Freedom and Liberty
That’s primarily what politicians seem to want to do despite protestations to the contrary by some. They’re always looking for a new “revenue stream”. And since tax payers are the only folks who actually pay taxes, they’re constantly dreaming up new ways to “access” your wallet.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) on Tuesday reintroduced legislation that would require the government to study the most practical ways of taxing drivers based on how far they drive, in order to help fund federal highway programs.
Blumenauer’s bill, H.R. 3638, would set up a Road Usage Fee Pilot Program, which he said would study mileage-based fee systems. He cast his bill as a long-term solution for funding highway programs, and proposed it along with a shorter-term plan to nearly double the gas tax, from 18.4 cents to 33.4 cents per gallon.
“As we extend the gas tax, we must also think about how to replace it with something more sustainable,” Blumenauer said Tuesday. “The best candidate would be the vehicle mile traveled fee being explored by pilot projects in Oregon and implemented there on a voluntary basis next year.”
Because, you know, taxpayers paid for the highways, taxpayers have funded the maintenance of the highways and now they should pay for the privilege of driving on them as well. So, many single moms, who can barely afford gas for the car, will likely be paying by the mile to go to work (as with most of these stupid schemes, the one’s who can afford it the least will get hit the hardest by it).
Brilliant! Aw, what the heck, they can take public transportation, huh?
And what about privacy? What business is it of government how far you drive. One assumes they’ll be able to verify your mileage somehow, no? Do you really think it will be up to you to voluntarily keep records and report to the government? Of course not. So somehow the system has to be able to track you and tally mileage.
In 2011, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a study that explored how a VMT system might work. That report suggested devices could be fitted onto cars that log how far they have traveled, and these devices could be electronically read at gas stations to general tax bills for drivers.
That’s what I want … a government tracking device on my car.
Where’s Orwell when you need him?
That’s a dangerous combination but that pretty aptly describes the ObamaCare roll out (ObamaCare is a name that the administration and Democrats would now like to distance themselves from).
It seems now that “no one knew” that the roll out was going to be a disaster because, well, no one knew. Gee, maybe they should have asked the IT guy:
A key player in the development of the Obamacare website said Tuesday that up to 40 percent of IT systems supporting the exchange still need to be built.
The revelation from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Deputy Chief Information Officer Henry Chao occurs as the administration works to meet its Nov. 30 deadline to shore up the website.
40% of the supporting systems … still need to be built?!
And no one knew? That’s freaking mindboggling. You have a system that is 40% incomplete, you’re the head of a department charged with rolling out the system and you don’t know it’s not even close to being ready?
“It’s not that it’s not working,” Chao told lawmakers at an Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee hearing. “It’s still being developed and tested.”
Phenomenal. If incompetence could be bottled, this administration could corner the market.
Financial management tools remain unfinished, he said, particularly the process that will deliver payments to insurers.
The update hits hardest at Democrats, hopeful that the system would function smoothly by the end of the month.
Chao said that the consumer portion of the website, including account registration, plan shopping and enrollment functions, won’t be affected by the ongoing development effort, but that “back office” functions including accounting and payment systems were not yet complete.
Did this boob tell anyone? And if he did, didn’t they listen? How do the insurance companies get paid? And until they are, how can any insurance plan go into effect?
My goodness … why wasn’t Chao sounding the alarms?
Oh, wait, see, he really didn’t know either:
He also told lawmakers he didn’t see a spring report that warned of potential stumbles and foreshadowed many of the problems that thwarted the website’s launch.
“I was aware some document was being prepared,” he said, but had no knowledge of a report until it was leaked to The Washington Post and obtained by POLITICO.
Chao told the House Energy & Commerce oversight subcommittee that he may have answered questions for the study but was not involved in any briefings on it.
The report, which independent consulting firm McKinsey conducted for CMS, described a process that relied too heavily on outsider contractors, didn’t provide enough time for complete testing and failed to hand authority to one decision maker. Chao’s limited knowledge of the report feeds lawmakers’ frustrations with the site’s fractured management and unclear controls.
These are the people who would run your healthcare (and everything else in you life if you’d let them) and make it both cheaper and better (and a good number of Americans swallowed that snake oil and ordered another bottle).
Oh, by the way, speaking of trust in government, did you know the jobs numbers were faked by the Census Bureau on the eve of the 2012 election?
Well, I suppose this was inevitable.
FYI last night at the Great Falls Grange debate, Democrat delegate candidate Kathleen Murphy said that since many doctors are not accepting Medicaid and Medicare patients, she advocates making it a legal requirement for those people to be accepted.
But of course she is. What other option could there possibly be but forcing doctors to see those patients? It’s clearly not possible to pay doctors an economically justifiable payment for seeing such patients. I mean, if you’re not willing to take substandard payment for Medicare patients, you probably shouldn’t be a doctor anyway, what with being a greedy bastard and all. You have a $250,000 annual malpractice insurance payment? Too bad. You got a couple of nurses that cost you $100,000 per year, and $50,000 a year in office rent? That’s on you, bucko. You’ll take my $50 Medicare payment and be happy to get it, or maybe we’ll just levy some really serious fines on you.
If you’re a doctor—and really, if you’re, well, anyone—you belong to the state. Oh, we might not lower the boom on you until we really need to, but let’s make no mistake. The collective has a claim on you. Your labor. Your income. Maybe we let you keep most of it. Maybe we don’t. Either way, if we need your stuff, we’ll take it, because we have a right to it. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one, man. And if you don’t think so, we can always just clap you in prison to help you come around to the right way of thinking.
We’re gonna get our medical care. And our unemployment benefits and food stamps. And our social security. Somebody’s gotta pay for it. If we decide that somebody is you, then you just need to suck it up. That’s what we got the law for, after all: to make you suck it up whenever we say.
Or so it seems.
Tell me, if a senior executive of any corporation had rolled out a product that was as bad as the ObamaCare website and had caused as much embarrassment and grief for the corporation as this roll out has produced for this administration, would they likely still be employed by the corporation?
Oh, I’m sure you can think of some “lifeboat” instance where it might happen, but for the most part, they’d have been sent packing immediately after the depth of their non-performance was ascertained.
But not in this government. I’m of the opinion that Kathleen Sebelius must have Obama’s college transcripts or something to still be employed. That said, pressure for her ouster continues to build:
It’s Kathleen Sebelius’s turn now. On the Hill, they’re calling for her resignation and tossing around words like “subpoena.” Pundits are merrily debating her future. (She’s toast! Or is Obama too loyal to fire her so soon?) Her interviews, more closely parsed than usual, seem wobbly. Though never a colorful presence on the political scene, she’s suddenly a late-night TV punch line.
And on Wednesday morning, the embattled secretary of health and human services will submit to a quintessential station of the Washington deathwatch — testifying before a congressional committee — to discuss her agency’s failings in the botched rollout of the federal health-insurance Web site.
Granted, this is only part of the on-going debacle that is the Affordable Care Act, aka “ObamaCare”. And while it will, in years to come, be cited as the perfect example of ineptitude coupled with incompetence, it isn’t the big problem right now. The big problem, as pointed out yesterday, is the country was purposely lied too in order to garner enough support to push this monstrosity through Congress and make it law.
Lied too. Point blank and with a smile. Jonah Goldberg shares my opinion of Obama’s lie and goes a century or two more:
And that lie looks like the biggest lie about domestic policy ever uttered by a U.S. president.
Ever. For those of you who want to cite Clinton, Nixon or some other president, Goldberg points out:
The most famous presidential lies have to do with misconduct (Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” or Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations”) or war. Woodrow Wilson campaigned on the slogan “He kept us out of war” and then plunged us into a calamitous war. Franklin D. Roosevelt made a similar vow: “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”
Roosevelt knew he was making false promises. He explained to an aide: “If someone attacks us, it isn’t a foreign war, is it?” When his own son questioned his honesty, FDR replied: “If I don’t say I hate war, then people are going to think I don’t hate war. . . . If I don’t say I won’t send our sons to fight on foreign battlefields, then people will think I want to send them. . . . So you play the game the way it has been played over the years, and you play to win.”
Is that the case with Obama? Lying in order to pass some cherished legislation which won’t at all do what you promise it will do is “the game” and in politics, justifies “playing to win”?
Or is it, much more simply, damn the truth, the ends justify the means?
Yeah, that’s how I see it too.
As for accountability for the Obama lie, don’t hold your breath. Sebelius may end up biting the bullet. But the buck won’t even slow down at Obama’s desk.
I’m not one to use the word “liar” much since I consider it’s definition to be very specific, i.e. telling something you know to be false.
However, in the case of the ObamaCare lie – and that’s what it was when President Obama said “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” – I call it what it is. And there’s no question about it now.
What I hate worse than a liar is someone who tries to rationalize or explain away a lie. Like Steny Hoyer:
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer conceded to reporters today that Democrats knew people would not be able to keep their current health care plans under Obamacare and expressed qualified contrition for President Obama’s repeated vows to the contrary.
“We knew that there would be some policies that would not qualify and therefore people would be required to get more extensive coverage,” Hoyer said in response to a question from National Review.
Asked by another reporter how repeated statements by Obama to the contrary weren’t “misleading,” Hoyer said “I don’t think the message was wrong. I think the message was accurate. It was not precise enough…[it] should have been caveated with – ‘assuming you have a policy that in fact does do what the bill is designed to do.’”
So it was a lie to begin with, no one spoke up and now the lying liars are trying to spin the result. You weren’t just misled – you were LIED too. Purposely. And shamelessly.
Welcome to politics and government today. Utter disgust doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about the whole institution.
In a brilliant move, the GOP has managed to not only be unable to impose the debt ceiling, it has apparently found a way to capitulate and make it temporarily unlimited:
There’s no actual debt ceiling right now.
The fiscal deal passed by Congress on Wednesday evening to re-open the government and get around the $16.4 trillion limit on borrowing doesn’t actually increase the debt limit. It just temporarily suspends enforcement of it.
That means Americans have no idea how much debt their government is going to rack up between now and February 7, when the limits are supposed to go back into place and will have to be raised.
17 days for this?
And they wonder why people call them the “stupid party”.
Of course, much like the climate alarmists, other than leveraging off a horrible incident like the Navy Yard shootings they really don’t have the stats (or the Constitutional backing) to call for banning guns. But that doesn’t stop them from doing so anyway:
“This is one more event to add to the litany of massacres that occur when a deranged person or grievance killer is able to obtain multiple weapons — including a military-style assault rifle — and kill many people in a short amount of time. When will enough be enough?” Feinstein asked in a statement.
She added: “Congress must stop shirking its responsibility and resume a thoughtful debate on gun violence in this country. We must do more to stop this endless loss of life.”
When will enough be enough? Ask a couple of Colorado state senators.
Enough will never be enough as long as the gun grabbers try to continue to pin it on the implement instead of the murderer. Here again we have a not quite right person acting out with guns. Sound familiar? Yet somehow the system not only gave him a security clearance (after he’d been arrested previously for using a gun in Seattle), but apparently okayed it for him to be sold a weapon.
How is that the fault of the weapon? Where did the weapon “fail” in this? Where did the weapon “cause” this to happen? How did the weapon find its way into this man’s hands? Because the state failed in numerous ways to do what it is and was supposed to do. Grant a security clearance to a clearly disturbed person, lax security at a secure facility, etc. Gee, maybe it isn’t guns. Maybe it is incompetent government that can’t enforce existing laws?
But DiFi, the WaPo and other gun grabbers don’t really care about facts.
Life does go on, through Columbine in 1999, through Virginia Tech in 2007, through Sandy Hook in 2012. Each atrocity provides a jolt to the nation and then recedes with little effect, until the next unimaginable event occurs, except each time a little more imaginable. Everything was supposed to change after a man with a semiautomatic weapon mowed down 20 elementary school children in their classrooms last December. But for the politicians, nothing changed. Now, another massacre, another roster of funerals. Again, again, again.
Anyone notice the one similarity in all these events? Everyone of them took place in a “gun free” zone. And what else do you notice about each? And in each one, the state did a bang up job of protecting everyone in them, didn’t it?
DiFi comes from a long line of those who find freedom messy and dangerous and would prefer the orderly and safe haven of state authority instead (with her in charge, of course – and exempted from her own rules). And she wouldn’t at all mind imposing her utopia on you – by force if necessary.
There are reports out that while the administration refused to call what happened in Egypt a coup, it has, nevertheless, stopped aid to the Egyptian military.
I’m still in the dark about the administration’s apparent love affair with the Muslim Brotherhood, or at least it’s willingness to back it to a point. Here’s an extended excerpt from Roger Cohen in the NY Times giving his analysis:
In Tahrir Square in 2011, at the time of the uprising, nothing was more uplifting than seeing Westernized Egyptian liberals and the Muslim Brotherhood make common cause in the idea of citizenship based on equal rights for all. Here, it seemed, lay the possibility — however fragile — for the largest Arab society to escape the tired, deceptive secular and Islamist labels and so open up the possibility of a representative and inclusive society.
It was not to be — and this failure will have devastating consequences, inside and outside Egypt. Islamist ire has been fed and the perception of Western hypocrisy reinforced at the very moment when ways out of this impasse appeared possible.
In fact the violent splits nurtured over decades under Mubarak — Westernized liberals against backward Islamists — proved insurmountable. By last month, just a year after the nation’s first free election brought the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi to power with 51.7 percent of the vote, millions of decent Egyptian liberals were roaring in the streets for the military to oust him. The army obliged in the July 3 coup that will not speak its name.
Now the Saudi-backed Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s military leader, rails against “the terrorists” who (he insists) constitute the Brotherhood, and has his newly subservient media echo the refrain. More than 1,000 Egyptians are dead. There is talk of banning the Brotherhood; certainly its participation in any future election is impossible to imagine. In its absence no vote will be meaningful. Egyptian democracy was stillborn.
Far from overcoming the divisions of the society where close to 25 percent of the world’s Arabs live, the developments of the past two-and-a-half years have sharpened them. Egypt’s polarizing spiral, evident in Islamist attacks on Coptic Christian churches and the killing of at least two dozen police officers in Sinai, seems unstoppable.
For the United States and Europe, this amounts to a colossal strategic failure. Nothing — and certainly not the outcome in Afghanistan or Iraq — was more important than getting Egypt right. President Obama, who began his presidency with an attempt to build bridges to the Arab and Muslim world through a speech in Cairo, has seen his greatest failure in that very city. Post-Tahrir Egypt stands now as a monument to America’s declining influence in the world, even in a nation receiving $1.5 billion in annual aid.
All that American money translated into no ability to restrain a largely American-trained military (including General Sisi). It translated into little ability to persuade Morsi to reach out beyond the Brotherhood and refrain from railroading through a divisive constitution.
The Obama administration has appeared hesitant and wavering, zigzagging from support for Morsi to acceptance of his ouster. The critical moment came before the July 3 coup (“a violent or illegal change in government” according to the Oxford English Dictionary). A military intervention was almost certain to end badly. It was a terrible precedent. But Secretary of State John Kerry offered the view that the army was “restoring democracy.”
Just as bad, Obama said this: “While Mohamed Morsi was elected president in a democratic election, his government was not inclusive and did not respect the views of all Egyptians.” Those are dangerous words from an American president. They seem to relegate the importance of a free and fair vote.
So why post all of that? Well there are a lot of things to take issue with in there and some to agree with. But the last sentence is one that stands out to me. Let’s be clear, “free and fair” elections do not equal “democracy” or a democratic society. It’s one of the things which always rankles me. Many seem to think that if a country can only have a “free and fair” election, it is suddenly a Western-style democracy.
No. We’ve talked about that at length. Unless you have the institutions in place which characterize such a democracy, it’s just a freakin’ vote. Unless those selected in that vote actually do represent the best interests of all the people, it’s not going to be a free country or a Western-style democracy no mater how hard one tries to characterize it as that.
All things we pointed out any number of time during “Arab Spring”. Yet, we constantly get these op-eds which essentially express surprise at the outcome given the “free and fair” vote. Really?
And clueless Kerry? Well, if you wonder why, other than Obama being president, our foreign policy is shipwrecked, just turn your eyes to Swift boat Kerry. We all know “weak and wavering” is no way to go in foreign affairs, because it leads to things like this:
The U.S.’s closest Middle East allies are undercutting American policy in Egypt, encouraging the military to confront the Muslim Brotherhood rather than reconcile, U.S. and Arab officials said.
But I’m still in the dark about those with a seeming desire to legitimize the Brotherhood. The op-ed says there is talk of banning it again. And there are apologists which say it is a legitimate movement that should be respected.
Sometimes the wayback machine is a useful thing. Let’s travel back to the ‘50s and remember something concerning the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt:
CBS’s Ned Calmer and this reporter (for Newsweek) arrived in Cairo Jan. 25, 1952, acting on a tip picked up in Tunis, that something "big" would soon take place in Cairo.
Next day, Cairo erupted in what became known as "Black Saturday" and the "Big Cairo Fire." It was huge. Some 300 buildings were torched, including the old Shepherd’s Hotel where we were staying.
Martial law was decreed throughout Egypt. Losses to fire included 30 major companies and banks (including Barclays), 310 stores, 117 residential units, 92 bars, 73 coffee shops, 13 hotels, 40 movie theaters, either automobile showrooms, 10 weapons stores and 16 clubs.
Casualties were comparatively light — 26 killed and 552 injured.
It was the handiwork of the banned Muslim Brotherhood. The plan was to create maximum chaos as a way of forcing a degenerate King Farouk and a weak coalition government to bow to the "religious saviors."
Three weeks before the big fire, Muslim Brotherhood terrorists torched three Christian churches in the Suez Canal zone, under British control until 1956. The Egyptians blamed the British, always reluctant to take on the Muslim Brotherhood.
Nothing has changed. The thin veneer of respectability came off the second the Brotherhood won power. Their intent hasn’t changed one whit since the 1950s. With the fall of Mubarak, but the with solidity of the Egyptian armed forces in tact, the Brotherhood chose what they considered the most expedient means to power – “a free and fair” election. They are, purely and simply, a extremist group bent on taking power and imposing their religion on everyone. The “free and fair” election coupled with the fact that they were the most organized group at the time seemed to bode well for them. So they lied to Egypt’s liberals to get them to back their push for power. As they figured, the Brotherhood could use the liberals backing to grab power without having to forcefully take it. They could use one of the institutions of democracy to take power and begin implementing their agenda.
And they did. The only surprise as far as I’m concerned is that the army stopped them dead in their tracks.
Regardless though, Cohen is right … this has been a colossal strategic foreign policy failure for the US. And, indeed, the administration’s conduct has made it look weak and wavering on the world’s stage.
Some are surprised by that as well. I’m not sure why when you have someone who has never done anything or run anything as president and a pure political dilettante as Secretary of State. They’re doing the very best they can, for heaven sake.
The lie – that central planning and a command economy run by enlightened socialists is superior to capitalism.
As usual, that’s been proven to be false … again … and as irony would have it, capitalism is their savior.
Steve Orlicek, a rice farmer here, is living the American dream. He owns a thriving business; he vacations in the Bahamas.
His good fortune springs from many roots, including an unlikely one: He is a prime beneficiary of the socialist economic policies of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s late president and critic of what he called U.S. "imperialism."
I know, you’re just surprised, right? I mean, Venezuela, pre-Chavez, was pretty much self-sufficient. And the new, better way that Chavez promised – *cough* socialism *cough* – was going to make Venezuela the economic jewel of South America. That is, after he stripped the foreign companies of their assets and nationalized or took over the businesses of the home-grown capitalists first, and then put himself in charge of the economy.
And, as usual, the result of that tired old plan played out exactly as it has everywhere else in the world. It failed miserably:
It is a paradoxical legacy of Mr. Chávez’s self-styled socialist revolution that his policies became a moneymaker for the capitalist systems he deplored. During his 14 years in power, he nationalized large farms, redistributed land and controlled food prices as part of a strategy to help the poor.
But these policies turned Venezuela from a net exporter to a net importer of rice—from farmers like Mr. Orlicek. "The rice industry has been very good to us," Mr. Orlicek said, sitting in his newly renovated home, appointed with a baby grand piano played by his wife, Phyllis.
It isn’t just rice. Production of steel, sugar and many other goods has fallen in Venezuela, leading to occasional shortages. Until recently, Venezuela was largely self-sufficient in beef and coffee. Now it imports both.
In this year’s first half, the U.S. exported $94 million of rice to Venezuela, a 62% jump from a year-earlier, making Venezuela the U.S.’s fourth-largest rice market, according to the Department of Agriculture.
Overall, Venezuelan imports have quadrupled since Mr. Chávez took office, to $59.3 billion in 2012 from about $14.5 billion in 2000, according to Venezuela government figures and economists at Barclays PLC. Exports to Venezuela from the U.S. hit $12 billion in 2011, up 16% from the previous year, the latest U.S. government figures show.
I remember the US bailing out the Soviet Union year after year when its wheat harvests again failed to produce the needed grain. Socialism fails again. Command economies have never worked (except in the short periods of warfare). Complex systems like economies do not lend themselves readily to central control and function properly. No central authority is able to a) know all the variables that comprise a healthy economy, or b) how to weight them or c) understand their complex interactions. Healthy economies are true grassroots systems. They are driven by billions upon billions of buying decisions made by individuals – something the socialists would prefer to ignore.
Venezuela is just the latest in a long line of countries and economies who have fallen for the utopian promises of socialism and again proven that it is and always will be a leftist fantasy. Unfortunately, real people end up suffering for the “dream” of something for nothing. But the belief must be ingrained somewhere in the genetics of our species because time and again a new group falls for the promise and ends up flat on their face while the capitalists are thankfully there to bail them out.
Andrew Klavan discusses what the left has been reduced to in defending its failures:
I think he pretty accurately capsulizes today’s climate on the left. Totally out of arguments, adrift in leftist failures worldwide, all they have left is to yell"shut up" at their opposition. And as he points out, they simply use different code words in their attempt. I also agree with his conclusion:
Don’t shut up.