Thursday, December 26, 2013

Joe Manchin Accidentally Explains Media silence on Arapahoe
...Bottom line going after guns is a political loser for the left and as long as that is true Gun issues in general and the Arapahoe shooting in particular no longer has potential to elect democrats…

…and thus no value to the MSM.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Legacy of Obama’s Health Care Lies
...It’s worth taking a few minutes to go back and read President Obama’s big health care speech from September of 2009. He argued that reform was necessary not only to help the uninsured, but to help middle class Americans facing rising costs and coverage insecurities. The law, he said, would “provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance” and would slow the growth of health costs for families and businesses as well as for the government. Obamacare, in other words, was supposed to fix what most Americans felt was wrong with the health care system—not simply expand coverage to the uninsured.

That speech, and others like it, contributed to a sense that Obama, along with the rest of the Democratic party, was not merely attempting to reform a small segment of the health insurance market, but was instead taking responsibility for fixing the entire health care system. When Obamacare passed the next year, that’s essentially what the president and his party did....

...But Democrats will have a hard time selling this argument to a skeptical public. Partly because it sounds awfully self-serving, taking all the credit and none of the blame. Partly because the impression has already sunk in that Congress doesn't understand the real-world effects the health care law is having. But mostly, however, because President Obama has already lied about who the health law will affect, and how. For lots of Americans, it won’t be easy to trust the president or his party on the subject again. ...

New Health Law Frustrates Many in Middle Class
... Even more striking, for the Chapmans, is this fact: If they made just a few thousand dollars less a year — below $94,200 — their costs would be cut in half, because a family like theirs could qualify for federal subsidies.

The Chapmans acknowledge that they are better off than many people, but they represent a little-understood reality of the Affordable Care Act. While the act clearly benefits those at the low end of the income scale — and rich people can continue to afford even the most generous plans — people like the Chapmans are caught in the uncomfortable middle: not poor enough for help, but not rich enough to be indifferent to cost. ...

Obamacare Initiates Self-Destruction Sequence
...As Seth Chandler points out, doesn’t even let you see catastrophic plans if you’re more than 30 years old. Is now the time to be making technical changes to the website?

As Avik Roy points out, catastrophic plans aren’t that much cheaper than the so-called bronze plans. They’re also not eligible for subsidies. This is unlikely to be much help to folks who lost insurance; all it does is introduce some much-unneeded complexity to

As Aaron Carroll points out, insurers calculated their premiums for this year on the expectation that the relatively healthy folks who were already buying insurance would be buying policies on the exchange. The insurers are not happy about this latest change, and Carroll predicts that they will ask the administration to push more money to them through the “risk corridors.” I think he’s right.

As Ezra Klein points out, this seriously undermines the political viability of the individual mandate: “But this puts the administration on some very difficult-to-defend ground. Normally, the individual mandate applies to anyone who can purchase qualifying insurance for less than 8 percent of their income. Either that threshold is right or it's wrong. But it's hard to argue that it's right for the currently uninsured but wrong for people whose plans were canceled … Put more simply, Republicans will immediately begin calling for the uninsured to get this same exemption. What will the Obama administration say in response? Why are people whose plans were canceled more deserving of help than people who couldn't afford a plan in the first place?”...

It’s Panic Time
...Megan McArdle has a good roundup of the reactions here, as well as her own good commentary. Perhaps the most important link in there is to Ezra Klein’s column. Klein has long been a cheerleader for the law, and his nervousness about this announcement shows through. As he points out, Republicans have just been given a very easy argument for delaying the mandate in its entirety, and it will be very hard for Democrats to argue against it. Just as the administration’s quickness to dole out certain kinds of exemptions undermined its case for the contraception mandate in a recent case, so too will this announcement make it hard for the administration to explain why it’s exempting some parties and not others....
Fine print: State can seize your assets to pay for care after you’re forced into Medicaid by Obamacare
...She was shocked: If you’re 55 or over, Medicaid can come back after you’re dead and bill your estate for ordinary health-care expenses.

The way Prins saw it, that meant health insurance via Medicaid is hardly “free” for Washington residents 55 or older. It’s a loan, one whose payback requirements aren’t well advertised. And it penalizes people who, despite having a low income, have managed to keep a home or some savings they hope to pass to heirs, Prins said....

Obamacare chaos
...In a CMS notice released around 9 p.m. without fanfare (not the way an organized government announces important policy changes if it wants them to be noticed) the administration said it would allow people whose 2013 insurance plans had been canceled to be exempted from the individual mandate penalty in 2014, and would also allow such people — regardless of their ages — to purchase catastrophic-coverage plans that are otherwise available only to people 30 and under in the individual market under Obamacare.

It is a stunning move, plainly driven by dread at the impending chaos and dislocation in the individual market in January....

...For starters, this exemption is going to strike many Americans as blatantly unfair and arbitrary. It comes at the 11th hour, after millions of people, including those with canceled plans, have already made their choices based on the rules they thought would be in effect. . . . This exemption also further undermines the Obamacare exchanges, which are already teetering. . . . In addition, what’s to stop those with canceled policies who fought their way through from now changing their mind and dropping their plans in light of the administration’s announcement? These families would need only to file a form indicating that the premiums they were facing in the exchanges are unaffordable. As matters stand, the administration would have no basis for denying an exemption to such households. The upshot is that the administration has voluntarily opened another very big escape route out of Obamacare, and the most likely escapees will be young and healthy Americans who don’t want to pay high premiums for Obamacare’s expensive benefit plans....

ObamaCare May Devastate the Real Estate and Travel Industries
...Americans already know that ObamaCare means higher premiums and a shrinking roster of doctors. But they have not yet realized that ObamaCare plans are not portable and will impede their ability to travel.

What happens to those plans to send the kids to live with the grandparents for the summer, when little Josh needs to keep up with his allergy shots? What decision will a family make when Dad needs to move to start his new job, while the kids stay behind to finish up the school year? What kind of financial pain will be inflicted on American contract workers, who rent a hotel residence for three months while they complete a project? And who will buy a vacation home when the costs include out-of-pocket medical expenses?

Moreover, ObamaCare may soon start impacting access to emergency room care. With Americans no longer able to receive routine medical services when they travel, will they start showing up in emergency rooms for sore throats and backaches? And how will these new throngs of patients affect the waiting time of people with genuine medical emergencies?

"I have 35 years in the industry, and I've never seen anything like this," the New York insurance broker told me. "ObamaCare is a rolling disaster. Every time we go down the road, we get hit with another catastrophe."
'Hands Off Our NHS': the attitude that led to the horrors of Mid Staffs
The reason the NHS lets patients down, says David Prior, chairman of the Care Quality Commission, is that “it became too powerful to criticise. When things were going wrong, people didn’t say anything. If you criticised the NHS – the attitude was ‘how dare you?’”...

...The people who make the noise are doctrinal. They are attached to the NHS, not because it works, but because it is the only part of the British state which operates on socialist principles: production according to ability, distribution according to need, ownership of all assets by the government. (I am often struck, as an MEP, by the fact that no mainstream Continental social democrats want to replace their pluralist systems with a British-style state monopoly. Only Marxist parties make that argument. But that’s for another blog.)...

...At the very moment that Andy Burnham, Labour’s last health secretary, was calling me “unpatriotic” for drawing attention to Britain’s poor performance in international league tables, he was presiding over the abominations at Mid Staffs and elsewhere. Those two facts are connected. When the NHS is treated, not as one among several competing models of healthcare provision, but as a test of patriotism, it is bound to become flabby and self-serving. That’s the real legacy of the HandsOffOurNHS crowd.

National Health SHAMBLES: Three damning reports describe mothers abandoned during labour, serious hospital blunders every day and how patients have lost faith in their GPs
Three damning reports last night laid bare the crisis in NHS hospitals, maternity units and GP surgeries.

One investigation revealed that a quarter of new mothers were abandoned by their midwives during labour, with some left to give birth on the floor or in corridors.

The second found that mistakes deemed so serious they should never happen are being made in hospitals five times a week.

And the third survey said thousands of patients have all but given up trying to secure appointments with their family doctor.

The reports come only a day after the NHS watchdog detailed a catalogue of failings at GP surgeries, including consulting rooms infested with maggots and patients being given dangerous, out-of-date drugs.

Public confidence in the Health Service is already at a record low following a run of inquiries exposing a culture of appalling patient care and bureaucratic cover-ups....

...‘Politicians have been scared to raise issues and nobody dared criticise the NHS. But the public are well ahead of politicians and they’ve suspected problems for some time. I’ve had elderly constituents scared to go into their local hospitals because of their experiences or those of their spouses....

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Thought Leader
... The Thought Leader is sort of a highflying, good-doing yacht-to-yacht concept peddler. Each year, he gets to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative, where successful people gather to express compassion for those not invited. Month after month, he gets to be a discussion facilitator at think tank dinners where guests talk about what it’s like to live in poverty while the wait staff glides through the room thinking bitter thoughts.

He doesn’t have students, but he does have clients. He doesn’t have dark nights of the soul, but his eyes blaze at the echo of the words “breakout session.”

Many people wonder how they too can become Thought Leaders and what the life cycle of one looks like.

In fact, the calling usually starts young. As a college student, the future Thought Leader is bathed in attention. His college application essay, “I Went to Panama to Teach the Natives About Math but They Ended Up Teaching Me About Life,” is widely praised by guidance counselors. On campus he finds himself enmeshed in a new social contract: Young people provide their middle-aged professors with optimism and flattery, and the professors provide them with grade inflation. He is widely recognized for his concern for humanity. (He spends spring break unicycling across Thailand while reading to lepers.) ...

Strengthen the Presidency
...This is a good moment to advocate greater executive branch power because we’ve just seen a monumental example of executive branch incompetence: the botched Obamacare rollout. It’s important to advocate greater executive branch power in a chastened mood. It’s not that the executive branch is trustworthy; it’s just that we’re better off when the presidency is strong than we are when the rentier groups are strong, or when Congress, which is now completely captured by the rentier groups, is strong. ...

...So how do you energize the executive? It’s a good idea to be tolerant of executive branch power grabs and to give agencies flexibility. We voters also need to change our voting criteria. It’s not enough to vote for somebody who agrees with your policy preferences. Presidential candidates need to answer two questions. How are you going to build a governing 60 percent majority that will enable you to drive the Washington policy process? What is your experience implementing policies through big organizations? ...

David Brooks will teach a course at Yale called ‘Humility’
New York Times columnist David Brooks is a somewhat prominent intellectual of our time, which is a really sad, scathing indictment of our time. This spring, the generally vacuous talking head will take his shallow, self-important brand of alleged conservatism to Yale University to teach an undergraduate course entitled “Humility.”

The Daily Caller is not making this up (and could not possibly make this up).

According to The Yale Herald’s Bullblog, which first noticed this deliciously ironic happening, Brooks has bloviated on the topic of humility in the Times and at the Aspen Ideas Festival, a weeklong series of discussions and seminars held annually at a fancypants ski resort full of mega-millionaires....
Why Gun Control Is Basically Dead
...FBI background-check data, an imprecise but revealing proxy for gun purchases, show that in 2005 fewer than 9 million checks were done. For the first 11 months of 2013, that figure rose to more than 19 million. Not every background check leads to a firearm sale, but the direction of the statistics is compellingly clear. For gun manufacturers, the trend shows up in growing revenue. Sturm Ruger (RGR), the largest publicly traded U.S. firearms maker, reported $506.4 million in sales for the first nine months of 2013, a 45 percent increase over the comparable period in 2011. Its profit rose 67 percent....

...Apart from politics, dispassionate observers must question the simplistic liberal slogan that more guns equals more crime. The U.S. has seen a two-decade period during which private gun ownership has continued to soar (some 300 million firearms are now in civilian hands), while crime has diminished...

...Gun control advocates often appear not to appreciate that their country, for better or worse, has a widespread and deeply rooted gun subculture that isn’t going away. No lesser body than the Supreme Court, in decisions issued as recently as 2008 and 2010, has interpreted the Constitution as enshrining that reality...
Yet Another Journalist Says Lying Is A-OK
...Liberal blogger Matt Yglesias likes to call his political opponents “dishonest,” but in a revealing exchange on the website Twitter Friday he advocated lying for political purposes.

“Fighting dishonesty with dishonesty is sometimes the right thing for advocates to do, yes,” said Yglesias....

...Not to mention former CBS anchorman Dan Rather telling Bill O’Reilly back in 2001 that “I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things”...
Should false rape accusers be sued?
...In 2012, according to the FBI, nearly 87,000 "forcible rapes" were reported. That's down 7% from the number of rapes reported in 2008. Law enforcement agencies estimate that the number of false rape accusations ranges from 2% to 8% annually, or between 2,000 and 7,000 cases each year....
The Delicious Irony of “Dark Money”
...The left’s preferred narrative is simple, easy-to-understand and has a ring of truth. It goes like this: Regulation helps consumers but hurts business’ profitability. Individuals give money to big-government organizations to promote regulation. Corporations donate to small-government organizations like Americans for Prosperity, the American Enterprise Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute to fight regulation.

But the fact that corporations also fund big-government organizations raises questions about this narrative. If regulation hurts corporations, why are they funding think tanks which promote it?

The truth is that most regulation is written by and for incumbent businesses to erect barriers to entry and to buy advantages over their competitors. That’s why corporations fund groups like the Center for American Progress.

Earlier this year, Center for American Progress donor Citibank hired lobbyists to literally write 70 out of 85 lines of a bill regulating derivatives trading which passed the House. If this regulation was meant to hurt Citibank’s profitability while defending their customers it’s unlikely to have done so....
Exclusive: Secret contract tied NSA and security industry pioneer
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - As a key part of a campaign to embed encryption software that it could crack into widely used computer products, the U.S. National Security Agency arranged a secret $10 million contract with RSA, one of the most influential firms in the computer security industry, Reuters has learned.

Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a "back door" in encryption products, the New York Times reported in September. Reuters later reported that RSA became the most important distributor of that formula by rolling it into a software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products.

Undisclosed until now was that RSA received $10 million in a deal that set the NSA formula as the preferred, or default, method for number generation in the BSafe software, according to two sources familiar with the contract. Although that sum might seem paltry, it represented more than a third of the revenue that the relevant division at RSA had taken in during the entire previous year, securities filings show....
Quote of the Day I, II, and III
..."In 2012 the CEO of Walmart made $20.7 million. Walmart has about 2 million employees (as far as I can tell, this is only counting the employees in the American stores). So, if you divided the CEO's entire pay among the employees they'd each get $10.35 more per year- that's not quite 20 cents per week; a half a cent per hour for full time employees. Woohoo.

Now, look at a paystub and see how much the various governments' steal from every paycheck, and then tell me who the real parasite is."...

...Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman. He could live where he liked and as he liked. He had no official number or identity card. He could travel abroad or leave his country for ever without a passport or any sort of official permission . . .The Englishman paid taxes on a modest scale: nearly £200 million in 1913-14, or rather less than 8 per cent of the national income....
‘MASSIVE SEIZURE OF POWER’: Climate scientists, economists challenge EPA
A group of climate scientists and economists are challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other stationary sources.

These critics see a “massive seizure of power” by the agency.

The scientists and economists, including the former chair of the EPA’s Science Advisory Committee, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, arguing that the agency does not have the authority to permit greenhouse gases from stationary sources. According to the group, such a permitting scheme is a “naked power grab of the most cynical sort.”

“There is no avoiding that this rule is a massive seizure of power, indeed likely far and away the largest seizure of power by any government agency ever,” reads the amicus brief....

Global warming will kill us all, warns Common Core-aligned homework
Fifth grade students at Fremont Elementary School in Colorado were assigned a reading passage that describes global warming as a dangerous, man-made phenomenon that will destroy civilization in a few hundred years.

The reading assignment was found inside a workbook aligned with the controversial national Common Core curriculum guidelines, and was titled “Homework from the Future.” It tells the fictional story of a visitor to the year 2512 who discovers that the eastern United States is under water and the country’s population greatly reduced, all thanks to man-made global warming:

By the early 21st century, people knew that the massive use of fossil fuels was heating up the planet. But people didn’t stop their destructive lifestyles. They just kept using up Earth’s resources. The ice sheets melted, and Earth’s crust shifted. ..

In 2130. the oceans began to rise over farmland and cities. In 300 years, most of the eastern United States was covered with water....

Not Surprising: Climate Change Expert Charged With Fraud of "Massive Proportions", Surprising: Fraud Wasn't About Climate Change
Via Hot Air, the nation's highest-paid employee (!!!) and an EPA "leading expert" on climate change defrauded the taxpayers for years by simply not showing up for his job.

For how long? For over a decade, prosecutors claim.

He claimed he couldn't show up for his job for ten years, as he had been recruited by the CIA to do some kind of secret mission in Pakistan. But he still drew a paycheck.

This is like that scene in an Army movie: "I don't know whether to put you up for a court martial or a Silver Star."...

...You can tell an agency is useless and should be shuttered when its top-paid guy doesn't show up for ten years and no one seems to notice....
Obama Repeals ObamaCare
It seems Nancy Pelosi was wrong when she said "we have to pass" ObamaCare to "find out what's in it." No one may ever know because the White House keeps treating the Affordable Care Act's text as a mere suggestion subject to day-to-day revision. Its latest political retrofit is the most brazen: President Obama is partly suspending the individual mandate....

...What an incredible political turnabout. Mr. Obama and HHS used to insist that the new plans are better and less expensive after subsidies than the old "substandard" insurance. Now they're conceding that at least some people should be free to choose less costly plans if they prefer—or no plan—and ObamaCare's all-you-can-eat benefits rules aren't necessary for quality health coverage after all....

Well, let’s delay the mandate after all
The president once has given his media sycophants whiplash and made fools of Senate Democrats. After forcing a shutdown by refusing to delay the individual mandate, beating back Senate Democrats’ attempt to rescue themselves and their constituents and insisting all was fine, the administration has now agreed only a few days before Christmas to allow those to whom the president lied (“You can keep your insurance”) to avoid the mandate and instead buy low-cost catastrophic plans, the ones he has designated as subpar. Trying spinning that, Obama fans.

The Post reports, “The surprise announcement, days before the Dec. 23 deadline for people to choose plans that will begin Jan. 1, triggered an immediate backlash from the health insurance industry and raised fairness questions about a law intended to promote affordable and comprehensive coverage on a widespread basis.” Most Americans have little sympathy for the insurers, who made their own bed by supporting Obamacare, but the unfairness issue is real and unavoidable. If your insurance was canceled and you dutifully struggled to sign up for coverage through, got smacked with sticker shock but paid for new gold-plated insurance, you apparently were a sucker. A whole group of people with canceled plans will get a nice, inexpensive plan just like what they had. Or consider: You were in the target audience for the “pajama boy” ad — a 20-something who didn’t really want insurance and would just as soon have spent the money on a down payment for a house. You toddled over to the screen, hot chocolate in hand, and spent a bunch of money on something you didn’t want. Now there are a bunch of people who get a much cheaper option– so why don’t you?...

Monday, December 23, 2013

"Remove justice, and what are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a large scale? What are criminal gangs but petty kingdoms? A gang is a group of men under the command of a leader, bound by a compact of association, in which the plunder is divided according to an agreed convention. If this villainy wins so many recruits from the ranks of the demoralised that it acquires territory, establishes a base, captures cities and subdues peoples, it then openly arrogates to itself the title of kingdom, which is conferred on it in the eyes of the world, not by the renouncing of aggression but by the attainment of impunity. For it was a witty and truthful rejoinder which was given by a captured pirate to Alexander the Great. The king asked the fellow, 'What is your idea, in infesting the sea?' And the pirate answered, 'The same as yours, in infesting the earth! but because I do it with a tiny craft, I'm called a pirate; because you have a mighty army, you're called an emperor.'"
-- Augustine of Hippo, City of God Against the Pagans

Sunday, December 15, 2013

18 Facts That Will Make You Terrified of Everyday Objects
Catholic Church abuse: $57 million spent to hide sex scandal
New documents have come to light as part of the dozens of sexual abuse cases within the Catholic Church.

In 2007, the Catholic Church transferred $57 million into a trust fund to provide "improved protection" for the church against court action.

Former Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan wrote the transfer was to protect the funds from any legal claim or liability, and the Vatican approved the transfer one month later.

Four years later, the Milwaukee Archdiocese filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The judge overseeing the case ordered the documents revealing the transfer to be released. The documents say the church granted then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan permission to move the money from a cemetery fund into a trust.

Dolan's 2007 letter and the response from the Vatican were included in the documents, which were released as part of a deal with in the federal bankruptcy court between the archdiocese and clergy sex abuse victims suing the archdiocese for fraud. ...

Wealth of Roman Catholic Church impossible to calculate
It is impossible to calculate the wealth of the Roman Catholic Church. In truth, the church itself likely could not answer that question, even if it wished to.

Its investments and spending are kept secret. Its real estate and art have not been properly evaluated, since the church would never sell them.

There is no doubt, however, that between the church’s priceless art, land, gold and investments across the globe, it is one of the wealthiest institutions on Earth....
Government Takeover: White House Forces Obamacare Insurers To Cover Unpaid Patients At A Loss
Of all of the last-minute delays, website bungles, and Presidential whims that have marred the roll-out of Obamacare’s subsidized insurance exchanges, what happened on Thursday, December 12 will stand as one of the most lawless acts yet committed by this administration. The White House—having canceled Americans’ old health plans, and having botched the system for enrolling people in new ones—knows that millions of Americans will enter the new year without health coverage. So instead of actually fixing the problem, the administration is retroactively attempting to force insurers to hand out free health care—at a loss—to those whom the White House has rendered uninsured. If Obamacare wasn’t a government takeover of the health insurance industry, then what is it now?

On Wednesday afternoon, health policy reporters found in their inboxes a friendly e-mail from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announcing “steps to ensure Americans signing up through the Marketplace have coverage and access to the care they need on January 1.” Basically, the “steps” involve muscling insurers to provide free or discounted care to those who have become uninsured because of the problems with

...“What’s wrong with ‘urging’ insurers to offer free care?” you might ask. “That’s not the same as forcing them to offer free care.” Except that the government is using the full force of its regulatory powers, under Obamacare, to threaten insurers if they don’t comply. All you have to do is read the menacing language in the new regulations that HHS published this week, in which HHS says it may throw otherwise qualified health plans off of the exchanges next year if they don’t comply with the government’s “requests.”

“We are considering factoring into the [qualified health plan] renewal process, as part of the determination regarding whether making a health plan available…how [insurers] ensure continuity of care during transitions,” they write. Which is kind of like the Mafia saying that it will “consider” the amount of protection money you’ve paid in its decision as to whether or not it vandalizes your storefront....
Leave us alone to enjoy our simple pleasures - and sins
...Putting aside the creepy implication that our lives only have value insofar as our impact on the government's bottom line, it tends to be only those who do not have the platform of a position in academia, the media, or politics who find their lifestyles' under fire.

A few years ago the Australian Medical Association suggested that obesity cost the healthcare system $1.2 billion a year. But that wasn't headline-making enough, so they instead declared that "Factoring in lost productivity, obesity cost Australian society and governments $21 billion".

Oddly, no one ever counts up the "billions" in lost productivity from inner-city workers ducking out for a coffee once or twice a day. Add it up and your typical office worker might spend a week each year on the boss's time enjoying a product that can cause everything from increased blood pressure to anxiety to anaemia.

Don't hold your breath waiting for a scare story about how the Big Barista industry is wreaking havoc with health and productivity.

The same blind spot applies to food. Rich curries, salty artisanal smallgoods, and restaurant meals cooked in truckloads of butter and duck fat are not only delicious but often just as unhealthy as a Big Mac value meal.

Yet these sorts of meals never come under fire from the health police. Instead these dishes, and the chefs who create them, are celebrated. Often Sydneysiders will queue like Soviet-era Muscovites to taste them. It is the culinary equivalent of the snobbery that thinks a tribal tattoo is deeply meaningful, artistic, and spiritual - provided the wearer has no actual connection to the tribe in question. ...
Obamacare, where the liberal dream crashes and burns
...Obamacare is a massive policy experiment that seeks to remake one-sixth of the U.S. economy – a body that’s so fantastically complex, with so many players and so many moving parts, that nobody can possibly understand how they all interact. Tweak one part, and other parts will behave in unpredictable ways. Pull on a thread and half the sweater may unravel. Even Max Baucus, the Democratic Senate finance chairman, has warned that implementing a law so complicated could be a “train wreck.”

The biggest threat to Obamacare is not Republicans. The biggest threat is Murphy’s Law, along with its corollary, the Law of Unintended Consequences. These are the most powerful laws in the world. They are even more powerful than the Affordable Care Act, and they are the nemesis of all master plans. Evidently, the President and his merry band of wonks had never heard of them.

Mr. Obama is in a tough spot. It’s not just that he looks incompetent – it’s that he looks deceitful. He told people they could keep their plans, their doctors and their hospitals, and that their insurance payments wouldn’t go up. That turns out not to be true for a lot of people, who feel duped. If they’d known what Obamacare would really mean, they wouldn’t have supported it. And the worst isn’t over. Hundreds of thousands of employers still have to make decisions about their coverage. And if the millennials don’t get on board, prices will go up more.

But Obamacare is much more than a test of a presidency. It’s a test of whether big government can solve big problems. And so far, the answer is very bad for the entire liberal enterprise. As venerable left-leaning pundit Thomas Edsall wrote in The New York Times, “Cumulatively, recent developments surrounding the rollout of Obamacare strengthen the most damaging conservative portrayals of liberalism and of big government – that on one hand government is too much a part of our lives, too invasive, too big, too scary, too regulatory, too in your face, and on the other hand it is incompetent, bureaucratic and expropriatory.”...
Last May, IRS officials admitted that beginning in 2010, the agency had improperly targeted and hassled dozens of nonprofit groups for scrutiny based on their involvement in politics. Nearly all the groups opposed President Obama’s re-election in 2012 or his administration’s policies. The Justice Department acknowledged the impropriety of what the IRS had done and promised a thorough FBI investigation.

It never happened. Last month, an attorney working for 41 of the targeted nonprofit groups said no one at any of the groups had ever been interviewed by federal investigators.

Last week, the Justice Department and the FBI refused requests from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to provide information on its investigation. FBI officials also canceled a previously scheduled meeting with committee members. And the president — who in May said people were “properly concerned” with the IRS’ actions — used an MSNBC interview to whitewash the agency. ...

IRS Targeting: Round Two
President Obama keeps claiming that he had no knowledge of the Internal Revenue Service's abusive muzzling of conservative groups. That line is hard to swallow given that his Treasury and IRS are back at it—this time in broad daylight.

In the media blackout of Thanksgiving week, the Treasury Department dumped a new proposal to govern the political activity of 501(c)(4) groups. The administration claims this rule is needed to clarify confusing tax laws. Hardly. The rule is the IRS's new targeting program—only this time systematic, more effective, and with the force of law.

That this rule was meant to crack down on the White House's political opponents was never in doubt. What is new is the growing concern by House Ways and Means Committee investigators that the regulation was reverse-engineered—designed to isolate and shut down the same tea party groups victimized in the first targeting round. Treasury appears to have combed through those tea party applications, compiled all the groups' main activities, and then restricted those activities in the new rule. Enlarge Image

"The committee has reviewed thousands of tax exempt applications," says House Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp. "The new regulation so closely mirrors the abused tea-party group applications, it leads me to question if this new proposed regulation is simply another form of targeting." ...
Report: Insurers fear they’ll have a net loss in enrollments for the year on December 31
A week ago, Politico called this the worst-case scenario for ObamaCare. The odds were slim, they assured us, but not quite zero that the magical combo of millions of cancellations, endless exchange “glitches,” and panicky half-assed logistical complications designed to “fix” the problem would mean fewer insured Americans at the end of 2013 than existed at the start of the year. It was unlikely, claimed Politico, because the four or five million whose plans have been canceled had alternate routes to enrollment that didn’t involve They could enroll directly with their current insurer in a new plan (although not if they wanted a subsidy, which are available exclusively on the exchanges) or they might even be automatically enrolled in a plan by their insurer in the interest of preventing a lapse of coverage. But it was, in fact, possible that the first week of January would bring news that ObamaCare had actually made the problem it purported to solve worse. That’s the worst-case scenario. It’d be a PR catastrophe.

Via John McCormack, Bob Laszewski says it’s not so unlikely anymore.

Insurers privately tell Bob Laszewski that they think more people will have lost insurance by January 1 than the number who have signed up for Obamacare by January 1....

Poll: Less than a quarter of uninsured Americans believe Obamacare is a good idea
...Obamacare has lost the uninsured. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released this week asked uninsured individuals whether or not they thought the law was a good idea. Just 24 percent said they thought it was. In contrast, half the uninsured polled said they thought it was a bad idea. As the Journal points out, that represents an 11 point drop in support for the law amongst the uninsured since September. The same poll also finds that 56 percent of the uninsured believe the law will have a negative effect on the U.S. health care system. Let that sink in: What that means is that regardless of how bad the old system—the system that for whatever reason left them uninsured—was, a majority of people without health coverage now think that Obamacare makes it worse....

Insurance Companies Could Get Pinched With Latest ObamaCare Delay
The latest deadline delay for the Affordable Care Act could lead to even more enrollment problems and place a bigger burden on insurance companies, experts say.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday it would require insurance companies to accept premium payments for plans that start on Jan. 1 up until Dec. 31-eight days from the already once delayed date of Dec. 23.

“This will kill insurance companies,” says Devon Herrick, senior analyst at the National Center for Policy Analysis, of the latest deadline extension. “I don’t think insurance companies will be there on New Year’s Day figuring out what they owe, who they need to bill and who has legitimate coverage. You can see what a mess this is—I can’t imagine insurance companies can solve this in one day, especially when that day is a holiday.”

This week’s announcement operates under the assumption that enrolling people in insurance plans is simple, adds Tom Harte, president of the National Association of Health Underwriters....
With Affordable Care Act, Canceled Policies for New York Professionals
Many in New York’s professional and cultural elite have long supported President Obama’s health care plan. But now, to their surprise, thousands of writers, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others are learning that their health insurance plans are being canceled and they may have to pay more to get comparable coverage, if they can find it.

They are part of an unusual, informal health insurance system that has developed in New York, in which independent practitioners were able to get lower insurance rates through group plans, typically set up by their professional associations or chambers of commerce. That allowed them to avoid the sky-high rates in New York’s individual insurance market, historically among the most expensive in the country.

But under the Affordable Care Act, they will be treated as individuals, responsible for their own insurance policies. For many of them, that is likely to mean they will no longer have access to a wide network of doctors and a range of plans tailored to their needs. And many of them are finding that if they want to keep their premiums from rising, they will have to accept higher deductible and co-pay costs or inferior coverage. ...

... It is not lost on many of the professionals that they are exactly the sort of people — liberal, concerned with social justice — who supported the Obama health plan in the first place. Ms. Meinwald, the lawyer, said she was a lifelong Democrat who still supported better health care for all, but had she known what was in store for her, she would have voted for Mitt Romney.

It is an uncomfortable position for many members of the creative classes to be in.

“We are the Obama people,” said Camille Sweeney, a New York writer and member of the Authors Guild. Her insurance is being canceled, and she is dismayed that neither her pediatrician nor her general practitioner appears to be on the exchange plans. What to do has become a hot topic on Facebook and at dinner parties frequented by her fellow writers and artists. ...
Well Done, Morons
@Whatwesettlefor We decided not to have another student apply a label to the shooter -- a label the student likely didn't even understand ..
— Lee Ann Colacioppo (@LAColacioppo) December 14, 2013

...Senior Chris Davis, 18, was among many students Saturday trying to make sense of Pierson's shooting rampage.

"He was a weird kid," Davis said. "He's a self-proclaimed communist, just wears Soviet shirts all the time."...
White House delayed enacting rules ahead of 2012 election to avoid controversy
The White House systematically delayed enacting a series of rules on the environment, worker safety and health care to prevent them from becoming points of contention before the 2012 election, according to documents and interviews with current and former administration officials.

Some agency officials were instructed to hold off submitting proposals to the White House for up to a year to ensure that they would not be issued before voters went to the polls, the current and former officials said.

The delays meant that rules were postponed or never issued. The stalled regulations included crucial elements of the Affordable Care Act, what bodies of water deserved federal protection, pollution controls for industrial boilers and limits on dangerous silica exposure in the workplace. ...
Air strike kills 15 civilians in Yemen by mistake: officials
(Reuters) - Fifteen people on their way to a wedding in Yemen were killed in an air strike after their party was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy, local security officials said on Thursday.

The officials did not identify the plane in the strike in central al-Bayda province, but tribal and local media sources said that it was a drone.

"An air strike missed its target and hit a wedding car convoy, ten people were killed immediately and another five who were injured died after being admitted to the hospital," one security official said....
Insurers Never Received Thousands of Obamacare Signups
Enrollment paperwork for nearly 15,000 Obamacare customers who signed up via never made its way to insurance companies, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Saturday....

Reports of erroneous WA health exchange debits
For the second week in a row, the Washington Healthplanfinder website is down, and it's causing problems for people who are dealing with billing issues. Some of them say the website is mistakenly debiting their accounts.

Shannon Bruner of Indianola logged on to her checking account Monday morning, and found she was almost 800 dollars in the negative.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘I got screwed,’” she said. ...
U.S. Sells Off Last of Its General Motors Stock, at $10.5 Billion Loss
U.S. taxpayers no longer own any of automaker General Motors. The Treasury sold the last of its remaining 31.1 million GM shares today.

The taxpayer loss on the GM bailout finishes at $10.5 billion. The Treasury department said it recovered $39 billion from selling its GM stock, and had put $49.5 billion of taxpayer money into the GM bailout.......
Drafting Docs
...The other thing we can do is draft the doctors, conscripting them into accepting Medicare and Medicaid patients, and those patients with new Obamacare policies that inevitably will end up looking a lot like Medicaid. Kathleen Murphy, a Democratic candidate for the Virginia state house, proposed exactly that during a recent candidates’ forum. Hers is the voice of the future. And it is not without precedent: In Canada, it was long illegal for doctors to accept payment for services that patients would otherwise receive for “free” (there’s no such thing as free health care) under the country’s national health-care system, though in reality that law was only half-heartedly enforced.

As radical as conscription seems, it is logically consistent with the Democrats’ approach to health-care “reform” going back to the Johnson administration, an approach that treats patients and doctors alike as villeins to be apportioned by the lords in Washington. The main obstacle to reducing Medicare and Medicaid spending is the fact that physicians have a choice about whether to participate in the programs. In the long run, the fact that physicians have a choice about whom they see and where they practice is the most significant challenge to the full implementation of Obamacare. The logical thing — politically and economically — is to eliminate that choice. You don’t have to formally nationalize the health-care industry; you just nationalize 40 percent of each physician’s practice and call it his “fair share.”...
Report Details ATF's Use Of Mentally Disabled In Gun Stings
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel just : Based on court records, police reports and dozens of interviews, the paper details how the ATF used "rogue" tactics — including providing underage youths with alcohol and allowing them to smoke pot — to run storefront gun and drug stings across the country.

In our estimation, the most explosive allegation made in the report is that the agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives used mentally disabled people to run their stings. The seal of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives photographed in 2007.

In cases across the country, ATF agents recruited mentally disabled men to promote their "businesses" and recruit other illegal gun purchasers. In one case, the paper reports, the agents running Squid's Smoke Shop in Portland, Ore., convinced Aaron Key, 19 and described as "mentally disabled," to get a tattoo of a squid on his neck to promote the store.

Key agreed and agents posted pictures of him to their fake Facebook page. When the sting came to an end, Key was sentenced to 18 months in prison for "selling a sawed-off shotgun and arranging for prostitutes to come to a party being thrown by the undercover agents."

The judge, however, ordered that if Key wanted his tattoo removed, the ATF should pay for it once he is released from prison.

The paper started looking at storefront stings after it . The mode of operation was similar: ATF agents made a mentally disabled Milwaukee man a central part of their sting. That brought up questions about tactics and the ATF said it was an "isolated incident."...
The claims of these organizers of humanity raise another question which I have often asked them and which, so far as I know, they have never answered: If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind? The organizers maintain that society, when left undirected, rushes headlong to its inevitable destruction because the instincts of the people are so perverse. The legislators claim to stop this suicidal course and to give it a saner direction. Apparently, then, the legislators and the organizers have received from Heaven an intelligence and virtue that place them beyond and above mankind; if so, let them show their titles to this superiority.

They would be the shepherds over us, their sheep. Certainly such an arrangement presupposes that they are naturally superior to the rest of us. And certainly we are fully justified in demanding from the legislators and organizers proof of this natural superiority.
-- Bastiat
Insurance Companies Could Get Pinched With Latest ObamaCare Delay
The latest deadline delay for the Affordable Care Act could lead to even more enrollment problems and place a bigger burden on insurance companies, experts say.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday it would require insurance companies to accept premium payments for plans that start on Jan. 1 up until Dec. 31-eight days from the already once delayed date of Dec. 23.

“This will kill insurance companies,” says Devon Herrick, senior analyst at the National Center for Policy Analysis, of the latest deadline extension. “I don’t think insurance companies will be there on New Year’s Day figuring out what they owe, who they need to bill and who has legitimate coverage. You can see what a mess this is—I can’t imagine insurance companies can solve this in one day, especially when that day is a holiday.”

This week’s announcement operates under the assumption that enrolling people in insurance plans is simple, adds Tom Harte, president of the National Association of Health Underwriters.

“Is this possible? Yes. But is it practical? No. The challenge here is that the U.S. government is saying the transaction that happens to enroll someone is fundamentally easy, when it is fundamentally complicated.”

While auto insurance companies can seemingly enroll individuals within a few hours, the health-care enrollment process is much more cumbersome, says Larry Kocot, visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. ...
Wisconsin Political Speech Raid
Americans learned in the IRS political targeting scandal that government enforcement power can be used to stifle political speech. Something similar may be unfolding in Wisconsin, where a special prosecutor is targeting conservative groups that participated in the battle over Governor Scott Walker's union reforms.

In recent weeks, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz has hit dozens of conservative groups with subpoenas demanding documents related to the 2011 and 2012 campaigns to recall Governor Walker and state legislative leaders.

Copies of two subpoenas we've seen demand "all memoranda, email . . . correspondence, and communications" both internally and between the subpoena target and some 29 conservative groups, including Wisconsin and national nonprofits, political vendors and party committees. The groups include the League of American Voters, Wisconsin Family Action, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity—Wisconsin, American Crossroads, the Republican Governors Association, Friends of Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin. Enlarge Image

One subpoena also demands "all records of income received, including fundraising information and the identity of persons contributing to the corporation." In other words, tell us who your donors are....

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Kansas City Police Allegedly Threatened to Shoot Homeowner’s Dogs if He Refused to Let them Search his House Without a Warrant
...To prove it, he said police asked to search his house, Crinnian refused multiple times. He said they needed a warrant.

Then he said one police officer started threatening him saying, “If we have to get a warrant, we’re going to come back when you’re not expecting it, we’re going to park in front of your house, where all your neighbors can see, we’re gonna bust in your door with a battering ram, we’re gonna shoot and kill your dogs, who are my family, and then we’re going to ransack your house looking for these people.” ...
Elizabeth Warren threatens companies she suspects of funding public criticism of her
...As told by Ben White at Politico, a group called "Third Way" criticized Warren. Warren apparently suspected that Third Way's criticism of her was funded by banks. So she wrote a letter to bank CEOs demanding they disclose which political groups they're funding.

Warren sits on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. She's basically telling the entities whose livelihood her committee controls to stop criticizing her. This is bullying — and it's the best argument for allowing companies and individuals to anonymously criticize politicians.
Gun-control fans getting thuggish for next Colorado recall vote
...“As we speak, we have multiple cars monitoring us at our offices and filming us from the parking lot,” Mike McAlpine, who headed up the recall effort, told me yesterday. “This is not a one-off event. We hold sign-and-drive events on the sidewalks near to busy intersections, and we hold signs inviting people to pull over and sign the petition. Our opponents have taken to blocking us: as cars pulls in, they run up to the driver’s side door and physically stand next to the door so that the person inside cannot open the door and come outside.”

Elsewhere, opponents have formed human chains in order to block anyone who wants to sign. “They yell at the person while they’re at the table trying to sign, or blow an airhorn in their ear,” McAlpine added. “There have been a half-dozen examples of that. In addition, when we go out to knock on doors and present the petition, they will follow us down the sidewalk and scream and yell.” Recently, McAlpine told me, protesters encircled a young black man who was collecting signatures. “They yelled at him, ‘you killed Trayvon! You killed Trayvon!’”...
Against the EU? We’ll Have Your Foster Children, Please
...A couple had their three foster children taken away by a council on the grounds that their membership of the UK Independence Party meant that they supported “racist” policies.

The husband and wife, who have been fostering for nearly seven years, said they were made to feel like criminals when a social worker told them that their views on immigration made them unsuitable carers.

... Tim Loughton, the former children’s minister, said: “I will be very concerned if decisions have been made about the children’s future that were based on misguided political correctness around ethnic considerations....

...“Then one of them said, ‘Well, Ukip have got racist policies’. The implication was that we were racist. [The social worker] said Ukip does not like European people and wants them all out of the country to be returned to their own countries....

Pregnant woman has unborn baby forcibly removed from her womb by social services
Social services forcibly sedated a pregnant woman and removed her baby by caesarean section, it has been revealed.

Officials in Essex were granted a court order to take the baby from the Italian woman after she suffered a mental breakdown while in Britain on a work trip.

The council said it was acting in the best interests of the woman.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, social services are refusing to give the baby girl, who is now 15 months old, back to her mother – despite the woman claiming she has recovered.

The case is set to be raised in Parliament next week, with the woman’s lawyers claiming the council should have consulted her family first and Italian social services should have been put in charge of the child.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, came to Britain last July to attend a training course at Stansted Airport.

During that time she suffered a panic attack, which her family claim was caused by a failure to take medication for her bipolar condition, and after calling the police was taken to hospital.

According to the Telegraph, the woman later tried to return to her hotel but was restrained and sectioned under the Mental Health Act as social services acquired a High Court order to remove her baby....
Report: Scientists predict a century of global cooling
Better start investing in some warm clothes because German scientists are predicting that the Earth will cool over the next century.

German scientists found that two naturally occurring cycles will combine to lower global temperatures during the 21st century, eventually dropping to levels corresponding with the “little ice age” of 1870.

“Due to the de Vries cycle, the global temperature will drop until 2100 to a value corresponding to the ‘little ice age’ of 1870,” write German scientists Horst-Joachim Luedecke and Carl-Otto Weiss of the European Institute for Climate and Energy.

Researchers used historical temperature data and data from cave stalagmites to show a 200-year solar cycle, called the de Vries cycle.

They also factored into their work a well-established 65-year Atlantic and Pacific Ocean oscillation cycle. Global warming that has occurred since 1870 can be attributed almost entirely to both these factors, the scientists argue....
Report: More than 1,000 NHS patients have died of dehydration since 2003
...More than 1,000 care home residents have died of thirst or while suffering severe dehydration over the past decade, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. Elderly and vulnerable patients were left without enough water despite being under the supervision of trained staff in homes in England and Wales…Charities called for an urgent overhaul in social care, saying that the general public would be outraged if animals were treated in the same way…Figures obtained by this newspaper under freedom of information laws found that 1,158 care home residents suffered dehydration-related deaths between 2003 and 2012. Dehydration was named as either the underlying cause of death or a contributory factor, according to analysis of death certificates by the Office of National Statistics. Some 318 care home residents were found to have died from starvation or when severely malnourished, while 2,815 deaths were linked to bed sores. The real figures are likely to be far higher because residents who died while in hospital were not included....

Doctors boycotting California's Obamacare exchange
An estimated seven out of every 10 physicians in deep-blue California are rebelling against the state's Obamacare health insurance exchange and won't participate, the head of the state's largest medical association said.

“It doesn't surprise me that there's a high rate of nonparticipation,” said Dr. Richard Thorp, president of the California Medical Association.

Thorp has been a primary care doctor for 38 years in a small town 90 miles north of Sacramento. The CMA represents 38,000 of the roughly 104,000 doctors in California.

“We need some recognition that we’re doing a service to the community. But we can’t do it for free. And we can’t do it at a loss. No other business would do that,” he said....

California Obamacare exchange giving out customer information
Widespread fears that Affordable Care Act exchanges would fail to guard customer information are already coming true in California, where the state exchange is giving selected insurance agents customer contact information, resulting in unwanted calls and emails to Californians who have checked out the exchange but declined to buy insurance.

The Los Angeles Times’ Chad Terhune reports that Covered California, which Obamacare proponents have held up as a rare example of a functioning state health care exchange, provides names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of customers who did not ask to be contacted....
Curing the Healthcare Crisis
One of the biggest differences in how the left and the right view the world concerns the welfare state. Currently, the federal government spends about $1 trillion a year on 126 means tested welfare programs. That amounts to almost $22,000 for every poor person in America, or $88,000 for a family of four.

What difference does all this spending make?

Among people on the right, there is little doubt. These programs are destroying the culture of the recipient communities. They are replacing a culture of self-reliance and self-help with a culture of dependency. Amazingly, a record 91.5 million people of working age—almost one third of the entire population—are not working and not even looking for a job.

Among conservatives I have met who were once poor (and I have met a surprising number of them), the view that welfare subsidizes and encourages dependency is almost a self-evident truth. I’m not sure I have ever met a liberal who was once poor. But then again, the liberals I encounter are all in the academic and public policy world―far away from the poverty population they so often talk about. I think this is a fascinating sociological phenomenon. If my experience is different from yours, weigh in in the comments section....

The End of Poverty in America
...In any case, though, this seems to be a solution in search of a problem, because there is no poverty in America, and I can prove it. According to a Cato Institute study published last year, the combined expenditures for federal and state governments directed to means-tested public assistance — “welfare” — is approximately $1 trillion (yes, with a “T”) a year.

There are approximately 48 million people in the U.S. with incomes at the poverty level or below.

The application of advanced mathematics — long division, and I did it in my head thank you very much — tells us that’s about $21,000 per person per year. Obviously, that’s $84,000 for a family of four.

That’s got a problem, though. According to the 2013 Federal Poverty Guidelines, the poverty level for a family of four is $23,950. The total of $84,000 is roughly 380 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

Obviously, there’s no poverty left in America.

Unless, of course, that money isn’t actually being spent on the poor people at all. I wonder where it goes?
Unarmed Man Goes On Shooting Rampage
...The defendant is looking at 25 years in jail for the crime of provoking law enforcement into shooting random citizens. If this flies in New York, then there is no law.
A Walk on the Wilde Side
...The new health-care law exists for the common good, not just the individual consumer. . . . We are better off as a society--more compassionate, but also healthier--when we can all get the care we need.

So yes, I'll subsidize someone else's prenatal coverage. . . . And I'll remember to be relieved that my own access to health care is guaranteed. But they had better work out the problems with the A.C.A. [Affordable Care Act, the euphemism for ObamaCare]; if they don't, and it doesn't fulfill its promise of insuring the uninsured, I'm really going to feel like a chump....

...The Department of Health and Human Services has crowned a YouTube video entitled "Forget About The Price Tag" as the grand prize winner in a contest meant to encourage young people to sign up for Obamacare. . . .

Without a hint of irony, McDonald sings her chorus: "Ain't about the, uh, cha-ching cha-ching. Ain't about the, yeah, bla-bling bla-bling. Affordable Care Act. Don't worry 'bout the price tag."...
Low-Information Leadership
...And this president wasn’t. I think part of the reason he wasn’t careful is because he sort of lives in words. That’s been his whole professional life—books, speeches. Say something and it magically exists as something said, and if it’s been said and publicized it must be real. He never had to push a lever, see the machine not respond, puzzle it out and fix it. It’s all been pretty abstract for him, not concrete. He never had to stock a store, run a sale and see lots of people come but the expenses turn out to be larger than you’d expected and the profits smaller, and you have to figure out what went wrong and do better next time....

...From what I have seen the administration is full of young people who’ve seen the movie but not read the book. They act bright, they know the reference, they’re credentialed. But they’ve only seen the movie about, say, the Cuban missile crisis, and then they get into a foreign-policy question and they’re seeing movies in their heads. They haven’t read the histories, the texts, which carry more information, more texture, data and subtlety, and different points of view. They’ve only seen the movie—the Cubans had the missiles and Jack said “Not another war” and Bobby said “Pearl Harbor in reverse” and dreadful old Curtis LeMay chomped his cigar and said “We can fry a million of ‘em by this afternoon, Mr. President.” Grrr, grrr, good guys beat bad guys. ...

ObamaCare and the Totalitarian Mindset
...We find it not only wrongheaded but sinister (in every sense of the word). Waldman argues that journalists have a "responsibility" to provide "audiences with practical information that could help them navigate the new system"--and not just that, but to provide such information "repeatedly or people won't get it."...

...Is there any doubt that Waldman wants ObamaCare service journalism to serve a hortatory purpose, not merely an informative one? That is, he wants news organizations to encourage their audiences to sign up because that would boost the likelihood that ObamaCare proves successful (politically, economically, or by whatever other measure one might devise).

Any self-respecting journalist, no matter how liberal, will recoil at that notion. Service journalism whose purpose is to serve the government is not a "responsibility" but an abomination....
The Revolt Against Urban Gentry
...This approach to urbanism draws some of its inspiration from the likes of Richard Florida, whose “creative class” theories posit the brightest future for “spiky” high cost cities like New York. But even Florida now admits that what he calls “America’s new economic geography” provides “ little in the way of trickle-down benefits” to the middle and working classes.

Some other urbanists don’t even really see this as a problem. Harvard’s Ed Glaeser, a favorite of urban developers, believes De Blasio should celebrate the huge gaps between New York residents as evidence of the city’s appeal; a similar argument was made recently about California by an urban Liberal (and former Oakland Mayor) Jerry Brown, who claimed the state’s highest in the nation poverty rate reflected its “incredible attractiveness”.

Couched in progressive rhetoric, the gentry urbanists embrace an essentially neo-feudalist view that society is divided between “the creative class” and the rest of us. Liberal analyst Thomas Frank suggests that Florida’s “creative class” is numerically small, unrepresentative and self—referential; he describes them as “members of the professional-managerial class—each of whom harbors a powerful suspicion that he or she is pretty brilliant as well.”...

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Dissent is the Highest Form of Tax Bracket
...A couple of weeks back, cancer patient Bill Elliot, in a defiant appearance on Fox News, discussed the cancelation of his insurance and what he intended to do about it. He’s now being audited.

Insurance agent C Steven Tucker, who quaintly insists that the whimsies of the hyper-regulatory bureaucracy do not trump your legal rights, saw the interview and reached out to Mr Elliot to help him. And he’s now being audited.

As the Instapundit likes to remind us, Barack Obama has “joked” publicly about siccing the IRS on his enemies. With all this coincidence about, we should be grateful the President is not (yet) doing prison-rape gags.

Meanwhile, IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, in his testimony to the House Oversight Committee over the agency’s systemic corruption, answers “I don’t recall” no fewer than 80 times. ...
E-Verify Turns Work Into a Privilege, and Empowers the Surveillance State
...One thing that isn’t up for debate are the significant drawbacks to mandating use of E-Verify for all US employers. Forcing United States businesses to use the system will encourage employers to discriminate against potential hires on the basis of nationality. Technical glitches will keep legal employees out of jobs. And creating one more national database for federal agencies to mine will pose a significant Fourth Amendment threat.

But the ACLU pointed out perhaps the biggest problem with a program like E-Verify. In attempting to solve a problem involving just a tiny fraction of workers, it brings the United States much closer to a "permission society," where the government grants or revokes the privilege to feed and clothe your family....
At Least One Census Worker Made Up Employment Data In Run-Up to 2012 Elections
...In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington.

The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed. The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated.

And the Census Bureau, which does the unemployment survey, knew it. Just two years before the presidential election, the Census Bureau had caught an employee fabricating data that went into the unemployment report, which is one of the most closely watched measures of the economy.

And a knowledgeable source says the deception went beyond that one employee — that it escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012 and continues today.

“He’s not the only one,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous for now but is willing to talk with the Labor Department and Congress if asked.

The Census employee caught faking the results is Julius Buckmon, according to confidential Census documents obtained by The Post. Buckmon told me in an interview this past weekend that he was told to make up information by higher-ups at Census.

Utah's congressional delegation is calling President Obama's decision to move the U.S. census into the White House a purely partisan move and potentially dangerous to congressional redistricting around the country.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told FOX News on Monday that he finds it hard to believe the Obama administration felt the need to place re-evaluation of the inner workings of the census so high on his to-do list, just three weeks into his presidency.

"This is nothing more than a political land grab," Chaffetz said.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, told the Salt Lake Tribune that the move "shouldn't happen." He and Chaffetz are trying to rally Republicans "before its too late."

"It takes something that is supposedly apolitical like the census, and gives it to a guy who is infamously political," Bishop said of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who would be tasked with overseeing the census at the White House.

Homes raided, subpoenas issued targeting conservative groups and allies of Scott Walker
In Wisconsin, dozens of conservative groups and allies of Gov. Scott Walker are undergoing political intimidation from the left at the hands of a special prosecutor.

Subpoenas have been issued demanding correspondence and donor information of right-leaning organizations and individuals and raids have been conducted resulting in law enforcement officers taking computers and files in a secret investigation, according to reports.

“In recent weeks, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz has hit dozens of conservative groups with subpoenas demanding documents related to the 2011 and 2012 campaigns to recall Governor Walker and state legislative leaders,” the Wall Street Journal writes.

It continues, “Copies of two subpoenas we’ve seen demand ‘all memoranda, email . . . correspondence, and communications’ both internally and between the subpoena target and some 29 conservative groups, including Wisconsin and national nonprofits, political vendors and party committees. The groups include the League of American Voters, Wisconsin Family Action, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity—Wisconsin, American Crossroads, the Republican Governors Association, Friends of Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin.”

The WSJ says the latest actions are taking place under Wisconsin’s John Doe law, which makes it difficult for the groups involved to defend themselves publicly.

The law, “Bars a subpoena’s targets from disclosing its contents to anyone but his attorneys. John Doe probes work much like a grand jury, allowing prosecutors to issue subpoenas and conduct searches, while the gag orders leave the targets facing the resources of the state with no way to publicly defend themselves.”...
“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
-― Frédéric Bastiat, The Law

To live his life in his own way, to call his house his castle, to enjoy the fruits of his own labour, to educate his children as his conscience directs, to save for their prosperity after his death --- these are wishes deeply ingrained in civilised man. Their realization is almost as necessary to our virtues as to our happiness. From their total frustration disastrous results both moral and psychological might follow.
-- C.S. Lewis
Christian arrested for calling homosexuality a 'sin' warns of 'real-life thought police'
Tony Miano, 49, a former senior police officer from the US, was held for around six hours, had his fingerprints and DNA taken and was questioned about his faith, after delivering a sermon about “sexual immorality” on a London street.

Mr Miano, who served as a Deputy Sherriff in Los Angeles County, said his experience suggested that the term “thought police” had become a reality in the UK.

He said he was amazed that it was now possible “in the country that produced the Magna Carta” for people to be arrested for what they say.

Mr Miano, who was provided with a solicitor by the Christian Legal Centre, was arrested under the controversial clause of the Public Order Act which bans “insulting” words or behaviour. ...

Labour's 'secret plan' to lure migrants
The release of a previously unseen document suggested that Labour’s migration policy over the past decade had been aimed not just at meeting the country’s economic needs, but also the Government’s “social objectives”.

The paper said migration would “enhance economic growth” and made clear that trying to halt or reverse it could be “economically damaging”. But it also stated that immigration had general “benefits” and that a new policy framework was needed to “maximise” the contribution of migration to the Government’s wider social aims. ...
WSJ: ObamaCare was a losing ideological bet.
...But on the point we were writing about yesterday, Klein turns out to be just as mindless, not to mention a few days late. The headline of his post yesterday--three days after Yglesias's and Walsh's posts: "Hurricane Katrina Killed More Than 1,800. Obamacare's Web Site Doesn't Work Yet. Stop Comparing Them."...

...The deaths of hundreds of thousands of people! Wow, what's that about? By way of an explanation, Klein linked to an Urban Institute study purporting to find that "137,000 people died from 2000 through 2006 because they lacked health insurance, including 22,000 people in 2006."

Yet suddenly, when a law Klein vigorously supports is forcing the cancellation of millions of insurance policies, he no longer regards medical insurance as a matter of life or death. How convenient!...

Dana Milbank: These Dirty Republicans Are Attempting to Scare Young People Away From Obamacare Exchanges By Telling Them Facts About Obamacare
...Progressives view the public as three things:

1, stupid and incapable of making the "right" political choices.

2, ethically foul (bitter clingers, racist) and therefore not only deserving of, but requiring, manipulation and deceit from their intellectual and moral betters to induce them to make the "right" political choices. The truth won't work with people who are both intellectually and morally retarded; like children being told to be good or else Santa Claus won't give them gifts, they have to be manipulated into the right decision by childish fictions.

3, tax-generating worker drones whose only real value is not in the fullness of their own lives (they're essentially zombies, monsters, beasts of the field) but whose labor can be expropriated to improve more worthy lives. ...

When the Obama Magic Died
...In 2008, seeing the Obama crowds in Portland, Denver and St. Louis spurred memories of the spectacles that had attended the rise and fall of Arab political pretenders. I had lived through the era of the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser. He had emerged from a military cabal to become a demigod, immune to judgment. His followers clung to him even as he led the Arabs to a catastrophic military defeat in the Six Day War of 1967. He issued a kind of apology for his performance. But his reign was never about policies and performance. It was about political magic.

In trying to grapple with, and write about, the Obama phenomenon, I found guidance in a book of breathtaking erudition, "Crowds and Power" (1962) by the Nobel laureate Elias Canetti. Born in Bulgaria in 1905 and educated in Vienna and Britain, Canetti was unmatched in his understanding of the passions, and the delusions, of crowds. The crowd is a "mysterious and universal phenomenon," he writes. It forms where there was nothing before. There comes a moment when "all who belong to the crowd get rid of their difference and feel equal." Density gives the illusion of equality, a blessed moment when "no one is greater or better than another." But the crowd also has a presentiment of its own disintegration, a time when those who belong to the crowd "creep back under their private burdens."... goal is for 80% of users to be able to enroll for insurance
The Obama administration will consider the new federal insurance marketplace a success if 80 percent of users can buy health-care plans online, according to government and industry officials familiar with the project.

The goal for how many people should be able to make it through the insurance exchange is an internal target that administration officials have not made public. It acknowledges that as many as one in five Americans who try to use the Web site to buy insurance will be unable to do so.

The measure is the first concrete performance standard in the 31/2 years since the government began to design the health exchange...

In 2010, Administration Predicted ‘Majority’ of Employer-Based Health Plans Would Disappear
“It is projected that more group health plans will transition to the requirements under the regulations as time goes on,” DOJ lawyers wrote in response to court challenge to the law’s requirement that insurance plans provide coverage of contraception. “Defendants have estimated that a majority of group health plans will have lost their grandfather status by the end 2013.”

The DOJ cites the June 17, 2010, edition of the Federal Register, which acknowledges that within the first year of Obamacare’s employer mandate, the insurance plans offered by many employers will be canceled because their policies will not be grandfathered under the administration’s regulations. ”The Departments’ mid-range estimate is that 66 percent of small-employer plans and 45 percent of large-employer plans will relinquish their grandfather status by the end of 2013,” the Register says. “The low-end estimates are for 49 percent and 34 percent of small and large-employer plans, respectively, to have relinquished grandfather status, and the high-end estimates are 80 percent and 64 percent, respectively.”

They're Desperate Now ..."The Affordable Care Act can be construed as a transfer of benefits from Medicare, which serves an overwhelmingly white population of the elderly--77 percent of recipients are white--to Obamacare, which will serve a population that is 54.7 percent minority," Edsall writes.

Hmmm, if the ObamaCare population is 54.7% minority, that would make it 45.3% majority. Math is hard.

Predictably, Edsall goes on to blame opposition to ObamaCare on "a critical mass of white voters" who have not "moved past [their] resistance to programs shifting tax dollars and other resources from the middle class to poorer minorities." If you don't want the government to redistribute your wealth to somebody else, you must be racist....

Americans overwhelmingly prefer firearms to Obamacare
...During the same time period that only 106,185 people signed up to purchase Obamacare, a total of 1,687,599 background checks for firearm purchases went through the NICS system, according to the FBI. This means that the American people prefer buying a gun to being forced to purchase health insurance by a nearly 16 to 1 margin. Furthermore, considering that only 27,000 signed up on, an amazing 62 people went through a background check to purchase guns for every one health care plan sold through It should also be noted that a NICS background check can cover the sale of multiple guns, so in all likelihood, far more than 1.6 million guns were purchased in the month of October....

The Most Shocking Obamacare Revelation
...Obamacare is the single most important initiative of his presidency. The website rollout was, as the President himself has repeatedly stated, the most important element of the law’s debut. Domestically speaking there was no higher priority for the President and his staff than getting this right. And the President is telling the world that a week before the disaster he had no idea how that website was doing.

Reflect on that for a moment. The President of the United States is sitting in the Oval Office day after day. The West Wing is stuffed with high power aides. His political appointees sit atop federal bureaucracies, monitoring the work of the career staff around them. The President has told his core team, over and over, that the health care law and the website rollout are his number one domestic priorities.

And with all this, neither he nor, apparently, anyone in his close circle of aides and advisors knew that the website was a disaster. Vapid, blind, idly flapping their lips; they pushed paper, attended meetings and edited memos as the roof came crashing down....