Error and cover-up

February 14, 2014

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.

(Emphasis mine.)


The first rule of Obamacare job cuts is: do not talk about Obamacare job cuts

February 14, 2014

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.

(Previous post.)


Milbank plays to type

February 14, 2014

milbank 001Dana Milbank, the notoriously biased Washington Post reporter, levels an accusation so flimsy it was debunked by MSNBC:

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.

(Via Instapundit.)


Demagogue

February 13, 2014

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.


Settled law

February 12, 2014

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:

unilaterallychanged

 

(Via Instapundit.)

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.

(Previous post.)


“I can do whatever I want”

February 12, 2014

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.


Was there ever any doubt?

February 12, 2014

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.”


Liberal behaves like liberal

February 12, 2014

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.

(Via Instapundit.)


Law of unintended consequences, repealed!

February 12, 2014

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.

(Previous post.)


STAP cells

February 9, 2014

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).


You can check out any time you like

February 9, 2014

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.

(Previous post.)


Useful idiots

February 9, 2014

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.

(Via Instapundit.)


OMG

February 8, 2014

NBC calls communism one of history’s pivotal experiments. No matter how low your opinion of them, they still manage to disappoint.

UPDATE: Meredith Vieira calls the end of communism “bittersweet”.


QFT

February 5, 2014

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.


Handwritten notes are superior

February 5, 2014

A new study confirms what I have long believed, that taking handwritten notes leads to better learning than typed notes. Those who type tend to record verbatim, while those who take notes by hand actually process the material.

(Via Instapundit.)


Obamacare delenda est

February 5, 2014

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.

BONUS: As a bonus, Glenn Reynolds digs this up, where Factcheck.org “fact-checked” Republican predictions that Obamacare would fail:

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.

(Previous post.)


A teachable moment

February 5, 2014

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.

(Via Instapundit.)


Obamacare malware

February 4, 2014

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.

(Previous post.)


You can’t teach people to program, this is California!

February 3, 2014

California cracks down on unregulated lessons. Because California thinks it’s better for people to remain ignorant than to be taught by the wrong people.

(Via Instapundit.)


NYT lies about Plame-Armitage

January 27, 2014

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.

(Previous post.)


Rand Paul shows how it’s done

January 27, 2014

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.


An interesting admission

January 27, 2014

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?

(Via Instapundit.)


You can’t make this stuff up

January 20, 2014

The help line for Maryland’s Obamacare exchange connects to a Seattle pottery store.

(Previous post.)


The unmitigated gall

January 20, 2014

Barack Obama:

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.


Why “bridgegate” is so bad

January 18, 2014

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:

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.


Selective law enforcement is tyranny

January 18, 2014

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.


You can’t talk about the Bible; this is school!

January 18, 2014

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.


Obama overreach likely to cost him

January 18, 2014

A year ago, President Obama’s massive overreach — claiming that the presidential recess appointment power could be used at essentially any time at all — resulted in him losing the recess appointment power in nearly its entirety. Now the Supreme Court appears poised to confirm that ruling.


Concealed carry = fewer murders

January 18, 2014

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).

Imagine that!


Let freedom ring

January 18, 2014

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.


Cuomo: conservatives not welcome in New York

January 18, 2014

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.


Your government at work

January 17, 2014

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.


Court rejects net neutrality, again

January 14, 2014

The DC Court of Appeals has unanimously rejected the Obama administration’s second effort to impose network neutrality. (It unanimously rejected their first effort in 2010.) This is a good thing.

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.

(Previous post.)


I call BS

January 12, 2014

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.

(Previous post.) (Via Power Line.)


How to destroy health insurance

January 11, 2014

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.

(Previous post.)


Writing on the walls

January 11, 2014

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.

(Previous post.)


Ha ha, good one!

January 10, 2014

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.

(Via JammieWearingFool.)

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.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


As predicted

January 10, 2014

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.

(Previous post.) (Via Hot Air.)


Fox investigating chicken coop

January 9, 2014

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.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


If you don’t like the numbers, change them

January 9, 2014

Colorado senator Mark Udall (D) asked his state’s insurance regulators to cook its numbers to reduce the number of people receiving cancellations notices because of Obamacare. To their credit, Colorado’s regulators refused.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


The model for the nation

January 9, 2014

Massachusetts’s health care system, which was loosely the model for Obamacare, is delivering the highest health care costs in the country.

(Previous post.)


Iowa resets

January 9, 2014

Everyone in Iowa who thought they signed up for health insurance on the Obamacare web site needs to sign up again. Every single person.

(Previous post.)


Obama releases domestic terrorist

January 9, 2014

Lynne Stewart, the lawyer who facilitated terrorist communications with Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, has been released by the Obama administration.


Naivete considered harmful

January 9, 2014

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!


Global warming review

January 9, 2014

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:

  1. The earth is warming, probably as a result of human carbon dioxide emissions.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. We can calculate the direct impact of increased carbon dioxide on the climate as a straightforward physics problem. The direct impact is small.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Most climate scientists (at least the influential, well-funded ones) believe that the strong-positive-feedback models are more convincing.
  8. 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.)
  9. Consequently, we just don’t know what long-term effects increased carbon dioxide will have, scientifically speaking.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.


Heh

January 9, 2014

In 1974, the polar vortex phenomenon was evidence of global cooling. Now it’s evidence of global warming.

(Via Best of the Web.)


Only the government can be trusted with guns

January 7, 2014

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.

(Via Instapundit.)


I got pinched!

January 7, 2014

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.

(Previous post.) (Via Vodkapundit.)


Why we fight

January 6, 2014

BBC reports:

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.


You can’t expand Medicare

January 6, 2014

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.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 50 other followers