Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Best Editorial Ever

A long time ago, I got tired of “anti-Obama” all the time, even though I despise the man. I even stopped listening to Rush Limbaugh because of that. However, this anti-Obama editorial is well worth reading, and the voters who put him in office are going to have much to answer for.

At stake in Ukraine: 1914 with nukes

By Glen Meakem May 20, 2014 Providence Journal

Unrest continues to grow in Ukraine, particularly in light of this month’s vote by two eastern regions that overwhelmingly passed referendums in favor of self-rule.

Government buildings continue to fall to Russian nationalists and clashes between separatists and Ukrainian military forces are increasingly violent. Russia held a May Day parade in Moscow for the first time since 1991 — the final year of the Soviet Union. Over 100,000 Russians used the occasion to gather in Red Square and applaud the annexation of Crimea, Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s expansionist policies.

European powers and the United States have done little to curb this new Russian aggression.

In 1994, U.S. President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister John Major, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma signed the Budapest memorandum, which pledged the nations to “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.” The treaty helped persuade Ukraine to relinquish its nuclear stockpile. At the time of the Soviet breakup, Ukraine had 1,800 nuclear weapons. In exchange for giving up their nukes, the U.S. pledged to secure Ukraine’s borders. In the years since, Ukraine has been a U.S. ally, even sending soldiers under NATO command in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But now, the fact that Vladimir Putin has grabbed Crimea and is infiltrating eastern Ukraine begs two questions. First, do treaties signed and commitments made by the U.S. mean anything? Second, if they don’t, what does this mean for the rest of the world?

By abandoning our security arrangement with Ukraine, we are creating a huge incentive for countries around the world to stockpile nuclear weapons, thus increasing the probability of nuclear conflict somewhere.

One hundred years ago, no one thought war was imminent. As Newt Gingrich writes at, World War I “came as an enormous shock, in retrospect almost like the Titanic hitting an iceberg. In the end, it shattered Europe, cost tens of millions of lives, bankrupted countries and changed forever those who survived the horrors.”

One hundred years later, an aggressive Russia possesses thousands of nuclear weapons and is motivated by a renewed imperialism that threatens peace in Eastern Europe.

So why is Russia acting with such overt aggression? Under President Obama, we have been in retreat from the world. His policies have included a quick withdrawal from Iraq and an unwise draw-down of forces in Afghanistan. He is shrinking our Navy — we currently have fewer than 100 ships deployed. He is shrinking our Army to its smallest size since before World War II. Obama has let foes cross red lines in Syria and kill our U.S. ambassador to Libya — both with no apparent consequences. And, in addition to reneging on our security agreement with Ukraine, he has reneged on our agreement to deploy missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic.

If Americans choose to continue down Obama’s path of weakness and retreat, we must accept an increasingly dangerous and unstable world. Just look at the growing dangers in Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, the Baltic States and the South China Sea, to name just a few.

But, this is not the world of 1914. It is the world of 2014 and the nuclear bazaar is just beginning for many smaller, increasingly insecure nations, from Saudi Arabia to the Philippines. And don’t forget the growing Islamic terror organizations that are just dying to get their hands on some nukes. In Obama’s world, any number of security lapses or miscalculations could lead to devastating nuclear conflicts — nuclear 1914.

Americans can still decide to lead and live up to the responsibility of being the global superpower. We can embrace our heritage and history as the country that saved the world from German expansionism in World War I, Nazism and the Imperial Japanese in World War II, and the Soviet Empire during the Cold War. We can be the steady, powerful, good actor that makes smaller allies feel secure and keeps potential enemies in check.

But if we want to have a strong military, we can’t continue to let spending mushroom with tens of millions of working-age Americans living lives of dependence on welfare, Obamacare, disability and a myriad of other taxpayer-funded programs. We must stand up to our growing entitlement culture. For America to be strong and the world to be safe, the vast, vast majority of individual Americans must choose to work hard and not be dependent.

Glen Meakem is the founder and CEO of and was previously founder and CEO of FreeMarkets. A former Army Reserve officer, he is a veteran of the Gulf War and a graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Business School.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

VA Today, Obamacare Tomorrow

This describes the future of medical care in the USA if Obamacare is not stopped:

How VA hospitals are a government-run disaster

By Michael D. Tanner

May 16, 2014 New York Post

The news is shocking: Patients dying on the waiting list for government-provided healthcare. But this is not a report from Canada or the British National Health Service. It’s right here in America, in the health system administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The problems first surfaced in Phoenix, where the wait to receive care at VA facilities had grown so long that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor. As many as 40 veterans reportedly died because they couldn’t get the care they needed. VA administrators tried to cover up the problems by establishing secret waiting lists and falsifying reports.

The scandal has now spread to other veteran facilities. VA employees at an outpatient clinic in Fort Collins, Colo., falsified appointment records to hide the fact that as many as 6,300 veterans treated at the outpatient clinic waited months to be seen for treatment. In Wyoming, whistleblowers have accused officials of manipulating records to hide wait times.

VA officers in San Antonio and Austin, Texas, have been accused of similar efforts to hide long waits. And in Pittsburgh, VA officials are accused of covering up the death of several patients after the water in a VA hospital became infected with bacteria. The officials reportedly tried to hide the information not only from patients and superiors, but even from hospital staff.

Earlier this month, the American Legion called for Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to resign. No doubt Gen. Shinseki was asleep at the switch. But the problem goes well beyond an incompetent cabinet secretary or a few corrupt local bureaucrats.

Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has long touted the VA system as the epitome of government-run healthcare. “Exhibit A for the advantages of government provision [of healthcare] is the veterans administration, which runs its own hospitals and clinics, and provides some of the best-quality healthcare in America at far lower cost than the private sector,” Krugman claims.

And he is right . . . at least about the VA being exhibit A for government healthcare.

Like all single-payer health systems around the world, the VA controls costs by imposing a “global budget” — a limit to how much it can spend on care. Thus year-to-year funding varies according to the whims of Congress, not according to what consumers want or are willing to spend.

With tens of thousands of wounded soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the demand for care is rising dramatically. Enrollment in VA services has increased by 13% from 2007 to 2012. Despite a 76% increase in expenditures ($24 billion) over that period, the program still suffers from chronic budget problems. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it would require as much as a 75% increase in inflation-adjusted funding for the VA to treat all veterans.

When resources can’t meet demand in a given year, the VA does what other single-payer systems do: It rations.

Even accessing the system can be a major problem. Currently, the case-processing backlog exceeds 344,000 claims. Although the VA says it has a policy of processing claims within 125 days, it actually takes an average of 160 days for a veteran to gain access to his health benefits. Moreover, the VA itself estimates that it has at least a 9% error rate in processing claims. Outside groups claim the error rate is much higher.

Appealing a VA decision can be an even more arduous process. A veteran who takes an appeal through all available administrative steps faces an average wait of 1,598 days, according to VA figures for 2013.

Moreover, because funding decisions are determined through the political process rather than by patient preference, the money is often misallocated. VA hospitals with low utilization rates are built or kept open not out of need, but because they reside in the districts of powerful congressional committee leaders. At the same time, other hospitals without political clout are overflowing.

The same issues beset other government-run health-care programs.

Take Medicaid. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that Medicaid recipients were six times more likely to be denied an appointment than people with private insurance. And according to a second study, when they do get an appointment, they wait an average of 42 days to see a doctor, twice as long as the privately insured.

In fact, Medicaid may not even be better than being uninsured altogether. The Oregon Health Insurance Exchange study, the first randomized controlled study of Medicaid outcomes, recently concluded that “Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical-health outcomes.”

Even Medicare, by far the most popular government-run healthcare program, has problems with access and quality. Studies have long shown that there is little correlation between Medicare spending and healthy outcomes. In fact, some of the regions where Medicare spends the most per patient have the poorest results.

As Harvard economists Katherine Baicker and Amitabh Chandra point out, higher Medicare spending “is not merely uncorrelated with the quality of care provided” but “negatively correlated with the use of effective care.”

Moreover, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice have found that one “unintended consequence of [Medicare’s] administered pricing systems has been to make some hospital services extraordinarily lucrative and others unprofitable. As a result, some services are more available (and others less available) than they would be in a competitive market . . . which may or may not reflect consumers’ needs and preferences.”

As the federal government takes over more and more of the healthcare system, there should be a lesson for us. Simply promising more healthcare does not mean delivering more healthcare. And government healthcare systems have a very poor record of delivering what they promise.

Michael D. Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

The New Fascism Rolls On

HGTV, the TV channel that mainly shows you how to fix toilets and flip houses, shows its intolerance, cowardice and willingness to help destroy the traditions and legal concepts that made this country special:

Charles C. W. Cooke May 9, 2014 National Review
The New Fascism Rolls On
Now it’s twin brothers with a home-decorating show who can’t hold heterodox political views.

Another day, another witch hunt — this time in duplicate. “Twin brothers David and Jason Benham,” CNN reports, “have lost their opportunity to host their own HGTV show.” On Tuesday, the pair was gearing up for their new role; by sundown the next day, the network had announced tersely that it had “decided not to move forward with the Benham Brothers’ series.” And that, as they say, was that.

HGTV’s mind was allegedly changed by a post on the blog Right Wing Watch, where the duo was described as being “anti-gay” and “anti-choice.” That post, David Benham told Erin Burnett yesterday, “was too much for them to bear — they had to make a business decision.” How sad. Certainly, the Benhams hold some heterodox views. They are not merely opposed to abortion and gay marriage, but critical of divorce,
adultery, Islam, pornography, “perversion,” the “demonic ideologies” that have crept into the nation’s “universities and . . . public school systems,” and the general culture of “activist” homosexuality, which, David contends, is inextricably tied up with a wider “agenda that is attacking the nation.” But so bloody what? They were tapped to host a home-improvement show, not rewrite the Constitution.

Per Right Wing Watch’s rather hysterical indictment, the brothers’ main crimes against humanity are to have “led a prayer rally,” talked a few times on the radio, written a few articles, and — shock! — been involved in “protests outside of abortion clinics” and “at a 2009 LGBT event.” In other words, to have taken to the public square and to have spoken — an activity free societies have traditionally tended to cherish. Did they bring their views into their work environment, impose them upon their employees and their clients, or physically threaten anybody who disagrees with them? Of course not.

“We’ve been running a successful real estate company for the last eleven years, and we help all people,” Jason Benham told CNN. “There is no discrimination.”
Jason’s brother, David, concurred, explaining that,
we love all people. I love homosexuals. I love Islam, Muslims, and my brother and I would never discriminate. Never have we — never would we.
Fair enough. But, as the likes of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Alec Baldwin, Paula Deen, Dick Metcalf, and Phil Robertson have recently learned, these days one doesn’t need to actually do anything in order to become persona non grata. Before he was defenestrated for the high crime of having donated to California’s Proposition 8, Mozilla’s short-lived CEO, Brendan Eich, made it clear that he considered it his responsibility to ensure that his company remained “a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion.” It counted for nothing.

Predictably, the boycott-and-divest Left is thrilled by the scalp. “You can be plenty offensive and stay on TV as long as your show’s a hit,” Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams lamented this week. Nevertheless, she continued, “thanks to social media, it may be becoming a little harder to be offensive and actually get on TV in the first place.” “I guess,” she concluded, “we’ll call that progress.” That’s one word for it, certainly. Another one might be “McCarthyism.” Americans with unfashionable views do not have a right to have television shows. But, as Twitter’s David Burge likes to point out, “nobody had a right to be a Hollywood screenwriter in 1948” either.

As a rule, the term “McCarthyite” is too lazily and too readily thrown around. Here, though, it is somewhat appropriate. At its root, McCarthy’s contention was that because free nations are vulnerable at their edges, they are on occasion justified in persecuting their radicals. Today’s inquisitors take a similar approach, Erin Ching, a student at Swarthmore College, telling reporters in Februrary that “what really bothered” her was “the whole idea that, at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion.” More specifically, Ching objected to “tolerating conservative views.” Why? “Because that dominant culture embeds these deep inequalities in our society.” And so, it must be repressed.

Future students of language will wonder at the period in our history in which it was said with a straight face that diversity required uniformity, tolerance necessitated intolerance, and liberalism called for dogma. Of late, we have been told that Brandeis University is simply too open-minded to hear from a critic of Islam, that Mozilla believes too vehemently in “freedom of speech” to refrain from punishing a man for his private views, and that a respect for the audience of a show about duck hunting demands that we suspend a man for expressing his religious views in an unrelated interview. “Never,” David Benham confirmed in an interview with CNN, “have I spoken against homosexuals, as individuals, and gone against them. I speak about an agenda.” Later, he added that “that’s really what the point of this is — that there is an agenda that is seeking to silence the voices of men and women of faith.” Say, now where might he have got hold of that idea?

— Charles C. W. Cooke is a staff writer at National Review.


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Monday, May 05, 2014

Punished for His Thoughts

I disagree with Ben about Mr.Silver's actions; he obviously felt he had to do something meaningful to save the NBA from further damage, but I think and I hope Donald Sterling goes to court and wins. This is a case where the cure is worse than the disease.

Ben Stein's Diary

Punished for His Thoughts

More on Adam Silver's panicky rush to judgment.

By Ben Stein 5.1.14 American Spectator

So, here I am, still in Denver, a lovely city, but too high up.

Herewith, a few lowly thoughts about Mr. Donald Sterling, his private conversations with his mistress, the media lynching of him, and the actions of the NBA sanctioning him severely for those private thoughts and comments.

"It’s a slippery slope," said billionaire sports club owner Mark Cuban when asked about the sanctions. I am not sure what he meant, but he’s right.

Sterling is being punished for his thoughts. He is being punished for actions that make the NBA look bad even though they were not actions at all, but thoughts.

As far as I have been able to determine, the NBA code of conduct allows sanctions for actions. I don’t see anything that allows sanctions for thoughts. So, where does the authority for that come from?

Next, if we are to sanction private thoughts and comments by NBA owners, shouldn’t we put all of their mistresses and wives and friends and children under oath and ask about any comments they have ever made in private? Why is only Mr. Sterling being singled out for retribution for his thoughts? Why not start wholesale, Vishinsky-like Stalin show trial interrogation of everyone close to an NBA owner to find out what he has said that might be objectionable? Isn’t the punishment of Mr. Sterling just an in terrorem bill of attainder against one man otherwise?

So, while we’re at it, let’s see what actions other professional team owners have done that might embarrass their league. They are all rich so probably they have girlfriends. We know that one in the Midwest was just arrested for a DUI and drug possession. Nothing at all was done to him. Not a thing.

Are we in a world where a non-criminal thought or comment is punished harshly but an actual deed an arrest for DUI and drug possession is not punished ? Can that really be happening?

And while we are on this witch-hunt about racist comments, why stop at NBA owners? How about media personalities? I know some big names that have made some startlingly racist comments in their earlier days. Should we go after them, too? Why should they be allowed to sit in judgment of everyone else?

And why is it suddenly a crime to harbor racist thoughts? Note, I deplore racism and have fought against it all of my life. But when did it become actionable by a self-regulating body with the power to deprive a member of immense amounts of money to do so because of his thoughts? Actions, of course. But THOUGHTS?

And what of Mr. Obama’s pastor and his spectacularly anti-white comments? What about Minister Farrakhan? Is it allowed to make racist remarks about one racial group but not about others?

What about the black comedians I see on TV at night with their endless mockery of whites? Is that allowed? Why?

Mr. Cuban is right. Once we start punishing people on the basis of thoughts, we are in real trouble. There is no end in sight that is compatible with a free society.

And, again, why isn’t there some outcry about Ms. Stiviano and her illegal taping of a private conversation?

Next, Mr. Adam Silver, the head of the NBA. Hailed as a hero. Brave. Decisive. I don’t get it. He was just bullied into taking the path the media demanded. He made a rush to judgment without the slightest thought to the ramifications of his actions in a Constitutional democracy. He’s not a hero. A hero would have insisted on taking some time to study the consequences of his actions. But he did what the media demanded. So he’s a hero to them.

And meanwhile, out there in America, the black person’s world is in chaos. Wildly higher school dropout rates than among whites. Demolished family structure. Terrifyingly higher arrest and incarceration rates than whites. A drug plague. These are catastrophes and the media ignores them. But one lone old rich drunk who talked too much to his mistress... oh, we’ll nail him and things will be great in the world of blacks.

I am telling you, we are in a bad way here. I hate racism but I love freedom and we are throwing it away with both hands.



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Sunday, May 04, 2014

Life Is Unfair in Politics

Life is unfair. Under President Bush (Bush 43), the average unemployment rate for his entire term was 5.3%. This includes the months of the Clinton recession, which Bush inherited, the major slowdown after 9/11, and the after-effects of the housing crash in 2007 and 2008. Despite the fact that these events had nothing to do with Bush, he was and will be blamed for the housing crash because it happened on his watch.

Not only was President Bush not responsible for any of these terrible disasters, each of them was directly the result of Democrat policies and decisions. Again, life, particularly political life, is, indeed, unfair.

Islamic terrorism and 9/11 can be directly linked to Jimmy Carter’s policies on Iran and to Bill Clinton’s inaction in response to direct attacks on Americans by Islamists. The housing bubble and subsequent crash can also be directly linked to Carter’s support of a program (Community Reinvestment Act) to force banks to grant mortgages to deadbeats, and to Clinton’s strengthening of CRA – as well as the threats made by his Attorney General (Janet Reno) to banks who did not move quickly enough to push loans to people who could not possibly repay them.

It is also documented that President Bush 13 times requested changes and limits be placed on Fannie Mae and on Freddie Mac and was rebuffed by the Democrat Congress and particularly by Barney Frank and by Chris Dodd, who was later shown to have benefited personally from his position in this matter.


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Friday, May 02, 2014

World's Stupidest People

I admit it: I love Judge Judy. At least once a week a Pitbull dog owner shows up as a defendant on her show to defend his or her Pitbull that has mauled or maimed another innocent person. The excuses and explanations they present are always ludicrous, and, often they allow their dog to play with small children. If they read the Drudge Report they would see numerous items where previously peaceful Pitbulls suddenly viciously attacked a child, inflicting serious damage. If they read the NY Times, they may have noted that 40% of all reported dog attacks are from this one breed. I think Pitbull owners are the world's stupidest people.

The Social Contract with Owners of Dangerous Dogs

Sierra Rayne May 1, 2014 AmericanThinker (excerpts)
The news that a one-year-old girl recently had her nose bitten off by a pit bull attack in Ottawa has rekindled the always simmering debate over banning these dangerous animals. Barbara Kay -- a social conservative commentator in the Canadian media -- has written two good columns on the subject, calling for an enforced ban on dangerous dogs. The statistics Kay presents are alarming. Pit bulls are such an inherently dangerous breed that just brushing off calls for their banning is simply irresponsible.

As the years go by, the number of dog attacks continue to add up. In the United States alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide the following data: "About 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Almost one in five of those who are bitten, about 885,000, require medical attention for dog bite-related injuries; half of these are children. In 2012, more than 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by dogs."...

Action should be taken against dangerous dogs. The following two policy options are available: (1) ban the ownership of any and all dangerous dogs, or (2) hold any and all owners of dogs responsible for any and all illegal acts that their pets commit to the extent equivalent as if the owner had committed the crime(s) themselves with intent and under aggravating circumstances.

Some will argue that all dogs can be dangerous, and that we cannot rationally restrict our bans to just one breed of dog. True that may be, in such a case we apparently need to ban the ownership of any and all dogs. Let the dog owners decide which option they would like to pursue. Ideally, we make such decisions based on an intellectually rigorous analysis of breed-related incident statistics. Using the statistics Kay has assembled in her articles, the primary culprit is pit bulls and a few other notable -- but much less problematic -- breeds.

Of course, we shouldn't restrict ourselves to just dogs. Owners should be fully responsible for the actions of all dangerous pets, so all dangerous pets should be banned (again, based on an analysis of species-related incident statistics). Those familiar with the law recognize that blunt instruments very often make bad law, and many readers can clearly appreciate the dangers that arise from the restriction of liberties for law-abiding citizens.

Bans are very blunt instruments, and generally bad law where an activity does not necessarily lead to a criminal act. And by no means is it unavoidable that owning a dangerous animal leads to that dangerous animal engaging in a criminal act. Thus, bans are not the preferred choice from a theoretical perspective, but they may be the only practical option available to deal with the problem.

Option (2) is preferable, as laws should always be constructed to focus on those engaged in criminal activity, capturing as few innocent parties as possible. Deterrence works, and by making penalties sufficiently harsh, illegal activities are minimized. What does this mean in practice? If a dog kills someone, the owner should be punished as though the owner had killed the other person with intent (the default is first-degree murder). No exceptions. If a dog attacks someone using less than lethal force, the owner should be considered to have engaged in the equivalent activity under aggravating circumstances. If a dog causes property damage of any form to another individual, the owner should be considered to have engaged in such activity with intent and under aggravating circumstances.

Dog owners will cry foul, as they do on almost all issues (a particularly whiny species they are). However, owning a dog (or other animal) is not a requirement to exist within civil society, with the exception of those who employ animals for a very narrowly restricted suite of purely legitimate disability reasons. Some will claim they have a fundamental right to own a dog if they so wish. Fine, but then such owners have a responsibility to be fully accountable for any and all actions of the animal they wish to own.

And, in return for someone's right to own a potentially dangerous animal, all other citizens should be granted the unrestricted right to own firearms in order to protect themselves against attacks from such animals. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If you get to own a potentially dangerous weapon (e.g., a pit bull) and take it out in public, so do I. Except my choice of potentially dangerous weapon will be a handgun as defense against your potentially dangerous animal weapon.

Will the courts uphold option (2)? No chance, at least in Canada. The Canadian court system is far too conciliatory towards many illegal activities that there is zero likelihood it would uphold any form of legislation deeming the actions of an animal to be those of its owner with intent and aggravating circumstances. One suspects this judicial weakness is a common problem in the West. As a result, despite the theoretical preference for option (2), it is practically unworkable within our current and reasonably foreseeable future legal systems, requiring we pursue option (1). Namely, any and all dangerous dogs should be banned. We can start with pit bulls, and extend the bans if necessary.

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