Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Obama’s Top Six Gas Price Myths Busted

Obama’s Top Six Gas Price Myths Busted

All notes and sources indicated can be found by following the link to the article.

By Rory Cooper On April 27, 2011

The same Washington press corps that hammered President George W. Bush relentlessly when prices were still well under $3 a gallon—well before the $4 a gallon peak, which lasted only six weeks in 2008 [1]—have given President Obama a pass thus far on the recklessness of his energy policy.

In fact, in the first two years of his presidency, as gas prices steadily rose to over $3 [1] a gallon, the press corps never asked the President [2] about gas prices in any of his press briefings. Even when he called a press briefing specifically on gas prices last month, he was asked only one question on the subject [3], which was historic in itself, being the first question on gas prices of his presidency.

According to the Media Research Center [4], in the past year, just 1 percent of stories related to oil prices or the Gulf oil spill on the network evening news even mentioned the President’s energy policy.

President Obama has been more than happy to feed the media alternative narratives. But the myths created in the White House don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Myth #1: Speculators Are to Blame

Ah, speculators. Nobody worries about pesky market investors when gas prices are rising from $2 to $3, but when prices hit $4 they are the only people to blame. But the economics of supply and demand don’t back up the argument.

Heritage energy expert Nick Loris explains [5]: “Speculators could marginally increase the price of gasoline if it led to oil inventories building up while sellers waited for higher prices—but even then it would be only in the short run, because businesses have to unload these inventories.” And those inventory build-ups do not appear to be happening.

The Cato Institute’s Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren explain [6]: “While crude inventories in the U.S. are increasing, they always increase at this time of year, and this year’s increase is well within the normal range. More important, gasoline inventories are decreasing and decreasing much more rapidly than normal. Hence, there’s no evidence that speculators are reducing the supply of crude or gasoline through increased storage.”

Craig Pirrong, a finance professor at the University of Houston who specializes in commodity prices, told Fox News [7]: “This is a transparently political fishing expedition that insinuates that fraud or manipulation is distorting oil prices without providing even the flimsiest factual basis for such a suspicion.”


Myth #2: Price Gouging Is to Blame

Price gouging certainly sounds menacing. Who wouldn’t be against someone “gouging”? But it’s not the reality of markets. As Reuters White House correspondent Steve Holland recently tweeted [8]: “Presidents typically stage fraud probes when gas prices spike. Fraud is almost never found.”

Heritage expert Diane Katz explains [9]: “In the case of oil and gasoline, higher prices induce producers to increase supply—precisely what’s needed to alleviate shortages. But, with the threat of fines and jail time if they charge ‘too much,’ producers will be reluctant to respond to the higher market prices. Consequently, the shortages persist or worsen.”

This type of government price control, via heated presidential rhetoric, usually makes the situation worse, not better—as we saw in the Carter Administration, when artificially low prices caused shortages and gas lines. Yes, consumers need to be protected, but price gouging is not the cause of the high gas prices, and the President knows it.


Myth #3: The Solution Is Alternative Energy

This is President Obama’s favorite line. We simply need to “invest” more in alternative energy. Notice, though, that he never says this action will lower gas prices. Because it won’t. Oil fuels, among other things, our transportation needs, while solar and wind are electricity-generating energy sources. An affordable electric-only car simply does not exist on the market today.

While the President may want to spend billions of dollars subsidizing the costly solar and wind industry, it will not even slightly impact high gas prices. Having an idealistic vision of our energy future is not a short-term solution to the economic pain Americans are feeling.

Several weeks ago, President Obama mocked a man for having 10 kids [10] and told him he needed to buy a (non-existent in the U.S. market) hybrid van. Since that revealing misstep, Obama has backtracked, acknowledging that most Americans cannot afford a new $40,000 vehicle.


Myth #4: The President Wants Lower Gas Prices

If we are to take President Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu at their word, they desire higher gas prices in order to wean Americans off of oil. In September 2008, Chu told The Wall Street Journal [11]: “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” which are currently nearly double the price in America. Two months later, the President chose him to be his Energy Secretary.

In June 2008, President Obama was asked [12] by CNBC’s John Harwood if high oil prices “could help us.” Then-candidate Obama responded: “I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment.” In other words, prices need to get higher, but not so fast that it causes political problems.


Myth #5: More Biofuels Will Solve the Problem

The President has called for increased biofuel production. As Loris again points out [13]: “The most popular subsidized biofuel, ethanol, produces less energy per unit volume than does gasoline, contributes to food price increases [14], costs taxpayers billions of dollars, and has dubious environmental effects [15].” In fact, a few large oil rigs in the Gulf would replace all of the energy produced by biofuels. The President also fails to mention the 54-cent tariff imposed on cheaper and more environmentally friendly Brazilian ethanol.


Myth #6: There Is Nothing President Obama Can Do About Gas Prices

On April 6, President Obama told an audience, “I’m just going to be honest with you. There’s not much we can do next week or two weeks from now.” There is actually plenty President Obama can do immediately.

He can start issuing drilling permits in the Gulf. Obama’s Department of Interior went nearly a year without issuing a new permit, to the point that a federal judge held them in contempt of court. Obama’s Energy Information Agency projects that these permitting delays are costing us 240,000 fewer barrels of oil a day, along with the billions of dollars in government revenue in royalties. A Louisiana State University study found that at least 19,000 jobs across the nation [16] were destroyed just by the Obama drilling “permitorium.”

He can stop the EPA from imposing costly new regulations on refiners [17]. He can reverse the political EPA decision [18] to stop Shell from tapping into 27 billion barrels of oil in the Arctic Ocean. Simply put, he can send a strong signal to the markets and oil cartels that the U.S. oil industry is back open for business.

As Congressman Dan Boren (D–OK) recently said [19]: “President Obama is completely uninformed about the oil and gas industry. The industry is not made up of just major companies. … For every CEO of a major company, there are literally thousands of blue collar jobs that are affected by his administration’s energy policy. It is a policy that is very inadequate and has left so many on the gulf coast unemployed. Americans are tired of empty rhetoric on both sides and want a real plan. If the President doesn’t want to stand up and be a leader, then his silence would be appreciated from people who are trying to find solutions.”


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Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Easter Effect

To me, the most compelling evidence of the validity of the Easter miracle was the dramatic change in the behavior of the historical disciples, from confused, fearful, disallusioned men, overnight into fearless proponents of the forbidden Gospel. Most of them paid for this with their lives.

The Easter Effect

By David Stokes 4/24/2011 Townhall

There are moments in time and space when transitory issues fade in significance as things that seem to matter so much are trumped by what really matters most.

Today, as people around the globe gather to remember, honor, and reflect on events that happened some 2,000 years ago in a micro-spot on the world map, it is fitting, I think, to take a departure from the relentless, and at times tedious debate about politics and policies big and small. Let us, for a moment at least (hopefully a life-long moment), focus on a simple, yet profound scenario. One that can be described succinctly and received joyously—it is something called the Gospel.

The word itself comes from the idea of “good news” or “glad tidings,” and is intended to be a divinely directed message of hope. It is a reminder that there is hope, now and in the future. And though we get worked up into a regular lather over issues that polarize people—and I am not suggesting that these issues lack importance—as I read the Biblical record I find it endlessly fascinating that a small group of people, from ordinary backgrounds, and with few natural gifts, could make such a difference in their world and history itself.

They were the first to experience The Easter Effect. They lived, worked, and later died with a sense of fulfillment and joy because they never got over what they knew to be true, having seen it with their own eyes. They were dramatically changed people. We could use the word “converted” to describe it, completely transformed by an encounter with that aforementioned simple scenario involved in the Gospel. The Apostle Paul put it this way:

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” (I Corinthians 15:1-8 NIV)

When he wrote this, and as first century Christians migrated and ministered en route to the uttermost parts of the earth, it was against the backdrop of the rule of Rome. Social, political, and cultural dynamics were arguably a bit more challenging than what we see in America today, but those pioneers of the faith once for all delivered were largely unmoved by what would seem to be a daunting challenge. This was because they grasped the concept that the message of the Gospel was more about redemption than reformation, more about individual salvation than solving social problems, more about a world to come than the world that was—or is.

This is not to say that these souls on fire were indifferent to cultural or political matters, but they knew that ultimate hope and change were never really possible via human means and methods. And when they did pray for those in authority—even those with tyrannical tendencies in Rome—they did so with the seemingly singular goal of desiring to be left alone in a sort of libertarian way:

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” – (I Timothy 2:1-5 NIV)

Like the prayer for the Tsar in Fiddler on the Roof —that he may stay far away—this was a plea for freedom. But it was also a plea for a particular kind of freedom, to be able to live right and model and share the hope of the Gospel.

They were a generation under the influence of The Easter Effect—people who were changed from the inside out and who eventually turned the world upside down (See: Acts 17:6).

Happy Easter—He Is Risen!


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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Some REAL Inconvenient Truths

The combination of cheap energy and technology brought prosperity and modern comforts to the western world. Until there is a massive breakthrough (possibly based on hydrogen and/or natural gas), cheap energy will continue to be supplied by fossil fuels such as coal and oil for the foreseeable future. Somehow those of us who understand this have to combat the lies and propaganda being spread by environmental whackos about the prospects for renewable energy. Please remember these numbers the next time President Obama or any other liberal Democrat starts urging more subsidies for renewables and more restrictions on energy producers:

Your money’s gone with the wind (and solar)

Mark Landsbaum April 14, 2011 The OC Register

Renewable energy is all the rage. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law last week to encourage more of it. The law "encouraged" in the way government encourages everything: Do it or else.

Rather than produce a mere 20 percent of California's energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar by the year 2020, state utilities now are ordered to generate a third of it that way. President Barack Obama trumpets similar lofty-sounding goals for the nation, although he's not having as much success, considering Congress isn't as rabidly left-leaning green as California's Legislature.

When they use your tax money to underwrite their good intentions and to impose their will by force, isn't it a good thing? Aren't wind and solar energy low on pollutants and "renewable?" The sun always shines, and the wind always blows, don't they? Well, not always. More on that later.

At this critical juncture, as global warming alarmism loses momentum after being exposed as hot air, in the political, not atmospheric, sense, and the green-renewable energy movement it spawned picks up speed, we bring you a not-quite comprehensive, but rather revealing look at what it all means. Call it, renewable energy by the numbers.

15-26 – The range of percentage increase that California consumers will pay for electricity by 2020, thanks to Gov. Brown.

34, 44, 74 – These are the percentage increases consumers will pay for electricity from, respectively, Southern California Edison, PG&E and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, after adding the previous additional costs to meet the old 20-percent renewable mandate.

$500 billion – This, according to the World Economic Forum, is the amount that must be spent per year to prevent the worst effects of global warming, requiring a doubling of annual investments in renewable energy. Considering that temperatures haven't increased by a statistically significant amount since the late 1990s, we shudder to think how much higher this number would be if things really heated up.

$5.2 trillion – The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis says a federal renewable energy standard, such as Washington proposes, would reduce national income by $5.2 trillion from 2012-35. Californians: Get out your calculators to figure what percentage of that is your lost income so you can calculate how much you'll have left to pay your extra 34 percent, 44 percent or 74 percent in electric bills.

$78 – This paltry amount is the projected price by the year 2016 for a megawatt hour of electricity generated from coal, one of those dreaded fossil fuels. Compare that with these numbers for generating the same amount of power from: onshore windmills, $149; offshore windmills, $191; thermal solar sources, $256; and photo-voltaic solar, $396. Suddenly, $78 looks even more paltry.

40 percent – In states with renewable electricity mandates – do it or else – electricity prices are nearly 40 percent higher than states without, says the Heartland Institute. In addition, the states also haven't – and probably can't – meet their mandated production levels.

3 percent – China, which is making stacks of money manufacturing and selling wind turbines to countries like the U.S., mandates that a puny 3 percent of its own electricity must be generated by renewable sources by 2020, compared with California's new 33 percent requirement. What do they know that Jerry Brown doesn't?

100 percent – If solar panels were 100 percent efficient, which is impossible, in order to provide all U.S. electricity needs, panels would have to be spread over an expanse of land the size of Connecticut, says Howard C. Hayden in his book, "A Primer on Renewable Energy." Needless to say, this isn't going to happen anytime soon, or for that matter, anytime ever.

Nearly 100 – Government subsidies for solar power are nearly 100 times greater than subsidies for natural gas and petroleum. Subsidies and support per unit of production, according to the Energy Information Administration, were 25 cents for natural gas compared to $24.34 for solar in 2008. How about wind, you say? That's $23.37 per unit. Without massive subsidies from your taxes, wind and solar power generation simply wouldn't happen.

3.7 – Great Britain has gone down this renewable road already. How did that work out? For every green job "created in the renewable-energy sector (mainly solar and wind), another 3.7 jobs are being lost in the real economy, says the independent study by Verso Economics," James Delingpole wrote in the UK Telegraph.

21 percent – Even if they require subsidies (and they do), and destroy rather than create jobs (and they do), aren't renewable energy sources at least reliable? No, they aren't. "Britain's wind farms produce far less electricity than their supporters claim and cannot be relied upon to keep the lights on," the UK Mail Online reports from a study by the John Muir Trust. Over a two-year period, windmills operated at only 21 percent of full capacity, generating only "enough power for fewer than 7,000 households to boil their kettles," the paper reported.

2 percent – In light of the previous number, it's probably a good thing the U.S. got only 2 percent of its electricity in 2009 from wind. But it's probably not a good thing that the government wants to increase that level to 20 percent. As the Brits discovered, the wind doesn't always blow.

Twice – Concerning wind-generated energy, we can learn from Great Britain. "It costs nearly twice as much to generate electricity from an offshore wind farm as it does from a conventional power station," the UK Mail Online reports, citing a government-funded think tank study. Worse yet, "Instead of costs falling as predicted, in the past five years the cost of buying and installing turbines and towers at sea has gone up 51 percent."

24/7 – "The days of permanently available electricity may be coming to an end," conceded Steve Holliday, chief executive of Great Britain's power network, the National Grid. Pointing to an era of increased wind turbine reliance, he said people will have to "change their behavior." That sounds eerily like President Obama, who told an audience that rising gasoline prices may mean they may have to trade in their cars. It's more about change, it seems, than 24/7.

5 times – Bird lovers should lament that their winged friends are five times more likely to die when near wind turbines, according to a specialist with the California Energy Commission. The spinning blades shred birds by the thousands.

1/3 – Most renewable energy discussion concerns replacing what already is produced by plentiful, much less expensive and available fossil fuel sources. There's not much discussion of these less-efficient, much more costly and more difficult to corral renewable energy sources in a future world that demands much more energy. The Energy Information Administration estimates the U.S. will need about one-third more energy in 2020 than it uses today. Not only will renewables be more costly and less reliable, they will need to produce much more.

3.5 percent – At least we can move our cars off the addiction to imported oil, can't we? "If we devoted all corn grown in the United States to sustainable ethanol production, we could displace only about 3.5 percent of current gasoline consumption," James Eaves and Stephen Eaves wrote in Regulation magazine a few years ago. Meanwhile, nations with starving populations must be aghast as the U.S. effectively pours three or four of every 10 bushels of corn into our gas tanks.

103, zero and 7 – For those who prefer to buy American, consider that the Obama administration has not approved 103 pending oil drilling permits, not approved a single new exploratory drilling plan in the Gulf of Mexico since "lifting" the president's deepwater drilling moratorium in October 2010 and placed a seven-year ban on drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and Eastern Gulf.

1 percent – That is the amount of the U.S. oil demand used to generate electricity, and it generates only about 1 percent of the electricity we use. Consequently, reducing reliance on imported oil would have next-to-no effect on keeping the lights on. But wouldn't reducing imported oil lower gasoline prices? "Oil is a fungible commodity with a global price," James Woolsey and Anne Korin wrote in the Wall Street Journal. In 2008, oil prices skyrocketed in the United Kingdom – even though it produces virtually all its own oil. When non-OPEC nations drill more, OPEC drills less, and prices are maintained.

6 cents – That's the third-quarter earnings on every dollar for the alleged greedy and exploitive oil and natural gas industries. The beverage and tobacco industries averaged 20 cents per dollar; computer and peripheral equipment makers, 15.6 cents.
What does all this portend? Maybe Shell Oil knows. In 2008 Shell pulled out of the consortium building the world's biggest offshore wind farm, and the UK Guardian reported this month that "Shell has pulled out of renewables."

It was the contrived emergency of impending global warming doom that gave the renewable energy movement its impetus. Where does it go now? A European Union plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions 60 percent requires, among other sacrifices, banning automobiles in cities.

Ready for a renewable-energy green future? Pull out your wallet, put away your car keys, and prepare to grope in the dark.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

CFL Bulbs Already Killing People

We have a walk-in closet off our bedroom in our RI town-house condo. When we leave RI to spend the winters in Florida, Norma wants a light left on in that closet because it prevents the development of a musty odor over the winter. A couple of years ago I bought a CFL bulb to save money and to ensure the light would be on all winter. Last fall, after hearing of some bad experiences others were having with CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs, I went back to an incandescent bulb there. Thank God I did.

As many of you are aware, the next step for the environmentalists who wear tin-foil hats has been to ban incandescent bulbs, Edison's invention that has been in wide use for over 100 years. They now have to be replaced by costly and dangerous CFL bulbs in order to save pennies on electricity. The first bulb that has been banned is the 100 watt size, which will be phased out completely next year. You also can not buy a 75 watt bulb any more, because bulb manufacturers have been ordered to substitute 65 watt bulbs in their place.

If you should drop and break a CFL bulb, you are in real trouble because of the mercury inside. What madness!

The original article cited below contains links to sources of all statements of fact.

The CFL Fraud

By Edmund Contoski April 19, 2011 The American Thinker

A compact fluorescent light (CFL) on the ceiling burst and started a fire in a home in Hornell, N.Y. December 23, 2010. "Those are the lights everybody's been telling us to use," said Joe Gerych, Steuben County Fire Inspector. "It blew up like a bomb. It spattered all over." Fire Chief Mike Robbins said the blaze destroyed the room where the fire started and everything in it, and the rest of the house suffered smoke and water damage. The Arkport Village Fire Department as well as the North Hornell Fire Department required about 15 minutes to put out the fire.

"Bulb explodes without warning," reported, May 21, 2010.
"Tom and Nancy Heim were watching TV recently, when Tom decided to turn on the floor lamp next to his recliner chair. 'I heard this loud pop...I saw what I thought was smoke, coming out of the top of the floor lamp,' says Tom. Nancy suddenly found glass in her lap. She says, 'I did not see it. I just heard it, and I noticed I had glass on me.'"

On February 23, 2011, TV NewsChannel 5 in Tennessee covered "a newly-released investigators' report that blames a February 12 fatal fire in Gallatin on one of those CFL bulbs." Ben Rose, an attorney for the rehabilitative facility in which Douglas Johnson, 45, perished, said, "This result is consistent with our own private investigation. ...We have heard reports of similar fires being initiated by CFLs across the country."

Here are some examples from across the country:

"GE Helical 13 Watt light bulb. After only 6 months of use. This bulb started making funny noises and flickering... Finally, exploded on my kitchen table." -- Charles of South Webster, OH January 30, 2010 .

"My GE 20W Helical bulb in my 1/2 bathroom caught on fire on 5/3/10. The bulb snapped and glowed very brightly then caught on fire....The bulb was suppose to last 5 years but it was only about a year or so old. I tried replacing it with a GE 26W bulb and the same thing happened immediately." -- Chantelle of Danville, PA May 15, 2010.

"My 80 year old mother turned on her reading lamp and the bulb exploded and the lamp shade caught fire. She unpluged the lamp from the wall and the fire went out thank God." -- M. of Lahaina, HI March 30, 2010.

"I turned on an overhead bathroom light bulb and heard a pop and it exploded falling into the bathroom sink. Nearly all of he flying glass went straight down so little damage was done; however, I was very thankful it did not get in my eyes." -- Patricia of Sammamish, WA October 20, 2010.

"We purchased a 3-way light bulb this past year. [Special 3-way CFLs are made but cost more.] Last night the bulb started a fire in the lamp....Had we not been there our house might have burned down." -- Tina of Redding, CT July 10, 2010.

"I had a desk lamp CFL burn up right in front of me. Switched it on and tiny sparks were emanating like a Van de Graaff generator. Quickly switched it off; the plastic around the ballast was cracked and smoking" -- Nisshin, November 30, 2008.

October 5, 2010 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported: "Trisonic Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs Recalled Due to Fire Hazard" because of four incidents. It's official notice states: "Hazard: light bulb can overheat and catch fire."

Concerns about the toxic mercury in CFLs are downplayed by the bulbs' advocates, but they shouldn't be. According to EPA and other sources, the safe limit is 300 nanograms per cubic meter. When a broken CFL was reported in Maine, the state's Department of Environmental Protection did the most extensive testing in the nation to evaluate the health risk. Its 160-page report is shocking:

Mercury concentration in the study room air often exceeds the...300 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3) for some period of time, with short excursions over 25,000 ng/m3, sometimes over 50,000 ng/m3.

The Maine report states that although following its recommended procedure for home cleanup produces visibly clean flooring surfaces for both wood and carpets, all types of flooring surfaces tested can retain mercury sources even when visibly clean.

Flooring surfaces, once visibly clean, can emit mercury immediately at the source that can be greater than 50,000 ng/m3[.]

The recommended cleanup procedures are onerous, inconvenient, time consuming and must be followed exactly to avoid exacerbating the health risk and incurring financial expense. For example, EPA Link recommends:

Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury... The vacuum will put mercury into the air and increase exposure." You will also be looking at the cost of a new vacuum cleaner, because the Maine DEP research found it "difficult to impossible" to decontaminate a vacuum even with the advantage of sophisticated instruments the homeowner doesn't have.

Never use a broom to clean up mercury. It will break the mercury into smaller droplets and spread them.

Never pour mercury down a drain. It may lodge in the plumbing and cause future problems during plumbing repairs...or cause pollution of the septic tank or sewage treatment plant.

Never wash clothing or other items that have come in direct contact with mercury in a washing machine, because mercury may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.

On December 2, 2010, Germany's Federal Environment Agency (UBA) reported mercury levels from broken CFLs twenty times higher than regulations allow in the surrounding air for up to five hours after breakage. Link Based on a new method to measure mercury from broken CFLs, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection reports that only one-third of the mercury release occurs during the first 8 hours after breakage. During the following two-week period, 17% to 40 percent of the mercury is released into the air. Link According to the Maine study, dangerous levels of mercury can remain in the air for days, weeks, or in at least one case, months.

Utility companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize consumer purchases of CFLs, but the benefits are "less than expected," according to the Wall Street Journal. One reason is that the bulbs are burning out faster than expected. When Pacific Gas & Electric began the program, "it figured the useful life of each bulb would be 9.4 years. Now, with experience, it has cut its estimate to 6.3 years, which limits the energy savings." PG&E had overstated bulb life by 49 percent! As a result of this and other factors, the energy savings were a whopping 73 percent less than the 1.7 billion kilowatt hours projected by PG&E.

Cost comparisons between CFLs and incandescents are misleading for reasons beside CFL's falling far short of their advertised bulb life and energy savings. In California, for example, the average cost of CFLs subsidized by the utility companies is $1.30 compared to $4 for unsubsidized bulbs. But that cost comparison doesn't include the fact the utility companies use ratepayer funds to subsidize the bulbs. The state also subsidizes the bulbs with rewards and incentives to the utilities. PG&E collected $104 million of this money. So the taxpayers as well as the ratepayers are paying in ways that aren't included in the claims about how much money is saved with CFLs.

CFLs often don't fit existing light fixtures, such as small-base lamps, candelabras, and chandeliers, which will have to be replaced. But the costs of replacements are not included in the calculations that CFLs will save money. Say goodbye to those candelabras -- even the expensive ones -- as well as the aesthetic satisfaction they may give. That counts for zero in the government's calculations.

When a CFL is switched on, it provides as little as half of its rated output and can take up to three minutes to reach efficient operation, though the observer will not notice the difference. So all those short on-and-off periods include operating the bulbs at far less than the efficiency claimed for them, and they shorten bulb life, too. A study by H. Sterling Burnett, Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, and co-author Amanda Berg concludes:

Applications in which lighting is used only briefly (such as closets, bathrooms, motion detectors and so forth) will cause CFL bulbs to burn out as quickly as regular incandescent bulbs. Link

The U.S. Department of Energy found that CFLs often grow dimmer over time. It found that after only 40 percent of their rated service life, one-fourth of CFLs no longer produced the full amount of light. In tests conducted by the London Times, 11-watt CFLs produced only 58% of the light of an equivalent 60-watt incandescent -- even after a 10-minute warm-up to allow the CFLs to reach maximum output. Link So the consumer gets less light than he expected, and the energy efficiency drops, too. And the cost estimates of the savings from CFLs are overstated because the customer is shortchanged on the amount of illumination he is paying for.

CFLs also will not operate at low temperatures, making them unsuitable for outdoor applications. Most say so right on the packaging. Safety experts say outdoor lighting is one of the most effective steps a person can take for home or business security, and motion detector lights have grown increasingly popular. So legislating incandescents out of existence will decrease safety. The same will be true of the disappearance of timers, which many people use to turn lights on and off when they are away, giving the appearance of someone being home and thereby discouraging break-ins. And the cost of throwing out timers and dimmers is not included in the costs of CFLs, nor is the cost of buying the more expensive CFLs specially made for those purposes, when they are available. The same is true for ceiling fans and garage door openers, where ordinary CFLs cannot be used because of vibration, and special CFLs for this purpose are far more expensive.

On May 15, 2007 Michael Scott, a Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter, wrote that General Electric announced " by 2010 it will offer incandescent bulbs twice as efficient as those sold today and four times as efficient by 2012. " The first part has already proven true since 2,000-hour rated bulbs appeared on the market in 2010. As a result, the claims that CFL bulbs last "x" number of times longer than incandescents should have reduced the "x" by half. Instead, we continue to hear repetition of the comparisons made years ago of CFLs to 1,000-hour incandescents (or even 750-hour ones of a few years earlier) rather than the 2,000 hour ones that are now readily available. Nor have the claims about CFLs been adjusted for the fact it has been demonstrated over and over and over again that CFLs fall far short of their predicted bulb life. And if the efficiency of incandescents doubles again by 2012 -- when the legislation intended to eliminate them from stores takes effect -- any cost-over-lifetime advantage for CFLs will be wiped out. Kevin Nolan, Vice President of Technology for GE Consumer & Industrial, has stated: "In addition to offering significant energy savings comparable to CFLs," the new bulbs will provide "all the desirable benefits including light quality and instant-on convenience as incandescent lamps currently provide at a price that will be less than CFLs."

The advocates of CFLs complain that 90 percent of the energy from incandescents is wasted because it is given off as heat while only 10 percent gives illumination. It seems to have eluded these people that the heat can be a resource to be utilized, rather than wasted. A study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy Link states: "The heat of incandescent lights -- more than 341 Btu per bulb per hour -- can help to warm a room. Therefore, if the cost of electricity is low relative to the cost of home heating fuel, there may be an economic case for changing to incandescent bulbs in colder seasons." The extent to which the heat from incandescents reduces home heating bills in the winter -- and CFLs cause higher heating bills -- is not included in cost comparisons. (Nor from my own experience in Minnesota do air conditioning costs resulting from summer use of incandescents come anywhere close to the winter savings on heating.)

Reducing the use of fossil fuels and lowering carbon dioxide emissions are given as reasons, besides cost, for switching to CFLs. But at least 85 percent of the CFLs are produced in China, with India in second place by a wide margin over any other country. Why is it that those who champion CFLs as a "green" solution for saving energy never consider the fossil fuel energy required to ship them 8,000 miles from China or India across the ocean to the U.S.?

CFLs emit a high percentage of ultraviolet rays. UV can damage oil paintings, acrylic paintings, photographs, upholstery fabrics, furniture, and flooring finishes. ( Link Link Link Link ) It can not only fade the colors in upholstery fabrics but actually weaken the fibers.

Vu1, a high tech lighting company, states: "Many light fixtures and lamp shades are made of -- or incorporate -- plastics. UV has a tendency to attack plastic." Link Its website shows a picture of a premium lampshade whose plastic liner was discolored, brittle, and shattered in several places from the UV of a CFL. Shouldn't UV damage be factored into all those claims that CFLs will save you money?

Lisa Brosseau, an associate professor in environmental science, says many people store used CFLs in the packages in which they were sold and later transport them that way to recycling centers. She states, "The recent University of Minnesota study I conducted with my team of researchers found that these packages do not contain mercury vapor below permissible workplace exposure levels, as defined by state and federal authorities...and represent a real health and safety concern to those involved in [CFL] storage, transport and disposal, as well as a legal hazard for any businesses that do not adhere to these stipulations." Link , Link

Since an estimated 400 to 620 million CFLs are discarded annually, certainly a significant number of burned-out ones will accidentally be broken when handling and transporting them for disposal.

The Brosseau study found: "The only package that kept mercury vapor emissions below permissible exposure levels, as defined by state and federal authorities, was a double box with a zip closure foil-plastic laminate bag between the cardboard layers." Link Who is going to pay for these, and shouldn't the cost be included in all those comparisons of how cheap CFLs are compared to incandescent bulbs? Incandescents don't need them. Dr. Brosseau says the "law requires" this special protection if CFLs "are transported by the Unites States Postal Service or a common carrier or collected via curbside programs and mail-back businesses." A situation has now been created where huge numbers of Americans are violating the law every day, and compliance would be very expensive for curbside recycling programs and further downgrade CFL cost effectiveness.

And shouldn't the consumers' cost -- not to mention the inconvenience -- of transporting burned-out bulbs to recycling collection points be included in the cost of CFLs? Incandescent bulbs don't require such trips; they can simply be tossed into regular trash, a procedure widely prohibited for CFLs by state and local ordinances to prevent contamination of landfills with mercury.

What about the industrial cost of recycling, which amounts to about 50 cents per CFL bulb? That's another cost that isn't included in cost comparisons with incandescents, but it should be because it's a cost that incandescents don't have.

Only about 2 percent of CFLs are recycled. The rest are disposed of improperly and end up in landfills, thus creating future environmental problems. It is ironic that advocates of Big Government typically argue that free market solutions sacrifice long-term environmental interests for short term financial gains while government is farsighted. But the CFLs the government is telling people to buy now for financial savings will result in mercury pollution turning up in landfills in future decades. The cost of preventive measures now, or landfill clean-up measures later, are not included in tally of all the money and energy people are told will be saved by buying CFLs.

The law intent on eliminating incandescents flies in the face of the Maine DEP safety recommendation that "homeowners consider not utilizing fluorescent lamps in situations where they could easily be broken, in bedrooms used by infants, small children, or pregnant women, or over carpets in rooms frequented by infants, small children and pregnant women."

On February 15, 2010 a TV station reported a fire in Hinsdale, Illinois from a CFL plugged into a dimmer. Channel 2 CBS reporter Anne State said the producer of the news program tried to find a CFL that could be used with dimmers but discovered they were "very hard to find and cost more."

On April 30, 2008 the Cumberland Times-News reported the Rick Jenkins family lost everything in a fire caused by a CFL connected to a dimmer switch. Many types of CFLs include package warnings not to connect them to dimmer switches. "I don't read light bulbs," said Jenkins. "I wouldn't think I'd ever have to."

Many CFL advocates will no doubt say, "Serves those people right for not reading the package." What kind of society are we creating when if you commit the "crime" of not reading a regulation you can lose your house? Far more serious crimes -- actual felonies -- are committed every day with far less punishment, very often nothing more than probation. And what about the people who can't read the regulations even if they wanted to? The U.S. Dept. of Education reported January 2009 that 32 million U.S. adults lack the basic literary skill to read a newspaper or the instructions on a bottle of pills. Link Is it realistic to depend on them reading the warnings on CFLs? And if they don't, they might lose their homes? Wouldn't it just be better to remove the threat of this danger by simply letting people buy incandescent bulbs?

Once again, a government claiming that it knows what is best for people -- and that takes away their right to choose for themselves in the matter -- is a dismal failure. In light of the facts just presented, the federal law effectively banning incandescent light bulbs should be switched off.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

What's Really Bad about Donald Trump

There is a big difference between believing that Obama is certainly hiding something damaging to his reputation by not releasing his birth, school, college and graduate school records - and being a "birther". I am NOT a "birther"

Why Trump is leading and what it really means

By John Ziegler 04/16/2011 The Daily Caller

After the 2008 election, I spent an enormous amount of time and money documenting the media-induced ignorance of Obama voters for my documentary film, “Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted.” The video I shot of Obama voters on Election Day has been seen by over 2.5 million people (not including millions more via television coverage) on YouTube.

The two scientific polls I commissioned to back up the video proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that Obama voters were frighteningly misinformed about basic facts like which party controlled Congress. While McCain voters weren’t exactly “A” social studies students, at least they fared significantly better.

I have always believed that, in general, Republicans are far more informed than Democrats. I thought this was true mostly because very few people are born “conservative” and therefore some sort of education process has to take place for one to emerge from the natural human state of being a liberal.

However, the emergence of Donald Trump as the sudden “frontrunner” for the Republican presidential nomination has made me question just about everything I thought I knew about GOPers.

How in the world a soulless self-promoter who has declared bankruptcy several times, defaulted on huge loans, claimed that George W. Bush was “evil” and the worst president of all time, had a pro-life conversion that makes Mitt Romney’s seem credible, praised Obama in 2008, recently donated to liberal Democrats, once supported universal healthcare, possesses no apparent knowledge of basic civics, already threatened to run as an independent and ensure Obama’s reelection, and probably doesn’t even have the money to self- finance a legitimate campaign, got to this position literally overnight is one of the most depressing developments in the history of the party.

While I am not yet panicked that somehow Trump will be the eventual nominee (though after watching Obama win in 2008, my view of what is politically possible has expanded enough to at least include that among the theoretically possible outcomes), there is no doubt that even if Trump never actually gets in the race, he has already had a profound and permanent impact on it.

Before I get into what Trump’s rocketing to the top of the polls really means, I wish to examine how this has happened.

Obviously, the primary reason that this has occurred is that we have become such a bizarrely celebrity-obsessed culture (and therefore our ratings-driven media is totally celebrity-driven) that if one is well known enough, then literally nothing is off the table. It is almost as if we have created an unofficial class of royalty whose members are automatically taken seriously in almost any endeavor simply because they are one of the “chosen people.”

What makes this development particularly offensive is that there isn’t any distinction between fame and infamy anymore. Being well known is just about all that matters, regardless of how or why it happened.

So when Trump approached CPAC with the proposal to speak (for what would become an episode of his Golf Channel reality show), he already had at least half of the credentials needed to qualify for a spot on the podium: He was famous enough to “trump” his extremely questionable “conservatism.” While obviously I can’t prove it, based on what I know about how things are done at CPAC (as a former co-sponsor), I would be surprised if some sort of “donation” from Trump didn’t smooth over any lingering doubts that they may have had about handing over the conference to such an obvious fraud.

Once Trump spoke at CPAC, he had the first few bricks of perceived conservative credibility on which to build his “campaign.” He followed that with an appeal to the “birther” movement that was as unsubtle and lacking in facts as it was politically brilliant. For the first time, the “birthers” saw someone important (famous) being taken seriously (only because he is famous) in the mainstream media (where he was booked because he is famous) as he strongly pursued the myth that President Obama is not constitutionally eligible to hold the presidency.

Instead of being ignored or banished to media Siberia as anyone else who has tried to promote “birtherism” has been, Trump, thanks to his celebrity and the perceived power of his alleged fortune, was able to actually make the issue seem legitimate. This gave him a political base with which to make noise in the polls.

Once the polls started to move in his direction (even though his “supporters” were probably too busy constructing tinfoil hats to know much about the real Trump), this created the perception of a “movement” and “momentum.” This of course was all the media (thanks again to the fact that Trump is famous and therefore ratings friendly) needed to rationalize covering him as if he was legitimate, which of course further increased his standing.

The most stunning example of this phenomenon was when Sean Hannity gave most of two episodes of his Fox News show this week to his “Trump Interview.” The conservative talk show host sat on his hands and watched (no doubt distracted by thoughts of how good his ratings would be those nights without having to do much work at all) as Trump made numerous statements that would have caused someone who truly cares about who will be the Republican presidential nominee to immediately take Trump down.

Instead, I have no doubt that Trump, now armed with a seal of at least “no disapproval” from a rock star like Hannity, will continue to rise in the same opinion polls he is already routinely leading.

Trump is now in a position where he could be extremely dangerous. Conservatives are aching for someone with the gonads to take it to Obama and really shake things up in Washington if he happens to win. Many are so fed up that they are willing to jump on almost any bandwagon that even appears to be headed in that direction, even if the driver, like Trump, is totally unreliable. Others have given up to the point where they may be backing Trump simply for the entertainment value (heck, if the ship is sinking you might as well make sure there is some fun music playing on the deck as it goes down).

Trump will now start to attract the non-crazy crowd and will be so formidable in the polls that he is here to stay until/unless he says he isn’t running, or he inevitably/hopefully gets killed off in Iowa (can a guy who doesn’t like to shake hands really compete in Iowa?!). Because he has no substance and his supporters don’t seem to care, Trump will not be vulnerable to the standard political attacks.

Only losing big or not running at all can stop him now.

Will he run? Who knows? But he is certainly putting on an extremely convincing act that he is (why else the pro-life conversion and the sudden embrace of Christianity?), and thanks to these poll numbers, he almost seems forced into making a go of it. Regardless, his presence has already had a potentially decisive influence on the race’s outcome.

There is no doubt that, in different ways, Trump has had a deep and negative impact on the nomination prospects of Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty.

No one knows if Palin is even running (for the record, I am still pretty sure she has not yet ruled it out), but Trump has attracted many of the “give me someone with balls and the celebrity to use them” crowd that might naturally be Palin supporters. Whether they would return to her if she were to announce is unknown, but the fact that they have at least temporarily abandoned her in polls saps her cause of energy and leverage.

Obviously Trump also steals the mantle of “successful business guy” that would otherwise go to Romney. Since Mitt’s entire strategy is based on getting to 35 percent and outlasting everyone else with his cash, Trump’s emergence is a deathblow to him.

There is also little doubt that Trump has sucked a lot of the oxygen out of the air which would ordinarily go to Pawlenty. Pawlenty is closest to actually announcing and is most in need of an increase in recognition, which could easily spark a victorious run based on the notion that he possesses a unique biography that can work in both a primary and a general election.

There is an adage that a society tends to get the government it deserves. If the same is true of political parties and their presidential nominees, based on how easily at least a quarter of Republicans have already been duped into supporting Donald Trump, four more years of Obama might actually be better than we deserve.

John Ziegler is currently a documentary filmmaker who most recently released a movie on the 2008 election called, “Media Malpractice… How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted.”


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Friday, April 15, 2011

The Mendacity of Barack Obama

The Mendacity of Barack Obama

By Steve McCann April 15, 2011 American Thinker

Over my 45+ years in the business community, both domestic and international, I have dealt with an overwhelming variety of people of all races and political philosophies. Men and women who were thoroughly honest and many who had no concept of honor and integrity. Among them were those who would do or say anything to achieve their ends and do so with a straight face and an air of self-confidence that would deceive the most gullible. It is only through painful experience that one is finally able to develop an antenna to quickly weed out those charlatans.

While I have always been wary of and have written about his dishonesty, after the speech the president delivered the 13 th of April regarding the federal budget, one that was chock full of lies, deceit, and crass fear-mongering, it must be said that Barack Obama is the most dishonest, deceitful, and mendacious person in a position of power I have ever witnessed.

That performance was the culmination of four years of outright lies and narcissism that have been largely ignored by the media, including some in the conservative press and political class who are loath to call Mr. Obama what he is in the bluntest of terms: a liar and a fraud. That he relies on his skin color to intimidate, either outright or by insinuation, those who oppose his radical agenda only adds to his audacity. It is apparent that he has gotten away with his character flaws his entire life, aided and abetted by the sycophants around him, thus he is who he is and cannot change.

The question becomes is he a compulsive liar or a sociopath? By definition :

A sociopath is typically defined as someone who lies incessantly to get their way and does so with little concern for others. A sociopath is often goal-oriented (i.e., lying is focused -- it is done to get one's way). Sociopaths have little regard or respect for the rights and feelings of others. Sociopaths are often charming and charismatic, but they use their talented social skills in manipulative and self-centered ways.

A compulsive liar:

A compulsive liar is defined as someone who lies out of habit. Lying is their normal and reflexive way of responding to questions. Compulsive liars bend the truth about everything, large and small. For a compulsive liar, telling the truth is very awkward and uncomfortable while lying feels right. Compulsive lying is usually developed in early childhood, due to being placed in an environment where lying was necessary.

I came to the United States as a survivor of the Second World War. I spent my early years alone on the streets of a totally destroyed city somewhere in central Europe. In order to survive I had to steal food where I could and lie in order to survive. I spent a good part of my life, even after coming to America and being adopted, battling those inbred impulses. It was a never-ending struggle with successes and failures, but I was able to finally defeat those demons.

What I say about Barack Obama I do not do lightly, but because I fear greatly for this country and can, not only from personal experience but in my dealing with others, recognize those failings in a person whose only interest is himself and his inbred radical ideology, which as its lynchpin desires to transform the country into a quasi-totalitarian state by any means possible.

In the United States there is great deference paid to the occupant of the White House. Justifiably so, as that person is not only the chief operating officer of the country but also the head of state representing the nation around the globe. The president's actions and demeanor set the tone for not only the political class but the country as a whole. Over the centuries there have many exceptional but also a few inept men to hold the office of President.

Today so much power is now vested in the Office of President of the United States that honor and integrity must be a hallmark of a president's character. It is not with Barack Obama; he may well be the most dishonest and disingenuous occupant of the Oval Office in history, and will do more damage to the nation than all his predecessors combined.

His failings can no longer be excused by this historical deference or timidity fostered by race, with the euphemisms of spin, obfuscation, fabrication, or politics being used to avoid the truth. Obama is extremely adept at exploiting the celebrity culture that has overwhelmed the society as well as the erosion of the education system that has created a generation or more of citizens unaware of their history, culture as well as historical ethical standards based on Judeo-Christian teaching.

While the future of the country depends on dramatically altering the economic and governing landscape, it cannot do so unless the opposition politicians and average citizens forcefully challenge and respond to the lies and machinations of Barack Obama and his allies without fear of what may be said about them or to them. As for me, I have already experienced far worse than anything that could be said or done to me. My only concern is for the welfare of my fellow citizens and the noblest experiment in the history of mankind: the United States.


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Monday, April 11, 2011

Paul Ryan and Mark Steyn on Medicare

If you include minor operations, like cataract surgery, basal cell removal and carpal tunnel release, I have had 14 surgeries in the last 5 years – all covered by Medicare. Even so, as a citizen of the USA I support Congressman Ryan’s plan, which will cost me some extra money if my future is like my past, as the only way to save my country from bankruptcy and ruin (I will like it even better if public-sector unions are also greatly curtailed).
Below are two articles on this subject. Please read them carefully even though the first one is rather long.

In defense of Paul Ryan's Medicare plan

April 7, 2011 Fortune

The House budget chairman's vision of bringing the market to Medicare isn't perfect, but it's the best choice in a world of poor alternatives.

House budget director Paul Ryan has a radical plan.

FORTUNE -- By far the most significant -- and revolutionary -- proposal in Congressman Paul Ryan's 2012 budget is its blueprint for taming Medicare. According to the Congressional Budget Office's analysis, issued on April 5th, the Ryan plan would totally reverse the course of recent fiscal history by lowering federal health care spending from 8% of GDP today to just 5% by 2050. If we remain on the current course, the spending would jump to 14% in that time frame.

The centerpiece of the Ryan manifesto is the radical new math it applies to Medicare benefits. In short, Ryan (R-Wis), chairman of the House Budget Committee, would transform the program for Americans ages 65 and older from an open-ended entitlement that threatens to swamp the budget into a system that makes fixed payments to participants each year -- payments that would rise at a predetermined, predictable rate. In concept, it's similar to the defined contribution plans most Americans now depend on for retirement: The government would provide a set dollar payment towards your health care premium, and you'd cover the balance of your health care costs, just as most Americans need to take extra savings from their paychecks for retirement.

But while you can pretty well predict what your 401K will be worth in 30 years if you invest conservatively, the outlook for tomorrow's Medicare enrollees is far less predictable. The Ryan budget tells us how fast federal spending on Medicare will rise -- far more slowly than in the past -- but can't predict how high our medical costs will be 20 years from now, and since the government's contribution would be capped, how much of those costs we'll need to pay for ourselves.

In effect, Ryan is asking Americans to make a historic leap of faith. He projects that the newly cost-conscious customers, who'll inevitably be spending more of their own money, will shop far more carefully for health care. The pressure from those bargain-hunters, and the end to a regime that pays for as many tests as doctors can order, will force physician groups and hospitals to become far more efficient, and offer better prices.

"It's very speculative how the new system would work," says Robert Moffitt, a health care policy expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation. >"But we know for sure that the Ryan plan would force private providers to compete ferociously for business, and that would introduce a degree of competition into Medicare that's totally absent today."

Planning for an uncertain future

Ryan's vision of bringing the market to Medicare is the best choice in a world of poor alternatives. It's crucial to understand how his plan differs from his previous proposals, chiefly by eliminating cost-savings from early years and imposing extraordinary limits on payments in future decades. So let's examine Ryan's new formula for Medicare.

Here's a brief overview of how Medicare currently works: On average, the annual cost for its 46 million enrollees is roughly $13,000. The recipients pay total premiums of $1,326 a year for hospital visits and zero for physician services, and can purchase supplementary private Medigap policies that cover virtually all deductibles and co-pays for another $1,500 a year. So the enrollees pay a total of around $3,000, or 23% of the total $13,000 cost. Taxpayers cover the balance of $10,000.

For future retirees and budget-watchers, what matters most is how fast that $13,000 cost number rises, compared with the increase in the $10,000 that the government now pays. Ryan has a solution to the former. The latter is far harder to forecast. The gap between the two will grow, and chart what future retirees will need to pay for their own health care.

For many years, Medicare costs have been growing at between 2 and 2.5 percentage points faster than GDP, a ruinous, unsustainable rate. Even in today's weak economy, the total Medicare bill is waxing at over 7%.

In two previous proposals, "A Roadmap for America's Future" and a plan he co-authored with former Clinton administration budget director Alice Rivlin, Ryan recommended replacing the system of covering Medicare's ever-expanding costs, no matter how fast they grew, with fixed contributions, in about a decade. All of the plans, including the one in the new budget, state that everyone who's 55 and above will be allowed to remain under the existing Medicare rules when they reach 65. After the program is in place -- the starting date in the budget plan is January 1st, 2022 -- all Americans would be required to join once they turn 65.

Voucher replacement

In all the Ryan proposals, enrollees in the new regime would use the government's contribution to shop from a broad array of private insurance plans offered by a Medicare exchange. That system is modeled on the highly successful Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, where government workers choose from a wide variety of offerings, from deluxe fee-for-service plans to basic high-deductible programs.

But beyond the basics, the proposal in the budget is starkly different from Ryan's previous plans, a feature that's mainly overlooked by the press and pundits. In the Roadmap for America, Ryan advocated a voucher system. Under that radical proposal, enrollees would receive a fixed payment of, say, $10,000 a year, in cash. If the senior bought a $7,000 plan, he or she could roll the extra $3,000 into a Medical Savings Account to pay for deductibles and co-pays.

The 2012 budget replaces the voucher concept with "premium support payments" -- once again, modeled on the federal employees system -- that the government would pay directly to the insurance plan the enrollee chooses. The seniors wouldn't get to keep any cash that's left over for out-of-pocket expenses.

The current blueprint is also substantially different from the one Ryan outlined with Alice Rivlin in November. The big change is that the new plan eliminates reforms that would have saved billions before the new regime begins in 2022. Instead, it tightens cost controls once it's in place.

Rivlin and Ryan proposed a formula that would have imposed a tight cap on the starting contribution a decade in the future. Here's how it worked: Take today's average cost to the government of around $10,000 and allow it to grow at GDP plus one point. That's far less than current growth of GDP plus two percent or more. So the Rivlin-Ryan plan would have notched large savings over the ten years before the program begins by starting with a premium support payment far smaller than the subsidy Medicare would probably be providing by that date.

But in the current budget proposal, Ryan drops that provision. Instead, the new plan would start with whatever subsidy Medicare is providing in 2022, rather than following the restrictive formula in the Rivlin-Ryan plan. The budget contains other important changes. Rivlin-Ryan recommended raising deductibles for doctor visits over the next decade to make patients more price conscious, and mandating that Medigap plans impose far higher deductibles and co-pays -- another effort to get enrollees to shop for better deals. The only major change is medical malpractice reform.

Tiered benefits

The 2012 budget proposal also excludes those requirements. It essentially makes no changes to Medicare until 2022. The transformation is even more draconian than in the previous proposals. The budget plan limits growth of the government's contribution to inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index, and also adjusts the payments by the age of the recipient. It is by tying those premium support payments to an index that's growing far more slowly than current medical inflation that Ryan manages to drive medical spending to just 5% of GDP in four decades.

The plan has other important features. It raises the age for eligibility from 65 to 67 between 2022 and 2033. It also provides sharply reduced subsidies for the wealthy: The top 2% of Medicare earners starting in 2022 would get just 30% of the average payment, and the next 6% would get half the average support payment. The program provides generous cash accounts of over $6,000 to poor patients to fully cover deductible and co-pays.

The big issue is how fast costs grow for the enrollees. With the inflation and age adjustment, the premium support payments will increase at a rate far below today's relentless escalation of 7% or so a year. The success of the Federal Employees plan is highly encouraging. Its costs are growing at a rate that's 2% lower than medical inflation in the private sector.

Even if the Ryan plan matches that success, Americans will no longer get more than 70% of their Medicare costs paid by the government. Retirees are bound to pay a much bigger share of their own medical costs. More and more seniors will choose high deductible plans, and HMO or PPO-style programs that limit choices of doctors.

Still, the rise in costs for the elderly could prove far less than the giant annual increases we're experiencing today. We've simply never seen a competitive environment like the one in the Ryan blueprint. "The Obama plan is all about price controls," says Joseph Antos, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute. "Ryan's is all about unleashing the market."

The Ryan plan has another major strength: It will stop heaping a bigger and bigger Medicare burden onto younger taxpayers. Ryan is making a bold, wrenching choice that wins because it's less painful than all the others.

Ending America as We Know It

The Democrats’ solution to the problem is to deny there is one.


Hey, it’s the weekend, and everyone’s singing the same maddeningly catchy refrain! Rebecca Black’s “Friday”? Nah, that was last week’s moronic singalong. This week’s is even perkier! “Paul Ryan proposes to end Medicare as we know it,” sings former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta. “It would end Medicare as we know it,” sings Sen. Max Baucus of Montana. “It’s going to end Medicare as we know it,” sings Nadeam Elshami, communications director for Nancy Pelosi. “It does end Medicare as we know it,” sings Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa. I drove all night to watch Paul Ryan e-e-end Me-edi-ica-a-are as we-e kno-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-w it , sing all 24 semi-finalists on the Céline Dion round of “American Idol.”

Sadly, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, incoming chair of the Democratic National Committee, lost the sheet music and was forced to improvise. “This plan would literally be a death trap for seniors,” she ululated. Close enough!

Ending Medicare as we know it? Say it ain’t so! Medicare, we hardly knew ye! It’s an open question whether Americans will fall for one more chorus of the same old song from Baucus, Harkin, Podesta, and the other members of America’s wrinkliest boy band. But, if this is the level on which the feckless patronizing spendaholics of the permanent governing class want to conduct the debate, bring it on:
Paul Ryan’s plan would “end Medicare as we know it.”

The Democrats’ “plan” — business as usual — will end America as we know it.

Literally, as Representative Wasserman-Schultz would say. One way or another, Medicare as we know it is going to end. So, if you think an unsustainable 1960s welfare program is as permanent a feature as the earth and sky, you’re in for a shock. It’s just a question of whether, after the shock, what’s left looks like Japan or looks like Haiti

My comrade Jonah Goldberg compares America’s present situation to that of a plane with one engine out belching smoke. But, if anything, he understates the crisis. Air America doesn’t need a busted engine, because it’s pre-programmed to crash. Our biggest problem is Medicare and other “entitlements”: They’re the automatic pilot of Big Government. Whoever’s in the captain’s seat makes no difference: The flight is pre-programmed to hit the iceberg, if you’ll forgive me switching mass-transit metaphors in mid-stream.

For some reason, Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Harkin, & Co. don’t seem to mind this. If you recall the smile on the face of Airplane! ’s “automatic pilot” as he’s being inflated, that’s pretty much the Democrats’ attitude to binge spending as a permanent fact of life.

For a sense of Democrat insouciance to American decline, let us turn to the president himself. The other day, Barack Obama was in the oddly apt town of Fairless Hills, Pa., at what the White House billed as one of those ersatz “town hall” discussions into which republican government has degenerated. He was asked a question by a citizen of the United States. The cost of a gallon of gas has doubled on Obama’s watch, and this gentleman asked, “Is there a chance of the price being lowered again?”

As the Associated Press reported it, the president responded “laughingly”: “I know some of these big guys, they’re all still driving their big SUVs. You know, they got their big monster trucks and everything. . . . If you’re complaining about the price of gas and you’re only getting eight miles a gallon — (laughter) . . . ”

That’s how the official White House transcript reported it: Laughter. Big yuks. “So, like I said, if you’re getting eight miles a gallon you may want to think about a trade-in. You can get a great deal.”

Hey, thanks! You’ve been a great audience. I’ll be here all year. Don’t forget to tip your Democrat hat-check girl on the way out: At four bucks a gallon, it’s getting harder for volunteers to drive elderly voters from the cemetery to the polling station. Relax, I’m just jerking your crank, buddy! And it’s not four bucks per, it’s only three-ninety-eight. That’s change you can believe in!

Message: It’s your fault. The same day as the president was doing his moribund-economy shtick, my hairdresser told me that she’d bought her mid-size sedan second-hand in 2004. She’d also like to ask the president if there’s a chance of gas prices being lowered again. But he’d have the same answer: Buy a hybrid. Wait till the high-speed rail-link is built between Dead Skunk Junction and Hickburg Falls. Climb into the fishnets and the come-hither smile and hitch.

America, 2011: A man gets driven in a motorcade to sneer at a man who has to drive himself to work. A guy who has never generated a dime of wealth, never had to make payroll, never worked at any job other than his own tireless self-promotion literally cannot comprehend that out there beyond the far fringes of the motorcade outriders are people who drive a long distance to jobs whose economic viability is greatly diminished when getting there costs twice as much as the buck-eighty-per-gallon it cost back at the dawn of the Hopeychangey Era.

So what? Your fault. Should have gone to Columbia and Harvard and become a community organizer

Another ten years of this, and large tracts of America will be Third World. Not Somalia-scale Third World, but certainly the more decrepit parts of Latin America. There will still be men with motorcades, but they’ll have heavier security and the compounds they shuttle between will be more heavily protected. For them and their cronies, the guys plugged in, the guys who still know who to call to figure out a workaround through the bureaucratic sclerosis, life will be manageable, and they’ll still be wondering why you loser schlubs are forever whining about gas prices, and electricity prices, and food prices.

What’s about to hit America is not a “shock.” It’s not an earthquake, it’s not a tsunami, it’s what Paul Ryan calls “the most predictable crisis in the history of our country.” It has one cause: spending. The spending of the class that laughs at the class that drives to work to maintain President Obama, Senator Reid, Senator Baucus, Senator Harkin, and Minority Leader Pelosi’s “communications director” in their comforts and complacency.

The Democrats’ solution to the problem is to deny there is one. Unsustainable binge spending is, as the computer wallahs say, not a bug but a feature: We’ll stimulate the economy with a stimulus grant for a Stimulus Grant-Writing Community Outreach Permit Coordinator regulated by the Federal Department of Community-Organizer Grant Applications. What’s to worry about?

I said the Democrats’ plan is to “end America as we know it,” but even that has been outsourced to others. The choice is between letting Paul Ryan end Medicare as we know it, or letting our foreign lenders determine the moment to end America as we know it. I would not presume to know Chinese or Russian or Saudi or even European inclinations in this respect, although certain shifts in the ratio between short-term and long-term debt holdings suggest foreign governments give more thought to the implications of U.S. government spending than the U.S. government does. But I do know their interests are not ours, and that there will come a day when Beijing and others, in the words of King Barack to his lowly subject, “may want to think about a trade-in.”

Now there’s a slogan for 2012.

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Saturday, April 09, 2011

New Respect for Boehner

I have to admit, I didn’t think the Republicans could pull this off. I have to admit, I was sure that the Democrats would lie, distort, dissemble, outmaneuver, and out-hype (with the collusion of a willing press) the Republicans on the budget and force a government shutdown that would be blamed on and cost the Republicans the election in 2012.

I was especially convinced that this would happen when so many Republicans started to insert pet projects and beliefs into the negotiations (such as defunding PBS, Planned Parenthood and the EPA). YES, I want PBS, Planned Parenthood and the EPA defunded. I also want the Department of Education and the Department of Energy shut down, but this was not the time for that – not when the chance for a complete sweep in 2012 is a real possibility.

I was so sure that the Republicans would be outmaneuvered, partly due to their own, political ineptness, that I was ready to opt out and just enjoy my life as best I could – and join the main crowd that walks around with their heads in the sand.

Kudos to Speaker Boehner for achieving this deal and starting us down the road to fiscal sanity. It’s just a small start, but it’s a start. Now let’s focus on the election in 2012. Some good things are happening – in DC, in Wisconsin, in Ohio and beyond.


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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Some Thoughts on The Decline of America

Someone asked me who I thought was the worst president of recent times. I said that Jimmy Carter may have been the worst president before Obama set a new standard for ineptness, but it was Lyndon Johnson who most sent this country into decline. I say this because of the three main programs and decisions of his presidency: 1. massive escalation of our participation in the Vietnam War, 2. AFDC Welfare, and 3. Medicare and Medicaid.

The Vietnam War destroyed trust in all forms of authority, it destroyed trust in government, it created a large, peace-at-any-price segment of our population, it created a wedge between generations, it created massive inflation in the 1970's, and it was the background for the free love and drug culture that now undermines our society.

Prior to AFDC Welfare, both white and black populations experienced about a 25% illegitimacy rate. Today that rate has escalated to 75% for blacks and 50% for whites. The term, “baby mama” has become mainstream, and millions of fatherless children are drowning in childhoods devoid of decent parenting. It has become acceptable behavior for couples to “hookup” and have children – just before they breakup and go their separate ways. It has also created a large segment of our population who refuse to work and who believe that the rest of us “owe” them.

Prior to Medicare, which created unlimited demand for a limited supply of medical treatments, a situation every economist knows leads to a surge in costs and prices, my four children’s births cost $65, $300, $300 and $300 for all physician and hospital bills. Today it costs about $9000 for a normal delivery. I do understand that incredible improvements in technology, medications and equipment have also increased costs – along with the inflation that has taken place since 1965 – but I firmly believe that my private health insurance premiums would be less today than my Medicare premiums are - if Medicare had not been instituted. We have also just been informed that massive increases in Medicare premiums are in store for 2014, when another fiasco, Obamacare, kicks in.

Medicare is entrenched in American society, and nothing can reasonably be done about it. If Obamacare is allowed to stand, there is no question in my mind that Medicare will be merged into it in a few years; and that Obamacare will result in poorer quality medicine and much higher costs. We must stop Obamacare from going forward.

Memories of the Vietnam War have already receded, although the disastrous effects on our culture and on our military will remain for years. Somehow it has also become ingrained among some quarters that it is wrong to use our military to defend or advance our interests. When all else fails, the job of soldiers is to kill people and break things until America’s interests are served.

The main and the only thing we can do to overcome the damage wrought by Lyndon Johnson is to recognize the corrosive effects on American society of AFDC Welfare, and change it. I would propose that Welfare not be changed for current enrollees, but that Welfare be changed to an emergency assistance program for all new applicants. Assistance should be provided for six months and then ended, and not become available again to that person or family for a five year period. Other family members and churches can step in and help, as they did before 1965.

This will end the inclination of so many young women to get pregnant to get Welfare, and of some young men to father many different children with many different women. It will gradually bring responsibility back to parenthood, and will once again attach a stigma to illegitimacy, as it should. Some people, especially children, will suffer until people “get it”, but American society as a whole will benefit greatly.

People of my generation, who worked and saved and planned, and who needed to overcome many hardships and pitfalls before they reached a comfortable retirement, are driven to distraction by the number of people who are freeloading in today’s society.

The future of Obamacare (this will absolutely happen here):

Surgeons raise alarm over waiting

By Branwen Jeffreys

Health correspondent, BBC News April 5, 2011 (Excerpt)

"Surgeons say patients in some parts of England have spent months waiting in pain because of delayed operations or new restrictions on who qualifies for treatment.

In several areas routine surgery was put on hold for months, while in many others new thresholds for hip and knee replacements have been introduced.

The moves are part of the NHS drive to find £20bn efficiency savings by 2015.

The government said performance should be measured by outcomes not numbers.

Surgeons have described the delays faced by patients as "devastating and cruel".

Peter Kay, the president of the British Orthopaedic Association (BOA), says they've become increasingly frustrated that hip and knee replacements are being targeted as a way of finding savings.

"We've started to get reports over the last nine months that access to these services are being restricted.

"GPs were told not so send as many patients to hospital, maybe to delay referrals until the end of the financial year while perhaps introducing thresholds for surgery." BBC News


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Monday, April 04, 2011

Donald Trump and the Can of Worms

Donald Trump has not opened a can of worms; the can of worms comes from Barack Obama’s life and his attempts to hide much of it. Never before have we had a president whose name we don’t know for sure, whose father we don’t know for sure, whose present citizenship we don’t know for sure, whose life history has major gaps, whose education is a black hole, and whose love of country is extremely suspect.

The reasons for the above questions are that an official Birth Certificate has not ever been made public, only a Certificate of Live Birth, which is very different – and because Obama/Soetoro has taken incredibly unusual steps to keep his school records and personal beliefs hidden.

It’s time for some plain talk about Obama/Soetoro’s life and deceptions.

Barry Soetoro, AKA Barack Obama, was lawfully adopted by a foreign national, Lolo Soetoro, and Barry's name was legally changed to "Barry Soetoro". (Barry’s own admission) Barry Soetoro was also made an official legal Indonesian citizen. (again Barry’s own admission) The adoption would be noted in Barry's vital statistics record in Hawaii on his original birth certificate...

OR Lolo Soetoro may have always been Barry's legal birth farther. The public does not know for sure at this point who Barry's father really was and Barry himself may not know.

Barry was raised as a Muslim in Indonesia and attended a Catholic funded school that permitted all faiths to attend.

Barry's mother dropped him as a dependent for some reason, maybe even when Barry was adopted by Lolo Soetoro. His mother's passport records dropped Barry as a dependent indicating Barry was no longer a legal dependent of his mother. (The passport records of his mother have been produced showing Barry was no longer a dependent when Barry was permanently residing in Indonesia.) Barry went to Hawaii to live with his alleged grand parents after Lolo Soetoro and Barry's mother divorced.

A "certificate of live birth" can have names changed on it including a child's birth name, and birth parent’s names. Even a modified date of birth can be on a "certificate of live birth". This occurs frequently for adopted children where the birth parent does not want the child to know who they are. The public has no idea who Barry’s real birth father is or who Barry’s real birth mother is. (Barry could have been adopted by his mother) The original birth certificate is the only legal vital statistics record of a person’s birth parents, birth location, birth date, etc… You can get a “certificate of live birth” for a dead person; but you cannot get a birth certificate of a dead person without “Deceased” on it.

There is no evidence Barry Soetoro ever lawfully changed his name to “Barack Hussein Obama”. There is no proof Barry Soetoro was born with the name "Barack Hussein Obama".

The public knows Barry Soetoro finished high school in Hawaii as Barry Soetoro and attended Occidental as Barry Soetoro where he did drugs and flunked out of school. After dropping out of Occidental, Barry showed up in New York, homeless and on drugs. (Barry’s own admission) Barry then hooked up with a Pakistani to live with and traveled back to Indonesia to renew his Indonesian passport and also traveled to Pakistan with him. At that time a US citizen could not legally travel to Pakistan.

Barry Soetoro returned to New York from Pakistan and began using the fictitious name “Obama” for some reason.

After spending some time in New York allegedly working under the name “Obama”, It appears Barry used the fictitious name "Barack Hussein Obama" for the first time to file his federal taxes in Connecticut at a Post Office Box.
Thanks to Rene and to Atom Ant on Facebook for the above excerpt, which is all in the public domain.

There are also other questions 1. surrounding Soetoro’s Selective Service Registration, 2. the validity of his law practice (he has voluntarily surrendered his law license), 3. who may have ghost-written his books, 4. why for 20 years he sat and listened to Rev. Wright’s diatribes against America, 5. why he befriended terrorists Ayers and Dohrn, and, 6. why he refused until well into the 2008 campaign to salute our flag or wear a flag pin.

Have we ever had a president with a record like this?


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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Trump Jumps In, All Water Splashes Out

This week Bill O'Reilly has conducted a series of interviews with Donald Trump, who claims he may run for president. The interviews have contained some outrageous statements, but the statement getting the most attention is that President Obama might not be a citizen. Trump goes on to point out that, whatever you believe about Obama's place of birth, it is certainly very fishy that no-one can see his Birth Certificate. (The left constantly trumpets that a Certificate of Live Birth has been shown, but that is not the same thing as an official birth certificate).

For the umpteenth time, what is Obama hiding by spending millions of dollars to prevent American citizens from seeing both his birth certificate and also his school and college records? This lack of information is unprecedented for an American president.

Whatever you may think of Trump, it is high time that America learned the facts about Obama's life that he has tried so hard to hide, and Trump may be the one person to flush him out.

Obama, Donald Trump, and the Collective Unconscious

By Robin of Berkeley April 01, 2011 American Thinker

There is a fascinating concept in Jungian psychology called the "collective unconscious." While the "personal unconscious" stores our own unique memories, the "collective unconscious" is the reservoir for an entire culture.

It's amazing how certain people and phenomena find their way into the collective unconscious, whether intentionally or not. For instance, take the term, "googling." Those young Stanford dudes didn't realize that they would not only change the nature of Internet searching, they'd add a new word into the vocabulary.

People may choose to search via Bing or Yahoo, but nobody "bings." So why did googling sweep the nation? Perhaps Google is a superior search engine. But it may simply come down to being in the right place at the right time.

There are people who become overnight sensations, both for good and nefarious reasons. Back in the 60's, everyone was familiar with those evil people who comprised the Manson Family.

And when Joe the Plumber asked Obama a question, he was suddenly famous (and subject to government investigations). While very few people outside of Alaska heard of Sarah Palin a few years ago, she became a household name as soon as she entered the national arena.

And then there's the "birther" controversy. The progressives have controlled and framed the concept right from the get-go. This has been one of the many issues (including "tea baggers") that the left has seized upon to tar conservatives.

The left has painted "birthers" as racists, nuts, and paranoids. What gets left out of the equation is: one, Obama has spent millions of dollars on attorneys protecting his birth certificate; two, Obama apparently traveled to Pakistan in 1981 when Americans were advised against* going there; and three, Obama's social security number is purportedly from Connecticut, a state in which he never lived.

Although there are valid questions about the mysterious Mr. O, until lately, it's been impossible to get the average American to listen. This is because the left is so much better at controlling what enters the collective unconscious.

Of course, the left controls the flow of ideas by maintaining a stranglehold on the mainstream media. But there's another reason: the left subscribes to Alinsky-type smear tactics.

Progressives will call their opponents a "tea bagger" even though the phrase is sexually explicit and lewd. They'll allow Bill Maher and other amoral types to verbally rape conservative women. Conservatives don't follow suit because these below-the-belt tactics are anathema.

While conservatives don't have to practice gutter politics, we do need our message to penetrate the collective unconscious. Enter the intrepid Donald Trump.

Trump has been beating the drum lately about Obama's birth certificate -- and the lack thereof. Trump has also been wondering whether there's something else on Obama's birth certificate (who's his daddy?) that Obama doesn't want anyone to know. Fortunately for conservatives, when Donald Trump talks, people listen.

And this is why Trump needs to keep raising the birth certificate issue. He shouldn't stop even when the left ridicules him. I hope that he expands his mission to include the salient question of whether unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers penned Obama's autobiography. We need a magnetic figure like Trump going where no man or woman has been able to go.

Because if Trump keeps putting the heat on Obama, something amazing may happen. Rather than Obama and his henchmen continually putting conservatives on the defensive, we may finally see the reverse.

People may start getting nervous about Obama and pay attention to the cracks in the facade. Their concerns may leak into the collective unconscious and take root, as surely as did the concept of "googling." If people start questioning who is this mystery man in the White House, they may feel less comfortable pulling the lever for him next November.

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Friday, April 01, 2011

In Case You Missed Senator Schumer

The suspicians of conservatives were confirmed last year when the existence of the "Journolist" was revealed. We had always marveled at how left-wing polititians and journalists were able to keep repeating the same phrases (usually outright lies or serious distortions of the facts). At least once a week Rush Limbaugh records and plays back the comments of several of these parrots - all repeating the same 'talking points' over and over. The "Journolist" was a central repository of today's leftist talking points, and all these talking heads consulted it to learn what to say today.

The "Journolist' has been shut down, but the practice remains. It appears that Democrat Senator from New York, Senator Schumer, has been appointed to manage the current version of the "Journolist".

Senator Shutdown

Senator Schumer tries to orchestrate a government shutdown.

Andrew Stiles March 30,2011 National Review

As the recently anointed head of his party’s political-messaging operation, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) has been the little voice in Democratic senators’ ear telling them what to say and how to say it. In fact, Schumer has become so prolific in his new role that some are beginning to wonder if Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) still merits his title.

In the ongoing debate over the federal budget, Schumer has been the loudest Democratic voice by far, despite having no formal involvement in the negotiations between the two parties. He has been unrelenting in his badgering of House speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), urging him to “abandon the Tea Party” and cut a deal with Democrats ever since 54 Republicans rejected a short-term spending resolution over the objections of GOP leadership. The only alternative, Schumer says, is a government shutdown.

Indeed, Schumer has also been the most outspoken rabble-rouser over the prospect of a government shutdown, or rather, in his view, Republicans’ determination to bring one about. Since House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) released his initial budget proposal for the remainder of the fiscal year, Schumer has not stopped talking about a government shutdown. That was back in early February, long before the budget debate had really started to take shape. Naturally, Schumer’s odd and persistent obsession with a government shutdown has led many to question his motives.

GOP leaders have repeatedly stated their opposition to a government shutdown, and more importantly, their actions have clearly confirmed this position. But Schumer has continued to insist otherwise until only recently. Now he has taken to accusing “extreme elements” within the caucus, namely the Tea Party, of actively pursuing a shutdown to the detriment of a “good and honest man” (Boehner). One Republican source tells NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE that it is the Democrats who would like nothing more than to see the government shut down. “It’s practically their only strategy at this point,” the source says. “They refuse to cut spending and they think a shutdown would benefit them politically by turning the public against Republicans.”

These suspicions, harbored by many on the right, were seemingly confirmed on Tuesday by the extraordinarily candid remarks of Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, at a conference panel organized by National Journal . Dean said that if he were still head of the DNC, he would be “quietly rooting” for a government shutdown, because of the political damage it would likely inflict on Republicans. “From a partisan point of view, I think it would be the best thing in the world to have a shutdown,” Dean said.

“Unfortunately, [Schumer and Dean’s] comments are not surprising,” says Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action. “The defenders of big government have made perfectly clear they have no intent to cut spending and get our country on the path to prosperity. Rather, their focus is on denigrating conservatives and reelecting President Obama in 2012.”

The public also received an unexpected behind-the-scenes glimpse into Schumer’s operation on Tuesday, when reporters on a conference call overheard the New York Democrat briefing colleagues on how to denigrate conservatives. “I always use the word ‘extreme,’” Schumer said, unaware that the press was listening. “That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”

And so they did. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) urged Boehner to “abandon the extreme right wing.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) blamed a “relatively small extreme group of ideologues” for obstructing negotiations. Later that day, Reid dutifully accused GOP leaders of being afraid of their “extreme Tea Party members.”

Schumer has continued to paint the Tea Party as “the only obstacle in the world” to a bipartisan compromise on the budget, insisting that negotiations — which he is not a part of — are making progress, a claim that House majority leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) has dismissed as “far-fetched.” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said Schumer was “making up fairy tales trying to derail serious discussions . . . because he believes his party would benefit from a government shutdown.” Schumer has also sought to portray Democrats as the reasonable party, by repeating the false claim that they have met Republicans “half way” on spending cuts, as well as touting an alleged White House offer of $30 billion in spending cuts (that actually would meet the GOP about half way), though Republicans insist they have yet to see such a proposal.

From the perspective of someone tasked with political messaging for his party, Schumer has certainly gone to great lengths to lay the groundwork for a government shutdown — to ensure that if it does happen, Democrats will come out ahead. The strategy is fairly straightforward: Get the word out early and often that Republicans want to shut down the government, and portray “extreme” GOP opposition as the sole impediment to agreement on a reasonable Democratic compromise. In short, make sure the public blames Republicans in the event of a shutdown.

Lawmakers have just a matter of days to reach an agreement before the current CR expires on April 8. At the end of the day, one nagging question remains for Schumer: Could he bear to see all of his hard work go to waste?

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