Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

So Where Are We On Health Care Reform?

That depends on who you talk too. Sen. Chuck Schumer says it will pass in the Senate. But then Schumer always says things will pass whether they do or not. Joe Lieberman says he’s going to be “stubborn” about his vote. If the bill has a public option, he won’t vote for it.  Harry Reid has said it will have some form of a public option, in the case of the pending bill a public option which states can opt out of.  With Liberman saying no, is there any doubt the focus will shift to a certain Republican Senator from Maine?  And, of course, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA, is in the middle of being ” bought” with hundreds of millions of your tax dollars promised in the “health care reform” bill if she’ll just sign on and help it pass.  They call that “payola” in the broadcasting business and it is illegal.

In the United States Senate, it’s business as usual.

Probably the most interesting take on the Senate right now comes from Howard Dean who says he sees trouble for Democrats regardless of the outcome:

“I think if you passed the Senate bill tomorrow it would be OK. But then the problem is they don’t have any defense for their members in 2010,” Dean said, noting that the public option would not become operational until 2014. “On the other hand, if they drop the public option [to placate moderate members], I think they lose seats.”

“So this is really tough. I didn’t anticipate being in this position. I thought it would pass. Maybe Harry has some magic up his sleeve. But I don’t see how he gets those four votes [Sens. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.)] without compromising the bill,” Dean concluded.

The former Vermont governor warned that if the party allowed the four moderates to further water down the bill (or defeat it altogether) it could lead to primary challenges or a drop in fundraising from the party’s base.

“If you have members refusing to vote for Reid on procedural issues you will have a revolt in the party,” Dean said. “What is the point of having a 60-vote margin? This is going to be death for the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee]. Why would anyone donate to them if they’re supporting candidates who defeat the Democratic agenda?”

And, of course, he has a “solution”:

There was, he insisted, an out clause. Reconciliation — the budgetary maneuver that would allow portions of reform to be considered by an up or down vote — “looks better every time,” Dean said. “Someone has to say, at some point, we need to pass a bill.” Reid has hinted that reconciliation is an increasingly unlikely proposition.

Nothing but lousy options. Damned if they do, double damned if they don’t. This is precisely the position I enjoy seeing Democrats in, especially as it concerns the monstrosity they’re trying to birth and call “health care reform”. I have to say, this is the one time in my life that I’m actively hoping for a still-birth. It will take all of the Senatorial GOP sticking to their guns, and one of four of the Democrats in question actually living up to their promises. The question is, are any or all of them willing to be known as the Senator(s) who killed health care reform. I know, given this mess, I’d wear that as a badge of honor. I’m still not sure these four would view it that way.

~McQ

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The “Fiscal Conservatives Are Hypocrites” Canard

The blog Dissenting Justice entitles a post: “Why Aren’t Self-Proclaimed Fiscal Conservatives Questioning Afghanistan Troop Surge?”

The author then questions why “fiscal conservatives” are fighting tooth and nail to defeat this monstrosity of a health care bill but seem fine with spending billions if not trillions on the war in Afghanistan. He apparently finds that to be a hypocritical and contradictory position.

Really? Well since he lists himself as a professor of Constitutional Law, Critical Race Theory, Law and Social Change, and Equal Protection Theory at the American University, Washington College of Law, I’ll ask him where in the Constitution he finds the authorization for entitlement programs such as health care? As for defense appropriations and war fighting, even I can find authorization for them in the Constitution.

A second point – wars end. Entitlements don’t. Which do you suppose will cost more in the next 20, 30 or 40 years? Afghanistan or health care “reform”? I think everyone knows that answer.

Those alone seem to me to be two very good reasons fiscal hawks are neither hypocritical or contradictory in their stance.

~McQ

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AGW Science Controvery Heats Up

At least in Europe.  And it is the only thing about this controversy that’s warming. One of the main warmist propagandists has been forced to concede that the revelation of the emails from within the CRU is a damning bit of evidence that things are not right (or ethical) with the results produced there:

It’s no use pretending this isn’t a major blow. The emails extracted by a hacker from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia could scarcely be more damaging. I am now convinced that they are genuine, and I’m dismayed and deeply shaken by them. Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in emails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad.

There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released, and even to destroy material that was subject to a freedom of information request. Worse still, some of the emails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics, or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed.

George Monboit then goes on to try to salvage the theory by downplaying the significance of the find. According to him, it’s only about three or four scientists and one or two lines of evidence out of hundreds. Of course “one line” of incorrect or fudged evidence is more than sufficient to crash a theory. In an article that can only be characterized as goal post shifting, Monboit claims skeptics would have to produce evidence of a much wider conspiracy to fudge or hide evidence before he’s willing to concede AGW is a scam. He writes a rather sarcastic faux email to demonstrate the level of evidence necessary as far as he’s concerned.

However, one has to recall that the CRU’s data was part of the basis for the UN’s IPCC report that is being used to move these absurd and costly climate change treaties, such as Copenhagen, forward. When even alarmists like Monboit are forced to concede the CRU emails are damaging, that provides more than a reason to stop this mad rush to do stupid and unnecessary things and, as he says, “re-analyse” the data. This time by real scientists, in the open and with all the data. One other thing Monboit and I agree on – Phil Jones should resign. Too bad he can’t take Al Gore with him.

Christopher Monckton, a leading warming skeptic, is mad:

The tiny, close-knit clique of climate scientists who invented and now drive the “global warming” fraud — for fraud is what we now know it to be — tampered with temperature data so assiduously that, on the recent admission of one of them, land temperatures since 1980 have risen twice as fast as ocean temperatures. One of the thousands of emails recently circulated by a whistleblower at the University of East Anglia, where one of the world’s four global-temperature datasets is compiled, reveals that data were altered so as to prevent a recent decline in temperature from showing in the record. In fact, there has been no statistically significant “global warming” for 15 years — and there has been rapid and significant cooling for nine years.

Worse, these arrogant fraudsters — for fraudsters are what we now know them to be — have refused, for years and years and years, to reveal their data and their computer program listings. Now we know why: As a revealing 15,000-line document from the computer division at the Climate Research Unit shows, the programs and data are a hopeless, tangled mess. In effect, the global temperature trends have simply been made up. Unfortunately, the British researchers have been acting closely in league with their U.S. counterparts who compile the other terrestrial temperature dataset — the GISS/NCDC dataset. That dataset too contains numerous biases intended artificially to inflate the natural warming of the 20th century.

Finally, these huckstering snake-oil salesmen and “global warming” profiteers — for that is what they are — have written to each other encouraging the destruction of data that had been lawfully requested under the Freedom of Information Act in the UK by scientists who wanted to check whether their global temperature record had been properly compiled. And that procurement of data destruction, as they are about to find out to their cost, is a criminal offense. They are not merely bad scientists — they are crooks. And crooks who have perpetrated their crimes at the expense of British and U.S. taxpayers.

There you have a representation of the two sides at the moment – the AGW side forced to admit the significance of the scientific misbehavior of some of the primary scientists behind the warming theory and the skeptical side, feeling vindicated but angry. Stay tuned for more developments, but don’t look for them in the US media. They seem to be preoccupied with much more important things – like the Obama’s first state dinner (in a tent, no less).

~McQ

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Obama’s Asian Tour: Manufactured Failure Or Real Failure?

James Fallows, at the Atlantic, is pretty sure President Obama’s Asian tour was much more successful than the media gives him credit for, and, in fact, entitles his piece “Manufactured Failure“. His premise? That the media covered the trip much more like a campaign swing and thus missed its real and more subtle significance – and success. His proof? A couple of reader comments.

That’s not to say he may not have a bit of a point as it concerns the media coverage, but on the substantive side he needs to explain this if everything went so swimmingly but, apparently, unnoticed by the press:

Barack Obama looked tired on Thursday, as he stood in the Blue House in Seoul, the official residence of the South Korean president. He also seemed irritable and even slightly forlorn. The CNN cameras had already been set up. But then Obama decided not to play along, and not to answer the question he had already been asked several times on his trip: what did he plan to take home with him? Instead, he simply said “thank you, guys,” and disappeared. David Axelrod, senior advisor to the president, fielded the journalists’ questions in the hallway of the Blue House instead, telling them that the public’s expectations had been “too high.”

The master of spin’s spin is the public’s expectation’s had been “too high”? Wow – I guess Axelrod missed all that subtlety, nuance and success as well.

Der Speigel, however, did seem to have a pretty good bead on the actual results.  You remember how I said we should monitor the progress this “new” method of conduction foreign policy does in the world of realpolitik?  Here’s how:

Interests, not emotions, dominate the world of realpolitik. The Asia trip revealed the limits of Washington’s new foreign policy: Although Obama did not lose face in China and Japan, he did appear to have lost some of his initial stature.

In Tokyo, the new center-left government even pulled out of its participation in a mission which saw the Japanese navy refueling US warships in the Indian Ocean as part of the Afghanistan campaign. In Beijing, Obama failed to achieve any important concessions whatsoever. There will be no binding commitments from China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A revaluation of the Chinese currency, which is kept artificially weak, has been postponed. Sanctions against Iran? Not a chance. Nuclear disarmament? Not an issue for the Chinese.

The White House did not even stand up for itself when it came to the question of human rights in China. The president, who had said only a few days earlier that freedom of expression is a universal right, was coerced into attending a joint press conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao, at which questions were forbidden. Former US President George W. Bush had always managed to avoid such press conferences.

How bad is the growing lack of respect? You have a German magazine which was an Obama booster criticizing his foreign policy and comparing Obama to George Bush and finding Obama wanting.

Somewhere pigs are flying. What isn’t flying, however, is this “new” era in US foreign policy.

~McQ

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When Do “Show Trials” Become A Circus?

I don’t think there’s any real doubt that Eric Holder’s decision to try the 9/11 defendants in New York’s federal court was as much about politics as justice. President Obama’s remarks about KSM’s guilt and the outcome of the trial left little doubt this is to be a show trial. And while I’m certainly no fan of Sen. Lindsey Graham, I thought he made Holder look foolish during the Senate hearings into the matter. It was clear, at least to me, that this decision was not well thought out. It was also clear that Holder had no idea of the possible ramifications of his decision. He continually, but ineffectually, avoided Graham’s points – once these terrorists are brought into the federal court system there are a completely different set of rules at work. And while they may indeed get convictions with these particular defendants, it most likely won’t be pretty and it sets a precedent (criminalizing this war) that we may regret in the future.

It is now emerging that even if the administration adamantly denies that these are show trials, the terrorists in question know exactly what they are and plan on using them to propagandize what they did and why:

Scott Fenstermaker, the lawyer for accused terrorist Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, said the men would not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but “would explain what happened and why they did it.”

[…]

Mohammed, Ali and the others will explain “their assessment of American foreign policy,” Fenstermaker said.

“Their assessment is negative,” he said.

Fenstermaker met with Ali last week at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He has not spoken with the others but said the men have discussed the trial among themselves.

But don’t worry – the feds have it all under control. This will be a fair but orderly trial:

Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, said Sunday that while the men may attempt to use the trial to express their views, “we have full confidence in the ability of the courts and in particular the federal judge who may preside over the trial to ensure that the proceeding is conducted appropriately and with minimal disrupton, as federal courts have done in the past.”

Really? So how does Mr. Boyd and the Department of Justice plan on stopping a terrorist, to whom they just gave this right, from confronting his accusers in court and taking the stand to defend himself?

I mean if this is all about justice and not about, you know, a show?

~McQ

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Obama To Offer Target Cuts In Greenhouse Gases At Copenhagen

World in recession?

Check.

Wheels coming off the science of AGW?

Check.

High unemployment continuing to rise?

Check.

2010 an election year?

Check.

Senate historically opposed to international treaties that hurt the economy?

Check.

Great – why not go to the UN’s Copenhagen treaty summit and offer some totally unrealistic and probably unachievable cuts in greenhouse gas emissions so we can feel like one of the cool kids?

President Barack Obama is considering setting a provisional target for cutting America’s huge greenhouse gas emissions, removing the greatest single obstacle to a landmark global agreement to fight climate change.

This is absolutely perfect for the talker-in-chief. Go. Promise. Bask. This is how you turn a useless conference which will most likely never accomplish a thing in reference to its primary goal into one all about the president.

Nigel Lawson points out the obvious:

But the meeting will still be declared a great success. Politicians do not like being associated with failure, so they will make sure that whatever emerges from Copenhagen is declared a success, and promise to meet again next year. This will at least give our political leaders the time to get themselves off the hook.

“Off the hook” in Obama’s case will be bringing a provisional treaty back with cuts he’s promised included and trying to get the Senate to ratify it. Kyoto went 98-0 against and is widely recognized – given the utter failure of other countries to even get close to their promised targets – as the smart move of the time.

Copenhagen is to go one step further. As PM Gordon Brown declared last week:

Copenhagen must “forge a new international agreement … [which] must contain the full range of commitments required: on emissions reductions by both developed and developing countries, on finance and on verification”.

Meaning? Meaning the idea is to stop developed countries from “outsourcing” their carbon emissions to “developing” countries. And to put those developing countries – in the middle of a global recession – on a restricted carbon diet.

It. Is. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Developing countries may agree the industrialized countries need to go on that diet, but they’re not going to hobble themselves unless massive transfer payments are involved. Massive. They are going to have to be satisfied that this sort of agreement causes them no harm economically. Good luck with that.

And, of course, with the lion’s share of the transfer payment bill and his promised cuts in hand, President Obama has to come back and convince the Senate, in a re-election year, that giving away even more money we don’t have and further crippling our economy for, at best, a marginal effect on the climate, is a good idea.

Cap-and-trade is on hold until at least the spring of ’10 in the Senate. Depending on what Obama does in Copenhagen (being loved means giving away the farm if necessary) it could be DOA when it is taken up again in the Senate. Senators, at the time, are going to be sticking their political fingers into the wind and assessing the popularity of an economy killing bill in the midst of a full bore scientific scandal about AGW’s science, continuing high unemployment and negative economic numbers. Most are not going to like what they see or hear – especially with November 2010 approaching for a third of them.

~McQ

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BlogTalk Radio – Tonight 8pm (EST)

Call in number: (718) 664-9614

Yes, friends, it is a call-in show, so do call in.

Subject(s): The proverbial wheels are coming off the alleged scientific basis for AGW.  We’ll talk about that and about the prospects for Copenhagen and cap-and-trade (which has now been put off until at least spring).  And, of course, the debate on the Senate version of the health care bill has begun – Reid was able to muster 60 votes to bring the 2000+ page bill to the floor for debate, but will he be able to keep those 60 to invoke cloture?  That’s the question.  And, of course, joblessness continues rampant with another 500,000 filing first time claims.  The administration seems to finally be noticing that and has vowed to have a job summit.   In December.  Maybe.  That’s got to give you a warm fuzzy.

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Paying “Ecological Debt” = Redistribution Of Wealth On A Global Level

Despite the mounting questions about the science involved with theory of AGW, the reason most nations, especially “developing” nations, support the theory lock, stock and barrel is because they stand to receive a great deal of money and they don’t have to do a thing.

Central American nations will demand 105 billion dollars from industrialized countries for damages caused by global warming, the region’s representatives said on Friday.

Central American environment ministers gathered in Guatemala to discuss the so-called “ecological debt” owed to them and to set out a common position ahead of climate talks in Copenhagen next month.

Guatemalan environment minister Luis Ferrate said the 105-billion-dollar price tag was “an estimate” of the damage done by climate change across 16 sectors in Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama.

This is all about looting the “industrialized” countries for every penny they can get and they don’t have to prove a thing since the industrialized countries have also ignored the dubiousness of the science and set themselves up to be looted.

The only thing I’d like to know is how they arrived at the price tag?

~McQ

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More Valuable Than Gold?

If you’re one of those folks that asks for a seatbelt extender when you get on a flight, you may want to take Peru off your vacation destination list.  And not for the reason you might think:

A gang of killers who murdered to steal their victims’ body fat have been arrested in Peru.

Police said the three people held in the jungle province of Huanuco confessed to five killings and said they could sell one litre of fat for £10,000 to the cosmetic industry.

The men said the fat was sold to intermediaries in Lima, who police suspect sold it to companies in Europe.

No animals were injured in the manufacture of these cosmetics – not.

This is also not a new business:

It is believed six members of the gang are still at large, including leader Hilario Cudena, 56, who Castillejos said had been killing people to extract human fat for more than 30 years.

But:

Medical authorities said last night human fat is used in anti-wrinkle treatments – but is always extracted from the patient, usually from the stomach or buttocks.

There would be a risk of reaction that could lead to lifethreatening consequences if fat from someone else were used, said dermatology professor Dr Neil Sadick.

So the questions – if what Sadick says is true and this his been going on for 30 years, who in Europe is buying this stuff and why?

There’s obviously a market somewhere.

A little Sunday puzzler for you.

~McQ

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