Friday, March 9, 2012

Last Call

Congratulations, America's climate scientists!  You can all quit your jobs and take up gardening and Words With Friends because we don't need you any more.  It turns out Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe has proven once and for all that climate change can't possibly hurt us.  His painstaking research has been published in America's most trusted scientific journal, The Holy Bible.

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) appeared on Voice of Christian Youth America’s radio program Crosstalk with Vic Eliason yesterday to promote his new book The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, where he repeated his frequent claim that human influenced climate change is impossible because “God’s still up there.” Inhofe cited Genesis 8:22 to claim that it is “outrageous” and arrogant for people to believe human beings are “able to change what He is doing in the climate.”

Well, glad that pesky controversy is over with.  SUV's for all the people!  God's got Her finger on the thermostat and the controls, so we can just launch blocks of carbon into volcanoes and everything will be just fine.

"My favorite is Genesis 8:22 which is ‘as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night,’ you know, God’s still up there. There’s another piece of Scripture I’ll mention which I should’ve mentioned, no one seems to remember this, the smartest thing the activists did in trying to put their program through is try to get the evangelicals on their side, so they hired a guy named Cizik, and he had his picture in front of Vanity magazine dressed like Jesus walking on water. He has been exposed since then to be the liberal that he is. I would say that the other Scripture that I use quite frequently on this subject is Romans 1:25, ‘They give up the truth about God for a lie and they worship God’s creation instead of God, who will be praised forever.’ In other words, they are trying to say we should worship the creation. We were reminded back in Romans that this was going to happen and sure enough it’s happening."

Oh well then.  Praise Jeebus and pass the emissions.  Aren't you glad this guy is making laws for all Americans?

Finding Genes That Fit

Ezra Klein makes the convincing argument that sub-$1,000 human genome sequencing procedures means the end of the health insurance industry as we know it.

At the moment, our understanding of the genome remains relatively crude, and our ability to predict future health risks based off of genomic sequencing is limited. But we’re getting better at it. For instance, women in families with a high rate of breast and ovarian cancer can have themselves tested for alterations in the BCRA1 and BCRA2 genes. If they test positive, it means their risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer is significantly higher.

As we sequence more genomes, mine more data, and conduct more studies, we’ll find a lot more of these connections. Eventually, genomic testing will be a powerful predictor of future illness. And it raises the potential that young people will get themselves tested and then purchase insurance based off the result. So those with a clean genomic result might go for a cheap catastrophic plan, while those with a high risk of developing pricey illnesses will opt for more comprehensive insurance.

The result would be, in insurance terms, an “adverse-selection death spiral,” as the healthy opt out of expensive insurance, the sick opt into it, and premiums spin out of control.

So yes, regardless of what thick-headed Republicans think about the HORRORS OF SOCIALIST OBAMACARE, the reality is that widespread accurate and cheap genetic testing will be the norm in about a decade or so, give or take a few years.  Insurance companies will insist on knowing what's in your genetic cards before you get insured, and so will employers, potential spouses, etc.

Before he left office, Dubya signed GINA, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, into law.  Literally everyone in Congress voted for it except for Ron Paul.  GINA says that genetic information cannot be used to deny coverage or raise insurance rates on people.  What it means is smart people will get tested and then buy appropriate insurance.  Since insurance companies exist to guess rather than know, and they can't use that knowledge to set your insurance coverage, they're suddenly in real trouble if all the folks with the genetic predisposition towards disease buy insurance and all the less likely folks buy cheap stuff because they know they won't need it.  That's going to bury the insurers and they know it.

So no, it doesn't actually matter what happens to the PPACA.  It's not going anywhere, really.  Neither is GINA.  But insurance companies?  They're going somewhere.

Straight down the crapper.

Recycled Sausage

Remember the small business provisions in President Obama's American Jobs Act that Republicans blocked last year?  This year is an election year, and it's clear that the accusations of the GOP doing absolutely nothing for jobs has hit home.  All of a sudden, House Republicans want to get things done with their small business bill.

The House bill, which passed 390 to 23, would relax certain Securities and Exchange Commission requirements to make it easier for small firms and startups to raise capital and boost hiring. One measure would make it easier for firms to solicit private investors, while another would relax filing requirements associated with initial public offerings.

The JOBS Act gives House Republicans much-needed ammunition, to counter President Barack Obama's re-election strategy of running against a "do-nothing" Congress that paints the party as obstructionist and unwilling to work with him to tackle the country's high unemployment rate.

Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House who championed the bill, acknowledged that it was aimed at boosting Congress's poor approval ratings, which are at near record lows.

"What we're trying to do is to regain the confidence of the people that sent us here," Cantor told reporters. "By having a win like this I think we can demonstrate that we really can work together."

Sorry Eric.  One small business bill isn't going to make up for your 9% approval rating.  It just shows that your party controls the House and your party could have passed this stuff much, much earlier but refused to do so for political reasons and to deny the President a win.  Oh, and to try to purposely prevent the economy from getting better too.

Nice try.

Girl Handcuffed For Being Rude

ADAMS COUNTY - Children who cop an attitude at school might want to think twice. Eleven-year-old Yajira Quezada, a sixth-grader at Shaw Heights Middle School, was handcuffed and taken to a holding facility for disobeying the orders of an assistant principal during lunch and being "argumentative and extremely rude," 9Wants to Know has learned.

An Adams County Sheriff's Office incident report says the assistant principal found Yajira walking in the hallway during lunch because the girl claimed she was cold and needed to get a sweater from her locker.

The report says the assistant principal was in mid-sentence when Yajira, "turned and walked away saying, 'I don't have time for this.'"

That was enough to handcuff the girl and send her out like a prisoner. Are you freaking kidding me? She had marks on her wrist.  I wouldn't even classify this as extremely rude, like the article does.

We have to teach our kids to know their rights and stand for them. We want to teach them not to be bullies, but then put them in an environment where they are bullied by those they are supposed to trust. So she was a smartass, welcome to working with kids.  She isn't even a teenager yet, for crying out loud!  Have a talk with her or her mother. I find it hard to believe she was the sole reason this escalated into a police matter. Over a freaking sweater.

Gaytan doesn't condone her daughter's behavior but questions the severity of the punishment and the handcuff marks left on Yajira's hands.

Steve Saunders, director of communications and community relations for Adams County School District 50, says anytime an incident rises to this level, officials take a close look at what happened.

"You hate to see something escalate to where it becomes a police matter. Once they step in and take over a case, it is really in their hands. The conclusion was, as far as the district was concerned, everything was handled appropriately," Saunders said.

The mom sounds reasonable. I'd like clarification on what they mean by "escalated to this level" because it sounds like she was trying to hurry to get back to class and took a boatload of stupidity instead. The school district doubled down and said they believe this was appropriate.  I hope that comes back to bite them in the ass.

What a load of crap.  I hope they pay dearly for it. Our kids are going to have an uphill battle with their liberty, and not being treated like disobedient cattle. She was flippant, but if I was cuffed every time I disagreed with school staff I'd have permanent callouses on my wrists. It sounds like this little girl learned the value of manners, but I also hope she learned the value of knowing when the other party is out of line, no matter what job title or power they hold.

Why Bon May Never Sleep Again

A flood in Australia has caused millions and gazillions of creepy spiders to go to the high ground.  The effect is chilling, as my fear of spiders is the one thing I have never recovered from.  I beat my fear of heights, public speaking and water.  Spiders?  That's one of the reasons I got married, was to have a spider killer on hand at all times.

You can click here for the slideshow, but I am including the picture that will haunt my imagination for years to come.

This isn't snow.  My apologies for the quality of the image, but I wanted to show you a glimpse of the horror.


February job numbers out, and they're pretty good: +227k new jobs, unemployment rate unchanged at 8.3%.  The big bonus: serious upward revisions in the December and January figures and an increase in the labor participation rate.  More people are looking for work, and this kept pace with the job increase, resulting in the unchanged unemployment rate.

The participation rate, which indicates the share of working-age people in the labor force, rose to 63.9 percent from 63.7 percent.

Private payrolls, which exclude government agencies, rose 233,000 in February after a revised gain of 285,000 the prior month. They were projected to climb by 225,000. Manufacturing payrolls increased by 31,000 after a revised 52,000 gain.

“There is hiring going on,” Richard Fearon, chief financial officer at Eaton Corp. (ETN) said at a March 6 industrial conference in New York. The Cleveland-based maker of circuit breakers and truck transmissions will “definitely need more manpower to serve” growing demand for tractor-trailers and for the equipment used in construction and hydraulics, he said.

Employment at service-providers increased 203,000. Retail trade payrolls fell 7,400 in February. Professional and business service payrolls increase 82,000 last month, including a 45,200 pickup in temporary hiring.

Kinda worried about the temp job numbers but it's better than being unemployed in a number of macroeconomic respects.  Meanwhile, the GOP (including my own senator Rand Paul) has a budget plan that will balance the budget in five years.  Want to guess the asterisk?

The lawmakers said they would turn Medicare into a premium support plan that would give seniors the same healthcare plan as members of Congress. They say this would save an estimated $1 trillion over 10 years.

“What we’re doing is telling seniors that you can have the same plan that congressmen and senators have,” DeMint said. “They get the same premium support that we do.”

The trio would curb Social Security spending by increasing the retirement age over time and indexing benefits to individual incomes. High-income earners would see slower growth in their benefits while low-income workers would see increased benefits.

The proposal would fund Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps and child nutrition programs through block grants.

It would cut most discretionary spending to fiscal year 2008 levels but spare national defense spending from the deep cuts mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

It would freeze foreign aid spending at $5 billion a year and eliminate the departments of Commerce, Education, Housing and Urban Development and Energy and privatize the Transportation Security Administration.

Yeah.  Awesome plan, guys.   Please remember that your votes for Congress are just as important as your vote for President this November.

Let Them Eat Student Union Cake

The Marquis de Mittens doesn't have any time for your "help more people go to college" nonsense.  If you were meant to go to college, you'd be smart enough not to need it, rich, or both.  Jon Chait:

Earlier this week, a pretty interesting and telling exchange took place at a Mitt Romney town hall meeting. A student asked Romney what he would do to make college more affordable for students who struggle to pay for it. Romney’s reply was jarring:
It would be popular for me to stand up and say I’m going to give you government money to pay for your college, but I’m not going to promise that,” he said, to sustained applause from the crowd at a high-tech metals assembly factory here. “Don’t just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And hopefully you’ll find that. And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.”
It’s a brutal response.  One reason, of course, is that college is a form of public investment. We have a shared stake in a more educated population, which ultimately produces higher living standards for all. Treating college affordability as a question of simple personal responsibility is an act of collective economic suicide.

But Romney’s answer, and the enthusiastic reception it triggered, also reveals something important about the Republican coalition. Here were Romney, and his supporters, treating a struggling prospective college student with almost gleeful hostility, like a bum looking for a handout.

You ever notice that the approved enemies list for Republicans in 2012 consists solely of groups that voted for President Obama in 2008?  Minorities, women, poor people and people under 25?  Yeah, there's a reason for that.  And Mitt Romney?  He's the opposite of all those groups.

Funny how that works out.  The Kroog weighs in on this too:

But what about people like Mr. Romney? Don’t they have a stake in America’s future economic success, which is endangered by the crusade against education? Maybe not as much as you think. 

After all, over the past 30 years, there has been a stunning disconnect between huge income gains at the top and the struggles of ordinary workers. You can make the case that the self-interest of America’s elite is best served by making sure that this disconnect continues, which means keeping taxes on high incomes low at all costs, never mind the consequences in terms of poor infrastructure and an undertrained work force. 

And if underfunding public education leaves many children of the less affluent shut out from upward mobility, well, did you really believe that stuff about creating equality of opportunity? 

So whenever you hear Republicans say that they are the party of traditional values, bear in mind that they have actually made a radical break with America’s tradition of valuing education. And they have made this break because they believe that what you don’t know can’t hurt them

You don't say.  An ignorant populace is a compliant and controllable populace.  Just tell them that the real problem is all those awful union employees who make more money than you do, then destroy them.  Sure, it means that we have an increasingly stupid and unskilled workforce, but that's what India and China are for.


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