Financial Bureaucrats on Easy Street, with Consumers and Taxpayers Paying the Bill

April 23, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Guess who’s getting rich on Wall St.: federal regulators.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

I’ve complained many times about government intervention in the financial sector.

The financial and housing crisis, for instance, was largely a consequence of the Federal Reserve’s easy-money policy, combined with the system of corrupt subsidies put in place by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But there’s another government-imposed cost that burdens the financial sector.

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Paul Kupiec of the American Enterprise Institute reveals some very sobering – and disturbing – data on pay levels for both the financial industry and its regulators.

Most banks in this country are small businesses and pay employees modest salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average annual salary of a bank employee was $49,540 in 2012, not much higher than the average annual across all occupations, $45,790.

In other words, there are some very well paid people working for big banks, but most employees in…

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#Obamacare: more proof that liberals don’t “get” economics

April 22, 2014
x

Obamacare insurance commissioner

Sometimes I think one of the greatest acts of charity I could perform would be to buy progressives each a copy of Thomas Sowell’s “Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy,” because they clearly were not paying attention in high school or college:

The practice of offering relatively inexpensive health plans with bare-bones provider networks has created tension between making health care affordable and keeping it accessible. It’s set to come to a head this week in Olympia.

The growth of “narrow networks” in Washington comes as the Affordable Care Act limits the ability of insurance companies to control their costs. That’s made it harder to offer plans at a range of prices — something the companies want to do as they compete for comparison shoppers on the health exchanges.

Many companies figured out they could sell cheaper plans that offer consumers fewer choices of where to get care. That caught some consumers, and Washington’s insurance commissioner, by surprise.

Commissioner Mike Kreidler says companies need to justify those narrow networks.

Mr. Kreidler wants insurance companies to prove they need to narrow their networks; after all, under Obamacare, they’re not really allowed to run their own businesses anymore. So he’s proposing new rules, regulations, and reporting requirements that have even the people running Washington’s exchange screaming that this will increase costs to the consumer and hinder companies from providing effective service. Kreidler, however, like many other fans of bureaucracy, just doesn’t get it:

Kreidler says he doesn’t believe prices will increase. He sees himself as walking a fine line, but with his compass oriented decidedly toward the consumer.

“Oriented” like a missile aimed straight at their wallets, he means.

Moe Lane provides a succinct explanation of why, to put it kindly, Mr. Kreidler’s belief is… “ignorant:”

There are three major elements to healthcare plan decisions:

  • Cost: How much does it cost per month or year, just to have it?
  • Deductible: How much does the consumer have to kick in for any given procedure?
  • Network: Who is willing to take you on as a patient, if you use that plan?

With me so far?  Good.  What Obamacare does is turn all of this into a zero-sum game: it mandates an across-the-board, let’s-slap-something-together, we-don’t-care-about-your-stinking-special-circumstances product and doesn’t really care how insurers and consumers cope with the situation.  So the insurers are left with a quandary: if they want to keep the networks intact, thanks to the various mandated procedures and general bureaucratic detritus either the total cost will go up, individual plan deductibles will, or both. And the same is true for the other two categories: push one down and the other two rise. All the good intentions in the world will not alter this calculation.

To use another example, the three legs of Obamacare mentioned above are like a balloon: squeeze one portion, and another must expand. It’s a law of physics, just as the cost to do business and the consequent price of insurance policies are subject to immutable laws of economics.

But technocrats like Mike Kreidler think they can control complex economies with a flourish of their pen, without there being any consequences for others. Perhaps along with a good book on economics, he should learn a lesson in humility and study the parable of King Canute.

Meanwhile, Washington voters should think of Mr. Kreidler and his “compass” as their premiums go up. They elected him with 58% of the vote in 2012; 2016 would be a good time to undo that mistake.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


“Special War” Goes Mainstream

April 21, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

TV talking heads wonder when and if Russia will invade Ukraine. As John Schindler notes, they already have, and they’re very good at disguising it.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

One of the main missions of this blog is spreading the idea that intelligence matters in the real world, and that a lot of important activities involve covert action that is anything but transparent; many media types, unacquainted with such dark arts, are skeptical of these notions, however, and sometimes this is a hard sell. One upside to the Ukraine crisis is that it’s brought some of these usually secret shenanigans into a bit of sunlight before the world.

For months I’ve been explaining that this all amounts to what I term Special War, and it’s something important that the Russians excel at across the board; regrettably, the United States does not. Ukraine is a realtime laboratory for the whole range of Moscow’s Special War activities, especially provocation. Slowly, the Mainstream Media is starting to notice.

Today’s New York Timeshas a good article explaining how Russian intelligence…

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#IRS revokes tax-free status of conservative group

April 21, 2014
"The new liberal tokerance"

“The IRS questions another conservative”

I have to admit, I have no idea if the Patrick Henry Center really did break the rules and thus earned the revocation of its 501(c)(3) status, but you’d think the IRS would be extra-super-duper reluctant to do this, given the revelations over the deliberate targeting of conservative groups:

The Internal Revenue Service has revoked the tax-exemption for a conservative charity, saying the group’s criticism of Hillary Clinton and John Kerry violated rules against political activity.

The Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty engaged in “deliberate and consistent intervention in political campaigns,” according to the IRS decision released Friday and first reported by USA Today.

The IRS said the group’s tax-exemption would be revoked as of July 1 unless the decision is successfully appealed.

Tax-exempt groups are restricted from engaging in certain political activity, including participating in partisan campaigns in support or opposition to a candidate.

“Improper politicking ” was the reason given for the close and slow scrutiny given to conservative groups applying for tax-free status after the 2010 election (few if any left-wing groups received the same treatment), and it was only recently revealed that Lois Lerner, former head of the Exempt Organizations Division, was trying to coordinate with the Justice Department to pursue prosecution of conservative groups. (1)

The Internal Revenue Service is already one of the most loathed organizations in America, something that’s only grown worse in the wake of this scandal, and I find it hard to believe that someone there approved this move without having an air-tight case. It would just be begging for trouble to do otherwise.

On the other hand, the Beltway bureaucracy often seems sealed within an echo chamber high atop an ivory tower, so maybe someone was dumb enough to think they could swat a pesky conservative group with impunity.

Either way, it’s more grist for Mr. Issa’s mill.

RELATED: Earlier posts on the IRS.

Footnote:
(1) Following up on the helpful suggestion of Senator Whitehouse (D-RI), it should be noted. If they’re not actively conspiring, they’re at least sympatico in their liberal fascism.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Obamacare: you may have coverage, but just try to find a doctor

April 20, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

Now that were a few months into our glorious new healthcare regime, we’re seeing more and more examples of something many predicted after the law was passed in 2010: you may have coverage, but good luck finding a doctor who takes it:

While open enrollment for coverage under the Affordable Care Act is closed, many of the newly insured are finding they can’t find doctors, landing them into a state described as “medical homelessness.”

Rotacare, a free clinic for the uninsured in Mountain View, is dealing with the problem firsthand.

Mirella Nguyen works at the clinic said staffers dutifully helped uninsured clients sign up for Obamacare so they would no longer need the free clinic.

But months later, the clinic’s former patients are coming back to the clinic begging for help. “They’re coming back to us now and saying I can’t find a doctor, “said Nguyen.

Thinn Ong was thrilled to qualify for a subsidy on the health care exchange. She is paying $200 a month in premiums. But the single mother of two is asking, what for?

“Yeah, I sign it. I got it. But where’s my doctor? Who’s my doctor? I don’t know,” said a frustrated Ong.

Nguyen said the newly insured patients checked the physicians’ lists they were provided and were told they weren’t accepting new patients or they did not participate in the plan.

And Nguyen says – while the free clinic isn’t technically supposed to be treating former patents they signed up for insurance, they can’t in good faith turn them away.

Dr. Kevin Grumbach of UCSF called the phenomenon “medical homelessness,” where patients are caught adrift in a system woefully short of primary care doctors.

(…)

Meanwhile, the sick and insured can’t get appointments.

“What good is coverage if you can’t use it?” Nguyen said.

(Emphasis added)

“Medical homelessness.” That’s a wonderful term for the chaos caused by Obamacare in provider networks. Not only do you discover that you can’t see the doctor you used to see, the new doctors you try to see may not take your health plan because it either doesn’t reimburse enough, or the regulations are too burdensome. Let’s review a few examples:

  • Thousands of elderly people are losing their insurance in New York. Will they find another doctor who takes Obamacare?
  • Need cancer treatment? Good luck if that top-shelf hospital that used to be on your old plan isn’t on your new one.
  • Thinn Ong in the story above isn’t the first Californian to have doctors turn her away. Maybe she could compare notes with Andrea Redamonti.
  • And one woman has (to date) gone through 96 physicians without finding one who would accept O-care Medicare coverage.

And there are a lot more in the archives.

Obamacare is an anti-constitutional monstrosity that’s not only not helping the people it was meant to help –the previously uninsured– but it’s actively hurting others. There’s only one thing to do with it: repeal it and then burn the legislation and scatter the ashes to the four winds.

And then replace it with something that will work.

Via Rick Moran, who has lots more.

PS: And don’t forget to vote out the idiots who passed it.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Holdren Is Wrong – Cold Winters Are Not Getting More Common

April 20, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

More climate chicanery, this time from the White House’s “science adviser.” Now very cold winters are due to, you guessed it, Man-caused global warming. Sigh.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

By Paul Homewood

As WUWT points out, John Holdren is one of many who have tried to link the cold winter in the USA this year to global warming.

In his White House video in January, he had this to say:

“A growing body of evidence suggests that the kind of extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues….

We also know that this week’s cold spell is of a type there’s reason to believe may become more frequent in a world that’s getting warmer, on average, because of greenhouse-gas pollution.”

But is there any evidence that extreme cold winters are becoming more common, or, for that matter, more extreme?

First, let’s check the temperature trends for the CONUS in winter.

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26 multi-kiloton nuclear sized explosions detected in Earth’s atmosphere since 2001

April 19, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

If people want to worry about a real threat to humanity, maybe they should “keep watching the sky” and worry about asteroids, not the “monster under the bed” of global warming.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

The biggest threat to humanity, far bigger than global warming/climate change, is about to get bigger, much bigger
chelyabinsk-asteroid-fireball

The chelyabinsk asteroid fireball, a “near-Earth object” (NEO), an asteroid (likely made of rock) between 15 and 20 meters across (about the length of a school bus), which just happened to arrive in the same place as planet Earth that morning. The mass of the object was about 10 thousand tons. It struck the atmosphere moving at about 40,000 MPH (more than double the speed of the Space Shuttle).

A press release from some former NASA astronauts on the current asteroid impact threat to earth, based on data on in-atmosphere detonations since 2001, gleaned from a nuclear weapon detonation detection system has yielded some startling numbers.

The threat is 3 to 10 times higher than previously predicted. The data will be presented at the Seattle Flight Museum, Tuesday April 22, at 6:00pm…

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Telling ‘Noble Cause Lies’ About Climate Change Will Backfire

April 19, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

The arrogance of the Warmists leads them to lie “for the greater good.” Trouble is, for them and their cause, Nature is not cooperating and people are seeing through the lies.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

truth-and-lies[1]Guest essay by Tom Harris ,
International Climate Science Coalition

Over the past twenty years, we’ve been subjected to a barrage of catastrophic climate change forecasts and prophecies that would put Moses to shame. Coastal communities will be submerged due to rapid sea-level rise caused by soaring temperatures and glacier melt. Record heat waves, droughts, floods, insect infestations, and wildfires will result in millions of climate change refugees fleeing their ruined homelands. Competition over increasingly scarce water resources will lead to armed conflict. About all that has been missing from these doom and gloom predictions is alien invasion.

Like Moses’ warnings to Pharaoh in the Bible, we are told there is a high price to pay if we are to avoid climate change-driven “death, injury, and disrupted livelihoods,” to quote from the March 31 report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We must reduce our carbon…

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Al Gore dupes 9000 people in Hawaii, insults the rest

April 18, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

The High Priest of the Church of Anthropogenic Global Warming has become a living parody. Of himself. How anyone can take this sanctimonious fraud seriously is beyond me.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Climate change is real and getting worse, Al Gore told the packed audience. Image: PF Bentley/Civil Beat

The story below is from from Honolulu Civil Beat, who covered a political rally on April 15th by Gore to 9000 people in Honolulu’s Stan Sheriff Center. It is a 12,500 seat sports auditorium where his voice was amplified by, his slideshow enabled with, and his persona illuminated by and made comfortable with air-conditioning, all made possible by the “dirty energy” electricity generated by fossil fuels that he railed against.

HECO power plant at Kahe Point, powered by oil.

The electricity that enabled Mr. Gore’s rally was courtesy of the oil burning power plants of the Hawaiian Electric Company, such as the HECO power plant at Kahe Point in West Oahu seen at right.

Gore himself once said in a crackpot statement: “there is no such thing as ethical oil.” 

Yes…

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Glorious #Obamacare success story! Alabama widows kicked off their insurance plans!

April 17, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

The law of unintended consequences (1) strikes again. First widows; are orphans next?

(Transcript via The Weekly Standard)

“More than two dozen widows who were married to retired Madison county employees, lost their health insurance coverage earlier this year. And now one commissioner says it’s time to give it back to them. The change was sparked by the new federal health care law, but whether or not coverage can actually be restored really isn’t clear,” said the anchor.

Says the reporter, “Madison county commissioner Roger Jones says no one realized just how much the new federal health care law would change things, especially for the spouses of some of his former employees.”
 
“A lot of these people are on fixed incomes, low fixed incomes. Some of them are living on Social Security and very little else and health insurance is very important to them,” says the county commissioner.

Essentially, the county had self-insured and provided coverage to the widows of its former employees. It’s a nice benefit, something I gather isn’t all that common.

But things changed when our glorious new healthcare act became law and we started to find out what was in it: Madison county discovered that, thanks to all the new requirements, it would cost them an extra $25,000,000 to cover the widows. They didn’t have the money, so guess who lost their insurance?

Apologists might argue that the county or state could raise taxes and fees to cover the expenses, or, even if they couldn’t, the widows still have Medicare and Medicaid (Oh, joy.) available, thanks to the ACA. So it’s not really a problem, right? Just a few bugs to work out.

But that’s not the point. These people had an insurance plan that met their needs, and the county was honoring its promise to its employees. There was no good reason for government to come in like a bull in a china shop and wreck those arrangements. Now, thanks to Barack Obama and the Democratic Party (2), you literally have widows on fixed incomes left without health insurance. And who knows how many places in America this story or ones similar to it are playing out?

This thing is an anti-constitutional monstrosity and it has got to go.

RELATED: More from Hot Air on the difficulties of restoring coverage to these people.

Footnote:
(1) Also known as: “Things that inevitably happen when a bunch of arrogant fools think they can control by bureaucratic ukase a complex, varied economy composed of millions of individuals with highly varied needs.”
(2) Remember, kids, not a single Republican voted for this mess, and we’ve been warning it would be a train wreck from Day One.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Western Washington University: “Help us be less White!”

April 16, 2014

clueless1

Here’s a thought experiment for you: Imagine a university that, through sheer chance, wound up with a mostly Black or Asian student body. Concerned faculty meet, their brows furrowed gravely. What can be done to fix this problem?

And then, a solution! Solicit advice from students and alumni on how the university can make itself  “more White.”

And now imagine the national furor that would erupt.

That’s what should happen to Western Washington University in Bellingham, which is worried that it is too White:

Western Washington University sent a questionnaire to students asking them for advice on how the administration could succeed at making sure that in future years, “we are not as white as we are today.”

The question notes that WWU’s racial make up does not perfectly reflect the nation at large, and asks students to consider strategies that other universities have used to focus on skin color as the paramount indicator of a student-applicant’s worth.

The president of WWU has stated that his explicit goal is to reduce the white population on campus, according to Campus Reform.

“I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, that we as a faculty and staff and student body, as an administration, if we 10 years from now are as white as we are today, we will have failed as a university,” said Bruce Shepard, president of WWU, in a 2012 address.

Maybe I’m just a parochial, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, supremacist White guy from a middle-class, suburban background, and so I’m too reactionary and by definition racist to comprehend the enlightened attitudes of our academic betters. Evidently I’m too stupid to see that nothing is more important than skin color. And I’m just crazy enough to still take seriously something once said by another noted reactionary:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

WWU President Bruce Shepard probably would like to tell Dr. King he had it backwards: he should have wanted his children judged not for the content of their character, for then they could have earned admittance to Western Washington University based solely on the color of their skin.

This is progressive racialist nonsense laid bare. Instead of looking for real diversity, such as an intellectual diversity ranging from Right to Left and a cultural diversity not inextricably tied to skin tone, the academic Left divides society into group identities, to which everyone is assigned regardless of individual belief (1). You can bet WWU’s struggle to be less White is informed by Critical Race Theory and is meant to battle the Leftist scapegoats, structural racism and White privilege.

The only factors that should ever be considered in admissions decisions are academic performance and, if you want to give aid, economic need. One of the few things California has done right in recent years is to ban “affirmative action” in college admissions, though that battle is never truly over.

If I were a student a WWU, I’d transfer. I wouldn’t want to be associated with such a race-obsessed institution. If I were a donor, I’d cancel my donation. And if I were a citizen of Washington, I’d demand to know why the state legislature is funding an institution that not only discriminates based on race, in contradiction to everything this nation is supposed to stand for, but asks for advice on how to do it better!

This is just bunk. (3)

Footnote:
(1) An example I came across years ago: a man of Black African ancestry, born in Francophone Africa but raised in France, identifies wholly with France — French culture, French history, the French language. His heart stirs when he sings La Marsellaise (2) or sees La Tricolore. Now, is he “French,” or (in American racial-cultural terms) “Black?” The gentleman himself would tell you he is French, and proudly so. The racialist, on the other hand, sees only the melanin in his skin. The rest just makes him a self-hating victim of “cultural imperialism.”
(2) Whatever else I might say about France, they do have the best national anthem on the planet.
(3) I’m sure you know what word I really meant. But, this is a family show.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#HSR: California high-speed rail boondoggle lowers revenue projections

April 15, 2014
Boondoggle

Boondoggle

Can someone please just shoot this project and put it out of our misery?

In a new business plan submitted to state legislators last week, the California High-Speed Rail Authority offered lower revenue projections than it had two years before, predicting that revenue will be “5 percent lower than originally projected by 2025 and 10 percent lower by 2040,” according to a report by Sacramento’s KCRA.com.

So, let’s see. Costs are higher than projected (pace the HSRA), the train won’t be as fast as projected, even Democrats are breaking with Governor Jerry Brown over the project, and now revenues, which are supposed to pay back the billions we’re borrowing for this thing, won’t meet initial projections.

Explain to me just why Brown deserves reelection? I’m waiting… smiley well I'm waiting

RELATED: Past posts on Uncle Jerry’s high-speed choo-choo.


Democrats’ “Look it’s Elvis!” strategy not playing on Main Street?

April 14, 2014
"Don't get distracted"

“Don’t get distracted”

The Democrats would really rather you talk about anything other than Obamacare, which has become a huge millstone around the neck of their political fortunes (1). To distract you from this anti-constitutional monstrosity and rally their base voters, they’re desperately deploying the weapons that have served them so well in the past, such as the Race Card.

Another weapon is the “War on Women,” the accusation that, in short, Republicans and conservatives want women barefoot, pregnant, and underpaid, shouting that women only earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. (2) There’s no denying that the “Sexism Card” was effective in the 2012 election, but how is it working for them, now?

If a Pittsburgh waitress is any indicator, not so good:

She gave a dramatic eye-roll in reaction to all of the fuss that Democrats and the president attempted to create over equal pay for women last week.

A Democrat herself, she said she has carved out a decent, comfortable life for her family over the years as a waitress at a local restaurant.

“I am in many ways my own boss,” she explained. “It is up to me to get the order right, treat people well, and use my personal skills to increase my wages.”

And she is “sick and tired of my party treating me like a victim. This is not 1970, and it’s insulting.”

Her last remark is telling. Progressives have long dreamed of instituting nationalized health care in the US, but the ACA’s passage was controversial (to say the least), the bill has never been popular, and it’s rollout to date has been a train wreck. Now faced with an electoral shellacking potentially worse than 2010′s, they’ve gone back to their happy place in the 1960s and whipped out the magic fetishes that have always saved them before: cries of racism, sexism, and class warfare.

Only, as the astute waitress observed, what worked 40-50 years ago doesn’t necessarily work now. American society has made enormous progress on issues of unfair treatment based on gender or race, and only an ideologue or a charlatan –or a desperate pol (or, in this case, all three)– would claim otherwise.

Remember what Lincoln said?

“You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.”

The Democrats have been able to fool enough of the people, but, at some point, people get tired of being taken for fools. They notice how dog-eared those cards in the Democrats’ deck have become from being played so often and they’re not impressed anymore. In fact, as our waitress noted, they’re insulted. And insulted people take their business (and votes) elsewhere.

More from the article:

Barack Obama has divided this country since the beginning of his presidency. He has not been transformative; instead, he has indulged one special-interest group after another — women in this case, but also blacks, young people, the lesbian-gay-transgender community and Hispanics in earlier instances.

He has governed by sliced-and-diced division, fear, secrecy and resentment, all accented with toothless executive orders used as political weapons.

This is definitely not the transparent and compassionate administration that he promised.

Maybe this is what happens when you over-promise, or maybe this is who Barack Obama is.

Or the answer is “C,” both. Obama and the Democrats clearly over-promised to win over a public tired by war and frightened by an economic crisis, but it is also who Obama is: a political “slice-and-dicer.” Remember that Obama got his start and his education in retail politics as a community organizer, a profession invented by Saul Alinsky. The whole point of community organizing is not to unite or build bridges, but to divide communities into “us and them” and then organize your faction to achieve your goal by setting them against the other guys. Thus no one should be surprised that Obama has operated this way over the course of his presidency.

It’s who he is and all he knows.

PS: The article’s author, Salena Zito, is a great reporter who looks at politics from a “Main St.” perspective, the point of view of the people the Beltway often forgets exist. You should add her to your reading list.

RELATED: John Fund on the race card as a losing game.

Footnotes:
(1) And deservedly so.
(2) And even though even the White House admitted that was wrong.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Well, scratch Mike Huckabee from the 2016 contenders list

April 13, 2014
Foot, meet mouth

Foot, meet mouth

Not that the former Arkansas governor and current FOX host was on my list, anyway (1), but making statements as facile, lazy, and, yes, ignorant as this should give anyone pause:

Fox News personality and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee stunned a New Hampshire crowd on Saturday by likening the federal government’s treatment of airport passengers to the totalitarian regime of Kim Jong-un.

‘My gosh, I’m beginning to think that there’s more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States,’ he told a partisan crowd at the inaugural New Hampshire Freedom Summit.

‘When I go to the airport, I have to get into the surrender position, people put hands all over me, and I have to provide photo ID in a couple of different forms to prove that I’m not going to terrorize the airplane,’ he deadpanned.

In a speech filled with jokes, Huckabee seemed deadly serious.

Really, Mike?

Look, the TSA can be infuriating, it’s definitely ineffective, and it should be disbanded, but as if we were in North Korea? Please, spare me the hyperbole.

North Korea is a nightmare realm ruled by an alcoholic man-child whose subjects fear him as a god. It is a bizarre mix of Confucianism and Stalinism in which all bend to the will of the Dear Leader, lest they die by flamethrower. It is a land of starvation and cannibalism, where multiple generations of whole families are consigned to a vast gulag of prison camps. In fact, all of North Korea is a prison masquerading as a nation.

And to compare the United States to that, even if just to get your point across through the shock value?

That’s just stupid, Mike, and I don’t vote for stupid.

via ST’s Hot Headlines

Footnote:
(1) He rubs me the wrong way, giving me the impression he’s a right-wing statist who would keep feeding Leviathan, not much better than the left-wing statists running the show right now. Others, of course, may well see him differently. Big tent, and all that.


Ted Cruz explains #Obamacare’s success in one graphic

April 13, 2014
"Your MEA shop steward"

“Obamacare salesman on the job”

With the recent announcement of more than seven million sign-ups for Obamacare, the administration and its supporters have been running around shouting “Success! SUCCESS!!”, as if an enrollment figure means that the implementation of the law itself, with its myriad problems (for example) (1), will be just a matter of working “the bugs” out.

Nevertheless, seven million was the administration’s goal, and they met it. So, how does one explain this victory? How did they do it?

Senator Ted Cruz is ready with the answer:

obamacare broken window bastiat ted cruz

Apparently the good Senator is a student of Frederic Bastiat’s “Parable of the broken window.” Would that the rest of Congress were.

Footnote:
(1) For lots more, check out my Obamacare archives.

via Dan Mitchell

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


North Korea: the nightmare of living under a god

April 11, 2014

North Korea Yeonmi Park

There’s an interesting and frightening interview posted to Business Insider today with Yeonmi Park, a woman who escaped from North Korea with her family as a teenager, but needed years to get over the brainwashing she endured there. An indoctrination so intense, she believed the late Kim Jong Il could read her mind:

Yeonmi Park grew up in North Korea, under the watchful eye of then-leader Kim Jong-il.

Though she escaped with her family when she was 15, it took her years to get over the intense brainwashing she experienced. In a recent interview with Australian public broadcasting channel SBS, Park went into unbelievable detail about growing up in the totalitarian state.

Growing up in North Korea, according to Park, was like “living in hell.” She describes constant power outages, no transportation, and watching classmates and friends disappear without a trace. While that may be unsurprising, the most interesting part of Park’s experience is her admission that she believed Kim Jong-il to be “a god” who could literally read her mind.

“I had to be careful of my thoughts because I believed Kim Jong-il could read my mind. Every couple of days someone would disappear,” Park said.

Ms. Park’s story is part of a larger program on mind-control shown by SBS, the Australian public broadcaster.  The whole show is worth watching.

In an article at SBS, she tells more of her own story:

I lived in North Korea for the first 15 years of my life, believing Kim Jong-il was a God. I never doubted it because I didn’t know anything else. I could not even imagine life outside of the regime.

It was like living in hell. There were constant power outages, so everything was dark. There was no transportation – everyone had to walk everywhere. It was very dirty and no one could eat anything.

It was not the right conditions for human life, but you couldn’t think about it, let alone complain about it. Even though you were suffering, you had to worship the regime every day.

I had to be careful of my thoughts because I believed Kim Jong-il could read my mind. Every couple of days someone would disappear. A classmate’s mother was punished in a public execution that I was made to attend. I had no choice – there were spies in the neighbourhood.

George Orwell’s 1984 depicts the UK after an atomic war and a Socialist revolution. Big Brother is a de facto god to the people: his every word the undeniable truth, no matter how it contradicted what he might have said just the day before. Your innermost thoughts known to him, and he held the power to make you willing to accept your own death and the deaths of those close to you as just. His Animal Farm is a parable of a just revolution hijacked by an anti-democratic cadre, who maintain power by turning the other animals against each other and all into slaves. Both are taught as works of fiction, but Yeonmi Park’s story reminds us that they were more like docu-dramas and that the story hasn’t come to an end.

It reminds me of a saying of John Adams:

“It is weakness rather than wickedness which renders men unfit to be trusted with unlimited power”

Our second president was right, but left something out: it’s not just that Mankind is too morally weak for any one person to hold absolute power, but there is also the weakness that makes us willing to surrender our responsibilities as citizens and entrust a small group of people or a single person with unlimited power. It is dangerous because, eventually and inevitably, that power will fall into the hands of evil men.

And then what is to stop them from proclaiming themselves gods?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Victor Davis Hanson on the new Inquisition and freedom of speech

April 10, 2014
"The new liberal tokerance"

“The new liberal tolerance”

And even freedom of thought.

Writing at National Review Online, Dr. Hanson reviews recent incidents of people being hounded for their political opinions or scientific skepticism –among others, Brendan Eich at Mozilla; Dr. Richard Tol for not towing the party line on global warming; antisemitism at a major university that only draws a slap on the wrist;  and let’s add Brandeis University’s disgusting insult to Ayaan Hirsi Ali– and then argues that the president has enabled or encouraged this behavior both actively and passively. (And I do believe Hanson is right.)

After all that, VDH offers this about how civil liberties will die in America:

All of that them/us rhetoric has given a top-down green light to radical thought police to harass anyone who is open-minded about man-caused global warming, or believes that gay marriage needs more debate, or that supporting Israel is a legitimate cause, or that breaking federal immigration law is still a crime and therefore “illegal.”

Our civil liberties will not be lost to crude fascists in jackboots. More likely, the death of free speech will be the work of the new medieval Torquemadas who claim they destroyed freedom of expression for the sake of “equality” and “fairness” and “saving the planet.”

And either the irony is lost on them, or they don’t give a damn.

UPDATE: And just like that, another example — the progessive, tolerant, open-minded mob has gone after Dropbox for adding Condoleezza Rice to their board of directors. Can we call them “racists,” yet?  (h/t Stephen Kruiser)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


North Korea: Kim III orders execution by flamethrower

April 10, 2014
"I've got some bad news, boss..."

“Really? Let’s hold a BBQ…”

Sometimes I wonder if Kim Jong Un, a reputed heavy drinker, doesn’t sit around late at night nursing a bottle of scotch and fantasizing about the various outré ways he can whack people who have ticked him off:

A senior North Korean official has been executed with a flamethrower after Kim Jong-un branded him an ‘enemy of the state’, it has been claimed.

O Sang-hon is said to have been brutally killed for his close ties to the communist leader’s uncle Jang Song-taek, who was himself publicly tried and executed in December after being found guilty of corruption and ‘counter revolutionary’ activities.

Mr O is thought to be the latest of 11 senior Workers Party figures to have been executed this year over their links to Mr Jang, with South Korean media reporting that Kim Jong-un has plans to execute or imprison hundreds more of his supporters and extended family members.

Mr O had been Mr Jang’s deputy at North Korea’s ministry of public security, and his execution by flamethrower took place after being found guilty of helping his boss turn the state department into a personal security division and hide corruption, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported.

The ministry of public security has since been closed, with all 11 of the most senior officials said to have been either executed or sent to one of Kim Jong-un’s concentration camps in a second wave of vengeance following conviction of Mr Jang.

I’m not so sure a life sentence in in the North Korean gulag is much better than death, in fact I’m certain it’s in many ways worse, but execution by flamethrower? Mind you, that’s after we’ve had reports of execution by mortar and by being thrown to the dogs.

Use of a flamethrower brings a whole new meaning to “firing squad.”

Take this news with the usual caveats about “if it’s true,” but, regardless of its verity and in spite of its egregiousness, Kim’s savage, quixotic tyranny is a “teachable moment” for advocates for advocates of limited government, because it shows quite clearly the dangers posed when government is not restrained and its powers are not carefully limited. And when the Rule of Man replaces the Rule of Law, no one’s life, rights, or property is safe.

No need for flamethrowers to prove it: just ask the Sacketts of Idaho.

PS: I fully expect Kim to up his game — the next execution just has to be by tac-nuke.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Obamacare success! New Medicaid enrollee turned down by 96 doctors

April 9, 2014
"Train wreck"

“Train wreck”

One of the oft-stated goals of the Affordable Care Act was insuring the uninsured. For those who couldn’t afford insurance even with the new subsidies, states could expand their Medicaid offerings with (temporary) help from the federal government (i.e., taxation and borrowing). Great, right? Even if you don’t make enough to afford private insurance, you still get medical care, right?

Not if the doctor refuses to take Medicare:

“I’m sorry, we are no longer accepting that kind of insurance. I apologize for the confusion; Dr. [insert name] is only willing to see existing patients at this time.”

As a proud new beneficiary of the Affordable Health Care Act, I’d like to report that I am doctorless. Ninety-six. Ninety-six is the number of soul crushing rejections that greeted me as I attempted to find one. It’s the number of physicians whose secretaries feigned empathy while rehearsing the “I’m so sorry” line before curtly hanging up. You see, when the rush of the formerly uninsured came knocking, doctors in my New Jersey town began closing their doors and promptly telling insurance companies that they had no room for new patients.

My shiny, never used Horizon health card is as effective as a dollar bill during the Great Depression. In fact, an expert tells CNN, “I think of (Obamacare) as giving everyone an ATM card in a town where there are no ATM machines.” According to a study 33% of doctors are NOT accepting Medicaid. Here in Jersey, one has a dismal 40 percent chance of finding a doctor who accepts Medicaid – the lowest in the country.

That insurance or Medicaid card does one a whole lot of good when no one will accept it, doesn’t it?

This is one aspect of a broader access problem that’s going to get more and more attention as we get deeper into the Obamacare morass. In addition to a growing doctor shortage (something that Obamacare may make worse), and shrinking provider networks, the limited number of doctors who accept Medicaid will only get smaller, because the system underpays for their services, and yet under Obamacare is greatly increasing the number of patients. Noble sentiments aside, a medical practice is a business, and a physician or hospital can only afford to see so many money-losing patients before it’s no longer worth staying in business.

Call it another of Obamacare’s broken promises: the government promises you medical care, but what if the care-provider refuses to play?

Of course, one would-be Democratic lawmaker in Virginia has a solution for that: serfdom.

Via Jim Geraghty, who notes it’s even harder to find specialists who take Obamacare.

RELATED: Bobby Jindal has a better idea.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Why on Earth are we selling spare aircraft parts to Iran?

April 8, 2014
No way!!

You did what??

This is an unbelievably stupid decision. I’ll let my friend Michael Ledeen explain why:

Somebody on Twitter posted an upbeat message saying the US delegation to the latest round of talks with Iranian officials was quite optimistic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a born optimist and I love optimism, but I’d rather revel in victory than hope for good news, and the Iranians have every reason to revel. The Obama crowd has just ok’d something the Tehran tyrants have desperately wanted since the eighties: spare parts for their long-grounded American passenger aircraft. Boeing and General Electric were given export licenses by the Treasury Department and everyone involved has been chanting “we take aircraft security very seriously,” in order to cloak this latest gift to the Khamenei-Rouhani regime in humanitarian hues.

Frankly I’d rather they took national security very seriously. Iran uses its commercial aircraft for military purposes (one of the reasons that eery flight between Tehran and Caracas is so worrisome), and the mullahs have been limited by the degradation of the national fleet. The Boeing planes and GE engines date to the 1970s, and very few of them are in service. Back in the mid-eighties, when I spent quite a bit of time with Iranian officials, they repeatedly asked for spare parts, both for the passenger planes and for the aging military craft, the F4s and F5s. Secretary of Defense Weinberger of course vetoed any such discussions, and the embargo has held until just now.

Now we’re arming Iran.

Emphases added.

The idea that a state-sponsor of global terrorism like Iran would adhere to understandings to keep the civilian and military functions of their aircraft separate is self-delusional nonsense. They’ll no more do that than they have to keep their civilian and military nuclear programs apart. (Really, I have a bridge for anyone who believes they’re honoring the recent nuclear agreement.)

What these fatuous dunderheads at State and in the White House refuse to see is that Iran has regarded itself as being at war with the United States since 1979. A deal like this, when Iran could easily ferry troops or equipment on “civilian” flights is tantamount to selling them the rope they’ll use to hang us.

This is part of a larger, global war of tyrannies against democracies. George W. Bush was mocked for his “Axis of Evil” comment, but he was right. The players have changed a bit since then, but still include Pyongyang, Moscow, Beijing, Havana, Caracas — and Tehran. And they’re taking advantage of the openings we’re giving them. More Michael:

And so it is, indeed the war has been on for some time, and it’s a bit hotter than Cold War 1.0 was for most of the twentieth century.  Kiev burned, and may burn again soon.  Caracas is burning, as are many of Venezuela’s cities and towns.  Crimea has been annexed, and Syria is still aflame, as is Iraq, and also Yemen.  Estonia and Finland are seriously frightened, as well they should be.  If we pull back from the crisis du jour, we can see it’s a global conflict.  Iran and Russia are fighting in Syria, sometimes with and sometimes against the jihadi marauders.  Cuba is fighting in Venezuela, a country the Castros largely command, and Hezbollah is in there, too.  And for those of you who follow Africa, know that the Iranians are up to their necks in Nigeria, buying influence and supporting the mass murderers in Boko Haram.

The West needs to wake up and smell the smoke from the fires starting to burn all around it, before it turns into a real conflagration. Our foes are vulnerable, and the West can win, but only if with American leadership. The US government is the only one that can convince the other nations to take the steps necessary to push back against Putin, Khamenei, and the others. As John Schindler recently wrote:

We will have many allies in resisting Russian aggression if we focus on issues of freedom and sovereignty, standing up for the rights of smaller countries to choose their own destiny.

It would help if we had leaders who saw themselves as the heirs to Churchill, rather than Chamberlain.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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