Friday, November 08, 2013

Deportation Numbers Unwrapped  -- Raw Statistics Reveal ICE Enforcement in Decline

A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that ICE is arresting and removing noticeably fewer illegal aliens from the interior now than was the case five years ago, and even two years ago. The focus has shifted away from interior enforcement in favor of processing aliens who are apprehended by the Border Patrol. Despite reports of an emphasis on criminal alien removal from the interior, those removals have also declined.

The number of deportations that will be attributed to ICE for FY2013 is 364,700, according to information obtained by the Center despite a gag order from the ICE front office. That number is down 11 percent from 2012. Of these, approximately 216,800 were criminals, which is four percent less than 2012. These numbers fell despite an increase in the number of illegal aliens encountered by ICE agents in the interior.

The Obama administration's assertion that they have achieved a record number of deportations, proving illegal immigration is under control and the time is right for amnesty for the 11 million illegal immigrants presently in the country, is invalid.

View the entire report  here

"It was astounding to discover that ICE has been arresting and removing so few illegal aliens from inside the country, considering that they have better tools and more resources at their disposal than ever before, and considering that there is an abundance of criminal aliens and illegal workers who should be removed," said Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies for the Center. "They have used statistical smoke and mirrors to obscure the disastrous results of so-called prosecutorial discretion and other enforcement-suppressing policies. The next step in immigration reform should be to restore credibility to ICE's interior programs, especially including worksite enforcement and Secure Communities."

Key Findings:

 *  The number of deportations resulting from interior enforcement by ICE declined by 19 percent from 2011 to 2012, and is on track to decline another 22 percent in 2013.

 *  In 2012, the year the Obama administration claimed to break enforcement records, more than one-half of removals attributed to ICE were the result of Border Patrol arrests that would never have been counted as a removal in prior years. In 2008, under the Bush administration, only one-third of removals were from Border Patrol arrests.

 *  Total deportations in 2011, the latest year for which complete numbers are available, numbered 715,495 - the low-est level since 1973. The highest number of deportations on record was in 2000, under the Clinton administration, when 1,864,343 aliens were deported.

 *  When claiming record levels of enforcement, the Obama administration appears to count only removals, which are just one form of deportation, and only a partial measure of enforcement. Beginning in 2011, a shift of some of the routine Border Patrol case load to ICE enabled the administration to count an artificially high number of removals.

 *  Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the division of ICE that is responsible for work site enforcement, combat-ing transnational gangs, overstay enforcement, anti-smuggling and trafficking activity, and busting document and identity theft rings, now contributes very little to immigration enforcement. In 2013 HSI has produced only four percent of ICE deportations, making just a few thousand arrests per year throughout the entire country.

 *  ICE is doing less enforcement with more resources. Despite reporting more encounters in 2013 than 2012, ICE agents pursued deportation of 20 percent fewer aliens this year than last.

 *  Enforcement activity declined in every ICE field office from 2011 to 2013, with the biggest declines in the Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Washington DC/Virginia, and Houston field offices.

 *  Criminal alien arrests declined by 11 percent from 2012 to 2013, despite the completion of the Secure Communi-ties program, which generates more referrals of arrested aliens than ever before. ICE agents took a pass on hun-dreds of thousands of aliens who were arrested by local authorities in those years.

 *  ICE is carrying a case load of 1.8 million aliens who are either in removal proceedings or have already been or-dered removed. Less than two percent are in detention, which is the only proven way to ensure departure.

 *  As of the end of July 2013 there were 872,000 aliens - nearly half of ICE's total docket - who had been ordered removed but who had not left the country.

 *  The State Department continues to issue tens of thousands of visas annually to citizens of countries that refuse to take back their countrymen who are ordered removed from the United States. Many of these are violent criminals.

The data for this report was from a collection of mostly unpublished internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) statistics.



Leftist Hollywood

Some people are shocked that so many members of the acting profession are liberals. It shouldn't be too surprising. After all, even though some actors are more talented than others, all that's really required is an unnatural desire to live a life of pretense. Although I have known a lot of actors, and even liked a few of them, I confess I have never understood the desire to wear other people's clothes and to have makeup applied in order to recite lines written by someone else and be told where to stand, when to move and how to read those lines by a third party.

It's all harmless enough, I suppose, but as a rule, people outgrow the urge to pretend to be someone other than themselves at a fairly early age. Instead, with maturity, most of us want to become the best possible version of ourselves. But without passing through the maturation process, one has no recourse but to remain forever a child; that is to say, a liberal.

Speaking of actors, one of the better ones, James Woods, recently garnered some notice by saying some extremely honest - that is to say, harsh - things about Barack Obama. That grabbed my attention because when I interviewed Mr. Woods a few years ago for my book, "Portraits of Success," he told me that although some people assumed he was a Republican, they were mistaken.

After reading that he tweeted among other things that "Obama is vile and a true abomination" and "I think Barack Obama is a threat to the integrity and future of the Republic" and, furthermore, "Sixteen years of machine Democrats shredding the fabric of the Republic will toss the greatest democracy on the trash heap of history," I sent him an email.

I asked him if he had changed his politics in the three or four years since our interview. His honest response was that he had always been a conservative, but that he had to eat. He added: "These libs are brutally dangerous and sneaky people."

As you see, there are always exceptions. So, although most actors never really mature, but simply age into character roles, occasionally one does.

In spite of his Oscar nominations, Woods expects he will never work again. How ironic is it that liberals are forever bringing up the blacklist of 60 years ago as if it were on a par with the Spanish Inquisition, but don't seem to mind the practice at all so long as they're in charge of the racks and applying the thumbscrews!



Bureaucrats Against Healthcare Access

Remote Area Medical (RAM) offers a glimpse into a robust, voluntary health sector, but not if bureaucrats have anything to say about it

Though the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges has dismayed even the law's supporters, the problem the ACA is designed to address is real enough: Millions of Americans, even those with insurance, lack access to adequate healthcare. In a voluntary society, civil-sector groups would step up to provide social services, like healthcare for the needy.

Government intervention in health markets currently crowds out such services-but not completely. Remote Area Medical (RAM), a Tennessee-based charity that is completely privately funded, offers a glimpse of what voluntary healthcare might look like. The group treats all comers at free weekend clinics dotted across the country.

"Remote Area Medical provides stuff that no one else provides," says Dr. David Milzman, a professor of emergency medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine and emergency physician at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. "They can make 1,200 to 1,500 pairs of glasses a day. Talk about a life-changing thing: Doing an eye exam and then giving glasses to someone who's never had glasses."

Originally founded to do expeditions in South America, the group has shifted its focus homeward because of the need here in the United States. At a typical event, over a thousand patients arrive in the wee hours of the night to make sure they get a spot in line. Many drive for hours and sleep in their cars.

In addition to providing general medical care, RAM specializes in dental and vision work because diseases in these areas, although serious, can be permanently resolved in a few hours. Since 1992 RAM has organized over 700 events and seen over half a million patients in Tennessee, Illinois, California, Virginia, Texas, and other states.

But rather than welcome the organization, which operates at no cost to taxpayers, most state governments actively impede its efforts. In 2009, the Washington, D.C., Department of Health assessed RAM a $77,000 facilities fee and forced the group to apply for a certificate of need, which involves "proving" to a panel of bureaucrats that there is a need for services.

According to Milzman, who was part of an ad-hoc group of doctors and nurses who tried to shepherd RAM through the approval process in D.C., the need for more services in the region is obvious. "They have beautiful dental facilities [for the poor] down at D.C. General," says Milzman, "but no one to staff it. They have 15-16 operatories there, but they only staff it with one or two dentists a day. It's crazy."

Ultimately, D.C. officials refused to issue a one-time waiver to the district's occupational licensing law, according to Milzman, who relates D.C. officials' response as, "There is no medical problem in D.C. and we didn't need a free clinic." Milzman adds: "This was a disaster."

Unfortunately, few states allow health workers licensed in other states to see patients-even when they are working for free. And the majority of RAM's network of volunteers crosses state lines for events. "It's a question of mathematics," says RAM founder Stan Brock. More volunteers mean the group can see more patients.

According to Brock, occupational licensing laws are the biggest hurdle the group faces. Health officials cite safety concerns to justify barring out-of-state volunteers; for instance, how are California officials to know a nurse licensed in New Jersey is qualified?

But the objection rings hollow. All medical professionals must meet certification requirements administered by national specialty boards. Standards are thus nearly identical across states; the licenses themselves serve little purpose beyond raising revenue for state treasuries and keeping nurses' salaries higher than they might be otherwise.

According to Brock, RAM has worked with over 80,000 volunteers without encountering an incompetent practitioner. Nonetheless, health officials regularly insist on licenses-even in emergencies. After a hurricane demolished Joplin, Missouri, in 2011, RAM sent its mobile eyeglass clinic to help in the relief effort. But it had to turn around without making a single pair of glasses because it couldn't find a state-approved optometrist and opticians.

Medical malpractice liability is another stumbling block. The cost and complexity of insurance keeps many otherwise-willing practitioners from volunteering outside their regular practices. But efforts to ease liability rules face obstacles in state legislatures.

In Missouri this year, the state's trial attorney association objected to a bill lifting liability except for cases of "willful misconduct." Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the bill, which he mischaracterized as providing "blanket immunity" for volunteers. (Last month, legislators overrode the veto, prompting RAM to begin planning an event in St. Louis, the group's first in the state.)

But an absence of regulatory obstacles remains the exception, not the rule.

"The frequent comment that I get from would-be volunteers," says Brock, "is that they throw up their hands and say, `Gosh, it's easier for me to volunteer my time in Guatemala than it is in my own country.'"

Advocates for more government intervention often insist on referring to the pre-ACA status quo as the "free market." RAM provides a useful corrective to that narrative. In a free market, would intransigent officials have so much power to stifle voluntary efforts to address one of the country's most pressing problems?


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)


Thursday, November 07, 2013

On war

I write under the above heading with apologies to Clausewitz, Sun Tzu and many others. What inspires me to write on this occasion is that a relative sent me a rather heartfelt rendition of a famous Australian antiwar song.  It is here.  It uses a lot of Australian English so is unlikely to be fully understood by non-Australians  -- but you will undoubtedly get the gist of it.

The thing that characterizes all antiwar songs that I know is that they take a very superficial view of war. They see the suffering and waste and make no effort to see WHY the suffering and waste took place.  They think it is sufficiently profound to deplore war rather than attempt to understand it.

And a lot of people in general do that.  They speak of the "folly" of war, which is in fact a confession that they do not understand it. And I imagine that anyone reading here has been confronted by such sentiments at some time or other.  I thought therefore that it might be useful to set out in a simple way how war is to be explained.  Some people seem to need such an explanation.

The first thing to note is that conquered people are often treated very badly by victor nations.  It can be literally a matter of life and death.  There are therefore very good reasons to fight a defensive war.  You may avoid oppression that way.  And that is the basic argument for war.  There may also be reasons for an offensive war but I doubt that any of those are good reassons.

The second thing we need to understand is that most people prefer prevention to cure.  It is all very well to defend yourself if attacked but it is surely best to prevent war breaking out in the first place.  The best known of such strategies is "Si vis pacem, para bellum", a Latin adage translated as, "If you want peace, prepare for war".  And there are some good examples of that as a successful strategy  -- 20th century Switzerland and Sweden, for instance.

There is however a very important second strategy, one that tends to slip below the public consciousness:  Treaties and alliances.  To most people such things seem to be old men talking to one another with no relevance to everyday life.  In fact, however, they are a major deterrent to war and should therefore be highly valued by any reasonable person.  And politicians at least do usually value them highly.

What treaties do is to make a group of nations to big or too strong to attack. They say to potential aggressors:  "If you attack any one of us, all of us will strike back at you."  Unity is strength, in other words.  And there is no doubt that treaties do prevent wars.  At a time when the Soviet Union was in an  aggressively expansionist phase, Western Europe would not have retained its independence but for its treaty with the United States (NATO).

So treaties are very important.  And you must honour them.  If you fail to come to the defence of a country that you have a treaty with, ALL treaties will tend to be undermined and an important deterrent to war will have been lost.

Which brings us to WWI, the subject of the antiwar song I mentioned above.  Even to me, WWI seems a foolish war.  Why did civilized countries line up their young men in opposing ranks in order for the other side to machine-gun them down?   Why did Australian soldiers end up trying to invade Turkey?  And for those who take a more informed view of the matter, why did the assassination of an Austrian Archduke in Serbia by a nonentity known as Gavrilo Princip lead to the fine young men of Britain making war on fine young men from Germany in the fields of Belgium?

It makes no sense unless you understand the importance of treaties for war prevention. In 1914, Germany had a treaty with Austria, Britain had a treaty with France and France had a treaty with Russia.  And those treaties had to be honoured if endless war was not to be ushered in.

So when Serb activist Princip shot the Archduke, Austria cracked down on the generally hostile Serbs, with which Austria had a border. (A similarity between Osama bin Laden attacking the twin towers and the subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan may be noted.)  But the Tsar of Russia saw the Serbs as fellow Slavs, brothers to Russia. The Tsar remonstrated with the Austrians but the Austrians replied that the matter was none of the Tsar's businmess.

So the Tsar declared war on Austria.  It was a meddlesone Russian ruler who set the ball rolling on WWI.  Because then the treaties came into effect: Germany declared war on Russia in defence of Austria;   France declared war on Austria and Germany because of their treaty with Russia; and Britain declared war on Germany in defence of France.  The logic was dismal but logic it was.

So it is not a common way to look at it but WWI was fought in defence of the integrity of treaties.  If the various treaties had been betrayed at that time, treaties might not have kept Western Europe safe from the dismal grip of Soviet Russia in the post-WWII era.  Russia might have been tempted to roll in the belief that the USA would not honour its treaty with Europe.  So some good did come from WWI.  It was a war that had to be fought.

So what about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars waged by the USA?  They were clearly defensive wars waged to discourage any repetition of the 9/11 attacks.  You would think that knocking out two of the three regimes most hospitable to the Jihadis would show them that the USA was not a paper tiger and discourage the Jihadis  for good but the fact that the Iranians have got off scot-free probably gives them encouragement.

Dropping a big one on their holy city with a promise of more to come would be a low-cost way of causing the Iranians to rethink their hostility towards just about everyone -- and with a bit of luck the Israelis might do just that in the not-too distant future -- to the  benefit of us all. The Iranians have installed substantial military facilities in the Qom area so they are asking for it. Losing their holy city would also make them the laughing stock of the Sunni world -- and ridicule can be even more grievous than defeat.  The Ayatollahs would be completely discredited.  -- JR



I have made many similar observations to the ones below.  I would however add that the liberal feels not only morally superior but superior in wisdom and understanding too  -- JR

I’m always searching for a unified field theory of liberalism that reconciles its craziness, destructiveness and sanctimony. I thought the “liberalism is a mental disorder” meme came close, but in the end was too easy. It’s like having a madman as a villain in a story–you don’t have to explain, motivate or justify his behavior. It’s the difference between “Friday the 13th” and “Crime and Punishment.”

A recent sad experience with a friend undergoing rehab has left me with another analogue. I now think liberalism is an addiction and displays all the behaviors commonly associated with addictive behavior.

Well, not “liberalism” per se. That policy-agenda is really an elaborate metaphorical delusion built to camouflage the true drug these poor souls crave so desperately: moral superiority.

It’s as powerful as heroin or cocaine. It supplies a terrific high: all sense of personal failure, betrayal, guilt, ineffectiveness, irrelevance, of being nothing and nobody, disappears in a flash. Instead our hero feels extraordinarily good about himself. He is helping. He is compassionate. He is without sin. He is sensitive, caring, part of the solution and not the problem. He feels handsome, daring and heroic. He thinks it will get him laid. How could he not love this?

He cannot see the harm he is doing, either at the micro level or at the cataclysmic macro level; he cannot see how his “generosity” with other people’s money, for example, has devastated the black community, turned it bitter, hopeless, impulsive, violent and addicted itself to free stuff from the gub’mint as well as the crutch of “racism” to justify everything.

But you have seen this most explicitly in the last few weeks, as Obamacare, a hopelessly idiotic delusional program meant to redistribute wealth (in the form of medical care) to the unfortunates who’ve never paid a tax in their lives, has crashed and burned. As anybody who knows anything about the addictive state knows, when the addict is threatened with the cut-off of his supply, he becomes a monster.

I saw this with my friend, who it turned out had been lying to me for years about his addictions. He loved me; I kept him alive. But he could not help himself from using me and feeding me a tapestry of lies to keep the money coming. I thought I was “helping,” just as liberals think they are helping. But I learned, finally, that I was just enabling. This is a lesson liberals will never learn.

As the collapse of Obamacare reveals, they go into reflexive monster mode. Like any addict, they will lie, cheat, steal, even become violent when their supply is threatened. They have no moral qualms about betraying their closest friends because the moral part of them is dead. They see only the end of their high and that becomes the defining issue of their life. They will do anything to protect it. That is why they are such wily opponents and such aggressive defenders of what the whole of the rational world now realizes was fabrication, delusion and ultimately fantasy.

So if we look to liberate them from the agony they don’t even know they suffer from, we must look to the known cures of addiction. Terrible, hard work, draining and demoralizing, but I think we are up to it.



Obamacare Is Obama Unmasked

Everyone is focusing on Obamacare because it is such an obvious disaster, but in fact, it is but a microcosm of Barack Obama's entire presidency. Obamacare is Obama unmasked.

Aren't some of you tired of making lame excuses for him that only serve to make things worse? He has made a mess of nearly everything his policies have touched, and he's mostly avoided the blame; but he owns Obamacare, and he has nowhere to hide.

When someone with the influence Obama enjoyed upon first taking office sets out to fundamentally transform the nation -- and he has the unqualified support of the entire liberal media apparatus, the Democratic Party in lock step, millions of people purchased with government money and/or indoctrinated in liberal universities, and the cudgels of racial shaming and white guilt -- the possibilities are endless.

Constitutionalists have observed for years that America has been on a downward spiral as its ruling class has discarded its founding principles -- the very ideas that led to this nation's uniqueness, power, prosperity and benevolence. We've known that we could not forever piggyback, with impunity, on America's system of limited government and its free market economy. Eventually, statist encroachments on both would destroy our prosperity, liberty and power.

But we were thinking in terms of decades into the future, not a matter of a few years. Who would have ever thought the United States would embark on such an accelerated path of national suicide?

At the beginning, people could argue that Obama would usher in a period of prosperity and bipartisanship and that things would get better in America. But after five years of unconscionably reckless federal spending, a wholesale assault on our domestic energy industries, endless abuses of executive authority and other lawless incursions on the Constitution, unprecedented divisiveness and polarization across economic, racial and gender lines, America's declining power and prestige in the world, an explosion of the welfare state, and the worst economic recovery in 60 years, how can anyone who cares about this nation's future and the well-being of our children and grandchildren keep supporting this man's policies?

Even those of you who seem to have an endless capacity for buying into the administration's childish scapegoating of the Bush administration or the current GOP opposition for every Obama policy failure surely are beginning to have doubts as you watch the inglorious unfolding of Obamacare.

At first, you may have been hanging on to the fantasy that this was just a technical problem with the website -- perhaps marginally understandable given the immense scope of the "transition" into government-run health care. But unless you have been asleep the past few weeks, you understand that the problems with the website were so colossal that only an incompetent and arrogant administration could have presided over them.

But you also know that as horrendous as the website problems are, they pale in comparison with the substantive problems with Obamacare and Obama's abject lies to pass the bill in the first place and his continuing pattern of deceit concerning this boondoggle.

You may choose, like New York Times editors, to become part of the lie and euphemize Obama's Obamacare lies as "misstatements." But that's an insult to anyone in possession of the left side of his brain. Actually, it's an insult to right-siders, too, because you'd have to be bereft of intuitive powers not to sense the enormity of the presidential deception.

It is inconceivable that Obama merely misspoke when he promised that Americans could keep their private plans and doctors if they liked them and when he said the premiums for an average family of four would decrease by $2,500. Those were cold, calculated lies designed to defraud the American people and their representatives into supporting Obama's "signature" legislative dream, which was never about increasing access, reducing costs, increasing quality and preserving choices. Rather, Obamacare has always been nothing less than the linchpin in Obama's bigger dream to fundamentally change America into a nation he could like instead of resent -- a socialist utopia rather than the land of the free, of the brave and of equal opportunity.

Those on the left who stubbornly insist on continuing to support Obama and his destruction of America need to re-evaluate him. Is your appetite for denial unbounded?

Those on the right who insist on continuing to pull their punches instead of calling it like it is will also eventually have America's blood on their hands.

We all had better wake up. There's only so much bitterness and covetousness a nation's leaders can arouse in its people before they reduce it to permanent mediocrity.



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, November 05, 2013

An extra sabbath

I am taking an extra Sabbath today.  I had an operation yesterday which has left me pretty groggy

Which ObamaCare shoe will drop next?

by Jeff Jacoby

FIRST IT was the debacle of, the botched ObamaCare website, that dominated coverage of the Affordable Care Act's rollout.

The new insurance exchanges were a disaster — technical malfunctions, frozen screens, interminable wait times, error messages, lost data. President Obama had promised that the new system would make getting health insurance as easy as shopping online — "the same way you'd shop for a plane ticket on Kayak or a TV on Amazon," he'd said. What he delivered instead, as Democratic Senator Max Baucus predicted months ago, was a "huge train wreck."

Last week that train wreck grew huger.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are being notified that their health insurance policies will be cancelled, notwithstanding Obama's endlessly repeated assurance that "if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan." But that claim, voters now realize, was also untrue.

As NBC News reported on Monday, "the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them." ObamaCare regulations promulgated in 2010 were designed to force millions of consumers into getting more comprehensive, more expensive, insurance coverage than they want or need. Yet over and over the president insisted that wouldn't happen — a falsehood so egregious it earned "four Pinocchios" from the Washington Post's fact-checker. And that was before Obama's trip to Faneuil Hall last week to scapegoat "bad-apple insurers" for selling Americans health-care plans they liked.

Remember Joe Wilson, the South Carolina congressman who yelled "You lie!" during Obama's health-care speech to Congress in 2009? His outburst was inexcusably rude. But in retrospect, it looks increasingly prescient.

Which shoe will be the next to drop? What other ObamaCare promise will voters discover was bogus? Perhaps it will be the claim that the president's health law won't add "one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future." Or the rosy pledge that it will lower premiums for the typical family by $2,500 per year. Or the vaunted assurance that it will "bend the cost curve downward." Or all of them.

But will it make any difference?

Complaints that politicians tell lies are as old as politics — and so, most of the time, is the public's willingness to live with those lies. Nearly all of us say we don't like being deceived by elected officials, but even brazen liars are routinely reelected. Polls consistently find that members of Congress have a rock-bottom reputation when it comes to ethical standards — in a recent Gallup survey, only 1 in 10 Americans gave Congress a high rating for honesty— yet the vast majority of congressmen seeking reelection are successful. Candidates preceded by a reputation for mendacity and insincerity get elected to the White House: Think of "Tricky Dick" Nixon or "Slick Willie" Clinton.

On the whole, society tends to be more tolerant of politicians who break their word or fail to keep a promise than of businesses that do so. Consider the CEO of Southwest Airlines, Gary Kelly, who has been adamant in recent years about not charging passengers for baggage. "Bags Fly Free" has been a mainstay of Southwest's advertising. "I don't want to be waffling on this," Kelly told an interviewer last year. "We're not going to charge bag fees, no way." In a conference call in April, he underscored the point: "Our brand includes 'bags fly free.' Period."

Representative Joe Wilson blurts "You lie!" during President Obama's health-care speech in 2009. His outburst was certainly rude. It was also prescient.

So it made news when Kelly hinted this month that Southwest's policy may change, if the company concludes that passengers will accept "an à la carte approach." Business leaders, like politicians, would rather paint a 180-degree reversal as an evolution, not a broken promise. But Kelly knows his margin for error is precarious. Unlike politicians, he and Southwest are answerable to the marketplace, where the penalty for deceiving customers or betraying shareholders can be swift and ruthless. No corporate executive would dare to be as cavalier about consumers' expectations as the White House has been with regard to the promises the president made about ObamaCare.

If Obama were the CEO of a private company, writes George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux, "he would be sued, publicly lambasted by all the major media, perhaps hauled before an admittedly grandstanding Congressional committee, and possibly prosecuted, convicted, fined, or even imprisoned for fraudulent misrepresentation." But politics isn't the marketplace, and politicians are held to a different standard. We entrust elected officials with far too much power, then routinely fail to hold them accountable when they abuse their power and betray that trust.

Ultimately the only solution to the problem of faithless politicians is to put less faith in politicians. For as government gets bigger, citizens get smaller — and public servants become impossible to control.



Is The Tea Party Really All About Alger Hiss?

Unde malum et quare? Where does evil come from and why does it exist? That has always been one of the big questions; over at Bloomberg News, former White House macher and Samantha Power super-spouse Cass Sunstein says he’s solved at least one part of the riddle: he’s figured out the from whence and why of the Tea Party.

The Tea Party is a huge intellectual problem for blue model liberals. It sprang up out of nowhere, it lacks a formal leadership structure, and despite many obituaries in the MSM, it remains a significant force in the Republican Party and in American politics as a whole. It is everything Occupy Wall Street hoped to become, and the MSM did everything possible to make OWS flourish. It was hailed as a movement of historic impact, the start of a global trend, one of those epochal developments after which nothing will ever be the same—and it guttered out ignominiously.

The Tea Party, on the other hand, has flourished despite non-stop efforts to smother it in the media. While its record is mixed and, from a Democratic point of view not all bad (arguably, without unqualified Tea Party-backed candidates, the GOP would now have control of the Senate), its persistence annoys. It is almost as if the MSM’s power to shape American politics is on the wane.

Professor Sunstein (he teaches at Harvard Law) has a theory, though, about where the Tea Party comes from. It all goes back to Alger Hiss, a State Department official under Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. After playing an important role in US policy in the Middle East and East Asia, he chaired the international committee that established the United Nations. On leaving the government in 1946 he went on to head the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, then as now one of the most respected institutions of the foreign policy establishment.

Sunstein tells what happened next:

    "In his 1948 testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Whittaker Chambers, a writer and editor for Time magazine and a former Communist, identified Hiss as a Communist. Hiss adamantly denied the charge. He said he didn’t know anyone named Whittaker Chambers. Encountering his accuser in person, Hiss spoke directly to him: “May I say for the record at this point that I would like to invite Mr. Whittaker Chambers to make those same statements out of the presence of this committee without their being privileged for suit for libel?”

    Chambers took Hiss’s bait. In an interview on national television, Chambers repeated his charges. In response to the libel suit, he produced stolen State Department documents and notes that seemed to establish not merely that Hiss was a Communist, but that he had spied for the Soviet Union. Hiss was convicted of perjury.

    The conviction was stunning, for Hiss had been a member of the nation’s liberal elite. A graduate of Harvard Law School and a law clerk for the revered Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, he held positions of authority in the Agriculture, Justice and State departments. He was tall, handsome, elegant, gracious, even dashing."

So how do we get from a perjurious traitor and his apologists to the Tea Party?

Well, for one thing, the liberal establishment stood by its man. Again, Professor Sunstein:

    "At his 1949 perjury trial, an extraordinary number of liberal icons served as character witnesses for Hiss, including two Supreme Court justices (Stanley Reed and Felix Frankfurter); John W. Davis, who was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1924; and Adlai Stevenson, who was to become the Democratic nominee for the presidency in 1952 and 1956."

But the real problem, says Sunstein, wasn’t that the liberal establishment was too clueless and too self-protected to recognize a dangerous traitor in its midst. It was that Hiss’s accuser, Whittaker Chambers, was “polarizing.” Here’s how Sunstein closes:

    "Chambers’ broader charge — that liberalism was a species of socialism, “inching its ice cap over the nation” — polarized the nation. His attack on the patriotism of the Ivy League elite reflected an important strand in American culture, and it helped to initiate suspicions that persist to this day.

    Liberals are no longer much interested in Hiss’s conviction, yet they are puzzled, and rightly object, when they are accused of holding positions that they abhor. We can’t easily understand those accusations, contemporary conservative thought or the influence of the Tea Party without appreciating the enduring impact of the Hiss case."

This is a surprisingly lame ending to the piece. After all, if Chambers’ attack on the Ivy League “reflected an important strand in American culture,” then the Tea Party must have deeper roots than one half-forgotten cause célèbre. It’s also not clear what he means by the reference to false accusations against liberals for holding positions that they abhor. Is that what Sunstein thinks the Tea Party is about? That if those unfortunate and paranoid folks understood liberals better, they would oppose them less?

There are some tinfoil hat types out there who think that President Obama and his cohorts are hiding Qu’rans in the White House and looking to introduce both socialism and Sharia as soon as they can. Nut jobs on both the left and the right and all kinds of cranky positions in between are an enduring part of American politics. But if Sunstein thinks that this is the energy that powers the Tea Party, he is very far from understanding either this phenomenon or American politics as a whole.

The Tea Party is mostly something much more conventional: a libertarian, small government protest against the centralization of federal power, and a populist resentment of snooty Ivy League professors who think the common people aren’t very smart. We’ve had these movements in America ever since colonial times; when Andrew Jackson defeated John Quincy Adams’ re-election bid in 1828, the 19th century forerunners of the Tea Party were in full cry.

We aren’t seeing a right-leaning populist surge today because of Alger Hiss; we are seeing it because many Americans believe that President Obama’s liberal and technocratic agenda represents a threat to a way of life they value. We are seeing it because many Americans blame the establishment of both parties both for the financial crisis and for the vast transfer of resources to the wealthy that came after the crash. We are seeing it because whether you look at foreign or domestic policy, the technocratic suggestions of the Great and the Good have not been helping ordinary Americans much for the last 20 years.

We don’t think Tea Partiers are wrong to see President Obama’s political goals as fundamentally opposed to their own vision of what America should be. They aren’t angry because they are stupid, and deep disagreement with technocratic liberalism is not a mental disease.

Some zealous Tea Partiers put two and two together and get eight, giving the Obama administration and its liberal backers credit for more foresight and cunning than they possess. There were those in 1800 who thought that John Adams was planning to introduce a monarchy into the United States. There were those on the right who thought that Franklin Roosevelt was a socialist; there were those on the left who thought Ronald Reagan was a fascist and that Margaret Thatcher hated poor people. But to confound a major current of American politics with the lunatic fringe is not a recipe for healing the nation or even for helping your side put some points on the board. There are birthers in the Tea Party, but the Tea Party is not the voice of birtherism.

But Professor Sunstein does have a point. The Hiss case was not a cause of the Tea Party, or even of the anti-intellectual tradition in American politics that Richard Hofstader analyzed in the early 1960s. It was, however, a prominent manifestation of the class snobbery and intolerance that so often shapes elite liberal responses to political events and that so frequently fills so many Americans with loathing and disgust.

For a generation after Alger Hiss was convicted on two counts of perjury, American liberals went on to defend him as a plumed knight and a martyr. They slimed his accusers as knuckle dragging know-nothings and McCarthyite enemies of freedom. They never forgave Richard Nixon for helping Whittaker Chambers. As the evidence against Hiss mounted, they fought a long rear-guard defense. Even today, Cass Sunstein doesn’t quite come out with the ugly truth. Instead he gives us a mealy-mouthed formulation:

    "Most of those who have carefully studied the case, and who have explored evidence emerging long after the trial itself, have concluded that Chambers was telling the truth and that Hiss did indeed perjure himself."

No, as Sunstein says,

    "Liberals are no longer much interested in Hiss’s conviction, yet they are puzzled, and rightly object, when they are accused of holding positions that they abhor."

Yes, liberals are the victims here. After decades of vicious invective and bile-spewing, liberals find the whole Hiss subject dull and don’t want to think about the case anymore—but they just hate it when other people don’t appreciate their selfless dedication to the public good.



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, November 04, 2013

Obamacare's Authoritarian Problem

You can't keep your insurance if you like it under Obamacare, because you're too ignorant to understand what's good for you.

That's the argument we've been hearing from a lot of folks on the left -- an argument that pivots from "common good" to soft authoritarianism. President Barack Obama is all in, as well, claiming that he was merely guilty of forcing Americans to pick a "Ferrari" health care plan over a "Ford" one. (Is it really "picking" if you're forced?)

This is necessary because health care is not a product as a toaster is a product. (It took me only a few seconds online to find 613 different types of toasters, ranging in price from more than $300 to $15. They weren't subsidized, and I even could carry them across state lines. If health care were like toasters, we'd all be in great shape.) And as they do with anything that features negative externalities, technocrats will tinker, nudge and, inevitably, push.

"America doesn't have a free-market health care system and hasn't for decades," Business Insider's Josh Barro wrote in a piece titled "If You Like Your Health Plan, You Probably Shouldn't Be Able To Keep It." "With taxpayer subsidies so embedded in everybody's plan purchasing decisions, taxpayers have a legitimate interest in ensuring that health plans serve the public interest, not just private interests."

"Legitimate" is a malleable adjective. Just think of all the other areas of American society that are subsidized by taxpayers. Agriculture, higher education, the auto industry, the banking industry, professional sports, marriage -- the possibilities are endless. Why is Washington allowing 20-year-old college students to work on business degrees when we need them to be engineers and factory workers? We subsidize, so why don't we decide? contributor Sally Kohn wrote a piece titled "A canceled health plan is a good thing." You're not getting what you want; you're getting what you need. Kohn -- unsheathing the "public good" justification that opponents of same-sex marriage regularly use -- failed to mention even once that the president explicitly assured Americans while campaigning for the Affordable Care Act that "if you like your plan, you can keep it." NBC News is reporting that the Obama administration knew that millions of Americans would probably lose their current health plans because of the implementation of the law, yet it went on lying.

It's almost as if some people believe lying is acceptable -- even preferable -- if the political outcomes are morally pleasing to them. Many Obamacare supporters, in fact, are beginning to sound as if they couldn't care less about process, the law, order, competence or anything that undermines the goal of putting your health care choices into more capable hands.

But even the more specific arguments do not stand up to scrutiny.

Admittedly, many people do stupid things that aren't good for them. And though I may not know exactly what I need, I probably know as much about what I need as Kohn or Obama -- or even the 51.1 percent of the electorate that voted for the president. The reason Kohn and many of the others believe that Americans should be thankful for a paternalistic administration that en masse pushed us into (supposedly) top-shelf plans is that they don't believe in markets or they don't understand how they work -- and in some cases, it's both.

Let me put it this way: There's this Chinese restaurant near my house. It's not the cleanest place, granted. And the folks who "work" there are, it seems, completely uninterested in my dining experience. The food is priced accordingly. But I love the dumplings. It's really all that matters to me. There's another Chinese place nearby. This one is newer. It has a friendly and attractive staff. It offers me clean silverware, and I walk on expensive contemporary tiles. All that classy stuff is nice, and it's also embedded into the price of my dumplings -- which are no better. I don't want to pay for the tiles. I just want the dumplings.

In health care and other things, we often pick plans that offer us something we value above other things. Americans don't need all their plans to look the same. Maybe some of them like the customer service; maybe some like the stability of staying with one company for many years. This is why having 600 toasters in an open market is preferable to having a handful of choices in a fabricated "market" exchange -- and why choice is better for us than coercion.



Islamists salivate over Bill de Blasio, New York's mayor-in-waiting

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's successor will bring change to New York City, and some of it is likely to warm an Islamist's heart. Consider the NYPD's post-9/11 intelligence-gathering operations inside the Muslim community. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have defended these counterterrorism tactics against years of criticism; long-shot Republican candidate Joe Lhota also supports them.

However, Democratic frontrunner Bill de Blasio has pledged to replace Kelly and clearly seeks to curb the NYPD, telling Muslims that "the efforts of surveillance have to be based on specifically specific information."

Recapping the Islamist terror plots thwarted by the NYPD, writer Daniel Greenfield explains that "the standard of 'specifically specific information' would have led to the deaths of countless New Yorkers." He adds: "They relied on informants drawing out potential terrorists, instead of waiting blindly for them to strike. If Bill de Blasio has his way, that will no longer be something that the NYPD will be able to do."

The sole silver lining is that any resulting tragedy will prompt the swift repudiation of such kinder, gentler counterterrorism — at least until forgetfulness triumphs once more.

Another probable change involves city schools. Both de Blasio and Lhota favor closing them on Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, a move that Bloomberg opposes. One can reasonably argue that Muslim holidays should be treated no differently than Jewish holidays if the two populations are of comparable size. Yet there are drawbacks to altering the calendar. First, the mere prospect of adding Muslim holidays has already sparked a flood of requests that other groups be similarly recognized. Second, this concession will only embolden Islamists to demand more — and that is never a happy outcome.

Left: Conspiracy theorist Linda Sarsour spoke at the October 16 rally of Muslims for de Blasio. Right: CAIR's Zead Ramadan, who has characterized NYPD counterterrorism work as "f—ked up," also attended the event, a month after he was trounced in a City Council primary.

Voters reject CAIR candidate for New York City Council

One piece of positive news from Gotham: Zead Ramadan, a longtime senior official with the local branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), came up far short in his bid to represent Manhattan's District 7 on the New York City Council. Despite some significant endorsements, including one from former mayor David Dinkins, Ramadan garnered a paltry 657 votes, 3.6 percent of the 18,010 cast in that district's Democratic primary election.

A 2013 IW article outlines Ramadan's Islamist record. In addition to having served as board president of CAIR-New York, one of the notorious pressure group's more radical chapters, he has smeared the U.S. on Iranian state-controlled TV, refused to denounce the Hamas terrorist organization, and blasted NYPD counterterrorism activities. His defeat is a victory for New York.



Why Aren't People Grateful for the Better Health Plans (or Light Bulbs) Mandated by the Government?

Shane JansenShane JansenThe New York Times notices that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—under which, President Obama assured us, we could keep our health plans if we liked our health plans—has resulted in the cancellation of medical coverage for "hundreds of thousands of Americans in the individual insurance market." But the article treats this phenomenon mostly as a Republican talking point, as opposed to an actual problem. "Cancellation of Health Care Plans Replaces Website Problems as Prime Target," says the headline. "After focusing for weeks on the technical failures of President Obama's health insurance website," says the lead, "Republicans on Tuesday broadened their criticism of the health care law, pointing to Americans whose health plans have been terminated because they do not meet the law's new coverage requirements." The Republicans even have props:

    "Baffled consumers are producing real letters from insurance companies that directly contradict Mr. Obama’s oft-repeated reassurances that if people like the insurance they have, they will be able to keep it....

    The cancellation notices are proving to be a political gift to Republicans, who were increasingly concerned that their narrowly focused criticism of the problem-plagued could lead to a dead end, once the website's issues are addressed."

The Times does intimate that canceled health insurance is perceived as a problem by those who experience it but repeatedly suggests that it's not that big a deal. "The affected population, those who bought insurance on their own, is a small fraction of an insurance market dominated by employer-sponsored health plans," it says. (Won't the government's new minimum coverage requirements force changes in those plans too, and won't that result in higher costs for employees?) "Tens of millions of people are finding that their insurance is largely unchanged [except for the cost?] by the new health care law," a sidebar notes.

What about the others? "In many of those cases," the Times says, "the insured have been offered new plans, often with better coverage but also at higher prices." At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing yesterday, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, likewise emphasized (as paraphrased by the Times) that "the new policies would provide more benefits and more consumer protections than many existing policies."

Tavenner seems to think that makes it OK to force people out of their old policies and into the new, government-approved ones. Yet people who buy coverage on the individual market already have weighed the tradeoffs and decided they do not want the benefits that the federal government insists they should have. Overriding those judgments is like demanding that car buyers looking for an economical subcompact buy a hybrid minivan instead. Sure, it costs more, but it's a better vehicle! Look at all that space for children! And if the buyer happened to be a bachelor, he would be in the same position as all the people compelled to buy "maternal coverage" or "substance abuse services" for which they have no use.

Even features that pretty much everyone would like if all other things were equal, such as low deductibles and generous prescription drug coverage, cost money. People who deliberately forgo them have decided they are not worth the price. By what right does the government tell them they are wrong?

The argument that the insurance mandated by Obamacare costs more, but it's worth it reminds me of the debate over the creeping federal ban on incandescent light bulbs. There, too, consumers had made a choice that politicians and bureaucrats did not like: They overwhelmingly preferred traditional bulbs, despite their inefficiency, because they were much cheaper than the alternatives. But consider the energy savings! "A household that upgrades 15 inefficient incandescent light bulbs," an Energy Department official enthused, "could save about $50 per year." Consumers unimpressed by that calculation were clearly too stupid to be making decisions for themselves, so they had to be forced into better (albeit more expensive) choices.



Next Week's New Yorker Cover Takes on Glitches

With Obama on a "brick" phone from about 20 years ago

Everyone is jumping on the ‘making fun of Obamacare’ bandwagon. Last weekend the cast of SNL made fun of rollout train wreck and now the New Yorker is joining that group. This coming week’s cover (as seen below) is a drawing of Sebelius crossing her fingers and President Obama on the telephone, huddled around a computer with a tech trying to make it work.

This is quite amusing because the tech guy is trying to use a floppy disc to make improvements on the website. As many people know, the use of floppy discs has basically become so outdated they are not in use anymore. Perhaps it is time to do more than hire outdated techs and just crossing your fingers to make things better.



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, November 03, 2013

Lies on Lies on Lies

Obama was in Boston this week, attempting to deflect attention from his key O'Care sales pitch promise that Americans could keep their insurance and doctors, “period” – a remark even the Washington Post classified as a “WHOPPER.” Obama doubled down on the lie: “If you had one of these substandard plans before the Affordable Care Act became law and you really liked that plan, you're able to keep it. That's what I said when I was running for office. That was part of the promise we made.”

Analysts now believe that more than 90 million plans are at risk of alteration or cancelation, both individual and corporate policies, and that this information was known to the administration in 2010. The lie just keeps getting bigger.

Back in Washington, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the Obama bureaucrat directly responsible for the failed launch of ObamaCare, was planting prevarications before Congress.

Sebelius admitted that the rollout was “miserably frustrating” and said, “I'm responsible.” She then proceeded to deny responsibility, and even repeated her boss's lie about consumers being able to keep their health plan if they like it. Period. She argued, “[I]f a plan was in place in March of 2010 and, again, did not impose additional burdens on the consumer, they still have it. It's grandfathered in.” She complained that, before ObamaCare, the insurance market was “unregulated.” That's patently false, and, of course, those pesky “additional burdens” – like mandatory maternity coverage even for single men – were placed on insurance companies by HHS and ObamaCare regulations. So much for accountability.

Sebelius also told Congress, “The website [] never crashed. It is functional, but at a very slow speed and very low reliability.” But when she was asked to disclose the enrollment numbers, she replied, “The system isn't functioning, so we are not getting that reliable data.” Her flip-flop is hardly surprising, but concerning her original comment, the system's constant failure is one of the primary reasons she was on Capitol Hill, not to mention the reason that the majority of consumers have been unable to enroll. Additionally, her statement was made all the more ironic considering the site crashed moments before Sebelius began her remarks. Half an hour into her testimony, the exchange was still dead in the water. (For the record, CBS reveals that only 6 individuals successfully enrolled within the first 24 hours of the exchange's launch.)

Yet another laughable moment came when Sebelius insisted that it would be “illegal” for her to obtain insurance coverage through the exchanges. There are, however, just three requirements listed on for purchasing a plan on an exchange: Buyers “must live in the United States”; “must be a U.S. citizen or national (or be lawfully present)”; and “can't be currently incarcerated.”

The secretary didn't even know whether is a secure website. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a former FBI agent specializing in electronic security issues, chastised Sebelius and by extension, Obama, for the lack of security at “You allowed this system to go forward with no encryption on backup systems. They have no encryption on certain boundary crossings. You accepted a risk on behalf of every user [and] put their personal financial information at risk because you did not have even the most basic end to end test on security of this system.” As The Patriot noted months ago, one of the liabilities that will plague Democrats who supported ObamaCare is the fact that it will be an easy mark for ID theft.

ObamaCare is also proving to be the biggest voter registration fraud scheme in our country's history. The Medicaid sign-up portal is not only signing folks up for subsidized health care, but to vote! Under current federal law (“Motor Voter”), when someone goes to the DMV for a driver's license, he or she is asked whether or not they want to register to vote. Under the ObamaCare application process, if you apply for Medicaid, you are automatically registered to vote unless you opt out (by completing a form designed to unduly complicate the process).

Finally, as we've said before, while Sebelius is indeed responsible for much of the current debacle, to suggest she should resign implies that a better HHS secretary might have made it work. Fact is, the failure of the rollout is but a metaphor for the reality that a government bureaucracy can't even effectively manage a basic commerce website for insurance comparisons – much less an enterprise that encompasses 18% of the U.S. economy.



None dare call it tyranny

Intimidation.  It is an ugly word bringing to mind mobsters threatening to burn down a shop owners store if he doesn’t buy fire insurance, or a loan shark enforcers breaking legs to send a message to someone who bet the wrong horse.

It is even uglier when it is used in conjunction with the Presidency in a nation that has historically prided itself as being above the raw use of power to achieve one’s political ends.

CNN, one of the most vocal supporters of President Obama and his policies reported on October 30, that health insurers which are now heavily regulated under Obamacare “feared retribution” if they expressed their displeasure with the rollout of Obamacare.  Fearing retribution and not taking an action due to that fear is almost a classic definition of successful intimidation.

CNN News Anchor Carol Costello reported that she felt intimidated when reporting on the presidential race saying, “I mean President Obama’s people can be quite nasty. They don’t like you to say anything bad about their boss, and they’re not afraid to use whatever means they have at hand to stop you from doing that, including threatening your job [emphasis added].”

Now, Costello never claimed to have changed any story she produced as a result of this atmosphere of intimidation, but it is hard to imagine many reporters not choosing to present the campaign party line rather than give a more balanced perspective when their very jobs may have been at risk.

Earlier in October, an award winning freelance journalist who had written exposes about malfeasance at the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Safety Administration found her home raided by a combination of Maryland State Troopers and DHS agents over allegations that she had purchased a potato launcher over the Internet five years prior.  Apparently, the anti-potato launcher section of Homeland Security decided that a nice 4:30 am raid of the reporter’s home was needed five years after the purchase which was apparently illegal in Maryland, but legal under federal law.

While Marylanders were made safe from random potato attacks, DHS officials made off with all of the reporters notes on the TSA case, including the names of the whistleblowers who unveiled the illegal activity.

The Washington Times Editor John Solomon promised legal action against DHS stating, “While we  appreciate law enforcement’s right to investigate legitimate concerns, there is no reason for agents to use an unrelated gun case to seize the First Amendment protected materials of a reporter.”

Solomon continued by arguing, “This violates the very premise of a free press, and it raises additional concerns when one of the seizing agencies was a frequent target of the reporter’s work.”

In the months prior, the Obama Administration’s Justice Department admitted that they had tapped the phones of Associated Press reporters for months in an attempt to find reporter’s sources.

The Obama Administration even has gone so far as to contend that Fox News Washington’s James Rosen aided and abetted a breach of national security for doing his job and reporting information provided to him by a government official.  Unlike some cases in the past where reporters were put in jail for contempt of court for refusing to name a source, Rosen has come under legal jeopardy for simply reporting a story.

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza succinctly summed up the abuse of government power tweeting, “If James Rosen’s ‘clandestine communications plan’ were illegal, every journalist in Washington would be locked up. Unreal.”

With this history can anyone still be surprised at Obama’s use of the IRS and other agencies of the federal government to intimidate political foes?

Can anyone remain naïve enough to believe that actions taken against True the Vote’s Catherine Engelbrecht by the IRS, OSHA and ATF was anything but a coordinated federal government wide effort to shut her up.  The inter-agency assault on Engelbrecht could only have been directed from the one place that breaks down the barriers between federal government agencies — the White House.

Intimidation is a standard tactic in NASCAR, the NFL, Major League Baseball, and most sporting events.  It is even attempted when elected officials try to stare down each other and interest groups with threats, voiced or veiled, of future ramifications for political actions.

But the brazen intimidation of the media and political opponents by this Administration goes far beyond the always implied threat that if I don’t like the story you write, I won’t give you the next one, to direct threats against one’s livelihood and indeed, freedom.

In America there is no place for raiding reporter’s homes, bugging their phones and threatening to indict them in order to obtain their sources.  The sanctity of a reporter’s source is well established in our nation’s courts, yet in Obama’s America, whistleblowers are nothing more than ducks in a shooting gallery.  This doesn’t just chill the ability of reporters to get information from the inside of government, but puts it in a deep freeze, because no whistleblower can ever again expect his or her anonymity to be protected, and without that protection, information dries up.

In Obama’s America, the Internal Revenue Service becomes what everyone has always feared, an Agency that selectively enforces the law based upon the politics of those in power.

None dare call it tyranny, but when freedom of the press comes under wholesale attack, and a government uses its vast resources to assault and intimidate its political enemies, what you call it really just comes down to semantics.



Jay Carney Berates Insurance Companies For Complying With Obamacare

Speaking to reporters Tuesday White House Press Secretary Jay Carney blamed loss of healthcare coverage for millions of Americans on insurance companies complying with the Affordable Care Act.

"Insurers pulled those plans away from them," Carney said. "The law [Obamacare] could not order insurers not to cancel that plan."

Millions of health insurance plans are no longer available because they do not meet Obamacare standards and regulations. Carney's comments come less than 24 hours after information surfaced showing President Obama knew millions of Americans would be losing their health insurance plans under Obamacare despite promising, "If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what."

When pressed on the issue of millions losing individual insurance plans they wanted to keep, Carney said it is five percent of the population being affected by insurance loss. That five percent adds up to 14 million people.

"We're talking about 5% of the country," Carney said after justifying losses and referring to the individual marketplace as a "wild west" that needed more regulation.

Now that the Obama administration is taking heat from all sides on the loss of insurance, the White House is pivoting back to blaming insurance companies for the loss of those plans, not Obamacare itself, which makes millions of plans illegal.



Court Rules Obama Admin Can’t Make Catholic Family Business Follow contraception Mandate

A powerful federal appeals court ruled today that a Catholic family-run business does not have to comply with the Obamacare abortion mandate requiring it to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.

Francis A. Gilardi, Jr. and Philip M. Gilardi, two brothers who own and control two companies that are involved in the processing, packaging, and transportation of fresh produce, filed suit against the Obama administration on behalf of their business, Freshway Foods, a nearly 25 year old family-owned fresh produce processor and packer, which serves 23 states and has 340 full-time employees.

Both companies are located in Sidney, Ohio, a city in west-central Ohio located about 40 miles north of Dayton. The owners, who are Catholic, contend that the HHS mandate requiring coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs – violates their religious beliefs.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — the second most influential bench in the land behind the Supreme Court — ruled in favor of the brothers. Requiring companies to cover their employees’ contraception, the court ruled, is unduly burdensome for business owners who oppose birth control and abortion on religious grounds.

“The burden on religious exercise does not occur at the point of contraceptive purchase; instead, it occurs when a company’s owners fill the basket of goods and services that constitute a healthcare plan,” Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote on behalf of the court.

“They can either abide by the sacred tenets of their faith, pay a penalty of over $14 million, and cripple the companies they have spent a lifetime building, or they become complicit in a grave moral wrong,” Brown wrote.

The Obama administration said that the requirement is necessary to protect women’s health and abortion rights. The judges were unconvinced that forcing companies to violate their religious rights was appropriate.

Brown wrote that “it is clear the government has failed to demonstrate how such a right — whether described as noninterference, privacy, or autonomy — can extend to the compelled subsidization of a woman’s procreative practices.”



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)