Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Paradigms and Demographics Afternoon Edition

----Featured Article --- Who Was the Last President to Have a Great Second Term?  - Calvin Coolidge (1925-1929). Since Coolidge only served part of a first term (after Harding died), his case is unusual. But Coolidge finished his second term with the lowest misery index (unemployment plus inflation) of any president in the last one hundred years. He lowered tax rates, cut federal spending, and had budget surpluses every year of his presidency.   Seven presidents since Coolidge (Obama will be the eighth) had second terms, and these second terms showed mixed success at best and more often disastrous problems.   FDR in his second term tried packing the Supreme Court. And when the Senate shot that down, he then tried ”purging those Democrats who opposed him by campaigning against them for re-election. However, almost all of his Democratic opponents won anyway. The next two-termer was Harry Truman, who fought the Korean War during his second term, and ended his presidency with almost the lowest approval ratings in modern U.S. history. Eisenhower had a recession in his second term, and his party lost 47 seats in the off-year elections during that beleaguered term. Nixon, of course, had to resign during his second term. Reagan’s second term was a mixture of good policies and the problems of Iran Contra. Clinton was impeached during his last years in office. George W. Bush lost control of both the House and the Senate during his second term, and his approval ratings were barely better than Nixon’s and Truman’s….

Obama insiders reap riches at trio of healthcare IT firms -A trio of giant information technology firms that dominate the rapidly growing market for digital medical documents enjoy special insider access to key policymakers as the federal government implements its 2009 mandate that healthcare providers convert to electronic health records. The three firms — Cerner Corp., Epic Systems and Allscripts Healthcare Solutions — accounted for more than $5.6 billion in annual electronic health records sales in 2013. Boosting their revenues are the federal mandate and a $30 billion subsidy program to encourage sales, both of which were strongly backed by President Obama in his healthcare reform agenda. Steering the mandate’s implementation is the Health IT Policy Committee, a federal advisory commission within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in the Department of Health and Human Services.

New Record: Federal Tax Revenues Top $3T for 1st Time - Inflation-adjusted federal tax revenues not only hit a record high in fiscal 2014, but marked the first time that tax revenues have ever topped $3 trillion, according to the latest Monthly Treasury Statement. In fiscal year 2014, inflation-adjusted federal tax revenues hit a record $3,020,848,000,000, but the federal government still ran a $483,350,000,000 deficit during that time.  Each month, the Treasury publishes the government’s “total receipts,” including all revenue from individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, social insurance and retirement taxes (including Social Security and Medicare taxes), unemployment insurance taxes, excise taxes, estate and gift taxes, customs duties, and “miscellaneous receipts.”

Federal Debt Now $200,000 Per Full-Time Private-SectorWorker - Which will be greater: the burden of student debt on Americans who went off this fall to their first year of college, or the amount of federal debt per full-time private-sector worker when these students earn their degrees and start looking for jobs?  There is no doubt: It will be the amount of federal debt per full-time private-sector worker. As of last Friday, the total debt of the federal government was $17,858,480,029,490.28, according to the U.S. Treasury. That equaled $200,258.81 for each of the 89,177,000 full-time private-sector workers that, according to the Census Bureau, were in the United States in 2013.

To argue that consumers are not rational is to argue for more state control - A reader directed me to an article in The Atlantic that purported to explain Why Economics Is Dead Wrong About How We Make Choices. Being aware of the anti-market prejudices of so-called journalists I expected the worse: my expectations were not confounded. Derek Thompson, the author of this little masterpiece, tells his readers that [t]he old economic theory of consumers says that “people should relish choice.” Bulldust! Economics has never said any such thing.…… If one is going to argue that consumers are not rational then this will lead to the conclusion that “wise men” in power will have to make the decisions for them, which is basically what the left believes. Under their guidance goods would be produced to satisfy human needs, as defined by them, and not for profit. No wonder it is no accident that these attacks on economics invariably lead to a demand by leftists for more state control…..

Union takes mandatory dues, calls Walmart owners robbers - Accusing Walmart’s owners of “robbing America,” a labor union fueled by workers’ mandatory dues led protests recently demanding full-time hours and $15 hourly wages for the mega-retailer’s employees. Walmart’s corporate headquarters, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., says the company has more than 1.3 million employees and in 2013 promoted 170,000 “to jobs with more responsibility and higher pay.” This summer, The Wall Street Journal reported on a study concluding Walmart store managers are paid an average of $92,462.
 
GOP senator alleges collusion between EPA, progressive policy group in drafting carbon rules  - Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) are accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of inappropriately collaborating with an activist organization to craft the agency’s controversial carbon emissions policy, pushing those affected to the margins in the process. It’s an accusation that rises above impropriety, though. The Daily Signal reports that both Issa and Vitter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, are directing their congressional staff to “look into whether the EPA broke federal law in developing carbon emissions regulations.”  At issue is the EPA’s advisory relationship with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a progressive environmental group that has long been at odds with the business community over the perceived need for stricter regulations.  Vitter claims that emails between EPA staff and the NRDC reveal a tight relationship between the activists and the EPA — a relationship that places the NRDC in a favored status not enjoyed by other parties potentially affected by the new rules.

Center for FoodSafety attacks GMO drought tolerant crops, distorts big picture  - A recent article by Douglas Gurian-Sherman of the Center for Food Safety on the green food website Civil Eats has me scratching my head. The subject was attempts to breed drought tolerant corn and the fact that conventional breeding methods currently outpace biotech attempts in creating commercially viable strains.

Cancer cure? Patients’ blood reprogrammed to destroydiseased cells  - The blood cells of cancer patients, reprogrammed by doctors to attack their leukemia and re-infused back into the patients’ veins, led to complete remissions in 27 of 30 people. That’s especially exciting because those patients had failed all conventional treatments. The report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is an extension of data presented previously at the American Society of Hematology’s annual meeting. Not all of the remissions lasted, the report showed. Nineteen patients in the study remain in remission 2 to 24 months later, and 15 of them didn’t need any additional treatment. Seven patients relapsed between 6 months and 9 months after their infusion; those included three people whose cancers spread beyond the blood cells the new treatment targets. Five patients left the study for alternative therapy.

Vaccination coverage among United States kindergarteners  -  With the new school year well under way, the CDC has some good news to report . Its annual vaccination coverage report documents the vaccination coverage among our nation’s kindergarten children. Although the report found high levels of vaccination coverage overall, it also highlights clusters of unvaccinated children, putting certain communities at risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. The report is based on data from federally funded state, local and territorial immunization programs and includes vaccination coverage for a total of over four million kindergarten children.

According to the report, 94.7 percent of kindergarten children received 2 doses of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR), 95 percent received the diphtheria, tetanus toxoid, and acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP), and 93.3 percent received two doses of the varicella vaccine. Total exemption rate was about 2 percent. The highest rate of exemption was reported in Oregon, and two states, Kansas and Maine, reported increases in percentage of kindergarteners with exemptions. And although the overall numbers are good, 26 states and DC reported vaccination rates below 95 percent for two doses of the MMR vaccine. Colorado’s kindergarteners have the lowest rates of vaccination overall, with only 81 percent of them receiving the MMR, DTaP and/or the varicella vaccine.

Ebolaidiocy and other (de)pressing matters: Part 1 - Since there is hardly a day that goes by without a good dose of mind-numbing idiocy about Ebola, we figured ACSH ought to weigh in now and then. After all, the worst “Ebola science” isn’t a whole lot different from half of the other stuff that poses as science that we dissect daily. Here is our Part 1 challenge: Come up with something dumber than this, and we will all hand wash and wax your car.

 “Fearing Ebola, some US communities take dramatic steps”

 OK, this doesn’t sound too bad, only because the headline does not betray what’s inside. This left us with our mouths hanging open. Today’s “winner” is Portland, ME, which apparently does not grasp the basic fundamentals of epidemiology—that you have to actually be exposed to something before you can catch it. In this case, a teacher who had traveled to Texas for a conference was placed on a three-week paid leave of absence when she returned. Why? Well, it makes perfect sense to those having the intellectual capacity of a box of Froot Loops. After all, the teacher made the reckless decision to stay in a hotel ten miles away from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas—the hospital where Thomas Duncan died. ACSH’s Dr. Josh Bloom makes several points:…..

After wasting tax dollars, officials at CDC, NIH claim budget cuts hurt Ebola preparedness -  Here’s a lesson about how government works: Public officials think they should always have a larger pot of taxpayer money, no matter how badly they have misspent, misprioritized and misused the taxpayer money they already have.

Biotech crops on the rise— gradually but surelyovercoming phony fears - According to a recent report, since 1996 there have been over 5 billion acres of biotech crops harvested. And not only do these crops provide food for millions, they also reduce the use of pesticides, can add nutritional value to foods, and, according to some studies, reduce the release of greenhouse gases as well. In spite of such benefits, the anti-GMO crowd continues to promote false and misleading ‘disinformation’ about bioengineered crops. They ignore the fact that humans have been modifying the genetics of both food crops and animals ever since agriculture began some 10,000 years ago. Now, thanks to modern biotechnology, we have the ability to more accurately and efficiently make and monitor such changes than ever before. “There has never been any substantiated, scientifically sound evidence that bioengineered crops threaten the health of people or animals consuming them, or that they cause environmental damage.” says ACSH’s Dr. Ruth Kava. “Indeed,” she continues, “such crops have the potential to increase food crop production, while protecting marginal lands from cultivation. As the world population continues to expand, we will increasingly need these crops to meet the growing need.”

For more information about bioengineered crops, read ACSH’s recent publication on agricultural biotechnology here.

More ‘Walker is Hitler’ rhetoric appears from the left -  “WALKERS MOTTO DIVIDE & CONQUER SO WAS HITLERS,” proclaims the grammatically challenged, hand-written sign pinned to posts just off of Mariner Road near Wisconsin Highway 83 in Hartland.

Embattled Veterans Affairs procurement official abruptly resigns - Susan Taylor, the subject of a scathing inspector general's report issued Sept. 26, had been targeted for firing by VA officials.  
 
Congressional probe finds federal regulators targeted legal businesses - A congressional probe found evidence Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation officials forced banks to sever ties to legal businesses with negative public images. Regulators pressured the banks to cut off the accounts of entire industries whose practices they "disfavored" as part of a multi-agency program created in 2013 by the Justice Department and known as Operation Choke Point. Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the panel's subcommittees, said entire industries were being "disfavored" without regard for the performance of individual companies. Issa is a California Republican. Jordan is an Ohio Republican. Justice officials said the purpose of the program is to shut down a variety of businesses they think pose a “reputational risk” to the banks, according to a May congressional report.....
 
Time for Conservative Cultural Surrender? - [On] NBC's "Meet the Press"…newly installed host Chuck Todd stubbornly persisted in the usual Republicans-in-deep-trouble narrative. Based on the judicial failure to take up gay marriage cases, Todd previewed the program by asking, "Is it time for conservatives to surrender in the culture wars?" Later, Todd underlined his point: "Whether it's on abortion, whether it's on same-sex marriage, whether it's on marijuana legalization, the culture wars have shifted to the left. Many Republicans are trying to acknowledge that general public shift. And yet, it's going to cause some heartburn."  We're in the middle of an election cycle where red-state Democrats are running away from President Obama on gun ownership, on border control and on energy and "climate change" crackdowns. So isn't proclaiming a "national shift to the cultural left" a rather desperate spin for the losing side?...... Now flip that script, and imagine Chuck Todd asking Planned Parenthood whether their public stand for "post-birth abortion" is politically smart. The national media hounded Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock about rape exceptions in 2012 Senate races, but this fall they won't whisper the name "Kermit Gosnell" or mention the 2013 hearing in the Florida legislature where a local Planned Parenthood staffer insisted it was a "woman's right to choose" whether a baby born alive can be murdered…… As the Democratic Party skids toward defeat, NBC can only ask, "Is the GOP retreating?"

The Price of Papal Popularity - Normally a synod of Catholic bishops does not provide fireworks rivaling the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where Mayor Richard Daley's boys in blue ran up the score on the radicals in Grant Park.  But, on Oct. 13, there emanated from the Synod on the Family in Rome a 12-page report from a committee picked by Pope Francis himself — and the secondary explosions have not ceased.  The report recognized the "positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation" and said "homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community." As for Catholics who divorce and remarry without an annulment, we must avoid "any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against." Hailed by gay rights groups, the document stunned traditionalists….
 
Perkins to Olson: ‘If Love is the Only Factor, Where DoYou Draw the Boundary?’ - In a debate on Fox News Sunday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins questioned Ted Olson, an attorney who fought against California’s same-sex marriage ban, about what could define marriage if love is the only consideration. “If love is the factor, what boundaries are there?” Perkins asked Olson, a registered Republican who was on the legal team that successfully fought to have the gay marriage ban in California struck down. “What court after court after court has said, that allowing people of the same sex to marry the person that they love, to be part of the community and to be treated equally, does no damage to heterosexual marriage,” Olsen said ……. “Let me ask you, what are the boundaries, though?” Perkins said. “If it’s just love, what are the boundaries? “Where can we go with marriage?” he asked. Host Chris Wallace then weighed in by suggesting Perkins was insinuating that gay marriage could open the floodgates to polygamy or even bestiality…… “Sadly, when marriage is elastic enough to mean anything, in due time it comes to mean nothing,” Moore said.

Criminalizing Innocent Christian Behavior - Where are all the atheist freedom lovers we always hear about? It's time for them to start standing up for religious liberty. The left and militant gay movement are getting bolder and bolder, and too many Christians are stewing in their apathy.  It seems that with each passing month, this senseless tyranny advances. The latest is that two Christian ministers in Idaho, Donald and Evelyn Knapp, have allegedly been ordered to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies at their chapel or face fines or jail sentences.  This nightmare began Oct. 7, when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated Idaho's marriage laws and legalized same-sex marriage in that state, which allowed Idaho county clerks to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses a week later.
 

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