April 24, 2014

The ‘We Do What We Want, Bleep You’ Administration

Brazen.

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This column went up at PJ Media Monday evening Pacific Time and was teased here at BizzyBlog Tuesday morning.

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In the late-1970s, after a Rolling Stone review skewered his band’s latest album, Paul Kantner of the rock band Jefferson Starship fired off a nastygram the magazine printed which read (profanity removed): “We do what we want. Bleeeeeep you.”

Although even then it was becoming obvious that a more generic version of Kantner’s attitude was systematically permeating the culture at an alarming rate, who could have guessed that 30 years later, his reaction would become the operating theme of a U.S. presidential administration?

No one can argue that even before his 2008 electoral victory, Barack Obama and his cadre of collectivists were bent on “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” Obama said so himself. We now know that it was far more than a clever rhetorical flourish.

What remains unappreciated by far too many, particularly Republicans and conservatives in Washington who years ago should have recognized the need to more proactively and more aggressively resist, is that Obama, his White House and his regulatory leviathan intend to impose that transformation by any means necessary: constitutional or unconstitutional, legal or illegal, civil or hostile — and now, as seen last week in Nevada, nonviolent or violent. There are no rules, only constant tests of limits.

No aspect of this administration’s performance exemplifies its “bleep you” approach more than Obamacare.

Even in 2008, Team Obama instinctively knew that the American people would never accept the kind of state-dictated healthcare regime it wished to impose. Thus, the collection of guarantees they knew would not and could not be honored were born: “If you like your healthcare plan, doctor, medical provider, and prescription drug regimen, you can keep them, period.” False, false, false, and false — and delivered unilaterally with deductibles and out-of-pocket costs which would cause many workers in the public sector and at large private firms to begin planning their exit strategies. Too bad, so sad, suckers.

The administration took two important lessons away from the ferocious opposition which nearly derailed Obamacare’s passage in March 2010.

The first was that it would have to modify the law gradually and implement it invisibly. Thus, we have seen, as of earlier this month, 40 changes, almost all calibrated to minimize electoral damage while slowly strengthening the greedy hand’s grip on the nation’s medical delivery system. Collectively, these changes have fundamentally altered and even directly contradicted the law Congress passed, to the point where it is fundamentally deceiving to call today’s resulting contraption “The Affordable Care Act.” It’s Obamacare, meaning that it’s whatever Obama, the White House, the now-departed Kathleen Sebelius and her nominated successor Sylvia Burwell want it to be.

As to the disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov, as I asserted in December, “nobody’s this stupid and incompetent.” Events in the subsequent four months have only confirmed that assessment. What has become clear in the interim is the botched execution’s immediate purpose: to make quantifiable accountability impossible (longer-term, it’s about foisting single-payer on a resistant populace). Thus, we’re forced to accept the absurd, made-up metric of 7.5 million Americans “enrolled.” But we can’t determine how many of those who signed up have actually paid their first premium (which buys them 90 days of coverage, even if they stiff the system after cutting just one check), or how many of them are newly insured. Now the Census Bureau tells us that, gosh, we really want to, but we won’t have reliable or consistent year-over-year comparisons of health insurance coverage until after this fall’s House and Senate elections. How obviously convenient.

Meanwhile, insurers are relying on government-estimated subsidy payments because HealthCare.gov’s back end has not been built. In some states, doctors and other providers are treating many who they can only hope are covered. Hospitals providing “specialty treatment” which have been arbitrarily shoved out of Obamacare plan networks are providing untold amounts of unsustainable free care to child and adult patients.

The second lesson the administration learned was that it must do everything it can to make opponents’ lives miserable. This is where the Internal Revenue Service comes in. The agency’s selective targeting of Tea Party, Republican, and certain conservative groups — some of it “coinciding” with visits from other regulatory and law enforcement agencies — was once thought to be solely about neutralizing their effectiveness during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. We now know that it was about a lot more than that, specifically “to make an example of at least one group” by subjecting their leaders to criminal prosecution. Given the laundry list of otherwise unaffiliated federal agencies involved in the targeting effort, as PJ Media’s Bryan Preston wrote on Wednesday:

… it takes an entity above all of those agencies to coordinate their actions. That entity can only be the White House.

Other “bleep you” examples abound, far too many to completely chronicle here. Just s few of them have included: Hillary Clinton’s “What difference does it make?” reaction to the avoidable deaths of American ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others in Benghazi on her watch; Attorney General Eric Holder statement that he he has a “vast amount” of discretion in deciding which laws his Justice Department will and won’t enforce; illegal-immigrant amnesty-light executive orders; and last but far from least, the stimulus-driven, state legislature-avoiding implementation of the Common Core curriculum.

The government’s “bleep you” brazenness was on full display in Nevada last week. But this time, hundreds of resisters essentially shouted “Bleep you back” to the wannabe tyrants at the Bureau of Land Management, which is on a single-minded mission to drive Cliven Bundy from his ranch — if not financially, then physically. The resistance was successful only because the Constitution has guaranteed citizens’ right to bear arms.

As I asked Saturday evening: “Does anyone still believe that the Constitution’s Second Amendment isn’t as much about citizens defending themselves against an out-of-control government as it is about the natural-law right of self-defense?”

Washington’s go-along Republican and conservative culture should take a lesson from Nevada. They don’t need guns. All they need is the will to defund any and all federal agencies which have overstepped their bounds.

April 23, 2014

So Much For ‘It Can’t Happen Here’; Fetal Waste Turned Into Energy in Oregon

A month ago, the UK Telegraph reported that “The remains of more than 15,000 babies were incinerated as ‘clinical waste’ by hospitals in Britain with some used in ‘waste to energy’ plants.”

Prolife news sites and blogs as well as many other center-right outlets covered the story. The establishment press almost completely ignored it. Matt Balan of NewsBusters noted on March 26 that the story “got picked up by newspapers across much of the Anglosphere – including The Vancouver Sun and The Ottawa Citizen in Canada,” but that it did not “receive wide coverage in the United States.” More like barely any, with the only TV broadcast exception at the time being a segment on Fox News’s The Five. Perhaps the non-coverage excuse was “Well, that’s the UK. It could never happen here.” That excuse was lame anyway, and now it’s no longer operative (go to Page 3 at the B.C. Catholic link; story by Steve Weatherbe):

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New Home Sales Dive in March, Miss Expectations by Miles; Result Is ‘Unexpectedly’ ‘Surprising’

March was going to be the month when new home sales in the U.S. would finally break out after several months of horrible weather. After all, everyone knew that this winter’s snow, ice, and low temperatures were the only things holding the new home market back. Consensus predictions ahead of today’s related report from the Census Bureau were in the range of 450,000 to 455,000 annualized sales.

Oops. New home sales dove to a seasonally adjusted annualized 384,000, a 14.5 percent decline from February, a slightly larger miss compared to expectations, and a whopping 13.3 percent lower than March 2013. Press reports on this result predictably brought on appearances of the U-word (“unexpectedly”), with at least one interesting twist.

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April 22, 2014

If Only It Were That Easy

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:53 pm

ORPINO (The Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) either believes or wants primary voters to believe that the mere act of electing candidates they prefer to the state party’s Central Committee will cause the repeal of Obamacare.

That’s the only conceivable reaction to the mailing I just had emailed to me:

OhioCentralCommitteeAndOcare0414

What a sick insult to our intelligence, and a what an incredible waste of Republicans’ money.

Unless Stainbrook and Gallagher can explain how their elections to Central Committee will lead to the repeal of Obamacare (good luck with that, sir and ma’am), those who are in their district should vote for whoever is opposing them for allowing something this stupid to be released with their names on it.

These two represent Lucas County (county seat: Toledo). Apparently, Stainbrook, heaven help us, is the County Republican Chairman. He’s not some dumb schmuck who doesn’t know that the state party is willfully misleading voters about what a State Central Committee person can do.

USAT Initially Fails to Identify 6-2 Majority in Supremes’ Mich. Racial Preferences Decision

In his story (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes — and in case it gets edited later today; Update: It did) on the Supreme Court’s decision this morning upholding Michigan voters’ 2006 approval of a ban on race-, ethic- and gender-based preferences in university admissions, USA Today’s Richard Wolf failed to identify the size of the court majority, which was 6-2. Justice Elana Kagan recused herself because she was previously the U.S. solicitor general before being named to the high court. The court’s decision effectively upholds such bans in seven other states.

Additionally, by focusing on Justice Anthony Kennedy as “the man to watch,” Wolf initially left many readers with the impression that only five justices, Kennedy and the four others usually describe as “conservative” (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito) made the ruling. The fact is that they were also joined by Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the supposedly reliable “liberals.” Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):

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Latest PJ Media Column (‘The ‘We Do What We Want, Bleep You’ Administration’) Is Up

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog Thursday morning (link won’t work until then) after blackout expires.

April 21, 2014

NBC’s Martha White: 39 Paragraphs on All-Time Record Number of Temps, Not a Word on Obamacare

If there’s a prize for most words spent in Obamacare avoidance, NBC News’s Martha C. White is definitely in the running.

White managed to burn through almost 40 paragraphs and nearly 1,600 words in a report carried at CNBC on the all-time record number of workers employed by temporary help services. But she somehow managed to completely avoid mentioning Obamacare, which used to be known as the Affordable Care Act until President Obama and his Health and Human Services regulators made 40 changes to the law originally passed by Congress, some of which directly contradict the original law’s language. The closest she came was noting that using temps “lets companies avoid the cost of providing benefits like health insurance” — which has always been the case, except that health insurance is and will continue to be a lot more expensive, giving companies even more incentive to avoid adding to their own payrolls. Excerpts follow the jump.

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UAW Gives Up on VW-Chattanooga Appeal; AP Pretends Dem Congressmen Can ‘Investigate’ Election

Earlier today, just an hour before a hearing was to begin at the National Labor Relations Board, the United Auto Workers union dropped an appeal of the election it lost in February as it attempted to become the bargaining representative for workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant.

In a writeup which appears at the Associated Press’s “Big Story” but which somehow failed to appear in a 6 p.m. search on “UAW” at the Big Story site (sorted by date), reporter Erik Schelzig pretended that two Democratic Congressmen who last week started an “inquiry” into the circumstances surrounding the union’s loss will be conducting a “congressional investigation.” No they won’t, because they can’t, because their party is in the minority. What they can do is conduct a theatrical exercise which looks like a “hearing” which has no power and which a responsible AP reporter wouldn’t call a “congressional investigation.” Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):

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Politico’s Nather Imagines Non-Existent Rift Between Cliven Bundy and Tea Party

Last Tuesday, in an incredibly childish piece, even by his non-standards, Politico’s David Nather acted as if the resistance at Clive Bundy’s ranch was endorsed and supported entirely by the tea party movement and/or Republicans and/or conservatives, so he could then characterize their post stand-off behavior — i.e., pursuit of their longer-term political goals — as some form of abandonment.

I was tempted to ignore Nather’s nattering, but a couple of subsequent events are making Nather look even more foolish than usual. The first is the fact that Bundy still has significant armed assistance, something the Politico reporter appears not to have anticipated. The second relates to allegations of misbehavior, including illegal property destruction, by Bureau of Land Management agents. First, let’s get to some of Nather’s blather (bolds are mine throughout this post):

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Common Core: ‘This Is Dumbing Our Children Down’

Filed under: Activism,Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:12 am

The audio quality if far less than perfect, but the message is crystal clear:

Arkansas Mother Obliterates Common Core in 4 Minutes!

If you’re pressed for time, go to the 1:50 mark, where the parent goes through a Common Core problem, gets the two-step answer to the “What did they count by?” problem from Board of Education members, and then shows them how Common Core demands that fourth-graders solve it:

If they solve it in those two steps, they get it marked wrong.

They are expected to draw 18 circles with 90 hash marks solving this problem in exactly 108 steps.

The mother claims that Common Core’s “rigorous standards” include “skipping rote memorization of multiplication tables,” which is “hindering their ability to master long division and fractions later on in the semester.”

I’d like a confirmation of that deliberate avoidance of multiplication tables from someone who knows. (Update: Confirmed in a conversation this morning.)

This is indisputably a recipe, as the parent stated, for “dumbing our children down.”

I’ll leave it to readers to determine developers’ motivations.

Suggestion: Find out where politicians on the ballot stand on Common Core. If they’re for it, it’s hard to imagine why you would choose to support them in upcoming primaries and general elections.

April 19, 2014

Sign, Signs … A $17 an Hour Sign?

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:32 am

Here’s one:

$17perHourSign0414

Wow, that’s impressive. Guess where it was found:

WalmartLogoOnBuilding

Huh? Walmart? Yep:

WalmartCaption0414

It’s very safe to say that $17 an hour to work at Walmart is a higher rate than virtually “any” city outside of North Dakota, not just “many.”

Some takeaways:

  • There’s opportunity for those whose personal circumstances allow it to better themselves simply by moving. Those who live in a high-unemployment area who could move without personal consequence and don’t really have no right to complain. If Wal-Mart’s paying $17 an hour, imagine what you can make at skilled jobs in North Dakota. (Yes, the cost of living in North Dakota has shot up, but don’t even try to argue that it’s twice that seen in other states.)
  • The law of supply and demand works. If there’s a shortage of workers, employers have to pay more to get them.
  • The law of supply and demand works in the other direction too. If Congress grants amnesty to millions of workers already here, and each of them therefore gets to bring in relatives, and more illegal immigrants arrive in anticipation of the next amnesty, wages will be stay low or go lower. The Wall Street Journal and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may like that, and the Democratic Party may like the electoral majorities such a move will almost certainly guarantee, but the average American worker’s standard of living will deteriorate even more than we’ve seen already during six years of slack economic conditions.

AP Howler: Admin’s Good Friday Timing of Latest Keystone Pipeline Delay a ‘Surprise’

It either doesn’t take much to surprise Josh Lederman and Dana Capiello at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, or they have very short memories.

The AP pair described the Obama State Department’s Friday afternoon statement (roughly 3:30 p.m., based on the “9 hours ago” result returned in a Google search on the document’s title at 12:30 a.m. ET) that it would “provide more time” for eight federal agencies involved to submit “their views on the proposed Keystone Pipeline Project” as a “a surprise announcement Friday as Washington was winding down for Easter.” It’s as if something like this has never happened before during the Obama administration. Well, yes it has.

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April 18, 2014

Politico’s Nather: Obama Can ‘Spike the Football’ Because Obamacare ‘Is Beating Expectations’

David Nather at the Politico apparently wanted to make sure that those who don’t follow the news closely see a triumphant headline (“Obama Spikes the Football”) and a congratulatory opening paragraph at their computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Sure, the Politico reporter gradually threw in all kinds of qualifications after that, but his mission is largely accomplished: Cause those who don’t click through to believe that Obamacare is functioning as intended, and — especially in the headline — communicate the message that the debate about the statist health regime’s existence is really over. He can say that he did his job while at the same time keeping most people away from the more complicated reality. In that sense, Nather is right there with reporters at ABC and CBS who claim without verifiable evidence, as Rich Noyes at NewsBusters noted earlier this afternoon, that the program has achieved “a major milestone.” Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):

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AP: After Years of Touting It, Dems Told Not to Say ‘Recovery’

In a Friday morning dispatch which comes off more as a set of election instructions from “Democratic strategists” than as a real news report, David Espo at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, wanted to make sure that political operatives who don’t read boring pollster reports still get the message: Don’t use the word “recovery” during your fall campaign.

In the course of his missive, Espo falsely claimed that economic growth since the recession officially ended has continued unbroken, and failed to remind his audience that the party has trotted out “recovery” themes several times, only to see historically weak economic and employment results each time. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):

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April 17, 2014

Initial Unemployment Claims (041714): 304K SA; Raw Claims Up 5.8% From Previous Week

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:58 am

Predictions: 

Seasonal adjustment factors:

  • Week ended April 12, 2014 — 104.6
  • Week ended April 13, 2013 — 101.9

Raw claims:

  • Week ended April 5, 2014 — 298,393 (before possible revision; Update: revised to 300,189)
  • Week ended April 13, 2013 — 359,415

For the predictions above to come true, raw claims will need to be 330,000 or lower (330K divided by 1.046 is 315K, rounded).

That’s way too easy. We really should expect a seasonally adjusted value of 287,000 or below, which would mean that raw claims came in at 300,000 or below, or just above what we’ve seen in raw claims during the past two weeks. It’s difficult to see why raw claims should come in any higher, unless conditions are deteriorating. So to be clear, a seasonally adjusted reading of 295K or higher should be seen as BAD news.

We’ll see here at 8:30 a.m. (Note: The Department of Labor began issuing the report in PDF format last week).

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UPDATE: The DOL home page says 304,000, but the new report isn’t at the link yet.

HERE IT IS (the permanent link works):

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending April 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 304,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 2,000 from 300,000 to 302,000. The 4-week moving average was 312,000, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since October 6, 2007 when it was 302,000. The previous week’s average was revised up by 500 from 316,250 to 316,750.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 317,701 in the week ending April 12, an increase of 17,512 (or 5.8 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 16,022 (or 5.3 percent) from the previous week. There were 359,415 initial claims in the comparable week in 2013.

Well, the change in “the seasonal factors” doesn’t make sense. Both the week ended April 5 and the one ended April 12 were full, five-day, early-spring business weeks, and there really shouldn’t have been much change in raw claims from the first week to the second. But there was.

So, though the press surely won’t see it as such, this is a disappointment.

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UPDATE: I haven’t mentioned this in a few weeks, and need to remind readers of it every so often, with a bit of an update.

“Covered employment,” or the number of workers who would be eligible for unemployment benefits if they were laid off or let go, peaked at 133.902 million at the end of 2008. After over five years of “recovery,” it’s currently 130.938 million, or 2.2% below that peak.

Given that private-sector employment is finally back to its pre-recession peak, this tells me that there has been a noticeable shift in the workforce towards people who aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits, i.e., temps and part-timers.