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: Foreign Policy, History, Media Bias, Politics, Progressivism, Regulation, Statism, The United States | Tags: No Longer a Free Press, No Longer a Government Watchdog, Shallow Superficial Work
I have not been unduly impressed with our journalists in general for a number of years. I got curious a while back and looked up Columbia University’s graduate school of journalism and Northwestern’s as well, and learned that the coursework offered concerned how to write a lede and writing about foreign policy or fashion, that sort of thing. This was some time ago, so I may have forgotten the particulars, but I had been looking for requirements in history or law, and international relations. I my quick perusal, it seemed to all be about how to write one kind or another of piece.
My investigation was superficial at best, and I sort of assumed that perhaps the study of history and foreign affairs and important things were requirements to get in to journalism school, and left it at that. But I kept noticing that journalists simply parroted what other journalists were saying, and didn’t seem to know what they were talking about. They did seem to be reliably of the leftist persuasion, however. But I already knew that.
Then this week, Governor Brewer of Arizona vetoed a law sent up by the legislature, the origin of which seemed to be a case in another state in which a baker refused to make a wedding cake for a gay wedding because gay marriage was against his religious convictions. That case seemed to be a set-up when the gay couple sued, rather than go to any one of innumerable other bakeries available.
The national press, inspired by what American universities actually do teach — Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability and Sexuality Studies, Imperial, Transnational and Postcolonial Studies, critical theory or creative writing, spoke in one voice. “Arizona Governor Brewer vetoes controversial anti-gay bill,” Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Vetoes Anti-Gay Bill,” and other slight variations. Every radio announcer repeated the same thing.
The words “gay” or “homosexual” do not appear in the bill at all, nor was the bill directed at any criticism of gay people. There was no “anti-gay” in the bill. The bill was a simple effort to protect the Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion. Very obviously, the journalistic profession had not read the bill, but were off on a religious jihad. The text of the bill is here.
Governor Brewer vetoed the bill because, as she said, “Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.
Ed Whelan, at National Review wrote:
There has been a blizzard of hysterical misinformation about Arizona’s SB 1062. As anyone who takes the trouble to consult the text of the legislation will readily discover, SB 1062 does not mention, much less single out, gays or same-sex ceremonies.
As Douglas Laycock (who supports redefining marriage to include same-sex couples) and other leading religious-liberty scholars explain in a letter to Arizona governor Jan Brewer, SB 1062 “has been egregiously misrepresented by many of its critics.”
This is an absolutely pure example of media bias, which is real and pervasive. You just have to question what you are reading and hearing if you want to know the truth. Requires a little more work, but you avoid feeling sleazy when you find out that you’ve been had. Studies show that the media is much more liberal than the American people, and more likely to agree with the liberal position on policy matters than members of the general public. The public, according to public opinion polls sees the media as politically biased, inaccurate, intrusive and a tool of powerful interests. Huh. Wonder why.
Filed under: Politics
I am worried about the Obama administration’s efforts to diminish our military presence in the world. The Shiites and the Sunnis are embroiled in trying to kill each other, al Qaeda is a growing presence, Iraq is troubled and al Qaeda has taken over Fallujah, Iran — relieved of troublesome sanctions — is embarked on finishing up it’s nuclear weapons, Syria is a catastrophe, Russia is embarked on something or other in the Crimea, and President Obama has embarked on a grand strategy to relegate the United States to the status of just “one nation among many.”
He has rejected the idea of America as “exceptional” and the status of the United States as “the indispensable nation” that provides security for the world. His overspending and conspicuous consumption and the growth of the welfare state “have made it difficult, if not impossible, for the United States to increase defense spending in the future if such a response becomes necessary. This is a radical shift and a dangerous one,” according to Mackubin Thomas Owens, who is a professor of national-security affairs at the Naval War College in Newport, and editor of Orbis, the journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He was a Marine platoon commander in Vietnam and retired as a Colonel.
In the wake of the widespread belief that we should not have been involved in the First World War, we whittled down the military and when Hitler came to power and began invading his neighbors, the isolationist movement and the Great Depression left us with a military that was 16th in the world. The total strength of the U.S. Marine Corps in 1939 was 1,308 officers and 18,052 enlisted men, fewer men than in the New York Police Department.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked and Hitler declared war, we were woefully unprepared., not just in trained men, but with old equipment. A lot of fine young men died because we were so unprepared. It took time to ramp up the factories and start turning out “the arsenal of democracy.”
We built the arsenal the free world needed. and in 1945 the Army strength was 8,266,373 men (including the Army Air Force), the Navy was 3,319, 586 and the Marine Corps 469,925. Peace dividend. World at Peace. United Nations. So when the North Koreans invaded South Korea in 1950, we were again woefully unprepared with an Army of 593,167, an Air Force 411,277, a navy of 660,695, and a Marine Corps of 74,279, all untrained, poorly equipped. And the North Koreans had the Red Chinese backing them up.
A lot of fine young men died because we were unprepared. You perhaps remember when roadside bombs began blowing up American Humvees in Iraq and there was an outcry about up-armoring them. Don Rumsfeld said “you go to war with the Army you have,” to anger from the press. But it’s true, over and over.
It boils down, of course to basic beliefs. Is the natural state of the world peace or war. If you believe the world is naturally peaceful, you can count on being unprepared. If you believe that cantankerous nations and people are too often in conflict with their neighbors, you need to be prepared, and if we are prepared, those cantankerous people are apt to think twice before they start shooting at their neighbors — because a prepared United States of America might just react.
Most colleges and universities do not require students to take courses in American history. If you have a college student, you might make sure they understand that you require it.
Colonel Owens writes for National Review as well. His article “Obama Chooses National Decline: But the Pentagon has chosen a path that may buy some time,” is invaluable. It’s worth your time.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Freedom, National Security, Politics, Russia, The United States | Tags: Russia's Black Sea Fleet, The Crimean Peninsula, Ukrainian Freedom
President Obama just spoke on the situation in the Ukraine. Deeply concerned. Destabilizing. Profound interference. Situation remains fluid. We will continue to communicate.
Do you suppose President Putin noticed that President Obama wants to cut our military down to pre-World War II levels? Of course. The world pays attention to these things. Wire reports say that Russia has seized the government buildings in the Crimea, and taken control of the airport. The Russian Defense Ministry says it is taking measures to guarantee the safety of the Black Sea Fleet, which is based at Sevastopol in the Crimea. (It is helpful to look at Google maps if you are as fuzzy on geography as I am.)
The questions are — will Putin take the Crimea by force? And if so, will his ambitions be limited to simply securing the Black Sea Fleet’s bases or does he have greater ambitions?
What else, besides issuing statements of concern, is President Obama prepared to do? The new interior minister, Arsen Avakov, described it as a military invasion and occupation, and asked the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the escalating conflict. Russian forces denied any involvement.
Charles Krauthammer suggests that Putin’s mission is restoration. Putin called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century. The 2008 war with Georgia returned two of its provinces to the bosom of Mother Russia, and last year pressured Ukraine to reject a long-negotiated deal with the European Union. Putin, Krauthammer says, wants Ukraine back.
The New York Times says that Obama wants stability. He sees Ukraine as merely a crisis to be managed rather than an opportunity to change the autocratic trajectory of the region. Krauthammer says:
Sure, Obama is sympathetic to democracy. But it must arise organically, from internal developments. “These democratic movements will be more sustainable if they are seen as . . . coming from within these societies,” says deputy national security adviser Benjamin Rhodes. Democracy must not be imposed by outside intervention but develop on its own.
But Ukraine is never on its own. Not with a bear next door. American neutrality doesn’t allow an authentic Ukrainian polity to emerge. It leaves Ukraine naked to Russian pressure.
Obama says he has assigned Vice President Biden to talk to the new Prime Minister of the Ukraine, whose name Obama couldn’t remember. Secretary of State Kerry said a vague something or other about Russian action being a mistake. That should be helpful.
This is a difficult situation. President Obama has staked his credibility on being the president who ended the dumb war in Iraq, got bin-Laden, and is getting us out of Afghanistan. He sees America as a world bully that needs be restrained, and Americans as “war-weary.”
Others see Obama as embarrassingly passive and demonstrating American weakness before an increasingly violent world. I am not surprised by Putin’s actions. He has told us that he regrets the demise of the Soviet Union — have people forgotten the Cold War?
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: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Freedom, Law, Politics, Regulation, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: Executive Overreach, The Imperial Presidency, What Can Congress Do?
The House Judiciary Committee is holding hearings on executive overreach. Members of Congress and constitutional law experts testified yesterday, warning that the legislative branch is in danger of ceding its power in the face of an “imperial presidency.”
The hearing, “Enforcing the President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws,” focused on the multiple areas where President Barack Obama has bypassed Congress, ranging from healthcare and immigration to marriage and welfare rules.
Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, testified that the expansion of executive power is happening so fast that America is at a “constitutional tipping point.”
My view [is] that the president, has in fact, exceeded his authority in a way that is creating a destabilizing influence in a three branch system,” he said. “I want to emphasize, of course, this problem didn’t begin with President Obama, I was critical of his predecessor President Bush as well, but the rate at which executive power has been concentrated in our system is accelerating. And frankly, I am very alarmed by the implications of that aggregation of power.”
“What also alarms me, however, is that the two other branches appear not just simply passive, but inert in the face of this concentration of authority,” Turley said.
Jim Gerlach (R-PA) said “The ACA has been revised, altered and effectively rewritten by the president and his administration 23 times since July.”
Representative Tom Rice (R-SC) said, “When we have these constant changes at the president’s whim, think about what that does to businesses’ planning capabilities and hiring capabilities and their expansion capabilities. We shouldn’t wonder why our economy is struggling.”
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Freedom, Law, Regulation | Tags: Big Drop In Violent Crime, Butterfield Fallacy, Liberals Never Learn
The FBI has just released their latest semi-annual crime report, which covers January to June of 2013.
Nationwide, forcible rape was down 10.6 percent, burglary was down 8.1 percent, murder was down 6.9 percent, and aggravated assault was down 6.6 percent from the previous period. Arson plunged a staggering 15.6 percent.
There was slight increase (0.6-percent ) in murders in cities with a population of 25,000-49,999, and a 2 percent rise in murders in cities with a population of 50,000-99,999. The number of murders plunged the deepest in cities with a population of more than 1 million citizens, which reported a 18.5 percent drop.
Overall, violent crime dropped 5.4 percent, with the largest drop in non-metropolitan areas, which saw a 10.5 drop in overall violent crime, and a 13 percent drop in murders.
The crime rate dropped significantly as firearm sales had a record-breaking year. The total number of background checks conducted for gun sales last year add up to 21,093,273, beating the 202012 record of 19,592,393 by over a million and a half. Unsurprisingly the greater efforts by President Obama to release executive actions on gun control, the more gun sales increased. States that implemented gun control measures also saw a significant increase in sales.
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: Democrat Corruption, Health Care, Law, Liberalism, Military, Politics, The United States | Tags: Caring For Our Veterans, Disability Claims Backlog, Just Destroy the Backlog
December 30, 2013: The Obama administration’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki said that it is on track to eliminate the disability claims backlog. For the first time since Barack Obama was elected president, the veterans claims backlog will end this year lower than it began.
Department of Veterans Affairs officials say they’re on track to end the backlog entirely sometime in 2015. At the start of December, the claims backlog —the number of cases unfinished for more than 125 days — sat at just under 393,000 cases. Critics call that an embarrassingly large number, especially considering that the White House pledged to fix the problem almost four years ago. But the peak was 608,000 in March.
Shinseki credits mandatory overtime for the agency workforce and new computer processing systems that pushed to agency to come out of paper to go into electronics.
February 14, 2014: Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) destroyed veterans’ medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests, a former VA employee told the Daily Caller.
“The committee was called ‘System Redesign’ and the purpose of the meeting was to figure out ways to correct the department’s efficiency. And one of the issues at the time was the backlog,” said Oliver Mitchell, a Marine veteran and former patient services assistant in the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center.
“We just didn’t have the resources to conduct all of those exams. Basically we would get about 3,000 requests a month for [medical] exams, but in a 30-day period we only had the resources to do about 800. That rolls over to the next month and creates a backlog,” Mitchell said. “It’s a numbers thing. The waiting list counts against the hospital’s efficiency. The longer the veteran waits for an exam that counts against the hospital as far as productivity is concerned.”
By 2008, some patients were “waiting six to nine months for an exam” and VA “didn’t know how to address the issue,” Mitchell said.
VA Greater Los Angeles Radiology department chief Dr. Suzie El-Saden initiated an “ongoing discussion in the department” to cancel exam requests and destroy veterans’ medical files so that no record of the exam requests would exist, thus reducing the backlog, Mitchell said.
Audio from a November 2008 meeting was obtained by the Daily Caller.
“I’m still canceling orders from 2001,” said a male official in the meeting.
“Anything over a year old should be canceled.” replied a female official
“Canceled or … your backlog should start at April “07″ the female official replied, adding “a lot of those patients either had their studies somewhere else, had their surgery … died, don’t live in the state. …It’s ridiculous.”
Congress has been after the VA for some time, trying to get information, responses, and explanations. This is just the first chapter is a long disgusting story. The government is not dependable. Promises are not kept. Contracts are not fulfilled. Politicians lie and cover up, and promise that which they cannot deliver, in order to get votes. Ethics start at the top.
July 1, 2013: The Backlog:
Filed under: Politics | Tags: American Income Mobility, Dishonest Language, Redistribution of Income
We lose track of reality by misuse of words, deliberate efforts to change the meaning of words, ignoring common sense, and simply not stopping to think things through.
Poverty is much in the news. But do we ever stop to think that as long as we define the poor as the bottom twenty percent of the national income, there will always be the poor.
There is no material poverty in the United States. 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning; three-quarters have a car or truck, 31 percent have two or more. Two-thirds have cable or satellite TV. Half have one or more computers. Forty-two percent own their homes. Poor Americans have more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France or the U.K.
The Treasury Department divides the American people up into quintiles — the poor, the lower middle, the middle, the upper middle, and the rich. They are not the same people over time, and income mobility is the norm. 80 percent of people born in households below the poverty line escape poverty when they grow up, some become rich.
Economics Professor Walter E. Williams writes:
The Census Bureau pegs the poverty rate among blacks at 35 percent and among whites at 13 percent. The illegitimacy rate among blacks is 72 percent, and among whites it’s 30 percent. A statistic that one doesn’t hear much about is that the poverty rate among black married families has been in the single digits for more than two decades, currently at 8 percent. For married white families, it’s 5 percent. Now the politically incorrect questions: Whose fault is it to have children without the benefit of marriage and risk a life of dependency? Do people have free will, or are they governed by instincts?
The black illegitimacy rate was only 14 percent in 1940. A slightly higher percentage of black adults were married than white adults according to census data going back to one generation out of slavery, a fact in every census from 1890 to 1940. Avoiding long term poverty is not complicated: 1. graduate from high school. 2. get married before you have children and stay married. 3. work at any kind of job, even one that starts at the minimum wage. A married couple, each earning the minimum wage would earn an annual combined income of $30,000. The poverty line for a family of two is $15,500, and for a family of four, it’s $23,000.
Since LBJ’s War on Poverty the nation has spent about $18 trillion at the federal state and local levels of government on programs justified by the “need” to deal with some aspect of poverty. Poverty is a political game. Promising to help the poor is a good thing. Making the poor dependent on government is not. A poor person who is offered a job at the minimum wage that promises a brighter future, would lose money by going off welfare. But you don’t climb the economic ladder on government handouts. The government is not dependable. Once welfare is granted the amounts may be cut at any time depending on budgeting. There is little political interest in addressing the basic causes of poverty. Which is why the failure to talk about it honestly is so unfortunate.
So you have increasing the minimum wage. Government will make the poor less poor by ordering their employer to pay them more. A full time minimum wage worker at $7.25 is earning more than the poverty line. The minimum wage here is $9.25, and goes mostly to teenagers whose family incomes are around $50,000. You will notice that the politician who is proposing to raise the minimum wage has no skin in the game. He just gets to preen and get votes from people who think he’s doing something nice.