actual assistance related to their problem. In addition, VAWA-funded state coalitons on domestic violence function primarily as lobbying groups for legislation friendly to radical feminist ideology, which demonizes men and restricts the rights of women to make their own life choices. We feel this is an inappropriate use of public funds.
She was told no opposing points of view were welcome. They were only interested in hearing positive statements related to the reauthorization of VAWA.
It's not as if there was an overwhelming amount of interest in the passage of the act by the general public, either. Over the summer, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence put out a call for victims who would come forward and testify to the Senate on why this act needed reauthorization to keep their programs running. When we saw the congressional record later, after the hearings, we expected to see the names of a number of women who?d been through shelter programs show up to say how they had been helped. Yet the list of those speaking included only employees of agencies who directly benefit financially from VAWA grants, and an actress with a movie to promote.
There is quite clearly something wrong here.
Trudy W. Schuett
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:27 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:34 AM
Today, at an event hosted by The Heritage Foundation, the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance released a new paper titled "A Call to Truth, Prudence and the Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming."
According to the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, the paper is a direct response to the Evangelical Climate Initiative's "Call to Action," which was released earlier this year and has been the subject of some controversy within the evangelical community.
The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance's "A Call to Truth" takes on the Evangelical Climate Initiative's assertion that carbon dioxide emissions are causing soon-to-be catastrophic global warming, and, therefore, mandatory carbon dioxide emissions reductions are needed to prevent the catastrophe.
As they claim that global warming affects the poor the most, the Evangelical Climate Initiative signers presumably support Kyoto-style caps on carbon dioxide emissions because of their desire to help the poor. However, as Interfaith Stewardship Alliance panelists pointed out today, mandatory caps on carbon dioxide actually pose the bigger threat to the world's poor, as their implementation would deny them basic necessities such as heating, cooling, modern health care and clean energy.
The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance paper states:...the destructive impact on the poor of enormous mandatory reductions in fossil fuel use far exceeds the impact on them -- negative or positive -- of the moderate global warming that is most likely to occur. Indeed, the policy promoted by the Evangelical Climate Initiative would be both economically devastating to the world's poor and ineffective at reducing global warming...The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance's "A Call to Truth" has been endorsed by over 130 leading evangelical scholars, theologians, scientists, economists, pastors and others with special expertise in one or more of the following: Climatology or related sciences, economics, environmental studies, theology or ethics.
If the aim is to help the poor, what matters from the policy point of view is supporting the development process by which countries acquire greater ability to deal with adverse economic, climatic, and social conditions, regardless of cause. Put simply, poor countries need income growth, trade liberalization, and secure supplies of reliable, low-cost electricity. Rather than focusing on theoretically possible changes in climate, which varies tremendously anyway with El Nino, La Nina, and other natural cycles, we should emphasize policies -- such as affordable and abundant energy -- that will help the poor prosper, thus making them less susceptible to the vagaries of weather and other threats in the first place.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:14 PM
James E. Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who sparked an uproar last month by accusing the Bush administration of keeping scientific information from reaching the public, said Friday that officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are also muzzling researchers who study global warming.It occurs to me that if Dr. Hansen does not like his employer's rules, he is free to seek employment elsewhere.
Hansen, speaking in a panel discussion about science and the environment before a packed audience at the New School university, said that while he hopes his own agency will soon adopt a more open policy, NOAA insists on having "a minder" monitor its scientists when they discuss their findings with journalists.
"It seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than the United States," said Hansen, prompting a round of applause from the audience. He added that while NOAA officials said they maintain the policy for their scientists' protection, "if you buy that one please see me at the break, because there's a bridge down the street I'd like to sell you."
NOAA Administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher denied Hansen's charges, saying his agency requires its scientists to tell its press office about contacts with journalists but does not monitor their communications.
"My policy since I've been here is to have a free and open organization," Lautenbacher said. I encourage scientists to conduct peer-reviewed research and provide the honest results of those findings. I stand up for their right to say what they want."
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:36 PM
1) Commenter Wayne Hall on the RealClimate blog suggests that my blog entry about Hansen is so bad, the entire National Center for Public Policy Research "should be excluded from such debate on account of their dishonesty.... [as] toleration of disingenuous input exploiting public ignorance is an unaffordable luxury."
He also says that in the European Union, groups like the National Center and "other NGOs of this kind... would not have access to the deliberations of the Social Forums of the international movement." He recommends enhancing this "censorship mechanism."
RealClimate is no ordinary blog. It is the online home of paleoclimatologist Michael Mann of "hockey stick" fame, and one of two blogs -- the other being ClimateAudit -- whose sparring in part led to two Energy and Commerce Committee hearings this month on global warming. I think it is interesting that RealClimate allows the post to stay there (not that we mind, being believers in transparency ourselves), as RealClimate has a reputation for deleting comments it doesn't like.
To Mr. Hall's views in context, view comment #256 on this page. Don't be confused by the fact that Mr. Hall thinks my name is "Anne."
2) Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. has a post on his superlative Prometheus blog discussing Dr. Hansen's boycott of the Committee on Government Reform hearing. Dr. Pielke, as it happens, testified at that hearing. (For those interested, Dr. Pielke's written testimony can be downloaded here (pdf)).
In his post about Dr. Hansen's decision, Dr. Pielke says, in part:Coming from someone who complained about being censored, it sounds like he'd like to do a bit censoring of his own. It also seems a bit odd for a high ranking government employee to refuse to offer testimony when called upon by Congress to do so...The comments left by others to this post also are interesting.
3) Writing in Blogotional, John Schroeder gets straight to the point: "In science it not supposed to be about who thinks what, you are supposed to be able to tell true from false from the data!
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:21 PM
Ms. Ridenour,If "censoring" can properly be described as the act of suppressing or deleting things considered objectionable, and a variety of dictionaries assure me it can, then a decision by the Committee to exclude testimony from individuals who have not been convinced beyond reasonable doubt that human beings are causing significant global warming would seem to meet the definition.
I just read your post on [the July 20] climate conference (you'll be happy to know it popped up on a Google search for "climate science"). I'm writing you directly because your blog doesn't seem to accept comments.
While I think Hansen's e-mail is politically dumb (I think he should have either attended despite his cold or not attended out of protest), I can't blame him for not wanting to attend. Given the Senate's recent attacks on his credibility (http://epw.senate.gov/pressitem.cfm?id=258440&party=rep) and a frustration with getting into the same debate for the Nteenth time, I probably wouldn't want to show up either.
I think you are overstating the matter in your blog's title and in the conclusion: "Had the House Government Reform Committee taken a page from Dr. Hansen's playbook and refused to invite Dr. Christy solely because of Christy's views, it would have been censorship."
Not inviting Dr. Christy would not have been "censorship" in any sense of the word. Not inviting him may have been politically unwise, but that's not the same as censorship. The Committee's constraints (time, relevance, etc.) force them to consider some standards when drawing its list of invitees. Not inviting an individual solely because of their views, if those views fall outside of a reasonable standard, is reasonable and necessary. Dr. Hansen's view is that Dr. Christy falls outside of this curve of reasonable beliefs. You and the Congressmen clearly disagree. That's fine, but had Dr. Hansen had his way, it still would not have been censorship.
The Committee can't and shouldn't consider all views. I think you would join me in objecting if the scriptwriter to "The Day After Tomorrow" was invited to give his or her take on things (tornadoes in LA and glaciers in New York as early as next Thursday). Hence, you need to carefully limit who gives testimony (and for the record I'm not saying that Dr. Christy's grasp of science is the same as Hollywood scriptwriters).
Considering some of the things that the Committee will be investigating, including manipulation of scientific documents for political purposes (AKA censorship) and muzzling of government scientists, suggesting that Dr. Hansen's sentiment is akin to censorship is hyperbole if not plainly untrue.
Director of Communications
Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security
Research for People and the Planet
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:53 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:54 PM
A chronic illness only partly explains why James Hansen decided to skip the House Government Reform Committee's first hearing on global warming in seven years. The embattled NASA scientist also passed on yesterday's event because lawmakers are "still in denial" about the reasons for dramatic changes in the Earth's climate, he said last night in an e-mail.Perhaps he meant it to be perceived differently, but Dr. Hansen's actions fit the description of a hissy fit. If Hansen disagrees with Dr. John Christy (whose testimony to the commitee can be found in pdf form here), why not participate in the hearing and explain why?
In the message Hansen sent to reporters to explain his absence from yesterday's hearing, the director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies said he had a conflicting doctor appointment to deal with a cold that interacts with his asthma... But he also indicated he would have adjusted his schedule if the witness list did not also include skeptical points of view.
"I would get out of my sickbed to testify to Congress on global warming, if they were ready to deal responsibly with the matter," Hansen wrote. "But obviously they are still in denial, inviting contrarians to 'balance' the science of global warming."
Hansen apparently was objecting to the House panel's late addition of John Christy, a professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In his testimony yesterday, Christy told lawmakers that scientists "cannot reliably project the trajectory of the climate" for large regions of the United States.
Christy also said it would be a "far more difficult task" to predict the effects should the United States adopt a mandatory greenhouse gas policy.
Hansen's e-mail said skeptical points of view cloud the climate debate rather than enlighten it. "The function of the contrarians is to obfuscate what is known, so as to keep the public confused and allow special interests to continue to reap short-term profits, to the detriment of the long-term economic well-being of the nation," he said.
Hansen said Congress should direct the National Academy of Sciences to update its 2001 report to President Bush on the state of the science surrounding global warming. "Until then, it is just a charade," he wrote...
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:13 PM
A car dealer in Washington, Don Beyer Volvo, is offering a new promotion. If you buy one of their cars, the dealership will give you free tickets to Al Gore's global warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Mr. Beyer is a Democrat in good standing, having been lieutenant governor of Virginia and national treasurer of the Dean for America campaign, so he must be down with the global warming program. But giving away movie tickets with the purchase of every climate-destroying luxury automobile (the 2005 Volvo XC90 gets 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway) probably isn't, in the long run, the most effective way to save the planet...Al Gore has often said that we need not sacrifice economic prosperity in order to promote environmental protection. I guess he had a point.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:05 PM
Nick Cheolas says: "Affirmative action allows those responsible for the failures of urban education to shirk accountability with a simple, ineffective solution..."
Deneen Moore says : "In Harlem, at last, there is now a ray of hope..."
And the blogosphere's own Mark Tapscott pointed me toward an excellent editorial in the D.C. Examiner, asking: Who will speak the truth about D.C. schools?
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:34 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:58 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:11 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:18 AM
...Nobody needs to wade through the depths of comment sections to find this rhetoric on the Right, nor does anyone need to seize on totally obscure individuals and -- a la Ward Churchill or Deb Frisch -- absurdly try to transform them into some sort of political leader in order to impose responsibility for their moronic statements on people who never even heard of them before. One need only peruse the routine hate-mongering of the Right's opinion leaders and their prominent bloggers -- the Malkins and the Mishas and the David Horowitzs and the Ann Coulters -- and one will find more hateful and deranged rhetoric than one can stomach. And it is almost never condemned, including by those who self-righteously parade themselves around as Defenders of Civility and have the audacity to demand that others condemn such rhetoric when it comes from far less significant and influential corners.There is, somewhat unbelievably, a very long debate involving many people over at the QandO blog between Glenn Greenwald, McQ and others over the meaning of Greenwald's original post. I won't recap it, since folks can read it themselves. I will, however, say three brief things:
Based on the grieving rituals we had to endure this weekend over Jeff Goldstein's sensibilities, I presume it's fair to infer that the silence from right-wing bloggers over Misha's calls for the deaths of journalists and Supreme Court Justices means -- as one of the most-cited sermons put it -- that "one might be tempted to think that this absolute lack of condemnation was a tacit acceptance of these tactics." One might be particularly tempted to think that given that such rhetoric flows not merely from obscure commenters on right-wing blogs, but also from the Right's leading bloggers and pundits, with virtually no condemnation of any kind.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:18 AM
Summary: L. Brent Bozell III misleadingly suggested that there is no scientific consensus on the existence of global warming, claiming that scientists were once predicting another ice age. In fact, the magnitude of the consensus among scientists that global warming exists and that human activity is a contributing factor dwarfs the pool of scientists 30 years earlier who warned that the earth was cooling.If Media Matters was genuinely confident in a "scientific consensus on the existence of global warming," it would not have used the qualifying phrase "the magnitude of the consensus (emphasis added) among scientists that global warming exists" later in the same one paragraph summary.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:17 PM
From: "Clarke, Paulette"I commented about this on the blog earlier, here and here.
Date: April 30, 2004 5:06:27 PM EDT
Subject: Black Conservatives
You call youselves "conservatives!" What do Black Americans have to conserve in America? You should be looking to be "progressives"? Black Americans need a lot more progress in order to gain as compared to the White Americans. We don't need to "conserve" things the way they are right now. GET A GRIP, YOU BUNCH OF "UNCLE TOMS."
This message and its attachments are sent by a lawyer and may contain information that is confidential and protected by privilege from disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient, you are prohibited from printing, copying, forwarding or saving them. Please delete the message and attachments without printing, copying, forwarding or saving them, and notify the sender immediately.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:12 PM
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Relative to per capita income, 1873 was the highest point Congressional salaries ever reached. According to Economic History Services, the $7,500 wage would be roughly equivalent to $850,000 today. At the time it was about 40 times per capita GDP.The rumor is true. They clearly didn't have blogs -- or talk radio -- in 1873.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:06 AM
I always find it interesting when "property owners" are cited in articles like this. Let's look at the truth, when you say "property owner" what you mean is developer. Developers, especially in northern Virginia, have a rapacious appetite and zero concern for the effect of their deeds. The reason the Chancellorsville corridor is so congested is because a lot of developers decided to knock over every tree in site and name the new streets after them. Then they have the effrontery to claim local and state governments are lacking in concern for the new residents because they won't provide more and larger roads and other infrastructure. The truly sad thing is as soon as the locals give up and satisfy the developer's demands the same developers use the newly expanded infrastructure as an excuse to build even more. Frankly I wish all you developers would go some place where people don't give a damn about quality of life. Several places come to mind, one being very warm.Based on his email address, it appears that Mr. Spearman works for the government of Henrico County, Virginia. Henrico County regulates development. I'm sure it is the case that not every Henrico resident agrees with every Henrico County planning decision, but is it really reasonable to believe that the citizens would find government more responsive on local land-use decisions if the federal government increased its involvement in the planning process?
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:20 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:44 PM
...The Wall Street Journal's Max Boot has referred to this CWA-EPA-Army Corps axis as "The Wetlands Gestapo" for very good reason. In every state of the union, small landowners have faced bureaucratic nightmares when some federal or state agent suddenly showed up and said their property contained protected wetlands -- whether wet or dry. And typically these landowners have entered no-exit mazes of bureaucratic red tape running on for years and years, and even decades, of extremely costly permit-seeking and legal proceedings, vainly seeking to exhaust all available "administrative remedies" so that their cases might become ripe for seeking takings compensation. Meanwhile, they were paying taxes on land they could not use.Read the entire piece here.
The best example of the naked power behind the CWA surfaced in Maine, where Gaston Roberge owned a 2.8-acre commercial lot which he had allowed the town to use to dump fill. When he tried to sell it for his retirement the Corps charged him with having an illegally filled wetland. In the subsequent legal discovery process, an internal Corps memo was located recommending "Roberge would be a good one to squash and set an example" in order to create a climate of fear among landowners and developers.
While most victims suffer "only" substantial monetary losses and the loss of the use of their land, others have fared far worse. James Wilson, a Maryland developer, created some wildlife ponds on his land and was found guilty of violating the CWA and sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and fined $4 million. In Florida, Ocie Mills and his son each spent 21 months in prison for filling a dry ditch with clean building sand in order to construct the son's personal home.
Perhaps the most notorious case was that of John Pozsgai who had escaped Communist Hungary in 1956 to live in the land of the free. He purchased property in Pennsylvania for a home and to build a truck repair shop. He cleaned up part of the land and a storm-water drainage ditch, removing an illegal dump containing more than 5,000 old tires. The tire-filled ditch had flooded during heavy rains. Yet the Feds considered it a stream, declared the dump removal a CWA violation, and Mr. Pozsgai was fined and imprisoned, serving one and a half years in federal prison, another year and a half in a "halfway house," and then five years of supervised probation. The family was forced into bankruptcy and his daughter is still vainly attempting to gain Mr. Pozsgai a presidential pardon...
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:04 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:55 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:22 AM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:55 PM
What constitutes "hate speech?" Once again, it seems that it depends upon who says it.
If one is conservative, even the most minor perceived slight can earn a place on the hot seat. For example, when Rush Limbaugh misstated New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin's name - pronouncing it "nay-ger" -- liberals were quick to suggest Limbaugh had barely stepped himself from using the n-word. To them, this theory alone was enough reason for him to be fired from his radio gig (just as when he actually did lose his spot as an ESPN football commentator for suggesting Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated).
Now, Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), a man mentioned as a possible future President of the United States, has made a remark about people of Indian descent that is undeniably belittling. But there is no similar outcry or call for his resignation. Odd? Well, not really.
At a June 17, 2006 event broadcast as part of C-Span's "Road to the White House 2008" series (the pertinent section is available thanks to Expose the Left), Senator Biden said some young Indian men who engaged him in conversation, "In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."
Such generalizations are expected on "The Simpsons," but not so from the next potential leader of the free world. Unless, maybe, if you're a liberal.
Dr. Raghavendra Vijayanagar, the chairman of the openly-partisan Indian American Republican Council, noted, "[T]his recent gaffe is clearly over the top. But this isn't the first time a Senate Democrat has insulted Indian Americans. In 2004, Senator John Kerry referred to Sikhs as terrorists and Senator Hillary Clinton jokingly referred to Mahatma Gandhi as a gas station owner."
Project 21 member Kevin Martin had this to add about this latest Biden controversy in particular and the senator's demeanor in general:As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden is one of those senators who seems more likely to divine where a nominee stands from his own perceptions rather than the nominee's sworn testimony. It's clearly not a sound policy, and someone who lives by that sword in my opinion is obligated to die by it when they are in the spotlight. Senator Biden's recent comments about Indian Americans, captured on C-Span, should not be dismissed as a mere slip of the tongue. I believe his comments reveal someone who is clearly speaking out of both sides of his mouth.
Indian Americans are active contributors to the greatness of America. They are prevalent not just in the convenience industry as Senator Biden implies, but also in business, teaching and healing among other vocations. For him to offer such a stereotypical view is completely reprehensible for a person of his stature.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:14 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:56 PM
How do you get "normal" Americans to imagine that catastrophic, anthropogenic climate change is happening? According to Ana Unruh Cohen, who serves as director of environmental policy at the lefty Center for American Progress, you employ Hollywood, sitcoms and science fiction writers.
In a recent appearance on Environment and Energy Daily's TV program "Onpoint," Cohen tells host Colin Sullivan that, not to worry, it isn't just the Center for American Progress helping folks imagine that catastrophic climate change is happening. It's also Hollywood, other environmental groups and Al Gore.
She also fantasizes about how much "further the down the road" climate change alarmists would be if Ross, a character from the old NBC sitcom "Friends," had been a paleoclimatologist as opposed to a paleontologist. And so Ana and her outfit are busy searching for ways to promote the global warming interpretations of a science fiction writer, a photographer and a film writer to help spur Americans' imaginations on climate change.
Here's the relevant segment from the interview:Colin Sullivan: OK. Switching topics a little bit. You wrote a column recently about climate change in which you talk about the need to reach out to sort of the common everyday normal American on climate change. How do you, and you talk about the need to sort of get Americans to accept, in their imagination, that climate change is happening? How do you do that? Specifically, in terms of your strategy, how do you reach out to those people?Later in the interview, Cohen is all over the map. First, she acknowledges that the science isn't clear on the relationship between hurricane intensity and climate change. Then, she shifts gears and says that the upcoming hurricane season is a good opportunity to hype climate change:
Ana Unruh Cohen: Well, it's not just us. Thankfully out in Hollywood, in other environmental groups, people are actively thinking about this issue. But it's something I think Americans really have to internalize the threat. And I think if you look at the polls they're doing that. Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" we hope will help that further. But they also need to be given the idea and understand that we could do things in a better way. And so I think one way is through TV. I asked in that column, if Ross from Friends had been a paleoclimatologist, rather than a paleontologist, might we be further down the road? TV is a huge motivator in our culture. It changes things.
Colin Sullivan: So how do you do that? How do you infuse that within popular culture? Do you try to get someone to write a script, a sitcom that has a climatologist prominently featured?
Ana Unruh Cohen: Well, I mean that's one way. We hosted a panel. We had a science-fiction writer, we have a photographer, we had a filmmaker in who were all trying to take what they know and are learning from scientists and policymakers and translate that, through their art and their artistic medium, to get the word out.Colin Sullivan: And how aggressively do you try to make the connection with the intensity of hurricanes and climate change? It seems like it's a tough sell. I mean you don't want to go to the American public in the middle of a hurricane crisis and say, well...Though she says that environmental groups can't talk about climate change "the day after" a disaster like Hurricane Katrina, if they wait just a bit longer, that is apparently okay.
Ana Unruh Cohen: Right.
Colin Sullivan: ...this is further evidence that climate change is happening. At the same time, it seems like there's a little bit more of a willingness among environmental groups to start making that argument. Do you think that's an argument that you can safely make?
Ana Unruh Cohen: Well, scientists still have a lot to learn about hurricanes. But I think it's finally becoming clear that we are seeing an uptick in their intensity. It's been predicted for a long time and the first studies coming out are showing that. It's a good way, you can't, you know, the day after Katrina, make that statement. But as we're preparing for another hurricane season I think that's the opportune time to talk to people about the increasing impacts of climate change. What we need to do to mitigate those, as well as prepare. I mean we're already seeing impacts from climate change. There's going to be future impacts no matter what we do. And we need to get ready for that.
Cohen's Center for American Progress published an article on its website titled "The Unnatural Disaster of Katrina," just a little over a month after Katrina hit Louisiana, which used the ongoing crisis to hype, among other things, global warming.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:23 PM
The Supreme Court, by agreeing to hear a case on whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must take steps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, will finally judge on the alleged threat of global warming. The stakes are huge. Should the Court find in favor of the plaintiffs, it would put the EPA in control of the U.S. economy for the foreseeable future...Global warming "skeptics" and "alarmists" famously disagree on 1) if human-caused global warming is happening, AND/OR, 2) if it is happening, if it is significant, AND/OR 3) if it is happening, what the impacts would be, AND/OR, 4) if it is happening, would proposals to stop it actually work, AND/OR 5) if it is happening, would the proposals to stop it, if they worked, be more harmful than any warming.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:19 PM
"Star Wars" critics must bear the major burden of responsibility for the delays and setbacks that have prevented the missile defense system from becoming fully operational long before the present crisis with North Korea.Additional thoughts on Mark Tapscott's blog, with links to more thoughts and discussion on Captain's Quarters and Politburo Diktat.
"...a security shield that would destroy nuclear missiles before they reach their target... wouldn't kill people, it would destroy weapons. It wouldn't militarize space, it would help demilitarize the arsenals of Earth."Proven right, as per usual.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:24 AM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:54 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:34 AM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:40 PM
A good hearing on HSAs took place Wednesday before the House Ways and Means Committee, with CEOs from various businesses, such as Wendy's and Buffalo Supply, talking about the generally-positive experience they have had with HSA policies, while folks from the Commonwealth Fund denounced HSAs as primarily for the healthy and the wealthy. (Testimony can be viewed here.)David is a new member of the National Center team. Welcome aboard!
Of particular interest was testimony from Larry Lutey of Lutheran Social Services, which is a nonprofit organization, who testified that, without HSAs, for many employees at LSS "the choice was between health insurance, and nothing."
That perspective is worth keeping in mind when considering the testimony of Jean Therrien, executive director of Neighborhood Family Practice in Cleveland, Ohio: "The patients who seek care at our health center who are enrolled in high-deductible plans and those that are uninsured are indistinguishable from one another in their inability to pay for needed services," she said. "They do not have first dollar coverage for preventative care, office visits, lab testing and prescription drugs."
First, how many of those people with high-deductible plans would have no insurance at all if they didn't have the option of a high-deductible plan? Some insurance is better than no insurance.
Second, how many of those people with an "inability to pay for needed services" spend money on cigarettes, alcohol and entertainment? Before you accuse me of insensitivity, look at the Consumer Expenditure Survey. If households making between $15,000 and $19,999 cut out the cigarettes, booze and half of their entertainment expenses they would have, on average, about $900 to put in an HSA.
A number of members of Congress spoke, including Representatives Bill Thomas and J.D. Hayworth. The most entertaining was perhaps Jim McDermott, who asked each person who was with a company that had HSA plans how much of their payroll went to cover health insurance. Despite one of the witnesses saying "4-5%", Rep. McDermott asked why we couldn't provide universal health insurance with 10% of payroll.
Such a question would, of course, come from someone who had never run a small business or was not an economist.
Indeed, he's a psychiatrist!
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:05 AM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:02 AM
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