Friday, March 28, 2014

Screw You, Mickey Kaus

Ann Coulter

I've been thrown off my health insurance -- THANKS, OBAMACARE! -- and have spent hours and hours over the past month trying to figure out my options now that the Democrats have made my old plan, which I liked, "illegal." (I prefer to think of my plan as "undocumented.")

Whom do I bill for the hours of work Obamacare forced me to perform? How about you, Mickey? You're the smartest living liberal (faint praise), and you assured us that Obamacare was going to be fantastic.

By now, Obama has issued "waivers" from Obamacare to about 99 percent of the country. (Perhaps you've heard, there's a big midterm election this year.) As one of the few Americans not granted a waiver, I'm here to tell you: You have no idea what's coming, America.

I thought I had figured out the best plan for me a month ago after having doctors and hospital administrators look at the packets of material I was sent by my old insurance company -- the same mailing that informed me my old plan was "illegal" under Obamacare.

But when I checked online recently, I discovered the premier plan -- the "platinum," low-deductible, astronomically expensive plan that might be accepted by an English-speaking doctor who didn't attend medical school in a Hawaiian shirt and board shorts -- does not include treatment at any decent hospitals.

That's sort of unfortunate because THAT'S THE ONLY REASON I WANT INSURANCE! That's the only reason any sane homo sapiens wants health insurance: to cover health care costs in the event of some catastrophic illness or accident -- not to pay for Mickey Kaus' allergy appointments. But my only options under the blue-chip plan were hospitals that also do shoe repair.

I called Blue Cross directly to ask if its most expensive insurance plan covered the only hospital I'd ever go to in an emergency. Since that's all I wanted to know, that's what I asked. (I like to get to the point that way.)

But -- as happens whenever you try to ascertain the most basic information about insurance under Obamacare -- the Blue Cross representative began hammering me with a battery of questions about myself.

First my name. (Does that make a difference to what hospitals its plans cover?) Then my phone number. By the time he got to my address, I said, CAN YOU PLEASE JUST TELL ME IF ANY OF YOUR PLANS COVER XYZ HOSPITAL? I DON'T EVEN KNOW IF I WANT TO SIGN UP WITH YOU!

Finally, he admitted that Blue Cross' most expensive individual insurance plan does not cover treatment at the hospitals I named. Their doctors are "out of network" (and the person who designed this plan is "out of his mind").

This was the rest of the conversation, verbatim:

ME: None of your plans cover out-of-network doctors?


ME: Why is it called "Premier Guided Access WITH OUT-OF-NETWORK PLAN"?

BLUE CROSS: Where did you see that?

ME: On Blue Cross' own material describing its plans.

BLUE CROSS: Oh. I don't know why it's called that.

ME: None of your plans cover (the good hospital)?


ME: I don't know who you are, but I have a very specific set of skills that will help me find you. And when I find you, I am going to kill you. (Click.)

True conversation. Except the last sentence. That was my fantasy.

I decided to approach it from the opposite direction and called one of the nation's leading hospitals to ask which plans it accepted. The woman listed a series of plans, but she couldn't tell me if I was eligible for any of them. For that, she said, I'd have to go to the Obamacare website.

Does Obamacare cover suicide?

I went to "" and -- I guess I had heard this, but had blocked it from my memory like a rape victim unable to remember her attack -- you can't even peek at the available plans until you've given the government reams of personal information about yourself.

How about they let me look at the merchandise first?

Inasmuch as the cost of health insurance under Obamacare is so high that it will generally make more sense just to pay for your own catastrophic health emergencies, I was not interested in telling Kathleen Sebelius everything about me in order to have the privilege of glancing at the government's crappy plans.

But that's the only choice. As the Obamacare website directs:

(1) Create an account. (Name, password.)

(2) Tell us about yourself and your family. (Every single thing.)

(3) Choose a health insurance plan. (That's where you finally get to see the plans.)

I wonder if other consumer-oriented businesses will start demanding names, addresses, passwords and phone numbers before the customer is allowed to browse the merchandise. Maybe Williams-Sonoma could pick up a few sales tricks from Ezekiel Emanuel! Oh, you'd like to see the bronze muffin tin? Sure, but first I'll need your Social Security number, date of birth and mother's maiden name. Sign here, here and here.

The main point of the Obamacare website is to encourage people other than me to get a government subsidy. There's also a section helping you register to vote. You just can't see the insurance plans. (Guess which one you need a government ID for?)

With zero help from the Obamacare website, I eventually figured out that there was one lone insurance plan that would cover treatment at a reputable hospital. The downside is, no doctors take it.

So my only two health insurance options -- and yours, too, as soon as the waivers expire, America! -- are: (1) a plan that no doctors take; or (2) a plan that no hospitals take. You either pay for all your doctor visits and tests yourself, or you pay for your cancer treatment yourself. And you pay through the nose in either case.

That's not insurance! It's a huge transfer of wealth from people who work for a living to those who don't, accomplished by forcing the workers to buy insurance that's not insurance. Obamacare has made actual health insurance "illegal."

It's not "insurance" when what I want to insure against isn't covered, but paying for other people's health care needs -- defined broadly -- is mandatory.

It's as if you wanted to buy a car, so you paid for a Toyota -- but then all you got was a 10-speed bike, with the rest of your purchase price going to buy cars, bikes and helmets for other people.

Or, more precisely, it would be like having the option of car insurance that covers either collisions or liability, but not both. Your car insurance premium would be gargantuan, because most of it would go to buy insurance, gas and air fresheners for other people in the plan.

If you have employer-provided health care, you may not have to make the 400 phone calls I had to, but the result will be the same: You're not getting what is commonly known as "insurance." You're getting a massive bill to pay for other people's chiropractors, marriage counselors, birth control pills, smoking cessation programs, "preventive care" appointments and pre-existing conditions.

Health insurance has been outlawed, replaced with a welfare program that has been renamed "insurance."

When Matt Drudge decided he'd rather pay for his own health care, liberals hysterically denounced him for not buying an Obamacare transfer-the-wealth, fake "insurance" plan. It used to be shameful to be a public charge. Now it's shameful to pay for yourself.

And it's shameful to work for yourself. The self-employed are currently the only Americans subjected to Obamacare. (In a way, it's lucky for the Democrats that there aren't enough of us to hurt them in this year's midterm elections!)

But we're the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. You may have an employer-provided plan now, but the waivers can't go on forever. If you live in America, your health insurance is going to disappear, too.

The government simply cannot force all insurance companies to give subsidized health care to a third of the country, to ignore the pre-existing health conditions of its customers, to pay for every little thing tangentially related to health -- like smoking cessation programs, marital counseling and pediatric dental care -- and also expect them to cover your cancer treatment.

It doesn't matter if you've been paying for insurance your whole adult life. That policy is now "illegal." Put your hands in the air, nice and easy, and step away from the policy ...

You 99-percenters still unaffected by Obamacare will blithely go to the polls this November and vote on some teeny-tiny issue, completely unaware of the total destruction of health insurance in America. The waivers have worked.

Now we'll have to wait 40 years for a future Mickey Kaus to come along and expose the disastrous consequences of this horrendous government program, just like the real Mickey Kaus did with welfare. But for now, I say: Screw you, Mickey Kaus.



Massaging of Critical Data Undermines Our Society

Victor Davis Hanson

Transparency and truth are the fuels that run sophisticated civilizations. Without them, the state grinds to a halt. Lack of trust -- not barbarians on the frontier, global warming or cooling, or even epidemics -- doomed civilizations of the past, from imperial Rome to the former Soviet Union.

The United States can withstand the untruth of a particular presidential administration if the permanent government itself is honest. Dwight Eisenhower lied about the downed U-2 spy plane inside the Soviet Union. Almost nothing Richard Nixon said about Watergate was true. Intelligence reports of vast stockpiles of WMD in Iraq proved as accurate as Bill Clinton's assertion that he never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.

Presidents fib. The nation gets outraged. The independent media digs out the truth. And so the system of trust repairs itself.

What distinguishes democracies from tinhorn dictatorships and totalitarian monstrosities are our permanent meritocratic government bureaus that remain nonpartisan and honestly report the truth.

The Benghazi, Associated Press and National Security Agency scandals are scary, but not as disturbing as growing doubts about the honesty of permanent government itself.

It is no longer crackpot to doubt the once impeccable and nonpartisan IRS. When it assured the public that it was not making decisions about tax-exempt status based on politics, it lied. One of its top commissioners, Lois Lerner, resigned and invoked the Fifth Amendment.

A system of voluntary tax reporting rests on trust. If the IRS itself is untruthful, will it be able to expect truthful compliance from taxpayers?

Many doubt the officially reported government unemployment rates. That statistic is vital in assessing economic growth and is of enormous political importance in the way citizens vote.

It was reported in November that the Census Bureau may have fabricated survey results during the 2012 presidential campaign, sending false data to the Labor Department that could have altered official employment statistics.

In the 1990s, the method of assessing the official unemployment rate was massaged to make it seem lower than it actually was. Rules were changed to ignore millions who had been out of work longer than 52 weeks. They were suddenly classified as permanent dropouts and not part of the idled workforce.

Does the government release an accurate report on quarterly Gross Domestic Product growth -- another vital barometer of how the economy is doing? Maybe not. Last year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis for the first time factored research and development costs of businesses into statistics on investment growth.

Suddenly, a cost became proof of business output and thus was added into the business investment contribution to GDP. That new accounting gimmick may have added hundreds of billions of dollars into the equation of figuring GDP growth last year alone. Not surprisingly, the government reported unexpectedly high 2.8 percent GDP growth after the changes.

Is inflation really as low as the government insists? In recent times the government has not just counted the increase in the prices of goods, but also factored into its calculus theories about changing consumer buying habits when prices increase. The changes have resulted in officially lowered inflation rates.

No one knows how many Americans have now bought and paid for Affordable Care Act health insurance policies. There is no accurate information about how many young people have enrolled -- critical to the success of Obamacare. Nor do Americans know how many enrollees were previously uninsured. Nor does the public know how many enrollees simply switched insurance from Medicaid to the Affordable Care Act. There is no information about how many actually have paid their premiums.

No one knows how many foreign citizens who entered the U.S. illegally were apprehended inside the United States and returned to their country of origin last year -- a figure vital for any compromise on passing comprehensive immigration reform.

The Obama administration claims near-record numbers of deportations. In fact, once again government agencies -- in this case the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) -- have mysteriously changed the way they compile statistics. The ICE now counts as deportations those foreign nationals whom the Border Patrol immediately stops or turns away at the border. Such detentions were not previously counted as deportations.

The result is that bureaucrats can report near-record numbers of deportations, while privately assuring the administration that immigration enforcement has been greatly relaxed.

There is a pattern here. Changes in data collection seem to have a predictable result: Inflation and unemployment rates become lower. Economic growth becomes greater. The IRS focuses on government skeptics. The Affordable Care Act is not in trouble. Illegal immigration is not such a problem.

If the people increasingly believe that bureaucrats try to alter reality to reflect preconceived ideologies or the goals of the particular regime in power, then America as we know it is finished.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Is monogamy Biblical?

It isn't.  in Old Testament times, it was perfectly normal for a man to have both concubines and several wives.  But that was no invitation to licence.  There were strict rules about how multiple wives were to be treated.  All wives had extensive rights. As it says in Exodus 21:10:  "If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights."

It is only in the NT that we see a move towards monogamy and there is is not any sort of commandment.  It is advice.  As Paul says in 1 Cor. 7 "But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband."

This made made clearer in 1 Timothy 3:  "Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach".  So it was only the officers of the church to whom the advice applied and the reason for the advice was that it made the officer look good, not that it was right or wrong.

It may be argued that in Matthew 19 Jesus commanded monogamy.  There are two objections to that.  The first is that Jesus was very clearly on that occasion aiming only to confound the Pharisees and the second is that Jesus was actually forbidding divorce, not forbidding second marriages:  "What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." -- JR


Obama "transparency"

The Obama administration has a standard response to all scandals: it stonewalls. Getting information from the administration is like pulling teeth, only slower. Document requests and subpoenas go unanswered, or inadequately answered, for years.

So far Obama’s stonewall strategy has worked quite well. After a year or two, a scandal is treated as old news, even though the administration has never produced the information that would allow Congressional committees, reporters or the public to evaluate it. If the administration stalls long enough, it wins.

In perfecting the art of the stall, Obama has done something that has been tried by no previous president: he has put the White House into the loop when federal agencies respond to subpoenas and Freedom of Information Act requests. A group called Cause of Action has uncovered an April 15, 2009 memo by White House Counsel Greg Craig that lays out the administration’s unprecedented stonewall strategy. Craig’s memo went to every executive department and federal agency. You can read it here. The memo says, in part:

This is a reminder that executive agencies should consult with the White House Counsel’s Office on all document requests that may involve documents with White House equities. …

This need to consult with the White House arises with respect to all types of document requests, including Congressional committee requests, GAO requests, judicial subpoenas, and FOIA requests. And it applies to all documents and records, whether in oral, paper, or electronic form, that relate to communications to and from the White House, including preparations for such communications.

The phrase “White House equities” is undefined. It is not a legal term; it cannot be found in the Freedom of Information Act. Apparently a document has “White House equities” if it potentially could embarrass the Obama administration.

Mark Tapscott reported on Cause of Action’s discovery last week in the Washington Examiner:

The FOIA requires federal agencies to respond within 20 days of receiving a request, but the White House equities exception can make it impossible for an agency to meet that deadline.

In one case cited by Cause of Action, the response to a request from a Los Angeles Times reporter to the Department of the Interior for “communications between the White House and high-ranking Interior officials on various politically sensitive topics” was delayed at least two years by the equities review.

“Cause of Action is still waiting for documents from 16 federal agencies, with the Department of Treasury having the longest pending request of 202 business days.

“The Department of Energy is a close second at 169 business days. The requests to the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services have been pending for 138 business days,” the report said.

There are two problems with the unprecedented White House review that the Obama administration has instituted. The first is that it takes forever. White House lawyers can simply sit on a subpoena until a year or two have gone by, and the potentially embarrassing issue has been forgotten. But the second problem is still more diabolical. The White House is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. This means that if White House lawyers decide to cover up an Obama scandal by shredding documents that make the administration look bad, no one–no reporter, no Congressional committee, no private citizen–can serve a request that requires the White House to disclose what documents it destroyed. So adding a layer of White House lawyer review to the production of any sensitive documents–those with “White House equities”–means that inconvenient information may sink without a trace. We have no way of knowing how often this has happened over the last five years.

Which is, of course, exactly the way the least transparent administration in history wants it.



Is Obama Stupid?

By Alan Caruba

No one gets elected President by being stupid, unless of course the election is stolen in cities controlled by the Democratic Party, but one must also factor in the intelligence of nearly half of the voters who pull the Democratic Party lever no matter who the candidate may be.

America is seriously divided between liberals and conservatives, but there are indications that even those who self-identify as liberals are having second thoughts as the result of the havoc Obamacare has inflicted on their lives and the economy. Voters who self-identify as “independents” are the deciding factor in most elections. They reflect disenchantment with both parties.

I have been thinking about whether Obama is stupid because he has been in Europe with the leaders of the nations who are grappling with the seizure of Crimea by Russia. I keep wondering, given his record at this point, whether they too think he’s stupid. He has taken the most powerful and respected nation in the world and reduced it to ridicule and disdain. When he leaves the room do they shake their head and roll their eyes?

The question of whether Obama is stupid would seem to be disputed by the fact that he is a Harvard Law School graduate and one has to have some degree of intelligence to navigate that. His undergraduate college is Columbia University, one of the most liberal in the nation. In neither case do we know how Obama did academically because he took care to have his records kept from public review.

Indeed, most public records regarding his life, including his birth certificate have been kept hidden. The one he provided has been deemed a forgery. There are claims as well that his Social Security number is questionable.

So, one could argue that he was not stupid enough to let people know the truth. What we do know is that he is a complete stranger to the truth, uttering lies on a daily basis. That is a serious character flaw in anyone, but in a President it is a threat to the nation.

What we do know is that Obama is so devoted to a Marxist ideology that it warps his view of the world and that he has devoted his two terms in office to the “transformation” of America; another way of saying that he embraces issues, foreign and domestic, that do not reflect the history or values of the nation.

America has now twice elected a Communist to its highest office and the result has been a failure, deliberate or the result of his ideology, to lift the nation out of a recession by lowering taxes, reducing spending, and other means well known to previous presidents.

The result has had a cataclysmic effect on the lives of millions of Americans. What growth has occurred has not been due to anything the White House or Congress has done, but in spite of both.

The overthrow of tyrannical governments in the Middle East and most recently in Ukraine reflects a desire for democracy and justice in these nations. Obama sided with the Muslim Brotherhood during the Egyptian uprising.  One has to wonder what the king of Saudi Arabia has to say about that. His nation and others in the Middle East have banned the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. There is no nice way of describing his action or inaction regarding the Middle East and elsewhere.

The opening of negotiations with Iran and reductions of sanctions against it simply gave it more time to pursue its intent to create its own nuclear weapons. This isn’t just stupid, it’s insane. The time wasted on securing peace from the Palestinians after decades of their open hatred of Israel is also stupid.

Obama’s failure to work closely with Congress reflects his indifference to the Constitution and, having lectured on it, it cannot be said that he is ignorant of its limits on the executive office and its division of power between the three branches of government He doesn’t seem to care much what the Constitution says. That’s stupid. The result has been a very meager legislative record and that is a good thing given his ideological inclinations.

We all know of men and women in high office or CEOs of major corporations that offer ample evidence of stupidity, but the latter can be removed by their board of directors. Americans have no options for the removal of Obama. Impeachment will not likely occur even if the GOP gains control of both houses of Congress. Obamacare and the economy have been his greatest gift for their renewal of political power.

Obama’s “war on coal” and other efforts of his administration to keep America from tapping huge reserves of energy that would greatly improve our economy with jobs and exports is both stupidity and ideology. You have to be stupid to keep talking about “climate change” aka “global warming” when the only change of the past 17 years has been a planet that is cooling,

The danger the nation faces is real and present. The reduction of our military strength has not gone unnoticed by totalitarian and rogue regimes. Obama’s deliberate withdrawal of the nation from its position of global leadership is a threat of major proportions.

History hangs on questions of leadership and Obama has shown none, nor evidence of caring about the results of his failures. That’s a pretty good definition of stupid.



Why are infrastructure projects so slow these days?

One of the odder aspects of modern life is that it takes forever to build infrastructure. For example, the 2.7 mile paved walking path around the beautiful Lake Hollywood reservoir (which is under the famous Hollywood Sign), was washed out in places during the 2005 rains. The loop finally reopened in 2013, over eight years later. In contrast, the sizable Mulholland Dam that created the reservoir in the 1920s was built in either 1.5 years (according to the bronze plaque on the dam) or 2.5 years (according to Wikipedia). In either case, it took at least five years less time to build the dam from scratch in the 1920s than to fix the road around the reservoir in the 2000s and 2010s.

On the other hand, as I was reading up on this dam, I saw that William Mulholland, Los Angeles's titanic chief water engineer, followed up his Hollywood dam with his nearly identical St. Francis dam out in the northern exurbs, which also built in only a couple of years.

Unfortunately, the St. Francis dam collapsed in 1928, killing approximately 600 people. So, in the 1930s, Los Angeles went back and pushed a huge amount of dirt in front of the Hollywood version of the dam to keep from losing Hollywood. I hadn't realized how tall the dam is under all the dirt until seeing this photo of the safety project from a 1934 Popular Science:



Democrats turn on Nate Silver

 Democrats are turning against Nate Silver, the political data guru they touted in 2012. Two years ago he was described as soothsayer after repeatedly saying that President Obama would win a second term, accurately predicting the winner of each state in the 2012 contest.

Conservatives ripped Silver back then for his “flawed model,” with some claiming Silver was a biased liberal. Democrats loved him then, but now they’re attacking him.

The difference, of course, is that the Democrats’ political fortunes have taken a turn for the worse and Silver isn’t optimistic about their chances in November.

“We think the Republicans are now slight favorites to win at least six seats and capture the chamber,” Silver wrote, predicting Republicans could net as many as 11 seats. Silver, who pegs the chances of a GOP takeover at 60 percent, unveiled his crystal ball Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Democrats quickly fired back.

Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), who heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), told The Hill, “I think he’s got his numbers wrong, which is unusual for Nate. In this case, I look forward to talking to him after the election.”

Bennet added, “He ought to go back and check what he said about [Sen.] Claire McCaskill [(D-Mo.)] and some of the other races in the last cycle.”

In August of 2012, Silver said the race was “tilting” toward then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), McCaskill’s opponent. McCaskill ended up winning, though this Silver analysis was written before Akin made a damaging comment about “legitimate rape,” which changed the race.

Pressed on Silver’s 2014 predictions, Sen. Mark Begich (Alaska), one of the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbents, said, “It’s very early.”

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), whom Silver gives only a 30 percent chance of winning reelection, said, “I don’t agree with that at all.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bizarre Arguments and Behavior

Walter E. Williams

Some statements and arguments are so asinine that you'd have to be an academic or a leftist to take them seriously. Take the accusation that Republicans and conservatives are conducting a war on women. Does that mean they're waging war on their daughters, wives, mothers and other female members of their families? If so, do they abide by the Geneva Conventions' bans on torture, or do they engage in enhanced interrogation and intimidation methods, such as waterboarding, with female family members? You might say that leftists don't mean actual war. Then why do they say it?

What would you think of a white conservative mayor's trying to defund charter schools where blacks are succeeding? While most of New York's black students could not pass a citywide math proficiency exam, there was a charter school where 82 percent of its students passed. New York's left-wing mayor, Bill de Blasio, is trying to shut it down, and so far, I've heard not one peep from the Big Apple's civil rights hustlers, including Al Sharpton and Charles Rangel. According to columnist Thomas Sowell, the attack on successful charter schools is happening in other cities, too (

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently stated that we must revisit the laws that ban convicted felons from voting. Why? According to a recent study by two professors, Marc Meredith of the University of Pennsylvania and Michael Morse of Stanford, published in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (, three-fourths of America's convicted murderers, rapists and thieves are Democrats. Many states restrict felons from voting; however, there's a movement afoot to eliminate any restriction on their voting. If successful, we might see Democratic candidates campaigning in prisons, seeking the support of some of America's worst people.

Decades ago, I warned my fellow Americans that the tobacco zealots' agenda was not about the supposed health hazards of secondhand smoke. It was really about control. The fact that tobacco smoke is unpleasant gained them the support of most Americans. By the way, to reach its secondhand smoke conclusions, the Environmental Protection Agency employed statistical techniques that were grossly dishonest. Some years ago, I had the opportunity to ask a Food and Drug Administration official whether his agency would accept pharmaceutical companies using similar statistical techniques in their drug approval procedures. He just looked at me.

Seeing as Americans are timid and compliant, why not dictate other aspects of our lives -- such as the size of soda we may buy, as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried in New York? Former U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman John Webster said: "Right now, this anti-obesity campaign is in its infancy. ... We want to turn people around and give them assistance in eating nutritious foods." The city of Calabasas, Calif., adopted an ordinance that bans smoking in virtually all outdoor areas. The stated justification is not the desire to fight against secondhand smoke but the desire to protect children from bad influences -- seeing adults smoking. Most Americans don't know that years ago, if someone tried to stop a person from smoking on a beach or sidewalk or buying a 16-ounce cup of soda or tried to throw away his kid's homemade lunch, it might have led to a severe beating. On a very famous radio talk show, I suggested to an anti-obesity busybody who was calling for laws to restrict restaurants' serving sizes that he not be a coward and rely on government. He should just come up, I told him, and take the food he thought I shouldn't have from my plate.

The late H.L. Mencken's description of health care professionals in his day is just as appropriate today: "A certain section of medical opinion, in late years, has succumbed to the messianic delusion. Its spokesmen are not content to deal with the patients who come to them for advice; they conceive it to be their duty to force their advice upon everyone, including especially those who don't want it. That duty is purely imaginary. It is born of vanity, not of public spirit. The impulse behind it is not altruism, but a mere yearning to run things."


Wisconsin Success Story

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed into law today a $541 million tax cut returning $406 million to state technical colleges to reduce their property taxes. Another $98 million will go to low-income taxpayers, reducing the state's lowest bracket from 4.4% to 4%. Walker first proposed the rate cuts in January, and the last procedural hurdle for passage was cleared this past week when the state Assembly passed the bill 61-35. That was fast.

The bill's passage barely rated 10 lines in The New York Times, which chose to bury the story deep inside the paper's A-section. Leftmedia outlets have done all they can to keep the Wisconsin success story out of the headlines as well. Walker, who survived a truly vicious recall effort after taking on the state's unions a couple years ago, has been behind a drive that has improved the state's economy, brought accountability to the school system, and pushed the unemployment rate down to 6.1%, its lowest since 2008. A recent poll reports that 95% of business owners in the state are optimistic about the future of the economy in Wisconsin.

The story of Wisconsin's recovery is one that Republicans around the country need to follow. Media outlets that care about reporting the facts should take heed as well. Walker's success has come despite the attempts of leftists to block his efforts at every turn with increasingly despicable methods. From shirking their legislative duties to preventing a vote on Walker's reforms to bussing in union thugs during the recall effort so as to shut down the capitol, Democrats have been merciless in their attempts to prevent the pro-business, small-government model from succeeding. They are particularly set on blocking it in the state that birthed the “progressive” movement a century ago.

Meanwhile, Walker's Democrat opponent, Mary Burke, is using her own underhanded tactics in an attempt to unseat the governor. She released an ad claiming that the state's unemployment rate is rising, and when she was called out on the blatant falsehood, she offered no regrets, saying in effect that the ends justify the lies. She will have a tough time convincing voters that Wisconsin is in need of new leadership, so expect the lies and mischaracterizations to keep on coming. That's the one tool that leftists know how to wield.


Republicans and Blacks

Thomas Sowell

Recently former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice added her voice to those who have long been urging the Republican Party to reach out to black voters. Not only is that long overdue, what is also long overdue is putting some time -- and, above all, some serious thought -- into how to go about doing it.

Too many Republicans seem to think that the way to "reach out" is to offer blacks and other minorities what the Democrats are offering them. Some have even suggested that the channels to use are organizations like the NAACP and black "leaders" like Jesse Jackson -- that is, people tied irrevocably to the Democrats.

Voters who want what the Democrats offer can get it from the Democrats. Why should they vote for Republicans who act like make-believe Democrats?

Yet there are issues where Republicans have a big advantage over Democrats -- if they will use that advantage. But an advantage that you don't use might as well not exist.

The issue on which Democrats are most vulnerable, and have the least room to maneuver, is school choice. Democrats are heavily in hock to the teachers' unions, who see public schools as places to guarantee jobs for teachers, regardless of what that means for the education of students.

There are some charter schools and private schools that have low-income minority youngsters equaling or exceeding national norms, despite the many ghetto public schools where most students are nowhere close to meeting those norms. Because teachers' unions oppose charter schools, most Democrats oppose them, including black Democrats up to and including President Barack Obama.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's recent cutback on funding for charter schools, and creating other obstacles for them, showed a calloused disregard for black youngsters, for whom a decent education is their one shot at a better life.

But did you hear any Republican say anything about it?

Minimum wage laws are another government-created disaster for minority young people.

Many people today would be surprised to learn that there were once years when the unemployment rate for black 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds was under 10 percent. But their unemployment rates have not been under 20 percent in more than half a century. In some years, their unemployment rate has been over 40 percent.

Why such great differences between earlier and later times? In the late 1940s, inflation had rendered meaningless the minimum wage set in 1938. Without that encumbrance, black teenagers found it a lot easier to get jobs than after the series of minimum wage escalations that began in the 1950s.

Young people need job experience, at least as much as they need a paycheck. And no neighborhood needs hordes of idle young men hanging around, getting into mischief, if not into crime.

Republicans have failed to explain why the minimum wage laws that Democrats support are counterproductive for blacks. Worse yet, during the 2012 election campaign Mitt Romney advocated indexing the minimum wage for inflation, which would not only guarantee its bad effects, but would put an end to discussing those bad effects.

Are issues like these going to switch the black vote as a whole over into the Republican column at the next election? Of course not. Nor will embracing the Democrats' racial agenda.

But, if Republicans can reduce the 90 percent of the black vote that goes to Democrats to 80 percent, that can be enough to swing a couple of close Congressional elections -- as a start.

Even to achieve that, however, will require targeting those particular segments of the black population that are not irrevocably committed to the Democrats. Parents who want their children to get a decent education are one obvious example. But if Republicans aim a one-size-fits-all message at all blacks they will fail to connect with the particular people they have some chance of reaching.

First of all, Republicans will need to know what they are talking about. There are books like "Race and Economics" by Walter Williams, which show that many well-meaning government programs have been counterproductive for minorities. And there are people like Shelby Steele and the Thernstroms with valuable insights.

But first Republicans have got to want to learn, and to be willing to do some thinking, in order to get their message across.


The Proper Size of Government

Based on a large body of empirical research examining the relationship between the size of government and economic outcomes, the United States should scale back

A large body of empirical research has examined the relationship between the size of government and economic outcomes, and based on that research, the United States has much room to scale back. In addition, and close to home, Canada's recent experience with government retrenchment is an example of a country shrinking government without a trade-off in economic and social outcomes. In fact, a smaller government could achieve better outcomes for the American people.

Di Matteo’s analysis confirms other work showing a positive return to economic growth and social progress when governments focus their spending on basic, needed services like the protection of property. But his findings also demonstrate that a tipping point exists at which more government hinders economic growth and fails to contribute to social progress in a meaningful way.

The fundamental question is at which point incremental government spending impedes economic growth and social outcomes, or achieves the latter only at great marginal cost. Government spending becomes unproductive when it goes to such things as corporate subsidies, boondoggles, and overly generous wages and benefits for government employees. In these cases, regular Americans do not see tangible benefits from additional spending.

Di Matteo examines international data and finds that, after controlling for confounding factors, annual per capita GDP growth is maximized when government spending consumes 26 percent of the economy. Economic growth rates start to decline when relative government spending exceeds this level. In other words, there is a hump-shaped relationship between the size of government and economic growth (this relationship is often referred to as the Scully Curve, named after the economist Gerald Scully).

According to OECD data, the size of government in the United States was approximately 40 percent of GDP in 2012. While Di Matteo’s estimate of the tipping point is based on international data, it suggests that President Obama should reduce government to boost the U.S. economy. This conclusion is supported by a larger literature (see here, here, here, and here) that has also found that a smaller size of government than what currently exists in the United States would translate into higher annual economic growth.

Canada as Example

For a real-life example of how scaling back government has led to positive and practical economic benefits, Americans should look north. For much of the second half of the 20th century, the conventional wisdom in Canada favored increasing the size of government. This led to significant growth in government as a share of the economy from 1970 to 1992 (see accompanying chart). Specifically, total government spending as a share of GDP went from 36 percent in 1970 (just over 2 percentage points higher than in the United States) to 53 percent when it peaked in 1992 (14 percentage points higher than in the United States).

This massive growth in government spending — along with a corresponding increase in government debt — led the country down a precarious path that attracted unwanted international attention. In fact, in a January 12, 1995, editorial, the Wall Street Journal called Canada out on its debt problem, saying it had “become an honorary member of the Third World” and warning that it “could hit the debt wall.”

Soon after, the federal and many provincial governments took sweeping action to cut spending and reform programs. This led to a major structural change in the government's involvement in the Canadian economy. The Canadian reforms produced considerable fiscal savings, reduced the size and scope of government, created room for important tax reforms, and ultimately helped usher in a period of sustained economic growth and job creation.

This final point is worth emphasizing: Canada's total government spending as a share of GDP fell from a peak of 53 percent in 1992 to 39 percent in 2007, and despite this more than one-quarter decline in the size of government, the economy grew, the job market expanded, and poverty rates fell dramatically.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A true conservative

A seething discontent with the world you live in is what makes you a Leftist.  And because of that, Leftists want to "fundamentally transform" the world around them.  Rather than adapt themselves to the world around them, they want to adapt the world to them.  WHY the Leftist is discontented can and does vary but it is discontent that defines him.

Conservatives, on the other hand tend to be contented people.  They can see a lot that they would change if they could but they don't make a crusade out of it.  They mostly just get on with their own life.

And the Leftist hostility is directed at their fellow-man.  Changing the geography or topography of your country won't butter any parsnips.  It is people you have to change,  usually by force and coercion.  Leftists actually hate their fellow citizens.  So their outbursts of fury at anyone who obstructs what they want are  understandable.

I contrast that with "Supermac", the very aristocratic Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 10 January 1957 to 18 October 1963. He was from the Conservative party.  Some time after his service as Prime Minister, he was elevated to the House of Lords.  In his first speech there, in 1984, he said:

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on."

So the strikers that were causing so many problems and who would never vote for his party  were abused and excoriated as a Leftist would do?  Not at all.  He saw quality in them:  "strike of the best men in the world".  He was not at war with his fellow man.  He admired them.  Such a different attitude from the whiners and abusers of the Left.  Conservatives are the gentlemen.  Leftists are the thugs


Public-sector pensions are eating taxpayers alive

by Jeff Jacoby

SOME OF my best friends, to coin a phrase, are lifetime government employees. When they stop working, their pensions will put them among the highest-earning retirees in the country. On a personal level, I'm glad my friends' retirement will be so comfortable. But as a taxpayer, I know that their good fortune, multiplied by hundreds of thousands of government workers like them, will only worsen a swelling political and fiscal crisis.

Around the country governments are facing a tidal wave of pension obligations that they haven't figured out how to pay for. By some estimates, the states' long-term unfunded pension liabilities add up to more than $4 trillion. There is no way to meet such a staggering financial burden without sacrificing more and more of the basic services - public safety, education, roads and infrastructure - that governments are formed to provide. Already some cities - from Vallejo, Calif., to Detroit, Mich., to Central Falls, R.I. - have been driven into bankruptcy by the unaffordable retirement benefits they have promised public-sector workers. And there has been talk in Congress of crafting a bankruptcy option for states, a proposal that no longer seems as outlandish as it once did.

Everywhere, the writing is on the wall. In San Jose, reports The Washington Post, "the roads are pocked with potholes, the libraries are closed three days a week, and a slew of city recreation centers have been handed over to nonprofit groups." Taxes have been raised, public services cut, and the number of city employees drastically reduced. Yet annual retirement payouts for -public-sector workers continue to climb, thanks to lavish pensions that enrich municipal retirees with as much as 90 percent of their former salaries - and court decisions barring pension benefits for public-sector employees from being rolled back.

The result, in San Jose and across the country, is the "startling injustice" of poor and working-class taxpayers forced to make do with less and less so that the gold-plated pensions of public-sector retirees, which already gobble an outsize share of government budgets, can keep devouring more and more.

Dismay at that injustice is increasingly bipartisan, as it becomes clear that liberal priorities will die on the vine without pension reform. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, who is pushing a state constitutional amendment that would empower governments or voters to stem out-of-control retirement costs, is a Democrat. So is Chicago's Rahm Emanuel, who says his city is teetering "on the brink of a fiscal cliff because of our pension liabilities." So is New Bedford's former mayor Scott Lang, who was warning back in 2009 that public pensions and health benefits were strangling government's ability to provide basic services. "It's absolute insanity," he told the Boston Globe. "They're unsustainable."

Now a new study from the American Enterprise Institute strengthens the case for public-pension reform - especially for progressives troubled by income inequality and a growing societal wealth gap.

Andrew G. Biggs, a former deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration, explodes the claim routinely made by government labor unions that public pension benefits are actually quite modest. It's easy to give the impression that average retirement benefits for government workers are unremarkable, he writes, by including payments to elderly beneficiaries who left government long ago, or short-term workers who receive only a minuscule pension for their time in government.

But focus on pension payments made to lifetime government employees retiring now, and it's clear that public-sector workers, even in retirement, tend to be quite well paid indeed.

In the average state, an average career government employee receives combined pension and Social Security income higher than 72 percent of that state's full-time working employees, Biggs calculates. The figure is lower in some states, including Massachusetts (45 percent); in others, such as Pennsylvania (87 percent) or Oregon (90 percent), it's much higher. Bear in mind that these sums don't include health-care benefits, which typically boost retirees' income by thousands of dollars.

And how much is a full-career public employee pension worth in dollars and cents? In the average state, those lifetime retirement benefits - again, not including health coverage - have a present value worth $768,940. In many states, they're worth even more - $848,735 in Massachusetts, for example, and more than $1.3 million in Nevada.

For the average career government employee retiring today, pension benefits will equal 87 percent of their final salary. Those benefits are eating taxpayers alive, as the pension bomb ticks ever louder.



Yet Another Report on Obamacare Increasing Price of Health Care

If you follow the news, you're familiar with the fact that many projections are showing that Americans will face much higher health premiums next year due to Obamacare. A new report from Avalere Health confirms this:

    Avalere Health, a market research and consulting firm, estimates some consumers will pay half the cost of their specialty drugs under health overhaul-related plans, while customers in the private market typically pay no more than a third. Patient advocates worry that insurers may be trying to discourage chronically ill patients from enrolling by putting high cost drugs onto specialty tiers.

    Under the law, insurers can't charge an individual more than $6,350 in out-of pocket costs a year and no more than $12,700 for a family policy. But patients advocates warn those with serious illnesses could pay their entire out-of-pocket cap before their insurance kicks in any money.

    Insurers say prescription drugs are one of the main reasons health care costs are rising.

One of the goals of health care reform should be to "bend the cost curve." One of the ways that Obamacare is trying to achieve that is to force consumers to pay more for prescription drugs.

This comes on the heels of a separate Avalere report this month that, aside from prescription drugs, premiums overall will skyrocket.



Ukraine Illustrates Hard Truths Liberals Won't Face

It's a safe bet that the next smug liberal dork you hear repeating the cheesy cliche about how "Reality has a liberal bias" doesn't live in Ukraine.

The key to understanding liberals is realizing that they are immune to argument. The concept underlying the idea of a debate is that facts and reasoning can lead one to change his previous conclusions. But liberals begin with their conclusions; facts and reasoning that may undermine the preexisting conclusion must be at least ignored, if not actively attacked. This is why you see liberals shouting about jailing global warming deniers as blizzards rage outside.

The problem liberals always face is that the world refuses to honor their preconceived notions. Sometimes we get lucky and the liberal wises up, at least a little. For instance, Jimmy Carter woke up to the fact that the Soviet Union was composed of genuine bastards when they invaded Afghanistan, and in fits and starts he took action. This shocking burst of foreign policy competence is almost single-handedly responsible for raising Carter's ranking on the list of America's greatest presidents all the way up to 39th. Zombie Millard Fillmore was totally bummed.

Now we are in the almost unimaginable position of looking back at Jimmy Carter as an example of comparatively sure, savvy leadership. The Russians invaded Afghanistan and Carter armed the rebels. The Russians invaded Crimea and Barack Obama went on Ellen to hear the hostess gush about how much America loves Obamacare.

It's no surprise that both Carter and Obama were stunned to find that their counterparts out there on the Eurasian steppes were evil, violent thugs determined to maximize their own power by whatever means necessary. After all, in the liberal universe there are no bad people, except for conservatives and male college students who fail to obtain a notarized statement from their drunken dates authorizing them to advance to second base.

After all, human nature is just a construct. At heart, everyone is just a metrosexual college student sitting in a gender studies class, eager to work together with a diverse group of other like-minded individuals to forge a better tomorrow.

That a guy like Putin might act like a guy like Putin never occurred to them. But it occurred to conservatives. We understand that human nature is not a mere construct, that evil is real, and that the uniquely American understanding of the natural rights of man is the one true hope for humanity.

Liberals don't want to face the truth that sometimes you can't talk it out, or make a deal. They don't want to face the fact that they must sometimes put away childish things - like the ridiculous climate change scam they push to enhance their own power - and deal with the world not as they wish it to be but as it is.

They are desperate to change the subject from the invasion of Ukraine back to their own agenda. The people of Ukraine? Collateral damage in the cause of pushing the progressive program.

You would think that the invasion of a major European state might alarm or upset the Western Europeans. And it does. They are angry that they are expected to rise out of their welfare state stupor and act. They won't. The Ukrainian people's cries for help get treated like Kitty Genovese's (at least in the New York Times's false telling). The West just doesn't want to get involved.

Years ago, the Europeans made a conscious decision to inhabit an imaginary world where everyone is just as emasculated and effete as they, where everyone wants to anesthetize themselves from the pain of responsibility with social spending and moral posturing. But most of the world didn't get the memo that weak is the new strong.

While Europe slashed its military budgets to pump up subsidies for vast populations of unemployed, childless university grads and middle-aged pensioners, the rest of the world stuck with the tried and true methodology of might making right. China is increasing its military budget by double digits. Iran is cooking up a hot rock. And Assad's gleeful slaughter of his own people continues, with thousands figuratively strung up with surplus red line.

America, sadly, is following the Europeans' path to helplessness. The richest country in the world is gutting its military just as its enemies - unlike liberals, conservatives understand that we have enemies - are building their strength and flexing their muscles. It's not that we are short of the money we need to fund an adequate military. It's that we instead choose to spend the money on deadbeats, crony capitalists and farcical liberal fads du jour.

It's shameful. Our warriors shouldn't get the scraps left over after the pigs finish feeding at the trough. How about we make the supreme sacrifice of ending such imperatives as cowboy poetry slams in order to make sure we have a United States Marine Corps that won't fit comfortably inside a banquet room at the Rancho Cucamonga Holiday Inn?

If our leaders could accept facts, they would have responded to Putin by reversing the decimation of the greatest military - and greatest force for human freedom - in all of history. But they didn't.

If our leaders could accept facts, they would forget their climate change foolishness. Europe outsourced its natural gas supply to Russia, letting those Slavs far away do all that dirty drilling and refining. Our leaders should have eviscerated Putin's economy by cutting the regulations that prevent the United States from ramping up its natural gas exports and replacing Russia as Europe's gas station. But they didn't.

They heard the trumpet sound, and they turned up their Mumford & Sons MP3 to drown it out.

This isn't just about Putin. This is about every neo-fascist left-wing dictatorship out there smelling weakness, and what weakness smells like is blood. This isn't going to just stop. This is only going to get worse until we stop it.

Liberals won't face that truth, but we conservatives understand that reality has a conservative bias. And the most important reality right now is that if you won't stand up with a rifle and a fixed bayonet and hold your ground, sooner or later you will be someone's slave.


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


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)


Monday, March 24, 2014

Check your carnist ideology

Did you realize that you may be a carnist?  It sounds rather like a medieval theological stance but it is not.  It simply means that you eat meat.  All sorts of weirdos wash up on the shore of Psychology and strict vegetarians are among them.  So the research below is designed to find something wrong with "carnists'.

And it succeeded.  It found that carnists tend to be conservative!  And there is nothing worse that that to a Leftist.  And most psychologists are Leftists.  So from now on lots of Leftists will be sadly eyeing platters of bacon and eggs as they tuck in to their tofu burgers.

The research is actually rubbish.  One of their measures of conservatism (the RWA scale) does not correlate with voting for conservative candidates and the other is largely a measure of racism.  See here and here.  So the conclusions may be correct but the data is insufficient to show it.


Why do right-wing adherents engage in more animal exploitation and meat consumption?

Kristof Dhonta &  Gordon Hodson


Despite the well-documented implications of right-wing ideological dispositions for human intergroup relations, surprisingly little is understood about the implications for human–animal relations. We investigate why right-wing ideologies – social dominance orientation (SDO) and right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) – positively predict attitudes toward animal exploitation and meat consumption. Two survey studies conducted in heterogeneous community samples (Study 1, N = 260; Study 2, N = 489) demonstrated that right-wing ideologies predict greater acceptance of animal exploitation and more meat consumption through two explaining mechanisms: (a) perceived threat from non-exploitive ideologies to the dominant carnist ideology (for both SDO and RWA) and (b) belief in human superiority over animals (for SDO). These findings hold after controlling for hedonistic pleasure from eating meat. Right-wing adherents do not simply consume more animals because they enjoy the taste of meat, but because doing so supports dominance ideologies and resistance to cultural change. Psychological parallels between human intergroup relations and human–animal relations are considered.



The Arrogance of ObamaCare

ObamaCare hit a milestone Monday, as the Obama administration announced that five million people have now enrolled for health insurance under the law. That's approaching the six million that the Congressional Budget Office projected would enroll by March 31. But there's more than meets the eye here.

The White House still won't say how many people have paid their premiums (i.e., actually enrolled). It also won't tell us how many enrollees were previously insured. Millions of Americans saw their health plans cancelled because of the law's regulations. The law says plans must cover all kinds of “comprehensive” things, so when a plan changed slightly after the law went into effect, it then had to comply with all of ObamaCare's regulations – hence the cancellations. If new enrollments are substantially made up of previously covered but subsequently cancelled people, that's hardly a success. In fact, it's often replacing a decent plan with a worse one that costs more.

According to one recent survey, one in three uninsured Americans plans to remain that way. That's in large part thanks to skyrocketing premiums that will double in some parts of the country. The sticker shock is deterring many and causing those who do sign up to choose the bottom-rung “bronze” plans. Folks would rather pay the fine (ahem, the “tax”) of 1% of adjusted gross income and only sign up when they get sick. Who can blame them when the administration keeps delaying any penalties?

The White House has taken to entertaining, nagging and cajoling the young people ObamaCare must enroll in large numbers in order for it to “work.” To subsidize the old and sick, the law depends on 40% of enrollees being young and healthy. But only about 25% of enrollees are young and it's a safe bet they're not as healthy on average as their age suggests, which means they won't balance the additional costs of the old and sick.

One of the core problems with ObamaCare is the designers' arrogance. Congressional Democrats thought that in a nation of more than 300 million people only they were smart and benevolent enough to design a health care law to fit everyone. But it will only work if participation is mandated. It's hard to think of something more antithetical to the principles upon which the nation was founded. And it's no wonder it isn't working.



Vermont Democrats Labeling State's Single-Payer Health Plan a Failure

In 2011, Vermont passed the nation's first single-payer healthcare system, "Green Mountain Care." While the law was supposed to be fully enacted by 2017, it has become apparent that there's no solid plan in place to actually pay for the healthcare of all Vermont residents. Democratic lawmakers, citing missed deadlines and past failures, have begun to call for Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin to "shelve" the plan.

“The deadlines for proposing financing have been missed two years in a row now, so to me that’s very disappointing. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that there is no financing plan,” Condon told Vermont Watchdog.

The cost of one year of Green Mountain Care is estimated to be anywhere from 1.6 to 2.2 billion dollars. This is equal to the entire tax revenue of the state of Vermont.

Sen. Bobby Starr, another Democrat who voted against Act 48, told Vermont Watchdog in January there’s “no way” single-payer can work without new taxes. Indeed, no lawmaker has introduced any bill that would finance single-payer health care without also raising taxes.

It's foolish for Vermont to even entertain the thought of a single-payer system when its attempt at implementing an Obamacare exchange didn't go so well. Green Mountain Care is way too expensive for the state, and raising taxes is going to make an already business-unfriendly state even worse.



They Even Regulate Transparency

According to a report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Barack Obama has far surpassed his predecessors when it comes to regulation. Under Obama, the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which is the “codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register,” has expanded by some 17,522 pages – an 11% increase. That's an average of 3,504 pages every year – and he still has three long years left in office.

Those regulations have cost the economy billions of dollars, heaping on additional burdens and making the Obama “recovery” historically sluggish. The president remains stubbornly determined to use his pen whenever Congress doesn't conform to his will. It's all part of his effort to “fundamentally transform” America, and he'll do it regulation by regulation.

At the same time, Obama and his red tape bandits have for years declared this White House the “most transparent in history.” We're shocked – shocked – to report that this claim just isn't true. A new report from Cause of Action, a watchdog group, says that in 2009, Barack Obama basically rewrote the Freedom of Information Act, and, oddly enough, he did so to limit the freedom of information.

As Cause of Action explains in the report, “FOIA is designed to inform the public on government behavior; White House equities allow the government to withhold information from the media, and therefore the public, by having media requests forwarded for review. This not only politicizes federal agencies, it impairs fundamental First Amendment liberties.”

With an administration that's cranking out regulations left and further left, transparency is sometimes the only warning. And the “White House equities” exemption frees the administration of uncomfortable news within the 20 days otherwise required by FOIA. Cause of Action notes that it's “still waiting for documents from 16 federal agencies, with the Department of Treasury having the longest pending request of 202 business days. The Department of Energy is a close second at 169 business days. The requests to the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services have been pending for 138 business days.” A lot of damage can happen in the interim, and the White House can now take as long as it wants.



Opposing Voter ID Laws in the Name of Race Is Insulting to Minorities

This is a headline we should never see in the United States: "Federal Judge: Yes, Arizona and Kansas Can Require Voters To Prove Their Citizenship."

The fact that this issue would be disputed at all is astonishing. That it is legally contested is stunning. That the prime mover in initiating the legal challenge is our own federal government, which has a compelling interest in ensuring the integrity of the election process, is mind-blowing.

Who would have imagined just a few short years ago that in 2014 the executive branch of the federal government and a good chunk of its legislative branch would be dominated by radical community organizers wreaking havoc on the rule of law and our cherished principles of equal protection under the law and the impartial administration of justice? I feel like I'm living inside some Red-conspiracy fiction novel that could never get published because it's too unlikely to survive the incredulity even of readers with a generous willingness to suspend disbelief.

Both Kansas and Arizona passed new voter-ID legislation requiring new voters to provide a birth certificate, a passport or other documentation to prove their citizenship. But the U.S. Election Assistance Commission rejected requests from these two states for help in changing federal election registration forms. The existing federal registration form doesn't require proof of citizenship, only that new voters sign a statement declaring their citizenship.

How do you think the Internal Revenue Service would respond if we all said it would have to take our word for our income and expenses based on our "declarations" and we were not going to furnish 1099s, W2s or expense receipts?

What would the NSA say if all airline passengers simply refused to show their driver's licenses at airport security checkpoints?

Is the integrity of our elections so unimportant to President Obama, Attorney General Holder and the rest of the Democratic cabal that they refuse to impose the slightest checks against voter fraud?

Well, some horrendously naive people take these leftists at their word that they believe voter fraud is a "rare" phenomenon, even though 46 states have prosecuted cases of voter fraud since 2000. Do you think they don't know about the pernicious activities of ACORN, with which they were joined at the hip?

Some people also take Democrats at their word that they believe initiatives for voter-ID laws are being driven by "racist" conservatives who want to suppress minority turnout in elections. This, too, is maliciously twisted thinking, most likely born of liberal projection. Democrats need look no further than their own consistent efforts to suppress the military vote.

I know a lot of conservatives, and I've never met one who thinks this way. What we want is to make sure the election process is fair, that only people who are eligible to vote are allowed to vote and vote just once.

I wish more minorities would vote for Republican candidates, but neither I nor any other conservative or Republican I've ever met would support suppressing minority votes just because they vote disproportionately Democratic.

Guy Benson of Townhall reports that after Georgia implemented its voter-ID law in 2007, which was upheld in court, the state saw an increase in minority voter participation in the next two election cycles.

How could any intellectually honest person maintain that it is unfair, unreasonable or unconstitutional to require all voters to provide documentation to verify that they are who they say they are before being allowed to vote?

What you need to understand is that with this bunch of Democrats everything is about politics. For them, the end justifies any means, and their paramount end is to get Democrats elected, and so they will pursue it, even at the expense of the integrity of the system. This is undeniable given their opposition to voter-ID laws.

What other conclusion can we draw from their opposition than they want to increase Democratic votes with voters who abuse the election process?

Unless you have a very low opinion of minorities, how could you conceivably argue that it is racist to require that all voters prove their identity as a condition to voting? If anything racist is involved here, it is in the suggestion that minorities are too incompetent to furnish their IDs. How could you disrespect minorities any more that that?

If people can't muster their ID — I don't care who they are — then they don't deserve the privilege of voting, and people who want to protect their right to do so without ID are on their face suspect.

It is a crying shame that our federal government is run by partisan Democrats who are waging war against the integrity of the election process, the rule of law and the sovereignty of the several states. I pray more people wake up to this reality.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Founder of  Westboro Baptist Church Fred Phelps dies aged 84

Fred must have been as much hated as Osama bin Laden.  America loves its heroes -- rightly  -- and Fred poured scorn on them. But I wonder if any of those who condemn him have actually listened to any of his sermons?  He was an old-fashioned hellfire preacher who was careful to support everything he said by reference to Bible texts.  He was perhaps the last remnant of a once-dominant American preacher tradition.

There is no doubt that he aimed to shock and he certainly achieved that but theologically he was literally correct.  Fred didn't whitewash the Bible.  He preached it.  And if you doubt that read Romans chap. 1 to get God's attitude to homosexuals and Ezekiel 33 for God's expectation of his representatives.  God's  representatives had a duty to warn the ungodly about their sins and any failure to warn was itself a deadly sin.  Fred accepted that duty and discharged it.  There was nothing wrong with Fred's theology.

And if you think Fred was going over the top in warning that whole nations who defended homosexuality would be destroyed by God, ponder the fate of the tribe of Benjamin.  The homosexuals of Gibeah set in train a series of events which brought down great wrath and destruction on their tribe. The tribe of Benjamin was almost wiped out when it would not disown its homosexuals (Judges  chaps. 19 & 20).  America now is in a state of decline too.  Does it too need a moral reformation to save it?  Was the election of Obama a triumph  of the Devil?  Fred was in no doubt about all that.

If you believe in the Bible (I do not) Fred was right.  He was a faithful servant of his Lord.  I sometimes wonder if there are any real Bible students left


Fred Phelps, who founded the Westboro Baptist Church known for its anti-gay sentiments and protests at soldiers' funerals, has died, his son said on Thursday.

The 84-year-old, who founded the church is 1955, died of natural causes in Kansas at 11.15pm on Wednesday, according to church spokesman Steve Drain.

Previously he said that that Phelps was being cared for in a Shawnee County facility.

His passing comes just days after another son, Nate Phelps, took to his own Facebook page to announce that his father was 'on the edge of death' at Midland Hospice house in Topeka.

Nate Phelps, who left the extreme Christian sect 37 years ago, said his father was excommunicated in August 2013 from the church for advocating more kindness toward its members.

Three of his own children ex-communicated their father, according to WIBW.

'I'm not sure how I feel about this,' Nate Phelps wrote on Facebook. 'Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.

'I feel sad for all the hurt he's caused so many. I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved. And I'm bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes.'



Obamacare leaves Las Vegas man owing $407,000 in doctor bills

It looks like in this case that the computer company  -- Xerox -- who built the online exchange are going to be left holding the baby.  Their exchange failed to enroll a man anywhere even though it said it did so nobody else is liable.  So this is going to cost Xerox huge amounts  -- and may send them broke.  No wonder they are lawyering up. Nobody else is picking up the tab so Xerox is just delaying the inevitable at the moment.  All other Obamacre contractors must be running scared.

The hospital bills are hitting Larry Basich’s mailbox.  That would be OK if Basich had health insurance. But he doesn’t.

Thing is, he should be covered. Basich, 62, bought a plan through the state’s Nevada Health Link insurance exchange in the fall. He’s been paying monthly premiums since November.

Yet the Las Vegan is stranded in a no-man’s-land where no carrier claims him, and his tab is mounting: Basich owes $407,000 for care received in January and February, when his policy was supposed to be in effect. Instead, he’s covered only for March and beyond.

Basich has begged for weeks for help from the exchange and its contractor, Xerox. But Basich’s insurance broker said Xerox seems more interested in lawyering up and covering its hide than in working out Basich’s problems. Nor is Basich the only client facing plan-selection errors through the exchange, she added.

Basich said he began trying to enroll on Oct. 1, the day the exchange website went live. Like many consumers, he fought technical flaws during multiple sign-up attempts. In mid-November he finally got through and chose his plan: UnitedHealthcare’s MyHPNSilver1.  “It was like reaching the third level of Doom,” Basich said of the torturous sign-up process.

Basich paid his first premium on Nov. 21, and within days the exchange withdrew the $160.77 payment from his money-market savings account. Because Basich paid a month before the Dec. 23 deadline, his coverage was to begin Jan. 1.

Weeks ticked by, but Basich received nothing to confirm he had insurance. Nevada Health Link kept telling him he was enrolled, but UnitedHealthcare said he wasn’t in their system.

Basich’s predicament went critical on Dec. 31, when he had a heart attack. His treatment, which included a triple bypass on Jan. 3, resulted in $407,000 in medical bills in January and February that no insurer is covering.

Meanwhile, the exchange sent Basich premium invoices for January and February. He paid them both.

Basich has sought help at virtually every level of the system, from the Xerox customer-service reps who answer the phones at the exchange’s Henderson call center all the way to Gov. Brian Sandoval and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Both Sandoval’s and Reid’s offices have told him they want to help, Basich said, but there’s been no resolution so far.



The Government Is a Hitman: Uber, Tesla and Airbnb Are in Its Crosshairs

The real losers are not just the next generation of innovators but also customers who lose out on more ways of getting what they need or want

What the Invisible Hand of free-market innovation giveth, the Dead Hand of politically motivated regulation desperately tries to taketh away.

That’s the only way to describe what’s happening to three wildly innovative and popular products: the award-winning electric car Tesla, taxi-replacement service Uber, and hotel-alternative Airbnb. These companies are not only revolutionizing their industries via cutting-edge technology and customer-empowering distribution, they’re running afoul of interest groups that are quick to use political muscle to maintain market share and the status quo.

The battle between what historian Burton W. Folsom calls “market entrepreneurs” and “political entrepreneurs” is an old and ugly one, dating back to the earliest days of the American experiment. Market entrepreneurs make their money by offering customers a good or new service at a good or new price. Political entrepreneurs make their money the old-fashioned way: They use the government to rig markets and kneecap real and potential competitors. In his great 1987 book, The Myth of the Robber Barons, Folsom discusses how the 19th-century steamboat pioneer Robert Fulton quickly went from a market entrepreneur to a political one by securing a 30-year monopoly from the New York legislature for all steamboat traffic in the Empire State.

Especially in today’s sluggish economy, it’s more important than ever that market innovators win out over crony capitalists. Letting markets work to find new ways of delivering goods and services isn’t just better for customers in the short term, it’s the only way to unleash the innovation that ultimately propels long-term economic growth. After all, no country has ever regulated its way out of a recession.

Tesla has done the unthinkable not once but twice: First, it built an electric car that people actually want to buy despite a price tag north of $70,000 for its cheapest models. Second, it has the temerity to sell directly to its wealthy customers, rather than subjecting them to the ritualized hell that is known as auto dealerships. But because auto dealers account for as much as 20 percent of state sales taxes, their wishes often become legislators’ commands. At the top of their wish list? Don’t let carmakers sell directly to customers. The most glaring example of protectionism just took place in New Jersey, whose legislature added even more burdens to rules already banning the direct sales of cars to customers. Now Teslas effectively can’t be sold in New Jersey, reports The New York Times, all in the name of consumer safety and protecting competition.

News flash: Anyone who can afford a $70,000 car doesn’t need much protecting. And if you’re ready to believe car dealers when they argue that incredibly complicated rules that make it impossible for new companies to enter their market is about protecting competition, I’ve got an expensive undercoating package I want to sell you.

The app-driven car service Uber, which bills itself as “everyone’s car service” and connects drivers and riders in minutes, presents a similar threat to traditional taxi and ride services in the 30-plus U.S. cities in which it operates. Rather than fight for customers by cutting fares, increasing the number of cabs, or improving services, taxi commissioners and city councils from San Francisco to New York are instead trying to regulate Uber out of business on the grounds that it provides unfair and unsafe competition.

Never mind that Uber riders get to instantly rate their experience in a way no cab passenger ever does (just as amazingly, drivers get to rate passengers!). At the state level, California has already instituted a bevy of regulations on Uber, Lyft, and other new ride-sharing services. These range from mandatory criminal background checks for drivers, licensing via public utilities commissions, and driver training programs. Last year, Washington, D.C. officials unsuccessfully tried to squeeze out Uber with regulations on the types of cars that could carry passengers, what sorts of credit-card processing machines could be used, and how the company’s app operates.

Airbnb, a website that allows people to rent out everything from vacation homes to spare couches for short-term stays, works great for everyone but conventional hoteliers and cities trying to bilk travelers for tourist taxes. Operating in 192 countries and typically showing hundreds of thousands of offerings, Airbnb has faced stiff regulations in towns supposedly famous for their weirdness and openness to lifestyle experimentation, such as Austin, Texas (which charges hosts an annual licensing fee and limits the number of participants) and Portland, Oregon (which has banned the service in residential neighborhoods). In New York, rent-control advocates are teaming up with hospitality-industry heavyweights to try and shut down Airbnb and similar services.

If mobsters were pulling these sorts of stunts, we’d recognize the attacks on new ways of doing business for what they are: protection rackets, with state regulators rather than professional hitmen creating and enforcing rules to benefit well-connected businessmen. The real losers are not just the next generation of innovators but also customers who lose out on more ways of getting what they need or want.

Folsom’s study of political and market entrepreneurs also suggests that political entrepreneurs are ultimately unsuccessful. Indeed, in 1817, Fulton claimed that his monopoly meant that no one could ferry passengers to New York City from neighboring states. A young Corneilius Vanderbilt was hired by a Jersey businessman to challenge Fulton not in a court of law but on the Hudson River, ferrying passengers from Elizabeth, New Jersey and Gotham. Vanderbilt cheekily flew a flag from his ship that read, “New Jersey must be free.” While evading capture, Vanderbilt lowered prices and changed the business climate.

It turns out that New Jersey must be free again — to sell Teslas. And New Yorkers should be free to rent out their rooms if they want to. And Uber to drive you where you want to go. The Invisible Hand of free markets shouldn’t have to spend so much of its time slapping away the Dead Hand of political entrepreneurship.



Federal ‘Motor Voter’ Forms In KS, AZ Must Include Proof of Citizenship

A federal judge ordered the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to immediately add state-specific instructions requiring documented proof of citizenship to mail-in federal “Motor Voter” registration forms used in Kansas and Arizona.

Both states have laws requiring applicants to prove they are U.S. citizens before they are registered to vote. The federal form only requires them to swear under penalty of perjury that they are U.S. citizens.

“Because the Constitution gives the states exclusive authority to set voter qualifications under the Qualification Clause, and because no clear congressional enactment attempts to preempt this authority, the Court finds that the states’ determination that a mere oath is not sufficient is all the states are required to establish,” U.S. District Court Judge Eric Melgren said in his March 19th ruling in Wichita. (See EAC - 2014-03-19 US Dist Ct Decision Kobach v EAC.pdf)

“This is victory not only for Kansas and Arizona, but for all 50 states,” Kansas Secretary of State Kobach told “Any one of those 50 states may now choose to follow our example and require proofs of citizenship when people register to vote. There are two other states that are doing it already, Alabama and Georgia, for a total of four states.

“And I would encourage more states to do so because anytime an alien votes, it effectively cancels out the vote of a U.S. citizen.

"And you have many cases all around the country of aliens [voting], usually being manipulated by some sort of group that wants to steal an election. They’re told falsely that they are eligible to vote and then they’re coached how to vote, and it’s happening all across the country. We’re stopping it in Kansas and Arizona.”



The TSA at work


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)