#Obamacare Chronicles: Ohio Medicaid expansion costs $3 billion in first 15 months

April 30, 2015
Kasich 2016?

Kasich 2016?

Well, this should be a big help to Governor Kasich’s potential presidential campaign. Nothing like a budget-busting entitlement to advertise one’s bona fides as a fiscal conservative:

Americans’ tax burden is already $3 billion heavier because of Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare.

By putting more able-bodied, working-age childless adults on Medicaid than Kasich projected, Obamacare expansion is reducing incentives to work and threatening traditional Medicaid recipients’ access to care faster and at greater cost than anticipated.

After Kasich expanded Medicaid unilaterally, a state panel approved $2.56 billion in Obamacare spending for the expansion’s first 18 months. The money was meant to last until July, but it ran out in February.

Kasich’s Obamacare expansion cost $323 million in March — 84 percent greater than estimates revised just six months earlier.

Using monthly figures released by the Ohio Department of Medicaid, the Republican governor’s Obamacare expansion cost slightly more than $3 billion from January 2014 through March 2015.

Kasich’s Obamacare expansion is on track to cost more than $4 billion by the end of June.

With federal taxpayers on the hook for all benefit costs and Ohio facing a growing state share in 2017, Obamacare expansion may soon consume 10 percent of Ohio’s budget.

Governor Kasich rammed through the Medicaid expansion after the legislature declined to do so. In other words, placing his will above that of the people’s elected representatives. And what has his superior judgment brought the people? Costs far higher than expected. Right now, they’re spread across the backs of taxpayers in all 50 states. (Gee, thanks, Governor.) In a few years, however, the federal subsidies decrease and an increasing portion will be born solely by the taxpayers of each state. As the article points out, that could amount to 10 percent of Ohio’s budget, just for Medicaid. (And if the history of government entitlements is any indication, that figure is low.)

Massive cost overruns and a huge open-ended burden on state finances. Heck of a calling card for a spot on the Republican ticket, John.


#RaiseTheWage – Seattle pizzeria to close thanks to economic ignorance

April 29, 2015
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least they raised the wage!!”

To paraphrase Mark 8:36, “For what good does it do a city to raise the wages of it workers, yet forfeit the jobs?” In Seattle, San Francisco’s northern soul-mate, they may well be asking that very question:

It may be one of the first casualties of Seattle’s new minimum wage law. The owner of Z Pizza says she’s being forced to close her doors, because she can’t afford the higher labor costs.

Devin Jeran was happy to get a raise, when Seattle’s minimum wage went up to $11 an hour at the beginning of the month.

“I definitely recognize that having more money is important,” he says, “especially in a city as expensive as this one.”

Unfortunately, he’ll only enjoy that bigger paycheck for a few more months. In August, his boss is shutting down Z Pizza and putting him and his 11 co-workers out of work.

“Fortunately she keeps us in the loop, she didn’t just tell us last minute.”

Ritu Shah Burnham doesn’t want to go out of business, but says she can’t afford the city’s mandated wage hikes.

“I’ve let one person go since April 1, I’ve cut hours since April 1, I’ve taken them myself because I don’t pay myself,” she says. “I’ve also raised my prices a little bit, there’s no other way to do it.”

Like I’ve said many times before: the laws of economics cannot be repealed by legislative fiat. Raise the cost of labor, and businesses will be faced with a choice from among four options — pass the costs on to the consumer; reduce labor costs by cutting hours or whole jobs; eat the costs and accept lower profits; or cease doing business in that jurisdiction, either by moving or closing shop. Ritu Shah Burnham may have loved her business, or she may have hated it. But, regardless, she’s come to the conclusion it isn’t worth staying in business in Seattle. She isn’t the first, and other small businesses in other progressive cities have made the same choice.

And their workers have wound up looking for work.

What’s especially galling about this, aside from the hubris of thinking one can bend economic laws to one’s will, like a financial Lysenko, is that the progressive, social justice warrior-pols passing these laws don’t have to live with the immediate consequences: it’s not their profits that get hurt, not their business that becomes unsustainable, not their job that’s lost. They’re not the kid looking for his or her first job, only to learn the employer has cut back on hiring because he can’t afford as many employees as he used to. But these politicians do it while appealing to the god “Fairness,” assuming that it will all work out in the end with a wave of the hand, or that it will be the next guy’s problem. Whatever. They still get to hug themselves for being such wonderful people.

Their self-righteous arrogance is astounding and infuriating. It’s genuinely harming people


#Obamacare Chronicles: two-thirds of subsidy recipients had to repay the government

April 28, 2015
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

This should make some people mad:

Nearly two in three Americans who bought subsidized health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges this year had to pay some of the federal dollars back, according to new data from H&R Block.

That’s because they presumably collected more federal aid than their income qualified them for. In that case, consumers must either pay some of it back or — in most cases — the IRS will subtract it from their tax refund.

Policymakers have expressed concern that low-income people could struggle with paying back the subsidies — or suffer if their tax refunds are greatly reduced because of overpayments.

The average amount consumers owed back to the government was $729, cutting their potential tax refunds by almost one-third, said the tax preparation company.

The article also mentions that 25% of Obamacare subsidy receivers received larger refunds because their income was less than expected. Good for them.

BUT… It’s the angry people who will remember this: they were forced to give up policies and medical providers they liked and that met their needs for more expensive policies and more restricted networks that didn’t meet the needs they had and met “needs” they didn’t have. (1) Then they were forced to pay even more, giving back some of the tax refund (2) they thought they were getting, maybe even had already spent. And this will happen again in 2016, an election year.

Angry people have long memories.

Footnote:
(1) Like maternity coverage for elderly couples. Really.
(2) I know you have trouble with the concept, progressives, but the money belongs to the one who earned it. The government just takes it. And so a refund is just giving a person back his own money — without interest.


That’s gotta hurt: Clinton Foundation put on charity “watch list”

April 27, 2015
Above the rules.

Watched.

And in the same category as Al Sharpton’s “charity.” OUCH!

The Clinton Foundation’s finances are so messy that the nation’s most influential charity watchdog put it on its “watch list” of problematic nonprofits last month, the New York Post reports. Charity Navigator, which rates nonprofits, refused to rate the Clinton Foundation because its “atypical business model . . . doesn’t meet our criteria.” Instead, it placed the Foundation on its “watch list,” which warns potential donors about investing in problematic charities.

The Clinton Foundation joins Al Sharpton’s troubled National Action Network on Charity Navigator’s list. It seems appropriate that two great con artists, Bill Clinton and Al Sharpton, should be thus be joined.

I wonder if this will affect donations to the Clinton Foundation? Nah. That would assume the donors were giving for charitable reasons, and not out of other… expectations.

I can almost hear the shrieks of offended self-entitlement coming from Chappaqua. They sound sweet. smiley thumbs up


(Video) Don’t judge Blacks differently

April 27, 2015

From Prager University, this was made in the wake of the Ferguson riots, but has sharpened relevance after the latest disturbances in Baltimore. Of particular note is Ms. Valdary’s argument that those who hold Blacks to a lower standard are themselves engaging in bigotry(1), no matter how well-meaning they are. Also infuriating is her classmate’s insistence (and the instructor’s agreement) that facts —objective truth— don’t matter; only the narrative. Down that road lies fascism.

Footnote:
(1) She uses the word “racism,” but I prefer to avoid it, since “race” is a biologically meaningless concept that has its roots in 19th-century pseudoscience. In my opinion, it obfuscates more than it enlightens.


Putin’s Balkan Offensive

April 27, 2015

Bismarck once said that “Some damn foolish thing in the Balkans” would set off the next general war, and now we see Vladimir “Let me vivisect your country” Putin taking an interest in a part of the Balkans the West left in sorry shape 20 years ago. Worth reading.

The XX Committee

On the weekend, the leader of Bosnia’s Serb Republic threatened secession if he did not get reforms, proposing to hold a referendum on leaving the country if his demands are not met by the end of 2017. Milorad Dodik, who has ruled over the Bosnian Serbs, on and off, for most of the twenty years since the United States forced a peace settlement to end Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war, has toyed with secession before, but his weekend announcement represents the most direct threat ever to the country’s postwar political system.

In fairness to Dodik and the Bosnian Serbs, almost nobody in Bosnia is happy with the current system, which when it was hashed out in Dayton, Ohio in the autumn of 1995, under Clinton administration pressure, was never intended to be more than a temporary political solution to Bosnia’s political conflicts, yet here we are two decades later, and that short-term…

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Inquiry Launched Into Global Temperature Data Integrity

April 26, 2015

Long overdue. The state of surface temperature data, on which so much of the climate alarmist claims lie, is nothing short of scandalous. Fingers crossed the commission takes a hard, unbiased look.

Watts Up With That?

The International Temperature Data Review Project

London, 26 April 2015 – The London-based think-tank the Global Warming Policy Foundation is today launching a major inquiry into the integrity of the official global surface temperature records.
An international team of eminent climatologists, physicists and statisticians has been assembled under the chairmanship of Professor Terence Kealey, the former vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham. Questions have been raised about the reliability of the surface temperature data and the extent to which apparent warming trends may be artefacts of adjustments made after the data are collected. The inquiry will review the technical challenges in accurately measuring surface temperature, and will assess the extent of adjustments to the data, their integrity and whether they tend to increase or decrease the warming trend.
Launching the inquiry, Professor Kealey said:

“Many people have found the extent of adjustments to the data surprising. While we believe that…

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UK: Labour leader promises to criminalize “Islamophobia”

April 26, 2015

“Big Brother as a young man”

Great Britain is holding a general election on May 7th, and it’s clear that Ed Miliband, the Labour Party leader, is getting desperate. In an interview with the Muslim News web site, Her Majesty’s would-be first minister promised to outlaw Islamophobia:

“We are going to make sure it is marked on people’s records with the police to make sure they root out Islamophobia as a hate crime,” he said, adding: “We are going to change the law on this so we make it absolutely clear of our abhorrence of hate crime and Islamophobia. It will be the first time that the police will record Islamophobic attacks right across the country.”

Now, lest you think “attacks” just means physical assault, bear in mind the UK has a growing problem with the tolerance of free speech. Given these and other examples, it’s clear that what Mr. Miliband has in mind includes the punishment of free speech, which is the expression of a person’s thinking. In other words, Ed Miliband would make “incorrect thinking” a crime — thoughtcrime.

George Orwell, call your office.

I’ll be frank, Eddie, this is pretty damned disgusting. For a major party leader in the land that gave the world the concepts of individual liberty and natural rights –including free speech– to advocate the creation of a crime based on the holding of abhorrent thoughts is, well, almost unspeakably sad. Shall Great Britain, patriarch of the Anglosphere and the font of our liberties, cast off its heritage and become tyrannical out of fear of hurtful words? Do you, Ed Miliband, seriously propose policing people’s thoughts just to pander for votes among the Muslim community?

If Labour had any sense, they’d toss you to the curb for even making the suggestion.

PS: It’s not as if we don’t have a growing problem here, too, with Leftists and their allies assaulting free speech on our college campuses. And the “hate crime” in general is a troublesome concept, criminalizing a person for his or her thoughts, if they can be known with any certainty, and not just their actions. It also creates privileged classes of victims: declare hatred of red hair a crime, and suddenly assaulting a redheaded person is a worse offense than assaulting a blonde person in the exact same manner. That’s not treating all citizens as equal, as the law should.


I am a climate skeptic who believes in global warming

April 25, 2015

Not all people who believe global warming is a genuine phenomenon are cultists or watermelons. Bjorn Lomborg is one, and Mr. Petschauer apparently is another. Recommended reading.

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Richard J. Petschauer

A skeptic that believes in global warming? How can that be? We have been told that climate skeptics, sometime incorrectly called “deniers”, still believe the earth is flat and disagree with 97% of scientists. Well, first of all, most of us have seen a globe and know what it represents. Second, do you know on what these scientists agree? If not, don’t feel bad. Those making these claims, mostly politicians, probably don’t know either. Actually, a rather poor survey was done looking at a summary of many technical papers. If any one of many climate related points were made, they were put in the 97% camp. This article would probably have qualified too.

But the real question, not covered in the survey: How fast will the earth warm if we do nothing to curtail the growth of man made carbon dioxide emissions? And how…

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Kasich for President? Er… No, thanks.

April 24, 2015
Kasich 2016?

Kasich 2016?

There’s something about the Ohio governor I just don’t like, and I think the words “sanctimony” and “arrogance” have something to do with it. In The Washington Examiner, Philip Klein explains why limited-government conservatives should say “no” to John Kasich:

A 2012 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court made it easier for states to reject Obamacare’s costly expansion of Medicaid — as many governors prudently chose to do.

But in February 2013, despite campaigning on opposition to Obamacare, Kasich crumbled under pressure from hospital lobbyists who supported the measure, and endorsed the expansion. When his legislature opposed him, Kasich bypassed lawmakers and imposed the expansion through a separate panel — an example of executive overreach worthy of Obama.

Kasich cloaked his cynical move in the language of Christianity, and, just like a liberal demagogue, he portrayed those with principled objections to spending more taxpayer money on a failing program as being heartless.

“Why is that some people don’t get it?” Kasich asked rhetorically at an October 2013 event at the Cleveland Clinic, which lobbied the administration heavily for the expansion so that it could access a stream of money from federal taxpayers. “Is it because they’re hard-hearted or cold-hearted? It’s probably because they don’t understand the problem because they have never walked in somebody’s shoes.”

Ugh. That’s a cheap shot worthy of Obama, Reid, and Schumer. It couldn’t possibly be that one opposes the expansion of Medicaid because it represents a looming fiscal disaster for states that do enlarge the program. It couldn’t be because Medicaid has been shown to be no better than having no insurance at all, and that it increases the strain on emergency rooms. Nor could one reasonably object on principled limited-government, constitutional grounds, since the entire Obamacare project represents an anti-constitutional monstrosity.

Nope. It had to be because you’re a callous monster. But thank God John Kasich has the heart you lack, you Grinch.

There’s another problem, too. It’s that Kasich has, like Obama, shown the instincts of a tyrant. No, he’s not had anyone carted off to camps nor had himself crowned king, but his decision to expand Obamacare slapped in the face the principle that laws should be written by the people elected by The People to write them. In other words, the legislature. Article 2, section 1 of the Ohio Constitution reads, in part:

The legislative power of the state shall be vested in a general assembly consisting of a senate and house of representatives but the people reserve to themselves the power to propose to the general assembly laws and amendments to the constitution, and to adopt or reject the same at the polls on a referendum vote as hereinafter provided.

In other words, the power to write, amend, and repeal laws was granted by the people of Ohio to the legislature and reserved to themselves — none was granted to the governor. Yet, when the elected representatives of the people declined to expand Medicaid, Ohio’s chief executive –not “chief lawmaker”– forced his way around them to do it anyway. Like the old saying goes, it may have been legal, but it sure wasn’t right. That’s the “tyrannical instinct” I was talking about.

And if that gives you an uncomfortable feeling that reminds you of the shenanigans used to pass Obamacare, you’re not just imagining things. Having experienced enough of that under Obama, I don’t want to go through it again when “President Kasich” decides he knows best.

Thanks, Governor, but I’ll pass.


Once again, concealed-carry likely saved an innocent person’s life

April 23, 2015
"Crime stopper"

“Crime stopper”

In this case, a grandmother in Fort Worth, Texas, confronted by a robber with a knife:

A Fort Worth grandmother thwarted her would-be robber Monday when she pulled a pistol from her purse and scared her assailant away.

Jewell Turner, 74, told NBC 5 she was waiting in her minivan outside of her doctor’s office, near the corner of West Magnolia Avenue and 6th Avenue in the city’s Near South Side, when a man tapped on the glass of her driver’s side window.

“He stood there and we talked for a while, [him] just asking for directions and me giving them to him,” Turner recalled. “Never thought that when I turned my head that that young man would stick a knife to my throat.”

“He said, ‘I don’t want to hurt you, but I want your money. And I will hurt you if I have to,’” Turner said.

Turner said she told the man she only had some pocket change with her – $1.62 she counted after the ordeal – but he demanded what she had in her purse.

It was in that moment, Turner said, that she remembered she came prepared for an encounter such as this.

The widow first thought to pull out the pocket knife she always keeps with her for personal protection.

(…)

Instead, Turner remembered that earlier that very day she felt the need to bring her small pistol along with her.

“I seen the gun laying there. And I figured that would work better than the knife,” Turner said. “I just reached down, got the gun and turned around and pointed it to his face. And I told him, I said, ‘You back off, or I’ll blow your head off.’ And his eyes got big and he just backed up and he took off walking down the street like nothing happened.”

Four observations:

1) The robber obviously didn’t know the venerable rule, “Never bring a knife to a gunfight!”

2) Texas has much more sensible gun rules than my beloved California.

3) She had every right to shoot him on the spot, and he should take this as a sign he’s been given a second chance.

4) Never mess with Jewell Turner.

Seriously, this incident is a perfect example of what the founders had in mind when they enshrined in the Second Amendment the right to bear arms: not just to form a militia, but to be able to defend oneself when needed. If she hadn’t had the equalizing power of a firearm available, how do you think she would have fared against a much younger, probably much stronger man with a blade? Who would have helped her?

As the saying goes, “When every second counts, the police are minutes away.”

via The Tatler

Edit: Changed the title a bit.


(Video) Police State of Wisconsin: ‘I Thought It Was a Home Invasion’

April 22, 2015

Following up on my earlier post about the Left’s fascist abuse of the law to intimidate and terrorize political opponents, here’s an interview Dana Loesch of The Blaze TV conducted with David French, the author of the National Review exposé, and the head of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, one of the victims in this:

Someone needs to be fired over this, at the least.


Iran: lying suckweasel administration admits it’s full of lying suckweasels

April 21, 2015
Liar.

Liar.

A couple of weeks ago I reported on the news that, regardless of the ten-year framework proposed in the so-called nuclear deal with Iran, US intelligence estimates showed that Iran was about 2-3 months from having The Bomb, making a mockery of Obama’s precious agreement. At the time, I thought this was a relatively new estimate that the administration was stubbornly refusing to accept, since Obama’s “legacy” was at stake.

How wrong I was . That’s been the case for years — and the administration has known all along:

The Barack Obama administration has estimated for years that Iran was at most three months away from enriching enough nuclear fuel for an atomic bomb. But the administration only declassified this estimate at the beginning of the month, just in time for the White House to make the case for its Iran deal to Congress and the public.

Speaking to reporters and editors at our Washington bureau on Monday, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz acknowledged that the U.S. has assessed for several years that Iran has been two to three months away from producing enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. When asked how long the administration has held this assessment, Moniz said: “Oh quite some time.” He added: “They are now, they are right now spinning, I mean enriching with 9,400 centrifuges out of their roughly 19,000. Plus all the . . . . R&D work. If you put that together it’s very, very little time to go forward. That’s the 2-3 months.”

Brian Hale, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, confirmed to me Monday that the two-to-three-month estimate for fissile material was declassified on April 1.

Read the rest of Eli Lake’s report for the various flip-flops the administration has done on its estimates, including calling the Israelis liars when they reported that same 2-3 months estimate. One can only conclude that the purpose behind the deception was to hide the true state of Iran’s program from the American people, since the administration knew, the Iranians knew, and the Israelis knew. We –and Congress– are the only ones who didn’t know and in whose faces Obama, Moniz, Kerry, and the rest of Team Suckweasel would need to blow smoke. Which they did. For years.

Suckweasels.

Via Jim Geraghty, and I have second the question he asked in today’s Three-Martini Lunch podcast: with the Obama administration effectively running cover for Tehran’s nuclear program, who the Hell is representing the interests of the American people?


Study: Global Warming Actually More Moderate Than Worst-Case IPCC Models

April 21, 2015

Reality further diverges from the sacred models. Whatever will the hierophants of the Church of Anthropogenic Global Warming do?

Watts Up With That?

GISS_temperature_2000-09_lrg.jpg Image: NASA GISS

From Duke University, where they validate what we’ve been saying for quite some time: there’s a divergence between climate models and reality.

Global warming progressing at moderate rate, empirical data suggest

DURHAM, N.C. – A new study based on 1,000 years of temperature records suggests global warming is not progressing as fast as it would under the most severe emissions scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“Based on our analysis, a middle-of-the-road warming scenario is more likely, at least for now,” said Patrick T. Brown, a doctoral student in climatology at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “But this could change.”

The Duke-led study shows that natural variability in surface temperatures — caused by interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, and other natural factors — can account for observed changes in the recent rates of warming from decade to decade.

The…

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Wisconsin: where the Left brings out its inner-Fascist

April 20, 2015
Himmler

Likes “John Doe” investigations

 

Yeah, I went there. Try telling me your reaction was any different after reading this:

“IT’S A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH.”

That was the first thought of “Anne” (not her real name). Someone was pounding at her front door. It was early in the morning — very early — and it was the kind of heavy pounding that meant someone was either fleeing from — or bringing — trouble.

“It was so hard. I’d never heard anything like it. I thought someone was dying outside.”

She ran to the door, opened it, and then chaos. “People came pouring in. For a second I thought it was a home invasion. It was terrifying. They were yelling and running, into every room in the house. One of the men was in my face, yelling at me over and over and over.”

It was indeed a home invasion, but the people who were pouring in were Wisconsin law-enforcement officers. Armed, uniformed police swarmed into the house. Plainclothes investigators cornered her and her newly awakened family. Soon, state officials were seizing the family’s personal property, including each person’s computer and smartphone, filled with the most intimate family information.

Why were the police at Anne’s home? She had no answers. The police were treating them the way they’d seen police treat drug dealers on television.

In fact, TV or movies were their only points of reference, because they weren’t criminals. They were law-abiding. They didn’t buy or sell drugs. They weren’t violent. They weren’t a danger to anyone. Yet there were cops — surrounding their house on the outside, swarming the house on the inside. They even taunted the family as if they were mere “perps.”

As if the home invasion, the appropriation of private property, and the verbal abuse weren’t enough, next came ominous warnings.

Don’t call your lawyer.

Don’t tell anyone about this raid. Not even your mother, your father, or your closest friends.

The entire neighborhood could see the police around their house, but they had to remain silent. This was not the “right to remain silent” as uttered by every cop on every legal drama on television — the right against self-incrimination. They couldn’t mount a public defense if they wanted — or even offer an explanation to family and friends.

If you didn’t know this happened in Wisconsin, you’d be excused for thinking this was something out of the 1930s, a raid by the German Gestapo or the Soviet NKVD against political opponents. You would be half-right: this and other atrocities against the Rule of Law were perpetrated against political opponents of a bunch of rogue prosecutors in Wisconsin. Recently. In the United States.

How the Hell could this happen here?

David French’s article goes into the details, but here’s a quick summary: Starting in 2009, the Milwaukee County prosecutor initiated what are called “John Doe” investigations (1) against newly-elected Governor Scott Walker and his political allies, who were working to reform Wisconsin’s collective bargaining rules for public employees. Under the “John Doe” rules, the entire investigation was secret: warrants were kept under wraps, no one could talk to the press, and those under investigation couldn’t even seek help from a lawyer. (Hello? Right to counsel? Sixth Amendment?) The prosecutor, enabled by a potted plant masquerading as a judge, went on a years-long fishing expedition looking for anything he could find, but always centered around supporters of Act 10, the reform bill in question. (And, what a coincidence, his wife was an official of the teachers union that was desperately opposed to this bill.) And not just individuals were persecuted: the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a free-market, low tax advocacy group, was for all intents and purposes put out of business just as crucial elections were approaching, a hammer-blow to its members’ First Amendment rights.

In the end, Act 10 was passed and the Left lost all those elections, and the John Doe investigations have been halted while state and federal courts get involved, but the harm done to its victims is real and isn’t over. These people live in fear now, insecure in their own homes, parents and children traumatized, humiliated, and tarred as suspect before their neighbors, never knowing if the power of the State will kick in their doors again for daring to participate in politics…

In America.

This is an absolute outrage. This prosecutor and his buddies abused their power in ways that Kim Jong Un would approve of.  Each one of them should –at a minimum– face disbarment and, if applicable, criminal charges. We entrust prosecutors with immense power and discretion; when they abuse it, they should have the book thrown at them.

So, what are you waiting for? Go read the article and get angry.

Afterthought: I think it’s a fair question to ask Scott Walker why he hasn’t gone after this guy hammer and tongs, now that the investigation against him has fallen apart. And why on Earth hasn’t the legislature (as far as I know) hauled in everyone in question under subpoena and under oath for a very public –indeed, televised– grilling? The prosecutors, police, and judge at the heart of this trampled the federal and state constitutions under foot and terrorized innocent people. They should be held accountable.

Footnote:
(1) As I understand it, these were created to protect the identities of those under investigation. The irony is overwhelming.


This Earth Day, celebrate the good done by fossil fuels

April 20, 2015

Prager University has put out a new video for Earth Day to remind us of how much the discovery and exploitation of fossil fuels has improved our world:

Though I think the host should have made a more obvious connection between all the wonderful developments of the last 300 years and the use of fossil fuels, the point made is still true: without gasoline, coal, and oil, we’d be living much poorer, more brutish lives. And he should have spent more time on how advances in technology –themselves made possible by fossil fuels– have helped us deal with the environmental problems created earlier in the industrial age.

But these are quibbles; his main argument is a valid one — the Green hostility toward fossil fuels goes beyond a reasonable concern for the environment and becomes a hostility to the very things that have made our lives so much better.


In the Left’s Orwellian World, Taxpayers Who Get to Keep their Income Are Getting “Handouts”

April 19, 2015

The difference between a conservative and a progressive: the conservative believes the money you earn is yours, and the government should take only the minimum it needs to perform necessary tasks. The progressive believes the money is yours, but government knows best how it should be used and how much you really need.

International Liberty

I’ve sometimes asserted, only half-jokingly, that statists believe all of our income belongs to the government and that we should be grateful if we’re allowed to keep any slice of what we earn.

This is, at least in part, the mentality behind the “tax expenditure” concept, which creates a false equivalence between spending programs and provisions of the tax code that allow people to keep greater amounts of their own income.

Here’s how I characterized this moral blindness when criticizing a Washington Post columnist back in 2013.

Hiatt presumably thinks that the government’s decision not to impose double taxation is somehow akin to a giveaway. But that only makes sense if you assume that government has a preemptive claim to all private income. …Hiatt wants us the think that there’s no moral, ethical, or economic difference between giving person A $5,000 of other people’s money and person B being…

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Counterpoint: Russia cannot beat NATO. Breathe easy.

April 19, 2015
"I won"

He’s bluffing?

A few weeks ago, I presented a scenario developed by a writer in Ukraine about how Vladimir Putin could break the NATO alliance in a short war: Opening with a surprise attack and seizure of Sweden’s lightly-defended strategic isle of Gotland, Russia would then invade the Baltic states and exploit political indecision in the Western alliance and weak American leadership to consolidate its gains. The end would come when a tactical nuclear strike on Poland revealed the major powers to be unwilling to risk regional or global nuclear war for NATO’s easternmost members. At that point Russia wins and NATO is no more.

Scary, right? And all too plausible, given Russia’s aggressive behavior since the 2008 invasion of Georgia.

Not so fast, writes strategic analyst Tom Nichols. NATO is still stronger than post-Soviet Russia and has more political will than perhaps we assume. In a war, he insists, Russia would lose, though that may not stop Putin from trying:

But this misses some important realities, including the condition and age of that equipment, the frayed infrastructure of Russia’s military commands, and the poor quality of Russian conscripts. The Russian military is a large regional force, and it can kill a lot of people. That doesn’t mean it can sustain a war with a vastly more populous and wealthier coalition of some three dozen nations (or more, if others join the fight).

Moreover, NATO enjoys a qualitative edge that would spell disaster for Russian forces in short order, especially in the air. The Vermont Air National Guard (which for years has intercepted Soviet and Russian aircraft on the U.S. East Coast) is more ready to go to war than the Russian Air Force. Without control of the skies, Russian ground forces stand no chance after whatever initial blitzkrieg might get them into NATO territory, and their commanders know it. World War III will not be like doing stunts at an air show, and taking out NATO’s aircraft will surely not be like blowing up unsuspecting commercial airliners.

Finally, NATO has something the Russians sorely lack: experience. Wisely or not, the U.S. and its allies have been at war in the Middle East and Central Asia for nearly 15 years, and NATO’s armies are salted throughout with men and women who know how to fight, supply, communicate, and remain cohesive in the face of actual combat. Russia’s military, once sharpened by World War II survivors and later by the veterans of the brutal attempt to subdue Afghanistan, now boasts men whose combat experience mostly consists of blowing up apartment blocks in Chechnya and shooting at outgunned conscripts in Ukraine.

But, for all that, Vlad the invader might still try:

The West’s more pressing concern should be whether Putin, for his own reasons, will force Russia’s military into a clash with NATO regardless of the consequences. The Russian president is a neo-Soviet nostalgist who not only craves revenge for the collapse of the USSR, but who still harbors old-school Kremlin fantasies about the weakness of the decadent West.

(…and…)

Putin suffers from the same kind of thinking, but Russia’s generals, who are neither fools nor madmen, almost certainly understand that a sustained war with NATO is an unwinnable proposition. Both Putin and his generals, however, are counting on a political, not military, victory. Putin’s bluster and the Russian military’s continued probes and feints into NATO territory are all predicated on the Soviet-era belief that NATO is essentially a charade, a phony alliance made of spun glass: pretty to look at, but so delicate it will shatter at even the smallest blow. Should Putin attack, it will not be to defend the “rights of Russian-speakers” or some other fantasy, but rather from the delusion that one sharp military strike will smash NATO as a political entity once and for all.

It’s that scenario in the bold text that worries me. Qualitatively, yes, Western militaries are superior to what Russia can field, though Moscow has excellent special forces and excels at “special war.”

But it’s the will to fight of much of the Alliance’s modern political leadership that worries me, especially our own Administration. Obama has been utterly  diffident about the use of force, even in situations that clearly call for it. (Hello? ISIS?) And what will Merkel do, given her nation’s crack-addiction to Russian natural gas? How many leaders would be willing to go to the edge of nuclear war if Putin decides to “de-escalate?” (1)

Still, Nichols knows far more about these things than I, so I’ll take his message about NATO’s resilience and superiority as a comfort. He covers much more in his article, so do read the whole thing.

Footnote:
(1) Apparently Russia has a doctrine called “nuclear deescalation,” in which Moscow uses a limited nuclear strike to convince the other guy to stop fighting — particularly if Russia is losing on the ground. These people are weird.


Hezbollah expects payday from Iran deal

April 16, 2015

More fallout from Team Smart Power’s “diplomacy” with Iran: enabling the terrorist group that blew up our Marines in Beirut in the 80s. #genius

Money Jihad

Excerpts follow from an IPT report regarding the effect of a nuclear deal with Iran that would lift sanctions against them.  Iranian catspaw terror groups stand to benefit from the money that will flow their way.  Hat tip to El Grillo:

The framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program is set to refill Iran’s coffers and enable the Islamic Republic to invest considerable treasure in its regional network of terrorist and guerilla proxies…

They include the Shi’ite Lebanese organization Hizballah – the most highly armed terrorist entity in the world, active in the Syrian civil war – the Shi’ite Houthi forces currently seizing and destabilizing Yemen, a plethora of militant Shi’ite militias in Iraq, the Islamic Jihad terror group in Gaza and the West Bank, and Hamas, with which Iran has recently mended relations. Iran has begun sending Hamas, which rules over Gaza, tens of millions of dollars for its…

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California: SEIU demands increase in minimum wage, jobs be damned

April 16, 2015
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least we raised the minimum wage! Obama!!”

Fresno is fifth-largest city in California, the largest that’s not on the coast, and the largest in the Central Valley, that agricultural cornucopia that’s being destroyed by drought and environmentalist idiocies.

But don’t get me started on that.

Anyway, just by its position and population Fresno is important to the state’s economy, particularly our agricultural sector. (Where do you think your raisins come from?) But, like much of the Central Valley, it’s suffered more than the rest of California from the 2008 recession and the pathetic recovery: unemployment in the Fresno area in 2014 was still over 11%, well above California’s statewide average of 7.1% at the end of that year.

So, when your city is suffering from a lack of jobs, what’s the first thing you think of to increase opportunities for work?

That’s right! You demand an increase to the cost of labor!

On Wednesday, according to the Fresno Bee, over 150 people joined other workers around the country marking Tax Day by marching in rallies organized by unions as they demanded the current federal minimum wage of $7.24 an hour be raised, as well as the California $9 minimum wage.

Standing in front of a McDonald’s, the protesters–comprised of home and child care workers, county and state workers, students and community leaders, but no fast-food workers–chanted, “Hold the burgers, hold the fries. Make our wages super-sized.”

Union members from the Services Employees International (SEIU) helped lead the way; one member, Beau Reynolds with SEIU Local 100, told the Bee, “We’re here to stand up. We’re here to join forces and we are here to demand better. To demand better wages, to demand better benefits and to demand the right and respect that all working families deserve.”

Notice that none of those protesting in front of McD’s actually work there: they’re just there in service of SEIU’s political goal, which is to get a general increase in the minimum wage, which would include the union’s members, leading in turn to higher dues-revenues for the union to spend on politics. (And union bosses’ salaries…)

But the fast-food workers on the inside? The ones inside who didn’t march, the supposed beneficiaries of SEIU’s fight for economic justice? Apparently they know what happens when you raise labor costs too high:

Welcome to the future

Welcome to the future

In other words, when government raises the cost of doing business —and labor is a cost!— business owners have just a few choices: pass the cost to the consumer and risk losing their custom; reduce profits to perhaps unacceptably low levels; reduce labor costs by cutting back hours, letting people go, and not hiring; or just getting out of the business. They’re already learning this in progressive Seattle, and it looks like the Fresno McDonald’s workers understand basic economics, too, unlike SEIU.

Or maybe SEIU just doesn’t care that fast food workers can be replaced with kiosks, as long as they themselves get their cut.

Either way, they’re not helping Fresno county’s unemployment problem.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)