Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: January 20, 2012


Yeah, there’s no voter fraud …

There’s simply no basis to believe that voter fraud exists and that steps to ensure the integrity of the voting system are necessary.  None.

Trust me.

For a year now, LoPorto has steadfastly maintained his innocence, along with current Rensselaer County Democratic Elections Commissioner Edward McDonough, who refused to comment on the case Tuesday. They are the first indicted officials to be tried in a widespread investigation that has implicated eight Democrats, including county and city elected officials and party operatives. Four defendants have already pleaded guilty to a variety of charges, and what has already unfolded exposes just how easy it could be for political insiders to illegally manipulate the electoral system.

Voters told Fox News they never filled out absentee ballot applications for the 2009 Working Families Party primary, and were later stunned to learn the applications were, in fact, turned in to the Board of Elections, with ballots cast in their names. Democratic candidates routinely try to secure the Working Families electoral line to obtain more votes in the general election. The party was associated with the now-defunct community group ACORN.

"Jackals prey upon the weakest member of the herd. That’s what happened here," LoPorto’s attorney Michael Feit said of the guilty pleas in which former officials admitted forging ballot applications and submitting them as legitimate votes.

Feit concedes "there is no question" that someone tried to steal the election. "It is awful, it’s despicable, it’s terrible," he added.

But of course, his client is innocent.

Read the rest.  Then tell me there’s no chance this doesn’t go on in a lot more places than upstate NY.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


SOPA/PIPA dead … for now

But most attempts to limit freedom tend to be like zombies – even dead they tend to end up walking among us again at some future time.  But until then, good news:

House and Senate leaders abandoned plans to move on SOPA and PIPA on Friday — the surest sign yet that a wave of online protests have killed the controversial anti-piracy legislation for now and maybe forever.

SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said his committee won’t take up the bill as planned next month — and that he’d have to “wait until there is wider agreement on a solution” before moving forward.

Apparently even within the halls of Congress, where given some of the decisions that are routinely made would make one question the amount of oxygen in the air, they appear to have figured this one out.  Oh, and it is an election year. [head slap]

But don’t get too excited … they’ll be back in some form or fashion.  Instead of doing the hard work necessary to create law that will protect intellectual property rights while not being overly broad and draconian, these zombies will simply change clothes, get new names and be back in another session.

Cynical?

Just watch.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


The Health Care Czar speaks – “free” contraception for all!

Yes, Czar Kathleen (Sebelius, Czar Secretary of Health Care HHS and the final arbiter of all things ObamaCare) has declared that your insurer will now, without compensation or charge, do the following:

The Obama administration said Friday that health insurance plans must cover contraceptives for women without charge, and it rejected a broad exemption sought by the Roman Catholic Church for insurance provided to employees of Catholic hospitals, colleges and charities.

You may take a knee in thanks. Said Czar Kathleen:

“This rule will provide women with greater access to contraception by requiring coverage and by prohibiting cost-sharing,” Ms. Sebelius said.

Because, you know, the devices and services are delivered by magic fairies and don’t cost anyone anything.

No wonder Obama chose Disneyland as the venue for his speech yesterday.

The religious question aside, where in the world does this bunch get off deciding I have to pay for someone else’s contraception?

Because that’s what is going to happen … the bill, just like taxes to corporations, is going to find its way into my premium in some form or fashion (TANSTAAFL). 

The order is an administration interpretation of this:

The 2010 health care law says insurers must cover “preventive health services” and cannot charge for them.

“Preventive health services”.  Wow … how broadly can that be interpreted.  Well, broadly enough to include contraception as a “preventive health service” I suppose.

Which means, I assume, that the sky is the limit.  Creative interpretation is only limited by … not much, huh?

We have a czar.  She has an agenda.  She is the final, unaccountable “decider”.

What could possibly go wrong with that?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


The looming health care bomb – a scenario

As we stand by and wait for the ObamaCare law to take effect, enthusiasm within the medical profession seems to be waning (even more) as that time nears:

In late December, a survey of 501 physicians was released by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions research group, whose parent company serves clients in the health care industry. Nearly half (48%) expected health reform to hurt their incomes this year, while 73% said it would not reduce costs.

Though this isn’t a scientific survey, and other such surveys have and will show physicians’ support for the Affordable Care Act, the early glimpse of the law’s potential impact will likely lead to economic pain for doctors and a diminished system for their patients. Indeed, the Deloitte survey found that 69% of the physicians are "pessimistic about the future of medicine" because of the law.

It may not be scientific, but it certainly seems indicative of attitudes in the medical profession.  I mentioned one example of what was shaping this sort of an opinion in an earlier post.

Here’s another little factoid one might find interesting that tells a bit of a story too:

An online survey in September by the Jackson & Coker physician recruitment firm — based on 1,611 doctors who chose to respond — reflected that the majority of doctors don’t believe that the AMA represents their views. The primary reason: the AMA’s support of the legislation. Just 13% of those surveyed backed the Affordable Care Act.

As you recall, the American Medical Association came out in favor of the law.

There’s an unintended consequence from all of this (some would argue it’s intended):

The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the USA will be 160,000 physicians short by 2025 (when all patients would be insured under ObamaCare), and this is without even considering those doctors who will limit their practice to insured patients because of decreasing reimbursements or who retire early when faced with increasing costs with little return.

Of course the reason to mention that perhaps the consequences are intended is to point out that this still isn’t the single payer system that those who passed the legislation preferred. 

So one has to wonder, how does an ideologue take the lemon of ObamaCare and make it into the socialist lemonade of a government run single-payer system.  Well what exists in the form of ObamaCare is certainly a good step one, isn’t it?

It will be so unsatisfactory that one supposes there will be a terrible outcry.  With fewer health care workers, care will get worse, not better (to my knowledge the population of the country is still expanding, not contracting).  That’s a simple fact that is irrefutable.

Depending on who is in power in DC, government will present itself as the savior to this awful “market failure”.    And the usual suspects will dutifully echo and expand on how the market has again let us all down.  The result of this will be the final elimination of private insurance as an option for most and the expansion of government control in the guise of the left’s much desired single-payer system

Of course, to make that work, the conscription of all health care workers as government employees. 

Nirvana achieved?

That scenario isn’t as far fetched as some would like to believe or contend.  Obviously, the court fight that’s going on right now will have some say in how or if the scenario develops that way.  However, assuming the law is upheld for the sake of argument, and having observed the way the political world works for decades, I think the scenario is quite plausible.

And of course, single payer will be a disaster.   Why?  Because as Medicare continually proves, bureaucrats think they know more than doctors and certainly more than patients.

For instance:

There is widespread support, in Congress and among economists, for the broad ideal that Medicare would save money if it paid for better outcomes instead of more procedures. But 20 years of trying to shift the program in that direction have yielded little to no progress, CBO said Wednesday.

CBO analyzed six programs designed to improve care coordination for patients with chronic diseases. They either made no difference or were actually more expensive than the traditional payment system.

That’s because, as noted in the link I cited earlier to the previous post, the bureaucrats refuse to revise their system of payment based on what would best serve the patient.  And it isn’t a far stretch to believe the same system would be extant in any single-payer plan.  Politicians and economists come and go, but bureaucracies live forever.

So the bomb sits out there ticking away.  If it is allowed to explode, it will destroy health care as we know it today and most likely impose an even more debilitated form of Medicare on all.  Yes, most seniors say they like Medicare – do they have a choice?  Would they like to see an even less capable form of it exist?  Just ask them.

In the meantime remember – Freedom equals choice.  Whenever choices are limited so is your liberty.  When government gets in the business of limiting your choices it is no longer in the business of ensuring your liberty.   And limiting your choices in all sorts of areas, to include health care, is exactly the business our government is in today.

Another, in a long line of reasons, to retire the current occupant of the White House in November.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Samuelson: Obama’s Keystone Pipeline decision an “act of national insanity”

Robert Samuelson, writing in the Washington Post, correctly dissects the Obama decision to reject the Keystone Pipeline into its two proper constituent parts: politics and the net practical effect:

President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is an act of national insanity. It isn’t often that a president makes a decision that has no redeeming virtues and — beyond the symbolism — won’t even advance the goals of the groups that demanded it. All it tells us is that Obama is so obsessed with his reelection that, through some sort of political calculus, he believes that placating his environmental supporters will improve his chances.

Aside from the political and public relations victory, environmentalists won’t get much. Stopping the pipeline won’t halt the development of tar sands, to which the Canadian government is committed; therefore, there will be little effect on global-warming emissions. Indeed, Obama’s decision might add to them. If Canada builds a pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific for export to Asia, moving all that oil across the ocean by tanker will create extra emissions. There will also be the risk of added spills.

The unions are in his pocket, or so this decision would seem to say.  Not in his pocket and not particularly happy with him at the moment are the members of the radical environmentalist movement.  He apparently thinks they’re important to his re-election.  This was a political move designed to shore up that constituency with the implied promise of permanent rejection of the project after he’s re-elected.  That’s the message to them (whether it is true or not, they’ll still vote for him now because they know a Republican will okay it).  He most likely figures the unions will suck it up and support him and, my guess now, he’ll find a bone he can throw their way sometime between now and November.

That leaves the practical effect of his rejection to the overall environmentalist goal of “reducing greenhouse gas emissions”.  The effect?  It will likely mean even more emissions than running the pipeline through the US.  As Samuelson points out the tar sands will be developed and exploited, the product will be transported through a pipeline and most likely that pipeline will now run to the west coast of Canada instead of our Gulf refineries.  But unlike the trip by pipeline to the coast, there will then be an added step of transporting it by sea to China.

Great win there enviro-types.

But there’s even more damage done by this decision. 

Now consider how Obama’s decision hurts the United States. For starters, it insults and antagonizes a strong ally; getting future Canadian cooperation on other issues will be harder. Next, it threatens a large source of relatively secure oil that, combined with new discoveries in the United States, could reduce (though not eliminate) our dependence on insecure foreign oil.

It’s not “relatively secure”, it is very secure.  Canada is and has been our largest supplier of “foreign” oil for years.   And they’re both a friend and a neighbor.  How more secure – other than having the tar sands within our borders – can a supply get?   What we have an opportunity to do here is displace the commensurate amount of foreign oil from unfriendly and insecure sources by the amount the tar sands would yield.

Sound like good policy?  Sound like a smart move?  Of course it does.  So why the rejection of such a seemingly common sense decision.  See reason one above: politics.  This is all about election year politics.   The president who claims to have the best interest of all Americans at heart has just demonstrated that that claim is nonsense.  He’s catered to a particular election year constituency in deference to what is obviously best for the nation.

Finally:

…Obama’s decision forgoes all the project’s jobs. There’s some dispute over the magnitude. Project sponsor TransCanada claims 20,000, split between construction (13,000) and manufacturing (7,000) of everything from pumps to control equipment. Apparently, this refers to “job years,” meaning one job for one year. If so, the actual number of jobs would be about half that spread over two years. Whatever the figure, it’s in the thousands and thus important in a country hungering for work. And Keystone XL is precisely the sort of infrastructure project that Obama claims to favor.

What has supposedly been the focus of Obama for some time – that’s right, jobs and infrastructure.  His rhetoric has been all about how we need to create jobs and improve our infrastructure.  Here you have a infrastructure project – an actual shovel ready one – that will provide jobs and he rejects it and, as usual, tries to shift the blame to Republicans for something he decided.   The implication, of course, is he might have made a different decision if they’d have let him vote “present” until after the election.  Because, you see, they’ve now forced him to tack this stupid decision on his less than impressive record as president – and now he’ll have to run on it.   As usual, the blame-shifter in chief had decided it is someone else’s fault.

And in case you were wondering about the timeline on this project, it goes pretty much like this:

The State Department had spent three years evaluating Keystone and appeared ready to approve the project by year-end 2011. Then the administration, citing opposition to the pipeline’s route in Nebraska, reversed course and postponed a decision to 2013 — after the election.

By the way, the supposed primary excuses for the rejection was the opposition to the pipeline mounted by Nebraska.  In fact, as POLITICO reports, the White House used the Republican governor there, Dave Heineman, as cover for its decision.  Heineman takes exception to that:

"I want to say I’m very disappointed," Heineman told POLITICO. "I think the president made a mistake."

"Really what he was saying in denying the permit was ‘no’ to American jobs and ‘yes’ to a greater dependence on Middle Eastern oil," he said. "We want to put America back to work."

Why is Heineman disappointed?  Because there was a way in the works to let the project go ahead while negotiations were finalized that would have satisfied Heineman and the states initial objections:

He said that his Legislature and his administration were working to get the final approvals in place and that the State Department should have approved conditionally while Nebraska worked out the final route. The company seeking to build the pipeline, TransCanada, was perfectly willing to begin construction at either end and finish in Nebraska, according to Heineman.

But the unilateral president, in a fit of political pique and in full political mode, decided to dump the project … at least for now.  Those ready shovels could be breaking ground today.  Instead, we have to hope, if and when the decision is reversed, that it hasn’t been overcome by events and Canadians aren’t loading tar sand oil on Chinese ships.

Naturally the administration thinks Heineman’s idea is just, well, inappropriate:

“It’s the responsibility of the State Department to grant this permit, which really looks at the crossing of the international boundary. … It’s important for us to look at the full pipeline and not move forward on such a major infrastructure project that will be a part of the country and the landscape for many years in pieces like that. I hadn’t heard about the governor proposing this, but we don’t really think that’s an approach that really deals with the national interest question in an appropriate way," Assistant Secretary of State Kerri Ann Jones said on a conference call.

Right.  Of course.  Naturally. 

What BS.

Say’s the governor:

"If you’re a decisive president and you want to put America back to work, you can find a way to get to yes," Heineman said about the administration’s response. "That’s what most governors do. So I’m just not buying that."

Yeah, neither am I.  Neither are 70% of the voters.

Politics … pure and simple. 

Jobs president?  Don’t make me laugh.

National security first?  Nope, politics first.

Concerned with all Americans?   Seriously?

An “act of national insanity”? Spot on.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO