Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What have we been tweeting


A free society requires a free press. While true, saying fails to mention anything abt corrupt press.

We can’t buy the “bias” angle anymore as it goes far beyond the simple statist cheerleading of this country’s 4th estate.

What inspired that tweet was MSNBC deliberately editing a legislative hearing this week in Hartford, CT to make it look as if Neil Heslin, the father of a Sandy Hook victim who was testifying, was being heckled by members of the audience. In fact, he was not being heckled.

This is shameless journalistic malpractice to alter footage of an event in order to stack the deck against those with whom’s politics you disagree.

We felt a similar manner of disgust in the tone of coverage regarding Abu Ghraib and now Benghazi. We have forgotten the exact figure but the NY Times ran a front page story on the tasteless and disgusting photos taken of Iraqi prisoners by our troops minding the prison for 33 straight days. Howls of indignation echoed from the media-political class calling for Rumsfeld’s and, at times, Bush’s head. We may remind everybody that though, humiliating, none of the prisoners died.

Fast forward some 8-9 years and the absolute fiasco that was Benghazi generates barely a shrug from our nation’s press. We ignored constant pleas for beefing up security there and as a result four Americans are dead from a well-coordinated assault on the Benghazi consulate on 9-11. There is probably a handful of embassies/consulates we would want to pay particular attention to on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on this country in its history and Benghazi, a hub of anti-Qaddafi Islamist activity, would certainly be one of them.

And when it all went up in smoke, the administration immediately, and against all logic and reason, blamed some totally obscure alleged anti-Islam Youtube movie trailer. They maintained this lie for weeks and no one had the balls to call them out on it.

And when Hilary Clinton, before stepping down as Secretary of State, beclowned herself in congressional testimony (“What difference does it make?”) she was labeled by the press a tough-minded statesmen who, incredibly enough, may have possibly been using these hearings to launch her 2016 presidential campaign.

As far as we can tell, the only person that has been punished for this travesty is the poor sap who made the crappy Youtube movie trailer.

Again, mere bias doesn’t adequately explain what is going on here. The press has effectively abdicated their responsibility to have an inherently adversarial relationship with a presidential administration. Indeed, it appears quite the opposiste They are all, with few exceptions, corrupt to the core.

Maybe that fact alone is the single best reason for a Republican president.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Your California high-speed choo-choo update



We held off on running with the following regarding the state of California’s insistence that it did not need federal funding for its high speed rail project just yet. Obviously, having secured roughly just $2-1/2 billion via publicly-approved state bond sales of the $68 billion needed overall (which will certainly be much, much more as that total doesn’t include the cost of the actual trains or for actually electrifying the project), California is, no doubt, going to come hat in hand to DC at some point to get funding to get this Brown-doggle completed.

From Politico:

California’s landmark high-speed rail line won’t require cash from Congress for at least two years. But at some point, it will.

That’s the message the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s leadership team is sending to Washington about the massive $68 billion project set to break ground this year.

The planned statewide system is short about $60 billion, some of which will undoubtedly need to come from Congress. But CEO Jeff Morales and Chairman Dan Richard — in Washington last week for meetings during the U.S. Conference of Mayors — told POLITICO they didn’t come to the capital with hat in hand.

“We don’t need new federal money for about two more years,” Morales said during an interview at the Capital Hilton. “We’re not here asking for a new round of funding right now. Having said that, we do need — over the long run — some form of ongoing stable federal support.”

With Republicans in control of the House, there is scant hope of getting any federal scratch until, at least, January of 2015 at the earliest.

But there is something else going on here, something much more pedestrian than the political make-up of the legislative body in charge of this nation’s finances as a reason to not seek federal funding.

Cue the other shoe: they don’t yet own a single parcel of land on which to build.

From the L.A. Times:

Construction of California's high-speed rail network is supposed to start in just six months, but the state hasn't acquired a single acre along the route and faces what officials are calling a challenging schedule to assemble hundreds of parcels needed in the Central Valley.

The complexity of getting federal, state and local regulatory approvals for the massive $68-billion project has already pushed back the start of construction to July from late last year. Even with that additional time, however, the state is facing a risk of not having the property to start major construction work near Fresno as now planned.

It hopes to begin making purchase offers for land in the next several weeks. But that's only the first step in a convoluted legal process that will give farmers, businesses and homeowners leverage to delay the project by weeks, if not months, and drive up sales prices, legal experts say.

One major stumbling block could be valuing agricultural land in a region where prices have been soaring, raising property owners' expectations far above what the state expects to pay.

"The reality is that they are not going to start in July," said Anthony Leones, a Bay Area attorney who has represented government agencies as well as property owners in eminent domain cases.

State high-speed rail officials say it won't be easy, but they can acquire needed property and begin the project on time.

"It is a challenge," said Jeff Morales, the rail agency's chief executive. "It is not unlike virtually any project. The difference is the scale of it."

Under a deal worked out with the Obama administration, federal funding is contingent upon completing the first 130 miles of the project in the Central Valley by 2018, a schedule which would require burning through $3.6 million of the projected budget every day.

What the project now faces is an array of legal, bureaucratic, engineering, logistical and eminent domain challenges that makes the sunny face put on the project by Governor Brown and project officials appear farcical.

Dig this:

Indeed, the rail authority's formal right-of-way plan indicates it does not expect to acquire the first properties until Sept. 15, despite other documents that indicate construction would start in July. Rail officials said they padded the schedule to avoid claims for additional payments by construction contractors should land not be available by July.

This is also known as lying.

The General Accounting Office (GAO) has estimated that of the 400 parcels of land in way of the initial stages of construction of the project, about 100 of them were at risk of not being available at the time of construction. A gut feel tells us that is a conservative estimate.

And where market values price Central Valley acreage at $28,000, the high-speed choo-choo honchos have only budgeted values at $8,000/acre.

In summary, the mess that is California’s high speed rail project keeps getting hotter and hotter.



Sunday, January 27, 2013

Video clip of the day


Are state and city budget cuts framing the gun control debate in a different light?

If so, then Milwaukee County Sheriff, David Clarke has some ideas.

Just a reminder to the gun control folks out there that the 2nd amendment wasn't about hunting and recreation.

And a quick aside to our lefty friends: If you likened Bush to Hitler and the right wing as a whole to a bunch of fascists, wouldn't you want the ability to defend yourself against that imminent threat?

Of course, it was just all cheap hypocrtical political grandstanding that did nothing to elevate the discourse of the debate back then which helps explain why the gun control types are getting their asses kicked in the debate today.


(H/T: Hot Air)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Rare" would indeed be in the eye of the beholder


Some 20 years ago, President Bill Clinton assured us that he wanted to keep abortion safe, legal and rare. Safe and legal may be easier to quantify than rare but apparently Governor Cuomo of New York didn’t get Clinton’s memo because we’re betting that his idea of rare with respect to abortion doesn’t matchup that well with the vast majority of Americans.

This past week, Cuomo introduced legislation that would radically expand access to abortion services.

From Life Site News:

Cuomo is pushing for a massive expansion of access to abortion in the state, including lifting restrictions on third-trimester abortions, allowing non-doctors to perform the procedure, and enshrining a fundamental right to “terminate a pregnancy” in New York state law.

Democrats for Life of America deemed the proposed bill “the most sweeping abortion legislation in the nation.”

The Democratic governor introduced the bill to cheers during his January 9 State of the State address, shrouding it in the name of “women’s equality.”

“The abortion language would allow late-term abortions, allow non-doctors to perform abortions, and supersede any reasonable restrictions such as parental notification,” the group stated.

“It is out of touch with the views of most Americans, out of touch with the views of most Democrats, and could hamper real reform for women's rights,” the Democratic group concluded.

Particularly “in a state that already has one of the highest abortion rates,” double the national average.

One-third of all pregnancies in the state end in abortion, and in some parts of New York City the abortion rate is more than 60 percent.

One would think that whether you are pro-life or pro-abortion, that decision to abort one’s unborn should be a weighty one and access to have that abortion not on equal footing as walking down the hallway and depositing a dollar bill into the vending machine for a soda.

Is it anti-choice or anti-reproductive rights to say that getting an abortion ought to take a little more effort than popping a bag of popcorn? Shouldn’t it actually be more difficult to get an abortion than to renew your driver’s license at the DMV?

At what point did this stop being about reproductive rights and start being about a culture of death when expediency to terminate a pregnancy becomes of paramount and fanatical importance?

Probably about the same time when instead of celebrating the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, you want to make love to it instead.

Standby for the creepiest, most vile and disgusting Youtube videos we may have ever seen courtesy The Center for Reproductive Rights:

The mentality that is expressed here is one void of any compassion and empathy whatsoever. In fact it is soulless. Despite what the ad purports, there is no love expressed here only a selfishness that can't/won't recognize the gift of life seeing it merely as an inconvenience that should give way instead to inward directed gratification.

Our country is not better off because of this.


Monday, January 21, 2013

What we've been Tweeting



Provisions to make #ObamaCare more affordable are being unfairly derided as loopholes.

Don’t confuse savings designed to make #ObamaCare more affordable with saving designed to make healthcare more affordable.

We’ve written previously about how ObamaCare has created perverse incentives to force employers to take actions that work against its' employees’ best economic and healthcare interests.

Here are the money paragraphs from The American Interest article regarding how adjunct professors at certain colleges are getting the shaft because of the new healthcare law:

A new piece in the Wall Street Journal reports that many colleges are cutting back on the number of hours worked by adjunct professors, in order to avoid new requirements that they provide healthcare to anyone working over 30 hours per week. This is terrible news for a lot of people; 70 percent of professors work as adjuncts and many will now have to cope with a major pay cut just as requirements that they buy their own health insurance go into effect:

In Ohio, instructor Robert Balla faces a new cap on the number of hours he can teach at Stark State College. In a Dec. 6 letter, the North Canton school told him that “in order to avoid penalties under the Affordable Care Act… employees with part-time or adjunct status will not be assigned more than an average of 29 hours per week.”

Mr. Balla, a 41-year-old father of two, had taught seven English composition classes last semester, split between Stark State and two other area schools. This semester, his course load at Stark State is down to one instead of two as a result of the school’s new limit on hours, cutting his salary by about a total of $2,000.
Stark State’s move came as a blow to Mr. Balla, who said he earns about $40,000 a year and cannot afford health insurance.

“I think it goes against the spirit of the [health-care] law,” Mr. Balla said. “In education, we’re working for the public good, we are public employees at a public institution; we should be the first ones to uphold the law, to set the example.”

Because of what he makes, healthcare insurance for he and his family is out of reach and now with his hours being cut back, healthcare is just that more out of reach. How does that make any sense for a law called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? Well, it doesn’t precisely because of the provisions built into ObamaCare to keep the cost of ObamaCare down.

As we suggested in our Tweet: don’t confuse attempting to control the cost of the politically-driven healthcare law with actually trying to control the costs of healthcare for individuals and families. The two are totally separate goals and as we are seeing, should not be seen as one in the same.

Also, the article suggested these are loopholes to be exploited by employers so that they can somehow extricate themselves from the more onerous portions of the law? Nonsense. As the saying goes, these are features, not bugs.

ObamaCare could not achieve its stated goal without having built-in “outs” for employers as the people who wrote the legislation had enough sense to know that small businesses and, in this instance, colleges would not be able to afford the additional mandates required by ObamaCare for all of their employees.

As it stands, ObamaCare is giving the shaft to those near-full employment employees who are seeing their hours being cut back thus combining less take-home pay with the security of health insurance for their families being that much more out of reach.

The statist-left can bitch and moan all they want about for-profit companies like Darden Foods (owners of Red Robin and Olive Garden, among others) trying to maximize their profits by “skirting” ObamaCare provisions but now not-for-profit industries like education are facing the same cold hard realities and are behaving in exactly the same, rational manner.

At the end of the day, we are even questioning the term “unintended consequences” with respect to this law as when you take a close look at how it was written (something that, of course, Nancy Pelosi famously admitted to not doing), the law is producing the exact results as intended.

There is no great mystery about this as we are finding out as the ObamaCare implementation roll-out continues and we see just how much havoc this will wreak on peoples’ healthcare and the economy as a whole.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Video clip of the day


Alternate headline: Honchos of newspaper that published names and addresses of those who hold gun permits not to keen on advertising the fact that they don’t.

Some red meat here if there ever was some: Conservative activist and all-around gangster, James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas crew go door to door of editors, writers and columnists of the Journal News to see if they have the courage of their convictions by publicly declaring their homes to be gun-free zones.

When it comes to touchy-feely, do-gooder activism that is not based on rationality or facts, the results become entirely predictable.

(video approx. 10 of the most deliciously short minutes of your life)

The last gentleman illustrates perfectly the logic of progressive gun control advocates. If lefties are worried about a right wing gun mob take-over then it makes perfect sense for said lefties to arm themselves to the teeth to prevent such a thing from happening.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Getting bogged down in semantics


Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey, who has been an outspoken critic of ObamaCare, found himself in the news again this week for an updated critique of the Affordable Care Act:

(previous posts regarding Mackey and his completely principled opposition to ObamaCare can be found here)

The CEO of Whole Foods compared President Obama's health care law to "fascism" in a radio interview on Wednesday, a turnabout from earlier comments in which he compared the signature reforms to socialism.

"Technically speaking, it's more like fascism," John Mackey told NPR's Morning Edition. "Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn't own the means of production, but they do control it — and that's what's happening with our health care programs and these reforms."

The Wall Street Journal in 2009 ran a piece by Mr. Mackey that was critical of Mr. Obama's law, which passed in March 2010 and is marching toward full implementation in the coming years. The article led with a quote from Margaret Thatcher, who said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."

Mr. Mackey is probably correct in this nuanced shift in terminology for what we know of Obamacare, currently, however: Socialism, Fascism... how do we really know what it is if no one, not the health insurance industry lobbyists that wrote it, not the members of Congress who did not read it yet voted on it and not even the President who also did not read it but signed it into law can tell you what this monstrosity is going to look like, say, 5 to 10 years from now?

It's almost as if those two terms have been drummed into irrelevance over the years due to misuse and overuse.

The good news, however, for champions of the President's healthcare law is that come 5 or 10 years down the line, we're predicting a renewed debate of these two terms with their respective corresponding surge in relevancy.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

What have we been Tweeting?


We took a couple of days off but are back at it and hopefully back at it with a little more frequency and consistency. So, what were we tweeting?

#GunControlExecutiveOrders #LanceArmstrong #MantiTeo #Mali #Algeria Easily the most bizarre 24 hr. news cycle (we’ve) ever witnessed.

And perhaps more specific to Lance Armstrong, Manti Te'o and other fallen heroes:

If society cannot provide benefits for joining it, its members may no longer feel bound to follow its rules

That was a pull quote from the linked article above. Line is a tad ham-fisted and mealy-mouthed but the article fleshes out the concept quite well.

And how bizarre have the past 24-36 hrs. been? It got to us in our sleep.

At a presser surrounded by children announcing a background check for my fake dead girlfriend who had admitted to doping. #whatadream

And with respect to yet more executive orders signed by the President yesterday:

Apparently all that righteous indignation regarding executive orders oh, 6 or 7 years ago, came with an expiration date. #liberals #Bush

Yes, some of us have been paying attention...

Under current law, the courts and Congress are involved when Presidents eavesdrop on Americans but not when they kill them.

And in the same vein:

Man seeking stricter gun control laws for Americans has power to kill those same Americans.

OK, as we said, we hope to get back to blogging on a more consistent and frequent basis.


Bet you didn't know that...


... "Sandy" rhymes with "pork".

The $9 billion bill passed the Republican-controlled House earlier this week and it will most certainly be rubber-stamped by the Democratic-controlled Senate and signed into law by the President in short order.

"Never let a crisis go to waste"

- Rahm Emanuel


Monday, January 14, 2013



A round-up of news items, articles, columns and blog posts that caught our eye this past week.



By using the tactics Harry Reid employed on Mitt Romney during the campaign when Reid insisted Romney release more of his tax returns because Romney was “hiding something” , we are going to demand that Reid prove his innocence in this matter otherwise we will just assume his guilt.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid broke days of silence on Sunday evening to deny any knowledge or involvement in a Utah case in which a man claims to have funneled money to others in an attempt to get the Nevada Democrat to intervene in a Federal Trade Commission case.

“Senator Reid has no knowledge or involvement regarding Mr. Johnson’s case,” a statement from Reid’s office said. “These unsubstantiated allegations implying Senator Reid’s involvement are nothing more than innuendo and simply not true.”

(italics, ours)

Days of silence? Again, not our tactics but Reid's: What's Harry hiding? He's certainly behaving like a guilty man.

Remind us again of why we are giving these creeps our tax dollars in the form of foreign aid?

Earlier this month, the Middle East Media Research Institute posted video taken in 2010 of Egypt's current president, Mohamed Morsi, calling Jews the "descendants of apes and pigs."

The Jerusalem Post provided this summary of his remarks:

"... Morsi denounced the Palestinian Authority as a creation of "the Zionist and American enemies for the sole purpose of opposing the will of the Palestinian people." Therefore, he stressed, "No reasonable person can expect any progress on this track."

"Either [you accept] the Zionists and everything they want, or else it is war," Morsi said, "This is what these occupiers of the land of Palestine know - these blood-suckers, who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs." (You can watch Morsi deliver these remarks here.)

Richard Behar, at Forbes, watched what happened once these atrocious remarks were made public:

I studied the Pigs-and-Apes story's journey and trajectory through America over the past week with Sue Radlauer, the Director of Research Services here at Forbes. We gave it seven days to see if any of the so-called "mainstream media" -- a pejorative phrase that too-often obscures more than it reveals -- bestowed the hate speech even a few sentences of back-page ink. Nothing.

You see, in the West, anti-semitism is the only acceptable form of bigotry and will be protected as such by Western media.

Mission Accomplished? Home of gun owner whose name and address were published by New York state newspaper has home broken into and what do you think the crooks went looking for?

Just days before Christmas, the Journal News out of New York published a story headlined, "Where are the gun permits in your neighborhood?" The Journal News thought it was important to publish the names and addresses of every gun permit holder in Westchester and Rockland counties in the name of public safety and the public's right to know. Turns out, they accomplished the opposite by treating lawful gun permit holders like convicted sex offenders. The story received national attention and put gun permit holders and their non-holding neighbors at risk. Ex-convicts said the Journal News story was a gift and served as an extremely useful tool for criminals interested in stealing valuables, including guns. One ex-con called the story "insanity."

Over the weekend, a home on the map published by the Journal News was burglarized and the crooks went straight for the guns.

A White Plains residence pinpointed on a controversial handgun permit database was burglarized Saturday, and the burglars' target was the homeowner's gun safe.

Check out the video at the link and you'll find that the paper's idea of transparency is a one-way street.

Commie-apologist who made millions in Hollywood is back in the news again:

Action star Jackie Chan has once again sparked controversy by branding America the world's "most corrupt" country in a TV interview.

His comments were slammed by The Washington Post's foreign affairs blogger Max Fisher as "anti-American" and a reflection of China's insecurity about itself.

Chan told Phoenix TV that China has been bullied by international powers for a long time and only began making progress in recent years.

Chan added that while China has a corruption problem, so do other nations, including America.

"If you talk about corruption, the entire world - America - has no corruption?" said the actor.

He went on to say America is "the most corrupt [country] in the world" - not China. "Where does this great breakdown [of corruption] come from? It started exactly from the [rest of the] world, the United States … If our own countrymen don't support our country, who will?" he said.

It's a false argument as if forced abortions and sterilizations are official state policy as they are in China, then where is there room for corruption?

The miserable hack that runs the Justice Department pretty much equates gun owners with criminals.

Here's B-Daddy of The Liberator Today on defense budgets in our age of ever-expanding entitlements:

Ultimately, America is going to have to decide if it wants fewer soldiers and sailors, because the big bill comes from the cost of labor. Defense isn't immune to the same analysis that face many other businesses. Fewer soldiers mean we can't put boots on the ground again like we did in Iraq. That may or may not be a good thing, depending on your point of view. But we are going to have to live with toppling dictators, if we choose, but not controlling the outcome, like in Libya. Rather than shaping the post-war landscape, like in Iraq. Given the expense of the latter, one might argue that boots on the ground are a luxury we can no longer afford. However, adversaries are going to notice, and it will change the calculus of world politics. If you think America is the source of all that's wrong in the world, you might like that. I think it will make the world more dangerous; but I also think we never thought hard enough about what force composition and programs were necessary for our national security strategy and ended up wasting a lot of money as a consequence.

Why isn't ObamaCare about improving the healthcare system of this country? Because enforcement of ObamaCare compliance will be carried out by the IRS.

Alternately, the IRS warns employers that using clever schemes to get around a law crafted by clever schemes will not go unpunished:

The Internal Revenue Service warned employers in a new regulatory proposal not to come up with clever schemes to avoid Obamacare’s employer health insurance mandate.

The IRS said it would soon issue “anti-abuse rules” to discourage employers from taking advantage of any regulatory loopholes.

“The Treasury Department and the IRS are aware of various structures being considered under which employers might use temporary staffing agencies (or other staffing agencies)… to evade application of section 4980H [the employer insurance mandate],” the IRS said in a proposed regulatory announcement issued December 28.

The IRS said it would issue a so-called “anti-abuse rule” in an attempt to prevent employers from using temp agencies to circumvent the mandate, essentially writing into law that even though an employer hires temporary workers and therefore is not technically under the mandate’s jurisdiction, the IRS would fine them anyway for not providing health insurance.

Anti-abuse rule? How about the anti-staying in business rule?

Punishing employers for looking out for their businesses best interests. That's pretty much what this boils down to.

Here's KT on the liberal contention that blue states are the "makers" and red states are the "takers":

So the red states are "takers." So what?

Budgets and spending have to deal with what is, not what should be or what would be in a perfectly just and fair world. If your neighbor earns twice what you do, but happens to be a worthless sloth, that doesn't absolve you of managing your finances. It's irrelevant.

If blue states are fiscally irresponsible, it's because blue policies aren't coping with reality. Neighboring states aren't forcing the blue states to spend more than they bring in. That's a choice the blue states make for themselves. If there's a correlation between political leanings and fiscal performance, it's a pretty good indication those policies are inferior.

OK, gang, that's it for today. We'll see you all tomorrow.


Movie trailer of the day


On the heels of UAE-funded anti-fracking movie, Promised Land comes this documentary, Frack Nation from Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinn regarding the nature of the debate here in America.

Yes, it certainly looks like more of that new civility we've been hearing all about.

H/T: Hot Air

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Video clip of the day


Good thing about these slaughters in Newtown, CT, is that it allows for a cottage industry of sorts for disgraced former tabloid hacks from across the pond to make an otherwise unheard of name for themselves on American cable television.

After having conspiracy crank, Alex Jones, on his show two nights before, CNN’s Piers Morgan invited Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro on to his show and to say that Shapiro’s precise, on-point messaging owned Morgan might be a bit of an understatement.

(video approx. 14 minutes long)

When Morgan asks Shapiro what purpose there is for the 2nd amendment to preserve the right for citizens to own assault rifles, Shapiro rightly responds that it is for protection against a tyrannical government (as demonstrated by democracies going bad in Germany and Italy last century).

When Morgan responds in incredulity, as in, what do you have to fear about your government, Shapiro missed by not bringing up the fact that our very own government has the power to detain indefinitely its own citizens without cause and the power to kill its citizens overseas without traditional due judicial process.

Overall, though, an outstanding performance by Shapiro that illustrates the emotionalism and polemics of gun-control advocates versus the reasoned approach employed by defenders of the 2nd amendment.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

If you read nothing else today...


It’s a dark thought, we know, but we can’t help but think that horrific events like that which went down in Newtown, CT, are not music to a news channel producer’s ear. It’s the the post-election/lame-duck session dog days and who wouldn’t be up for an amateur hour gun-control debate?

We had our thoughts about what might possibly be the result of a suburban, white, middle/upper-middle-class progressive agenda but this guy states it much better than ourselves:

These are the psychological drugs of the 21st Century and they are getting our sons and daughters very sick, indeed.

As if to keep up with the unreality of media and technology, in a dizzying paroxysm of self-aggrandizing hype, town sports leagues across the country hand out ribbons and trophies to losing teams, schools inflate grades, energy drinks in giant, colorful cans take over the soft drink market, and psychiatrists hand out Adderall like candy.

All the while, these adolescents, teens and young adults are watching a Congress that can’t control its manic, euphoric, narcissistic spending, a president that can’t see his way through to applauding genuine and extraordinary achievements in business, a society that blames mass killings on guns, not the psychotic people who wield them, and—here no surprise—a stock market that keeps rising and falling like a roller coaster as bubbles inflate and then, inevitably, burst.

That’s really the unavoidable end, by the way. False pride can never be sustained. The bubble of narcissism is always at risk of bursting.

By the way, we're re-upping our membership with the NRA for the most obvious reason of all: it just pisses off all the right people and what better justification is there than that?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Looks like we'll be learning these lessons the hard way


America’s paper of record seems genuinely perplexed that the new health care law that mandates more benefits from health insurers and adds more people into the health care system, isn’t coming anywhere near the advertised goal of ObamaCare: bending downward the cost curve of health care.

Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers.

Particularly vulnerable to the high rates are small businesses and people who do not have employer-provided insurance and must buy it on their own.

In California, Aetna is proposing rate increases of as much as 22 percent, Anthem Blue Cross 26 percent and Blue Shield of California 20 percent for some of those policy holders, according to the insurers’ filings with the state for 2013. These rate requests are all the more striking after a 39 percent rise sought by Anthem Blue Cross in 2010 helped give impetus to the law, known as the Affordable Care Act, which was passed the same year and will not be fully in effect until 2014.

In other states, like Florida and Ohio, insurers have been able to raise rates by at least 20 percent for some policy holders. The rate increases can amount to several hundred dollars a month.

The proposed increases compare with about 4 percent for families with employer-based policies.

The double-digit requests in some states are being made despite evidence that overall health care costs appear to have slowed in recent years, increasing in the single digits annually as many people put off treatment because of the weak economy.PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that costs may increase just 7.5 percent next year, well below the rate increases being sought by some insurers. But the companies counter that medical costs for some policy holders are rising much faster than the average, suggesting they are in a sicker population. Federal regulators contend that premiums would be higher still without the law, which also sets limits on profits and administrative costs and provides for rebates if insurers exceed those limits.

(italics, ours)

No proof of this is offered.

Back to the article:

Critics, like Dave Jones, the California insurance commissioner and one of two health plan regulators in that state, said that without a federal provision giving all regulators the ability to deny excessive rate increases, some insurance companies can raise rates as much as they did before the law was enacted.

“This is business as usual,” Mr. Jones said. “It’s a huge loophole in the Affordable Care Act,” he said.

We’ve got news for Mr. Jones: that is no loophole and it’s not a bug… it’s a feature. In crafting the legislation, allowing health insurers to raise rates unilaterally was most likely a concession to the insurers in return for the feds setting limits on profits and administrative costs.

That’s how things get done legislatively, though, you may be asking yourself what the results of traditional sausage-making done by paid politicians and health care lobbyists are going to actually improve your personal health care and health care costs. That’s a damn fine question.

Maybe to help answer that question, we can look across the pond to ObamaCare enthusiasts' favorite healthcare system, Britain’s NHS (National Health Service):

An official inquiry into failings at the hospital, where between 400 and 1,200 patients died needlessly due to a catalogue of failings and appalling standards of care, is due to be published later this month.

The report is expected to blame managers who cut costs and reduced staffing levels in an attempt to hit "efficiency" targets and win foundation status.

Before taking control of the health service, Sir David ran the health authority responsible for supervising Stafford between August 2005 and April 2006.

His tenure came during a four-year period in which between 400 and 1,200 patients died needlessly due to a catalogue of failings and appalling standards of care at Mid Staffordshire NHS trust.

And later in the same article:

The report, the result of a two year-long inquiry led by Robert Francis QC, is expected to call for major reforms of the NHS including new controls to identify and remove bad managers and an improved training programme for nurses and health care assistants.

It will warn that a "culture of fear" filtering down from Whitehall made managers obsessed with hitting targets, even when to do so would mean putting patients at risk.

Doctors at Stafford were called away from critical patients to treat less urgent Accident and Emergency patients because a central target said all patients should be discharged from A&E units within four hours, the inquiry reportedly heard.

Patients were left unwashed, unfed and in soiled bedsheets, while nurses were told that "heads would roll" and the A&E department could close if targets were missed.

(emphasis, ours)

ObamaCare has granted Medicare the power to reward and punish hospitals based upon patient care and, in fact, just recently Medicare reduced re-imbursement rates for 8 San Diego-area hospitals for not meeting ObamaCare's patient care goals.

Though well-intended, the NHS provides a great example of the un-intended consequences of the government incentivizing better patient care when, in reality, the results are the exact opposite.

Despite examples like this, looks like we are going to learn these lessons the hard way.


Sunday, January 6, 2013



A round-up of news items, articles, columns and blog posts that caught our eye this past week.

Thank Gaia, Obama and the Democrats retained the Oval Office and the Senate from those wascallwy WePublicans and all the crazy shtuff they were saying about abortion and everything. Now, at least, we have some adults with some adult ideas regarding our spending habits and the debt ceiling*.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler has an admittedly "out of the ordinary" solution to the coming fight over the debt ceiling.

"There is specific statutory authority that says that the Federal Reserve can mint any non-gold or -silver coin in any denomination, so all you do is you tell the Federal Reserve to make a platinum coin for one trillion dollars, and then you deposit it in the Treasury account, and you pay your bills," Nadler said in a telephone interview this afternoon.

I asked whether he was serious.

"I'm being absolutely serious," he said. "It sounds silly but it's absolutely legal. And it would normally not be proper to consider such a thing, except when you're faced with blackmail to destroy the country's economy, you have to consider things."

(italics, ours)

Silly? It’s absolutely and positively unserious and unmoored from logic. And even that does not make it exclusive from legal.

Hey, if a trillion dollar coin is good then why not a $100 trillion coin? That’d be much better, right? And totally legal also.

Yep, as we were saying, it’s good to know the adults are back in charge in Washington.

*You know the idea absolutely sucks when the article declines to state holder of sucky idea's party affiliation. Nadler is a Democrat.

A little less in the paycheck there on Friday, huh?

The temporary payroll tax holiday may not have been such a hot idea to begin with as it defunded an already cash-strapped Social Security program but that $1,000-$2,000/year hit to your income due to the expiration of that tax doesn’t seem like such a hot idea either in these recession-like times.

Technically, the payroll/Social Security tax just went back to its original rate, so one can debate whether or not this was an actual “tax hike”. However, the bottom line is that Americans look at their take-home pay in aggregate, so if there is less in that paycheck than was in the previous paycheck, the natural and rational reaction is, whiskey-tango-foxtrot?

The good news is that Friday’s lackluster jobs report indicates that there are still tens of millions of Americans out there that won’t feel the pinch of that payroll, ahem, tax hike.

Hey, it's the new normal.

Guns for me but not for thee...

The New York state newspaper that took it upon itself to publish the names and addresses of pistol permit holders in 3 downstate counties has seen fit to go guns-up at their headquarters.

A Clarkstown police report issued on December 28, 2012, confirmed that The Journal News has hired armed security guards from New City-based RGA Investigations and that they are manning the newspaper’s Rockland County headquarters at 1 Crosfield Ave., West Nyack, through at least tomorrow, Wednesday, January 2, 2013.

[Update 1/4/13-the guards will now be present indefinitely]

According to police reports on public record, Journal News Rockland Editor Caryn A. McBride was alarmed by the volume of “negative correspondence,” namely an avalanche of phone calls and emails to the Journal News office, following the newspaper’s publishing of a map of all pistol permit holders in Rockland and Westchester.

Due to apparent safety concerns, the newspaper then decided to hire RGA Investigations to provide armed personnel to man the location.

You see, gun control laws are for the little people, the unwashed masses, if you will and the 2nd amendment should only be applied so as to not infringe upon the rights of those vanguards of the 1st amendment.

And getting away from the hypothetical absurdity of this, if you are asking what could possibly go wrong... well, this.

Law enforcement officials from a New York region where a local paper published a map identifying gun owners say prisoners are using the information to intimidate guards.

Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco, who spoke at a news conference flanked by other county officials, said the Journal News' decision to post an online map of names and addresses of handgun owners Dec. 23 has put law enforcement officers in danger.

"They have inmates coming up to them and telling them exactly where they live. That's not acceptable to me," Falco said, according to Newsday.

Robert Riley, an officer with the White Plains Police Department and president of its Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, agreed.

"You have guys who work in New York City who live up here. Now their names and addresses are out there, too," he said adding that there are 8,000 active and retired NYPD officers currently living in Rockland County.

Got a beef with a guard on the inside? No problem. If that particular guard is on that newspaper's list maybe one of your buddies on the outside can take care of that problem for you.

It's been a long time since we've seen such an egregious abuse of the freedom of the press and of sunshine laws for the stated purpose of "public safety".

And that tax hike we Californians voted for back in November working out pretty much how those of us who voted against it expected it to.

On Tuesday, California released a report that revealed state tax revenues have plummeted even further below Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) estimates, even after residents voted to increase taxes via Proposition 30 in November’s elections.

At the end of November, “taxes were 3% short in the fiscal year that started in July,” which is “a gap of $936 million.” The state was 0.7% short a month before.

H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Finance, spun the poor numbers by saying Facebook’s stock vested earlier than expected, and “boosted October taxes higher, while decreasing November revenue.”

But the report found that tax revenues were below estimates nearly across the board, as total “year-to-date revenues are $936 million below the initial forecast.”

According to the report, personal income tax revenues were “$827 million below the month’s forecast of $4.387 billion.” Sales and use tax receipts “were $9 million below the month’s forecast of $1.601 billion” and the year-to-date sales tax revenue was $8 million below forecast.

Not surprisingly, corporate tax revenues were also down, $175 million below the month’s estimate and year-to-date corporate tax revenues were $441 below estimate.

As more of California’s taxpaying residents and businesses flee the state due to its burdensome taxes and regulations, California’s government loses out on their tax dollars. Meanwhile, the state government continues to spend more on various programs even as the state has fewer taxpayers to pick up its tab.

All the class warfare aside, you simply cannot tax your way to prosperity.

And a news item that needs no commentary:

Enviro-guru, Al Gore, sells Current TV to Al-Jazeera of crude oil-besotted Gulf state, Qatar; nets himself a cool $100 million.

B-Daddy of the Liberator Today is in a reflective mood and ponders some re-branding of the tea party:

I started this blog to champion the principles upon which our nation was founded, as informed by my Christian belief. I intend to champion free markets, free trade, and freedom of speech, equal justice for all human beings and a constitutional republic with powers of the government strictly limited. I will propose paths forward for those who believe that expanding government is the chief threat to the freedom and wealth of the world today.

Again, we've never capitalized "tea party" as we've always felt the movement to be about ideas rather than any sort of corporate entity much less a wing or a subset of the Republican Party. Go to the link as B-Daddy fleshes our shared opinion of the matter.

OK, gang, that's it for today. We'll see you all tomorrow.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Cash for Clunkers update


Back in 2009, the Cash for Clunkers program was envisioned as a $3 billion tax-payer funded boost to the economy by offering a $4,500 rebate on used cars to be applied towards a new one. The thought was that this stimulus program would aid a flagging auto industry, bump economic activity and get older less-fuel efficient cars off the street and thus, out of the environment.

Turns out none of this happened as hoped for. As we’ve chronicled in previous posts, Cash for Clunkers has resulted in Clunker’s remorse for people who jumped on the $4,500 rebate and found themselves in a 5-year new car lease that, as it turns out, they could not afford (and the housing/financial crisis was all Wall St.’s fault?) and for a car that a year later they no longer wanted.

Cash for Clunkers also shafted lower/working class families out of perfectly serviceable used cars that they could have employed to get to and from work, school, the market, the doctor, etc. By taking 690,000 used cars out of circulation, it bumped up the price of used cars further putting those cars out of the reach of affordability for those who needed it the most. With transportation mobility comes upward economic mobility and Cash for Clunkers did its part in snuffing out that dream for many lower-income American families.

Cash for Clunkers also shafted charities out of used cars that would’ve been otherwise turned over to them for refurbishment and then turned back over to that charity’s targeted need.

And, as studies have shown, Cash for Clunkers was merely “sugar” as it did temporarily spike auto sales but all it was doing was stealing demand from later on down the road. Overall, net car sales remained flat.

Now, as it turns out, Cash for Clunkers, on top of everything else was/is, horrible for the environment as well.

According to E Magazine, the “Clunkers” program, which is officially known as the Car Allowance Rebates System (CARS), produced tons of unnecessary waste while doing little to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The program's first mistake seems to have been its focus on car shredding, instead of car recycling. With 690,000 vehicles traded in, that's a pretty big mistake.
According to the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), automobiles are almost completely recyclable, down to their engine oil and brake fluid. But many of the “Cash for Clunkers” cars were never sent to recycling facilities. The agency reports that the cars’ engines were instead destroyed by federal mandate, in order to prevent dealers from illicitly reselling the vehicles later.

The remaining parts of each car could then be put up for auction, but program guidelines also required that after 180 days, no matter how much of the car was left, the parts woud be sent to a junkyard and shredded.

Shredding vehicles results in its own environmental nightmare. For each ton of metal produced by a shredding facility, roughly 500 pounds of “shredding residue” is also produced, which includes polyurethane foams, metal oxides, glass and dirt. All totaled, about 4.5 million tons of that residue is already produced on average every year. Where does it go? Right into a landfill.

E Magazine states recycling just the plastic and metal alone from the CARS scraps would have saved 24 million barrels of oil. While some of the “Clunkers” were truly old, many of the almost 700,000 cars were still in perfectly good condition. In fact, many that qualified for the program were relatively “young,” with fuel efficiencies that rivaled newer cars.

And though the point was to get less fuel efficient cars off the roads, with only 690,000 traded in, and over 250 million registered in the U.S., the difference in pollutant levels seems pretty negligible.

But all that vehicular destruction did more than create unnecessary waste for the environment. It also had some far-reaching economic effects.

Fully 60% of a car’s recyclable value is in its engine and drivetrain but by federal mandate, the car’s engine was to be filled with a sodium silicate solution and left to rust away in perpetuity in a landfill near you.

Because it was a brief program and because it had a limited scope, Cash for Clunkers, of all the Keynesian gimmickry employed by the federal government, provides perhaps the clearest and best example of the negative consequences that result from the government injecting itself into the marketplace.

Cash for Clunkers: no net positive effect on auto sales, a bain to this country’s charities, sticking it to lower-income families and, now, horrible for the environment. What’s not to love about all that?


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Quote of the day


From the New York Times:

"I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret, ...The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me,"

So wrote Manhattan federal judge Colleen McMahon in a ruling that refused to require the Justice Department to disclose a memorandum providing the legal justification for targeted killing of U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in an administration-authorized drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

Such is the legal morass fashioned by the Obama administration that the judge, while handing down this ruling, also expressed frustration in her own role in keeping the justification for drone hits a state secret.

The lawsuit was filed by the New York Times and yesterday's decision also shot down a broader request for the memorandum by the ACLU. The Times said they would appeal the ruling.

"We began this litigation because we believed our readers deserved to know more about the U.S. government's legal position on the use of targeted killings against persons having ties to terrorism, including U.S. citizens," Mr. McCraw said. "Judge McMahon's decision speaks eloquently and at length to the serious legal questions raised by the targeted-killing program and to why in a democracy the government should be addressing those questions openly and fully."

Jameel Jaffer, a lawyer with the A.C.L.U., said his group also planned to appeal. "This ruling," he said, "denies the public access to crucial information about the government's extrajudicial killing of U.S. citizens and also effectively greenlights its practice of making selective and self-serving disclosures."

Dig this:

Judge McMahon's opinion included an overview of what she called "an extensive public relations campaign" by various government officials about the American role in the killing of Mr. Awlaki and the circumstances under which the government considers targeted killings, including of its citizens, to be lawful. The Times and the A.C.L.U. argued that the government had waived the right to withhold its legal rationale by discussing the program extensively in public.

Recall back in May, it was the very New York Times that did a lengthy and comprehensive piece on the Obama administration's drone strike program that was sufficiently nuanced to paint the President as at-once, an aggressive and stalwart counter-terrorist warrior while at the same time offering up no explicit criticisms other than some perfunctory "raises serious questions"-type chin stroking.

Here's what we had to say about the soft-pedaling throughout the article:

The tone of the article is starting to grate on us now. Read this:

The care that Mr. Obama and his counterterrorism chief take in choosing targets, and their reliance on a precision weapon, the drone, reflect his pledge at the outset of his presidency to reject what he called the Bush administration's "false choice between our safety and our ideals."

But he has found that war is a messy business, and his actions show that pursuing an enemy unbound by rules has required moral, legal and practical trade-offs that his speeches did not envision

Oh for cryin' out loud. Even any implicit criticism of the President is pawned off on an abstraction related to the man.

We're running long so we'll try to wrap this up with some closing thoughts. The article touts Obama's professorial and lawyerly approach to the war on terror in order to preserve his principles but 3 years on, we are wondering just what his principles are. Remember, this is the man who wanted to try KSM in civilian court but when asked what would happen if KSM was actually acquitted, Obama assured us that, regardless, KSM would never see the light of freedom. Huh? We believe the term of art for that is "show trial".

Also, this is the same man who wants to confer the same legal rights enjoyed by U.S. citizens upon monsters like KSM but signed into law last November provisions that would give him the power to indefinetely detain U.S. citizens without cause and also the power to kill U.S. citizens overseas without traditionally recognized due process. How one goes about squaring these circles is beyond our comprehension.

While we do appreciate that the President realizes combating terrorism on a global scale is not for the dainty or meek of heart (somewhere, Dick Cheney is smiling and/or having a bemused chuckle), there are some glaring inconsistencies with respect to policy that lead us to believe that the President is playing politics with his tactics just as much as anything else.

Back to real time...

Of course any issues regarding lack of transparency and obfuscation with respect to this administration are naturally going to involve that hack that runs the Justice Department. McMahon zeroed in on a speech made by Holder last spring at Northwestern University:

When United States citizens are targeted for killing, Mr. Holder said, the Constitution's due process protections apply. But due process does not require "judicial process," he added.

Nope. It sure as hell doesn't appear that it does, now does it? This is Team O's way of saying they hold all the cards and in effect, have set up the executive branch as judge, jury and executioner of the assassination wing of the U.S. military.

Continuing to be vexed by the present set of legal circumstances thrown down by the Obama administration, McMahon allows herself to engage in some fanciful thinking:

"More fulsome disclosure of the legal reasoning on which the administration relies to justify the targeted killing of individuals, including United States citizens, far from any recognizable 'hot' field of battle, would allow for intelligent discussion and assessment of a tactic that (like torture before it) remains hotly debated," she wrote.

Intelligent discussion..? Remains hotly debated..? By whom? Where is this debate of which she speaks? God bless the Times for pursuing this through legal channels but they have been an abject failure at using their bully pulpit to make this a front burner issue and, in fact, and unlike the issue of torture during the previous administration, have been entirely complicit in sweeping a monumentally important constitutional and moral issue under the carpet.

To close things out and to quote W.C. Varones, "When democracy dies, the press should be held as an accomplice to murder."