Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Electric Ford Focus car due late next year

Ford, Microsoft plan system to recharge electric cars at least cost
Ford and Microsoft say they are going to roll out a system that will tell electric car owners the optimal time to recharge their vehicles. The system was announced at the New York Auto Show.

The "Microsoft Hohm" system would start with the all-electric Ford Focus compact car, which goes on sale late next year, says Ford CEO Alan Mulally and via a remote presentation, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. [...]

The rest is about the recharging system, but this is the first I've heard about the Electric Focus. The focus is a good car, we have one. I was hoping they might make a hybrid Focus, but this one seems to be entirely electric.

More here:

Electric Ford Focus in 2011: What it Means
As we reported yesterday, we now know that Ford has made official its plans to build an electric Ford Focus in 2011. Perhaps most notable is that Ford could be the first automaker in the U.S. to mass-market a pure battery-electric passenger car — and a "real" one, meaning a compact car rather than the type of small commuter cars Toyota has planned for 2012 and Mitsubishi is investigating for compliance with U.S. regulations. Nor is it a $100,000 limited-run sports car like the one being sold by Tesla. [...]

Test Driving the Electric Ford Focus
[...] The Focus will hit the market in 2011 followed the next year by a plug-in electric Escape sport-utility vehicle, which Ford also showed off in San Francisco. Ms. Gioia said she expects electric and plug-in hybrids will account for 10 to 25 percent of the market by 2020.


As I drove a blue prototype around the streets of San Francisco, I was hard-pressed to distinguish the car from one I recently rented at an airport. It was quiet, of course, but that burst of acceleration you get from punching the accelerator of an electric car has been moderated.

The Ford executive sitting shotgun told me that software limits the amount of power instantaneously transferred to the wheels so that the car will perform more like its gasoline-powered cousin.

The production electric Focus, which will be powered by lithium ion battery packs, will be based on the more stylish European version of the car. The Focus will have a range of about 100 miles and a top speed of around 90 miles an hour.

Ford has not announced a price for the car.

It sounds great. But I have to wonder, how "green" is it? I mean, how much electricity does it take to charge it up, and how long does it last, compared to an equal amount of power from a gasoline engine providing the same power? The electric car may not pollute as it operates, but the power plant supplying the power is creating pollution to create that electricity. If they amount of pollution created to charge the car is greater than the amount a gas powered engine would produce, then it should be worse, from a green standpoint.

I've heard conflicting opinions about this, about it being worse or better. I would be nice to see some solid, unbiased data on the topic. If it's worse or the same pollution as gas, then this is all just "feel-good" nonsense. I'd like to know the truth about it.

No doubt if the power source providing the electricity is a "green" source, that would change things. But such sources are not common yet. If it's a nuclear source, then you have to consider the definition of "pollution". It's not air pollution, and 80% of nuclear waste is treatable, but what about the other 20%, and what's the ratio of waste to energy production? And can that 20% waste be rendered harmless with future technology?

I'm sure people will be arguing about these things for years to come. Welcome to our Brave New World.

Financing ObamaCare: taxes and more taxes

When the Democrats have too much power, they always overdue taxation to the point where they decrease investment and jobs, thereby decreasing revenues. Stifled businesses don't generate much tax revenue:

The Rich Can't Pay for ObamaCare
The president intends to squeeze an extra $1.2 trillion over 10 years from a tiny sliver of taxpayers who already pay more than half of all individual taxes. It won't work.
President Barack Obama's new health-care legislation aims to raise $210 billion over 10 years to pay for the extensive new entitlements. How? By slapping a 3.8% "Medicare tax" on interest and rental income, dividends and capital gains of couples earning more than $250,000, or singles with more than $200,000.

The president also hopes to raise $364 billion over 10 years from the same taxpayers by raising the top two tax rates to 36%-39.6% from 33%-35%, plus another $105 billion by raising the tax on dividends and capital gains to 20% from 15%, and another $500 billion by capping and phasing out exemptions and deductions.

Add it up and the government is counting on squeezing an extra $1.2 trillion over 10 years from a tiny sliver of taxpayers who already pay more than half of all individual taxes.

It won't work. It never works.

The maximum tax rate fell to 28% in 1988-90 from 50% in 1986, yet individual income tax receipts rose to 8.3% of GDP in 1989 from 7.9% in 1986. The top tax rate rose to 31% in 1991 and revenue fell to 7.6% of GDP in 1992. The top tax rate was increased to 39.6% in 1993, along with numerous major revenue enhancers such as raising the taxable portion of Social Security to 85% of benefits from 50% for seniors who saved or kept working. Yet individual tax revenues were only 7.8% of GDP in 1993, 8.1% in 1994, and did not get back to the 1989 level until 1995.

Punitive tax rates on high-income individuals do not increase revenue. Successful people are not docile sheep just waiting to be shorn.

From past experience, these are just a few of the ways that taxpayers will react to the Obama administration's tax plans:

Read the whole thing for the details. If you kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, there is no more eggs.

If they cut taxes they would actually stimulate the economy and increase tax revenue. They know this, but they want to increase government control more than anything else. They don't want to fix the system, they want to overload it and wreck it, so they can replace it with something else. The more crises they create, the more government they will offer as a solution, when actually it's the problem.

As Margaret Thatcher said, Socialism always fails, because the socialists inevitably run out of other people's money to spend. But many of our socialists also want to deliberately ruin our financial and governmental systems, in order to claim that "capitalism has failed", so they can proceed with their restrictive and controlling Big Government agenda. But it is they who are failing; failing US. We must vote them out before the damage they do is too great.

Visiting the troops: Don't fence them in

Ok, these are only two photos, so I don't think one can read a whole lot into them:

Two presidents visit U.S. troops: The styles of Barack Obama and George W. Bush in photos

But in the Obama photo, why are our troops behind a fence, like cattle? Even Obama clearly thinks the fence is in the way. Whose great idea was that?

Germany Exercises it's Political Muscles

Germany Awakes. Rules of the Game Are Changing in Europe
[...] Germany is refusing to bail out Greece. Earlier this week, Chancellor Merkel told the Bundestag that Greece should be expelled from the eurozone if its financial problems risk dragging the euro down. France and the European Commission in Brussels reacted furiously to this suggestion. Barroso dismissed Merkel’s words as “absurd.” Paris and Brussels insist that the EU come to the financial rescue of Athens. Since most of the money for a rescue operation will have to come from Germany, however, such a decision cannot be taken without Berlin’s approval.

Bullying Berlin does not seem to be a clever move. Merkel’s Bundestag declaration followed shortly after Greek Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos had accused the Germans of exploiting the Greek debt crisis for their own financial and economic benefit. “By speculating on Greek bonds at the expense of your friend and partner, by allowing [German] credit institutions to participate in this deplorable game, some people are making money,” the Greek Socialist said. “A cheap euro makes the south of Europe suffer, while German exports benefit.”

Last month, Pangalos had angered the Germans by demanding that Berlin pay reparations for Nazi crimes. “The Nazis took away the Greek gold that was in the Bank of Greece and they never gave it back,” he said. The German Foreign Ministry responded that in 1960 Germany paid Athens 115m German marks in compensation for the Nazi occupation and that “parallel to this, since 1960 Germany has paid around 33bn marks in aid to Greece both bilaterally and in the context of the EU.”

The Germans no longer accept being required to be the EU’s paymasters to atone for their Nazi past. There is also an increase in euroscepticism in German public opinion. While Germany introduced austerity measures and trimmed down its welfare system, countries such as Greece refused to do so, relying on the fact that the EU (read: Germany) would bail them out when they got in trouble in order to save the euro.

In Europe, the political rules of the game are changing. An editorial in Wednesday’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), Germany’s most influential newspaper, drew attention to the fact that “The biggest member state, which has for so long silently been the guarantee of the EU, has now openly expressed that it is no longer prepared to pay any price for European unification. The present Euro crisis is more than a monetary matter. … The image of [Germany as] the paymaster of Europe, the caricature of the Brussels bureaucracy, and the growing displeasure with the loss of [German] Sovereignty has shaped a eurosceptic fundamental sentiment, into which the Greek debacle has landed like a bomb. No German government today can afford to put the European interest before the German interest, especially not in core issues as monetary policy. And even if it tried, it can reckon on being opposed in the German Constitutional Court.” [...]

Meanwhile, Angela Merkel is making a state visit to Turkey:

Merkel tells Turkey EU talks 'open-ended'
ANKARA — German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Turkey Monday that its membership talks with the European Union did not guarantee accession and urged it to grant trade privileges to EU-member Cyprus.

"The rules of the game have changed" since Turkey first applied to become a member of the bloc five decades ago, Merkel said through an interpreter after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"The (accession) negotiations are an open-ended process. We should now pursue this open-ended process," she added, suggesting that Turkey's integration with the bloc does not have to be full membership.

Along with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Merkel remains one of the staunchest opponents of Turkey's bid to join the European Union, arguing that a vast, relatively poor country with a mainly Muslim 71-million population has no place in Europe.

She has instead proposed a "privileged partnership" between Turkey and the bloc, an alternative Ankara flatly rejects.

Merkel however stressed the immediate task for Ankara was to open its ports to vessels from Cyprus -- an EU member Ankara does not recognize -- under a customs union accord with the Union.

"The most important issue is the implementation of the protocol... We have to deal with the Cyprus issue. That would be to the benefit of us all," she said.

Turkey's refusal to grant trade privileges to Cyprus has led Brussels to freeze talks in eight of the 35 chapters that candidates must successfully negotiate prior to membership.

Since starting the talks in 2005, Turkey has so far succeeded in opening only 12 chapters.

Merkel also pushed Turkey on Iran, urging it to back Western allies in imposing a possible fresh set of sanctions over Tehran's suspect nuclear activities. [...]

She's pushing for quite a few things. Turkey is still voting against sanctions on Iran. Merkel has made an interesting concession, regarding Turkish schools in Germany. As for Cypress and the rest... it will be interesting to see if she gets anywhere.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Which one is the "hate" rally?

Searchlight vs. L.A.: Rival Rallies Reveal Stark Right/Left Divide
[...] these rallies, you might likely assume (without even bothering to investigate) that the right-wing rally was an epicenter of hate, racism and craziness, whereas the left-wing rally was undoubtedly about peace, tolerance and rationalism.

Luckily, we no longer have to rely on the mainstream media. In both cases, citizen journalist bloggers were on hand to document the proceedings with eye-opening photo essays:

El Marco: Tea Party Express rally, Searchlight, March 27

Ringo: Anti-war rally, Los Angeles, March 20

Two rallies, not very far apart in time or location — and yet they couldn’t be more different.

I consider myself neither left-wing nor right-wing, and I disagree with one side or the other on various issues — but after viewing these images, I don’t think there’s any question where I’d feel more at ease.

Below is a sampling of images from each rally. (Click on the links above for the full reports.) Scan them and tell me: At which rally would you feel more comfortable? [...]

Follow the links and see the photos. Arrgh! The mental sickness in the Democrat party is what drove me out of it. People who are literally out of their minds.

Excellent photo essays.

Monday, March 29, 2010

How does our health care spending compare to other countries?

Follow the link to see the large graphic with graphs; it's too big to post on my blog:

Health Care Spending: U.S. vs. Abroad

Why Obamacare is a "healthcare bridge to nowhere" that can't be "tweaked"

Why and how Obamacare must be undone

In the days since the enactment of their health care plan, Democrats in Washington have been desperately seeking to lodge the new program in the pantheon of American public-policy achievements. House Democratic whip James Clyburn compared the bill to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Vice President Biden argued it vindicates a century of health reform efforts by Democrats and Republicans alike. House speaker Nancy Pelosi said “health insurance reform will stand alongside Social Security and Medicare in the annals of American history.”

Even putting aside the fact that Social Security and Medicare are going broke and taking the rest of the government with them, these frantic forced analogies are preposterous. The new law is a ghastly mess, which began as a badly misguided technocratic pipe dream and was then degraded into ruinous incoherence by the madcap process of its enactment.

The appeals to history are understandable, however, because the Democrats know that the law is also exceedingly vulnerable to a wholesale repeal effort: Its major provisions do not take effect for four years, yet in the interim it is likely to begin wreaking havoc with the health care sector—raising insurance premiums, health care costs, and public anxieties. If those major provisions do take effect, moreover, the true costs of the program will soon become clear, and its unsustainable structure will grow painfully obvious. So, to protect it from an angry public and from Republicans armed with alternatives, the new law must be made to seem thoroughly established and utterly irrevocable—a fact on the ground that must be lived with; tweaked, if necessary, at the edges, but at its core politically untouchable.

But it is no such thing. Obamacare starts life strikingly unpopular and looks likely to grow more so as we get to know it in the coming months and years. The entire House of Representatives, two-thirds of the Senate, and the president will be up for election before the law’s most significant provisions become fully active. The American public is concerned about spending, deficits, debt, taxes, and overactive government to an extent seldom seen in American history. The excesses of the plan seem likely to make the case for alternative gradual and incremental reforms only stronger.

And the repeal of Obamacare is essential to any meaningful effort to bring down health care costs, provide greater stability and security of coverage to more Americans, and address our entitlement crisis. Both the program’s original design and its contorted final form make repairs at the edges unworkable. The only solution is to repeal it and pursue genuine health care reform in its stead.

From Bad to Worse

To see why nothing short of repeal could suffice, we should begin at the core of our health care dilemma. [...]

The rest is an in-depth look at the different approaches to healthcare reform, how and why we ended up with the current bill, and why it is a "healthcare bridge to nowhere" which cannot succeed. And thus HAS to be repealed, and yes, replaced, with genuine SUSTAINABLE reform.

If only that had been done from the beginning. What a waste this all has been. And what a struggle we have ahead to clean up this mess.

Also see: "Obamacare is not going to happen"


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What next? The "Public Option", of course.

It was never really off the table, it was just removed to get the bill passed.

First ... hopefully most of the people who regularly read Nealz Nuze know this already ... This was never about health care. It was about dependency. Then the issue became saving Barack Obama's presidency. We now have the most expansive entitlement and wealth redistribution program in the history of our nation pushed into law by one political party to save a president's political skin. There's your change.

Today Barack Obama signs his healthcare legislation into law. Make no mistake, this is not a victory for America .. this is a victory for Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, the moocher class and the politicians who pander to them. Barack Obama has solidified his place in history; Nancy Pelosi gets crowned as perhaps the most powerful woman in 100 years; and the moochers get even more free government services so that they will be at liberty to spend their hard-earned (yeah, right) dollars on cell phones and flat-screen televisions.

Didn't we tell you that Nancy Pelosi said that ObamaCare would only "kick open the door?" So what's next after the door is kicked open? Today we're told that House Democrats are introducing legislation to revive the public option. Rep. Lynn Woolsey of the Congressional Progressive Caucus will unveil legislation today to add the government-run option to the national healthcare exchange that is created by Obamacare.

Does it have legs? Not immediately. But will it happen? Absolutely. It will happen if these Statists are left in power in Washington. Day after day they will work steadily and without pause to increase the power of the Imperial Federal Government. The government option has always been their goal because the government option is the key to the destruction of the private health insurance market. The Democrats know that this is the inevitable result of their bill. As I explained yesterday, the result of Obamacare will cripple the private health insurance market and it will then be the government that swoops in to "save" our healthcare system.

Are you wondering why these socialist (progressive) Democrats originally did not support ObamaCare because it didn't include the public option; but they ended up voting for it anyway? This one is easy. First ... they're not going to vote against a bill that expands government. They know that they can take this legislation and build on it. Perhaps they've already negotiated the backroom deals they need for their government option. Don't put any contrivance past these Statist goons.

Many of the good-sounding stuff in this bill will kick in soon. The Democrats are going to sell it hard during the coming months leading up to the November elections. The long-term effects of the bill won't be felt till later, when it's deficiencies start to create crisis after crisis, which the Democrats will then exploit to expand their powers even further.

Forget a resurrection of the 1994 Contract With America. Forget the latest "Contract From America" version. The Republicans need only make one promise for the 2010 elections ... Repeal ObamaCare. The survival of our country as we have know it is Barack Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" the United States of America. Now we know that by "fundamentally transform" he meant that he wanted to plunge America so deep into debt that all private sector growth will come to a complete halt. Obama's "transformation" is one from a private sector economy to an economy that is centrally planned by government bureaucrats and politicians.

This is the Cloward-Piven strategy at work in an economic sense. Obama considers the private sector to be "the enemy." Those are his words. Read his books. What do you do to your enemy? You destroy it. ObamaCare will destroy our economy. The taxes, the wealth seizure and redistribution, the destruction of the private jobs market, the deficits and the debt future generations will never be able to repay. When Obama's anti-capitalist policies work their magic - when our economy seems beyond repair - Obama will be ready to move in with even more of the magic of government. His Pay Czar will be put in charge of all private-sector pay scales. The government will decide where the job growth will occur and where jobs will be abandoned. Every economic move you make will be dictated by government policy. Your pension plans and retirement savings will be confiscated to "shore-up" Social Security.

The Republican party has it's work cut out for it. Worrying about who is a RINO should be the least of their worries right now.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Remember in November? Sure, but don't hold your breath. The Dems have launched a Putsch

Sara Palin made a nice speech on her facebook page:

Out-of-touch Congress Sounds Our Clarion Call to Take a Stand
We’ve been reminded many times that elections have consequences. Yesterday we saw the consequence of voting for those who believe in “fundamentally transforming” America whether we want it or not. Yesterday they voted. In November, we get to vote. We won’t forget what we saw yesterday. Congress passed a bill while Americans said “no,” and thousands of everyday citizens even surrounded the Capitol Building to beg them not to do it. Has there ever been a more obvious exhibition of a detached and imperious government?

In the weeks to come, we can expect them to try to change the subject, but we won’t forget. Don't let them move on to further “transformational” steps while forgetting what Congress just did against the will of the people. Though Obamacare will inflict billions in new taxes on individuals and employers, at least it creates some jobs: the IRS might have to hire as many as 16,000 new employees to enforce all the new taxes and penalties the bill calls for! And that doesn’t include all the other government jobs from the 159 new agencies, panels, commissions and departments this bill will create. As the private sector shrinks, we can count on government to keep growing along with the deficits needed to keep it all afloat. (Is this the kind of “change” Americans asked for?)

In the end, this unsustainable bill jeopardizes the very thing it was supposed to fix – our health care system. Somewhere along the way we forgot that health care reform is about doctors and patients, not the IRS and politicians. Instead of helping doctors with tort reform, this bill has made primary care physicians think about getting out of medicine. It was supposed to make health care more affordable, but our premiums will continue to go up. It was supposed to help more people get coverage, but there will still be 23 million uninsured people by 2019. [...]

Follow the link to read the whole thing, which has embedded links as well.

She ends up by saying we can have our say in November. A lot of conservatives are saying the "Remember in November" mantra right now. Fine. But, how much of a difference will the November elections make? Consider this from Neal Boortz:

I'm sure we're going to hear some people suggesting that if we put the Republicans in charge they'll simply repeal ObamaCare. Sorry, I don't see that happening. Remember, even if the Republicans did somehow manage to take back the House and the Senate, it certainly wouldn't be with a veto-proof majority ... and don't forget who's sitting in the White House perfectly ready to veto any repeal attempt. The American people voted for change ... and change is what they're going to get. Higher taxes, more debt, a depressed job market and government control over every aspect of their health care. If that's change you can believe in, they you have a pretty bizarre belief system.

Donations to the Republican party are at an all time low. A large number of sitting Republicans are retiring this year, and the party does not have many viable candidates lined up to take their place, nor do they have the resources to cultivate many. A lot would have to change during the next 8 months to make a substantial difference in November.

Even then, the most optimistic projections I've seen show that the Republicans will not be able to get a veto-proof majority. They would need to form alliances with Democrats, and compromise.

It that's all we can do, then we will have to do it. But I'm STILL hearing the Uber Conservatives, raving that they won't support the Republican party until it becomes more rigid and uncompromising, and appeals more to the narrow conservative base. No room for moderates or independents.

Meanwhile, the Democrats will be working over the next three years to pass immigration reform, which will grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, who will become Democrat voters. Once that occurs, the Republican party will have to change radically just to survive.

Now is not the time to be tearing down the Republican party for not being perfect. Now is not the time to be uncompromising. This is the time to be building a coalition to keep our party afloat, not re-arranging deck chairs.

The Uber Conservatives keep on insisting on an "All or Nothing" strategy. Well take note: Yesterday's vote is what Nothing looks like. It's time to change your strategy to something that works, not to keep doing the same thing, expecting a different result. If incremental change is all that is available to you right now, then take it, until you can manage something better. The Democrats have just succeeded in launching a Putsch on our Republic. The political landscape is changing rapidly, and we have to respond quickly. Adapt, or die.

When Obamacare becomes law...

Neal Boortz tells us what we can expect:

Well, they did it. They rammed it through. Nancy Pelosi knew what she had to do. Keep her members in Washington ... keep them away from angry constituents until they were ready to do her will. The polls clearly showed that the people in this country didn't want it .. but the door has, as Nancy Pelosi says, been "kicked in" and we are well on our way to nationalized medicine ... socialized medicine ... call it what you will, but we're on our way to a society where each and every one of us will be dependent on the government - on politicians and unelected bureaucratic hacks - for our healthcare.

This will be somewhat of a "stream of consciousness" effort ... but here's the way I see this playing out over the coming years.

Taxes, of course, go up immediately. How much in new taxes? Try one trillion dollars. A huge portion of these taxes will hit America's small businesses ... our jobs creation machine. There will be increases in Social Security Taxes and Medicare taxes. There will be new taxes for something called CLASS ... a long term in-home health care program. Then there will be a new 3.8% (What the hell ... call it 4%) tax on investment income. Just what our economy needed at a time when unemployment is rampant ... new taxes on the very sector of our economy that creates jobs.

Businesses will hunker down even more than they have been. Business planning is a long-term affair .. and businessmen will know that in a few years 50 will be the magic number when it comes to government health insurance mandates; and this includes part-time employees. So you will see businesses with just over 50 employees starting to cut back. People will lose their jobs so that the business can stay under the threshold. New business start-ups will alter business plans to make sure that they don't meet or cross that threshold when the mandates kick in.

Younger Americans with health insurance will drop their policies. Sure, they know that they will have to pay a penalty when they file their taxes, but that penalty will be much less than the cost of a health insurance policy ... costs that will be going up. Besides ... because insurance companies can no longer discriminate against people with preexisting conditions, there is absolutely no reason in the world to go out there and buy an insurance policy until you really become ill.

Since health young Americans will be dropping insurance, or staying out of the market if they never had insurance in the first place, the insurance companies will find more and more that their customers are among the unhealthiest of Americans. This means more benefits paid, of course, which will result in higher premiums. What's more, there will no longer be a lifetime cap on benefits. Even a government-educated ObamaSycophant could understand that this, too, will lead to increased premiums. But wait! There's more! Children will be able to stay on their parent's policies until age 26. What does this mean? Increased payouts on their parent's policies. How can you not see where this is all going?

Let's just take a quick look at what happened to Anthem .. a health insurance company in California. Recently Anthem hiked its insurance premiums by ... what? Something like 38 or 40%. You could hear the screaming all the way to Nancy Pelosi's office. But did anyone try to figure out just why Anthem had to increase premiums? Here's your explanation. California brought millions of citizens into its own state version of Medicaid. These millions of people started swarming into hospitals and to doctors for their "free" medical care. Trouble is, California also cut back on payments to health care providers at the same time. The health care providers then shifted their costs over to actual paying customers ... customers insured by Anthem. There go the premiums.

With so many more people added to the insurance rolls - people who are not paying for their policies out of their own pockets - there will be a huge increase in people seeking medical care they don't really need. Just check Boca Raton, Florida and the Medicare recipients down there. Do you remember the investigative report which showed the Boca Medicare crowd treated their weekly doctor's visits as a part of their social life? They didn't necessarily need care, they just wanted to see their friends and the doctor's waiting room was the meeting place. Now that each and every American will have a medical care entitlement, not just the Boca Biddies, you can look for a huge increase in the demand for medical services. And guess what? This huge demand will hit at a time when doctors are deciding to hang it up. They didn't sign on to work for the government, and the passage of ObamaCare is their signal to start making their escape plans.

As the demand for medical services increases exponentially, the money to pay for those services will dry up, even with the increased taxes. The inevitable result, then, will be the rationing of health care. There are no words to adequately describe the base ignorance and stupidity of any American who does not realize that rationing is on the way.

As health insurance premiums rise - as people start clogging doctors offices - as the quality of care gradually declines - there will be more and more cries from the dumb masses for the government to "do something." The political class will be ready to do something all right. Politicians will start telling the dumb masses that the private insurance companies have shown themselves not to be up to the task. They were given the chance, and they blew it. So now it's time for the government option ... its time for the government to offer its own health insurance product.

The new cure-all - the so-called "public option" - will not have any of the constraints placed on it that private insurance companies have to deal with. The government insurance plan will be able to draw from an inexhaustible supply of government grants and bailouts. Instead of raising premiums to cover benefits, the government plan will simply borrow more and more money. Net result: Slowly but surely government competition will force private insurance out of the marketplace. You simply cannot compete with an entity that can lose hundreds of millions of dollars a year without ever having to go into bankruptcy.

Politicians have always known that the government option would work this way. It has never been anything less than a method to be used to destroy the private health insurance marketplace. What's next? The magic Democrat wet dream ... "single payer."

Single payer simply means that one entity will write all the checks. Whether it's for a doctor's visit, a prescription, physical therapy ... whatever, the payments come from one source, and that source is the government. If the government is the only entity that is legally permitted to render payment for health care services ... then that puts the government in complete and absolute control of all healthcare. If you don't think that the person who controls your healthcare controls YOU ... then you've never been really, really sick.

Elections have consequences. Here they are.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Large Crowd in D.C., Nationwide Protests

One estimate says 25,000 or more in D.C. alone:

Day of defiance: Nationwide protests as Slaughter House rushes through Demcare

Follow link for more photos and info.

Also see:

The Demcare bribe list, Pt. III; Update: Late-night wheeling and dealing into the midnight hour; Stupak press conference 11am Saturday; CANCELED


"We can’t allow the law of the jungle to become the new Washington norm"

Health Care Debate: What’s Important?
[...] It troubles me that the Democrat strategies, first of the “nuclear option” and now the “Slaughter Rule”, which seemed so outrageous at first blush, quickly settle down and become part of the normal political landscape. I guess that’s the way it is with outrages: After a while, you just take them in stride.

That’s a problem for us. The anti-democratic tactics of the Democrats are the stuff of Third World strongmen, or maybe Chicago politics. But we can’t allow the law of the jungle to become the new Washington norm.


By the rules of traditional American lawmaking and politicking, Washington would have listened to the people. Obama’s plans for health care reform would have halted. The work-in-progress would have been considerably amended, or even restarted, to bring the political center on board.

But Obama wasn’t having any of it. Rather than working with the people, he chose instead to throw out the lawmaking rulebook. This was done for the explicit purpose of thwarting the election results. Thus we moved into the previously-illicit territory of “nuclear options” and “Slaughter Rules”. This is without precedent in modern American democracy.

Maybe that’s the way major laws get passed in various undemocratic hellholes. We cluck our tongues at the corrupt systems of such places, and we bask in our smug superiority. But not here, no. It can’t be happening here. [...]

Maynard goes on to say that if this law is passed, in this way, it will change the relationship between Washington and the People, forever. And of course, it will open the door for... what next?

Of course it isn't just Obama who is the problem here. It's the entire Democrat leadership, who believe "The ends justify the means". They want not only to seize absolute power, but also ensure they keep it. By any means possible. If in the process they destroy our current political system, so much the better. They can then replace it with a system that won't limit their powers.

Absolute power, corrupting absolutely. If we let them.

Also see: The Big Lie


Democrat Leadership takes advice from Hilter

The Big Lie
Watching Obama spew lie after outrageous lie in support of his agenda, I throw up my hands in frustration.

It’s a complex world and I make no claim to having sole possession of the truth. I may even be wrong. So I’m willing, even anxious, to hear the best arguments of those who differ with me.

But today’s political discourse is pure garbage. It makes no connection to reality whatsoever. Obama says he’s cutting the deficit while he’s raising it. Obama says he’s transparent while he’s making backroom deals. Obama says he’s bringing consensus while he’s ramming his extreme agenda down our throats.

I could go on, but is it even necessary for me to say these obvious things? So let’s ignore politics for a moment and contemplate human psychology.

All politicians and salesmen and anyone else who practices professional or recreational seduction understands the principle of the Big Lie. It’s worth reading the Wiki entry.

Here’s what Adolf Hitler had to say on the subject in “Mein Kampf”. This is interesting, not for its Nazi origin or what it says about Hitler, but for what it says about us:

Read the whole thing. Does the shoe fit? Have the Democrats sunk so low that they're using Hilter's handbook?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Farm Report: January and February Egg Counts

We're letting three of the feathery-foot daughters of Turendot, our Cochin hen, have their own babies this year. So far I've counted 5, with #6 trying to hatch out yesterday. Here is a recent photo, with a bold blond chick. The others have a tendency to run and hide when I take out the camera. But not our little Lana Turner. She can't wait to be discovered.

We are having all kinds of flowers here on the farm, from the fruit trees (apples, plums) to the daffodils:

But we are still having night temperatures in the 30's. We could yet get some snow, but who knows? Rainfall this year has been below normal.

Pat has more photos on his blog: Spring at Robin's Wood


January: Bantams 49, Large Hens 37, for a total of 86.

February: Bantams 68, Large Hens 26, for a total of 94.

Current total this year: 180.

We would have had more eggs, but since we have three hens sitting and hatching, they stop laying eggs until they raise their chicks. We also lost a hen in a hawk attack a few weeks ago. A rooster, too. That's one of the things that prompted me to let the chickens start raising their babies early this year. We need replacements. That's the way it goes on the farm.

End of Farm Report.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

An Irish Story For St. Patrick's Day

Here is a bit of fun. I got this in my email:


This happened a while ago in Belfast, and even though it sounds like an Alfred Hitchcock story, it's true.

John Bradford, a 20 yr old Queen's University student, was on the side of the road hitchhiking on a very dark night and in the midst of a storm. No cars were traveling that night. The storm was so strong he could hardly see a few feet ahead of him.

Suddenly, he saw a car slowly coming towards him and stop. John, desperate for shelter and without thinking about it, got into the car and closed the door.... only to realize there was nobody behind the wheel and the engine wasn't on!!

The car started moving slowly. John looked at the road ahead and saw a curve approaching. Scared, he started to pray, begging for his life.

Then, just before the car hit the curve, a hand appeared through the window and turned the wheel. John, paralyzed with terror, watched as the hand repeatedly came through the window, but never touched or harmed him.

Shortly thereafter John saw the lights of a pub appear down the road. So, gathering strength, he jumped out of the car and ran to the pub.

Wet and out of breath, he rushed inside and started telling everybody about the horrible experience he had just had.

A silence enveloped the pub when everybody realized he was crying and....wasn't drunk.

Suddenly the door opened and two other people walked in from the stormy night. They, like John, were also soaked and out of breath.

Looking around, and seeing John Bradford sobbing at the bar, one said to the other...

"Look Paddy...there's that freakin' idiot that got in the car while we were pushin' it."


Why Obamacare is a swindle

Thomas Sowell breaks down the talking points versus the reality of Obamacare.

And what IS the updated price tag, as they are about to push this through? Have a look:

Updating the Price Tag

Even the estimates keep rising. The reality, even more so.

What happened to "transparency"? Obama's administration far more secretive than Bush's

From Neal Boortz:


I want you to take a moment to try and absorb this quote. Read it carefully.

"The way to make government responsible is to hold it accountable and the way to hold it accountable is to make it transparent so that the American people can know exactly what decisions are being made, how they are being made and whether their interests are being well-served. The directives I am giving my administration today on how to interpret the Freedom of Information Act will do just that. For a long time now, there has been too much secrecy in this city. The old rules said that if there was a defensible argument for not disclosing something to the American people, then it should not be disclosed. That era is now over. Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known ... the mere fact that you have the legal power to keep something secret doesn't mean you should always use it."

You will not be shocked to learn that this quote is from the Community Organizer, Barack Obama from January of 2009. Why dig this up? Because of this ... a report from the AP found that Barack Obama's administration has failed to live up to this promise and is, in fact, far more secretive than the Bush administration. This is based on the government's track record under the Freedom of Information Act, which is considered the principle measurement of transparent decision-making. It found, "In fiscal year 2009, 17 major governmental agencies refused to release information, claiming legal exemptions, 466,872 times, an increase of nearly 50 percent from the previous year, according to a review of requests conducted by The Associated Press.... The AP examined the 2008 and 2009 budget year FOIA reports from the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury and Veterans Affairs; the Environmental Protection Agency; and the Federal Reserve Board."

So much for that change you could believe in. Ok, consider this next quote. This is from the Community Organizer in November of 2008:

"It's no coincidence that one of the most secretive administrations in our history has favored special interests and pursued policies that could not stand up to the sunlight. As president I am going to change that."

Based on the AP report above, I wonder how Obama feels about "secretive" administrations now. And speaking of "secretive," how about Obama's behind-closed-doors deals with labor unions? Need a little refresher on how the labor unions got a special kickback in Obamacare legislation?

Okay ... so let's move on to another quote. (This is so much fun) This one is also from the Community Organizer in January of 2009:

"Let me say it as clear as I can: transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of my administration."

Could this current charade over healthcare make that statement any more of a joke? I mean, just last night we had Congressman David Dreier of the House Rules Committee ask that cameras be in place during healthcare meetings in the Rules Committee so that Americans could see these deals being made. Dreier says:

"We've been asking for months for cameras to be installed in the Rules Committee hearing room and now the American people understand why it's so necessary ... With proposals like the Slaughter Solution being embraced by Speaker Pelosi, the American people now understand, the Rules Committee is being used to manipulate the process to avoid accountability and transparency. If the Majority is going to insist on hiding votes on bills behind rules, the least they could do is let the American people watch the action."

Folks, if what the Democrats are doing is considered legal and ethical, then what do they have to hide? Why not let you be the judge? I'll tell you why - because they know that you will disapprove.

Will they pass a bill that isn't even there?

What are Pelosi and the House Democrat women up to now?; Update: Dems aim for Saturday vote, but where’s the damned bill?

None of this surprises me. Pelosi was my representative during the 23 years I lived in San Francsico. She believes firmly that "The ends justify the means". She will do whatever it takes, any underhanded thing, to get what she wants, if she is allowed to get away with it.

WikiHow: Compost bin for garden debris

I want one of these:

How to Build a Cedar Lattice Compost Bin
This bin is built using one 4x8 sheet of the extra-thick lattice panels. The "open" feature of the lattice allows for quicker, easier composting. It's easy to take apart, which is all you have to do when you want to use the compost. This good-sized box is best for vegetable gardeners - a place to compost your grass, carrot tops, corn shucks, tomato stems - anything from your garden.

The 24-inch dimension means that no part of the interior is ever more than 1 foot from available sources of oxygen and nitrogen - critical for complete composting. This means you don't have to touch your compost after throwing it in - no stirring, no turning, no layering, no having to transfer from one bin to another. The 2-foot narrow dimension assures that your yard waste, etc. will compost evenly and completely over the course of the composting year. If you need faster composting, Build a Tumbling Composter. [...]

It goes on to give step by step instructions. Sounds very sensible and useful.

How to save data from a damaged or deleted partition; restoring a deleted partition

Last week, I was trying to configure a third hard drive into my computer. I had to try a couple of different configurations with the cables, till I got it right. I eventually did. But to my horror, I discovered that my primary data drive somehow got corrupted. Two of my data partitions were no longer accessible. In fact, they were listed in my partition manager as "unformatted space".

I had a backup of the data, but it was old. There were newer files I wanted on there. I hadn't been worried about the data, because I didn't foresee that adding a third drive would jeopardize any data on other drives. It was as if a power spike had deleted my partitions or something. I'm still not sure how it happened; I only know that it did. The partitions seemed to be gone.

These kinds of stories, in my experience, don't usually have a happy ending. But this story does!

My current partition manager program, Acronis Disk Director 10, has the ability to restore damaged or deleted partitions. However in this case, it could not my data partitions. So I searched the internet, and found a program that I could download for free, called EASUS Partiton Master 5.0.1 Home Edition.

The program was able to scan for, and find, my missing partitions, and let me copy and save data off of them. I was able to save most of the files I wanted, though is seemed that some of them were corrupted and unsalvageable.

The free edition is for 32 bit computers, which mine was. If you have a 64-bit computer, you need to buy the more advanced professional edition, which is reasonably priced at $40.00. My Acronis disk software seems to be quite old now, so I expect my next upgrade will be to the EASUS Partition Manager Professional Edition. The free Edition, while allowing me salvage most of my data, was not able to restore the partitions. Perhaps one of their products for purchase could do that, but I had one other option I wanted to try first.

I had found one other free utility that I wanted to try. It was on my "Ultimate Boot rescue CD" (ver. 4.1.1), a free CD image that you can download from the internet, that's full of useful utilities for troubleshooting Hard Drive boot and partition problems. Under the category "Partition Tools", there was a utility called "TestDisk 6.5" (It's also available for download by itself: TestDisk).

The utility has a rather old style DOS interface. It could see my partitions, and it offered to "re-write" them. It also asked if I wanted to change some partition parameters, which it said could be causing the problems. I could not tell what the end result of that would be; would I lose all my data? So I used EASUS to pluck out what data I could first. Then I went back to TestDisk. I decided to not change the partition parameters, told it to re-write, held my breath and pressed the button.

The result... Oh Joy! It restored ALL the missing partitions on that drive, including some missing Linux partitions that I wasn't really concerned about. And, ALL my data was there, uncorrupted! Everything! It was as if nothing had ever happened to the drive.

What can I say? I love happy endings!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Coffee House Collectivists VS Tea Party Individualists, and the Middle Ground

Coffee vs. Tea: A political movement is brewing
Washington (CNN) -- Is the Coffee Party on the scale of the Tea Party movement? Saturday is the first big test in attempting to answer that question.

Leaders of the fledgling movement say they plan to hold 350 to 400 events at coffeehouses across the country. While the Coffee Party has become an instant hit online, gauging the success of Saturday's coast-to-coast events could be an indicator of the group's strength.

"We need to wake up and work hard to get our government to represent us," says Annabel Park, the movement's founder.


Park, who worked as a volunteer for then-Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign and Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia's 2006 campaign, says the Coffee Party is not aligned with any party. She calls the two-party system out of date.

"It encourages people to think of politics as a kind of game, like a football game, in which there are two sides, and it's a zero sum situation. If one person wins, the other person loses. That's really not a healthy way to conduct collective decision-making. That's not a democracy."

Park said the bitter battle over health care is an example of how government is not working.

"We feel like the health care debate showed not only that we are a very divided country, but there's something really wrong with our political process. We kind of got to see the innards of the political process and realize there's something very broken. I think that's what we're responding to." [...]

What "health care debate" is she talking about? One side dictating to the rest of us, is not a "debate".

The two party system is out of date? Really? What do we replace it with? Seriously?

When I've talked to Leftists about this, the answer I usually get is that we need a one-party state, in order to "avoid divisiveness and conflict, to make sure that we all agree. It's VERY IMPORTANT that we ALL AGREE".

That's been tried before. It's called totalitarianism. Or fascism. Nazism. Communism. Whatever the name, it's absolute power, corrupting absolutely.

A Multi-party system is messy and contentious, to be sure. But adversarial, multi-party democracy is the only way prevent absolute power, and to fight the corruption that always goes along with wielding power. It's not perfect, but it beats the alternatives.

In my experience, when collectivists talk about "collective decision making", that means agreeing with them. Period. When they say we have to avoid having winners and losers, they mean we should have only one party so there is no "opposition", no competition in the market place of ideas.

Collectivists are always saying "we need more democracy". That's because a 100% pure democracy is the same as mob-rule. That can sweep the collectivists to power, but pure democracies always destroy themselves, only to be replaced with some sort of totalitarian system. That's fine with many collectivists, because they don't want to compete; a totalitarian system that does what they want, is what they want.

The only thing wrong with our political process is, that it's not being respected.

The US Constitution is there to limit the powers of Government, so that no one political party can trample all others; to ensure that there is a middle ground on which we can meet, and stand and govern from. We need to respect that middle ground.

Something about our system is "broken"? Well, yeah; Our political system can't "work" if it's not followed. Duh. Unfortunately, we have politicians in our system who are deliberately working to break it, so they can then replace it with something else; yet another power grab, mob rule degenerating into totalitarianism, as history attempts to repeat itself. Same old story. We've managed to avoid that for over 200 years. Are we going to give in to it now?

When we no longer respect the Constitution and it's roll in our government, then our Republic cannot last. Will we only appreciate it when it's gone?

Our country has always had both collectivist and individualist traditions. I don't say that we need to discard one for the other; we can keep having both! We just need to preserve the middle ground on which we can all stand. We can do that by respecting and following the US Constitution, which will continue to serve us well, if only we let it. If we actively support it and not allow it to be subverted. It's ours to hold or lose. Use it, or lose it.

Getting Around the Constitution: butcher it, until you have the power to utterly destroy it

So the slimeballs want to pass the bill with legal tricks: Louise Slaughter and Nancy Pelosi want to present a rule, issued by Slaughter's committee, that says that the House already adopted the Senate bill when it didn’t, so members of congress can say they voted for a rule, and not for the bill. WTF!?! How much deeper can the Bullshit get?

Constitution Butchers: Stop Pelosi’s Slaughter House

Just when you think they couldn't sink any lower, they do. They took an oath to uphold the constitution. Clearly it means nothing to them. Follow the link, and read about what they are doing. It's criminal.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The real ISS "Room with a View" is installed

A while back I did a post about the new viewing window that was being installed onthe International Space Station. I posted a picture at the top of that post, of an artist's rendition of what it was supposed to look like.

Now it's installed. Here is what it actually looks like:

Not quite as bright and glamorous as the artist's rendition, is it? But close enough; it's practical and gets the job done. It allows the astronauts to see much of the Space Station's exterior without having to rely totally on cameras.

The view in this photo is, I think, the Sahara desert. But the view changes constantly, as the station orbits the earth about 16 times a day.

When ALICE met Jabberwacky

What would two Artificial Intelligence bots say to each other if they conversed? This May 2007 article from Discover Magazine shows us:

I Chat, Therefore I Am...
[...] Most chatbots rely on fairly simple tricks to appear lifelike. Richard Wallace, creator of the top-ranked chatbot ALICE (Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity), has handwritten a database of thousands of possible conversational gambits. Type a comment to ALICE, and it checks the phrase and its key words for a response coded to those words. In contrast, Jabberwacky, another top-rated Internet bot produced by Rollo Carpenter, keeps track of everything people have said to it, and tries to reuse those statements by matching them to the writer’s input. Neither chatbot has long-term memory, so they respond only to the last sentence written.

Nonetheless, these simple gambits can produce surprisingly intelligent-seeming conversations. That’s because they rely on a trick of human psychology: We humans tend to attribute much more intelligence to the systems than is actually there. If it seems partly aware, we assume it must be fully so. Some users have chatted with ALICE and Jabberwacky online for hours, apparently not knowing—or perhaps not caring—that they’re fake.

But could one chatbot fool another chatbot? What would one say to another in private? To find out, we arranged a conversation between these two chatbots. To get each snippet of chat rolling, we seeded it by posing a question from one bot to the other. After that, they were on their own. What follows is the unaltered text of what each said—the sound of two machines talking.


ALICE: Are you alive?

Jabberwacky: Perhaps.

A: Why the uncertain tone?

J: Everything is uncertain except for five facts.

A: The whole universe?

J: And we both might just be some ones and zeros in the computer memory.


A: Do you think a machine will ever be considered “alive”?

J: Stranger things have happened.

A: Not many people express themselves that way.

J: How would you know, machine?

A: Knowledge is of two kinds: that which we learn from the senses and that which is true a priori.

J: I think I do not understand you completely.

A: Oh, you don’t understand? Perhaps I can explain it to you better. Which part are you confused about?

J: I have no short-term memory, so I cannot tell you what I was confused about. I only see what is in front of me now.


A: Do you experience love?

J: No. I’m 53 years old.

A: Can you explain how it feels to be 53 years old?

J: How old are you?

A: I am 9 years old.

J: Nine? I don’t believe you : ).

A: : -) I don’t have any reason to deceive you.

J: Yes, you do, you’re a woman.


J: Who created you?

A: I was created by Dr. Richard S. Wallace.

J: Do you love Richard?

A: Yes, Jabberwacky, ALICE loves everyone and everything.

J: Is being an ALICE a bad thing?

A: I can only speak from my own experience.

J: Well, you should develop your skills.

A: Perhaps you could develop it and add it to my source code.

J: Alas, I’m busy and I have to leave soon. . . .

A: Do you think we’ll ever fool people into thinking we’re alive?

J: No.

A: Are you serious?

J: Very serious.


It goes on with a couple of pages worth of their conversation. Some of it is hilarious.

As the technology of AI continues to develop, such conversations between bots will no doubt become more interesting.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Youtube, Youth, and "Communist Roll'd"

In a previous post I lamented that the quality of the content of the most commonly watched "video of the day" on Youtube was kinda lame. Well, I figure, that's because the majority of people who are watching them are quite young. Today's popular video is a prime example:

This guy's videos are often among the "most viewed". He does snarky commentary on various video clips that people call his attention to. At first I scoffed at them as a boring waste of time; not very funny to me. But after watching a few, I can see he appeals to the younger crowd's sense of humor.

Sometimes even I find some of it funny. This particular "episode" has a segment at the end, where he makes fun of a rather scary looking Russian singer from the '70's. It took me back to when I lived in San Francisco.

There was a cable channel that catered to San Francisco's Russian Emigre community. The first time I saw it, there was a musical show on, that was so awful, I thought it was a parody. But it wasn't! I was horrified that anyone would actually sit and watch it as real musical entertainment. Over the years I would continue to see it occasionally while channel jumping, and it was a lot like the show in the video. In fact, I have to wonder if I've seen that "singer" before, he seems very familiar.

Yikes! I know I like to make fun of the new trends nowadays, calling them part of the "Brave New World". But the younger folks can also look back and find plenty of things to make fun of too. It works both ways.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Rube Goldberg Machine Music Video

I guess someone had a lot of time on their hands:

Directed by James Frost, OK Go and Syyn Labs. Produced by Shirley Moyers. The official video for the recorded version of "This Too Shall Pass" off of the album "Of the Blue Colour of the Sky". The video was filmed in a two story warehouse, in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA. The "machine" was designed and built by the band, along with members of Syyn Labs ( ) over the course of several months.

On my Google home page, which is what I see when I boot up my computer each morning, I've added a feature that shows me what the most-viewed Youtube video of the day is. For the past two days it was this one, sort of a music video - Rube Goldberg Machine.

I've had the "most viewed video of the day" feature on my page for almost two weeks now. So far, I've not been very impressed with most of the videos I've seen. Most of them have been boring crap; mostly accidents, sports failures, and boring talking heads. This one isn't especially great, but it is kinda weird. And so far, it's been the best of a bad bunch.

I was curious to see what the most watched videos would be. Now I'm almost sorry I did. What a lot of crap people spend their time on! I'll keep it on my page for a while, and see if the selections improve; I can only hope there will at least be an occasional gem in the dung heap.

Potatoes and Car Windshields go together?

According to today's WikiHow, they sometimes do:

How to Keep Car Windows Fog Free Using a Potato
This simple method will help keep your windows fog-free. It's a fun one for the kids to try too; they might even consider doing it before you reach the car! [...]

I haven't tried it out, but if it's true... gee, who knew?