Friday, March 07, 2014

Budget Baloney

John Stossel

This week, President Barack Obama proposed "a budget that will create new jobs in manufacturing and energy and innovation and infrastructure, and we'll pay for every dime of it by cutting unnecessary spending, closing wasteful tax loopholes!"

What? I must have fallen asleep and woken up in 2008. That could not be something he'd claim after five years in office -- years after making similar claims and not delivering on them.

Does he think we have no memory, or that we're just ignorant? Are these just poll-tested phrases that work because most voters are too busy to pay attention?

This one smug sentence alone is amazing in its confidence and deceit. Let's break it down:

--"I will ... create new jobs ... "

Politicians always say that, but this president says it especially often. Do voters not know that government has no money of its own, so when politicians "create" jobs, they take money from the private sector, the only group that creates real jobs?

I emphasize "real" because, of course, politicians can create jobs by funding companies like Solyndra, hiring more staff or paying people to dig holes and fill them up. But those jobs don't last or create real wealth. Politicians can't create real employment by taxing people and giving the money to others.

This post-recession economic recovery is the slowest ever. Usually, after a recession, the cost of labor drops, and companies rush to hire so they can profit as the economy improves.

This time, employers looked at a thousand new regulations, unknowable new rules and taxes coming from Obamacare, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, the Labor Department and so on. They decided: "I better not try."

May I hire interns to see if I like them before offering them long-term jobs? No. It may not be legal to employ interns anymore.

May I build a pipeline? Maybe. But the Environmental Protection Agency must approve. And state utilities. And state environmental officials. And the State Department. And the White House. And ... who knows whom else?

We might get permission in a year, or three years, or five, or we may never be allowed to build. Maybe instead I'll invest in a country where the rules are predictable and understandable.

--The president says he will "create new jobs in manufacturing ... "

Manufacturing? Don't voters know that service jobs are just as real and good? Creating software, movies and medical innovation is just as valuable as manufacturing and often more comfortable for workers. Most parents want their kids to get jobs in offices or medical centers rather than mines or factories.

--The president also says he will "create new jobs in ... energy ... "

Don't people remember Solar One, Solyndra, Evergreen Solar, etc., and the billions lost? That the private sector is better at developing new forms of energy than politicians? That the boom in cleaner, cheaper natural gas came in spite of politicians, not because of them?

--The president says he will "create jobs in ... infrastructure ... "

Did voters already forget that the last "shovel-ready" jobs didn't materialize? That billions went to politicians' cronies?

--The president will pay for his new spending "by cutting unnecessary spending ... "

Give me a break. The president has had five years, two of which he was supported by a Democratic Congress, to cut "unnecessary spending."

Even today's proposed shrinking of the size of the military to pre-World War II levels (which probably won't happen) isn't a cut. Obama's new budget proposes increasing Pentagon funds by $28 billion.

--The president even backed off from his earlier commitment to use more realistic cost-of-living adjustments when calculating Social Security payments.

--Most annoying, the president brags that he has "reduced the deficit at the fastest rate in 60 years."

But that's only if compared to his and former President George W. Bush's blowout stimulus of 2008. Much of the deficit reduction came from spending cuts (sequestration), which the president himself opposed, forced by Republicans. And his 2015 budget proposes $56 billion more spending than he and Congress had agreed to earlier.

Our debt will soon explode because baby boomers are about to retire. On this track, we are doomed.



The Inevitability of Obamacare for Illegal Aliens

By Michelle Malkin

You knew it was coming. I knew it was coming. When government expands entitlements, illegal aliens always end up with a piece of the pie. Obamacare promoters relented to GOP pressure to include an illegal alien ban on eligibility and vowed endlessly that no benefits would go to the "undocumented." But denial isn't just a river in Egypt. It's the Obama way.

In Oregon this week, officials confessed that nearly 4,000 illegal immigrants had been "accidentally" steered from the state's low-income Medicaid program and instead were enrolled in Obamacare in violation of the law. Oopsie. The Oregonian newspaper's Nick Budnick reported that the health bureaucrats "discovered the problem several weeks ago and are correcting it." Get in line. The beleaguered Cover Oregon health insurance exchange has been riddled with ongoing problems, errors and glitches since last October that have yet to be fixed.

Take note: This wasn't a one-time computer meltdown. Because Oregon's health insurance exchange website has been offline and its software architects under investigation for possible fraud, the Oregon Obamacare drones have been processing each and every application manually. That means nearly 4,000 illegal alien applications with "inaccurate" data somehow passed through government hands and somehow ended up getting routed through as new enrollees with Obamacare-approved full-service health care.

How many Obamacare services did these nearly 4,000 illegal aliens avail themselves of, and at what cost?

Does anyone believe the same incompetent boobs who enrolled them will be able to track down the nearly 4,000 illegal alien beneficiaries, "correct" the "errors" and ensure that it doesn't happen again?

What a slap in the face to the millions of law-abiding Americans who have lost their health care coverage and work hours thanks to Democratic-sponsored federal health care regulatory burdens and mandate costs.

One Oregon Obamacare manager defended the unlawful illegal alien enrollment by explaining: "We were just getting people into the services." And there's the rub. The imperative of these government social engineers is to herd as many "clients" into taxpayer-subsidized programs as possible. Just last week, Obama's Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson publicized an open letter to families with illegal alien relatives promising that no one would be deported for seeking Obamacare services.

"No one in America who is eligible should be afraid to apply for health coverage because they have a family with mixed status," Johnson assured. And in another sign of how the White House is still planning for mass illegal alien amnesty, Johnson also made clear: "Enrolling in health coverage ... will not prevent your loved ones who are undocumented from getting a green card in the future or who do not yet have a green card at risk."

As always, California Democrats are at the forefront of busting open Obamacare for the illegal alien population. Earlier this month, Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara introduced a bill to extend health benefits and a special online marketplace to one million illegals under an Obamacare-style program subsidized by state taxpayer dollars.

In case you forgot, President Obama had already paved the path for illegal alien Obamacare when he signed the massive expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) in 2009. As I've reported previously, the law loosened eligibility requirements for legal immigrants and their children by watering down document and evidentiary standards — making it easy for individuals to use fake Social Security cards to apply for benefits with little to no chance of getting caught. In addition, Obama's S-CHIP expansion revoked Medicaid application time limits that were part of the 1996 welfare reform law.

Open-borders activists saw those provisions as first steps toward universal health coverage for illegals. They see America as the medical welcome mat to the world. Over the past year, they've ratcheted up public protests demanding free organ transplants for illegal alien patients. In Chicago last fall, they marched on a hospital with caskets and posters demanding scarce organs. One illegal alien blasted authorities for putting "paper over our lives." In California, illegal alien transplant patients count on federal incompetence and lax enforcement to abet them, because if they notify the state that DHS "is aware of their presence and does not plan to deport them," they are eligible for full-blown Medi-Cal coverage, according to the state.

Now, Obamacare peddlers from Oregon to New York and all points in between are rushing to sign up new "customers" in advance of the March 31 open enrollment deadline. How many more thousands of illegal aliens will be roped into the system? Remember: In the lexicon of the left, "accidental" is just another word for inevitable entitlement creep.



Obama's fantasy Middle East

by Jeff Jacoby

IN BARACK OBAMA'S Middle East, the explanation for the persistent lack of peace between Israel and the Palestinians is clear: It's Bibi Netanyahu's fault. Things would be so much easier if only the Israeli prime minister would bite the bullet.

"One of the things my mom always used to tell me … is if there's something you know you have to do, even if it's difficult or unpleasant, you might as well just go ahead and do it, because waiting isn't going to help," Obama said in a Bloomberg interview published just before Netanyahu's arrival in Washington this week. "This is not a situation where you wait and the problem goes away," he warned. The Israeli leader had better "seize the moment" to finalize a peace deal with the Palestinians, or prepare for a painful global backlash that the United States will be powerless to stop. Stop building settlements across the Green Line, give the Palestinians the state they demand, or "our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited."

Sound familiar? Only too. This is the fantasy Middle East, in which peace is the responsibility of the Israelis alone, and Palestinian rejectionism is merely an excuse for the Jewish state to drag its feet. It is part of a larger fantasy world — one in which revanchist Russian rulers sweetly change their policies at the push of a "reset" button, and in which a brutal Syrian regime swears off chemical weapons for fear of crossing an American "red line."

In this wishful environment, there is a robust Palestinian peace camp eager for a two-state solution: a sovereign state of Palestine coexisting in harmony beside the Jewish state of Israel. If that lovely solution hasn't materialized, it can only be due to unlovely stubbornness on the part of the Israelis and their elected leader. After all, the Palestinian leader is the peace-loving Mahmoud Abbas, who, Obama says, is so "sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist" and "committed to nonviolence and diplomatic efforts."

But that is true only in the make-believe Middle East. In the real Middle East, it is Netanyahu who unilaterally halted settlement construction for 10 months — an unprecedented goodwill gesture — and whose Cabinet indicated last month that it would swallow its qualms and accept John Kerry's framework for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The real Abbas, on the other hand, spurned Israel's offer of a Palestinian state in 2008, then refused for years to take part in US-sponsored talks with Israel, confident that Washington would pressure Israel into making painful concessions in order to lure the Palestinians back to the table. Those concessions eventually included the release of dozens of convicted Palestinian murderers, who were hailed by Abbas as "heroes" at an event celebrating their release. Yet instead of negotiating in good faith at last, Abbas demands still more up-front concessions, a demand he repeated on Monday.

The delusion at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is that the lack of Palestinian sovereignty is what keeps the conflict alive, and that the tension and violence would end if only the Arabs of Palestine could have a state of their own.

That has never been true. What drives the conflict is not a hunger for Palestinian statehood, but a deep-rooted rejection of Jewish statehood. Arab leaders vehemently rejected the "two-state solution" that the United Nations recommended in 1947, and declared a "war of extermination" to prevent it from taking effect. Nearly 70 years later, the Palestinians are still unwilling to acknowledge Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people — to recognize that Jews are entitled to a sovereign state in their national homeland, just as the Irish are entitled to sovereignty in Ireland, the Italians in Italy, and the Japanese in Japan.

Yet Palestinian leaders heatedly insist that they will never agree to any such thing. "This is out of the question," Abbas said last month. Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat complains: "When you say, 'Accept Israel as a Jewish state,' you are asking me to change my narrative."

Just so. That narrative — that Jews are aliens in the Middle East, and Jewish sovereignty over any territory is intolerable — is precisely what must change if this conflict is to be resolved. Bashing Netanyahu may please the anti-Israel set, but it brings a just and lasting peace not one hour closer.



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 06, 2014

Have We Allowed the First Amendment to Become an Exercise in Futility?

By Attorney John W. Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute

Including an update of the Brandon Raub case

Living in a representative republic means that each person has the right to take a stand for what they think is right, whether that means marching outside the halls of government, wearing clothing with provocative statements, or simply holding up a sign. That’s what the First Amendment is supposed to be about.

Unfortunately, as I show in my book "A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American  Police State", through a series of carefully crafted legislative steps and politically expedient court rulings, government officials have managed to disembowel this fundamental freedom, rendering it with little more meaning than the right to file a lawsuit against government officials. In fact, if the court rulings handed down in the last week of February 2014 are anything to go by, the First Amendment has, for all intents and purposes, become an exercise in futility.

On February 26, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 9-0 ruling, held that anti-nuclear activist John Denis Apel could be prosecuted for staging a protest on a public road at an Air Force base, free speech claims notwithstanding, because the public road is technically government property.

Insisting that it’s not safe to display an American flag in an American public school, on February 27, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that school officials were justified when they ordered three students at a California public high school to cover up their patriotic apparel emblazoned with American flags or be sent home on the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo, allegedly out of a concern that it might offend Hispanic students.

On February 28, a federal court dismissed Marine veteran Brandon Raub’s case. Despite the fact that Raub was interrogated by Secret Service agents, handcuffed, arrested, subjected to a kangaroo court, and locked up in a mental facility for posting song lyrics and statements on Facebook critical of the government—a clear violation of his free speech rights—the court ruled that Raub’s concerns about the government were far-fetched and merited such treatment.

There you have it: three rulings in three days, from three different levels of the American judicial system, and all of them aimed at suppressing free speech. Yet what most people fail to understand is that these cases are not merely about the citizenry’s right to freely express themselves. Rather, these cases speak to the citizenry’s right to express their concerns about their government to their government, in a time, place and manner best suited to ensuring that those concerns are heard.

The First Amendment gives every American the right to “petition his government for a redress of grievances.” This amounts to so much more than filing a lawsuit against the government. It works hand in hand with free speech to ensure, as Adam Newton and Ronald K.L. Collins report for the Five Freedoms Project, “that our leaders hear, even if they don’t listen to, the electorate. Though public officials may be indifferent, contrary, or silent participants in democratic discourse, at least the First Amendment commands their audience.”[4]

The challenge we face today, however, is that government officials have succeeded in insulating themselves from their constituents, making it increasingly difficult for average Americans to make themselves seen or heard by those who most need to hear what “we the people” have to say. Indeed, while lobbyists mill in and out of the White House and the homes and offices of Congressmen, the American people are kept at a distance through free speech zones, electronic town hall meetings, and security barriers. And those who dare to breach the gap—even through silent forms of protest—are arrested for making their voices heard.

This right to speak freely, assemble, protest and petition one’s government officials for a redress of grievances is front and center right now, with the U.S. Supreme Court set to decide five free speech cases this term, the first of which, U.S. v. Apel, was just handed down. The case was based upon claims brought by John Denis Apel, an anti-war activist who holds monthly protests Vandenburg Air Force Base near Lompoc, California. While the Court did not uphold his conviction for trespassing on military property, they doubled down on the notion that the public is subject to the whims of military commanders in matters relating to use military property, even when it intersects with public property. The Court refused to rule on Apel’s First Amendment claims.[5]

The Supreme Court is also set to decide McCullen v. Coakley, which will determine whether or not a Massachusetts law which restricts protests on public sidewalks near the entrances, exits, and driveways of abortion clinics in the state is constitutional. The facts of the case indicate that the law does not abide by a reasonable time, place, and manner restriction, and places an undue burden on protestors. However, it’s unclear which way the Court will rule, especially with their refusal to clarify matters in Apel.

Free speech can certainly not be considered “free” when expressive activities across the nation are being increasingly limited, restricted to so-called free speech zones, or altogether blocked, including in front of the Supreme Court’s own plaza. If citizens cannot stand out in the open on a public road and voice their disapproval of their government, its representatives and its policies, without fearing prosecution, then the First Amendment with all its robust protections for free speech, assembly and the right to petition one’s government for a redress of grievances is little more than window-dressing on a store window—pretty to look at but serving little real purpose.

The case of Harold Hodge is a particularly telling illustration of the way in which the political elite in America have sheltered themselves from all correspondence and criticism.

On a snowy morning in January 2011, Harold Hodge quietly and peacefully stood in the plaza area near the steps leading to the United States Supreme Court Building, wearing a 3’ X 2’ sign around his neck that proclaimed: “The U.S. Gov. Allows Police To Illegally Murder And Brutalize African Americans And Hispanic People.” There weren’t many passersby, and he wasn’t blocking anyone’s way. However, after a few minutes, a police officer informed Hodge that he was violating a federal law that makes it unlawful to display any flag, banner or device designed to bring into public notice a party, organization, or movement while on the grounds of the U.S. Supreme Court and issued him three warnings to leave the plaza. Hodge refused, was handcuffed, placed under arrest, moved to a holding cell, and then was transported to U.S. Capitol Police Headquarters where he was booked and given a citation.

According to the federal law Hodge is accused of violating, “It is unlawful to parade, stand, or move in processions or assemblages in the Supreme Court Building or grounds, or to display in the Building and grounds a flag, banner, or device designed or adapted to bring into public notice a party, organization, or movement.”[6] The penalty for violating this law is a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to 60 days in jail.

With the help of The Rutherford Institute, in January 2012, Hodge challenged the constitutionality of the statute barring silent expressive activity in front of the Supreme Court. A year later, in a strongly worded, District Court Judge Beryl L. Howell struck down the federal law, declaring that the “the absolute prohibition on expressive activity [on the Supreme Court plaza] in the statute is unreasonable, substantially overbroad, and irreconcilable with the First Amendment.”

Incredibly, one day later, the marshal for the Supreme Court—with the approval of Chief Justice John Roberts—issued even more strident regulations outlawing expressive activity on the grounds of the high court, including the plaza. Hodge’s case, along with a companion case challenging the new regulations on behalf of a broad coalition of protesters, is now making its way through the appeals process. Ironically, it will be the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court who will eventually be asked to decide the constitutionality of their own statute, yet they have already made their views on the subject quite clear.

This desire to insulate government officials from those exercising their First Amendment rights stems from an elitist mindset which views “we the people” as different, set apart somehow, from the citizens they have been appointed to serve and represent. It is nothing new. In fact, the law under which Harold Hodge was prosecuted was enacted by Congress in 1949. In the decades since, interactions with politicians have become increasingly manufactured and distant. Press conferences, ticketed luncheons[7], televised speeches and one-sided town hall meetings held over the phone[8] now largely take the place of face-to-face interaction with constituents.[9]

Additionally, there has been an increased use of so-called “free speech zones,” designated areas for expressive activity used to corral and block protestors at political events from interacting with public officials. Both the Democratic and Republican parties have used these “free speech zones,” some located within chain-link cages[10], at various conventions to mute any and all criticism of their policies.

Clearly, the government has no interest in hearing what “we the people” have to say. Yet if Americans are not able to peacefully assemble for expressive activity outside of the halls of government or on public roads on which government officials must pass, the First Amendment has lost all meaning. If we cannot stand silently outside of the Supreme Court or the Capitol or the White House, our ability to hold the government accountable for its actions is threatened, and so are the rights and liberties that we cherish as Americans. And if we cannot proclaim our feelings about the government, no matter how controversial, on our clothing, or to passersby, or to the users of the world wide web, then the First Amendment really has become an exercise in futility.

George Orwell, always relevant to our present age, warned against this intolerance for free speech in 1945. As he noted:

"The point is that the relative freedom which we enjoy depends of public opinion. The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country. If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them… The notion that certain opinions cannot safely be allowed a hearing is growing. It is given currency by intellectuals who confuse the issue by not distinguishing between democratic opposition and open rebellion, and it is reflected in our growing indifference to tyranny and injustice abroad. And even those who declare themselves to be in favour of freedom of opinion generally drop their claim when it is their own adversaries who are being prosecuted."



Private property rights?

On Saturday, March 1, 2014 I attended a RK gun show on Jonesboro Road in Atlanta I met a retired police officer who now owns a franchise with Noah's Pantry, a company that manufacturers emergency/survival food. He lives in Tennessee on 20+ acres, at the end of a long dirt road.

He told me that not long ago, around 10pm, he saw 3 cars coming up his 1/4 mile driveway. The cars stopped about 300 feet from his house. The occupants turned off their car lights. Through the dark he was able to make out 4 men silently walking toward his house. With his AR-15 in hand, he exited the rear of his home, circled around and waited on the edge of his porch. When the men stepped on the porch he turned on a bright flashlight and said, "Hands in the air". The 4 men complied. They were the sheriffs of two Tennessee counties, one deputy and a FEMA officer. All were armed.

I'll speed things up a bit. The officers came there to confiscate his food supplies. There had been some sort of emergency in a nearby county which left about 250 people without food, clean water or electricity. The guy I spoke with said both sheriffs and the deputy were very polite but that the FEMA officer was arrogant, demanding and demeaning. The retired police officer said he would help them, but that they would have to pay for any food they took.

The FEMA officer said, "I'm the government. I can take whatever I want. You'll get compensation when the government gets around to it." The FEMA officer went on to say that E.O.'s signed by Obama and other Presidents dating back to FDR gives the government authority to take whatever it wants from any citizen or business during any crisis as determined by the Federal Government. When asked about the 4th Amendment, the FEMA officer said, "the Constitution does not apply".

The Constitution does not apply??? This is exactly how things happen in a Banana Republic -- the Constitution is summarily ignored when it gets in the way. The Founders are turning over in their graves.

Well, you can imagine how well that conversation went over. The sheriffs intervened before it came to blows and promised to pay for the food the very next morning out of the state general fund. They said they would seek recompense from FEMA.

And that's how it ended. They got their food. But the Take Home Lesson here, as told to me by this retired officer, is that the Federal Government can enter your home, by force if necessary, without a warrant or Due Process and just confiscate your food, your clothing, your guns and whatever else they want for whatever reason they have determined defines a crisis.

Google "Can FEMA confiscate your food supplies" to verify that this scenario can, does and will continue to happen until The People put a stop to it.



Immigration:  Increasing Admissions Before Enforcement, Again

Obama administration expands visa waiver program

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced today that the administration will expand the controversial Visa Waiver Program to include Chile.

Once again, the administration has moved to ease standards for admitting foreign visitors before it has shown the public that the Visa Waiver Program is safe and does not increase illegal immigration. In the past, Congress has been reluctant to expand the program because DHS has still not implemented a biometric entry-exit system and has devoted few resources to tracking down and removing visitors who overstay. In addition, DHS has been criticized by the Government Accountability Office for inadequate oversight of the program to reduce security vulnerabilities.

Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies at the Center says, “This move will remind lawmakers and the public that President Obama’s priority is relaxing immigration controls, not enforcing them.”

This move is especially troubling in light of the administration’s deliberate suppression of immigration enforcement, which has led to declines in the number of illegal aliens removed from the interior of the country. In 2013, ICE arrests declined by 20 percent, as did interior removals, even though ICE agents encountered just as many illegal aliens.

Chile becomes the 38th visa waiver-designated country, and its citizens will now enjoy the privilege of traveling to the United States without applying for visas for short tourist or business trips. This program has been a significant driver of illegal immigration; the GAO reported in July 2013 that, of a very large sample of possible overstays, nearly half were people who entered under the Visa Waiver Program.



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 05, 2014



Fundamentally Devastating America

We are letting him get away with it. No action by the federal government in our lifetime, maybe ever, caused as much instant disruption, expense, uncertainty, fear, and threat to real health—while demonstrating astonishing incompetence and lack of planning—as the advent of the "Affordable Care Act."

The law was sold on a foundation and core of direct, deliberate lie. Its architects intended to sever people from their plans and doctors; they intended to make most pay more so a few could pay less; they designed a system to herd masses toward the exchanges and Medicaid. Every serious person knows it. Now, instead of saving average families $2,500, it’s costing virtually all insured Americans much more. Many Americans are left struggling to replace their coverage.

Having sawed off the branch of the coverage of millions, it’s not clear whether the law actually positioned a net to catch their fall. Problems accessing are a tired joke by now. Less reported is that many who think they signed up, might as well have played a video game, having committed their clicks, selections, identities, and personal information to a fa├žade without a back-end, landing in a dangerously hackable pile of inconsequence.

Meanwhile, the accounts are piling up of seriously ill Americans who had good coverage and good treatment who have lost it. Many literally fear for their lives. The president doesn’t deign to comment on their plight while his bagman in the Senate implies they’re liars. Operatives scramble to silence their accounts.

No one knows where this is going; what will happen. This year many millions more will be swept from employer based plans and find themselves in the same capsizing boat. Scratch that—not quite this year. The president dispensed with three branches as he sponsored, passed and signed an amendment to the law, to kick the employer devastation past the next election for some employers if they take a vow of loyal silence against blaming Obamacare for their employment decisions.

That was the latest in a train of abuses. The president has selectively delayed, distorted, or ignored so much of the law he rammed through by sham procedures and a party line vote that it’s impossible to say whether or how the remaining pieces fit together. The only thing that’s sure is that anything that threatens the president’s party with political damage will by misrepresented, covered up, or kicked down the road.

What has happened to the American spirit of independence and vigilance of government? This administration deliberately disrupted American life like nothing since WWII. When Congress passed a pharmaceutical plan for seniors in 1988 that made many pay more, they rose in anger and mobbed a fleeing Dan Rostenkowski. Congress quickly repealed its mistake. When LBJ bungled he Vietnam War, his own party rose up and served eviction notice on one of the most transformative presidents in history.

Yet today, we sleepwalk through an earthquake, discussing pros and cons, listening to straight face defenses of the president’s initiative, watching post-modern hacks for total government argue to redefine “keep your plan” “keep your doctor” and “cancelled plan.” By the account of these zombies, the president and his backers told the truth and now it’s his critics who are lying. Anger at what he’s done to our nation is unenlightened, uncivil, and racist, they intone.

Rubbish, I say. If anything the response has been too docile, too deferential to lies and the defenders of lies. He goes about his methodical agenda transforming America by executive order, and barely reported Department programs, unleashing his enforcers on anyone whose criticism rises to the national radar, while we’re left picking up the pieces of what he’s done to jobs, growth, opportunity, and now our individual physical safety nets. We’re too scared and shell shocked to rise up and chase his limousine like the spirited seniors just 25 years ago.

America is softening and stumbling. It should be difficult for the Chief Executive and Chief Architect of this chaos to find an audience anywhere that doesn’t shout, challenge, question, and resist his overreach. But we’re either too stunned to move, too afraid of the names his guard dogs would call us, or maybe we fear a knock on the door from federal regulators.

May Providence breathe new life into the people of America. If not, Obama gets his transformation.



Hearing Reviews Benefits of Self-Insured Plans

Members raise concerns with possible regulation to discourage participation in self-insured market

The Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), today held a hearing entitled, “Providing Access to Affordable, Flexible Health Plans through Self-Insurance.” During the hearing, members discussed the positive benefits enjoyed by workers and employers participating in self-insured health plans and expressed objections to regulatory efforts that would discourage the use of this important health insurance option.

In his opening remarks, Rep. Roe said, “Employers who manage a self-insured health plan bear the financial risk of providing health benefits to workers. Employers will often work with a third-party to process claims and benefit payments. Many self-insured employers also purchase a product known as stop-loss insurance, a risk management tool that protects employers against catastrophic claims and high costs.”

“It is worth noting just how vitally important this health insurance option has become,” continued Rep. Roe. “Support for self-insurance has grown because it can be tailored to the needs of the workforce and offers transparency to ensure the plan is managed in an efficient and effective way. Just as important, self-insurance helps control health care costs, which can lead to higher wages for workers and more resources for employers to invest in job creation.”

Robert Melillo, an executive at USI Insurance Services, echoed the benefits of self-insurance. “A self-funded program allows a plan sponsor to customize, measure, evaluate, and manage each and every aspect of their benefit plan,” said Mr. Melillo. “I believe a plan sponsor’s choice to self-insure with the use of quality and customizable stop-loss insurance programs is essential if they have any chance of managing their future health care spending.”

Subcommittee members listened to the story of one employer who has been able to offer employees comprehensive, affordable health coverage through a self-insured policy. Wes Kelley is the executive director of Columbia Power & Water Systems, a municipal utility for the City of Columbia and Maury Country in Tennessee.

Speaking from personal experience, Mr. Kelley testified, “Over the past 22 years, our self-funded arrangement has allowed the utility to maintain above average benefits for our employees, dependents, and eligible retirees… These benefits are provided without the employees contributing to the cost of health insurance through their paycheck or otherwise. Furthermore, eligible early retirees and their dependents enjoy the same benefits as active employees.”

Maintaining access to a vibrant self-insured marketplace is a priority for policymakers. Michael Ferguson, president and CEO of the Self-Insurance Institute of America, warned, “The administration may make this option more difficult by restricting the availability of stop-loss insurance. Specifically, it is believed that the federal agencies may ‘interpret’ the definition of health insurance coverage to include stop-loss insurance.” These concerns were confirmed earlier by a 2013 New York Times article citing administration officials interested in discouraging the use of stop-loss insurance.

Chairman Roe urged the administration to abandon such a misguided effort, stating, “The administration must clarify its plans to potentially regulate in this area, and explain the legal basis it has to do so… The employers, workers, unions, and families who rely on these health plans deserve the truth now. Like every American, they were told if they liked their current health care plan they could keep it; they have a right to know whether they too will be on the losing end of the president’s broken promise.”



Republicans can help to bridge the inequality gap

In his State of the Union address, President Obama spoke passionately about an issue that concerns all Americans and strikes most as one of our biggest challenges: what he calls “income inequality.” I have yet to meet a constituent who is comfortable with the gap between our nation’s wealthiest and our least fortunate — a gap that has expanded over the past five years.

How we meet this challenge is a critical debate, because I know my constituents believe the best way to bridge this gap is to create more and better-paying jobs. Yet, too many of our unemployed today are not prepared to fill the 4 million U.S. jobs that are currently open. In my district, Hartford City has more than 100 positions waiting to be filled. In Southern Indiana, the mayor of Jasper recently shared that his city has more than 700 open jobs. Right now, too many employers are unable to find workers with the skills they require.

The president’s primary proposal to address income inequality — increasing the minimum wage — sets a floor for future incomes, but it does nothing to promote upward mobility. Minimum wage should be seen as a starting point for people just entering the workforce and not a long-term destination. I’ve also heard from small business owners who are struggling in a still-recovering economy. If we raise operating costs, they will be forced to reduce employee hours and maybe even staffing levels. Ultimately, the president will be hurting the same employees we are all trying to help.

The U.S. House last year passed several bills that would create jobs and expand education and job training, including the SKILLS Act, the Northern Route Approval Act and the Innovation Act. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate didn’t pass a single jobs bill.

The bills Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid left sitting on his shelf would do more to reduce “income inequality” than any executive action the president could take. Keep in mind, the president promised to use his executive power to enact policies if Congress didn’t enact his agenda.

The SKILLS Act would streamline more than 35 federal workforce development programs into a single Workforce Investment Fund. Eliminating red tape will make it easier for our local WorkOne centers to provide job seekers the industry specific training they need.

I offered an amendment to this bill that would give states the opportunity to direct their federal job training dollars to programs with a proven track record of preparing applicants for, and placing them into, new jobs. For the first time, states would be able to reward successful programs that work, such as EmployIndy’s PriorITize, which partners with community leaders like Ivy Tech Community College and Goodwill’s Excel Center to provide the unemployed and underemployed computer concepts training and access to externships.

I strongly believe the SKILLS Act will give people the tools they need to earn the 4 million open jobs we have in this country. I strongly believe the SKILLS Act will give people earning minimum wage the opportunity to earn meaningful raises.

Unfortunately, House Republicans only had one meeting, other than the State of the Union, with the president where he actually showed up and talked to us.

As you said in your State of the Union Address, Mr. President, “let’s make this a year of action.” I agree, let’s get to work.



UCLA Leftist Has Meltdown After Anti-Israel Resolution Is Defeated

Leftists are spoiled brats who throw tantrums if they don't get their way

Some have requested a transcript. This is the best I could find, courtesy of Moshe Ringler at Youtube:

"I never talk, I’m always like, like I’m always like, like it fucking sucks (incoherent gibberish) but I’ve never been so fucking disappointed that the (incoherent gibberish) terrorize them (incoherent gibberish) so pissed off and I always bite my tongue during these meetings but I’ve never been so fucking disappointed on anything. People are getting hurt and we could have stopped it and (incoherent gibberish) we fucking blew it and I’m sorry (incoherent gibberish) 12 hours and we all did and we all listened to this and I’m like I went, sorry for blowing up right now and I’m so disappointed about this (incoherent gibberish) but like I just wanted to know that like I like know that about it all the time (incoherent gibberish)…. And it was so terrible, and my sister was like, “I’m so sorry you have to go through that”, and she saw me and she asked me, “what’s wrong, why are you crying?” and I was like the whole world should be crying right now (incoherent gibberish)"




Leftmedia Racism:  "CNN's Don Lemon may have let the cat out of the bag when it comes to the Leftmedia's cozy relationship with Barack Obama. We know that most in the media agree ideologically with the president, and that sharing his goals means carrying his water. But Lemon admitted that race plays a significant part, too: "As journalists, you know, you weigh whether you -- how much you should criticize the president, because he's black, what have you. But then you have to do it, because ultimately you're a journalist." Except that the criticism is rarely forthcoming, leaving Obama's race as a trump card. A former president had a phrase for this sort of thing: "The soft bigotry of low expectations."

Impossible to Cancel Plans: "A Florida man found out the hard way that he's keeping his insurance plan -- whether he likes it or not. When Andrew Robinson signed up for coverage under ObamaCare but then realized he couldn't afford it, he quickly signed up for a different plan and called Florida Blue to cancel the first one. WFTV Orlando reports, "But he quickly learned canceling Obamacare is no easy task. ... More than six weeks later after spending 50 to 60 hours on the phone his policy is still not canceled and he is still waiting for the payment Florida Blue withdrew from his account to be refunded." But not to worry; Harry Reid says the horror stories aren't true.


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 04, 2014

Toine Manders: Outspoken Dutch libertarian imprisoned without trial

by Dr Sean Gabb

The former chairman of the Dutch Libertarian Party, Toine Manders has been kidnapped in Cyprus by the FIOD (the Dutch IRS) and is currently locked away in the Netherlands in complete isolation (aside from his lawyer), in an undisclosed location. He is being held for an extended 90-day period, the charges for which are unknown.

Toine Manders began his career by giving legal advice, through his company HJC, to young Dutch men who wanted to avoid military conscription. He helped roughly 6,000 men avoid being trained as hit-men for the government. The mainstream media jumped on this, calling them ‘refusal yuppies’, who used legal loopholes to evade their duty to the country.

After military conscription was suspended in 1996, Toine’s company moved on to help businesses avoid taxes through strictly legal methods. In the Netherlands, the combined pressures of income tax, VAT, inheritance tax, inflation, and other forms of taxation add up to an astounding 80%, according to calculations by Amsterdam professor Roel Beetsma.

Legal tactics of avoiding taxes are widely used by large corporations like Starbucks, Apple and Ikea, however, Toine Manders had attracted special attention from the government by running controversial ads that stated “Taxation is theft”. The ads went on to say that it was people’s moral duty to pay as little in taxes as possible, as the government is a criminal enterprise. Unable to hire teams of accountants to do it for them, Toine also tried to help smaller business make use of legal tax avoidance methods.

The first signs of government backlash appeared in 2008 when his radio commercial ‘taxation is theft’ was banned by the Reclame Code Commissie (Commercial Ethics Commission) on the basis of being ‘in violation of decency’, along with a defense of the social contract. For fear of losing their licenses or imprisonment, the radio stations were quick to take down the ad.

The next form of government backlash came in 2010 when his company was declared bankrupt on a claim from the tax office. The government ignored limited liability law, piercing the corporate veil, to hold Toine Manders personally responsible for the company’s obligations.

In 2010 the state bestowed further powers upon itself: requiring all trust offices to have a government license to operate, in the name of protecting the people of course. It is suspected that this law is what is now being used to charge Toine, in that he was running a trust office without their license, though the main office was located in Cyprus and not in the Netherlands.

Toine Manders has been the Chair of the Dutch Libertarian party since its founding in 1993 and was the party leader in the 1994 and 2012 elections. He may not have won a seat in parliament, but he has utilized his campaigns to make strong statements, such as that of using lasers to project of the word ‘bankrupt’ on the Dutch National Bank and throwing fake 14 Euro bills from a helicopter above the Vondelpark in Amsterdam, both of which received a lot of media attention.The Netherlands has become a country where violent criminals can be free to go the next day, while others are locked away in a psychiatric ward for a year (after having already endured a year in jail) for throwing a tealight holder in frustration at the Queen enroute to a presentation about how taxes were going to be wasted the following year. It has become a country in which Toine Manders, who advocates the non-aggression principle, is at risk of missing the first birthday of his son because he is held in a cage by a monopoly of violence that saw their revenue stream threatened.

Toine Manders should not be confused with the EU parliamentarian with the same name, who has been living off of taxes his whole life.



ObamaCare and My Mother's Cancer Medicine

The news was dumbfounding. She used to have a policy that covered the drug that kept her alive. Now she's on her own.

When my mother was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer in 2005, when she was 49, it came as a lightning shock. Her mother, at 76, had yet to go gray, and her mother's mother, at 95, was still playing bingo in her nursing home. My mother had always been, despite her diminutive frame, a titanic and irrepressible force of vitality and love. She had given birth to me and my nine younger siblings, and juggled kids, home and my father's medical practice with humor and grace for three decades. She swam three times a week in the early mornings, ate healthily and never smoked.

And now, cancer? Anyone who's been there knows that a cancer diagnosis is terrifying. A lot goes through your mind and heart: the deep pang of possible loss (what would my father and all of us do without her?), and the anguish and anger at what feels like injustice (after decades of mothering and managing dad's practice, she was just then going back to school).

We, as a family, were scared and angry, but from the beginning we knew we would do all we could to fight this disease. We became involved with fundraising for research, through the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation in Boston; we blogged; we did triathlons (my mother's idea) and cherished our time together as never before.

Carcinoid, a form of neuroendocrine cancer, is a terminal disease but generally responds well to treatment by Sandostatin, a drug that slows tumor growth and reduces (but does not eliminate) the symptoms of fatigue, nausea and gastrointestinal dysfunction. My mother received a painful shot twice a month and often couldn't sit comfortably for days afterward.

As with most cancers, one thing led to another. There have been several more surgeries, metastases, bone deterioration, a terrible bout of thyroiditis (an inflammation of the thyroid gland), and much more. But my mother has kept fighting, determined to make the most of life, no matter what it brings. She has an indomitable will and is by far the toughest person I've ever met. But she wouldn't still be here without that semimonthly Sandostatin shot that slows the onslaught of her disease.

And then in November, along with millions of other Americans, she lost her health insurance. She'd had a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan for nearly 20 years. It was expensive, but given that it covered her very expensive treatment, it was a terrific plan. It gave her access to any specialist or surgeon, and to the Sandostatin and other medications that were keeping her alive.

And then, because our lawmakers and president thought they could do better, she had nothing. Her old plan, now considered illegal under the new health law, had been canceled.

Because the exchange website in her state (Virginia) was not working, she went directly to insurers' websites and telephoned them, one by one, over dozens of hours. As a medical-office manager, she had decades of experience navigating the enormous problems of even our pre-ObamaCare system. But nothing could have prepared her for the bureaucratic morass she now had to traverse.

The repeated and prolonged phone waits were Sisyphean, the competence and customer service abysmal. When finally she found a plan that looked like it would cover her Sandostatin and other cancer treatments, she called the insurer, Humana, HUM +10.57% to confirm that it would do so. The enrollment agent said that after she met her deductible, all treatments and medications-including those for her cancer-would be covered at 100%. Because, however, the enrollment agents did not-unbelievable though this may seem-have access to the "coverage formularies" for the plans they were selling, they said the only way to find out in detail what was in the plan was to buy the plan. (Does that remind you of anyone?)

With no other options, she bought the plan and was approved on Nov. 22. Because by January the plan was still not showing up on her online Humana account, however, she repeatedly called to confirm that it was active. The agents told her not to worry, she was definitely covered.

Then on Feb. 12, just before going into (yet another) surgery, she was informed by Humana that it would not, in fact, cover her Sandostatin, or other cancer-related medications. The cost of the Sandostatin alone, since Jan. 1, was $14,000, and the company was refusing to pay.

The news was dumbfounding. This is a woman who had an affordable health plan that covered her condition. Our lawmakers weren't happy with that because . . . they wanted plans that were affordable and covered her condition. So they gave her a new one. It doesn't cover her condition and it's completely unaffordable.



Democrat Liarship: Liars Lie, and then Lie to Cover the Lie

An evocative clip from the HBO series The Newsroom recently caught my attention. In this scene, actor Jeff Daniels delivers his argument against the popular notion that America is the greatest nation in the world. As a patriot, my red blood began to boil as I watched this diatribe from yet another liberal cutting America down to size. It seemed at first to blend in well with Barack Obama’s worldview (see video Here) that the United States is no more “exceptional” than any other plot of land on the planet.

The awkward scene with Jeff Daniel’s speech grows increasingly prickly, even disturbing. Then the reversal moment in the plot arrives with the comparison of our culture today versus just a few decades ago. His closing line gave me pause, “America is not the greatest country in the world – anymore.”

Daniel’s character as a news anchor compares interestingly with real-life Greta Van Susteren, Fox’s most moderate anchor. Susteren made the astonishingly bold statement on her personal Facebook page Friday that, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - should step aside - or be pushed out by his fellow Democrats. He is not a leader...he is a bully.” Damn right.

Congress passed Obamacare in order to see what was in it. Then Justice John Roberts, conservatives’ hope for an honest broker on the Supreme Court, decided that he was not going to protect the voters from their self-destructive decisions. But real people are suffering in very real ways. While the administration’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, lies by omission in telling the one-sided story of how 3.5 million have signed up, twice as many have lost their insurance. For a moment, put yourself in the mind of a wife and mother who has been walking the frightening tightrope of cost, pain, and survival in fighting cancer. Then consider that she is forced out of her insurance plan by the President of the United States.

It wasn’t some pissant ACORN functionary, but no less than the Majority Leader of the United States Senate who just denounced every struggle with Obamacare as fallacy. “Those tales turned out to be just that – tales, stories made up from whole cloth, lies.” (see video Here)

Somehow, the President is able to alter, delay, and ignore provisions of his own law without involvement by Congress, all toward elections manipulation. President Obama exempts his friends and financial supporters from having to adhere to the law while forcing The Little Sisters of the Poor to comply with the provisions that conflict with their longstanding religious beliefs. (Here)

The hottest U.S. Senate election race this year includes incumbent Mark Udall, who is up for re-election in Colorado. Udall has given Obamacare 100% of his senatorial support. With a tough campaign coming up, Udall pressured the Colorado Division of Insurance to revise the number of Coloradans whose insurance policies were canceled as a result of Obamacare. Soon after word of his intimidation got out to the public, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies cleared Udall of any wrong-doing. That would be the highly political, Democratic Party controlled Department of Regulatory Agencies.

Laws continue to be passed to formally pave the way for vote fraud (Here). Vice President Biden claims that hatred is the motivation for asking voters to show a proper form of identification when casting their ballots. "These guys never go away. Hatred never, never goes away." Somehow, opposing loose rules like election-day registration demonstrates hatred rather than integrity.

The United States Supreme Court will soon hear the case of a German couple who fled to the U.S. to enjoy the liberty of home schooling their five children. Germany is serious about forcing every student to attend public schools – no exceptions. Germany has seized custody of children and imposed fines on parents. The Romeike’s face all of that, plus possible jail time if they are to return to their homeland. This is precisely the intent of the Obama Administration. The asylum case of Romeike v. Holder may be determined this year. Watch for zero media coverage should the family be escorted to a Lufthansa 747 by Holder’s thugs. (Here)

America’s political correctness surrounding the matter of sexual identification has become a national obsession. The social culture has certainly evolved toward acceptance of people with non-traditional orientation. But with the prominence of this issue in television, movies, parades, myriad laws and constitutional pronouncements, you would think that 49% of the population has just been released from oppression by the 51%. Hasbro and Discover are now promoting their transgender superhero in a cartoon series for kids. And every “paranoid criticism” about gay marriage has turned out to be true, with the courts being used to force bakeries to make cakes for gay weddings (Here), religious adoption services forced to serve gay couples (Here) and churches being forced to host gay weddings in conflict with their doctrine (Here).

While just a state senator in Illinois, Barack Obama argued against a proposed “born alive protection” bill. He argued, “The testimony during the committee indicated that the key concerns was – is that there was a method of abortion, an induced abortion, where the fetus, or child as some might describe it, is still temporarily alive outside the womb. And one of the concerns that came out in the testimony was the fact that they were not being properly cared for during that brief period of time that they were still living. … Whenever we define a previable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a child, a nine-month-old child, that was delivered to term.”

The Journal of Medical Ethics will see Barack Obama’s bet and raise it further. They have posted an article with the following abstract: “Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus' health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”

These are just a sampling of the upheaval that our nation is going through right now; the kind of crazy stories we might expect from uncivilized parts of the world. I only have to stop listing them because of the article deadline. People – this is what happens when we surrender elected office to liberals. Watch the Jeff Daniels clip and join my fear. I am feeling the panic of having to accept the criticisms of my once great home.

 More HERE  (See the original for links)

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 03, 2014

Inspectors All Round

I like everything about this British political poster, including the way the smoke coming out of the chimneys forms tiny question marks. It was employed in the 1929 election against Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour Party. The artist is reported as V. Hicks. If only it weren’t still so relevant!



Piers Morgan IS the American Left

Ben Shapiro

This week, CNN's Piers Morgan announced that "Piers Morgan Live" would be coming to an ignominious end sometime in March. His replacement has not yet been chosen. But his television demise came not a moment too soon for millions of Americans who had tired of his sneering nastiness.

The New York Times chose not to see it that way. Instead, the Times insisted, Morgan's problem sprang from his British accent and heritage: "Old hands in the television news business suggest that there are two things a presenter cannot have: an accent or a beard ... Mr. Morgan is clean shaven and handsome enough, but there are tells in his speech — the way he says the president's name for one thing (Ob-AA-ma) — that suggest that he is not from around here."

Morgan himself attributed his downfall to his foreignness: "Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it."

No doubt the notion of a British entertainer coming to America, clearing millions of dollars, and then lecturing Americans on their fundamental rights galled many. But what truly galled so many Americans was Morgan's underlying perspective — a perspective shared by the Times, as well as most of the left. Morgan, unfortunately, believes that Americans are typically racist, sexist, homophobic bigots clinging to guns without regard to the safety of children. We, in his world of unearned moral superiority, are the bad guys.

Which is why Morgan had nothing to say when I appeared on his program in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, handed him a copy of the Constitution to remind him of the Second Amendment, and then told him that he was a "bully ...demoniz(ing) people who differ from you politically by standing on the graves of the children of Sandy Hook." His only response: "How dare you."

It's why Morgan had nothing to say when I suggested a few months later that his gushing response to gay basketball player Jason Collins' coming out sprang from his disdain for the American people: "Why do you hate America so much that you think it's such a homophobic country, that when Jason Collins comes out it is the biggest deal in the history of humanity, and President Obama has to personally congratulate him?" Again, Morgan had no answer.

As the left has no answer. The left's perspective on the role of government is inextricably linked to its view that Americans, free of government strictures, are brutally discriminatory, selfishly violent. Without the guiding hand of our betters, we would all be Bull Connors (a government employee), hoses at the ready. Without the sage wisdom of our leftist superiors, we would all be shooting each other at shopping malls.

The countervailing perspective — that America is a pretty damn great place filled with pretty damn great people — has little currency for the left. But when their hate-Americans perspective is repeatedly exposed, Americans begin to find it tiresome. That's what happened with Morgan. That's what will happen to the American left if the American right somehow finds the stomach to call out the left's snobby scorn for everyday Americans.



A Socialism Spill on Aisle 9

The working class in the United States has no better champion than Barack Obama. Like most champions of the working class, he has never actually worked at a real job and instead divided his time between academia, non-profits and politics which explains his current work ethic in which he tries to get a speech in between every two vacations..

The progressive law professors, who are currently the only thing standing between the working class and the abyss, at least according to other progressive professors, not only haven't worked for a living, but don't know what working for a living entails and don't even understand the concept. Other things that they don't understand include personal responsibility, consequences, elementary arithmetic and human free will.

That last one never fails to throw them for a loop. No sooner do they pass some comprehensive plan intended to ameliorate a terrible problem then they discover that the working people have made a hash out of it. But they never despair because they are certain that there is no progressive solution that cannot be fixed by an even more comprehensive progressive solution.

ObamaCare isn't working? Go Single Payer? There are no more doctors? Outlaw illness. People are still getting sick? Fine them for sabotaging progressive medicine. Like the island whose colonial overlords tried to solve their rat problem by dropping snakes only to discover that it now had a snake problem, progressives always have solutions. The trouble is that they never understand the problem.

The protectors of the working class, currently presiding over a country where over 90 million adults are not in the workforce, keep dropping snakes on the island without ever figuring out why so many people are dying of snakebites. B.O. or Before Obama, 63 percent of working age Americans had jobs. Today it's 58 percent. And Obama is trying to see if he can drop the country below the 50 mark.

The latest snake that Obama is trying to drop on the island is a minimum wage hike. A minimum wage hike sounds like a great idea to a progressive professor who, like Marie Antoinette, wonders why the poor can't just eat cake during a bread shortage. If the poor aren't making enough money, just raise their salaries. If their salaries go up, they'll have more money and the government will be able to spend more money creating jobs that it can then tax using a magic perpetual motion machine.

The first casualty of the minimum wage hike will be some 500,000 jobs. While just 19 percent of the minimum wage increase will go to those below the poverty line, the same isn't true of that 500,000. The most disposable workers also tend to be the poorest in the new economy. They are the first ones out the door when a small business comes up against the ObamaCare employer mandate or a minimum wage hike. It doesn't take much to push them out from full time to part time and from part time to the unemployment line and from the unemployment line to permanent unemployment.

Purge six figures worth of workers and suddenly income inequality becomes an even bigger problem that the Harvard and Yale Friends of the Working Class can use to run for reelection. It doesn't occur to progressive professors/community organizers that the living standard of the poor is not defined by an infographic comparing their income to Bill Gates' spectacles budget or George Soros' villain lair complete with lasers and piranhas.

It isn't even defined by their salary, but by the buying power of that salary.

A salary is just a number. It was once possible to buy a meal for a dime and a politician for a hundred dollars. Today dinner with a politician will cost you that hundred and the politician may cost you a hundred thousand.

The businesses that minimum wage workers depend on are peopled with other minimum wage workers. Even assuming that the pay hike were employment neutral, which it most certainly is not, it would rebalance once the businesses they patronize pass on the pay hike as a price hike. And then before you know it everyone is making more money that still buys about the same amount that their old paychecks did.

Income inequality is class warfare, a subject of interest to Marxist professors and sober news anchors who are deeply concerned about the words scrolling across their teleprompters, but of very little relevance to the price of a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk and a pound of ground beef. The prices of basic staples have risen sharply under the Friend of the Working Class in Washington. While he dines on faux Wagyu beef at White House dinners, the working class victims of his class warfare are standing in Aisle 9 trying to assemble a puzzle that consists of their upcoming paycheck, a Payday loan and a grocery list.

The woman weighting a can of beans in one hand and her pocketbook in the other trying to decide what she can afford to take home doesn't need income equality with a Harvard Law prof. What she needs a living standard that will allow her to afford what working Americans used to be able to afford. A minimum wage hike is a blunt instrument that looks good until it puts her out of a job or until she comes back to Aisle 9 and sees that the price hikes match her new paycheck.

Progressives don't particularly care about the woman in Aisle 9. They eat up hard luck stories on NPR and CNN the way that their great-grandparents marveled at hunger in Africa because of the way that it makes them feel, not because they understand how those people live or care about them. They use them to feel charitable and to win elections. Each progressive solution makes life worse in Aisle 9, but they never visit Aisle 9. If they did, they would outlaw the other half of the products in it that they haven't already outlawed through various contrived legalisms.

In the Venezuelan Aisle 9, mobs are fighting over powdered milk in government stores in a country that has 85 percent of the oil reserves in the region. Everyone is entitled to powdered milk and other price controlled staples. But being entitled to something doesn't mean that you can get it. Not until the government seizes control of the entire production process of powdered milk and then when that is done, no one will ever drink powdered milk again.

The path to Venezuela's Aisle 9 is surprisingly similar to America's Aisle 9. It began with a series of blunt force measures that were meant to address the standard of living problem in a country with runaway inflation. Governments can raise wages or lower food prices, but they can't enforce the availability of food or jobs and they can't control how the working class will work around the consequences of foodless government supermarkets and minimum wage jobs that have been priced out of the marketplace.

Venezuela's Friend of the Working Class, Hugo Chavez, kicked the golden bucket with an estimated net worth of 2 billion dollars. The Friends of the Working Class are also doing comfortably well in D.C. where it pays to be an expert on poverty and an advocate for helping the working class by adding 12 million illegal aliens to the job market with illegal alien amnesty, shutting down jobs with environmental regulations and freeing the people still working from that dreaded "job lock".

For the Washington Friends of the Working Class drifting from one cocktail party and fundraising dinner to another, the minimum wage hike is their latest gimmick for winning in 2016. They are as ignorant of the lives of the waiters who bring them their Wagyu beef and the vagaries of a working class budget as they are of Ancient Sanskrit or the geography of the moon.

The working class that they preach about is an unreal abstract to them that is reducible to their party, their movement and their agenda. Their legislation is blessed by their empathy. It does not occur to them that their programs can backfire and that unintended consequences follow from confusing magical thinking with hard numbers. In Aisle 9, things are simple and inflexible, but in politics and academia everything is subjective.

Weighing a can of food in your hands that you need but cannot afford wonderfully focuses the mind on the real, but at the cocktail parties of the Friends of the Working Class, everything is wonderfully unreal. Life is full of possibilities, vacations, conferences and elections. There are no hard facts, only ideas and slogans. Everything and everyone does what you want them to.

Like The Great Gatsby's Tom and Daisy, the progressive law professors and community organizers inhabit a "vast carelessness" of conferences and cocktail parties from which they emerge to carelessly smash things up before retreating back into it with no real awareness of what they have done and a certainty that the people on Aisle 9 whose lives they have smashed up ought to be grateful to them.



The Danger of Indulging Liberal "Distractions"

The great George Will recently wrote a column counseling calm when it comes to the myriad nanny-state intrusions the left has been visiting on Americans:

Climate alarmism validates the progressive impulse to micromanage others' lives - their light bulbs, shower heads, toilets, appliances, automobiles, etc. Although this is a nuisance, it distracts liberals from more serious mischief.

All true, as far as it goes. The time liberals spend attending to light bulbs, toilets and shower heads is time they don't have to . . . "reform" the health care system.

But there's one nagging problem when the left is able to amuse itself by imposing petty regulations on everyone else's life. It's the danger that, constantly buffeted by a never-ending steam of micromanaging rules, free-born citizens will over time lose their innate resentment of and resistance to government oversight of their lives.

Once that resistance is worn down over less-consequential matters, it becomes infinitely easier for tyrants of all stripes to encroach on more meaningful liberties without occasioning mass resistance.

Freedom is a little like a muscle that must be exercised if it is to remain strong. If, worn down by a series of inconsequential-seeming laws, Americans allow the habits of freedom to atrophy, it's that much more likely that their liberties will be more seriously eroded in the future.

Just ask the East Germans.



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 02, 2014

Nazis: Still Socialists

Tim Stanley’s definition excludes basically all real socialists, past and present

By Jonah Goldberg

This feels like old times. Across the pond at the Telegraph, Tim Stanley and Daniel Hannan are having a friendly disagreement on the question of whether the Nazis were in fact socialists. I don’t usually wade into these arguments anymore, but I’ve been writing a lot on related themes over the last few weeks and I couldn’t resist.

Not surprisingly, I come down on Hannan’s side. I could write a whole book about why I agree with Dan, except I already did. So I’ll be more succinct.

Fair warning, though, I wrote this on a plane trip back from Colorado and it’s way too long. So if you’re not interested in this stuff, you might as well wander down the boardwalk and check out some of the other stalls now.

Stanley makes some fine points here and there, but I don’t think they add up to anything like corroboration of his thesis. The chief problem with his argument is that he’s taking doctrinaire or otherwise convenient definitions of socialism and applying them selectively to Nazism.

Stanley’s chief tactic is to simply say Nazis shouldn’t be believed when they called themselves socialists. It was all marketing and spin, even putting the word in their name. Socialism was popular, so they called themselves socialists. End of story.

So when Nazi ideologist Gregor Strasser proclaimed:

"We are socialists. We are enemies, deadly enemies, of today’s capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, its unfair wage system, its immoral way of judging the worth of human beings in terms of their wealth and their money, instead of their responsibility and their performance, and we are determined to destroy this system whatever happens!"

. . . he was just saying that because, in Stanley’s mind, socialism was “fashionable.”

Obviously there’s some truth to that. Socialism was popular. So was nationalism. That’s why nationalists embraced socialism and why socialists quickly embraced nationalism. It wasn’t a big leap for either because they’re basically the same thing! In purely economic terms, nationalization and socialization are nothing more than synonyms (socialized medicine = nationalized health care).


Stanley writes:

"That Hitler wasn’t a socialist became apparent within weeks of becoming Chancellor of Germany when he started arresting socialists and communists. He did this, claim some, because they were competing brands of socialism. But that doesn’t explain why Hitler defined his politics so absolutely as a war on Bolshevism — a pledge that won him the support of the middle-classes, industrialists and many foreign conservatives."

There’s a stolen base here. Sure, Hitler’s effort to destroy competing socialists and Communists “doesn’t explain” all those other things. But it doesn’t have to. Nor does Stalin’s wholesale slaughter (or Lenin’s retail slaughter) of competing Communists and socialists explain the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact or the infield-fly rule. Other considerations — economic, cultural, diplomatic — come into play. But when people say Hitler can’t be a socialist because he crushed independent labor unions and killed socialists, they need to explain why Stalin gets to be a socialist even though he did likewise.

The fact that many “foreign conservatives” supported Hitler’s hostility to Bolsheviks is a bit of a red herring. Many conservatives today support the military in Egypt as a bulwark against the Muslim Brotherhood. That tells you next to nothing about the content of the junta’s domestic policies. But, it’s worth noting that some foreign Communists and liberals, such as W.E.B. Du Bois, actually supported Hitler’s domestic economic policies (though not the anti-Semitism) in the mid-1930s.

For what it’s worth, the reason that Hitler declared war on Bolsheviks is a rich topic. The short answer is that he was a socialist but he was also a nationalist (hence national-socialism). And the nationalist part considered Bolshevism an existential threat — which it was!

Stanley goes on:

Dan asserts that Hitler was a socialist with reservations, that:

"Marx’s error, Hitler believed, had been to foster class war instead of national unity – to set workers against industrialists instead of conscripting both groups into a corporatist order."

Yet, by this very definition, Hitler wasn’t a socialist. Marxism is defined by class war, and socialism is accomplished with the total victory of the Proletariat over the ruling classes.

Ah. So deviating from the definition of Marxism disqualifies one from being a socialist? Preferring national unity to international class solidarity will get your socialist membership card revoked?

If that’s true, no one is a socialist in the real world. Stanley’s standard, if uniformly applied, would expel from the ranks of socialists: Stalin, Mao, Lenin, Castro, Chavez, Maduro, Ortega, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung (and progeny), Norman Thomas and all of the American Socialist Party, the Fabians of England, virtually every social-democratic or avowedly socialist party in the West now or recently. If none of them are socialists, then why ever again talk about socialism?

Simply put, no one talks about uniting the workers of the world anymore. Every socialist movement or party that comes to power promises national unity, not international solidarity. Sure, rhetorically a handful of tin pots may talk about their brothers across some border, but that’s a foreign-policy thing.

Domestically, economically, culturally, it’s all about nationalism, not internationalism. In other words, nowhere in the world does being a nationalist preclude a person or movement from being a socialist. Rather, it’s a requirement.


As for splitting with Marx, they all did it and continue to do it. Some admitted it, some simply stumbled on Marx’s shortcomings without saying so and just tangoed-on, adding hyphens and modifiers: Marxism-Leninism, Marxism-Stalininism, Marx-Lenin-Stalin-Maoism, socialism with “Chinese characteristics,” etc. It was like totalitarians from across the globe kept forming booming law firms and adding names to the shingle. Finding Marx in error in one way or another isn’t a disqualifier for being a socialist; it is once again a requirement for being one (outside the classroom, at least).

Stanley at times seems to hold up Marx as the only acceptable standard for socialism. It isn’t and never was. I would argue as a matter of sociology and philosophy, socialism traces back to caveman days. But simply as a matter of accepted intellectual history it long predates Marx. Babeuf’s “Conspiracy of the Equals,” for instance, was hatched long before Marx was even born. [And there were the "levellers" of Cromwellian England -- JR]


Then Stanley goes on to insist Nazism wasn’t socialist because it was anti-Semitic and racist. He writes, “Hitler’s goals were, in fact, totally antithetical to the egalitarianism of socialism.”

This is some weak sauce. Yes, Nazism was the worst of the worst when it came to organized bigotry and prejudice. But Stanley misses that the basic idea of Nazism was egalitarianism — egalitarianism for Aryans. Nazi rhetoric was incredibly populist. Workers were exalted over everyone. Economic policies were populist too — remember the peoples’ car (a.k.a. Volkswagen)? But it was all aimed at “good Germans.” This differed from Stalinism’s rhetoric to be sure, but it’s not all that dissimilar from various forms of African or pan-Arab socialism.

And again, why is only Nazism disqualified from the “honor” of belonging in the socialist club because of its bigotry? Why is it alone held up to the theoretical ideals of socialism, rather than compared to other socialist systems? (And, it’s worth noting, even in theory, socialism fails Stanley’s test. One need only read what Marx had to say about “the Jewish question” or blacks to recognize that.)

Stalin was hardly a racial egalitarian (or any other kind of egalitarian). Before he died, Stalin was planning a major new assault on the Jews to improve on the impressive work he’d already done. And he had no problem treating non-Russian Soviet populations as expendable playthings and puzzle pieces. Even later regimes had preferential policies for ethnic Russians. But, hey, is North Korea not socialist because its ideology is racist?

It’s somewhat amusing that Stanley invokes George Bernard Shaw as an authority on the inauthenticity of Hitler’s socialism. This is the same George Bernard Shaw who said “the only fundamental and possible socialism is the socialization of the selective breeding of Man.” Shaw wanted a “human stud farm” in order to “eliminate the yahoo whose vote will wreck the commonwealth.” Do such non-egalitarian comments mean that Shaw wasn’t a socialist either?


Stanley is certainly right that German National Socialist economics differed from Russian Bolshevik economics. So what? The question was never, “Were Nazis Bolsheviks?” Nor was it “Were Nazis Marxists?” The question was “Were Nazis socialists?” Demonstrating that the answer is no to the first two doesn’t mean the answer to the third question is a no, too.

I actually agree with Stanley that corporatism is the better term for Nazi economics. Here’s the problem: that’s also true of most socialist systems.

Yet in these historical debates, the term is only dusted off for Nazis and Italian fascists. “Oh, the Nazis weren’t socialists, they were ‘corporatists’” is a fine argument to make, if you’re willing to acknowledge that corporatism is actually a more accurate word for the socialisms of Sweden, France, South America, etc. In other words, the “they were corporatists!” line is usually an attempt to absolve socialism of any association with Nazism and fascism rather than an attempt to get the terms right.


I’ve come to believe that corporatism (which does not mean “rule by corporations”) is the natural resting state of pretty much every political order. Politicians naturally want to lock-in and co-opt existing “stakeholders” at the expense of innovation. They love talking about “getting everybody at the table,” which really means getting the existing insiders to create rules that help themselves.

Stanley says that politics came before economics in the Nazi state. That’s true. But where is that not true? Certainly not in America or the U.K. Which is why conservatives, libertarians, and other champions of free-market economics must constantly put pressure on politicians to fend off the natural human tendency to fight innovation as a threat to the status quo and the powers that be.

Across the West there’s a tendency among bureaucrats, politicians, academics, and other members of the New Class to convince the people to hand over the major decisions of their lives to the “experts.” These experts aren’t all in the government, but they all collude with government to convince people that the experts have all the answers and that the people need to hand the reins over to them.

They will tell us what to eat, what to drive, what to think. It’s an approach that puts politics before economics. Because it is an attempt to politicize peoples’ lives. Or as Hitler put it, “Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings.”


Jonah's comments are good but I think we need to say a bit more  about what socialism is:  What is central and essential to socialism is authoritarianism.  All socialists want to tell everybody else what to do. Without that motivation they  would not be socialists.  What policies they want to enforce on us may change but forcing some new policiy on us is what they do.

In the stable democracies,  socialists have to be satisfied with piecemeal "reforms" and ever-tighter regulations but they would be just as sweeping as Hitler and Stalin if they could.  The way Western Leftists defended the rotten Soviet system to the end and the way that they still support the rotten Cuban system shows that.

Authoritarianism is at the core of socialism and Hitler was certainly authoritarian.  There are authoritarian people in all walks of life but as a political ideology it is central to socialism.  The belief that you have the right to tell others what to do is the first condition of socialism.  Sadly, that belief is very widespead these days.  Both major parties are socialistic to a degree.  But the degree does matter and there is no doubt that Hitler was extremely socialistic


Florida City Threatens Woman For Living Off the Grid

By all accounts, Robin Speronis is engaged in a successful experiment in "living off the grid" in Cape Coral, Florida. The 54-year-old former real estate agent disconnected from city water and power about a year and a half ago. Now she relies on solar panels, propane lanterns, and collected rain water in her duplex and seems quite happy about it. But the city clearly is not. Officials tried to boot her from her home, and have now given her until the end of March to reconnect to the grid. A special magistrate who tossed many of the charges and admits that reasonableness may not play a role in the rules says she will ultimately have to comply. Speronis is standing firm.

According to Cristela Guerra of the Cape Coral News Press:

It took several hours to review the litany of alleged code enforcement violations. It was noted some seemed redundant, while other violations were not addressed as a result of issues with due process. [Special Magistrate Harold S.] Eskin had concerns that Speronis had not received proper notice. He found her not guilty on those issues but said he would be open to considering new evidence.

He found her guilty of the section which dealt with the water system and maintenance. Alternative means of power are possible but need to be approved by city officials, according to Paul Dickson, the city building official. When it comes to water, the options included installing a potentially more complicated and expensive system that would filter rain water through the pipes while maintaining temperatures and pressure. Speronis also uses the city sewer system for drainage. There are liens on the home to collect those fees.

Daniel Jennings of Off the Grid News notes that "Speronis has been fighting the city of Cape Coral since November when a code enforcement officer tried to evict her from her home for living without utilities. The city contends that Speronis violated the International Property Maintenance Code by relying on rain water instead of the city water system and solar panels instead of the electric grid."

City officials concede the code doesn't require anybody to use the hook-up to the water system, but they have to connect, just because.  "You may have to hook-up, but you don’t have to use it. Well, what’s the point?" notes Speronis, who says she'll keep fighting.

Restrictive, mindless, rules like those with which Speronis is threatened are a menace to both independence and innovation. But that's how government officials roll.



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)