Saturday, January 07, 2012

Comedians for Obama

President Obama may not know it, but he has a nice advantage in the world of late-night TV. A new study by The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University says that in 2011, late-night comedians mocked Republicans three times more than they did Democrats. The biggest ideological difference was between David Letterman and Jay Leno. Letterman told 77 jokes at the expense of Obama, while Leno told 156 -- about 100 percent more.

The Republican presidential candidates got whacked across the board in late-night precincts. Herman Cain was mocked 191 times, Rick Perry 186, Michele Bachmann 128, and Newt Gingrich 110.

Interestingly, Mitt Romney was only singled out for teasing 79 times, perhaps signifying a certain blandness on the part of the governor.

The George Mason survey doesn't count the GOP mocking by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, possibly because researchers would have collapsed trying to chronicle that. The fact is that every late-night comedian is liberal, and so are most of their writers. Leno is the most neutral; Letterman, Stewart, Colbert and Jimmy Fallon are the furthest left.

The question is: How much will this matter in the 2012 election? Tough to answer, but one thing is certain: The late-night shows are not as well watched as they used to be.

However, popular culture does have an effect on the distracted voter: those people who do not pay much attention to the news. They often pick up the political narrative from entertainment programs and stuff they read on the Internet. There is no question that Obama's rock-star status in 2008 was largely defined by Oprah and other entertainers. And that stodgy old John McCain did not exactly dominate the rundown on "Entertainment Tonight."

If Romney is the Republican nominee, boring jokes will rule the day. If a committed conservative like Rick Santorum were to run, the writers would go wild. I can see a Santorum impersonator on "Saturday Night Live" wearing a sleeveless sweater and a "Re-elect John Adams" button. Huey Lewis once sang, "It's hip to be square." Not on late-night TV, it isn't.

Americans should expect the media to back Obama again, although the enthusiasm couldn't possibly match that of 2008. We live in sobering times, and even though many believe it's all George W. Bush's fault, that punch line is not working anymore. There will be a new narrative, and it most likely will involve highlighting the dumbness of the GOP guy, not the accomplishments of the president.

In the end, the election will not be decided on late-night TV. Republicans already have lost there. Luckily for them, the Electoral College is a daytime operation.



Obama Unemployment Magic Trick: Indefinitely Detain 4 Million People from Workforce

Lying with statistics

Although there’s little doubt that job creation is speeding up in the private sector, unemployment is not going down as widely touted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, it’s likely unchanged since the beginning of the recession because the government is deliberately undercounting the workforce to make unemployment appear to go down.

Missing in the latest labor report are at least 1.2 million job seekers who have been added to the civilian population over the last year but not to the work force, thereby artificially deflating the unemployment rate.

BLS is undercounting the workforce by lowering the Labor Force Participation rates

They are missing in part because the BLS no longer counts people who have been unemployed for so long that they have stopped looking for work. Since 1994 the BLS has discontinued the practice of counting the “long-term discouraged workers” from the workforce. If a worker stops looking for work after a period of time, they are no longer counted in the workforce. That means that government has created a system whereby the longer a jobs recession continues, the less reliable the unemployment numbers become- to the advantage of the government.

In December of 2010 there were just shy of 239 million workers in the civilian pool available to the work force. In the last year, that number has risen by 1.6 million to 240.5 million people. At the same time, the officially-counted workforce as used by the BLS has risen by only 274,000 workers. At a participation rate of 64 percent, that number should be closer to 1.1 million workers. Indeed, over the last year, the participation rate has also dropped from 64.3 percent to 64 percent. In other words, fewer people from the available population are counted as available to the workforce, thereby decreasing unemployment numbers.

In making an apples-to-apples comparison with a year ago, the country should have about 1.2 million more workers in the workforce than the BLS currently calculates. If one accounts for those extra workers, top line unemployment is at 9 percent. But that’s not the end of the deception.

Since the beginning of the recession labor participation rates have gone down from an average of 65.8 percent since 1980 as calculated by Zero Hedge to 64 percent, a rate not seen since the early 1980s. Indeed the persistency of this jobs recession is shown in the precipitous decline in the labor participation rates regardless of where the official unemployment rate has stood.

Just using the average participation rate of 65.8 percent since 1980 supplied by Zero Hedge, there are 4.4 million workers missing from the work force. Zero Hedge predicts that if the BLS keeps dropping the workforce number at the current rate, unemployment will hit zero just prior to the general election no matter how many jobs Obama “saves”.

It won't surprise anyone that as of December, the real implied unemployment rate was 11.4% - basically where it has been ever since 2009 - and at 2.9% delta to reported, represents the widest divergence to reported data since the early 1980s. And because we know this will be the next question, extending this lunacy, America will officially have no unemployed, when the Labor Force Participation rate hits 58.5%, which should be just before the presidential election.

If you can give Obama a Nobel Peace Prize for a non-existent peace, you should also consider an Oscar award for a movie yet to made.

If there were a remake of Dr. Strangelove today, there’d be no better subject than the Obama administration’s deconstructionist assault on truth. The sad thing is that so many people are willing accomplices in that assault.

For this administration, lying is a state of mind; supplying guns to drug traffickers is a noble act; killing healthcare is “saving” healthcare; ignoring entitlement reform is “preserving” entitlements; ignoring laws on immigration, recess appointments, detention of Americans, wiretaps, declarations of war, are all the constitutional prerogatives of the great constitutional law-giver and professor-in-chief, Dr. Strangelove or; How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Obama.

It would be hilarious, except it’s not a Hollywood movie. Obama’s made it the truth. Or whatever truth means now.



Why the Doctor Won’t See You

Are you having difficulty finding a doctor who will see you? If you are, brace yourself. Things are about to get a whole lot worse.

Right now, the biggest problems are in Massachusetts. If you live in Boston and are trying to see a new family doctor, get prepared to wait more than two months before you ever get a foot in the door. For the state as a whole, the average wait to see a new family doctor is one month. More than half of all family doctors and more than half of all internists are not accepting new patients at all.

What if you live in another state? Just wait two more years. In Massachusetts people are lined up waiting to see doctors because of the health reform championed by the former governor (RomneyCare). And as Barack Obama has said on more than one occasion, RomneyCare is the model for ObamaCare.

Why? In both the Massachusetts health plan and the new health care law the mistake is the same: insuring the uninsured, but doing nothing to enable the medical community to deliver more care. Massachusetts succeeded in cutting the number of uninsured in half — a worthy accomplishment. But the state did nothing to expand the number of doctors, nurses or paramedical personnel. The result: a major increase in the demand for care, but no change in supply.

I learned what this means in human terms a while back from a Boston cab driver. She was on MassHealth (Medicaid) and her biggest problem, she told me, was getting care. "I went down a list of 20 doctors before I found one who would see me," she said. "Twenty doctors?" I responded incredulously. "Were you going through the Yellow Pages?" "No," she said, "I was going down the list MassHealth gave me."

In Massachusetts, this is what the advocates of health reform call "universal coverage."

Bad as all this is, it is actually rather mild compared to what is about to happen in other states. In Massachusetts, less than 10 percent of the population was uninsured before the reform set in. In Texas, by contrast, one in every four people is currently uninsured. Insure half of those and the demand for Texas doctors is going to soar.

Estimates are that ObamaCare will succeed in insuring 32 million otherwise uninsured people. If economic studies are correct, once these folks are insured, they will try to double their consumption of health care. On top of that, ObamaCare does something that Massachusetts did not do. It will force the vast majority of people who already have insurance to switch to more generous coverage. For example, everyone will have to be covered for a long list of preventive care and diagnostic screenings, with no copay and no deductible. Once people have this extra coverage, they will be inclined to take advantage of it.

Get prepared, then, for a huge increase in the demand for care. The result will be growing waiting lines — at the doctors’ offices, at hospital emergency rooms, at the health clinics, etc.

In the early stages of Massachusetts' health reform, Governor Romney told me what he expected to happen. Instead of uninsured patients going to hospital emergency rooms to get expensive care in inappropriate settings (all paid for by the rest of us), he said, insured patients will be getting less expensive care in the offices of primary care doctors.

Ah, but the best laid plans …. Turns out that more people are currently seeking care in hospital emergency rooms and at publicly funded community health centers than there were before the reform! As one academic study concluded, in Massachusetts you have the same people seeking the same care at the same places you had before. Health reform has mainly meant shuffling money around from one bureaucracy to another.

When health care is rationed by waiting, who gets care and who doesn’t? Here is the real surprise. Just as ObamaCare intends to do, Massachusetts set up health insurance exchanges where the uninsured could obtain insurance, in most cases with generous government subsidies. Yet the newly insured are the patients having the greatest difficulty obtaining access to care. According to one report:

* Only 56 percent of family doctors accept patients enrolled in Commonwealth Care (subsidized insurance sold in the "exchange").

* Only 44 percent accept patients in Commonwealth Choice (unsubsidized insurance sold in the "exchange").

* The fraction of internists who accept Commonwealth Care and Commonwealth Choice is 43 percent and 35 percent, respectively.

In Massachusetts this is called "access to care."



Crony Capitalism is Failing; Let's Try the Real Thing

The past four years have seen governments throughout the West turn to a ghoulish corporatism, in which selected private companies are bailed out with public money. Understandably, people from across the political spectrum have reacted angrily. The Tea Partiers and the Occupiers are both protesting against the same thing, viz the rescue of large banks by taxpayers.

But whereas the Occupiers, in a slightly inchoate way, believe they are complaining about capitalism, free marketeers point out that, in a capitalist system, bad banks would have been allowed to collapse, their assets sold to more efficient competitors. Bondholders, shareholders and some depositors would have lost money, but taxpayers wouldn't have contributed a penny.

When we make that argument in full – as I did in a direct exchange with some Occupy LSX types recently (see here) – the typical response is 'Yeah, well that might be your theoretical capitalism, but we're dealing with the one that actually exists'.

This is a reasonable objection. We capitalists mustn't become like those student Trotskyists who were forever insisting that the USSR wasn't really communist, and that proper socialism had never been tried.

What, then, is genuine capitalism? Where can you find it? What changes do we need to make to the present system to get there? I was planning to write a lengthy blog about it, but then I discovered that Jesse Norman, the cerebral MP for Hereford, had got there first. His paper, The Case for Real Capitalism, is worth reading in full. Having worked in the City before becoming a philosophy don, he understands in practice as well as in theory where the system has gone wrong. And he proposes concrete steps to put it right, to make shareholders think of themselves as owners rather than investors, to incentivise saving and boost competition.

Above all, Jesse grasps that freedom is more than just an absence of rules: that it also implies responsibility and (in the absence of external restraints) self-control. Herein lies the difference between what Milton called 'liberty' and what he called 'licence'. Jesse's paper is consciously conservative, yet underlines once more that, in practical terms, the differences between conservatives and libertarians can be deferred until the grave.




IA: Couple wins lawsuit over names on birth certificate: "An Iowa judge has ordered the Department of Public Health to issue a new birth certificate listing both members of a same-sex marriage as legal parents of a 2-year-old girl, The Des Moines Register reports. ... The couple sued the state when the department refused to list both names on the birth certificate of their daughter, Mackenzie, who was conceived through use of an anonymous sperm donor."

Santorum's big-government conservatism: "There is no doubt that Santorum is deeply conservative on social issues. ... At the same time, on economic and size-of-government issues, Santorum's record is much weaker. In fact, Eric Erickson of Red State refers to Santorum as a 'pro-life statist.'"

US Navy rescues Iranian fishing boat from pirates: "The political tensions between the U.S. and Iran over transit in and around the Persian Gulf gave way Friday to photos of rescued Iranian fisherman happily wearing American Navy ball caps. The fishermen were rescued by a U.S. Navy destroyer Thursday, more than 40 days after their boat was commandeered by suspected Somali pirates in the northern Arabian Sea. The rescue came just days after Tehran warned the U.S. to keep its warships out of the Persian Gulf _ an irony not lost on U.S. officials who trumpeted the news on Friday. "We think it's very doubtful that the Iranians or the pirates were aware of recent events of the last couple days," Rear Adm. Craig S. Faller, commander of the U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group involved in the rescue, told reporters by phone Friday. "Once we released them (the fishermen) today they went on their way very happily, I might add, waving to us wearing USS Kidd Navy ball caps."



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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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