Sunday, September 30, 2007

Watch the AD

If you live in Washington state you have probably seen the anti-Referendum 67 ads that the out-of-state insurance companies are running.

A recent trend among insurance companies has been to quickly offer a low-ball payment on any claim. If the insured accepted it the company saves a bundle of money. But if the insured challenged the low-ball settlement the company would tie up that challenge in such Byzantine bureaucratic procedures that most claimants would give up the fight.

The Washington legislature has passed and the governor has signed into law measures that would eliminate this practice. Some in-state, good-citizen insurance companies were happy to comply with the law because it was the kind of service the provided anyway. However, other out-of-state companies think they have the juice to scare people into voting against their own best interests. (Sound familiar?) Their lackeys have been able to force a referendum on the new law and they hope to defeat it with advertising. They have blanketed the state in ads that characterize these consumer protections as advantageous to that most hated of legal critters, the trial lawyers.

These guys have deep pockets and are willing to spend big bucks. This puts the consumer protection advocates at a big disadvantage. They just don't have that kind of money buy air time. But you can help. Put this link in an email to everyone you know so they can watch the counter-ad on the net.

Can Bush stop Cheney?

Can Bush stop Cheney from invading Iran? Or will he just be a willing co-conspiranor? Sy Hersh strikes again.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

At the WSDCC meeting

Florida holding early primary. DNC denied their delegates unless they set them up inside the window. Michigan is also rolling around the deck. They have a plan inside the window but some key party people want to move it. Michigan applied to be early but was turned down by the DNC because it was too big a state.

As fallout of this there will be future rules fights in coming cycles.

On the blanket primaries, US Supreme Court is taking the case which puts it up in the air again. At issue is whether the party has to allow people to use the party name even if they are not selected by the party. It may come out that a convention has to act to allow a candidate to use the label.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Paul Krugman vs MSM

Krugman points the way to a better quality of political reporting that our nation both needs and deserves.
"One of my pet peeves about political reporting is the fact that some of my journalistic colleagues seem to want to be in another business – namely, theater criticism. Instead of telling us what candidates are actually saying – and whether it’s true or false, sensible or silly – they tell us how it went over, and how they think it affects the horse race. During the 2004 campaign I went through two months’ worth of TV news from the major broadcast and cable networks to see what voters had been told about the Bush and Kerry health care plans; what I found, and wrote about, were several stories on how the plans were playing, but not one story about what was actually in the plans.

There are two big problems with this kind of reporting. The important problem is that it fails to inform the public about what matters. In 2004, very few people had any idea about the very real differences between the candidates on domestic policy. It remains to be seen whether 2008 is any better.

The other problem, which has become very apparent lately, is that this sort of coverage often fails even on its own terms, because the way things look to inside-the-Beltway pundits can be very different from the way they look to real people."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Hillarycare Mythology

Before you get sucked into the crap about Hillary's responsibility for the failed healthcare reform of 1993 get armed with the facts.

Basalt Carbon Storage

There was an interesting article in today's Tricycle Herald about using the abundant Columbia Basin Basalt for carbon sequestration. Basalt is somewhat notorious for being full of fractures so I wondered what would keep the CO2 from leaking out. But it seems that CO2 and basalt react to produce a stable mineral that locks away the carbon. It's calcium carbonate actually, more commonly known as limestone. The porosity of basalt is an advantage here. CO2 has long been injected into oilfields to extend their production. The caprocks that have kept the oil from leaching out over millions of years also keep the CO2 contained.

Potential basalt sites are extensive in the Northwest as well as in some other parts of the country.

The tricky part, it seems to me, is the capture and transportation of the CO2 to the depositories.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Reason for Staying

I just listen to the interview of Colonel Sean MacFarland about the death of his friend Sheik Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha. The sheik was a man who, at great personal risk, helped begin the process of taking back his country from the insurgents there. He was a true patriot and a true leader of his people. In all the talk about leaving Iraq we need to be also aware that we have taken upon ourselves a debt of honor to people of Iraq. We need to make our departure without abandoning the very people who are Iraq's best hope of rebuilding their war-torn society.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lomborg and his many flaws

A new book by Bjorn Lomborg is making the rounds. He's a major apologist for the global warming deniers.
Glib, misleading associations mark Lomborg's style. In his chapter on glaciers, he states that since "we're leaving the Little Ice Age" (which, in fact, we left long ago) it's not surprising that glaciers are dwindling. Remarkably, he believes that is more good news, because "with glacial melting, rivers actually increase their water contents, especially in the summer, providing more water to many of the poorest people in the world." "It boils down to a stark choice," he lectures us. "Would we rather have more water available or less?"

Lomborg's flawed grasp of climate science is most evident when he discusses sea levels. He makes much of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) projection that sea level will rise by "about a foot," misleadingly noting that this is lower than previous projections. He does not tell us that the IPCC figures do not account for collapsing ice sheets, which may result in far larger rises, due to the difficulty of predicting how glacial ice will react to warming.

While Lomborg waves vaguely in the direction of ice melt and collapse, he assures us it's not a problem. We'll just put up dikes. Indeed, with dikes, he asserts, some nations might end up with more land than they have today. And so the arguments go on, from rising seas to extreme weather events to malaria and other tropical diseases, the collapse of the Gulf Stream, food shortages and water shortages. In one case after another, Lomborg asserts, it's cheaper and better to do nothing immediately to combat climate change, but instead to invest in other things.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Impeachment Watch

Full of links a rational analysis this guide lays out how to get there from here and why.

Aluminum In Breast Tissue

Could it be that the reason American women have more breast cancer is the all the deodorant they use? It would be nice if the answer turns out to be that simple.

Sunday, September 02, 2007