"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt

One of Salem Oregon's Unofficial Top 1000 Conservative Political Bloggers!!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In a Rare Moment of Half-truth, HHS Secretary Sebelius Admits Premiums Rising Due to ObamaCare

"Don't worry. You'll get subsidies to handle your costs paid for by people richer than you. Oh, you mean you have a job? Well, then you will pay more."

I guess Sebelius couldn't ignore the rate increases any longer.

From The Wall Street Journal article by Louise Radnofsky:

Some people purchasing new insurance policies for themselves this fall could see premiums rise because of requirements in the health-care law, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters Tuesday.

Ms. Sebelius’s remarks come weeks before insurers are expected to begin releasing rates for plans that start on Jan. 1, 2014, when key provisions of the health law kick in.  
Premiums have been a sensitive subject for the Obama administration, which is counting on elements in the health law designed to increase competition among insurers to keep rates in check. The administration has pointed to subsidies that will be available for many lower-income Americans to help them with the cost of coverage.
The secretary’s remarks are among the first direct statements from federal officials that people who have skimpy health plans right now could face higher premiums for plans that are more generous. She noted that the law requires plans to provide better benefits and treat all customers equally regardless of their medical claims.

“These folks will be moving into a really fully insured product for the first time, and so there may be a higher cost associated with getting into that market,” she said. “But we feel pretty strongly that with subsidies available to a lot of that population that they are really going to see much better benefit for the money that they’re spending.”

Ms. Sebelius added that those customers currently pay more for their health care if their plans have high out-of-pocket costs, high deductibles or exclude particular types of coverage, such as mental health treatment. She also said that some men and younger customers could see their rates increase while women and older customers could see their rates drop because the law restricts insurers’ ability to set rates based on age and gender.  
As The Wall Street Journal reported last week, some insurers have already begun signaling they could dramatically increase prices for people buying policies in the individual market to compensate for restrictions on how they treat consumers, as well as new fees and requirements that they provide bigger benefits packages.
Beautiful. Just beautiful.

As John Hayward at Human Events points out, "Don’t worry, folks, ObamaCare is blowing premiums through the roof, but there will be subsidies available for lower-income Americans! That means the rest of us will get screwed twice - once when we pay our higher insurance premiums, then again when we pay for all those lovely subsidies."

Considering this law was written and pushed by people who are ignorant of (a) health care and the industry of health care (b) the insurance business, most specifically actuarials, and (c) the workings of a free market industry, this result is sadly predictable.

ObamaCare is unworkable. It is simply a matter of how much damage it does before major overhauling must take place. The nature of the overhaul is also in question-- whether it will follow the way of single-payer-- and furthering the downward spiral of health care in the U.S.-- or a market-based model.

Thanks Supreme Court for ruling that people can be coerced through taxation to bend to the government's will.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Obama's EPA Released Illegally Gathered Information to Extremist Animal Rights Groups

"Defy my will and I shall release upon you the wrath of smelly Leftist extremist groups."

Hey, if you're going to illegally gather information then why not share it with political allies?

The Farm Futures article by Alan Newport (h/t Gateway Pundit):

NCBA and the National Pork Producers Council are both furious with EPA for handing extremist groups illegally gathered data on farmers who operate confined animal feeding operations. 
NCBA said early this week it was notified by the EPA that the agency had been collecting information from states on CAFOs. The information was requested by extremist groups, including Earth Justice, the Pew Charitable Trust and the Natural Resources Defense Council through a Freedom of Information Act request and was given to them.
The information released by EPA covers livestock operations in more than 30 states, including many family farmers who feed less than 1,000 head and are not subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. 
"When we reviewed the information submitted by the states and released by EPA, we were alarmed at the detail of the information provided on hard working family farmers and ranchers, family operations including my own," said NCBA past president J.D. Alexander, a cattle feeder from Pilger, Nebraska.
"It is beyond comprehension to me that with threats to my family from harassment atop bio-security concerns, that EPA would gather this information only to release it to these groups. This information details my family's home address and geographic coordinates. The only thing it doesn't do is chauffeur these extremists to my house. For some operations, even telephone numbers and deceased relatives are listed."

The problem had recent roots in January 2012 when EPA proposed the Clean Water Act Section 308 CAFO Reporting rule to collect information from CAFOs and make it publicly available and readily searchable through their website.

Beef producers and even the Department of Homeland Security expressed concerns this was a serious overreach of EPA's authority and would create a road map for activists to harass individual families. They also said the proposal would aid and abet terrorism and provide a very real threat to the nation's food security.

The Pork Producers said the regulation was the result of a 2010 "sweetheart" deal between EPA and the environmental groups. It says the deal was struck while EPA and livestock and poultry producers were in the middle of a lawsuit brought by NPPC over EPA's 2008 CAFO rule, which required large livestock and poultry operations that "propose to" or that "might" discharge into waterways to obtain Clean Water Act permits. A federal appeals court ruled that the CWA requires permits only for farms that actually discharge.

EPA withdrew the 308 rule on these grounds but then indicated it still wanted to collect data on CAFOs to "more effectively carry out its CAFO permitting programs on a national level and ensure that CAFOs are implementing practices to protect water quality and human health."

NPPC said EPA then gathered the data from state water agencies without informing them about its intention to share the information with outside groups, including through a searchable national database.

NCBA said it has since learned that EPA still intends to use this gathered data to create a national searchable database of livestock operations, despite earlier objections and apparent agreements.

Alexander said this action by EPA just proves that our nation says it is concerned with national security, but does not care about personal small business security.

"Cattle producers won this issue with EPA's decision to withdraw the rule and with the withdrawal we had hoped precautions would be taken by the agency to protect such information. Instead of protecting this information, EPA was compiling it in a nice package for these groups, all on the federal dole," Alexander fumed.

With USDA threatening to shut down meat inspection to control spending, Alexander asked, how can EPA afford to compile all this data?
Hey, Obama is really big into talking about punishing people for their transgressions against his will and political beliefs. What kind of behavior do you expect from a guy like that? I mean, would you not expect the EPA to become a de facto protection racket? It's the Rainbow Coalition's way.

"Nice ranch you got here. It'd be a shame if some eco-freaks set up protests here."

Friday, March 22, 2013

ObamaCare's Unpopularity has Increased

"Hey no one ever said that you'd love this new system and be able to keep your current insurance or doctor. Oh... well, maybe I think you that you misheard me and I can neither confirm or deny rumors that... Republicans and bankers want to harvest minority babies' organs!! We must spend a trillion dollars to stop them!"

It wasn't like that badly written piece of crud was ever popular.

According to this Kaiser Health tracking poll, ObamaCare is more unpopular than before.

Jefferey H. Anderson at The Weekly Standard explains:

In 2010, the Democrats rammed Obamacare through Congress in open defiance of public opinion, and an incensed citizenry responded by giving Republicans their biggest gains in the House of Representatives since before World War II. Now, coinciding with tomorrow’s 3-year anniversary of President Obama’s signing Obamacare into law, new polling suggests that his namesake is now even less popular than it was at the time of its passage. 
According to the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll for March, only 18 percent of Republicans, 31 percent of independents, and 58 percent of members of Obama’s own party, have a favorable opinion of Obamacare. Overall, Kaiser’s polling indicates that only 37 percent of Americans like Obamacare — down 9 points from Kaiser’s tally in the month immediately following Obamacare’s passage.
By about 2-to-1 margins, Kaiser’s respondents now say that, under Obamacare, they expect the cost of American health care to rise (55 percent), rather than fall (21 percent), and the quality of American health care to fall (45 percent) rather than rise (24 percent). By more than 3-to-1 margins (57 to 16 percent on costs, 55 to 18 percent on quality), independents share these same low expectations for life under Obamacare.
Moreover, Kaiser adds, “The intensity of opinion on the law still lies with the GOP.” It writes, “About half of Republicans (53 percent) say they have a very unfavorable view, compared to three in ten Democrats (31 percent) who say they have a very favorable view” (italics in original).
If even Kaiser is showing these results, one can say with confidence that Obama’s centerpiece legislation is, indeed, unpopular. Kaiser has always been an outlier poll, finding support for Obamacare when it was almost impossible to glean elsewhere. In April 2010, in its first post-passage poll, Kaiser showed more support for Obamacare than opposition to it (by a 6-point margin — 46 to 40 percent). That same month, RealClearPolitics showed 11 polls on Obamacare. All 11 showed it to be unpopular, with the average margin of opposition being 13 points — a 19-point swing from Kaiser’s polling. Yet, three years later, even Kaiser’s polling now shows Obamacare to be held in low esteem.
I kind of wonder who's going to like ObamaCare when the average life expectancy in the U.S. drops, and people are denied life saving procedures and medications (birth control not included of course) due to cost and artificially scarce resources. I guess MSNBC will still be a fan, even as their anchors claim that conservatives want to bring back slavery.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Raids of Cyprus' Bank Accounts Could Never Happen Here, Right?

A bank run in 1931

An interesting editorial from Investors Business Daily. Check it out.

From the editorial:

Markets tumbled after Cyprus and the EU said they might tax private bank accounts to pay for a bailout. Arbitrary property grabs are a new low and a bad precedent in this crisis. Worse still, it can happen here.
As bad as tumbling markets around the world are, they seem to be the only signal strong enough to catch the attention of Europe's otherwise unaccountable bureaucrats who have long since learned to ignore street riots.

As stocks fell from Tokyo to New York, Europe's leaders are scrambling to say they had nothing to do with the cause — the shutdown of all Cyprus banks and ATMs for at least three days and the expropriation of a large chunk of each now-captive account, as a "tax" to pay for Cyprus' $13 billion EU bailout, Europe's fifth.

Cyprus Prime Minister Nicos Anastasiades bitterly asserted he had been "blackmailed" by the EU and the International Monetary Fund to go along with the idea on Saturday, or there'd be no bailout. Cyprus' central bank chief Panicos Demetriades said the same thing.

Aside from the fact that no fiscally responsible country should need a bailout and the roots of Cyprus' financial crisis is based on long-term big-spending government and low-information voters, the bank shutdown nevertheless sets an ugly precedent rooted in the growing arrogance of EU power.

Oh sure, the rationale was that most of the depositors were shady foreigners, particularly from Russia, laundering money. But the photos of Cypriots banging on bank doors and protesting, much as the people of Argentina did when the same thing happened to them in 2002, tells a different story of human suffering.

The expropriation of the tiny country's savings may have seemed like an easy test case for the EU because the population is small and some of the depositors are rich and unsympathetic, but the blowback will hit savings and investment — and future economic growth — all over Europe.

Worse still, it could catch on here.

Already Congressional Democrats are plotting the expropriation of Americans' private 401(k) and IRA retirement savings accounts in favor of "a guaranteed income." If bank accounts can be casually expropriated in Cyprus to pay for big-spending governments and bailouts, there is no reason a nice slice of the $19 trillion in retirement accounts can't get the same treatment.
I've been concerned about this possibility for some times. History has shown that very often the economic policies Obama advocates and pushes so fervently results in the confiscation of the public's retirement plans, savings accounts, IRAs etc. It is generally crouched in terms of the government "guaranteeing the investment." This is not much different than Obama's public rationale for bailing out and then running GM. Do we remember Obama's televised speech about how your GM car, financial plan, etc. was even safer now that it has government backing? A similar speech would be trotted out and delivered in a similar manner as the government raids citizens' retirement funds, turning private investment into another social security-like ponzi scheme.

This has happened with alarming frequency in South American countries, Argentina being the easiest example to look up. Unfortunately most people are ignorant of other countries' domestic policies. Worse, many who are aware of such failed foreign policies believe that the reason that the policies failed was not because of the obvious economic stupidity of the policies themselves, but insultingly because of the "inferiority"of the foreign people.

Every person I know who has voiced this opinion to me, and there's been more than a few, is on the American political Left. The thinking is not unlike the basic meme circulating among the Left now, especially at the university level and in the occasional newspaper editorial, that the reason the USSR failed was because it was run by a "peasant people" and not to the unworkability of Marxist theory.

Both are rather raw examples of the basic parochial and elitist underpinnings of Socialist and Marxist doctrine. An absolute belief that normal people are too stupid, too ignorant, too uneducated, and too peasant-like to take of themselves is at the core of the theory. Why else would Marxism require a police state to be built to morally and economically better the people (and to kill off the irredeemable)? Why the need for the modern American nanny states? Because the politicians who propose these policies believe that the average person can be responsible enough to make their own decisions?

So should these raids on private property occur here, remember that as the American political class takes your money to pay for their historically failed policies, government paid vacations, and other perks of office, their attitude will be of smug paternalism. And as they calmly inform us that our retirement funds are now "guaranteed" by the federal government with as much warmth as they and their speech writers and their acting coaches can fake, that they see us as little more than children unable to understand the complexity of a modern economy.

Does this attitude sound a little familiar? cough *Pelosi regarding the Tea Party* cough *Bloomberg and sodas and pain medications*

Monday, March 18, 2013

Back to Blogging

Hello. Just wanted to say that I'm back to blogging after fighting off this tenacious little bug. I don't know what this little bugger was, but it hit me and my family hard. Not my wife, of course. The last time she was sick enough to stay in bed was about 9 years ago. Geez. Why can't I have that immune system?

Ah, well.

So, I'm looking through the political junk, which I mostly avoided while I was ill-- and you would not believe how happy that made me, and find Cyprus in disarray and Obama throwing up missile interceptors in Alaska to allay fears of North Korean nuclear missiles. I don't think Obama's worried about the West Coast so much-- I mean there's a lot of people out here that he believes deserve to be punished-- but is instead concerned about the flaming Obama video North Korea released-- to music from the video game Skyrim no less. Perhaps Obama should just remind everyone in North Korea that they're in a tiny country that's not really a threat to the great and powerful U.S. That's real "smart diplomacy."

Anyway, will post more when I see anything interesting.

Be back soon.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Obama: "I don't believe people should be able to own guns"

Okay, I'm still sick, but this a peeve of mine, so I'm putting it up here between coughing fits. I'm tired of arguing with my father-in-law about Obama's anti-gun stance. My father-in-law is gun lover, but a see no evil, hear no evil kind of guy when it comes to Obama (like many people, I suspect).

From the CNS News article by Gregory Gwyn-Williams, Jr:

In his new book, At the Brink, economist and author John Lott Jr., assesses the presidency of Barack Obama and recalls conversations regarding gun laws they had while working at the University of Chicago.

In Chapter Three, Mr. Lott discusses gun-control and takes the reader back to his time at the University of Chicago, where he and then-professor Barack Obama spoke on numerous occasions about guns in America.

"I don't believe people should be able to own guns," Obama told Lott one day at the University of Chicago Law School.

Lott explains that he first met Obama shortly after completing his research on concealed handgun laws and crime.

"He did not come across as a moderate who wanted to bring people together," Lott writes.

After he introduced himself to Obama, Lott suggested that they have lunch one day to discuss their views on guns. According to Lott, Obama "grimaced and turned away." That was the way many conversations with Obama ended, Lott says.

Although the Law School was famous for the openness of its faculty and friendly engagement, Lott says, "Obama...preferred silent, scowling disdain to collegiality."


The chapter documents the actions that Obama has taken on guns, citing the following:
  • In 1996, Obama supported a ban on handguns
  • In 1998, he supported a ban on the sale of all semi-automatic guns
  • In 2004, he advocated banning gun sales within five miles of a school or park, which would have shut down nearly all gun stores
Mr. Lott concludes the chapter, titled, "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered," writing, "Barack Obama is the most anti-gun president ever. That claim is based not on my own interactions with him back in the 1990's but on his own public record over many years."

He ends with a warning:

"The greatest threat is in his [Obama's] power to reshape the federal courts...Each appointment to the Supreme Court could determine whether the people are allowed to keep their guns."
Obama will lie through his teeth to get as many guns out of the American public's hands as possible. How can anyone trust this man? Shall we go through his various lies about ObamaCare? Fast & Furious? His spending? Benghazi?

But, but, but he's telling the truth about guns. Really. And it's all for our own good anyway. Trust us.