Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The EPA Just Raised Your Energy Bill

I just have to say if this move is even constitutional because I thought only Congress can amend something like their own Clean Air Act. In any case get ready for a bump in your energy bill just in time for winter.

The Environmental Protection Agency took steps Wednesday to control the emissions blamed for global warming from power plants, factories and refineries for the first time.

The EPA proposal would require polluters to reduce six greenhouse gases by installing the best available technology and improving energy efficiency whenever a facility is significantly changed or built. The rule applies to any industrial plant that emits at least 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year.

Of course the cost of the "the best available technology" will be passed right on to the poor who are still looking for jobs in the "worst recession since the Great Depression." Well at least it gives yet another incentive for power companies to start to roll out those 6 greenhouse gas free nuclear plants. I'm all for American power generation to be like Japan and France.

The Man that Could Destroy What is Left of John Edwards

Now this is one sad tale of a sycophantic aide that the pretty much gave his life to the Edwards and was repaid with scorn and ridicule.

When John Edwards returned to North Carolina in the course of his long quest for the presidency, Andrew Young always met him at the airport in Edwards’s big black Chevy Tahoe. Young drove, and Edwards rode shotgun, silently raising his left hand whenever he wanted a Diet Coke, which Young would wordlessly supply.

When Edwards and his family arrived home, Young had made sure there was fresh milk in the fridge, a neatly trimmed lawn and neatly folded dry cleaning. When he arranged their vacation to Disney World in 2004, he naturally booked himself a ticket. And when Edwards’s mistress became pregnant, Young — at the cost of his reputation, his wife’s and his minister father’s — stepped forward to say the child was his.

This guy even claimed to be the father of Edward's illegitimate child much to the consternation of his own wife and the humiliation of his kids. Then the Edwards' tossed him out like garbage after he didn't reassert his claim to paternity. Now this bombshell will change Edwards from one of the 10,000 cheating politicians into a nationwide laughingstock:

And Young, with all the fury of a spurned lover, may be holding out yet another threat to his old idol, if it comes to that: an explicit videotape, two people who have seen it said, of Edwards and Hunter together.

“It’s his hole card,” said the source.

I mean Edwards will join the ranks of Screech, Tommy Lee, and Paris Hilton on the bottom rung of celebrities hiding from an ill advised sex tape. He went from the Democratic Presidential contender to the porn shop in a few short years.

The New York Times Turns on Polanski

Wow, even the far-left New York Times has just turned on the convicted child molester.

But hold on a moment. After being indicted in 1977, didn’t Mr. Polanski, now 76, confess to having sex with a 13-year-old girl after plying her with Quaaludes and Champagne? Didn’t he flee the United States when the plea bargaining seemed to fall apart, raising the prospect of prison time? Isn’t there a warrant for his arrest?

Now if you lose the Times you lose the entire leftist establishment in the US. I wonder where Jon Stewart falls on this. He is the so-called "Leftist Decider" now.

Sarkozy Throws Obama Under the Bus on Iran

I am liking Sarkozy more and more now that he is now distancing himself from Obama on the subject of Iranian nukes. It seems that Sarkozy might have just thrown Obama under the bus on this whole subject.

The contempt with which the president of France regards the president of the United States was displayed in public last week.

Nicolas Sarkozy was furious with Barack Obama for his adolescent warbling about a world without nuclear weapons at a meeting Mr. Obama chaired of the United Nations Security Council last Thursday (9/24).

"We must never stop until we see the day when nuclear arms have been banished from the face of the earth," President Obama said.

What infuriated President Sarkozy was that at the time Mr. Obama said those words, Mr. Obama knew the mullahs in Iran had a secret nuclear weapons development site, and he didn't call them on it.

‘President Obama dreams of a world without weapons...but right in front of us two countries are doing the exact opposite," Mr. Sarkozy said.

I think Sarkozy is finally understanding that Obama is a community organizer that made it to the Presidency without proper vetting. Obama does not understand belligerent powers and what really motivates them. The people currently in charge of Iran want the Bomb so they can claim hegemony over the Middle East. It isn't a defensive weapon for them but a potentially offensive weapon.

Sarkozy knows that if the Iranians get the bomb the entire equation changes. The Saudis and maybe the Jordanians have to scramble to get nukes of their own in order to maintain detante. Israel might then get into a protracted air war with Iran and the entire place could become a sprawling battlefield.

So when Obama talks about a pollyannish "world without nuclear weapons" Sarkozy rightly calls him on the fact that he is saying a "world without OUR nuclear weapons" the Mullahs can go ahead and have theirs. I mean does Obama honestly think that the Israelis would relinquish their nukes if Iran is sneaking around and building centrifuges so they could bring the second Holocaust to life?

Obama's wishy-washyness of the foreign stage just goes to show you that the Dems should have stuck with Hillary. For some reason I would rather have her staring down the Mullahs then a guy that talks about a "world without nukes" while knowing full well that an unstable regime is trying to build them under the cloak of darkness.

France and America Agree that Polanski should Face Justice

It seems that Big Hollywood have closed ranks to defend a child molester. It is refreshing however that the French and the Americans are seeing eye to eye when it comes to making sure that talented movie directors that rape 13 year olds after drugging them serve prison time.

The mood was even more hostile in blogs and e-mails to newspapers and news magazines. Of the 30,000 participants in an online poll by the French daily Le Figaro, more than 70 percent said Mr. Polanski, 76, should face justice. And in the magazine Le Point, more than 400 letter writers were almost universal in their disdain for Mr. Polanski.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If You Want to "Drain the Swamp of Partisanship" Fire Pelosi

Well, if Obama is truly serious about bipartisanship in the Congress he should force out one annoying person and we may actually have it.

Pelosi has seemingly decided to be the liberal conscience of Congress and not the traditional speaker who represents the entire House. While she has raised some money for her more moderate colleagues, she has allowed Hoyer to be the principal point of contact for the Blue Dog Democrats. She has little to no contact with Republicans, and it is well-known that she simply refuses to meet individually with most Republican members.

Senate Finance Committee Kills Public Option

It is good that someone is finally coming to the understanding that reducing costs and going into the insurance business have nothing to do with each other.

The 15-8 rejection marked a victory for Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the committee chairman, who is hoping to push his middle-of-the-road measure through the panel by week's end. It also kept alive the possibility that at least one Republican may yet swing behind the bill, a key goal of both Baucus and the White House.

I have to hand it the Baucus for standing up against the liberals in his own party. He wants to get a bill through that will get 60 votes and he knows he has to make compromises.

If these Dems are so worried about insurance companies denying coverage put some kind of grievance committee in place. Give them enforcement power to pull the insurance license of any insurer found to be denying coverage. The idea that they can't sell their product if they are screwing people over will stop those sorts of practices. In the words of Grand Moff Tarkin "Fear will keep them in line!"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sequenom Fires Top People for Messing With Data: Time to Go Long?

It seems that top execs were up to something at Sequenom and have just paid the price.

Sequenom Inc (SQNM.O) said it has removed almost its entire top management team as a result of a scandal involving mishandling of research and critical data on its prenatal Down syndrome test.

The genetic analysis products maker's board said it fired president and CEO Harry Stylli and research chief Elizabeth Dragon and obtained the resignation of Chief Financial Officer Paul Hawran and one other unidentified officer.

Three other employees were also dismissed following completion of an independent investigation by a committee of independent directors.

I'm wonder if that Down syndrome test is still viable after all the screwups with the data. If the data is sound and they mishandled the research then this could be a cheap stock marred by scandal that can be picked up on the cheap. If that data was falsified and the product is not viable then the stock is basically dead in the water.

I guess there will be a wait and see until the new team can produce data that is untainted. In the meantime it might go to $1 or so and might be a "roll the dice" play on whether that SEQureDx test can be brought out in a timely manner. Also you have to see if Board Chairman Harry Hixson, the new interim CEO, can instill confidence in the market.

They have about a years worth of cash left at $63 million. There are also an SEC investigation and shareholder lawsuits that they will have to deal with. I think the idea is you will be counting on the fact that the data is sound but just mishandled.

Iran Rattles the Sabre with Missile Tests

It seems that the Iranian are starting to flex their muscles in case Israel attacks them.

Iran tested its longest-range missiles Monday and warned they can reach any place that threatens the country, including Israel, parts of Europe and U.S. military bases in the Mideast. The launch capped two days of war games and was condemned as a provocation by Western powers, which are demanding Tehran come clean about a newly revealed nuclear facility it has been secretly building.

The idea of these missiles raining down on our Iraqi bases should warn Obama that any half-measure against Iran will be disastrous for our troops and worse for Israeli population centers. If they strike the nuclear sites they have to take out all of Iran's air power and missile sites at the same time. Anything else will get a lot of innocent people killed.

Is It Time to Cancel the Barack Obama TV Show?

It certainly seems that way from these atrocious numbers.

In March, when President Obama appeared on the Jay Leno Tonight Show, the president posted a rating of 11.2.

On Monday, when President Obama appeared on Late Night With David Letterman, the president posted a rating of 5.6.

That’s exactly half.

I mean it is just the same show over and over again. Some crap about "keeping your doctor's death panel" or something while Letterman sits there starry eyed. If Obama really wanted to hit the ratings pitch out of the park go on Glenn Beck. Obama would never do it but it would be history making television.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Obama Finally Found a Reason to Get Tough With Iran

I guess stealing an election then murdering protesting teenagers wasn't enough to get Obama talking tough on Iran. It seems that hiding nuclear sites is what finally got him peeved.

Backed by other world powers, President Barack Obama declared Friday that Iran is speeding down a path to confrontation and demanded that Tehran quickly "come clean" on all nuclear efforts and open a newly revealed secret site for close international inspection. He said he would not rule out military action if the Iranians refuse.

Holy crap that sounds a lot like G.W. Bush. At least that should reassure the Israelis that they won't have to blow these plants up all by themselves. The idea of Israeli F-16s flying over Iraqi airspace with our troops on the ground is scary in the extreme. In any case I kind of like this steely version of Obama who "will not rule out military action."

Now if he could really show his hawk feathers if he said " Gen. McCrystal needs 40,000 more troops in Afghanistan I say that is not enough. I will be sending an additional 80,000 to show our commitment to the Afghani people." I guess being in the big chair makes you think more like Bush (when it comes to national security anyway) and less like Kucinich.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Finally Someone is Talking About Nuclear Waste Recycling

We are finally getting serious discussions into reusing nuclear fuels instead of burying it in the middle of the Nevada Desert.

The Technical Review Board, which holds public meetings about three times a year, on Wednesday therefore focused on alternative strategies like building a new class of reactors that could accept the “spent” fuel from existing reactors, deriving some energy from the wastes and breaking down the most difficult, long-lived materials into elements that are easier to handle.

Why this isn't happening right now is because of the "Worst President of all Time" Jimmy Carter was short sighted about nuclear waste in the 70s. Some of this stuff had the possibility of maybe being weaponized sometime in the distant future so he banned the whole practice.

This recycling should have been going on in the US for decades so we would not even need Yucca Mountain right now. Hell, if the UN is worried about proliferation they can station an IEAE representative on the grounds of each and every one of these recycling reactors to make damn sure that material isn't used for weapons.

But the basic premise of reuse is open to question, said Ernest J. Moniz, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former deputy secretary of energy.

I think this Moniz character needs to give up teaching because he has obviously lost his mind. The basic premise of reusing this stuff is so we don't have to store radioactive elements for 1000s of years under the ground. There is no other reason to do it and due to some idiot Peanut Farmer we haven't been doing it since the 70s.

He told the group that most of the thinking on reusing the fuel dated from decades ago, when uranium was thought to be scarce. But now, “roughly speaking, we’ve got uranium coming out of our ears, for a long, long time,” Professor Moniz said.

Who cares if we have uranium coming out of our ears. Every ton of waste that powers a feeder reactor is a ton of waste that does not have to be stuck in a barrel and buried under the desert.
How this Moniz guy is advising anyone on nuclear power is totally beyond me.

I mean he is a physicist and not a nuclear engineer but he should know that nuclear waste in a barrel has the potential of seeping into the ground water. These barrels will need to be guarded 24/7/365 so they aren't stolen and they will have to last for 1000 years. But using that same waste to power another nuclear plant gets rid of the vast majority of this waste while providing power as well. I'm still taken aback that an MIT physicist could say such an ignorant thing.

RIM falls Short of Revenue Numbers

This has me wondering if they are starting to feel the pressure from Apple and Palm.

RIM said revenue for the current quarter is expected to be in the range of $3.6 billion to $3.85 billion — short of the $3.95 billion analysts were expecting.

They say their market share has certainly increased

RIM has said its market share of the U.S. smart phone market had grown to 55 percent by mid-June, from 40 percent about six months earlier.

I think this might be due to Verizon literally giving away Blackberries for free. That has to slowing down sales somewhat. Also the Palm came out of nowhere to sell their Pre's but who knows how many went out the door. In any case, every Pre sold by Sprint *might* be at the cost of a Blackberry from RIM.

Obama Butching Up? Let's hope so for the Sake of Afghanistan

I guess the media is taking the UN and the G20 meetings to say that Obama is starting to look like he is tougher.

The president, who did agree to individual meetings with leaders from Japan, Russia and China, is rumored to be perturbed at Brown for the way he recently handled the Scottish government's decision to release the man convicted in the Pan Am/Lockerbie bombing, a terrorist act in which almost 200 Americans lost their lives.

So he is rebuffing the leader of our closest ally to show his displeasure? I know that Obama seemed to dislike Brown from way back but this is ridiculous. We need British troop commitments in Afghanistan and freezing out the PM doesn't help anyone.

On the home front, Obama recently made waves for allegedly pushing unpopular New York Governor David Paterson toward resigning and not running for office in 2010, opening the door for New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the son of former Governor Mario Cuomo, to run as the the Democratic Party nominee.

I have no idea why he went after a fellow Dem like Paterson so quickly but he must have done something to ruffle the feathers of the White House. I hope this butching up will extend to facing his own parties criticism if he commits more troops to Afghanistan. I mean Obama doesn't seem like he would tie his own generals hands so hopefully he will go with any escalation if there is a chance we can get out of Afghanistan as winners.

AIDS Vaccine Coming Closer to a Reality

This is good news for poorer nations that seem to have the highest rates of new AIDS cases.

The study tested the two-vaccine combination in a "prime-boost" approach, in which the first one primes the immune system to attack HIV and the second one strengthens the response.

They are ALVAC, from Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine division of French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis; and AIDSVAX, originally developed by VaxGen Inc. and now held by Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases, a nonprofit founded by some former VaxGen employees.

This could be a great boon for Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) if governments start to pay them for stores of these vaccines. We might even see a "wipe out polio" style worldwide vaccination attempt if nations work together.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

3 Challenges that the Air Force Faces in the Future

This is an interesting look at what challenges the Air Force faces and how they will solve these problems in the future.

It's a rare kind of inspirational speech that centers around a leader highlighting the woes of his command. But Gen. Norton Schwartz, USAF Chief of Staff, managed to sound hopeful and regretful when it came to his keynote speech at the Air Force Association's Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition last week. "We were asked to put out some wildfires that had grown out of control," Schwartz told nearly a thousand attendees, many in uniform. "But the smoke has cleared and the future is no longer obscured." Here's how he says the U.S. Air Force plans to face three challenges that threaten its future.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another Environmental Group Talks out of Their Ass on Nuclear Power

If these groups care so much about carbon and getting rid of it then nuclear power is the only way to get there quickly. The Japanese and the French know it and the Chinese and Indians are on their way to knowing it. Bu these groups still have their heads in the sand.

The environmental group Friends of the Earth responded to Alexander’s speech, saying the nuclear power industry won’t build reactors without “taxpayer-backed loan guarantees.” Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica said Alexander’s call for more nuclear construction “is really a call for U.S. taxpayers to foot the bill so that some of the world’s largest multi-national corporations can make huge profits.”

These groups are certainly not financially savvy from their idiotic statement. A loan guarantee will only be needed if the company cannot pay their loan back on time. These companies would rather not make a billion dollar commitment and then have an asinine group like the Friends of the Earth get some leftist judge to halt the building of their power plant. Any environmentalist that is anti-nuclear even with a closed fuel cycle system is a fool.

Is There a Health Insurance "Enemies List"?

Don't tell me that Obama is going to go all Nixon on us.

But Health Care for America Now (HCAN), which is backed by a coalition of labor unions and liberal groups including ACORN and, organized the protests to target insurance companies and drafted the plan, which describes the demonstrations as part of its "insurance enemies project."

I wonder if they will target pharmaceutical companies even though Obama cut a secret backroom deal with them? I guess they are exempt. Its the evil insurance companies with their 5% profit margins that ACORN is after. Big pharama has 30% margins but where are the ACORN nut jobs and SEIU hatemongers?

The document, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, details specific talking points, tactics, props and strategies to stage the protests. It lists goals that include action that "mobilizes our base by animating existing anger about private insurers."

Wow, talk about laying the astroturf. It is so funny that the Dems called the Tea Partiers and the Town Hall Protesters astroturf when their own groups are doing it blatantly. I wonder if ACORNs props will be to dress some children up as prostitutes? I'm sure the SEIU props will be be billy-clubs to commit hate crimes on any blacks that wander by.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What the Hell are Life Settlement Bonds?

Now this is an interesting article talking about how Goldman and Credit Suisse are talking about creating something called Life Settlement Bonds and how they will be a bad deal for the $26 trillion (yes that is trillion with a T) Life Insurance Market.

But the owner of your life-insurance policy will pay monthly premiums and see no return until you die. The faster you die, the more money they make--that's not a healthy relationship to have with a multinational banking conglomerate or with the anonymous hedge fund manager who winds up buying these portfolios. I'm not saying these people will kill for money, just that ... no wait, I am kind of saying that. The person selling the life-settlement contract could make an offer along these lines: "We'll give you a bigger payout if you sign a living will requesting no heroic treatment if you're about to go on life support..." They will bribe people to go gently into that good night.

Ugh, this just gave me the odious thought on a way for ObamaCare to pay for itself and reduce the growth of future entitlements. If people were paid a lump sum to sign a living will so that Goldman can make money off of their Life Settlement Bonds (that security sounds creepy by itself) then there will be no need to spend that 30% of Medicare that is used in the last year of that persons life. If you see Rahms brother pushing these things then watch out.

Lucky thing is that Goldman doesn't seem to want to go to these lengths to tap another weird corner of the market. But $26 tillion is one big number so who knows what will happen in the future:

Through a spokesman, Goldman Sachs says it has no plans to directly securitize life insurance settlements, though it does maintain a (so far thinly traded) index of such securities and has a minority stake in Institutional Life Services, a clearing house and market place for life settlements.

The Complete Text of General McChrystal's Afghanistan Assessment

This is the assessment that General McChrystal sent to Gates about what is happening in Afghanistan. It is pretty detailed and goes into everything that descionmakers will need in order to make an informed discision.

For better or worse this will be Obama's war to win or lose. It doesn't matter who started it and for what reason but a failure in Afghanistan will be because Obama did not have the fortitude to give the Generals what they needed to finish the job.

If Obama can buck the opinion of people like Russ Feingold and actually commit however many troops that McChrystal will need to finish the job then he can count himself in the same company as Truman and other Dems that protected this nation. If he ties McChrystal's hands then he will be another Jimmy Carter and we will have wasted 8 years worth of men and treasure for nothing.

The Leftists Spread the HealthCare Astroturf

It is so funny to hear how Pelosi and the Leftists calling the tea-partiers astroturf when they are the ones spreading it deep.

We need bodies on the sidewalk. We need to demonstrate our passion about health care reform and the public option. Help get out the progressive message: take part in a demonstration Tuesday, Sept. 22 at noon across from Union Station, in front of the WellPoint offices.

Don’t bother bringing a sign. HCAN is supplying them. They prefer a sea of large, easy to read signs and a consistent message.

HCAN is an acronym for Health Care for America Now which is a group sponsored by the SEIU, ACORN, MoveOn, and other leftists organizations. I wonder if ACORN will have their pimp councillors at this rally?

General Feingold Tries to Tie the Hands of General McChrystal

No wait Russ Feingold is a Senator not a General so he shouldn't be popping off about this kind of thing like he was commanding troops in the field.

But "spending billions more dollars and sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan may not significantly improve conditions on the ground and may actually prove counterproductive in stabilizing Pakistan and fighting Al-Qaeda in the region and around the world," said the senator.

I'm sure Feingold knows all about the "conditions on the ground" much more then a career military man like General McChrystal. I mean the General is just a foremost expert in counter-insurgency tactics and Feingold was a former lawyer. So of course the Senator knows more.

Also if the Senator had his way we shouldn't be spending billions of dollars to prevent the Taliban can retake Afghanistan and start beheading people again. I mean that money could be used for ACORN scumbags to be counseling pimps for underage prostitution.

Maybe this is "Feingolds Plan" for raising Obama's flagging popularity numbers. I mean if we pulled out of Afghanistan and Al-Quida rearmed then attacked us in the US again then Obama would have 90% approval numbers like Bush had after 9/11. I can't see any other reason to be tying the hands of Generals commanding troops in the field other than this.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Obama Says that Health Care Anger is Not Racism; Now Shut Your Trap Jimmy Carter

It seems that Maureen Dowd and the most incompetent President in our History are both talking out of their asses. It seems that Obama just put forth another teachable moment on race and the left needs to take notes.

President Barack Obama said Friday that angry criticisms about his health care agenda are driven by an intense debate over the proper role of government — and not by racism.

"Are there people out there who don't like me because of race? I'm sure there are," Obama told CNN. "That's not the overriding issue here."

He then hits the nail exactly on the head on what some of the anger at the town halls stems from:

"Now there are some who are, setting aside the issue of race, actually I think are more passionate about the idea of whether government can do anything right," Obama said told ABC News. "And I think that that's probably the biggest driver of some of the vitriol."

This is exactly why I am against ObamaCare or any sort of single-payer system. With private insurance company you can cancel your policy and buy another one. With a single-payer system if you don't like the plan the only choices are grin and bear it, move to Switzerland, or pay the full rate for health care. So in other words if you are stuck on the public plan you will be at the mercy of an incompetent government.

The government has shown time and time again that they are terrible when it comes to anything involving money. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will all go broke in my lifetime. The VA hospitals are infested with rats. Cash for Clunkers and the $8000 bonus for buying a home are both clocking in at double their initial cost.

Our investments are poor. We now own 2 failed car companies, a failed insurance company, and two failed home loan buyers. We will be on the hook for billions in losses from these companies that the taxpayers will never see again.

The Post Office is hemorrhaging money and we gave millions to ACORN who is willing to help people start brothels for child sex slaves. We have spent nearly a trillion dollars on a stimulus bill that was supposed to keep unemployment below 8% and delivered nearly 10% unemployment instead.

Like I said before the only government program that made money was the 50 cent quarter program. Maybe if the US Mint ran ObamaCare I would be able to trust it a little better.

Instead ObamaCare will be run by crooked politicians like Ed Rangel and incompetent idiots like Chris Dodd. It will hemorrhage money and probably need to be bailed out in 5 years. That is why Congress and their families as well as Unions will do anything to *not* have to choose the public option.

The "Town Hall shouters" don't so much the fear a larger government controlling their healthcare but they have a fear of an incompetent and wasteful government controlling their healthcare.

ObamaCare at Lowest Support Level Ever

Now ObamaCare has reached new lows in how poorly it is being perceived.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters nationwide now oppose the health care reform proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. That’s the highest level of opposition yet measured and includes 44% who are Strongly Opposed.

Now Obama is going to take his case to the American people for what will be literally the 124 time to a public that is probably sick of the issue already. I mean he is like a broken record on this thing refuting death panels and healthcare for illegals. The thing is, he has never said what the plan will do for the 70%+ who are actually insured. He has never actually answered this question to anyones satisfaction:

I have insurance already. What does your plan do for me?

Some crap about bending the cost curve or saying "maybe your costs will go down but we aren't really sure" just doesn't cut it. I think it may even be too late to answer that question because he has lost nearly all independents on the issue.

If he answered this basic question back in June or July then it would be an easy touchdown. Instead he is in the shadow of his goalpost and hoping that David Letterman will bring him a win.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Obama Bows Before Mighty Putin's Steel Hard Gaze

I thought these Chicago community organizers were tough. It seems that KGB strongmen are even tougher.

The main reason for President Barack Obama's decision was "Russia's uncompromising position on the issue," said the clearly pleased Russian foreign policy expert Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the foreign policy committee of the Federation Council of Russia, the country's upper legislative chamber. And Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Duma's foreign relations committee, said he sees evidence that today's American government has a better understanding of the Russians' concerns.

I guess Poland and the Chech Republic know exactly who their so-called "friends" stand on their defense. Now the Russians have a free hand when it comes to their sphere of influence. If they want to annex the Ukraine or attack Georgia again the Russians now know that Obama will do nothing to stop them.

The problem is that backing down will gain us nothing since Russia probably won't do anything to reign in Iran's nuclear ambitions. They know that Obama is a lightweight on the world stage and can can act with impunity if they want to. It would be nice to see Obama not turn into another Jimmy Carter but we might be headed that way whether we like it or not.

Lack of Insurance Kills 45,000 Americans a Year!

You have to be kidding me. This is the same smoke-and-mirrors that the left uses all the time.

Nearly 45,000 people die in the United States each year -- one every 12 minutes -- in large part because they lack health insurance and can not get good care, Harvard Medical School researchers found in an analysis released on Thursday.

No these people die because they do not take good care of themselves and end up dying from heart disease and diabetes. The lack of insurance has nothing to do with it. Also what do they term as not having insurance? If you are between jobs and are hit by a car are you counted as dying uninsured? I think you will get all you needed to know from who funded this "study."

The Harvard study, funded by a federal research grant, was published in the online edition of the American Journal of Public Health. It was released by Physicians for a National Health Program, which favors government-backed or "single-payer" health insurance.

I'm shocked that they didn't put this number at 10 million or 20 million or something. I mean 45,000 people is only .0001 percent of the population. There is no way such a small number will be able to sell a trillion dollar invasion of the insurance industry.

I wonder if their next study will be to find out the amount of people who will die on a waiting list for the Post Office Insurance to treat them. Rich people don't have to care because they will just by gold plated insurance that will jump the line. How is that fair?

Pelosi Scared By Angry HealthCare Rhetoric

She says it is somehow reminding her of San Fransisco in the late 70s.

"I have concerns about some of the language that is being used because I saw this myself in the late '70s in San Francisco," Pelosi said, suddenly speaking quietly. "This kind of rhetoric was very frightening" and created a climate in which violence took place, she said.

The problem with Pelosi's recollection of the 70s is that was the man who killed Harvey Milk and George Moscone in San Fransisco was a fellow Democrat named Dan White and not some far right wing hate monger. Is Pelosi afraid that her own party might do something violent?

I also love how she gets in this dig against people opposing ObamaCare as well.

"I wish that we would all, again, curb our enthusiasm in some of the statements that are made," Pelosi said. Some of the people hearing the message "are not as balanced as the person making the statement might assume," she said.

Yes, ObamaCare opponents, the Speaker of the House just called you unbalanced. I think she needs to resign already. She already smeared the CIA and now she is slandering "people hearing their message" i.e. the American public by calling them crazy. She is just too far left and polarizing a figure to lead the House.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How the Community Reinvestment Act Created the Housing Bubble

It is good to read in one place on how groups like ACORN and the Carter experiment known as the CRA planted the seeds that formed into the mortgage bubble. This was an interesting fact that everyone should know:

Of course, these loans weren't actually safe, and as far back as the early 1990s it was clear that mortgages made under affordable housing standards had a significantly higher default rate. But the facts weren't allowed to get in the way of the housing juggernaut, and so the quantity of risky loans increased. By 2005 HUD required that 45 percent of all loans purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had to be from low and middle income borrowers, with no sense whatsoever of whether such a quota was advisable or doable.

Now that we see the extent of ACORNs "counseling" we can see that most of these buyers probably duped by these "counselors" trying to game the system. I mean those ACORN workers were talking about claiming child sex slaves as dependents like they were ordering take-out food or something. I feel even worse for low income neighborhoods seeing as people like ACORN are their advocates.

More about the Pair that Destroyed ACORN

Yup they are only in their early 20s and did something that CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, or even Fox News was not able to do. They were able to pull off a sting operation on a corrupt organization with $1300 and a chinchilla coat borrowed from someones grandmother.

In real life, Hannah Giles, 20, isn't a lady of the night. She's a minister's daughter studying journalism at Florida International University.

And James E. O'Keefe III, 25, a Fordham MBA student from New Jersey, isn't a pimp so much as a provocateur -- determined to expose what he sees as the hypocrisies and moral lapses of liberals by employing their own tactics against them.

The pair met last year on Facebook after O'Keefe posted his own gotcha videos, showing Planned Parenthood employees agreeing to his request to earmark his donations for the abor tions of African-American babies.

I think this statement is going to be prophetic:

O'Keefe contends their tactics are "the future of activism and investigative reporting."

"This is now my full-time job," he said.

Yup I think the far left needs to watch their back. A couple of college kids with a hidden camera has done more damage to their agenda then a 100 special prosecutors and 10,000 news media members and the entire GOP. I hope they go after the hate-mongers at the SEIU next.

ACORN and the Legacy Media Just Lost Jon Stewart

I think you can now write ACORNs obituary now that Jon Stewart has now turned against them full force. This is the sort of thing that I enjoyed about Stewart before he morphed into a mouthpiece for the far left.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Audacity of Hos
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Dems Run from Carters "Rep. Joe Wilson is a Racist" Comments'

Poor Jimmy Carter the Dems have thrown him under the bus yet again.

“The president does not believe that criticism comes based on the color of his skin,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters in his Wednesday briefing. “We understand that people have disagreements with some of the decisions that we’ve made and some of the extraordinary actions that had to be taken by both this administration and the previous administration.”

I hope bookmark this set of remarks whenever someone plays the race card against someone disagreeing with Obama. I think the true racists are people like Maureen Dowd with this statement.

And New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that “fair or not,” she heard “an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!”

She hears phantom things out of the bad old days of the 50s when her party was doing everything it could to keep blacks from attaining civil rights. I mean Jim Crow Laws were not passed by the GOP. It was Democrats that kept these things going for more than a century. It was GOP Minority Leader Everett Dirksen that was instrumental in getting the Civil Rights Bill passed in 1964.

Baucus HealthCare Bill Might Actually Save Money?

It seems that the Baucus Bill might be just what health care reform needs to pass. It might even save some money:

Congressional budget experts estimated the proposal would reduce the ranks of the uninsured by 29 million over a decade. They also predicted the plan would trim federal deficits by $49 billion over the same period and suggested savings in the range of hundreds of billions of dollars might result for the decade that follows.

Many of the bill's major provisions would be delayed until 2013, after the next presidential election.

I think the 29 million covered is more then sufficient to say as many Americans as possible will have their health insurance. That 2013 time table though really takes some of the air out of all the people saying "the problems are getting so bad we have to ram it through by July 31st"

Also the bill has the cooperatives added in instead of the "government-run insurance company." If these coops are able to compete nationally then it would be a great idea. If they are state by state it won't save much money in the long run. The CBO director agrees

"They seem unlikely to establish a significant market presence in many areas of the country," wrote Douglas W. Elmendorf, head of the Congressional Budget Office.

ACORN tries to Go for an Independent Investigation

It seems that ACORN is trying to finally clean up its act. Too bad they are going to the wrong source for the investigation.

ACORN will work with its advisory council, which includes prominent supporters of President Barack Obama, such as John Podesta, president of the nonprofit Center for American Progress, and Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, to name an independent auditor and investigator, ACORN chief executive Bertha Lewis said in a written statement.

Who are they going to convince they are clean if the go directly to a lefty group and the president of the hate-crime committing SEIU for its "independent" investigation. If they were serious about cleaning up their image they would go directly to the Justice Department and have them investigated. Instead, the SEIU will just say ACORN is "clean" and the organization will go back to advising potential under age sex slavery operators.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jimmy Carter Calls Rep. Joe Wilson a Racist

I guess Carter sees racism whenever you call Obama out on parts of his policy agenda.

"I think it's based on racism," Carter said at a town hall held at his presidential center in Atlanta. "There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president."

The Georgia Democrat said the outburst was a part of a disturbing trend directed at the president that has included demonstrators equating Obama to Nazi leaders.

"Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care," he said. "It's deeper than that."

Um, no President Carter, it isn't any deeper then that. People don't trust Obama because he is black but because he plays fast and loose with the truth. Obama keeps repeating "if you like your doctor you can keep him" while the House Bill does not have any such guarantees. He promised that the unemployment rate won't go above 8% if the stimulus was passed and it is now nearly 10%.

Rep. Joe Wilson may have been off about illegal immigrants not being covered by ObamaCare but there are no protections in the bill that will prevent that from happening. In fact Obama was supposed to be the the post-racial President that transcended race and its only 8 months and Carter has to drag him back down into that mess again.

Obama's HealthCare Speech to Congress Not a "Game Changer"

It seems that the speech only gave a small, temporary bump to his poll numbers that has since evaporated.

Forty-five percent (45%) of all voters nationwide now favor the plan while 52% are opposed. A week ago, 44% supported the proposal and 53% were opposed. (see day-by-day numbers).

I think if he came out strongly in opposition to a public option he would breeze just about any other change through and his poll numbers would quickly improve. I think most insured people see only pitfalls in a public plan and don't trust the government enough to run the thing correctly.

Seth Klarman of Baupost Has a Large Postion in PDL Biopharma?

One thing that jumped out at me when I was doing research on take-over talk is how Seth Klarman of Baupost has 11% of his portfolio in PDL BioPharma (PDLI)

No. 2: PDL BioPharma Inc. (PDLI), Weightings: 10.91% - 15,559,608 Shares

Protein Design Labs Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the research, development and commercialization of novel therapies for inflammation and autoimmune diseases acute cardiac conditions and cancer. PDL BioPharma Inc. has a market cap of $855.39 million; its shares were traded at around $7.16 with a P/E ratio of 7.09 and P/S ratio of 2.91. The dividend yield of PDL BioPharma Inc. stocks is 13.97%.

Klarman assumed a small position (461,600 shares) in 1Q08 and then quickly build a large position (14.8 million shares) in 2Q08. His ownership has since maintained at a high level and in 1Q09, he bought about 800,000 share, bringing the total to 15.6 million shares.

That is quite a large part of a portfolio of an investing guru that has brought in big returns for decades. I wonder if he is looking for a takeover by Roche or is just investing heavily in an undervalued company. I mean a biotech that pays such a substantial dividend seems very rare and maybe Klarman understands that.

Obama Supports Extending Patriot Act

It must be tough for a Progressive to support Obama. This flies directly in their face but he continues to go with it to keep our country safe.

The Obama administration supports extending three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are due to expire at the end of the year, the Justice Department told Congress in a letter made public Tuesday.

Lawmakers and civil rights groups had been pressing the Democratic administration to say whether it wants to preserve the post-Sept. 11 law's authority to access business records, as well as monitor so-called "lone wolf" terrorists and conduct roving wiretaps.

The wiretaps thing was what the leftists hated Bush for and Obama just wants to keep them going. I always thought they are a good idea for the most part as long as they are directed at terrorists. I feel that if they were in place prior to 9/11 we would have had a chance of stopping Atta in his tracks.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Obama Offers Health Care Cost Savings: It will Only Take 3,634 Years

It seems that Obama just can't get these numbers right for some reason. Here is Obama's cost savings plan strait from his speech:

And if we can successfully slow the growth of health care costs by just one-tenth of one percent each year, it will actually reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the long term.

On Saturday, when I first featured this, I showed this spreadsheet from my favorite economist, King Banaian, which showed that the long term would have to be defined as 3,634 years:

In other words sometime in 5643 AD we will get that $4 trillion in health care cost savings that Obama promised us. Perhaps it will go to reducing the budget deficit for our new 538th State which happens to be the Powys Regio on Europa.

Maybe the government can use it toward improving health care for farmed clones since humans will no longer need health care due to advances in android brain transplantation. I guess you could always use it to buy processing plants for vat grown soy pork for poor offworlders. Obama the technocrat strikes again.

Senate Votes 83-7 to Strip ACORN of Federal Funding

Now this is one show of Senate bipartisanship that makes me proud.

Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) introduced an amendment to the HUD and Transportation appropriation bill to strip ACORN of all federal funding. A week ago, Johanns wouldn’t have gotten the amendment to the floor. Today, however, after three straight days of’s video exposés of ACORN offices in Washington DC, New York City, and Baltimore offering assistance to pimping, tax evasion, and trafficking in underage Salvadorean girls, Johanns not only got his vote — but he got an impressive bipartisan showing. The Senate passed the Johanns amendment 83-7.

I think ACORN's days are numbered now that they have been shown to support tax evasion, promotion of prostitution, and even human trafficking underage prostitutes. I think how they were laughing about the whole thing on the hidden video is what got people to turn on them so fast. It was as if they promote the exploitation of child sex workers day-in-and-day out or something. I'm glad these people are finally getting exposed. Now is time for Obama to throw them right under the bus.

Obama Calls Kanye West a "Jack-ass"

Wow, now this is quite a powerful rebuke from the most powerful man in the world.

During a CNBC interview on Monday, President Obama called hip-hop artist Kanye West a "jackass" over his behavior at the MTV Video Music Awards.

It was a classless and idiotic move to grab the mic from Taylor Swift and I'm glad Obama is taking him to task for his behavior. Too bad he can't label Hugo Chavez or Ahmadinajoke a "jack-ass" as well. I'm kind of torn about Obama weighing in on the MTV Music Awards as kind of beneath the office of the President. However, it is nice to see him weighing in on pop culture stuff every once in a while.

Buyout Rumors: Bayer Buying Spectrum Pharmaceuticals?

Also from that same article we have this other rumor:

And Bayer hearts Spectrum Pharmaceuticals.

This one looks like a pretty interesting deal because Spectrum Pharma (SPPI) is actually marketing two drugs already. In other words they aren't just a development stage company and have revenues coming in already. They are Zevalin and Fusilev.

-Zevalin is for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and has been recently approved for first line use in first-line consolidated therapy for NHL.

Spectrum said the Zevalin approval would expand the treatable population to about 43,000 patients annually.

I'm not sure of the revenue bump of that many new patients but it will be helping even more people and that cannot be bad. -Fusilev is for Osteosarcoma and is in FDA trials to deal with Colorectal Cancer as well.

On looking at Bayer's products we come up with a few Oncology drugs namely Viadur and Nexavar. Viadur- Is used to treat advanced Prostate Cancer. While Nexavar is used to treat Hepatocellular Carcinoma which is a kind of liver cancer. So a purchase of Spectrum will quickly add two new FDA approved oncology drugs to Bayers bench.

You have to add to this the fact that Bayer is currently marketing Zevalin in Europe. It would not be much of a stretch for Bayer to buy Spectrum and the American rights to Zevalin and add the revenue from Fusilev directly to their bottom line. Plus, Spectrum has a Phase 2 Prostate Cancer drug called Ozarelix that might be able to dovetail with Bayer's marketing of Viadur as well.

Also Spectrum has a market cap of only $314 million which is a very easy buy judging by the $1.8 billion that Bayer has in Cash as of the 2nd quarter of 2009. I can see this deal happening if Bayer actually pulls the trigger and decides to move further into the oncology field then they already are.

Buyout Rumors: Roche Buying PDL BioPharma?

I was reading this article to figure out why Dendreon was up 15% today and decided to investigate some of the rumors:

Roche has its eye on PDL BioPharma(PDLI Quote).

So I decided to look into it and I can see the Roche buying that company out now that they completed the Genentech buyout. PDL BioPharma is a royalties generating company that collects fees for the use of their humanized antibodies technology. Currently they hold patent licenses for the following drugs:
You notice that 5 of Genentech's top drugs are on that list. A buyout of this company by Roche would result in them saving quite a bit of money longterm by not having to pay out royalty payments on their top drugs. It would also allow them to bring in some revenue from other blockbuster biotech drugs from their competitors. It seems like an easy buyout but I ran across this quote from Roche's CFO Erich Hunziker:

On dealmaking, don't expect Roche to make any big buys anytime soon. When the deal was completed in March, CFO Erich Hunziker -- who retained his position -- said in a conference call the firm wouldn't make acquisitions valued at more than $60 million over the next two or three years. A few days after that statement, Roche acquired Innovatis AG of Bielefeld, Germany, for €15 million ($19.6 million).

PDL BioPharma has a market cap of $1.09 billion so it is way out of Roche's price range for two or three years. I mean they did just pay $70 billion for Genentech so they might wait a while before they reduce their costs with a buyout of PDL BioPharma. I can see it happening in a few years just so Roche doesn't have to pay out several million in royalties for the next several years.

Spate of Takeover News Powers Dendreon Shares

It seems that more rumors persist of unnamed European firms sniffing around Dendreon. That $40 bid sounds suspiciously high though.

Dendreon is getting a $40 bid from some European Pharma giant. GlaxoSmithKline(GSK Quote) wants to buy Human Genome Sciences(HGSI Quote) -- again. Roche has its eye on PDL BioPharma(PDLI Quote). And Bayer hearts Spectrum Pharmaceuticals(SPPI Quote).

The thing that I can see is that these Pharma giants would rather pay to acquire the company that has already done the research and made it through the FDA minefield. They don't have to worry about failing in Type 2 trials or something because another company already took the risk.

In other words they are paying top dollar for research that they don't even have to do themselves. It sounds like a canny idea because biotech drugs have a longer patent period in which a Roche or whomever can make money.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sen. Olympia Snowe Sneaks some Good Stuff into the Baucus Healthcare Bill

It seems that since Snowe has insane power to kill any bill that comes along (assuming that the Dems don't destroy themselves and go to the reconciliation "nuclear option") I think her amendment might sneak into the bill that Obama eventually signs. It is quite a good amendment indeed:

Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), the moderate Republican in the group, proposed one major change, allowing insurers to offer national plans and to participate in state-based insurance exchanges. The Baucus proposal would permit states to form "health-care-choice compacts," allowing for the purchase of non-group health insurance across state lines.

Although this would really favor massive insurers like UnitedHealth (which I am long for the sake of full disclosure) this alone might make health insurance affordable. The idea of picking and choosing exactly what you want to have in your health insurance and shopping around for the best plan in the country would be awesome.

I look forward to the day where I can open the Wall Street Journal and read an article on the 5 best health insurance plans for 30 somethings and then compare it to HMSA. If I like the plan better I can just cancel my HMSA and sign up online for UnitedHealth Single Guy Plus with Vision Rider (or whatever it will be called.) I would then thank Senator Snowe for actual competition to come into the marketplace.

Rep. Joe Wilson May Not Have Been Too Far off on "You Lie" Shout

It seems that he is facing some kind of backlash with his emotional outburst but he might not have been too far off think what he is thinking. He has since apologized though.

Ninety minutes after Obama finished his address, the South Carolina representative—who yelled out "You lie!" after the president said he had never proposed providing coverage to illegal immigrants—issued a statement explaining he "let my emotions get the best of me." According to the congressman's office, Wilson also made a personal phone call to the White House in hopes of apologizing to Obama himself, but instead had to express his apologies to gatekeeper Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

The problem is that the much touted 47 million without insurance includes 10 million illegals.

However, the Census Bureau report “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the puts the initial number of uninsured living in the country at 46.577 million.

A closer look at that report reveals the Census data include 9.487 million people who are “not a citizen.” Subtracting the 10 million non-Americans, the number of uninsured Americans falls to roughly 37 million.

I did notice Obama started using a 30 million uninsured number instead of 47 million in his speech last night though.

We are the only advanced democracy on Earth — the only wealthy nation — that allows such hardships for millions of its people. There are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage. In just a two year period, one in every three Americans goes without health care coverage at some point. And every day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage. In other words, it can happen to anyone.

I think this may have been deliberate change in the number in order to debunk the notion that illegals will be covered. I can see though how Wilson thought that illegals are covered when the President keeps insisting that he will get coverage for 47 million people when that 47 million included 10 million illegals. Too bad the CBO can't get control of the Census Bureau so we can have these numbers broken out for everyone to see.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Obama's Speech Leaves Lots of Room for Compromise

Well his mighty speech to get health care on track seemed to be more of the same sort of thing but he is leaving room for compromise on the hated "government plan."

For example, some have suggested that that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies. Others propose a co-op or another nonprofit entity to administer the plan. These are all constructive ideas worth exploring. But I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can't find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice. And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.

I'm also glad that he let malpractice reform slip into the conversation in a kind of wishy-washy sort of way.

Finally, many in this chamber — particularly on the Republican side of the aisle — have long insisted that reforming our medical malpractice laws can help bring down the cost of health care. I don't believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I have talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs. So I am proposing that we move forward on a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine. I know that the Bush Administration considered authorizing demonstration projects in individual states to test these issues. It's a good idea, and I am directing my Secretary of Health and Human Services to move forward on this initiative today.

Yup demonstration projects led by HHS sounds pretty sad but is better then nothing. But I wanted him to say that he was proposing a cap on malpractice rewards of $250,000 or something similar. That would have set the groundwork for a bipartisan bill and would have eliminated a major argument against health care reform. Other then that, the speech didn't seem like the sort of home run that could get millions of Americans back on his side.

Tastiest Ice Cream Sandwich in the World!

The winner was one I didn't even know existed. I must now try their top 3 in order to vet their choices.

Epi Top Pick: Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Sandwich ($3.99 for a box of six)

Pros: The creamy ice cream with real vanilla flavor and the moist, spongy cakelike cookie won raves from the testers. "The ice cream is so fluffy and smooth!" said one editor. "The vanilla specks are not just for show, the ice cream tastes like it's made with a real vanilla pod; very natural," said another.

Cons: Thin in comparison to other competitors.

It certainly looks pretty damn tasty to me. This pic is from their web page:

Red Chinese to Double Nuclear Plant Construction

It is so strange to see the Red Chinese leading the US when it comes to actually reducing carbon without destroying their economy in the process.

More nukes means a slower growth rate in coal electric power plant construction. The total amount of CO2 emissions from Chinese plants will continue to rise. But it would rise as fast and as far as previously projected.

That high build rate should bring down costs and make China the low cost leader in nuclear power plant construction.

They could even have to opportunity to start shuttering those coal plants as more nuclear capacity comes online. That would reduce the total amount of coal that they would have to import. Too bad we couldn't get some of these Red Chinese to run our "green economy."

Obama's Healthcare Disapproval at 52%

Now this is an AP poll so it should actually be in Obama's favor. Instead he is strait-up losing the message war.

Public disapproval of President Barack Obama's handling of health care has jumped to 52 percent, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released hours before he makes his case for overhaul in a prime-time address to Congress.

His disapproval rating meltdown is quite shocking as well. He was in the 60s just a few months ago. It seems that ObamaCare was a bridge too far.

With his health revamp moving slowly and unemployment edging ever higher, Obama's overall approval rating has also suffered a blow. The survey showed that 49 percent now disapprove of how he is handling his job as president, up from 42 percent who disapproved in July.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

It Might Cost you $3,800 To Go Without Health Insurance?

Now that is a fine with some teeth.

Just as auto coverage is now mandatory in nearly all states, Baucus would require that all Americans get health insurance once the system is overhauled. Penalties for failing to do so would start at $750 a year for individuals and $1,500 for families. Households making more than three times the federal poverty level — about $66,000 for a family of four — would face the maximum fines. For families, it would be $3,800, and for individuals, $950.

I have no idea how they will assess such a fine but it has suddenly made all college kids about $750 poorer unless their tax credits can cover that fine. I wonder if we will have to staple a copy of your health insurance card to your tax return in order to get out of the fine. Lots of moving parts but not a lot of answers. This part of the plan makes sense though.

The Baucus plan would require insurers to take all applicants, regardless of age or health. But smokers could be charged higher premiums. And 60-year-olds could be charged five times as much for a policy as 20-year-olds.

I think both smokers and overweight people should be charged higher premiums as well. If I could save several $100 a year on my premiums it gives me a financial incentive to avoid overeating. Also older people should pay more then younger people for insurance because they will actually be using the health care more often. It is only fair since they will have some of their costs covered by Medicare anyway. I think I can actually live with this Baucus plan the more I learn about it.

Legal Wrangling over "the Hobbit" Settled

Now they can get to the business of movie making again without all the lawyers and courts.

The settlement was welcomed by J.R.R. Tolkien's youngest son, Christopher Tolkien, on behalf of the trust.

Tolkien said he and other trustees "regret that legal action was necessary, but are glad that this dispute has been settled on satisfactory terms that will allow the Tolkien Trust properly to pursue its charitable objectives."

"The trustees acknowledge that New Line may now proceed with its proposed films of 'The Hobbit,'" Tolkien said in a statement.

I think Warner Bros. just backed a truckload of money up to the Tolkien Trust offices and made it all go away. They should have done this in 2003 so we would already be on the 2nd Hobbit film now instead of merely waiting for them.