Friday, November 30, 2012

Video clip of the day


It's been a long week since coming off the Thanksgiving long weekend, so let's lighten things up shall we?

While we liken the United Nations General Assembly to the Star Wars cantina scene, Brit comedian, Eddie Izzard figures, logically, that there must have been a cantina on the Death Star as well.

Here's Eddie:

(your obligatory language warning)


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kind of a no-brainer when one thinks about it


“Pops” would refer to the following as “a solution in search of a problem” but when it is vigorously backed by the Russians it is no longer merely unnecessary but becomes a menace.

The United States will seek to block an “alarming” Russian proposal to give a United Nations telecommunications group control over the Internet, a senior State Department official said on Thursday.

“We will actively oppose the Russian proposal,” Terry Kramer, head of the U.S. delegation to a U.N. conference in Dubai, told reporters.

“I have to say, out of all the proposals that have come in, the Russian one candidly is the most shocking and most disappointing in terms of achieving the success that we are seeking globally,” he said.

A Russian government proposal to amend a U.N. treaty at a meeting of the world body’s World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai next week contains a provision that calls for bringing “IP-based networks” under U.N. control.

The U.N. treaty, called the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITR), is currently limited to regulating international telecommunications services.

The Russian proposal to amend the treaty has the support of other non-democratic states such as China and Iran.

One does not need a degree in telecommunications or even one in foreign policy to realize that if Russia, China and Iran are in cahoots over something, it is probably not in our best interest nor is it in the best interests of global freedom and democracy.

It’s no big surprise that the enemies of freedom would want some way of harnessing and controlling the internet as social media and the avenues of communication it provides to people is worrisome to autocratic regimes.

These bad actors know that the feckless body that is the Star Wars cantina scene can themselves be easily manipulated and controlled for their purposes. It’s the U.N. for crying out loud.

To summarize, here’s Arthur Herman from the current issue of Commentary on the dangers that U.N. control of the internet poses:

If new restrictions are codified at the conference, “In short, governance of cyberspace will pass from the country that has kept it free and accessible since its creation—the United States—to the same organization that gave us the financial scandals at UNESCO, voted to designate Zionism as racism, and seated China, Syria, and Muammur Qaddafi’s Libya on its Commission on Human Rights,” Herman wrote.

Could not have said it better ourselves

Graphic image of the day


You'll need a old-fashioned fifth-grade classroom globe or a world atlas for the following because graphic below isn't as interactive as we had hoped.

(click to enlarge)

Gallup has surveyed people in 150 countries and territories on their daily emotional experience based upon five questions meant to gauge whether the respondent felt significant positive or negative emotions the day prior to the survey. The countries that answered "yes" more often than other countries are depicted in increasingly stronger hues of purple. Conversely, those answering "no" more often are depicted in relatively paler shades of yellow.

From the study:

Singapore is the least emotional country in the world. ”Singaporeans recognize they have a problem,” Bloomberg Businessweek writes of the country’s “emotional deficit,” citing a culture in which schools “discourage students from thinking of themselves as individuals.” They also point to low work satisfaction, competitiveness, and the urban experience: “Staying emotionally neutral could be a way of coping with the stress of urban life in a place where 82 percent of the population lives in government-built housing.”

The Philippines is the world’s most emotional country. It’s not even close; the heavily Catholic, Southeast Asian nation, a former colony of Spain and the U.S., scores well above second-ranked El Salvador.

That the Philippines is the world's most emotional locale does not surprise us. Though, we really don't know the reason why, any country where you can, honest to goodness, get yourself killed if you off-key a karaoke rendition of Sinatra's "I Did It My Way" is going to be on the short list of keyed-up countries.

And check out the gulf in positive vibes between the English and Spanish-speaking societies and the Arab world. Hmmmm....

Go to the link for more analysis and statistical break-down.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Your Mid-week Maritini-worthy photo image


We've seen this guy on a handful of occasions and we're pleased to inform you that the same ribald exchanges he has with his bandmates and the crowd during shows in front of the unwashed greasers and rockers at, say, outdoor Hootenanny concerts, he shares also with the Chardonnay and brie crowd at Humphreys by the Bay.

From Stockton, California, it's Chris Isaak performing "Speak of the Devil" at San Diego's very own Belly-up Tavern.


Sign of the times


You just can't make this sort of stuff up but apparently, Sandra Fluke, the middle-aged Georgetown Law School student whose call for everyone but herself to pay for her contraceptive devices and which became a central plank in the Obama re-election platform is on the short list for TIME Magazine's Person of the Year.

Actually, since this election was a referendum on the entitlement class, it makes perfect sense.

Here's Michael Graham:

Can you think of anyone who better represents the America of 2012 than Ms. Fluke? I can’t.

She’s got it all: The “Generation Cupcake” inadequacy (“So what if she didn’t earn the award — give it to her, anyway!); the “Occupod” sense of entitlement (“Somebody should be buying my condoms, and it ain’t gonna be me!”); and, of course, the liberal detachment from reality (“There’s a war on women! We’re being oppressed! Just ask Hillary Clinton, Condi Rice and Oprah!”).

Then there’s the economic angle. One could argue that the icon of the failing Obama economy is the college grad with a worthless degree under his arm and a bed in his mom’s basement.

Time magazine gives us Sandra Fluke, with a bachelor’s degree in (no joke) Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, no marketable skills, and still on the academic track, living on the largess of others.

I’m not trying to be mean to Sandra Fluke. Unlike Rush Limbaugh I make no comment on her personal life or sexual proclivities.

But I also didn’t — and would never — put this unaccomplished 30-something on the “Person of the Year” list for publicly whining about paying her own bills.

And if I were Ms. Fluke, I’d be embarrassed by Time’s selection. I’d be pointing out the people who’ve actually made some impact— maybe Fidelity’s Abigail Johnson, or Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old girl shot by the Taliban for insisting on attending school.

Ah, but I’m not Sandra Fluke, who used her “Person of the Year” moment to complain, in a tweet, about the “few women” nominated.

Yeah. In a day in time when our entitlement programs are threatening to swallow-up our economy and the fiscal cliff debate is centered around class warfare, a woman whining that you should pay for her rubbers and birth control pills is indeed the perfect candidate for TIME's award.

Rock on, Sandra!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rules are for other people


Let's get this straight: the man who wants to try terrorist masterminds like Khalid Sheik Muhammed in civilian court, only now getting around to writing up the rules that would govern drone strikes.


The New York Times had a front-page story the other day reporting that in the final weeks before the Nov. 6 election, President Obama ordered acceleration of the process "to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures."

That was preparation in case Republican Mitt Romney won. He would then inherit a full-blown written policy for targeted killings, as every president hands down written policies to his successor for continuation, alteration or termination.

But here's what that Times story also means that's much more disturbing than a standard political CYA story from anonymous sources:

For nearly four years now the Obama administration has been flying unmanned drones all over the world killing upwards of 3,000 known people with no explicit set of written rules.

Kill that guy. Not this one. That guy too. Vaporize everybody in that house. But this one we'll let stand, for today anyway.

Seriously? A president of the United States, even one from Chicago, running a classified killing campaign with no rules? The United States used to condemn Israel for such targeted assassinations.

As we've said before with respect to Obama's kill list; it's not that he's blood-thirsty or even coldly pragmatic in prosecuting the war on terror. He's lazy. Having to capture and interrogate terror suspects and detain them at places like Gitmo is messy business and unlike just going out and killing these types, there are actual rules you have to follow once the terrorists are in your possession.

The moral calculus here is stunning. Harsh criticism of George W. Bush was levied by Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign regarding the former's interrogation methods yet he is only now getting around to providing a framework on the who, why and whats of his death-from-above drone campaign so he can better avoid the grave moral misgivings of his predecessor.

But the beautiful thing is, he won. Now that he won, what are the odds these "rules for drone attacks" will ever get written if ever finalized? That's not a bet we would take.

A lawless presidency certainly has it's advantages for how can one say any rules were broken when there are no rules.

Perhaps the single best thing about a Republican presidency is that we pay attention to stuff like this.


Photo Image of the Day


Alternate headline: Your Higher Education Update

As seen on TV this past Saturday during college football's rivalry weekend:


(click to enlarge)


For those of you in Placentia, California, the above would not be representative of Fresno State University, rather the public education institute from Tallahassee, Florida.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Noted "Patriotic Millionaire/Billionaire" out pedaling his distortions again


Warren Buffett is back in the news again calling for higher taxes on the super-rich like himself.*

From Yahoo News:

Warren Buffett, the legendary investor who changed the debate about U.S. tax reform in 2011 with a call for the rich to pay more, is now calling for minimum tax rates for millionaires.

In a New York Times editorial printed on Monday, Buffett suggested Congress move immediately to implement minimum taxes of 30 percent on incomes of $1 million to $10 million and 35 percent above that.

"A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultra rich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours," Buffett wrote.

"Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy," he added.

The new push is in keeping with the one he made in the same newspaper in August 2011, in which he decried the "coddling" of the super-rich. He used himself and his secretary as an example, noting that her tax rate was much higher than his even though her income was just a tiny fraction of what he made.

"Warren Buffett's secretary" became a political meme following that editorial, and the said secretary, Debbie Bosanek, was ultimately a guest of President Barack Obama at this year's State of the Union address.

If this tired chimera of Buffet's secretary paying more in taxes is going to be trotted out again, we're going to shoot it down again because it is misleading and given the context of it being a presidential campaign meme that it was in 2012, shamelessly cynical.

You see, the reason Buffett's secretary pays more in income tax is because she makes more income (salary) than does Buffett. Buffett, nobly, allows himself an income salary of only $100,000 where he grants his secretary a salary far greater than that (we've heard it rumored anywhere from $250,000 to $400,000).

Naturally, then, his secretary is going to be paying more taxes on her salary income. Obviously, where Buffett derives the majority of his income is in capital gains and dividends that are taxed at far lower rates than the highest marginal income tax rates that hit his secretary's salary (15% vs. 33-35%).

So, we don't need higher taxes on the rich. What we need and what Buffett would do voluntarily if he wasn't being so dishonest in making his argument, is billionaires to start paying themselves salaries of, well, billionaires. Start paying themselves salaries commensurate with what they are worth. Instead, these so-called patriotic millionaires and billionaires are merely acting in the rational manner that any of us would in shielding their income from getting gouged by the man in a manner totally in keeping with the law.

That Buffett wraps himself in the flag, however, reveals Buffett to be merely a tool... and a tool of the President in his continuing class warfare.

Besides, the President himself acknowledged raising taxes on the rich would do nothing to close the deficit gap or pay down the debt thus implicitly admitting to his own stoking of resentment of the rich.

* We've blogged about this issue several times before, so if it seems old hat, we apologize. Sometimes, however, it's good to remind ourselves and others of just why it is an idea like Buffet's doesn't pass the sniff test and which also sets off our highly tuned and calibrated B.S. alarm.

In case anyone has forgot...

... because the White House sure wants you to and the press corps has dutifully obliged this wish.

Michael Walsh writes:

More than two months after an Islamist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, we still don’t know what really happened that night — and, thanks to a secretive White House and an incurious Washington press corps, we probably never will. Not officially, that is.

But there’s no real mystery about it. From the evidence that’s emerged in dribs and drabs since the Sept. 11 calamity, it’s clear that Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan al Qaeda-affiliated group coordinating with its allies elsewhere in the Muslim world, used the cover of riots in Cairo to launch a preplanned assault on our lightly guarded Benghazi consulate and a CIA safe house that may have been doubling as a secret prison.

That much was clear to our intelligence community almost immediately — and, in any case, should have been the working hypothesis from the jump.

The Arab Spring, falsely painted by a soft-headed US media as a purely pro-democracy movement, has in fact prompted seizure of power by Islamists. Benghazi, an armed hotbed of radicalism, was a fine target of opportunity for a strike at the Great Satan.

What’s also heart-rendingly clear is that our diplomats and security personnel understood the danger they were in, repeatedly requested more resources — and were left to die, as US military and intelligence assets monitored their deaths in real time, lacking the orders to protect them.

Benghazi was a first-class military and moral disgrace, and one that the Democrats paid absolutely no price for in the recent election.

But the questions won’t go away. Who gave the order to stand down as the consulate was under fire? Who came up with the cockamamie story — so eagerly peddled by UN Ambassador Susan Rice and other administration spokespersons right after the event — that the sacking and looting were in response to an obscure video that lampooned the origins of Islam and had been posted on You Tube for months?

And why did President Obama cling to such a risible explanation, and then (with a timely assist from Candy Crowley in the second presidential debate) turn on a dime and claim he knew the assault was terrorism all along?

There is also credible evidence that we were running guns to the Libyan rebels through the Benghazi consulate as part of our leading from behind strategy to avoid direct U.S. troop involvement.

Benghazi, at the eastern end of the country and away from the control of Tripoli in the west was and remains a jihadist hot bed. Making Benghazi the defacto rebel HQ then while running guns and weapons to these rebels, card-carrying members of Al-Quaeda or not, combined with the power vacuum created by the demise of Gadaffi, made the resulting sacking of our consulate and the murder of 4 Americans an entirely predictable outcome. Entirely predictable.

Let us recall the political class/media-complex wanted Bush impeached over a series of distasteful naked pyramid photos at Abu-Ghraib. 4 dead Americans, a Laurel and Hardy cover-up and zero sense of outrage from the press for an incident that for all intents and purposes would've cost a Republican president his re-election bid.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Quickies: the Elections Have Consequences Edition


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

Time to pay the piper, gang:

Shortly after Nov. 6, Zane Tankel, who runs 40 Applebee’s restaurants in the New York City area, announced that his company was freezing employment and would not build any new restaurants. President Obama’s re-election, Tankel explained, meant that ObamaCare was likely to be fully implemented, costing his company millions of dollars and significantly raising the cost of hiring a worker.

Tankel’s statement prompted outrage and threats of a boycott, but he was far from alone. Already John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John’s Pizza, has announced that he would likely lay off some workers. Earlier, Schnatter said that ObamaCare would cost his business $5 billion to $8 billion annually, forcing him to increase the price of pizzas.

Meanwhile, two other restaurant chains, Olive Garden and Red Lobster, are moving many of their employees from full- to part-time work in order to avoid the law’s mandate that anyone working more than 30 hours must have insurance. An owner of 40 Denny’s in Florida, meanwhile, says he’ll add a 5% surcharge to customer bills in 2014 to cover his increased costs.

Restaurants which employ many low-wage employees will simply not be able to afford ObamaCare's expanded coverage mandates beyoned the mini-med plans they currently provide their employees.

And for the outrageously outraged lefties who think that these layoffs and hiring freezes are some sort of "revenge" against employees who supposedly voted for Obama and have vowed to boycott places like Applebee's: that revenge boycott list is going to keep growing and growing. You all have fun with that.

So, this is what smart power and leading from behind will get you:

Egypt's president on Thursday issued constitutional amendments that placed him above judicial oversight and ordered the retrial of Hosni Mubarak for the killing of protesters in last year's uprising.

Mohammed Morsi also decreed immunity for the Islamist-dominated panel drafting a new constitution from any possible court decisions to dissolve it, a threat that had been hanging over the controversial assembly.

Liberal and Christian members withdrew from the assembly during the past week to protest what they say is the hijacking of the process by Morsi's allies, who they saw are trying to push through a document that will have an Islamist slant marginalizing women and minority Christians and infringing on personal liberties. Several courts have been looking into cases demanding the dissolution of the panel.

The Egyptian leader also decreed that all decisions he has made since taking office in June and until a new constitution is adopted and a new parliament is elected — which is not expected before next spring — are not subject to appeal in court or by any other authority. He also barred any court from dissolving the Islamist-led upper house of parliament, a largely toothless body that has also faced court cases.

The moves effectively remove any oversight on Morsi, the longtime Muslim Brotherhood figure who became Egypt's first freely elected president last summer after the Feb. 11, 2011 fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak. They come as Morsi is riding high on lavish praise from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for mediating an end to eight days of fighting between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers.

It's good to be the King!

And let's not forget our little gun-running operation in Benghazi, Libya which ultimately resulted in the deaths of 4 Americans and a cover-up as to what happened on 9/11 at our consulate there.

Time to pay the piper pt. II

Want to know what we see here?


Top Five Tax Increases Tax Increases as % of Income

#1 – New Jersey $6,933 6.82%

#2 – Maryland $7,194 6.74%

#3 – Connecticut $6,653 6.62%

#4 – Massachusetts $6,632 6.53%

#5 – New Hampshire $5,660 5.81%

And nearly 4 years on, more waste, fraud and abuse from Porkulus:

President Obama sought to fund “shovel ready” projects with the 2009 stimulus, so the federal government spent $29 million in taxpayer money to dig a port in Alaska that has no roads connecting it to other towns.

“It’s not normal,” Steve Boardman of the Army Corps of Engineers civil projects division told KUCB (Alaska) . “And it has prevented the construction of harbors in the past, when that supporting infrastructure is not there.” Boardman explained that they were able to build the port in part because “the project was ‘shovel-ready’ when $29 million of federal stimulus money became available in 2009,” as KUCB put it.

Construction of a road to connect the “port” to the nearest town two miles away won’t begin for years, but the federal government is now committed either to losing the money spent already or having to lay out even more cash to build that road.

That's how it is with these massive public works boondoggles. We've seen it played out here in California with high-speed choo-choos. Once you cross the Rubicon, there is no turning back.

Once you have aligned the political forces behind a project and that project has wetted its beak at the trough, you quickly have a tax-payer funded black hole if the project was ill-conceived and not well-planned from the start.

This is Sarah sez- worthy:

By now you've heard the outrageous quote from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on his doubts about the origins of planet Earth. When asked to give its age, he replied: "I'm not a scientist, man. … Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries."

He's not a scientist—no, indeed—and his comments have brought on a slew of finger wags and face-palms from the godless left. The answer was "so confused and error-riddled," wrote Phil Plait in Slate, "it's difficult to know where to start." We all should understand the age of Earth is not a matter of opinion, but a scientific fact: Our planet formed 4.54 billion years ago. If Rubio suggested otherwise, it's because he's uninformed or stupid.

But take a wild guess as to what Bible-thumping former Illinois back-bencher's view on creation and the age of the world sounds an awful like that of Rubio's. Check it out, here.

Here's Kobe Bryant:

“I’m not working too hard, to be honest with you. The shots that I made were all jumpers. It doesn’t take much energy to knock those jumpers down,” he said. “Bringing the ball up and having me kind of initiate the offense and score and stuff like that, it’s making me work a little more than I will when Gatsby gets back.

“When Gatsby gets back, I don’t have to do that. The game’s going to become even more easy for me.”


But of course...

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

Friday, November 23, 2012

Video clip of the day...


... or Economics 101.

The Laffer Curve and the reasons why raising taxes on the rich and/or raising taxes across the board won't necessarily bring in the expected revenue is explained in this excellent 6 minute video

It's a shame the President won't listen to the counsel of one of his former top economic advisers on this matter but as we know by now because the President has explicitly said so, the raising of the tax rate on the rich hasn't anything to do with actual deficit reduction via increased tax revenues rather making sure everyone pays their fair share... a fair share in a progressive tax regime where the rich already pay a disporportionate amount of the nation's income tax.

Is it any wonder then why we have not been able to rise up out of this economic slump when the man in charge is more concerned with class warfare than sound economic policy.


Rivalry Week: NFL style


Thanksgiving weekend is homecoming weekend as many people are returning home for the first time in months from school or perhaps a job that has displaced them from family and loved ones. For college football, it's also rivalry weekend as the Michigans and Ohio States and Notre Dames and USCs of the collegiate gridiron world renew hostilities.

The following is not necessarily a new idea but we are going to keep hammering away at it until it does become reality. If it works for college football, why not the NFL where the league can take advantage of some natural inter-conference geographic rivalries that already are and rivalries-to-be in a annual renewal of these matchups on Thanksgiving weekend:

•Oakland Raiders v. San Francisco 49ers
•NY Giants v. NY York Jets
•Houston Texans v. Dallas Cowboys
•Kansas City Chiefs v. St. Louis Rams
•Washington Redskins v. Baltimore Ravens
•Philadelphia Eagles v. Pittsburgh Steelers
•San Diego Chargers v. Arizona Cardinals
•Jacksonville Jaguars v. Atlanta Falcons
•Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. Miami Dolphins
•Carolina Panthers v. Tennessee Titans
•Cincinnati Bengals v. Cleveland Browns (This is the only in-conference match-up but it’s one that’s gotta be. Call it the Paul Brown Bowl)

And in a happy and unintended consequence, two of the left over teams are the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots. These two recently-minted rivals can be matched up each year as well, leaving only 8 teams out of the party for the near-future.

We urge NFL commish, Roger Goodell to make this happen. Now that the NFL has flexibility in the televised games later in the season, put the most attractive match-ups on your prime time games on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights. It makes sense, it would be a lot of fun and it would create a huge amount of buzz upon which the NFL could capitalize.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012


Here's hoping everybody enjoys a safe and blessed Thanksgiving with their family and friends. God bless.



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Another day, another DOE green energy loan fail


You know your idea is sunk when even the Chicomms who probably throw more tax-payer money at "green" technology than we do can't make it work.

A123 batteries, whom we've covered previously, is part of the Department of Energy's green loan program. They make or attempt to make lithium-ion batteries. One problem is, those batteries don't work. Despite this fact and despite the fact that they've declared bankruptcy hasn't appeared to have been sufficient cause for removing them from the government pay roll.

The Obama administration provided struggling battery maker A123 Systems Inc with nearly $1 million on the day it filed for bankruptcy, the company told lawmakers investigating its government grant.

The company, which makes lithium ion batteries for electric cars, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month after a rescue deal with Chinese auto parts supplier Wanxiang Group fell apart.

That same day, October 16, A123 received a $946,830 payment as part of its $249 million clean energy grant from the Energy Department, the company said in a letter, obtained by Reuters, to Republican Senators John Thune and Chuck Grassley.

In the letter, dated November 14, A123 said the October payment was the most recent disbursement it had received from the government, with an additional $115.8 million still outstanding on the grant.

Thune and Grassley have pressed the Energy Department for more details about its funding of A123 as the company has faltered.

"The Department of Energy needs to answer for why it appears to put federal grants on auto-pilot to the detriment of U.S. taxpayers," the two senators said in a statement. "This can't stand."

We haven't seen an actual pay check in perhaps 20 years. DOE loan recipients haven't seen one in a while either as no matter what condition their business is in, every two weeks it seems, they get that direct deposit into their bank account.

And it gets better: A123, who has blown threw just under half of their loan allocation, says they may still need to use the balance of their grant money to work on their batteries that don't work.

In saner times, companies that produced stuff that didn't work would simply be allowed to go out of business. Their capital, both material and human, would be allowed to move on to ventures that perhaps did work bettering the economy and society as a whole. Not anymore. With tax-payer dollars, we enslave this capital in perpetuity that could better be employed elsewhere.

Welcome to our new economic model.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Winning: when no one is any longer paying attention


Last week, KT posted an article that took an L.A. Times op-ed piece to task for ignoring the deplorable state of the state of California and choosing instead to focus on the politics of the state.

KT wrote:

The entire article is about politics. Winning, losing, success, failure, it's all about the politics. There's no connection at all to real life where California is at the bottom of most non-political statistics - education performance, debt loads, credit ratings, shrinking tax base, etc. Reality doesn't enter into the equation at all. "More sentient Republicans" would focus on winning elections and stop worrying about all of this performance nonsense.

My boy would really love today’s op-ed from George Skelton in the pages of the very same L.A. Times. Skelton was opining on the voters of California granting the Democrats a super majority in California and passing a tax increase ballot initiative backed by the Governor a combination of which has put the Governor, according to Skelton, in a very powerful political position.

Here’s Skelton:

Contrast all that with Jerry Brown's year. He just bolstered his governorship by finessing rare voter approval of a riskily sought tax increase. At last count, Proposition 30 was ahead by a surprising 9.4 percentage points.

Brown's job approval rating among voters, according to a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times post-election poll, is a respectable 49%. And 54% of people under 30 approve of the old guy.

His future is on the upswing. He's not even facing lame-duck syndrome, as he would be if he truly had been reelected to another term. And he should benefit from new supermajority Democratic control of both legislative houses.
Brown is in an extraordinary position to perform great deeds.

But where there was a lack of an agenda in the piece that KT was fisking, Brown’s press conference from last week offered up what he hopes to accomplish… and that is the entire problem. Here is the first of the five priorities:

•Business regulatory relief. Or, as he described it, "calibrate our regulations to ensure that they encourage jobs" while still protecting the environment, health and working conditions. "Are they retarding investment?”

We’ll assume he said that with a straight face because does anyone who can rub two brain cells together and who has also witnessed the scene here in Calfornia for any length of time think that is actually going to happen?

Sacramento has long been under the influence of the Big Green environmental lobby and the public employee unions. With this super majority now in place, who in their right mind thinks that any and all legislation coming out of Sacramento will not have to pass muster with those two groups?

And you’ll be pleased to know that high speed choo-choos are one of those priorities:

•Bullet train. "A lot to do there." Yes, like finding some financiers. Now it's running $55 billion short.

And right on the heels of bullet trains, here’s Brown on the state budget:

•The state budget. "We have to make sure … that we pay our bills, we invest in the right programs, but we don't go on any spending binges.... We've got enough money if we spend it wisely."

Now, he’s just showing off as you cannot take a man seriously who speaks of the largest public works boondoggle in the history of this nation in one breath and in the very next speaks of fiscal responsibility.

KT was right. There is such a detachment from reality that we don’t think Brown even believes what is coming out of his mouth. He won. And that is all that matters. He won and now he can pretty much do and say anything he wants as this state slips further and further into a fiscal, educational and economic abyss.


Got Super Majority?

... why, yes. Yes, we do.

From the Washington Examiner:

The California Republican Party is functionally dead. And how is California doing, now that liberals have successfully terminated the state's remaining conservatives?

For starters, it's still in debt. Despite Brown's historic tax hike, the California Legislative Analyst's Office announced this week that the state still faces a $2 billion budget deficit just for the next fiscal year. California's liberal electorate has already racked up an additional $370 billion in state and local debt over that last decade. That is more than 20 percent of the state's gross domestic product.

What are Californians getting for all this government spending? According to a new census report released Friday, almost one-quarter, 23.5 percent, of all Californians are in poverty. One-third of all the nation's welfare recipients live in the state, despite the fact that California has only one-eighth of the country's population. That's four times as many as the next-highest welfare population, which is New York. Meanwhile, California eighth-graders finished ahead of only Mississippi and District of Columbia students on reading and math test scores in 2011.

Middle-class families that want actual jobs, not welfare, are fleeing California in droves. According to IRS data compiled by the Manhattan Institute, since 2000, almost 2 million Americans have left California for other states. Their most popular destination: Texas.

How bad is it? A state that votes to inflict this amount of pain upon itself yet won't even vote to legalize marijuana as it had a chance to back in 2010.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Video clip of the day


From Reason Magazine and Reason TV, a reminder of why it is we look forward to participating in a robust gray market where affordability, price transparency and patient care will take precedence over the existing healthcare regime that was only further cemented into place by the Affordable Care Act, aka, ObamaCare.

(video approx. 7 minutes)

Wait. Profits and the incentives of profits force you to become more efficient? Get out!

Traditional hospitals can get away with charging 6x the amount a non-conventional hospital like the Surgery Center quite simply because of the 3rd person-payer model we currently have where there is no sticker shock nor skin in the game for the patient.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Political cartoon of the day...


... from the best, Michael Ramirez:

We don't make it a habit of banging on the American electorate as a whole in this blog. Overt criticism of the electoral decisions of our fellow Americans has never sat well with us. It makes us feel… well, it makes us feel like these whiny, petulant, 3 yr. old-acting secessionists that have sprung up overnight since last Tuesday night. (We may have more on that later but for the time being, please crawl back into the whole from whence you came)

Without having seen the cartoon, we tweeted something earlier this week along the lines of “We’ve been told that the GOP got beat on “messaging”. But how do you competed against “free stuff”". And just yesterday, again, without having seen the cartoon we tweeted: “We’ve been told GOP needs a freedom and liberty-centric message. Perhaps but election proved nation into shiny things-centric message."

That a President presiding over the worst economy in decades while making hash of the Constitution via his actions both here and abroad could campaign essentially on Big Bird and making sure a middle-aged Georgetown law student got free rubbers speaks to a combination of his amazing campaign skills and, quite frankly, a nation that has completely lost its bearings. You can talk internals, ground games, over-eager Republican pollsters and pundits all you want but there is just no other way to explain how in the end this was not really that close of a race, certainly not as close as some (formerly) respected people were calling it.

Did this represent the war cry of the baby-boomers, our most spoiled generation, riding off into a Social Security back-lit setting sun? Was this their way of leading from the front, electorally speaking, and telling the rest of us that, “Hell yeah! You can have yours and the person’s next to you”?

Or maybe it is the inevitable result of decades upon decades of an education system that holds on a pedestal “diversity” and dares not speak of American Exceptionalism let alone the basic virtues of property rights, free speech, free markets and the rule of law.

Perhaps we should also be looking at the 4th estate. That they have not come after, in the most forceful manner possible, a Commander-in-Chief that holds the completely incongruent positions of wanting to try foreign terrorist master-minds in civilian court yet has no problem wacking U.S. civilians overseas via drone strikes is a white-flagged signal that they’ve packed it in and thus have no interest in performing the essential duties that the press must in a viable republic.

There is plenty of blame to go around but suffice to say the long march of statism through our nation’s institutions culminated, against all rational reasoning to the contrary, in a win for President Obama last Tuesday night.


What we've been Tweeting




Today's program has been brought to you by the letters "I", "D" and "F"

No lie... the image above was Tweeted out by the Israel Defense Force after they took out the head of the military wing of Hamas, Ahmed al-Jabari, yesterday amid escalating tensions in the Middle East.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Got peak oil? Nope. No, you don't


Well, this news of energy independence and surpassing Saudi Arabia as a net exporter is certainly welcome and great news amid a past week+ of absolutely horrible news. Let us revel in the following:

The United States will overtake Saudi Arabia to become the world's biggest oil producer before 2020, and will be energy independent 10 years later, according to a new forecast by the International Energy Agency.

The recent resurgence in oil and gas production, and efforts to make the transport sector more efficient, are radically reshaping the nation's energy market, reported Paris-based IEA in its World Energy Outlook.

North America would become a net exporter of oil around 2030, the global organization said Monday.

"The United States, which currently imports around 20% of its total energy needs, becomes all but self sufficient in net terms -- a dramatic reversal of the trend seen in most other energy importing countries," the IEA stated.

The U.S. is experiencing an oil boom, in large part thanks to high world prices and new technologies, including hydraulic fracking, that have made the extraction of oil and gas from shale rock commercially viable.

From 2008 to 2011, U.S. crude oil production jumped 14%, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Natural gas production is up by about 10% over the same period.

We read the above, like, 3 or 4 times just because it felt so good.

Despite the politicization and demonization of fossil fuels, the shiny object fascination of not-yet-ready-for-market alternative energies and the current administration's efforts to block oil and natural gas exploration, there has been almost an inevitability, an inertia, if you will, that all the aforementioned could not hold back the fact, the inescapable truth, that we just keep finding more and more black sticky stuff in the ground along with the technology to go get it. The President, despite his best efforts, cannot lock up federal land fast enough to keep up with our burgeoning oil boom. Perfectly in keeping with his ideology that he is actively trying to tamp down the one bright spot in our economy.

You haters out there can continue to hate but the inescapable conclusion to all this is that this planet and its global economy will continue to be, literally, fueled by fossil fuel and natural gas that are obtained and applied more cheaply than their green alternatives and which are burned in an increasingly cleaner and more efficient manner making them, quite possibly, the new green energies.

And as far as foreign policy goes, it doesn't take a degree in international relations to realize that less entanglement-by-necessity with petrocratic police states can be filed under "this is a a good thing".

Think about it: if Mexico ever got their act together, what a wonderful geo-political counterbalance to OPEC, Russia and China a natural resources-rich North American cartel of functioning constitutional republics, the U.S., Canda and Mexico would be.


Infographic of the day


For those of you whose head is reeling trying to keep up with the daily revelations centered around recently-resigned CIA director and former four-star general, David Patraeus, behold the following multi-colored USA TODAY-style infographic.

(click to enlarge)

While reporters have been hard at work trying to uncover the latest salacious detail with the fury they would reserve for a trash dumpster in Wasilla, let's not forget what is important here... Benghazi.

Though technically a civilian now, Congress holds subpeona power over such folks and we'd be very interested to hear what Patraeus would have to say regarding what went down there considering a) he investigated the incident, b) the CIA timeline with respect to Benghazi differs from that of the White House and c) there is now a rumor floating around out there that Patraeus was not entirely forthcoming, or as they say in Placentia, California, truthful with respect to his briefing to Congress on September 14 on what happened in Benghazi.

Behghazi: a distraction. Patraeus/Broadwell: a distraction from the distraction. General Allen/Jill Kelley: a distraction from the... uh, you get the point.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's almost here... Can you feel the excitement?


The President was re-elected and the Democrats picked up seats in the Senate so, for the time being, at least, ObamaCare is here to stay and with that, to paraphrase legendary college basketball coach, Bobby Knight, we all may as well lay back and enjoy it. What will we be enjoying come Jan. 1st 2014? Let’s take a look.

ObamaCare by the numbers:

- 1.79 The dollar amount per hour per employee ObamaCare will additionally cost an employer to cover a full-time employee.

- 0.98 The dollar amount per hour that is the tax/penalty the employer will have to pay if he chooses not to cover his employee.

- 247 billion The dollar amount less that hospitals will have to care for the seniors because of future cuts made to Medicare in order to fund ObamaCare.

- 3.8 The percentage amount in taxes you will be charged on financial transactions like selling your home, small business, and stocks or bonds. This becomes effective at the turn of this calendar year.

- 71 billion The annual dollar amount the government estimates it will cost to fund bureaucrats to administer ObamaCare by 2020.

Bonus round:

- 25 million The hit that breast imaging device maker, Boston-based, Hologic will take next year because of the medical device tax that was contained within ObamaCare.

The rate at which the regulations are now being churned out and the more and more figures like the abover are revealed would justify probably doing a post a day on the new healthcare law. We won't do that to you, however, we feel duty bound as always to keep you up to date with the latest developments regarding this horribly flawed legislation.

And the Walter Duranty award for Soviet apologists goes to...


... this loser professor from Montclair State University in New Jersey.

Your tax dollars at work, gang:


Monday, November 12, 2012

Video clip of the day


Entrance question: In the context of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, is the individual that hoards goods and/or commodities any more or less virtuous than the store or gas station that price gouges?

Lee Doren addresses the issue and merits of price gouging in this 5-1/2 minute video:


Or more cynically put, price gouging: Anything that is so easy over which politicians can fume and fulminate in order to score cheap political points can’t necessarily be such a bad thing.


Sunday, November 11, 2012


What we have been predicting ever since the passage of the Affordable Care Act of March of 2009 is coming to pass. With the President's re-election secured, the full implementation of ObamaCare in 2014 is ensured though the fiscal ramifications are being felt more than a year ahead of that time.

Proving their economic illiteracy, the statist-left has been entertaining conspiracies with respect to the rash of lay-offs that have occurred since the re-election of the economic illiterate-in-chief, Barack Obama. Revenge lay-offs (for their employees allegedly voting for Obama) are what they are being called because everyone knows that business owners would much rather layoff workers instead of hiring them. In fact, isn't that what businesses exist to do? Layoff their workers? No. They don't. What these layoffs should be called, instead, are elections-have-consequences layoffs.

From CBSlocal in Las Vegas:

A Las Vegas business owner with 114 employees fired 22 workers today, apparently as a direct result of President Obama’s re-election.

“David” (he asked to remain anonymous for obvious reasons)(ed. note: for obvious reasons?*) told Host Kevin Wall on 100.5 KXNT that “elections have consequences” and that “at the end of the day, I need to survive.”

Here’s an excerpt from the interview. Click the audio tab below to hear even more from this compelling conversation:

“I’ve done my share of educating my employees. I never tell them which way to vote. I believe in the free system we have, I believe in the right to choose who they want to be president, but I did explain as a business owner that I have always put my employees first. I always made sure that when I went without a paycheck that [I] made sure they were paid. And I explained that I always put them first and unfortunately I’m at a point where I’m being forced to have to worry about me and my family now and a business that I built from just me to 114 employees.

“I explained to them a month ago that if Obama gets in office that the regulations for Obamacare are gonna hurt our business, and I’m gonna have to make provisions to make sure I have enough money to cover the payroll taxes, the additional health care I’m gonna have to do...

...well unfortunately we know what happened and I can’t wait around anymore, I have to be proactive. I had to lay off 22 people today to make sure that my business is gonna thrive and I’m gonna be around for years to come. I have to build up that nest egg now for the taxes and regulations that are coming my way. Elections do have consequences, but so do choices.

(italics, ours)

It blows the mind. Honestly, you take a seriously crappy economy and then you start piling on more and more regulations and mandated coverage via an ill-conceived piece of legislation onto small and medium-sized companies ill-suited to handle all of it and people were expecting hiring sprees?

* Oh, but of course:

Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter was hammered with Twitter abuse after informing shareholders and franchisees in August that implementing Obamacare would necessarily increase costs of running the business. Applebee’s is under the gun today after Zane Tankel, a franchisee whose company runs 40 New York-area restaurants, told Fox Business Network that a hiring freeze might be in the works.

Tweets embedded in the link suggest another wrong-footed boycott effort by the economic illiterates of the statist-left. We haven't had Applebee's buttermilk shrimp in a while. Might have to change that up a bit.

It speaks volumes that though they got their guy back in for another 4 years and got their healthcare law secured, they are still consumed with rage. And it speaks volumes that they cannot grasp simple economics or simply refuse to acknowledge the truth contained, therein.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Doing our part for the country


While the rest of the nation remains in a state of rancorous political divide, we here at BwD will be doing our part to put the past behind us and do our part for bipartisan healing and advancing the President's agenda. To that end, we have provided a link, here, where our readers can get a sneak peek at the form they will be required to fill out to prove their compliance with the President's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare.

On this form you will be asked what type of insurance plan you have and for what months (yep, all 12 of them) you have been covered. Qualifying plans must include necessary preventive coverage such as contraception, abortion, and hair loss treatment. Everybody will be required to fill out this form. Everybody. Well, everybody except incarcerated criminals, illegal immigrants and the Amish. If you do not fall into one of these 3 categories, you may apply for a waiver with the Department of Health and Human Services. Consult with your registered lobbyist in D.C. before doing so, we recommend.

If you don't qualify for that waiver but still can't afford to purchase health care insurance, be prepared to cough up $695 (single), $1390 (family with two persons) or $2,085 (family with 3 or more persons) per year for every year you don't have healthcare coverage.

It's becoming more and more apparent, isn't it, just how expensive voting for free stuff can actually be?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Article of the day


CNBC article, here, titles: "Why US Economy May Be Headed for Another Recession"

The usual suspects including the eurozone crisis, Superstorm Sandy (which flies in the face of Krugman-esque natural-disasters-are-economic-stimulants theory), the imminent fiscal cliff and the lack of "escape velocity" from the previous recession are all present.

Here's the paragraph, however, that caught our eye:

Wall Street has recoiled since President Barack Obama won a second term following the hotly contested election in which Republican Mitt Romney painted the incumbent as anti-business. Stocks plunged more than 2 percent Wednesday and were off again Thursday afternoon, though not as steeply.

Good grief... Wall Street didn't recoil because Mitt Romney painted Obama as anti-business. Wall Street took a dive because Obama spent the past four years proving he was anti-business and now he just got 4 more years to keep proving it. Wall Street doesn't need Mitt Romney to tell them which way does the wind blow.

We realize that this article is a straight news piece and not an Op-Ed but by playing connect the dots in such a misleading and false manner, they are, in effect, editorializing.

Capital will continue to sit on the sidelines continuing to forestall any robust economic recovery because it is freaked out by the unknown as whatever the administration does not get pushed through Congress, they will simply make happen via executive order or via regulation.

That, friends, is not a recipe for a rebounding economy as the man's instincts and ideology have led him to tie up businesses and the private sector as a whole in more regulations and more red tape.

We hate to be gloomy Guses, but there are plenty of indicators out there that we will be facing our own loss decade.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post election day thoughts and ruminations (UPDATED)

(please scroll down for update)

We awoke at 0430 this morning, refreshed, re-invigorated and ready to get back at it. The very first thing, though, that crossed our mind when we rolled out of bed, and taking into account that hindsight is 20/20, was: we nominated a RINO from Massachusetts. Electorally speaking, how on god’s green earth did we think that was going to work out?

People like George Will, Michael Barone and especially Dick Morris who predicted a Romney landslide have some serious explaining to do today. Morris predicted a 100 seat swap in the House back in 2010, so he’s coming across as an increasingly opportunistic red state, red meat shill. I understand the man has turned his life around on a personal basis but there appears to be only so much sleaze that can be wrung out of the cloth.

Since we’re inherently uncomfortable with people whom we’ve never met and whom we probably wouldn't like, making decisions that affect us some 3,000 miles away, we’re inherently OK with gridlock. So, taking a silver lining approach, here, and at the expense of doing anything meaningful with respect to our long-term/entitlement debt black hole, we’re glad America chose gridlock for the next four years.

We’ll be in our late 40s before we have a chance to entertain this issue again. Entitlement reform, that is. We’ve been willing to have that discussion for years. Our countrymen, last night, apparently felt otherwise and were quite willing to kick the can down the road for at least another four years.

We’re at a loss to explain Bob Filner’s victory over Carl DeMaio for San Diego’s mayor post. Two ballot measures on pension reform and labor contracting that won handily in June were vigorously supported by DeMaio. That should have been a leading indicator, right? That and the endorsement of a popular outgoing mayor. We honestly felt DeMaio would walk away with this thing by about 10 points so we guess we have some explaining to do ourselves.

OK, time to go to work, as in work-work. We may update this post later on today.

(UPDATE #1):

For an alleged uniter, the President ran the smallest, pettiest and most negative campaign we have ever seen run by an incumbent. Any hopes he may have had in extending goodwill in order to work with a Republican congress was pretty much shot to hell by the way he campaigned.

All you civil libertarians, constitutional scholars and righteously indignant anti-corporate populists who were in full throat from 2001-2008, rest easy. No, seriously. Hit that snooze bar and rest easy - you're services won't be required for at least another 4 years.

We realize the odds are long but how about a pick'em lottery on who the next U.S. citizen will be to get wacked in a drone strike directed by the Commander-in-Chief.

Of course, the biggest basket case state in the Union, California, went big for Obama by 21 points (59-38)

From the comments, here's Sarah B.:

I look forward to a fresh crop of fiscal libertarians who speak more frankly and worry less about who they offend. The Christi personality works. More please.

Sarah's right. Romney represents the last of the establishment G.O.P. presidential candidates from this point forward. Bush Sr., Dole, McCain and Romney all did not either have the track record or could not adequately articulate a pro-growth, limited constitutional government agenda of the conserva-libertarian wing of the party. This will end in 4 years when we will have a spirited primary highlighted by a pool of sharp, principled, young Gen-Xers who will forcefully make the case for the aforementioned.

Take a rest if you must but before too long let's get ready to get after this thing with hammer and tongs.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day 2012 open thread



Though not dead, we decided to vote anyway.


Zero Hedge has a compendium of live election trackers here.


Monday, November 5, 2012

This image may as well be on the back of a milk carton


On Wednesday, November 7, we will look forward to the potential return of that political animal we will call the anti-corporatist populist as they seem to have been absent from the scene the past 4 years.

We are speaking of people like lib-talker, Thom Hartmann, who back in 2004, penned a book titled, What Would Jefferson Do?: A Return to Democracy. Being written when it was and given the political leanings of Hartmann, though there was a lot of good historical perspective provided, it was ostensibly a hit piece on his perception of then-President George W. Bush's politics and economic policies.

Here's what he had to say with respect to the cozy relationship enjoyed between the federal government and the private sector and, specifically, corporations/big business.

Beware: Tight control can look very good at first.

When Germany faced the last depression, its government turned to a hand-in-glove partnership with corporations (including some American corporations, as has been shown in recent years) to solidify its power over its own people and to wage war on others.

When Benito Mussolini named this new form of corporate/state partnership “fascism” referring to the Roman fasces or bundle of sticks held together with a rope, that was the Caesars’ symbol of power, he said that the bundle represented the police and military powers of the state combined with the economic power of industry. The fascist system was adopted by Italy, Spain, Japan and Germany.

Mussolini also said, "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." Advocates speak of the advantage of running things in a businesslike fashion, managing for results. And in the early days of fascist Italy, Mussolini (like many business leaders) had a reputation for getting things done: a common remark was, “He made the trains run on time.”

Indeed, the results of fascism can look very good, at first; in Germany it brought such dramatic changes to that nation ravaged by World War I and crushed by the Treaty of Versailles that Adolf Hitler was named Time magazine’s Man of the Year on February 2, 1939.

It speaks volumes that the Obama administration can’t even get their own brand of corporatism/fascism/Peronism to work even on an initial basis.

But that’s not why we're here. What we’re here to do is put out an APB on folks like Thom Hartmann who have been entirely absent the scene for the past 4 years. If Hartmann is offering an explicit critique on G.W. Bush and warning of the dangers of fascism then what the heck did he think of Porkulus, ObamaCare and the government –engineered bankruptcy cramdowns of General Motors and Chrysler (while still owning a significant chunk of GM stock)?

Do not these policies and legislation represent the very cozy hand-in-hand relationship between the government and the private sector that Hartmann warned against? And the argument of “things were so bad, Obama had to do what he had to do to save the country” is intellectually lazy and unprincipled as that was most likely how Mussolini’s and Hitler’s fascism was sold to the public (We want to make it 100% clear we are in no way comparing the person of Barack Obama to the two aforementioned monsters.)

Besides, rather than being stop-gap emergency measures, the President has not given any indication that he is willing to try anything other than his brand of Keynesian corporatism; a 4 year record of pursuing nothing but does not lie.

We said it before and we will say it again, these populist anti-corporate Bush-bashers, like Hartmann, that were finger-wagging from 2001-2008 but have remained silent as their guy has grossly exceeded the economic fascism of his predecessor have proven themselves to be the biggest hypocrites we have witnessed since we’ve started really following politics some 20-25 years ago.


Infograph of the day and more


On the day before the big day, where you are on the political spectrum and where it is you spend your media time:

(click to enlarge)

And from W.C. Varones: The perverse incentives built into ObamaCare are having exactly the oppposite effects as intended on American workers at the low end of the wage scale as employers are dropping their health care coverage and cutting back their hours from full-time to part-time to avoid ObamaCare mandates.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Rent-seeking in ObamaCare...


... a bug or a feature?

In channelling Nancy Pelosi, we are finding that the more we know about ObamaCare the more we are finding the massive public-private nature and complexity of the law makes it look less like an entity that will improve the healthcare delivery to the individual and more like a publicly-funded trough around which large corporations, lobbyists and the politically-connected will slop.

From The Hill's Healthwatch:

The Obama administration is relying heavily on outside contractors to implement a core component of healthcare reform as it races to set up a federal health insurance marketplace before 2014.

The fast-approaching deadline gives the administration little time to scrutinize private-sector partners for conflicts of interest.

The purchase of one of these contractors, Quality Software Services, Inc. (QSSI), by UnitedHealth Group, a major healthcare conglomerate, has sparked concerns about a potentially uneven playing field.
QSSI, a Maryland-based contractor, in January won a large contract to build a federal data services hub to help run the complex federal health insurance exchange.

It will be working with several other contractors, including CGI Federal, Inc., to create the technological architecture for the exchange.

The quiet nature of the transaction, which was not disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has fueled suspicion among industry insiders that UnitedHealth Group may be gaining an advantage for its subsidiary, UnitedHealthcare.

Naturally, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, who will oversea the set-up of these exchanges, has blown off formal requests from Congress to explain this apparent conflict of interest.

And being a little more than a year away from full implementation of ObamaCare, there is still no real clarity as to the requirements for health insurers wishing to enter the exchanges.

For insurance plans to reach millions of potential customers who will purchase insurance through a federal exchange, companies must meet federal requirements to be listed though the exchange. Billions of dollars in business will hinge on plans meeting those standards, but the process for deciding what plans pass muster is not clear.

HHS claims the final regulations will present a bright-line test for health plans, leaving contractors no room to judge them.

And what of potential conflicts of interest and unlevel playing fields:

If an insurance company had influence over the information technology architecture used to run the exchange, it could interpret federal standards in a way to exclude competitors or make it more difficult for them to win approval, say some insurance experts. Or it could have an inside track on knowing how to design plans that meet the standards.

Industry insiders, including sources not affiliated with competitors of United Healthcare, say the purchase of the contractor tasked with setting up the information technology architecture poses the appearance of conflicting interests. The officials would only talk on background because of the sensitivity of the issue so close to the presidential election.

One critic familiar with the business rivalries of the insurance industry compared UnitedHealth Group’s purchase of QSSI to the New York Yankees hiring the American League’s umpires.

The article is a lengthy one and we'll break off our analysis here but you can read the rest of it at the link.

Again, what we are seeing out of ObamaCare before it is even fully implemented is more and more rent-seeking that will serve to line the pockets of the largest health insurance providers who will be able to game the system and the cronies and politically-connected who will be contracted to administer and oversee the ObamaCare exchanges.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Constitutional republics are, like, hard

This is a re-post of a running series/theme we started around two years ago and which seems quite timely given the date on the calendar. Please feel free to share with your Bush-hating and/or undecided friends.


You've waited six long months for it, but we've finally got around to our running post that either makes Bush-hating liberals squirm or perhaps develop a severe case of amnesia regarding what they were saying about the man from about 2003 to the very early part of 2009.

First, however, a totally related Fast and Furious update:

Prior to the miserable hack that runs the Justice Department getting a Congressional Oversight committee contempt charge leveled at him (House floor vote coming next week) for stonewalling on the upper reaches of the Justice Department's knowledge and involvement in Fast and Furious, the federal government's (contrary to what the article below says) highly successful gun-running scheme, he was granted Executive Privilege from his BFF, the President (perhaps a little pay-back for the home-work assignment Holder was tasked after the President said it would be unprecedented for the Supreme Court to strike down a law that was on the books).

From the NY Times (whose article at the link may constitute more column-inches on F&F than all other articles they published on the same subject combined):

Republicans on the House oversight committee voted on Wednesday to recommend holding Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress in a dispute over internal Justice Department documents related to the botched gun trafficking operation known as “Fast and Furious.”

The 23-to-17 vote, which fell along party lines, came after President Obama invoked executive privilege to withhold the documents and communications among Justice Department officials last year as they grappled with the Congressional investigation into the case. As part of the operation, weapons bought in the United States were allowed to reach a Mexican drug cartel in an effort to build a bigger case.

It was the first time that Mr. Obama had asserted the privilege since taking office, and it sharpened the long-festering dispute between Mr. Holder and Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Democrats called for the panel to hold off voting on the contempt citation during an often acrimonious partisan debate, but Republicans pressed forward with it.

Now take a wild guess who wasn't too keen on Executive Privlege just a short 5 years ago? If you guessed the back-bench senator from the Land of Lincoln, take a seat at the head of the class.

You may have thought that the perfectly legal firing of political appointees to be somewhat unseemly but it's not even in the same ballpark when it comes to 2 dead federal agents, hundreds of dead Mexican officials and innocent civilians and scads of guns that are still un-accounted for.

Exit question before the roll call: If, as Holder has asserted, the President had no knowledge of Fast and Furious, how then does Executive Privilege apply?

And now, the O > W electric boogaloo (newbies set off by asteriks):

Closing Keeping open Gitmo.

Ending Formalizing the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists.

Ending Maintaining military tribunals.

Not letting unemployment get above 8 10.5 percent with a $800 billion stimulus package.

Discontinuing Continuing other Bush-era policies like rendition, Project Gunrunner and TARP.

Ending Throwing into warp drive the politicization of the Justice Department under the leadership of the biggest hack in the administration.

Engineering a bankruptcy cramdown of domestic auto companies that will most likely cost the U.S. tax-payers tens of billions of dollars.

Interpreting the Patriot Act to collect information on people via mobile phone geolocating

A crony capitalism that is disguised as a green jobs program.

Including Fisker, SunPower and Beacon Hill

Engaging in an act of war against a country that posed no threat whatsoever to the U.S. with without the consent of Congress.

Swift Painfully slow response to national disasters.

Ending Maintaining the practice of signing statements.

Subjecting our national security to an expensive green technology boondoggle that doubles down on the cronyism.

For you visual types, how about a federal government - Goldman Sachs Venn diagram? (thanks, W.C. )

Signing off on predator drone strikes for the ostensible purpose of assassinating a foreign head of state. And then doing so.

Using executive orders and administrative actions and generally subverting the role of Congress in order to enact his agenda.

Shutting down Operating a seeming revolving door between the White House and Wall Street and K Street.

Signing legislation that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge. Got 4th amendment? Not anymore, you don't.

Pushing through health care reform legislation in the sleaziest, most cynical, un-hopenchangey and business-as-usual manner possible.

Authorizing a program to assassinate American civilians.

Actually authorizing a drone strike hit that killed American-born Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan (from this point forward, we never... never want to hear a peep about water-boarding)

And adopting another Bush-like tendency in combating the war on terror: refusing to provide the legal justification for the killing of U.S. citizens.

*Forcing Catholic institutions to violate their faith conscience by not only mandating them to provide coverage for contraceptives but making it completely free of charge as well.*

*End-running Congress in order to make (totally not) in-recess appointments to the National Labor Review Board.*

*End-running Congress to install immigration policy that countermands the laws that are on the books after claiming just a few months ago that he could not do so because, correctly, that's not how our system works.*

Our system of checks and balances and separation of powers was set up this way to prevent acts of tyranny, a lesson this part-time Constitutional law lecturer didn't forget - he just never believed it in the first place.

Please let us know if there is anything about the above that does not make him absolutely power-mad and Bush a complete rank amateur in that department by comparison.

The more we think about it, the more we think this Bush/Obama mash-up does an extreme disservice to President Bush.

Share it. Share it, brothers and sisters with friends, family and particularly all those alleged Bush-hating Obama supporters to see who it is are the hypocrites in your life. Maybe they aren't hypocrites, however. Maybe they were just jealous that all that Costitution-shredding and amassing of executive power wasn't being done by their guy. Well, they're getting back in spades, now.