December 31, 2013
I seem long...
I pre-ordered Glenn Reynolds's new book in Hardcover, because it was available sooner than Kindle.
MY NEW BOOK, The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself, is now available for pre-order on Kindle.
Not sure what happened but I received two copies today -- holler if you want one! Free to good home.
HRC as LBJ
SIDE NOTE: It is not true that all the bad presidents are known by their initials. It is only true that all Presidents known by their initials are bad. It is a common error in logic.
Roger Simon has an interesting piece today: "The Principal Enemy." About -- whom else -- Secretary Hillary Clinton.
I don't know that I am comfortable referring to political opponents as "enemies" but Simon's call is to reject internecine squabbles to focus on the horror of Ms. Clinton's winning in 2016. One segment of it truly struck me:
Hillary is the one who can consolidate and solidify the "gains" of the Obama era in a way Obama himself never could because she is much more politically savvy -- Obama was only savvy about getting elected, not governing -- and has the backing of her even more politically savvy husband. Hillary is the one who can fully remake the United States into some version of Western Europe or, yet more frighteningly, China, a permanently stratified state capitalism governed by quasi-totalitarian bureaucrats.
Let's put Hillary == China in the same box as "Principal Enemy," but the legislative point is brilliant and worthy of attention. President Kennedy was also good at getting elected, even bringing in a rival who could steal the votes of electoral-rich Texas. But Kennedy was not a skilled legislator and his agenda stalled despite his personal popularity.
When LBJ ascended, he considered it his duty to pursue the JFK* agenda. Robert Caro describes how he used his mastery to pass almost the entire agenda intact. Simon is dead right that a Clinton term would solidify the progressive steps which President Obama cannot. She would "fix" ObamaCare into a more popular, defensible, and permanent entitlement.
*JFK is the least bad of the "initials" Presidents but I am comfortable keeping him on the list.
December 30, 2013
The Times story, particularly the graphic, suggests that the implicit marginal tax rate some people face under the Affordable Care Act subsidies can sometimes exceed 100 percent. It is hard to believe that the law is so badly written as to have this feature, but that seems to be the implication. -- Prof. MankiwWait. Let me put on my shocked face.
The Great Game of Government
December 2009 were heady days for those intent on reining in the "abuses" of "big business." Just ten days prior to the midnight passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by a straight party line vote of Democrat US Senators, Springfield, MO CEO Jack Stack started a blog page with a topic of 'Open the Books.'
Why would business owners want to open the books to their employees?
This may or may not be a great idea for corporations, which must compete with other corporations in a marginally free market. But it sounds to me like a fantastic idea for government.
It's also a great idea according to Chicago's Adam Andrzejewski, who has invested considerable time and money on a project called Open the Books...
which allows users to see spending figures in their areas across multiple levels of government, going back 12 years in some cases. Shining light on such data is the means, but the primary goal of the site and app is to put pressure on governments to reduce wasteful spending, and it's already been downloaded more than 5,000 times in the Google Play store. It's also available in the Apple app store.
It is here that I learned that over three thousand Illinois government employees have higher salaries than the state's governor. And on the openthebooks.com page where I ran a search to discover how many federal employees earn over $300,000 per year (and that those at the top of the list all work for the VA or VHA.) In another search I found the names and addresses of Colorado farmers receiving multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in "supplemental farm income" from the federal government!
Our goal was to teach our employees to think and act like owners. We started by trying to improve their financial literacy by turning topics like accounting into a game. We played this game with real money, however, and the game’s pieces were each and every employee’s quality of life. We called it The Great Game of Business.
Visit openthebooks.com. Run some searches. Make a donation. Share results on Facebook. Let's help Adam spread The Great Game of Government, and turn as many as possible of the current winners into the losers they really are.
HT: Last evening's John Stossel show.
UPDATE: [jk here, don't blame jg of I booger this up] Here is a widget (works for me in Chrome but not IE, your mileage may vary...):
President Canute Update
UPDATE: On The Other Hand, looks like that ObamaCare thing that everybody was hyperventilating over is fixed:
I'm ready to be 45 again
Dang, didn't see this in time to ask Santa for one. Maybe next year.
Those Were the Days
An interview with Barack Obama, wherein he expresses great concern for Executive Power and deference to the Constitution. From 2007.
UPDATE: The Internet Segue Machine™ suggests a delicate pairing of this interview with Ilya Somin's "President Obama's Top 10 Constitutional Violations Of 2013."
Unfortunately, the president fomented this upswing in civic interest not by talking up the constitutional aspects of his policy agenda, but by blatantly violating the strictures of our founding document. And he's been most frustrated with the separation of powers, which doesn't allow him to "fundamentally transform" the country without congressional acquiescence.
Quote of the day
No, not her either. Although it is rather striking that Sebelius has outlasted Mike Shanahan. Amanda Carpenter: "Seems like the only accountability in D.C. is in sports." -- Jim Geraghty
December 29, 2013
Famine in the Ukraine? Nyet!
Terrorism and prevarication in Bengazi? The NYTimes has concluded its extensive 15-month investigation and -- great news -- Sec State Clinton is blameless!
Still no word on gambling at Rick's... (It's homage, Keith, not plagiarism.)
All the issues are simply the battles of the day in a much larger struggle. What is ultimately at stake is the same question that precipitated the American Revolution: whether the American people are the sovereigns in their own country or whether they should be ruled from above, for their own good, according to the supposedly benevolent commands of the elitist rulers of a top-down, European-style society.Searching the magical Kindle Store for last week's selection, I saw that David Kopel had a Broadsides book out: The Truth About Gun Control.
Around these parts, he has been associated with Health Care because of his Constitutional opposition to ObamaCare. He spoke at LOTR--Flatirons on NFIB v. Sebelius and played important roles as documented last week. But Kopel is best known for his scholarship on guns and gun rights.
And "Truth" is the principled and well reasoned stance one would expect from Kopel. He ties gun rights to both history and philosophy, always drawing a bigger and more vivid picture than the shorter-sighted confiscators.
The right and duty of self-defense applied to a householder protecting her children and to militiamen protecting their communities from foreign enemies or from tyranny. Self-defense was a seamless web; the difference between self-defense against a criminal invader in the home, against a gang of highway robbers, or against a criminal tyrant with his standing army was only one of scale. The tyrant's gang was just bigger than the other ones.
Kopel is a regular panelist on "Colorado Inside Out" Friday night on PBS Channel 12 right before Independence Institute colleague's Jon Caldera's "Devil's Advocate." The panelists -- respectful but never on the same page as Kopel -- bow to his superior knowledge of history. Last week Eric Soderman said "I'd expect David to know the Louisiana Governor 100 years ago," when Kopel alone on the panel came up with Kathleen Blanco as the governor during Katrina.
The ties to history are the magic of this work. There is a bit on stats and crime. But the historical use of guns against British occupation, genocide, and Jim Crow is well documented --as are the historical roots of the NRA
National alcohol prohibition, enacted in 1920, spurred national violence, which resulted in the conservative Eastern business establishment -- along with some religious pacifists -- demanding handgun prohibition. In their view, the solution to the failure of alcohol prohibition was more prohibition.
[If you read nothing else today, follow that link and read about Winfield Scott Hancock.]
Kopel slices the gun rights crowd from their opposition more precisely than most. It is not so cleanly left-right:
The great Democratic Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey embodied liberalism's optimistic faith in the federal government and the federal Constitution. He believed that "one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. ... The right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible."
You can rightly say that HHH was an "old liberal" or "old Democrat" and that that species is extinct. But I'm always troubled by my eastern-elitist peeps like Larry Kudlow or the WSJ Ed Page staff, NR, Weekly Standard, &c. who don't really get it. They should read Kopel:
While some nations consider law to be the vehicle of the state, the American tradition views the law as the servant of the people. As a federal district court put it, "the people, not the government, possess the sovereignty" (Mandel v. Mitchell, 1971).
Four stars -- five if it were longer...
December 28, 2013
The World IS ThreeSources, Vol. CLIX
Charles Hoskinson at WaXaminer channels blog brother jg as he details the winners and losers of l'Affaire Dynastie Canard:
And while we're on that subject, the other big loser is GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination, which showed how far it had strayed off the path of encouraging tolerance into the dark woods where conformity is enforced by witch hunts and demands for blood sacrifices. GLAAD's intolerance sparked what its leaders called the worst backlash they'd ever seen -- a backlash that included prominent members of the gay community such as Andrew Sullivan and Camille Paglia.
You saw it here!
UPDATE: Or, a little less delicately . . . RS McCain exclaims "Oh the GLAAD Butt Hurt!"
December 27, 2013
You Laughed at South Park!
Mexicans may have to build a fence to keep us out!
On the serious side, we get a little despondent around here, but I'll enter the new year content that our neighbors to the North pulled back from überprogressivist Trudeauism without millenarian bloodshed. (well, a couple clerks in Ottawa got paper cuts but they were treated without cost).
Now comes remarkable word (holler if you want me to mail out of Rupert's paywall) that freedom and prosperity are breaking out down south. Bold reforms of privatizing energy and telecommunications, plus locking up the head of the Teachers' Union [ed: Viva!] have pushed the Mexican economy beyond the BRIC darling to her Southeast:
Not only is Mexico's per capita GDP back above Brazil's, according to International Monetary Fund data, but over the past five years investors in the Mexican stock market have enjoyed nearly three times the returns of those who put their money into much-hyped Brazilian equities. Jobs are being created so fast in Mexico--more than two million since early 2010--that the problem of illegal immigration to the United States may soon be history.
And all it takes is bold leadership -- oh wait, we're screwed!
The democratic world today is so lacking in Mr. Peña Nieto's kind of strategic leadership that the visitor is rather taken aback to encounter it.
Good policy, freedom, leadership, growth. It worked in Canada and Mexico; what are the odds we could try it here?
Over/under at least?
UPDATE: Sorry, I've got excerpting fever! More cowbell!
Modern technology will take time to install. But thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement--the fierce critics of which have gone silent--cheap U.S. natural gas will soon be flowing down north-to-south pipelines. This will make Mexican industry, which is already beating China on labor costs, even more competitive. That will in turn support a growing Mexican middle class.
Quote of the Day
Heh. One from Insty. He gives and gives to this blog.
December 26, 2013
Happy Boxing Day!
Blog friend sc sends a link to an interesting post.
God, Hayek and the Conceit of Reason
Anybody want to play? I will post my response in the comments.
December 24, 2013
David Boaz asks whether this is the same Cracked we grew up with. Whoever they are, they field a very good list of 5 Amazing Pieces of Good News Nobody Is Reporting. [SPOILER ALERT]:
#1. Worldwide, Poverty Is Dropping at a Shocking Rate
On the down side, Cracked.com still loads so many scripts and banners and pop up attempts that it will take you three minutes to load each page. But it's Christmas; be nice.
Facebook of the Day
Brother Keith, reacting to the news that healthcare.gov did not recognize the President:
Couldn't verify his identity? So healthcare.gov did a better job of vetting this guy and checking his references than the entire mainstream media? http://is.gd/LuWhZD
Mondo, Merry Christmas, Heh!
Tweet of the Day
December 23, 2013
Uncle Sam's Allowance
Last month blog friend T Greer suggested "a lump-sum 'demogrant' or Milton Friedman's negative taxes" as a funding alternative for private health insurance, which would replace Obamacare. His premise was that the needy could be provided for with minimal distortions to the free market. I found the idea meritorious and proposed extending it to every area of government assistance, replacing every single solitary government aid program with an unrestricted cash income for every adult. I pitched it as "Uncle Sam's Allowance" to be used in an otherwise purely capitalistic unregulated free-market."
I was hoping for robust discussion but even TG was mute. Re-reading my proposal today I see I was very short on details of the principle, but a segment on last week's MSNBC Krystal Ball show brings the idea into mainstream conversation. Prompted by a publicity stunt in Switzerland she asked why not "eliminate poverty" by giving everyone a minimum income or "mincome" from the government?
"Every non-incarcerated adult citizen gets a monthly check from the government. Other safety net programs are jettisoned to help pay for the mincare, and poverty is eliminated."
First off, I might never have taken such an idea seriously had I not read Friedman propose a negative income tax or R.A. Heinlein describe a birthright paycheck from a fabulously productive and prosperous civil society. But I and Reason's Matthew Feeney am willing to entertain this proposal by Ball, although my conditions may be non-starters for her. Nonetheless, I would like a discussion here on the subject because I agree with Feeney's conclusion:
"Rather than make the principled argument against the redistribution of wealth, libertarians would do better if they were to argue for a welfare system that promotes personal responsibility, reduces the humiliations associated with the current system, and reduces administrative waste in government."
Very well, here are my Terms:
1) ALL other safety net programs must be jettisoned. Permanently.
2) Executive branch agencies created to carry out safety net programs must be jettisoned. Permanently.
3) Mincome payments must not be means tested. Everyone qualifies and is due the same monthly (or weekly) amount, regardless of income or wealth.
4) Anyone who does not voluntarily decline his mincome is ineligible to vote.
I won't go into all of the advantages of this system since most of you are already preparing to pounce on it's failings. Let me address one of them preemptively - immigration.
Expand the system beyond national borders. Make it internationally universal. I haven't run any numbers but my starting point for negotiating the monthly mincome is to divide the cumulative sum of every national tax in the world by the number of adult humans in the world, and negotiate downward from there. Instead of funding waste and corruption we could be giving cash to folks to "feed their families." What could be more swell?
I still have my doubts. Give some people a dollar and they will demand two, then three. But at least such a plan would make the nature and extent of redistribution fully transparent, rip out government waste fraud and abuse root and limb, and make it possible to cease the practice where the takers are permitted to vote the amount of their share from the makers.
December 22, 2013
jk enters the Cuture Wars
Comparing Duck Hunter Phil Robertson to Pajama boy Ethan Krupp is a good exercise, because any excuse to ridicule a man-child in a onesie is worthwhile. But I've just installed a new flux capacitor in the Internet Segue Machine™ and need to test it out.
It seems Yusuf Islam (The artist formerly known as "Cat Stevens") is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame "Class of 2014." As it happens, I liked Stevens's music. One of my first songs I played on the guitar was a touching rendition of his morose ballad "Sad Lisa." I was about six or seven -- I wish there was video.
Anyhow, though I liked Stevens, it seems he required some affirmative action to launch him over Yes and Deep Purple. I like Steve Howe and Ritchie Blackmore, too.
KISS led the popular vote, while Stevens brought up the rear.
So. Robertson makes some generally respectful -- if I think misguided -- comments about homosexuality that are completely in line with his professed beliefs. And is
Who can measure the courage it took him in the late '70s, after seven years of multi-platinum success in the U.S. (and over a decade in the UK) to convert to Islam, amidst the wave of turmoil and confusion that was engulfing the world?
I wonder what Mister Islam thinks about homosexuality? I wonder who will ask him?
What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been...
Reliving -- and relitigating -- the PPACAo2010 could be tedious and disappointing. Spoiler Alert: it passes and Chief Justice Roberts applies "a saving construction" to uphold its constitutionality under the taxing power.
Despite the disappointing ending (you might wait for the Disney movie to rewrite it), the intellectual voyage of the constitutional challenges, seen through the keen minds of Volkh Conspiracy (VC) bloggers is a fascinating read. The conspirators have assembled it into a very good book: A Conspiracy Against Obamacare: The Volokh Conspiracy and the Health Care Case by Randy Barnett, Jonathan Adler, Jonathan H.; David Bernstein, Orin Kerr, David Kopel, and Ilya Somin.
It is targeted at a "guy like me." I am very interested in Constitutional law, theory, and philosophy but have no special training or deep knowledge. I suspect most ThreeSourcers, be they guys or not, fall into or near that camp. The book is detailed and substantive, you don't feel you're getting a watered down version. But any bright and interested person can get it (for a couple of weekend afternoons, I could click the Kindle on and pretend to be much smarter than I really am).
In addition to theory, you also come away with some inside information about how these challenges progress, a rough feel for timelines, and insiders' perspectives on what is important and what is not. This goes beyond the civics-book explanation of judicial review as Robert Caro's Master of the Senate goes beyond the stock description of Article I.
Supreme Court advocates know what academics sometimes seem to forget: you simply cannot "mandate" a justice go where he or she does not want to go with a clever argument. All you can do is present your strongest case in the most compelling way. Mike, Greg, and Paul did that during oral argument in which the pressure could not have been more intense. I was supremely grateful it was them and not me who had to bear up under the strain of oral argument. Along with Karen Harned, director of the NFIB Small Business Legal Center, win or lose, I believe we fielded the "A Team" on behalf of the majority of the American people who objected to the Affordable Care Act and believed it to be unconstitutional.
Perhaps the best part of the book -- from a blog lover's perspective -- is VC's contributions to the debate. As bloggers once busted Dan Rather and reached above the monopoly of three-network journalism, bloggers [asterisk] reached above the Ivy League Professoriate, all of whom thought that only right wing goofballs would see any Constitutional problems with Obamacare.
Twenty years ago, the virtual consensus among law professors at elite schools very well may have been the end of serious debate in the academic world. The venues for law professors getting their ideas out on controversial issues of the day were few and dominated by law professors at the top schools: the mainstream media, either through op-eds or interviews with reporters, both heavily skewed toward famous professors at places like Harvard and Yale; publications at the top law reviews, which are not reviewed blindly and therefore heavily favor the already renowned; and presentations at elite law schools, to which the overwhelming majority of invitees are professors at peer institutions.
[Asterisk] These folks are not bloggers in the "pajamas" sense. These are law professors who have argued before the Supreme Court (Barnett was the attorney for Angel Raich) and file amicus briefs for big league think tanks. But there is a telling section in David Bernstien's summation.
In 2011, a law professor at Yale, defending Obamacare from constitutional challenge, claimed that only one "constitutional scholar that I know at a top 20 law school" thinks that Obamacare is "constitutionally problematic." A year later, just before oral argument in NFIB, the same professor stated that only one law professor at a top ten law school agreed that the Obamacare was unconstitutional.
So these poor professors, laboring away at top 14-17 law schools, yet believing in Constitutional limits to government power, were able to present, refine, share, and disseminate their ideas at blog speed. And many of these ideas start showing up in SCOTUS oral arguments and opinions.
Perhaps one contribution of our brief, and the case, to constitutional law is renewed attention to the full opinion in McCulloch v. Maryland rather than the expurgated versions in many law school textbooks. In Randy Barnett's Constitutional Law text, students can see John Marshall working his way through doctrine of principals and incidents, as he elucidates that Necessary and Proper Clause is for inferior, less "worthy" powers-- and not for a "great, substantive and independent power." Roberts's application of this long-standing rule took some of the pro-mandate professoriate by surprise, and the professors who were not surprised were dismayed.
The power of ideas and the power of new media take the challenge from then-Speaker Pelosi's "are you serious?" through a sweeping midterm election, to a nail-biting decision that, while it didn't give ThreeSourcers everything they wanted . . .
While our failure to prevent the egregious Affordable Care Act from taking effect remains a bitter pill, this should not be allowed to detract from what we accomplished legally. We prevailed in preserving and even strengthening the enumerated powers scheme of Article I, Section 8 as a protection of individual liberty. From a constitutional perspective, this is what we were fighting so hard to achieve.
But, but, but taxing power!
For those who may still not see the difference between the legal theories we defeated and that which was adopted by Chief Justice John Roberts, imagine that all the federal drug laws were enforced by the nonpunitive tax he allowed rather than as Commerce Clause regulations, which is how the prohibitions of the Controlled Substances Act are now justified. Under Chief Justice Roberts's tax power theory, the government would have to open the jails and release tens of thousands of prisoners. And any of you reading this could legally smoke marijuana under federal law, provided you were willing to pay a small noncoercive federal tax on this activity. Such is the difference between the Commerce Clause power Congress claimed justified the Affordable Care Act, and the new limited tax power the chief justice allowed it to exercise. That is a big difference.
Losing 5-4 on the mandate -- even with the de-fanging -- has also caused us to lose sight of the 7-2 win against coerced Medicaid expansion. These and the fear, uncertainty and doubt placed in thinking citizens' minds make this exercise heroic and successful.
The Colorado Avalanche lost a hockey game in LA yesterday. The Kings were up 2-0 late in the second period. The Kings are a great team; they are tough at home; they are a defensive powerhouse who rarely give up two goals in a game. They were the Harvard professors of hockey yesterday afternoon. The Avs came back, tied (gives them one point in the standings) and took the game through overtime to a shootout. Sadly for me they lost, but the announcers at the end all agreed this was a win. I agree.
Five stars. Duh.
December 21, 2013
Tweet of the Day
What is the World Coming To?
First the Canadian Supreme Court legalizes prostitution. (Technically the act was already legal, but other acts to facilitate it were prohibited.)
Now Utah may no longer criminalize unlicensed consensual polygamy.
At this rate Americans may soon win the freedom to keep the proceeds of their labors, safe from seizure by the state!
Tax Dollars Bought Encryption Back-Door
Does anyone remember the days when we could trust our government and measures like the following would be seen as helpful, not harmful, to American civil liberties? Perhaps we were just naïve then, but I sure don't feel I can trust it today. Reuters exclusive:
Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a "back door" in encryption products, the New York Times reported in September. Reuters later reported that RSA became the most important distributor of that formula by rolling it into a software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products.
December 20, 2013
Now we're starting to get somewhere.
"I think that this intolerance by gay activists toward the full spectrum of human beliefs is a sign of immaturity, juvenility," Paglia said. "This is not the mark of a true intellectual life. This is why there is no cultural life now in the U.S. Why nothing is of interest coming from the major media in terms of cultural criticism. Why the graduates of the Ivy League with their A, A, A+ grades are complete cultural illiterates, etc. is because they are not being educated in any way to give respect to opposing view points."
Yes, Camile Paglia. As stipulated in the Daily Caller article from which this was taken, she is gay and was open about it before it was so fashionable. And "while she is an atheist she respects religion and has been frustrated by the intolerance of gay activists."
I see in this the apogee of the growing partisan and cultural divisions in our country that have only accelerated under the feckless leadership of President Obama. A new tolerance and cooperation is near its dawn. I am proud of my country.
December 19, 2013
Explaining the Taper Rally II
Yet stock and bond markets rallied sharply Wednesday after the taper was announced. Why? Here's one possibility: Along with gridlock in Congress, maybe the Fed's taper suggests that Washington's grip is finally being pried from the economy's throat.
The optimist in me hopes they are righter than I.
ACA Consequence - Geriatric Shotgun Weddings
Who remembers the "lifelong hard-working dairy farmer" in Washington State who jk introduced us to last month? She was the first Obama-aid [a more accurate branding than Obamacare] apply-shop-buyer who was signed up for Medicaid without consent.
Today, after reading this article I have some urgent advice - Marry someone, quick!
Medicaid, on the other hand, is a state-based and federally-subsidized welfare program, one that employs means-testing -- which includes ownership of assets as well as income levels. Medicaid programs include conditions that put recipients' assets remaining after death at risk for seizure to reimburse taxpayers who footed the bill for the recipient's health care during his/her lifetime.
The original and still the best here.
Hat tip: dagny
A Visage of Red and Blue America
If one is known by the company he keeps then let me just say, "I don't wear pajamas."
"It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man's anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying?"
Does anybody get to have an opinion under the First Amendment to the Constitution, or just those who don't say things that make other people uncomfortable? I don't see any theater here, or any flames. Phil Robertson is free to express his opinion. The rest of us are free to express whether or not we agree with it. That is called Liberty.
December 18, 2013
When is $10Bn Mere Pocket Change?
When it is the amount of new money the Federal Reserve decides to stop printing every month, effective at some future date.
The news report I heard said that markets rallied over 100 points on the news that QE would "taper" beginning in January. Hmmm. Why the positive response to less liquidity? Because they'll still be printing $75Bn per month ad infinitem. Oh, and
Belt Only - Suspenders Not Required.
In the present formulation I equate "suspenders" with laws restricting gun ownership in an "all of the above" school safety and security program.
Colorado's contentious new gun restriction laws were promoted as necessary to prevent tragedies like the Newtown school shooting. Gun rights advocates said the laws would be worthless for that purpose, and that the best way to stop school shooters was to put an armed officer in the school.
What stopped the terrifying incident from turning into a full-blown massacre was the rapid response of law enforcement, particularly the sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school, said Hickenlooper.
That's John Hickenlooper. Governor. Colorado. Democrat. Standing corrected.
Okay. If this is the Wall Street Journal's idea of a "snag..."
I guess Healthcare.gov is plagued by "glitches."
Set my people free!
Reps. Dan Nordberg of Colorado Springs and Jared Wright of Grand Junction announced that they will introduce a bill to give a tax credit to anyone who gets fined for not buying health insurance -- at an amount equal to the federal penalty under the Affordable Care Act for not purchasing insurance.
December 17, 2013
US Navy Vet
Et tu Motor City Madman?
Might be a loooooong year...
December 16, 2013
You Can't Hug a Child with Wireless Arms
I have to post this here so I can laugh! It is posted on Facebook from some believers and I am not going there. But:
9th Grade Science Project Finds Plants Don't Grow Near Wi-Fi
Colorado School Shooting Silent Treatment
You, as have I, may be wondering why you haven't seen more news and opinion about the Colorado school shooting at Arapahoe High School last week. Maybe it's because only the shooter was killed? Unlikely. More likely it's because, as John Hayward at Human Events blog writes, "There is absolutely nothing in the Arapahoe High School shooting for gun control zealots to work with."
On the contrary, the incident demolishes some of their cherished beliefs, most obviously their talismanic faith in the power of regulations to suppress this type of violence. Given his political activism, it seems likely that Karl Pierson was well aware of the local gun laws, but those laws did not dissuade him from going on a rampage. According to CNN, what ended his rampage in just 80 seconds, preventing him from dealing far more injury and death, was one of the measures strongly endorsed by the National Rifle Association: an armed adult on school grounds.
Many more interesting tidbits in the linked article, like the killer's political beliefs, desire to attend the Air Force Academy, opinions about Republicans, etc.
If I Drove a $100,000 Car, I'd wear Armani
Like some others on this blog, I am torn. The Tesla is a cool car and an engineering marvel. But this freedom lover is pretty tired of seeing it hailed as a "success story" of government involvement. If they sold a couple hundred to some rich Hollywood guys and had hopes of expansion I'd be a big booster. But the company exists only because of subsidies, and I have seen many a weasely exec or supporter dance around any such question.
Ergo, I have to withdraw support -- and giggle uncontrollably at the difficulties facing folks whose six-digit playthings do not have sufficient range in cold weather.
For now, drivers are looking for creative ways to cope with less heat, especially on long trips. On the Tesla forum, one Model S owner recommends buying heated jackets and gloves designed for wearing on motorcycles. Dahn says the solution is "snowmobile suits."
Hat-tip: Insty, who also has a link about global cooling. Better get a Thinsulate™ Snowmobile suit, Teslans! The link contains this embed; Weld County is Home Sweet Home to a few ThreeSourcers.
He's Going to be our Nominee, Is he not?
I'm probably going to have to move. Odds are too good that my buddy, Rep. Tom Tancredo (Wahoo -- CO), will get the GOP gubernatorial nod in 2014. I'll have a more difficult time voting for Gov. Hickenlooper than last time. I did in 2010 in response to a Tancredo third-party run. But that was abstract.
It seems more consequential now that he has signed the terrible gun bills -- really signed on to every piece of nonsense the Democratic legislature put on his desk. In fairness, our geologist guv is good on fracking and our brewmaster guv has helped the craft brewing industry. But that is about it.
Mister serious and statesmanlike Tancredo has this banner ad up on Insty:
I've seen this on Facebook as well. Is he crazy? Don't answer that. We have had three contentious and serious recall efforts that removed three very deserving Democratic legislators. "Probably not a bad idea?" to recall a sitting governor the year he is up for election? Obviously, Crazy-man Tommy does not think so: just some red meat to throw at his populist supporters.
One can argue about his credentials, policies, and efficacy. But I thought that once you run against the nominee, you are pretty much out of the party. How naive I was, he is being welcomed back by a huge part of the Centennial State's GOP.
I'm thinking Tennessee's a nice place...
That Pope Sure Knows His Economics!
As expected. My Facebook friends -- who would have to stay up late into the evening to imagine a morsel of Catholic Orthodoxy with which they'd agree -- have all become virtual novitiates and deacons posting Pope Francis's encyclical against "trickle-down economics."
I have enjoyed more serious debate from Larry Kudlow and Deirdre McCloskey and James Pethokoukis. And I have waited, more or less patiently, for Michael Novak to chime in. The author of "The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism" is my go to guy for the rational theology-economic interface.
The wait is over, Novak has published Agreeing with Pope Francis on NRO. His "agreement" gives the new pope a pass because of his background in corrupt Argentinian capitalism. Being less theological, I am less forgiving. The pontiff's message will be heard around the world -- even by my hedonistic Facebook friends -- and as much as it can be leveraged to restrict freedom and innovation, it will be used to perpetuate poverty.
Novak quickly gets off the subject and presents an economic comparison to JPII. The comparison is not kind to FI:
The Polish pope, John Paul II, recognized this huge social change in Centesimus Annus (The Hundredth Year, 1991), of which paragraph 32 opens: "In our time, in particular, there exists another form of ownership which is no less important than land: the possession of know-how, knowledge, and skill. The wealth of the industrialized nations is based much more on this kind of ownership than on natural resources." The rest of this paragraph is concise in its penetration of the causes of wealth and the role of human persons and associations in the virtue of worldwide solidarity, of which globalization is the outward expression.
Now that's some pretty good popin'...
UPDATE: James Pethokoukis pipes in on the papacy:
Is this "trickle-down" economics? Nope, it's innovative, Schumpeterian capitalism that can be summed up in Deirdre McCloskey's Bourgeois Deal: "If you let me innovate and make profits, in the long run I'll make us all rich." And that's a kind of capitalism the pope would probably approve of.
The Youngsterz Will Sign Up in Drovz, now!
This is meant to help:
The latest video push comes from Get Covered, a firm backer of Obamacare. Enroll America, a nonprofit group, runs Get Covered. Enroll is staffed with top Democratic operatives, as revealed by Florida Watchdog's Will Patrick earlier this year.
Newsflash: ObamaCare Spox is Total Dickhead!
Man, you go your whole life never having heard of somebody, and all at once... It seems The Sexiest Man Alive and new ObamaCare spokesman Adam Levine took to Twitter to share 140 characters of his wisdom:
"Dear Fox News, don't play our music on your evil fucking channel ever again. Thank you," he wrote. When reached by Rolling Stone, Levine's representative declined to comment.
A musician buddy posted this on Facebook (with approbation, of course). I could not find the tweet or the bitmap to share. It actually startled me -- not a lefty musician,I had heard that they exist -- but the force of the message.
Guess he don't need Rupert's Residuals.
UPDATE: Jonah apologizes for the confusion. No he's not endorsing the PPACAo2010.
December 15, 2013
I've enjoyed the TV show "Sleepy Hollow" and recommend it without hesitation. I could not recall whether I had the classic by Washington Irving. Perhaps I read it in my youth or, just as likely, I merely absorbed a few details.
Ninety-nine cents, however, scores the Kindle book plus a couple of interesting criticisms: George Woodberry's in 1903 and Leon Vincent's in 1906. According to those august scholars, Irving was not only the first American man of letters, but the cornerstone of American fiction as entertainment. Let the Old World have their Sartres, Tolstoys and Hugos -- the road to Pirates of the Caribbean movies seems to start at Irving. Here's Woodberry:
BUT a broad difference is marked by the contrast of "The Scarlet Letter" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"; the absence of the moral element is felt in the latter; and a grosser habit of life, creature comfort, a harmless but unspiritual superstition, a human warmth, a social comradery, are prominent in Irving's lucubrations, and these are traits of the community ripened and sweetened in him.
Ah, yes, Hawthorne. That was pretty serious. "Sleepy Hollow" is a (very) short bit of PG-13 fun. The language is clear with just enough archaic terms to provide flavor.
From the moment Ichabod laid his eyes upon these regions of delight, the peace of his mind was at an end, and his only study was how to gain the affections of the peerless daughter of Van Tassel. In this enterprise, however, he had more real difficulties than generally fell to the lot of a knight-errant of yore, who seldom had any thing but giants, enchanters, fiery dragons, and such like easily-conquered adversaries, to contend with; and had to make his way merely through gates of iron and brass, and walls of adamant, to the castle keep, where the lady of his heart was confined; all which he achieved as easily as a man would carve his way to the centre of a Christmas pie; and then the lady gave him her hand as a matter of course. Ichabod, on the contrary, had to win his way to the heart of a country coquette, beset with a labyrinth of whims and caprices, which were forever presenting new difficulties and impediments; and he had to encounter a host of fearful adversaries of real flesh and blood, the numerous rustic admirers, who beset every portal to her heart; keeping a watchful and angry eye upon each other, but ready to fly out in the common
Watchers of the FOX series will find some tasty homages to the book; the peerless daughter of Van Tassel is named Katrina. There are witches and Hessians and of course a headless horsemen. Beyond this there is no relation to the show -- except the establishment of an American literary tradition of casual entertainment and expansive storytelling.
He who wins a thousand common hearts is therefore entitled to some renown; but he who keeps undisputed sway over the heart of a coquette, is indeed a hero.
December 13, 2013
Right to Contract
Submitted for your approval: THE WORST OBAMACARE HORROR STORY OF ALL!
Phillip Klein at the Washington Examiner investigates the HHS "Guidance" to insurance companies. Spoiler alert: the gub'mint that will control every dime your company sees until eternity "requests" that you ignore policy, procedure, and contract and simply give everybody everything they want so they don't go on Fox News and complain about ObamaCare®. But perhaps I misread:
Among the guidance the HHS announced:
Banana republic much? Hat-tp: Jim Geraghty
December 12, 2013
Like a million satirists cried out at once and were suddenly silenced...
Who needs doctors and web developers? They're bringing out the big guns now!
Pop singer Adam Levine, who was crowned People's "Sexiest Man Alive" this year, will take part in launching a social media campaign to promote Obamacare in California today.
Totes McGoats! He's like a hottie times infinity plus another infinity!!!
Our President? Mislead?
Bush-toady, Professor N. Gregory Mankiw, thinks "The CEA Fact Checkers Missed one:"
"[...] But there's no solid evidence that a higher minimum wage costs jobs."
Also, don't miss his Two Random Things That Made Me Smile.
One hates to take the side of the hackers. I mean, I am a law-and-order guy. But . . . . . . .
When the victims are EU Bureaucrats and the delivery mechanism is Carla Bruni, one must doff the chapeau:
NUDE pictures of former French first lady Carla Bruni were used to break in to the computer systems of dozens of diplomats, it emerged today.
Via the (Australian) Telegraph. All pictures at the link are -- sadly -- SFW.
Save the Eagles!
The media are saying that the 113th Congress is on track to be "the least productive" on record--as if that's bad for the country. Let's hope gridlock lasts long enough to kill the crony capitalist special known as the wind production tax credit.
The subsidy covers much of the cost of production, allowing the bird murderers to pay utilities to put their blood-soaked product on the grid. It's time we spoke up and did nothing!
Refrain from clicking Like to show your support!
Quote of the Day
In the creative category, one of the strangest campaigns ever waged was the one by George Smathers against Claude Papper for the U.S. Senate in Florida in 1950. In his campaign speeches, Smathers began by referring to Pepper as "a known extrovert." He spat out the words with such disdain, many in his audiences assumed the worst of Pepper. While Pepper was trying to figure out how to respond, Smathers revealed that his opponent's sister was "a thespian." He then accused Pepper's brother of being "a practicing homo sapiens." He charged that while attending college, Pepper "matriculated on campus," and that he "engaged in celibacy" before he was married. Smathers won the election. -- Thomas Ayres
From the book "That's Not in My American History Book: A Compilation of Little Known Events" Hat-tip: my biological brother via email
December 11, 2013
A better word would be subsidy.
To summarize the CBS Denver 4 report:
Electric company establishes surcharge to customers to subsidize boutique power.
Rilly? You were able to pay them when you paid half the cost to start with. What gives?
Oh, it's harder to sell your product to customers. I see.
T-Shirt Meme of the Day
SAVE THE WHALES!
End the insanity - ban wind power!
Right on top of things!
Wow! Nothing gets past Madame Secretary -- she sees a problem, she fixes it! WSJ:
WASHINGTON--Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, responding to the botched launch of the HealthCare.gov health-insurance website, said Wednesday she has called for a review of contracting practices and a new official to oversee risk.
Is that a meme? It oughtta be. This Thursday, I am thankful for the misguided focus of my intellectual adversaries' energy:
Click "Like" to demand an increase in the speed of light! "Like" the King Canute page to keep the tides away!
December 10, 2013
All Hail Taranto
An underappreciated quality of ObamaCare is just how politically perverse its design is. It is disrupting the lives of, and imposing huge costs on, people who actually cared enough to get insurance before, in order to provide "benefits" to people who didn't care enough. Sure, there are some whose pre-existing conditions made them uninsurable and who may actually both be better off and appreciate it. But in their crazed drive for "comprehensive" "reform," the Democrats don't seem to have thought through the distribution of costs and benefits. -- James Taranto
Quote of the Day
Can anyone think of a more boring, banal, irrelevant, or stale speech than the one [President Obama] gave this Thursday in Washington D.C.? The speech was allegedly on the economy, but more likely it was to divert attention from the Obamacare catastrophe. Whatever the motive, his idea that the defining challenge of our time is to reduce income inequality is completely wrong. In truth, the defining challenge is to restore more rapid economic growth, create substantially more jobs, and significantly reduce unemployment. -- Larry KudlowUPDATE: On the Other hand, Richard Epstein loved it!
No one, not even the United States, can be that good. In fact, our present national status will only become worse if we do not understand that the American position has eroded from its glory days, in part because of the very policies that the President champions as the solution to our issues. But where to begin? The President manages to pack so many economic and historical falsehoods into his speech that it is nearly impossible to take them all on at the same time.
December 9, 2013
Congress itself is now having so much trouble signing up for the Obamacare exchanges that late Friday the top administrator in the House of Representatives laid out a backup plan in case lawmakers and staff can't get through the process by the time their enrollment ends Monday.
Hat-tip: Jim Geraghty
No "War on Christmas" at Live at the Coffeehouse dot com!
December 8, 2013
Then, about fifteen years into my law practice, I noticed a shift in the federal courts. More and more of my clients (physicians, bankers, academics, scientists, investors, newspaper reporters, accountants, artists, and photographers) were being investigated and prosecuted for conduct that neither they nor I instinctively viewed as criminal. As I prepared to defend against the charges, I could not rid myself of the unsettling notion that the federal criminal laws were becoming vaguer and harder to understand with the passage of time.
This book caused a bit of a stir when it came out a couple of years ago. I was interested but distracted and did not get around to buying it until a few weeks ago.
I thought from the title that it was about abstruse regulations like the poor guy John Stossel featured who went to jail -- in the US -- for importing lobster in plastic packages (as he had done for years and as Honduran law permits). Such stories are sad and anger me, but one hopes that they are as rare as ObamaCare success stories and can be similarly discounted.
Three Felonies a Day is darker and more serious. Silverglate documents prosecutorial overreach. Endemic overreach. Federal prosecutors can, Alice in Wonderland style, pick a person and put them away. Some of the cases documented have been discussed around here: Martha Stewart gets exonerated though the author will not join me in rehabilitating Sam Waxsal. Michael Milken, I think we all (we ThreeSourcers, kimosabe) accept got a raw deal.
Silverglate also goes to bat for the Enron folks. We as a nation had to have heads on a platter after that debacle -- and a host of bad, pointless legislation. But contra the 5th and 14th, people's liberty was taken without due process.
I posted a very entertaining video of Silverglate last week. As I mentioned, almost all of the villains in the book are Republicans. Hizzoner Rudy Giuliani -- whom I have praised at length on these pages -- established himself as a tough on crime, mob-busting, prosecutor. But like most, he relied some tools that are not conducive to the idea of free people. Patriot Act and terrorism prosecutions in the Bush Administration are put in harsh light.
We just saw the shakedown of Jamie Dimon and Chase. It is now in a corporation's best interest to just shovel money at the DOJ whenever they ask. The Feds have this great tool of "you're not going to win" and they can destroy (cf. Arthur Andersen) a company any time they'd like. So the corporations capitulate because it is in their best interest. But this leaves individuals with the implication of guilt and often without the corporation's resources to mount a vigorous defense. Those who fight and win tend to end up ruined.
The emptiness of the prosecutors' dramatic allegations was later hinted at when a judge dismissed the murder charges and lowered bail after a 21-day preliminary hearing. Four more years passed before the remaining felony charges were dismissed, and it was not until May 2004 that a jury acquitted Dr. Fisher of the remaining misdemeanor charges. By then, the damage had been done. Besides spending five months in jail, the financial burden of fighting for his reputation drained the 50-year-old Harvard alum's assets. After the acquittal, he had no choice but to live with his elderly parents. Not only are doctors vulnerable to the threat of such prosecutions, but, just as important, chronic pain sufferers cannot obtain relief.
I avoid the fever swamps of conspiracy theories and over-the-top accusations of impending fascism in favor of the self-interest of misguided people and bad ideas. But it is hard to stay upbeat after reading "Three Felonies a Day." The maw of government is there and it is invincible. I don't think it likely that they'll come after a humble blogger/software developer [Wait a miute, there's a knock at the door...]
No, seriously, this continues because it is something most can avoid. But I naively hold to the idea of a nation of laws. When you do not trust the current administration, it is frightful to imagine that they have these tools at their disposal. It can be directed at political enemies, eeevil bankers and anybody else not in the public's top ten this week, physicians (the section on pain medication is heartbreaking), pharmaceutical companies, &c.
Dark reading and I dare anybody to contradict it. I traded some email with a blog friend in the middle and he reminded me of Gibson guitar's Fish & Game SWAT team raid. Land of the free, huh?
The book is great, I am sorry I waited two years -- five stars.
December 7, 2013
At least the president never promised, "If you like your local volunteer fire department, you can keep your local volunteer fire department."
That's Jim Geraghty's [subscribe] take on this nettlesome tale. I know, you're thinking that the architects of the PPACA of 2010 thought ahead and planned for every exigency. But what of volunteer fire departments? It seems this corner case slipped through:
The International Association of Fire Chiefs has asked the Internal Revenue Service, which has partial oversight of the law, to clarify if current IRS treatment of volunteer firefighters as employees means their hose companies or towns must offer health insurance coverage or pay a penalty if they don't.
Schadenfreude, Schadenfreude, every morning you greet me...
December 6, 2013
Review Corner Fodder
Hey, what should I read?
I never appreciated the line "I'm so behind on my reading." Show me somebody who is caught up and I'll show you a guy with nothin' to read. I just got David Mamet's "3 War Stories" and a gooberload of books for work about a new platform on which I'll be developing. But the standard fare is missing.
UPDATE: Okay: A Conspiracy Against Obamacare: The Volokh Conspiracy and the Health Care Case as seen on Jon Caldera's Devil's Advocate.
Quote of the Day
Burke, of course is right. The challenge for each new generation is figuring out what's worth keeping and what worth tinkering with. The progressive attitude is that everything is eligible not just for tinkering, but wholesale replacement. The people who lived yesterday were idiots, but we are geniuses! The conservative attitude is to assume that our parents and grandparents weren't fools and that they did some things for good reasons. But -- and here is the Hayekian part -- it's also possible that some things our forebears bequeathed us are good for no "reason" at all. Friedrich Hayek argued that many of our institutions and customs emerged from "spontaneous order" -- that is they weren't designed on a piece of paper, they emerged, authorless, to fulfill human needs through lived experience, just as our genetic "wisdom" is acquired through trial and error. Paths in the forest aren't necessarily carved out on purpose. Rather they emerge over years of foot traffic. -- Jonah Goldberg
The Ultimate ACA Horror Story
Millions of Americans are having their insurance and their doctors canceled all across the country, which the administration defends on the basis that all of them can get replacement policies and that the new policies are way more cool than the fuddy duddy policies they outlawed with their fancy health insurance reform law. Their fancy reforms are also making health care much less expensive - just ask them - but even so, most of the documented replacement policies have cost more, as much as 2 to 3 times more, than the policies they replaced. But this replacement policy story takes the cake. The top Democrat in the US Senate, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, saw his monthly premium spike by $4500! (annually, I presume) Outrageous! Someone do something! Sign a petition! Call your congressman!
"And I will also note that there are 150,000 million different families that get their health care through their employees," Reid said. "So should all federal employees, although under Obamacare, my insurance costs me about $4,500 more that it did before. Yes, because it is age-related and it wasn’t like that before."
Oh, is that all it was. Insurance companies never charged old folks more because they were more likely to get sick. I see.
I'm not even gonna try to figure out "150 thousand million" or "get their health care through their employees." My head hurts enough already. (HHEA Party?)
December 5, 2013
Not a parody! (I will apologize if it is shown to be, and drink a cup of cold Folgers coffee in recompense.)
The winner of the ObamaCare Video Contest:
UPDATE: Legit: "Erin McDonald was named the Grand Prize winner with her video 'Forget about the Price Tag' in a Google+ Hangout featuring Kal Penn and White House Health Care policy expert Christen Linke Young on December 2. Watch Erin's video below."
Never watching House or Harold & Kumar again, that's fer damn sure...
Here' s an early gift -- or perhaps, for Haaahvy, an on -time Hanukah gift.
I just finished his "Three Felonies a Day" and a glowing Review Corner is on the way. The review will point out that all the villains happen to be Repblicans. But I agree with every word.
While you wait -- eagerly I hope -- for Review Corner, just enjoy Haaahvy and the broad he married:
Meanwhile, in Buffy News...
The show started out with a bang, but a good number of people have dropped off along the way. "SHIELD's" meandering pace this season likely is part of the reason, but as the series heads towards its midseason, our vote is that people should keep watching.
Mmmmkay, but most of them could be applied to ObamaCare®...
Income Inequality Quote of the Day
Mr. Obama returned to his favorite theme of rising income inequality on Wednesday, which he called "the defining challenge of our time." He ought to know since few Presidents have done more to increase inequality than he has. Median household income has fallen since the economic recovery began, while the rich who own capital assets have done very well thanks to the Federal Reserve's focus on reflating stock and home prices. Mr. Obama is the Chief Economist of Nottingham posing as Robin Hood. -- WSJ Ed Page
December 4, 2013
3. c. indicates coverage of cancer treatments but not maternity or birth control treatments.
"Now with ObamaCare, the man that I've got looked into it, they are not going to pay for pharmaceuticals or medical devices. MRI that I had last month before I got canceled was $3,000. Now, if I have to have another one, it costs me out of my pocket $3,000," Elliott told Kelly on Nov. 7.
The government definition of "better" is left as an exercise for the reader.
Pendulum Swings Right in Partisan Divide
From the IBD Editorial Dems Are The Out-of-Touch Extremists
The only reason Obama and his fellow Democrats aren't constantly tagged as extreme is because the press is so far left that it treats them as reasonable centrists. Meanwhile, by skewing the polls, the increasingly radicalized Democratic Party manages to make the country appear more liberal than it really is.
I would say "more socialist" instead of more liberal. I still believe Americans are quite liberal in the classical sense, i.e. individual liberty.
I thought "maybe I should turn pro," reading that I had left $58 on the table helping a friend navigate.
Blog friend Attila set me straight:
AEI Wheat of the Day
Retired Buffalo Police Captain Peter Christ speaks out against the "War on Drugs:"
When you institute a prohibition like we have with drugs in this country, what you are doing is not protecting people from other people, you are attempting to use law enforcement to protect people from themselves. Protecting you from yourself is a function of family, church, education, and the health care system. It never is, and never should have been intended to be, a law enforcement function. We are out there enforcing morality when we enforce drug laws, and that is not our job. We were not trained to do it, we are not capable of doing it, and if anything else you see the failure of it.
[Heh: the headline refers to a kind comment by blog friend tg, complementing my separating "the wheat from the chaff" on AEI. I'm a pretty big AEI fan and am torn between voraciously defending a friend of liberty and graciously accepting kind words...]
Tweet of the Day
GOP War on Workers
I've been silent because I have agreed with many of their policies, but this is a bridge too damn far: Republicans force staffers to use ObamaCare! It's a War on Women! It's a War on Men! It's a War on The Transgendered!
CNN Buries the lede, and makes it about Leader Reid:
Washington (CNN) --- Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, one of Obamacare's architects and staunchest supporters, is also the only top congressional leader to exempt some of his staff from having to buy insurance through the law's new exchanges.
December 3, 2013
All Hail Taranto!
Otequay of the Ayday
I like to call myself "blog optimist" and I'll dub John Tamney "IBD Ed Page Optimist" for this piece.
"Republicans should be thankful for Obama precisely because his comical rollout of ObamaCare has Americans once again skeptical of politicians promising the world."
And a bonus quote that paraphrases my dear dagny:
There are no "free goods" in any society. Someone is always paying, and as ObamaCare promised something for nothing, logic dictated that it would fail even without advance knowledge of a "website malfunction."
Blog friend SugarChuck is a prolific and in-demand sideman who excels at escaping the "entangling alliances" inherent in band membership. An exception was made to create a CD with Annie Mack. I've talked it up 'round these parts a little.
The work has grabbed some great reviews, but the important one in this space would be Living Blues Magazine. Spoiler Alert: They Loved it! (Scroll down a bit, they don't like <a> tags over there -- not authentic enough HTML for the blues purist.)
Vocalist Annie Mack is the best kind of "roots" artist--dedicated to the heritage she's embraced, but resolute in her refusal to be pigeonholed. The title tune on this, her debut CD, is full of shout-outs to blues tradition, but it's propelled by a boogity-shoe funk backing. The disc’s most straightforward gospel number, Call On Jesus, owes as much to classic-era, Latin-tinged R&B as it does to the gospel tradition; the wronged lover's lament Fool to Believe grafts a Love Light-like groove onto a proto-funk, New Orleans-tinged rhythmic pattern. Elsewhere, Mack delves into roadhouse rock, neo-Kimbrough trance boogie, country-tinged deep-soul balladry, and blues/rock/pop mélange in the contemporary mix-and-match mode. Her alto delivery is strong, and she seems to gain flexibility as she immerses herself more deeply in her material--any hint of rookie self-consciousness is erased when the spirit hits. Her band, meanwhile, summons high energy without succumbing to overkill, and they always remember to play ideas, not just notes, even at their most exuberant and hard-charging.
Perfect Stocking Stuffer...
Compared to all your other failures, this is really bad
Attention, White House staffers: This is not Syria, some far-off land that people will eventually forget about. This isn't Benghazi; the country won't eventually move on and forget about your lies. This is not "Fast and Furious;" most Americans can't just shrug that it doesn't affect them. This is not the IRS abuse scandal, which you can blame on some low-level employees in a Cincinnati office, or GSA employees spending taxpayer dollars on luxury hotels in Las Vegas. This isn't Solyndra. This isn't wiretapping AP telephone lines or preparing a conspiracy charge against Fox News's James Rosen. This isn't even the NSA domestic-surveillance scandal, a revelation that really aggravates people but that fades from the headlines over time.
December 2, 2013
Rapacious Piano Teachers
Had a little fun with this on Facebook (actually, somebody else started it). But it is Kim Strassel, and it cannot pass without post:
In March of this year, a small nonprofit in Cincinnati--the Music Teachers National Association--received a letter from the FTC. The agency was investigating whether the association was engaged in, uh, anticompetitive practices.
Anti-competitive price fixers!
The Commercialization of Cyber Monday Continues...
Pontiff - Professorial Pugalistics
N. Gregory Mankiw responds to Pope Francis. My Tweeps called it "a smackdown." I don't want to perpetuate discord, but I can't resist a pedantic and alliterative headline.
First, throughout history, free-market capitalism has been a great driver of economic growth, and as my colleague Ben Friedman has written, economic growth has been a great driver of a more moral society.
Iiiiiiiiiin this corner, representing the Chair of St. Peter: His hooooooliness pooooope Francis! Iiiiiin this corner, representing Haaaahvaaaahd Yaaaaahd, The Crimson, and "In Vino Veritas," theeee professssor himself, Greg Mankiw.... I want a fair fight, no Latinate below the belt, Shake hands and come out swingin'...
Quote of the Day
Isn't It Awful the Way Cyber Monday Has Gotten So Commercialized? -- Jim Geraghty
December 1, 2013
We should make one thing clear: while Medicaid costs too much, its principal problem is that it doesn't make Medicaid patients healthier. It's not wrong to spend a large sum of money on health care for the poor. It is wrong to waste large sums of money on health care for the poor. There are so many market-based alternatives to Medicaid, alternatives that would offer uninsured, low-income Americans the opportunity to see the doctor of their choice and gain access to high-quality, private-sector health care.
Roy (people in Montreal and Denver struggle to pronounce it like Mr. Rogers's first name and not Evelyn Waugh's last -- to compound it, the author's first name is pronounced OH-vick) highlights studies that show Medicaid patients' outcomes statistically below those of the uninsured. While it would be easy to think that anomalistic, Roy details several good reasons why this could be.
The book opens with the heartbreaking story of Deamonte Driver, a seventh grader in Maryland who died of a toothache. His indigent mother was unable to find a dentist to accepted a new Medicaid patient, and over time -- government programs excel at eating time -- the infection spread to his brain. Much as I rail against government, I hesitate to pin this single tragedy on them. But we are -- courtesy of ObamaCare and my facilitatorship -- adding to the Medicaid rolls without addressing the physician shortage on the other side.
Medicaid was a statistically significant predictor of death three years after transplantation, even after controlling for other clinical factors. Overall, Medicaid patients faced a 29 percent greater risk of death. You'd think that Medicaid’s poor health outcomes would be a scandal on the left. You'd be wrong. After all, Obamacare puts 17 million more Americans into the Medicaid program.
The difference between insurance and care matters not to the left. The difference between a card and a doctor seem to elude them as well. An Oregon program to expand membership held a lottery where the lucky winners could enroll under relaxed qualifications.
Finally, on May 1, 2013 -- 10 months late -- the New England Journal of Medicine published the second-year findings. Did Medicaid save lives? No. It "generated no significant improvement in measured physical health outcomes," including death, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. What's almost as striking as this nonresult is how few Oregonians felt the need to sign up for this allegedly lifesaving program. The authors report that of the 35,169 individuals who "won" the lottery to enroll in Medicaid, only 60 percent actually bothered to fill out the application. In the end, only half of those who applied ended up enrolling.
But, what about the security of coverage?
Nonetheless, Medicaid's cheerleaders seized on this qualified bit of good news. "This is an astounding finding ... a huge improvement in mental health," said economist Gruber. To which conservative blogger Ben Domenech responded, "I wonder whether we'd be better off replacing the [Medicaid] expansion with a program that hands out $ 500 in cold hard cash and a free puppy."
Roy suggests a replacement, not with the puppy, but with a catastrophic plan and a voucher for concierge medicine. We could provide the poor with coverage chosen by many well-off Americans (well, until ObamaCare makes it illegal) for the same amount, and get more predictable and controlled spending rates as well.
This is a "Broadside" (very short book by Encounter Books). Five bucks on your Kindle and an hour before Kickoff. Five stars.
Your Certified PPACA Facilitator
Not sure I could pass the rigorous background check required to go pro, but I did a little navigatin' and facilitatin' yesterday. I helped a slightly nervous friend out. She had a private, individual policy which she liked but she was unable to keep it. It seems I had heard something about that somewhere, but her insurer sent a notice of cancellation and the suggestion to enroll in a more expensive and higher deductible policy or to shop at the exchange.
I thought it likely that this person would qualify for subsidies, so I suggested the exchange. And volunteered my not insignificant browsing, pointing, and clicking skillset.
It was not a third-world experience. I think Colorado is a little ahead of the game, and while I would not describe the web application or workflow as slick, it was serviceable and completed all requested tasks without crashing. Here's how it works:
My client -- like the Evergreen Stater -- did not want to enroll in Medicaid. To Colorado's credit she was not automatically enrolled. And to Colorado's credit, I quickly reached a helpful person on the telephone to clarify. If you are eligible for Medicaid you can decline. But you cannot get any subsidies for a private plan if you qualify for Medicaid.
So that is where this lugubrious tale ends. My client, who has been only able to secure part-time work (no way that is related to ObamaCare in any way shape or form), can now choose between a more expensive plan with higher copays and deductibles, or the public dole. Not my choice but I counseled -- Bastiat aside -- Medicaid. One more moves from the ranks of the self sufficient.