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Posts Tagged ‘republicans’

Sue the EPA over Clean Power Plan? The Public Does Not Support It

Thu ,05/11/2015

The leaders of the Republican Party in 26 states plan to sue the EPA to stop the Clean Power Plan. Those same leaders often justify what they want to do by claiming it is what the people want. But in this case, they are doing more what the fossil fuel companies want. The public in 23 of the states does not support the lawsuits, as in the chart below.

00support

The governors and attorney generals of the states want to make a name for themselves as “conservatives”, but it is a losing proposition for a number of reasons. The lawsuits do not actually represent a conservative position, as the EPA’s plan will lead to a shift to renewable energy which will keep billions of tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. In that respect, the EPA has the more conservative position.

The reason often given for the lawsuits is saving money on energy, but the politicians seem more interested in campaign money than saving money for their citizens. The EPA’s plan may lead to increased electricity costs in the present, but will lead to lower electric rates in the future. Coal and transportation prices are certain to increase in the future while the cost of renewable energy is falling. It costs upfront to build wind turbines and solar installations but, once they are in place, they are expected to function for 30 years or longer without any need for fuel.

It will cost the states lots of money for the lawsuits, and their chances successes is slim.   And, it will likely harm a number of citizens of the states if the lawsuit succeeds. There are many coal burning power plants in the US which operate without scrubbers to remove particulates, because coal is cheap and  scrubbers are expensive. The EPA projects the Clean Power Plan’s  proposed guidelines for particulates alone could  prevent up to 3,600 deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed work and school days per year. As a result, for every dollar Americans spend on the Clean Power Plan, we will gain up to $4 worth of health benefits.

So in terms of future energy costs, environmental benefits, and health benefits the EPA Clean Power Plan is a winner for the citizens. Perhaps the Republican Attorney Generals clamoring to sue the EPA should reconsider.

(c) 2015 J.C. Moore

 

PowerPoint Presentation: The Science of Climate Change

Tue ,14/07/2015
This was taken from Apollo 11 as the Earth rose over the disc of the Moon.

This was taken from Apollo 11 as the Earth rose over the disc of the Moon.

 

 

 

2015x-(3) The-Science-of-Climate-Change with notes

Please click on the link above. You will need a PowerPoint program to view the slides – or you may  download a free viewer here. The slides will display as set in your viewer. Explanations of the slides are in the notes section.

The Economic Recovery in the Past Five Years: Then and Now

Sun ,02/11/2014

We have heard so much bad economic news that most people believe it, even though it is not true.The economy has recovered to the point that theRecovery economic stimulus is being ended. That would normally be good news. It is strange that it has not been widely disseminated and many people may be unaware of it. You may read a little piece here and there in the paper about it, but it hasn’t seemed to enter the public’s mind. Actually, since it would help the Democrats, great efforts have been made by some money interests and obstructionists to downplay the recovery.

The chart at the right summarizes the recovery in the last five years. Though it was put together by the Occupy Democrats, the numbers seem to be accurate and can be checked. Normally the President would get credit for the recovery, but not so much in this case as it would likely help the Democrats in the next election. The news could probably have been even better except for the missed opportunities caused by obstructionists in Congress. I hope some of them will join the jobless after the next election.

Medicare: Where Is the $716 Billion Robbery

Mon ,03/09/2012

With the heating up of campaign rhetoric, I’ve been hearing a lot about this $716 billion dollars that Romney is publicly saying President Obama “robbed” from Medicare. That is the exact word Romney uses. Well, if someone is stealing, I want to know how they are getting away with it so I did my research and discovered what the $716 billion is.

First, let me remind you that the Medicare trust fund does not have that much money and it’s not a piggy bank that can be raided. At the end of 2011 the Part A trust fund had only $244.2 billion.  The Part A, hospital insurance program, is financed through a payroll tax that goes into a trust fund similar to the Social Security trust funds. And that hospital insurance trust fund is being spent much more rapidly than the Social Security funds. No president can actually take money out of the Medicare trust fund as this money is in Treasury bonds which can only be cashed by Medicare at any time it is needed. As it is, with the continued increase in medical cost, Medicare can’t cover all the benefits without either more revenue (taxes) or reduced spending.

Ok, so where did the $716 billion come from? Actually this figure is for reductions in spending, so it really doesn’t take any money that is in the trust fund out of the trust fund. (Hum, isn’t that what Republicans are always saying—that we need to reduce spending?)

 Sorry Romney, there is no “robbery”. These reductions do not take any money out of Medicare, they are necessary adjustments to vendors who receive Medicare payments, and do not affect payments to beneficiaries.  They are aimed at insurance companies, hospitals, nursing homes and most of all, the Medicare Advantage companies. Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush, with the idea that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs. But in recent years the plans have actually cost more than traditional Medicare. So the health care law scales back the payments to these private insurers. Medicare Advantage plans currently receive higher payments from the government on average than traditional Medicare – 9% higher than it was in 2010. The government pays Advantage companies 14-20% to manage patients health care. The Affordable Care Act cuts this fee to private companies. Romney and Ryan have a countdown clock showing how many days until Medicare (part A) is broke. The truth is that there would be even fewer days until the fund’s exhaustion if Obama’s health care law hadn’t included those $700 billion in spending reductions.

Romney’s campaign ad incorrectly claims that the “money you paid” for Medicare is being used to pay for Obama’s health care law. It is incorrect because the law doesn’t take money out of the existing hospital insurance trust fund. It cuts the future growth of spending. And in the future, seniors will still receive the benefits to which they are entitled.

Sources: Politifact.com, Factcheck.org

This is a guest post from Barbara Moore.

© 2012 Barbara Moore

Congressman John Sullivan’s Town Hall Meeting II

Tue ,07/02/2012

 

Congressman John Sullivan (R-OK) held a town hall meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he discussed the budget, Social Security,  energy issues, EPA regulations, jobs, and the XL pipeline. The article gives Congressman Sullivan’s positions, comments and questions asked by the audience, and compares the authors views to Congressman Sullivan’s.

Congressman John Sullivan conducted two town hall meetings in Tulsa on January 26, 2012. The first was held at Tulsa Community College’s Metro Campus where a number of his constituents challenged Sullivan’s views. That meeting was reported  by the Tulsa World’s Randy Krehbeil in, “Sullivan town hall-goers applaud Obama speech”.  The afternoon meeting, which was held at the Hardesty Library in South Tulsa, had a much more partisan crowd. Congressman Sullivan’s opening remarks were much like those at his Sand Springs meeting last November. At the Hardesty meeting, he did not give people the opportunity to applaud Obama’s speech, he just criticized it. When people tried to point out the errors in his criticisms, they were interrupted by people shouting,” Ask a question”. Sullivan was there to hear what his constituents thought, but apparently his supporters did not want to hear anything good about the President.

 Gridlock: Congressman Sullivan likened Obama to a football coach who gives a great locker room talk but doesn’t win. It was a bad analogy as the coach cannot win without cooperation from the players, and many players in Congress seem more interested in beating the coach than winning for the country. Every winning team needs a reasonable budget, but many Congressmen have insisted on cutting taxes and 206 legislators, Sullivan included, have signed Norquist’s pledge not to raise taxes. He blamed the President and the Democrats in the Senate for the gridlock, saying that the house had sent the Senate 26 bills that were not enacted. However, most of those bills contained a “poison pill”. For instance, H.R. 3630, the badly needed Middle Class Tax Relief and Jobs Creation Act of 2011, also had a provision to delay implementation of the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate, to hinder the EPA, and to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. It is hardly fair to blame the Senate when they are not sent clean bills.

 Energy : Congressman Sullivan said that we needed the XL pipeline to create jobs and claimed that it would create hundreds of thousands of jobs directly and indirectly – and that the only problem was just a few miles through Nebraska wetlands. The problems are actually much greater.  They involve destruction of the boreal forests in Canada, pollution of Canadian rivers, acquiring the water and energy needed to process tar sands, and the carbon emissions the project would cause. Then, it is still not clear how many jobs it will actually create, who will profit from the project, and whether much of the oil will be shipped to foreign countries, possibly without being taxed as some of the refineries are in a tax-free zone.

 The Congressman said he has introduced legislation encouraging the development of natural gas as a fuel. He pointed out that natural gas provides about three times as much energy and costs much less than gasoline. Natural gas is plentiful in Oklahoma and developing the infrastructure to use it as a fuel would help Oklahoma’s economy and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. That is about the only positive contribution that Congressman Sullivan has made on environmental issues. Using natural gas would also significantly decrease our carbon emissions – but the Congressman did not mention that as he does not accept the scientific research on climate change. His supporters claim to be conservatives, but it is hard to imagine how they could support someone who is not also a conservationist. Congressman Sullivan scored a 9% on the League of Conservation Voters scorecard (page 52).

Audience Questions: The wife of a veteran told of the problems her husband had getting help from the Veterans Administration and asked if Sullivan could help. Congressman Sullivan said he would see what he could do. I hope he can help that veteran, but it is not likely that all the veterans needing help will get it if we cut the budget as Congressman Sullivan wanted. The veteran was certainly a good man, and when pressed to speak, he said that it would really help if people would recycle more. He pointed out that we throw away a lot of things that are still useful and that by recycling them we could create a lot of jobs and save our resources.

 Another woman complained that the EPA’s rules about Freon were making it difficult to get the refrigerant needed for their air-conditioning business. Congressman Sullivan took it as an opportunity to criticize the EPA and the Obama administration, apparently unaware that those rules had been signed into law by President Reagan.

A CPA in the audience brought it to the Congressman’s attention that the low interest rates were hurting people who had their nest egg in savings accounts and CDs. He also pointed out that the mandatory IRA withdrawals required at age 70 1/2 are making people withdraw the money that they may need to save for later in life. The Congressman agreed that some changes need to be made there.

 When the Congressman was asked about who he would like to see as the Republican presidential candidate, he said he would support whoever could beat President Obama. A member of the audience tried to point out that there were other things more important than beating Obama, and that the President and his wife were good role models and examples of family values. She was almost drowned out by disagreements from the audience.

 Entitlements: There was a time when Republicans were fiscal and environmental conservatives. Congressman Sullivan said he wanted to cut what he calls “entitlement programs”, but one of his own supporters set him straight by pointing out that those were “earned benefits”, not entitlements. I want my children and grandchildren have the same benefits I did, and I want them to have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink and a beautiful Earth to enjoy. They are entitled to that.

Research Credit: Barbara Moore

(c) 2012 J.C. Moore

It's Not Cap-and-Tax and Reagan Made It Work

Fri ,18/02/2011

Our current Congressional leaders, particularly those who would ignore science or derogatorily call Reagan’s system “cap-and -tax”, should look to Reagan as an example.

The U.S. has been unable to make much progress on environmental issues because of opposition by our Republican leaders. They have inflated the cost while ignoring the benefits, labeled environmental issues as “liberal” to discourage support by conservatives, spread false “science”, and biased voters against a cap-and-trade approach by labeling it cap-and-tax.  My own Congressman, Frank Lucas,  espouses the current Republican leaders’  views and calls it “cap-and-tax” in his town hall meetings and in his “Frankly Speaking” articles that he sends to small town newspapers in Oklahoma.

Many Republicans recently celebrated Ronald Reagan’s hundredth birthday as he is considered a unifying figure who skillfully blended principle, pragmatism, and service to the nation. He was a thoughtful, traditionalist conservative who was mindful of our stewardship obligation to future generations. He preserved many wilderness areas so they could not be damaged by economic development. The way he solved two pollution problems should set an example for Republican politicians today.

During the 1980s, scientific evidence mounted that the CFCs from spray cans and refrigerants were damaging the ozone layer. The layer filters out UV light which can cause skin cancers and environmental damage. Reagan ignored the political disputes, the ideological posturing, and the claims of economic disaster – and followed the advice of the scientists. He signed into effect the Montreal protocol, banning emissions of CFCs into the atmosphere. The economic catastrophes never came to pass and the ozone layer is recovering.

When Canada became alarmed that emissions from Northeastern power plants were drifting into Canada and acidifying their lakes, Reagan proposed a market solution to the problem. He devised a cap-and-trade system whereby polluters had to pay by buying credits while companies who reduced their pollution would receive credits. In spite of initial complaints, the system worked well and it cost far less than the power companies claimed it would – and none went out of business.

The scientific evidence has become clear and convincing that man’s release of CO2 is causing our climate to change, endangering the environment and the health of future generations. Yet, many of our Republican leaders are unwilling to accept the scientific evidence. The industries involved are saying it will be too costly, and some are claiming it will ruin our economy. The cap-and-trade system put forward to address the problem is stalled by misinformation and political controversies. Our current Congressional leaders, particularly those who would ignore science or derogatorily call Reagan’s system “cap-and -tax”, should look to Reagan as an example.

(C) 2011 J.C. Moore

Have Republicans Abandoned Conservative Values?

Wed ,01/09/2010

The truth is that conservation and environmental stewardship are core conservative values.

It is hard to imagine how someone can be considered a Conservative if they don’t want to conserve the most important thing we have, the environment. They claim that they actually do, but not just now, not in that way, or not if it might cost a little. They also try to perpetuate the myth that conservation and environmental protection are liberal causes to justify their opposition. The truth is that conservation and environmental stewardship are core conservative values. (1)

It is even harder to imagine why the Republican Party would embrace the ideals and arguments of those non-conservationists. Our past Republican leaders have been strong advocates for environmental stewardship and they were responsible for enacting some of our most significant environmental legislation. (2)

Theodore Roosevelt believed that conservation was essential for keeping America strong and he was responsible for the permanent preservation of many of the unique natural resources of the United States. As he said,

“To waste, to destroy, our natural resources … will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity

Dwight Eisenhower was the first President to be so taken by the beauty of the arctic wilderness that he set aside 9 million acres as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to be protected  for future generations. The Refuge remains as one of the most pristine wilderness areas in the United States.
Richard Nixon enacted many of the nation’s landmark environmental laws, which he saw as a means of unifying the nation. The EPA was created under Nixon’s leadership. According to Nixon:

“Clean air, clean water, open spaces — these should once again be the birthright of every American.” “…we must strike a balance so that the protection of our irreplaceable heritage becomes as important as its use. The price of economic growth need not and will not be deterioration in the quality of our lives and our surroundings.”

Barry Goldwater, dubbed “Mr. Conservative”, was a gifted photographer who produced beautiful pictures illustrating his beloved Arizona landscape. He put his finger on it when he said :

“While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment.”

Ronald Reagan signed 43 bills preserving a total of 10.6 million acres of wilderness. He was instrumental in U.S. ratification of the Montreal Protocol — which dramatically reduced depletion of the upper atmosphere’s protective ozone layer. He developed a cap-and–trade system that prevented our acid rain form blowing into Canada that cost much less than even the government estimated. As he communicated:

“If we’ve learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.” “I’m proud of having been one of the first to recognize that states and the federal government have a duty to protect our natural resources from the damaging effects of pollution that can accompany industrial development.”

John McCain during his 2008 presidential campaign, proposed a pragmatic national energy policy based upon good stewardship, good science, and reasonableness. He cosponsored cap-and-trade bills in the Senate in 2003, 2005, and 2007 and, as he said then,

“A cap-and-trade policy will send a signal that will be heard and welcomed all across the American economy. And the highest rewards will go to those who make the smartest, safest, most responsible choices.” And he was right. Having to pay the true cost of fossil fuel use is fair and would create incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Cap-and-trade was once considered to be the market solution to reducing carbon emissions. When popular, a number of key Republicans, such as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) went on record as endorsing the policy. Even Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), only two years ago, while supporting a version of a cap-and-trade bill in the Massachusetts legislature said:

“Reducing carbon dioxide emission in Massachusetts has long been a priority of mine. Passing this legislation is an important step … towards improving our environment.” (3)

Costs: But somewhere amid lobbying, big donations from power companies, and criticisms from so called conservatives who don’t really want to conserve much, the Republicans have backed off the cap-and-trade concept. They are now claiming it would cost each U.S. household $3,100 a year, a cost that has great sticker shock but is totally inaccurate. Dr. John Reilly, the MIT economist whose work was used to get that number, has criticized Republicans for distorting his work. (4) The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would average about $175 per household (5) and estimates are that associated savings would reduce the federal deficit by about $19 billion over the next decade. (6). A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences details the high economic costs of inadequate environmental legislation, such as reduced streamflow, rainfall, and crop yields (7). Estimates by the World’s top economists such as Britain’s Nicholas Stern (8) are that right now it would cost about 2% of the worlds GDP to mitigate environmental damage – but if delayed, that amount could rise to 20% or more of the world’s GDP by 2050 and put us at risk of an environmental catastrophe.

The misinformation, the damage to the environment, and waste that would be caused by not acting should alarm traditional Republicans. However, according to the Republicans for Environmental Protection, the GOP establishment has lost sight of its

“core conservative values, largely due to the influence of corporate lobbies and political leaders beholden to them for campaign support, and in opposition of the willingness of populist Democrats to embrace environmental protection. The result has been a polarizing battle that is not at all about the advance of conservative principles, but rather the advance of special interest political agendas.” (1)

(1) http://www.rep.org/index.html Republicans concerned about the environment may wish to check out this Republicans for Environmental Protection website.
(2) The quotes below came from http://www.conservamerica.org/quotes.html
(3) http://www.grist.org/article/2010-06-29-remember-when-republicans-liked-cap-and-trade/
(4) http://flavcountry.blogspot.com/2009/05/mit-economist-john-reilly-calls.html
(5) http://cboblog.cbo.gov/?p=300
(6) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38130006/ns/politics-capitol_hill/
(7) http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_15536630
(8) http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTINDONESIA/Resources/226271-1170911056314/3428109-1174614780539/SternReviewEng.pdf

The Republican Flip/Flop on Cap-and-Trade

Thu ,22/07/2010

A Winning Flip: I can remember when Republicans liked Cap-and-trade. (1) For instance, John McCain cosponsored cap-and-trade bills in the Senate in 2003, 2005, and 2007 and, during his 2008 presidential campaign, proposed a pragmatic national energy policy based upon good stewardship, good science, and reasonableness. As he said then,

“A cap-and-trade policy will send a signal that will be heard and welcomed all across the American economy. And the highest rewards will go to those who make the smartest, safest, most responsible choices.”

And he was right. Having to pay the true cost of fossil fuel use is fair and would create incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Cap-and-trade was once considered to be the market solution to reducing carbon emissions. While popular, a number of key Republicans, such as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) went on record as endorsing the policy. Even Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), only two years ago, while supporting a version of a cap-and-trade bill in the Massachusetts legislature said:

”Reducing carbon dioxide emission in Massachusetts has long been a priority of mine. Passing this legislation is an important step … towards improving our environment.”

But somewhere amid lobbying, big donations from power companies, and criticisms from so called conservatives who don’t really want to conserve much, the Republicans are now calling it cap-and-tax, essentially making fun of what was once their own idea.

The Sticker Shock Distortion Flop: In an effort to kill the bill, Republicans such as Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) are now claiming cap-and-trade would cost each U.S. households about $3,100 a year, a cost that has considerable sticker shock. However, that number was fabricated by doing some misleading  additional math on a MIT study. Dr. John Reilly, the economist who authored the study, has criticized Republicans for distorting his work. In his words,

“It’s just wrong, It’s wrong in so many ways it’s hard to begin.” Not only is it wrong, but he said he told the House Republicans it was wrong when they asked him. “That’s just not how economists calculate the cost of a tax proposal”, Reilly said. “The tax might push the price of carbon-based fuels up a bit, but other results of a cap-and-trade program, such as increased conservation and more competition from other fuel sources, would put downward pressure on prices.” Moreover, he said, consumers would get some of the tax back from the government in some form. (2)

What Is the Uninflated Cost? The report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the entity responsible for providing Congress with nonpartisan analyses of economic and budget issues, estimates that the net annual economywide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion—or an average of about $175 per household. That figure includes the cost of restructuring the production and use of energy but it does not include the economic benefits and other benefits of the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and the associated slowing of climate change. Households in the lowest income bracket would see an average net benefit of about $40 in 2020 while those in the highest bracket would see a net cost of $245. Overall, net costs would average 0.2 percent of households’ after-tax income. (3) That doesn’t seem so bad, particularly as the CBO experts also estimate the climate and energy bill now stalled in the Senate would reduce the federal deficit by about $19 billion over the next decade. (4)

The High Cost of Doing Nothing: The cost of doing nothing may be unacceptably high in the long run because of resource scarcity, environmental damage, and the risk of reachng catastrophic tipping points. A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences details the high economic costs of reduced streamflow, rainfall, and crop yields (5). Estimates by the World’s top economists such as Britain’s Nicholas Stern (6) or the US’s Paul Krugman (7) are that right now it would cost about 2% of the worlds GDP to mitigate environmental damage – but if delayed, that amount could rise to 20% or more of the world’s GDP and put us at risk of an environmental catastrophe.

A Flip is Needed: What is it worth to have clean air, clean water, a more sustainable economy, and a less risky future? Can we risk doing nothing? We need a flip by our Republican leaders.

(1) http://www.grist.org/article/2010-06-29-remember-when-republicans-liked-cap-and-trade/

(2) http://flavcountry.blogspot.com/2009/05/mit-economist-john-reilly-calls.html

(3) http://cboblog.cbo.gov/?p=300

(4) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38130006/ns/politics-capitol_hill/

(5) http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_15536630

(6)   http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTINDONESIA/Resources/226271-1170911056314/3428109-1174614780539/SternReviewEng.pdf

(7)  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/11/magazine/11Economy-t.html

Bits and Pieces

Fri ,16/07/2010

This article contains bits and pieces, usually short comments on recent science  articles and issues. Other bits and pieces will be added with the newest at the top.

The High Cost of Doing Nothing: A  report by the National Academy of Sciences details the high economic cost of inaction on environmental legislation (2). It’s relatively easy to figure the cost of regulations to protect the environment, but relatively hard to keep from inflating the cost for political purposes.  As a Republican, I am a little ashamed that Republicans have adopted the grossly inflated annual figure of $3200 per  household. That is useful for sticker shock and propaganda, but totally inaccurate. The CBO has estimated that it would cost around $300 and that there would be added savings that would reduce the deficit.

The cost of regulations  should  be compared to the cost of doing nothing. Estimates by the World’s top economists such as Britain’s Nicholas Stern or the US’s Paul Krugman are that right now it would cost about 2% of the worlds GDP to mitigate environmental damage – but if delayed, that amount could rise to 20% or more. That also doesn’t take into account intangibles such as clean air,  clean water, and a more sustainable economy.

Ocean Acidification is Serious: Since preindustrial times, the concentration of CO2 in the air has risen from 280 ppm to 385 ppm, a 38% increase.   As the amount of CO2 in the air increases, the amount that  dissolves in the ocean increases proportionately.  When the CO2 dissolves in seawater, it makes it more acidic, just as adding CO2 to soda makes it acidic. The pH of sea water has  been measured to be  more acidic by 0.1 pH unit than a century ago. Since the  pH scale  is logarithmic, the decrease of 0.1 unit means the oceans are now over 20% more acidic than a century ago and the cause is most certainly CO2.

To put that in perspective, human blood has a  carbonate buffer system similar to that of the oceans.  Normal blood pH is from 7.45 to 7.35 , and a blood pH less than 7.1 would require emergency treatment. Increasing the carbon dioxide in the blood by 38% will decreased the blood pH to about 7.25, not critical, but surely a sign that something is wrong. If the oceans get much more acidic, the coral, the fisheries, the shellfish, and the oxygen-producing plankton that give life to the oceans are threatened.

Complaints about the “scientific secrecy” are disingenuous: There is very little secrecy in science. Scientific papers are presented and openly debated at meetings where anyone can attend. The peer reviewed papers include the data, the results, and the reasoning and are available at public libraries and many are now online. Also:

Researchers are required to keep records of their research so that any other scientist with comparable training and skills could reproduce the research. The “reproducibility” of the research is an important factor in the reviewer’s evaluation of the research. The public has a right to information produced by publicly funded research and that may be requested through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Usually a “Gatekeeper”, such as the project’s director, is designated to handle FOIA requests. That Gatekeeper has a responsibility to see not only that the public’s rights are upheld, but also to see that the FOIA process is not abused and that the scientists are protected. (1)

Only a few things are kept confidential to preserve the integrity of the peer review process.  The main barriers preventing a better understanding of science by the public is not “secrecy”, but poor science education, the lack of responsible and informative reporting by the media, and an ongoing campaign to spread misinformation by those who find the conclusions of science inconvenient to their ideological or financial interests.

Senator Coburn’s Town Hall Meeting ( Part 1)

Sun ,11/07/2010


Integrity in Politics:
It is the purpose of this site to apply observation and reason to current events. Good government depends upon our Legislators and our voters having up-to-date and accurate information. Senator Tom Coburn is considered to be the best informed of the Oklahoma Legislators. However, some things he presented at his town hall meeting, though they play well with his base, are not supported by research. We feel that Senator Coburn should thoroughly research the topics upon which he votes and speaks and that he should provide his constituency with accurate information.

Supreme Court: When asked about the recent court appointments, Senator Coburn disparaged the latest Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, by claiming she had lied, a very serious accusation to make against a Supreme Court Justice – especially when wrong. Coburn said that Sotomayor had reneged on a promise made during her confirmation hearing not to use foreign law to interpret the Constitution of the United State. He used as evidence the ruling of the Supreme Court on the case of Graham v Florida, in which a juvenile offender had been sentenced to life in prison for nonhomicidal crimes.

After reading the Supreme Court response which was actually presented by Justice J. Kennedy, not Justice S. Sotomayor, it appears that Senator Coburn was actually not being honest in his presentation of the information. As shown in the section of the Supreme Court brief below, the only reference to foreign anything is that the practice has been rejected the world over. This does not refer to any foreign laws but merely reflects on our standing in how humanly we treat juvenile offenders compared to the global community to which we belong and by whom we are scrutinized and in no way reflected that any foreign law was used to interpret the United States Constitution.

This misleading charge by  Senator Coburn raises a concern about any information he uses to support his views and whether he is just another typical politician trying to manipulate his constituents with “smoke and mirrors”.  Additional support for the Court’s conclusion lies in the fact that the sentencing practice at issue has been rejected the world over: The United States is the only Nation that imposes this type of sentence. While the judgments of other nations and the international community are not dispositive as to the meaning of the Eighth Amendment , the Court has looked abroad to support its independent conclusion that a particular punishment is cruel and unusual. (See, e.g., Roper, supra , at 575–578. Pp. 29–31, 982 So. 2d 43, reversed and remanded. )

Elena Kagan: Senator Coburn also said he could not support the appointment of Elena Kagan to the court because she considers the Constitution to be a living document. Senator Coburn believes that the Constitution should be interpreted as the Founding Fathers meant it. That, however,  has been as an excuse used by some politicians and judges to interpret the Constitution as they wish and claim it is what the Founding Fathers actually meant. The Founding Fathers were wise enough to give us a mechanism for amending the Constitution and there are now 27 Amendments. The Constitution is alive and better for it.

Recess Appointments: When asked about President Obama’s recess appointment of Dr. Berwick to head the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Coburn emphatically declared that it was wrong and  illegal. Yikes! Coburn should polish up on his history of the much-used recess appointment. By this same point in his Presidential career, George W. Bush had used this technique to make 15 appointments and he used it 179 times during his career. Where were those Republicans then? The last group of appointments will bring Obama’s total to 18. It has been noted that Bush was not facing the same level of obstruction.Currently, Obama has 189 nominations pending before congress and 28 have been on the floor for more than three months. Bush only had six nominees that had been waiting that long. It might also be an interesting FYI to note that even George Washington used the practice to appoint the then controversial judge John Rutledge to the Supreme Court after he had failed to be confirmed by the Senate.

Reccess Appointments are a legal practice granted to the President of the United States by the Constitution of the United States in Article II, section 2.

“The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.”

Some have indicated that they feel this power should only be used when the position becomes vacant during a recess but this has been adjudicated by The Eleventh Circuit, in an en banc decision in Evans v. Stephens which held that the Constitution permitted both intrasession recess appointments and recess appointments to fill vacancies that existed prior to the congressional recess.( Evans v. Stephens, 387 F.3d 1220 (11th Cir. 2004). ) Since the position filled by Dr. Berwick has been vacant since 2006 it fulfills the courts requirements and is clearly legal.

Health Care: Senator Coburn said he  objected to the appointment of Dr. Don Berwick to head the CMS as Dr. Berwick  promotes medical rationing. Coburn’s basis for this premise uses “cherry-picking“, a technique which picks out a quotation and presents it out of context. A statement that Dr. Berwick made in 2008 in an interview with the respected publication, Biotechology Healthcare has been “cherry-picked” and this partial quote has been publicized many times by zealous Republican in order to create the specter of medical rationing. Here is the partial quote Senator Coburn refers to: “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care. The decision is whether we ration care with our eyes open.”  But, here is the actual quote in context, “We make these decisions all of the time. The decision is not whether or not we will ration care. The decision is whether we ration care with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly.”

Despite what Senator Coburn might claim, that statement isn’t particularly radical. Rationing currently occurs in our health-care system as resources are limited, and medicine and medical procedures are approved or disapproved by insurance companies regardless of whether that system is privately or publicly funded. “Blindly” as used by Dr. Berwick indicates we are currently doing it badly and not with an eye to the best practices to be used for the good of the patient; and not with an eye to which practices are unnecessary and therefore unnecessarily costly; and not with an eye to what medicines, tests and equipment are provided unnecessarily and sometimes even to the detriment of the patient.

“Ezra Klein, a blogger for the Washington Post, notes that Berwick’s statement is no different than a statement from Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (seen as an up-and-coming leader within the GOP), who said with respect to health care, “Rationing happens today! The question is who will do it?” www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20009880-10391704.html.
Here is another more honest Republican’s statement on Berwick’s appointment. Tom Scully, who ran the CMS under President George W. Bush, noted, “You could nominate Gandhi to be head of CMS and that would be controversial right now.” http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/the-gaggle/2010/07/07/don-berwick-appointed-to-drive-health-care-changes-sidestepping-congress.html

With the use of the “cherry-picking” technique, some Republicans appear to be using medical rationing as a scare tactic to gain support in the up-coming elections without regard for what is actually good for the patient, I mean constituents. And to make matters even worse, Senator Coburn is a doctor. He also  said that other countries have national health care at lower cost because they ration health care. He says you and your family are responsible for paying for your own health care. Isn’t that just rationing health care by using money. If you, or your family can’t pay, would he just let you die?

By Guest Author: Barbara Moore