Thursday, April 24, 2014

Don't Mess With Texas...Even in New York.

What fun we've had this week in New York City! Texas Governor Rick Perry showed up again to try and lure businesses to the Great State of Texas. It's really entertaining to watch heads explode here. The speaker of our City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito (D/Marxist) had this to say about Perry's visit:

“Rick Perry’s traveling circus isn’t going to persuade New Yorkers who know a sideshow when they see one. The truth is Rick Perry has pushed a textbook right-wing agenda that is anti-middle-class, anti-women and something New Yorkers will overwhelmingly and easily reject...”

Yeah, except the facts are on Perry's side in this. The fact is that Texas is No. 1 in job growth and in having a business-friendly climate, and New York is...well, embarrassingly No. 49 in both categories. New York is only one step above New Jersey which I guess is something that Mark-Viverto can hang her hat on, I guess. Perry went so far as to challenge our Governor Andrew Cuomo to a duel...no, I mean, a debate on which state has the better business climate. As expected, Gov. Cuomo declined, but not before pointing out Perry's debate disaster in the last Presidential cycle. Now granted, Perry deserved that slap, but he also has the facts overwhelmingly on his side and Gov Cuomo knows he has no legs to stand on in that debate. Still, it made me laugh because it is such a Texan thing to do - being boastful and prideful of the Great State of Texas. It's what Texans expect from their Governor and why...well, Texas is No. 1 in job growth and in business-friendly climate-ness. At least, Mayor de Blasio stayed out of it.

Speaking of Mayor de Blasio, he has finally relented in his quest to shut down the carriage-horse trade in New York City. You may remember that one of his campaign promises was that on his first day in office, he was going to shut down those horse-carriages that clop through Central Park. He insisted that the horses were being mistreated and were no longer appropriate. Well, something happened on his way to the signing. 65% of New Yorkers didn't want the carriage-horses to be shut down. Actor Liam Neeson, a long-time resident of New York and friend to the mostly Irish carriage owners/operators, waged a heated public campaign to stop the stopping. He challenged the Mayor and anyone on the City Council to come to the stables and meet the men and women who take care of these beautiful animals to see how really well they are treated and regulated. The Mayor and most of the City Council members declined the offer and kept pushing for a ban. Mr. Neeson just pushed harder. The daily papers surprisingly supported Neeson and the pro-carriage trade people.

This week at the New York International Auto show, the old-timey electric car that is supposed to replace the carriages was revealed. Well, let's just say it didn't go well. Perhaps is was when Steve Nislick [see photo], a parking lot magnate and founder of anti-horse carriage group NYCLASS, threatened to punch out a female New York Daily News reporter. Or when the big reveal ended with a resounding thud. Or maybe it was when it was revealed that this whole issue had nothing to do with the plight of the poor horses, but with the proposed development of the very valuable property where the horses are stabled. Wouldn't you know it? See, this is why you don't threaten a reporter, especially a female reporter. It turns out that Mr. Nislick was not only a very deep-pocketed donor to the de Blasio mayoral campaign, but he also has a very lucrative stake in the development of the property that the stables now occupy. Whoopsie, Mayor de Blasio quickly reined in his stand on the carriage horses and conceded that he would have to put this on the back burner because there were more pressing issues that needed his attention like raising taxes. [Calling Governor Perry... Governor Perry, are you there? Can you tell him why this might not be a good idea?]

As an aside to the whole horse carriage issue and the plight of the poor horses, here are two issues that have not been raised:

#1 - We have an entire battalion of mounted police where the horses are all over the city in the same traffic as the carriages;
#2 - We have Belmont Park, a horse racing track in Queens and host of the third leg of the triple crown horse race - Belmont Stakes - where dozens of horses die every year as a result of the sport.

Not once has NYCLASS or PETA tried to shut either of these down on the same grounds which leads me to agree this is about a lucrative land deal more than the plight of the horses...

Well, as always, feel free to comment on these or any topic.
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Affirmative Action Dead(er)

I told you last year (LINK) that affirmative action is dead. And so it remains. Well, not technically, but practically. Yesterday, the Supreme Court gave permission to remove the corpse. Let’s discuss.

In June of last year, I told you about the Fischer v. University of Texas case. That case involved a white student who sought admission to UT but ran into their admissions policies which favored minority students. She sued claiming discrimination in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause.

She lost at the lower levels with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals pointing to the Supreme Court’s decision in Grutter v. Bollinger which allows colleges to use race “as one of many plus factors” in admissions decisions. According to Grutter, colleges cannot set aside places by race, but they can grant minorities extra points for their race provided that race is one of many different “plus” factors that can be awarded AND provided that race is not the predominant deciding factor.

That’s stupid, however. This “you can consider it, but you can’t base your decision on it” works out logically to X is true, but just not THAT true, and logically speaking, that’s nonsense. Morally speaking, this is nonsense as well. Either the use of race is acceptable or it is not. If it is acceptable then there is no reason to disallow its use. If it’s not acceptable, then it should not be allowed at all. And this attempt to allow its use, but not in any meaningful way, straddles the morality in such a way as to offend both sides.

Anyway, the Supreme Court was expected to use the Texas case to strike down affirmative action or to give it new life. They didn’t quite do either, however, and the result was that everyone in the media described the Supreme Court as “punting” on the issue of affirmative action.

Only, they hadn’t punted at all.

As I explained, the simps had misinterpreted the decision. What the Supremes held was that Texas, i.e. the state, bears the burden of proving both a “compelling state interest” in ensuring diversity at their schools AND that their method for achieving that goal of diversity is “narrowly tailored.” This is the standard “strict scrutiny” test for laws that violate fundamental rights like equal protection, and it’s hard to win.

In the Texas case, the action occurred in the second part of the test: the narrow tailoring. The Supreme Court held that Texas needed to show that under its plan to increase diversity, each applicant was still evaluated as an individual and not in a way that made an applicant’s race into the defining feature of their application. To do this, the Court held that Texas needed to prove that is it “necessary” for Texas to use race to achieve the educational benefits of diversity. “Necessary” in this case means this: “The reviewing court must ultimately be satisfied that no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the education benefits of diversity.”

Bang! In other words, the school must show that it could not have generated diversity in any other way.

This was a death sentence for college affirmative action because there is no way to ever prove that race-based admissions are necessary. In fact, fearing the loss of affirmation action, schools everywhere found other ways to ensure diversity and thereby proved that race itself need never be a factor. That meant the Supreme Court ruling allowed affirmative action but only if you can pass an impossible test to demonstrate your need for it. Some punt.

Well, now the Supreme Court has “punted” again on affirmative action. This time, the issue involves a voter-backed initiative in Michigan which changed the Michigan constitution to prevent the state from using race as a factor in college admissions. Conservatives hoped the Supremes would strike down affirmative action. Liberals hoped the Supremes would call it a constitutional right and strike down any attempt by the public to end it. The Supremes did neither.

In a 6-2 ruling, the Supremes refused to strike down affirmative action in principle, but they held that nothing in the Constitution disallowed the voters in a state choosing to ban it in their state. So nothing changes?

Not quite.

The key to get out of this case is that affirmative action is not a right. If the Court believed that you had a right to affirmative action, then it would have followed its own lead in the gay cases where the Court struck down preemptive attempts to ban gay rights legislation. The Court didn’t apply those, however, and that means affirmative action isn’t a right protected by the constitution. Basically, affirmative action is just another goodie that you can vote on.

So what does that mean? It means that the states are now free to wipe it out without federal courts having the ability to question the state for doing so. The Congress can do this too. In effect, the Supreme Court has said, “Yes, we allow Affirmative Action, but we don't require it, so go ahead and wipe it off the map if you like.” And, adding the prior case, “if you do intend to keep it, then be prepared to prove that race preference was the only possible way to achieve your goal.” That's a death sentence.

So why not just wipe it out? Because this is a savvy way for the Court to kill something without putting their fingerprints on the murder weapon. If you ask them, they will swear that Affirmative Action is still the law of the land... you just won’t find it anywhere within a few years.

Add this to the Supremes ripping the heart out of the Voting Rights Act and I see a Court that is determined to get Uncle Sam back out of the racial spoils game. Interesting times.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Superman A Liberal? Yeah, Probably

I got to thinking and the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that Superman is a liberal. Strange, but true. Batman, however, is anything but a liberal. Let’s examine the case for Superman being a liberal:

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Buchanan Loves Him Some Hitler Putin

I wasn't going to publish this, but with Putin pushing hard for World War III, I think it's a good time. A lot of the problems with our current fringe can be traced back to the 1990s. In the 1990s, conservatism was understandably upset at Bush the Elder. Unfortunately, the group that would become our fringe abandoned the values of Ronald Reagan and instead adopted the values and rhetoric of Pat Buchanan. And let me tell you, Pat Buchanan is the last person anyone should be listening to, as demonstrated with his recent fellating of Putin.

I’m not kidding when I say that modern conservatives abandoned Reagan and instead followed Buchanan. They worship Reagan in the abstract and wrap themselves in his cloak, but they align themselves with the pessimistic anti-American Buchanan over the optimistic pro-American Reagan. On issue after issue, they follow Pat's rotten views, which are the polar opposite of Reagan's -- if you look at the talk radio playbook today you will find that their standard quotes and knee jerk opinions come almost verbatim from Buchanan’s apocalyptic “culture wars” speeches, most of which are the exact opposite of what Reagan stood for. To give an example, earlier this month, Pat claimed that the GOP lost middle America by embracing free trade (Reagan was staunchly pro-trade) and by importing “30 to 40 million” legal and illegal immigrants (Reagan was pro-immigration) who he calls “people of color” (Reagan never judged people by race).

Becoming the party of Buchanan was a huge mistake because it led the right away from being the pro-American party of prosperity, a thriving party which grew every day under Reagan, and sent it down the path to becoming this brooding anti-immigrant party who see America as a hopeless, failing state beset by enemies behind every rock. It's no coincidence that conservatism has been losing support ever since it started this journey. Moreover, this led them away from conservative ideas like embracing the power of freedom and has instead engendered a leftist belief in the power of strongmen who promise stability. This can be seen with Pat Buchanan's recent embrace of Putin.

Earlier this month, Pat penned an editorial love letter to his new crush, Vladimir Putin. In this bizarre editorial, he assures us that God is on Putin’s side. Why? Because he sees Russia as “the Christian country” fighting against “a decadent West,” and he sees Putin as the defender of the faith basically. Of Putin, Pat says:
“Putin is plugging into some of the modern world's most powerful currents. Not only in his defiance of what much of the world sees as America's arrogant drive for global hegemony ... He is also tapping into the worldwide revulsion of and resistance to the sewage of a hedonistic secular and social revolution coming out of the West.”
Of course, his belief in a “worldwide revulsion” ignores the fact that the vast majority of people on this planet embrace every part of our culture, from our foods to our films to our consumer goods to our values. In fact, this has been a common complaint of fundamentalist Islam, failed dictators needing scapegoats, and our own left and right fringe for decades. His belief that social revolution is coming is ignorant fantasy; it is a view one reaches when one has no friends except other ideologues and there is ZERO evidence for it in the culture outside of tiny extremist blogs. His view of America as arrogantly driving for global hegemony is the same thing he used to attack liberals for saying as disloyal and traitorous.

As for Putin, Putin is the head thug of a neutered empire that is now a regional power. It has become the tallest among dwarves and pretends that makes it an NBA center. Pat doesn’t realize that because he's stuck in the cold war. And what makes Pat worship Putin is that Putin is running Pat’s kind of theocracy. Specifically, Pat mentions how Putin “imposed a ban on homosexual propaganda, a ban on abortion advertising, a ban on abortions after 12 weeks and a ban on sacrilegious insults to religious believers.” That’s how Pat defines good Christianity. Do you think Jesus would agree?

Of course, what Pat overlooks is huge. To see Putin as a hero, you need to forget that Putin is invading his neighbors and interfering in their internal affairs. Forget that he's supplying nuclear hardware to Islamic Iran. Forget that he's selling high end military hardware to China and Syria. Forget that he's trying to create an alliance with countries like Cuba and Venezuela to harass us. Forget that he's terrorized his people. That free speech, property rights and rule of law don't exist in Russia. That he locks up people with money if they don't support him, that he shuts down television stations that oppose him, that he locks up rock bands for criticizing him. That his favorite "business" practices are extortion and blackmail. Forget that Mr. Christian uses sex to advertise his candidacy, that’s he’s harassing Christian groups he doesn’t like, or that all the stuff Pat loves is just for show. Forget that Putin presides over a shithole of a country that has stepped backwards in every conceivable way under his reign of error. Yeah, forget all that because he hates them gays and that makes him Pat’s hero.

That’s messed up. But it fits with the rest of Pat's views. In fact, at least three times (1977, the 1980s and 2009) Pat has publicly praised Hitler (he wrote that Americans are “introduced to Hitler only as a caricature” but that Hitler “was also an individual of great courage, a soldier’s soldier in the Great War, a leader steeped in the history of Europe, who possessed oratorical powers that could awe even those who despised him.”) and blamed the allies for forcing Hitler to go to war and said Word War II wasn't "worth it." He has declared America finished because of “people of color,” and he has flirted with every third rate dictator to come along for a decade now in the hopes of finding his own Fuhrer to impose a set of beliefs which the public ain't buying.

That is what motivates Buchanan. Buchanan hates that the American public refuses to embrace his vision of a racially and religiously pure America. And everything he says and does spews from that kernel of savage disappointment. But that isn't conservatism, and Putin is not someone conservatives should ever embrace. Think about that the next time some talk radio host praises Putin for being a reel 'merikan.
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Happy Easter Everyone!

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fun Times Ahead!

There is just so much going on out there to focus just on one topic, so here are few topics open for discussion today:

1. In one of the many Friday night media drops that have become so common in the last five years, it was announced that Sec't of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has tendered her resignation. It was time for her to go since all of the early problems with the rollout of Obamacare have been solved and miraculously the numbers match the predictions. [Stop laughing!] But she didn't resign "to spend more time with her family". Knowing that she probably can't get a job in the private sector because of well, incompetence, she has hinted that her next goal is to run for Senator from Ohio [ oops, I meant Kansas]. I call that a blinding example of the Peter Principle. Hey, maybe, she'll win and be the first to vote to repeal Obamacare!

2. A new study being published in the Journal Of Neuroscience this week has found that casual marijuana use causes potentially harmful changes in the brains of 18 to 25 year old brain particularly in the "regions of the brain that are key to regulating emotion and motivation". No, really? Here's the link to the Daily News article - LINK

Yeah, it potentially harms motivation. That's what we need more of, right?

This study is interesting in that the pro-pot lobby has always maintained that pot is safer than alcohol, but that might not be true. Anyway, I am not opposed to the legalization of marijuana and I think that it is downright cruel to deny cancer sufferers the very real benefits, but let's not kid ourselves that it's not potentially harmful.

3. And this was reported last week. NYC has the most segregated school system in the country! Yes, WE'RE NUMBER 1! WE'RE NUMBER...oh, wait...that's not good. One would think that it should have been a southern city. Not only that, but NYC is also the most segregated city in the country too. Now I have a theory as to why. You see, those state above the Mason-Dixon line have spent so much time denouncing the segregation and racism issues in those states below the Mason-Dixon line, that they just plain forgot to look at their own racial issues. Anecdotally speaking, when I moved to New York City in 1989, I was shocked at the blatant racism that would never be tolerated in any traditionally Southern region. And it is clear that it has not changed much in 24 years.

Oh, and it actually snowed yesterday. I blame Canada.

Feel free to comment on these or any other topics of the day...

CORRECTION: Soon to be former HHS Sec't Sebelius may run in Kansas, not Ohio as previously stated above. Sorry for the confusion.
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Misstating the Rand Report

You probably heard about the Rand survey by now. This is one of those documents Democrats love – vague and with sneaky caveats which make the headline true, but misleading. Here’s what you need to know.

First, let me point out that the Rand Corporation used to be to the left what Halliburton became: the corporate boogeyman controller of the New World Military Capitalist Order (note the image attached to this article, which you can find at many leftist sites). So there is a lot of irony in the Democrats pointing happily to a Rand report, but irony is typically lost on Democrats.

Anyways, according to Team Obama, the Rand report tells us that Obamcare (1) gave 18.0 million people insurance (2) 9.3 million of those were uninsured before, and that (3) only one million lost their insurance because of Obamacare. And that’s before they even factored in the surge in enrollments at the end of March!! Take that, suckas!

Ok, let’s unpack this fudge, shall we.

First, swimming through the numbers, Rand reports that only 3.9 million people signed up for Obamacare. This number will likely go up because of the last minute surge, but it would be stunning for it to rise anywhere near Team Obama’s claim (now) of 7.5 million (unless they just accept Obama's fake data). Put simply, that’s a failure. And it's nowhere near the 18 million liberals are claiming was found in the Rand report.

Moreover, Rand estimates that only 1.4 million of those people were uninsured. The rest were simply dumped into the exchange by their employers.

The rest of the 18.0 million number comes from two sources. First, 5.9 million were added to Medicaid. Note that this is half the 9 million team Obama was claiming for the past several months. So someone has some explaining to do... if only we had a real media watchdog. Secondly, recall that this number is not “new” enrollees, this number is “new plus re-enrollees.” In other words, it’s likely that the vast majority of these people were on Medicaid already and just had their policies renewed. Basically, they are crediting Obamacare with providing insurance to people who already had it. Other studies have found that less than one million of these people were new to Medicaid.

The rest of the 18.0 million are 8.2 million people who got insurance at work. To credit Obamacare with this is laughable. This is simply a function of more people finding work... that’s it. And if we are going to credit Obamacare with this, then we need to “credit” Obamacare with the people who lost insurance since it first came up in 2009. In that regard, the number of uninsured rose from 14.4% under Bush to a high of 18% under Obama (Rand actually credits Obama with a reduction from 20.5% to 15.8%, so lets run with that). This means that Obamacare stripped 6.1% of Americans of their insurance: 18.9 million people. Hey whoa!! Where have I seen someone claim an 18 million number recently? Hmmm. It's funny how all of Obama's numbers magically add up.

Anyways, Obama cost 18.9 million people their insurance. 8.2 million found coverage through jobs. 3.9 found their way to the exchanges. And about 1 million were added to Medicaid. Thus, Obamacare cost 18.9 million people their insurance, but "got" 13.2 million their coverage. That leaves 5.7 million people forgotten.

That's not a victory. Also, think about this. Obamacare’s success can now be defined thusly: after spending trillions and disrupting millions, Obamacare has managed to bring the insurance rate almost back up to what it was under Bush.

Aim high, jackass.

Of course, that’s the same level of "success" Obama has achieved with unemployment, income growth, inflation or pretty much any other measure of economic health. So at least he's consistent.

Finally, as an aside, another study has found that the people in the Exchanges are a good deal sicker than the rest of the insured public. In particular AIDS patients and those needing specialty drugs have gone to the Exchanges. According to an Express Scripts study of 650,000 claims filed in January and February with 25 insurers, Exchange participants are four times more likely to be treating AIDS, AIDS drugs are in the top ten spending list under the Exchange but not outside the exchange, hepatitis C treatments are similar. Pain medications were 35% higher in the Exchange than in other plans, drugs to control seizures were 27% higher, antidepressants were 14% higher. All of this means “expensive!” All in all, the Exchanges are spending 47% more than private insurers on "specialty drugs," i.e. drugs used by less than 1% of the public.

What this tells us is that the Exchanges really are packed with people with long term, very expensive conditions, i.e. the uninsurables. That, combined with the low turnout, is a disaster in waiting for Obamacare.
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Monday, April 14, 2014

The Fringe Loves Squatters, Hates The Constitution

It was apparently a good weekend to get your fringe on. First, the birthers were back. Trump promised to build a giant placebo to keep out all the Mexicans. And Jay Carney used photoshop to make it look like he owns more books than he does AND he collects Soviet propaganda. See! See people! If only the MSM would tell the TROOTH about these things! Then the public would be with us openly instead of secretly! And those aren’t even the BIG story! The BIG story was how fascist Obamaholderreid wants to strip reel ‘merikan Al Bundy of his property rights. But we faced 'em down!

//sarc off

Most of the land in the West belongs to the federal government. At one point, the feds were giving it away to anyone who would take it in the hopes that people would move from the East to the West. Later, when the West was more established, the feds stopped giving away public land, but they agreed to allow people like ranchers to graze their cattle on public land for a small grazing fee. Ditto miners and oil drillers and others. Indeed, this land is administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which is charged with maintaining and administering public lands for the benefit of the public. This includes allowing private use of the land when that fits the BLM’s mission.

This is where the Bundy family comes into the picture. Somewhere in the late 1800s, the Bundy’s moved to Nevada and built a ranch. They took advantage of the fed’s policy of opening public lands and let their cattle graze on public lands near their ranch.

To hear the fringe tell it, the Bundy family was given the right to use this land forever until the evil BLM decided to save some turtle. At that point, the BLM ruthlessly tried to throw the Bundy's off the land they've been using since before Jesus was a child and have a forever right to use. When the saintly Bundy's resisted, the BLM appeared out of the blue with shock troops, tasered Bundy's helpless son, and would have made the whole family disappear into black helicopters if not for a couple of reel patriots like the nut jobs at InfoWars exposing the TROOTH.

Um... no... not even close.

Somewhere along the way, the BLM was told by the EPA that some rare turtle in Nevada needs protection. At that point in the 1990s, the BLM had no legal choice but to do what they could to protect that turtle. The BLM responded by limiting grazing rights for everyone in those areas to 150 head of cattle per permit. This included the Bundy’s. The Bundy’s, however, ignored this change by BLM in the grazing policy. Moreover, they stopped paying the renewal fee for the grazing permits.

Now, let me be clear because this is where the lunatics stop listening. The Bundy’s have NO right to graze on public land - no matter how long they've been doing it. They are entitled to do so only so long as the BLM has that land open for grazing. Moreover, they need to follow any terms and conditions or limits BLM places on that grazing; the Bundy’s can’t claim more rights than BLM is willing to grant. Nor can the Bundy’s claim what is called adverse possession because (1) you can’t do that to the government, (2) they don’t otherwise meet the requirements either, i.e. their possession was not adverse and they didn’t hold themselves out as owners. So the Bundy’s can’t claim the land is theirs, they can’t claim some sort of right to graze, they can’t claim more rights to graze than BLM grants them by permit, and they didn’t even pay the permit to get those. They are essentially grass thieves... or squatters.

The Bundy’s kept right on grazing, however, so the BLM went to court. On issue after issue, injunction after injunction, appeal after appeal, the Bundy’s lost. They lost every single legal battle for more than 20 years. Eventually, Bundy gave up on the court’s giving him what he wanted and he tried a different approach: he claimed that he does not recognize the existence of the Federal Government: “I don’t recognize the United States Government as even existing.” He then claimed to be armed and threatened anyone who tried to interfere with his cattle grazing.

BLM went to court and got another order to have the Bundy cattle removed. Bundy appealed and lost again. Bundy then removed his cattle. Only, they didn't stay away. For the next eleven years, Bundy snuck his cattle onto the land, sometimes mixing them with others and even leaving them unbranded in an attempt to keep investigators from knowing whose cattle they were. The BLM investigated however, and by June 2011, the BLM issued another cease and desist order.

Bundy then told BLM he would round up their cattle as ordered. He lied. Rather than round up his cattle, he began to build improvements on the land to make it easier to feed and water his cattle – something that has never been allowed. BLM contacted the Clark County Sheriff, who tried to broker a deal. At that point, Bundy threatened a “range war” if anyone tried to remove his cattle. BLM went back to court and got an order allowing them to remove the cattle.

That is where we are now, only with a couple hundred yahoos out there trying to menace the BLM agents as well. As an aside, these fringers are claiming Harry Reid's son is behind this because he wants to claim the land for a CHINESE!!! solar company. They heard this from pathological liar Alex Jones. The trouble is that it's false. The land Reid wants to use is miles away and this issue arose 10 years before Reid got into politics.

So here is who this patriot of patriots is. He is:
1. A man with no legal right to use the land he claims as his property. He is a squatter who is claiming property rights he doesn't have.
2. A man who litigated for more than 20 years and lost every single time... all affirmed on appeal, and when he lost he suddenly started claiming that the Federal Government doesn’t exist.
3. A man who failed to pay the grazing fees that would have let him continue with fewer cattle.
4. A man who has lied and failed to keep “his word” on several instances.
5. A man who has used threats of violence to try to keep the government from legally evicting him, and who then whines about BLM showing up with armed agents.
This Bundy guy is the exact opposite of everything conservatives hold dear. We believe in property rights, yet this guy is a squatter claiming entitlement to property he does not own and has no rights over. We believe in rule of law, which means an equal application of the law to all. The BLM has more than bent over backwards to give that here. Not only have they spent almost 30 years in court trying to get this resolved (winning at every step), but they have patiently tried to resolve this when they could have legally evicted Bundy at any point. Heck, they've even offered to give him rights to which he's not entitled to settle this. Conservatives cannot claim to support rule of law and then argue that the law cannot apply in this instance. Conservatives also stand for law and order and Bundy is violating that. Bundy has refused repeated valid court orders, he's failed to pay to keep his permits, and he's threatened violence if anyone tries to implement the law. That flies in the face of conservatism. Bundy is also a liar and a sneak, which I would hope are not conservative traits. Finally, note that Bundy doesn't claim some right under the constitution, instead he claims the federal government isn't a legal organization. That's about as far away from conservatism as you can get.

There are times the Federal Government is abusive and needs to be stopped. But latching onto "heroes" like this only discredits our side. Yet, here the far right embraces this nutjob as a hero.

This is what I've been warning people about with the fringe. These people are not conservatives -- they are militia types, tax dodgers, racists, anarchists, and they have worked their way onto the conservative side at the moment because they see an opportunity to warp conservatism to their cause. They do not believe in rule of law or property rights or even limited government, they believe in the abolition of the federal government, separatism and anarchy. They only hide behind terms like "rule of law" and "property rights" to trick people like you into thinking their goals are legitimate. Don't fall for it.

** By the way, the Feds have backed off for the moment and the fringe is crowing about the feds being cowards, because that's how they think. The truth is that this is effective law enforcement. The smart play is to wait for the militia types to go home and then grab Bundy when you can do it without shooting a hundred people. That's also the exact opposite way a supposed totalitarian regime would handle things.
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Gone Fishin'

Okay, so I don't really fish (NTTAWWT), but I am traveling today. So you are free to associate with abandon. No holds barred. No topics off limits. Okay, one limit - keep it clean and kind of family-friendly. No, most definitely "family-friendly".

If you are lost for a topic, here are a couple of "conversation-starters":

1. Equal-pay legislation - It died in Congress, but is there really a pay disparity? I read article after article that opines "yes! of course, women are victims" and "No! if you compare apples to apples, there is virtually no pay disparity". I have no opinion (yeah, right! If you believe that, I have a bridge that needs sellin'!), but what do think?

2. Obamacare - That's always fun. The Rand Corporation just published their findings in regards to Obamacare. Now I have a great deal of respect for Rand Corporation. In their reports that I have read on a variety of subject, they always have balanced, well-researched analysis. And this one is no different. But I need your opinion on the report - Changes in Health Insurance Enrollment Since 2013: Evidence from the RAND Health Reform Opinion Study.

So, this was the screaming headline on HuffPo, "9.3 MILLION MORE INSURED!!!***"! But, contrary to HuffPo's "analysis" that 9.3 million now have insurance that they otherwise would not have, the Rand analysis gives a much different take. It is almost as if the writer at HuffPo didn't really read the report. Now I have to admit, I cherry picked too, but I found two key statements in the Rand report that are interesting, but I would like your opinion:

On the opening "summary - "We also found that 3.9 million people are now covered through state and federal marketplace - the so-called insurance exchanges - and less than 1 million people who previously had individual-market insurance became uninsured to the period in question..."

And on page 6: "...Our estimates suggest that only about one-third of new marketplace enrollees were previously uninsured. While this seems relatively low, it is slightly higher than findings reported earlier..."

Any comments?

***Huffpo changed the original screaming headline and buried the story after its original posting. Someone probably read the Rand report and realized that the analysis wasn't really in their favor. I posted a comment on HuffPo that pretty much said that it was apparent that the writer had not really read the report. And amazingly, my posted comment was did not make it passed the censors...
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Dutch Disease In The US? No

I came across a fascinating theory this week to explain why countries that are rich in natural resources tend to remain poor. This theory was actually first developed in 1977 and came to be known as "the Dutch disease." What brought this up the other day was that a leftist asserted it could happen to us because of all the drilling we are doing. Naturally, I don't buy it. Let’s discuss.

The theory I stumbled upon is really pretty fascinating and surprisingly obvious once you hear it. It goes like this: when countries start exporting natural resources like oil, gas and copper, other businesses in that country find themselves becoming less and less competitive. Why? Well, because the cash brought into the country from the sale of the commodities causes the value of the country's currency to soar. This means that goods produced in that country will now become more expensive relative to goods produced in other countries. Indeed, what the oil/copper/etc. wealth has done is put the country’s businesses and local labor at a serious disadvantage to the rest of the world and that will slowly strangle the rest of their economy, even though the country appears normal from the outside.

This is “the Dutch disease,” which is a term coined in 1977 for the relationship between the discovery of a large natural gas field in the Netherlands in 1959 and the subsequent decline of their manufacturing sector. As noted in 1977, this was seen as being the result of the Netherlands becoming less competitive because their currency became stronger compared to other nations because of the export of gas.

This is interesting on several levels. First, it explains why places like Russia are moving backwards economically despite the wealth they are taking in from all the oil, gas and minerals they are sitting upon. It also explains why so many third world countries have such problems, because they always try to sell their resources first to boost the rest of their economies, but in the process are hamstringing the rest of their businesses.

This also puts the lie to the left’s argument that these countries are poor because capitalists have exploited them. Between the 1960s and the 1990s, the left screamed about Western capitalists exploiting third world countries. The argument went that the capitalists would go into a third world country and pay far less than market value for the resources, thereby leaving these countries poor and without their resources. Believe it not, this wasn't hard for most people to believe, given that colonization seemed to be about exploiting these countries and that these countries always ended up remaining poor. This theory however, says that's not true. This theory tells us that the problem isn't insidious behavior, it's simple economics.

As an aside, the right had the perfect response to the left for decades. The right countered that it was corrupt governments and bad business cultures that squandered the wealth. The right also smartly pointed out that while the left whined that placing factories in these countries was exploitative because they didn’t pay western wages, the workers were typically thrilled to be making way more than other local jobs paid. Those are arguments the left never could beat.

Anyways, this argument came up vis-à-vis the US the other day. With the US now producing more oil and gas than Saudi Arabia, is there a danger of this happening here? The article I read felt it would happen here. I don't buy it though. And the reason I don't buy it is twofold. First, oil and gas are only a tiny fraction of our economy from an export perspective. Thus, they cannot cause the dollar to appreciate enough to trigger this effect. By comparison, the countries who have been hit hardest by this reality tend to be the ones whose only industry is exporting resources. More importantly, we aren’t exporting our oil and gas, we are using it. That means it's going to make everything in our economy cheaper. That will actually cause the inverse of the Dutch Disease effect with American businesses and labor becoming more competitive... not less. Said differently, this should spark an economy wide boom as energy gets cheaper for everyone. It is an interesting theory though.

Thoughts? Any other applications you can think of?
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Opposition to Obamacare NOT Racist

Cynthia Tucker is a black, female journalist who gained prominence in the 1990s, and all the negatives that entails, i.e. she’s steeped in the race/gender wars. This last week, she laments that it’s hard to understand the “irrational hatred of Obamacare” (which of course is code for racism). But let’s put that aside. What Tucker doesn’t get is that the hatred of Obamacare isn’t irrational. Let’s discuss.

Tucker does what all politicized hacks always do: she creates her own facts to support the conclusion she wants you to reach. She begins with the fraudulent advocacy technique of talking about some woman she knows who is happy to finally have insurance. Whoopee! Anecdotal evidence is meaningless. In fact, I can counter with someone who thinks we should ban insurance. So what have proved? Nothing, Cynthia.

Anyways, she buys into Obama’s 7 million number and calls it “stark evidence of the overwhelming market demand.” Isn’t that cute, she’s a moron! Let us consider the seven million number and her point:
● First, it’s nonsense to call something that is forced upon people by threat of fine as creating “market demand.” That’s like saying Hitler created “market demand” for Nazism in every country he occupied by forcing it upon people. “Markets” imply willing buyers and sellers, not the coerced.

● Secondly, the 7 million number is obviously fake. Quoting it uncritically only demonstrates bias. Let’s see how many people actually have Exchange-sold policies three months from now, then we’ll talk Cynthia.

● Thirdenly, even if we accept the 7 million number, this is “stark” evidence of a lack of demand, not evidence of demand, you dingbat. There are 49 million uninsured. If we assume that all of the 7 million were uninsured before, then still only 1 in 7 signed up despite the threats of being fined if they refused. That’s evidence of horribly weak demand.

● Further, the evidence suggests that only 800,000 of the signups didn’t have insurance until Obamacare came along. That means only 1.6 in 100 of the uninsured responded. Again, how is that evidence of anything except disdain?

As for the other 6.3 million, those are people who were insured, but lost their insurance because of Obamacare and had no choice but to buy this inferior product at inflated prices. It’s not evidence of demand to ban all other alternatives and then point to your sales.
She then tells us that even though it’s too early to call Obamacare a success, it is a success. According to her,
● “It made great strides in improving access to health care.” Uh, not really. More people lost insurance than gained insurance. And only an idiot would say that disrupting the entire system to get 800,000 coverage is making strides.

● She says it will be a “boon” to the economy that young people can stay on their parent’s plans.... as if that made any sense at all.

● Now you can’t be denied coverage! That’s true, but you can be denied treatment. Which would you rather have? In fact, the biggest problem Obamacare will encounter is that people will buy this insurance, but won’t be able to find doctors, and certainly not good ones. Basically, Obamacare will cause the “two America’s” dystopia liberals always whine about, with rich people getting to see great doctors and getting treatment anywhere they wish, while poor and average people get handed worthless policies that leave them dying in the waiting rooms of third-rate converted animal hospitals. Thanks Cynthia, may it happen to you and yours first.

● Now you can get affordable insurance away from your employer! LOL! Actually, Obama killed the affordable policies. So to restate this truthfully, “Now you will lose your employer-sponsored plan and you can go buy way overpriced, underprovided phantom-coverage from Obama’s website.
Next she takes on those nasty, racist Republicans. She points out that they should love Obamacare because it “adheres to market-based ideas.” Yeah, right. There isn’t a market-based idea in the whole bill. Further, she whines, the Republicans are free to offer alternatives. This is, of course, revisionism. This bill was written in secret by a couple Democrats and the insurance companies. It was voted on without amendments, without reading, without Republican input or public input being allowed. It even got pushed through on an abusive procedural motion. I guess Cynthia wasn’t paying attention.

Of course she finishes with a nasty, slander: “Could it be that Republicans are simply furious that millions of Americans like [her friend] finally have health insurance?” No, Cynthia, racism is your obsession, not ours.

Anyways, let’s cut to the chase. She just doesn’t understand the hate. Ok, how about this...

Why should we like a law that forces us to buy a product we don’t want, a product that costs more and provides less coverage than we could have obtained on the open market before Obama banned those policies. A law which ham-fistedly attempts to reshape 1/12th of our economy. A law which has cost nearly ten million people the insurance they liked (more to come), that has severed their relationships with their doctors, which put many independent doctors out of business, which cost people their jobs, which cut down the part-time hours available for part-time workers, which forced churches to provide abortion coverage and old people to pay for pediatric issues and males to pay for feminine issues and young people to massively subsidize the elderly. A law which promises huge, rich insurance firms subsidies all paid for on the backs of the middle class. A law which may yet wipe out unions. A law which will break various state and federal budgets.

Maybe that’s why people hate it, Cynthia. And if you weren’t a racist who is looking for anything you can spin into “white people hate us!” perhaps you would see this. The problem isn’t that Obama is the first black president, it’s that he’s the first abusive, incompetent, shithead black president.

Hating Obamacare is not an irrational response. It is quite rational. In fact, I wonder how Cynthia would respond if we passed a law which forced everyone to buy a 45 caliber (or above) handgun for home defense and we made blacks pay twice as much to subsidize old whites. Do you think she’d marvel and fake confusion at all the irrational hate coming from the left? Would she finish with, “Could it be that Liberals are simply furious that millions of Americans like old Earl finally have access to home protection?” Somehow, I doubt it.
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Friday, April 4, 2014

Rush To Judgmental

by tryanmax

Against my better judgment, I still occasionally listen to The Rush Limbaugh Show, more out of morbid curiosity than anything else, these days. As I tuned in today (Thursday), I was treated to a particularly spectacular display of idiocy on Rush’s part. I want to share it because it perfectly demonstrates just how off-the-rails the right-wing fringe has become in their messaging.

On occasion, Rush will entertain a caller who tries to challenge him. This is so that Rush might demonstrate his greatness in taking the caller down, usually after the caller has hung up. Today, the sacrificial lamb was a 33 year old guy from Ft. Myers, FL named Ian. Ian would fit right in here at Commentarama, and with a little luck, maybe he’ll Google himself and join us one day.

Ian was attempting to explain as we have often discussed here the problem with Republican, conservative, and especially Tea Party rhetoric. The subject was about reducing the size of government. Ian’s point was that the typical right-wing approach, talking about slashing programs and regulations, makes average voters nervous and vulnerable. He said that conservatives need find a way to discuss these ideas without sending the message that they would leave those in need of government programs out to dry.

Ian was very articulate explaining how media bias distorts an overly complicated message and also spoke about the role charisma plays. Personally, I think Ian talked circles around Rush.

Unfortunately, Rush runs the show. Throughout the conversation, he characterized the electorate as spoiled children who need to be confronted and made to fend for themselves. Then he denied that any conservative has ever uttered such a thing as that. He twisted Ian’s words to their opposites. Despite being a mass-media personality with a national reach, Rush tells Ian that politics is a one-on-one affair with no appealing to the masses. He pooh-poohed charisma. Countless times he pulled the old “give me a specific example” ploy. It was a childish display, truly.

At the end of it all, Rush feigned astonishment that anyone could possibly think conservatives, with all their talk of “rugged individualism” and “self reliance,” would mean that people should go it alone without any help or assistance.

Rush really began to flex his muscles after Ian was off the phone, calling him a coward and likening him to Pajama Boy. You see, in Rush’s world, the “conservative message” is all about tough love. There is no other way to discuss shrinking government, increasing independence, or any of the other things that conservatives stand for. Anything other than harsh rhetoric is “coddling.” It doesn’t matter if Ian or anyone else believes in reducing the entitlement rolls—that’s not enough—they have to be willing to get in the faces of those taking government assistance.

Somehow, this is expected to win the day. It reminds me of the “girls love jerks” trope you see on TV, where the guy wants the girl but she isn’t interested until he bombards her with verbal abuse. Except that isn’t the way the real world works, either in relationships or politics. They completely missed the joke. (For the record, it’s the guys who are charismatic jerks—like Obama—who get the girls/votes.)

Something about Ian’s call must have really struck a nerve with Rush, because he kept talking about it for the rest of the show. (I know what it was; it was that he had a point.) But as Rush kept talking, his message got less coherent. He kept insisting that “on your own” doesn’t really mean “on your own.” Then he’d lament that people just aren’t tough enough these days. If Rush is to be understood (a dubious contention), conservatism is about sending the message people need to hear, even if we don’t plan on following it up. It’s either a profoundly messed-up line of thinking or it’s a disturbing revelation.

Rush and the fringe right have gone so far off the rails that they are no longer merely confusing rhetoric for message, they are confusing tone for ideology. Anyone can be aggressive about anything, but Rush and the right have stopped scrutinizing ideas and are looking only for vitriol and a few key buzzwords to form their alliances. Ian made it clear repeatedly that he and Rush were on the same ideological page. But because Ian wanted to put it in an appealing package, Rush dismissed his loyalty to it.

And if any proof is needed that Rush wasn’t listening to a word Ian said about anything, one only needed to stay tuned until about an hour after Ian hung up. Rand Paul came up briefly when Rush pressed Ian for who he thought delivered the conservative message in an appealing way. An hour later, Rush claimed that Ian had contradicted himself and made Rush’s point, that the conservative message can win when delivered clearly by someone likable.
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pivoting to Jobs...Again

So did you hear the one about how Obamacare is now "settled science" and we're not supposed to dwell on it anymore. Hey, that's what Obama said in his victory dance on Tuesday at the goal line after his touch down as he spiked the ball and declared "Mission Accomplished" Where have I heard that before? when he announced that we had magically reached the golden number of 7.1 million sign ups for Obamacare! Yey! Now, you naysayers, it's time to pivot again...to jobs...again.

It's over, people. Move on. Nancy Pelosi has pivoted to job creation and stuff, so expect...well...nothing on that to happen. God, how that woman can drone on.

Oh, but wait, Jeffrey Young at Huffington Post has begun to question the numbers. Interestingly, they are the same questions that we have asked.

5 Things The Obamacare Enrollment Numbers Won't Tell You.

Hmmmm, I'm thinking that Mr. Young wont' be writing for HuffPo much longer...

This is my take. We should now change the word from "pivot" to "pirouette". With all the spinning and twirling and creative choreography, maybe it would be more appropriate,

Any thought?

Sorry this is short and not so sweet, but I am getting an new oven tomorrow and have to get ready. If you lived in a Manhattan apartment, you'd understand...
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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hannity's "Winning" Agenda

Sean Hannity is one of the bigger dipsh*ts on the air. Even before talk radio turned poisonous and stupid, Sean was out there spewing nonsense. Yesterday, he started his show by blasting the evil Republicans for surrendering and collaborating blah blah, as usual. Then, in the midst of his verbal diarrhea, he suddenly mentioned that he has an agenda for 2014. I thought I’d take a look. First, let me say that I do give him credit for not just listing abortion, gays and Mexicans as his brethren do. That said, his agenda is crap. Check this out.

Hannity starts by chest pounding about his view of why reel America exists and what the constitution means. Having actually studied the document and how it has been implement, I can tell you that Hannity’s view has never been true. I doubt he cares. Having riled up his reel ‘merkican listeners for an America that never was, he strikes with six areas he thinks are important:
The Economy
Healthcare
Energy
Term Limits
Immigration
Education
This isn’t the worst start I’ve seen, but notice a couple things. There is no mention of jobs. As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, the public no longer connects “the economy” with jobs, so right away this will not send a warm fuzzy. Similarly, where is there any obvious mention of protecting my pension, saving my house which is underwater on its loan, unrigging the stock market, protecting Main Street from Wall Street, or saving my butt from student loans? Where is consumer protection? Environmental protection? How about civil liberties, protection of privacy, not getting droned as I drive to work? And if order of listing approximates importance, will mothers be thrilled to see that education falls below “term limits” in importance?

Anyway, that’s just an initial thought that only arises because due to prior stupidity, conservatives have lost the trust of the public, so they get less time to sell their ideas. That means you need to show the public right away that you are offering something different. At first glance, this REEKS of more of the same. Now let’s look at the details:

The Economy: Here come the jobs, right?! No. After considerable amounts of doomsdayism, in which Hannity assures us that the nation is on the verge of collapse because of various boogeymen and that we are now a nation of leeches, Hannity proposes paying off the federal deficit in six years by cutting spending 0.01%. Then he proposes following this up with a Balanced Budget Amendment.

Oy. First, his math is nonsense and his numbers are bogus. So this whole thing opens with a fraud. Also, if you really could pay off the debt with a “one penny cut,” doesn’t that expose the doomsdayism as bullsh*t? More to the point though, why should the public care about this? The public cares about jobs. This plan won’t generate a single new job. If anything, people will be worried it will kill jobs.

...and the public tunes out.

As for the Balanced Budget Amendment, it takes only seconds to see how pointless that is. Budgets are about projections and you can get around any amendment with phony projections. In fact, states have been making a mockery of this for years. Not to mention, “balanced” does not mean less spending, it can just as easily mean higher taxes. Also, this idea is unconstitutional (a document Hannity should read someday), and there is no conceivable way a court could enforce this. This is a delusion.

Finally, he proposes creating a percentage limit on any individual’s tax liability. Not only will this be seen as conservatives again sucking up to the rich, but Hannity doesn’t even offer a percentage – he hints at 35% or 40%.

That’s it. There’s no mention of jobs. There’s no plan to make employees cheaper, to raise incomes, to let people keep more of what they earn, to spark innovation, or to protect your assets or your house or your pension. Basically, Hannity is pandering to budget wonks and millionaires.

...and the public tunes out.

Healthcare: Hannity has a simple plan: let everyone have a health savings account, which they can then use to pay for concierge medicine! Woo hoo! Only, everyone can already have a health savings account and that doesn’t solve ANY of the problems that made the public see a healthcare crisis: cost, access or quality.

Moreover, the problem with concierge medicine is that it only works at the general practitioner level. It doesn’t do jack for you if you incur the big ticket items like cancer or heart attacks... the things the public worries about.

...and the public tunes out.

Energy: Energy. Huh. No, the public’s not screaming about the cost of energy. In fact, no one’s really talking about it and it rates really low on the issues that matter to voters... 11th. Let’s see what Hannity says, shall we?

First, he rails against environmentalists. ...and the public tunes out.

Next, he tells us that we could be out producing Saudi Arabia in terms of oil and gas if the Democrats would let us. And that states that are currently drilling for oil and gas have slightly lower unemployment. Ergo, we drill.

Ok, for starters, we already out produce Saudi Arabia. It happened a couple weeks ago – in BOTH oil and gas. Secondly, the drilling states he talks about have lower unemployment because they tend to be sparsely populated and they are importing workers. Third, this is happening without any help from Washington, so what exactly does Hannity think he’s going to add to the mix? More importantly though, why should average people care? Unless you’re in the oil or gas industry, this won’t create a job for you and no one is screaming about the cost of energy right now. This may be a good thing, but it’s hardly something voters will care about.

...and the public shrugs their shoulders.

Term Limits: WTF? This is so typical of “conservative” thinking: tinkering with the procedures. There is nothing substantive here and the public doesn’t care.

...and the public tunes out.

Immigration: This is interesting. For about a week, Hannity supported immigration reform. Then he got smeared as a RINO and he raced back into the cult. What he does here is cite to the completely discredited Heritage Foundation report to tell us why we shouldn’t allow illegals (or any immigrants actually) into our country. Then he quasi-asserts a link between 9/11 and our unsecure borders. He then concludes that we need to protect our borders... and whatever we do after that is up to you. Interesting. It sounds like Hannity actually understands that you can’t deport 11 million people but he doesn’t have the guts to say it to his listeners.

In any event, close to 70% of the public wants immigration reform and Hannity’s proposal here is to adopt the tactic conservatives used to try to stop immigration reform. That's a non-starter.

...and the public tunes out.

Education: Here’s Hannity’s final shot to reach someone outside of his base. What does he propose? School choice.

...and the public tunes out.

See, the problem with school choice is this. Conservatives have been so hell bent on smearing and destroying public education at every turn that when they say “school choice,” it comes across as a tool meant to deprive public schools of funding and the best students. However, the vast majority of parents like the public schools. They want solutions to make those schools better, and “school choice” does nothing in that regard.

Fortunately, the GOP is making real strides improving public education and creating a school choice system within the public schools. But that’s not what Hannity is selling.

So what do we have here? Well, Hannity creates an agenda that fails to address a single issue that would appeal beyond his own talk radio base. He offers nothing to improve anything the middle class cares about. He wastes his time talking about procedures, proposing solutions that have been repeatedly rejected, and pandering to the wealthy. And he doesn’t even come close to overcoming the lack of trust conservatives have earned on these issues. Think about this the next time he criticizes the GOP... or offers to sell you his book.
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Democratic Agenda

Last week, the Senate Democrats unveiled their agenda for the 2014 Elections. No one really cared. Even the media pushed it aside and kept pounding them with questions about Obamcare. That's a really bad sign for them. Even worse, right after they disclosed this, projections started coming out about them losing the Senate, so their agenda vanished into oblivion. In any event, I have a couple thoughts on their agenda. Let’s discuss.

The Agenda: Here is the agenda they are pimping:
● Minimum wage hike to $10.10 “to fight income inequality.”
● Equal pay for men and women.
● Protecting Medicare benefits.
● Raising the Earned Income Tax Credit.
● Lowering interest rates on student loans.
● Boost infrastructure spending.
● Worker training.
● Raise taxes on millionaires.
● End tax breaks for companies that ship overseas.
● Drug sentencing reform.
● Energy efficiency.
All Phony: My first thought is that this agenda is totally phony. Most of these things are show votes only. Things like the equal pay bill are things the Democrats only trot out when they know the Republicans can stop them. Things like “energy efficiency” are simply catch-all phrases that promise nothing in particular and end up as graft-laden giveaways. The only concrete proposal is the minimum wage issue and notice that they are way below the $15 the progressives want. Oh, and anyone who thinks a couple dollar increase in the minimum wage will affect “income inequality” is a moron.

Played Out: This agenda tell us that the Democrats are played out. This is the same garbage they’ve been peddling since the 1970’s. Pathetic. In fact, observe...

A Better America?: If you look at this agenda from an economic perspective and you ask what the Democrats want from America, the answer is obvious... nothing really. There is no plan here to make the country better. There is no plan to create jobs, cause innovation, improve the quality of life in America, or makes people’s lives better or more secure. This is an agenda for people who think the goal of America should be maintaining what we have rather than improving it while trying to get everyone in the country another $22.37 a year off the backs of the rich.

A Pretty Good “Political” Agenda: Despite all the above, this is actually a decent political agenda. Why? Because it will attract all their normal interest groups. Look at the agenda again:
● Minimum wage: poor, young, minorities, unions.
● Equal pay for men and women: women.
● Protecting Medicare benefits: seniors.
● Raising the Earned Income Tax Credit: poor.
● Lowering interest rates on student loans: students, young professionals.
● Boost infrastructure spending: unions, Hispanics, low-class white males.
● Worker training: low-class white males
● Raise taxes on millionaires: leftists.
● End tax breaks for companies that ship overseas: populists.
● Drug sentencing reform: blacks.
● Energy efficiency: environmentalists.
Even though this platform is entirely false, it will sell well with their various groups because it LOOKS like each is being offered something they want. It also sets the Republicans up because any objection can be framed as being anti-poor/woman/etc.

Even more interestingly, notice that the public at large will find this to be an acceptable agenda because (1) there are no details to scare them, e.g. “Oh, infrastructure spending, that sounds good,” as compared to, “They want to spend a trillion dollars to build gay bathhouses in Montana? WTF?” and (2) they don’t mention any of the flash point issues: abortion, gays, immigration. You know their position on these things, but they don’t mention them, so they don’t come across like obsessed whackos. Compare that to the GOP whose platform stops and starts at abortion, gays and Mexicans.

Interesting, isn’t it?
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Monday, March 31, 2014

California GOP: Ending The Suicide Pact

Interesting news out of California. The nearly-existinct Republican Party has decide to abandon its suicide pact. This is yet more proof that the fringe is being pushed aside. Indeed, California’s GOP invented the fringe and have clung to it for 20 plus years now. So this is rather big news.

For those who don’t know, the California GOP is as close to extinction as any major political party has been in our lifetimes. They score only 29% of registered voters and they aren’t competitive in any populated part of California. In fact, things have gotten so bad that the Democrats were able to change the law to let them run two Democrats against each other in some races because there is no viable Republican.

How did things get this way? Well, that’s pretty obvious unless you’re a reel ’merikan.™ What happened is that starting in the 1990s, the GOP went hard core on abortion, gays, the environment, and hating moderates. Sadly for the GOP, Californians pretty much support all those things. That cost them women, suburbanites and the young, leaving only an ever-shrinking number of conservative ghettos... kind of like the way the GOP slowly vanished from the Northeast, and then the North, and then the Midwest and now the West.

More importantly though, the California GOP really dove hardcore into race and immigration. Indeed, California became the center for things like the English only movement, the “deport them all” movement, and the center for grousing about the browning of America. The timing couldn’t have been worse because California’s demographics changed dramatically, from 78% non-Hispanic whites in the 1970’s to 43% today, with Mexicans being the single largest ethnicity at 25% of the population. You can do the math on what that means. And no amount of “we just need to get out the vote” crap is going to disguise this failure.

Anyway, in a special election last year, 48 year-old cherry farmer Andy Vidak did the impossible: he won as a Republican in an agricultural district south of Sacramento. He won despite the presence of a great many Mexicans in his district. How did he do it? Well, he ran on a platform that (1) avoided taking positions on social issues, (2) supported a path to citizenship for some undocumented aliens, and (3) supported granting drivers licenses to illegals. He also took more standard Republican positions like promising to address the lack of jobs and water, and he opposed the high-speed train from San Francisco to Sacramento.

Well, now state party Chairman Jim Brulte has decided that it’s time to save the party and he’s using Vidak’s victory as a template. He wants GOP candidates to reflect the views of their districts rather than follow the party’s ideological platform. And what he’s done is he’s allowing Republican candidates to tailor their campaigns to address local issues:
“The candidate that most looks like and sounds like and has the most shared values and shared experience of the majority of voters wins.”
Gee, ya think? Seriously, how twisted have things become that someone espousing “reflect the values of your district” would be considered a radical thinker and controversial. That really tells you how wrong the mindset has gotten and why the GOP is all but extinct in blue states and increasingly more red/purple states.

Anyways, this is a real surprise because the California GOP has been one of the most rigidly fringe for nearly 20 years now. They were happy to die rather than be the least bit palatable to the public. So it’s encouraging that a party chairman would have the nerve to allow this change – predictably, the response has been brutal about the betrayal and (ironically) the end of the GOP... uh, you were dead already folks. Anyway, this change is truly significant and represents a total repudiation of the talk radio strategy, and hopefully the national GOP will grasp what this means and will begin to follow this model in other lost states. Letting candidates reflect the values of the voters in their districts is the only way to be a national party and we are always better off getting 80% of what we agree upon than 0% of what we want.

Thoughts?
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Friday, March 28, 2014

Film Friday: Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

I am generally a fan of remakes of The Wizard of Oz. There is something universal and compelling about that film which almost invites people to remake it in different contexts or settings. That said, few (read: none) of the remakes have been very good. So I was intrigued to hear they planned to do the prequel to The Wizard of Oz. This sounded like it could hook into the desire to see a good remake while avoiding the pitfalls of actually remaking a great film. Unfortunately, Oz The Great and Powerful was doomed by a series of bad choices which just made it excessively dull.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Caption This and other stuff...

Okay, it's been a while since we've had a laugh, but this week I think I need one. I mean, President Obama expressed to the world that his biggest worry is a possible nuclear holocaust in New York City. I mean, it is something we all think about, but did he really have to issue a challenge? Greeeaaat. Thanks. Oh, well...

Anyway, I'm not going down without a good laugh, so who better to make that happen than Nancy Pelosi!


Or if Nancy is just too easy, then did you hear the one about how there just would not be anymore Obamacare deadline delays? Yep, they couldn't/shouldn't/just wouldn't extend the March 31st deadline to sign up, but...


Oh, well, yeah, they did. Of course, it would have surprised me more is if they didn't delay. Oh, Harry Reid says it's because “people are not educated about how to use the internet” and it's the Koch brother's fault. [Okay, he didn't blame the Kochs, but he will, just wait!] I wish they had thought about that whole internet issue before they spent hundreds of billions of tax dollars developing those websites, but hey, who could have predicted, right?

So do your stuff.

Oh, and these might interest you:

1. Another New York legislator was arrested in a big multi-state corruption sting that included the new Mayor of Charlotte and a California state legislator...all Democrats.California state Sen. Leland Yee (D) and Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon (D), and raided the offices of New York state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D) in connection with unrelated corruption investigations. I have to give credit to HuffingtonPost. They actually revealed the party of each in the first paragraph. That's progress, right?

2. It has now been two weeks since I queried all of my elected officials if they had signed up for insurance through any of the Obamacare exchanges. No responses yet.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Noah... This Is God. Riiiiight.

That's a Bill Cosby reference for those who don't know. Anyways, it looks like Hollywood has done it again. After Mel Gibson showed them that there are billions of dollars waiting for anyone willing to make religious films, Hollywood set out to exploit this market. But their efforts haven’t been well received. Why? Because they keep messing with the message.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

An Horrible Article On Obamacare

I need to stop reading other articles because they make my head explode. Today’s article comes from Meghan Foley of the Wall Street Cheat Sheet. Foley is generally quite a talented writer on the subject of Obamacare, but not this time.

The article is called “Obamacare Paradox: Unsubsidized by Satisfied Insurance Customers,” and it suggests that people who got their insurance away from the Obamacare exchanges are surprisingly satisified with Obamacare – hence the paradox, i.e. why should someone who doesn’t benefit from the law like the law. The article goes like this:
1. More than 80% of the people who have gotten insurance in the exchanges are getting subsidies. That’s more than 4 million out of the 5 million who have signed up. They seem happy.

2. Critics complain that the subsidies are an attempt to hook people on subsidies, but even though only 20% of people signing up are not get subsidies, that doesn’t mean that those who aren’t getting subsidies are unhappy with Obamacare or that they staying away in protest.

3. Critics say that the $1 trillion in tax increases in the bill will depress economic activity, and will cost 2.5 million jobs, which are valid concerns, but the subsidies make the law work and people like the subsidies.

4. Even people who don’t purchase through the exchanges like the law.
Ok, let’s take this apart. First, she provides no evidence of happiness. In fact, I would counter that people are not happy or else more than 5 million people (of the 49 million uninsured) would have signed up and polls wouldn’t continue to show a majority favoring repeal.

Secondly, as for asserting that the people who got subsidies are happy, well yeah, people who get subsidies will not complain because they’re getting something for a lot cheaper than they otherwise would.

More interesting though is her assertion that the unsubsidized are happy. To make this argument, she relies on interviews with people. She admits that ancedotal evidence doesn’t prove anything, but then she goes ahead and relies on a couple interviews. She even says that perhaps with many more interviews, the anecdotal evidence will be persuasive, but that’s totally flawed logic. Anecdotal evidence is meaningless because it cannot be extrapolated to a larger population.

Moreover, the anecdotal example she uses is horrible. First, the claim she makes is that people who do not use the exchange are happy with Obamacare. But the woman she talks about actually did use the exchange. What she did was shop through the exchange to find a policy and then she called the insurance company directly to get that particular policy. Yet, Foley presents this woman as someone who bought insurance completely outside of the exchange system.

Further, the reason the woman is happy is because she has a pre-existing condition which kept her from getting insurance in the past. So she’s one of the 5 million people the law was specifically intended to help. Of course she’s happy with the changes! But don’t pretend that this woman is somehow representative of the public at large.

Interestingly, Foley tries to make her seem representative by quoting an HHS figure, which claims that between 19% and 50% of people have pre-existing conditions according to insurers. AND, the collateral effect of that affects those people’s families. Really? There are 2.7 people per family in the US on average. So if the collateral effects are true then between 51.3% and 135% of Americans are affected by this issue. Does that make sense to you?

Even taking just the 19% figure is obviously false. How do we know? Because the uninsurance rate is ony 15% total. Moreover, we’ve been told that there are only 5 million to 9 million people who are denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions. That’s a maximum of 2.9% of the population. So what is happening here is that someone who is in the 2.9% of the population for whom the law was specifically written went through the Exchange except for the final step of ordering the policy, and they are being sold as somehow representative of half the population and as someone who had no interaction with the Exchange.

Like I said, Foley has generally been very good at diagnosing the problems with Obamacare honestly and logically. She does research and reads the law. She doesn’t fall for public relations lies. Indeed, she hasn’t been alarmist or an apologist, but this article struck me as really stunning.

In fact, when you think about reality as compared to the spin here, what you see is that Obamacare is doing what conservatives said: it’s caught on only with people who are getting subsidies or those who are uninsured. Beyond that, it’s got pathetic market penetration. And with the economic damage being done with the tax hikes and the job losses, this is a law will never gain popularity.

Finally, as for the idea that the subsidies are good because they make the law work, maybe that fact alone is proof that the law shouldn't work. Keep in mind that the Inquisition didn't work without torture, but that doesn't make torture a good thing nor does it mean the Inquisition should have worked.
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