#Benghazi: Proof of what we knew — the White House is full of lying suckweasels

April 30, 2014
American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

So, more than 19 months after four Americans –including our ambassador– died at the hands of al Qaeda allies in an attack on our consulate in Benghazi, part of the truth finally comes out: the White House political operation used the story of  a video to protect President Obama reelection, sacrificing the truth, our national security interests, and any shred of decency owed the victims’ surviving families on the altar of his political needs.

Independent reporter Sharyl Attkisson has the story:

Newly-released documents reveal direct White House involvement in steering the public narrative about the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, toward that of a spontaneous protest that never happened.

One of the operative documents, which the government had withheld from Congress and reporters for a year and a half, is an internal September 14, 2012 email to White House press officials from Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s Assistant and Deputy National Security Advisor. (Disclosure: Ben Rhodes is the brother of David Rhodes, the President of CBS News, where I was employed until March.)

In the email, Ben Rhodes lists as a “goal” the White House desire “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”

The email is entitled, “RE: PREP CALL with Susan, Saturday at 4:00 pm ET” and refers to White House involvement in preparing then-U.S.Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice for her upcoming appearance on Sunday television network political talk shows.

The Rhodes email states that another “goal” is “To reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”

Via Twitchy. There’s much more, so read it all.

Remember, Obama had been claiming for months that al Qaeda was “on the run,” nearly beaten. It was one of his justifications for reelection: he had crushed our mortal enemy. Then they attacked our consulate and killed our personnel, and suddenly the whole narrative was about to fall like the house of cards it was.

This wasn’t a meeting of a group meant to deal with a foreign policy crisis. No, Rhodes was heading up a political damage control team. That’s where the priority was. Not in determining how this happened, not in pursuing our enemies, and certainly not in our Head of State and Commander in Chief taking responsibility, because that might have meant handing a cudgel to the Republicans. Jim Geraghty weighs in (emphasis added):

Yes, Rhodes’s speechwriting always focused in the foreign-policy realm. He was a longtime assistant to Lee Hamilton, then joined Obama as a speechwriter in 2007. But this guy’s not an expert on Libya. There’s no way he was in any position, from Washington, to overrule the assessment of the folks on the ground. He’s a message guy. And he quickly concluded – accurately – that the administration’s obvious ill-prepared presence in Libya, and failure to organize timely rescue efforts, on the 9/11 anniversary represented a serious threat to the president’s reelection. They needed a scapegoat; the video was the best option at hand.

That included, by the way, trampling the First Amendment rights of the video maker, who was hauled off in the middle of the night and pilloried in the press to play that scapegoat.

And before anyone says things were still unclear and they really thought the attack was a spontaneous reaction to the video, check the dates. Rhodes’ email was dated the 14th; the attack happened on the 11th. By the night of the attack, within hours, they knew that it was a terrorist strike, not an out of control riot against a video:

Minutes after the American consulate in Benghazi came under assault on Sept. 11, 2012, the nation’s top civilian and uniformed defense officials — headed for a previously scheduled Oval Office session with President Obama — were informed that the event was a “terrorist attack,” declassified documents show. The new evidence raises the question of why the top military men, one of whom was a member of the president’s Cabinet, allowed him and other senior Obama administration officials to press a false narrative of the Benghazi attacks for two weeks afterward.

Gen. Carter Ham, who at the time was head of AFRICOM, the Defense Department combatant command with jurisdiction over Libya, told the House in classified testimony last year that it was him who broke the news about the unfolding situation in Benghazi to then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The tense briefing — in which it was already known that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens had been targeted and had gone missing — occurred just before the two senior officials departed the Pentagon for their session with the commander in chief.

According to declassified testimony obtained by Fox News, Ham — who was working out of his Pentagon office on the afternoon of Sept. 11 — said he learned about the assault on the consulate compound within 15 minutes of its commencement, at 9:42 p.m. Libya time, through a call he received from the AFRICOM Command Center.

As I wrote at the time:

But now we have the testimony of the general in charge of the combat command responsible for Benghazi that he, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarded this as a terrorist attack — within minutes of the attack beginning! Panetta and Dempsey then went to a previously scheduled meeting with Obama at which, we’re supposed to believe, they didn’t give their boss their considered opinion? They just let him believe the massacre happened because of some video few ever saw? That they let him and his advisers go on for weeks like this, when they knew the truth?

Garbage. It is inconceivable that Obama did not know that night that our consulate had come under terrorist attack. 

And that was three days before Rhodes’ email, which can only mean this was a deliberate attempt to lie to the American people in order to save Obama’s (and Hillary’s) craven political rear ends.

No wonder they tried to keep this email secret.

RELATED: At PJM, Roger Simon says this is “worse than Watergate” and calls for impeachment.

PS: And this only answers one major question about the Benghazi massacre. Still left begging is the question of just where Obama was that night and what was his role, if he even had one. The question of Hillary’s accountability for her incompetence leading up to the disaster is a whole other matter.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama minimum wage edict leads to job losses at military bases

April 29, 2014
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least we won the election! Obama!!”

Democrats and their Leftist allies are desperate to find any issue to run on in the coming elections, other than Obamacare. One of their tactics has been to try to gin up class warfare based on raising the minimum wage. They argue that it will help the poor, raise living standards, and, of course, be more “fair.” Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians, on the other hand, contend that increasing the cost of labor will only mean higher prices to the consumer, fewer jobs for the marginally skilled, and be particularly harmful to minorities. This video is a good example of how minimum wage laws kill jobs.

Needless to say, I come down on the side of those opposed to the Democrats’ demands for a minimum wage increase. But honest, intelligent people (1) can reasonably disagree.  To help solve this disagreement, a real-world, real-time example would be nice. Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be), we have one. As Byron York reports in The Washington Examiner, President Obama’s edict raising the minimum wage for federal contract employees on military bases is leading to the closure of fast-food restaurants on those bases, thus costing jobs:

Obama’s order does not take effect until January 1, 2015. But there are signs it is already having an effect — and it is not what the president and his party said it would be.

In late March, the publication Military Times reported that three McDonald’s fast-food restaurants, plus one other lesser-known food outlet, will soon close at Navy bases, while other national-name chains have “asked to be released from their Army and Air Force Exchange Service contracts to operate fast-food restaurants at two other installations.”

Military Times quoted sources saying the closures are related to the coming mandatory wage increases, with one source saying they are “the tip of the iceberg.”

And increasing the minimum wage isn’t the only way Washington is increasing the cost of labor:

The administration is making it very expensive to do business on military bases, and not just because of the minimum wage. Under federal contracting law, some businesses operating on military installations must also pay their workers something called a health and welfare payment, which last year was $2.56 an hour but which the administration has now raised to $3.81 an hour.

In the past, fast-food employers did not have to pay the health and welfare payment, but last fall the Obama Labor Department ruled that they must. So add $3.81 per hour, per employee to the employers’ cost. And then add Obama’s $2.85 an hour increase in the minimum wage. Together, employers are looking at paying $6.66 (2) more per hour, per employee. That’s a back-breaking burden. (Just for good measure, the administration also demanded such employers provide paid holidays and vacation time.)

As I wrote above, the natural business response to this is to either raise prices for the consumer, or cut back on employee hours — or cut jobs altogether. Well, guess what? York reports that military contracts do not allow the businesses to raise their prices above what’s common in the outside community. So, even though Obama is raising wages well above the prevailing standard, employers are forbidden to recoup their costs. What does that leave?

Closing the business altogether.

If there’s no chance for profit, why stay open? When you add up the numbers for all four major services, we’re looking at potentially 10,000 jobs going up in smoke. Not to mention the ripple effect in the outside communities.

Here we have a current, ongoing example of how raising the minimum wage harms people by killing jobs. (3) How then, is the Democratic proposal a good idea?

I’m waiting. smiley well I'm waiting

 

Footnote:
(1) Thus excluding Democratic pols and activists.
(2) How fitting.
(3) Yes, military contract law made the situation worse by forbidding compensatory price increases. So, increasing costs for the consumer –including minimum wage earners!– is a good thing? And what’s to say the Obama administration, if they got their way on the minimum wage, wouldn’t try to extend price controls when the inevitable complaints arose? We are talking dyed-in-the-wool statists, after all. One bad policy, raising the minimum wage, inevitably leads to more bad policy. Just look at the history to-date of Obamacare.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Fleeing California: Toyota takes its business (and its jobs) to Texas

April 28, 2014

Moving

Oh, man, this is just a gut punch to the Southern California economy:

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to move large numbers of jobs from its sales and marketing headquarters in Torrance to suburban Dallas, according to a person familiar with the automaker’s plans.

The move, creating a new North American headquarters, would put management of Toyota’s U.S. business close to where it builds most cars for this market.

North American Chief Executive Jim Lentz is expected to brief employees Monday, said the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly. Toyota declined to detail its plans. About 5,300 people work at Toyota’s Torrance complex. It is unclear how many workers will be asked to move to Texas. The move is expected to take several years.

I don’t know how many will move to Texas, but I bet several thousand won’t. And that doesn’t even address the ripple effects in the region’s economy, all sorts of support businesses that would lose the revenue spent by those employees — restaurants, dry cleaners, janitorial companies, you name it. Those people won’t be heading for Texas; they’ll be stuck here. And it’s going to hurt.

Toyota originally came to LA in the late 1950s, and staying here made sense for them for a long time, in spite of increasingly burdensome taxes and regulations. After all, most of their cars entered the US through the huge Port Of Los Angeles, so it made sense to have the North American HQ nearby.

But, with the passage of time, Toyota, like so many foreign car manufacturers, built more and more of their cars here in the US, mostly choosing to construct their facilities in business-friendly Southern states… such as Texas. The last auto manufacturing plant in California, coincidentally Toyota’s, closed in 2010. Eventually, economic logic (1) lead the company to decide that the cost of living and business in California wasn’t worth staying in California, not when their manufacturing operations had all shifted to Texas and nearby states.

As Dale Buss writes at Forbes. After talking about the structural shift in Toyota’s business, he looks at the once-Golden State:

Besides, California’s business climate is becoming an even bigger downer. California has become infamous with business executives and owners there not only for high tax rates and complex taxing schemes but also for overzealous regulations and regulators that have managed to stifle the entrepreneurial energy of thousands of companies.

Even Hollywood movie studios have been souring about producing flicks in California, increasingly reckoning that the sweet tax breaks and assistance packages now offered by so many other states offset the legacy advantages and ideal production climate in California.

About the only vast remaining pocket of dynamism in the California economy is Silicon Valley, where the mastery of the global digital economy by companies ranging from Google to Hewlett-Packard has become so complete that they have been able to succeed despite the home-state business landscape.

In the annual Chief Executive magazine “Best States / Worst States” ranking that surveys CEOs for their opinions, Texas has been holding on to the No. 1 spot for a while; California seems permanently relegated to No. 50.

As Automotive News put it, “Despite the deep, creative talent pool in greater Los Angeles, doing business in California has become more expensive for companies and their workers.” Bestplaces.net said that the cost of living for employees is 39 percent higher in Torrance than in Plano, and housing costs are 63 percent lower in Plano.

Thus, over the last 10 years, the Lone Star State has stolen so many jobs from the paragon of the Pacific Coast that Toyota’s reported move should come as no big surprise.

No, it’s no surprise, but it is maddening because it is a largely self-inflicted wound. Business flight has been going on for a few years, now, and, no, “Green jobs” just aren’t going to fill the gap. Heck, a businessman even set up a consulting firm to help companies “abandon ship.”

Losing Toyota should be a loud, blaring alarm for Governor Brown and the progressive oligarchs who dominate our legislature, for it’s their policies, piling on regulations and taxes year after year, decade after decade, that have made it nearly impossible to build a business here. (Just read this “Dear California” letter from a small businesswoman who’d had enough.) And for those companies that had been successful, the incentive to move finally grows too great to resist. But they won’t learn, not until it gets much worse. Like all good oligarchs, they’re isolated in their ivory tower of safe seats and unaccountability (2).

Keep watch at the I-10 crossing into Arizona: pretty soon, a lot of those taillights you see  heading East are going to be on the back of Toyotas.

And they ain’t coming back.

Footnote:
(1) Something progressives should acquaint themselves with, sometime.
(2) And, before anyone else can say it, yes, that’s our fault as voters.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The Guardian tries to claim global warming sank the Titanic – research says the exact opposite

April 28, 2014

The Guardian author should have been embarrassed to put her name to this piece of Green propaganda.

Watts Up With That?

A purported photo of the iceberg that sank the Titanic. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office The photo of the iceberg that sank purportedly the Titanic. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office

Kate Ravilious makes this nutty claim at The Guardian:

But in fact the catastrophe may have been set in motion by a warm, wet year over Greenland in 1908, resulting in greater snow accumulation. Writing in the journal Weather, Grant Bigg and David Wilton of Sheffield University explain how the snow soaked through cracks in the ice sheet, encouraging excess iceberg calving over the following few years. Soberingly, global warming has increased iceberg hazard greatly in recent decades, making years like 1912 more the norm than the exception.

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2014/apr/27/weatherwatch-icebergs-greenland-titanic

Yeah, but have a look at what this research actually says and you’ll understand why The Guardian is nothing more than agitprop.

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Switzerland’s “Debt Brake” Is a Role Model for Spending Control and Fiscal Restraint

April 27, 2014

I think Mitchell has the right of it: the root of the problem is government spending growing too fast, not deficit spending or even debt, per se. Maybe the Swiss solution is something we should look at. (Yep. The original article is about two years old. I ran across while cruising the Internet and thought it worth sharing, even at its “advanced age.”)

International Liberty

I’ve argued, ad nauseam, that the single most important goal of fiscal policy is (or should be) to make sure the private sector grows faster than the government. This “golden rule” is the best way of enabling growth and avoiding fiscal crises, and I’ve cited nations that have made progress by restraining government spending.

But what’s the best way of actually imposing such a rule, particularly since politicians like using taxpayer money as a slush fund?

Well, the Swiss voters took matters into their own hands, as I describe in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Americans looking for a way to tame government profligacy should look to Switzerland. In 2001, 85% of its voters approved an initiative that effectively requires its central government spending to grow no faster than trendline revenue. The reform, called a “debt brake” in Switzerland, has been very successful. Before the law went into…

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Two scathing reviews by scholars working with the IPCC show why the organization is hopelessly corrupted by politics

April 26, 2014

Disharmony within the high temple of the Cult of Global Warming. The second letter is particularly brutal.

Watts Up With That?

ipcc[1] Two scathing letters critical of the IPCC process were published on Friday April 25th; one from Dr. Robert Stavins, an IPCC chapter Co-Coordinating Lead Author, and a five year veteran of the process, plus another by Dr. Richard Tol, who asked his name to be removed from work he was contributing to because it was “too alarmist”. Tol said in his letter:

First, from Dr. Robert Stavins:  

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Detecting life in the CA economy, state senate moves to kill it

April 26, 2014

BearFlag

Well, at least California’s legislative Democrats are consistent: if it works, regulate it, and if it makes money, tax it. In the latest example, Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) has authored a bill to slap a nearly ten-percent tax on oil extraction:

The Senate Education Committee voted 5-2 — the minimum number of votes needed — to advance a bill that would levy a 9.5% tax on oil pumped from the ground in California. The aim is to raise $2 billion annually to be divided among state universities and colleges, state parks, and human service programs, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The controversial SB 1017, which was authored by Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), has been dubbed a “job killer” by the California Chamber of Commerce, as it would most likely decrease oil production and drive oil companies out of California, costing thousands of jobs. One such company, Occidental Petroleum, is leaving California for Houston, Texas — dubbed “the energy capital of the world” — after being in Los Angeles for nearly a century.

Apparently it never occurred to Senator Evans or the Education Committee that a regime of low taxes and moderate regulation would generate more revenue through the jobs created both directly and through supporting businesses. Maybe she should visit Texas and take notes. Oh, and the heartland of that oil production would be in areas with the worst unemployment, our Central Valley. Why does she hate the jobless? (Or, perhaps more accurately, why does she hate the prospect of them not needing state aid?)

Instead, she and her fellow Democrats must think that being in California is so wonderful that no one would ever go elsewhere, regardless of how many burdens and barriers Sacramento creates. If so, this former California businesswoman has a message for her.

California has had an amazing economy and has an incredible potential future, but even it can be killed with enough mismanagement.  Senator Evans and her colleagues really need to review the fable of the goose that laid the golden eggs: its owner, not satisfied with the eggs the goose was laying at a steady rate, killed it to get all the eggs he thought were inside. Instead, he wound up with no more eggs and a dead goose.

Golden eggs, golden state.

PS: With the Democrats’ two-thirds super-majority broken in the Senate for now, thanks to three corrupt Democrat senators getting caught, there’s no chance this bill will make it to the governor’s desk. For now. But expect them to have it ready, if and when they regain that majority.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Climate Craziness of the Week: don’t wait to ‘feel’ climate change, act now!

April 26, 2014

This sounds like the Eco-fraud version of “Who are you gonna believe? Me or your lying eyes?”

Watts Up With That?

From the Carnegie Institution and the department of feelings, quite possibly the dumbest press release about climate I’ve ever seen. basically what they are arguing for is “don’t look at current and past data go with what we tell you” aka trust us, we are paid climate scientists with a model.

Climate change: Don’t wait until you can feel it

Washington, D.C.— Despite overwhelming scientific evidence for the impending dangers of human-made climate change, policy decisions leading to substantial emissions reduction have been slow. New work from Carnegie’s Katharine Ricke and Ken Caldeira focuses on the intersection between personal and global impacts. They find that even as extreme weather events influence those who experience them to support policy to address climate change, waiting for the majority of people to live through such conditions firsthand could delay meaningful action by decades. Their findings are published by Nature Climate Change.

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The most ridiculous predictions made on Earth Day, 1970

April 25, 2014
AlGore

The end is nigh!

With modern-day eco-doom cultists predicting catastrophe almost daily unless we DO SOMETHING NOW!!!, my friend Jon Gabriel decided to take a look back at 13 apocalyptic predictions made for the first Earth Day, way back in the Nixon administration. Here are a couple of goodies:

“[One] theory assumes that the earth’s cloud cover will continue to thicken as more dust, fumes, and water vapor are belched into the atmosphere by industrial smokestacks and jet planes. Screened from the sun’s heat, the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born.” — Newsweek magazine

“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.” — Kenneth Watt

Funny, I don’t recall any glaciers showing up in Los Angeles in the last few years…

Read the rest for 11 more amazing predictions of doom and bookmark it for reference for when someone tries to sell you on global warming.


I weep: our foreign policy has been reduced to hashtags

April 25, 2014
Your Obama foreign policy team

Your Obama foreign policy team

Well, I weep and I mock.

For those not familiar with Twitter, “hashtags” are labels preceded by a number sign, as in “#politics.” They were developed to make it easier for people to search for related messages on the system, though people also use them as asides to provide commentary, humor, or snark.

A few weeks ago, the United States Department of State, faced with the slow-motion dismemberment of Ukraine by Russia, apparently decided that hashtags were also effective tools of superpower diplomacy. Thus we saw this from State’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki:

My reaction, you’ll be surprised to learn, was one of dismay and disgust. This is hardly the serious diplomacy one would expect from a department once headed by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, John Hay, Dean Acheson, and George Schultz. One would think that, having been roundly mocked here and overseas (You mean you didn’t hear the giggling from Moscow?), the State Department would have given up on managing our foreign affairs like it was a popularity contest, complete with cheerleading. But, no. No, some genius at State decided this was a winning strategy and deployed it again, only this time with an exhortation to Putin:

“Promise of hashtag??” You have got to be kidding me. “Yes, Vlad, be nice to Ukraine. You wouldn’t want to fail the spirit of the hashtag, would you?” Someone last night speculated that an intern forgot to substitute the real hashtag in place of the placeholder word “hashtag,” but that’s immaterial. The whole idea that anyone should think that using catchy social media slogans as a tool of diplomacy would be seen as anything other than self-inflicted humiliation is laughable. That the “strategy” originated at the highest levels of State is infuriating.

And so I couldn’t resist commenting:

And then I offered examples of the promise of hashtag and its power in US foreign affairs:

Others pointed out that the promise of hashtag was global. For example:

Indeed, Lincoln ended the Civil War with it:

But this one, I think, summed up the depth and gravity of State’s strategic thinking in this crisis:

While this baby speaks for me:

But I did offer Ms. Psaki and her co-workers a friendly and much-needed hint:

No, they do not, and it’s in part because people who think they do are in charge of our foreign policy that the world has become a much more dangerous place. It’s a common joke that both sides make to wish for the day “when the adults will be in charge, again,” but, in this case, it’s no longer a joke.  We’re facing foes around the globe who operate via the calculus of power, will, and national interest, while we are represented by community organizers who treat serious matters of state as occasions for virtual rallies.

Argh.

RELATED: More at Twitchy here and here. Jonah Goldberg on Obama’s foreign policy.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Call me crazy, but George Will may be off the White House Christmas card list

April 24, 2014

crying-obama

A couple of days ago, George Will wrote a column that probably left our thin-skinned, petulant president crying for his binky — “TheAdolescent President.” Here’s an excerpt:

Recently, Barack Obama — a Demosthenes determined to elevate our politics from coarseness to elegance; a Pericles sent to ameliorate our rhetorical impoverishment — spoke at the University of Michigan. He came to that very friendly venue — in 2012, he received 67-percent of the vote in Ann Arbor’s county — after visiting a local sandwich shop, where a muse must have whispered in the presidential ear. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had recently released his budget, so Obama expressed his disapproval by calling it, for the benefit of his academic audience, a “meanwich” and a “stinkburger.”

Try to imagine Franklin Roosevelt or Dwight Eisenhower or John Kennedy or Ronald Reagan talking like that. It is unimaginable that those grown-ups would resort to japes that fourth-graders would not consider sufficiently clever for use on a playground.

Will then described how Obama relies almost solely on four argument tactics common to teenagers: the straw man; declaring the argument over; why argue, because everything is fine; and “you’re saying no because you hate me.”  Here’s what he wrote about the second:

Adolescents also try to truncate arguments by saying that nothing remains of any arguments against their arguments. Regarding the ACA, Obama said the debate is “settled” and “over.” Progressives also say the debate about catastrophic consequences of man-made climate change is “over,” so everyone should pipe down. And they say the debates about the efficacy of universal preschool, and the cost-benefit balance of a minimum-wage increase, are over. Declaring an argument over is so much more restful than engaging with evidence.

Will’s right, of course. We do have a callow, narcissistic 13 year-old in charge whose only response when opposed is to taunt, shout-down, and denigrate. He also assumes his audience is stupid (1), which is about the only explanation for the constant lies in the face of all evidence to the contrary. (“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” being just one example, albeit a spectacular one.)

Do read the whole thing. I’m sure it left a mark.

PS: Yes, it’s true. I have no respect for Barack Obama. For his office, yes. For him, no. And he’s earned it.

Footnote:
(1) Which, to be fair, is not wholly unjustified when talking about his own supporters. They put up with so much and keep coming back for more.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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

April 23, 2014

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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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