Free Markets, Free People

Obama Administration

The content of a man’s kitchen

There’s a lot of internetness going on over Jay Carney and the choice of posters in his kitchen.

Priorities people….but what the hell, it’s Sunday morning and I’m not cranky yet.  Maybe I will be when I’m done  :roll: .

Apart from the choice of Soviet Era posters that Joe Stalin may have had the originals of in his garage or basement pool room let’s take a visual tour of the rest of the place.

First let us note, admire, and praise the skill of his son flipping that egg, and timing it all so his sister can point at it at precisely the right instant for the camera.   Come on people, that’s pretty awesome.   How many of you have TRIED to flip an egg in the pan?    That boy got some serious hang time there, and I have to assume it’s still going up because the egg hasn’t even rotated over yet.  AND I want to be there when that still runny yoke smacks into the pan from that height as Newton’s laws do their thing when it comes back down.   Ah, good times, good times…..

Second, I hope the Carneys (Given this photo, can I spell it Carnies? That joke never runs out does it.) enjoy the repast they’ve laid out.  When Michelle gets wind of the sugar laden carbo loaded feast for two dozen that the four (I’ve allowed for the photographer) are about to settle down to she’s going to have words with Jimbo about healthy diets.

Food to the left of them,
food to the, uh, even further left of them,
food behind them.
Stacked and plated,
sliced up with special care,
boldly it sits, all there,
gather ye world, and stare.
No spot on the counter bare,
none of them have bed hair,
displaying their hominess flair,
the family of Carney.

Let’s see – nice plate of butter sticks, looks to be about two pounds, poached eggs in cups, bananas just in the left of the frame, blueberries strewn across the counter closing in on one infidel strawberry, sliced bread plates, a tray of bagels, stacks of muffins, stacks of Danish.   I can’t tell if that’s an entire cheese cake covered with strawberries, or a massive bowl of said fruit.

Yep, life must be goooooooo-oood at the Carney house if that’s a normal breakfast layout.   Maybe there’s a slew of undocumented maids off camera that will be eating after the Carney family is finished picking over this smorgasbord buffet pastry collection that wiped out the local bakeries’ stock for the morning.  I’m surprised they’re all so healthy looking if that’s what they normally lay out.   What about the hungry?  What about the poor?  That’s a lot of cash, well, for me it is, laying out in baked goods that are going to get stale before noon.  I’d swear they were feeding way more than 4 people.  I’ve seen local computer user group meetings where that layout would be the first go round as the vultures, uh, participants, arrived for the 8:00 am opening.

I don’t know, maybe those pastries were provided by ‘green’ bakers looking to schmooze Jay so he’ll put in a good word with the boss for the next big payoff, I uh mean of course, stimulus package.   I don’t really care what Jay does with his paycheck, that’s his business, but, dude, kinda wasteful, no?  Maybe that’s just the deep down stingy Yankee in me talking.  Maybe it’s the jealous guy who’s fighting off and losing against the advance of his stomach over the belt border line.    Maybe I’m just a racist who resents imported possibly undocumented Danish pastry taking the jobs of American baking powder biscuits and corn muffins.   I think I’m suffering class envy!

As I write this I am link hunting, and discovered Noah Rothman’s most excellent de-construction of this, and other pictures I didn’t know existed.   I’ll leave this to Mr. Rothman now, read his piece.   I can’t top his, but I am encouraged to see several of the observations he made were ones I made myself.

Where I was going anyway was what disturbs me, and still does despite Rothman’s wonderful take down is that THIS is what it takes to piss people off.   THIS is what we talk about around the table, at the water cooler, wherever. We’re not pissed enough that they might be listening in to our phone calls and reading our emails and accessing our computers.  We’re not angry enough that they’re ignoring, inventing and mis-enforcing the laws, that they’re using executive branch agencies to clamp down on every conceivable corner of our way of life while they plot new ways to stuff us in neat little demographic pens.  Where they can pander and feed and water and house us while they whip up our anger against the people two pens down because they have a bigger pen than we do.   They give us a new ball to keep an eye on in a never ending shell game while they pick our pockets and divide us for their own ends.

We riot over whether or not our team loses in the NCAA, heck, we may riot if they win.  We worry and grouse, and demand action against “the rich”, without stopping to wonder whether or not we’re ‘rich’ to the guy on the other side of the tracks.

Especially pernicious is their use of race to deflect and divert justifiable criticism of their policies as they work to divide us.  Focusing on what makes us different while claiming they want us to embrace and accept everyone in harmony.

Based on the photos, with the exception of the posters (kinda scary really)  I guess they want us to judge people based on the content of their kitchen.

Imperial White House cancels Medicare Advantage cuts to help Dems in mid-terms

The White House has once again bowed to screaming Democrats worried about the mid-term elections and this time cancelled cuts to Medicare Advantage. As you recall, these cuts were made to pay for ObamaCare:

The Obama administration announced Monday that planned cuts to Medicare Advantage would not go through as anticipated amid election-year opposition from congressional Democrats.

The cuts would have reduced benefits that seniors receive from health plans in the program, which is intended as an alternative to Medicare.

Under cuts planned by the administration, insurers offering the plans were to see their federal payments reduced by 1.9 percent, which likely would have necessitated cuts for customers.
Instead, the administration said the federal payments to insurers will increase next year by .40 percent.

The healthcare law included $200 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage over 10 years, in part to pay for ObamaCare.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) said that the cuts weren’t necessary because of an “an increase in healthy beneficiaries under Medicare.” That, of course, makes little sense. Medicare is a mandatory insurance program for people 65 and older. How that demographic suddenly got “healthier” remains a mystery, but there you have the “reason” for the decision. Well, that and mid-term elections.

As for cost, someone needs to explain how ObamaCare is to be funded if the mechanisms set in place to pay for it keep getting delayed or cancelled.

When CBO analysts most recently looked at the gross cost of expanding Medicaid and giving subsidies to individuals to purchase insurance through the new exchanges — the bulk of the law’s spending — they came up with slightly more than $2 trillion for 2015 through 2024.

After deducting some offsets from the law — such as penalty payments from employers and individuals due to insurance mandates — CBO estimated the net cost at nearly $1.5 trillion.

The CBO hasn’t done a standalone deficit analysis on Obamacare since 2012, but at that time, its analysts estimated the law would reduce deficits by $109 billion, once all tax increases, cuts to Medicare and other savings are taken into account.

When referring to the “cost” of Obamacare, the fair thing to do is cite the $2 trillion figure — and no, that isn’t just because it’s a higher number. The gross figure represents how much the federal government will have to spend on expanding coverage through Obamacare, at least according to the CBO. If the government weren’t spending $2 trillion on insurance coverage, that’s money that could be going to reducing the deficit, spending more on infrastructure or a host of other theoretical policies.

As mentioned above, that $2 trillion cost had about $500 billion in offsets. But the penalty payments from employers and individuals has been delayed and now the $200 billion in Medicare Advantage cuts/offsets is cancelled, or so says the imperial presidency. That, of course, doesn’t change the cost, it only increases it.

Short term political pandering aimed at winning elections as usual from this administration. Ironically, it has been more effective than the Republicans in dismantling portions of the atrocity known as ObamaCare. So, thanks to the mid-terms, Republicans get one of the cuts they wanted reversed cancelled. Of course they won’t get credit for it – but then that’s the plan isn’t it?

And, this is all likely temporary anyway, even though the White House and Dems won’t spin it as so:

“The changes CMS included in the final rate notice will help mitigate the impact on seniors, but the Medicare Advantage program is still facing a reduction in payment rates next year on top of the 6 percent cut to payments in 2014,” said [AHIP] president Karen Ignagni.

But it will get them through the election cycle, won’t it?

~McQ

Another reason you should never believe a thing this administration says

Because, as we’ve learned over the years, it’s likely either spin, just not true or both.

For instance, we have the President claiming victory for ObamaCare because it has 7.1 million enrollments.  Note the word – “enrollments”:

‘The goal we’ve set for ourselves – that no American should go without the health care they need … is achievable,’ Obama declared.

The president took no questions from reporters, but celebrated the end of a rocky six-month open-enrollment period by taking pot shots at Republicans who have opposed the law from the beginning as a government-run seizure of one-seventh of the U.S. economy.

‘The debate over repealing this law is over,’ he insisted. ‘The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.’

And, as is usual with this man, he simply declared he’d won and simply threw out “facts” that haven’t at all proven true. Essentially lies in a bigger lie:

‘“The bottom line is this,’ said Obama: ‘The share of Americans with insurance is up, and the growth in the cost of insurance is down. There’s no good reason to go back.’

Of course the “share of Americans” with insurance isn’t up (over 7 million lost their insurance when their plans didn’t qualify under ObamaCare) and costs are certainly not “down”.

Jay “Baghdad Bob” Carney took it from there (Carney is a perfect name for the position, he’s like a carnival barker):

‘At midnight last night we surpassed everyone’s expectations,’ he boasted, ‘at least everyone in this room.’

While he took great pains to emphasize that the total would grow – saying ‘we’re still waiting on data from state exchanges’ – he dodged tough questions about other statistics that reporters thought he should have had at the ready.

Those numbers included how many Americans have paid for their insurance policies, and are actually insured. Also, he had no answer to the thorny question of how few signups represented people who had no insurance before the Affordable Care Act took effect.

But as usual, when ever they drop something like this in a news cycle, the devil is in the details.  For instance, an unpublished RAND study that suggests that relatively speaking, very few of the enrollees were previously uninsured:

The unpublished RAND study – only the Los Angeles Times has seen it – found that just 23 per cent of new enrollees had no insurance before signing up.

And of those newly insured Americans, just 53 per cent have paid their first month’s premiums.

If those numbers hold, the actual net gain of paid policies among Americans who lacked medical insurance in the pre-Obamacare days would be just 858,298.

So effectively, assuming the numbers are correct, less than a million are newly insured.  And, as we’ve read in the past, most of them are Medicaid subscribers.

In other words, we’ve gone through all this hell, all this disruption, the higher costs, the lesser insurance plans, the IRS enforcement, etc. just to enroll 858,298 people – most of whom have ended up on a program that existed prior to this atrocity.

Perhaps the biggest laugh line of all, however, comes from David Axelrod, who declared that ObamaCare was totally going to change “the attitude that government can’t do anything“.  Of course he only felt comfortable saying that on MSNBC.  One can certainly understand why.

Meanwhile, for the most part, the RAND study goes unpublished and, for the most part, unexamined.  The King has declared victory – the big lie has been established – debate over.

~McQ

Roosting chickens and Obama

Michael Goodwin at the NY Post writes up a pretty damning summary of Barack Obama’s time in office as President of the United States.  One of the primary criticisms of candidate Obama was that he’d never really done anything of note.  He’d never run a company or tried to meet a payroll, deal with government regulations, etc.  He was, critics cautioned, a politically driven empty suit.  Even his experience in politics was minimal.  Every political office he held he used as a platform to run for the next highest office, accomplishing little or nothing at each stop.

Those are his “chickens” and they’re certainly coming home to roost:

Obama’s sixth year in the White House is shaping up as his worst, and that’s saying something. He’s been in the Oval Office so long that it is obscene to blame his problems on George W. Bush, the weather or racism. Obama owns the world he made, or more accurately, the world he tried to remake.

Nothing important has worked as promised, and there is every reason to believe the worst is yet to come. The president’s casual remark the other day that he worries about “a nuclear weapon ­going off in Manhattan” inadvertently reflected the fear millions of Americans have about his leadership. Not necessarily about a bomb, but about where he is taking the country.

Anyone who looks objectively at these past 6 years has difficulty in saying anything good about the time this administration has been in power.  The lack of real governing experience has left us adrift in a hostile world:

The view from his faculty lounge has no space for reality. Anything that doesn’t fit the grand plan is dismissed as illegitimate. So while global hot spots multiply and the world grows dangerously unstable, the president still plans to slash the military.

Government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and EITC lose hundreds of billions to waste, fraud and abuse, but this administration chooses to balance the budget on the backs of the only institution that is Constitutionally mandated for the defense of the country during a time of extreme danger.  Cognitive dissonance of the highest order.

And his “legacy” piece of legislation, forced through the Democratically controlled congress in the face of popular protest, has been a dismal failure to this point:

ObamaCare is the domestic expression of the president’s ineptitude. The law that was supposed to fix health care has become a problem for millions, and now enjoys mere 26 percent approval, a poll finds. It is proving so unworkable that the White House has given up defending it as written and instead simply changes key provisions when they prove impossible to implement or politically inconvenient.

Change No. 38 came when officials extended the March 31 deadline for signing up. Never mind that those same officials said recently there would be no extension, and that the law wouldn’t allow it.

Presto — the limits on his power are moot because the president says so. Meanwhile, aides claim they don’t know how many of the 6 million who enrolled actually paid for insurance..

Perhaps the most damning quote from Goodwin’s piece is this one which succinctly sums up the Obama experience thus far:

A Caesar at home and a Chamberlain abroad, Obama manages to simultaneously provoke fury and ridicule. He bullies critics here while shrinking from adversaries there.

He divides the country and unites the world against us, ­diminishing the nation in both ways. His reign of error can’t end soon enough, nor can it end well.

The country must weather a little over 2 more years of this awful presidency and hope it survives it somehow.  If it survives it, one has to hope that upon reflection, the voters will realize that electing a president isn’t a beauty contest nor is it a venue within which to make a social statement.  “The first” this or that are not as important as the ability of the candidate to govern competently.  And, it is is certainly not a position in which the incumbent should be engaged in “on the job training”.

Hopefully these lessons have been learned and, in 2016, we’ll see a resurgence of common sense among the voting public.

Yeah, and pigs will fly.

~McQ

The ‘Catch and Release” mandate

Here we are.

Quick hits on the last day you have, had, might have had, to sign up for your ObamaCare insurance.  Curiously a rush of people appeared to sign up that I predict the Administration will report will carry them over the 7 million lost policies, log ons , applications, enrollments payed policy holder goal line.  If anyone can recall 7 million was the original goal when this benevolent plan to help the uninsured portion of the population of the United States started.  We should overlook the percentages of likely to use older and less healthy participants versus the younger will pay and never use participants and the predicted cost curves and such.  If you have a plan and don’t like what they’re offering they promise you can keep your plan.  Ha!  Fooled you!  It’s okay though, your old plan sucked whatever it was and whether you thought it did nor not.

There’s a rumble of war in the east, the Russians will, they won’t, they can’t because we stood up to them, occupy Ukraine, or eastern Ukraine, and will maybe go so far as to establish casino dominance in the Crimea.  Take that Winstar Casino!  But Putin is now in a box owing to the stringent actions of the EU and the US to contain his aggressive ADHD driven tendencies.  And owing to the President’s our ever watchful eye we have Putin’s army where we want it now.

At the pump gas prices are consistently higher over time under the current administration than the previous administration.  But not the highest single spike and that’s what’s important.  We can assume the personal finances of the President are secure as it was a well documented fact during the Bush administration that upticks in gas prices are the result of the President’s holdings in oil companies and his desire to make sure his retirement fund is well padded.  Harry Reid said that when they rose under Bush, or someone said they heard Harry Reid say someone said that.    Meanwhile in another energy independent decisive policy act the President is going to render a decision on the job creating, oil providing,  Keystone pipeline at any moment.  If you click on those links, you might want to jot down the dates on the articles for reference and hilarity.  Continued samples of the brilliant ultra decisive actions we’ve come to expect from this President.

Environmentally the administration is rolling out a new plan to deal with global warming.    It’s likely this plan will establish policies to deal with dangers such as earth quakes, meteor strikes, comets and other ill portents all suspected to be linked to man made catastrophic global warming by the consensus science community.  Officially known as the American Economy Wrecking plan Climate Action Plan, they should consider calling it Obamafarts as a sort of short catchy handle that will appeal to the millenials almost as much as Pajama Boy did.

Speaking of American youth, they continued this last weekend to demonstrate their anger over being spied on, lied to and future taxed into oblivion by focusing on what’s important the same way the President uses his laser like focus to solve the country’s problems.   Such a trend could, in as little as 300 years, lead to as broad a nationwide protest to the current government policies as was seen in the 60’s and 70’s during America’s involvement in Vietnam,  though the former Soviet Union would need to rise up again and send us more campus agitators.

Finally the President’s 4 point approach to deal with America’s immigration problem is showing very positive signs in at least 2 of the 4 parts.    Coupled with his crack down on companies that hire illegals, it was shown over the weekend by an independent study of ICE’s activities that the President can safely add the title “Deporter in Chief” to his list of accomplishments.    We’re calling this latest ‘by Presidential order’  approach the “Catch and Release” mandate.   It’s thought highly likely that once the mid-term elections are over the Administration (and the Republicans) will step up their efforts on part 3, “Streamlining Immigration” by declaring any individuals, living or deceased, in the continental US, it’s states, or territories on Jan 1st 2015 be recognized officially as American citizens. The President may extend the deadline to January 15th 2015 for those who thought about coming to the US, but couldn’t make it before the cutoff date.

Have a great day America.

UPDATE – April 1st

As my two Great Danes could have predicted – “With daily volumes continuing to surge, analysts believe the final tally could approach or even exceed an original goal of 7 million”

Now, don’t let the fact that the system was down for a good portion of the day deceive you.   This “surprising” come back was destined, written, fated, according to prophecy, etc.

I wish the numbers in my checking account were as flexible as the numbers used by the Obama Administration.

Russia, Afghanistan and the US: A changing of the guard

Earlier in the week, former SecDef Donald Rumsfeld had some rather harsh words to say about the current administration’s relationship with Afghanistan.

“Our relationship with Karzai and with Afghanistan was absolutely first-rate in the Bush administration,” Rumsfeld told Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren on Monday. “It has gone down hill like a toboggan ever since the Obama administration came in.”

Rumsfeld pointed to the fact that the Obama administration has failed to get Karzai to sign an agreement that would allow some U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014, when combat ends.

The U.S. has status of forces agreements with more than a hundred countries, Rumsfeld noted. “A trained ape can get a status of forces agreement,” he said. “It does not take a genius. And we have so mismanaged that relationship.”

Now I’m not going to go for the troll about that being a “racist statement”.  Neither of our SecStates or SecDefs were/are black and that’s who would be charged with getting a SOFA agreement.  Rumsfeld’s right.  The relationship has dramatically and drastically changed.  And he’s also right about why:

“And what happened is, the United States government — and I realize these are tough jobs, being president or secretary of state. But, by golly, they have trashed Karzai publicly over and over and over — (Richard) Holbrooke, the special envoy did, Vice President Biden did, Secretary Hillary Clinton has. The president has been unpleasant to him.

“And it seems to me they pushed him in a political box where he really has very little choice. I think there is probably not a politician in the world who dealing with the United States, instead of having the United States deal with him privately through private diplomacy, came out repeatedly, publicly, in an abusive, unpleasant, manner. And I personally sympathize with him to some extent.”

Again, he’s precisely right.  This administration did all it could … in public … to poison the relations.  And yes, Afghanistan is likely corrupt and Karzai as well, but that’s nothing new there.  Karzai was installed by the Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga (assembly).  He’s their president.  It’s a tribal culture.  Figure it out for heaven sake … oh, and keep in mind the big picture instead of playing small ball.

Anyway, these sorts of actions cause reactions and have consequences.  The latest?

Citing “the free will of the Crimean people,” Karzai’s office said, “We respect the decision the people of Crimea took through a recent referendum that considers Crimea as part of the Russian Federation.” To date, only Syria and Venezuela have taken a similar position.

Does it embarrass the US publicly?  You bet.  And that’s precisely why Karzai did it (or it is at least one of the reasons he did it).  And, there’s more:

“In Afghanistan, Russian officials point to their development activities as a counterexample to U.S. aid projects, which many Afghans criticize as wasteful and misguided. . . . Many Afghans, including President Hamid Karzai, praise the Soviet model even though they fought a bloody 10-year war against the country’s army, which invaded in 1979 to support an unpopular communist government.

“The Soviet money went to the right place. They were efficient in spending their money and doing it through the Afghan government,” Karzai said in an interview with The Washington Post this month.

Yes, there’s likely corruption. Yes the “Afghan government” is likely getting its hands on some of that money. But when in Rome, and looking for particular results, maybe knowing what to expect in such a culture and a willingness to play the game might turn out better results (and be cheaper) in the long run that trying to go around the incumbent government and forcing yourself on the population. You know, just a thought … which, apparently is more than our State Department commits to Afghanistan anymore.

Funny, in an ironic sense, isn’t it? “We welcome our former overlords”.

Outplayed by Russia … again.

~McQ

The White House resource link

I thought I’d, you know, take a tour of QandO.   A real tour, of things I might use more than once every year, because prior to this my ramblings seldom needed any kind of links or documentation.   That being the case I can report I’ve poked around in the wardrobes, steamer trunks and closets here back stage, and God help them they’ve given me access to all kinds of things. :mrgreen:

While I was puttering around in the right hand column, I noticed ‘resources’ (“which”, says the narrator in my head “he’s seen and even used before but didn’t bother to make note of….”).

Bottom of that list….”White House”.   Yep.  The White House.   I stopped trying to learn about QandO and clicked it.  Attention span of a gnat I swear.

The White House.

I was greeted by the count-down clock for the destruction of the world, err, I mean the amount of time people have left to enroll in the mandatory health care system before the deadline is arbitrarily extend  by the President on the afternoon of March 30th because not enough people will have enrolled.   We may only need another 15% of the country to sign up anyway.  What’s that you say?

Keep reading.

Slightly down the page there’s a tab – Engage and Connect – Opening the doors to the White House.   Where it says “President Obama is committed to making this the most open and participatory administration in history.”  That brought forth a friendly chuckle, and I had to know more.    Ah, that zany transparency thing again, such kidders.   Now I would learn how I could participate.  Clicking on the link, I saw two more links under ‘participate’ – “We are a nation of immigrants” and “Speak out in support of Health Care Reform”.   Apparently we are not asked to participate if we want to speak out against Health Care Reform, that isn’t particularly surprising, but I thought showhow it might be helpful to mention it here.

I clicked We are a nation of immigrants.  They generously offered to let me give them my own immigrant story, which they can probably get from the NSA or FBI or my sister’s ancestry.com account, so I declined to give it to them again to avoid duplication.  A link says the President is committed to common-sense reform that fixes our broken immigration system.  Have you ever noticed it’s always going to be a common-sense reform?  Phew, I thought he was for some crazy radical scheme like handing out citizenship to 11 million or so people who snuck into the country illegally!

Now we were getting somewhere!   Four points, four simple points.    Border Security, Strengthening enforcement, Earned Citizenship and Streamlining Immigration.

1st point, Border Security – Beef up the borders.  We now have more agents, specifically on the Canadian border. Probably to keep undocumented Canadian rodeo riders, country western singers and actors from sneaking in, though it doesn’t really say.  I can’t tell how many agents…both numbers 3800 and 2200 are mentioned so maybe it’s 6000, agents now, but yeah!   The site goes on to say we’ve doubled the number of agents nationwide since 2004, up to 21,000.  By default, we may then assume we have more on the southern border too.  No, we must assume because the numbers were a little vague.   By ‘a little vague’, I mean nonexistent.

They didn’t say anything specifically about the increase of coverage on the southern border.  Just that we had more boots on the ground.  I presume we have people wearing the boots and didn’t just sort of scatter empty ones from Port Isabel to San Diego.   Then again, it did say we’re using technologies to secure the land and maritime border.  Maybe we have special sensors in empty boots that detect doctors, engineers and web programmers as they attempt to sneak in across our southern land border.   They don’t mention if we have floating boot buoys at sea to keep zodiac boats full of undocumented physicists from sneaking in along the Gulf coast.   Well, that was a good start anyway.  I assume these are the professions of people who have already breached the border, because the Chamber of Commerce and the High Tech companies  seem very keen to grant them all amnesty for their undocumented transgression, NOW.

2nd Point, Strengthening Enforcement – ah, big heading here says “Cracking down on Employers Hiring Undocumented Workers”.  This deserves the copied quote:

– “It means cracking down more forcefully on businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers…most businesses want to do the right thing… So we need to implement a national system that allows businesses to quickly and accurately verify someone’s employment status. And if they still knowingly hire undocumented workers, then we need to ramp up the penalties.”

President Barack Obama, January 29, 2013

Apparently we need a national system to check you out Ivan Ivanovitch, when you apply for a job, to make sure you’re here legally.  It needs to be a national database.  Fraud resistant tamper proof identification, which of course won’t be used for you to vote in elections, that would be wrong to disenfranchise you and only a racist would suggest such a thing.  It will be required when you get a job at, 7-eleven, or McDonalds or Lockheed Martin or Booz Allen Hamilton.  A nagging voice in my mind keeps mumbling about some national data collection thingy or other that was an overwhelming success in October of last year.

Anyway…

Penalties for hiring illegals will be significantly increased!   Hurrah!  Take that Koch brothers!  Take that Mitt Romney!  I don’t know that any of them hire illegals, unless Harry Reid says he heard someone say they did.  All this made me wonder what weak worthless penalties we currently have in place for companies that hire illegal, I mean, undocumented, workers.

So I did a web search “penalties for illegal hiring” and the very first hit on Google says – Obama eases penalties for businesses hiring illegal immigrants.

Well, that took the wind out of my sails.  Well, that and seeing them being called illegal instead of undocumented even on the White House web site.

There were 4 items listed on how we’re going to fix immigration, and when I checked just one with sources other than the White House, it proved to be, uh, like saying I could keep my insurance plan if I liked it.  25% of the plan the White House is talking about is already crap and I haven’t even finished looking at half of it yet (which means 50% of the plan I do know about is crap).

So I stopped.   That was sooooo disappointing.

There’s obviously a rogue intern at work here, or a low level functionary from Cincinnati.  I considered sending a note to the President so he didn’t have to find out on the 6:00 PM news on Friday that someone in his administration wasn’t on the same page he was and was making him look silly on the White House web page.  He’d be very angry, no one would be angrier.

Maybe I’d have better luck with “Speak out in support of Health Care reform”

I clicked the link.   Ah there’s a nice picture of the President, sitting at a kitchen table…with a bunch of people who look like Tea Partiers…and a skin-head!!!  Maybe it’s just the camera angle, maybe that guy has some hair on the back of his head, maybe it’s the edge of a NAZI tattoo!  Lord! Nary a Secret Service agent in sight!

And the bold caption says “85% of Americans have already benefitted from the Affordable Care Act”.  85% of YOU, because  so far as I know aside from an increased tax burden and higher premiums on a slightly less generous insurance plan, that number does NOT include me.

At this point I couldn’t go further, because I was sort of afraid if I clicked any other White House site links I’d find myself in an odd room with a bottle with a little tag that said  “drink me” and a cake with a note that said “eat me”.

That’s my way of telling you stay away from the White House resource link…..

The most transparent administration in history … not

The Obama White House has quietly rewritten a portion of the Freedom Of Information Act to exclude what it calls “White House equities” from being released without a White House review.  The rewrite was inspired by a 2009 memo by then White House counsel, Greg Craig:

The Greg memo is described in detail in a new study made public today by Cause of Action, a Washington-based nonprofit watchdog group that monitors government transparency and accountability.

How serious an attack on the public’s right to know is the Obama administration’s invention of the “White House equities” exception?

“FOIA is designed to inform the public on government behavior; White House equities allow the government to withhold information from the media, and therefore the public, by having media requests forwarded for review. This not only politicizes federal agencies, it impairs fundamental First Amendment liberties,” Cause of Action explains in its report.

The equities exception is breathtaking in its breadth. As the Greg memo put it, any document request is covered, including “congressional committee requests, GAO requests, judicial subpoenas and FOIA requests.”

And it doesn’t matter what format the documents happen to be in because, according to Greg, the equities exception “applies to all documents and records, whether in oral, paper, or electronic form, that relate to communications to and from the White House, including preparations for such communications.”

What this effectively does is stop federal agencies from answering FOIA requests which might include “White House equities” within the 20 days required by law.  There is no apparent limit to the review time the White House can take with its “review” of such requests.  Since the White House gets to decide what are “White House equities” and how long it will take to review requests which include them, the change effectively neuters the intent of the FOIA law.  This gives the White House the ability to delay release of such information until it is politically beneficial for them to do so (or, in reality, not at all):

In one case cited by Cause of Action, the response to a request from a Los Angeles Times reporter to the Department of the Interior for “communications between the White House and high-ranking Interior officials on various politically sensitive topics” was delayed at least two years by the equities review.

And that isn’t the only department in which such delays have become common:

“Cause of Action is still waiting for documents from 16 federal agencies, with the Department of Treasury having the longest pending request of 202 business days.

“The Department of Energy is a close second at 169 business days. The requests to the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services have been pending for 138 business days,” the report said.

This is what political subversion looks like.  It is also a fairly common example of this administration saying one thing and actually doing the opposite.

Most transparent administration ever.  Another lie worthy of 4 Pinocchios.

~McQ

Prepare for more foreign policy disasters

One of the foreign policy promises Barack Obama made was that during his presidency, America would have a “light footprint” on world affairs. Our first indicator of what that meant was the action in Libya when the US “led from behind”. The Obama administration belived that pulling back from our strong presence and position in the world would help mollify other powers and usher in a new era of peaceful cooperation with America as a partner and not necessarily the leader.

How has that worked out?

Ask Russia, China and a few others:

The White House was taken by surprise by Vladimir V. Putin’s decisions to invade Crimea, but also by China’s increasingly assertive declaration of exclusive rights to airspace and barren islands.

Neither the economic pressure nor the cyberattacks that forced Iran to reconsider its approach have prevented North Korea’s stealthy revitalization of its nuclear and missile programs. In short, America’s adversaries are testing the limits of America’s post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan moment.

“We’re seeing the ‘light footprint’ run out of gas,” said one of Mr. Obama’s former senior national security aides, who would not speak on the record about his ex-boss.

What we’re actually seeing is naivete in foreign policy head toward a predictable conclusion. Foreign policy isn’t bean bag and it has been established many times in history that the retreat of a great power from the world’s stage will see other seemingly lesser powers attempt to fill or take advantage of that power vacuum.

The “light footprint” didn’t “run out of gas”, the light footprint was foreign policy destined for failure from its inception. Mr. Obama and his foreign policy team were warned about that constantly and preferred to ignore both the warnings and history.

Mr. Obama acknowledges, at least in private, that he is managing an era of American retrenchment. History suggests that such eras — akin to what the United States went through after the two world wars and Vietnam — often look like weakness to the rest of the world. His former national security adviser Thomas Donilon seemed to acknowledge the critical nature of the moment on Sunday when he said on “Face the Nation” that what Mr. Obama was facing was “a challenge to the post-Cold War order in Europe, an order that we have a lot to do with.”

But while Mr. Donilon expressed confidence that over time the United States holds powerful tools against Russia and other nations, in the short term challengers like Mr. Putin have the advantage on the ground.

Mr. Obama is managing “an era of American retrenchment” he initiated.

It doesn’t look like a period of weakness to the rest of the world, it is a period of weakness that is compounded by our weak leadership. We’re engaged in bringing our military down to pre-WWII levels and we’ve made it clear that we’re not interested in fulfilling treaty obligations with the likes of the Ukraine. How else would one interpret our actions?

And, of course, one of the best ways we could address this particular crisis is to up our shipments of natural gas to Europe so they weren’t dependent of Russian pipeline supplies that flow through the Ukraine. That would give Europe some leverage because they wouldn’t be held hostage by their need for Russian petro supplies. But on the domestic front, the Obama administration has made building the necessary infrastructure to cash in on our growing natural gas boom almost impossible.

Are Russia and others testing the limits? You bet they are and all of those interested in those limits are watching this drama unfold. To this point, it appears Russia sees no downside to its action. Should that continue to be the case, you can be assured other nations will also “test the limits.”

This is Mr. Obama’s 3am phone call. And it appears he has let it go to the answering machine.

~McQ

How to destroy property rights in one easy lesson

Give government bureaucracy the power to nullify your ownership rights in the name of a “higher good”.

You’re all familiar with the poly.  The WSJ describes it:

In partnership with green activists, the Department of Interior may attempt one of the largest federal land grabs in modern times, using a familiar vehicle—the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A record 757 new species could be added to the protected list by 2018. The two species with the greatest impact on private development are range birds—the greater sage grouse and the lesser prairie chicken, both about the size of a barnyard chicken. The economic stakes are high because of the birds’ vast habitat.

Interior is expected to decide sometime this month whether to list the lesser prairie chicken, which inhabits five western prairie states, as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. Meantime, the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service are considering land-use amendments to protect the greater sage grouse, which would lay the groundwork for an ESA listing next year.

One of the birds resides mostly on federal land (remember, the federal government owns most of the west of the US).  It is on these lands and the little private land there that the sage grouse is found:

The sage grouse is found in 11 western states—California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Most of the areas affected are federal lands routinely used for farming, ranching, mining, road building, water projects and oil and gas drilling.

Ah, gas drilling.  Well here we go:

Interior’s proposed “land use” amendments are draconian. They require a four-mile “buffer zone” whenever a sage-grouse mating ground is discovered on federal land. The American Petroleum Institute calls the proposed rules a “de facto ban on drilling.” It fears that compliance could cost tens of millions of dollars in legal fees and cause years of drilling delays.

Well of course it would.  That’s the whole point.  To make it economically unfeasible to fight this.  Never mind that the technology exists to make the foot print tiny (horizontal drilling), you still have to get permission to do it – time and mucho money.

But that’s on federal land.  How about private land.  Well it just so happens that’s where the prairie chicken comes in (along with the sage grouse).  Any idea of where they’re found?

The prairie chicken sits atop Texas’s Permian Basin oil bonanza, and the sage grouse is near the Bakken Shale in North Dakota.

So a bird that is found in 11 western states is apparently “endangered” and also sits conveniently on one of the most productive finds in modern history (Bakken) and the other bird just happens to be in Texas’ big petroleum find?  How ironic, no?

Politics in the service of activism.  And if the activists don’t get their way?

Environmental groups have won victories by using a strategy called “sue and settle” under which groups propose species for protected status and then sue the federal government, which settles the lawsuit on terms favorable to the greens rather than fight. These settlements typically bypass a thorough review of the scientific evidence and exclude affected parties, such as industry and local communities.

According to Kent Holsinger, a natural resources attorney in Denver heavily involved in these cases, “Wildlife Guardians and Center for Biological Diversity have been party to more than 1,000 lawsuits between 1990 and the present.” The Center for Biological Diversity has made no secret of wanting to end fossil-fuel production in the U.S.

In the case of the Obama administration, it is more likely that this won’t be an antagonistic process, at least where the econuts are concerned.  Instead it will be a cooperative process while they bleed the destroy the concept of private property once and for all.

~McQ