It is your wallet which is going to need “conditioning” for this “improved” health care system:
Based on a Manhattan Institute analysis of the HHS numbers, Obamacare will increase underlying insurance rates for younger men by an average of 97 to 99 percent, and for younger women by an average of 55 to 62 percent. Worst off is North Carolina, which will see individual-market rates triple for women, and quadruple for men.
Of course you’ve seen the lies smoke that HHS has been putting out about how cost will be down, right? By 16%. But they never really tell you down from what, do they?
“Premiums nationwide will also be around 16 percent lower than originally expected,” HHS cheerfully announces in its press release. But that’s a ruse. HHS compared what the Congressional Budget Office projected rates might look like—in 2016—to its own findings. Neither of those numbers tells you the stat that really matters: how much rates will go up next year, under Obamacare, relative to this year, prior to the law taking effect.
That’s right, they’ve apparently learned from Congress about “spending cuts”. You know, when they spend less than they projected they’d spend but more than they did last year? Yeah, “spending cuts”.
Instead, the travesty that is called ObamaCare will be adding on to everyone’s bill (to include those getting a subsidy). Those below 40 get hammered. And those at 40? Not so good either:
The cheapest exchange plan for the average enrollee, compared to what a 40-year-old would pay today, will cost an average of 99 percent more for men, and 62 percent for women.
For this cohort, men fared worst in North Carolina, with rate increases of 305 percent. Women got hammered in Nebraska, where rates will increase by a national high of 237 percent. Again, Colorado and New Hampshire fared best, with 17 percent and 5-8 percent declines, respectively.
Remember that here, we aren’t conducting an exact comparison. Instead we’re comparing the lowest-cost bronze plan offered to the average participant in the exchanges, to the cheapest plan offered to 40-year-olds today. This approach artificially flatters Obamacare, because the median age of an exchange participant is, in most states, below the age of 40.
I’ve always wondered how making everyone get insurance, subsidizing those who can’t “afford” it, and adding layer upon layer of bureaucracy could make health care “more affordable”. Common sense tells you it won’t.
Common sense is right.
Six in 10 Americans (60%) believe the federal government has too much power, one percentage point above the previous high recorded in September 2010. At least half of Americans since 2005 have said the government has too much power. Thirty-two percent now say the government has the right amount of power. Few say it has too little power.
Is this a partisan view? Yes and no.
As you’d expect, Republicans and Democrats pretty much switch positions depending on who is in the White House. But the telling line is the Independent line. It is higher now than it was in the Bush years.
Of course, the pregnant question is, “so what are you going to do about it?”
The answer, if the recent past is any indication, is “not much”. Probably change the Senate over to the GOP, and possibly, in the next presidential election, change parties again.
And then what? Again, look at the trend on the graph above. We’ve changed parties before and yet we still see the power of government continuing to grow. Will another party change really make any difference?
One other thing to note in passing, take a look at the Democrat line in the last year. Democrats who think government has too much power are up 13 points. If I had to guess that is a direct result of the IRS and NSA scandals, ObamaCare and the EPA and other regulatory agencies over-reach. Anyone who thinks those scandals, new regulations and abuse of power haven’t been significant is living in a dream world or, alternately Maine, which is about the same thing.
There are among politicians, certain ones who think you’ll believe this:
“Now, this debt ceiling — I just want to remind people in case you haven’t been keeping up – raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy. All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress. It’s a basic function of making sure that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved.”
Obama went on to suggest that “the average person” mistakenly thinks that raising the debt ceiling means the U.S. is racking up more debt: “It’s always a tough vote because the average person thinks raising the debt ceiling must mean that we’re running up our debt, so people don’t like to vote on it, and, typically, there’s some gamesmanship in terms of making the President’s party shoulder the burden of raising the — taking the vote.”
First – what is it called?
Oh, a debt ceiling.
Anyone – what is the purpose of raising the debt ceiling?
To allow more debt.
If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, then the government can’t do what?
Increase our debt. Correct?
They can’t borrow (commonly known as going into debt) more money to pay those “bills” they’ve already “racked up”, can they?
So when “the average person” thinks that raising the debt ceiling means”running up more debt“, they’re absolutely dead-on right. Unless you plan on “running up more debt“, there is no reason to raise the debt ceiling, is there?
It’s called a “debt ceiling” for a reason.
Government abuse: not surprising, not unexpected, but certainly something that needs to be stopped – now!
This has been in the news recently and now it is getting some Congressional attention. It has to do with possible illegal activities involving the NSA and DEA. As you know, the NSA’s job is to focus outside the US, not inside, and primarily on enemies of the United States, not it’s citizens:
Eight Democratic senators and congressmen have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to answer questions about a Reuters report that the National Security Agency supplies the Drug Enforcement Administration with intelligence information used to make non-terrorism cases against American citizens.
The August report revealed that a secretive DEA unit passes the NSA information to agents in the field, including those from the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI and Homeland Security, with instructions to never disclose the original source, even in court. In most cases, the NSA tips involve drugs, money laundering and organized crime, not terrorism.
Five Democrats in the Senate and three senior Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee submitted questions to Holder about the NSA-DEA relationship, joining two prominent Republicans who have expressed concerns. The matter will be discussed during classified briefings scheduled for September, Republican and Democratic aides said.
“These allegations raise serious concerns that gaps in the policy and law are allowing overreach by the federal government’s intelligence gathering apparatus,” wrote the senators – Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
Why, other than the fact that the NSA has no charter or permission to pass its information about American citizens on to other agencies, is this important?
The Reuters reports cited internal documents that show how DEA’s Special Operations Division funnels information from overseas NSA intercepts, domestic wiretaps, informants and a large DEA database of telephone records to authorities nationwide to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.
The documents show that agents have been trained to conceal how such investigations truly begin – to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up the original source of the information, raising questions about whether exculpatory information might be withheld from defendants at trial.
The internal documents describe the process of recreating the evidence trail to omit any reference to the Special Operations Division as “parallel construction.” For example, agents said in interviews, they act as if a drug investigation began with a traffic stop for speeding or a broken taillight, instead of a tip passed from the NSA. An IRS document describes a similar process for tax agency investigators.
Emphasis mine. So not only is passing such information to these agencies unauthorized, the government then instructs its agents on how to lie about the source of their information (a lie of omission). And, of course, it is also legitimate to ask whether or not exculpatory evidence could also have been available but not passed to these agencies.
Is this really the type government we want? One that spies on us, intercepts our electronic messages and phone calls and uses them secretly by passing what should be private to various other government agencies and then lies about it? Peggy Noonan addresses those questions quite directly today:
If the citizens of the United States don’t put up a halting hand, the government can’t be expected to. It is in the nature of security professionals to always want more, and since their mission is worthy they’re less likely to have constitutional qualms, to dwell on such abstractions as abuse of the Fourth Amendment and the impact of that abuse on the First.
If you assume all the information that can and will be gleaned will be confined to NSA and national security purposes, you are not sufficiently imaginative or informed. If you believe the information will never be used wrongly or recklessly, you are touchingly innocent.
If you assume you can trust the administration on this issue you are not following the bouncing ball, from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who told Congress under oath the NSA didn’t gather “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans” (he later had to apologize) to President Obama, who told Jay Leno: “We don’t have a domestic program.” What we do have, the president said, is “some mechanism that can track a phone number or an email address that is connected to a terrorist attack.”
Oh, we have more than that.
Almost every politician in America lives in fear of one big thing: a terrorist attack they can later be accused of not having done everything to stop. And so they’ll do anything. They are looking to preserve their political viability and historical standing. We, as citizens, must keep other things in mind, such as the rights we are born with as Americans, one of which is privacy.
Lord Acton nailed it when he said “Power corrupts …”. We’re currently in the midst of watching exactly that happen to an even greater degree than in the past. If you give government power, it will do everything it can to expand that power – whether legitimately or illegitimately. It is the nature of the beast. And we have to put up a hand to stop it.
If you’re wondering why the Tea Party is characterized in such nasty ways by the establishment of both parties, it is because it does indeed attempt to put up a hand to stop these sorts of abuses and remove power from the abusers. They threaten the very base of power the political establishment has worked so hard to build over the years.
That’s certainly one of the factors keeping GDP growth low.
Four years into the economic recovery, U.S. workers’ pay still isn’t even keeping up with inflation. The average hourly pay for a nongovernment, non-supervisory worker, adjusted for price increases, declined to $8.77 last month from $8.85 at the end of the recession in June 2009, Labor Department data show.
Stagnant wages erode the spending power of consumers. That means it is harder for them to make purchases ranging from refrigerators to restaurant meals that account for most of the nation’s economic growth.
Not only that, but unemployment remains historically high years after the “recovery”. The question, however, is why wages are remaining stagnant. The WSJ cites three factors:
Economic growth remains sluggish, advancing at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of less than 2% for three straight quarters—below the prerecession average of 3.5%. That effectively has put a lid on inflation, which has been near or below the 2% level the Federal Reserve considers healthy for the economy. With demand for labor low, prices not rising fast and 11.5 million unemployed searching for work, employers aren’t under pressure to raise wages to retain or attract workers.
Emphasis mine. The Fed is happy with the inflation rate. And the administration, despite numerous claims to be focused like a laser beam on “j-0-b-s” has done little if anything to address unemployment or economic growth. Finally, given the uncertainty that regulation and new laws (such as ObamaCare) bring to the table, employers are even less likely to hire until the regulatory and legal dust settles and they have a much better idea of how both effect their business and industry. It’s not about “pressure”. It’s about a lack of incentive.
Businesses are changing how they manage payrolls. Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in a recent paper said that, in the past, companies cut wages when the economy struggled and raised them amid expansions. But in the past three recessions since 1986—and especially the 2007-2009 downturn—companies minimized wage cuts and instead let workers go to keep remaining workers happy. As a result, to compensate for the wage cuts that never were made, businesses now may be capping wage growth. “As the economy recovers, pent-up wage cuts will probably continue to slow wage growth long after the unemployment rate has returned to more normal levels,” the researchers said.
Another point to make, again considering the unemployment rate, is that those working are glad to still have a job. And with the economy still struggling it is unlikely that many feel the time right to push for higher wages. In fact, it is a “buyers market” right now when it comes to labor. And it will remain one until we get into much higher growth percentages and the demand for labor begins to outstrip the supply. We’re not even close to that at this point.
Globalization continues to pressure wages. Thanks to new technologies, Americans are increasingly competing with workers world-wide. “We are on a long-term adjustment, as China, in particular, but all developing countries, get their wages closer to ours,” said Richard Freeman, an economist at Harvard University. According to Boston Consulting Group, there will be only a roughly 10% cost difference between the U.S. and China in making products such as machinery, furniture and plastics by 2015.
Technology is also replacing workers in many industries. Automation is especially tough on low skilled workers. But again, given laws like ObamaCare, the incentive at work is to have fewer employees, not more. Businesses will automate where it makes sense and helps make a profit. It is also a means of closing that wage gap mentioned above, so it isn’t a trend that is likely to end anytime soon.
All of those factors and what I’ve mentioned in addition to them combine to make unemployment and wage growth both remain static. There simply aren’t any incentives at the moment to hire more people. Certainly not in GDP growth. Certainly not with the plethora of new regulations and laws.
In fact, as is mentioned in the article, at the moment there are only two paths to higher wages:
The only path to wage gains is through a stronger economy or an increase in demand for specialized skills.
The economy is moribund and has been for quite some time with GDP growth under 2% for the last three quarters.
That narrows the path to wage gains to a single one – developing specialized skills. It isn’t a path open to everyone, unfortunately, for a number of reasons.
So how could government help change all of that? Quite simply by getting out of the way – something it seems completely unable to comprehend or do.
And because of that, it continues to contribute negatively to the economic situation we endure.
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.
The scandal that is the DoJ’s “Fast and Furious” debacle continues to enable crimes and murders in Mexico:
Three more weapons from Fast and Furious have turned up at crime scenes in Mexico, CBS News has learned, as the toll from the controversial federal operation grows.
According to Justice Department tracing documents obtained by CBS News, all three guns are WASR-10 762-caliber Romanian rifles. Two were purchased by Fast and Furious suspect Uriel Patino in May and July of 2010. Sean Steward, who was convicted on gun charges in July 2012, purchased a third. The rifles were traced yesterday to the Lone Wolf gun shop in Glendale, Ariz.
During Fast and Furious and similar operations, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) encouraged the Lone Wolf and other gun stores to sell massive amounts of weapons to questionable purchasers who allegedly trafficked them Mexican drug cartels.
Patino is said to have purchased 700 guns while under ATF’s watch. Ever since, a steady stream of the guns have been recovered at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S. But the Justice Department has refused repeated requests from Congress and CBS News to provide a full accounting. An estimated 1,400 guns are still on the street or unaccounted for.
What I find interesting about this is what happened in the immediate aftermath of the revelation that this operation had been so badly bungled. Remember the reaction from the administration when this began to become public knowledge?
Denial. The attempt to pin the blame on some “rogue agents” in Phoenix.
Ring any bells? What was their reaction to Benghazi? To try to pin the blame on some video producer.
IRS? I believe it was rogue agents in Cincinnati.
Name your scandal and the results are almost uniformly the same.
And the real result in every case? None of the initial spin had any credence whatsoever. None. Not once.
In fact, all were traced back to high level failures on the part of various executive agencies.
And they wonder why trust in government is at an all time low.
Because they deny both science and fact to push an agenda that is demonstrably false. Yet have the temerity to call those who are skeptical of their claims “deniers”. And, of course, they have their “scientific” mouthpieces as well. For instance:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released its “State of the Climate in 2012” report, which states that “worldwide, 2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record.”
But the report “fails to mention  was one of the coolest of the decade, and thus confirms the cooling trend,” according to an analysis by climate blogger Pierre Gosselin.
“To no one’s surprise, the report gives the reader the impression that warming is galloping ahead out of control,” writes Gosselin. “But their data shows just the opposite.”
Well of course it does. It’s not like we haven’t seen this sort of thing from them before. It is “Headline” science. It’s also Chicken Little Science. Always the alarmist. Always the problem … a problem that only government can fix, of course. And a problem that also includes you losing some freedom of action. You know, the usual prescription.
Then there’s the confusion:
Although the NOAA report noted that in 2012, “the Arctic continues to warm” with “sea ice reaching record lows,” it also stated that the Antarctica sea ice “reached a record high of 7.51 million square miles” on Sept. 26, 2012.
And the latest figures for this year show that there’s been a slowdown of melting in the Arctic this summer as well, with temperatures at the North Pole well below normal for this time of year. Meteorologist Joe Bastardi calls it “the coldest ever recorded.”
Oh, my … an “inconvenient truth”. Now what?
Well, because the facts don’t support the usual assertion, AP was forced to retract a photo and caption:
The Associated Press had to retract a photo it released on July 27 with the caption, “The shallow meltwater lake is occurring due to an unusually warm period.”
“In fact, the water accumulates in this way every summer,” AP admitted in a note to editors, adding that the photo was doubly misleading because “the camera used by the North Pole Environment Observatory has drifted hundreds of miles from its original position, which was a few dozen miles from the pole.”
I guess they were out of distraught polar bears hanging on to a sliver of ice or something.
And then there’s this:
NOAA also reported that the “average lower strastospheric temperature, about six to ten miles above the Earth’s surface, for 2012 was record or near-record cold, depending on the dataset” even while the concentrations of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, continued to increase.
But don’t worry … the real science will be ignored. Why? Because a certain set of politicans are sniffing the wind and they smell an opportunity to create a tax out of thin air. And that, my friends, is all it takes. Politicians and junk science … a marriage made in hell.
On last night’s podcast, Dale and I discussed the rise of a soft tyranny and expansion of the regulatory state in this country. Pres. Obama has, on more than one occasion, unilaterally declared the power to pick and choose what laws to enforce, or to simply change the way they are enforced, without any consequences (i.e. checks and/or balances). He’s not the first POTUS to act that way (albeit the most brazen about it), and probably won’t be the last.
The primary reason he, or any other POTUS, is even able to act this way is because of the massive regulatory apparatus at the disposal of the Executive branch. An apparatus created by Congress; one it seems strangely reluctant to rein in. As Kevin Williamson notes, “Barack Obama did not invent managerial liberalism,” and while his agenda is painfully horrendous, it’s “a good deal less ambitious than was Woodrow Wilson’s or Richard Nixon’s.” However, Obama has used the leeway provided by Congresses past and present to further expand the regulatory state. Williamson characterizes this as Obama’s “utterly predictable approach to domestic politics: appoint a panel of credentialed experts.”
His faith in the powers of pedigreed professionals is apparently absolute. Consider his hallmark achievement, the Affordable Care Act, the centerpiece of which is the appointment of a committee, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the mission of which is to achieve targeted savings in Medicare without reducing the scope or quality of care. How that is to be achieved was contemplated in detail neither by the lawmakers who wrote the health-care bill nor by the president himself. But they did pay a great deal of attention to the processes touching IPAB: For example, if that committee of experts fails to achieve the demanded savings, then the ball is passed to . . . a new committee of experts, this one under the guidance of the secretary of health and human services. IPAB’s powers are nearly plenipotentiary: Its proposals, like a presidential veto, require a supermajority of Congress to be overridden.
IPAB is the most dramatic example of President Obama’s approach to government by expert decree, but much of the rest of his domestic program, from the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law to his economic agenda, is substantially similar. In total, it amounts to that fundamental transformation of American society that President Obama promised as a candidate: but instead of the new birth of hope and change, it is the transformation of a constitutional republic operating under laws passed by democratically accountable legislators into a servile nation under the management of an unaccountable administrative state. The real import of Barack Obama’s political career will be felt long after he leaves office, in the form of a permanently expanded state that is more assertive of its own interests and more ruthless in punishing its enemies. At times, he has advanced this project abetted by congressional Democrats, as with the health-care law’s investiture of extraordinary powers in the executive bureaucracy, but he also has advanced it without legislative assistance — and, more troubling still, in plain violation of the law. President Obama and his admirers choose to call this “pragmatism,” but what it is is a mild expression of totalitarianism, under which the interests of the country are conflated with those of the president’s administration and his party.
I likened the expansion and independence of the regulatory state to 2001: A Space Odyssey or The Terminator in that these things that were created to ostensibly serve in the aid of their users developed a life, mind and interests of their own, and eventually turned on the users. A perfect example would be if the IRS scandal of targeting conservatives turns out to be completely divorced of any political direction, and instead was completely self-initiated from within the department. As James Taranto often points out, that is the far scarier scenario than the one where the White House directed the agency to target its political enemies. Corrupt politicians are bad, but they are expected and can be dealt with in a summary manner. An unelected, unaccountable and extremely powerful organization exercising its own political agenda is orders of magnitude worse.
Democracy never lasts long,” [John] Adams famously said. “It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” For liberal regimes, a very common starting point on the road to serfdom is the over-delegation of legislative powers to the executive. France very nearly ended up in a permanent dictatorship as a result of that error, and was spared that fate mostly by good luck and Charles de Gaulle’s patriotism. Long before she declared her infamous state of emergency, Indira Gandhi had been centralizing power in the prime minister’s office, and India was spared a permanent dictatorship only by her political miscalculation and her dynasty-minded son’s having gotten himself killed in a plane wreck. Salazar in Portugal, Austria under Dollfuss, similar stories. But the United States is not going to fall for a strongman government. Instead of delegating power to a would-be president-for-life, we delegate it to a bureaucracy-without-death. You do not need to install a dictator when you’ve already had a politically supercharged permanent bureaucracy in place for 40 years or more. As is made clear by everything from campaign donations to the IRS jihad, the bureaucracy is the Left, and the Left is the bureaucracy. Elections will be held, politicians will come and go, but if you expand the power of the bureaucracy, you expand the power of the Left, of the managers and minions who share Barack Obama’s view of the world. Barack Obama isn’t the leader of the free world; he’s the front man for the permanent bureaucracy, the smiley-face mask hiding the pitiless yawning maw of total politics.
I would add that, if the politics were reversed (i.e. “the bureaucracy is Right, and the Right is bureaucracy”) we would still have the same issue: an unaccountable power structure that invades every aspect of our lives. Coupled with a President who exercises that power based on political whims, and we have a serious issue:
The job of the president is to execute the law — that is what the executive branch is there to do. If Barack Obama had wanted to keep pursuing his career as a lawmaker, then the people of Illinois probably would have been content to preserve him in the Senate for half a century or so. As president, he has no more power to decide not to enforce the provisions of a duly enacted federal law than does John Boehner, Anthony Weiner, or Whoopi Goldberg. And unlike them, he has a constitutional duty to enforce the law.
So, one might ask (as Dale did last night), why isn’t the President being impeached for dereliction of duty? Partisan politics is one answer (see, e.g., the failure of the Clinton impeachment). A lack of will is another. Perhaps the simplest answer, however, is that Congress is quite complicit in this expansion and abuse of the regulatory state:
Congress’s supine ceding of its powers, and the Obama administration’s usurpation of both legal and extralegal powers, is worrisome. But what is particularly disturbing is the quiet, polite, workaday manner with which the administration goes about its business — and with which the American public accepts it. As Christopher Hitchens once put it, “The essence of tyranny is not iron law; it is capricious law.”
Barack Obama’s administration is unmoored from the institutions that have long kept the imperial tendencies of the American presidency in check. That is partly the fault of Congress, which has punted too many of its legislative responsibilities to the president’s army of faceless regulators, but it is in no small part the result of an intentional strategy on the part of the administration. He has spent the past five years methodically testing the limits of what he can get away with, like one of those crafty velociraptors testing the electric fence in Jurassic Park. Barack Obama is a Harvard Law graduate, and he knows that he cannot make recess appointments when Congress is not in recess. He knows that his HHS is promulgating regulations that conflict with federal statutes. He knows that he is not constitutionally empowered to pick and choose which laws will be enforced. This is a might-makes-right presidency, and if Barack Obama has been from time to time muddled and contradictory, he has been clear on the point that he has no intention of being limited by something so trivial as the law.
I agree with Williamson that Obama has pushed the limits, but I think he lets Congress off the hook too easily. Every POTUS presses the limits. Indeed, Williamson provides the example of Nixon’s abuses, and even compares Obama favorably: “… it is impossible to imagine President Obama making the announcement that President Richard Nixon did on August 15, 1971: ‘I am today ordering a freeze on all prices and wages throughout the United States.’” Williamson notes that Nixon was able to make that announcement because of power invested in him by Congress. Just as Obama has been entrusted with incredible power via such instruments as the IPAB which requires a super-majority of Congress to override its decisions. While Obama is bad, clearly the issue here is that Congress isn’t doing its job either.
Recall that in Federalist #51, James Madison explained that the way the Constitution controls the new federal government, such that “the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights”, was to divide the different departments in a way that each had interests sufficiently distinct from one another so as to provide an incentive for each to jealously guard those interests and maintain their power. This system of checks and balances was meant to prevent consolidation of power in any one part of the government.
The problem we seem to have run into since then is when the two most powerful departments combine their interests and secret away their combined powers in an unaccountable regulatory apparatus, safe from the will of the electorate. That the office of POTUS would be willing to do this is to be expected, and indeed is a large part of why there was much resistance to its creation. However, that Congress has done so much to aid and abet the effort is contemptible. Unless and until Congress rights the balance, and vigorously pursues its checking role, the problem will only worsen.