Friday, July 24, 2009

President Obama's Health Care claims disputed.

I would hate to be so disrespectful as to accuse our President of intentionally misleading the public, so I will use the language of political correctness and say he is apparently severely truth-challenged.

The Washington Times ran a story yesterday that reported:

Even as President Obama delivered a prime-time sales pitch for his embattled health care reform plan Wednesday, basic facts about coverage, cost and who foots the bills remain in dispute and many of the president's favorite talking points are challenged not only by Republicans but also by independent fact-checkers. (read more)
The article reports on the work done by the independent non-partisan group Fact Check among others. Fact Check is one of my favorite sites. It is great at examining statements of politicians for truthfulness and rhetorical excess. To see the Fact Check analysis of Mr. Obama's Health Care speech, click here. The New York Times ran a similar story to the Washington Times story and reported a different set of disputed claims (link). Among the health care claims by Mr. Obama that are in dispute are these:

  • People who are happy with their current health insurance can keep it.
  • Mr. Obama's oft-stated promise to provide universal health care coverage.
  • Mr. Obama stated opposition to requiring individuals to buy insurance or pay a fine.
  • Mr. Obama pledge that the overhaul of health care would be "deficit neutral."
  • The president's claim that the cost of treating uninsured people raises the cost of health care for the rest of Americans by $1,000 per family. It is closer to $200 per family per year.
  • Mr. Obama claims that nearly 46 million people in the U.S. are uninsured. That number includes illegal aliens and people who could afford to purchase insurance but choose not to do so.
  • Mr. Obama's claim that the reform will not reduce Medicare benefits.
The truth should matter. To believe President Obama, you have to believe that we will get more for less and no one will have to give up anything except a few rich people who will pay a little bit more in taxes. I accept that we need health care reform. The status quo is not acceptable. The current system is not sustainable. Getting reform right will not be easy but what is before us is taking us in wrong direction and will not solve the problem. It very well may make it worse.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Behind Closed Doors

Oh, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors.
A Reuters news story today reports that President Obama's push for health care reform suffered a set back when Senate leaders announced a bill would not be passed before the month-long summer recess. That is by now old news. This is the part of the story that I found interesting:
The reform package under construction in both chambers of Congress has been besieged from all sides by criticism of its more than $1 trillion price tag and
its scope, with debates behind closed doors over how to pay for the program and
rein in healthcare costs.(link)
And then this:
In the Senate, a bipartisan group of Finance Committee members continued their
closed-door meetings to work through policy options on the bill.
I guess I have been under the impression that the people's business was to be conducted in public. I thought that only matters involving classified national security issues could be deliberated in secret. Apparently I was mistaken and that is not true.

I know in Tennessee that we have a very strict "Sunshine Law" and it not only applies to the State Legislature but all rule making bodies such as boards and commission and all units of local government. Two council members can not meet for lunch and discuss pending legislation. The press is vigilant in ensuring that the sunshine law is not violated. Years ago, when I first began serving in the Metro Council the Budget and Finance Committee would meet in secret to hammer out a budget every year. I did not approve of the process. I know it is easier to negotiate and horse trade without the public looking over your shoulder, but I think public business should be conducted in public. By the time I left the Council, the Council had abandoned the practice.

I know the presidential campaign, and before that the congressional campaign, was a long time ago but it seems I recall that candidate Obama and Democratic congressional candidates talked about changing the way things were done in Washington. It seems like I recall they said they would be more open and less secretive. Did they not say something about "transparency?" Nah, I must of dreamed that.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Thursday, July 23, 2009

An elderly man suffered a massive heart attack.

An elderly man suffered a massive heart attack.

The family drove wildly to get him to the emergency room. After what seemed like a very long wait, the ER Doctor appeared, wearing his scrubs and a long face. Sadly, he said, "I'm afraid he is brain-dead, but his heart is still beating."

"Oh, dear God," cried his wife, her hands clasped against her cheeks with shock! "We've never had a Democrat in the family before!"

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Tennessee’s Troubled ‘Public Option’ – TennCare – Could Foreshadow Obama’s Health Care Plan

By Fred Lucas, Staff Writer,Monday, July 20, 2009,

A government-run health insurance plan is enacted on the promise of increasing competition and bringing down costs, but over the years, as more people leave their private insurance to take the “public option,” the cost to operate the government plan skyrockets.

Various litigation ensues, preventing the government’s attempt to reform or cut benefits. Eventually, dramatic cuts become necessary.

This is not a hypothetical scenario sketched by opponents of the health care overhaul plans working their way through Congress. Rather, it is the case of what happened with a state plan in Tennessee. (Read more)


If you are a Tennessean who pays any attention to public affairs you know about TennCare. If you are not, you should learn about it.

TennCare was enacted in 1994. The idea was to create a government health insurance option to compete with private insurance plans. The public option would save so much money that it could serve all of those then on Medicaid and all of the uninsured. Things did not work out that way.

What happened was that consumers shopped for insurance company denial letters so they would be "uninsureable" and could qualify for the cheaper TennCare. Small businesses no longer had an incentive to offer health insurance, they could dump their employees on the public plan. Cost skyrocketed. Enrollment grew to a point that almost a quarter of Tennesseans were on TennCare. To manage TennCare, massive new bureaucracies were created. Thousands of dead people were on the plan, ineligible people, and people from out of state. Litigation kept the state from removing ineligible enrollees or cutting benefits. The cost of the program mushroomed and grew by leaps and bounds and TennCare became the largest item in the state budget. There was no money to spend on anything else, because TennCare gobbled up any additional state revenues.

In 2005, Governor Bredesen overhauled TennCare, set limits on benefits and began reducing the rolls. We currently have something called TennCare but it now more closely resembles the old Medicaid program and is again manageable. If Tennessee could print money like the Federal Government, I suspect we would still have the unoverhauled version of TennCare and it would still be growing.

I do not agree with those who think the status quo is acceptable and we need to do nothing. We do need reform, but not just any reform. We need to take the time to get it right. The nation might could learn something from the Tennessee experiment.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

President Obama: Intimidator in Chief

Obama as The Godfather Bullying CBO

The Wall Street Journal, JULY 22, 2009, 8:20 P.M. ET

The Washington Post recently ran a story quoting Democrats as bragging that President Obama has deliberately patterned his legislative strategy after LBJ’s, circa 1965.This may explain the treatment of Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the supposedly nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office who last week told Congress that you can’t “save” money on health care by having government insure everyone.

For that bit of truth-telling, he was first excoriated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Then he was summoned, er, invited to the White House for an extraordinary and inappropriate meeting Monday with President Obama and a phalanx of economic and health-care advisers. (Read more)

Did Obama make him an offer he couldn't refuse? Should Elmendorf take out a very big insurance policy? Does Congress not care that the supposedly independent Congressional Budget Office is being intimidated?

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Illegals Freed From Dictates Of ObamaCare

By MICHELLE MALKIN, Investors Business Daily, posted Wednesday, July 22, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Big Nanny Democrats want to ration health care for everyone in America — except those who break our immigration laws.

Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee defeated an amendment that would have prevented illegal aliens from using the so-called "public health insurance option." Every Democrat on the panel voted against the measure. (link)


I have never joined my conservative brethren in demigoding the immigration issue. Illegal immigrants have falsely been blamed for everything from our crime problem to the housing crisis. My position on immigration is much like that of former President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain; I support comprehensive immigration reform which includes a path to citizenship for those already here. Those who are here illegally should be treated humanly and with dignity and justice. I had a sign in my yard opposing the local ballot referendum to impose "English Only." I thought it was mean spirited and short sighted. To see my various comments on the issue of immigration, simply click on the label "immigration" in the sidebar and you will see that I have been fairly liberal on this issue.

I do, however, think we need to control our borders and disincentivize further illegal immigration. You do not do that by extending free healthcare to those who are here illegally. Expanding free health care to illegals would increase the attractiveness of illegal immigration. Any health care reform should require immigration verification screening of those receiving subsidized or free taxpayer provided health care. The healthcare bill before us not only does not do that, but it specifically exempts illegal immigrants from the mandate to buy health insurance. This preferential treatment given to illegal immigrants is one more reason to oppose Obamacare.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

The Economy has been rescured!

"We rescued the economy..." White House Chief of Staff Raul Emmanuel, New York Times, July 22, 2009 (link)

"I Don't Believe the Economy Has Been Rescued." House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH)

I was really excited today when I discovered that the economy had been rescued. I was looking forward to telling my clients who are about to lose their home and have lost their job that the crisis was over and that good times are here again. I knew the crisis was over because Raul Emmanuel, the President's Chief of Staff said the economy had been rescued. Then, John Boehner had to bring up some contradictory facts and ruin my day.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Liberty! I'll drink to that.

Mafiaoza'sLiberty on the Rocks, in conjunction with America’s Future Foundation, and the Campaign for Liberty, will be hosting a social night at local libertarian Brett Corrieri’s Mafiaozas Pizzeria. Come by, chat, hang out, talk politics, meet others, network, and have a good time. It’s come-and-go as you please and as always there is no cover charge!

July 23, 2009, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
This is such a fun event! There is no opening prayer, no pledge, no treasurer's report, no reading of the minutes of the last meeting, no guest speaker. There is no program and no agenda, no officers and no one in charge. This is just a bunch of right-of-center liberty-loving people getting together to drink and socialize. I have attended three of these events and look forward to my fourth this Thursday. Attendance has been about twenty to twenty-five people. It is on the patio at Mafiaoza's in the 12th Avenue South neighborhood. Mafiaoza's provides delicious hor'devers or pizza and you are responsible for your own drinks. The first hour is happy hour with two-for-one drinks. The group ranges in age from those in their early 20's to those in their late 60's, and with everyone from students to laborers to attorneys. The larger group usually ends up breaking into four or so smaller groups with people floating between the groups. Right of center is still a pretty broad spectrum and interesting discussion and respectful but animated debate is the norm. If you are tired of hanging out with your liberal co-workers or family or people who never talk about anything of substance, come party with some smart like-minded people.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

laws of physics

From a senior level Chrysler person: Monday morning I attended a breakfast meeting where the speaker/guest was David E. Cole, Chairman of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), an Engineer with 40+ years automotive experience, full Professor at the Univ. of Michigan. You have all likely heard CAR quoted, or referred to in the auto industry news lately.

Mr. Cole told many stories of the difficulty of working with the folks that the Obama administration has sent to save the auto industry. There have been many meetings where this very experienced automotive expert has had to listen to a newcomer to the industry; someone with zero manufacturing experience, zero auto industry experience, zero business experience, zero finance experience, zero engineering experience, and apparently zero brains tell them how to run their business.

Mr. Cole's favorite story is as follows: There was a team of Obama people speaking to Mr. Cole. They were explaining to Mr. Cole that the auto companies needed to make a car that was electric and liquid natural gas (LNG) with enough combined fuel to go 500 miles, so we wouldn't "need" so many gas stations (A whole other topic).. They were quoting BTU's of LNG and battery life they had looked up on some website. Mr. Cole explained that to do this you would need a trunk FULL of batteries, and a LNG tank as big as a car to make that happen. And that there were problems related to the laws of physics that prevented them from...

The Obama person interrupted and said (and I am quoting here), "These laws of physics? Whose rules are those? We need to change that (while others wrote down the name of the law so they could look it up). We have the Congress, and the administration. We can repeal that law, amend it, or use an executive order to get rid of that problem. That's why we are here, to fix these sort of issues."

Comment: There really is a David E. Cole, Chairman of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR). I found this story on a chat group so I am assuming this is just humor and not a true story but I don't know. It would not surpise me if it is true, but I hope it is not.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Monday, July 20, 2009

Global warming: Our best guess is likely wrong

Unknown processes account for much of warming in ancient hot spell

Rice University, July 14, 2009

No one knows exactly how much Earth's climate will warm due to carbon emissions, but a new study this week suggests scientists' best predictions about global warming might be incorrect.

The study, which appears in Nature Geoscience, found that climate models explain only about half of the heating that occurred during a well-documented period of rapid global warming in Earth's ancient past. The study, which was published online today, contains an analysis of published records from a period of rapid climatic warming about 55 million years ago known as the Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum, or PETM.

"In a nutshell, theoretical models cannot explain what we observe in the geological record," said oceanographer Gerald Dickens, a co-author of the study and professor of Earth science at Rice University. "There appears to be something fundamentally wrong with the way temperature and carbon are linked in climate models."

During the PETM, for reasons that are still unknown, the amount of carbon in Earth's atmosphere rose rapidly. For this reason, the PETM, which has been identified in hundreds of sediment core samples worldwide, is probably the best ancient climate analogue for present-day Earth.

In addition to rapidly rising levels of atmospheric carbon, global surface temperatures rose dramatically during the PETM. Average temperatures worldwide rose by about 7 degrees Celsius -- about 13 degrees Fahrenheit -- in the relatively short geological span of about 10,000 years.

Many of the findings come from studies of core samples drilled from the deep seafloor over the past two decades. When oceanographers study these samples, they can see changes in the carbon cycle during the PETM.

"You go along a core and everything's the same, the same, the same, and then suddenly you pass this time line and the carbon chemistry is completely different," Dickens said. "This has been documented time and again at sites all over the world."

Based on findings related to oceanic acidity levels during the PETM and on calculations about the cycling of carbon among the oceans, air, plants and soil, Dickens and co-authors Richard Zeebe of the University of Hawaii and James Zachos of the University of California-Santa Cruz determined that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased by about 70 percent during the PETM.

That's significant because it does not represent a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Since the start of the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide levels are believed to have risen by about one-third, largely due to the burning of fossil fuels. If present rates of fossil-fuel consumption continue, the doubling of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels will occur sometime within the next century or two.

Doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide is an oft-talked-about threshold, and today's climate models include accepted values for the climate's sensitivity to doubling. Using these accepted values and the PETM carbon data, the researchers found that the models could only explain about half of the warming that Earth experienced 55 million years ago.

The conclusion, Dickens said, is that something other than carbon dioxide caused much of the heating during the PETM. "Some feedback loop or other processes that aren't accounted for in these models -- the same ones used by the IPCC for current best estimates of 21st Century warming -- caused a substantial portion of the warming that occurred during the PETM."


I found this interesting. Much of the scepticism about global warming comes from sources with little credibility. Despite the claim that thousands of scientist discount global warming theory, a close look at those "scientist" reveals that many of them are scientist in fields not related to the study of climate change and many of them have a weak claim to being called scientist. A "climatologist" may be nothing more than a TV weather man.

Rice University is a highly respected institution with a very high level of research activity. Nature Geoscience is peer reviewed journal. Recently there have been more and more legitimate, credentialed, scientist questioning the theory and modeling that produced the conclusions regarding global warming. I do not think all sceptics of global warming theory can be dismissed as quacks and politically motivated hacks.

I was once a global warming sceptic myself and then a few years ago I was persuaded by the preponderance of the evidence that the majority scientific opinion was correct. (See my post, My Conversion on Global Warming.) Despite the constant drumbeat from the right that global warming is nothing more than a convenient excuse to destroy free enterprise, individual liberty, and expand government , I have not been persuaded that the scientific consensus was not correct. The majority scientific opinion is still that global warming is a reality and is man made. That is the view that I accept. However, I am less sure in my conviction than I was six months ago. If new evidence presents itself, my mind is not closed to new information. Opinions about global warming should not be a matter of faith or ideology for the believers or the sceptics.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories