A White House panel appointed to approve President Obama’s domestic spying program has approved President Obama’s domestic spying program.
I believe this Nevada woman is the first to be killed by Obamacare:
A Nevada woman taking part in a class-action lawsuit against Nevada’s Obamacare exchange contractor over coverage delays passed away Monday due to complications from her illness, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. . .
The family says Rolain’s tumor was treatable last fall when diagnosed, but became fatal by this spring as she waited for the Obamacare exchange to communicate her coverage to the insurance company. Both Rolain and her husband’s health insurance took effect in March, according to the exchange, but the couple alleged that they were told the coverage wouldn’t be in effect until May, according to the Review Journal.
So this is great news. Obamacare is cutting health care costs already!
When you talk tough and carry no stick at all, this is what happens:
John Kerry Told Russia It Had ‘Hours’ to Back Off in Ukraine. That Was Five Days Ago.
White House will consider whether president can act on his own to mitigate effect of Supreme Court contraception ruling
The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby (and two other companies), ordering that HHS cannot force their owners to violate their religious beliefs and pay for abortifacients. The opinion is here.
The key argument made by the administration in defense of its policy is that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act doesn’t apply to companies (even closely held companies), because corporations aren’t real people and can’t exercise religion. This is the same argument that they use to attack the free-speech rights of companies.
The Supreme Court majority, in the Citizens United case, rebutted this, pointing out that corporations are simply groups of people who choose to organize their efforts using a certain legal mechanism. It’s those people whose rights were implicated in Citizens United, and in Hobby Lobby. The Supreme Court reiterates their argument here:
As we will show, Congress provided protection for people like the Hahns and Greens by employing a familiar legal fiction: It included corporations within RFRA’s definition of “persons.” But it is important to keep in mind that the purpose of this fiction is to provide protection for human beings. A corporation is simply a form of organization used by human beings to achieve desired ends. An established body of law specifies the rights and obligations of the people (including shareholders, officers, and employees) who are associated with a corporation in one way or another. When rights, whether constitutional or statutory, are extended to corporations, the purpose is to protect the rights of these people. For example, extending Fourth Amendment protection to corporations protects the privacy interests of employees and others associated with the company. Protecting corporations from government seizure of their property without just compensation protects all those who have a stake in the corporations’ financial well-being. And protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga, and Mardel protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies.
In holding that Conestoga, as a “secular, for-profit corporation,” lacks RFRA protection, the Third Circuit wrote as follows:
“General business corporations do not, separate and apart from the actions or belief systems of their individual owners or employees, exercise religion. They do not pray, worship, observe sacraments or take other religiously-motivated actions separate and apart from the intention and direction of their individual actors.” 724 F. 3d, at 385 (emphasis added).
All of this is true—but quite beside the point. Corporations, “separate and apart from” the human beings who own, run, and are employed by them, cannot do anything at all.
The left railed against Citizens United for “making corporations into people,” and will doubtless do so here as well. But a moment’s consideration shows that exactly the opposite is true. Treating corporations as people is a “legal fiction” that serves to protect the rights of actual human beings. In contrast, the left believes that corporations really are actual entities (they would probably avoid using the word “people”), but ones without any rights:
HHS argues that the companies cannot sue because they are for-profit corporations, and that the owners cannot sue because the regulations apply only to the companies. . .
ASIDE: The dissent, apparently recognizing that terminating all civil rights for corporations might be bad, claim to limit the application of their principle to for-profit companies. The justify their entirely new carve-out by some sophistry (for-profit corporations, they claim, have no purpose whatsoever other than to turn a profit), but it’s hard to believe they are really in earnest. Their new rule against for-profit corporations wouldn’t last long once a for-profit corporation they like (say, the New York Times) was in the dock.
But, to make it crystal clear where they stand, the dissent also explains that, even if the rights of real human beings were implicated, the government would be free to trample those rights:
Accommodations to religious beliefs or observances, the Court has clarified, must not significantly impinge on the interests of third parties.
The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would override significant interests of the corporations’ employees and covered dependents. It would deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage that the ACA would otherwise secure.
This argument, which the dissent adopts from HHS, claims that accommodating Hobby Lobby’s owners’ religion would impinge on the interests of third parties. That’s true, in a sense. Yes, it would impinge on third-party interests that they HHS’s own policy created! If this were to stand, it would provide a blueprint for neutering any religious freedom claim: simply create a third-party interest against the religious practice, and then observe that accommodating religious would make it go away again.
This did not escape the notice of the majority, who observed:
In a related argument, HHS appears to maintain that a plaintiff cannot prevail on a RFRA claim that seeks an exemption from a legal obligation requiring the plaintiff to confer benefits on third parties. Nothing in the text of RFRA or its basic purposes supports giving the Government an entirely free hand to impose burdens on religious exercise so long as those burdens confer a benefit on other individuals.
To summarize, the left’s position now is that (1) corporations are people exactly enough to stand clear of their owner’s right, but not enough to have rights of their own, and (2) the government can burden religion, so long as in so doing it creates some third-party who benefits from the burden.
UPDATE: An interesting analysis from Mark Rienzi. It includes this observation:
It was well-established that corporations could exercise religion, and that profit-making ventures could also exercise religion. And as the Court pointed out today, the various opinions in Gallagher v. Crown Kosher Markets made it hard to conclude that putting the two together eliminated the ability to engage in religious exercise in the sense of the First Amendment and RFRA. But Hobby Lobby now establishes the point beyond any doubt.
Put that way, it sounds pretty obvious. Unless your school of jurisprudence is entirely ends-directed.
UPDATE: A lot of people on the left are attacking Hobby Lobby (the company), rather than Hobby Lobby (the legal opinion). I think those people are missing the point; what’s important here is the law as it pertains to religious freedom, not Hobby Lobby’s particular choices. But, for what it’s worth, this article addresses every attack against Hobby Lobby I’ve seen, as well as reiterate some of the key legal points.
Yesterday’s passing of two key Watergate figures — Sen. Howard Baker (R-TN), who famously asked “what did the president know and when did he know it”, and IRS commissioner Johnnie Walters, who refused to target Richard Nixon’s political enemies — highlights a key difference between our two political parties: The Republican party is filled with honorable people who stand up for the rule of law, even against their own party’s interests. The Democratic party has few such people, if any at all.
On October 19, 1973, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus (Republican political appointees each) both resigned in protest when Nixon ordered them to fire Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor who headed up the Watergate investigation. Richardson had appointed Cox to the position earlier that year. Alas, today’s Attorney General is no Elliot Richardson. He has no special prosecutor to fire — not for the IRS, not for Gunwalker, not for the HHS, etc. — because he refused to appoint one in the first place. Far from countenancing any kind of investigation into the Obama administration’s wrongdoing, Eric Holder sees his role as “scandal goalie”, protecting the Obama administration from any investigation.
Nixon ultimately was forced from office because he was abandoned by his own party. Republicans had more than enough votes to acquit Nixon in a Senate trial on impeachment articles, but Nixon resigned when informed that he could rely on no more than 15 votes.
Contrast that with today, with Democrats placing their party over everything. Far from holding the Obama administration to account — as Republicans did — they are on the team, doing what they can to obstruct the investigation. As the most pungent example, here’s Elijah Cummings’s (D-MD) abject apology to IRS Commission John Koskinen (no Johnnie Walters is he!) for the appalling nerve of GOP representatives asking tough questions about the IRS’s highly suspicious loss of years of subpoenaed emails:
Elijah Cummings’s role in the IRS investigation has been to blunt any impact it might have by portraying it as a partisan effort. He’s right, in a way. The House investigation of the IRS (etc.) has been partisan. Democrats won’t take part in it, and they have blocked any non-partisan investigation.
In Watergate, Republicans showed that they have principles higher than party loyalty. During the Obama administration, Democrats have shown they do not.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the New York Times bestseller list is fake, and yet I still am. Is anything they do legit?
I had thought that the Red Cross was a worthy charity, but this makes me doubt it:
Just how badly does the American Red Cross want to keep secret how it raised and spent over $300 million after Hurricane Sandy?
The charity has hired a fancy law firm to fight a public request we filed with New York state, arguing that information about its Sandy activities is a “trade secret.” . . .
If those details were disclosed, “the American Red Cross would suffer competitive harm because its competitors would be able to mimic the American Red Cross’s business model for an increased competitive advantage,” Levin wrote.
The letter doesn’t specify who the Red Cross’ “competitors” are.
Competitive disadvantage? If the Red Cross’s business is helping people, how could it be bad for others to follow their model? It seems that the Red Cross has fallen victim to the iron law of bureaucracy.
The Telegraph reports:
Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner has created a new post: secretary for strategic co-ordination of national thought.
The government hastened to explain that the post isn’t what it sounds like. Then why make it sound like that?
The New York Times doesn’t want you to have guns. They definitely don’t want felons to have guns. Except, as Ann Althouse notes, when the case can be used to attack a potential GOP presidential candidate. Then the NYT finds it outrageous that a felon cannot carry a gun. Get this:
Aware of the awkwardness, the two men [that is, the perpetrator and the victim] arranged to meet in the evening quiet of the local community center. Their only previous encounter, a decade ago, had ended with a thrown punch and a broken nose. . .
The punch they shared had come out of who knows where, maybe Iraq, to still a long-ago liquid night. But its impact was still being felt by the former Marine [Eric Pizer], who threw the right jab just days after returning from a second deployment; the victim, who has not breathed the same since; and the governor, who chooses never to exercise an executive power of ancient provenance.
(Emphasis mine.) “The punch they shared”! Ordinarily a punch is thrown by one person and impacts another, but when we want to rehabilitate the perpetrator for political purposes, it was “shared” by both of them. “Sharing” sounds so much nicer than “maiming”. Naturally, the real culprit isn’t the culprit; no it’s either the booze or the Iraq War, and probably the latter.
Yes, I said “maiming”:
That pop pushed Mr. Frazier’s nose nearly two inches to the right. . . “Broken nose” is almost too flip a term for the damage done. Mr. Frazier says that his nose had to be broken and reset twice, but it remains a bit crooked, aches in the cold and feels constantly congested. “Migraines pretty much daily,” he said.
Pizer, who has a history of getting drunk and maiming people, now wants to be a police officer, but his felony conviction stands in the way. The New York Times thinks that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker should pardon him so that Pizer can realize his ambition of being a cop. Keep in mind, this is someone with a record of misreading a situation and responding with unjustified violence.
The NYT is able to offer the following evidence that Pizer has changed his ways: “”. No, that’s too glib. Let me quote, in their entirety, both of the article’s paragraphs on his post-conviction life:
The former Marine worked as a construction laborer before getting hired to lug Steinways and Schimmels up stairs and around corners. He completed probation and paid off the $7,165.59 in restitution. He met a woman with a child, married, fathered a son, and received joint custody in the divorce.
. . .
Mr. Pizer pushed on. Taking classes part time, he earned an associate degree in criminal justice. He also found allies in two Madison lawyers, David D. Relles and John R. Zwieg, who agreed to help him seek a pardon.
To summarize: he got a job, he got married, he got divorced, he got a community-college degree, and he hired lawyers. In an article about how Pizer deserves a pardon (and Gov. Walker is an awful human being for not giving him one), the NYT is strangely unable to produce even a single fact that would support such a pardon. Well, he does say he’s sorry, so there’s that.
What’s really striking about this piece is the comments from the NYT’s reader-idiots. They are eager to get in line with what they are told to believe. I’ll just quote one, which is typical of many:
I would be absolutely comfortable to learn that Eric Pizer was patrolling my community as a deputy sheriff. It would be even better if here were allowed to serve his own community that way.
Based on what? This is a guy who maimed someone for life because he “saw movement and reacted with his right hand.” Imagine if this guy had been carrying a gun, which is what you say you want!
In all seriousness, perhaps Pizer has turned his life around and is a really good guy now. I hope so. But if so, wouldn’t they be able to come up with some examples more compelling than his ability to hold down a job and get an associate degree part-time? The touching part of the story is how Frazier was willing to meet with Pizer and forgive him. That speaks well of Frazier, but it tells us nothing about Pizer.
POSTSCRIPT: By the way, the New York Times is on the record as opposing the restoration of gun rights to felons, making this whole piece particularly bizarre.
(Via Power Line.)
UPDATE: By the way, it’s telling that after years of a massive, publicly-financed fishing expedition, this is all they can come up with.
Google has seen fit to honor Rachel Carson today. To heck with that. Instead read this: “What the World Needs Now Is DDT.” Some choice quotes:
In her 297 pages, Rachel Carson never mentioned the fact that by the time she was writing, DDT was responsible for saving tens of millions of lives, perhaps hundreds of millions. DDT killed bald eagles because of its persistence in the environment. ”Silent Spring” is now killing African children because of its persistence in the public mind. Public opinion is so firm on DDT that even officials who know it can be employed safely dare not recommend its use.
DDT is a victim of its success, having so thoroughly eliminated malaria in wealthy nations that we forget why we once needed it. But malaria kills Africans today. Those worried about the arrogance of playing God should realize that we have forged an instrument of salvation, and we choose to hide it under our robes.
As Josh Billings once wrote (but is often attributed to Mark Twain), it ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so. We know that DDT is dangerous, but, used properly, it just ain’t so.
POSTSCRIPT: In a Terry Gross interview I had the misfortune to hear on the radio, she alleged that DDT was toxic to humans. Not so. (That’s not even what Carson charged! Carson accused DDT of being bad for birds, not humans.) In fact, the best use for DDT is to use it precisely where humans reside. Alas, the interviewee failed to correct Gross, perpetuating this misinformation.
As I’ve often said, the thing that was hardest to take about the Plame-Armitage was watching the left pretend that they cared about the identities of covert CIA agent being leaked. Now we have the opportunity to prove their hypocrisy, when we observe whether or not the left gets upset about this:
The CIA’s top officer in Kabul was exposed Saturday by the White House when his name was inadvertently included on a list provided to news organizations of senior U.S. officials participating in President Obama’s surprise visit with U.S. troops. The White House recognized the mistake and quickly issued a revised list that did not include the individual, who had been identified on the initial release as the “Chief of Station” in Kabul, a designation used by the CIA for its highest-ranking spy in a country.
In the Plame-Armitage affair — the left’s mythology aside — Plame was only technically covert (she worked in America), and her name was accidentally leaked by the State Department. Here we have the CIA station chief in Afghanistan, a real target if there ever were one, being leaked by the White House. Of course, there’s no suggestion that his name was leaked out of malice, but that didn’t happen in the Plame-Armitage affair either.
Then there’s this:
The only other recent case came under significantly different circumstances, when former CIA operative Valerie Plame was exposed as officials of the George W. Bush administration sought to discredit her husband, a former ambassador and fierce critic of the decision to invade Iraq.
This is technically true, insofar as the Bush administration wanted to discredit Joe Wilson’s lies and contemporaneously Plame was exposed. But the clear implication, that the two events were connected, is an OUT-AND-OUT LIE.
The Washington Post, where the offending article appeared, knows this perfectly well. They ran this editorial lamenting the Democrats “myth-making” in 2010, so they have no excuse for signing onto the myth now.
UPDATE: “When Bushies blew a CIA cover, it was ‘treason'; now, it’s a mistake.” Indeed.
Ken White makes an interesting argument about censorship. It’s thoughtful, but ultimately dead wrong. Let me excerpt the start of it:
1. The First Amendment protects you from government sanction, either directly (by criminal prosecution) or indirectly (when someone uses the government’s laws and the courts to punish you, as in a defamation action). It is currently in vogue to exclaim “NOBODY IS ARGUING OTHERWISE” when someone makes this point. [Expletive.] People are consistently saying that private action (like criticism, or firings) violates the First Amendment, either directly or through sloppy implication. . .
2. The phrase “the spirit of the First Amendment” often signals approaching nonsense. So, regrettably, does the phrase “free speech” when uncoupled from constitutional free speech principles.
(This is all in the context of the A&E network’s brief cancellation of Duck Dynasty last year when it turned out that the Robertson family patriarch disapproved of sodomy.)
In regard to #1, he has a point. People often say “my First Amendment rights are being violated” when what they really mean is “I am being censored.” Some people with a weaker understanding of civics may actually be confused on this point, but most I think are just speaking sloppily.
But White goes wrong in #2. I’ve never heard the phrase “spirit of the First Amendment” used, and when I google it, the first hit is to a Cato Institute article that is clearly talking about government censorship, so let’s skip that point and move on to his next one: that “free speech” is nonsense when uncoupled from constitutional principles.
He is wrong on two levels. The first is legal. The First Amendment reads (in relevant part):
Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech. . .
Note the wording: “the freedom of speech”. The freedom of speech already existed in English law, and the First Amendment merely writes it explicitly into the US Constitution. (It’s a pity the English never did that!) It’s manifestly untrue that free speech is meaningless apart from the Constitution.
I think White would say that he already knew that, and was writing sloppily. But more substantially, he’s wrong a a philosophical level. White believes that free speech is coextensive with the First Amendment, but I think most Americans understand otherwise. Certainly I do. We ought not to conflate free speech with the First Amendment, because free speech is much broader than the First Amendment.
The First Amendment (together with the 14th) protect us from government censorship, but that doesn’t mean that government censorship is the only kind. So what is censorship?
Let’s go back to White’s straw man:
These terms [that is, “spirit of the First Amendment” and “free speech”] often smuggle unprincipled and internally inconsistent concepts — like the doctrine of the Preferred+ First Speaker. The doctrine of the Preferred First Speaker holds that when Person A speaks, listeners B, C, and D should refrain from their full range of constitutionally protected expression to preserve the ability of Person A to speak without fear of non-governmental consequences that Person A doesn’t like.
I haven’t heard of this doctrine, and the first four pages of google hits all refer to White’s article or derivatives of it (or are random junk), but I’ll assume that it’s a real, obscure legal concept, and not something that White just made up. Anyway, I don’t think that’s what “free speech” means.
I think free speech means this: If person A wants to communicate with person B, who is willing to receive the communication, it is wrong for person C, a third party uninvolved in the communication, to interfere.
This is just a first-cut; it may need some refinement (national security, juveniles, crowded theaters, etc.), but I think it works pretty well. If Alice asks Charlie to carry a message to Bob, Bob has every right to refuse. But if Alice is speaking to Bob, Charlie has no right to stop her. Similarly, if David agrees to carry a message from Alice to Bob, it is wrong for Charlie to stop him.
This applies whether or not Charlie is the government. If Charlie is the government, the First Amendment applies. If Charlie is just an ordinary busybody, Alice doesn’t have any First Amendment protection, but it’s still wrong for Charlie to interfere with her speech.
That’s what was going on in the Duck Dynasty affair. Phil Robertson critics were trying to censor him; they had no part in his communication with Duck Dynasty’s audience. On the other hand, A&E was involved, so they had a right to cancel his program. (If the audience dwindles, they surely will.) Nevertheless, by doing so in that situation, they were knuckling under to censorship. As Americans they should have done better.
This will come as no surprise to actual Tea Party people, but a major shock to the left:
Yale Law professor Dan M. Kahan was conducting a n analysis of the scientific comprehension of various political groups when he ran into a shocking discovery: tea party supporters are slightly more scientifically literate than the non-tea party population.
Shocking? Well, maybe to readers of the New York Times and the Huffington Post (i.e., liberals):
I’ve got to confess, though, I found this result surprising. As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I’d be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension.
But then again, I don’t know a single person who identifies with the Tea Party. All my impressions come from watching cable tv — & I don’t watch Fox News very often — and reading the “paper” (New York Times daily, plus a variety of politics-focused internet sites like Huffington Post & Politico).
I’m a little embarrassed, but mainly I’m just glad that I no longer hold this particular mistaken view.
(Via Monster Hunter Nation.)
In related news, conservative republicans are the most likely to know that the earth revolves around the sun, and the least likely to believe in astrology. Liberal democrats are the most likely to believe in astrology. Conservative and moderate Democrats are the least likely to know the earth revolves around the sun. (In fairness, liberal Democrats do decently well on heliocentrism.)
POSTSCRIPT: And, for the record: a rebuttal to a rebuttal of the Democratic astrology result.
I’m catching up on a big backlog of articles to remark upon. Some of these aren’t very timely any more, but I still want to note them.
Fox News reports:
Thailand’s new military junta announced it suspended the country’s constitution Thursday. The news came a few hours after Thailand’s army chief announced a military takeover of the government, saying the coup was necessary to restore stability and order after six months of political deadlock and turmoil.
But, unlike the 2009 non-coup in Honduras, in which Democrats demanded that the ousted president be returned to office, no one seems to care much. Evidently coups (or, in Honduras’s case, extraordinary legal steps) are only a problem when communists are being turned out of office.
Okay, so get this:
A Michigan branch of the powerful Service Employees International Union saw its membership and revenues plummet after the reversal of a measure that forced caregivers tending to friends or relatives to be members with their dues paid by those they cared for.
More than 44,000 home-based healthcare workers parted ways with SEIU Healthcare Michigan after learning they did not have to join the union or pay dues, according to reports the union filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. Thousands of the employees were allegedly forced into the union under a plan the SEIU successfully lobbied for that classified even unpaid family members caring for their elderly parents as “home health care workers.” Dues were then automatically collected from the care recipients’ Medicare or Medicaid checks.
“Family members were told they were public employees,” Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, a Michigan-based policy group, told FoxNews.com. “They are not public employees and this was not proper” . . .
Wright’s organization estimates that the SEIU reaped nearly $35 million from Michigan’s elderly and disabled from 2006 to last year. Of some 59,000 residents classified as home-based caregivers, about 80 percent stopped paying when they learned they did not have to.
The most charitable way to look at this scheme (promulgated by the former governor — Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat — and now repealed) is as a cynical scheme to allow a big Democratic interest to steal tens of millions of dollars from the elderly and disabled. Because if you suppose they were actually in earnest then what they’re saying is much, much worse.
If they were really in earnest, what Granholm’s policy was saying is that caring for people is the exclusive province of the government. The government will permit you to care for your family, but if you do, you work for the government. Implicit in that is the corollary: If you work for the government (by caring for your family), they can tell you what to do. Your family belongs to them.
Doubtless there are some progressives who see it that way, but I prefer to the Democratic party, in the main, is not yet fascist. I prefer to believe they are merely thieves.
I don’t understand how this can be happening. They told us John Kerry made Syria get rid of its chemical weapons!
Independent tests have confirmed that Syrian forces have used chemical weapons on civilians in several attacks over the past three weeks, a British newspaper reported Wednesday.
There’s always the big national stories, like Obama taking away your health insurance, but the government attacks the people though malice or indifference in myriad smaller ways. Smaller, except for the people affected. Here’s a couple of stories from today alone. In Pennsylvania:
A widow was given ample notice before her $280,000 house was sold at a tax auction three years ago over $6.30 in unpaid interest, a Pennsylvania judge has ruled. . . The property sold for about $116,000, and most of that money will be paid to Battisti if further appeals are unsuccessful.
She owed $6.30, so the government sold her home out from under her, for $164,000 less than it was worth.
And in Florida:
A Florida mother is “beyond outraged” and still awaiting an explanation from school officials some two weeks after her son was allegedly ordered off a bus while in the throes of a diabetic seizure.
Cynthia Shepard of West Park, Fla., said her 16-year-old son, Andrew, suffered the seizure as he rode home from school. His 14-year-old sister, Jazmen, who was also aboard the bus saw her brother “twitching,” and promptly alerted the driver, who “did nothing,” according to Shepard.
“He was not helping her. She [Jazmen] went to the back of the bus to pick him up,” she told FoxNews.com. “The driver turned around and looked at him in his face and then told my daughter, ‘It’s your stop. You have to get off.'”
Once off the bus, Andrew continued to have a seizure on the side of the road, Shepard said. Paramedics were eventually called, and Andrew spent two days in the intensive care unit of a nearby hospital.
And there’s this postscript:
Each school bus is equipped with a security camera. But Shepard claims she was told footage from her son’s bus is “supposedly blank.”
I’m sure it was.
Paul Krugman, doing the old Paul Krugman thing, explains that nothing but racism can explain Republicans’ otherwise-inexplicable political views. He can produce two examples, the first of which is:
We are told, for example, that conservatives are against big government and high spending. Yet even as Republican governors and state legislatures block the expansion of Medicaid, the G.O.P. angrily denounces modest cost-saving measures for Medicare.
Now, let’s pretend, just for a moment, that the politics of Medicare isn’t much more easily explained by age politics than race politics. Krugman doesn’t specify what “modest cost-savings for Medicare” Republicans have angrily denounced. I assume he is referring to Obamacare’s deep cuts to Medicare Advantage, which — not modest at all — virtually kill the program. Krugman really can’t think of any reason other than racism why any Republican might oppose Obamacare.
In fact, he’s being even more dishonest than that, if you consider what Medicare Advantage is. Medicare Advantage allows the elderly to obtain private health insurance using Medicare. By killing Medicare Advantage, Obamacare forces all those people back onto the government plan, thereby increasing the reach of big government. But sure, the only reason a small-government Republican might oppose that would have to be racism. . .
Krugman’s other example is simply an outright lie:
Or we’re told that conservatives, the Tea Party in particular, oppose handouts because they believe in personal responsibility, in a society in which people must bear the consequences of their actions. Yet it’s hard to find angry Tea Party denunciations of huge Wall Street bailouts, of huge bonuses paid to executives who were saved from disaster by government backing and guarantees.
This is utter nonsense. It’s not remotely difficult to find Tea Party denunciations of the financial bailout. (Here’s a link, but no one who identifies with the Tea Party will have any need to click it.) Obviously Krugman has never been to a Tea Party rally, and doesn’t watch Fox News, and I’m sure doesn’t have any Tea Party friends either. But that doesn’t let him off the hook; as a prominent political commentator, he ought to know something about the body politic, or at least he should find out before slinging spurious accusations of racism.
Unless he doesn’t care whether it’s true. After all, most of his readers don’t have any Tea Party friends either, so they won’t know any better.
The Russian Navy Some people having no connection to Russia whatsoever has sunk an old Russian warship to block the exit from Ukraine’s naval base in Crimea.
In government-run schools, bureaucratically dictated procedures reign supreme, and common sense is nowhere to be found:
A Minnesota public high school was so committed to obeying its fire drill policy to the exact letter of the law that it forced a female student–dressed only in a swimsuit, and sopping wet–to stand outside in the freezing cold for ten minutes. As a result, she suffered frostbite.
Administrators wouldn’t let the student retrieve her clothes, sit in a car or wait inside another building, according to WCCO.
Someone ought to be prosecuted, but I expect no one will even be fired.
Years ago, liberals made an ideological commitment to the idea that missile defense was impossible. It’s easy to understand how: Reagan was for it, and liberals were against everything he was for. Why they’ve never been able to shed that position in the ensuing decades is truly a puzzler. Despite all the things modern technology has accomplished (including successes in missile defense!), missile defense is the one thing that liberals believe is impossible.
But while America’s implementation of missile defense has been desultory, Israel hasn’t had the luxury of being able to accommodate its defense nay-sayers. They have implemented a system, and it works. Their Iron Dome system shoots down incoming rockets from Gaza, allowing their citizens to live normal lives while under constant attack.
But it’s expensive, so the Israelis have developed a cheaper solution:
At $100,000 a pop, missile interception isn’t cheap. And that’s why Israel is investigating lasers. Last week Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd, the company behind the Iron Dome, unveiled its new Iron Beam system, a less expensive and more versatile laser-based addition to Israel’s defensive arsenal. The Iron Beam, which could be deployed as early as 2015, will reportedly vaporize short-range rockets, mortars, and even drones using high-kilowatt lasers.
“It’s exactly like what you see in Star Wars,” Amit Zimmer, a company spokesperson, told the Associated Press. “You see the lasers go up so quickly, like a flash, and the target is finished.”
I’ll be watching this with interest. The liberals have been very clear that shooting down missiles with lasers is impossible.
The Kitty Genovese murder is the classic story of “bystander apathy”, the phenomenon that people are prone to do nothing when they think there are others around who could help. The phenomenon may well be real (psychologists say so), but it turns out the story was a lie:
Word of the attack spread though the building. A woman named Sophie Farrar, all of 4-foot-11, rushed to the vestibule, risking her life in the process. For all she knew, the attacker might have still been there. As luck would have it, he was not, and Farrar hugged and cradled the bloodied Genovese, who was struggling for breath. Despite the attempts of various neighbors to help, Moseley’s final stab wounds proved fatal, and Farrar did her best to comfort Genovese in the nightmarish final minutes of her life.
The murder of Kitty Genovese shifted from crime to legend a few weeks later, when The New York Times erroneously reported that 38 of her neighbors had seen the attack and watched it unfold without calling for help. The Times piece was followed by a story in Life magazine, and the narrative spread throughout the world, running in newspapers from Russia and Japan to the Middle East.
New York became internationally infamous as a city filled with thoughtless people who didn’t care about one another; where people could watch their neighbors get stabbed on the street without lifting a finger to help, leaving them to die instead in a pool of their own blood. . .
But as journalist Kevin Cook details in his new book, “Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America” (W.W. Norton), some of the real thoughtlessness came from a police commissioner who lazily passed a falsehood to a journalist, and a media that fell so deeply in love with a story that it couldn’t be bothered to determine whether it was true.
The primary culprit? The New York Times, of course.
The Obama administration, yet again, is taking steps to defend election fraud:
Justice Department lawyer Bradley Heard was in court today trying to stop Kansas from ensuring that only citizens register to vote. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, relying on a United States Supreme Court opinion of last year, asked the federal Election Assistance Commission to permit him to ensure that only citizens were registering to vote.
The Obama administration has been utterly consistent on this issue. They are always against any measures to protect the integrity of elections. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to draw an inference from that.
The New York Times says it had a reporter on the scene during the Benghazi attack.
There has been a bit of public interest in the Benghazi attack, so why haven’t we heard from this guy? One possibility — never to be discounted with the NYT — is they are simply lying. But suppose it’s true. They must not want us to hear what he saw! And, given the NYT’s well-known partisan stance, it’s not hard to draw conclusions.
The Democrats want us to believe that the IRS scandal had nothing to do with politics. This was never very plausible, but now is categorically contradicted by the record:
Mr. Obama wants Americans to believe that the targeting resulted from the confusing tax law governing nonprofits, which he says was “difficult” to interpret and resulted in mere “bureaucratic” mistakes. . .
House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp blew up this fairy tale at Wednesday’s hearing with new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Mr. Camp unveiled a June 14, 2012 email from Treasury career attorney Ruth Madrigal to key IRS officials in the tax-exempt department, including former director Lois Lerner.
The email cites a blog post about the political activity of tax-exempt 501(c)(4) groups and reads: “Don’t know who in your organizations [sic] is keeping tabs on c4s, but since we mentioned potentially addressing them (off-plan) in 2013, I’ve got my radar up and this seemed interesting.” . . . The IRS typically puts out a public schedule of coming regulations, and Mr. Camp noted that in this case “off-plan” appears to mean “hidden from the public.” . . .
The IRS hyper-scrutiny of conservative groups only began in 2010 amid the Obama Administration’s larger political attack on political donors like the Koch brothers, and emails show that IRS officials were acutely aware of this political environment. In February 2010, for example, an IRS screener in Cincinnati flagged an application to his superiors noting: “Recent media attention to this type of organization indicates to me that this is a ‘high profile’ case.”
What the Obama administration is trying to get away with here is a truly breathtaking exercise in political chutzpah. They are trying to use their own misconduct as an excuse to change the rules to codify their own misconduct.
What’s sad is they always do this, and usually get away with this. I remember how in the late 1990s or early 2000s, the Democrats, caught red-handed violating campaign finance laws, used their own crimes to justify “reforming” campaign finance to give themselves greater advantages.
I forgot to crow about this when it happened a couple of weeks ago:
Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn., have rejected the United Auto Workers, shooting down the union’s hopes of securing a foothold at a foreign-owned auto plant in the South.
The vote was 712 to 626, said the UAW, which blamed the loss on “politicians and outside special interest groups.”
“Outside special interest groups”? The UAW is the outside special interest group.
The scientific method is about turning hypotheses into testable predictions, and then testing them. So who are the scientists here?
It turns out that a 200-year-old publication for farmers beats climate-change scientists in predicting this year’s harsh winter as the lowly caterpillar beats supercomputers that can’t even predict the past.
Last fall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) predicted above-normal temperatures from November through January across much of the continental U.S. The Farmers’ Almanac, first published in 1818, predicted a bitterly cold, snowy winter.
The Maine-based Farmers’ Almanac’s still-secret methodology includes variables such as planetary positions, sunspots, lunar cycles and tidal action. It claims an 80% accuracy rate, surely better than those who obsess over fossil fuels and CO2.
Now I can’t testify to the accuracy of any of these claims; they are — as they say — too good to check. But it is certainly the case that the climate scientists haven’t been making predictions that come true.
Soon, when the federal government is running all medical care in the United States, we’ll see stories like this:
Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) destroyed veterans’ medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests, a former VA employee told The Daily Caller. . .
“The committee was called System Redesign and the purpose of the meeting was to figure out ways to correct the department’s efficiency. And one of the issues at the time was the backlog,” Oliver Mitchell, a Marine veteran and former patient services assistant in the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center, told TheDC.
Oops, that’s not the future, that’s the past, coming from the VA, where the federal government already runs health care. In order to improve their “efficiency”, they cancelled exam requests, and then destroyed medical records so that no record of those requests would exist.
But since the federal government will be running all medical care before long, it’s also the future.
The Sacramento Bee reports:
Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a move to expel their Democratic colleague Sen. Rod Wright by sending a Republican proposal to the Rules Committee, where it could permanently stall.
Sen. Steve Knight, a Republican from Palmdale, introduced a resolution to expel Wright from the Senate because a jury found him guilty of eight felonies last month for lying about living in the district he represents.
There was a time that Democrats felt it necessary to maintain the appearance of decency, but now they are all about the naked exercise of partisan power. They have no other principles.
(Via Hot Air.)
Russian President Vladimir Putin received permission Saturday from parliament to mobilize the country’s military in Ukraine.
Putin says the move is needed to protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine’s strategic region of Crimea. The request comes a day after President Obama warned Moscow that “there will be costs” if it intervenes militarily in Ukraine.
Putin move appears to formalize what Ukrainian officials described as an ongoing deployment of Russian troops in the strategic region of Crimea. His motion loosely refers to the “territory of Ukraine” rather than specifically to Crimea, raising the possibility that Moscow could use military force in other Russian-speaking provinces in eastern and southern Ukraine where many oppose the new authorities in Kiev.
Obviously Putin doesn’t need parliamentary permission to do anything, so this amounts to an announcement.
As it turns out, the United States is obligated by treaty to come to Ukraine’s aid:
A treaty signed in 1994 by the US and Britain could pull both countries into a war to protect Ukraine if President Putin’s troops cross into the country. Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine – agreed to the The Budapest Memorandum as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Technically it means that if Russia has invaded Ukraine then it would be difficult for the US and Britain to avoid going to war.
Oh, please. Obama doesn’t even obey his own health care law that he advocated and signed himself. Do you think he’s going to war because of a treaty? Hardly.
POSTSCRIPT: Now we have to take a trip down memory lane. Remember this “gaffe”?
uh oh. New Romney gaffe. He just called Russia the “number one geopolitical foe” of the United States. @wolfblitzer called him out.
Ha ha, what a dope. To his credit, Romney stuck to his guns despite mockery from the liberal media.
And then there’s this:
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin warned that if Senator Barack Obama were elected president, his “indecision” and “moral equivalence” may encourage Russia’s Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine. . .
For those comments, she was mocked by the high-brow Foreign Policy magazine and its editor Blake Hounshell, who now is one of the editors of Politico magazine. . . Hounshell wrote then that Palin’s comments were “strange” and “this is an extremely far-fetched scenario.”
Far-fetched indeed. This reminds me of how Ronald Reagan understood the Soviet Union much better than any of the foreign-policy “experts” who mocked him.
The Huffington Post breathlessly headlines:
Man Accidentally Kills Self With Gun During Demonstration On Gun Safety
This sounded strange, since gun safety lectures generally comply with the rules of gun safety, so I clicked through to find out what they were talking about. Here’s what happened:
The 36-year-old man, whose name has not been released, was showing his girlfriend how his three handguns are safe when they aren’t loaded, according to the Detroit Free Press. He was attempting to demonstrate the safety of the handguns by holding them to his head and pulling the trigger.
So, this isn’t a gun safety demonstration. It’s the opposite of a gun safety demonstration. It’s a gun stupidity demonstration. There are various versions of the gun safety rules, but all of them include this one (this formulation is by the NRA):
ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage.
Clearly no one at the Huffington Post, from the article’s author to its editors (actually, does the Huffington Post have editors?), knows anything about gun safety. A better headline would have been:
Man Accidentally Kills Himself While Screwing Around With Gun
The Spanish-language version of Healthcare.gov isn’t actually in Spanish:
The Associated Press reports “the translations were so clunky and full of grammatical mistakes that critics say they must have been computer-generated.” The situation is even worse when applicants begin digging into then nitty-gritty of the plans. “When you get into the details of the plans, it’s not all written in Spanish. It’s written in Spanglish, so we end up having to translate it for them,” Adrian Madriz, a health care navigator in Miami, told the AP.
From a Republican, this would be proof of racism.
Every single 501(c)(4) group that the IRS selected for audit was conservative. Imagine that.
And the Democrats want more:
Senate Democrats facing tough elections this year want the Internal Revenue Service to play a more aggressive role in regulating outside groups expected to spend millions of dollars on their races.
This can’t help but bring a smile to your face:
It’s getting difficult and slinking toward impossible to defend the Affordable Care Act. The latest blow to Democratic candidates, liberal activists, and naïve columnists like me came Monday from the White House, which announced yet another delay in the Obamacare implementation. . .
The win-at-all-cost mentality helped create a culture in which a partisan-line vote was deemed sufficient for passing transcendent legislation. It spurred advisers to develop a dishonest talking point—”If you like your health plan, you’ll be able to keep your health plan.” And political expediency led Obama to repeat the line, over and over and over again, when he knew, or should have known, it was false.
Defending the ACA became painfully harder when online insurance markets were launched from a multi-million-dollar website that didn’t work, when autopsies on the administration’s actions revealed an epidemic of incompetence that began in the Oval Office and ended with no accountability.
Then officials started fudging numbers and massaging facts to promote implementation, nothing illegal or even extraordinary for this era of spin. But they did more damage to the credibility of ACA advocates.
Finally, there are the ACA rule changes—at least a dozen major adjustments, without congressional approval.
Read the whole thing, and enjoy.
Perjury is so common from this administration it hardly even seems notable any more. But let’s note it anyway:
After seven years of litigation, two trips to a federal appeals court and $3.8 million worth of lawyer time, the public has finally learned why a wheelchair-bound Stanford University scholar was cuffed, detained and denied a flight from San Francisco to Hawaii: FBI human error. FBI agent Kevin Kelley . . . checked the wrong box on a terrorism form, erroneously placing Rahinah Ibrahim on the no-fly list. . .
Instead of admitting to the error, high-ranking President Barack Obama administration officials spent years covering it up. Attorney General Eric Holder, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and a litany of other government officials claimed repeatedly that disclosing the reason Ibrahim was detained, or even acknowledging that she’d been placed on a watch list, would cause serious damage to the U.S. national security. . .
Holder went so far as to tell the judge presiding over the case that this assertion of the state secrets privilege was fully in keeping with Obama’s much-ballyhooed 2009 executive branch reforms of the privilege, which stated the administration would invoke state secrets sparingly. . . In his declaration, Holder assured Judge Alsup that the government would not be claiming national security to conceal “administrative error” or to “prevent embarrassment” — an assertion that is now nearly impossible to square with the facts.
The latest in Barack Obama’s make-it-up-as-we-go-along approach to implementing the law:
You’ve no doubt heard about the latest ObamaCare “delay”–the announcement that the Internal Revenue Service will waive fines on certain employers that do not provide workers with medical insurance. That “employer mandate,” which by law took effect this year, had already been put off until 2015. Now it won’t be enforced until 2016 for companies with between 50 and 99 employees, and those with 100 or more will escape fines if they offer insurance to 70% of their employees rather than the 95% stipulated in the law.
Of course, they have no statutory authority for any of that. And yes, that’s still an outrage, however common it is becoming from this administration. But I want to look a different aspect of this. Employers can avoid the mandate until 2016 if they can get below 100 employees. And thus the administration responds:
Obama officials made clear in a press briefing that firms would not be allowed to lay off workers to get into the preferred class of those businesses with 50 to 99 employees. How will the feds know what employers were thinking when hiring and firing? Simple. Firms will be required to certify to the IRS–under penalty of perjury–that ObamaCare was not a motivating factor in their staffing decisions. To avoid ObamaCare costs you must swear that you are not trying to avoid ObamaCare costs.
The administration has no statutory authority to make any such demand, and even if it did, the statute would be unconstitutional. But that may not matter, because no one wants to be harassed by the IRS, even if they have the law on their side.
What the Obama administration is saying is this: go ahead and cut jobs to get under 100, but don’t tell anyone that’s what you’re doing. If we see any embarrassing stories about Obamacare job cuts, we’re siccing the IRS on you.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been caught using purloined passages in several of his speeches. Now the aspiring presidential candidate stands accused of filing a lawsuit stolen from its author.
Since December, the libertarian lawmaker, a tea party favorite, had been working with former Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein to draft a class-action suit seeking to have the National Security Agency’s surveillance of telephone data declared unconstitutional. . . But when Paul filed his suit at the U.S. District Court in Washington on Wednesday morning, Fein’s name had been replaced with that of Ken Cuccinelli. . .
Fein, who has not been paid in full for his legal work by Paul’s political action committee, was furious that he had been omitted from the filing he wrote.
Milbank backed up his claim by quoting Fein’s ex-wife. Amazingly, he never verified it with Fein himself. MSNBC did, and found it was bogus:
Did Rand Paul lift legal work from a celebrated conservative lawyer without fully paying him? The attorney in question says he didn’t. . .
A spokesperson for RANDPAC forwarded an email from Fein denying Mattie Fein’s allegations. “Mattie Lolavar was not speaking for me,” Fein said in the email. “Her quotes were her own and did not represent my views. I was working on a legal team, and have been paid for my work.” Bruce Fein confirmed to msnbc that the email was from him.
Seems convincingly debunked to me, but Milbank isn’t ready to give up. In a column entitled “E-mails back claim that Sen. Rand Paul ‘stole’ NSA lawsuit”, he dumped a bunch of internal emails (presumably leaked by the ex-wife) that indicate he was disgruntled about being left out of some key decisions. But they also make clear that Fein was indeed hired and paid for his work.
In Milbank’s original column, he claimed that Fein wasn’t paid at all. (ASIDE: I haven’t been able to verify this myself, since the Washington Post won’t let Archive.org crawl their site, but Milbank says so (“An early version of my Wednesday column said that Fein had not been paid and that Paul’s aides had not responded to inquiries.”), and I assume he wouldn’t lie about his own work in a way that makes him look worse.)
Now Milbank has edited his column to say that Fein “has not been paid in full,” as you see it in the quote at the top. That is technically true but deliberately misleading. What Milbank doesn’t say, but you can see in the emails he publishes, is that the outstanding payment isn’t even due until today:
My outstanding invoice for work indispensable to the lawsuit should be paid no later than Friday, February 14, an expectation which is completely justified in light of all the circumstances.
Truly shoddy work, and typical of Milbank. I’ll bet the Post is glad they have him off the news page and onto opinion.
Barack Obama used to have this thing he did were he would give the opposing argument its due before disagreeing with it. It was the only thing I liked about him. For example:
[Theodore Roosevelt] believed then what we know is true today, that the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history. It’s led to a prosperity and a standard of living unmatched by the rest of the world.
But Roosevelt also knew that the free market has never been a free license to take whatever you can from whomever you can. He understood the free market only works when there are rules of the road that ensure competition is fair and open and honest.
But that was back when Obama thought he had the winning argument. Now he knows he doesn’t, so all he does is demagogue:
The bottom line is there are folks out there who don’t want to see this program succeed, and there are folks out there who don’t want to see you get health insurance if you don’t have it.
Yeah, right. We don’t want people to get health insurance. That’s exactly it. Geez.
Barack Obama, October 2013, responding to Republican efforts to delay implementation of Obamacare:
Stop this farce. End this shutdown now. The American people don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their job. Neither does Congress. They don’t get to hold our democracy or our economy hostage over a settled law. They don’t get to kick a child out of Head Start if I don’t agree to take her parents’ health insurance away. That’s not how our democracy is supposed to work. That’s why I won’t pay a ransom in exchange for reopening the government.
February 2014, delaying implementation of Obamacare:
For the second time in a year, the Obama administration is giving certain employers extra time before they must offer health insurance to almost all their full-time workers. Under new rules announced Monday by Treasury Department officials, employers with 50 to 99 workers will be given until 2016 — two years longer than originally envisioned under the Affordable Care Act — before they risk a federal penalty for not complying.
Obamacare is “settled law” exactly as much as Obama wants it to be:
BONUS: News from an alternate universe:
In a move certain to please his conservative supporters and infuriate his critics, President Romney announced this afternoon that his administration would make yet another change to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In a terse release, posted without fanfare to the Department of Health and Human Services website, officials revealed that the law’s employer mandate would be suspended until 2016 for all businesses that employ between 50 and 99 people.
Read the whole thing.
Yep, Barack Obama said that:
That’s the good thing as a president. I can do whatever I want.
The context was relatively benign, breaking the rules for Monticello visitors, or something like that. (It wasn’t like he was claiming the right to unilaterally alter the law or anything outrageous like that.) What’s troubling is the mentality that leads him to say things like that, out loud, in public.
This is America, and Obama is a president, not a king. You’re not supposed to talk like that. The president serves the people, he is not above the people. And he does not seem to understand that at all.
The only surprising thing here is that someone wrote it down:
Shortly before Hillary Clinton’s effort to pass health care reform died in the summer of 1994, the first lady asked a close friend and confidant for advice on “how best to preserve her general memories of the administration and of health care in particular.”
When asked why, according to the friend’s June 20, 1994, diary entry, Clinton said, “Revenge.”
Hillary must be furious, because she knew better than to keep a diary:
“She told me she does not keep a diary and thinks it best not to keep one,” Blair wrote about Clinton in June 1994.
Blair later wrote in January of 1995 that Clinton said “she dare not… keep records of inti9mate (sic) thoughts and conversations” for fear of “subpoenas.”
The New York Post reports:
A politically connected Brooklyn pastor was arrested for a pair of open warrants — but was spared a night in jail after Mayor de Blasio called an NYPD boss to inquire about his close pal. . . Findlayter — the head of Brooklyn’s New Hope Christian Church who was instrumental in delivering the black vote to de Blasio — was pulled over at 11:21 p.m. Monday in East Flatbush for making a left turn without signaling, police said.
This is how it always is under a progressive regime. They proclaim equality for all, but there are always different rules for the nomenklatura. Some are more equal than others.
One big problem for liberal social engineers is the law of unintended consequences. They pass a law that is supposed to accomplish a goal (e.g., raise the minimum wage), but people then change their behavior to mitigate the law’s effect (e.g., hire fewer low-wage workers). Why won’t people just cooperate: change the one thing liberals want and leave everything else alone?
So, get this:
Some lawmakers, though, have claimed that the mere threat of the employer mandate is causing companies to shed full-time workers in the hope of keeping their staff size below 50 and avoiding the requirement.
Administration officials dispute that this is happening on any large scale. Further, Treasury officials said Monday that businesses will be told to “certify” that they are not shedding full-time workers simply to avoid the mandate. Officials said employers will be told to sign a “self-attestation” on their tax forms affirming this, under penalty of perjury.
(Via Hot Air.)
Now, I’m not sure what legal authority they have to demand this; certainly I never heard of any. But in those thousand pages there could certainly be some provision that wasn’t noticed before (“we have to pass it to find out what’s in it”!). Let’s assume there is. (And if not, it doesn’t really matter to my point.)
This is simply brilliant. Liberals have a problem with people changing their behavior to cope with their interference, why not simply prohibit that? Simply ban the unintended consequences!
Why stop here? Tax increases make people cut back on business expansions. Make them attest — under penalty of perjury — that they are growing their business every bit as much as they would have. Price controls lead to shortages? Don’t let producers cut back. (It’s working in Venezuela, right?) Debasing the currency leads to inflation? Prohibit employers from raising wages. Welfare and social engineering destroying the nuclear family? Just require any single people to attest that they wouldn’t otherwise have gotten married. And if the self-attestation process has unintended consequences, just ban those too.
There’s really no limit to what they can accomplish, once behavior becomes clay they can mold instead of living people’s choices. (Darn those living people and their choices, anyway!)
And if it doesn’t work, at least you’ve got more ways you can harass the people you don’t like. It’s a win-win for liberals.
UPDATE: More here.
Scientists appear to have discovered a new way to create stem cells without killing embryos that’s even easier than iPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells). They found that simply exposing blood cells to acid turns them into stem cells. They call the process STAP (stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency).
As hard as it might be to enroll in Obamacare, un-enrolling is even worse:
Think it’s hard to enroll in ObamaCare? Try getting out of it.
Missouri resident Lesli Hill learned the hard way that terminating an Affordable Care Act plan can be far more difficult than navigating the website to buy one. She spent six weeks being bounced from operator to operator, calling the help line, using the online chat, blasting out emails to anyone who would listen, before ultimately driving to Kansas City last week to enlist her insurance company’s help. Only then was she able to break through the bureaucratic logjam, and cancel her policy.
Charles Blow, a New York Times columnist, says that Barack Obama can’t be a lawless president, because he hasn’t issued very many executive orders.
Apparently he is arguing that the number of executive orders matter more than their contents! If the next president were to issue an executive order to imprison one Charles Blow for excessive ideological idiocy, that wouldn’t make him lawless, because that would be just one order.
He can’t actually be stupid enough to believe this, which tells you what he thinks of the New York Times’s readership. I wonder if he’s right.
Glenn Reynolds has an insightful observation:
When you no longer can be sure that there are things the government wouldn’t do, you have to base your assessments on the things that it could do. As I’ve noted, making “crazy” conspiracy theories seem more-or-less sane is one of Obama’s toxic legacies.
There’s an old adage that in geopolitics you need to prepare based on your enemy’s capabilities, not his intentions. It used to be that adage didn’t apply domestically: we didn’t have domestic enemies (other than fringe elements), only opponents. But now it’s clear that Obama does view us as enemies, so we have to do the same.
The only silver lining to Obamacare is all the chances I get to say I told you so:
The new healthcare law will cost the nation the equivalent of 2.5 million workers in the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in a report released Tuesday.
The nonpartisan agency found the reform law’s negative effects on employment would be “substantially larger” than what it had previously anticipated.
It said the equivalent of 2.3 million workers would be lost by 2021, compared to its previous estimate of 800,000, and that 2.5 million workers would be lost by 2024. It also projected that labor force compensation would be reduced by 1 percent from 2017 to 2024 — twice its previous estimate.
But wait, there’s more:
One killer detail comes on Page 111, where the report projects: “As a result of the ACA, between 6 million and 7 million fewer people will have employment-based insurance coverage each year from 2016 through 2024 than would be the case in the absence of the ACA.”
Well, maybe millions will lose their employment-based coverage, but they’ll all get coverage back from the exchanges, right? Nope:
“About 31 million nonelderly residents of the United States are likely to be without health insurance in 2024, roughly one out of every nine such residents.”
Why? Because, in selling the bill to the American people in a nationally televised September 2009 address, President Obama said the need for ObamaCare was urgent precisely because “there are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage.”
Now the CBO is saying is that in 10 years, about the same number of people will lack insurance as before. This, after new expenditures of as much as $2 trillion and a colossal disruption of the US medical system.
ASIDE: That statistic, bad as it is, doesn’t even tell the whole story. It just counts all those with some kind of insurance, neglecting the fact that nearly everyone is paying more for worse insurance.
In short, Obamacare is a complete failure. It is wrecking the economy, while utterly failing to do anything about the problem of the insured. More precisely, it’s a disaster, not a failure. Despite everything, it is succeeding in its real aim, which is to give the government more power.
Independent, nonpartisan experts project only a “small” or “minimal” impact on jobs, even before taking likely job gains in the health care and insurance industries into account. . . One leading health care expert, John Sheils of The Lewin Group, puts the loss at between 150,000 and 300,000 jobs, at or near the minimum wage. And Sheils says that relatively small loss would be partly offset by gains in the health care industry.
Look, you can’t fact-check a prediction. It’s a prediction! And, as it turns out, all the predictions that they labeled misleading (as many as 1.6 million jobs lost) were much more rosy that what the CBO now says is actually happening (2.5 million jobs lost).
POSTSCRIPT: It’s worth noting that we’ve moved on from the side-show which was the Healthcare.gov debacle (although Healthcare.gov still doesn’t work!), and on to the first confirmation of real economic damage. Healthcare.gov was a surprise; we assumed that they would be able to build a web site. Stuff like this is what we were expecting. And worse to come.
Ah, the community organizers:
Trader Joe’s wanted to build a new store in Portland, Oregon. Instead of heading to a tony neighborhood downtown or towards the suburbs, the popular West Coast grocer chose a struggling area of Northeast Portland.
The company selected two acres along Martin Luther King Blvd. that had been vacant for decades. It seemed like the perfect place to create jobs, improve customer options and beautify the neighborhood. City officials, the business community, and residents all seemed thrilled with the plan. Then some community organizers caught wind of it.
The fact that most members of the Portland African-American Leadership Forum didn’t live in the neighborhood was beside the point. “This is a people’s movement for African-Americans and other communities, for self-determination,” member Avel Gordly said in a press conference. Even the NAACP piled on, railing against the project as a “case study in gentrification.” (The area is about 25 percent African-American.)
After a few months of racially tinged accusations and angry demands, Trader Joe’s decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. “We run neighborhood stores and our approach is simple,” a corporate statement said. “If a neighborhood does not want a Trader Joe’s, we understand, and we won’t open the store in question.”
Hours after Trader Joe’s pulled out, PAALF leaders arrived at a previously scheduled press conference trying to process what just happened. The group re-issued demands that the now-cancelled development include affordable housing, mandated jobs based on race, and a small-business slush fund. Instead, the only demand being met is two fallow acres and a lot of anger from the people who actually live nearby.
“All of my neighbors were excited to have Trader Joe’s come here and replace a lot that has always been empty,” said Nghi Tran. “It’s good quality for poor men.” Like many residents, Tran pins the blame on PAALF. “They don’t come to the neighborhood cleanups,” he said. “They don’t live here anymore.”
“There are no winners today,” said Adam Milne, owner of an area restaurant. “Only missed tax revenue, lost jobs, less foot traffic, an empty lot and a boulevard still struggling to support its local small businesses.” The store was to be built by a local African American-owned construction company.
Instead of a new development bringing shoppers and jobs, they have an empty lot. That’s what the community organizers do. Bringing money to the neighborhood if of no use to them if they can’t control where it goes. “You can’t bring jobs here unless you let me wet my beak a little.”
If a development’s projected profitability is large enough, maybe the developers will pay protection. If it’s marginal, they won’t. And here’s the thing: in a struggling neighborhood, every potential developments is marginal! Places like northeast Portland are never going to get ahead while they let self-interested community organizers speak for them.
Just when you thought Obamacare’s woes couldn’t get any worse:
U.S. intelligence agencies last week urged the Obama administration to check its new health care network for malicious software after learning that developers linked to the Belarus government helped produce the website, raising fresh concerns that private data posted by millions of Americans will be compromised. . .
Specifically, officials warned that programmers in Belarus, a former Soviet republic closely allied with Russia, were suspected of inserting malicious code that could be used for cyber attacks, according to U.S. officials familiar with the concerns.
It seems astonishing that they would have hired Belarusian developers to build the Obamacare exchanges, until you remember that Obamacare’s developers were chosen specifically for their ability to refuse a Congressional subpoena. Then it doesn’t seem so astonishing after all.
On some level it even seems appropriate, since Obamacare is basically a malware attack on the US health care system.
The New York Times revisits the Plame-Novak-Armitage affair:
Retaliation is hardly unusual in politics either. The Christie affair reminds me of the I. Lewis Libby scandal, when top White House officials, including Mr. Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s top aide, decided to punish Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador critical of the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq, by outing his wife, Valerie Plame, as a covert C.I.A. agent.
I’m sure the NYT wishes this were true. It certainly would tie up the affair in a neat bow if were. But, as the NYT is well aware, it isn’t true.
Plame’s name was leaked by Richard Armitage, who did so accidentally, without any nefarious intent, and without any direction from anyone, including Libby or any other “top White House officials”. Libby went to jail on an unrelated charge.
The story is dated 10 days ago, and it carries no correction yet.
David Gregory tries to trap Rand Paul into playing into the Democrat-media complex’s “war on women” narrative. Paul will have none of it. I hope other Republicans learn from his example.
The New York Times reports that Republican dominance in the House is mostly not the result of gerrymandering:
The problem for Democrats is that they have overwhelming majorities not only in the dense, poor urban centers, but also in isolated, far-flung college towns, historical mining areas and 19th-century manufacturing towns that are surrounded by and ultimately overwhelmed by rural Republicans.
A motivated Democratic cartographer could produce districts that accurately reflected overall partisanship in states like these by carefully crafting the metropolitan districts and snaking districts along the historical canals and rail lines that once connected the nonmetropolitan Democratic enclaves. But such districts are unlikely to emerge by chance from a nonpartisan process.
So Republican dominance results not from Republican gerrymandering, but from the lack of Democratic gerrymandering. If you group nearby people together, Republicans win.
That’s interesting, but what I found particularly telling is how the NYT introduced these results:
The results were not encouraging for reform advocates.
If the results — showing that reform wouldn’t help Democrats — were not encouraging to reform advocates, that tells us what the actual goals of “reform advocates” are, doesn’t it?
There is a historic connection between some of the arguments that we have politically and the history of race in our country, and sometimes it’s hard to disentangle those issues.
It can be particularly hard to disentangle those issues when your party and you personally are doing everything you can to entangle them!
Then he does that thing (he used to do it a lot, back when he was doing the unity schtick) where he gives lip service to the other side before expounding his own, far-left view:
. . . I think it’s important for progressives not to dismiss out of hand arguments against my Presidency or the Democratic Party or Bill Clinton or anybody just because there’s some overlap between those criticisms and the criticisms that traditionally were directed against those who were trying to bring about greater equality for African-Americans. The flip side is I think it’s important for conservatives to recognize and answer some of the problems that are posed by that history . . .
The key point that Obama leaves out here is that history of criticisms against those “trying to bring about greater equality for African-Americans” is the history of the Democratic party!
Now that the Democratic party has made its 11th-hour transformation from an anti-minority racist party to a pro-minority racist party (no exaggeration), they want to project their own evils onto their opponents, who have (more or less) been arguing for a color-blind society all along.
New Jersey’s “bridgegate” scandal (in which the state government intentionally snarled traffic as political payback) has certainly captured the media’s imagination. The big three networks dedicated over 34 minutes of airtime to it in a single day, which is 17 times as much as they dedicated to the IRS scandal over the past half year.
And with good cause; the allegation is very serious indeed. Chris Christie stands accused . . . of behaving like a Democrat.
Dealing out political retribution has been the Democrat playbook going all the way back to Martin Van Buren, who — with Andrew Jackson — founded the modern Democratic party. (Jackson himself was more direct. When he was particularly incensed with someone, he would shoot him.)
Today’s Democratic party is rife with this sort of thing. The closest analogue is Seattle’s Democratic mayor closing city streets, out of an explicit desire to inconvenience drivers.
But a better example of callous political retribution was Barack Obama’s shutdown theater last year. During the government shutdown, the Obama administration directed the government to “make life as difficult as possible“. And so they did:
- They stopped an individual from mowing the lawn at the Lincoln Memorial.
- They barricaded wheelchair ramps.
- They removed handles from water fountains.
- They (illegally) closed Alaskan lands.
- They closed the Grand Canyon, and refused to let the state reopen it at state expense.
- They sent armed rangers to lock tourists into a Yellowstone lodge and ensure they could not see Old Faithful.
- They closed the only safe road through Blount County, forcing parents to take their kids to school on “white knuckle” routes.
- They shut down the AMBER alert web site.
- They (illegally) evict elderly people from their own homes.
- They closed the parking lot at Mount Vernon, which isn’t even government property.
- They barricaded highway viewing areas at Mount Rushmore.
- They cut off cancer treatment for children.
- They closed the Claude Moore Colonial Farm, which received no government funding and is operated entirely by volunteers.
- They barricaded national open-air monuments, and closed privately operated parks.
None of these (save one) were mandated by the shutdown; they actually cost the government money to perpetrate. (The exception, cancer treatment for children, Republicans sought to fund, but the Democrats refused.)
The most recent example to come to light is how the White House took extraordinary steps to ensure that the budget sequester hurt rural schools. (Via Instapundit.) In this instance, the Agriculture Department had already determined that the sequester would have no effect on funds already disbursed the previous year. However, the White House overruled that determination, and ordered them to claw back the money they had already spent.
It’s wrong for anyone to behave like this, and we do expect better from Republicans. Christie ought to be in hot water over it. But all the furor from the Democrats and their media allies over this is very much the pot calling the kettle black.
If your gun stunt pleases the powers-that-be, you can break the law. Witness David Gregory. But, if your gun stunt angers the powers-that-be, you go to jail for four months and then serve two years probation.
Without uniform enforcement, the law is merely a tool for the harassment of those who are out of favor. We need the rule of law.
Fox News reports:
The parents of a 6-year-old girl said their daughter was humiliated when a teacher interrupted the child’s one-minute speech and told her to sit down because she’s “not allowed to talk about the Bible in school,” attorneys for the California family allege.
It’s worse than that. She was supposed to give a presentation on a family Christmas tradition! Then the teacher was shocked and dismayed that one student’s tradition actually had something to do with Christmas.
In fact, it’s worse still: this isn’t the school district’s first offense:
It’s not the first time the school district has found itself in hot water over religious liberty violations. Last October, a seventh grade student was publicly ridiculed by a teacher for reading the Bible. The classroom assignment had been to read a non-fiction book. The teacher told the student in front of the class that the Bible was fiction and refused to give him credit for the assignment.
Give law-abiding citizens the ability to protect themselves, and crime goes down:
Using data for the period 1980 to 2009 and controlling for state and year fixed effects, the results of the present study suggest that states with restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons had higher gun-related murder rates than other states. It was also found that assault weapons bans did not significantly affect murder rates at the state level. These results suggest that restrictive concealed weapons laws may cause an increase in gun-related murders at the state level. The results of this study are consistent with some prior research in this area, most notably Lott and Mustard (1997).
A big win for free speech in the Ninth Circuit, which has found that First Amendment protection is not limited to members of the institutional press.
The governor of New York says if you don’t agree with him on social issues, you have no place in his state:
The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act — it was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate! Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.
To be clear: when Democrats talk about uniting red America and blue America, they don’t mean by respecting diversity of thought. They mean that red Americans must become blue, or else.
(Via Hot Air.)
UPDATE: Cuomo: I never said what I said. I would have thought it hard to accuse people of being “entirely reckless with facts and the truth” when they quote you verbatim, but he’s up for it.
This is why the government cannot be trusted with information. They will abuse it:
The Environmental Protection Agency has told farmers and ranchers it is sorry for handing private information about them over to environmental groups, but agriculture advocates who fear attacks from eco-terrorists say it’s like closing the barn door after the horses escaped.
In response to Freedom of Information Requests, the federal agency released information on up to 100,000 agriculture industry workers, including their home address and phone numbers, GPS coordinates and even personal medical histories.
Whether this was accidental or not is beside the point. If they face no consequences, it will keep happening.
In fact, while striking down the pernicious aspects of the FCC regulation, it leaves in place the regulation’s requirement that ISPs disclose what they are doing, so this seems like the best possible result. Perhaps Google (on whose behalf the administration was acting) will adopt a constructive, market-oriented approach (like this one) instead of rent-seeking now.
The Denver Post, it seems, is happy to print Sen. Mark Udall’s (D-CO) fevered imagination as fact:
More than two-thirds of the 250,000 people whose health policies the state Division of Insurance said last week were “terminated” have actually been offered renewals of existing plans through 2014, according to research by U.S. Sen. Mark Udall’s office. . .
Insurance companies have been sending out cancellation notices to consumers with plans that don’t meet minimum benefit levels required by the health care act. . . Many of the cancellation notices, however, also contain language allowing customers to renew their existing policies.
(Emphasis mine.) According to “research” by Udall, who previously tried unsuccessfully to pressure his state to fudge the cancellation numbers.
What would it even mean to send out a cancellation notice that allowed the customer to renew? That’s simply a contradiction in terms. I’ve looked at hundreds of cancellation notices at mycancellation.com and I’ve never seen anything that could possibly be described this way. We are asked to believe that there are hundreds of thousands of such self-contradictory letters in Colorado alone. Were that true, they could include at least one example.
If you want to destroy a health insurance market, institute community rating (every customer pays about the same, regardless of risk) and guaranteed issue (no applicant can be turned down). That puts the market into a death spiral: prices soar, so the healthy flee, so the prices soar even more. New York showed how it’s done:
New York state’s guaranteed issue and community rating rules—the two regulations that limit how insurers can charge based on health history and require them to sell policies to all comers—took effect in 1994. At the time, there were about 752,000 policyholders in the state’s individual market, or about 4.7 percent of the non-Medicare population. But by 2009, according to a Manhattan Institute report by Stephen Parente and Tarren Bragdon, the state’s individual market had practically disappeared, leaving just 34,000 participants, or about 0.2 percent of the non-elderly population. Individual insurance premiums, meanwhile, were among the highest in the nation—about $388 on average in 2007, compared with just $151 in California, another big Democratic-leaning state. In New York City, the annualized premium cost for individuals was more than $9,300 and more than $26,400 for a family.
The median household income in New York City is $50,711, so health insurance is quite literally unaffordable, it would cost over half the typical family’s income.
Obamacare is different, as it includes an individual mandate. This is supposed to prevent the death spiral: prices soar (boy, do they), but the healthy aren’t allowed to flee, so prices don’t soar further. There’s a couple of problems with the theory though.
First, the individual mandate’s penalty isn’t really severe enough to force people into the market. Many people will pay the penalty rather than sign up for expensive insurance they don’t think they need. In fact, the fact that the penalty isn’t severe enough is part of why John Roberts was able to convince himself that it could be construed as a tax, not a penalty, and thus found constitutional. If the mandate actually worked, it would be unconstitutional.
Second, as I’ve noted before, the quality of health insurance is not uniform. Even if the mandate worked, it doesn’t force healthy people into good plans. Consequently, good plans will become unaffordable and cease to exist.
If it wasn’t clear that Democrats are running scared from Obamacare, check out this Star Tribune column explaining that Al Franken (D-MN) wasn’t really the 60th vote for Obamacare. In fact, no one was!
They’ve abandoned “Obamacare is good” and are now attempting “it’s not my fault.” I don’t think it will work any better.
The Obama administration says that people who have their personal information stolen through Obamacare should not be notified:
The Obama administration stopped short Thursday of threatening to veto House bills to require officials to tell people if their personal data has been compromised through ObamaCare, and to require weekly reports on the health law’s implementation.
The White House said in two Statements of Administration Policy that it opposed both bills, one of which is set for a Friday vote in the House. . .
In its second statement, the White House said officials are already working on security issues with the HealthCare.gov website. Additionally, it repeated that the legislation requiring reports on data breaches would create “costly paperwork requirements.”
Got that? They are against warning people who they have made vulnerable to identity theft, because — don’t drink a beverage right now! — it’s too expensive! They waste trillions on one boondoggle after another, but suddenly become miserly when it comes to notifying people that they screwed up and exposed them to identify theft.
UPDATE: Democrats broke ranks with President Obama to vote for this. Good. But get this:
The White House said it opposed the bill, arguing the government already has plans to tell people if their information has been compromised.
We oppose it because we plan to do it anyway. Pinky swear!
Sheesh. That’s so lame even his own party isn’t buying it.
We’ve been talking for months about the disaster that is the Healthcare.gov back-end, and now, as predicted:
Record-keeping snags could complicate the start of insurance coverage this month as people begin using policies they purchased under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
Insurance companies are still trying to sort out cases of so-called health insurance orphans, customers for whom the government has a record that they enrolled, but the insurer does not.
Government officials say the problem is real but under control, with orphan records being among the roughly 13,000 problem cases they are trying to resolve with insurers. But insurance companies are worried the process will grow more cumbersome as they deal with the flood of new customers who signed up in December as enrollment deadlines neared.
More than 1 million people have signed up through the federal insurance market that serves 36 states. Officials contend the error rate for new signups is close to zero.
Insurers, however, are less enthusiastic about the pace of the fixes. The companies also are seeing cases in which the government has assigned the same identification number to more than one person, as well as so-called “ghost” files in which the insurer has an enrollment record but the government does not.
Note that the 13,000 problem cases are only the ones they know about. Any “orphans” who haven’t come forward during the first ten days aren’t counted among the number.
So, they’re not even going to pretend to have a non-partisan investigation of the IRS scandal:
The Justice Department selected an avowed political supporter of President Obama to lead the criminal probe into the IRS targeting of tea party groups, according to top Republicans who said Wednesday that the move has ruined the entire investigation.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, and regulatory affairs subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, said they have discovered that the head of the investigation is Barbara Kay Bosserman, a trial lawyer in the Justice Department who donated more than $6,000 to Mr. Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, as well as several hundred dollars to the national Democratic Party.
The Justice Department says it wasn’t allowed to prefer someone else who wanted a big Democratic supporter:
But the Justice Department said it isn’t allowed to consider a career lawyer’s political leanings when doling out assignments and that it would violate an employee’s constitutional rights if he were penalized on the job for making legal political contributions.
“It is contrary to department policy and a prohibited personnel practice under federal law to consider the political affiliation of career employees or other non-merit factors in making personnel decisions,” said spokeswoman Dena Iverson.
Frankly, even if that is the rule (I’ll take their word for it), I imagine that the Justice Department has some latitude in picking appropriate people for assignments. (For example, you don’t infiltrate Middle Eastern terrorist cells with Europeans, even if the rules prohibit considering race in assignment.)
But never mind all that, because it’s nonsense. The Obama/Holder Justice Department considers political affiliation in personnel decisions all the time. Indeed, it appears to be their primary consideration. For example, every single one of the people hired by the Civil Rights division was a leftist. No conservatives, no moderates. 113-0-0.
Now they’re going to pretend that they are so punctilious about ignoring politics that they couldn’t possibly choose an appropriate investigator? That doesn’t even pass the laugh test.
Lynne Stewart, the lawyer who facilitated terrorist communications with Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, has been released by the Obama administration.
When I write about climate science, I take care to remember my limitations: As a computer scientist, not a climate scientist, I’m not really qualified to comment on the details of their work.
They would do well to do the same. Consider Gavin Schmidt’s naive remarks on programming:
when are scientists going to stop writing code in fortran?
as crimes go, using fortran is far worse than anything revealed in “climategate”…
[Response: You might think that, but it’s just not true. Fortran is simple, it works well for these kinds of problems, it complies efficiently on everything from a laptop to massively parallel supercomputer, plus we have 100,000s of lines of code already. If we had to rewrite everything each time there was some new fad in computer science (you know, like ‘C’ or something ;) ), we’d never get anywhere. – gavin]
Fad? Structured programming has been the dominant paradigm since the late sixties. That’s only ten fewer years than programming languages have even existed. Back when structured programming was invented, climate scientists were still taking about global cooling!
In honor of the passing of the polar vortex, I’d like to review what I think we know about the state of climate science:
- The earth is warming, probably as a result of human carbon dioxide emissions.
- The amount the earth has warmed in modern times so far, although measurable, is negligible. The warming trend we see (as in the famous “hockey-stick” charts) uses a smoothing function, and is much, much smaller than the year-to-year variation.
- Thus, anyone who says this or that weather is the result of global warming, is a fool, a liar, or both. Generally climate scientists refrain from making such statements, but climate activists and politicians do not. (This problem seems particularly prevalent in Britain, where both parties’ leaders believe global warming is affecting current weather.)
- We can calculate the direct impact of increased carbon dioxide on the climate as a straightforward physics problem. The direct impact is small.
- Predictions of dire consequences are based on feedback loops. For example, warming causes ice to melt, which results in more clouds, which either increase or decrease warming depending on where and how they form. Climate scientists differ on whether positive or negative feedbacks will dominate, but the former camp (i.e., feedback leads to more warming) seems to be larger, and is certainly more influential and better funded.
- There is no way to test whether the positive or negative feedbacks dominate, and by how much, so climate scientists build models. Predictions of future climate are made on the basis of these models.
- Most climate scientists (at least the influential, well-funded ones) believe that the strong-positive-feedback models are more convincing.
- KEY POINT: However, there is no way actually to test the long-term predictions of these models without waiting for the long term. The short-term predictions of the models have generally not come true. (In fact, in 2005 Gavin Schmidt could only point to one instance in which a climate model made a prediction that was subsequently validated.)
- Consequently, we just don’t know what long-term effects increased carbon dioxide will have, scientifically speaking.
- However, we do know that cutting carbon dioxide emissions to a degree that would make a difference (according to the models) would not only be disastrous, it is literally impossible, barring an unforeseen technological advance.
- Thus, we ought to be looking at reasonable, cost-effective ways to limit CO2 emissions (e.g., nuclear energy, carbon sequestration), but not ridiculous ways (e.g., everything the left wants). We should also be looking at geoengineering in case the worst comes to pass.
Note that above I am not criticizing any of the work of any climate scientists. I simply don’t have the background to do it. Other people who do have the background have criticized their work (the media calls them “climate skeptics”), but I have no way to judge who is in the right. Thus, I’m relying on the consensus view (by which I mean actual consensus, not the consensus of just one side, which is how the media seems to use the term), and — in points 8 and 9 — my basic understanding of the scientific method.
One area in which I do have the background to criticize their work is in their programming. Much of climate science relies heavily on data sets that must be processed by computer. Unfortunately, it seems that their standards of programming is very low, at least if the story of HARRY_READ_ME.txt is typical. This means that the data they are using is suspect. (And, unfortunately, the raw data doesn’t exist any more!)
Worse, there is very good reason to worry that the academic process itself in climate science is badly broken:
- Climate scientists refuse to share their data, and actually delete their data when they might be forced to release it. (They also lie about it, and even break the law.) From scientists this is astonishing and horrifying, and it tells us that we simply cannot believe their results.
- Influential climate scientists have subverted the peer-review process. This corrupts their entire field, not just their own work.
- On occasion, they tell outright lies.
- Alas, there’s no indication that anything has improved in the field since all the above misconduct came to light.
So where does this leave us? Climate scientists have a tough job: they can’t run controlled experiments and their most important predictions can’t be tested. You can’t blame them for that. You can blame them for shoddy programming, and for academic misconduct.
Maybe the reason New York state officials are so anti-gun is they think that gun owners are as irresponsible with them as they are:
Jerome M. Hauer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s director of homeland security, took out his handgun and used the laser sighting device attached to the barrel as a pointer in a presentation to a foreign delegation, according to public officials. . . These officials, one of whom claimed to be an eyewitness, said that three Swedish emergency managers in the delegation were rattled when the gun’s laser tracked across one of their heads before Hauer found the map of New York, at which he wanted to point.
[Hauer] isn’t a law enforcement official. He carries the loaded 9-millimeter Glock in a holster into state buildings, an apparent violation of state law barring state employees from bringing weapons to the workplace. . .
Appalling. He should be required to take an NRA gun safety class. Perhaps the version for kids.
It’s terrible how people are getting screwed by Obamacare. But, if anyone has it coming, it’s the people who fought for it when they thought someone else would pay, and are only now finding out they were the suckers:
One Oregon mother says that she is unable to afford health insurance for her and her 18-month-old son because it’s too expensive.
The woman — who wishes to remain anonymous — tells KOIN-TV that she originally championed President Barack Obama’s signature health care law because she thought it would help people in her situation.
“I’ve been a cheerleader for the Affordable Care Act since I heard about it and I assumed that it was designed for people in my situation,” she told KOIN. “I was planning on using the Affordable Care Act and I had done the online calculator in advance to make sure I was going to be able to afford it.”
ASIDE: What, the online calculator lied? Imagine that.
I’m reminded of an exchange from Firefly (from Ariel, one of my favorite episodes):
Mal: You called the Feds.
Jayne: I got pinched!
Mal: Which is what happens when you call the Feds.
She thought that the feds would help her profit at the expense of others, but it turns out all the got was skyrocketing premiums and no subsidy. Which is what happens when you call the Feds.
A young Afghan girl has been detained wearing a suicide vest in southern Afghanistan, officials say. She was held on Sunday night in Helmand province, as she tried to carry out an attack on border police, an interior ministry spokesman told the BBC.
The girl, reported to be as young as eight and thought to be the sister of a prominent Taliban commander, is said to be in a state of shock and confusion. Police told the BBC she was encouraged to carry out the attack by her brother.
His own eight-year-old sister.
The next time we get the idiotic idea of trying to negotiate with these barbarians, we need to remember that they are pure evil.
I frequently see it alleged by liberals that getting health universal coverage is as simple as expanding Medicare so that it covers everyone. Many of them probably actually believe it, so I want to explain some basic economics.
The reason Medicare’s cost to the government is as low as it is (which is not all that low, by the way) is because Medicare’s reimbursement rate is just barely above marginal cost. That means that it is barely profitable to treat them, given that — and this is the key point — all the fixed cost has already been paid for by other patients.
In other words, Medicare is cheap (that is, cheaper than it would otherwise be) because its share of the cost of all our health care infrastructure (hospitals, equipment, etc.) is shifted onto other patients.
But you cannot shift the fixed cost off of everyone! For Medicare to work, there need to be people left off of it to bear Medicare’s share of the fixed cost. Try to put everyone on Medicare and the whole thing collapses.
This is nothing more than elementary economics. Whenever you see a politician proclaim we should have “Medicare for all”, they are proclaiming that they don’t understand economics. Or, if they actually do (I’m looking at you, Paul Krugman and Robert Reich) then they’re engaging in pure demagoguery.
This is interesting:
The FBI’s creeping advance into the world of counterterrorism is nothing new. But quietly and without notice, the agency has finally decided to make it official in one of its organizational fact sheets. Instead of declaring “law enforcement” as its “primary function,” as it has for years, the FBI fact sheet now lists “national security” as its chief mission. The changes largely reflect the FBI reforms put in place after September 11, 2001. . .
After noticing the change, [lawyer Kel] McClanahan reviewed his records and saw that the revised fact sheets began going out this summer. “I think they’re trying to rebrand,” he said. “So many good things happen to your agency when you tie it to national security.”
(Via Hot Air.)
Officially the filibuster is only partly dead, but Reid is hinting at changing that:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Sunday said he was not currently considering an elimination of the filibuster for legislation, but he warned that the country could not remain “paralyzed” by Republican obstruction. . .
[Democrats] left in place a 60-vote threshold for legislation. But in a rare Sunday television interview, Reid stopped short of categorically ruling out such a move in the future.
What he’s trying to do is get the benefit of abolishing the filibuster without actually doing it, by pressuring the opposition into giving him what he wants in return for keeping the filibuster. That worked once last year (once more than it should have), but when Democrats kept doing it, Republicans caught on and declined to play along.
When the Democrats abolished the filibuster, they did it narrowly, for only the things (presidential nominations) they wanted to do that very day, and pretended to leave it in place for other things, such as legislation and Supreme Court nominations. No matter; the filibuster is dead now and everyone knows it. From now on, there will be a new exception whenever anything is filibustered.
This is just brilliant:
The Pentagon waived laws prohibiting Chinese-made parts on U.S. weapons repeatedly for Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter program in order to keep it on track, Reuters reports.
Chief Pentagon weapons buyer Frank Kendall allowed two subcontractors, Northrop Grumman and Honeywell International, to use Chinese magnets for the plane’s radar, landing gears and other hardware, according to documents reviewed by Reuters.
The Obama administration has announced that it will weaken the HIPAA rules that protect the privacy of individuals’ health records. They wants government bureaucrats to have access to mental health records so they can use them to deny patients permission to purchase firearms.
They claim that they will find a way to do this without compromising patients’ privacy, but it’s not true. Firstly, it’s not true because it’s impossible: the whole point is to give health information to government bureaucrats. Secondly, we know from experience that when it comes to gun-related records, the government will leak the information:
In 2003, under pressure from the gun lobby, Congress passed a law that hid from public view the government database that contained the gun tracing information.
The Washington Post has obtained the names of the gun dealers nationwide with the most traces over the past four years. In addition, The Post has uncovered the names of the dealers, all from border states, with the most traces from guns recovered in Mexico over the past two years.
It was illegal for the government to disclose the information, but they did it anyway. And this wasn’t just a few “bad apples”, either. There was never any investigation of the leak, so DOJ policy-setting officials were complicit, at least after the fact.
In the same decision that struck down New York’s astonishingly stupid and pointless law banning more than seven rounds in a magazine, the federal judge also struck down three provisions as unconstitutionally vague:
- A ban on “muzzle breaks”. (There is no such thing. The state contends that the law was supposed to say “muzzle brakes”, which actually exist. But we-meant-to-say-X-instead-of-Y is not an accepted principle of statutory construction.)
- A grammatically unintelligible provision limiting “large capacity” (i.e., normal capacity) magazines.
- A ban on “semiautomatic version[s] of an automatic rifle, shotgun or firearm”. (The bill offers no rules to determine what firearm is or is not a “version” of another, leaving ordinary people with no way to obey the law, and encouraging “arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement” — which may well have been the point.)
One thing this does make clear (particularly the first and third) is that the people who wrote the bill had no idea what they were talking about.
The Washington Post managed to write an entire article entitled “2013 is the year that proved your ‘paranoid’ friend right” without ever once mentioning the IRS scandal.
NSA, EZ-Pass, even Area 51, but they managed to memory-hole the biggest political scandal in more than a generation.
(Via James Taranto.)
If you’re on the Obamacare exchanges, don’t have a baby. There’s no way to add a baby to your plan:
Insurers say computerized “change in circumstance” updates to deal with family and life developments were supposed to have been part of the federal system from the start.
But that feature got postponed as the government scrambled to fix technical problems that overwhelmed the health care website during its first couple of months.
Maybe this is why they are so concerned about contraception. . .
The New York Times (writing on Justice Sotomayor’s “perplexing” decision that people are better equipped to judge what is a burden to their religion than the New York Times) also has this to say about the Hobby Lobby case:
In November, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two challenges to the birth control mandate brought by secular, profit-making companies seeking to elevate the religious views of company owners over societal interests and the well-being of employees.
This makes clear what the NYT thinks of the matter, but really, how is this different from any freedom of religion case? Isn’t freedom of religion always about elevating religious freedom over the supposed societal interests that would be served by suppressing it?
From this, it’s not hard to infer the NYT’s opinion of religious freedom in general.
Maybe embassies for terrorist organizations isn’t such a great idea:
A large, illegal weapons stockpile was found Thursday at the home of the Palestinian ambassador in Prague, Jamel al-Jamal, Czech media reported, a day after al-Jamal was killed in an explosion there. Respekt, a Czech weekly newspaper, reported that the arsenal was enough to arm a unit of ten men. . .
Czech police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova confirmed that arms had been found in the ambassador’s residence, which is located within a newly constructed Palestinian diplomatic mission in the city.
Al-Jamal, 56, was killed Wednesday when a safe at his home exploded. . . Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki said no foul play was suspected, and claimed that the safe had been left untouched for more than 20 years.
If you think that last sounds like a ridiculous lie, you’re right:
Later, however, El-Fahel told Czech radio that the safe had been in regular use. ”[The safe] was used on a daily basis at the embassy and it was opened and closed almost every day,” the embassy spokesman said.
Fox News reports:
Violence in Iraq soared in 2013 to levels not seen in years, U.N. officials reported this week, stoking concerns that the country is descending into the kind of sectarian bloodshed that gripped the country before the U.S. troop surge.
The United Nations said 7,818 civilians were killed in 2013, a return to 2008 levels. The startling figure follows warnings from lawmakers and analysts that the violence threatens to undo hard-fought gains by the United States.
Al-Qaeda-affiliated gangs are fighting in the streets of Fallujah and Ramadi. This illustrates that the Sunnis of Anbar are so disillusioned with the Maliki government that the population is turning a blind eye to the presence of radicals. Terrorist gangs do not drive into cities unless they are confident that the residents will not betray or take up arms against them.
Remember that in 2010, Iraq was so quiet, the Obama administration was actually trying to take credit for it. But President Obama took steps to make sure that we have no influence there, and Iraq is now crumbling.
Could there be any doubt which consideration would prevail?
More than half of female Marines in boot camp can’t do three pull-ups, the minimum standard that was supposed to take effect with the new year, prompting the Marine Corps to delay the requirement, part of the process of equalizing physical standards to integrate women into combat jobs. . .
The Marines had hoped to institute the pull-ups on the belief that pull-ups require the muscular strength necessary to perform common military tasks such as scaling a wall, climbing up a rope or lifting and carrying heavy munitions.
What business is the military in, anyway?
According to NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, make a new law that turns hitherto law-abiding persons into criminals, then arrest those people. Voila, people are safer!
Don’t ask whether there’s been any improvement in actual crime statistics. That would be rude.