Free Markets, Free People

Government

When government interferes in a market, results are predictable

And it is neck deep in health care.  So, with the passage of ObamaCare, what is the state of medicine?

Oh, just great:

The doctor is disappearing in America.

And by most projections, it’s only going to get worse — the U.S. could lose as many as 1 million doctors by 2025, according to a Association of American Medical Colleges report.

Primary-care physicians will account for as much as one-third of that shortage, meaning the doctor you likely interact with most often is also becoming much more difficult to see.

Now, 2025 is 9 years away and, the “primary-care physician” is the star of ObamaCare because he or she is the “gatekeeper”.  However, which doctor is the worst compensated of all doctors?

Why the gatekeeper of course.  And, that’s by design.  Government design:

Starting salaries in high-paying specialties can range from $354,000 (general surgery) to $488,000 (orthopedic surgery), while primary-care fields tend to bring a sub-$200,000 starting salary, from$188,000 (pediatrics) to $199,000 (family medicine), according to a Merritt Hawkins report.

Why?

The pay disparities reflect America’s “fee for service” health-care model, which compensates providers based on the number and type of services they complete, and which inherently favors specialists.

Anyone know what entity pushes the “fee for service” model?  Can you say “Medicare”?  And yes, the insurance companies follow their lead. Hence, we have doctors in the primary care field looking at specializing because as gatekeepers, they are mostly the chief “referrer” to the other medical specialties … the ones that get paid more.

Wow … what a surprise then that the field of primary care is looking at a future shortage.  It’s another one of those “human nature” things that central planners simply can’t wrap their brains around.

Then there’s the exacerbation of the problem by ObamaCare:

The shortage is one that’s been stewing for decades but of late was exacerbated by passage of the Affordable Care Act, which increased the number of insured people and along with that the demand for doctor access, experts say.

As we’ve mentioned countless times, having insurance does not equal having care.  And as the number of gatekeepers dwindles, that problem will become even more acute.

Of course everyone knows what the answer that will be put forth by our political leaders don’t they?  Why of course more government.  You know, like the UK, where the former head of the NHS just died because the operation she needed was postponed 4 times.

~McQ

It all depends on how you define “existential threat”

Our Idiot-in-Chief recently opined that we shouldn’t take the JV team very seriously because they’re just not an existential threat.  Of course when I heard that I had to ruefully shake my head and remind myself that January of next year will be here soon. To paraphrase another yahoo that once occupied the Oval office, it depends on what the meaning of “existential” is.

If we’re doing a hand wave and pretending they’re a conventional force, then yes, they are not an “existential” threat.  They have no airforce capable of penetrating American airspace.  Certainly they have no navy.  And they haven’t any airlift capability or conventional weaponry that poses any threat to the American mainland.

But that’s not the war they’re waging is it?

Of course it isn’t.  They are, instead, waging what used to be termed “unconventional warfare”.  They’re using guerrilla tactics.  They’re targeting soft targets in far away lands.  And, according to a new study, they’ve upped the ante by plenty:

The deadly toll of terrorism around the globe has jumped nearly 800 percent in the past five years, according to an exhaustive new report that blames the alarming expansion of Islamist groups across the Middle East and Africa.

The nonprofit Investigative Project on Terrorism found that an average of nearly 30,000 people per year have been killed by terrorists since 2010, when terrorism’s death toll was 3,284. The authors of the study, which tabulated the numbers through the end of 2015, say that the exponential increase shows two troubling trends: More attacks are happening, and they tend to be deadlier than ever.

“Everyone has known that terrorist attacks have generally been increasing yearly since 9/11,” Steven Emerson, executive director of IPT, tells FoxNews.com. “But the magnitude of the increase of the attacks surprised us, especially in the past five years. Even if you look back at the annual reports issued by the most senior analysts in the top five intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies, there is not one report that predicted or forecasted that we would likely see such a massive escalation of attacks.”

The study notes that most of the attacks have been centered in the Middle East and Africa.

In addition to ISIS, groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in Somalia have been on the rise in the last few years. The Taliban has been resurgent in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where it took responsibility for Sunday’s Easter attack on Christians in Lahore; Kurdish-affiliated groups have been blamed for bombings in Turkey; Palestinian terrorists have waged at least two uprisings in Israel and Al Qaeda has continued to be active in Syria and Yemen, among other locations.

The terror groups, particularly those in the Middle East, have new access to deadlier weapons, which they have used to destabilize governments and terrorize citizens, said Emerson.

There is a method to their madness in the regions mentioned.  Many of the countries in which they’ve waged their terror campaigns have become failed states. So using their tactics of choice, they’ve certainly shown themselves to be a proven existential threat to weaker nations.

But we’re apparently not in that category according to our Prez.  And that’s because we’re big, we’re powerful and we are arrogant.  We also apparently don’t think outside the conventional box.

Meanwhile, as we watch and assess conventionally, the enemy moves and executes unconventionally to the point that the kill rate now is 10 times what it was a mere few years ago.

Oh, and it’s moving from the Middle East and Africa … to Europe and Asia:

They also predict that Asia will see more terror attacks as countries like Thailand, The Philippines and India are perceived as soft targets, and that due to the migrant crisis, violence in Europe will increase over the next two years as extremists continue to exploit the immigration system throughout the EU.

Meanwhile, where we are having “conventional” success against them, they are shifting away from there to more amenable soft targets:

“With ISIS losing large swaths of territory as well as key commanders, its center of operational gravity definitely appears to be shifting to Europe, where it can recruit among the more than 30 million Muslims who live in Europe,” Emerson said.

“Add to this mix the fact that thousands of mosques in Europe are controlled by Salfists, Wahabists and the Muslim Brotherhood – which indoctrinate their followers,” he said, “and you have a future recipe for a massive increase in Islamist terrorist violence.”

But remember, we don’t say “Islamic extremists”.  And what we won’t say and won’t acknowledge, we can’t defeat.  And what we won’t address and thus can’t defeat remains a very real existential threat, simply because we won’t confront them in the reality in which they operate.  When a mall or an airport or mass transit station go up in flames here, perhaps Mr. No Existential Threat will finally acknowledge the truth.

…. Nah!

~McQ

The Junior Varsity strikes Brussels

I think we all knew it wasn’t a matter of “if”, but when.  “When” was today.

Today in Brussels was a demonstration by ISIS.   Unlike our President, they actually back their talk with action.  They’ve been saying for quite some time they were going to strike in a different way – a mass casualty way.  Previously, they were mostly interested in targeted actions, like Charlie Hebdo.

Today, it was about terror … pure and simple.  All the attacks took place outside of secure areas.  Easy as pie.  One in the waiting area to go through security at the airport and one in a subway station.  And it certainly doesn’t take a heck of a lot of sophisticated intelligence gathering.  The timing (rush hour at the subway station, any busy hour at the airport) is pretty easy to figure out.

It could have been anywhere a crowd was gathered.   But we’re not talking rocket science here.  Identify a target, recruit one or more fanatics, explosives … some assembly required (automatic disassembly guaranteed upon detonation).

It could have also happened anywhere.  In any country.  Of course, Brussels is the capital of the EU.  ISIS is big into symbolism when they strike outside their region.

The point of course is you can look for this to happen any number of times in any number of places in the (near) future.  As I said, this is their demonstration.

So where is “next”?  A crowded shopping mall on a sale day?  A stadium sports event?  A political rally?

More importantly what can we do about it … without giving up more liberty and freedoms?

Me, I’m all for taking my chances and playing the terrorist lottery.  I figure I’ve got about as much a chance of winning that lottery as I do the state’s numbers game, er, lottery.

However, that’s not what I expect to see.

Hide and watch.

~McQ

The age of job automation

It’s closer than you think.  Last Friday I put a bit up in Stray Voltage about Dominos testing a robot delivery service in New Zealand.  And I intimated that that sort of automation would be something that would displace labor if labor got too expensive – like $15 for the minimum wage.

Over the weekend I happened across a couple of more articles.  One featured the CEO of Hardee’s and Carl Jr.’s talking about an automated restaurant he’d seen in San Francisco.  And, sure enough, his focus was on labor savings ($15 minimum wages specifically):

The CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s has visited the 100%-automated restaurant Eatsa — and it’s given him some ideas on how to deal with rising minimum wages.

“I want to try it,” CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider of his automated restaurant plans. “We could have a restaurant that’s focused on all-natural products and is much like an Eatsa, where you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person.”

Pudzer’s interest in an employee-free restaurant, which he says would only be possible if the company found time as Hardee’s works on its northeastern expansion, has been driven by rising minimum wages across the US.

“With government driving up the cost of labour, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” he says. “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”

Good old government.  Helping out again, aren’t they (another way to make you more dependent on them)?  As Pudzer says:

“This is the problem with Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, and progressives who push very hard to raise the minimum wage,” says Pudzer. “Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?”

Well no, it doesn’t. And then there’s this:

“If you’re making labour more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science,” says Pudzer.

Well no, it’s not – er, except to Bernie supporters.  But then it isn’t necessarily easy to automate everyone’s jobs either.  But it is getting easier as technology develops.

Take the restaurant that Pudzer was talking about:

“I would call it different than a restaurant,” said David Friedberg, a software entrepreneur who founded Eatsa. “It’s more like a food delivery system.”

Last week, I was in a fast-moving line and browsed on a flat-screen monitor the menu of eight quinoa bowls, each costing $6.95 (burrito bowl, bento bowl, balsamic beet). Then I approached an iPad, where I tapped in my order, customized it and paid. My name, taken from my credit card, appeared on another screen, and when my food was ready, a number showed up next to it.

It corresponded to a cubby where my food would soon appear. The cubbies are behind transparent LCD screens that go black when the food is deposited, so no signs of human involvement are visible. With two taps of my finger, my cubby opened and my food was waiting.

The quinoa — stir-fried, with arugula, parsnips and red curry — tasted quite good.

And he saw no one other than other customers.  Says the author of the article:

Whether a restaurant that employs few people is good for the economy is another question. Restaurants, especially fast-food restaurants, have traditionally been a place where low-skilled workers can find employment. Most of the workers are not paid much, though in San Francisco employers of a certain size must pay health benefits and in 2018 a minimum wage of $15.

Ironic, isn’t it?  That the prototype “food delivery system” is established in a city in which government has decided it will set the wages.  The laws of economics, or “rocket science” for the Bernie supporters, begs to differ.  There’s no real advantage in terms of labor savings, if the market sets the minimum wage, but mandated wages?  Well, then it comes down to viable alternatives – and cost-wise, this is suddenly viable.  The lower wage job holders of America say – thanks government.

And beyond the obvious, there are advantages to automating:

By not hiring people to work in the front of the restaurant, he said, they save money on payroll and real estate. (There will always be at least one person available to help people navigate the iPads and to clean up.) The kitchen is also automated, though he declined to reveal how, and the company is experimenting with how to further automate food preparation and delivery.

And, fewer to call in sick, give benefits, sick days and paid vacations too.  Make an employer’s job easier, more efficient and more enjoyable and the employer will take that route every time.

“We can sit and debate all day what the implications are for low-wage workers at restaurants, but I don’t think that’s fair. If increased productivity means cost savings get passed to consumers, consumers are going to have a lot more to spend on lots of things.”

Consumers have a choice – spend more for the same thing to help someone else have more money or spend less for the same thing and have more to spend on other things they want or need.  Wal-Mart says they will choose the latter.  So do those pesky laws of economics.

The food industry isn’t the only industry that’s going to see this though:

Automation is transforming every industry. Business owners look to substitute machines for human labor. It happened to blue-collar workers in factories and white-collar workers in banks and even law firms. With self-driving vehicles, it may happen in the taxi and trucking industries. Robots and artificial intelligence machines are expected to transform health care.

Coming sooner rather than later … possibly sooner than we think.

Nowhere is the potential for job automation so obvious as it is in the on-demand economy, where many startups have grown fat with venture capital despite poor unit-economics. Uber is spending heavily to hasten the development of driverless cars. Instacart, Postmates, and other delivery-heavy startups are unlikely to stick with humans once machines—which don’t take sick days, need bathroom breaks, or threaten to unionize—can do the same jobs.

But even if you don’t work in the on-demand economy, chances are high that you or someone you know will eventually be in the same position as Fox-Hartin. Machines already exist that can flip burgers and prepare saladslearn and perform warehouse tasks, and check guests into hotels. Companies like WorkFusion offer software that observes and eventually automates repetitive tasks done by human workers. And automation has also crept into knowledge-based professions like law and reporting. When in 2013 researchers at Oxford assessed whether 702 different occupations could be computerized, they concluded that 47% of U.S. employment was at risk of being lost to machines.

~McQ

A corrupt, inept and bullying government is cause for change

Glenn Reynolds makes the following observation while talking about Merkel’s refugee debacle (one with which I agree):

Fascism, like communism, is an opportunistic infection of the body politic, one that occurs when the institutions — and officeholders — of liberal democracy are too corrupt, or too weak, or both, to sustain business as usual. If you don’t like this outcome, don’t be weak and corrupt.

We’re headed over the same waterfall.  Over the years, we’ve seen our republic sink into political cess pit of the worst sort.  Corruption, cronyism, selling of political favors, governmental bullying, factionalism .  Add to that uncontrolled and unpunished bureaucratic over reach, government infringements on rights to a previously unheard of level, the law used as an oppressive tool instead of a protective one and uncontrolled spending resulting in massive debt.

The government, as first designed, has ceased to function that way.  The lines of separation between the 3 branches of our government have become so muddled and indistinct that that the government is almost unable to do its most basic job.   What we’ve seen is the willful ignoring of the Constitution by all three branches that has brought us to the point that those in power are now thought of more as enemies of the people than representatives.

Paul Rahe points out one of the reasons we’re where we are today:

The truth is that modern liberty depends on the power of the purse. All of the great battles in England in the 17th century between the Crown and Parliament turned ultimately on the power of the purse. The members of Parliament were elected at least in part with an eye to achieving a redress of grievances, and that redress was the price they exacted for funding the Crown. Our legislature has given up that power. Our congressional leaders claim – once the election is over – that they have no leverage. If that is really true, then elections do not matter, and a redress of grievances is now beyond the legislature’s power. Absent that capacity, however, the legislature is virtually useless. Absent that capacity, it is contemptible — and let’s face it: the President and those who work under him have showered it with contempt.

That basic contempt for the law, the demonstrated weakness when it comes to doing their job, their capitulation to special interests and greed and their ignoring the fact that the vast majority of people, on both sides of the political isle, are fed up with them and what they’ve built is where the electorate’s rage is grounded.

Tell me, does this remind you of any period or periods in history?  Certainly faint echoes at least.  Many of the dynamics at work then don’t exist now, but the fact that government wasn’t working for the majority in those two instances can also be said about what is happening here now.  Why else would a billionaire reality TV show star and a clueless socialist be as popular as they are?

It is another cry for drastic change in the way our representatives do their job and the way our government is run.  Obama was the same thing.  Now the choice is even worse.

Lump that all in with a historically and economically illiterate citizenry and it is a dangerous mix.

This is all headed for a showdown somewhere down the road, either soon or in the near future.  The question is, what will survive the event when it happens?  And is it possible that we can somehow see a leader emerge who can articulate the building rage (Sanders and Trump can do that) and actually LEAD us to reforming government to the point that it is again on the track it was originally supposed to be on?

For the first question, I have no idea.  As for the second, I have no confidence that such a person exists at this point and if he or she does, that this is at all recoverable.

~McQ

This should anger and terrify any freedom loving person

This is just something that shouldn’t be “discussed” at all, much less “discussed” by law enforcement:

During Lynch’s testimony at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said that he believes there are similarities between the tobacco industry denying scientific studies showing the dangers of using tobacco and companies within the fossil fuel industry denying studies allegedly showing the threat of carbon emissions…

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)… concluded his comments by posing a question to the country’s top law enforcement officer.

“My question to you is, other than civil forfeitures and matters attendant to a criminal case, are there other circumstances in which a civil matter under the authority of the Department of Justice has been referred to the FBI?” he asked.

“This matter has been discussed. We have received information about it and have referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action on,” Lynch answered. “I’m not aware of a civil referral at this time.”

Seriously?  As flawed as the data is and as broken as the models have been shown to be, there is certainly nothing “settled” about anything to do with “global warming” or carbon.  Nothing.

But that’s not the point is it?  This is about shutting up dissent.  And why would anyone want to shut up dissent?  Well, frankly, for the usual reasons – power and control.  You have a group of true believers (or at least those who claim to be) who have positions of power and want to use it to control how you live your life.  They’ve been looking for a way for quite some time and have finally, thanks to Al Gore and the boys, found what they believe is a fail-safe way to kite more money from taxpayers and “evil corporations” and they can’t stand to have a group out there shooting their “science” in the keister with facts.  The “electricity rates are going to jump under my plan” ideologues aren’t going to pass up this chance to cripple the fossil fuel industry and they have just the pseudo-science with which to do it if they can shut these dissenters up.

Thus a US Congressman questioning the nation’s chief law enforcement officer about whether or not that officer is discussing means and  methods of doing just that.  If every anyone deserved to be impeached and thrown out of Congress, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is the candidate of choice in my estimation.  And to be Number 1, you have to be pretty damn bad (we could instead settle for a little tar and feathers and running him out of town, I suppose).  As I see it, any call to quash dissent by a government official acting in his official capacity is grounds for removal – unless you’re in Communist China, perhaps.

Power and control.  That’s what this is all and it is why there is anger and frustration on both sides of the political spectrum.  People have had it with both sides.

~McQ

News you might otherwise miss

Because, you know, the current political circus has sucked all the air out of the coverage of anything else … or maybe it has distracted everyone so much they aren’t paying attention. But this story is one that is and has been inevitable since the debacle of Obamacare was passed and instituted:

Federal health officials are seeking to deny medical reimbursements to doctors and hospitals that have served patients insured by failed Obamacare health insurance co-ops, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.

Instead, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are insisting it, not medical providers, has the first right to any remaining funds as 12 of the 24 co-ops go through the liquidation process.

A legal showdown is expected over who pays for the co-op debacle that to date has lost at least $1.4 billion in federal solvency loans. The failures have forced the cancellation of health insurance policies for at least 800,000 customers.

The confrontation now pits medical providers against CMS bureaucrats who claim the federal government should be first in line to get any leftover funds.

The government’s plan has failed, those who trusted the government to implement it properly so they’d be reimbursed have been stiffed, and who is it trying to muscle their way to the front of the line for any money available?  Why the same institution that set up this enormous scam, of course.

That’s what you get when you pass laws no one has read with policies written for and by bureaucrats and special interests, and haven’t a clue as to how any of it will work in the real world.  And no one should forget, this is all on the Democrats, who wrote it, passed it and signed it into law. Every bit of it.

And now, the institution that brought about all this failure is putting those it is supposed to serve at the back of the line for reimbursement.  Of course we’ve seen this before, haven’t we? Think GM bankruptcy and bailout.  Yeah, creditors … back of the line.

Mandy Cohen, CMS’s chief operating officer, was the first Obama administration official to assert the federal government would preempt reimbursements to local or state medical providers. She did so during a Feb. 25, 2016, House oversight subcommittee hearing on health care.

“For federal loans, there is an order of repayment,” Cohen said. “I believe we are at the very top of all of the creditors.”

Well, except for a little thing like the Supreme Court saying the opposite:

Cohen’s testimony also puts CMS on the record as ignoring a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court verdict that held the federal government is next-to-last in line for payment in insurance cases and policyholders are first. Cohen claimed the Justice Department will enforce the CMS policy.

Same bullying government, same guy (and party) in charge.  And of course the Justice Department will enforce “CMS policy” even if “CMS policy” is contrary to the law, because, the law is selectively enforceable under this administration, isn’t it?

~McQ

Stray Voltage

Professor Melissa Click, recently the face of the ugly left during the recent University of Missouri protests, has been notified by the Board of Curators that they’re terminating her employment there.  Click, you may remember, was charged with assault when she confronted a student reporter and grabbed his camera while calling for “some muscle” to help her force him to leave.  Interestingly, the Board of Curators also cited her actions at the Homecoming Parade a month before as grounds for dismissal as well.  You can read the whole investigation here.  So much for her tenure hearing … ain’t gonna happen.  You can read the whole investigation and the letter for the Board here.  I did last night.  Very interesting.  I can’t say she didn’t deserve what she got, and, frankly, it’s good to see bad actions ending up having consequences.  Apparently she thought and admission and apology were sufficient.  The Board did not.

Speaking of the SJWs, those at Brown University simply can’t get over the fact that they’re being required by professors to turn in class assignments on time after their activism has totally exhausted and drained them emotionally:

Liliana Sampedro, one of the students who compiled the diversity ultimatum, argued that refusal to grant such accommodations “has systemic effects on students of color,” who she said may sometimes feel obligated to prioritize their activist work over their studies.

“I remember emailing the professor and begging her to put things off another week … I hadn’t eaten. I hadn’t slept. I was exhausted, physically and emotionally,” Sampedro recalled. The professor nonetheless insisted that she submit a previously-assigned research presentation on time, which she claims forced her to stay up late to finish the project after having already spent hours working on the list of demands.

Because that’s why they went to Brown – to “prioritize their activism work over their studies”.  I know a bunch of folks at my college who “prioritized their partying over their studies” and they got no break from professors.  All kidding aside – this is our special snowflakes getting just a inkling of what is in store for them when they finally leave the protection and “safe space” that is Brown.

Some leftists/SJWs are figuring it out:

Speaking of Fascism, there is also a disturbing trend on the left nowadays that involves rejecting free speech/freedom of expression as a core value, because that speech could possibly be hurtful to someone, somewhere. This is not only dangerous but it also works against us, because as leftists we are often labelled as threats by the state and at the very least, we are unpopular by society in general. Does this not mean that freedom of thought and expression are crucial to our struggles?

Of course, at this point, not enough of them are doing so and there’s no indication that this is really a trend, however, it’s hopeful.  Read the whole thing.

Camile Paglia is a Bernie supporter, for one reason, because he is offering “free” college.  But she is not a Hillary supporter in the least.  And before she heads off on a riff about “free” college, she blasts the “establishment” Democrats in general and Hillary Clinton specifically (also taking a shot at the establishment media):

Democrats face a stark choice this year.  A vote for the scandal-plagued Hillary is a resounding ratification of business as usual–the corrupt marriage of big money and machine politics, practiced by the Clintons with the zest of Boss Tweed, the gluttonous czar of New York’s ruthless Tammany Hall in the 1870s.  What you also get with Hillary is a confused hawkish interventionism that has already dangerously destabilized North Africa and the Mideast.  This is someone who declared her candidacy on April 12, 2015 via an email and slick video and then dragged her feet on making a formal statement of her presidential policies and goals until her pollsters had slapped together a crib list of what would push the right buttons.  This isn’t leadership; it’s pandering.

Thanks to several years of the Democratic party establishment strong-arming younger candidates off the field for Hillary, the only agent for fundamental change remains Bernie Sanders, an honest and vanity-free man who has been faithful to his core progressive principles for his entire career.  It is absolutely phenomenal that Sanders has made such progress nationally against his near total blackout over the past year by the major media, including the New York Times.  That he has inspired the hope and enthusiasm of an immense number of millennial women is very encouraging.  Feminists who support Hillary for provincial gender reasons are guilty of a reactionary, reflex sexism, betraying that larger vision required for the ballot so hard-won by the suffrage movement.

While I usually don’t agree on a lot of what she says, I love the way she says it.  In this case, I’m with her about Clinton.

Speaking of “free college”,  in case you missed it, Louisiana tried that.  And, guess what?  It worked about as well as “free health care”:

A person receiving “free” tuition may not see it (or even care), but subsides actually raise the total cost of an education. The core problem is that they remove the paying customer—in this case the student—from the equation.

Without the subsidy, the paying customer receives the direct benefit for the service and bears the direct cost. If that person doesn’t think the cost is worth it, they don’t pay.

Louisiana’s program replaces this paying customer with groups of government officials. These officials neither receive the direct benefit nor endure the direct cost of obtaining an education. These groups do, however, benefit a great deal from obtaining more of your tax dollars.

And they rarely bear any direct cost from either increasing your taxes or delivering a substandard education product. (The incumbency rate is fairly high for politicians.)

Works great for government (bigger, more government jobs, more taxes) but not so hot for the taxpayer – as usual.

Socialism?  Heck yeah.  Why look at how well Venezuela is doing:

And now, the announcement of the “nutritional emergency” makes it official. Venezuela is out of food, and it’s only a matter of time before Venezuelans are quite literally starving due to a long series of terrible decisions by their leaders.

That’s right, it’s no longer about not having diapers and toilet paper.  Nope, the socialist government has run the country out of food as well.  Feel the Bern!

Peggy Noonan approaches the popularity of Trump, and for that matter, Sanders in the presidential race with a little different take.  Instead of talking about the elite, I think she makes a differentiation that better explains why those two have any political viability at all:

There are the protected and the unprotected. The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it. The unprotected are starting to push back, powerfully.

The protected are the accomplished, the secure, the successful—those who have power or access to it. They are protected from much of the roughness of the world. More to the point, they are protected from the world they have created. Again, they make public policy and have for some time.

I want to call them the elite to load the rhetorical dice, but let’s stick with the protected.

They are figures in government, politics and media. They live in nice neighborhoods, safe ones. Their families function, their kids go to good schools, they’ve got some money. All of these things tend to isolate them, or provide buffers. Some of them—in Washington it is important officials in the executive branch or on the Hill; in Brussels, significant figures in the European Union—literally have their own security details.

Because they are protected they feel they can do pretty much anything, impose any reality. They’re insulated from many of the effects of their own decisions.

One issue obviously roiling the U.S. and western Europe is immigration. It is THE issue of the moment, a real and concrete one but also a symbolic one: It stands for all the distance between governments and their citizens.

I think it gets us closer to the discontent felt by much of the country.  It has become clear that the “protected” are feathering their nests at the expense of the unprotected and, as Noonan says, will never suffer the effects of their policies because they’ve protected themselves from such an occurrence – or at least tried to.  Yes, it’s a bit oversimplified.  There’s much more going on, but it helps explain what no one has satisfactorily explained to this point.

On the other hand, I can’t help feeling I’m living in Weimar Germany.

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Hope everyone has a great weekend!

~McQ

Stray Voltage

A little reading for you about how awful the Obama Syrian policy (or lack thereof) has been using Samantha Powers own words against her and the administration.

Even die-hard supporters of President Barack Obama’s “realist” approach to foreign affairs are nauseated by the White House’s Syria policy. New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, a vocal supporter of the nuclear weapons agreement with Iran, is fed up with nearly five years of the “fecklessness and purposelessness” of a Syria policy that “has become hard to distinguish” from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s. “Syria is now the Obama administration’s shame,” Cohen wrote last week, “a debacle of such dimensions that it may overshadow the president’s domestic achievements.” Ambassador Dennis Ross and New York Times military correspondent David Sanger also published articles excoriating Obama’s policies in Syria. There is a military solution, it’s “just not our military solution,” a senior U.S. security official admitted to Sanger. It’s Putin’s.

Think  of the charge of “war crimes”, something the Dems used to love to try and hang on George W. Bush.  It’s a pretty negative review.

Speaking of negative reviews, here’s one for the laughs it brings.  All you ever wanted to know about Kanye West and then some.  Kanye will not be happy, but I chuckled all the way through it. Some good points, in general, are made, not just about West:

West’s prepubescent views on everything Kanye haven’t stopped over the past decade, but everyone is too scared to mock him because he’s black and they don’t want to be called racist. He’s aware of this, so when his clothing line fails he says it’s because people were too “racist” to buy his stuff (this from a guy who gets to wear the Confederate flag on his bomber jacket). His clothing line was made up of people wearing brown nylons and strange “skin-colored” sweatshirts that looked like they were made out of Nazi lampshades. We recently learned that this foolish mistake put him $53 million in the hole and he took to social media to beg Mark Zuckerberg to bail him out to the tune of $1 billion. No word yet on why you get to be $947 million in the black when you screw up that badly. Forbes’ two cents is Yeezus might be able to get the money tax-free.

Read the whole thing … it’s worth it.  Another example of the Emperor having no clothes – in this case, literally.

Another example of the absurdity of the claim that ID laws “disenfranchise” minority voters:

On Tuesday, however, it was the state of Wisconsin that had the last laugh. Just one business day after Oliver predicted mass disenfranchisement due to voter-ID laws, Wisconsin held its first election with the voter-ID requirement. And according to a study by the University of My Eyeballs, turnout increased 55 percent statewide over the last similar spring-primary election.

In 2013 — the last contested statewide supreme-court election — around 364,000 voters turned out in Wisconsin. On Tuesday night, that number skyrocketed to about 564,000 voters. Even the 2011 Supreme Court primary, which took place during the electric Wisconsin public-union battle, drew only around 420,000 voters — well short of Tuesday’s total.

And the turnout bump wasn’t due to rural Caucasians flocking to the polls en masse. In the city of Milwaukee, which is 53 percent ethnic minority, the vote nearly doubled, from 34,000 to 65,000. Earlier, local election watchers had predicted a turnout of about 30,000.

Georgia, my home state, has had a voter ID law for a few years and have had exactly the same experience.  This is the “global warming” of voting.  Or said another way, if they keep repeating the big lie often enough, it has to be “true” doesn’t it – regardless of whether or not the facts destroy the myth.

So how are we doing economically and how is that reflected in the job market?  Well, Dems are going to tell you we’re at “full employment” because the fudged unemployment rate is around 5%.  This chart gives lie to the claim:

-1x-1

Women fare slightly better, but as you can see, the US is bottom of the barrel when it come to “employment to population ratio” for men. Heck of a job there, Dems. Oh, and Bernie says he’ll fix this.  Just sayin’.

Pertaining to the GOP and SCOTUS, file under “predictable” and cross-file under “stupid” as in “Stupid Party:

The playbook is the same every time. Even in the face of less consequential political fights, Republicans start out talking tough. Then, leadership allows the weakest liberal members to begin dissenting from the party line and even trash talking the party to the media. Next, leadership says they have to embark on the legislative process to be fair but still oppose the initiative and will personally fight against it. Then, depending on how many votes it needs to pass, they decide whether to throw in with the liberal Republicans.

And sure enough:

Yesterday, the dominos began to fall. While Sens. McConnell, Hatch, and other senior leadership members were still talking tough, liberal Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) announced his support for Obama to put forth a “consensus” nominee. And although Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the Majority Whip, reiterated his desire that the next president fill the vacancy, he said that holding hearings is entirely up to the Judiciary Committee Chairman and scheduling a floor vote is entirely up to McConnell.

And then:

Obama knows how to push the RINO buttons. He will nominate someone who comes highly recommended in the legal field and it will be a big “first.” Perhaps the first transgendered Muslim immigrant to be picked. He knows Republicans are very sensitive to looking like “obstructionists,” especially in the face of such “historic” progress.    At that point, it will become a slow bleed. You will see Sens. Murkowski, Collins, Kirk, and other liberals join with Heller and call for “fair hearings.”  (How eerie that just two weeks ago, I called for Sen. Grassley to be replaced because his spot on the Judiciary Committee Chairman is too vital for someone so fickle.) Grassley will undoubtedly cave to pressure and that will get the ball rolling.

And once the nominee goes through the meat grinder of confirmation hearings, how can he not get a floor vote?  To that end, the weakest members of the committee, beginning with Lindsey Graham, will likely vote the nominee out of committee and onto the floor.

How many times have you seen this happen?

Freedom of speech is a wonderful and protected right.  But one thing some people seem never to understand is that it doesn’t shield you from the consequences of your “speech”:

In the wake of Beyonce’s controversial Super Bowl halftime performance of her new song “Formation” — which critics say contains an anti-cop message — police and politicians around the country have been speaking out against it.

But the criticism could be manifesting itself in practical ways, given what’s happened since police in Tampa, Florida, got a request to work her April 29 concert in town.

Usually off-duty officers sign up to work concerts and sporting events for extra cash, but to date no officers have signed up for the show, WTVT-TV reported. And given it’s expected to sell out, that could be a security issue.

That’s a great way for cops to get their message across.

Speaking of no one signing up, I got a huge laugh from this story.  You remember Ed Schultz don’t you?  Once with MSNBC and now with Russian (propaganda) TV?  Well, like Kanye West, Ed has become a little full of himself.  Ed decided to start a “Super PAC” feeling pretty sure he could save the middle class:

Last year Ed Schultz started the Americans for a Strong Middle Class Super PAC.

“I feel like I am perfectly positioned with my national platform, with my name and visibility and credibility with the middle class, to be the person to head up this super PAC,” he told  told the Fargo Forum. “We are a 527; we are a nonprofit; we are incorporated in Washington, D.C., and we are going to get involved in issues around the country that are vital to a strong middle class, with our focus on jobs and wages, health care, education, trade agreements and justice.”

“Middle class issues are here to stay,” Schultz continued.

Unfortunately for Ed, his PAC isn’t.  A couple of weeks ago, Big Ed quietly folded Americans for a Strong Middle Class Super PAC.

Only none of that actually happened. According to Mediate, Schultz ran up $10,345.44 in legal fees, $3,000 in web design fees, and a $100 loan and only collected $25 in donations to the organization which was apparently headquartered at a UPS store in downtown Washington D.C.

I’m sorry I coughed up a lung laughing at the donation total.  That’s about what Big Ed’s ideas are worth, and, in the market place of ideas, that’s what he was able to bring in.  Capitalism – don’t you love it?  No wonder the left hates it.

Finally, I love it when a loony law is field tested:

Seattle Parks and Recreation is facing a first-of-a-kind challenge to gender bathroom rules. A man undressed in a women’s locker room, citing a new state rule that allows people to choose a bathroom based on gender identity.

It was a busy time at Evans Pool around 5:30pm Monday February 8. The pool was open for lap swim. According to Seattle Parks and Recreation, a man wearing board shorts entered the women’s locker room and took off his shirt. Women alerted staff, who told the man to leave, but he said “the law has changed and I have a right to be here.”

“Really bizarre,” MaryAnne Sato said. “I can’t imagine why they would want to do that anyway!”

Oh, my … hoist on their own petard, eh?  The other lung was coughed up on this one.  This isn’t bizarre at all.  This is precisely what critics of this sort of stupidity said would happen.

According to the SJW’s who pushed this “gender inclusiveness” law, all one has to do is “feel” like another gender and they’re in like Flynn.  Apparently, at least that day, this guy was feeling particularly female.  And yet, those exposed to the “woman” felt the situation was “bizarre”.  Imagine.

Loved this quote – by the way, he’s talking about the new law and the SJWs:

“Sort of works against the point they’re trying to make. They’re causing people to feel exposed and vulnerable with the intention of reducing people feeling exposed and vulnerable,” said pool regular Aldan Shank.

Exactly right, sir.  This is how laws that sound wonderful in drunken dorm room bull sessions end up when put into practice.   As usual, never factored in is something called “human nature”.

Funny that.

Have a great weekend!

~McQ

Dangerous ground or much ado about nothing?

The FBI, in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attack, has gone to court and gotten a judge to order Apple to write software to decrypt the iPhones the two terrorists used.  The FBI has been unable to decrypt them on their own.

Apple has refused to comply.

After reading much of the back and forth between government and Apple, I’m with Apple.  As the Electronic Freedom Frontier said:

The government is asking Apple to create a master key so that it can open a single phone,” it said Tuesday evening. “And once that master key is created, we’re certain that our government will ask for it again and again, for other phones, and turn this power against any software or device that has the audacity to offer strong security.”

It’s about violating your privacy by being ordered to hand the government the key with implied permission to use it. Think Pandora’s Box.  Forget security, you may as well not encrypt a phone if a master key is available out there.  We’d love to believe the government when it says it will only use that software once, but anyone with a modicum of intelligence (and experience with governments) knows how likely that is.  And, well, we also know how well our government does cyber security, don’t we Ms. Clinton?

Er, anyway – the government is using a 18th century law, the All Writs Act, to claim that it can demand such software from Apple.

The law lets judges “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”

A little word salad that has the government claiming it has every right to make this demand do just about anything it chooses (if it can get a judge to say so).

Marc J. Zwillinger, a lawyer for Apple, wrote in a letter for a related case in October that the All Writs Act could not be interpreted to “force a company to take possession of a device outside of its possession or control and perform services on that device, particularly where the company does not perform such services as part of its business and there may be alternative means of obtaining the requested information available to the government.”

The government says it does not have those alternative means.

Mr. Cook’s statement called the government’s demands “chilling.”

“If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.”

This is another indicator of how corrosive the “War on Terror” has been to our liberties.  It’s like slow drip acid, with every drop another assault on what we once took for granted as protections against an invasive government.  And our government has been more and more invasive as concerns our privacy since this “war” began.

Sometimes, looking at what the government attempts to do in the name of security, you’d think the terrorists had won, wouldn’t you?

~McQ