Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, History, National Security, Russia, The United States | Tags: Formal Approval From Parliament, Obama Speaks Out, Russian Troops Invade Crimea
The situation in the Ukraine continues to deteriorate. Putin has invaded the Crimea, as expected. President Obama skipped the National Security Meeting on the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.
A Ukrainian official at the U.N. said an additional 15,000 Russian troops were streaming into Crimea after President Vladimir Putin received formal approval from the upper chamber of parliament to send forces into his neighboring country.
Ukrainian officials said two Russian anti-submarine warships had approached the coastline near Sevastopol, violating the two countries’ agreement on the Russian naval base there.
These moves came shortly after Obama said in the White House press briefing that “the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.” There’s a statement designed to send chills down the backbone of any Russian czar, or not.
“Russian troops will remain deployed until the “political-social situation in the country is normalized,” the Kremlin said.
President Obama skipped the National Security Meeting on the Russian invasion of the Ukraine., but I repeat myself.
He told us so back when he was running for office, but you didn’t pay attention. Richard Fernandez notes:
During the height of the Cold War it was believed that having to emphasize the obvious represented a failure of policy. Deterrence had to be self-evident; a daily thing. You didn’t go on the air to issue bloodcurdling warnings. You didn’t have to because stability was there, part of the normal like the air or the earth. The Russian president only had to look at the his daily briefing to know that the USAF was flying and hence that the day could begin as peacefully as the previous one.
Well, when the world heats up, just issue a firm statement — “there will be costs.” That should do it.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, Politics, Progressivism, Regulation, The United States | Tags: Dysfunctional, The State Exchanges, Two x Cost of Federal Exchange
The disastrous rollout of ObamaCare continues apace, but the federal government spent more on broken stat-run exchanges than it did on its own troubled system. Fourteen states plus the District of Columbia established their own health insurance coverage under ObamaCare. Of those fourteen, seven remain dysfunctional, disabled or seriously underperforming. The development of those exchanges was funded by the federal government through a series of grants that totaled more than $1.2 billion —almost double the $677 million cost of the federal exchange.
Oregon: Spectacular failure. $48 million “early innovator” grant from the federal government, which hoped the exchange would be a model for other states. Delays, delays, delays. Consultants warned that it was headed for disaster. Total federal grants —$303 million. I’m not sure that they have signed anyone up yet.
Maryland: Obama used Largo, Maryland as the background for a speech touting the benefits of ObamaCare. Maryland promptly turned out to be one of the worst in the nation. Announced this week it was terminating $193 million contract with Noridian Healthcare Solutions, its IT contractor. Officials now say the existing system is so flawed they may dump the whole thing.
Massachusetts: The state’s 2006 reform supposedly helped inspire the design of ObamaCare. They hired CGI, the same contractor who built the federal exchange. Technical glitches from day one. By January the state lagged further behind their original enrollment goal than any other state. Only 5,428 people signed up during the first 3 months, 0.8% of the first year goal. $135.6 million in federal grants, and an early innovator grant.
Vermont: The Affordable Care Act is not progressive enough for Vermont. State officials said they would pursue a single-payer program beginning in 2017. Failed launch, $165.2 million in federal grants, still not working. Calls for an investigation.
Minnesota: Exchange was glitchy on rollout, problems persisted for the next few weeks. 14 exchange officials received bonuses prior to launch, the director took a tropical vacation while the site struggled. Officials and contractors blame each other. Outside assessment warned that problems would not be fixed by the end of open enrollment on March 31. Total federal grants $153.7 million.
Nevada: One official described the failure of the exchange as ‘catastrophic’. The system enrolled just 16,000 of the 118,000 expected. Projections have been reduced to 50,000. State officials are said to be thinking of ditching their own exchange in order to join the federal system. Federal grants $83.7 million. (All lies, according to Harry Reid)
Hawaii: Hawaii’s exchange was taken down right after the launch, but enrollment remains exceedingly low. The state has signed up just 4,300 people for coverage, the lowest of all the states. Total federal grants $205 million.
All Democrat-run states, but that is surely just a coincidence. We can probably assume that those who have signed up are those most in need of health insurance, those with pre-existing conditions, and the healthy folks will wait for a better offer. Those who signed up early will be the most costly.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Election 2014, Freedom, Law, Politics, Regulation | Tags: Doesn't Matter If It Works, Get The Law Passed, Robbing Peter to Pay Paul
Have you noticed that Liberals are very big on getting their “big ideas” passed into law, and once accomplished have little interest in their effect. Vast attention is paid to “messaging,” to the words chosen, everything is focus-group tested. Wordsmiths are urged on to ever more effort to find the perfect words. Differing messaging is planned for different groups. Outreach is carefully directed to specific audiences. But once they succeed, if they succeed, in getting the legislation passed and it is a done deal— they lose interest and go on to the next “big idea.”
Medicare was a big idea that they were very proud of. Seniors like it, and it works fairly well. But it is a done deal, so Liberals have no hesitation in, for example, taking $500 billion out of Medicare to prop up ObamaCare. The Veterans Administration promised health care to veterans, but when claims piled up, they just destroyed the older claims so the backlog would disappear. When slums became too dangerous Liberals built public housing, but failed to keep it up, keep it in good repair and safe, so the public housing became slums.
The promises of ObamaCare have already proved false, but people who receive their health care through their employers have yet to encounter the lies, cancellations, and the higher costs. Obama has postponed all that till after the coming election. So most people are unaware that their ObamaCare insurance does not travel, not to the next town, and not to the next state. They are unaware that they will not be able to keep their doctors, nor that the cost will increase astronomically.
Democrat governors met with President Obama this last weekend — they need help selling ObamaCare. They have their own glitch-ridden websites, and the big message of pre-existing conditions isn’t selling. But the drive is to get people signed up, not to offer care. If all the ‘uninsured’ signed up for Medicaid, the illusionary system would collapse. There were not enough doctors who would accept Medicaid patients to keep the system functioning before ObamaCare.
Liberal promises are meant to garner votes, to get a “big idea” passed and the people dependent on the benefit. If they are dependent they will continue to vote for those who gave them the benefit lest they lose it and face the unknown. Freedom can be scary. You might have to depend on your own efforts.
Filed under: Capitalism, China, Economy, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, National Security, Russia | Tags: Dealing With Future Crisis, He Doesn't Like The Military, The Decline of American Power
For Obama, the world’s major events might as well be happening on the planet Pluto. Russia is re-establishing itself in its “near abroad,” and working with Iran to project a neo-Soviet agenda from Southwest Asia to the Mediterranean. China is inexorably asserting sovereignty over the Western Pacific. As Islam’s Sunni and Shia factions tear at each other’s vitals, they seem to agree only on contempt for America.
Angelo Codevilla, Professor emeritus of international Relations, Boston U.
Historian Niall Ferguson wrote in the Wall Street Journal about “America’s Global Retreat.” It is the U.S. geopolitical taper that is stirring world anxiety. To see the geopolitical taper at work consider President Obama’s comment Wednesday on the horrific killings of protesters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev: “There will be consequences if people step over the line.”
Obama watched passively when the Iranian people rose up against their theocratic rulers in 2009. He was caught off-balance by the illusion of an “Arab Spring.” When crowds swarmed in Tahrir Square in 2011, calling for the ouster of longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak, he backed the government led by Mohammed Morsi, after the Muslim Brotherhood won the 2012 elections. Then he backed the military coup against Morsi.
Syria has been one of the great blunders of post World War II American foreign policy. When he might have intervened effectively, he hesitated, When he did intervene, it was ineffectual. His non-threat to launch airstrikes if Congress agreed handed the initiative to Russia. Assad isn’t handing over his chemical weapons.
The result of this U.S. inaction is a disaster. At a minimum, 130,000 Syrian civilians have been killed and nine million driven from their homes by forces loyal to the tyrant. At least 11,000 people have been tortured to death. Hundreds of thousands are besieged, their supplies of food and medicine cut off, as bombs and shells rain down.
He sent Joe Biden to negotiate a “Status of Forces” agreement with Iraq, which failed, and the troops were pulled out anyway, leaving Iraq to fall apart and Al Qaeda in Iraq to take over Fallujah. If you recall, Obama claimed to truly understand the world because he lived in Indonesia until he was 10. Other than that he proclaimed Iraq to be a “dumb war” and wanted to close down Gitmo at once. Whatever it was – was Bush’s fault. The reason to be in Afghanistan was to get bin Laden. Obama has announced our withdrawal, so the Taliban can plan the timing for their takeover.
We’ve had reset buttons, and a “pivot” from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific is the closest we have come to a strategy. Ambassadors are chosen for the amount that was donated to Obama’s election and re-election, and have never visited the countries to which they are assigned.
Peter Wehner says that Obama is Consciously Engineering America’s Decline. “[H]e views the weakening of American power as a downright positive thing, as a contributor to peace and stability, and a means through which America will be more respected and loved in the world.”
Henry Kissinger once observed: ” Those ages which in retrospect seem most peaceful were least in search of peace. Those whose quest for it seems unending appear least able to achieve tranquility. Whenever peace—conceived as the avoidance of war—has been the primary objective … the international system has been at the mercy of [its] most ruthless member.”
Keith Koffler, veteran White House reporter asked plaintively “Does Obama Have Any Foreign Policy Successes?” The answer seems to be a resounding NO. Try to find a country with whom our relations have improved.
Winston Churchill, May 2, 1935, in the House of Commons:
It is possible that the dangers into which we are steadily advancing would never have arisen …[but] when the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand, we apply too late the remedies which might have affected a cure.
There is nothing new to the story. It is as old as [Rome]. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-reservation strikes its jarring gong — these are features which constitute the endless repetition of history.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Liberalism, Progressivism, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Keynesian Fairy Tales, Last of the Big Time Spenders, What Austerity?
President Obama says his new budget will finally end the dreary “era of austerity.”
What? Dreary era of austerity? On what planet? The federal government will spend $561 billion more this year than it did in 2008. That’s a 19% increase at a time when inflation rose just 9%. Obama has set the country on a permanently higher spending path. Federal outlays are on track to reach 22.4% of the gross domestic Product (GDP) by 2024, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Deficits have dropped slightly in the past two years, and expected to fall again this year and next, but that’s due to revenues bouncing back from recessionary lows as much as it is to spending restraint imposed by the GOP. By 2022, the deficit will top $1 trillion again and will go on up from there, as will the national debt.
The areas that Obama singles out for big spending hikes are hardly starved for funds. He wants more money for early childhood education programs, but Head Start’s budget has soared by 25% since Obama took office to $8.6 billion. The stimulus pumped another $2 billion into the program in 2009. Study after study has shown that there is no lasting benefit from the Head Start program. The thinking seems to be that rich people send their kids to fancy early childhood programs, so if you give the same benefit to poor or minority children, they will do as well as the rich kids. It seems to be simply expensive babysitting.
Obama also wants to spend big on college tuition aid. Federal aid has already climbed 32% on his watch according to the College Board. According to Forbes magazine, student loan debt now tops $1.2 Trillion! Kids are emerging from college, many not having completed a degree, with enormous debt — and cannot find a job.
Since the “age of austerity” is over (?) Obama wants more federal job training money, for programs that have more than tripled, and about training that is questionable in producing employment. And he wants more money for transportation — for California’s train to nowhere? He wants to order business to boost the minimum wage, on their own dime. More lost jobs.
Obama seems to think that the people who have lost jobs are unqualified for new jobs, and unless they are retrained for something different, are unemployable. He does not understand the burden that the federal government has imposed on business with ObamaCare.
The burden of excessive regulation, high taxes, and add plain old fear of what the federal government might do. The IRS, the EPA, the FCC, the EEOC, the DOL, and all the other myriad agencies and bureaus have gone after business to emphasize federal control. Business observes what has happened to other businesses, and hunkers down to try to avoid being noticed. More jobs are to come from a newly educated workforce, not from making it easier for business to grow, expand, and hire. We still have the highest corporate tax in the world.
Well, maybe the people who are mourning the death of President Roosevelt today will be relieved that we are ending the” dreary age of austerity.” Some of the folks still believe. If this is austerity, imagine what profligacy might be.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, History, Progressivism, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Jobs & Unemployment Are #!, Most Important US Problems, Obama's Biggest Worry is Inequality
A new Gallup poll this month shows that nearly one in four Americans cites jobs and unemployment as the most important problem facing the country, up from 16% in January. The government and politicians had topped the list since the government shutdown in October.
The Recent Trend in top Five “Most Important” U.S. Problems
Economy in General……………………………………………..20%
Dissatisfaction with government/Congress/politicians’
poor leadership/corruption/ abuse of power…………………19%
Poor healthcare/hospitals; high cost of healthcare…………..15%
Federal Budget deficit/ Federal debt……………………………8%
Ethics/Moral/Religious/Family decline, dishonesty…………….5%
Education/Poor Education/Access to Education………………4%
Lack of Money……………………………………………………3%
What is one to make of this? We have just been informed that Americans are getting dumber and dumber, that they are unaware that the Earth orbits the sun. Jimmy Fallon did a man in the street thing asking people how they felt about President Roosevelt’s death, and did they want to send condolences to Eleanor?
Democrats were significantly less concerned about everything but jobs and unemployment. Republicans were unsurprisingly concerned more than Independents and Democrats about the economy, healthcare, Federal budget deficit and debt, morals and ethics. Democrats were slightly more concerned about education and poverty, hunger and homelessness.
General satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States was a sluggish 22%.
Curiously, President Obama’s priorities are quite different. He’s trying really hard to deflect interest from ObamaCare, which in spite of all sorts of “executive repairs” isn’t working. His biggest priority seems to be Income Inequality. What he doesn’t want to mention is how much money the government is redistributing, nor how much more would be needed to close the income gap. That project would require redistribution on a massive scale. The CBO found that those in the bottom fifth of the income scale received $9.62 in federal spending for every $1 they paid in federal taxes of all kinds. People with low incomes pay little in taxes, but receive a lot of transfers.
Households in the top fifth, received 17¢ in federal spending for every $1 they paid in all federal taxes. High-income households pay a huge amount in taxes compared to what they get back in government spending. The middle class households received $1.19 in government spending for every $1 they received in federal taxes.
Families in the top fifth have an average market income of $311,400 and pay $65,573 more in taxes than they receive in spending. We would need to take another $164,227 in higher taxes to lower their incomes to the national average.
“Capital will go where it is wanted and stay where it is well treated. It will flee from manipulation or onerous regulation of its value or use and no government power can restrain it for long.”
President Obama’s other major priority seems to be global warming, which doesn’t even show up in the public’s interest, with some justification, because most people are probably wondering if this is the start on a new ice age. There has been no warming for over 17 years. The President talks about “carbon pollution, but there is no such thing. We are a carbon-based species. CO2 is a natural fertilizer that helps plants to grow. Carbon is one of the building blocks of life. No carbon, no life.
Obviously Mr. Obama does not read Gallup polls, nor would he pay attention if he did. He apparently swallowed the Keynesian fairy dust tale — hook, line and sinker. If you want to boost the economy, you push money into the economy. It will have a magical mystery multiplication effect, somehow, and every dollar spent will result in two dollars of economic activity. If you tell him that it doesn’t work, he will say it’s wrong to compare this recovery to past recoveries. Greatest recession since the Great Depression, Bush’s fault, etc., etc., etc.
Filed under: Politics, Domestic Policy, Economy, Democrat Corruption, Progressivism, Capitalism, The United States, Regulation | Tags: Industries Die, Occupations Disappear, American Innovation
When I was growing up, our mountainous area was lumbering and ranching country. Most of the larger towns had lumber mills, and the roads were always full of logging trucks taking logs to the mills. That’s almost all gone. We used to count the cars of logs on the log trains. Times change. Industries die. Occupations disappear.
Democrats are all excited about raising the minimum wage because they assume hat the minimum wage has to support families and they are raising the living standards of the poor. Actually, most of those who receive the minimum wage are teenagers, the average family income of someone receiving the minimum wage is $50,000 or more.
They turned the proposal over to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) who make projections given on exactly what information they are given. President Obama’s proposed $10.10 by 2016 could cost half a million Americans their jobs, as “some jobs for low-wage workers would probably be eliminated, the income of most workers who were employed would probably fall slightly.” CBO says it could be as high as one million lost jobs. But they take 500,000 as a middling figure. To be added on to the 100 million now unemployed.
My grocery store has several aisles for self-checkout now, as do many other stores like Home Depot. Restaurants are replacing waiters and waitresses with electronic menu pads. Monumentum machines has created a hamburger-making robot, and is planning a chain of restaurants with a cook staff of robots.
The White House was pleased with the CBO report, they take the possibility that there would be no lost jobs more seriously because it is more pleasing. Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers came up with the usual blather about 7 Nobel prize winners and 600 other economists. Paying a better wage can improve productivity and reduce unit labor costs.” Or Businesses can just accept lower profit margins.”
This robot, the John Deere H414 harvester head, is new to me, though it has been around since 2008. When government comes up with one of its bad ideas or bad regulations, ingenious Americans find ways to get around it. Accepting lower profit margins is not one of them. Most companies’ profit margins are not very big, and if a company cannot make a profit, they go out of business. What the heck are they teaching in business school anyway?
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Freedom, Law, The Constitution | Tags: Executive Orders, He Has a Phone and a Pen, The Imperial Presidency
(click to enlarge)