Free Markets, Free People

Politics

New White House priority? Climate change!

Apparently tomorrow, President Obama will “showcase” his climate change agenda.  According to the Washington Post:

After years of putting other policy priorities first — and dismaying many liberal allies in the process — Obama is now getting into the weeds on climate change and considers it one of the key components of his legacy, according to aides and advisers. He is regularly briefed on scientific reports on the issue, including a national climate assessment that he will help showcase Tuesday. He is using his executive authority to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other sources, and is moving ahead with stricter fuel-efficiency standards for the heaviest trucks. And while he routinely brings up climate change in closed-door meetings with world leaders, according to his aides, he also discusses it in his private life, talking about global warming’s implications with his teenage daughters.

As usual, he intends to proceed by using executive power, whether or not the people or their representatives agree.  And also without any consideration of the cost to the consumer.  All in the face of mounting evidence that the supposed crisis of CO2 is a non-crisis. According to the WaPo, this intention to address “climate change” was spurred by Obama viewing satellite pictures of the California mountain snow pack:

The satellite images viewed by President Obama before a meeting with eight Western governors were stark, showing how snowpack in California’s mountains had shrunk by 86 percent in a single year.

Of course, most of us know that’s likely a local weather phenomenon, not a result of “global warming” or we’d be unlikely to be seeing things like this:

Antarctic sea ice continues to set new records, with extent in April at the highest since measurements began in 1979.

Remember, Antarctic and Arctic sea ice melts were to be the harbingers of doom.  In fact, the Arctic was supposed to be ice free last year according to the perpetually wrong alarmists.  Instead we saw record sea ice there as well.  Factor in the fact that there has been no global warming for over 17 years and one has to ask why this, in the face of a badly performing economy and over 92 million Americans being out of work, is suddenly to become a priority for the White House?  As one editorialist puts it:

The problem is, it’s just so hard to be an alarmist these days. Temperatures aren’t rising, U.S. CO2 emissions are down, and now it turns out that peak oil won’t peak. What’s a scare-monger to do?

The answer is keep on trying to gin up the alarm to satisfy the true-believers who are an important political constituency of the Democrats.  And it is becoming clearer every day that the Democrats are going to need all of their constituencies to even have a ghost of a chance in the November mid-terms.  To this point, the left environmental movement hasn’t been to happy with the Obama administration and it certainly wants more drastic action to be taken to curb the use of fossil fuel. So its time to shore up their support:

Environmentalists such as Democratic donor and billionaire Tom Steyer want him to veto the Keystone pipeline and wean the nation from natural gas. Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke said of the administration: “We have to increasingly get them to acknowledge that there has to be a major transformation away from fossil fuels.”

That desire the Natural Resources Defense Council voices has resulted in such things as the “war on coal” and the reduction in production of oil on federal lands and off our coasts.   It has also meant slow walking the permit process as well as holding the Keystone Pipeline hostage to presidential politics. So why now? Why is this the time to do this?  Because he can:

A White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the plans are not final, said Obama has made it clear that he considers climate change a priority and is less politically constrained now that he no longer faces reelection.

Meanwhile the public views the issue as a low priority if a priority at all, given jobs and economic problems.  Yet Obama persists.  Elections are in the offing.  And if there is one thing he has at least a semblance of competence in, it’s getting elected (or helping others do so).  So all the high flying rhetoric aside, this is about votes, this is about elections and this is about trying to preserve at least one Democratic house in Congress for the last two years of his presidency.  It is one of many such moves he’ll be attempting in the coming months.  But make no mistake – this isn’t about the environment or his legacy, it’s about politics. ~McQ

ObamaCare slapped by reality … again

And that reality is the American people aren’t buying the propaganda being pushed by the administration.  After its celebration of the dubious enrollment of 8 million and unilateral declaration that ObamaCare was a “success”, new poll numbers show no difference among the public’s opinion of the law than before their declaration:

What’s perhaps more telling is that, despite the rare good news of the past few weeks, their perceptions of the law remain basically as-is — that is, pretty dim. To wit:

  • Americans say 50-41 that the implementation of the law has been worse than they expected rather than better.
  • They say 44-24 that the health-care system is getting worse rather than getting better as a result of Obamacare.
  • They say 29-14 that the quality of care is getting worse rather than better.
  • They say 47-8 that their health-care costs are increasing due to the law rather than decreasing.
  • They say 58-11 that the overall cost of health care in the United States is increasing rather than decreasing.

Almost all of these numbers are basically unchanged from in recent months.

What is it politicians like to tell us about politics?  Ah, yes, perception is reality.  And as I pointed out when you mess with people’s health care, the reality becomes very personal.  It isn’t something that you view from afar and doesn’t effect you.  It is something everyone is interested in in some form or fashion.

The numbers above are their perception of that awful law’s impact on their lives.   The propaganda simply isn’t going to change that.   “8 million enrolled” is something the people really don’t care about.  Higher premiums, more red tape and fewer options for health care, not to mention having to give up their doctor and the health insurance they liked is something they care about.  That is the result of the law and it is the reason for the numbers.

As we’ve mentioned previously, the numbers you see above are numbers that exist before the most onerous regulations and requirements (now delayed until after the election) are finally put into effect.  If you think these numbers are bad, wait till after November.

The bottom line is ObamaCare sucks and the people know it and no administration sponsored dog and pony show is going to change that perception.  We see a lot of Democrats now trying to claim that ObamaCare really won’t hurt them in the mid-terms.

I invite them to look at the above numbers, understand that it is they who are going to get “credit” for the law, and rethink their claim prior to their coming unemployment.

That way it won’t come as such a surprise when they’re defeated.

~McQ

Science in the service of politics

We’ve talked about this at other times in the past but there are some examples in a recent Victor Davis Hanson peice that make the point again.  Science is science.  It should not be something in service to anything, especially politics.  It should stand alone and we should deal with its findings as objectively as possible.  Unfortunately, today we have “science” (and yes the quote marks do indicate that what I’m going to note has nothing to do with real science) in the service of politics and for hire to whomever can provide it the most grant money.  It’s become a bit like expert witnesses in court.  Need one to conclude a certain way?  We can find that “expert” for you.

Anyway, there is one particularly egregious example in the VDH piece (at least more egregious than some, at least to me) that I want to note because it has so recently been in the news and used in politics to further an agenda:

The president still talks of “settled science” in the global-warming debate. He recently flew to California to attribute the near-record drought there to human-induced global warming.

There is no scientific basis for the president’s assertion about the drought. Periodic droughts are characteristic of California’s climate, both in the distant past and over a century and a half of modern record-keeping. If the president were empirical rather than political, he would instead have cited the logical reasons for the fact that this drought is far more serious than those of the late 1970s.

California has not built additional major mountain storage reservoirs to capture Sierra Nevada runoff in decades. The population of the state’s water consumers has almost doubled since the last severe drought. Several million acre-feet of stored fresh water have been in recent years diverted to the sea — on the dubious science that the endangered delta smelt suffers mostly from irrigation-related water diversions rather than pollutants, and that year-round river flows for salmon, from the mountains to the sea, existed before the reserve water storage available from the construction of mountain reservoirs.

In other words, government has been lax (no forward planning or construction for the water needs of an expanded population), environmentalists have been extreme (demanding an entire valley be dried up for a mostly useless fish) and the result has been to aggrevate a natural penomenon to disaster levels.

But they will tell you that it has to do with “global warming”, not poor government, not environmental extremism.  What Obama is pushing is pseudo-science, fashioned to support a political position.  There is no reason that this drought should be as severe as it has been.  And again – it isn’t global warming causing the severity.

Remember, this was the guy who promised he’s put science back in the place it belonged.  Apparently that place is the same place he claimed it was before he took office.  As a political tool to push an ideological agenda.  That’s precisely what he was doing in California.

But then, the fact that he lied shouldn’t suprise anyone, given his track record.

~McQ

Obama polls sinking along with Democrat chances in mid-terms

Congressional “mid-term” elections have, for years, been seen as a referrendum on the President.  When the nation is pleased with a President, his party gains seats in Congress and when not pleased, that party suffers by losing seats in Congress.  Well, Democrats, gird thy loins, because here it comes:

President Obama’s job approval rating hits a record low this week, as a majority of Americans say his administration has mostly failed at growing the economy, creating jobs, improving health care and the country’s image.

That’s according to a Fox News poll released Wednesday.

For the first time in a Fox News poll, fewer than four voters in ten — 38 percent — approve of President Obama’s job performance. Fifty-four percent disapprove. Before now Obama’s worst job rating was 40-55 percent in November 2013. Last month 42 percent approved and 53 percent disapproved (February 2014).

Approval of Obama among Democrats stands at 71 percent, near its 69 percent record low (September 2013). For independents, 28 percent approve, which is also near the 25 percent all-time low among this group (July 2013). And approval of Obama among Republicans hits a new low of five percent.

Overall, a 59-percent majority thinks the White House has mostly failed at creating jobs, up from 52 percent who said the same in October 2012. Likewise, 56 percent feel it has failed on growing the economy. That’s also up from 52 percent.

Etc. Etc. Etc.  Even the Senate majority now is seen to be at risk and no one believes the Dems have a chance in the House.

And the only consistent thing in Obama poll numbers is the drop.  He’s near historic lows in approval among many groups to include Democrats. They’re not likely to get better anytime soon.

The empty suit is finally beginning to wear on the electorate.

But I have to ask, how can a country stay so willingly blind that it took until now to see this inept imposter for what he really is?

~McQ

Here we go again …

The cult of the vicitim is alive and well in the US.  It’s been fostered by politicians and lawyers who are open to the idea that one’s problems, whatever they are, are the fault of someone else.
And, given that doing so gives the pols more power (and the lawyers more money), the field is open for exploitation.  Remember the tobacco settlement?  Well guess who is next and why:

Lawyers are pitching state attorneys general in 16 states with a radical idea: make the food industry pay for soaring obesity-related health care costs.

It’s a move straight from the playbook of the Big Tobacco takedown of the 1990s, which ended in a $246 billion settlement with 46 states, a ban on cigarette marketing to young people and the Food and Drug Administration stepping in to regulate.

Yes, getting fat is the fault of “big food”.  Being obese is just not your fault.  So lets soak “Big Food” (and raise already high grocery prices through the roof, shall we?):

“I believe that this is the most promising strategy to lighten the economic burden of obesity on states and taxpayers and to negotiate broader public health policy objectives,” said Paul McDonald, a partner at Valorem Law Group in Chicago, who is leading the charge.

McDonald’s firm has sent proposals to AGs from California to Mississippi explaining how suing “big food” could help their states close budget gaps as billions in Medicaid expenditures eat a growing share of tax revenues.

In a letter to Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane last year, McDonald noted that the state faced a $3.7 billion budget shortfall in 2012 and had to cut back on certain services. The state’s total Medicaid burden that year was $10 billion — and getting a piece of that back could help close the gap.

Yes friends it is the “most promising strategy to lighten the economic burden on the states and taxapayers” … say what?  Taxpayers?  Aren’t they the one’s who will foot the bill for the “Big Food” pass-through of cost to litigate this idea and then, if the lawyers are successful, pay the settlement?

Name someone you know who isn’t a “food adicit” and doesn’t buy food from “Big Food”, will you?  I’d be interested to meet them.

In the meantime, if this guy is successful in selling this to state AGs (and I’d not be surprised if they bit), the cost of food will go up as the cost of litigating this nonsense rises.  After all, Big Government is now in charge of health care costs (something they’ve actually driven up) and are desperate for ways to make it cheaper.

You’re just a victim, slugger.  And these guys have your best interests at heart, don’t you know?  Let the demonization of Big Food begin.

As an aside, it is a bit ironic that the laywer pushing this full employment for lawyers scheme is named McDonald, no?

~McQ

Discounting human nature

One of the most ironic and, if it weren’t so serious, amusing aspects of central planners is how they come to the conclusion that their plan – despite thousands of years of human nature – will manage to overcome human nature.  What I mean by that akward sentence is they believe they can retrain us to like what they’ll make us do.  Screw human nature.  Screw the laws of economics.  Screw just about every immutable law of nature.  This crap sounded great in the beer haze of the dormitory among their liberal friends.

It’s a correlary of the “the only reason socialism hasn’t worked is we haven’t tried it my way” belief.  And I do mean “belief”.  An act of faith.  More underpants gnomes.

The case in point?  Megan McArdle brings it to us:

In December, I predicted that “doc shock” was going to be a major problem for the U.S. health-care overhaul, as people found out that the narrow networks insurers use to keep premiums low often don’t cover the top-notch doctors you’d like to see if you get really sick:

“If narrow networks could give everyone in the country access to health-care outcomes no worse than 90 percent as good as the folks with the best doctors at 75 percent of the price we’d pay for broader networks, the health-care wonks would jump on that deal as an unbelievable bargain. But I think it’s pretty clear that average folks don’t think like health-care wonks.

So what does ObamaCare do?  Force people into narrow networks despite it being clear to anyone with the IQ of a turnip and a couple of years observing how humans do things, that narrow networks are going to fail.

“So even if narrow networks actually were better, people would resist them. And they’ll fight with every fiber of their being when you tell them to take their kid with leukemia to a community hospital rather than the top-notch children’s hospital nearby. Expect the fight over doc shock to be bitter and long — and to end when insurers cave and start adding pricey doctors back to their networks.”

That’s right … you’re relegated to whatever backwater network of care the particular insurance company you’ve been forced to buy from (or pay a tax too if you prefer) has contracted with.  Want world-class care for your child?  Tough beans.  See your doc at the community hospital instead.

So what has happened?  Well exactly what happened before when something like this was tried:

However much good, sound policy sense narrow networks might make, they are political poison. Regulators and politicians are going to find it very hard to withstand the appeals of constituents who have been restricted to the bargain basement of our nation’s health-care system. I simply don’t think they’ll be able to stand it for very long. This is basically what happened to the managed-care revolution that held down cost growth in the mid-1990s — people in those plans complained bitterly, in their capacity as both voters and employees. A combination of legal and market pressure forced insurers to open up their networks and approve more treatments. And then costs started rising again. As people begin using their Obamacare policies and start running into restrictions, the same sort of pressure will begin to mount.

But did our estwhile leaders learn anything from managed care’s failure?

Nah.

Because, you know, they weren’t in charge at the time and besides, human nature is just overrated.

So, as with every other aspect of this nonsense, watch Obama do what is necessary to ensure the fewest number of people possible are hurt by this … until after midterms, at least and 2016 if Mr. “I can do whatever I want” can swing it.

~McQ

Will the GOP again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

And no, that’s not a rhetorical question – it’s a real concern.

Even the left knows they’re in trouble for the 2014 midterms … or should be.  John Judis of the New Republic:

What I’d point to instead is a comparison between where Obama and the Democrats stood in January 2010 and where they stand today. In January 2010, they were about to lose the Massachusetts senate race, and in November 2010 would lose 63 seats in the House and six seats in the Senate. If Obama and the Democrats’ numbers are better now than they were then, they may not be in trouble; but if they’re worse, the conventional wisdom is right. And they’re worse.

The most recent standard of comparison is the ABC/Washington Post poll that asked some of the same questions in January 2010. First, there are the questions about Obama. These are relevant because midterm elections are often referenda on the president and his party. In January 2010, Obama’s approval ratings were 53 approval to 44 percent disapproval of his “handling his job as president.” Today, 46 percent approve and 50 percent disapprove—a 13-point swing. In January 2010, 47 percent approved and 52 percent disapproved of his handling of the economy. Today 43 percent approve and 55 percent disapprove—a seven-point swing.

In January 2010, 57 percent of registered voters thought that Obama understood “the problems of people like you.” Forty-two percent did not. Today, it’s 47 to 52 percent—a 20-point swing. And there is a similar 20-point swing in the question of how much confidence voters have in Obama’s ability to “make the right decisions for the country’s future.” In short, the electorate has far less confidence in Obama now than they did in January 2010.

ABC—Washington Post didn’t ask the same questions about Democrats and Republicans in January 2010 that they asked today, but they did ask these questions in October 2010 on the eve of the Republicans’ sweep. In October 2010, voters thought Democrats would do a better job than Republicans handling the economy by 44 to 37 percent. Today, they think Republicans would do a better job by 44 to 37 percent—a 14-point turnaround. In October 2010, voters said (incredibly) that they preferred Democratic House candidates by 49 to 44 percent. Today, they prefer Republicans by 45 to 46 percent. The number for October 2010 may be inaccurate, but in any case, there is nothing in the current numbers to inspire confidence. In midterm elections, the Republicans have a built-in advantage that allows them to maintain their majority without winning a majority of votes.

To be as succinct as possible, the 2014 midterms are the Republican’s to screw up.  And this is where Johnathan Last of the Weekly Standard points us toward the problem (one we’ve been hitting up here lately):

What could have accounted for these diminished prospects for Obama and the Democrats? Oh, it’s hard to say. Probably just tactical brilliance on the part of congressional Republicans. Yes, that’s the ticket. I mean, it’s not like there was a signal event that focused all political attention on a single issue. It’s not like there’s a Topic A that has been demoralizing Democrats, rallying Republicans, moving independents, and providing a constant stream of campaign fodder.

No, no, no, it’s not like there’s one subject which totally unites the Republicans and cuts against Democrats and—mirabile dictu!—where the news keeps getting worse for Obama with every passing week. As Homer Simpson would say, “Right, Lisa. Some wonderful, magical issue.”

Oh, right.

So with the wind at their backs and the Democrats in disarray, late last week the Republican leadership decided that this was the perfect moment to change the conversation to…immigration reform!

To again be as succinct as possible, they’re on their way to screwing it up.

And they wonder why people call them the “stupid party.”

*sigh*

~McQ

ObamaCare – the political gift that keeps on giving

As this Obamanation known as ObamaCare contiunes to unroll and unravell, we find more and more incompetence evident.  At this point, you mostly are so in awe (in a negative way) of how badly this was done, that all you’re left to do is shake your head in wonder.  The latest:

Amy Goldstein of  The Post reveals that the appeals process guaranteed in the Obamacare law does not actually exist. The story outlines an almost comical process that requires citizens who seek a fair hearing to have an innocent, HealthCare.gov-generated mistake corrected to fill out a seven-page paper form that is then inexplicably shipped to Kentucky, where it is entered into a government database that isn’t actually connected to anything. It’s a digital dead end for those who dare to complain. Typical. As a result, 22,000 Americans who have submitted an appeals request remain without proper coverage and they have no recourse. And, according to The Post, in the latest show of non-transparency from this administration, officials have “not made public the fact that the appeals system for the online marketplace is not working.” There is “no indication that infrastructure . . .  necessary for conducting informal reviews and fair hearings had even been created, let alone become operational,” and administration officials are refusing to give any information as to when the appeals process might start moving. This is an administration that wants to hide things rather than fix things.

So, the appeals process is analogus to filling out a long paper form and then just throwing it into a dumpster for all the good it does the person filling out the form.  But has the administration made it clear that the process is – well not broken, how about nonexistent?  Nope.  People are still required to fill our their appeals forms, submit them and wait.  Except there is no mechanism in the current system for anyone to see, much less review, the submission.  The appeal is entered into a data base and that’s the end of the process.  Those waiting are left without recourse.

One more time for the morons in the establishment GOP – here’s your issue.

Or, if you continue to pursue immigration – here’s your sign.

~McQ

The politics of personal destruction, v 2.0

And coming to a presidential race near you soon:

“Hillary’s Hit List: The Clintons keep a favor file of saints and sinners, according to this excerpt from ‘HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton,'” out Feb. 11 from Crown, by POLITICO’s Jonathan Allen and The Hill’s Amie Parnes: “There was a special circle of Clinton hell reserved for people who had endorsed Obama or stayed on the fence after Bill and Hillary had raised money for them, appointed them to a political post or written a recommendation to ice their kid’s application to an elite school. On one early draft of the hit list [a post-campaign spreadsheet], each Democratic member of Congress was assigned a numerical grade from 1 to 7, with the most helpful to Hillary earning 1s and the most treacherous drawing 7s. The set of 7s included Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), as well as Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Baron Hill (D-Ind.) and Rob Andrews (D-N.J.). …

“For Hillary, … the spreadsheet was a necessity of modern political warfare, an improvement on what old-school politicians called a “favor file.” It meant that when asks rolled in, she and Bill would have at their fingertips all the information needed to make a quick decision-including extenuating, mitigating and amplifying factors-so that friends could be rewarded and enemies punished.”

Now, Bill and Hill aren’t the first to do this nor will they be the last, but they certainly are an indicator of how awful our politics have become. It is a patronage system which has little at all to do with duty, service or honor and a lot to do with grabbing power and exercising it for the benefit of the politician and the politician’s cronies. The money, time and effort that typically goes into keeping up with this sort of thing is rather interesting in and of itself. Another indicator of the pettiness of politicians and their desire for retributive “justice”.

Of course money is no longer a problem to the former Governor and First Lady of Arkansas.  Bill, who wrote off his underwear for tax purposes is now a multi-millionaire.  Who says politics doesn’t pay off?  And, so is his wife. So they’ve had both the time and money to put together an organization which will be pretty formidable in 2016.

As for the enemies on the Democratic side, well, it will be interesting to see how that plays out, won’t it? Especially if the “enemies” are situated in a strategic area that Hill needs and isn’t doing that well in. Bet that “numerical grade” goes up a bit in situations like that, huh?  Bill Clinton is Mr. Pragmatism himself.  Hill, yeah, not so much I think – not when it comes to “enemies”.

Anyway, I got a chuckle out of the list. Kerry just can’t win can he?

Thank goodness.

~McQ