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Wednesday
Feb262014

Biden Abuses Black History Month Observance to Push Politics, Hurt Voter Protections

In an affront to the original intent of Black History Month, Vice President Joe Biden used an event at his official residence to launch into a race-baiting political tirade against commonsense protections for balloting.

At the February 24 event — which was attended by Obama apparatchiks and partisans such as White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Sacramento’s Mayor Kevin Johnson (D) — Biden criticized the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder (a case, supported by the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network, that properly aligned the Voting Rights Act with 21st century American society) and voter protection laws passed in states such as North Carolina, Alabama and Texas.

Disparaging the justices and these democratically-enacted state-level laws, Biden declared:

I thought it was done — finally, finally done… These guys never go away.  Hatred never, never goes away.  The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.

Putting a definitive and hard-nosed political spin on his comments, and bolstering current Obama Administration efforts to nullify existing ballot protection measures such as asking voters to prove their identity with valid identification before receiving a ballot, Biden added:

This fight has been too long, this fight has been too hard, to do anything other than win — not on the margins, but flat out win.

Project 21 co-chairman Horace Cooper, a former professor of constitutional law who is a frequent commentator on voting rights issues and even made the case for voter ID laws with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, called Biden’s unseemly tirade an attempt to distract the public from the policy failures of the Obama Administration.

Cooper also added that the White House is culpable for not prosecuting real examples of voter fraud when presented with them:

Vice President Biden’s remarks calling voter ID laws evidence of “hatred” and “zealotry” are not only false, but — like his “put ya’ll back in chains” comment during the 2012 election— his recent remarks make clear that the Obama Administration is desperate to distract voters, especially blacks, from Obama’s devastating economic record by trying to equate legitimate measures to protect voters with the kinds of activities his own political party pushed for over a hundred years.

In just five years, this White House’s economic policies have been more destructive for blacks than more than 50 years of Jim Crow laws ever did.  Instead of changing course, however, the Vice President cynically pretends that voter ID is the problem black America must worry about more.

This administration has also been completely indifferent to actual instances of voter fraud, including dropping the slam dunk case involving the New Black Panthers.  Its failure to engage in any serious effort to prevent voter fraud in places such as Chicago and Milwaukee is troubling.

Echoing his paper on voter fraud issues for the National Center, “Victims of Voter Fraud: Poor and Disadvantaged are Most Likely to Have Their Vote Stolen,” Cooper added:

Here’s the truth: blacks and lower income Americans are the most likely victims of voter fraud.

Tuesday
Feb252014

Project 21 Member Speaks for Traditional Marriage, Gets Called the N-Word

After planning and participating in a press conference of pastors opposed to redefining marriage to include same-sex couples, Project 21 member Stacy Swimp received an anonymous voicemail in which he was called the n-word.

On February 24, Stacy and dozens of pastors gathered in Detroit to speak out in favor of traditional marriage.  A trial begins in Michigan on February 25 that could overturn a 2004 amendment to the state’s constitution defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman.  That amendment was approved by 59 percent of state voters at that time.

Stacy was a key organizer of the conference and spoke during it.

After the press conference ended, Stacy received a voicemail in which the caller referred to him as a “fat, buck-toothed [n-word]” for allegedly “preaching… against someone else’s rights.”

Project 21 members being called the n-word or similar for their beliefs is nothing new.  In fact, a Project 21 member once asked NAACP senior vice president Hilary Shelton to “issue a statement condemning those individuals.”

Of course, the NAACP never did anything, despite having received a large packet of evidence of instances of abuses of black conservative due to their opinions and their skin color.

Tuesday
Feb252014

Stier Speaks Against E-Cig Strictures in City of Angels

Jeff Stier, director of the National Center’s Risk Analysis Division, testified before the Los Angeles City Council on February 24 against putting unnecessary restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes.

As he waited for his chance to testify, Jeff was also able to make the case against taking away tools that can help smokers quit with KABC-TV.

Tuesday
Feb252014

Health Care Odds & Ends: Quick Edition

1. ObamaCare Shows How To Create Jobs Without Creating Any New Wealth.  

 The Wall Street Journal takes stock of the impact ObamaCare will have on various sectors of the economy.  One area set to see growth are those that specialize in helping businesses navigate regulations: “At the same time, employment-benefit and IT companies, such as Virtusa Corp. and Automatic Data Processing Inc. say they are seeing more business as they help clients comply with the [ObamaCare]’s demands.”

Would businesses spend money to hire other businesses to help them comply with ObamaCare if it didn’t exist?  Of course not.  They’d invest it in expanding their businesses, developing new products and technology, and the like.  In short, the things that create new wealth, and, ultimately, new jobs.  Spending money to comply with regulations only shifts money around, from companies that produce wealth to companies that exist to maneuver companies through the regulatory maze.

It may even destroy wealth. Businesses that have the resources to hire regulatory-compliance companies will likely fare better than businesses that can devote fewer resources for such a purpose or have no such resources at all.  Those businesses will have a harder time staying afloat, and should they go under, whatever innovation, jobs, etc. they bring to the market will no longer be there.

2. ObamaCare Will Reduce Your Premiums By $2,500…Uh, Scratch That.

Remember this promise?

As I’ve noted here and here, the Kasier Permanente policy that National Center for Public Policy Research has is being cancelled because of ObamaCare.  The total annual premium increase for us if we choose the policy Kaiser recommends as a replacement will cost an additional $2,577.

We’re not the only small business.  A new report from the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finds that for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, “that 65 percent of the small firms are expected to experience increases in their premium rates while the remaining 35 percent are anticipated to have rate reductions.”   

And what do you wanna bet that most of the businesses seeing rate reductions won’t see ones of $2,500?

More here

Monday
Feb242014

If You Like Your Cancer Medication, You Can Keep Your...Er, Never Mind

Over the weekend Stephen Blackwood told the rather harrowing story of his mother and her experience with ObamaCare.  “Carcinoid, a form of neuroendocrine cancer,” Blackwood writes in the Wall Street Journal, “is a terminal disease but generally responds well to treatment by Sandostatin, a drug that slows tumor growth and reduces (but does not eliminate) the symptoms of fatigue, nausea and gastrointestinal dysfunction. My mother received a painful shot twice a month and often couldn’t sit comfortably for days afterward.”

But late last year, his mother’s ordeal began:

And then in November, along with millions of other Americans, she lost her health insurance. She’d had a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan for nearly 20 years. It was expensive, but given that it covered her very expensive treatment, it was a terrific plan. It gave her access to any specialist or surgeon, and to the Sandostatin and other medications that were keeping her alive.

And then, because our lawmakers and president thought they could do better, she had nothing. Her old plan, now considered illegal under the new health law, had been canceled.

When they finally found a plan with Humana that looked like it would cover Sandostatin, she called Humana.  It turned out that the enrollment agents didn’t have access to the drug formularies and so could not confirm that Humana covered Sandostatin.  

[The enrollment agents] said the only way to find out in detail what was in the plan was to buy the plan. (Does that remind you of anyone?)

With no other options, she bought the plan and was approved on Nov. 22. Because by January the plan was still not showing up on her online Humana account, however, she repeatedly called to confirm that it was active. The agents told her not to worry, she was definitely covered.

Then on Feb. 12, just before going into (yet another) surgery, she was informed by Humana that it would not, in fact, cover her Sandostatin, or other cancer-related medications. The cost of the Sandostatin alone, since Jan. 1, was $14,000, and the company was refusing to pay.

Read it all here.

By the way, didn’t someone tell us that people like Blackwood’s mom that if they were losing their “substandard” plan to just shop around on the exchange?

Over in California, Chris Dunn of Senora has has a similiar surreal experience trying to find a back surgeon with his new Blue Cross plan that he purchased via CoveredCalifornia.  Turns out the plan has a very restricted network.  When he called the one back surgeon listed as on his network, the surgeon’s office said they were not taking any policies on Covered California.  See it all here.

Friday
Feb212014

Pastors Join Together to Protect Traditional Marriage in Michigan

Project 21 member Stacy Swimp is set to join with over 100 black pastors from the Detroit area to denounce the intent of a pending court case to effectively undermine the voting rights of Michigan citizens.

Stacy and the pastors are scheduled to hold their press conference on Monday, February 24 at 10:00AM eastern at the First Baptist World Changers Church (22575 West Eight Mile Road, Detroit).

In the case of DeBoer v. Snyder, Judge Bernard Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan is set to determine the constitutionality of the Michigan Marriage Protection Amendment that was passed by Michigan voters in 2004.  Arguments are expected to focus on whether or not the Amendment violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

While the DeBoer case originally dealt only with a lesbian couple seeking to adopt each other’s children, Judge Friedman determined that the case could be expanded to challenge for the Marriage Protection Amendment.  That amendment was added to the state’s constitution in 2004 after being approved by 59 percent of Michigan voters.

Commenting on the case, Stacy said:

Regarding marriage protection, the issue was resolved by Michigan voters a decade ago.  A majority of voters in our state decided to take a stand for marriage being solely between a man and a woman.  But this case might allow Judge Friedman to overturn the will of Michigan voters.

In a Detroit Free Press poll taken in September of 2004, two-thirds of black voters supported Michigan’s Marriage Protection Amendment.  Election results showed that a majority of voters in the cities of Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and Benton Harbor — the major population centers for black voters — all voted in favor of the amendment.

Additionally, the Reverend Dr. Roland A. Caldwell of Burnette Inspirational Ministry called the lawsuit of the amendment an “unjust threat to our voting rights.”

Thursday
Feb202014

Project 21’s Horace Cooper Discussed Felon Voting With CNN

Project 21 co-chairman Horace Cooper was interviewed for CNN’s “The Situation Room” about allowing felons to regain voting privileges after they have technically repaid their debt to society.  Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has expressed interest in possible reinstatement of such voting privileges in Kentucky (at least, maybe, for non-violent offenders).

This position puts Senator Paul closer to the beliefs held by Obama Attorney General Eric Holder than the Tea Party.

Despite a 20-minute interview that Horace said touched on aspects of the felon voting issue that included discussion about the views of the victims as to whether released convicts are rehabilitated and whether there should be more focus on making schools and broken families an issue in why felons are being created in the first place, CNN went for the line about the personal political implications for Senator Paul taking such a stand.

Here’s the CNN report: 

 

Thursday
Feb202014

Our New Policy May Be Worse Too

I have an article today in the American Spectator looking at whether small-group health insurance cancellations will get the media attention that the cancellation of individual policies received.  In it I note that my fellow National Center for Public Policy Research employees and I will lose our current policy with Kaiser Permanente due to ObamaCare:

Our Kaiser policy, which NCPPR has had since 1996, comes up for renewal on April 1, at which point we will have to switch to a new and probably more expensive one. If we switch to the platinum plan that Kaiser is recommending for us, our premiums will increase by about 6 percent. That’s not horrible, especially when compared to what other small groups are facing, but it’s not exactly welcome news either.

What I didn’t get a chance to explore in the Spectator article is whether the new policy that Kaiser is recommending is any better.  Our current plan is a DC Small Group $5/$10/$0 IP/$0 Rx Ded.  The new plan that Kaiser recommends is a DC Small Group Platinum 0/20 Dental.  So, if we choose that plan, what are we getting for (1) the loss of our current plan, and (2) the roughly 6 percent premium increase?

 Here is a chart comparing the benefits that change from the current plan to the new one.  Blue font means the benefit is better in the new plan, while red font means it is worse.

Two other changes:  The current plan covers infertility treatment while the new one does not, and dental care for adults is included in the new plan but not the current one.

So are we better off?  If one of us at NCPPR has a year with a lot of health care costs, the lower OOP limit in the new policy is good.  But if one of us needs to see a primary-care physician or a specialist a few times, then the new policy is not better.

In short, it seems like a wash at best for us.  And that is another reason why ObamaCare is in such trouble.  If the law is going to force many people to lose plans they like, most of those people would at least prefer to get new plans that are better than the old ones.  But it’s not at all clear that’s happening—and quite a bit of evidence that it is not.  However, the Obama Administration and other ObamaCare supporters appear to be in denial about that.  Maybe the denial will end come November.  Then again, ObamaCare has been one big exercise in self-deception for its proponents, so who knows?

Wednesday
Feb192014

John Meredith Speaks About Vandalism of His Father’s Ole Miss Statue

Project 21 member John Meredith released a statement about the vandalism of the statue depicting his civil rights icon father, James Meredith, that is located on the campus of the University of Mississippi.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, February 16, a construction contractor working on the Ole Miss campus reported that he heard two men yelling out racial slurs.  Afterward, the contractor said he later found that the life-like bronze statue of James Meredith — the first black student at the school — had a rope noose around its neck and a pre-2003 Georgia state flag covering its face.  That flag contains a version of the Confederate battle flag.

James Meredith’s integration of Ole Miss in 1962, which began with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling favoring his enrollment at the previously all-white school and ended with presidential intervention to quell deadly rioting, was a major turning point in the civil rights era.  The statue of James Meredith was unveiled in 2006 and has never before been vandalized.  The Ole Miss Alumni Association is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of any perpetrators.  The FBI is working with campus law enforcement as the act is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

James Meredith, now 80 and an advocate of early childhood education of basic societal tenets such as the Golden Rule, Ten Commandments and Lord’s Prayer, told the Los Angeles Times: “That just clearly shows that we’re not training our children like the Bible says.  They don’t know right and wrong, good and bad and how to apply it to life.”

His son, John Meredith, a founding member of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network, said about the vandalism and the response:

While this type of abhorrent vandalism is deplorable, I think the University of Mississippi is to be commended for its handling of the incident.

The speed and determination it has moved with in pursuing justice for this act, coupled with the generous reward offered toward the apprehension of the perpetrators by the alumni association, shows the institution no longer tolerates hateful behavior on its campus or in its name.  

Wednesday
Feb192014

Alter: Obama 'Fumbled' Debut Of ObamaCare

Liberal Jonathan Alter examines the lead up to the roll out of HealthCare.gov, and concludes that:

…whatever happens to the ACA, the many mistakes made with the rollout have tarnished the president’s reputation for competence. Obama will always have to live with the fact that he “fumbled” — his word — the debut of his signature program and his best bet to define his legacy.

Alter’s article if Foreign Affairs is the best run-down yet of how HealthCare.gov went wrong and how much of the disaster can be traced back to President Obama’s incompetence.  It is well worth the read, even though you have to wade through liberal tripe like this:

Thanks to the ACA, which took effect on January 1 of this year, the U.S. government has finally joined most other industrialized nations in offering its citizens health security. The reform, by many estimates, will save tens of thousands of lives as Americans reap the benefits of such provisions as greatly expanded preventive medicine and a prohibition on insurance companies’ discriminating against those with preexisting conditions. The era when millions of Americans were bankrupted by medical expenses will end. If the law works as planned, it will also contain health-care costs, reducing the U.S. budget deficit. And by freeing employees from the perpetual fear of losing their health insurance, the ACA should, in theory at least, make it easier for them to leave their jobs to start new businesses, boosting domestic and global growth.

No, millions of Americans did not go bankrupt because of medical bills.  And that supposed “health security” of other nations often means long wait times for surgery. Anyway, if you can get passed paragraphs like that, the rest of the article makes for fascinating reading.

One last thing.  Alter appears to think that the government can actually manage the health care system.  I’d encourage him to put “The Use of Knowledge in Society” and “The Fatal Conceit” on his reading list, but doubt it would do much good.

Wednesday
Feb192014

Project 21 Members React to Report on Estimated Minimum Wage Increase Job Losses

A new report issued by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office suggests that around 500,000 jobs — perhaps as many as a million — could be destroyed between now and 2016 as a result of a mandated raise in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.

Forcing such as job-killing measure on small businesses, naturally, is the top weapon in the liberal class warfare strategy as this year’s campaign season begins to heat up.  Obama asked for it in his State of the Union address in January, and has begun campaigning for it across America.  Legislation has been proposed in Congress.

Members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network are speaking out against this job-killing imposition on private employers, pointing out that the end result is likely to hurt Obama’s most loyal constituency — black Americans — the most.

Project 21 co-chairman Horace Cooper, a former official at the U.S. Department of Labor, said:

Despite President Obama’s assurances, the evidence is clear: minimum wage hikes kill jobs.

Now, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says this latest proposal will cost about a half-million jobs.  The poor and minorities will undoubtedly be the hardest hit.

Mr. President, if you like your minimum wage plan, you can keep it.

Project 21 member Derryck Green added:

The Congressional Budget Office released another report exposing the adverse effects of the President’s job-destroying, economic agenda.

Last week, the CBO revealed that ObamaCare will also likely destroy the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs.  This week, the CBO notes that potential minimum wage increases might destroy at least a half-million more jobs — obviously hurting the working poor in the process. 

Is the Obama Administration planning to celebrate all these additional “free agents” who are no longer “job-locked” as a result of his policies?

Tuesday
Feb182014

And The Quality Of Your Doctor May Get Worse Too

Via American Interest, I came across this article in the New York Times about a health care trend that probably isn’t a welcome one:

American physicians, worried about changes in the health care market, are streaming into salaried jobs with hospitals. Though the shift from private practice has been most pronounced in primary care, specialists are following.

American Interest titled its post on this “Your Hospital Bill Is About to Get a Lot More Expensive.”  Here’s why:

…experts caution that the change from private practice to salaried jobs may not yield better or cheaper care for patients.

“In many places, the trend will almost certainly lead to more expensive care in the short run,” said Robert Mechanic, an economist who studies health care at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management….

…many of the new salaried arrangements have evolved from hospitals looking for new revenues, and could have the opposite effect. For example, when doctors’ practices are bought by a hospital, a colonoscopy or stress test performed in the office can suddenly cost far more because a hospital “facility fee” is tacked on. Likewise, Mr. Smith said, many doctors on salary are offered bonuses tied to how much billing they generate, which could encourage physicians to order more X-rays and tests.

The article doesn’t say much about the impact on physician quality, but readers should be concerned.  Here is what Dr. John Slotosky, who I interviewed for a National Policy Analysis Medicare, had to say about working for a hospital:

“I was a typical physician employed by a hospital,” Dr. Slatosky said. “I had all the say so of a janitor. We had no say in scheduling or work hours, and if you needed a day off you had to beg for it.”

Looking back, he reflects that in that setting he was unable to provide quality care to patients.

“Most hospitals lose money on their primary-care practices because they are so top-heavy with bureaucracy. But this hospital was trying to make its primary-care network profitable, so the physicians had to see about twice as many patients as you would at a normal physician practice. Hospitals are used to dealing with big charges, of thousands of dollars. But primary-care is about small charges. Most of it probably costs $50 to $200.

“But with seeing so many patients, you only get to see them for a short time. And you try to take care of things quickly, and you miss things. If you want quality, you have to take some time with your patients, and patients have to be willing to pay for that.

Hospitals pressuring physicians to see as many patients as possible is only one way the trend away from independent practices may harm quality.  In my experience, physicians tend to be very independent minded, a trait that often leads them to be good physicians.  Independent-mindedness, however is not a characteristic that is usually prized in bureaucracies like hospitals.  If more physicians end up working for hospitals, long term it may discourage more independent-minded people from going into medicine.

Monday
Feb172014

Get a Clue, White House: The Planet Isn't Warming

WhereDidGlobalWarmingGoMugClimateWW

President Obama's speechwriters seem to be locked in parts of the last century.

In the start of the short-yet-excellent video below created by Project 21's Bob Parks for his "Black & Right" website, President Obama talks about the planet warming as if it is.

I've long been critical of the president's speechwriters, as they seem uninformed about many basic public policy issues, but surely somebody on the President's team could send them a memo once in a while to help keep them up-to-date.

Specifically, they might let them know that average global temperature stopped going up at the end of the 20th century.

There's some debate over whether the "global warming pause" started in 1997 or 1998, but the fact that we're in a pause is largely acknowledged. And for those of you who bought in to the whole human-caused catastrophic global warming theory, when I say "acknowledged," I don't just mean in the "skeptic" camp.

If you doubt me, take a look at recently-published papers by some of the biggest names among scientists who do believe humans are causing soon-to-be catastrophic global warming. What are they researching and publishing on? They are publishing on this question: Where did the heat go?

In other words, these scientists still believe in the global warming theory (some believe their models more than they believe their eyes). So they're trying to figure out where the heat went.

I ask you: would climate scientists who believe in the global warming theory be publishing papers on "where did the heat go?" if the planet was still warming?

So maybe it is time to retire this talking point, White House.

If you have any interest whatsoever in being truthful, that is.

Sunday
Feb162014

Shocker: NBC Debate Featuring Man Who Plays a Scientist on TV Crashes and Burns

Bill Nye Meet the PressOops. That's not the Antarctic.

How much does David Gregory get paid, anyway?

"Meet the Press" had its climate change debate today and the result was the predicted disaster.

Here's the short version.

David Gregory began with an introductory question that included:

...In the scientific community, this is not really a debate about whether climate change is real. The consensus is that it is. The majority of those who believe in fact that it is caused by humans. There are certainly some in the scientific community who don't believe that's the case and who are skeptical about some of those conclusions. But nevertheless, there is still this level of consensus...

This is meaningless pap, because Gregory didn't tell us how he defined the term "climate change." Was he referring to the human-caused catastrophic global warming theory, or simply to changes in the climate? Or perhaps to human influences on the climate without asserting they will be catastrophic? However, meaningless or not, it set up the debate in favor of Nye by asserting an undefined "consensus" against Blackburn.

Gregory then asked, starting with Nye:

My question to begin with both of you is in this moment of -- this kind of extreme weather moment -- is it creating new urgency to act?

Nye responded, seriously, that it would be nice if someone were to invent new technologies, and observed that if someone did so, that person would earn a lot of money.

Gregory then asked Blackburn the same, adding that there is a drought in California and that President Obama thinks there is such an urgency.

Blackburn responded that no single weather event is caused by climate change and explained her view that the government does best when it uses a cost-benefit analysis to determine policy.

Gregory said a few sentences that had no clear point, and then asserted that there is a scientific consensus on the degree to which humans may cause climate change.

Nye responded that questioning whether individual weather events are due to climate change "is the same as uncertainty about the whole idea of climate change." He called this questioning "unscientific" and "not logical." Then he implied people with a different view are paid shills, saying, "it is a way apparently that the fossil fuel industry has dealt with our politics." He closed by saying the opposite of his point at the start of this paragraph, saying that not tying any one weather event to climate change is not the same as doubting the "whole thing."

Gregory then claimed many Republican Members of Congress believe in climate change but simply believe many of the policies being suggested to address it would "lead to unacceptable levels of economic hardship."

Rep. Blackburn responded that any warming has been slight and tried to cite climate scientists from MIT and Georgia Tech, but was unable to complete her thought as Gregory interrupted to quote PR materials from a California natural gas producer touting that company's commitment to a "low carbon economy." It isn't clear what point Gregory was making (is the company an advertiser?) but Gregory did conclude this part with a useful question, "the issue is what actions are taken and will they really work?"

Blackburn agreed with the question's importance but Gregory tried to give the floor back to Nye without letting her answer. Blackburn answered anyway, saying:

Let's say everything that Bill says is wrong is wrong. Let's just say that. Then you say what are you going to do about it? What would the policy be? And will that policy have an impact? Now, even Director McCarthy from the EPA in answering questions from Congressman [Mike] Pompeo before our committee, said reaching all of the 26 U.S. goals is not going to have an impact globally. And, David, what we have to look at is the fact that you don't make good laws, sustainable laws, when you're making them on hypotheses or theories or unproven sciences.

To my mind, this is a key point. If even what the believers of the catastrophic global warming theory claim is true is true, the United States cannot, as a practical matter, do anything measurable about it while China and India are dramatically expanding their CO2 emissions. But it is extremely difficult to get any global warming believer to address this, and Blackburn had no success getting Nye to respond to it today. He ignored the point totally, saying instead, "once again the Congresswoman is trying to introduce doubt, and doubt in the whole idea of climate change."

And then Nye hit his low point, saying, "what I would encourage everybody to do is back up and let's agree on the facts. Would you say that the Antarctic has less ice than it used to?"

(Most people wouldn't, because Antarctic ice is at record highs for the satellite era, and Antarctic sea ice extent was 27.4% above normal as of last week -- go to Marc Morano's Climate Depot site for more data and links to still more.)

But maybe Nye meant the Arctic, as he held up an iPad with a satellite picture of the Arctic on it at that point.

Either way, global sea ice area is normal right now. I conclude he meant to cherrypick some Arctic data and ignore global data and the Antarctic entirely, and messed up the attempt. It's hard to feel sorry for him having a failed cherrypick.

Little else happened. You can watch it here or read the transcript here and see for yourself.

It's a shame that moderators in the mainstream media and debaters like Mr. Nye can't do a better job on issues that in fact really do matter, because even if catastrophic global warming is not occurring, we're spending a catastrophic amount of money fighting it for nothing.

So it would be nice to have a serious, on-point public debate about this once in a while. The best way to do that would be to start a debate, with clearly defined terms and limit any particular debate, or portion thereof, to a specific, narrow question.

For example, whether catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is occurring is a very different question from whether the United States can do anything about it, and one can't answer the second question by saying (falsely) that there's a consensus on the science.

Rep. Blackburn got this, but it's not clear that Bill Nye ever did. I believe Gregory got it, too, but he didn't control the debate well enough to keep the two participants on the same topic at the same time.

Nye seems to be convinced that the only thing preventing some American somewhere from inventing a super technology that would halt or slow emissions is what he called "the denial" of the global warming consensus. His view here makes no sense to me. There is a market, a strong one, for new technologies that have the effect of reducing energy use and thus costs. This market exists independent of whether anyone believes in the catastrophic global warming theory.

NBCMeetthePressBillNyeScientist021614Yet to hear Nye talk, unless everyone agrees on the science issues, the market won't exist: "the more we mess around with this denial, the less we're going to get done."

Is Nye unaware that U.S. carbon emissions are falling, thanks largely to fracking and the horizontal drilling of natural gas, in response to market forces?

I get the impression that Nye is waiting for Congress to mandate the invention of new technologies and thinks we "deniers" are stopping this.

For the reasons I said yesterday, plus more, this debate never had much likelihood of usefulness. David Gregory doesn't know the topic well enough to realize he needed to define terms early and often, and then NBC booked debaters with different skill sets. As a Member of Congress who is vice chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Blackburn is an expert on policy implementation. Nye seems interested only in insisting that others endorse a "consensus" he seems reluctant to define. When the debaters are talking past each other and the moderator is out of his depth, failure is likely.

As a final note, NBC didn't exactly do itself proud by misidentifying Nye as a "scientist" on on its website in several places. Nye is a successful engineer and actor. It was left to Blackburn, within the debate, to set straight for viewers the qualifications of the participants.

Saturday
Feb152014

"Speed Walker" to Debate Rep. Marsha Blackburn on Meet the Press on Climate Change

It is a sign of the unseriousness of the mainstream media that the NBC program "Meet the Press" will be hosting a climate debate featuring a person who plays a scientist on TV.

Yes, tomorrow it is "Bill Nye the Science Guy" versus Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) on "Meet the Press."

I've written here before about the way Bill Nye debates the climate change issue.

In short, he doesn't do it very well.

In this post, I discussed three television appearances by Nye over the past year, with links. The final one I discussed was a December 2012 debate between Nye and Marc Morano of CFACT on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" in which Morano, metaphorically speaking, massacred Nye. I wrote, "not long into the interview, Piers Morgan essentially took over for Nye. My sense is that, for all that he talks about climate issues often, Nye does not follow them closely, and I suspect Piers Morgan has reached the same conclusion."

To steal part of a line from Muhammad Ali, Morano beat Nye so bad, Nye needed a shoehorn to put his bow tie back on.

Yet, not only did CNN book the interview, MSNBC did, and Fox hosted a rematch, and now NBC is doing it on one of its most serious shows. Clearly, these shows aren't looking for a solid debater, as there are serious scientists who believe humans are causing catastrophic global warming (just not anywhere near 97% of all climate scientists) who would jump at the chance to debate on TV. But given a choice between conveying information or booking a celebrity, the news media prefers the latter.

I'm not saying Mr. Nye isn't a clever man. According to media reports, he has a degree in mechanical engineering and has earned patents for devices that are complicated and useful. But he's also someone who has spent much of his life as an entertainer, and that's no way no hone debate skills.

The TV show "Bill Nye the Science Guy" may have been about science, but it was science for kids and Nye had script writers. And before that, Nye spent time doing a little comedy show in Seattle, playing such characters as "speed walker." (Click here to see video of Nye as a super-walking superhero in short-shorts.)

BillNyeasSpeedWalker

Marsha Blackburn is a serious congresswoman who has kept her brain at peak condition. Nye has "phoned in" his previous TV debates on climate. I suspect he is capable of upping his game, but will he bother, knowing that media outlets like NBC, CNN and MSNBC will book him whether he works hard or not? So far, he hasn't.

Speaking as a climate skeptic, I suspect this debate is going to be fun.

Too bad only the Blackburn half is likely to be educational.

Editor's note: This post has been edited to reflect the fact that Nye and Morano debated once on CNN and once on Fox, not twice on CNN.

Friday
Feb142014

Health Care Odds & Ends: Deluxe Edition

1. Trial Lawyers Bonanza!  Economist and president of the National Center for Policy Analysis John Goodman notes the following about the new regulations on ObamaCare’s employer mandate:

The new delay in the employer mandates only apply to employers who don’t reduce their labor force…unless…here is a Q&A on the regulation:

In order to be eligible for the relief, an employer must certify that it meets the following conditions:

(2) Maintenance of Workforce and Aggregate Hours of Service. During the period beginning on Feb. 9, 2014 and ending on Dec. 31, 2014, the employer may not reduce the size of its workforce or the overall hours of service of its employees in order to qualify for the transition relief. However, an employer that reduces workforce size or overall hours of service for bona fide business reasons is still eligible for the relief.

In the title Goodman writes that “you would have to be pretty dumb not to be able to think of a ‘bona fide business reason.”  That’s true, but trial lawyers would have to be pretty dumb to not realize that “bona fide business reason” is so vague that it will provide them with plenty of opportunities to sue businesses with big pockets.  And in my experience, trial lawyers aren’t THAT dumb.

2. Well, Those Rural Folk Didn’t Vote For Obama Anyway.  I missed this one in the Washington Post from almost two weeks back. Apparently consumers in rural Georgia are finding insurance pretty pricey on the ObamaCare exchange:

If Lee Mullins lived in Pittsburgh, he could buy mid-level health coverage for his family for $940 a month. If he lived in Beverly Hills, he would pay $1,405.

But Mullins, who builds custom swimming pools, lives in southwest Georgia. Here, a similar health plan for his family of four costs $2,654 a month.

Read it all.

3. ObamaCare Brings Some People Sadness…  The Massachusetts exchange is not going well, according to the Boston Globe:

The head of the state’s beleaguered health insurance marketplace, which was once a national model, broke down in tears Thursday, as she described how demoralizing it has been for her staff to struggle with a broken website that has left an unknown number of people without coverage.

Jean Yang, the executive director of the Massachusetts Health Connector, wept at a board meeting, where it was disclosed that 50,000 applications for health insurance are sitting in a pile, and have yet to be entered into a computer system.

Wish I could say I feel sorry for her.

4. …And Brings Other People Joy.  I’m not one who generally enjoys this sort of schoolyard taunt, but given how arrogant the defenders of ObamaCare have been, in that context this bit of schadenfreude by John Podhoretz is spot on:

I could rage on and on about Monday’s gobsmacking announcement that the Obama administration is once again unilaterally delaying a key aspect of its health-care law and what this act of astonishing royalism suggests about the president and his fundamental disrespect for the American system of checks and balances.

But I’m not going to. Instead, with all the dignity that a 52-year-old man and father of three can bring to the task, I will offer these observations instead:

Neener neener neener.

Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah.

Face it, all of you who celebrated and wept and danced when it passed back in March 2010, all of you who viewed it as the historic moment of transformation for the United States: This law is a lemon.

As Bart Simpson once said, “I didn’t think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows.”

5. Maybe “Substandard” Insurance Isn’t So Substandard After All.  Some Congressional supporters of ObamaCare and insurers are pushing a new type of plan that could be sold on the exchanges.  Dubbed a “copper” plan, it would, according to the Wall Street Journal, “cover, on average, 50% of medical costs, and while consumers’ out-of-pocket expenses would still be capped, that limit likely would be higher than the $6,350 maximum for individuals and $12,700 for families currently set by the law.”

The Anointed aren’t pleased:

“I’m not sure that requiring people who have insurance to nevertheless pay for 50% of their costs themselves can reasonably be defined as decent coverage,” said Jay Angoff, the first head of the Department of Health and Human Services office that is overseeing the implementation of insurance provisions in the law.

I am completely sure that bureaucrats, politicians, pundits and others who think they are entitled to run our lives should NOT be deciding what is and is not “decent coverage.”  That should be left to the individual consumer who pays the cost for that coverage.

6. We Need Single-Payer...like we need a hole in our head.  What would an Odds & Ends be without a quick look at the recent goings on in that British gem of health care, the National Health Service?  

-First up is Barnet Hospital whose administrators insisted their A&E Department (similar to an Emergency room in the states) was well prepared to cope with an influx of new patients after the A&E Dept. at nearby Chase Farm hospital closed down on December 9.  “But less than seven weeks later, Barnet Hospital was left crippled by the huge number of walk-in patients and ambulance arrivals on Friday, January 31, a letter leaked to the Times Series has now revealed.

“At the height of the crisis, ambulances were left queuing outside the hospital and, by 2.30pm, 19 had been left unable to transfer their patients because of the drastic bed shortage.”

More here.

-Colchester Hospital is in the midst of a scandal after “a health watchdog found ‘inaccuracies’ with waiting time data relating to cancer treatment.” Staff  told an investigating committee “they were ‘pressured or bullied’ to change data relating to patients and their treatment in order to make it seem people were being treated in line with national guidelines.”  The committee stated that “patients’ lives may have been put at risk.”

-Although incidence of brain cancer are on the rise in Britain, the NHS has proposed shutting down two-thirds of the “of stereostatic radiosurgery units - specialist brain tumour treatment centres.”  Increasing demand for a service yet the supply is reduced—government health care at its finest!

Thursday
Feb132014

Listen: National Center’s Almasi Shatters Chuck Schumer, Food Babe Claims Over Pennsylvania Airwaves

After the Subway sandwich chain buckled to the criticism of the “Food Babe” blogger and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) rushed to the cameras to demand a ban on the harmless food additive azodicarbonamide, I had the honor of appearing on WSBA in York, Pennsylvania to help set the record straight.

In a morning, drive-time interview on February 11, host Gary Sutton asked: “Whatever happened to freedom of choice?”

I replied:

They don’t want you to have it… In this case, you can’t even say it’s junk science that they’re using because they’re not using science at all.  It’s just fear and lies.

In dispelling the scare tactic that azodicarbonamide – a product used in very small quantities to bleach and condition bread dough but has also been used in the production of rubber products such as yoga mats – is toxic because of its many diverse uses, I noted:

Lots of things are used in lots of products.  Vinegar is used in cleaning products.  Citrus products are used in cleaning products as well.  Corn!  I put corn in my gas tank, and yet I feed it to kids.  Why are we not banning corn?

And, responding to Sutton’s facetious comment about “our so-called betters… out there looking out for us poor fools,” I commented:

It really is infuriating to think that we’re in a society that benefits from the fact that we can now get food in good quantities from exotic places.  We can get things that are out of season in our neighborhoods.  I mean, I can’t go out in my backyard and get a banana here in the DC area – I can’t get pretty much anything in my back yard at this time of year because of all the cold weather.

But we can do that now.  Why?  Because of preservatives like the one we’re talking about banning.

We can just… We can go down the street and get a Subway sandwich – a nice, cheap, nutritious sandwich.  And we can do that because of these chemicals [the Food Babe] wants to have banned.

In the second segment of the 25-minute interview, I called people such as Schumer and the Food Babe “flat earthers”, pointing out: “They don’t want to accept that there is better living through science.”

Discussing how liberal food activists and their supporters and enablers like to point to government regulators and science in pretty much every other circumstance but this one, I noted that this “smacks of hypocrisy.”

Noting that both of us possess the ability to be question the government while food radicals do not, I said to Sutton:

I feel I can be critical of the FDA.  You feel that you can be critical of the FDA.  They shouldn’t be, and – yet – here they are saying that the FDA should be changing their science.

Thursday
Feb132014

Clarence Thomas Called “Uncle Tom,” Again – Project 21 Responds

A state representative in Alabama, during a seemingly unrelated discussion on legislation concerning land surveying, reportedly voiced his disapproval for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas because Thomas – a black conservative – is married to a white woman.  He also called Thomas an “Uncle Tom.”  Project 21 members are appalled by the comments and are speaking out.

Project 21 member Demetrius Minor, said:

This liberal Alabama lawmaker admitted to not liking Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas because he is married to a white woman.  Typical liberal ignorance.

Clarence Thomas, the lone black justice on the Court, coincidentally claimed that race relations are worse now than they were decades ago and that he experiences more grief from “elite liberals.”

This seems to be true seeing that – as a black conservative – I find that liberals don’t want you to think for yourself and always play the race card when logic trumps your argument.

Alabama State Representative Alvin Holmes’s comments were reported by two different local journalists.  Specifically, Mary Sell of the Decatur Daily tweeted on February 12: “Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, just said on the House floor that he doesn’t like Clarence Thomas because ‘he’s married to a white woman.’”  Holmes is black.

While Holmes denied making the comment about the Thomas marriage, he later qualified the reporters claims by saying he was telling Tim Lockette of the Anniston Star about what other people might expect him to think, saying, “I said some people might say I didn’t like [Thomas] because he was married to a white woman.”

That doesn’t really make things much better.

Then Holmes doubled-down on the criticism of Justice Thomas, saying, “I said I don’t like [Thomas] at all because he is an Uncle Tom.”

Project 21 member Darryn “Dutch” Martin said:

Alabama State Representative Alvin Holmes feels it necessary to deviate from official state business to disparaging a sitting associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court for being an “Uncle Tom” and being married to a white woman.

Representative Holmes seems to feel it’s his right to take liberties by publicly slandering a sitting, dark-skinned, conservative federal jurist without provocation.

I would say that Holmes should be ashamed of himself, yet black, far-left progressives such as him have no shame.  They throw bombs at black conservatives or anyone else who disagrees with them – believing that they can get away with it.

When called on his slanderous remarks, his fumbling attempt to backtrack and clarify what he said would be laughable were it not so pathetic.

Coincidentally, Justice Thomas just gave a speech at Palm Beach Atlantic University just two days before the incident with Representative Holmes in which he lamented how America has become a more race-conscious society.  Thomas said: “My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school.”  He added, “The worst I have been treated was by northern liberal elites.”

Project 21 member Derryck Green said:

Over 20 years after being nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas still raises the ire of the left.  No sooner did he finish his speech lamenting that society has grown more race-conscious and too sensitive regarding racial identities than the liberal mentality he identified as being the source of such racism validated his point.

Representative Alvin Holmes apparently expressed his dislike for Justice Thomas simply because “he’s married to a white woman.”  Holmes later clarified his position regarding Thomas saying, “I don’t like him at all because he’s an Uncle Tom.”

Think about what Holmes said about Justice Thomas.  Think about what William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP recently said about Senator Tim Scott.  Think about what Representative Maxine Waters and others have said about Lt. Colonel Allen West.  Think about what the racial provocateurs on MSNBC and many other self-identifying liberals and progressives have said about the aforementioned.  What does it represent?

The life and achievements of Justice Clarence Thomas should be held as an example for all Americans to follow.  He transcended poverty, embraced the values of hard work and self-discipline and reached the legal pinnacle of the U.S. Supreme Court.  And by all accounts, he’s a decent and honorable man.

But none of that matters to those who only see race.

Wednesday
Feb122014

Nagin Conviction Provides Lessons for Black Politicians, Racial Apologists

Project 21 member Nadra Enzi, a Louisiana resident, has some tough commentary regarding the conviction of former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin on 20 counts of bribery, money laundering, tax evasion and other fraud.

Nagin, who was mayor of the Crescent City during Hurricane Katrina and is infamous for not mobilizing the city’s fleet of school buses to evacuate residents who became trapped in the flooded metropolis, was convicted by a federal jury and could face over 20 years in jail and over $2 million in fines.  The case against Nagin stemmed from the over $200,000 in direct bribes, free travel and other amenities Nagin and his family received in return for businessmen receiving over $5 million in city contracts.

Acquitted on only one count, Nagin’s attorney, Robert Jenkins, said, “We did the best we could do.”  They do plan an appeal.

Project 21’s Enzi, a vocal advocate in the New Orleans area for strong community policing, warned against blaming the Nagin convictions on a racist judicial system.  He said:

I’ve always failed to make that connection in the past when presented with the argument of a racist criminal justice system, and today isn’t any different.

The real question is, how do we govern ourselves so that we don’t find ourselves in these situations?

No defense attorney can take commonly-discussed excuses like slavery and selective prosecution, for example, and offer these to a judge.

Speaking to those who think that some people deserve a pass from punishment because of their race, Enzi has tough words for all viewpoints – positive and negative.  He added:

I know that sounds terribly corny to the blameless black crowd, but these scenarios always serve as – for some – painful teaching moments.

We can’t keep blaming white folks for crime we freely choose to commit.  The higher up the food chain we go, the more these trials will be publicized.

Some will say the Nagin case is proof black mayors are inherently corrupt. It’s hard for me to buy that one since I live in Louisiana, where a whole lot of white politicians and paymasters are perp-walked to prison.

In 2014, some American blacks must accept that our past doesn’t exempt us from being held accountable for our actions in the present.

If anything – conceding to the possibility of institutional bias – we have even more incentive to be law abiding because we don’t always get the breaks others do.

Exempting black criminals because of real or imagined racism only cheapens our lives and promises more scenes like today.

An old school warning always echoes in my mind during these times: “You can’t beat the devil doing wrong.”

Enzi is the author of the recent New Visions Commentary “Cult of the Blameless Black,” which can be read by clicking here.

Wednesday
Feb122014

Young People And That First Premium: Why The ObamaCare Risk Pool Is Worse Than You Think

With the the Dept. of Health and Human Services set to release the next enrollment report on the ObamaCare exchanges this afternoon, I can’t help but wonder if this will be the report in which we finally get some data on how many people have not yet paid their first premium.  I doubt it.  But it would sure be nice since it would give us another key piece in the risk-pool puzzle.

If the nonpayment rate is high, say 20%, then it’s a very good bet that the exchange risk pool is in even worse shape that previously thought.  The reason is that younger people are more likely that older people to be delinquent on their payments.  For example, here are some numbers on age and credit score from BCSAlliance:

Since credit score is heavily reliant on payment history, the above scores suggest that the young have the worst record at making payments on time or making them at all.  From there it is a small leap to the proposition that the bulk of people who have not paid their first premium on the ObamaCare exchanges are in that crucial 18-34 age group.  

If the nonpayment rate is high, then the number of 18-34-year-olds who are part of the exchange risk pool is surely worse than the 24% claimed by the last HHS enrollment report.  It’s also much further from the 38% the Obama Administration predicts it needs to keep the exchange risk pool stable.

Media reports show that the rate of nonpayment runs the gamut:

-An article from mid-January in the Wall Street Journal shows various insurers with nonpayment rates ranging from 20% to 40%. 

-A more recent article in CNNMoney, insurers report a range of customers who haven’t yet paid, from 12% to 30%.  Perhaps most worrisome for ObamaCare supporters is insurer Wellpoint, who has signed up 500,000 on the exchanges.  Yet, “a majority of WellPoint’s would-be members have paid, said WellPoint’s chief financial officer, but not a ‘vast majority.’”

-As of early January, only 8% of those who had signed up for an Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan via the Connecticut exchange had paid their first premium.

-A Newsweek article examining the Vermont exchange shows that about 37,000 had signed up for a private plan but only 11,943 had actually paid their first premium.  That’s a non-payment rate of 68%. 

-Breitbart reported in late January that 25% of those “enrolled” in Covered California had not paid their first premium.

It would be wonerful if HHS not only released the nonpayment rate but also broke it down by age.  Unfortunately, if the first is unlikely, the latter would be a miracle.

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