Free Markets, Free People

Obama Administration

Elitism driving “free” college proposal by Obama?

The short answer is “yes”. Megan McArdle makes the point :

Higher education is becoming the ginseng of the policy world: a sort of all-purpose snake oil for solving any problem you’d care to name, as long as we consume enough of it. Education is a very good thing, but it is not the only good thing. An indiscriminate focus on pushing more people into the system is no cure for society’s ills–and indeed, often functions as a substitute for helping the people who are struggling in the current system.

In fact (beside the fact we can’t afford “ObamaCare for colleges”):

What if people in the policy elite stopped assuming that the ideal was to make everyone more like them, and started thinking about making society more hospitable to those who aren’t? My grandfather graduated into a world where a man with a high-school diploma could reasonably hope to own his own business, or become someone else’s highly valued employee, a successful pillar of a supportive community. His grandchildren graduated into a world where a college diploma was almost the bare necessity to get any kind of a decent job. Why aren’t we at least asking ourselves if there’s something we can do to create more opportunity for people without diplomas, instead of asking how many more years we can keep everyone in school? Why do all of our proposed solutions essentially ratify the structure that excludes so many people, instead of questioning it?

Indeed. For too long our policies have been driven by an elite. And for the most part, the elite have made an awful mess of things. Now they want to take on “community colleges”.

Anyone? How long before they start looking at 4 year colleges?

McArdle suggests the following probable effects of any program like Obama has proposed:

1. Offer a subsidy to middle-class kids who don’t really need the money?

2. Encourage middle-class families to transfer their kids to community college for the first two years of school, and thus help to moderate college costs?

3. Encourage financially constrained students who might not have gone to college to enter the system en route to a degree?

4. Encourage marginal students with a low chance of completing a career-enhancing degree to attend school, mostly wasting government money and their own time?

As she points out 2 and 3 are actually not bad policy goals in and of themselves.  However, the much more likely effect will be 1 and 4.  Another government sponsored and taxpayer funded boondoggle that will essentially give community colleges a subsidy (it’ll be all about headcount – no one will really care if the student’s succeed) and create bureaucratic jobs while doing little or nothing in terms of “education advancement”.

Oh, yeah, did I mention we can’t afford it?

I thought I did.

~McQ

Clint Eastwood nailed it when he portrayed Obama as an empty chair

I’ve said for 6+ years that the man in the White House was not a leader.  He’s never been a leader.  And this weekend he again demonstrated to the world that leadership is not something of which he has even an inkling of understanding.  This weekend, at a gathering of 3 million in the French capital, 40 leaders of various countries stood with those people and symbolically said “no” to terrorism, intimidation and murder and “yes” to free speech.  They demonstrated leadership.   They demonstrated political courage.  They did what leaders do.

And where was our President?  Or Vice President?  At home with nothing on their schedules … that’s where.  Showing up in Europe and doing what leadership demands was apparently something they couldn’t figure out.

Leadership takes, no, requires courage.  This weekend we saw a display of diplomatic and political cowardice (and I don’t buy the “threat was too great” – apparently it was acceptable to the Israeli PM).

Oh, we’ll see them scramble now to try to turn this around and to their advantage, but it is clear to those of us who’ve actually been leaders that we lack one in the White House.  It’s a pitiful but representative example of why this man should never have been elected to the Illinois Senate much less to the presidency of the United States.

He voted “present” as a state senator and this weekend he voted “present” as the President of the United States.

Shameful.

~McQ

So, why does this even make it to the “presidential level”

The “this”?  Keystone XL pipeline.  Why is the president at all involved in this decision?  Why is he threatening a veto if the Republican Congress passes a bill authorizing it?

After all:

The nation’s pipelines are a transportation system. Pipelines enable the safe movement of extraordinary quantities of energy products to industry and consumers, literally fueling our economy and way of life. The arteries of the Nation’s energy infrastructure, as well as one of the safest and least costly ways to transport energy products, our oil and gas pipelines provide the resources needed for national defense, heat and cool our homes, generate power for business and fuel an unparalleled transportation system.

The nation’s more than 2.6 million miles of pipelines safely deliver trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and hundreds of billions of ton/miles of liquid petroleum products each year. They are essential: the volumes of energy products they move are well beyond the capacity of other forms of transportation. It would take a constant line of tanker trucks, about 750 per day, loading up and moving out every two minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to move the volume of even a modest pipeline. The railroad-equivalent of this single pipeline would be a train of 75 2,000-barrel tank rail cars everyday.

Pipeline systems are the safest means to move these products.

The source?  The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation.  Yes, that’s right, the US government.  Executive branch.

Note the facts – 2.6 million miles of pipeline safely moving petroleum products 24/7.  Look at would be required without them.

Oh, wait, look what’s required without Keystone – trucking and railcars, of course. And who has a major stake in those operations continuing?  You know how this works … follow the money.

Can you say “cronyism”?

Sure you can.

The most “transparent administration”, ever!

Btw, GOP … make his veto it or forever be held as the cowards most think you are (after all, you didn’t even have the courage to dump Boehner).

~McQ

This and that

As you’ve probably surmised, I’m taking a bit of a break the last two weeks of the year.  Decompress, catch up on other things and generally relax.  That said, I was happy to see that Erb and the anti-Erb have managed to provide the best in entertainment for the QandO faithful.

Looks like the anti-police riots and ambushes are reaching their natural end.  That’s what happens when you overreach.  I’m not at all implying that some protest isn’t necessary or warranted.  But when it goes beyond that to murder, well, then you’re likely to lose any sympathetic audience you might of had prior to that.  And that’s pretty much what has happened.

I’m also finding if pretty interesting to watch de Blassio sink in his own man-made rhetorical swamp.  Great choice, NYC.  Now live with it.

Of course we’re having to live with the choice of enough of America’s voters that we’re into year 6 of the 8 year nightmare presidency.  And what do we have on the horizon?  More of the same.  A Bush/Clinton run?  If so, we’re worse off than I think.  No more of either family … please!

As for Elizabeth Warren?  Yeah, let’s again go for a junior Senator who has never run anything or done anything except claim minority status to get a good paying gig in academia that certainly didn’t tax her “work ethic”.  Let’s again let some smooth talking “populist” promise us the moon and deliver Ecuador.  And, yes, I’m talking to the press.

The GOP?  Name someone with a chance for a nomination and you’ll likely name someone I wouldn’t want anywhere near the Oval Office.

Then there is the GOP Congress.  It appears Obama is saying he will have a new use for his pen these last two year – the veto pen.  I say that’s good news.  Here’s a chance for the GOP and Congress to use an opportunity to drop the onus for being obstructionist on the President.  If they have the plums to do that.  By the way the “obstructionists” in the past wasn’t the GOP but Harry Reid who wouldn’t bring passed House legislation to a vote in the Senate (not that the press ever caught on) – that problem, theoretically, no longer exists).  Do I have any faith the Congressional GOP will inundate the President with legislation he will have to sign or veto?  No.  None.  Recent history gives me no warm and fuzzy about that – especially while McCain and Graham are still in the Senate.  Look for McCain and his lapdog Graham to again resurrect the “Maverick” brand and spend as much time as Reid screwing up any plans the Senatorial GOP might have to push legislation to Obama’s desk.

Oh …. guess what the NY Times has discovered?  There may not be enough doctors to cover any expanded insurance rolls … especially Medicaid.  Why?  Well for one thing, there are a finite number of doctors that can see a finite number of patients and having insurance hasn’t changed that fact one bit.  But, what is a determiner in who may or may not get to see a doctor is how much that doctor gets reimbursed for his/her work.  And Medicaid is cutting that amount by about 43%.  That means doctors will likely opt out of seeing Medicaid patients (or at least new ones).  In essence then, not much changes in the real world despite the utopian plans of our betters.  While more may have insurance, emergency rooms will be the “primary care” unit for most and “preventive care”, a supposed goal of this abomination we call ObamaCare, is still a fantasy without realization.  Funny how ignoring immutable facts (number of doctors and how humans respond to incentive or lack thereof) always ends up with predictable results.

Bah … enough.  I’m supposed to be taking a break.

See you next year.  In the meantime, happy New Year!

~McQ

 

 

 

Poverty at 50 year high, labor participation at 36 year low – we need more low wage workers!

It simply doesn’t make sense in any sort of context that says the job of the President of the United States is to look after the welfare of the country’s citizens:

The official U.S. unemployment rate has indeed fallen steadily during the past few years, but the economic recovery has created the fewest jobs relative to the previous employment peak of any prior recovery. The labor-force participation rate recently touched a 36-year low of 62.7%. The number of Americans not in the labor force set a record high of 92.6 million in September. Part-time work and long-term unemployment are still well above levels from before the financial crisis.

Worse, middle-class incomes continue to fall during the recovery, losing even more ground than during the December 2007 to June 2009 recession. The number in poverty has also continued to soar, to about 50 million Americans. That is the highest level in the more than 50 years that the U.S. Census has been tracking poverty. Income inequality has risen more in the past few years than at any recent time.

The true indicator of the actual unemployment rate is the labor participation rate. It is at a 36 year low. The fudged numbers used by the US government hides the actual depth of joblessness problem. And, frankly, it’s a “buyers market” in the labor market. Lots of labor competition for few jobs. That’s one reason you don’t see incomes rising and you do see underemployed Americans.

So let’s introduce about 5 million illegal workers from other countries and enable them to compete in an already depressed labor market and while we’re at it, let’s agitate for a raise in the minimum wage.

Mind blown.  How do you square that sort of action with your oath of office if you’re the President of the United States?

Idiot-in-chief.

~McQ

The media strikes back

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise:

Several networks won’t be carrying President Obama’s prime-time address on immigration Thursday night from the White House.

ABC, CBS and Fox are saying they won’t air the president’s speech live; NBC also reportedly isn’t planning to carry his address.

With polls saying that only 38% of Americans support his intent to use his executive power to provide amnesty to a portion of illegal aliens here in the US, there’s certainly no ratings upside to televising it.  And, in fact, there may be a little payback involved:

There was also griping among the White House press corps Wednesday at Mr. Obama using a Facebook video post to announce the timing of tonight’s address, rather than using the traditional media.

A television correspondent asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest if the move was “a thank you” to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who helped launch the immigration reform advocacy group FWD.us that is aiding the administration’s push for immigration changes.

Mr. Earnest denied the White House was playing favorites with Facebook, but said it was a good way to reach the president’s audience.

“The good news is that the wires, the networks and the press corp are all on Facebook,” Mr. Earnest said. “We don’t have to choose.”

The denial comes as no particular surprise – this administration denies everything.  As for choice, the White House did choose, and it chose to snub the White House press corps and the networks.  Apparently it finds their reaction to the snub problematic.

White House officials are expressing annoyance with the networks’ decision, saying that all major networks aired a prime-time address by Republican President George W. Bush in 2006 when he announced the deployment of national guard troops at the U.S-Mexico border.

Well perhaps that was because the Bush administration included the networks in its announcement of his speech.  The fact that the big 4 (if NBC refuses to carry it as well) are not going to carry it doesn’t mean it can’t be seen live if you’re so inclined to view it:

Two networks with Hispanic audiences, Univision and Telemundo, will air the president’s address live. CNN, MSNBC and PBS also plan to broadcast live.

But the bottom line of this little dust up is it appears that at least some of the networks are willing to strike back a bit at the White House press operation and it’s treatment of an unhappy White House press corps.  Now if we could get some actual unbiased and factual coverage from that press corps that would be a bonus.  Being water carriers hasn’t worked out very well for them, has it?

~McQ

For Senate Dems, ideological loyalty trumps collegiality

Desperate for something positive to put before Louisiana voters prior to her Senate run-off, Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu is looking for an apparently illusive 60th Senate vote – from her Democratic colleagues.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and other supporters of the Keystone XL oil pipeline are stuck at 59 votes — one vote shy of the supermajority they need to move their bill forward on Tuesday.

Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said Monday that they would vote against moving forward with the legislation, making it unclear whether supporters had a path to the magic number of 60.

Rockefeller had appeared to be one of the last possible converts Monday evening, and supporters were pressuring the retiring senator to join their side.

But he told reporters on Monday that he was firmly against the proposed pipeline: “I’ll be voting ‘no,’ ” he said.

Landrieu seems to think she has it, but the numbers don’t add up, at least at this point.  There may still be some hope for her, but it is slim:

Every Republican in the Senate is expected to back the measure, and 10 Democrats have signed on to legislation that Landrieu is sponsoring, along with Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.).

Sens. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) have also promised Landrieu that they will vote in favor of the pipeline, which would carry fuel from the Alberta oil sands in Canada to the Gulf Coast.

That gives Landrieu a firm 59 votes, but it’s not enough to move forward.

With Rockefeller a “no,” the best hope for Landrieu might be Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine), who told reporters on Monday that he is leaning against the measure.

Noting that he could be a pivotal vote, King also said of the roll call vote on Tuesday: “Wait till they get to the Ks.”

Sen. Chris Coons, who was previously considered a firm “no” on the Keystone vote has been talking to Landrieu about the bill.

“He cares for Senator Landrieu a lot, so he’s listening to what she has to say,” Coon’s spokesman Ian Koski said in an email Monday evening.

“But I have no reason to believe his position has changed,” Koski added.

And, of course, even if she does manage to convert one of those two, which seems unlikely, there’s Obama:

Even if the legislation is approved by the Senate, however, it is likely to be vetoed by Obama.

He said last week that lawmakers should not “short-circuit” the federal review of the pipeline that is already underway.

“I’ve been clear in the past. … My position hasn’t changed, that this is a process that is supposed to be followed,” Obama said at a press conference in Burma.

This is Obama thinking he’s playing “hard ball”.  In fact, it is Obama playing his favorite game, throwing someone under the bus.  So it’s likely “good bye Senator Landrieu”.  The fact that Keystone would create jobs in a down economy is moot.  Ideology trumps.  And it is much more important, after the drubbing the voters gave the green agenda early in the month, to keep the Tom Steyers of the world happy than it is to support one unimportant Senator in a mostly red state anyway.  Her reward for voting for and supporting ObamaCare in the Senate?  Stiffed in her hour of need by her party.  Irony.

Landrieu, naturally, will blame her pending loss on the “racism” and “sexism” of the South – after serving 18 years in the Senate.

~McQ

Immigration: Political integrity, or the lack thereof

In his 2006 book, “The Audacity of Hope”,  then Senator Barack Obama laid out the argument against illegal immigration:

“[T]here’s no denying that many blacks share the same anxieties as many whites about the wave of illegal immigration flooding our Southern border—a sense that what’s happening now is fundamentally different from what has gone on before.”

”Not all these fears are irrational,” he wrote.

“The number of immigrants added to the labor force every year is of a magnitude not seen in this country for over a century,” Obama noted. “If this huge influx of mostly low-skill workers provides some benefits to the economy as a whole—especially by keeping our workforce young, in contrast to an increasingly geriatric Europe and Japan—it also threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans and put strains on an already overburdened safety net.”

So why is he now contemplating doing, in a down economy with high unemployment and high deficits (and stretched welfare system), exactly what he previously claimed was harmful to America and its workers?  Has he somehow “evolved” in his thinking to a belief that his logically sound 2006 argument is now poppycock?  That flooding the US with immigrant workers will somehow keep wages up and not put a strain on the “already overburdened safety net?”  It seems pretty counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

But then, let us not forget that this is the guy who condemned George W. Bush for his use of executive orders and executive overreach and promised not to do it if he were elected to the presidency:

 “I taught constitutional law for ten years. I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems that were facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all, and that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President of the United States of America.”

Of course, he hasn’t “reverse[d]” it, has he?  And past public polls have shown an overwhelming majority of Americans don’t support the use of executive orders to circumvent Congress (and let us not forget that he had an overwhelming Democratic majority for his first two years in office and essentially ignored the immigration issue).

Ross Douthat summarizes:

So there is no public will at work here. There is only the will to power of this White House.

Which is why the thinking liberal’s move, if this action goes forward, will be to invoke structural forces, flaws inherent in our constitutional order, to justify Obama’s unilateralism. This won’t be a completely fallacious argument: Presidential systems like ours have a long record, especially in Latin America, of producing standoffs between executive and legislative branches, which tends to make executive power grabs more likely. In the United States this tendency has been less dangerous — our imperial presidency has grown on us gradually; the worst overreaches have often been rolled back. But we do seem to be in an era whose various forces — our open-ended post-9/11 wars, the ideological uniformity of the parties — are making a kind of creeping caudillismo more likely.

But if that evil must come, woe to the president who chooses it. And make no mistake, the president is free to choose. No immediate crisis forces his hand; no doom awaits the country if he waits. He once campaigned on constitutionalism and executive restraint; he once abjured exactly this power. There is still time for him to respect the limits of his office, the lines of authority established by the Constitution, the outcome of the last election.

Or he can choose the power grab, and the accompanying disgrace.

And there’s little doubt, he will choose the latter and further add to his reputation as someone who has no political integrity at all.

~McQ

If anyone else did this, it would be prosecuted as “FRAUD”!

Actually, the “American voter” wasn’t as stupid, as Jonathan Gruber claimed, because, as he admits numerous times, they had to resort to outright fraud to get the ACA past those voters.  Brian Faughnan summarizes:

So Gruber is previously on the record saying Obamacare subsidies are available ONLY in states that set up exchanges – not in all states. He has also said the law was sold in a deceptive way to fool stupid voters. Now we see him claim that the Affordable Care Act was actually a way to get rid of employer-provided health care, but it had to be done secretly so the American people would go along with it:

“It turns out politically it’s really hard to get rid of,” Gruber said. “And the only way we could get rid of it was first by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people when we all know it’s a tax on people who hold those insurance plans…

Gruber explains that by drafting the bill this way, they were able to pass something that would initially only impact some employer plans though it would eventually hit almost every employer plan. And by that time, those who object to the tax will be obligated to figure out how to come up with the money that repealing the tax will take from the treasury, or risk significantly adding to the national debt.

“What that means is the tax that starts out hitting only 8% of the insurance plans essentially amounts over the next 20 years essentially getting rid of the exclusion for employer sponsored plans,” Gruber said.

But to these ethically crippled jerks, it’s not fraud, it’s “clever(ness)”:

A video that surfaced this week shows Gruber telling a Rhode Island audience in 2012 how the feds will collect a tax on high-end policies without families realizing they’re actually paying the tax via insurers: “(I)t’s a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.”

Basic “exploitation” – comforting to know that your government actually and purposely was deceitful with the aim of  fooling the public into accepting something the law wasn’t.  Name a fraudster anywhere who doesn’t think he’s “clever”.

Now tell me — what do we usually call such attempts?

FRAUD.

And what do we do with those who attempt to defraud the public?

We put them in jail.

But, you know, that would be “accountability”.

We apparently don’t do “accountability” in the US.  So fraudsters are free to brag about how they did what they did without worrying about facing any consequences.

And the left – well, here’s what they’re worried about:

Former White House press secretary Jay Carney told CNN that Gruber’s remarks in general were “very harmful politically to the president.”

~McQ

It’s not about “climate change”, it’s about power and control

Concerning “climate change” and Obama’s “deal” with China, Roger L. Simon nails it:

1. Most Americans don’t think Obama tells the truth about anything, let alone something as controversial as climate. They just made that clear by voting him down in about 237 elections, if you believe Obama’s own assertion that his own policies were on trial.

2. No one really knows if “climate change” exists or, if it does, whether its danger is remotely worth the money to correct it, although we do know that “global warming” has not occurred for eighteen years and counting and there is, if anything, global cooling with record lows being set everywhere, the Antarctic ice cap also at record levels, etc.  (Yes, yes, climate is not weather, blablabla.  Climate is… anything you want to say it is.)

3.  Anyone who still believes in “climate change” is likely to be:  a. a profiteer (like the financial wizards who put together those “carbon exchanges” a few years back, making off with billions before they went belly up), b. a scientist looking for a handout,  c. a bureaucrat or official of a Third World country looking for a handout, d. an official of the UN (virtually the same as c),  e. a moral narcissist, preferably rich, who thinks he knows better than us idiots, scientific training not required (cf. Tom Steyer, this year’s George Soros wannabe),  f. a true-believing liberal camp follower of the sort that doesn’t care when Nancy Pelosi says you have to pass Obamacare in order to know what’s in it (this is the largest group), or g. a journalist blinded by panic about losing their job if they dare to tell even part of the truth or wander off the reservation.

However it is the opponents of this scam who are reviled and called “deniers”.

The fact is, there is no proof that what the alarmists fear exists or will exist.  Science doesn’t support their hypothesis and reality doesn’t support the conclusions of their modeling.  But the man who said that “science” would take precedence in his administration has yet to demonstrate that.  This is about control.  Power.  This is the crew that would tell you every step of the way how you should live your life.  They’ve now gotten their claws into your healthcare.  And this helps them control what energy you use and, by the way, literally creates a revenue stream out of thin air.  Revenue streams are important, because that’s one way they exert their control.

As for China – they too know this man as Simon points out:

How do the Chinese figure in all this? Since they break into practically every computer we own, we can assume they also read our newspapers and watch Fox News (maybe even MSNBC, Heaven help them).  Besides Obama’s being a lame duck who was clobbered in the last election, they are fully aware of his myriad lies and prevarications from “If like your plan…” to red lines in Syria.  No one trusts him, even members of his own party.

The Chinese therefore know any deal with Obama is just for show, meaningless.  But to make doubly sure, they arranged for the language in the agreement to say “intend” to reduce their emissions by such-and-such by 2020 — “intend,” the mother of all wiggle words.  (I “intend” to win the Oscar in 2016, even though I have not written the script yet.) Actually, the Chinese, as usual, did a brilliant job of using Obama for their own propaganda, knowing full well that he was desperate to be back in the news for something positive, preferably as far from D.C. as possible.

January, 2017 can’t come soon enough.

~McQ