Posts tagged ‘OOPS’


Kevin Drum, six months ago:

THE BEST CARE ANYWHERE....Thanks to innovations introduced
during Bill Clinton's administration, VA healthcare is now among the
nation's best. It's cheaper than either private healthcare or Medicare,
the quality is top notch, and it operates according to strict
performance standards. Sounds like a great model, doesn't it?

That quality government management and incentives system will do it every time.

Folks on the left are already gearing up to blame the current Walter Reed mess on the current administration, thus scoring points off Bush (fine with me) while not having to question the inherently poor quality of government-managed health care systems.


Nicholas Kristof reported in the NY Times (via Reason)that Portland had found the secret to eternal motion, cutting CO2 emisions while paying no price and growing the economy:

Officials in Portland insist that the campaign to cut emissions has entailed no
significant economic price, and on the contrary has brought the city huge
benefits: less tax money spent on energy, more convenient transportation, a
greener city and expertise in energy efficiency that is helping local businesses
win contracts worldwide.... Portland's experience is so crucial. It confirms the
suggestions of some economists that we can take initial steps against global
warming without economic disruptions. Then in a decade or two, we can decide
whether to proceed with other, costlier steps....

Here's his big conclusion:

Perhaps eventually we will face hard trade-offs. But for now Portland shows we
can help our planet without "wrecking" our economy--indeed, at no significant
cost at all.

No one, particularly the science-challenged press who oh-so-wanted this to be true, asked themselves if this made any freaking sense at all.  Apparently, it doesn't:

In response to data requests from the Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland-based
think tank, the [Office of Sustainable Development] admitted that a math error
resulted in a 2004 carbon dioxide calculation that was 74,561 tons too low. The
re-stated total puts Multnomah County above the 1990 levels by more than 68,000

The implication?

What's more, Cascade's prez, John Charles, argues that, beyond bad math, there
are more basic methodological flaws that lead to an undercounting of
transportation-related emissions. "Portland's claim of painlessly reducing
carbon dioxide has been repeated over and over by journalists, bloggers, and
even some scientists for the past month, without any attempt to verify the
accuracy of the OSD's report," he writes. "In fact, actual carbon emissions have
been well above the level claimed by Portland, and any regulatory program
imposed by the government to lower emissions to pre-1990 levels is going to be
costly to consumers, something elected officials apparently don't understand."

Junk Science's "10 Most Embarrassing Moments of 2004"

If you have never checked out, you should.  They do a nice job of providing balance and fact-based analysis for many science "stories" in the media, particularly those where the science is driven by political correctness or a litigation and/or political agenda.  The spend a lot of time on global warming, mainly because there is just so much bad science there to criticize, but they range all over, from the latest food Nazi threats to the latest chemical contamination panic.

Last week, they release their 10 most embarrassing moments of 2004.  One example:

10. University of Arkansas researchers attacked the Atkins Diet in January with a report linking a high-carbohydrate diet with weight loss, saying it was possible to lose weight without cutting calories and without exercising. What they didn't reveal, however, was that the study subjects who lost weight actually ate 400-600 calories per day less than those who didn't lose weight.

Never, ever, ever trust a science story in the press.  The press has no idea how to use or manipulate data (if they had been able to do math, they would not have been journalism majors in the first place).  The press generally publishes science stories by cribbing 95% of the story from activists press releases.  Even when there is data in the story, rather than just bald unsupported declarations, it is either seriously flawed, or more humorously, contradicts the text of the story.

I can't resist supporting this statement with a couple of examples from

This is a temperature chart for Central Park, NY.  It gets a lot of play in the press as a "common sense" proof of global warming, and comes right off the NASA climate site:


Now, lets ignore the fact that urbanization could be causing a local temperature increase that does not reflect a general climate trend.  Lets, however, select our time frame a little differently.  Lets take the whole data set, which goes back further, rather than this set chosen by activists to make their point.  The same data over a longer trend looks like this:


OOPS!  Gee, I am not sure Central Park looks much warmer.  In fact, you could argue it is cooler.  Hmmmm.  Ask yourself if you really think it was an accident that the year with the single lowest temperature in the middle of the second graph was used as the starting point for the first.

OK, one other, because I can't resist.  There is some debate (though perhaps not enough) about what temperature data set to use - ground level readings, satellite data, balloons, etc.  It might not stun you to learn that out of 3-5 alternative temperature data sets, global warming activists choose not the middle or the average but the single set (ground temperatures) that show by far the most warming to date.  By coincidence, this data set is perhaps the least reliable, since it never has had anything like 100% area coverage, it is subject to the most human error, and it is influenced by urban warming effects. 

However, if you want to use ground data, certainly the most reliable is data for the United States, where data has been taken over a larger coverage area for more time with more consistent standards than any other location.  Global Warming activists will love to show this chart of US temperatures since about 1978:


Wow, that looks bad - looks like a nearly one degree Celsius rise in less than 25 years.  This is the "hockey stick" climatologists refer to.  Let's leave aside that this same rise is not visible in satellite data or other measurement approaches.  Like the NYC data, lets take a longer time span.  Can you guess why this chart begins in 1978? 


So we are not even at the high's for the last 100 years - those occured in the 1930's  (you remember - drought, dust bowl, etc?)

OK, that's just a taste - check out their web site for more.  In addition, you can read my post on the Kyoto treaty to find other skeptics of global warming, as well as some specific information about how Kyoto is more an anti-American treaty than an environmental treaty.


Based on some responses I have gotten, its probably best that I point out that the reason for posting the charts above was not to "disprove" global warming.  It was to just make the point that you need to be careful with any science you see in the media.  If you look here or here, you will see where I am on global warming, which basically that manmade warming probably exists but is being overstated for a variety of reasons.  In fact, my whole point here is really that you CAN'T prove or disprove something as complex, chaotic, and poorly understood as climate change with 2 or 3 charts.

On Class Warfare and Income Taxes, Part 1

This has actually become part 1 of a two-part post. In part one, we will look at the unbelievable proportion of income taxes paid by a small percentage of people in this country, and reflect on how crazy it is to talk about the rich getting a free ride. In post 2, we will look at a couple of truly regressive taxes where the rich really do get a free ride, and wonder why these issues get mostly ignored.

Something interesting has happened in this country over the last decade, and it is shown below in one of my favorite statistics. There is much talk in the media about this or that group paying their "fair share" of taxes, but as is usually true in the media, there are depressingly few facts in these articles. This is strange, since there are several government reports that pretty clearly outline the share of taxes paid by various income brackets. The numbers below are from a Congresional Budget Office Report, but the same numbers are buried in the IRS web site as well.

For 2003, the estimated share of total individual income taxes paid by:

Wealthiest 1%: 33.6%
Wealthiest 5%: 55.1%
Wealthiest 10%: 67.9%
Wealthiest 20%: 83.0%
Wealthiest 40%: 97.8%
Wealthiest 60%: 103.0%

The way to read this is that the wealthiest 10% of taxpayers pay 67.9% of the country's individual income taxes. And yes, that 103% is not a typo - the bottom 40% in income as a group pay negative personal income taxes (because of the EITC).

This leads to the following fascinating conclusion: Half of the people in this country pay more than 100% of the personal income taxes. The other half get, as a group, a free ride (though there are individuals in this group that pay paxes, net, as a group, they do not). We are basically at the point in this country where 51% of voters could vote themselves all kinds of new programs and benefits knowing that the other 49% have to pay for them.

Extra Credit Exercise: Given the numbers above, and all the talk about "tax cuts for the rich", craft an income tax cut that does not disproportionately benefit the top half of the income spectrum.

Hard, huh? The same CBO report had an interesting comparison. They estimated what these same numbers would have been without the recent tax cuts. Without the "George Bush tax cuts that unjustly benefit the rich" these same numbers in 2003 would have been:

Wealthiest 1%: 31.9%
Wealthiest 5%: 51.8%
Wealthiest 10%: 63.9%

OOPS - Coyote, that can't be right? That means that the wealthiest people pay a higher share of income taxes after the Bush tax cuts. That must mean that the tax cuts disproportionately helped the lower income brackets? Can that be right?

Yes, thats right. Without the Bush tax cut, the top 60% would have paid 99.9% of all individual income taxes. Now, after the tax cut, they pay 103%, meaning the bottom 40% have gone from paying about 0% to actually getting a bunch of money in net EITC.

Which just goes to prove a related point I make a lot - agree with him or disagree with him, G.W. Bush has got to be one of the worst presidential communicators in recent memory. For further proof, see debate #1.

Interestingly, John Kerry used this same report to say that these tax cuts shifted the burden of taxation to the middle class. And, in one way, he is right, though not in the way that his statement is generally interpreted. For more, see part 2, coming soon. (hint - think total taxes, not just income taxes)


Reason, my favorite libertarian rag, has a related analysis from Nick Gillespie and Mike Snell here. I don't think I trust either Bush or Kerry on fiscal discipline. Neither, apparently, do Gillespie and Snell:

But the fact remains that Bush's cuts have reduced the amount of income tax we all pay. Though Kerry will certainly suggest otherwise in Friday's debate, the trouble with Bush's budget policy isn't that he cut income taxes. It's that he hasn't cut spending. Indeed, perhaps the strongest case for electing Kerry may be that he will usher in an age of divided government that will restrain federal spending and the various problems that accompany it.


Fixed an unbelievably bad triple negative - Even I could not figure out what I was trying to say.

Be Careful Forwarding those Emails!

Got another email today from a friend sending around the "Its time to panic they are going to reinstate the draft" email. This is the third time in a week I have been forwarded this email. Unfortunately, the email is an urban legend at best, or a campaign tactic at worst, and has been debunked all over - the best is at I guess I can forgive my friends, since CBS News fell for it too. I once embarrassed myself forwarding a similar fake email about a change in credit privacy laws. I sent it indignantly to senators and web sites and friends. OOPS, all a hoax.

Please, please. Before you pass on these emails to your friends and embarrass yourself like I did, Google it. Just plug in the email subject line, like I did here for the draft email. You will see a bunch of fairly ideological sites promoting the same story - with exactly the same language - this should be big red flag. You will also see a number of credible 3rd parties and urban legend sites debunking it.

The point of this post was about crazy emails floating around, but given that I mentioned the draft one, the house voted down the draft bill sponsored by a Democratic representative 402-2 today.

PS - if you have not seen, check it out. They seem as fair as anybody in terms of equal opportunity debunking of both political parties.


Never trust men over 60 with the computer. Our Vice President managed to direct tens of millions of debate viewers to, which is a anti-Bush/Cheney site. LOL. Perhaps even funnier, by the time debate viewers found the real site at, they likely saw this headline on the front page:

Cheney & Edwards Mangle Facts. Getting it wrong about combat pay, Halliburton, and

OOPS. Dick, just answer the question yourself.