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$6,800 for Cap-and-Trade Not a CBO Estimate

Sunday, November 29, 2009

By Catharine Richert

Critics of the Democratic cap-and-trade proposal have many complaints about the plan, but their biggest is cost. They say it will cost so much that it will be a significant burden on a typical American family.

The latest variation of this comes in a chain e-mail that contends the cap-and-trade plan will require more energy-efficient homes (a claim we rated Pants on Fire ). The e-mail says, "The Congressional Budget Office -- supposedly non-partisan -- estimates that in just a few years the average cost to every family of four will be $6,800 per year. No one is excluded."

We've spent a lot of time looking into claims about how much the cap-and-trade plan could cost families, and one thing's for certain: There's no consensus. The Environmental Protection Agency says it could cost as little as $80 per year while the conservative Heritage Foundation says it could cost as much as $1,241 annually in higher energy bills.

We've explained the pros and cons of the various estimates in those previous items, so here we're going to look into the chain e-mail's claim that the CBO estimates cap-and-trade will cost a family of four $6,800 a year.

The bill in question is called the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. It is sponsored by Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, and aims to reduce carbon emissions 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. Companies, particularly utilities, would have to either buy pollution credits or adopt cleaner technology.

Critics say that either way, the cost of energy will go up, and that cost will be passed on to the consumer. ...(Remainder.)


Enter the Foxulists: The Fake Populism of Palin, Dobbs and Beck

By Jonathan Alter

With unemployment surging and the public mood souring, populism is in the air. Sarah Palin, flattered in recent days by a comparison to William Jennings Bryan, is a plausible presidential candidate, according to George W. Bush's pollster. Lou Dobbs, the modern incarnation of the Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s, is dropping hints about running for the White House in 2012, presumably without the benefit of the Hispanic vote. And Glenn Beck is planning a huge rally next summer in Washington dedicated to "Re-founding America." If Beck pulls a big crowd and wins some credit for decimating Democrats in the midterms, it's not hard to guess what he might try next.

We haven't elected a populist president since Andrew Jackson 180 years ago. But we haven't had a black guy with no experience and a Muslim name as president either. Our omnipresent mediacracy makes a lot of unthinkable things thinkable. Barack Obama's use of social networking and YouTube in 2008 just scratched the surface of what's possible when anyone can have access to any idea or image at any time. That's the science-fiction society we live in now.

The resulting Tower of Babel has good news and bad news for would-be populists. The good news for them is that the dissemination of outlandish ideas is easier than ever. Where cranks were once limited to red-ribbon typewriter rants or maybe a radio show, they now have unlimited potential to get their message out. The bad news for them is that they have nothing to say. They say nothing loudly, colorfully, and sometimes even charmingly, but it still doesn't amount to a new vision for the country. If their means of communicating are dramatically enhanced, their ends are hopelessly conventional....(Remainder.)


Are We Going to Let John Die?

By Nicholas Kristof
The New York Times

If Joe Lieberman or other senators came across John Brodniak writhing in pain on the sidewalk, they presumably would jump to help him and rush him to a hospital.

Unfortunately, an emergency room won’t help — indeed, the closest E.R. has told him not to come back, he says. So, for those members of Congress who are wavering on health reform, listen to John’s story.

John is a sawmill worker from Yamhill County, Ore., where I grew up. He was a foreman at a mill, he felt strong and healthy, and he had very basic insurance coverage through his job. On April 18, he was married, at age 23, and life was looking up.

Ten days after the wedding, he was walking in his backyard carrying a neighbor’s dog — and he suddenly blacked out. That led, after rounds of CAT scans, M.R.I.’s and other tests, to the discovery that the left parietal lobe of his brain has a cavernous hemangioma. That’s an abnormal growth of blood vessels, and in John’s case it is chronically leaking blood into his brain.

John began to have trouble walking and would sometimes collapse. He developed spasms and restless leg syndrome, he began to use a cane, and his mind suffered.

“He forgets stuff a lot, he bumps into things,” said his new wife, Esther Brodniak. “But he keeps things light. He jokes about it.”

Perhaps the worst is the pain — blinding, incapacitating headaches that have left him able to sleep only in short intervals. He vomits daily when the pain surges....(Remainder.)


Purloined Emails Don't Change the Facts

By Eugene Robinson

Stop hyperventilating, all you climate change deniers. The purloined e-mail correspondence published by skeptics last week—portraying some leading climate researchers as petty, vindictive and tremendously eager to make their data fit accepted theories—does not prove that global warming is a fraud.

If I’m wrong, somebody ought to tell the polar ice caps that they’re free to stop melting.

That said, the e-mail episode is more than a major embarrassment for the scientists involved. Most Americans are convinced that climate change is real—a necessary prerequisite for the kinds of huge economic and behavioral adjustments we would have to make to begin seriously limiting carbon emissions. But consensus on the nature and scope of the problem will dissipate, and fast, if experts try to obscure the fact that there’s much about the climate they still don’t know.

Here’s what happened: Someone hacked into the servers at one of the leading academic centers in the field—the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England—and filched a trove of e-mails and documents, which have been posted on numerous Web sites maintained by climate skeptics.

Phil Jones, the head of the Climatic Research Unit, released a statement Wednesday saying, “My colleagues and I accept that some of the published e-mails do not read well.” That would be an example of British understatement.

In one message sent to a long list of colleagues, Jones speaks of having completed a “trick” with recent temperature data to “hide the decline.” The word “trick” is hardly a smoking gun—scientists use it to refer to clever but perfectly legitimate ways of handling data. But the “hide the decline” part refers to a real issue among climate researchers called the “divergence problem.”

To plot temperatures going back hundreds or thousands of years—long before anyone was taking measurements—you need a set of data that can serve as an accurate proxy. The width of tree rings correlates well with observed temperature readings, and extrapolating that correlation into the past yields the familiar “hockey stick” graph—fairly level temperatures for eons, followed by a sharp incline beginning around 1900. This is attributed to human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting increase in heat-trapping atmospheric carbon dioxide....(Remainder.)


Chain Email Says Those on Public Option Will Have Microchip Implanted

By Louis Jacobson

It's a recipe for a great conspiracy theory: a big health care bill, an effort to centralize medical records and a new microchip that can be implanted under your skin.

Just add outrage and stir!

A chain e-mail warns darkly that an "implantable radio frequency transponder system for patient identification and health information" would be "implanted in the majority of people who opt to become covered by the public health care option" -- the government-run insurance plan designed as an affordable option for people who are uninsured or whose employers don't offer health coverage. The chip would "collect data in medical patients," including "claims data" and "electronic health records."

Americans, the e-mail continues, would likely flock to the the public option. This would mean that "the number of people chipped will be plentiful as well. Children conceived by parents who are already covered under the public option will more than likely be implanted with a chip by the consent of the parent. Eventually everyone will be implanted with a chip. And with the price and coverage of the public option being so competitive with the private companies, the private company [sic] may not survive."

This seems on its face to be so ridiculous that we wondered if it was satire. But we couldn't find its origins. Meanwhile, the e-mail is making the rounds (it was sent to us by a reader who wondered whether it's true) and we found it posted on dozens of blogs, so we decided to examine it.

First, let's get out of the way the one grain of truth in the claim -- a rice-sized grain, to be precise.

A company called PositiveID, which has its headquarters in Delray Beach, Fla., sells a small microchip that can be implanted under the skin for identification purposes. It can be read from a few inches away by a handheld scanner. The company began working on its product in December 2001, and by October 2004, it had received the Food and Drug Administration's approval to insert the device into patients. According to the company, a few hospitals have "agreed to use the technology in their emergency departments."...(Remainder.)


Think Obama Hasn't Gotten Much Done? Think Again

By Jacob Weisberg

About one thing left and right seem to agree: Obama hasn't done anything yet. Maureen Dowd and Dick Cheney have found common ground in scoffing at the president's "dithering." NEWSWEEK recently ran a sympathetic cover story titled "Yes He Can (But He Sure Hasn't Yet)." The sarcasm brigade thinks it has finally found an Achilles' heel in his lack of accomplishments. "When you look at my record, it's very clear what I've done so far, and that is nothing. Nada. Almost one year and nothing to show for it," Obama stand-in Fred Armisen recently riffed on Saturday Night Live. Jon Stewart asserts "it’s chow time" for a president who hasn't followed through on his promises.

This conventional wisdom about Obama's first year is sure to be flipped on its head by the anniversary of his inauguration on Jan. 20. If, as seems increasingly likely, Obama wins passage of a health-care-reform bill by that date, he will deliver his first State of the Union address having accomplished more in his first year than any other postwar American president. This isn't an ideological judgment. It's a neutral assessment of his emerging record.

The case for Obama's successful freshman year rests above all on the health-care legislation now awaiting action in the Senate. Democrats have been trying to pass national health insurance for 60 years. Past presidents who tried to make it happen and failed include Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. Through the summer, Obama caught flak for letting Congress lead the process, as opposed to setting out his own proposal. Now his political strategy is being vindicated.

We are so submerged in the details of this debate—whether the bill will include a "public option," limit coverage for abortion, or tax Botox—that it's easy to lose sight of the magnitude of the impending change. For the federal government to take responsibility for health insurance will be a transformation of the American social contract and the single biggest change in government's role since the New Deal. If Obama accomplishes nothing else, he may be judged the most consequential domestic president since LBJ. He will also undermine the view that Ronald Reagan permanently reversed a 50-year tide of American liberalism....(Remainder.)


Does Palin Believe Jews Will Flock to Israel to Set Off Apocalypse?

By David Edwards and Murial Kane
The Raw Story

Sarah Palin frequently refers to to her religious beliefs as part of her core values, but she has never made it clear just what those beliefs are. Now one casual remark during an interview last week with Barbara Walters may have drawn back the curtain a bit.

In response to a question about Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, Palin told Walters, "I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead."

Palin's expectation of massive Jewish immigration to Israel -- which would have to come primarily from the United States -- has no basis in current fact but does correspond closely to the end-times theology espoused by many evangelical Christians.

After Palin's interview, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg spoke to a representative of Liberty University, who told him, "'What Sarah Palin probably believes is that this is the first regathering,' when the Jews all migrate to Israel. 'This is a condition for the second regathering, the regathering in belief, when the Jewish nation is converted. Then there will be the battle of Armageddon.'"

"In the last two weeks," MSNBC's Keith Olbermann commented on Tuesday, "she has revealed pieces of the puzzle of her religious doctrines that suggest she shares the beliefs of her church, the Assemblies of God, that in the end-times, the Rapture, Jesus lifts true believers up with him as non-believers suffer through the apocalypse. She is also implying now that her interpretation of Biblical prophecy drives core elements of her foreign policy."...(Remainder.)


Christians Dream of Nazi Germany

By Jessica Sideways
The Gaythiests

Christians always masturbate over, er I mean fantasize, about what it would be like to be living in heaven and being with God. But given what I (and any other Christian who has actually and thoughtfully read the Bible, you know, ex-Christians) know about the Christian view of the end times, what we can all expect can only be described as the horror of World War II and Nazi Germany. However, unlike Nazi Germany, this is all planned out by an all-powerful, immortal dictator who cannot die and has long-since went mentally insane. But that does not stop Christians believing that the Christian view of end times is good and that they should praise god for being so utterly wonderful to create a place that is a lot like Nazi Germany, including all of the events and features of Nazi Germany. So, I am going to explain, to the best of my ability how the Christian picture of the end times equates to Nazi Germany. Hopefully, this analytical approach will get a few people to see that the god of the Bible, who is touted as being all-loving and benevolent is actually evil and malevolent. However, I intend to use actual comparisons based on what we know from historical accounts of life in Nazi Germany, as a citizen of Germany, of Europe and as a resident of the death camps. However, I do hope that in my work, that I do not diminish the importance of remembering the Holocaust or the fact that unlike what is depicted in Christian folklore, the Holocaust actually happened.

How did Hitler get the German people to go along with his plan, recruiting so many citizens for his Nazi army? Well, he promised Lebensraum (or “living space”, as it is translated) to the German people by taking over as much of Europe as humanly possible during his regime. He promised that the “master race” would excel over all others and this allowed him to exterminate anyone who was not German. The same thing is happening with heaven, since Christians think that it is a good idea to destroy this world, off all of the non-believers for endless torture and pain for mocking them with logic, reason and facts and have their Lebensraum with der Fuhrer, the Lord their God. Apparently, they will be the “master race” because of the fact that they are “bathed in the blood of the Lamb”, which to be honest sounds a lot like it was pulled from the sick mind of Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs (fun fact: He was displaced by the Nazis during his childhood, in the movie “Hannibal Rising“, which depicts Hannibal’s young life)....(Remainder.)



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