Monday, November 25, 2013

Obama, Iran & Peace In Our Time

The single greatest threat to the world is Iran and its drive towards a nuclear arsenal. It took almost eight years to get real international sanctions in place against Iran in an effort to end their nuclear program short of war. And now, Obama has ratified Iran's nuclear program while loosening the international sanctions that were finally starting to bite. Hot Air describes the deal thusly:

When you dig into the details of this arrangement, there’s a lot of frosting and not much cake. First of all, this is not a permanent agreement in any way shape or form. It’s a six month “arrangement” which Iran could simply walk away from at the end (or at any point, really) after receiving a massive fiscal injection in the form of sanction relief. It is also simply a “suspension” of certain enrichment activities, with no dismantling of any of Iran’s facilities. The entire show can be started back up at any time. There’s additional transparency, with more inspectors allowed into additional facilities, which is good, but much like the suspension of enrichment this can be terminated any moment Iran decides not to honor the deal. (As they have done numerous times in the past.) The deal also allegedly limits the level of uranium enrichment the Iranians can reach, but that’s the same bone we’ve been chewing on for years. And finally, we have the Iranians on every cable channel doing an end zone dance saying this is “formal recognition” of their right to enrich uranium, while Kerry and his team are saying the opposite. It’s hard to imagine how solid any “deal” can be when the two sides are announcing essentially 180 degree opposite conclusions on basic terminology.

This is insane. The mad mullahs of Iran are every bit as evil, every bit as bloody, every bit as genocidal, and every bit as expansionist as the Nazi regime of old. And the world, led by Obama, is making the same mistakes as the United Kingdom and France of 1938. With this agreement with Iran, war is now more likely in the long run, not less.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Beware The Obamacare Legislative Trap

Stalin was able to collectivize agriculture in the Soviet Union because he was not accountable. Anyone who didn't like what he was doing or was hurt by it didn't matter. Stalin killed over 20 million of them.

The problem for the "progressives" in our country, as they attempt to take over and run health care, is that they can't dispense with all the people they are hurting - the young who have to subsidize the old, the middle class who are being massively taxed to subsidize Obama voters, those on medicare who will be hurt by the massive raids on that program, the religious who object to being made to violate their conscience, the workers who will be losing their jobs, or at least their working hours, over Obamacare, etc., etc. To the contrary, all those people can and will vote.

Usually, the progressive left gets their way because their pathological altruism sounds far more empathetic, and when whatever program they are pushing has negative consequences, it is so discrete in effect that they can successfully lie about it. The vast majority is none the wiser. Not so with progressive's penultimate overreach - Obamacare. It effects every American.

Now that Democrat legislators find themselves caught out, they are panicking, and therein lies a trap for the right. This from Redstate:

. . . They are about to consider, in the House of Representatives, legislation by Congressman Upton that would allow people to keep their insurance plans.

There’s a problem though. It is widely acknowledged that Congressman Upton’s legislation is more messaging than substance. His legislation does not have anything in it that can force insurance companies, in the topsy-turvy world of Obamacare, to keep insurance plans going.

But there is a plan than does. Senator Mary Landrieu has written legislation in the United States Senate that the Democrats love. It mandates insurance companies have to keep people on their present insurance. The GOP is supposedly against mandates and against government forcing private businesses and individuals into contracts they don’t want.

Here’s what is going to happen.

The House, with the help of a good number of Democrats, will pass the Upton plan and send it to the Senate. Harry Reid will substitute the Landrieu plan and send it back to the House. The House will be forced to either vote for the Landrieu plan or be characterized as siding with insurance companies against people.

In one fell swoop, the Democrats will have the GOP on record saving Mary Landrieu’s re-election in Louisiana by casting her as the one who saved Americans’ health care plans, and also getting on record as really being in favor of fixing Obamacare with the use of mandates.

In truth, Obamacare is not fixable. The only solution is to fully repeal it. The Republicans should not be helping Democrats with their re-election plans, which is all the are doing with Upton/Landrieu.

The GOP is walking right into the trap.

The GOP could not be better positioned right now. Not a single Republican voted for Obamacare. And indeed, it was just a few weeks ago that Ted Cruz and the House shut down government explicitly over Obamacare. And as countless people have noted, Obamacare can't be fixed, it must be repealed. The GOP must continue to demand it - and nothing less.

My suggestion to Republicans is simply refuse any bill that is a fix to Obamacare, short of getting a major, major capitulation in return, such as tort reform, and even then, only in return for a short term fix. Beyond that, alter anything such as the Upton bill with riders that would bring an end to Obamacare.

The only other caveat to that is that Republicans need to unanimously agree on their own plan for medical insurance reform and attach it as an alternative. Up to this point, while there are Republican plans out there, they are individual proposals without a single consolidated plan that all support.

Two, the right has been largely silent, preferring to dwell on the evils of Obamacare rather than their own proposed solutions. This has been a tactic to keep all attention on Obamacare and not to give the left a chance to rail against the right's ideas. We are fast approaching the time when Republicans need to take the next step and present their consolidated plan as an alternative to the obscenity that is Obamacare.


Obamacare - The Schadenfreude Is Almost Too Much

Almost . . .

Today's Obamacare vignettes:

- Update: No one, and I mean no one, seems to be experiencing more schadenfreude than Jonah Goldberg:

[F]rankly, this has been one of the most enjoyable political moments of my lifetime. I wake up in the morning and rush to find my just-delivered newspaper with a joyful expectation of worsening news so intense, I feel like Morgan Freeman should be narrating my trek to the front lawn. Indeed, not since Dan Rather handcuffed himself to a fraudulent typewriter, hurled it into the abyss, and saw his career plummet like Ted Kennedy was behind the wheel have I enjoyed a story more.

- First up, the numbers:

On Wednesday, the Obama administration finally released its first numbers for Obamacare health insurance exchange enrollment dating from October 1 to October 31. The numbers were not pretty: just 106,185 people “selected a Marketplace plan” using the exchanges, after the administration predicted that 494,620 people would do so.

Even the Associated Press was forced to lament the “dismal numbers.” The federal health care exchange signed up less than 27,000 people. . . .

- As the same article goes on to point out, in round numbers, that makes for 100,000 signed up for Obamacare, 5,000,000 who have already lost their insurance.

- According to CNN's Jake Tapper, Democrat Congress critters have gone into hiding since the numbers came out, refusing to appear on his show.

- But not all Dems are silent. For Crazy Nancy, the only truth that matters is "socialist truth.":

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif.) tweeted out a claim that one million people have applied and are eligible to get insurance through the Obamacare marketplace and 500,000 have already secured coverage.

- According to The Hill, Democrat Congress Critters are on the verge of "going crazy" over the Obamacare debacle.

- How about this for a winning ad . . .

. . . This is disturbing on a number of levels, but from a purely practical point of view, how stupid does the Obama administration think young women are? They are going to pay through the nose for insurance under Obamacare - they are, after all, subsidizing their parents and grandparents health insurance - but getting a small percentage of that back as free contraception is going to sell them?

- Not all young people are quite so ignorant of math as Obama obviously hopes. From Instapundit, "Generation Opportunity Throws Anti-Obamacare Tailgate Party: Students at The University of Miami celebrated opting out of Obamacare with beer pong, pizza, and partying with Creepy Uncle Sam."

- The Obamacare girl . . .

. . . is the perfect metaphor for an Obama administration project. She is not a U.S. citizen, she has not signed up for Obamacare, and she was not paid by the government for the use of her image on the Obamacare website.


Obamacare is the gift that will keep giving for a long time to come. It is reality smashing into the "socialist truth" of the left. It is everything we on the right said it would be; it demonstrates better than anything else could the difference between the left and the right in America today. As Thomas Sowell wrote in his essay, The Prejudices Of The Elite:

[T]he political left, even in democratic countries, . . . [believe] that knowledgeable and virtuous people like themselves have both a right and a duty to use the power of government to impose their superior knowledge and virtue on others.

They may not impose their presumptions wholesale, like the totalitarians, but retail in innumerable restrictions, ranging from economic and nanny state regulations to “hate speech” laws.

If no one has even one percent of all the knowledge in a society, then it is crucial that the other 99 percent of knowledge – scattered in tiny and individually unimpressive amounts among the population at large – be allowed the freedom to be used in working out mutual accommodations among the people themselves.

These innumerable mutual interactions are what bring the other 99 percent of knowledge into play – and generate new knowledge.

That is why free markets, judicial restraint, and reliance on decisions and traditions growing out of the experiences of the many – rather than the groupthink of the elite few – are so important.

Elites are all too prone to over-estimate the importance of the fact that they average more knowledge per person than the rest of the population – and under-estimate the fact that their total knowledge is so much less than that of the rest of the population. Central planning, judicial activism, and the nanny state all presume vastly more knowledge than any elite have ever possessed.

The ignorance of people with Ph.D.s is still ignorance, the prejudices of educated elites are still prejudices, and for those with one percent of a society’s knowledge to be dictating to those with the other 99 percent is still an absurdity.

Amen . . . and pass the popcorn


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Other Obama Administration Scandal

Bob: "Did you hear about the Obama administration scandal?

Jim: "You mean the Mexican gun running?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "You mean SEAL Team 6?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "You mean the State Dept. lying about Benghazi?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "You mean voter fraud?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "You mean the military not getting their votes counted?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "You mean that 3 or 4 of Obama's GAY friends were mysteriously MURDERED when they came forward with claims he was gay too?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "The NSA monitoring our phone calls, emails and everything else?"
Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "You mean the drones in our own country without the benefit of the law?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "Giving 123 Technologies $300 Million and right after it declared bankruptcy and was sold to the Chinese?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "You mean the president arming the Muslim Brotherhood?"

Bob: "No the other one:.

Jim: "The IRS targeting conservatives?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "The DOJ spying on the press?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "Sebelius shaking down health insurance executives?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "Giving SOLYNDRA $500 MILLION DOLLARS and 3 months later they declared bankruptcy and then the Chinese bought it?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "The president's ordering the release of nearly 10,000 illegal immigrants  from jails and prisons, and falsely blaming the sequester?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "The president's threat to impose gun control by Executive Order in order to bypass Congress?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "The president's repeated violation of the law requiring him to submit a budget no later than the first Monday in February?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "The 2012 vote where 115% of all registered voters in some counties voted 100% for Obama?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "The president's unconstitutional recess appointments in an attempt to circumvent the Senate's advise-and-consent role?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "The State Department interfering with an Inspector General investigation on departmental sexual misconduct?"

Bob: "No, the other one."

Jim: "Clinton, the IRS, Clapper and Holder all lying to Congress?"

Bob: "No, the other  one."

Jim: "I give up! ... Oh wait, I think I got it! You mean that 65 million low-information voters who don't pay taxes and get free stuff from taxpayers and stuck us again with the most pandering, corrupt administration in American history?


(H/T American Digest)


Saturday, November 9, 2013

America Goes To School On Obamacare & Socialism 101

Dr. Krauthammer does a superb job of describing the intent, arrogance and fraud of the Obamacare design.

Obamacare, sold on breathtaking lies (keep your insurance, keep your doctor, lower your healthcare premiums, better insurance, reduce the deficit) and built on a mountain of perverse incentives (part time work chief among them), is finally hitting home for the many Obama supporters. They are being schooled in Obamacare and socialism. Idiots.

Have we finally reached the point of far left overreach? I hope so, for the nation.

Many Democrat legislators who voted for Obamacare are now seeing their political obituaries written for 2014. They have no way to fix the Obamacare obscenity, but they are clamoring to put off Obamacare for another year - to get them past the next election. I have two thoughts on that. One, the damage is done, so Republicans agreeing to such an extension would be giving up very little. Two, they should only agree to that single change in exchange for medical malpractice tort reform - something that actually would stop defensive medicine and, if done properly, would actually bend down the cost curve of medical care. Other than that, let Obama and every naive idiot that voted for him - or indeed, any Democrat - twist on the end of the Obamacare rope.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Future of Obamacare & "Liberalism"

We are sitting at the tip of the Obamacare nightmare. Virtually all of the horrible consequences forecast for this obscenity will come to pass.

According to Krauthammer, the Obamacare debacle could be the death knell for "liberalism."

And if the U.S. voters were rational, that would be true. But as 2012 taught us, they aren't. I hate to disagree with Krauthammer's assessment, but don't count on Obamacare or any big government program being killed off until our nation itself is in extremis.

One - no leftie will ever admit that their grand government programs have failed, regardless of the results. They will only go so far as to say that there are a few problems - often blamed on the opposition - and that just some slight tweeking of the laws may be needed to obtain perfection. This is a script replayed in a loop ad inifinitum.

Two - the left is utterly shameless and without a shred of intellectual integrity. What matters for them is only "socialist truth" - those claims, whether or not with any basis in reality, that advance their cause. They will never take any responsibility. They will shamelessly lie. In the vast majority of cases, they will do so with the complicity of the MSM. And the reality is that many, many people will believe them.

Three, the pathological alturism that sits at the heart of the leftwing movement is a siren's song. It paints a picture of rainbows and unicorns - a picture people want to believe.

And lastly, the left has made so many systemic changes over the past century to our form of government that act as safe harbors for them that it is doubtful they can be killed off. The left has found endless ways to funnel tax payer money to interest groups - unions, community organizing groups, Planned Parenthood, etc. - who cycle it back to the party in an endless loop. We are now governed by regulators whose "laws" bypass our elected representatives. And our courts have been used by the left to vastly change our nation for decades, with their decisions becoming effectively unchangable but by Constitutional amendment.

There will be a death knell in the end, but I think it more likely for our nation than the liberalism that will destroy it.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Obamacare: The Mother Of All Market Distortions (Updated)

Market distortion occurs when government imposes artificiality on markets through regulation. Such distortions always - always - always - cost the economy and individuals. I am not talking about laws of contract and fraud which set the parameters of the playing field for the operation of the free market, but rather regulations limiting free market decisions. Some are simply corrupt - i.e., the protection of vested interests. Others are more insidious and derive from the penultimate deceit of the left - that they are more intelligent than millions of individuals making their own decisions on how and what to purchase and sell.

Its hard to top the left's subprime housing crisis that brought our economy to its knees for market distortion. But that was a distortion that took fifteen years to bear its poisonous fruit. The biggest market distortion we are likely to see in our lifetimes and this side of the Soviet Union - one that is already bearing immediate fruit - is Obamacare. Healthcare is one sixth of our entire economy, and Obamacare is just starting to explode it.

The left has taken over our healthcare industry, mandating vastly expanded mandatory areas of coverage, from pregnancy, mental health, pre-existing conditions, "free" wellness checks, and "free" contraception, including the "morning after" abortion pill. They have mandated universal coverage - for supposedly an additional 30 million people - as well as subsidized coverage for lower and lower middle economic class. For this to work without adding to government debt, the middle and upper class are going to have to pay much more for their coverage, the young need to buy into the plans so as to subsidize the old and sick, and there is going to have to be a lot of new tax revenue to take up the slack for subsidies.

There is zero chance that this plan will work as advertised by Obama and the left. It will not save people money. It will not bend down the cost of health care. It will not provide universal coverage. It will not reduce the deficit. And of course, people who like their coverage will not be able to keep it at their choosing.

Some of these claims were knowing falsehoods.

Others seem to be attributable to the supreme conceit of the left, that they are smarter than the free market.

Because Obama has unilaterally put off the employer mandate to 2015, we are going to have to wait one more year to be able to take full stock of the near term impact of Obamacare in all of its 'glory.' But my full expectation is that it will add steeply to the deficit, that it will send the economy into even greater stagnation, if not outright recession, and jobs will further contract. It will be a far left trifecta.

The only good thing about this is that the far left owns this monstrosity. Whatever the right does, it should not agree to anything as a fix. Any attempt to put a band aid on this cancer will only extend out the pain. There is one answer only - repeal.

There will likely never be a greater experiment in socialist and Keynsian economic theory than the Obama administration policies in virtually all areas of government. The only question is whether the American people will ever take realistic stock of the outcomes.

Additional Updates: From Powerline on the higher costs of insurance under Obamacare:

For a succinct explanation of why Obamacare is making health insurance more expensive for millions of Americans, check out this short interview with Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini. Bertolini identifies three main factors: 1) Obamacare imposes a requirement that, on an actuarial basis, insurance cover at least 60% of health care costs. Currently, more than half of Americans who buy individual coverage are below 50%. 2) Obamacare imposes 4% to 5% additional cost in the form of new taxes and fees. Aetna alone will pass on $1 billion in Obamacare taxes and fees to its policyholders. 3) Obamacare mandates many coverages, whether customers want them or not, and requires insurers to provide subsidized coverage to those who are already sick.

And via Hot Air, there is Charles Krauthammer:


Monday, October 28, 2013

Sixty Minutes On Behghazi

Sixty Minutes has done an expose on Benghazi - interviewing one of the participants on the ground that night. It might lead one to think that there might be something more to the Benghazi "scandal" than simple partisanship:

There are three legs to the Benghazi scandal - the Sixty Minutes episode dwells on the first and only alludes to the other two. Just as a reminder, those three legs are:

1) The refusal over months to provide increased security in the face of an open and obvious threat, was criminally reckless. There is some evidence that this was part of a deliberate policy to go forward with a light footprint in Libya for political reasons - though the author of that policy has never been identified. Moreover, this failure to provide adequate security shows an administration that completely misunderstands the threat we face from radical Wahhabi Islamists, and indeed, whitewashes Wahabbi Islam to the point of portraying it as benign.

2) The Obama administration refused to send any military assets to rescue our people once the attack started. Our people were left to die - my suspicion, because of domestic political considerations. No assets were scrambled, irrespective of whether they would have been there in time.

3) The complete whitewash and cover-up in the wake of Benghazi. One element of this was Obama and Clinton blaming the attack on a rogue movie review. A second element was an "official investigation" that did not include any interviews of high ranking State Dept. officials, including Clinton herself. The third element is that no one has been held accountable for any of this. Even the four mid-level staffers at the State Dept. who were identified anonymously as the people who had made the security decisions that led to the Benghazi slaughter still have their jobs at the State Dept.



The Past Will Come Back To Haunt Us:

The iconic Halloween monster is undying - whether it be demons, vampires, Michael Myers or Freddy Kruger. They keep coming back to do us harm.

And so it is with the policy of the modern far left - horrifying and undying. In this instance, the same policies that gave us the financial meltdown of 2008 are not merely alive and well, but being strengthened under Obama.

In 2008, I composed a long post, Hurricane Subprime, taking an in depth look at the causes of our economic meltdown. The "but for" cause of the Great Recession was social engineering that eviscerated color-blind credit rating standards. And as I pointed out when Dodd Frank was proposed, the Obama administration, rather than correcting this insanity, actually doubled down on it. Now this from Power Line:

The Obama administration is pressing ahead with its plan to impose racial quotas on the financial industry via the Dood-Frank law. Dodd-Frank requires agencies with financial sector regulatory responsibilities to “establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion” that will develop diversity and inclusion standards for workplaces and contracting.

Accordingly, these agencies have published in the Federal Register a proposed “Policy Statement Establishing Joint Standards for Assessing the Diversity Policies and Practices of Entities Regulated by the Agencies.” As Roger Clegg reports, that Statement, which applies not only to the agencies themselves but also to all those regulated by it, insists on the use of “metrics” and “percentage[s]“ to ensure compliance with the diversity requirement.

In other words it imposes quotas — quotas that will apply to hiring, promotion, and contracting.

There’s plenty of irony here; for it was the imposition of race-conscious lending practices on the banking industry that led to the financial crisis, that led to Dodd-Frank. . . .

This is horrendous. But as bad as it is, it is not the only devastating policy that gave us the melt-down - and which remains ensconced in our financial system. As I pointed out in Hurricane Subprime, the only unknown at the time was how the Credit Rating Bureaus played into all of this. They were supposed to be the backstop which would have prevented the financial crisis. But these agencies were wholly complicit in giving AAA ratings to subprime mortgage backed securities so that they could be traded throughout our financial system - many institutions by law can only purchase AAA rated securities. Clearly these rating agencies did not function as they should have. The "why" was finally answered in a superb article in Rolling Stone, The Last Mystery Of The Financial Crisis:

Thanks to a mountain of evidence gathered for a pair of major lawsuits by the San Diego-based law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, documents that for the most part have never been seen by the general public, we now know that the nation's two top ratings companies, Moody's and S&P, have for many years been shameless tools for the banks, willing to give just about anything a high rating in exchange for cash.

In incriminating e-mail after incriminating e-mail, executives and analysts from these companies are caught admitting their entire business model is crooked.

"Lord help our fucking scam . . . this has to be the stupidest place I have worked at," writes one Standard & Poor's executive. "As you know, I had difficulties explaining 'HOW' we got to those numbers since there is no science behind it," confesses a high-ranking S&P analyst. "If we are just going to make it up in order to rate deals, then quants [quantitative analysts] are of precious little value," complains another senior S&P man. "Let's hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of card[s] falters," ruminates one more. . . .

Do read the whole article - it will leave you wanting to grab the pitchforks and torches. It should also be noted that Obama has not put a single one of these people in jail. Sure, there have been a few civil suits that have amounted to hitting up organizations for a bit of their pocket change. But countless people who committed outright fraud, albeit almost forced to by Barney Frank and the left, have skated because, to hold them accountable would require that the whole house of cards created by left be exposed.

It should also be noted from the article that a simple fix to this utterly broken credit rating system was actually proposed by Sen. Al Franken. It died - I hate to say this - in the Republican controlled House. It is just beyond belief.