Friday, December 24, 2010


I plan to do some blogging in the next few days but not sure how much


More Obamacare insanity: Sebelius' shameless attempt to jawbone insurers on costs

In early September, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius - throwing her new weight around after the passage of Obamacare - threatened the health insurance industry with a letter that spelled out "zero tolerance" for "unjustified rate increases."

This week, her agency unveiled a new rule that allows the federal government to decide what counts as an "unreasonable" rate increase. The upshot: If an insurance company increases the cost of a premium to above 10%, it may well feel the wrath of the feds.

There's just one problem: Under Obamacare, the federal government does not have the authority to block or overturn an insurance price increase. (Congress debated whether or not to give the Health and Human Services Department this authority during the crafting of the legislation, but it was ultimately rejected.) In point of fact, 43 states already regulate and approve rates in the individual or small business market through their insurance commissioners. This new law would let them continue to do their job - unless the federal government were to decide that their reviews weren't "effective." Once again, government is overreaching and telling private business what to do.

Stop for a moment and digest how silly all this is. Sebelius and her crew can scold insurance companies in public, but they have zero actual power to actually get a company to lower the objectionable cost. It's the politicization of price controls - big government at its strong-arming worst.

But there's a deeper problem here: The idea that our federal government, which is mandating that insurance companies to do more and more, can at the very same time be bullied by way of executive power to force them to charge less and less. We often decry "unfunded mandates" when they hit states and local governments; why should we just roll our eyes when the target is private industry? The disconnect within the Obama administration either reveals how little it cares about the laws of economics or how convinced it is that it can single-handedly rewrite them.

With the passage of Obamacare, the government slapped the managed care industry with a plethora of new must-do's: For example, requiring that the insurers cover young adults until they're 26 and banning them from denying coverage for anyone with preexisting conditions; mandating coverage of immunizations, and getting rid of lifetime limits.

To add all these new requirements, then in the same breath to tell insurers that they cannot raise premiums, is like telling General Motors that the cars it produces need to have side air bags, hybrid engines and state-of-the-art sound systems, but they can't raise a single sticker price.



Labor department covering up union corruption

The Office of Labor Management Statistics (OLMS) was supposed to release an annual report tracking labor unions and evidence of corruption in union leadership in January 2010 but still hasn’t released the document.

OLMS, which falls under the Department of Labor, has released no such tracking report since George W. Bush’s administration, something that has the conservative nonprofit organization Americans for Limited Government (ALG) up in arms. ALG filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the 2009 report, and OLMS denied the group’s request by saying it needed more time to complete the report. Originally, however, those reports were publicly available on the OLMS website.

The report would tabulate the number of cases nationwide of union leader prosecution, the amount of funds they embezzle and the misuse of union funds. It also would keep track of indictments. Those statistics do exist elsewhere, as criminal and most civil court proceedings become public record after the cases close, but they’re difficult to track down as they’re in courthouses all over the country. The OLMS annual reports kept track of that information, allowing people to access it easily.

ALG’s current head of research, Don Todd, who led OLMS during the Bush administration, told The Daily Caller he doubts it would be too difficult for the Obama administration to release that information, as they’re supposed to keep track of it all year long. He also said that this administration’s failure to release the report is “freakishly incompetent.” He suspects politics is to blame.

“It’s got to be a political decision,” Todd said in a phone interview. “You know, I ran the agency during the Bush administration, and it’s the career people that put the thing together. So, the fact that it’s not out is a political decision.”

Todd said he thinks the decision to withhold that information comes from the Secretary of Labor’s office, though, not President Barack Obama. “I wouldn’t think it would reach anywhere near that high of a level,” Todd said, referring to why he doesn’t think Obama is calling these shots. “But, the Labor Department is pretty much owned by the union movement now. A lot of the people who work there are from the movement.”



A hero for the people

Everybody hates Tim Eyman.

That’s what you might think if you spent too much time listening to politicians in his home state of Washington, or perusing ill-mannered and condescending Internet postings smearing the “initiative-crazed madman” for seemingly single-handedly starving their Big Brothers in Olympia, the state’s quaint capital.

Legislators have compared Eyman to a terrorist and a pig — but, ever-so-generously, not “a terrorist pig.” He’s said to lack “one ounce of compassion” and to be “the state’s most infamous political liar.”

David Goldstein, a progressive blogger and former radio talk show host, filed an initiative in 2003 that read in part, “[B]e it resolved, That the citizens of the State of Washington do hereby proclaim that Tim Eyman is a Horse’s Ass.” Yet, Goldstein lacked the gusto to get the signatures required to put the measure to a vote.

In September, a comment on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer website took it to another level: “Won’t someone just kill Eyman already?” But don’t feel threatened, as the author added, “Oh wait, only righties kill people over politics.” Tell that to Stalin, Mao, and the Weathermen.

Why all the vitriol? It seems too many Democrats and “lefties” don’t like democracy nearly so much as they like to proclaim . . . at least when they lose. At Eyman’s hands, they lose fairly often.

But is Eyman the actual deliverer of the hated coup-stick thwackings? Eyman has no powerful political position. He’s simply a voter and, more importantly, a proponent of initiative measures. Everything he’s accomplished has merely allowed the people of Washington to vote and make the final decision. Eyman explains:

I didn’t repeal the state motor vehicle excise tax (I-695 in 1999) and local vehicle fees (I-776 in 2002) . . . impose 1 percent limits on property tax collections by state and local governments (I-747 in 2001) . . . give the state auditor the authority to do comprehensive performance audits of state and local governments (I-900 in 2005) . . . re-impose a 2/3’s vote requirement for the Legislature to raise taxes (I-960 in 2007), the voters did.

Repeat that: Eyman did’t do those things, the voters did. Eyman calculates that the people of Washington have saved themselves $15.5 billion in taxes by voting for the successful initiatives that he has pushed, working through a group called Voters Want More Choices . . . which he leads along with Jack and Mike Fagan. (The Fagans were very active in battling Republican George Nethercutt in 2000, after the former congressman broke his pledge to serve only three terms in the other Washington.)

This November, Voters Want More Choices sponsored I-1053, a statewide measure requiring tax increases to be passed by a two-thirds majority of both houses of the legislature, and fee increases be passed by a majority. The measure was written in response to the legislature’s repeal of a similar initiative, I-960, passed by voters back in 2007. The more recent go-round garnered 64 percent of the vote — the most ever for an Eyman-proposed issue.

In his spare time, Tim took on the red-light camera industry in his home town of Mukilteo, north of Seattle. He overcame the resistance of local officials to even holding a vote on the issue, and his measure to require public approval before installing any cameras and limiting fines to $20 won 70 percent of the vote.

What’s most essential about Tim Eyman is his understanding of the importance of the initiative and referendum process. “Initiatives allow you to fundamentally change public policy in a really substantial way,” he told the Washington Times. “It is the ultimate in truth in advertising. You can’t hide what your proposal does. Initiatives can’t change their mind after the election — unlike politicians.”

Like America’s Founders, Eyman understands that, ultimately, the principle of who decides is more important than the actual decision. “This is not a debate over is a toll good or bad, is a ferry fare increase good or bad, are car tab fees good or bad,” he recently told the Everett Herald. “It’s a question of who should decide.”

Eyman wants voters to decide. Many politicians, and many who want a government unlimited by voters, disrespectfully disagree.

What befuddles his opponents the most is Eyman’s pluck. He admits that he’s a little “obnoxious” at times. But he says citizens don’t get anywhere without some sort of “battering ram.”

Worse still, he enjoys the battle. He told Seattle Times columnist Bruce Ramsey, “I take a mischievous glee in being the greatest thorn in the side of people who desperately need to be humbled.”

There are those who diminish Tim Eyman as being in the political process only to make money. But they are far removed from reality. A man of Eyman’s talents could make a lot more money in a different pursuit. It’s hard to imagine that his pension — if he has one, which I doubt — would rival those snagged by run-of-the-mill Evergreen State government employees.

In fact, to gain the funding necessary to place this year’s I-1053 on the ballot, Tim took a second mortgage out on his home for $250,000. He still owes $237,000. It’s not something someone “in it for the money” would do.

It is something freedom-lovers all across the country should help him pay off.

Eyman’s success is a testament to his smarts, his tenacity and his hard work. It also testifies to the ballot initiative process, whereby citizens can reform government and change the law by taking an issue to the ballot box for a decision by their fellow citizens.

Hate Tim Eyman? I adore the man.



Dems Suggest the Bible Hates the Rich

Michael Medved

The debate over the extension of the Bush tax-rates revealed the deep hostility from many prominent Democrats toward Americans who have achieved financial success, and already carry the bulk of the income tax burden. Ironically, some liberals, including Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, even cited Biblical authority to back up their resentment of the rich. A favorite “proof text” for such attitudes comes from Matthew 19:24, where Jesus says, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

The classic 1706 Christian commentary by Matthew Henry explains this passage by saying, “Rich people have great temptations to resist….more duties are expected of them than from others, which they can hardly do…It must be a great measure of divine grace that will enable a man to break through these difficulties.”

In other words, wealth comes with special challenges and responsibilities, but it is hardly a crime deserving of punishment or discouragement. Inconveniently for liberals who hate the rich, the Bible also says –in Leviticus 19:15- that the legal system must not favor the poor, or the rich.




Nomination of extreme Leftist to federal appeals court blocked: "A Cal law school dean's nomination to a federal appeals court appears to be dead, at least for now, under a deal struck between U.S. Senate Democrats and Republicans to break a year-end judicial confirmation logjam. Officials familiar with the deal said Democrats agreed not to seek votes on the nominations of Goodwin Liu, associate dean at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, and three others, while Republicans agreed to confirm at least 19 of President Barack Obama's noncontroversial nominees. The Senate has approved 10 judges in the past few days without a single dissenting vote as part of this deal"

Deadbeat states: "Socialism is secondary to state squandering — and a consequence of it. America is a debtor nation. The defining characteristic of the Unites States is debt — public and private; macro and micro, federal and state. I sincerely hope you are not invested in municipal bonds. The '$3 trillion municipal bond market, where state and local governments go to finance their schools, highways, and other projects,' is about to come crashing down."

Birthrate among US teens hits record low: "The rate at which U.S. women are having babies continued to fall between 2008 and 2009, federal officials reported Tuesday, pushing the teen birthrate to a record low and prompting a debate about whether the drop was caused by the recession, an increased focus on encouraging abstinence, more adolescents using birth control or a combination of those factors."

The enemy within: "In the early 1980s, British prime minister Margaret Thatcher emerged victorious from a war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands that propelled her to a landslide victory in the 1983 general election. On July 19, 1984, she gave a speech to the assembled legislators of her Conservative party, in which she said that she had defeated 'the enemy without,' but that 'the enemy within ... is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty.' She was referring to government-sector unions, and specifically the mineworkers’ union, which was then attempting to hold Britain hostage."

The Golden Rule, reformulated: "Without humility, most people who are concerned about justice and compassion may get lost in moral dilemmas. Humility reminds us we might not have all the right answers or can foresee all the consequences. Humility reminds us that perhaps it's sometimes better to do nothing, and to tolerate the distasteful."


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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