Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A small housekeeping note

ALL of my blogs are blocked from being viewed in China. I also have the distinction, however, that some of my blogs are blocked in some places in the USA and elsewhere -- on "hate speech" grounds (Translation: I sometimes write critically about Muslims and Islam). I tend to think that if my blogs are blocked both in China and in some of the more socialistic parts of America then I must be doing something right!

So to circumvent such bans, I have long done something quite easy: I put up "mirror" sites -- backup copies of my blogs hosted on various less-known webhosts (both free and paid) that tend to escape censorship. So if you cannot read my primary blogs, you can at least read copies.

All webhosts are rather erratic, however, and sometimes freeze up or blink out of existence with or without warning. To cope with THAT problem, I always put up my "mirrors" on TWO hosts. So if one host goes haywire, you can always access the copy of the blog on the second host.

A host that I have been using for a couple of years has however been giving a lot of trouble lately. It seems to be "frozen" (non-updatable) most of the time. I have been unable to do my usual daily updates there. I have therefore given up on that host and am posting the second of my "mirrors" on another host. An updated set of links to all my mirror sites can be found here or here (China readable).


ObamaCare: 47% Premium Hikes in Connecticut

Via Hot Air, comes this story in the Hartford Courant about how insurers in the nutmeg state are raising rates as much as 47 percent:
The states largest insurer has been approved to raise health premium rates by 41 percent to 47 percent for some of its policies sold to individual buyers, in the largest price hikes yet seen in Connecticut since the adoption of national health care reform.

For all of its individual market plans, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has received approval to raise rates by at least 19 percent including a range of 30 percent to 44 percent for the brand of plans in the individual market that was most popular in 2009, Century Preferred.

The reason for the increases is the new federal health reform mandates, according to Anthem and the state Department of Insurance, which is defending its approval against charges by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Those reforms took effect Sept. 23.

Wasn’t Obamacare specifically supposed to halt the steep cost increases in insurance plans? That was exactly what the president claimed the month before the health care bill passed:
People need to understand why we can’t back off on [health care reform], the president said. One of the major insurers in California just announced that in the individual market, they’re increasing their premiums by 39 percent. That’s a portrait of the future if we don’t do something now.

Well, the future is now and not only is the bill not slowing the rise in insurance costs, Obamacare is actually exacerbating the problem. But hey, its a good thing the president spent all that time getting the policy right.



Obama’s Job-Killing Regulations

With the prospect of a Republican majority in the House, and, possibly, the Senate, President Obama may continue his anti-business, job killing agenda by issuing intrusive, regulatory, executive orders. Americans should be concerned that federal agencies are drafting new regulatory edicts that will continue the Obama economic policy of stifling innovation and job creation, while rewarding union loyalists.

Taxpayers are growing increasingly worried by a government that is expanding too fast, becoming increasingly intrusive, and throttling the American job creation machine. But, Team Obama seems determined to ignore the stinging rebukes emanating from the nation’s voters.

Many Americans thought Henry Waxman’s Cap and Trade nightmare was dead. While Team Obama may no longer be able to push through another 2000+ page piece of job-destroying legislation, the Administration can use Executive Orders to implement many of the specifics of the legislation via changes in the regulatory policies.

Just last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued partial guidance to increase ethanol content in gasoline to 15% , even though ethanol’s supposed benefits have been solidly debunked. Studies by the EPA have shown that ethanol increases carbon emissions, drives up costs of corn and food products, hinders engine efficiency, and does little to make our nation more energy independent.

In short, the EPA’s ethanol policy is a ploy, designed to prop up a failed industry, with yet another multi-billion dollar bailout from taxpayers.

EPA quietly announced this decision that will result in huge increases in subsidies to the ethanol industry while forcing Americans to buy a product that they don’t want. Nor was there any acknowledgement within the Obama Administration that the unintended consequence of a 15% mandate on ethanol will almost certainly drive up food costs on everything from beef to cereal, to tortillas.

Higher food prices represent a new tax on all Americans as we are forced to pay more for corn-based food products, so that Obama can continue to subsidize the ethanol industry.

In another move that compounds the regulatory burdens, the EPA recently issued a strategic plan for the next five years (Fiscal Year 2011-2015 EPA Strategic Plan) that will cost over a trillion dollars to implement. The plan advances retaliatory mandates that allow President Obama to punish organizations that oppose his flawed policies and donate heavily to Republicans.

For example, on page 44, the EPA unveils its new plan to criminalize violations of the agency’s mandates and has targeted 4 industries --cement plants, coal-fired utilities, glass plants and animal feeding operations, all industries that have, traditionally, donated heavily to Republicans.

It is hard not to consider that the Obama Administration’s actions may be politically motivated, since Americans have seen the Democrat party using this same kind of demagoguery with Koch Industries and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, both which have chosen to support GOP candidates and Republican job-creation policies.

Nor is the EPA the only Federal Agency working hard to crank up a slew of new regulations which will soon sprout like crabgrass in the spring. Take for example the new rulings that will give the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) broad new powers to require all financial institutions, hedge funds, investment firms, banks to set up hiring quotas for minorities.

More troubling still is that, in the interests of “diversity” and “inclusion” Section 342 (p.166) of the new financial reform bill will give the federal government vast new powers to dictate a firms “management, employment, and business activities”.

Let’s be clear: a diverse workforce is a great asset to any company and many Wall Street firms would benefit from hiring more women and minorities. But should we give some young, inexperienced government bureaucrat, only recently out of his/her Oshkosh b’Gosh, the power to dictate “business activities” of our major financial firms and banks? That seems to be the path that Obama is now endorsing.

The GOP may win back the House and possibly even the Senate, but Republicans need to be savvy and vigilant. Rolling back Obama’s job-killing, costly legislation will not be the only challenge facing the 112th Congress. Ferreting out the many government agency executive orders that place punitive, costly requirements on businesses and carry criminal penalties if businesses don’t comply, will be a far harder task. Identifying these many, destructive requirements will be hard to do; rescinding them will be even harder.



By the Numbers: The Democrats' Deplorable Record

Here are a few of the eye-poppers:

9.6%: That’s the latest unemployment figure from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the African-American community, the number is 16.1% -- and for teens, it’s 26%. Given these figures, perhaps it’s understandable that many in President Obama’s base aren’t terribly enthusiastic about turning out to vote this year. Note that in 2004, when state senator Barack Obama mocked George W. Bush’s “jobless recovery,” unemployment was 5.8%.

$13 trillion: Our enormous national debt totals a whopping $44,000 for every man, woman and child in America.

$1.3 trillion / 9.9%: The deficit for the fiscal year ending last month was $1.3 trillion dollars, representing around 9.9% of GDP. Although the deficit ran $122 billion less than the record-breaking shortfall of the year before, don’t break out the champagne – the Obama administration projects that the deficit will climb to $1.4 trillion during FY 2011. What’s more, the FY 2009 deficit of $1.4 trillion was the first time the deficit ever exceeded $1 trillion – and the first time since World War II that it exceeded 10% of GDP.

$3.52 billion: This represents the net tax hikes on Americans enacted over the last two years. Americans for Tax Reform offset the tax cuts in the S-Chip program, the “stimulus,” ObamaCare, and small business legislation from the tax hikes contained in the same programs. The net outcome – the $3.52 billion increase – is why Democrats’ claims to have voted for tax cuts are disingenuous in the extreme.

75: The number of days until recession-weary Americans – all of us – are whacked by the largest tax increase in history. Those now in the 10% bracket will pay 15%, while the 25% bracket rises to 28%, the 28% bracket rises to 31%, the 33% bracket rises to 36%, and the 35% bracket goes up to 39.6%. Rates will also rise on savers and investors; capital gains will rise from 15% this year to 20% in 2011, while the dividend tax will rise from 15% this year to 39.6% in 2011. Also, Americans with children can bid a fond farewell to the dependent care tax credit – it’s being cut – and the child tax credit is being halved.

The numbers are frightening. And they are infuriating. After spending money faster than taxpayers can send it to them, Democrats have nothing to show for their efforts but higher unemployment, higher taxes and more debt. And still they’re raising taxes to take yet more of our money.



The land of the free again: Two wars but no conscription

In war as in life, what doesn't happen is often as significant as what does. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with their setbacks, victories and casualties, have many things in common with past American wars. But there is one big thing missing this time: the draft.

Hendrik Hertzberg noted recently in The New Yorker magazine that "for the first time in a century, America is fighting a long war -- indeed, two long wars, each longer than our participation in both World Wars put together -- without conscription."

That change represents a sort of throwback to the early days of the republic. When President James Madison proposed conscription for the War of 1812, New Hampshire's Daniel Webster rose on the House floor in eloquent opposition.

"Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war in which the folly or wickedness of government may engage it?" he demanded. That was the end of that idea, until the Civil War.

It's not just that no one wants to bring back the bitter divisions and organized resistance the draft produced in the 1960s. It's also that we have established the clear superiority of a military composed of men and women who choose to serve.

No one would imagine you could run a private business with employees who are forced to take jobs there against their will. Imagine the difficulty of motivating them. Yet we used to run the Army that way.

There is no doubt that the current wars have put exceptional burdens on the active duty force as well as reservists -- burdens far greater than they expected when they signed up. But future soldiers will have no illusions about what to expect, and they will adjust their choices to fit the new reality.

Thanks to the abolition of the draft, if Americans want to keep making such heavy demands on the military, they will have to pay generously enough to get people to enlist and re-enlist.

It was once a novel experiment: fielding a force to protect freedom without grossly violating freedom by dragooning young men to serve. But it's worked so well we've almost forgotten there's an alternative.




Good one!: "Eighteen Revolutionary Guards have been killed in a fire at an ammunitions store at one of the elite force's bases in western Iran, the state IRNA news agency has reported. "Eighteen members of the forces at the base were killed and 14 wounded" in Tuesday's explosion, IRNA quoted Guards commander Yadollah Bouali as saying. Mr Bouali said on Tuesday that the explosion hit when a fire spread to the munitions store at the base. The Revolutionary Guards have emerged as a powerful military and economic force in Iran in recent years, especially under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Guards were heavily involved in the government's crackdown on opposition protests"

Obama as FDR: The real deal about the New Deal: "The 67 million of us who voted for Obama two years ago did so for a variety of different reasons. Some cast their vote because he is a black man, some because of his eloquence, some because he opposed the Iraq War, some because of his policies benefitted the poor and middle classes, and some simply because he seemed the antithesis of George W. Bush. … The FDR that Time alluded to is the one that most of us know — the charming man who repaired the US economy, conquered the fascists, defended the rights of minorities, and had the support of just about everyone in the United States. The problem is, that FDR is the product of nostalgia. In reality (as is often the case with reality), things were a whole lot more complicated. In fact, FDR’s actual record raises criticisms very much akin to the posthype gripes about Obama.”

ObamaCare’s unseen costs: "On Tuesday, the White House decided to fight back against a tax-related rumor about the new health care law. Beginning in 2012, wrote Stephanie Cutter, the administration’s head of health care messaging, employers will have to provide information about the value of your health insurance benefits on your W-2. But, she said, despite rumors to the contrary, ‘you will absolutely not pay taxes on these benefits.’ … the Affordable Care Act will lead to the taxation of health care benefits. Starting in 2018, high-end health care plans will be subject to a 40 percent excise tax for any benefits that exceed $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for a family. Indeed, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is chock full of tax hikes. And those taxes will cost more than you might think.”

Grabbing the third rail: "Those who accept the idea that entitlement reform is the third rail of American politics should have to grapple with the rise of Rep. Paul Ryan. In the past year, Ryan has drawn a lot of heat for his ambitious plan to confront our nation’s looming entitlement crisis. Democrats from President Obama on down have eviscerated his ‘Roadmap for America’s Future,’ arguing it would destroy Social Security and gut Medicare. Yet Ryan is expected to coast to victory, just as he has in every election since he first ran in favor of Social Security personal accounts twelve years ago. And his constituents aren’t reflexively Republican.”

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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