Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Who are the haters?

My attention has just been drawn to what I gather is a popular 2012 rant on Daily Kos:  "An open letter to the people who hate Obama more than they love America".   It is very amusing indeed.  I have often observed that if you want to know what is true about Leftists, you just have to look at what they say about conservatives.  They can't imagine that conservatives do not share their hostile emotions. They "project" onto others what is true of themselves.

So what are conservatives accused of in the article?  Hate.

The writer goes through a whole range of current conservative ideas and policies and asserts that they are motivated by hate.  No reasoning or evidence for each assertion is offered.  It is supposed to be self-evident, apparently.  And to the writer and other Leftists it presumably is.  That it could be otherwise motivated they are not capable of considering and they live anyway in a little mental bubble from which conservative discourse is zealously excluded.  They figuratively (and sometimes literally) run away from hearing conservative arguments.

Take just the first assertion of the rant:  "You hate gay people".  A typical Leftist sweeping assertion devoid of any nuance.  All the conservatives I know are essentially indifferent to homosexuals, though some think that homosexual marriage is destructive of social order.  So the writer is quite simply wrong.

Even conservative Christians make a point of saying that they do NOT hate homosexuals, though they do believe that the Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin leading to condemnation by God, and that they therefore should do nothing to encourage it.  Even the notorious Fred Phelps used to say "GOD hates fags".  He didn't say "I hate fags".  And, theologically and exegetically, he was perfectly correct.  My late sister was a homosexual yet I find  nothing to criticize in what conservatives really do say about homosexuals

And the rest of the assertions in the Daily Kos rant are equally at variance with the real situation.

The big omission in the article therefore is any discussion of the full range of relevant evidence and reasoning on any issue.  In typical Leftist fashion, the writer tells only half the story.  If he told the whole story about any of the issues his balloon of rage about them would largely deflate.

The whole rant is an amazing example of intellectual incompetence but that is no surprise.  Hostile emotions are what drive the Left, not evidence and reason.

I am not big on tooting my own trumpet but if you want to see an argument backed up by a host of facts and careful deductions, my three part exposition on the nature of Leftism is here, here and here.  It's much more voluminous than the Daily Kos piece but that's because it considers the issues with proper care. I see no point in bare assertions like the Daily Kos piece.


The Looming Reality of ObamaCare's Doctor Shortage

Doctors are walking away from ObamaCare, and they're not coming back

A new analysis finds that the health insurance plans offered on ObamaCare exchanges offer a choice of 34 percent fewer health care providers, on average, than plans offered on the private market. The report specifies that:

Specifically, the analysis finds that exchange plan networks include 42 percent fewer oncology and cardiology specialists; 32 percent fewer mental health and primary care providers; and 24 percent fewer hospitals. Importantly, care provided by out-of-network providers does not count toward the out-of-pocket limits put in place by the ACA.

This is not surprising. The decline in doctor availability has been a long-foreseen consequence of the Affordable Care Act. The Wall Street Journal reported that the number of doctors per capita is in decline for the first time in two generations, medical school admissions are down 6 percent, and the American Association of Medical Colleges has predicted a shortage of 160,000 physicians by 2025. The only people who didn’t see this coming are the ones who don’t understand that incentives matter.

One of the innumerable mistakes in the Affordable Care Act is the focus on the demand side of medicine, and specifically of insurance coverage. This is several steps removed from the actual problem that needs to be addressed: the cost and availability of health care. These variables fall fundamentally on the supply side of the equation. Lower barriers to entry in the medical profession would increase the number of doctors, and the resulting competition would drive prices down while simultaneously reducing wait times and making it easier to find a doctor.

By forcing more people to buy insurance plans, and regulating the pricing structure of these plans can charge, ObamaCare is driving more people towards doctors, while at the same time reducing doctors’ ability to get paid. Combined with other regulations in the law, like the costly requirement to digitize all medical records, is it any wonder that so many doctors are hanging up their stethoscopes - or failing to pick them up in the first place?

This new study reinforces what we already knew: ObamaCare has always been about insurance, not actual health care. But all the insurance in the world does no good if there are no doctors available to treat you.

The trend towards less choice that ObamaCare is forcing on consumers can only lead to higher prices and a lower quality of care. More long term, the implications of a health care system that disincentives people from becoming doctors is far more dire.



Boehner Endorses Sentencing Reform; Bill Clinton Apologizes for His Role in Mass Incarceration

Yesterday House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) agreed with President Obama that Congress should address overincarceration:

"I've long believed that there needs to be reform of the criminal justice system.... We've got a lot of people in prison, frankly, who really, in my view, really don't need to be there. It's expensive to house prisoners. Sometimes, frankly, some of these people are there for what I'll call flimsy reasons".

Boehner specifically expressed support for the SAFE Justice Act, which would make the shorter crack sentences enacted in 2010 retroactive, eliminate federal penalties for simple possession of drugs in jurisdictions subject to state law, reserve mandatory minimum sentences for high-level drug traffickers, clarify that gun-related mandatory minimums can run consecutively only "when the offender is a true recidivist," give judges more discretion in sentencing people based on their responses to "reverse stings," encourage more use of diversion and probation, and offer prisoners time reductions in exchange for their participation in job training and other programs aimed at reducing recidivism. That's a pretty impressive package of reforms, and I have to say I'm surprised to hear that Boehner is on board.

"John Boehner's support for justice reform shows that momentum is growing in Congress," says FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon. "Not only that, but it's one of the few issues that transcends party lines and we can actually get something done. For too long, lawmakers have enacted big-government mandates that leave us with a skyrocketing prison population, high costs, and broken families. The status quo is unsustainable."

Another sign of the times: While attending the NAACP convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday, former President Bill Clinton apologized for a law he used to brag about: the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994—or, as Vice President Joe Biden proudly calls it, "the 1994 Biden Crime Bill." Among other things, that bill made drug sentences harsher, subsidized a nationwide prison-building boom, and expanded the application of the federal death penalty. "I signed a bill that made the problem worse, and I want to admit it," Clinton said on Wednesday. "In that bill, there were longer sentences, and most of these people are in prison under state law, but the federal law set a trend. And that was overdone; we were wrong about that."

That mea culpa is notably stronger than the one Clinton offered in his preface to a collection of essays on criminal justice reform that the Brennan Center published last spring:

"By 1994, violent crime had tripled in years. Our communities were under assault. We acted to address a genuine national crisis. But much has changed since then. It's time to take a clear-eyed look at what worked, what didn't, and what produced unintended, long-lasting consequences. So many of these laws worked well, especially those that put more police on the streets. But too many laws were overly broad instead of appropriately tailored."

Clinton's wife—who, as you may have heard, is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination—has been similarly inclined to make excuses for the draconian penalties she and her husband used to support, although she did concede in 2008 that those policies contributed to "an unacceptable increase in incarceration." Esquire's Charles Pierce suggests that the former president is "clearing his triangulations out of the way so that Hillary Rodham Clinton has a clearer road through the new politics of her party."



Justice Reform: Something Bipartisan is Happening in Congress that Could Save Taxpayers Money and Keep Communities Safe

On July 14th and 15th the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a heavily attended hearings on justice reform. A common sentiment throughout the two-day event was gratitude for the truly bipartisan nature of the effort to restructure our justice system. Hopeful people are coming together from across party lines, as is rarely seen in Congress, to restore liberty and save billions in taxpayer dollars.

Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) opened the hearing by expressing concern at lacking employment opportunities for rehabilitated people, mandatory sentencing and mandatory minimum laws which incarcerate average citizens, the abuse of solitary confinement, and high rates of recidivism, or the number of people who return to prison after being released (up to 60% in some states).

These concerns were echoed repeatedly by members and witnesses in attendance. Also addressed were statistics about astronomically high incarceration rates in the United States (the highest rate of any country). According to Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), nearly one in three Americans has an arrest record, one in nine black children has an incarcerated parent, and the number of people currently incarcerated is greater than the population of 36 of our 50 states. One statistic that elicited murmurs from the overflowing crowd said that a new prison in built in America every 10 days.

One startling issue that continued to come up throughout the hearing is the fact that many people accused of crimes are unaware that their actions are illegal. Brett L. Tolman, co-chair of White Collar Criminal Defense and Corporate Compliance Practice Group and witness at the hearing, told the room that there are over 300,000 regulations; they are absolutely impossible to keep track of, even for those who study criminal law. Furthermore, with increasing frequency, crimes are classified as federal offenses, meaning many nonviolent offenders are drawn into the federal system, sometimes without even knowing that they had committed a crime. In fact, it is estimated that the average American commits three felonies a day.

Each member and witness had specific concerns about the state of our justice system. Gov. Jack Markell (D-DE) testified about overcrowding in our prisons, saying that many of the prisoners (as many as 40% of inmates in women’s prisons in his state) are pre-trial, and have yet to be convicted of a crime.

“You guys are preaching to the choir,” joked Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), in summary of a majority of the hearing. But simply because people are in agreement about serious problems in the justice system does not mean it will be easy to find a solution that effectively addresses problems while minimizing spending, and maximizing liberty and safety.

Booker lamented the ability to “take and seize the liberty of people to the extent that we have.”

Loss of liberty truly is the effect of over criminalization and federalization. We have created a system that dehumanizes people for nonviolent crimes and leaves good people at the mercy of harsh minimum sentences that are unfair and do not take into account the circumstances of the accused. It is big government in the courtroom.

Additionally, the prison system is fiscally unsustainable. The federal prison population has grown by almost 800 percent since 1980, rising from approximately 25,000 inmates to around 208,500 today. Funding for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which consumes 25% of the Justice Department’s overall budget, has almost doubled since 2000. We must be smarter with our money. It is limited and not being put to good use.

Jason Pye, Director of Justice Reform at FreedomWorks, wrote last week that “[r]estoring common sense to sentencing and rehabilitating offenders through innovative and state-tested means to reduce their risks of going back to prison” results in significant savings that are highly appealing to conservatives and libertarians. Pye explained:

Texas, for example, implemented sensible prison and sentencing reforms, though with a small upfront cost, that focused on rehabilitation and treatment as alternatives to incarceration. By disrupting the cycle of crime through reducing offenders' chances of entering the system again, Texas closed prisons and scrapped plans to build new prisons. These reforms produced $3 billion in savings and contributed to reductions in crime and repeat offender rates.

Booker told the members of the committee to “embrace solutions we already see working,” referring to policies in place in states like Texas and Georgia which have taken measures to reform their justice systems.

Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) repented that Georgia has historically been called “tough on crime,” adding air quotes for emphasis, and asserted that “that toughness hasn’t worked.” He went on to express his pride in reformed state laws which have allowed Georgia, a traditionally Republican state, to lead the way for justice reform on the national level.

Throughout the hearing there was a strong show of support for the proposed Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act by many, including Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Kevin Ring, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Families Against Mandatory Minimums, who was a witness at the hearing and had himself been incarcerated.

In an official FreedomWorks statement, Pye called the SAFE Justice Act a “bipartisan reform effort that would address both sentencing reform and prison reform,” explaining that it “takes a different approach to sentencing reform by limiting mandatory minimum drug sentences to the highest-level drug offenders, which is in line with Congress’s original intent for the law. The bill would also give prisoners time credits for completing rehabilitative programming.”

We all have something to be excited about. In the words of Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), this was “a landmark hearing.” Hopefully, those who have come together from across the political spectrum will be able to create real, positive change.


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, 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. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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)


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