Saturday, October 31, 2009

Update on freaky "ghost" picture

Image taken at 12:10pm

Image taken at 12:11pm

Second image taken at 12:11pm

Update on the earlier post.

Something I learned today is that uploading pictures to Blogger will result in reduction in size, so here are fresh images uploaded directly from the CD. They're still reduced, but at least they're all consistent.

For clarification...the first picture I put up (the one with the "ghost") in the original post was the one Rick e-mailed to me last night. The two I later added came from my wife's PC, which I uploaded to Blogger, and then later downloaded from my blog to my PC. That's where the differences in the file sizes originated...Blogger reduced the images.

Adding to my earlier suspicions were slight differences in the EXIF data. My wife uses Picasa for image management, which apparently modifies the "Creation Software" EXIF attribute to read "Picasa 3.0". The one Rick e-mailed me simply said "V.1.0". That's how all three of these read, taken directly from the CD.

So, the mystery of the "ghost" of St. Peter's Basilica remains, and I'd certainly appreciate someone who actually knows something about digital imagery taking a look and giving me their opinion.

If you want the original image files from the CD, just leave a comment with your e-mail address, and I'll be happy to send them along. To avoid your e-mail address getting picked up by a spambot, just put it in "name at provider dot whatever" format, e.g., jsmith at yahoo dot com.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Freaky Halloween post

Last March, Mrs. Pool Bar went to Italy with her friend June. While there, they toured Rome, Pompeii, Florence, and a bunch of other places I'm still jealous over not seeing. They traveled with June's ex, Rick, and his wife (not at all awkward) and made the obligatory stop at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. At the end of the trip, Rick burned the pictures to CDs for June and my wife to bring home.

Tonight, seven months later, June was flipping through the pictures on her computer and saw something that startled her. She called Rick and told him to look through the pictures from St. Peter's and look for one with an "angel or ghost" in it. When Rick saw the image above, he called me, and since we were out of the house, I told him to e-mail it so I could see it on my BlackBerry. Mrs. Pool Bar and I were sure that both Rick and June were putting one over on us.

So, when we got home we pulled out my wife's copy of the disc and sure enough, there was the same image on the picture. There were several other pictures of the same scene taken at the same time, and none of them showed the ghostly image you see in this one. I opened up the picture and zoomed in 400x and to my untrained eye, I could see no evidence that it was photoshopped into the original.

I post the image here in the hope that someone with expertise in image manipulation might be able to take a look and tell me if the photo has been doctored in anyway.

Despite the timing, this is NOT a Halloween prank. The only thing I myself have done to the image is to rotate it 90 degrees for proper orientation.

You can grab a copy of the picture by clicking on it, then right clicking on the full-size image, and then select save. EXIF data will be intact.

Update: As I promised in the comments, here are a couple more shots of the same subject, without anything weird. Check the EXIF data to confirm the times they were taken.

Update 2: But wait...something's fishy here. The file size of the picture with the "ghost" is four times the size of the pictures without. I'm calling BS. I know jack about Photoshop. Do such alterations usually significantly increase the file size like that?

Update 3: Back to the drawing board. I found the CD with the original files my wife brought home from Italy. All the files are of similar size. I guess some compression occurred when I uploaded from my wife's computer to my blog, then downloaded the images from my blog to my computer. Bottom line, the source of the "ghost" is still a mystery, and I can't get hold of Rick until tomorrow. Working strictly from the original files on the CD, I can't find any evidence of tampering. Rather than try to clean up this post with the images directly from the disc, I'll put up a new post with all three.

See update to this post here.

Give it up, suckahz!

I was traveling all week, so I'm late to the party here. Project Valour IT is running its periodic fund raiser to provide technology to wounded vets. I've enrolled this site with Team Air Force (natch), and we're running behind on hitting our goal.

Please consider a donation in any amount!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Speaking truth to power, Obama-era version

I knew we were in for, er, change when Obama took office, but I didn't think that change would include changing the definition of some relatively simple words.

Obama administration hack Valerie Jarrett insists that their jihad against Fox News is a simple case of "speaking truth to power". This reminds me of the guy I see at open mic night every now and then who sings Dylan-esque "protest" songs...about Bill O'Reilly.

Just a reminder to the won! Your guy is in office, and you've got nothing to protest about. If you want to speak truth to power, tell Obama what a dilettante he is.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The clock is ticking

Karl Munchausen left a comment about this great blog widget he came up with. Unfortunately, it's too wide for the side bar of my blog template, so I'll just put it in a post until he can come up a smaller one (200 pixels wide would be just about right, Karl!).

Update: Karl e-mailed me to let me know he's got a second, narrower version of the widget up now. Run along now and get one for your blog, too!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fact-checking as it's supposed to be

CNN thoroughly beclowned itself a few weeks ago when Wolf Blitzer fact-checked a Saturday Night Live sketch poking fun of Barack Obama's near-total lack of achievement since his inauguration in January. Today the AP partially redeems the mainstream media with a pretty tough fact-checking of the left's demonization of the health insurance industry.
Quick quiz: What do these enterprises have in common? Farm and construction machinery, Tupperware, the railroads, Hershey sweets, Yum food brands and Yahoo? Answer: They're all more profitable than the health insurance industry. In the health care debate, Democrats and their allies have gone after insurance companies as rapacious profiteers making "immoral" and "obscene" returns while "the bodies pile up."

Ledgers tell a different reality. Health insurance profit margins typically run about 6 percent, give or take a point or two. That's anemic compared with other forms of insurance and a broad array of industries, even some beleaguered ones.
This is similar to the demagoguery the Democrats indulged in last year to smear Exxon-Mobil as another "rapacious profiteer" by tossing around the amount of their "obscene" quarterly profit, which was only around 8% of their revenue at the time.

The ability to turn a profit is a good thing. When companies are making healthy profits they're able to expand and employ more people. When profits are anemic or non-existent, they contract and lay people off. It's really pretty simple. Democrats are the enemy of a good business climate and a healthy economy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yes, Madam Speaker, the question of individual mandates IS a serious one

First, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asserted that nobody questions the consitutional authority of Congress to impose individual mandates on citizens to purchase medical insurance. About a day later, it was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) turn to say that asking whether Congress has such constitutional authority was not a "serious question".

Set aside for a moment the supreme arrogance exhibited by our congressional Democratic leadership with these statements and consider the constitutional question: Can Congress compel citizens to purchase something they may neither want nor even need? All the Democratic health care reform proposals before Congress include individual mandates requiring citizens to carry health care insurance. Failure to do so is punishable by a hefty fine. It's not clear to me what the penalty might be if one refuses to pay the fine, but that's not important. What IS important is that this legislation would require you to purchase something you may not otherwise have purchased.

The easy argument is that it's in everyone's best interest, so it falls under the general welfare clause of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. If that's the case, then where does it end? It would clearly further the interests of the "general welfare" if every adult volunteered 20 hours of community service each month. Does that give Congress the Constitutional authority to compel every citizen 18 and over to spend four or five hours every week working in a homeless shelter or picking up trash on the side of the road?

Now, extend this exceptionally far-reaching Congressional authority to an America with a national health care system in which the bad habits of broad segments of the population increase the health care costs for all. Promoting the "general welfare" might then mean outright bans on tobacco and alcohol, mandatory exercise regimens...who knows what else.

Yes, Mr. Leahy and Ms. Pelosi, many people question the authority of Congress to impose individual mandates, and yes, it is a serious question.

Obama: The musical

Sure, you loved the school kids singing paeans to Barack Obama (Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm!), but are you ready for...Obama On My Mind?
Obama on My Mind takes a humorous look at the whirlwind and wonderful world behind the scenes of an Obama campaign office in small town America. A passionate group of larger than life oddball characters start to panic when Sarah Palin enters the race and Obama falls 20 points in the polls. Pop, gospel, jazz, and soft rock come together in a politically inspired comedic romp featuring a motley crew of loyal, obsessive and downright peculiar personalities, striving to get their candidate into the White House.
Those bolded parts suggest they can go ahead and put "Based on actual events" on the advertisements. I wonder if anyone would miss me if I went into hibernation until 2012.

Hat tip to AB, who lives in the Seattle area and is considering building a moat.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Best GOP logo yet

Contrary to popular belief, I'm not a Republican. I just have a tendency to vote that way for lack of any better options. But if I were a Republican, I'd insist - nay, I'd demand - that the logo be modified as shown here.

Via IMAO, which is getting clobbered at the moment due to Hot Air linking the article.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Drawing parallels

My brother retweeted this link earlier today and now I forget from whom, but it came originally via the Investor's Business Daily Twitter feed. Svetlana Kunin, a Russian immigrant who remembers the bad old days of the USSR, draws parallels between the Soviet Union circa 1959 and the United States, circa 2009.
USSR, 1959: I am a "young pioneer" in school. History classes remind us that there is a higher authority than their parents and teachers: the leaders of the Communist Party.

The story of young pioneer Pavlik Morozov is required reading. Pavlik reported his father to the secret police for disobeying government regulations. His life exemplified the duty of all good Soviet citizens to serve their government.

From the first year in school, all of us are made aware of our ethnicity (ethnic Russian, Jewish, Asian, etc.) and class (proletariat, intelligentsia), around which society is structured. This inherent divisiveness makes it easy for the government to stir ethnic and class tension and in this way distract from economic failure.

[ ... ]

USA, 2009: "Progressives" control the government. Children in some public schools sing songs about the president and study his directives.

Progressives view people not as unique individuals, but as groups. They play on class envy, or divide people by ethnicity (African-American, white, Hispanic, etc.). From early childhood they remind children of their ethnic identity. The idea of a color-blind society united under the American flag is not politically correct.
There's more there. Much more. You go

Musicians concede their music is torture

Twitter user @IKIDYOUNOT tweeted a link to this HuffPo article this morning, which brought me a chuckle.
A group of prominent musicians are joining a campaign to close Guantanamo Bay and demanding the release of records about what music was used during the potential torture of detainees there and at other facilities.
Seriously...if you were a musician would you really want to know that your music was used as an instrument of torture?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A war on three fronts

The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star's Clay Jones gets in a poke at Obama's ill-considered war on Fox News with this cartoon. Clay's a friend of mine and a I know his political sentiments lie to the left of mine, but he's, er, fair and balanced in his observations.

Is it possible that Obama is even more Nixonian than Nixon?

Zombie Apocalypse

My sister sent me this over Twitter this morning. It comes from MT Pundit, who appears to be Rusty Shackleford of Jawa Report fame. Anyway, I thought it was pretty funny.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jake Tapper puts Gibbs on the spot over war on Fox

Jake Tapper today put White House spokescritter Robert Gibbs on the spot, asking him why it's appropriate for the Obama administration to decide what is and is not a news organization.
Tapper: I’m not talking about their opinion programming or issues you have with certain reports. I’m talking about saying thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a “news organization” -- why is that appropriate for the White House to say?

Gibbs: That’s our opinion.
Typical Obama White House response: "Because shut up."

It doesn't surprise me to see Tapper, never squeamish about holding the Obama administration to account, call them out on this. But even ultra-lib Helen Thomas is objecting to the White House war on Fox News. She's been around long enough to know that this is a bad precedent and once they tire of Fox News, they can turn their ire on any news organization not toeing the Obama line.

Update: Awesome. Via, Brit Hume wonders how CNN and company "like being patted on the head and given the seal of approval by the White House". The line comes at around 0:51 into the clip.

Update 2: Add the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus to those chiding the White House for their idiocy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A foreign policy in shambles

George Bush was accused of arrogance when it came to his foreign policy, but it was at least at times effective. Barack Obama, on the other hand, is showing a different kind of arrogance in his own foreign policy, but unlike Bush, his policies have been so far completely ineffective. Consider:

One of the few campaign promises Obama has delivered on is his desire to engage in dialog with Iran. So far, this policy has resulted in no change in Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, and we saw over the summer a rigged election there with brutal repression of the resulting protests and no reaction from Washington. Over the weekend, a Sunni resistance group in Iran pulled off a suicide bombing which killed five Revolutionary Guards commanders and 37 others. What does Obama get for his trouble? The blame for the bombing.

Speaking of Iran, Obama wanted Russia's help pressuring Iran to give up their nuclear program. As a carrot for Russia, Obama abandoned plans to place a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. The outcome of that so far? Two pissed-off eastern European allies and a big FU from Russia on Iran sanctions.

A pet cause of the Left has always been the Free Tibet movement. In fact, that's also been the position of the Right, they just don't have the bumper stickers to prove it. Previous US Presidents have met with Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, during his travels to the US, but on the occasion of his first visit after Obama's election, Obama snubbed him in a craven effort to curry favor with China. One of the few to criticize him for this was - surprise! - former Czech President Vaclav Havel.

The latest victim of President Obama's "smart power" is Darfur. Another favorite cause of the Left (and the Right, who don't wear t-shirts saying so), the cause was dealt a blow with Obama's decision to "engage" with the genocidal government of Sudan. Groups associated with the Darfur cause are "wary" of Obama's new policy. If this had been a Bush policy, there'd be a million moonbat march on Washington over it, but with Obama's policy of "engaging" with genocidal war criminals, they're merely "wary".

Bush's foreign policy was called arrogant because it was seen to impose those archaic American values of freedom and democracy on other nations. But Obama's foreign policy truly is arrogant in that Obama seems to believe the pure awesomeness of his personality and oratory skills will solve everything.

It seems the best thing a country can be right now is an enemy of the United States.

Update: Oh, yeah...don't even get me started on Afghanistan.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New Age bullshit claims another life

A third person has died in the Arizona "sweat lodge" case after being in a coma since the October 8th incident.
An Arizona homicide investigation now includes three deaths after a woman died more than a week after participating in a sweat lodge ceremony that hospitalized nearly two dozen people.

Liz Neuman of Minnesota died Saturday at a Flagstaff hospital, Yavapai County sheriff's spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn said.

The 49-year-old suffered multiple organ damage during the Oct. 8 ceremony at a resort near Sedona, a resort town 115 miles north of Phoenix that draws many in the New Age spiritual movement.
I hate to say it, but I blame the victims as much as I blame New Age guru con artist James Arthur Ray who organized and ran the retreat. Apparently the "spiritual cleansing" ritual involves 36 hours of fasting before entering a slow-cook oven. My Mom specifically told me not to ever do that. Actually, I pretty much decided by the time I was, oh, three years old or so that it wouldn't be a good idea. If Ray had suggested to me that I do such a thing I'd have cock-punched him and taken my $10,000 back.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fixing health care

The health care "crisis" which Democrats insist must be immediately addressed by completely scrapping the current system and starting over really boils down to a handful of problems:
  1. Some 30 million without health insurance
  2. Denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions/canceling coverage after illness
  3. Increasing costs of health care and medical insurance
For this we need to completely scrap a system that works for 80-90% of Americans? I don't think so. Let's look at the first two problems together, because they go hand-in-hand.

Many (maybe most?) of those 30 million elect not to carry health insurance because they feel they don't need it. They're typically single 20-somethings who generally enroll once they get a little older (and wiser) or when they decide to marry. In any event, 30 million represents just 10% of the US population...hardly the stuff of crises. Nevertheless, there are millions without insurance due to their employment situation. They might be unemployed or working for a company with no employee health insurance.

Much of this can be solved by a nationwide plan administered jointly by the nation's health insurers and funded in part by taxpayers and the insurance industry. The catch is that participation in the plan would be limited to those who can prove they have no other option. Funded at $4000 for each of the 30 million uninsured, the price tag comes to $120 billion a year. The participating insurance companies would cover the administrative overhead.

This brings us to the problem of pre-existing conditions, which is much less of a problem than most think. Under employers' "open enrollment" periods, employees can enroll in a plan without proof of insurability. Only when an insurer can prove that a condition existed and was previously diagnosed and the individual wasn't previously enrolled in a plan do insurers ever attempt to deny coverage. These cases are actually pretty rare and could be handled on a case-by-case basis. For the self-employed, require the insurers to establish a nationwide plan for them and administer it as if it were an employer plan. The risk pool would be more than large enough to offset the risks of insuring those with pre-existing conditions. As for insurers who cancel someone's coverage after they're diagnosed with a serious illness, that's simple: make the practice illegal.

Finally, if health care costs are spiraling, it might help to actually examine the reasons why and address some of them. Legal exposure is one reason costs keep going up, and tort reform would certainly help mitigate the problem. A recent Congressional Budget Office report estimates that tort reform would save $54 billion over the next decade. While that doesn't address the entirety of the problem, it's not exactly a drop in the bucket. I'm not opposed to wealth distribution if it means taking $5.4 billion a year from trial attorneys and putting it back into people's pockets. And, for crying out loud, allow people to shop across state lines for insurance. Let insurance companies compete with each other on a broader scale.

Am I over-simplifying? Maybe. Well, almost certainly. But you get the picture. We have shortcomings in our health care system that actually have nothing to do with the delivery system itself but with how people pay for it. What we don't have is a health care crisis. Congress should address those issues with sensible legislation and not a behemoth of a bill that will make all Americans indentured servants to a government-run health care complex.

Man claims he has 'proof' balloon incident was a stunt

I was traveling home from the west coast Thursday and awaiting a connecting flight in Atlanta when I caught the non-stop coverage of the "balloon boy" incident. Like everyone else, I was horrified that a 6-year-old kid might be stuck in a runaway helium balloon. I would learn later, of course, that Falcon Heene was hiding inside his own house the whole time.

Even when word got out that Falcon's parents had been featured on the TV show "Wife Swap" and Richard Heene was looking more and more like a publicity hound, I was still a bit skeptical that Falcon's parents deliberately tricked the world into believing that their son was in mortal danger. Now? Hmmmm.
The student, who remains anonymous, told The Business Insider that he worked with Heene in 2009 on potential reality show proposals to pitch to ABC.

He says that he and Heene pitched a show that would include several pranks, one of which was similar to the high-flying balloon incident, according to The Business Insider.

"When Mr. Heene is denying having any involvement with this being for a show — when the little kid, Falcon, says 'Dad, you said to go hide in the attic, we're doing this for the show' — and then he's adamantly denying that, that's when I started cracking up because I have proof that that's not true," said the student, according to The Business Insider.
A lot will depend on the nature of the prank they'd planned, I guess. It's possible that Heene did intentionally let the balloon get away as a prank, but unless the plan included the bit about a kid being trapped in the balloon, it's not a smoking gun.

Much is being made about Falcon not appearing in the home video released yesterday showing the moment when the balloon "got away". Well, duh. That's the whole point, isn't it? Let's just say that the planned hoax was simply a runaway balloon. If at the moment the balloon "accidentally" gets away Falcon is nowhere to be seen, why wouldn't mom and dad at least initially fear the worst? On the other hand, a runaway balloon - even one as weird-looking as Heene's - is hardly an attention-grabbing hoax. But a runaway balloon with a kid trapped inside? Media feeding frenzy!

Update: The original plan did NOT include a kid trapped in the runaway balloon. No smoking gun.

Friday, October 09, 2009


I've been seeing the hashtag #nobeLOL quite a bit on Twitter today. What else can I say about Obama's jawdropping Nobel Peace Prize award that hasn't already been said by others? Hot Air's got a pretty good round-up of reactions at this link. In another sign that maybe all is not hopeless, there seems to be pretty good consensus between the left and right that it was way too soon for Obama to have received this once-prestigious award.

The Nobel committee took this prize down the path to irrelevance long ago by making the award an increasingly political statement. As for the rationale behind the award, I'm sticking with my initial assessment. There was a real sense of urgency among the Nobel committee to give it to him now before he completely screwed up his chances of ever getting one.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Welcome to All Nippon Airways. Please pee before boarding

All Nippon Airways has hit upon yet another way to cut down on weight, reduce carbon emissions and annoy the shit out of their passengers.
A Japanese airline has started asking passengers to go to the toilet before boarding in a bid to reduce carbon emissions.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) claims that empty bladders mean lighter passengers, a lighter aircraft and thus lower fuel use.

Airline staff will be present at boarding gates in terminals to ask passengers waiting to fly to relieve themselves before boarding, The Independent reported.
Here's something you can take to the bank: If a company asks its customers or employees to do something for the sake of the environment, you can bet your first-born child that the environment is the last thing on their minds.

How many times have you stayed at a hotel where there's a card in the bathroom inviting you to hang your towel up if you wish to reuse it? There's always some environmentally conscious message on the card along with an environmentally inspiring nature picture. The impact to the environment of washing those towels is negligible, but the money saved by washing a few thousand less towels a day system-wide is considerable.

What ANA is doing here is more of the same. An airplane relieved of 100 or so pounds of piss isn't going to consume a lot less fuel, but the lavatory servicing costs are sure going to be lower.

Hat tip to AB for e-mailing me this one.

White House doing really stupid shit now

"Lab coats! Getcher lab coats here!"

OK, so you're a president whose signature initiative - health care reform - is in serious trouble because two thirds of Americans absolutely hate the idea, at least in its current form. You've talked until you were blue in the face, and even more people hate it. What do you do? Invite 150 practicing physicians to the White House Rose Garden for a photo-op on health care reform.

But what kind of photo-op would this be if you couldn't tell they were doctors? Won't 150 doctors look pretty much like 150 accountants or lawyers? Hey! Let's have a dress code for the event...the doctors must all wear their lab coats! So, that's exactly what they did. There was just one problem:
The physicians, all invited guests, were told to bring their white lab coats to make sure that TV cameras captured the image.

But some docs apparently forgot, failing to meet the White House dress code by showing up in business suits or dresses.

So the White House rustled up white coats for them and handed them to the suited physicians who had taken seats in the sun-splashed lawn area.
Well, maybe there was one more problem:
Dr. Eric Novack of Phoenix, AZ, was one of the 50 doctors invited to the White House photo op today. But he turned down the invitation, because he has lead the fight to pass state legislation and constitutional amendments to prohibit individual insurance mandates.

“They had 16 hours to Google me, but I guess no one bothered,” Dr. Novack told Kathryn Serkes, Director of Policy and Public Affairs for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) in a video interview available at

Dr. Novack says that it was very tempting to accept the “once-in-a-lifetime” invitation, but in the end, he had to say no. But it also makes him question whether the doctors who will be there today actually support the President, or even understand all of the details of the bills.

“Are these doctors just star-struck, or do they have real knowledge about what they are supporting?” asked Serkes. “It’s looking like another dog-and-pony-show, and doctors should not be used in this shameful manner. First the President vilifies them, now he wants their help.”
Who knows how many more of those 150 physicians weren't actual supporters of the President's health care plan?

Anyway, this whole episode is just further evidence of just how low an opinion this administration has of Americans that they think we're going to be dazzled by a bunch of white lab coats.

Bias? What media bias?

NBC's Saturday Night Live has been skewering politicians - particularly Presidents - since they went on the air in the mid-1970s. To varying degrees of success, they've lampooned Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. But since taking office nearly nine months ago, Barack Obama has been largely exempt from SNL's sometimes funny, sometimes not ridicule. Until last Saturday, that is, when SNL's Fred Armisen goofed on Obama's record of having done diddly squat relative to his voluminous campaign rhetoric. Within 48 hours, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Yahoo News' Brett Michael Dykes rushed to the defense of Barack Obama and fact-checked the SNL sketch.

Fact-checking Saturday Night Live? Really? That's just pathetic. I don't recall a single instance of any news organization fact-checking a comedy sketch of any kind before. Whichever side of the political aisle one falls on, one usually has the wisdom to dismiss such pieces as the exaggeration and hyperbole they are. But not when it comes to the Dear Leader. All such slanders must be met with a swift response.

Does Blitzer even realize just how ridiculous this makes him look? Er, probably not.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Chicago officials: Olympic loss was Bush's fault

It was just a matter of time:
Some Chicago officials say anti-American resentment likely played a role in Chicago's Olympic bid dying in the first round Friday.

President Obama could not undo in one year the resentment against America that President Bush and others built up for years, they said.
Well, of course. It simply couldn't be that the President and First Lady completely failed to convince anyone that Chicago could, in fact, pull off the Olympics. Nah...that's just crazy talk.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Dude's gonna really enjoy prison life

There's got to be a less elaborate way for a latent homosexual to go about getting his rocks off.
An Arizona man faces criminal charges for allegedly posing as a fertility doctor so he could sexually molest men while pretending to give them physical examinations, has reported.

Jeffrey Graybill, 40, advertised online, offering people up to $4,000 monthly for sperm donations to support stem cell research, police said.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The health care "debate"

Earlier this week, a letter to the editor ran in our local paper (the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star) bemoaning the "hysteria" over health care reform and repeating the usual Obama talking points on the topic. Since I hadn't written a letter to the editors in a while, I thought it deserved a proper Fisking.
Laura Newman’s letter to the editor of September 28th citing the “hysteria” over health care reform requires a response. The only reason there’s any “hysteria” is because those favoring the current health care reform bill keep reciting the same faulted talking points in response to supposed “misinformation” about the bill. Let’s examine Ms. Newman’s points:

Claim: It will not include coverage of illegal immigrants, abortions, or death panels.

Reality: While the language of HR 3200 doesn’t specifically allow coverage of illegal immigrants, it provides no construct for preventing it. Further, Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA) just recently called for amendments to the bill to extend coverage to illegal immigrants. As for abortions, the public option is heavily subsidized by taxpayer money, and those covered under a public plan can obtain abortions under the plan. That’s taxpayer-funded abortion. “Death panel” may be an ill-considered choice of terms, but the fact remains that HR 3200 would insert the government into end of life treatment considerations.

Claim: It will not affect previously insured individuals or doctor- patient relationships.

Reality: One might parenthetically add “not right away” here. Private insurance companies cannot compete with government-funded insurance, and would gradually exit the market. Democratic members of congress Barney Frank, Keith Ellison and Jan Schakowsky have all asserted that the public option is the path to a single-payer system in which all choices are eliminated for the consumer.

Claim: It will be financed by the taxes of those making $250,000 or more a year.

Reality: This is simply laughable. 70% of all income tax revenue already comes from the 5% of earners making more than $154,000 per year. Given the cost of this program, there aren’t enough taxpayers making more than $250,000 per year to cover it. Taxes will have to be increased across the board.
A slightly edited (but not materially changed) version ran in today's edition under the editor-supplied title "'Hysteria' over health care well-founded'. It didn't take long for the comments to start rolling in:
Thousands die under the present system (posted by UsefulIdiot , Oct. 2, 2009 5:54 am)
because without health insurance, they lack timely access to health care. Is the writer defending the present system? Can he come up with any alternatives?

Give it up already (posted by UberMensch , Oct. 2, 2009 5:53 am)
HR 3200 was one of 4 - 5 DRAFT proposals, but was the only one available "on-line", thus quickly seized upon the right wing "hatchet men" (most likely Karl Rove), who in turn created "death panel" and fed it to that empty headed, pretty face Palin. Every line was grossly distorted into fear provoking for the ignorant but loyals (Fox News fans). Worse, the thug tactics at town hall meetings disrupting our Republic were inexcuable. This type of gutter politics hopefully has run its course.

Yes, Hysteria is Never a Bad Reaction (posted by Einstein , Oct. 2, 2009 1:12 am)
What situation isn't helped by hysteria? Yes sirree Hysteria is a productive reaction to just about any situation.
Note that not one commenter attempts to refute my points. I particularly liked the rant about Karl Rove and Fox News.

I started to respond to these first three comments at the site, but decided against it. People hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet generally don't want to debate, they want to debase.