Monday, August 31, 2009

Dr. Emanuel's RX for govt rationing


The Reaper Curve: Ezekiel Emanuel used the above chart in a Lancet article ("Principles for Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions", January 31, 2009) to illustrate the ages on which health spending should be focused.

Here are some excerpts from the accompanying article-- meticulously research and cited-- from Betsy McCaughey in the WSJ...

As a bioethicist, [Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, health adviser to President Barack Obama] has written extensively about who should get medical care, who should decide, and whose life is worth saving. Dr. Emanuel is part of a school of thought that redefines a physician’s duty, insisting that it includes working for the greater good of society instead of focusing only on a patient’s needs. Many physicians find that view dangerous, and most Americans are likely to agree.

The health bills being pushed through Congress put important decisions in the hands of presidential appointees like Dr. Emanuel. They will decide what insurance plans cover, how much leeway your doctor will have, and what seniors get under Medicare. Dr. Emanuel, brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, has already been appointed to two key positions: health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget and a member of the Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research. He clearly will play a role guiding the White House's health initiative.

Dr. Emanuel says that health reform will not be pain free, and that the usual recommendations for cutting medical spending (often urged by the president) are mere window dressing. As he wrote in the Feb. 27, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA): "Vague promises of savings from cutting waste, enhancing prevention and wellness, installing electronic medical records and improving quality of care are merely 'lipstick' cost control, more for show and public relations than for true change."

True reform, he argues, must include redefining doctors' ethical obligations....In numerous writings, Dr. Emanuel chastises physicians for thinking only about their own patient's needs....Of course, patients hope their doctors will have that single-minded devotion. But Dr. Emanuel believes doctors should serve two masters, the patient and society...

Dr. Emanuel concedes that his plan appears to discriminate against older people, but he explains: "Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination. . . . Treating 65 year olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not."

The youngest are also put at the back of the line: "Adolescents have received substantial education and parental care, investments that will be wasted without a complete life. Infants, by contrast, have not yet received these investments..."

rationing parking spaces at tonight's Baron Hill/IUS town hall

A beautiful analogy to the increase in rationing under the ObamaCare proposal (partial hat tip to Linda Christiansen)...

With Baron's town hall at IUS, the demand for parking spaces has increased dramatically, resulting in lower quality parking spots (e.g., on the grass), much more waiting in line for a parking spot, irritation at having to wait a long time, and so on.

Hey, the parking is free tonight-- but not really...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

three interesting headlines from CNN on Kennedy

From the top of CNN's website this morning (even though the underlying articles have different titles):

1.) Kennedy called man of quiet faith (the underlying article does not use this title-- or anything close to it-- an interesting choice by CNN...)

"Quiet"? "Faith"-- in what? What does that combo mean?

If faith is quiet and it falls in a forest, does it exist? In any case, Kennedy's faith in government was certainly not quiet. So, was his Statism a "loud" idolatry that competed with a "quiet" Christian faith-- or was Statism his dominant faith?

In any case, if one says "Lord, Lord, did we not pass legislation in your name, and in your name drive out the private sector and get the government to do all sorts of things?", how many will be told "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!"?

2.) Sen. Ted Kennedy to be laid to rest

I think they mean Kennedy's body will be laid to rest. One never knows about such things, but taking this somewhat literally: no one has the power to lay another to rest AND the evidence that Kennedy is (or will be) at rest seems slim.

3.) What if Chappaquiddick happened today?

No significant career or meaningful public life. Think about it...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Apoclaypse Now...err, in 2100...err, as predicted by computer models

From James Bruggers in the C-J...

I haven't seen this. But it seems like the height of arrogance, ignorance &/or politics-- to use computer models about a highly complex topic, extrapolate their results a century into the future, AND to make predictions for each state!

Aside from the model's assumptions, we're assuming cause-and-effect from greenhouse gases, human contributions to those gases, and the efficacy of proposed solutions. Wow...

A new state-by-state analysis by The Nature Conservancy predicts sharply higher temperatures and more rain in Kentucky and Indiana if nothing is done to curb heat-trapping gases.

The analysis foresees average temperatures in the two states by the end of the century that could alter the seasons, with bursts of rain so brief and intense that it could actually result in more periods of drought....

Average precipitation could increase 7.6 percent to about 3.6 feet per year in Indiana and 6.7 percent to almost 4.3 feet per year in Kentucky....

More rain and more drought. Hmmm...That's possible? Something to do with run-off? Je ne sais pas...

The analysis, which used data from a 2007 report by the United Nations-sanctioned Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was produced using a new Climate Wizard Web tool made with the help of experts at the University of Washington and University of Southern Mississippi.

Not in or submitted to a refereed journal? Hmm...

It concludes that average year-round temperatures may rise by 8.8 degrees in Kentucky and 9.2 degrees in Indiana in the next 90 years.

The numbers are slightly less than the average global surface temperature under the same emissions scenario predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of hundreds of scientists from 113 governments....

Among the effects The Nature Conservancy anticipates:

-Increased illness and death because of hotter summers.

-Decline in forest growth and agricultural crop production.

-Decline in revenue for the state's forest industry from the spread of pests and disease.

-Worsening water quality in streams and lakes, resulting in fish kills and loss of ecological diversity.

It's not a good sign when "analysis"-- either the Nature Conservancy's study &/or Mr. Bruggers' summary of it-- only includes benefits OR costs of any given scenario or policy proposal. Almost certainly, that's advocacy, not analysis.

Bruggers uses a quote from Sarah Lynn Cunningham, a leader of the Louisville Climate Action Network, an environmental group, to close things out:

“The good news is there's an easy way out — it's called green jobs and the green economy,” she added.

"An easy way out"? As if there would be no significant costs from a "green" economy? Again, not good...


Check out these videos by Tim Hawkins.

Of personal interest, I'd recommend "The Government Can".

I also got a big kick out of Homeschool Family-- and thoroughly enjoyed Sausage.

what happened to Baron Hill? OR Greg Garrison blows up Baron Hill

I remember talking to a Republican operative who said he recalled Baron Hill's speech on the floor of the Indiana legislature-- where he "switched" (publicly) from pro-life to pro-choice as a prelude to running for the U.S. House from the State House.

I don't know if the story is true or not, but it seems reasonable enough. Baron certainly claims to hold positions that he does not (including pro-life)-- and he seems quite malleable to political opportunities.

Here's an eloquent piece by Greg Garrison, absolutely blowing up Baron (hat tip: Hoosier Pundit) with a few observations from "back in the day"-- the early days of Hill's run in the House:

Time was, Baron Hill was best known for his jump shot and tenacious defense when he was starting at guard in the heartland of basketball mania, the Hoosier state. He was successful in parlaying that notoriety, a good persona and “Blue Dog” political philosophy into a multi-term stint in the Congress, representing his home district, the 9th.

For about a year, I was on his schedule for a weekly radio interview on my daily show in Indianapolis, and the conversations were pretty even-keeled and we all thought, above-average radio. Then he disappeared. No explanation, just poof, gone. But what was evident in those days was that he was a pretty independent guy, conservative on public spending and possessed of a plain-talk style that fit well in his coal country district. That was then; this is now....

HP speculates that Baron's disappearance from Garrison's show coincided with the 2001 redistricting and the addition of Bloomington to the 9th Congressional District.

In any case, then Baron returned to the House in 2006-- and Garrison starts dropping bombs...

Gone were the old Midwestern values and all that plain talk, replaced with a remarkable and unmistakable ugly streak of wacko liberalism that has resulted in actions by the old point guard that put him closer to Karl Marx than to any Hoosier.

A few months back he got the rush from the Obamaniacs to vote -- first in committee and then on the floor of the House -- for a cap and trade scheme that the Holy One himself has oft promised would bankrupt the coal business and cause utility bills to skyrocket. Yup, Baron Hill shucked his Midwestern values for a fundraiser by Kid President and a ride on Air Force One back to D.C. following the required sellout of his people.

Now he appears to be on the road to supporting socialized medicine, too, babbling out the statist media’s talking points and the spew of terrified invective the administration has resorted to in its panic-stricken effort to blunt the rebellion they face all over the country. Only a few days back, he told the Washington Post he would host no town hall meetings unless he could control them and their content. Said he wouldn’t permit any of those hated “political terrorists” who with such temerity insist on speaking out against the Messiah. No really. That’s what he said. Political terrorists....

Fact is that Hill has sold out. Maybe the price was a cabinet post later on or a chance to replace Joe “gaff-o-matic” Biden on the ticket next time. Maybe it was that ride on the big plane with the Chosen One or the cigarette they shared afterward that rubbed off the last of the old dog’s blue luster.

Can’t really say, but this much is clear from out here in the cheap seats: These Blue Dogs have lain down with the fleas, the snakes and the other vermin who inhabit the Left, and whatever they may have been once upon a time, all that is left is a bunch of worn out old wind bags no longer capable of fidelity to those they represent or the constitution they swore to uphold and defend. The Baron is off to shoot some hoop in the White House gym with his new best friend, his feckless behavior and the knife in the backs of his constituents lost in the warm afterglow of that big glass of Kool-Aid he so eagerly drank....


Blue Dogs and Lap Dogs

A hilarious and insightful letter to the editor of the Jeff/NA News-Tribune from Floyd Co. GOP chair, Dave Matthews (hat tip: Hoosier Pundit)...

Here, I'm excerpting his first two definitions-- a nice addition to an old theme...

• BLUE DOG: The thought here is that this Democrat is like a dog on a leash, who is straining so hard against the direction of his party that he is literally turning blue at the strain. Of course, one would assume that occasionally, this Democrat would vote against his party, indicating occasional disagreement. He is a Democrat, but as a representative of conservative constituents back home, he just can’t vote against the will of those constituents whom he represents. Indiana does not have any of these.

• LAP DOG: This type of representative climbs up in the lap of his party’s leader, agrees with and votes for everything that leader recommends, whether or not it represents the will and opinions of his constituents. This dog loves the attention of being close to the leader and wouldn’t bite his hand no matter how much the issue hurts those whom he represents. Usually a lap dog thrives on strokes and lots of persuasive petting.

Krugman's politics > economics (cont'd)

More on Paul Krugman, the subject of debt, his subjective beliefs, and selective fact choices-- from Political Math...

I'll start with PM's "quick visual of the difference in the budgets in 1945 and 2016"...

1945 vs 2016

Then, PM describes Paul Krugman's recent post: "How Big is $9 Trillion” where he tries to defend the Obama administration’s projected $9 trillion addition to national debt. In a word, Krugman avers that it's not that much money when compared to GDP. Krugman is correct in noting that debt should be normed-- to account for inflation and the size of an economy. But he leaves out some crucial facts...

I defer to Paul Krugman on a lot of things because he is transparently smarter than I am. But it is precisely because of this fact that I know he is conscious of the obvious reasons his analysis is hogwash.

First of all, the national debt in WWII was initiated by an existential threat to the very continuation of our country. Mr. Krugman does not make even attempt to make the case that we have a similar crisis that justifies this kind of debt.

Second, implicit in his observation is the concept that since we did fine after WWII, we’ll do fine now. But the years after WWII saw drastic reductions in the inflation-adjusted debt driven by drastic reductions in spending. Mr. Krugman points to no similar possibility in the post-Obama world.

Third, we have something now that we didn’t have in the 1940’s. Back in the 1945, at the height of the spending that saw our national debt rise so dramatically, entitlement spending and interest on the national debt made up a meager 5% of our total budget.

By the end of President Obama’s term (if he runs two terms) we’ll be looking at a federal budget that is 70% mandatory spending.

If you look at the 1945 budget with the single question “How are we going to reduce our debt?” you can identify the major problem. It’s the defense budget, which is almost 90% of the budget. Interestingly, reducing the defense budget is exactly what we did in order to reduce the debt, cutting it over 80% in 3 years (it helped that we won the war).

As a contrast, President Obama’s solution to reducing overall spending is… well, I don’t think he really has a plan. His projected budget in 2016 has reduced the defense budget as a percentage of the overall budget from 20% to 14%, but military spending isn’t what is killing us. The president has no plans to reduce mandatory spending whatsoever. In fact, his only change to entitlement spending is to increase it.

My problem with Mr. Krugman’s “How big is $9 trillion?” is that he is aware of all the problems I pointed out. He didn’t explain how much $9 trillion is; he obfuscated it. By comparing the debt load in the heart of a world-shaking war to a debt load that was accumulated in (relative) peacetime, he has misled his readers to the real significance of the data.

Krugman's politics > economics

Don Boudreaux's recent letter to the editor of the NYT (hat tip: Uric Dufrene)...

Noting that "it's important to have some perspective," Paul Krugman argues that while Uncle Sam's budget deficit is now large, "we also have a huge economy, which means that things aren't as scary as you might think" ("Till Debt Does Its Part," August 28).
Whew! No cause for much concern, for the size of America's GDP swamps the size of the budget deficit.

During the Bush years, however, Mr. Krugman preached a different gospel. For example, in his February 11, 2005 column - devoted to condemning tax cuts - he insisted that "the deficit is indeed a major problem."

So let's take Mr. Krugman's advice and get some perspective. In 2005, when Mr. Krugman insisted that government's budget deficit was "indeed a major problem," that deficit was 2.5 percent of GDP. Today, when Mr. Krugman no longer is very concerned about the budget deficit, that deficit will be about 11 percent of GDP. Hmmmm....

absurdism and faith (in whatever)

Some "random thoughts" that my buddy Mike Mauzy wanted to "get out of [his] head" and that I want to get out into cyberspace. Enjoy!


I ran across a new word to describe faith the other day that I had not heard before. My wife's second cousin listed her faith as “absurdism” on Facebook. So I did some research (Google, it took about 1 minute). In absurdist philosophy, the Absurd arises out of the fundamental disharmony between man's search for meaning and the apparent meaninglessness of the universe. As beings looking for meaning in a meaningless world.

Knowing this girl a little bit, I assume that she probably has not researched the depth of this belief. But man it sure sounds cool. This really makes Dallas Willard’s point about “flying upside down” [in The Divine Conspiracy]. To call faith in God "absurd" is absurd-- just like calling atheism "absurd". It discounts the argument so that you can do whatever you want and never face the task of trying to find out why you believe what you espouse to believe.

Recently however, I have begun to realize the impact of free will and pre-destination on the Christian faith. In the case of this young teenage girl, I doubt that she has given this a lot of thought, but the originators of this philosophy evidently have.

Anyway, I have often said that there are two sides to every argument in the Christian faith. For example, my brother said that “everything happens for a specific reason.” As I began to quiz him a little bit, we both began to understand the far reaching implications of this statement. Then yesterday, I was in a conversation with an employee and we were discussing “prevenient grace”-- that is, the grace that can only fully be recognized in hindsight; the direction that God has led us on to get to a certain point in our lives.

We were talking about how God participates in our lives. Does He decide what we will do and where we will live? Does He decide who we will marry? Does He decide that by the end of a book study, 17 guys out of 23 will decide not to complete it and the 6 that remain were specially selected for that study? You know...all those types of questions.

No real answers are forthcoming-- and in fact, no explanations have really held water, because I can see blowing holes in the argument either way. The only person who actively participated in both sides of the debate without conflict that I have ever heard from was the Apostle Paul (other than Jesus of course). However, Paul did not explain it by reconciling it. However, he never stopped evangelizing while at the same time telling his listeners that they were predestined to follow God.

What is really cool about this age-old debate is that no answer is going to fully satisfy me, but I am in very good company. As Bob Russell put it, “there are smarter people than me who believe and don’t believe. There are also smarter people than me who believe but differently than I believe.” At the same time, this debate strengthens my faith. As opposed to someone who flippantly says “I am an absurdist” in order to avoid the effort it takes to find out why-- or “I am a Christian” without any sound reason for saying that-- going deeper and uncovering questions that I can’t answer (which leads to more questions that are difficult to reconcile) has not sent me packing. It also has not sent me to sincere doubt, but to more sincere faith.

When the answer is “only God knows” or “God’s ways are bigger than our ways,” this seems to be a cop-out. But in fact, it is not-- at least, not fully. If they're earnest, those who arrive at disbelief by heading down the same path have a similar leap of faith. They doubt their disbelief in the same way that we doubt our belief.

I really appreciated the honesty in the Larry Crabb book [Inside Out] about the time that Crabb’s dad left the hospital room after someone close to him was dying and Larry said something to his dad like “well at least they are going to a better place” to which his dad replied, “yeah, if it's all true.” To me, that is the type of faith that God is leading us to. Not blind faith, but faith that forces us to the tough questions, knowing that pat answers are not going to satisfy. Maybe there's no answer this side of Heaven. I also appreciate the courage of Southeast Christian Church for introducing this philosophy in the DC curriculum.

Finally, having these types of questions and sincerely thinking about the implications does not put those who think this way in an elite class of Christianity. Those who never question their faith-- yet are faithful just the same-- are fortunate, and in some ways better off than those of us who seek to understand more clearly. That said, those who don’t actively question their faith are, at some point, avoiding the implications of their faith and missing out on a blessing of faith in Christ....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

this guy is serious about (seeing) baseball

Charlie's Big Baseball Parks/Stadiums (hat tip: my brother Chris)...

Charlie has seen more than 1000 games in more than 500 ballparks! Wow!

I'm far behind that-- with about 23-24 parks and more than 200 games.

health care reform: rationing, costs, and abortion

After part 1 on "liberal lies about health care", here's part 2 in a series from Ann Coulter at on health care...

(6) There will be no rationing under national health care.

Anyone who says that is a liar....Apparently, promising to cut costs by having a panel of Washington bureaucrats (for short, "The Death Panel") deny medical treatment wasn't a popular idea with most Americans. So liberals started claiming that they are going to cover an additional 47 million uninsured Americans and cut costs...without ever denying a single medical treatment!...

(7) National health care will reduce costs.

This claim comes from the same government that gave us the $500 hammer, the $1,200 toilet seat and postage stamps that increase in price every three weeks.

The last time liberals decided an industry was so important that the government needed to step in and contain costs was when they set their sights on the oil industry. Liberals in both the U.S. and Canada -- presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter and Canadian P.M. Pierre Trudeau -- imposed price controls on oil.

As night leads to day, price controls led to reduced oil production, which led to oil shortages, skyrocketing prices for gasoline, rationing schemes and long angry lines at gas stations.

You may recall this era as "the Carter years."...

(8) National health care won't cover abortions.

There are three certainties in life: (a) death, (b) taxes, and (C) no health care bill supported by Nita Lowey and Rosa DeLauro and signed by Barack Obama could possibly fail to cover abortions.

Despite being a thousand pages long, the health care bills passing through Congress are strikingly nonspecific....After the bill is passed, the Federal Health Commission will find that abortion is covered, pro-lifers will sue, and a court will say it's within the regulatory authority of the health commission to require coverage for abortions.

Then we'll watch a parade of senators and congressmen indignantly announcing, "Well, I'm pro-life, and if I had had any idea this bill would cover abortions, I never would have voted for it!"

No wonder Democrats want to remind us that they can't be trusted with foreign policy. They want us to forget that they can't be trusted with domestic policy....

Harbeson blows up Galligan (again)

Good stuff on freedom or not-- on health care and beyond-- from Debbie Harbeson in the Jeff/NA Tribune...

Boy did I have a strange week. It all started when I read about a rally in Jeffersonville for people who actually want more government control over everyone’s lives.

I read quotes from Jeffersonville Mayor Tom Galligan, who naturally took the opportunity to speak in front of this group. He told them “Government helps create jobs.” I thought maybe I should direct the mayor to publications that could help him learn more about basic economics, but then I realized he’d never get it. After all, from his perspective he’s exactly right: government does help create jobs — for him.

He also offered the audience this profound quote, “Government does a lot of things and they do a lot of things well.” Wow. I don’t know about you but I’m kind of looking for more specific, detailed information to explain a given position.


The week got slightly better when I heard a bus was coming to town with people who didn’t agree with the mayor and his little audience of big-government believers. I say slightly because it appears this group still believes that it’s possible to use government to reform something government helped mess up in the first place.

I almost went downtown to visit anyway, because I figured I could throw myself under the bus to relieve the frustration...

"I did not see that coming"

Office humor from Mr. Adams-- but moreso, just humor...


that planet should have died 999 million years ago OR "exoplanet menagerie"

From (hat tip: C-J via the LA Times; but couldn't find it on either website)...

Astronomers have found what appears to be a gigantic suicidal planet.

The odd, fiery planet is so close to its star and so large that it is triggering tremendous plasma tides on the star. Those powerful tides are in turn warping the planet’s zippy less-than-a-day orbit around its star.

The result: an ever-closer tango of death, with the planet eventually spiraling into the star.

It’s a slow death. The planet WASP-18b has maybe a million years to live, said planet discoverer Coel Hellier, a professor of astrophysics at the Keele University in England. Hellier’s report on the suicidal planet is in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature...

The star is called WASP-18 and the planet is WASP-18b because of the Wide Angle Search for Planets team that found them.

The planet circles a star that is in the constellation Phoenix and is about 325 light-years away from Earth, which means it is in our galactic neighborhood....

The planet is 1.9 million miles from its star, 1/50th of the distance between Earth and the sun, our star. And because of that the temperature is about 3,800 degrees.

Its size — 10 times bigger than Jupiter — and its proximity to its star make it likely to die, Hellier said....

Like most planets outside our solar system, this planet was not seen directly by a telescope. Astronomers found it by seeing dips in light from the star every time the planet came between the star and Earth.

So far astronomers have found more than 370 planets outside the solar system. This one is “yet another weird one in the exoplanet menagerie,” said planet specialist Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Washington....

It’s so unusual to find a suicidal planet that University of Maryland astronomer Douglas Hamilton questioned whether there was another explanation. While it is likely that this is a suicidal planet, Hamilton said it is also possible that some basic physics calculations that all astronomers rely on could be dead wrong....

The C-J article adds another wrinkle:

"WASP-18 is believed to be about a billion years old, and since stars and the planets around them are thought to form at the same time, WASP-18b should have been reduced to cinders ages ago."

Baron Hill phones it in

Coverage of Baron's massive conference call on Tuesday-- from Lesley Stedman Weidenbener in the C-J...

U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, D-9th District, used a telephone call with more than 5,100 members of AARP on Monday to try to sell the virtues of the controversial House health care bill and dispel what he called myths about how it would affect Americans.

Hill answered questions for nearly an hour, repeatedly assuring those who were listening that the legislation would not cut Medicare benefits, would not ration health services and would not force euthanasia on sick, older patients. He said the bill would mandate coverage for all Americans, eliminate gaps in prescription drug coverage for seniors, reduce costs by discouraging unnecessary tests and procedures, prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, and allow workers to take their coverage with them to new jobs....

No problem with accuracy so far-- except that it would be quite expensive to increase coverage without these.

“None of this is true,” he said. “Don't believe the myths. Believe the things in this bill that are good.”...

How about we believe the truth-- the good and the bad?

Discouraged by disruptive crowds at town hall meetings held by other members of Congress, Hill has so far been talking with constituents largely in small groups or in meetings announced the day they are held....

I'm not sure those are his motives, but they are his stated motives.

Hill said the legislation would require the casino to maintain her insurance. All companies with annual payrolls of $500,000 or more would be mandated to offer coverage....

I could be wrong on this, but I think the bill mandates coverage, but does not mandate that they keep the same coverage. I'm not sure how wise/practical the latter would be in any case: it would give the insurance company complete monopoly power.

Hill said he hoped much of the cost would be paid for by controls on health care spending, but he acknowledged that a tax on individuals earning more than $250,000 or couples earning more than $300,000 annually could be necessary.

Baron is going to need health care coverage for his apparent crack addiction. Spending reduced with more coverage and more government. LOL! And a tax on that small subset is not enough to pay for everything he promised above.

I like Hoosier Pundit's references to "think happy thoughts" in describing Baron's stated beliefs on this stuff. Hilarious!

Baron Hill finally plans to hold a town hall this summer!

An email from the IUS Campus Police this morning:

US Rep. Baron Hill will host a Congressional Town Hall Meeting in the Hoosier Room at IU Southeast next Monday, Aug. 31 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. The event will be open to the public and may draw a large crowd. This means parking will be even tighter than normal. Town Hall attendees will be directed to the parking areas at the back of Knobview Hall and the lot beside the softball field on Hausfeldt Lane.

Better late than never?
Depends on the quality of the answers, his demeanor, etc.
We'll see...

UPDATE: Here's the C-J article on this.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

homeschooling freedom

There's some bondage in homeschooling as well-- depending on your kids, how many you have, and your ability to teach them.

To that point, we're not homeschooling this year.

But this video still has a point worth making...Enjoy!

"the tyranny of the scattered mind"

Going back into my to-blog file, here's David Brooks' Opening Day article in the NYT (hat tip: Linda Christiansen)...

A few years ago, a former professional baseball player mentioned a book that had made a great impression on him. It was called "The Mental ABC's of Pitching," by a sports psychologist named H.A. Dorfman. I read the book one spare evening, though, as you may have noticed, I'm not a pitcher — and no major league organization has expressed interest in making me one.

The book left an impression on me too, mostly for its moral tone. Dorfman offers to liberate people from what you might call the tyranny of the scattered mind. He offers to take pitchers, who may be thinking about a thousand and one things up on the mound, and give them mental discipline.

Others are eloquent about courage and creativity, but Dorfman is fervent about discipline. In the book's only lyrical passage, he writes: "Self-discipline is a form of freedom. Freedom from laziness and lethargy, freedom from expectations and demands of others, freedom from weakness and fear — and doubt."

His assumption seems to be that you can't just urge someone to be disciplined; you have to build a structure of behavior and attitude. Behavior shapes thought. If a player disciplines his behavior, then he will also discipline his mind.

Dorfman builds that structure on the repetitiousness of baseball....

In Dorfman's description of pitching, batters barely exist. They are vague, generic abstractions that hover out there in the land beyond the pitcher's control. A pitcher shouldn't judge himself by how the batters hit his pitches, but instead by whether he threw the pitch he wanted to throw.

Dorfman once approached Greg Maddux after a game and asked him how it went. Maddux said simply: "Fifty out of 73." He'd thrown 73 pitches and executed 50. Nothing else was relevant....

A baseball game is a spectacle, with a thousand points of interest. But Dorfman reduces it all to a series of simple tasks. The pitcher's personality isn't at the center. His talent isn't at the center. The task is at the center....

Not long ago, Americans saw the rise of a therapeutic culture that placed great emphasis on self-discovery, self-awareness and self-expression. But somehow the tide seems to have turned from the worship of self, and today's message is: transcend yourself in your job — or get shelled....

The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam

That's the title of Jonathan Riley-Smith's book on the topic-- a slightly edited version of his Bampton Lectures at Columbia University in October 2007 . Riley-Smith is professor emeritus at Cambridge and one of a few experts in this field. (A big hat tip goes to another expert in the field, Thomas Madden, who brought attention to the book in his review of it in First Things.)

The book is a slim volume-- an easily accessible primer on "the Crusades" with a lot of value-added. In a word, Riley-Smith breaks with conventional "wisdom"-- largely accrued outside the field-- in describing the motives of Crusaders and the oft-assumed place of the Crusades within history. R-S also argues that the "mythistories" which have arisen around the Crusades are damaging in the contemporary context of our relationship with the West's interaction with Islam.

There are a number of points worth paraphrasing. Riley-Smith:

...points to the importance of penitence as a motivation for the Crusaders. The crusades were believed to be "Holy Wars"-- doing God's business. But for the participants, it generally started with penitence. We see this in the list of regulations to be observed on the "pilgrimage" to the presence of a "parish priest" for each ship in the fleet. R-S lays out the "liturgy" of the occasion-- from marching barefoot to fasting and carrying crosses on the journey. In the preaching of those times, priests emphasized the cross of Christ and the believers' need to pick up their own cross and share in the sufferings of Christ. (R-S goes further in connecting this and other penitence with the practice of indulgences.)

...notes the ambivalence of the Scriptures toward (proper) violence-- not only in the Old Testament's battles over the Promised Land, but also in various NT passages (p. 10-11). Violence is certainly not a norm within Christianity. But, for example, one can make a case for violence in defense of others. (This is reminiscent of the Bible's treatment of "anger" which is more nuanced than generally assumed.)

-...traces Augustinian thinking on "just war" and the use and evolution of this doctrine since then. (Augustine argued that "just war" must be for a just cause, declared by a legitimate authority, and justly waged.) R-S notes the transition to "modern just war theory" which sees war as a "lesser of evils", but argues that this approach "reached maturity much more recently than we like to think" (p. 12-13).

-...observes that the Crusaders voluntarily chose to go on crusades-- and that the appeal must have been therefore (quite) persuasive. Motives ranged from the need to rescue the Promised Land or maintain a clear path to it-- to individual and corporate penance.

-...observes that "the success of the First Crusade reinforced the belief that the pope's proclamation had been divinely inspired...convinced that the only explanation for the victorious progress of an army so short of provision and material". Ironically, if one gives God "the glory" for the First Crusade, it becomes easier to see "God" behind the other crusades as well.

-...connects the Crusades to an Old-Covenant mentality-- that success or failure was in large part determined by the spiritual state of those fighting and those at home. Going on a Crusade-- when called by God-- was often seen as a "test of faith". Interestingly but not surprisingly, it follows that failure in a Crusade often caused Christians to look internally for causes of the loss, resulting in a greater emphasis on combating heresy and engaging in church discipline.

-...argues persuasively that material pursuits could not have been a standard motive. In fact, going on a Crusade was quite dangerous (more than 1/3 died; many more were injured) and quite expensive (since self-financed). R-S argues that this interpretation emerged and began to dominate with the liberal/materialist historians of the early-20th century, who looked for a material/financial answer to everything.

-...connects the "old" Crusades" to more modern Crusade-like efforts-- most notably, the efforts of Archbishop Lavigerie of Algiers in the late 19th century. R-S makes the case that Lavigerie's work was not fringe. Most important, he traces how these efforts have distorted the way in which people saw the earlier Crusades in a way that is troublesome now. To note, "because the newly emergent Arab nationalists took 19th century imperialist rhetoric literally...they came to believe that the West, having lost the first round in the Crusades, had embraked on another and their vision of past and present crusading was inherited by a new generation of Pan-Islamists."

-...lays out some bizarre history with Kaiser Wilhelm II's use of Saladin in 1898 (which stems from Sir Walter Scott's influential literary treatment of Saladin and the Crusaders). It's too long of a story to recount here, but it had a profound influence on the course of the 20th and 21th centuries. The punchline: "One often reads that modern Muslims have inherited from their bitter memories of the violence of the crusaders. Nothing could be further from the truth....It is only a slight exaggeration to say that between 1500 and 1860 themost original writings on the Crusades in Arabic...were nostalgic about them. The fact is that the Muslims had lost interest. They had never shown much concern about the world beyond Islam...looked back on the Crusades with indifference and complacency. They had driven the crusaders [back]...and had been triumphant..." (p. 68-72)

In closing, I wonder how Riley-Smith's book coincides with Pape's seminal work on suicide terrorism. It seems to fit nicely as a catalyst for Islamists and Arab Nationalists seeing us as an occupying force-- rather than the way our leaders sell (and how many people see) our military presence and involvement in the region. R-S puts more emphasis on the occupation of religious shrines and land, but otherwise, the theses are parallel. If so, it's one more uncontrollable factor that should encourage us to pursue a more "conservative" foreign policy, especially in the Middle East and the Muslim world.
medieval ancestors

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

econ blogging is sexy these days

From Kelly Evans in the WSJ...

Americans trying to understand the nail-biting financial trauma of the past several months are flocking by the millions to a surprisingly lively source of enlightenment: blogs written by economists.

Such blogs are thriving in this recession, driven by intense interest from policymakers, investors, academics and people like Zina Poletz, a Minneapolis public-relations executive who says she had little interest in economics before the financial crisis intensified last fall....

For many people, economics has never seemed so captivating, or so relevant. The enormous appetite for information and guidance right now is hardly a surprise: Even those with a basic knowledge of supply and demand have struggled to keep tabs on the global downturn.

“My [economics] professors were always saying, ‘This is the most relevant class you could ever be in,’” says Christa Avampato, a product developer in New York City with an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. “But I think until the last 18 months I never really believed them.”

The result is a watershed moment for economics bloggers, ranging from academics to armchair economists, who are all too happy to help readers fill in the blanks—or find a place to vent their frustrations. Traffic to the top sites, such as Marginal Revolution, Freakonomics and the blogs from academics such as Paul Krugman, Greg Mankiw and Brad DeLong, surged anywhere from 80% to 250% from July to September 2008 as the financial crisis intensified, according to, a Web site that measures Internet traffic....

Marginal Revolution is one of the best-read economics blogs, attracting more than 23 million visitors since its launch in 2003. Its success has boosted the careers of its co-founders, Tyler Cowen—the general director of GMU’s Mercatus Center, which is known as a bastion of libertarian thought—and Alex Tabarrok, a research fellow there...

po-mo barns

A fun article from Diane Heilenman in the C-J...


The old, black wooden barn is fast disappearing, going the way of barn-raising acts of neighborliness.

It is frequently being replaced these days by kit metal sheds. But some Louisville architects are changing the rural rules.

De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop's “Barn B,” on the plans for Mason Lane Farm in Oldham County, is a combination hay barn and equipment shed the likes of which have never before been seen. The walls are an open grid of Kentucky-grown bamboo, hand-tied with galvanized wire.

It stands on the construction site off Ky. 1694, next to “Barn A,” an equally large but enclosed combination farm office, equipment shed, workroom and storage area, or maintenance barn, clad in dark-brown metal walls with projecting “fins” at tall vertical windows. The fins mediate solar gains and losses according to season. They echo the ventilation openings on traditional, black Kentucky tobacco barns....


the indefinite lives of sidewalk sheds in the Big Apple

From Barry Newman in the WSJ...

What goes up must come down. But when?

That is a question New Yorkers start asking the minute a truck pulls up to the front door and guys in hardhats jump out and start whacking together a sidewalk shed.

Sidewalk sheds consist of pipes, beams, planks and plywood. They can be a few feet or a few hundred feet long, and they make it possible to walk in New York without getting beaned by bricks falling off buildings. The bricks land on the sheds instead....

During the real-estate bust, New York still has between 4,000 and 6,000 sidewalk sheds. Construction sites have gone dark, but façades keep buckling and cornices keep cracking as if nothing had happened to the economy....

In New York, especially if landlords are broke, sheds go up and stay up because work is making no progress. Good times or bad, the sidewalk shed is one of those things that make New York New York....

Sheds don't just proliferate in New York. They overlap. With unemployed contractors swarming in, a job can draw 20 bids. The school's cornice, city records show, fell 14 months ago. A 234-foot shed went up. No façade work was done. When the shed permit expired a year later, the school went shopping for a sweeter deal....

"exclusion" is in the eyes of the beholder

A great letter in LEO from a few weeks back...

I wonder if Phelps felt that the conservatives were "excluded" into the 1970s...

Attn: Joe Phelps: I’m glad you’re not in the Southern Baptist Convention. The fact that churches like yours — that started seminaries, schools and hospitals — are now “excluded” from the SBC is not because the convention became more conservative, but because they returned to their historic convictions. Highland Baptist has a history worth celebrating, but a history made tragic by the slow erosion of conviction by time, cultural pressure and darker forces.

The result is bizarre and arbitrary interpretations of scripture. The same Jesus you quoted in your recent column is the one who spoke more of hell than heaven, who promises to return riding a white horse and carrying a sword. The Jesus who said, “Let the children come to me,” also warned of how he’d say to men, “Alas, I never knew you,” before casting them out into the darkness.

The evangelicals in the SBC respected God’s word enough to realize that they had no right to pick and choose. It’s either God-breathed or it’s not. The elements that were cast out in the ’80s were the ones who went with the flow of Western culture, accepting as eternal truth the decrees of academia over the Bible’s many-thousand-year claims. They couldn’t leave Jesus altogether. So they devised a thousand schemes to determine what was actually the Bible and what wasn’t. These choices created an emasculated book that can neither condemn nor save.

Where I resonate with my SBC brethren is their commitment to the Gospel. God is unfathomably holy, we are desperately sinful, and Jesus Christ makes a way on the cross to save us from our sins. Where decline continues, it is because of distraction from that essential message — liberalism, conservatism, moralism and a whole host of secondary agendas distract from the essentials.

I’m the first to cringe at some of the SBC’s cultural backwardness. Their marriage to the GOP is a tragic distraction from the Gospel. But ultimately, it’s their commitment to the Scriptures that gives me hope. While I pray that those changes happen, I pray that their commitment to God’s word and to the weight of the Gospel never lets up.

Mike Cosper, Germantown

Mordac makes me shoot beverages out of my nose

Dilbert rocks!

Click on the link if you can't see it below...

Pee-Wee returns

From the LA Times' David Ng in the C-J...

The red bow tie. The form-fitting gray suit. The white loafers. Oh, and that laugh. Pee-wee Herman is back, and his creator, Paul Reubens, is overjoyed — and more than a little bit nervous too.

“I've put part of him away for a long time, but part of him has always been here with me,” the soft-spoken actor said in an interview from his home in L.A. “I think it will be like riding a bike — which is not a bad analogy for Pee-wee, by the way.”

But he added: “I have some fear that he won't be funny after all this time. I don't want to ruin it.”

After a hiatus of close to 20 years, Reubens announced Monday that he would be playing Pee-wee in a new stage show at the Music Box @ Fonda in Hollywood. “The Pee-wee Herman Show,” set to run Nov. 19-29, is a re-imagined version of the actor's original theatrical show of the same name that began at the Groundlings Theatre in 1981....

The show will feature the same story line as the original: Pee-wee, a nerdy man-child with a colorful menagerie of anthropomorphic friends, is granted a wish to learn to fly but gives the wish away, much to his eventual regret...

In one notable change, a character played on stage by the late comedian Phil Hartman has been replaced with another character. “I didn't want to be looking at someone else playing Phil's part,” Reubens said....

Weird. I didn't know Hartman had been a part of his CBS show!

Since the heyday of the Pee-wee franchise, Reubens' career has been a roller-coaster ride of legal fiascoes and tentative attempts at a comeback. In 1991, he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure after he was arrested in Florida in an adult movie theater. In 2002, he was charged with possessing child pornography because of images in his art collection; he ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor obscenity charge in 2004 in exchange for a lighter sentence....

The actor has spent the last 10 years mostly in guest-star roles on television, like his recent stint on NBC's “30 Rock” as a buffoonish member of a royal European family. He has also acted in a handful of prestigious indie films, including “Blow” and the upcoming “Life During Wartime” and “Nailed.”...

weird websites

From way back in my files-- or more accurately in this case, one of my piles...

Here's Avery Comarow in USN&WR with a 2000 article on weird websites...

I checked out these links to make sure they still work! To those who believe that paronomasia--punning--is the highest form of low humor, this G-rated site is full of eye-rolling delights, a harvest of fresh puns to inflict on the hapless. Say what you will about AM radio, it's still great for late-night talk shows....Lots of links and live audio feeds of the shows. ...hundreds of dancing animations found on the Web. The Darwin Awards salute those who have improved the human gene pool by removing themselves from it by means of stupidity.... Why pay an outrageous sum for a casket that will only be used once? Get years of enjoyment from bookshelves, sofas, entertainment centers, and other fine furniture that easily convert to a casket when the, uh, time comes.... 'Nuff said Twinkies were subjected to various experiments by Rice University students and the results carefully logged.... three kinds of meat, 19 days, and 1,000,000 maggots, and stuck them in the yard of my unwitting neighbor." He didn't supply the maggots; nature did that. You can watch the disgusting results unfold--dissolve, actually--over 18 days. A Web classic. Perfect for the Eeyores of the universe...

if TARC builds it, they won't come

More on the inefficiencies of TARC-- the heavily-subsidized, local, bus transit service...this from the C-J...

TARC launched its new Jeffersonville-to-Louisville express bus service Monday — but no riders showed up.

The service begins at the Jeffersonville Park & TARC lot at Ninth Street and VFW Boulevard. The new route No. 74 crosses the Clark Memorial Bridge into downtown Louisville, where it has several stops.

The schedule includes three weekday morning trips — 6:42, 7:20 and 8 a.m. — and afternoon return trips from Louisville arrive at the lot at 4:02 , 4:47 and 5:34 p.m.

TARC spokeswoman Nina Walfoort said the bus agency needs to do some more marketing to give the new service a chance...

Uhhh, aren't you supposed to do enough marketing so that you have a few riders?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sen. Ted Kennedy's hypocrisy

How can people sleep at night when they do stuff like this?

From the editorialists of the WSJ on August 21 (update: Kennedy died on August 25)...

Senator Ted Kennedy, who is gravely ill with brain cancer, has sent a letter to Massachusetts lawmakers requesting a change in the state law that determines how his Senate seat would be filled if it became vacant before his eighth full term ends in 2012. Current law mandates that a special election be held at least 145 days after the seat becomes available. Mr. Kennedy is concerned that such a delay could leave his fellow Democrats in the Senate one vote short of a filibuster-proof majority for months while a special election takes place....

What Mr. Kennedy doesn't volunteer is that he orchestrated the 2004 succession law revision that now requires a special election, and for similarly partisan reasons. John Kerry, the other Senator from the state, was running for President in 2004, and Mr. Kennedy wanted the law changed so the Republican Governor at the time, Mitt Romney, could not name Mr. Kerry's replacement....Now that the state has a Democratic Governor, Mr. Kennedy wants to revert to gubernatorial appointments.

Beacon Hill has long sported heavy Democratic majorities, so the state legislature has the votes to grant Mr. Kennedy's wish. But does it have the chutzpah?...

if a state with a small, homogeneous population can't do ObamaCare, why would we extend it to the nation?

From the editorialists of the WSJ...

Want a preview of ObamaCare in action? Sneak a look at what has happened in Maine. In 2003, the state to great fanfare enacted its own version of universal health care. Democratic Governor John Baldacci signed the plan into law with a bevy of familiar promises. By 2009, it would cover all of Maine's approximately 128,000 uninsured citizens. System-wide controls on hospital and physician costs would hold down insurance premiums. There would be no tax increases. The program was going to provide insurance for everyone and save businesses and patients money at the same time.

After five years, fiscal realities as brutal as the waves that crash along Maine's famous coastline have hit the insurance plan. The system that was supposed to save money has cost taxpayers $155 million and is still rising.

Here's how the program was supposed to work. Two government programs would cover the uninsured. First the legislature greatly expanded MaineCare, the state's Medicaid program. Today Maine families with incomes of up to $44,000 a year are eligible; 22% of the population is now in Medicaid, roughly twice the national average.

Then the state created a "public option" known as DirigoChoice. (Dirigo is the state motto, meaning "I Lead.") This plan would compete with private plans such as Blue Cross. To entice lower income Mainers to enroll, it offered taxpayer-subsidized premiums....

The program flew off track fast....Despite the giant expansions in Maine's Medicaid program and the new, subsidized public choice option, the number of uninsured in the state today is only slightly lower that in 2004 when the program began.

Why did this happen? Among the biggest reasons is a severe adverse selection problem: The sickest, most expensive patients crowded into DirigoChoice, unbalancing its insurance pool and raising costs. That made it unattractive for healthier and lower-risk enrollees. And as a result, few low-income Mainers have been able to afford the premiums, even at subsidized rates.

This problem was exacerbated because since the early 1990s Maine has required insurers to adhere to community rating and guaranteed issue, which requires that insurers cover anyone who applies, regardless of their health condition and at a uniform premium. These rules—which are in the Obama plan—have relentlessly driven up insurance costs in Maine, especially for healthy people....

does she really want to compare health care "reform" to Social Security?

From the LA Times' Nancy Altman in the C-J...

Opponents have unleashed a torrent of hyperbolic claims and heated invective in an effort to stop President Barack Obama's health-care reform. But the president shouldn't be surprised by the rhetoric. Three-quarters of a century ago, nearly identical denunciations were used in an attempt to kill legislation that created one of the country's most popular government programs: Social Security.

Although no one was talking about “death panels” back then, opponents claimed that Social Security would result in massive government control....Today, opponents of a public health insurance option claim that it would drive private health insurance out of business and put a bureaucrat between doctors and patients....Then as now, opponents played the socialism card....

Unlike today, however, the political rhetoric never gained traction in 1935....

Well, that was relatively simple income/wealth redistribution; this is wholesale expansion into a vital sector of the economy.

Although nearly every Republican in Congress was vehemently opposed to Social Security, Roosevelt prevented them from controlling the debate. Months before Congress was presented with legislation, FDR sought to immunize the public. In a series of fireside chats and other broadcasts, the president anticipated arguments and responded before public opposition got out of control....It may be too late for President Obama to frame and control the debate over health care reform. But if he is to have a successful administration, he should learn from FDR. Like Roosevelt, he must talk directly to the American people....

For those who favor Obama's health care proposals, this is a troubling analogy when one considers the promises of Social Security, the predictions about its cost to taxpayers, and the ease in administering it (mailing checks vs. running health care).

Here's the letter I sent to the C-J...

Does Nancy Altman really want to use Social Security as an analogy for Obama's troubled health care proposals?

When one considers how much the government underestimated the tax burden and costs of Social Security, it should worry us a lot to consider the federal government vastly increasing its footprint on health care.

In addition, Social Security is relatively easy to administer-- largely as a book-keeping task and mailing out checks. If the federal government has struggled so much with Social Security, why would one think that they'd handle something incredibly complex like health care?

If one believes that more government is the answer, why not embrace 50 state-based efforts rather than a single, grand, federal experiment?

Meyerson: Democratic blame-shifting continues

The WP's Harold Meyerson in the C-J Forum on Sunday...

The title: "Today's GOP too rigid to compromise".

Translation: The Dems can't/won't pass health care, etc.-- even though they control everything-- so we need a scapegoat.

Meyerson is confusing Bush's non-ideological economic failures, the GOP's general ideological muddle, and a popular (for now) President who took advantage of this in 2008-- with ideological rigidity-- either because he's confused or it's useful for him to use as a club to beat on conservative ideology or the Republican party.

EJ Dionne claims to see non-existent things; will his psych treatments be covered under ObamaCare?

An excerpt from E.J. Dionne's syndicated column:

If governments around the world, including our own, had not acted aggressively — and had not spent piles of money — a very bad economic situation would have become a cataclysm.

But because the cataclysm was avoided, this is an invisible achievement. Many whose bacon was saved, particularly in the banking and corporate sectors, do not want to admit how important the actions of government were. Anti-government ideologues try to pretend that no serious intervention was required.

But his assertion is based on the equally-invisible. How does he know that "a very bad economic situation would have become a cataclysm"?

How does he know that the monies were generally well-spent-- or should have been more (a la Krugman) or less?

Even if he's (accidentally) correct, Mr. Dionne apparently needs to become acquainted with false-cause fallacy and basic economic theory.

After 20 months of Bush/Obama/Dem Congress bailouts-- and a far longer recession than normal-- maybe the burden of "proof" belongs on those who claim that govt activism has helped rather than hindered the recovery?

infant mortality: lifestyle vs. race, health care, etc.

More on infant mortality-- from Steve Chapman at

Chapman opens with the common observation that our infant mortality numbers are so messed up, despite our affluence, technology, spending on health care, etc.-- and the (weird) inference that more government would help out.

I've often made the point about the statistics kept/measured in this area. Chapman covers another angle, starting with a nice analogy:

...not every health issue is a health care issue. The reason boxers are unusually prone to concussions is not that they lack medical insurance. Doctors may treat head injuries, but it's a lot easier to prevent them. Absent prevention, we shouldn't blame the medical industry for punch-drunk fighters.

...infant mortality is a function of many factors. The more you look at the problem, the less it seems to be correctable by a big new federal role in medical insurance -- and, in fact, the less it seems to be mainly a medical issue at all....

Our infant mortality rate is double that of Japan or Sweden. But we live different lives, on average, than people in those places. We suffer more obesity (about 10 times as much as the Japanese), and we have more births to teenagers (seven times more than the Swedes)....

Factors like these are linked to low birth weight in babies, which is a dangerous thing. In a 2007 study for the National Bureau of Economic Research, economists June O'Neill and Dave O'Neill noted that "a multitude of behaviors unrelated to the health care system such as substance abuse, smoking and obesity" are connected "to the low birth weight and preterm births that underlie the infant death syndrome."...

African-American babies are far more likely to die than white ones, which is often taken as evidence that poverty and lack of health insurance are to blame. That's entirely plausible until you notice another racial/ethnic gap: Hispanics of Mexican or Central or South American ancestry not only do consistently better than blacks on infant mortality, they do better than whites. Social disadvantage doesn't explain very much.

Nor does access to prenatal care, as the health care critique implies....we have a lot more tiny newborns. But underweight babies don't fare worse here than in Canada -- quite the contrary....