Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming, Humor, United Kingdom | Tags: A Tour of British Speech, Listen Carefully, The Accents of British Isles
The voice is that of Andrew Jack, a dialogue coach.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Liberalism, Media Bias, Politics, Regulation | Tags: American Thoughtcrime, Go Ahead - Offend Somebody, Liberal Lockstep
How did we get to this spot in the history of the world when the guiding rule of society seems to be —”You must not offend anyone.” Is it an outgrowth of the self-esteem movement that did so much damage to our national psyche? Do not disagree with me or you might damage my self-esteem?
In the last few days, a Mozilla executive was expelled from his position at the firm he co-founded by left-wing campaigners who determined to punish him, not for something he said in his role at the company, but for a donation he made to a California ballot initiative that defined marriage in the customary terms in which it had been defined for several thousand years. A donation that was made 6 years ago. The Los Angeles Times helpfully had published a list of all donors to the anti-Proposition 8 ballot issue.
Also in the last few days, one Adam Weinstein, who writes at Gawker, called for literally sending people who have the incorrect views about global warming to prison. “Those malcontents must be punished and stopped,” he wrote. He is not the first to suggest that conservatives should be sent to prison or a concentration camp for their crime of disagreeing with liberal thought.
Charles Murray, an important social scientist of our times, was denounced as a “known white supremacist” by Texas Democrats for holding improper views about education policy.
Condoleezza Rice was invited to speak at this year’s commencement ceremony at Rutgers University where she would receive an honorary doctorate. The faculty criticized the university decision, saying “Condoleezza Rice…played a prominent role in the administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction.” The editorial staff of The Daily Targum said “Do the positive aspects of her personal accomplishments really outweigh the destruction of war she contributed to during her political career? She was a major proponent of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which has been arguably the worst and most destructive decision in the history of U.S. foreign policy.” All of which goes to prove that if you want to major in history, you should select some other university.
Then there’s Lois Lerner who is facing contempt charges relating to her role in using the IRS as a weapon against the Obama administration’s political enemies for their improper thought and advocacy.
Harry Reid, a liberal champion of campaign-finance reform, was caught channeling tens of thousands of dollars to his granddaughter, while carefully omitting her surname (same as his) from official documents, and hiding the transaction. When discovered, he quickly wrote a check to his campaign to cover-up his indiscretion. At the same time,Mr. Reid has been viciously attacking the Koch Brothers, who are prominent philanthropists, especially in seeking a cure for cancer, for implausible crimes because the Libertarian brothers donate to conservative causes.
I don’t know what part the self-esteem movement, in which most of our current adults were raised, plays into this liberal failure to recognize that good and honest people may have opinions that differ from theirs, or if it even does; but it is all right, and they just need to suck it up. Conservatives often marvel at the march in lockstep of Liberals. They regularly espouse the same ideas in exactly the same words, and apparently assume that no one will notice.
I have generously always assumed that the wordsmiths at Think Progress come up with what they hope will be the most fortuitous description of an idea or a policy to sway the minds of potential voters, then run the preferred words by a few focus groups to assure that they’ve got the best verbiage, then send it out to every Democrat politician who might use the words in public. If that is the case, you must also assume that the Democrats in question don’t bother their pretty little heads with boring things like economics and history, and the long-term effects of past legislation. No scientific studies for this bunch, they will be told the proper language. Consider the words “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” that’s some major wordsmithery!
As evidence, I offer the media’s longstanding effort to capitalize on Republican disagreement—all that crowing about how Republicans are at war among themselves. We don’t all think the same, we do study history, we do pay attention to how legislation actually plays out, and we even read scientific studies. We are ordinary human beings and we have our own opinions, and aren’t afraid to disagree. Disagreement is —normal. We’ll present our evidence, and try to compromise eventually, but we never, never march in lockstep.
Jonathan Rauch said it nicely in his Kindly Inquisitors, using ‘liberal’ in the classical sense: “Liberal science is built on two pillars. One is the right to offend in the pursuit of truth. The other is the responsibility to check and be checked.”
Irving Kristol wrote: “In every society the overwhelming majority of people live lives of considerable frustration and if society is to endure, it needs to rely on a goodly measure of stoical resignation.”
Feel free to offend. Stand up for what you believe. Refuse to be cowed by those who claim to be offended. We don’t do “thoughtcrime” in the United States of America, do we?
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Freedom, Health Care, Law, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: ObamaCare's Inevitable Failure, The Incentives of ObamaCare, The Way Things Work
I had a routine doctor’s appointment last week. As she interacted with the new computer system rather than me, my doctor said “I should have gone to secretarial school instead.”
So after “Obama’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ moment—his triumphal Rose Garden speech claiming ObamaCare is now here to stay—where are we? No one believes Obama’s lofty claims for the numbers of enrolled people, and the number who have actually paid their premiums (the only point at which the numbers are real) are numbers that will have to come from the insurance companies.
The underlying signs of the health of this dreadful medical law are something quite different. Kaiser Health News published the following:
Janis Finer, 57, a popular primary care physician in Tulsa, Okla., gave up her busy practice two years ago to care full time for hospitalized patients. The lure? Regular shifts, every other week off and a 10 percent increase in pay.
Lawrence Gassner, a Phoenix internist, was seeing four patients an hour. Then he pared back his practice to those who agreed to pay a premium for unhurried visits and round the clock access to him. “I always felt rushed,” said the 56-year-old. “I always felt I was cutting my patients off.”
Tim Devitt, a family physician in rural Wisconsin, took calls on nights and weekends, delivered babies and visited his patients in the hospital. The stress took a toll, though: He retired six years ago, at 62.
Physician stress has always been a normal fact of life, but anecdotal stories suggest a significant increase in the level of discontent, especially among primary care doctors who play the central role in coordinating patient care. Just as millions of Americans are obtaining health insurance through ObamaCare because of the threats of fines, or because their insurance policies were cancelled— often because the benefits they chose did not match the government’s one-size-fits-all standard.
A 2012 Urban Institute study of 500 primary-care doctors found that 30 percent of those age 35 to 49 planned to leave their practices within five years. The rate jumped to 52 percent for those over 50. A RAND study for the American Medical Association found that nearly half of physicians called their jobs “extremely stressful” and more than one-quarter said they were “burning out.” Unhappy doctors make for unhappy patients, and unhappy patients result in unhappy doctors.
Janice Finer, who left primary care to work with hospital patients, didn’t want to have to deal with insurers, hiring staff, and the business of a practice —sold her practice to a hospital. But hospital administrators dictated the pace. She was required to see 22 to 28 patients a day. At one point, she said, she was scheduled to see patients every 11 minutes. But meeting patients’ needs is not just busy work, but it doesn’t generate revenue.
President Obama contributed billions to help defray providers’ costs of going digital. The goal was a national system that would provide the government with statistics for further control. Not happening. Every hospital may have a different system, and none of them talk to each other. Digital records mean entering numbers and words in lots of repetitive boxes, but the old kind of personal, nuanced information that was in a doctor’s note, aren’t included. “Many physicians told us “I used to be a doctor, now I’m a clerk.” Anyone who uses a computer can recognize the potential for error. Typos are a way of life. Some doctors have started using ‘scribes’ —laptop carrying assistants who fill in the blanks and take notes— which adds another level of cost.
The association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the U.S. will be short about 45,000 primary care doctors in 2020 when 260,000 are projected to be practicing. Doctors used to encourage their kids to go into medicine. They’re not doing that anymore.
President Obama in his “Mission Accomplished” speech stressed the objective of the Democrats who drummed up this mess: “We are making sure that we are not the only advanced county on earth that doesn’t make sure everybody has basic health care.” Tinkering and improving are expected to lead to single-payer health care which is the their ultimate goal.
Nationalizing health care inevitably leads to conflicting problems.Government programs always cost more than was estimated — way more. The government’s sole incentive quickly becomes a demand to reduce costs.
The incentive for hospitals and clinics is the need to get adequately paid for their services. Those incentives lead to a reduction in innovation unless it is proved to reduce costs— so fewer medical inventions, fewer new drugs.
And pressure on doctors and personnel is to do more in less time with fewer and cheaper materials. The incentive is also for doctors to leave the profession or for doctors to become government employees. What is inevitable is a lot of burned-out doctors who become more cynical and less caring. Ezekiel Emmanuel, who was one of the advisers for ObamaCare, has advocated disposing of the Hippocratic Oath.
The problem for patients becomes getting an appointment, getting use of expensive diagnostic equipment, and facing long waits for seeing a doctor and seeing a specialist and just getting the needed care. A frequent look at British newspapers’ accounts of the latest NHS scandal is proof of where it all leads.
If health care is free or low-cost at the point of service, the incentive is to overuse medical care which is what got us here in the first place. When someone else is paying the bill, there is no incentive for thrift, which drives up costs and the vicious cycle repeats and grows slowly worse, and harder to change. Incentives matter.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Freedom, Politics, Regulation, Statism, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Excessive Regulation, Excessive SWAT Teams, Militarization of Federal Agencies
The proliferation of federal SWAT teams is troubling. In late February four armed federal agents with a drug-sniffing dog descended on the Taos Ski Valley in what was called a “saturation patrol.” The agents were working on tips of possible drug selling and impaired driving in the ski resort’s parking lot and surrounding area. The armed agents were from the U.S. Forest Service.
Did you know that the Department of Education has SWAT teams? They can invade your home at gunpoint and hold you and your family in custody for hours. In 2011, federal “education” agents busted down the front door of Kenneth Wright’s Stockton home at 6 in the morning. Wright’s terrified children— 3, 9, and 11 were forced to sit in a patrol car for two hours, Wright was in custody for six hours.
The Education Department had a broad search warrant and seized paperwork and a personal computer. The agents, 13 from the Education Department and a couple of police officers — told him they were investigating his estranged wife’s use of federal aid for students. She didn’t even live in the house.
Are you obeying all the thousands of regulations in the Federal Register? Are you prepared for early-morning break-ins by the USDA, Railroad Retirement Board, Bureau of Land Management, Tennessee Valley Authority, Office of Personnel Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, EPA, Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Park Service, and NOAA— the folks who monitor the atmosphere and forecast the weather have 96 special agents and 28 armed enforcement officers.
An armed EPA raid in Alaska sheds light on 70 federal agencies with armed divisions. The incident that sparked the raid was last August when a team of armed federal and state officials descended on the tiny Alaska gold mining town of Chicken, Alaska — looking for possible violations of the Clean Water Act. This is not the first time the EPA has descended on citizens with a SWAT team, but it is clearly excessive. Violating the Clean Water Act indeed.
We’re getting into Fourth and Fifth Amendment territory here.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Environment, Freedom, Health Care, Liberalism, Progressivism, Regulation | Tags: Department of Agriculture, Too Many Bureaucrats, Way to Intrusive
Just briefly looking around the USDA website convinced me that the Department of Agriculture has way too many bureaucrats employed, and their conception of what they should be doing is way too broad. I have never known anyone who has paid the slightest attention to the USDA’s guidelines as to just what we should be eating, which is just as well because they have mostly been wrong anyway.
The schools, unfortunately, have to pay attention because they get funding, but anyone who has ever visited a school lunchroom notices that enormous quantities of food end up in the garbage. The kids have mostly hated Michelle Obama’s school lunch program. The USDA’s high carb diet was all wrong, butter is fine, they’re still trying to reduce “greenhouse gas emissions” although carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is what makes plants grow, and apparently, according to the EPA, soon their mission will be to reduce cow flatulence.
The federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is currently working on updating nutritional guidelines to conform with Mrs. Obama’s ideas and new scientific evidence. Mrs. Obama has been behind the drastically altered school lunch menus and the federal push to change restaurants’ most popular items to healthier fare and add calorie counts to every menu. She also has a new nutritional food labeling scheme.
One of the committee members, Miriam Nelson, feels the guidelines shouldn’t be confined to nutrition, but should include the long-term sustainability and environmental impact of crops recommended for eating. Another committee member is pushing a “plant-based diet” — suggesting that meat eating is not sustainable.
Another new idea under consideration are federal phone texts to obese citizens warning them regularly of their unhealthy eating behavior.
I pay no attention to the “my plate” guidelines, and I’m sure you don’t either, but the work of this committee guides the food purchases by the feds for government cafeterias, school meals across the country, all branches of the U.S. military and the entire federal prison system.
Michelle has insisted that the White House chef change from sugar to fruit purees to sweeten foods, but the White House consumes six different kinds of pie for Thanksgiving, The state dinner for the president of France came in at 2,500 calories per plate — a more-than-healthy whole day’s allowance. Remember that when you get your text-message from the government telling you what to eat, and reminding you that you are officially categorized as obese.
Filed under: Europe, Freedom, History, Politics, Russia | Tags: Crisis in Ukraine, Russia, Vladimir Putin
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, Law, Regulation, Taxes, The United States | Tags: All is Political, Failure of Freedom, Untrustworthy Government
Victor Davis Hanson had an important column this last week on “Untruthful and Untrustworthy Government,” that digs into what distinguishes democracies from tinhorn dictatorships and totalitarian monstrosities.
It’s not just the scandals: Benghazi, the Associated Press, the NSA scandal which are troubling enough, but the doubt about the honesty of the permanent government itself. Does anyone still believe in a non-partisan and honest IRS? Our system of voluntary tax reporting rests on trust. If we can’t trust the IRS to treat us fairly, to what extent will the compliance from taxpayers cease to be honest.
Is the report from the Department of Labor statistics on employment accurate? Is inflation really as low as we are told? Nobody knows how many Americans have bought and paid for ObamaCare policies. We don’t know how many were previously uninsured. We don’t know whether we still can see our doctor and the local hospital, nor whether our medication is acceptable.
We don’t know how many foreign citizens have entered the U.S. illegally who were arrested and deported to their country of origin. ICE now counts as deportations those foreign nationals whom the Border Patrol immediately stops or turns away at the border. The Department of Homeland Security caught and then released—back into the U.S. population—68,000 aliens who had previously been convicted of a serious crime, when they could have been deported. In San Antonio, 79 percent of criminal aliens were released back into the general population in 2012. In Washington D.C. 5,558 criminal aliens were released—64 percent of the 8,688 who were apprehended.
When everything is politicized, what the agencies of the government tell the people can’t be counted on. The Bureau of Economic Analysis has factored research and development costs of business into statistics on investment growth. Is the report on Gross Domestic Product growth honest? It is a vital measure of how the economy is doing. Politically it might be useful to make it look a little better that the numbers show. The government reported an unexpectedly high 2.8 GDP growth in the numbers last year.
Is inflation really as low as we are told? They have changed the way they calculate that as well. Inflation and unemployment numbers are lower, economic growth is higher. Problems disappear behind a screen of Freedom of Information Act requests that drag on for years instead of the prompt response the law demands.
If all is political, we are indeed in deep trouble.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Environment, Freedom, Heartwarming, Science/Technology | Tags: A Florida Panther Kitten, Cute Baby Animals, Rescued and Healthy
This Florida Panther kitten was rescued on the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge after January’s record cold snap. Biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission discovered the kitten with a dangerously low body temperature, non-responsive and way too young to be separated from his mother. They transported the kitten to the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida in Naples. Raised by people, he can’t be released to the wild. Once he’s old enough he’ll go to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.
Except for small numbers in Florida, the Florida panther, a subspecies of cougar, is extinct or rare in the Eastern United States. Puma concolor
It is the biggest of the small cats, and more closely related to our own pet cats and cheetahs of Africa. Where I grew up, we called them cougars. I never saw one in the wild, though I heard one scream several times. That is something else; “mountain screamer” doesn’t capture the sound. Sounds like a woman screaming in the most terrible agony you can imagine. Here’s a handsome grown-up. They are solitary animals, and occupy a large territory. (from zooborns.com) a favorite website.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Education, Freedom, History, National Security, The United States | Tags: Accepting Human Nature, Facing Up to Hard Things, Honoring Committments
Walter Russell Mead is a professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and editor at large of the American Interest, a man of the Left, but modestly so. In Friday’s Wall Street Journal, he gently chides the president for his ambitious foreign policy goals, but unusual parsimony in engaging with them. The president, he says, isn’t satisfied with he world as it is, and wants a world fundamentally different from the one we live in.
He wants a world in which poverty is on the wane, international law is respected, and the U.S., if it must lead, can do so on the cheap, and from behind.
To get to this world, Mr. Obama wants nuclear proliferation stopped, new arms-control agreements ratified, and the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons. He wants a tough global climate treaty that will keep carbon emissions at levels low enough to prevent further global warming. He wants the Arab-Israeli dispute settled and a new relationship with Iran. He wants terrorism to be contained and Afghanistan to be stable when the Americans leave. He wants to reassert U.S. power in the Pacific, and to see China accept the territorial status quo. He wants democracy advanced, human rights protected, poverty reduced, women empowered, and lesbians and gays treated better world-wide.
Professor Mead suggested that this paradox arises from Obama’s channeling the voters who want to eliminate the budget deficit without cutting the programs they favor, and a more peaceful world without so much effort on our part.
We also hear this week about American University students who couldn’t manage to name one senator, and were clueless about how many senators there are.
Makes you yearn for a poll-test. You don’t get to vote unless you know a few basic facts. But that is the job of candidates and political parties, to inform voters before they go to the polls. Yes I know that’s absurd as well. Civilization is messy at best. We are multitudes who have trouble getting along with members of our own family. let alone the guy across the street, and creating a more felicitous state of the world. Some of us are very smart, which doesn’t necessarily mean we know much about many subjects.
Our schools are failing our kids, not because we don’t want good schools, but because the goals of others trump educational excellence. Our colleges attract students from all over the world, yet our graduates can’t name a single senator, can’t locate Florida, and are unqualified to work in today’s world.
The free market recognizes the failures of individuals and companies, but relies on the wisdom of the multitudes, who, of course, can be easily swayed by glamour or charisma, bad information, and conspiracy theories.
Americans, however, have a sort of genius for muddling through. We make dreadful mistakes, and then turn around and try to fix them. Americans all, in one generation or another, gave up everything known in their home country packed up their belongings and set out for an unknown new world. There’s a kind of fearlessness there, that seems to be an inherited characteristic, a genius for risk-taking and adapting that has served our country well for almost 500 years. Mr. Mead says:
Mr. Obama came into office telling voters what they badly wanted to hear, which was that on foreign policy, they could have it all. No risks to be run, no adversarial great powers to oppose, and no boots on the ground. Now he must tell them that he, and they, were wrong, and he must choose. Does he give up on some of his dreams for improving the world, or does he begin to urge the country to pay a higher price and run greater risks to make the world better and safer?
The truth is that he—and we—will have to do some of both. As a country we are going to be working harder than we wanted in a world that is more frustrating than we hoped.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, History, Intelligence, Law, The United States | Tags: Public Pensions Failure, Things You Need to Know, We Do Respond to Change
As long as we’re talking about Puerto Rico, I should include a link to this informative article about a conversation with Walter Russell Mead on public pensions, a problem coming close in Puerto Rico, all over California, in Detroit.
People say: ‘A defined benefit pension from my employer, there’s no risk.’ A big risk is that your employer will go broke.
Adam Shapiro: Well, in the case of public pensions, we’re seeing that happen. And yet, there’s a resistance to reform the process by which we fund these pensions, by which we set the actuarial standards for these pensions, and to have an honest discussion with taxpayers about these pensions, why?
Walter Mead: It is interesting, normally you think of liberals and Democrats as being people who really want to regulate, and particularly they want to regulate the financial markets, in order, as they say, to protect the “little guy.” Well here’s a case in which cities and states are not held to the same standards for their pension funds that any private employer is held to. If in fact, employers did what routinely a lot of cities and states do, they would go to jail.
Shapiro: So why is there no public outcry over this?
Mead: There’s some public outcry. But, unfortunately there’s a kind of a conspiracy between government officials, politicians, and union leaders often. The deal is this: Union leader wants to show the union members, hey belonging to the union is a good thing, I get you benefits. You get more with me than you’d get on your own. So I go into the negotiations with management of the city or the state government and I come back so you’ll say, “wow he’s a great union leader, I don’t begrudge him a penny of his salary because this union is working for me.” Well here’s the problem: If you’re asking for a big raise for members this year, the politicians have to pay it this year. And that means they have to tax the voters, voters don’t like to be taxed to pay for your raise, or they got to cut spending on something else to get the money, well voters don’t like it when politicians cut spending on their favorite programs.
It’s a very interesting conversation, and a video. Walter Russell Mead is a most interesting man of the left. Do Read or watch the whole thing, or both. There’s a lot more to the video, you may be surprised.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Politics, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: 35% of the Population Works, Moving to the States, The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
Puerto Ricans move to the United States all the time, but now Puerto Rico has joined New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois and California as tax-and-spend blue states that are losing residents because of government policy. More than 450,000 Puerto Ricans have left over the past decade, with 1.000 arriving in Orlando, FL every 10 days.
More Puerto Ricans— about 5 million—now live in the continental U.S., according to media reports, than live in Puerto Rico. Doctors are leaving, teachers are leaving, lawyers and engineers are pulling out. Unemployment at 15.2% is higher than the bottom U.S. state (Rhode Island, 9.2%) and far exceeds the national average of 6.7%. Only 35% of the working-age population in Puerto Rico actually works.
The economy is in its eighth year of recession and is expected to contract by another 2% this year. It has plunged roughly 14% since 2006. To solve the commonwealth’s problems—a public debt of $70 billion, a downgraded credit rating, and talk of default—the government has done what the left always does, and has hiked taxes.
They might look to Texas as an example of what to do. Low taxes, no personal state income tax, a light regulatory role and an inviting business climate that encourages 52 Fortune 500 companies, and jobs —252,000 jobs created in 2013 alone. And it has added more than a half-million people, 148,000 from California. Even commonwealths can benefit from such policies.