Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: March 2010


Does anyone in the media remember the “Weather Underground”?

Why is it suddenly fashionable to pretend that “antigovernment” is synonymous with “right-wing extremist?” Here’s the Christian Science Monitor:

John Patrick Bedell, whom authorities identified as the gunman in the Pentagon shooting on Thursday, appears to have been a right-wing extremist with virulent antigovernment feelings.

If so, that would make the Pentagon shooting the second violent extremist attack on a federal building within the past month. On Feb. 18, Joseph Stack flew a small aircraft into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. Mr. Stack left behind a disjointed screed in which, among other things, he expressed his hatred of the government.

Bedell was a truther – not a conspiracy theory popular with the right-wing. It is conspiracy theory popular with such “righties” as Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopie Goldberg and Van Jones.

Bedell’s apparent plan was to attack and kill military members in the Pentagon. Again, not the usual territory of right-wing extremists. However, the Pentagon was the target of left-wing antigovernment groups in the ’60s such as the Weather Underground. In fact, some of that group blew themselves up preparing a bomb for an army post.  Ever hear of the Black Liberation Army?  M19CO?  Black Panthers?  Revolutionary Action Movement?  United Freedom Front?  All left-wing extremist groups and all were virulently antigovernment.  Has that all gone down the media memory hole?

Patterico points to a quote from Bedell’s online ranting that casts a different light on the Monitor’s claim:

This criminal organization would use its powers to convert military, intelligence, and law enforcement bureaucracies into instruments for political control, and the domination and subjection of society, while discrediting, destroying, and murdering honest individuals within those services, that work to root out corruption, and faithfully serve their fellow citizens. This organization, like so many murderous governments throughout history, would see the sacrifice of thousands of its citizens in an event such as the September 11 attacks, as a small cost in order to perpetuate its barbaric control. This collection of gangsters would find it in their interest to foment conflict and initiate wars throughout the world, in order to divert attention from their misconduct and criminality. The true nature of such a regime would find its clearest expression in the satanic violence currently ongoing in Iraq.

The “criminal organization” to which he’s referring is the Bush administration. This paragraph is the bread and butter of left-wing truther conspiracy theories. Does anyone remember the leftist claim that the World Trade Center destruction would be the basis for the Bush administration to impose martial law? Which side of the ideological spectrum consistently referred to the Bush administration as “criminal” and “war criminals”?

How then does a man who attacks the Pentagon, is a truther and uses the common language of the extreme-left of the past 8 years suddenly become a “right-wing extremist?”  What is driving that rewriting of history?

Oooohhhh:

The Pentagon attack and the destruction at the IRS building in Austin, Texas, come at a time of explosive growth in extremist-group activism across the United States, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks such organizations.

The number of US extremist paramilitary militias grew from 42 in 2008 to 127 in 2009, according to a just-released SPLC annual report.

So-called “Patriot” groups, steeped in antigovernment conspiracy theories, grew from 149 in 2008 to 512 in 2009 – an increase that the SPLC report judges as “astonishing.”

We’ve covered this. And this excuse for “journalism” by the Christian Science Monitor has twisted the Bedell attack into one from the right-wing as a pretext to further pimp the SPLC report. If it isn’t right wing extremism, the author can’t use the report as “proof” of the SPLC’s report’s validity. Apparently, that was the point of the article, not whether or not Bedell actually was a right-wing extremist.  Pretty pathetic in my estimation.

~McQ


Health care reform status

A few points about the status of health care reform. First, if the votes were there for passage in the House, the bill would now be law. That should tell you all you need to know about the present status of the bill. The votes aren’t there.  The bottom line, however, is if the House manages to pass it, health care reform becomes law.  At that point, reconciliation is moot.  It will be part of the deal, but with or without reconciliation in the Senate, the bill is law.

President Obama has said he wants to sign the bill into law by March 18th – prior to his trip to Indonesia and Australia. Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer refuse to sign on to that timeline. That should give you a good indication of the level of DEMOCRAT resistance to this bill. Again, I want to make the point that there are enough Democrats in the House right now to pass this bill into law without a single solitary Republican vote (and it appears if it does pass it will be without any GOP votes – something which also scares House Democrats, especially with November looming).

Yesterday the President was reduced to begging Congressional Democrats to pass the bill. He appealed to emotion claiming the fate of 31 million uninsured was in their hands and this bill was their only chance to get insurance (it’s not). And, of course, placing the future of his presidency second, claimed that it too was in their hands.

Heh … no pressure.  And it is the sort of appeal that many former “no” votes will have difficulty resisting (calling Mr. Stupak).

But here’s what you should take away from those meetings with liberal members of Congress, because it is important:

[Rep. Barbara] Lee said Obama said he still “strongly supports” a public option, but “the votes aren’t there.”

But, she said, Obama said the current healthcare legislation is a “foundation,” adding he “would work with us on the next effort.”

“I am going to keep hop[ing] for a public option,” Lee said. “And he said he’s going to work with us.”

The term “foundation” is the key.  From this bill the plan is to morph it into something that more closely resembles a single-payer system – something Obama has said any number of times he supports (prior to becoming president, of course, where he now claims it’s just not possible in America).  The public option is step in that direction and, as Lee is pointing out, passage of this bill allows them to build on the “foundation” at a later date with things like a public option.

One other point I want to make – the dog and pony show the President had the other day where he used doctors in white coats as props (you remember his health care summit rant about Republicans using the actual bill they were talking about as “props”?) was nothing more than propaganda. There is no “Obama bill”. His claim that all of those things that both sides agree on are in the bill is just not true. It was an attempt to claim bipartisanship and paint the GOP as unreasonable if they didn’t help pass the Senate version of the bill. There isn’t nor has there ever been any real attempt to include Republican ideas or at bipartisanship. The speech was transparent propaganda designed for a specific purpose – to justify ramming the bill through by any means necessary. It is the only thing which has been transparent in the entire process.

The next two weeks are going to be among the most interesting politically that I’ve seen in a while. The arm-twisting will be brutal and you can also expect the deals and pay-offs to be monumental (and all done with your money – in the real world we’d call them attempts to bribe a public official and jail those offering the bribe. In Congress, it’s business as usual.).

Will the administration win out in the end or will the people be properly served by the eventual defeat of the bloated, intrusive and costly monstrosity? Stay tuned.

~McQ


Military tribunal for KSM probable result (update)

Apparently the White House is about to bow to the inevitable and prosecute Khalid Sheik Mohammed by military tribunal:

President Obama’s advisers are nearing a recommendation that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, be prosecuted in a military tribunal, administration officials said, a step that would reverse Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s plan to try him in civilian court in New York City.

The president’s advisers feel increasingly hemmed in by bipartisan opposition to a federal trial in New York and demands, mainly from Republicans, that Mohammed and his accused co-conspirators remain under military jurisdiction, officials said. While Obama has favored trying some terrorism suspects in civilian courts as a symbol of U.S. commitment to the rule of law, critics have said military tribunals are the appropriate venue for those accused of attacking the United States.

I’ve never understood why only civilian courts were considered to be a symbol of the US commitment to the rule of law. The military tribunal system now in use was created by an act of Congress, signed into law by the president and vetted by the Supreme Court (which, as I recall, made Congress change a few things before it okayed the procedure). So how is its use somehow the abandonment of the rule of law?

Of course it’s not. What this is about is a petulant and mistaken insistence, at least in this case, that the previous administration preferred to operate outside the law.

What they’re about to admit, if indeed that’s the course of action they decide on, is the proper venue in which to try terrorists that have declared war on our nation is via military tribunal. That’s also a tacit admission that their’s isn’t a criminal conspiracy to be handled in civilian court, but instead an act of war to be handled in the appropriate military legal venue.

All this after 14 months of chasing their tail, trying to pound a square legal peg in a round hole.  Wasn’t it Obama complaining about these people not receiving a speedy trial?

Heck of a job, Eric.

UPDATE: Andy McCarthy at NRO thinks this is all a compromise to finally get the backing (and funding) necessary to close GITMO.  SLATE agrees, citing the story above:

If Obama accepts the likely recommendation of his advisers, the White House may be able to secure from Congress the funding and legal authority it needs to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and replace it with a facility within the United States.

Any guess as to who this is aimed at? Does the name Lindsey Graham ring a bell? Says McCarthy:

The real agenda here is to close Gitmo. That’s the ball to keep your eye on. The Post is trying to soften the opposition to shuttering the detention camp by portraying beleaguered, reasonable Obama as making a great compromise that will exasperate the Left.  The idea is to strengthen Sen. Lindsey Graham’s hand in seeking reciprocal compromise from our side.

This, however, is a matter of national security, not horse-trading over a highway bill. You don’t agree to do a stupid thing that endangers the country just because your opposition has magnanimously come off its insistence that you do two stupid things that endanger the country.

Bold emphasis mine – they’re the two key points in what McCarthy says. So let’s make it clear – KSM should be tried by a military tribunal and those trials for him and others should be held at Gitmo. As originally planned.

~McQ


Smearing The Religious

This is a favorite pastime of many on the left, and libertarians of all stripes. When in it’s the nature of busting biblethumpers’ chops, I get it. I mean, The Great Flying Spaghetti Monster? That’s just funny. As for those who simply question religion, well there is certainly a lot to question. I’m Catholic, a religion with plenty of black marks in its history, some of which rival (if not surpass) the Nazis in sheer disregard for human life and dignity. So, again, I get it. But sometimes the criticism and ribbing is nothing more than outright bigotry, designed to stoke popular hate against those who are religious.

The Huffington Post offers one of those latter critiques in a post entitled “American Family Association: Stone To Death Killer Whale Who Killed Trainer” about the tragedy at SeaWorld:

The American Family Association, a religious right group, is urging that Tillikum (Tilly), the killer whale that killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando, be put down, preferably by stoning. Citing Tilly’s history of violent altercations, the group is slamming SeaWorld for not listening to Scripture in how to deal with the animal:

Says the ancient civil code of Israel, “When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable.” (Exodus 21:28)

However, the group is going further and laying the blame for the trainer’s death directly at the feet of Chuck Thompson, the curator in charge of animal behavior, because, according to Scripture,

But, the Scripture soberly warns, if one of your animals kills a second time because you didn’t kill it after it claimed its first human victim, this time you die right along with your animal. To use the example from Exodus, if your ox kills a second time, “the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death.” (Exodus 21:29)

SeaWorld has no plans to execute Tilly.

If you read nothing else other than the HuffPo piece, then the post’s title and implications make perfect sense. However, if you read the actual post being ridiculed by HuffPo, you may have a different opinion:

Now there are all kinds of theories as to why the “killer whale” did what it did, to include one which says it was just playing.

That could be, but whatever the reason it was an animal acting like it should. It kills things and eats them. It doesn’t moralize about what is or isn’t “good” or “evil”. It does what it is hard wired to do without thinking about it and certainly without concerning itself with the consequences. It certainly isn’t unreasonable to expect such an animal to act like it should.

Hmmm … actually, no. That wasn’t from The American Family Association, but instead from our very own Bruce McQuain. Here’s the AFA:

According to the Orlando Sentinel, “SeaWorld Orlando has always know that Tillikum…could be a particularly dangerous killer whale…because of his ominous history.”

The Sentinel then recounts that Tilly, as he was affectionately known, had killed a trainer back in 1991 in front of spectators at a now defunct aquarium in Victoria, British Columbia.

Then in 1999 he killed a man who sneaked into SeaWorld to swim with the whales and was found the next morning draped dead across Tilly’s back. His body had been bit and the killer whale had torn off his swimming trunks after he had died.

What about the term “killer whale” do SeaWorld officials not understand?

You see the difference? McQ honed in with that laser-like focus that only Army Rangers possess on the most salient fact of the matter, i.e. that this was a wild animal known as a killer whale, while the AFA chose the lesser fact of … oh right, the same thing. So, now you know: McQ is a biblethumpin’ m’OH-ron.

To be fair to HuffPo, the AFA did cite scriptures as guidance for how people should live their lives when everybody knows they’re just for displaying on placards at football games. How silly to think that religious people who believe in the same things as the AFA would look to the word of God as having some wisdom that might imparted.

But it’s worse than that. Whether or not you agree with the religious aspect of the advice offered by the AFA, the actual Bible quotes cited in the ridiculed post weren’t referenced as literal commands to action, contrary to what HuffPo would have you believe. Instead, they were cited as guidance (there’s that word again) in how people should live their lives:

If the counsel of the Judeo-Christian tradition had been followed, Tillikum would have been put out of everyone’s misery back in 1991 and would not have had the opportunity to claim two more human lives.

Says the ancient civil code of Israel, “When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable.” (Exodus 21:28)

So, your animal kills somebody, your moral responsibility is to put that animal to death. You have no moral culpability in the death, because you didn’t know the animal was going to go postal on somebody.

But, the Scripture soberly warns, if one of your animals kills a second time because you didn’t kill it after it claimed its first human victim, this time you die right along with your animal. To use the example from Exodus, if your ox kills a second time, “the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death.” (Exodus 21:29)

If I were the family of Dawn Brancheau, I’d sue the pants off SeaWorld for allowing this killer whale to kill again after they were well aware of its violent history.

I’ve highlighted that last sentence because, in complete contrast to what HuffPo would have you believe, the AFA author never demanded, nor even suggested, that the killer whale or anyone else should be stoned. Instead, he suggested that the aggrieved party should sue through the civil system — and he’s right. There’s a doctrine known as the “one bite rule” which, while not exactly what people think it is, does pertain to domesticated wild animals in certain situations. And, in fact, the legal underpinnings hue quite closely to what the Bible scriptures say as far as assigning guilt is concerned:

Restatement [of Torts] § 519 states the general principle for liability, and § 520 provides several evaluative factors. Section 519 provides for strict liability for one “who carries on an abnormally dangerous activity” causing harm to persons or property even if he “has exercised the utmost care to prevent the harm.” Section 520 suggests evaluative factors to assist in determining if an activity should be termed abnormally dangerous, and includes (1) the degree of risk of harm; (2) the magnitude of that harm; (3) the inevitability of some risk irrespective of precautionary measures that might be taken; (4) the ordinary or unusual nature of the activity; and (5) the activity’s value to the community in comparison to the risk of harm created by its presence.

In short, when a known dangerous animal is mixed with humans in that animal’s natural environment, there is a pretty good chance that the owner of that animal will bear blame for any harm that befalls another party, without any excuse (that is, with “strict liability”).

Of course, I don’t mean to say that the tragic death of the animal trainer was unequivocally the fault of SeaWorld or anyone else. There are plenty of legal doctrines (“assumption of risk” comes to mind) that could exonerate the owners of Tilly, despite the Restatement of Torts passage above. The point is that what the AFA suggests — that the animal should have been put down after it demonstrated it was not entirely domesticable — using scriptures as its guidance, shouldn’t strike anyone as particularly strange or outlandish. The common law quite agrees with that verdict. Indeed, if evidence were produced that the slain trainer was never made aware of Tilly’s violent tendencies, then the common law might very well find that SeaWorld is legally culpable for the death to the tune of several millions of dollars.

Getting back to the point, what the AFA argues is not that anyone (other than the killer whale) should be put to death, but that Biblical scriptures provide common-sense guidance (again with that word!) as to how to peaceably conduct ourselves as a community of mankind; the emphasis being on “common sense.” No one other than HuffPo claims that stoning is the appropriate penalty, or that the owners of Tilly should be killed, contrary to what HuffPo would have you believe. At most, the AFA author contends that SeaWorld should have used the Bible’s counsel when it comes to protecting human life from wild animal aggression, and that the victim’s family should avail itself of the civil court system for SeaWorld’s failure to do so. One can disagree with that presumption, but it’s pretty difficult to argue that anyone other than SeaWorld (or whomever) would have been better off for not disposing of the killer whale after the first death. Whether anyone is guilty in the eyes of God for that failure is not for us to decide, but it’s certainly not delusional to think that a mortal judge may arrive at such a decision.

Whatever problems one might have with religion, I just don’t see the utility in deriding people of faith for suggesting that their tenets have practical advice to offer. That goes double for harangues that have no basis in reality. With just a little bit of investigation, one would find that most religious texts offer an enormous amount of practical advice of the type that even the non-religious take for granted. There’s lots of goofy stuff in there as well, including prescriptions that shouldn’t be taken literally in this day and age, but that doesn’t mean the principles aren’t sound. When someone of a religious persuasion offers advice pertaining to those common-sense principles, and counsels adherence to those principles, then no fair critic would claim that such person is instead calling for a literal interpretation of ancient penalties. But then, HuffPo isn’t striving for fairness, but for bigotry.


Lou Dobbs and I actually agree on something

And that is that the Southern Poverty Law Center is cynically paranoid and into fear mongering. “Cynically” because its all about donations – no fear, no paranoia, no money.

Strangely silent during the “hate Bush” years, it has suddenly again found its voice now that a left of center government is in office and it can serve up its “right rage” paranoia.  However the SPLC never seems able to find any left wing hate (well except for a left leaning radio station that allowed some anti-semetic ranting apparently). Don’t believe me? Visit their website and type in “left wing hate”. Prepare to be inundated with instances of alleged right wing hate.  Even the recent crash of an airplane into a Texas IRS office by a guy who left a letter blaming Bush is spun into a typically right-wing attack.

And check it out when they actually do go after a minority group as a ‘hate group’. They rationalize their doing so by saying if we go after white hate groups “we cannot be in the business of explaining away the black ones.”   But they sure try:

Although the Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes that much black racism in America is, at least in part, a response to centuries of white racism, it believes racism must be exposed in all its forms.

But the question is are they left wing or right wing? In the world of the SPLC, every hate group is right-wing or unspecified.

Blaming Glen Beck, Michelle Bachman, Lou Dobbs and Sarah Palin for the rise is “right rage”, the SPLC claims:

“Another Oklahoma City is very much a possibility.”

Really? Like the rage of the Tea Parties, which DC police describe as one of the best behaved “protest” crowds ever?

Nope – it’s all about the usual nonsense with the “Patriot right”:

The growth of Patriot groups comes at a time when the number of racist hate groups stayed at record levels – rising from 926 in 2008 to 932 in 2009, according to the report. The increase caps a decade in which the number of hate groups surged by 55 percent. The expansion would have been much greater in 2009 if not for the demise of the American National Socialist Workers Party, a key neo-Nazi network whose founder was arrested in October 2008.

There also has been a surge in “nativist extremist” groups – vigilante organizations that go beyond advocating strict immigration policy and actually confront or harass suspected immigrants. These groups grew from 173 groups in 2008 to 309 in 2009, a rise of nearly 80 percent.

These three strands of the radical right – the hate groups, the nativist extremist groups, and the Patriot organizations – are the most volatile elements on the American political landscape. Taken together, their numbers increased by more than 40 percent, rising from 1,248 groups in 2008 to 1,753 last year.

Of course nowhere in this “report” will you find out the size of these new groups. Hundreds? Thousands? Or three nutballs who’ve splintered off from one of the other groups and put up a website? No telling. But do note, it’s all about the number of “groups”, not about the number of actual people involved in the “Patriot groups”. My guess is that would work toward badly diluting the paranoia the SPLC is trying to build.

Oh, and don’t forget the huge increase in violence:

There are already signs of radical right violence reminiscent of the 1990s. Right-wing extremists have murdered six law enforcement officers since Obama’s inauguration. Racist skinheads and others have been arrested in alleged plots to assassinate the president. Most recently, as recounted in the new issue of the Intelligence Report, a number of individuals with antigovernment, survivalist or racist views have been arrested in a series of bomb cases.

Of course the Ft. Hood and Little Rock Recruiting station killings were worse than any of that. There’s the Ft. Dix bomb plot and the Ft. Jackson 5 – none of them apparently worth mentioning. Nope – it’s all about the “radical right violence reminiscent of the 1990s” when it was Rush Limbaugh that was the cause.

And, let’s face it – as usual, these press releases come out from the SPLC just about the time it is pimping a new quarterly report, this one entitled “Right Rage”. It’s revenue generation time. What better way to scare up money than by scaring donors into opening their wallets.

~McQ


You can’t make this stuff up

Really. 

A 45-year-old woman, charged with ending a domestic dispute by killing her 26-year-old husband of five days, is a registered lobbyist for a group fighting domestic violence.

I mean the questions abound – 45/26, 5 day old marriage, she pops him – but:

[R]ecords show she is a lobbyist for an organization called the National Declaration for Domestic Violence Order; its Web site says the group is pushing legislation to create a database of those convicted of sex crimes or domestic abuse.

Hey, in a sort of “silver lining” to all of this, she could be the first entry.

Witnesses told police that Bridges was wearing a nightgown and a shower cap as she argued with Rankins on the sidewalk on North Avenue near West Peachtree Street around 10:45 p.m. Monday.

And moments later, witnesses said, they heard shots. They said she then “calmly walked away.”

Nightgown and shower cap out on the street? Sounds more like an attempted escape than an argument.

Truth is surely stranger than fiction.

~McQ


Obama’s market defying “magic” health care reform proposal

The media has essentially played up the attempt at bipartisanship and the call for immediate action from President Obama’s health care reform proposal yesterday given with the usual background of lab coated “doctors”.

The two things stressed by the media are nothing new. In fact, nothing in the proposal is nothing particularly new. But it does provide, in a distilled example, why it is so much blarney. But you have to get to the proposals themselves to understand that. So:

Essentially, my proposal would change three things about the current health care system:

First, it would end the worst practices of insurance companies. No longer would they be able to deny your coverage because of a pre-existing condition. No longer would they be able to drop your coverage because you got sick. No longer would they be able to force you to pay unlimited amounts of money out of your own pocket. No longer would they be able to arbitrarily and massively raise premiums like Anthem Blue Cross recently tried to do in California. Those practices would end.

So, first no pre-existing conditions, no ability to drop or deny coverage and unlimited payouts. But no ability to raise premiums (obviously without the fed’s say so) to account for the increased cost. A sure fire formula for financial health. Bring the sickest or those with the most chronic diseases on board, give them unlimited payouts and have no mechanism for recovering the cost they bring through premium increases.

Of course he’d have you believe this will work just fine in any government run system as well (the secret there is to cut payments to medical care providers). This part of the proposal should be known as the “big lie” because just like the spending rate of the US government at this point, it is an “unsustainable” program that will see private insurance go out of business within a decade or so.

On to number two:

Second, my proposal would give uninsured individuals and small business owners the same kind of choice of private health insurance that Members of Congress get for themselves. Because if it’s good enough for Members of Congress, it’s good enough for the people who pay their salaries. The reason federal employees get a good deal on health insurance is that we all participate in an insurance marketplace where insurance companies give better rates and coverage because we give them more customers. This is an idea that many Republicans have embraced in the past. And my proposal says that if you still can’t afford the insurance in this new marketplace, we will offer you tax credits to do so – tax credits that add up to the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history. After all, the wealthiest among us can already buy the best insurance there is, and the least well-off are able to get coverage through Medicaid. But it’s the middle-class that gets squeezed, and that’s who we have to help.

The reason federal employees get a good rate is they number over a million and can do what the rest of us can’t – buy their insurance from whomever they wish. However, individuals only buy 6% of health insurance and small businesses don’t bring those sorts of numbers to a pool. Essentially Members of Congress exploit the buying power of the high number of federal employees and with a few twists of their own, get insurance not available to the general public because of laws they’ve written. Unless there is the ability to sell insurance across state lines where insurance companies actually compete for business, that’s not going to happen with his proposal. And, by the way, there’s nothing in the Senate bill which includes the mechanism for these “exchanges”, and it is that bill he’s calling for to be passed. So this claim is all smoke and mirrors.

Notice too he plans on pushing a good number of people onto Medicaid – a government system funded and run by the states. As we all know, financially, the states are in excellent shape and this burden won’t have any effect on their future financial stability, will it?

Obama goes on:

Now, it’s true that all of this will cost money – about $100 billion per year. But most of this comes from the nearly $2 trillion a year that America already spends on health care. It’s just that right now, a lot of that money is being wasted or spent badly. With this plan, we’re going to make sure the dollars we spend go toward making insurance more affordable and more secure. We’re also going to eliminate wasteful taxpayer subsidies that currently go to insurance and pharmaceutical companies, set a new fee on insurance companies that stand to gain as millions of Americans are able to buy insurance, and make sure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of Medicare.

This is flat out disingenuous. A) no refusal, no payment caps, no premium increases, B) shoving people into Medicaid (thus it goes on state budgets) C) government subsidies. All for $100 billion a year? It will cost that much a year just to set up the bureaucracy.

And the benefits you get from this brilliance?

The bottom line is, our proposal is paid for. And all new money generated in this plan would go back to small businesses and middle-class families who can’t afford health insurance. It would lower prescription drug prices for seniors. And it would help train new doctors and nurses to provide care for American families.

You have to love the line, “all the new money generated in this plan”. It is the ultimate “something for nothing” scam. All these new benefits with no cost. In fact, as we eliminate pre-existing conditions, control what insurance companies can charge and require they pay unlimited payouts, we can expand Medicaid, lower prescription drug prices and train new doctors and nurses – and it’s all paid for.

Finally, my proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions – families, businesses, and the federal government. We have now incorporated most of the serious ideas from across the political spectrum about how to contain the rising cost of health care – ideas that go after the waste and abuse in our system, especially in programs like Medicare. But we do this while protecting Medicare benefits, and extending the financial stability of the program by nearly a decade.

The eternal promise of every shady politician – “not to worry, we’ll just go after the 30% waste, fraud and abuse in the system we presently run to pay for all of this. We promise.” They never have and they never will. They don’t know how and if they do, they haven’t the capability to eliminate it or, apparently, make a significant dent in it. The problem has persisted at that level since the program’s inception. So have the promises. In the meantime they’ll do everything in their power to cripple the private insurance industry and eventually run them out of business.

And if there is a “biggest lie” in what he said yesterday, it is this:

Our cost-cutting measures mirror most of the proposals in the current Senate bill, which reduces most people’s premiums and brings down our deficit by up to $1 trillion over the next two decades. And those aren’t my numbers – they are the savings determined by the CBO, which is the Washington acronym for the nonpartisan, independent referee of Congress.

Yeah, if you don’t consider the double counting, removal of the “doc fix” and any number of cheap accounting tricks that ended up putting Enron execs in jail. Paul Ryan took care of that bogus claim during the health care summit – it is worth your while to review his work.

Those are the Obama “proposals”. They essentially mirror the Senate bill which I and many others consider to be an abomination. This was Obama’s 31 or 32nd speech on the subject. Nothing has changed and the lies and distortions remain pretty much the same.

We have to hope that there are enough Democrats in the House that see that bill as something they can’t support. Obviously that’s the case at the moment (or it would have passed by now). Keep the pressure on, because the victory has to be in the House. The reconciliation nonsense is moot if it never leaves the House.

~McQ


Brazil says “no” to Iranian sanctions

So far this South American swing has been a real tour de force for Hillary Clinton – first she manages to anger one of our more stalwart allies by giving false Argentine claims legitimacy and now Ms. Clinton has managed to get Brazil to publicly refuse our attempt to increase sanctions on Iran.

Brazil.

We can’t even get Brazil to go along with us:

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pre-empted Clinton even before she could make the case for new United Nations Security Council penalties. Silva is an outspoken opponent of sanctions, and his country currently sits on the Security Council, which will be asked to approve its toughest-ever penalties on Iran later this year.

“It is not prudent to push Iran against a wall,” Silva told reporters hours before meeting with Clinton. “The prudent thing is to establish negotiations.”

Clinton told a news conference she respects Brazil’s position but thinks if there is any possibility of negotiating with Iran, it would happen only after a new round of sanctions.

So that’s at least one no vote on the UN’s Security Council. China and Russia are no fans of the idea. That could mean up to 3 no votes. Yup, this sanctions thing is really taking off.

The U.S. officials said that despite clear differences at the moment, the Brazilians assured Clinton their current position was not “etched in stone.”

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private diplomatic exchange.

That’s diplo speech for “yeah, had a great time and I promise I’ll call you tomorrow”.

~McQ


About that “increased moisture” due to global warming …

The latest “proof”offered by the alarmists such as Al Gore to explain how all the snow this year is a result of global warming is to claim global warming causes there to be moisture in the air. Thus, sayeth the Goracle, more rain and snow should be expected.

The first thing that struck me without looking at any science is, if it was warmer and there was more moisture in the air causing more precipitation, wouldn’t that precipitation be in the form of rain? I mean, if it’s really warmer and all. As it turns out though, Gore and the alarmists are flatly wrong. Apparently there’s actually less moisture in the air right now than in previous decades:

According to “State of the Climate” from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “Global precipitation in 2009 was near the 1961-1990 average.” And there was certainly no pattern of increasing rain and snow on America’s East Coast during the post-1976 years, when NOAA says the globe began to heat up.

In fact:

In late January, Scientific American reported: “A mysterious drop in water vapor in the lower stratosphere might be slowing climate change,” and noted that “an apparent increase in water vapor in this region in the 1980s and 1990s exacerbated global warming.”

The new study came from a group of scientists, mainly from the NOAA lab in Boulder. The scientists found: “Stratospheric water-vapor concentrations decreased by about 10 percent after the year 2000 . . . This acted to slow the rate of increase in global surface temperature over 2000 to 2009 by about 25 percent.”

Specifically, the study found that water vapor rising from the tropics has been reduced, because it has gotten cooler there (another inconvenient truth). A Wall Street Journal headline summed it up: “Slowdown in Warming Linked to Water Vapor.”

Moisture in the lower stratosphere (about 8 miles above the earth’s surface) has been going down, not up.

So obviously the Gore/alarmist claim that all of this heavy snow fall can be explained by the global warming theory – er, assertion – is so much nonsense. Not that anyone should be surprised.

It appears now they’re reduced to just making unsubstantiated claims in an effort to salvage the momentum and credibility they’ve rapidly lost since the inception of climategate. This bit of deception is just another nail in the AGW alarmist coffin.

~McQ



Cloudy With A Chance Of Perch

Ahh, climate change. Although there’s no conceivable connection between AGW and the fact that it rained fish in Lajamanu, Australia, I’m betting that Algoreists will try to finagle one anyway, probably citing some local fourth-grader’s English composition about the event as the expert evidence.

Residents of a small outback Australian town have been left speechless after fish began falling from the sky.

Hundreds of spangled perch bombarded the 650 residents of Lajamanu, shocking local Christine Balmer, who was walking home when the strange ‘weather’ started.

She said: ‘These fish fell in their hundreds and hundreds all over the place. The locals were running around everywhere picking them up.

‘The fish were all alive when they hit the ground so they would have been alive when they were up there flying around the sky.
[...]

Meterologists say the incident was probably caused by a tornado. It is common for tornados to suck up water and fish from rivers and drop them hundreds of miles away.

Mark Kersemakers fr0m the Australian Bureau of Meterology said: ‘Once they get up into the weather system, they are pretty much frozen and, after some time, they are released.’

Strangely, Lajamanu has experienced fish rain before. In fact, critter cloudbursts, money monsoons and Titleist torrents are not even that uncommon.

There is a long history of strange objects raining from the sky, with these strange occurrences among the most notable:

1st Century: Pliny The Elder wrote about storms of frogs and fish, foreshadowing many modern incidents.

1794: French soldiers stationed in Lalain, near Lille, reported toads falling from the sky during heavy rain.

1857: Sugar crystals as big as quarter of an inch in diameter fell over the course of two days in Lake County, California.

1876: A woman in Kentucky reported meat flakes raining from the sky. Tests found the meat was venison.

1902: Dust whipped up in Illinois caused muddy rain to fall over many north-eastern U.S. states.

1940: A tornado in Russia brought a shower of coins from the 16th Century.

1969: Golf balls fell from the sky on Punta Gorda in Florida (above).

1976: In San Luis Opisbo in California, blackbirds and pigeons rained from the sky for two days.

The only one I don’t get there is the last one in San Luis Opisbo. I mean, how do you tell the difference between it raining birds and, y’know, them just landing?

Now, if it would only snow gold flakes right into my backyard …

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