Sunday, July 06, 2014

Scientists and Studies predict ‘imminent global COOLING’ ahead – Drop in global temps ‘almost a slam dunk’
Growing number of scientists are predicting global cooling: Russia’s Pulkovo Observatory: ‘We could be in for a cooling period that lasts 200-250 years’

Danish Solar Scientist Svensmark declares ‘global warming has stopped and a cooling is beginning…enjoy global warming while it lasts’

New paper by Russian solar physicist by Habibullo Abdussamatov predicts another Little Ice Age within the next 30 years

Meteorologist Joe Bastardi on declining global temps: ‘Has the Obama administration, the EPA or anyone that can read a chart actually looked at what global temperatures are now doing?’

Climate Scientist Prof. Anastasios Tsonis at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Predicts: ‘I would assume something like another 15 years of leveling off or cooling’

Prominent geologist Dr. Don Easterbrook warns ‘global COOLING is almost a slam dunk’ for up to 30 years or more Australian Astronomical Society warns of global COOLING as Sun’s activity ‘significantly diminishes’
Obama Administration Knew About VA’s Secret Wait Lists For Years
The Obama administration knew about allegations of secret waiting lists at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as early as 2010, The Daily Caller has learned.

The current VA scandal involving secret waiting lists that led to preventable veteran deaths at the Phoenix VA Medical Center claimed the scalp of Obama-appointed former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who resigned at the end of last month. Former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama only found about the VA wait-list scandal from watching the news.

But the Obama administration knew that an internal VA investigation into secret “paper” waiting lists was conducted in 2010 under Shinseki....

Obamacare-Forced Narrow Networks Will Spread To The Whole Country, Expert Warns
Obamacare-created narrow networks are preventing Americans from actually using their health insurance and will soon spread to the entire insurance market, health policy expert and physician Scott Gottlieb testified to a House committee Thursday.

“These narrow networks will start to roll out to other parts of the market — the commercial market, the Medicare Advantage market,” Gottlieb said at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing. “It’s not going to be confined to Obamacare.”...

Testimony: Obamacare Plans Limit Patient Access to Expensive Drugs
Obamacare plans are controlling costs by limiting patients’ access to more expensive — and possibly more effective — drugs, according to revelations made at a Capitol Hill hearing Thursday....

Socialized medicine: British National Health Service is world’s best healthcare system
...The only serious black mark against the NHS was its poor record on keeping people alive. On a composite “healthy lives” score, which includes deaths among infants and patients who would have survived had they received timely and effective healthcare, the UK came 10th. The authors say that the healthcare system cannot be solely blamed for this issue, which is strongly influenced by social and economic factors. ...
One way to end violence against women? Married dads.
...This social media outpouring makes it clear that some men pose a real threat to the physical and psychic welfare of women and girls. But obscured in the public conversation about the violence against women is the fact that some other men are more likely to protect women, directly and indirectly, from the threat of male violence: married biological fathers. The bottom line is this: Married women are notably safer than their unmarried peers, and girls raised in a home with their married father are markedly less likely to be abused or assaulted than children living without their own father....

...Start with the threat that girls face from men. One of the most comprehensive portraits of sexual and physical abuse of girls (and boys) comes from the Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect. As the figure above indicates, children are more likely to be abused when they do not live in a home with their married father. What’s more: girls and boys are significantly more likely to be abused when they are living in a cohabiting household with an unrelated adult—usually their mother’s boyfriend. Indeed, the report notes that “only 0.7 per 1,000 children living with two married biological parents were sexually abused, compared to 12.1 per 1,000 children living with a single parent who had an unmarried partner.”...

Woman shown mercy after sex attack lies led to arrest
A woman who lied about being sexually assaulted - leading to an innocent man’s arrest - has been shown mercy by the courts.

Tracy Kent was spared prison after a judge learned how she was a “damaged and vulnerable woman” with a catalogue of woes behind her.

Kent, 36, admitted she falsely told police she’d been sexually assaulted to get sympathy from her husband after a row.

She ripped her own clothes to make her story more believable, Teesside Crown Court heard today....

Steven Greenhut on California Democrats' Plan to Get in Your Bed
...S.B. 967 would require all California colleges and universities that accept state financial aid to adopt sexual-behavior policies that include a standard by which students must provide their "affirmative consent" before engaging in a wide range of sexual activity.

And a simple "yes" might not suffice. As a senate analysis explains, the bill "requires consent to be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and authorizes a participant, at any time, to communicate that he/she no longer consents to continuing the sexual activity."

The bill, now in the assembly after passing the senate 27-9, also lowers the bar for on-campus sexual assault punishments to the "preponderance of evidence" standard used in lawsuits. It also requires colleges to provide prevention programs and to make services available for sexual assault victims....
A Moment for the Late R.J. Rummel, Who Documented the Murderous Nature of Government
...On his website, still maintained by the University of Hawaii Political Science Department, Rummel noted, "given popular estimates of the dead in a major nuclear war, this total democide is as though such a war did occur, but with its dead spread over a century."

The specific numbers of dead kept rising as Rummel's research continued, especially as he gathered records of horrifying colonial-era misdeeds and of the stacks of bodies piled by secretive communist governments. His final total for 20th century victims of state power was 262,000,000.

Rummel went beyond the morbid busines of counting the dead, and maintained, "It is true that democratic freedom is an engine of national and individual wealth and prosperity. Hardly known, however, is that freedom also saves millions of lives from famine, disease, war, collective violence, and democide (genocide and mass murder). That is, the more freedom, the greater the human security and the less the violence."...

Cops Harass Wheelchair-Bound Vet, Take His Cellphone Out of Spite, Arrest Him on Probation Violation After Story Goes Viral
...They accused him of “disturbing the peace,” and ordered him, along with his dog, to follow them downstairs to their office, where they could cite them.

“I told them, ‘write me a ticket or shut the fuck up,’” he said, acknowledging that he doesn’t hesitate to speak his mind to the cops…

A week later, his 23-year-old daughter dropped him off for his weekly blood tests, but because she had to attend class at the local college, she left him two hours earlier than his appointment.

So he entered the Starbucks on hospital property with his dog, which is completely allowed, but then one of the cops from the previous week entered, recognized him, and started hassling him about his “vicious dog” not being muzzled.

The cop ordered him off the hospital under threat of trespass arrest, which caused MacRae to miss his weekly appointment for his blood tests that enables him to survive despite having more than 20 pieces of metal in his neck.

“I had to call my daughter to come pick me up and she had to leave school,” the former construction worker said.

On Tuesday, he was at the hospital for another appointment, minding his own business in front of the hospital, when a VA cop walks up and begins hassling him about his dog.

Unlike the two prior incidents, MacRae began recording with his phone, only for the cop to lie and say he was not allowed, then eventually snatching it from him....

Autopsy Shows Cops Shot Miriam Carey Five Times From Behind
...The office of the District of Columbia medical examiner said in the autopsy that one round struck Carey in the left side of the back of her head, and she was also hit three times in the back and once in her left arm. The report didn't determine in what sequence Carey was hit.

Toxicology tests determined Carey didn't have alcohol or drugs in her blood.

Her family has questioned since the day of the incident whether shooting Carey was the only way to end the chase, which went through the heart of the nation's capital.

[Family attorney Eric] Sanders said on Tuesday that Carey's family members still feel police should have considered other options. The autopsy only "confirms what we said. It was unjustified."...

Student Accuses High School Of Blocking Conservative Websites
...Andrew Lampart, a senior at Nonnewaug High School, discovered that he couldn’t get on the National Rifle Association’s website while on campus as he was doing research for a classroom debate on gun control in May.

“So, I went over to the other side,” Lampart told WTIC. “And I went over on sites such as Moms Demand Action or Newtown Action Alliance and I could get on these websites but not the others.”

The 18-year-old decided to investigate further by broadening his search terms to political parties in Connecticut.

“I immediately found out that the State Democrat website was unblocked but the State GOP website was blocked,” Lampart said.

The student took it a step further and looked at websits focusing on abortion issues and religion. He discovered that “right-to-life” groups were blocked by the firewall but that Planned Parenthood and Pro-Choice America weren’t....

WATCH WHAT YOU SAY, THE NEW LIBERAL POWER ELITE WON’T TOLERATE DISSENT
...An alliance of upper level bureaucrats and cultural elites, the Clerisy, for for all their concerns about inequality, have thrived, unlike most Americans, in recent years. They also enjoy strong relations with the power structure in Washington, Silicon Valley, Hollywood and Wall Street....

...The Clerisy operates on very different principles than its rival power brokers, the oligarchs of finance, technology or energy. The power of the knowledge elite does not stem primarily from money, but in persuading, instructing and regulating the rest of society. Like the British Clerisy or the old church-centered French First Estate, the contemporary Clerisy increasingly promotes a single increasingly parochial ideology and, when necessary, has the power to marginalize, or excommunicate, miscreants from the public sphere....
IRS Pays Out $50K To National Organization for Marriage Over Donor Info Scandal
The IRS will pay $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) for illegally leaking donor information to a pro-gay marriage group, it was announced Tuesday.

The Human Rights Campaign posted NOM’s 2008 tax return, along with the names and contact information of major donors, on their website during the 2012 presidential campaign. The unauthorized dissemination of such information is a felony.

TheDC broke the story, obtaining NOM’s official demand for a federal investigation. Now, an investigation that is part of the civil suit NOM filed against the IRS has found that someone at the IRS did give NOM’s confidential tax and donor information to a gay rights activist in Boston....

IRS Chief Koskinen Has Donated Big to Democrats Over the Years
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen looks like he got the job atop the taxman agency the old fashioned way: He bought it.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, Koskinen has donated about $100,000 to Democrat candidates and committees since his first donation in 1979. His donor recipients include Gary Hart, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic nominee in each presidential campaign since 1980 (which would even include Walter Mondale, who stood no chance of beating President Ronald Reagan in 1984), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Hillary Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s campaigns. He most recently donated $2,500 to Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) in 2013.

He has given no money to Republicans. The taxman is a partisan Democrat....

Deunionize the IRS
...The government’s tax collecting agency is unionized? Think about that for a moment. The union in question is the National Treasury Employees Union. According to the web site of the NTEU, the mission of the union is “to organize federal employees to work together to ensure that every federal employee is treated with dignity and respect.” That’s a tall order, in part because there are so very many federal employees. The NTEU’s web site includes a nifty interactive graphic that shows you just how many there are in each state: 279,622 in Texas, for example, 350,544 in California, 165,943 in New York, etc., etc. There are, in short, millions of them.

And what political party do you suppose they support? In the 2012 election cycle, 94% of its PAC contributions went to Democrats, 4% to Republicans. That’s only one year, of course. How about 2010? That year 98% of its contributions went to Democrats, 2% went to Republicans. 2008 was a bit more balanced: that year only 96% went to Democrats. As Andrew Stiles pointed out at National Review, the NTEU is a “powerful, deeply partisan union whose boss has publicly disparaged the Tea Party and criticized the Republican party for having ties to it.”...

Report: Lois Lerner Tried to Get a Sitting GOP Senator in IRS Trouble (Update: Email Added)
...Ways and Means has provided the email in question. In the exchange, Lerner mistakenly receives an invitation to an event that includes Grassley. She leaps to the conclusion that travel expenses were “inappropriately” offered for Mrs. Grassley. So she suggests referring the senator for an audit....

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Looking Over the Wreckage of Obama's Year and a Half of Benghazi Lies
...Relatively few documents have been provided that shed light on White House involvement in the post-Benghazi narrative. Previously, emails showed that then-deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough, on Rhodes' behalf, assigned Hillary Clinton-aide Jake Sullivan to work with Deputy Director of the C.I.A. Mike Morell to edit the talking points on Benghazi. As the various agencies worked to edit and approve the talking points on Sept. 14, Rhodes emailed that there would be a Deputies meeting the next morning to work out the issues. "That's polite code for let's not debate this on e-mail for 18 hours," one official involved told me last year.

Multiple government officials including those in the military, State Department and C.I.A. have stated in documents or under questioning that they immediately believed the attacks, using heavy weaponry and mortar shells, were the work of terrorists. Prior to the attacks, there had been multiple warnings of al Qaeda threats in Libya and, specifically, in Benghazi.

In fact, in an early version of the government's "talking points," the C.I.A. stated that it had "produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa'ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya," and that "These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador's convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks." The administration later removed these C.I.A. disclosures about the advance warning of a threat.

Morell testified to Congress earlier this month that he, and not the White House, was responsible for making some of the most controversial revisions to the talking points, including removing the language about the advance warnings....
Michael E Mann: Liar, Cheat, Falsifier and Fraud
...Regarding the Hockey Stick of IPCC 2001 evidence now indicates, in my view, that an IPCC Lead Author working with a small cohort of scientists, misrepresented the temperature record of the past 1000 years by (a) promoting his own result as the best estimate, (b) neglecting studies that contradicted his, and (c) amputating another's result so as to eliminate conflicting data and limit any serious attempt to expose the real uncertainties of these data....

The Climate Change Debate Is Over, And Environmentalists Lost
The bloodcurdling National Climate Assessment is here and it portends catastrophe; floods, clouds and other assorted weather events are imminent! … but , says the report, “there is still time to act to limit the amount of climate change and the extent of damaging impacts.”

Have you noticed that we’re always at the cusp of a cataclysm, yet the deadline to act always moves to a politically convenient not-too-distant future? I guess when the time to act runs out – it will at some point, right? — we can begin thinking about defunding all these panels and reinvesting in something more productive: like figuring out how we can adapt to the future....

The Climate Change Debate Is Over, And Environmentalists Lost:
...You mean like former NASA scientist James Hansen? “January 17, 2009 – NASA’s James Hansen told us that Obama had only four years to save the planet.”

And that was on top of declaring in 2004, as the American Thinker noted, “that there is only a ten-year window to act on AGW (presumably by transferring mass quantities of taxpayer funds to global warmist causes) before climate Armageddon destroys humanity.”

And then there were all of the not-so-final countdowns that were made on the first Earth Day, which have long since quietly expired, and Al Gore declaring in 2008 that “the entire North ‘polarized’ cap will disappear in 5 years,” before tacitly declaring Mission Accomplished on radical environmentalism by selling out last year to big oil?...

EPA Refuses to Turn Over Subpoenaed Documents to Congress; Agency Explains That Some Subpoenaed Emails Were "Lost" In a "Hard Drive Crash" in 2010
...The hearing also included a bit of deja vu for the committee when members grilled McCarthy on lost emails from a hard-drive crash (the same issue that wiped out emails from IRS employee Lois Lerner). In this case, the emails in question were from retired EPA employee Philip North, who was involved in the agency's decision to begin the process of preemptively vetoing the Pebble Mine project in Alaska.

North, who declined an interview request by the committee, is retired, and committee staff say they have been unable to track him down. According to a committee aide, North's hard drive crashed in 2010--which was around the same time that the committee is investigating the agency's discussions of a potential veto--and the emails were not backed up....

Issa Threatens EPA With Contempt as Team Obama Celebrates Its Climate Anniversary
...The hearing also included a bit of deja vu for the committee when members grilled McCarthy on lost emails from a hard-drive crash (the same issue that wiped out emails from IRS employee Lois Lerner). In this case, the emails in question were from retired EPA employee Philip North, who was involved in the agency's decision to begin the process of preemptively vetoing the Pebble Mine project in Alaska.

North, who declined an interview request by the committee, is retired, and committee staff say they have been unable to track him down. According to a committee aide, North's hard drive crashed in 2010—which was around the same time that the committee is investigating the agency's discussions of a potential veto—and the emails were not backed up.

McCarthy said it appeared there were some emails the agency could not produce that should have been kept, but she was still working to see if they could be recovered. McCarthy made it clear that it was a small set of emails and that the agency had notified the National Archives of the problem Tuesday, though had told Oversight Committee staff earlier....

Greenpeace executive flies 250 miles to work
One of Greenpeace’s most senior executives commutes 250 miles to work by plane, despite the environmental group’s campaign to curb air travel, it has emerged.

Pascal Husting, Greenpeace International’s international programme director, said he began "commuting between Luxembourg and Amsterdam" when he took the job in 2012 and currently made the round trip about twice a month.

The flights, at 250 euros for a round trip, are funded by Greenpeace, despite its campaign to curb "the growth in aviation", which it says "is ruining our chances of stopping dangerous climate change”....

Climate-Change Exaggeration: Then and Now
...What we’ve got to do in energy conservation is try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, to have approached global warming as if it is real means energy conservation, so we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.
-- Timothy Wirth, former U.S. Senator (D-Colorado). Quoted in Michael Fumento, Science Under Siege (1993), p. 362.

“On the one hand, as scientists, we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means we must include all the doubts, caveats, and ifs, ands and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change.

To do that we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to off up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical blind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.”
-- Stephen Schneider, quoted in Jonathan Schell, “Our Fragile Earth,” Discover Magazine, October 1989, p. 47
New ObamaCare Enrollment Report Shows Death Spiral Is Likely
...Why does this matter for the death spiral? Because so many enrollees choosing silver plans suggests that the risk pool may be sicker than is optimal. For enrollees at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level, silver plans tend to offer the most coverage for the lowest price. For persons under 250 percent FPL, ObamaCare offers help with copays and deductibles, but only if the consumer chooses a silver plan. The actuarial value for a silver plan is 70 percent (that is, a silver plan must, on average, cover 70 percent of a policyholder’s medical claims), but when the subsidies for cost-sharing are included, the actuarial value rises to between 73 and 94 percent. As one writer notes, “Why would someone opt for a silver-level plan over a cheaper bronze or catastrophic-level plan? The most plausible explanation is that the enrollee anticipates incurring significant medical expenses over the coming year, which is to say that he’s not healthy.” ...

Under Obamacare, People Must Be Broken of Their Preference for Choice
We have a new contender for most-telling-ever Obamacare quote this morning: “We have to break people away from the choice habit that everyone has.” That’s Marcus Merz, head of Minnesota health insurer PreferredOne, in a New York Times report on the increasing prevalence of narrow network health plans.

Merz is basically stating openly what the Obama administration won’t, which is that Obamacare is intentionally designed to narrow consumer choice and plan design within the health insurance market. The Obama administration doesn't want to say this because it is bad politics generally, and also because President Obama specifically and repeatedly promised that, under the law, people would be able to keep their choice of health plans and doctors, not that they would be broken of their preference for medical choice. But the law’s authors and administrators have a pretty good idea of what kind of health insurance they want you to have, and that’s the kind of insurance that you’re going to get....

2.45 Million Obamacare Enrollees Paid Their Premiums by April 15. Yay?
...Just 67 percent of Americans who purchased insurance through federal-facility ObamaCare exchanges have paid their premiums, according to information insurers participating in the program gave to Congress....

Big Increases in Obamacare Premiums and Deductibles Coming in November
...When Obamacare first rolled out last fall, the failure of the federal and state exchanges were only the first signs of disaster. Premiums spiked upward in both the individual and group markets, and insurers raised deductibles and narrowed provider networks to save themselves money. Millions of people lost their existing insurance plans in the individual market, and many ended up in plans that either didn’t fit or cost far more than they spent in the past....

The Challenge of Measuring Obamacare's Results
...The problem is that in addition to expanding health coverage, Obamacare also modified a variety of existing federal programs, and it was through those modifications that it achieved much of its deficit reduction. But those changes have not all been implemented as originally planned, and now the agency says it can no longer judge the complete fiscal effects. "Isolating the incremental effects of those provisions on previously existing programs and revenues four years after enactment of the Affordable Care Act is not possible," a budget office report said in April....

...But in April, The New York Times reported that the Census Bureau would be changing the way it asked about insurance status in what the Bureau describes as a "total revision to health insurance questions."

Researchers say that the old methodology significantly overstated the number of uninsured; the new questions will produce a lower number. That's convenient for Obamacare. But what it means is that it won't be possible to determine how much of the reduction is caused by the change in questions rather than by policy changes or other factors....

However Bad You Think the VA Scandal Is, It’s Worse. Much Worse.
...The problems at Veterans Affairs extend well beyond long wait lists, with a report Tuesday showing the department is plagued with poor care that has cost up to 1,000 veterans their lives and left taxpayers on the hook for nearly $1 billion in malpractice settlements since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some of the problems detailed in the report by Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma are downright ghoulish. They include the case of a former security chief at a New York Veterans Affairs medical center whom the FBI arrested on charges of plotting to kidnap, rape and murder women and children....

• Female patients received unnecessary pelvic and breast exams from a sex offender....
Lois Lerner, Colonel Mustard and the Blue Screen of Death
...Well, because as I mentioned above, the Blue Screen of Death is an operating system error. The operating system lives on the hard drive. Which raises a question: If Lerner’s hard drive was so thoroughly malfunctioning that no one could even get the data off of it, how was it booting up far enough for the operating system to malfunction? This is not the description of the problem that I would have expected to hear; I would have expected to hear that her computer wouldn’t really boot up at all, perhaps while horrible grinding noises emanated from its innards. In most cases, a computer displaying the Blue Screen of Death is a computer with a hard drive functioning well enough for data recovery. If I were Lerner's IT support person, I would waste no time in getting the hard drive to a working computer, where I’d connect it as a secondary drive and transfer off all the files, because the Blue Screen of Death is often a harbinger of future hard drive failure. But it was not, in my experience, usually a symptom of the actual failure....

MORE ON THE IRS’S ILLEGAL DESTRUCTION OF EVIDENCE
...True the Vote’s brief points out that the first lawsuit alleging discriminatory targeting of conservative groups was filed by a pro-Israel group called Z Street, Inc., on August 25, 2010. On that date, at the very latest, the IRS had a legal duty to take measures to ensure that no emails, correspondence, memoranda, notes, or other evidence of any sort that could be relevant to the case was lost or destroyed. (Congressional investigations, or other information known to the IRS, may have triggered the duty at an earlier date.) Lois Lerner’s communications would have been at the very top of the list of materials that the IRS had a legal duty to go out of its way to preserve.

But, according to IRS representatives who have testified before Congressional committees, the IRS ignored the law. Instead of making sure that relevant information was preserved, the IRS blithely continued erasing back-up email tapes every 90 days. Further, the IRS continued its policy of assigning each employee a ridiculously small space on an email server, and then authorizing employees (like Lois Lerner) to delete at will to keep space open. And, finally, when Lerner’s hard drive crashed ten months after the Z Street case was commenced, the IRS made no effort to preserve it, but rather, by its own account, recycled the hard drive in a business-as-usual manner....

ON THE IRS EMAILS, THE PLOT THICKENS
...Lerner’s concern was about the “personal files” on her computer, nothing about emails. This would make no sense if her computer crash had destroyed the principal record of her work for the IRS over the previous two years, i.e. her email traffic. But it makes perfect sense for Lerner to be unconcerned about emails if she knew the IRS had a contract with Sonasoft and that her emails were safely archived. All she needed to worry about were her own personal files. That unconcern would have been entirely appropriate until two months later, when the IRS canceled the Sonasoft contract. Based on what we now know, that appears to be the moment when the record of Lerner’s dealings with other federal entities (like the White House and DOJ) was lost.

How Did an IRS Official Know with Certainty that the Obama Campaign Would Continue One of Its Attacks?
...How did Sarah Hall Ingram, not a political officer but an official at the Internal Revenue Service in a politically sensitive position, know with certainty that Obama would continue hammering on this theme? Was she in contact with anyone at the White House or someone who played any role in the Obama campaign?

Ingram certainly was in contact with the Obama White House. She made 165 visits there during the IRS targeting period. The official story is that Ingram visited the White House to discuss “health policy” with Doug Shulman, then commissioner of the IRS, and White House health policy assistant Jeanne Lambrew. Ingram was head of the IRS tax-exempt office at the time. She moved on from there to coordinate IRS prosecution of Obamacare, and has since retired....
When the Nerds Go Marching In
How a dream team of engineers from Facebook, Twitter, and Google built the software that drove Barack Obama's reelection

...And of course, the team's only real goal was to elect the President. "We have to elect the President. We don't need to sell our software to Oracle," Reed told his team. But the secondary impact of their success or failure would be to prove that campaigns could effectively hire and deploy top-level programming talent. If they failed, it would be evidence that this stuff might be best left to outside political technology consultants, by whom the arena had long been handled. If Reed's team succeeded, engineers might become as enshrined in the mechanics of campaigns as social-media teams already are...
The Profit Police
...In the entire history of economic thought, nobody has ever been able to demonstrate that there is an objectively “right” price for anything separate and apart from the subjective valuation that happens in the marketplace. Progressives like speeches about diversity, but they loathe the actual diversity of views and desires, especially the idea that prices should be sorted out according to the billions of subjective valuations in the marketplace through a process that nobody is in charge of. (In Dante’s Hell, the engraving reads: “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.” In Ezra Klein’s Hell, the engraving reads: “Nobody In Charge.”) Implicit in this belief is that most people — consumers and workers alike — are too stupid or too weak for us to allow them to act on their own subjective valuations, that we are compelled by . . . justice, efficiency, expert opinion, whatever . . . to substitute our own judgment for theirs. And then all you need is two government studies and a rent-a-philosopher writing in the New York Times to proclaim that there is some real-world basis for your own preferences as compared to those of the rabble on whose behalf you have just deputized yourself to organize the world. The language of “social justice” is largely a sort of moral minstrel show designed to distract from the real argument, which is: “You’re too stupid to be entrusted with your own life.” Something close to the entirety of the progressive agenda (apart from sexual license), from wage rules to health care to “investments” in modish fantasy projects to industrial policy, assumes that that metaphysically correct price is out there, simply waiting for the right people with the right ideas in service of the right policy to discover them, or at least to approximate them....

Sunday, June 22, 2014

IRS CANCELLED Contract with Email-Storage Firm Weeks After Lerner’s Computer Crash
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) cancelled its longtime relationship with an email-storage contractor just weeks after ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s computer crashed and shortly before other IRS officials’ computers allegedly crashed.

The IRS signed a contract with Sonasoft, an email-archiving company based in San Jose, California, each year from 2005 to 2010. The company, which partners with Microsoft and counts The New York Times among its clients, claims in its company slogans that it provides “Email Archiving Done Right” and “Point-Click Recovery.” Sonasoft in 2009 tweeted, “If the IRS uses Sonasoft products to backup their servers why wouldn’t you choose them to protect your servers?”

Sonasoft was providing “automatic data processing” services for the IRS throughout the January 2009 to April 2011 period in which Lerner sent her missing emails.

But Sonasoft’s six-year business relationship with the IRS came to an abrupt end at the close of fiscal year 2011, as congressional investigators began looking into the IRS conservative targeting scandal and IRS employees’ computers started crashing left and right.

Sonasoft’s fiscal year 2011 contract with the IRS ended on August 31, 2011. Eight days later, the IRS officially closed out its relationship with Sonasoft in accordance with the federal government’s contract close-out guidelines, which require agencies to fully audit their contracts and to get back any money that wasn’t used by the contractor. Curiously, the IRS de-allocated 36 cents when it closed out its contract with Sonasoft on September 8, 2011.

Lois Lerner’s computer allegedly crashed in June 2011, just ten days after House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Dave Camp first wrote a letter asking if the IRS was engaging in targeting of nonprofit groups. Two months later, Sonasoft’s contract ended and the IRS gave its email-archiving contractor the boot....

Kim Strassel and the WSJ on the Lost IRS Emails
...A WSJ editorial this morning points out the remarkable timing of the IRS’s begrudging disclosure last Friday that evidence central to the case has been destroyed: more than a year after the investigation began and only when a deadline was impending in which the IRS commissioner would have to certify personally that the agency had produced to Congress all relevant communications. Were responsible agency officials determined to treat this as a high-priority investigation, to be carried on in good faith and with all deliberate speed? (There was no doubt about the seriousness of the scandal, as President Obama himself admitted—or seemed to be admitting—at the time.) Or did they instead stall and deflect until the very last moment? So un-forthcoming was the agency that, according to today’s Journal editorial, IRS staffers met with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) Monday and did not tell him that the external emails of six other IRS employees had gone missing too—he found that out only later in the week when he read a press release from the House side. ...

Lawmakers: IRS lost more emails in tea party probe
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service has lost more emails connected to the tea party investigation, congressional investigators said Tuesday.

The IRS said last Friday it had lost an untold number of emails when Lois Lerner’s computer crashed in 2011. Lerner used to head the division that handles applications for tax-exempt status.

On Tuesday, two key lawmakers said the IRS has also lost emails from six additional IRS workers whose computers crashed. Among them was Nikole Flax, who was chief of staff to Lerner’s boss, then-deputy commissioner Steven Miller....

IRS ‘Lost’ Emails From Official That Met With Top Obama Assistant
...The IRS recently claimed that it lost emails from Nikole Flax, who served as chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller. Flax was one of seven IRS employees including ex-official Lois Lerner whose emails to and from White House officials and other Obama administration agencies were purportedly deleted and could not be handed over to congressional investigators.

Flax held personal meetings with a top assistant to President Obama and also colluded with Lerner to prosecute conservative activists.

Flax made 31 visits to the White House between July 12, 2010 and May 8, 2013, according to White House visitor logs. Flax’s visits started in the early days of the IRS targeting program and ended just two days before the IRS scandal broke on May 10, 2013.

Flax met twice in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew, on Oct. 5, 2012 and Jan. 15, 2013.

Who is Jeanne Lambrew?

As The Daily Caller reported, Lambrew exchanged confidential taxpayer information on conservative groups with IRS official Sarah Hall Ingram in 2012 as the White House tried to figure out how to deal with a lawsuit filed by a religious organization fighting Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. Lambrew also hosted 155 of Ingram’s 165 White House visits....
Free Universities And No Student Loan Debt Is Hurting Denmark's Economy
...But many, in both industry and politics, feel it's become a free lunch that's giving indigestion to Scandinavia's already weakest economy.

Too many pursue "fulfilment" and too few the science and engineering degrees needed in well-paid growth sectors critical for the nation's future, they say.

Typical is 23-year-old Ali Badreldin, who is enrolled at the Royal Danish Academy of Music to become a saxophone player. "Music was always part of my life growing up so it was a natural choice," he said.

His courses are free and he gets a monthly stipend of 5,839 DKK (782 euros, $1,074) in a system where class sizes are rarely limited.

The result has Denmark spending more proportionally on education than any other country in the OECD club of 34 advanced nations.

Yet biotech firms like Novozymes say they cannot find enough engineers.

Engineering opportunities have soared in recent years in Denmark, but its youth have shunned the sector, with only one-third the OECD average contemplating an engineering career amid top-heavy enrolment in arts and humanities programmes....

...They point to "Lazy Robert", or Robert Nielsen, an erstwhile student of social sciences, philosophy and Chinese, now 45, who shot to notoriety after proudly stating on TV that he prefers living off social benefits than taking a job he didn't find "meaningful"....
MOTHER ACCUSED OF FATALLY POISONING SON WITH SODIUM
...A young mother who documented her 5-year-old son's persistent illness on social media was arrested Tuesday, accused of fatally poisoning him with sodium.

...Investigators say Lacey Spears was desperate for attention and used her son as a tool to make it happen by publicly documenting his condition. ...

...Lacey documented her son's various health problems using a public blog. And five months ago, investigators became curious and looked into her son's death, and that's when they started gathering mountains of evidence. Finally, a grand jury granted the indictment. ...
AFTER CLIMATE CHANGE SPEECH, OBAMA JETS TO PALM SPRINGS FOR GOLF
President Barack Obama arrived in Palm Springs, California on Saturday via Air Force One to spend Father's Day playing golf. Hours earlier, he had lectured graduating students at University of California, Irvine, about the need to "do something" about climate change, mocking those who questioned that policy goal.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages reducing unnecessary air travel to minimize carbon dioxide emissions. Golf courses are also frequent targets of environmentalists--especially in southern California, where a severe drought has placed a spotlight on golf courses' use of scarce water resources....
Lois Lerner's Hard Drive "Crashed" Ten Days After House Ways & Means Chairman David Camp Made His First Inquiry About Targeting Conservatives
...As to Ms. Lerner's behavior, consider that House Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp first sent a letter asking if the IRS was engaged in targeting in June, 2011. Ms. Lerner denied it. She engineered a plant in an audience at a tax conference in May 2013 to drop the bombshell news about targeting (maybe hoping nobody would notice?). She has subsequently asserted a Fifth Amendment right to silence in front of the only people actually investigating the affair, Congress. Now we learn that her hard drive supposedly defied modernity and suffered total annihilation about 10 days after the Camp letter arrived....
"We look upon authority too often and focus over and over again, for thirty or forty or fifty years, as if there is something wrong with authority. We see only the oppressive side of authority. Maybe it comes out of our history and our background. What we don't see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do."
--Rudy Giuliani

Sunday, June 15, 2014

David Brat Is Right
...It is, it seems, decidedly easier idiotically to repeat that “government is the only thing we all belong to,” or that “government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together” than to acknowledge that, whether one is advocating a small government that takes care of the basics or a Leviathan that seeks to meddle in the smallest recesses of the human heart, one is invoking Thomas Hobbes. George Washington almost certainly never said that “government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force,” nor did he describe the state as “a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” But these maxims, attributed to him, gained wide currency because, imprimatur or none, they contain a valuable truth. Brat’s words are the heir to this recognition. In his supposedly “unusual” essay, he asks whether “we trust institutions of the government to ensure justice”; suggests that “history teaches us” to worry about the scope of the state; and, channeling a sentiment that would be extraordinarily familiar to the Founding Fathers and in accord with the philosophies and historical examples that inspired them, mocks the arrogant notion that we now “live in particularly lucky and fortunate times where the State can be trusted to do minimal justice.” He observed, too, that however secure the principle that Americans may defend themselves against violence if attacked, they will nonetheless eventually have to abide by a judgment from the state. When Brat argues that “when push comes to shove, the State will win in a battle of wills,” he is confirming that violence is only legitimate when the state says that it is. That’s a monopoly.

There is nothing incoherent or sinister about this. On the contrary: That a potential member of Congress is so elegantly aware of the remarkable strength of the body that he is seeking to join is little short of refreshing. Also bracing was that Brat’s contention was cast in bipartisan — or, rather, nonpartisan — terms. First, he asked whether his audience was happy to trust the extraordinary power of the government to the temporary custody of the Right or Left. Then he suggested that anybody who “answered ‘no’ to either question” could well find themselves with “a major problem in the future.” In doing so, he joined a long line of forward-looking Americans who have, in Edmund Burke’s felicitous phrase, tended not to “judge of an ill principle in government only by an actual grievance,” but have been disposed instead to “anticipate the evil, and judge of the pressure of the grievance by the badness of the principle.” The colonists, Burke espied, “augur misgovernment at a distance; and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.” So, too, the architects of the nation. It was evident in the late 18th century that despotism was a perennial prospect, and, as Brat hints, the horrors of the 20th century should have served only to amplify that trepidation. Where, pray, is the problem here?...

...If David Brat’s wholly inoffensive observations are enough to give a person the vapors, he might well look to reconsider the foundations of his philosophy. In certain cases — rape, murder, defense of the realm — the case for government force is an easy one to make. In others — the hosting of cowboy poetry festivals, the banning of smoking, the hyper-regulation of small businesses — it is downright farcical. Were I convinced that the state should be using its power to determine the optimum price of milk, I would probably recoil at the word “violence,” too. This, though, has no bearing on whether its use is pertinent. David Brat was correct: Governments of all sorts rely upon force and maintain a monopoly on fire, and thereby invite all of us to turn our skeptical eyes toward them. Let’s try not to crucify a man for looking on them without favor and telling all who would listen the acrid truth about what he has seen.
Operation Choke Point a harbinger of big-government activism to come?
...Justice Department targetsinclude industries as diverse as ammunition sales, coin dealers, payday loans, “racist materials,” etc. And, again, these are all legal businesses that haven’t been charged with breaking any laws — the Justice Department just doesn’t like them.

So what we have under “Operation Choke Point” is the government deciding it wants to put the squeeze on certain lines of (legal) business, for no other reason than that the Department of Justice doesn’t favor them. It seems almost like some sort of conspiracy to deprive people of their civil rights. …

Personally, I don’t think that regulators should be able to abuse their discretion — and this certainly looks abusive to me — in order to pressure banks to shut down the accounts of legal businesses. (As Sen. David Vitter, R-La., noted in March, the Justice Department has no statutory authority to do this). And while abortion clinics and environmental groups are probably safe under the Obama administration, if this sort of thing stands, they will be vulnerable to the same tactics if a different administration adopts this same thuggish approach toward the businesses that it dislikes. And why wouldn’t it, if the Justice Department gets away with this?

Congress, and the courts, and the press, need to bring the Justice Department to heel. And, in fact, I think that the officials involved should be named, shamed, and disciplined. Because what’s going on here doesn’t look much like justice at all...
The joy of tax: why payment should be a pleasure
I’m talking “tax”.

It is time to rehabilitate the word; indeed the notion. In doing so, we must learn to acknowledge- nay embrace- its innate goodness, decency and beauty. Of paying it, sharing in its bounty. Indeed, its infinite erotic potential.

The days of tax-shaming must come to an end.

...Time and time again the people step up to support bold progressive change - the Gonski education reforms, the NBN, a National Disability Insurance Scheme. At the same time, they reject the idea that they should pay more tax to do so. Economists like to borrow from psychologists who call this “cognitive dissonance”....

Liberal Austin homeowners surprised to find they have to pay all the taxes they voted for
...“I’m at the breaking point,” said Gretchen Gardner, an Austin artist who bought a 1930s bungalow in the Bouldin neighborhood just south of downtown in 1991 and has watched her property tax bill soar to $8,500 this year.

“It’s not because I don’t like paying taxes,” said Gardner, who attended both meetings. “I have voted for every park, every library, all the school improvements, for light rail, for anything that will make this city better. But now I can’t afford to live here anymore. I’ll protest my appraisal notice, but that’s not enough. Someone needs to step in and address the big picture.”...
A Gentlemen’s Guide To Rape Culture
...If you are a man, you are part of rape culture. I know … that sounds rough. You’re not a rapist, necessarily. But you do perpetuate the attitudes and behaviors commonly referred to as rape culture....

...Here’s a bullet-point list of examples of rape culture.

· Inflating false rape report statistics

· Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress, mental state, motives, and history

· Defining “manhood” as dominant and sexually aggressive...

Good grades, good home gets college student profiled as rapist, claims lawsuit
..."[John Doe] fits the profile of other rapists on campus in that he had a high GPA in high school, was his class valedictorian, was on [a sports] team, and was from a good family," the suit quotes Occidental Sociology Prof. Danielle Dirks, who co-founded the school's Sexual Assault Coalition, telling the woman, who was initially reluctant to accuse the man of rape.

Earlier this year, the White House issued a report on sexual assaults on college campuses and called on schools to become more vigilant about the issue. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) estimates that a college with 10,000 students could experience as many as 350 rapes per year, while the White House Council on Women and Girls — co-authors of the White House report — estimates nearly 1-in-5 women will be sexually assaulted during her time in college.

But the fact that campus rape is a legitimate social problem does not mean John Doe is guilty, according to Shibley. He said Occidental misapplied its own sexual misconduct policy, which was implemented last August, a month before the university settled with at least 10 of 37 current and former students who alleged that the school repeatedly mishandled sexual assault accusations.

The women, all of whom were represented by high-profile women's rights attorney Gloria Allred, were among those who alleged in a federal civil rights complaint that Occidental deliberately discouraged victims from reporting sexual assaults, misled students about their rights, retaliated against whistle-blowers and doled out minor punishments to assailants who in some cases allegedly struck again.

Shibley, meanwhile, said an external adjudicator hired by the school to investigate the September 2013 incident concluded that the female student did consent to sex, but that that consent was invalid since she was intoxicated.

Furthermore, text messages between the two, including one in which the woman asked whether John Doe had a condom, should be considered as a “smoking gun” in the case, Shibley said.

“We’re responsible for the decisions we make while we’re drunk, just like someone who drinks and decides to get behind the wheel of a car,” he said. “She asked if he had a condom; she also told one of her friends that she was going to have sex as well. It seems pretty clear she knew what was going on.”...
After Looting $429 Million & More Gold Bullion From Mosul Central Bank, ISIS Is Now "The Richest Terror Force In the World"

4 Things You Need to Know About the Collapse of Iraq

Veterans watch as Iraq teeters on the brink

Iraqi Kurds seize Kirkuk as army flees

As militants advance in Iraq, U.S. Embassy in Baghdad readies evacuation
Obama acts to protect workers from ObamaCare.
...The word that got our attention, though, is dump. It appears in the headline, too: "I.R.S. Bars Employers From Dumping Workers Into Health Exchanges." If the New York Times were our only source of news, we'd be very confused right now. (Well, OK, we'd be very confused almost always.) For months the Times has been touting the quality of ObamaCare policies, scoffing at those who liked their previous plans and were victimized by President Obama's fraudulent promise that they could keep them.

Now all of a sudden the exchanges are a garbage dump? Or is it that the exchanges are a pristine wilderness into which workers are the garbage being dumped?

The Times quotes Obama at a February press conference: "I don't think that an employer-based system is going to be, or should be, replaced anytime soon," he said when a reporter asked "whether over the long term you see a future where health insurance is less tied to the workplace."

You can see why the president would take that position. If employers start dropping medical benefits, the number of people directly victimized by the you-can-keep-your-plan fraud would multiply, and with it Obama and the Democrats' political problems. Thus the administration is in the ironic position of writing regulations to make sure its "comprehensive reform" isn't too comprehensive....

VA Spending Per Patient Exploded Amid Deadly Delays
...The VA's budget has been exploding, even as the number of veterans steadily declines. From 2000 to 2013, outlays nearly tripled, while the population of veterans declined by 4.3 million.

Medical care spending — which consumes about 40% of the VA's budget — has climbed 193% over those years, while the number of patients served by the VA each year went up just 68%, according to data from the VA.

From 2008 to 2012 alone, per-patient spending at the VA climbed 27%. To put that in perspective, per capita health spending nationwide rose just 13% during those years....

Exclusive: Texas VA Run Like a ‘Crime Syndicate,’ Whistleblower Says
...Emails and VA memos obtained exclusively by The Daily Beast provide what is among the most comprehensive accounts yet of how high-level VA hospital employees conspired to game the system. It shows not only how they manipulated hospital wait lists but why—to cover up the weeks and months veterans spent waiting for needed medical care. If those lag times had been revealed, it would have threatened the executives’ bonus pay.

What’s worse, the documents show the wrongdoing going unpunished for years, even after it was repeatedly reported to local and national VA authorities. That indicates a new troubling angle to the VA scandal: that the much touted investigations may be incapable of finding violations that are hiding in plain sight.

“For lack of a better term, you’ve got an organized crime syndicate,” a whistleblower who works in the Texas VA told The Daily Beast. “People up on top are suddenly afraid they may actually be prosecuted and they’re pressuring the little guys down below to cover it all up.”

“I see it in the executives’ eyes,” the whistleblower added. “They are worried.”...

Don’t Nationalize the VA’s Failures
...“Don’t sweat it,” The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber wrote rather bluntly in January, for Obamacare’s “going to get us to a single-payer system before long.” Leading progressive lights Ezra Klein and Paul Krugman certainly hope so — the former having praised the VA as one of “the best health-care systems in the world,” the latter having not only endorsed the principle of a government takeover of the health sector but having advocated the nationalization of hospitals, too. The VA, Krugman claimed in 2011, is “an integrated system, which provides health care as well as paying for it.” As a result, he contended, “it’s free from the perverse incentives created when doctors and hospitals profit from expensive tests and procedures, whether or not those procedures actually make medical sense.”

On paper, this all sounds rather nice, I suppose. But, having lived for 26 years under such a system, I cannot say that I share Krugman’s enthusiasm. Explaining the nature of the new National Health Service in the late 1940s, the British socialist Aneurin Bevan told reporters that “if a bedpan dropped in a hospital corridor, the reverberations should echo in Whitehall.” (“Whitehall” is the part of London in which the national government is located.) Bevan got his way — and how. In England nowadays, when bad things happen to patients, we do not blame hospitals, doctors, and drug companies but politicians and their appointees. Those who follow Parliament are thus treated to the absurd spectacle of the prime minister being asked to comment on individual medical cases in far-flung corners of the nation. This he seems to have accepted as his role. Never does he say in response, “Why am I being asked about this?” Never does he ask whether it might be better if the state got out of the hospital business. Instead, in each and every instance, he takes responsibility and promises to look into it.

Does he do so? Rarely. Because mistakes in delivering health care are catastrophic for those seeking reelection or trying to push an agenda, politicians in Britain spend the vast majority of their time worrying about perceived rather than actual improvement. Government, by definition, has no competition, which means that those who staff it can lie and spin and cover up mistakes not just with impunity but with the full force of the state at their back. Thus do results become less important than statistics, reforms less important than spending, and patients less important than careers....

...All of which is to say that this is not only a question of what government does to health care but of what health care does to government. As Patrick Brennan noted yesterday, the sorts of problems that we are seeing at the VA — “gaming statistics, secret waiting lists, long wait times for serious procedures” — “seem to be endemic to single-payer health systems and especially fully socialized ones (as in ones where the government employs the doctors and runs the hospitals, too, like the VA, Britain’s, and Spain’s).” In short: Governments can’t run health-care systems efficiently, which irritates people, which leads to governments lying about health care. It’s a mess...

VA Spending Per Patient Exploded Amid Deadly Delays
...The VA's budget has been exploding, even as the number of veterans steadily declines. From 2000 to 2013, outlays nearly tripled, while the population of veterans declined by 4.3 million.

Medical care spending — which consumes about 40% of the VA's budget — has climbed 193% over those years, while the number of patients served by the VA each year went up just 68%, according to data from the VA.

From 2008 to 2012 alone, per-patient spending at the VA climbed 27%. To put that in perspective, per capita health spending nationwide rose just 13% during those years....

Monday, May 26, 2014

Obama, 2007: Time to End ‘Deplorable Conditions at Some VA Hospitals’
...After seven years of an Administration that has stretched our military to the breaking point, ignored deplorable conditions at some VA hospitals, and neglected the planning and preparation necessary to care for our returning heroes, America’s veterans deserve a President who will fight for them not just when it’s easy or convenient, but every hour of every day for the next four years....

It's Not Just the VA; Government Health System Waiting Lists Are Lethal in Canada, Too
At least 40 veterans may have died in Phoenix alone, while languishing on secret Veterans Administration waiting lists, according to CNN. Such delays are typical of government-controlled, single-payer systems, I wrote yesterday. They're such a regular feature that the U.K. National Health Service boasts "you have the legal right to start your NHS consultant-led treatment within a maximum of 18 weeks from referral."

And the deaths that go with such delays may also be a regular feature of single-payer systems.

"Canada's growing wait times for health care may have contributed to the deaths of 44,273 Canadian women between 1993 and 2009," that country's Fraser Institute announced just yesterday....
White House: No More CIA Fake Vaccination Programs
The White House has announced that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is no longer conducting fake vaccination campaigns, which the World Health Organization blames for contributing to the resurgence of the polio virus. The CIA previously employed the controversial tactic in Pakistan, where they collected DNA from children as part of the hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden....

...The White House's letter comes several days after the Pakistani government laid partial blame on the CIA for the virus's rise and less than two weeks after a WHO Emergency Committee issued a statement that the debilitating disease is spreading at an alarming rate...
The New Obama Narrative: Epic Incompetence
The last eight months have battered the Obama administration. From the botched rollout of the health-care website to the VA scandal, events are now cementing certain impressions about Mr. Obama. Among the most damaging is this: He is unusually, even epically, incompetent. That is not news to some of us, but it seems to be a conclusion more and more people are drawing.

The emerging narrative of Barack Obama, the one that actually comports to reality, is that he is a rare political talent but a disaster when it comes to actually governing. The list of his failures is nothing short of staggering, from shovel-ready jobs that weren’t so shovel ready to the failures of healthcare.gov to the VA debacle. But it also includes the president’s failure to tame the debt, lower poverty, decrease income inequality, and increase job creation. He promised to close Guantanamo Bay and didn’t. His administration promised to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed before a civilian jury in New York but they were forced to retreat because of outrage in his own party. Early on in his administration Mr. Obama put his prestige on the line to secure the Olympics for Chicago in 2016 and he failed. ...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

“Operation Choke Point”
...The general outline is the DOJ and bank regulators are putting the screws to banks and other third-party payment processors to refuse banking services to companies and industries that are deemed to pose a “reputation risk” to the bank. Most controversially, the list of dubious industries is populated by enterprises that are entirely, or at least generally, legal. Tom Blumer’s extremely informative post summarizing what is known to date about Operation Choke Point reproduces the list, which includes things such as ammunition sales, escort services, get-quick-rich schemes, on-line gambling, “racist materials” and payday loans. Quite obviously, some of these things are not like the other; moreover, just because there are some bad apples within a legal industry doesn’t justify effectively destroying a legal industry through secret executive fiat.

Especially ironic, of course, is that while the DOJ and bank regulators are choking off financial services to legal industries, they are also encouraging banks to provide banking services to illegal marijuana sales.

The ability to destroy legal industries through secret actions to deprive them of banking services has obvious political consequences. For example, it was reported last week that firearms shops are alleging that Operation Choke Point is being used to pressure banks into refusing to providing financial services. There are also reports that porn stars (and here) have had their bank accounts terminated for “moral” reasons related to the “reputation risk” of banking individuals in the porn industry. IRS officials must already be salivating about ways to apply Operation Choke Point to tea party groups.

In principle, of course, the logic of Operation Choke Point could be extended to groups not currently targeted. Notably absent from the FDIC’s hit list, for example, are abortion clinics, radical environmental groups, or, well, marijuana shops, for that matter. Something similar was done to cut off credit-card payments to support the operation of WikiLeaks....

Saturday, May 24, 2014

They Had a Dream
...And thus the elites had to wait for the man of their dreams.

When they found him, he was a rare breed: a genuine African American (his father was Kenyan) who thought and talked like the academics on both sides of his family, a product of the faculty lounge who dabbled in urban/race politics, a man who could speak to both ends of the liberals’ up-and-down coalition, and a would-be transformer of our public life whose quiet voice and low-key demeanor conveyed “moderation” in all that he spoke and did. Best of all, he was the person whom the two branches of the liberal kingdom—the academics and journalists—wanted to be, a man who shared their sensibilities and their views of the good and the beautiful. This was the chance of a lifetime to shape the world to their measure. He and they were the ones they were waiting for, and with him, they longed for transcendent achievements. But in the event they were undone by the three things Siegel had pegged as their signature weaknesses: They had too much belief in the brilliance of experts, they were completely dismissive of public opinion, and they had a contempt for the great middle class....

..."Sinclair Lewis’s 1920s never went away,” says Fred Siegel, citing Obama as the first American president to campaign against Main Street, in word, thought, and deed. There was “you didn’t build that!” said to every entrepreneur who imagined that his business had been his creation, and the comment on those clinging to guns and to God out of bitterness. But all that was just a prelude to the targeted attack on the middle class in his single and signature legislative creation. Last October, amid the troubled rollout of the HealthCare.gov website, some six million Americans who had purchased their plans on the individual market were stunned to find out that their plans were being canceled, and the new ones would not only cost them hundreds or thousands more but in many cases cause them to lose their own doctors and enjoy a less comprehensive level of care. ...

...With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the administration has badly injured that cause.” One could say also that for the better part of the past century intellectual liberals had been attempting to prove they had superior judgment, and that hadn’t gone too well, either. But to note that it was a setback for their belief in themselves and their wisdom might have been a little too much to expect.

But that doesn’t mean that we cannot draw some conclusions about them and their class and their kind. One is that they were perhaps not as good as they thought they were, and perhaps deserved to be not that much listened to. Another is that the people who shine in the faculty lounge ought to stay in it, that novelists have not been good judges of political horseflesh, and that if you really believe you belong to an aristocracy of the intellect, you most likely do not. The intellectual salons include a whole lot of windbags, and would have excluded a number of very effective real-world practitioners, such as Truman and Reagan and Ike.

“It is actually harder to do some of these things in reality than we thought when we put it down on paper,” a book review in the Washington Post quoted a former Obama health care adviser as saying. This can stand as the last word for the great aspiration, and the people who held it. They wanted their chance, and they got it. They had it. They blew it. They’re done....
The FT Isn't Just Saying Piketty Made A Mistake — It's Saying He Manipulated Data
...In a follow-up video on FT.com, Giles shows another example: Piketty appears to have added random numbers to certain formula to bend the data toward his hypothesis. "A 2 is added because the number wasn't high enough — it didn't seem to fit what he wanted to show in his charts, so he just added 2 to it," Giles says. "There was quite a lot of this sort of thing in his spreadsheets."...

Facts Are Stubborn Things . . . As Thomas Piketty Is Beginning to Find Out
...Thomas Piketty is in no doubt that data underpin the conclusions of his best selling economics book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” .

He writes, in the introduction: “Compared with previous works, one reason why this book stands out is that I have made an effort to collect as complete and consistent a set of historical sources as possible in order to study the dynamics of income and wealth distribution over the long run”.

While the conclusions of his work, including his call for an international wealth tax, have stirred controversy among academics, commentators and policy makers, even his critics have generally praised the ambition and quality of the data presented in the text.

Reviewing the book this month, Lord Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England, said, “the principal weakness of the book is that the carefully assembled data do not live up to Piketty’s rhetoric about the nature of capitalism”.

The sense of diligence in Professor Piketty’s compilation of trends in wealth is bolstered by an online technical annex and spreadsheets containing the data, with sources.

An investigation by the Financial Times, however, has revealed many unexplained data entries and errors in the figures underlying some of the book’s key charts.

These are sufficiently serious to undermine Prof Piketty’s claim that the share of wealth owned by the richest in society has been rising and “the reason why wealth today is not as unequally distributed as in the past is simply that not enough time has passed since 1945”.

After referring back to the original data sources, the investigation found numerous mistakes in Prof Piketty’s work: simple fat-finger errors of transcription; suboptimal averaging techniques; multiple unexplained adjustments to the numbers; data entries with no sourcing, unexplained use of different time periods and inconsistent uses of source data....

...But while the two Harvard professors’ errors seemed to have been unintended, Giles levels a more serious critique: that Piketty actively manipulated his data.

His most damning claim: Piketty altered U.K. data to show that wealth distribution there is worse off than it appears to be.

Piketty says the share of income going to the top 10% never fell lower than 60%, and since the end of the 1970s has returned to 70%, a level not seen in 70 years.

But the data Piketty himself cites shows the top 10% share of wealth is no greater than 50%, and may be as low as 42%.

Giles writes: “This appears to be the result of swapping between data sources, not following the source notes, misinterpreting the more recent data and exaggerating increases in wealth inequality.“...


...The second thing we ought to note is that neither Giles, nor Giugliano, nor the Financial Times would have discovered that Piketty’s books is fundamentally flawed if they listened to Paul Krugman, who famously said on his blog that “if you think you’ve found an obvious hole, empirical or logical, in Piketty, you’re very probably wrong. He’s done his homework!” Yes, that was a real statement by Paul Krugman, and yes, it ought to haunt him for the rest of his life–and beyond. We now know that it is more accurate to say that Piketty fudged his homework. I doubt that Krugman knew that Piketty’s conclusions were pretty much made up out of thin air–if he did, there is truly something rotten in the state of economics–but the point is that Krugman tried his damnedest to ensure that no one would take a critical eye to Piketty’s data and conclusions. ...

Thomas Piketty ‘Cherry Picked’ Data In His Book Critiquing Capitalism
...Upon reviewing Piketty’s sources and research methodologies, Giles says he found transcript errors in the author’s spreadsheets and evidence that he used incorrect formulas.

Implying that these miscalculations may have been deliberate mistakes, Giles noted that some of the information used in the book looked like it had been “cherry picked.”

When FT contacted Piketty to question him about how he gathered his data, he told the outlet that he had used “a very diverse and heterogeneous set of data sources … [on which] one needs to make a number of adjustments to the raw data sources.”

Piketty added, “I have no doubt that my historical data series can be improved and will be improved in the future … but I would be very surprised if any of the substantive conclusion about the long-run evolution of wealth distributions was much affected by these improvements.”

Ever since its release last year, Piketty’s book has been enthusiastically applauded among left-leaning groups, lawmakers and economists.

Economist and Professor Paul Krugman of Princeton University, said he considered the book to be the “most important economics book of the year – and maybe of the decade”.

And during the US portion of his book tour last month, Piketty had a meeting with US Treasury secretary Jacob Lew, gave a presentation to the White House Council of Economic Advisers and lectured at the International Monetary Fund and the UN.

In an email to the FT responding to Giles’ article, Piketty defended his findings, adding that income inequality might be even more pervasive in the West than what he outlines in his book.
Kill one man, and you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill them all, and you are a god.
--Jean Rostand

Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, “What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.”
-- Augustine of Hippo
Targeted? Gun sellers say ‘high risk’ label from feds cuts off banking options, restricts business
Gun retailers say the Obama administration is trying to put them out of business with regulations and investigations that bypass Congress and choke off their lines of credit, freeze their assets and prohibit online sales.

Since 2011, regulators have increased scrutiny on banks’ customers. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2011 urged banks to better manage the risks of their merchant customers who employ payment processors, such as PayPal, for credit card transactions. The FDIC listed gun retailers as “high risk” along with porn stores and drug paraphernalia shops....
The Veterans Scandal: Socialized Medicine on Trial
Many have wondered about Barack Obama’s prolonged silence concerning the disastrous situation at the Veterans Administration hospitals and then his odd detached demeanor (well, maybe not that odd for him) when he finally did discuss it at a press conference.

The answer is simple. His lifetime dream of a free public (single payer) healthcare system for all just disintegrated in front of him. Forget the wildly ambitious and pervasive “Affordable Care Act,” the government couldn’t even handle the health of our wounded servicemen, acknowledged for years to be by far the group most deserving of medical attention in our country. With veterans dying while waiting lists are falsified, it’s hard to see government healthcare as anything but incompetent, disgraceful and quite possibly criminal.

Government has failed utterly. Does anyone have any doubt that Halliburton or even the dreaded Koch brothers could have better handled the health of our wounded warriors? Probably almost any business would have. There at least would have been some accountability. (It’s interesting to see the quaint Bernie Sanders, the one self-described socialist in the Congress, as opposed to the closeted ones, being the most outspoken defender of VA malfeasance and urging us not to “rush to judgement” on a three page bill.)

But it’s not just healthcare, although it’s certainly prominent, important and symbolic. The Obama administration has been the best advertisement for libertarianism across the board in recent memory....

The VA’s Socialist Paradise
...As my National Review colleague Jonah Goldberg points out, the usual excuses don’t apply here. The existence of the VA isn’t politically controversial. No one is trying to repeal it, or “sabotage” it. It hasn’t lacked for funds. Its budget has been increasing at a rapid clip. What we’re seeing is simply unaccountable bureaucracy in action....

In 2012, PolitiFact Rated Obama's Promise to "Make the VA a Leader in National Health" A "Promise Kept"
Is that embarrassing? Well, PolitiFact has revisited that old "promise kept" rating. It now rates it... "promise stalled."...

Krugman, Kristof, and Klein All Praised the "Success" of the VA's Socialized Medicine Model
...But the stupidity of the left is its abject refusal to see that The Government is a corporation, and is in fact the most powerful, richest, and most heavily armed corporation in the history of the world.

The left endlessly rages against misbehaving corporations with one-one thousandth of the resources of the government, and of course none of the government's armed agents and prison wardens, and endlessly fights to take power out of the hands of the misbehaving, selfishly-motivated unarmed corporation... and put that power into the hands of the misbehaving, selfishly-motivated armed corporation.

They're never quite able to understand this: The conservative preference for power in private hands isn't that we love big, unaccountable, guild-agenda-serving corporations.

It's that the alternative ever proposed by the left is just an even bigger, more unaccountable, more guild-agenda-serving corporation called the US Government.

And you can't quit the US Government without quitting the the United States itself.

Socialist Supermodel
Not long ago, the left raved about the VA.

...Krugman is far from alone in having oversold the VA. Timothy Noah, then with Slate.com, proclaimed in 2005: "Socialized medicine has been tried in the United States, and it has proven superior to health care supplied by the private sector. . . . The socialized medicine to which I refer is the complex of hospitals managed by the Veterans Administration." His post, "The Triumph of Socialized Medicine," was based on a Washington Monthly article by Phillip Longman, which carried the slightly more modest headline "The Best Care Anywhere." And in 2009, Ezra Klein revealed that "one of my favorite ideas" is "expanding the Veterans Health Administration to non-veterans."...

Left's VA-Worship Comes Back to Bite
...Similarly, Nicholas Kristof of the Times wrote in 2009:

Take the hospital system run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest integrated health system in the United States. It is fully government run, much more “socialized medicine” than is Canadian health care with its private doctors and hospitals. And the system for veterans is by all accounts one of the best-performing and most cost-effectiveelements in the American medical establishment.

Just last year, Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton wrote in the pages of the Times:

Remarkably, Americans of all political stripes have long reserved for our veterans the purest form of socialized medicine, the vast health system operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (generally known as the V.A. health system). If socialized medicine is as bad as so many on this side of the Atlantic claim, why have both political parties ruling this land deemed socialized medicine the best health system for military veterans? Or do they just not care about them?...

...Jonathan Golob of The Seattle Stranger has written in the same vein: “Every time I read about a Teabagger ranting about how socialized medicine will destroy this country I think of the VA system. There it is, a huge and vastly important universal healthcare system—government run, single payer and therefore socialist—right here in the brave and privatized United States: The Veterans Affairs hospitals.”...

Liberals touted Veterans Affairs hospitals as evidence government-run health care works
...Both authors cited Phillip Longman, who wrote an influential book on the Left titled Best Care Anywhere: Why VA Health Care is Better Than Yours. Longman, in a 2005 article for the Washington Monthly that led to the book, wrote, “It turns out that precisely because the VHA is a big, government-run system that has nearly a lifetime relationship with its patients, it has incentives for investing in quality and keeping its patients well--incentives that are lacking in for-profit medicine.”

The description of the system offered by liberals stands in stark contrast to the horrifying reality depicted in recent reports on how the veterans' health care system has neglected patients and covered up wait times – at a deadly cost....

Veterans scandal risks engulfing Obama
Amid contrived outrage over Benghazi and the improving fortunes of its healthcare reform, the Obama administration could be facing a genuine scandal about its treatment of military veterans that has the potential to attract broad political condemnation of its competence.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is facing mounting evidence that some of the hospitals it runs have been keeping two sets of books to make it look as if they were reducing waiting times to see a doctor.

More damning, the department is investigating the claims of a whistleblower doctor in Arizona that dozens of patients at one hospital died while they were languishing on a hidden waiting list without ever being given an appointment....

Obama warned about VA wait-time problems during 2008 transition
The Obama administration received clear notice more than five years ago that VA medical facilities were reporting inaccurate waiting times and experiencing scheduling failures that threatened to deny veterans timely health care — problems that have turned into a growing scandal.

Veterans Affairs officials warned the Obama-Biden transition team in the weeks after the 2008 presidential election that the department shouldn’t trust the wait times that its facilities were reporting....

This memo shows that the VA knew of records manipulation in 2010
...Petzel admitted that he knew of the issue after Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) questioned him about the memo below, in which a top VA executive warned the directors of all VA health networks that questionable scheduling practices would “not be tolerated.”

The message summarized at least 17 tactics that VA hospitals were known to have used to hide treatment delays and give the impression they were meeting the department’s goal of seeing patients within 14 to 30 days....

Report: Obama transition team was warned about unreliable wait times at VA in 2008
...There are three steps in Hopenchange crisis management: (1) they profess to be “mad as hell”; (2) they accept a resignation/announce the retirement/place on “administrative leave” some relatively low-ranking officials; (3) as time wears on and media interest fades, they pronounce the whole thing a phony scandal. Their problem with the VA mess is that, no matter how long it drags out, they don’t dare pronounce this one “phony”; they can laugh at “#Benghazi” but they won’t laugh at wounded troops. So they need a Plan B for defusing the crisis, which, in this case, will be to claim that it’s another problem they’ve inherited from Bush. For, er, five and a half years....

Pauly Krugnuts: Health Care Confidential
..I know about a health care system that has been highly successful in containing costs, yet provides excellent care. And the story of this system's success provides a helpful corrective to anti-government ideology. For the government doesn't just pay the bills in this system -- it runs the hospitals and clinics.

No, I'm not talking about some faraway country. The system in question is our very own Veterans Health Administration, whose success story is one of the best-kept secrets in the American policy debate....

...The secret of its success is the fact that it's a universal, integrated system. Because it covers all veterans, the system doesn't need to employ legions of administrative staff to check patients' coverage and demand payment from their insurance companies. Because it covers all aspects of medical care, it has been able to take the lead in electronic record-keeping and other innovations that reduce costs, ensure effective treatment and help prevent medical errors.

Moreover, the V.H.A., as Phillip Longman put it in The Washington Monthly, ''has nearly a lifetime relationship with its patients.'' As a result, it ''actually has an incentive to invest in prevention and more effective disease management. When it does so, it isn't just saving money for somebody else. It's maximizing its own resources. In short, it can do what the rest of the health care sector can't seem to, which is to pursue quality systematically without threatening its own financial viability.''...

...For the lesson of the V.H.A.'s success story -- that a government agency can deliver better care at lower cost than the private sector -- runs completely counter to the pro-privatization, anti-government conventional wisdom that dominates today's Washington....

VA Budget Skyrockets Despite Federal Spending Cuts
DAYTON -- The Department of Veterans Affairs spends more today in inflation adjusted dollars than it did after World War II and the Vietnam War, when millions of troops returned from the battlefield, according to federal budget figures.

By the next fiscal year, the VA budget is projected to rise 58 percent since 2009 to $152.7 billion, more than double the $70.9 billion spent in 2005, agency figures show.

At the Dayton VA, spending has risen to a projected $285.3 million this year compared to $131.2 million in 2001.

Two factors more than any others have driven health care costs higher at the Dayton VA Medical Center, officials said. Aging Vietnam veterans who have more health needs as they grow older, and the return home of thousands of veterans from the battlegrounds of Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's the number of veterans returning from the war, but it's also the conditions they are returning with," said Dr. William J. Germann, Dayton VA chief of primary care service and a retired Air Force brigadier general. "There are a number of veterans coming back dysfunctional and as a result may not be able to hold a job."

Straining under the national debt, budget cutters have slashed billions in federal spending and ordered unpaid furloughs of hundreds of thousands of Department of Defense civilian employees, but the VA's spending has more than doubled in little more than a decade and keeps climbing....

The Veterans Health Administration Really Does Offer 'Lessons' in 'Socialized Medicine'
Just a couple of years ago, Paul Krugman pointed to the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) as a "huge policy success story, which offers important lessons for future health reform." He gloated, "yes, this is 'socialized medicine.'"

Similarly, a letter touted by Physicians for a National Health Program trumpeted "the success of 22 wealthy countries and our own Department of Veterans Affairs, which use single-payer systems to provide better care for more people at far less cost."

How could a bloated government bureaucracy achieve such low-cost success? As we found out recently, it's by quietly sticking veterans on a waiting list and putting off their treatment for months—sometimes until the patients are far too dead to need much in the way of expensive care. Which is to say, calling it a "success" is stretching the meaning of the word beyond recognition.

And, while the White House insists it learned from press reports about the secret waiting lists, Press Secretary Jay Carney acknowledges that the administration long knew about "the backlog and disability claims" that have accumulated in the VHA.

This should surprise nobody. Canada's government-run single-payer health system has long suffered waiting times for care. The country's Fraser Institute estimates "the national median waiting time from specialist appointment to treatment increased from 9.3 weeks in 2010 to 9.5 weeks in 2011."

Likewise, once famously social democratic Sweden has seen a rise in private health coverage in parallel to the state system because of long delays to receive care. "It's quicker to get a colleague back to work if you have an operation in two weeks' time rather than having to wait for a year," privately insured Anna Norlander told Sveriges Radio

An article in The Local noted that "visitors are sometimes surprised to learn about year-long waiting times for cancer patients."

Britain's single-payer National Health Service (NHS) is up front about wait times for care, with the organization's website promising, "you have the legal right to start your NHS consultant-led treatment within a maximum of 18 weeks from referral." Last year, the Daily Telegraph reported that "waiting lists, which have hovered around 2.5 million patients in recent years, reached 2.88 million in June, the highest level since May 2008."...