AreYouLiberal.Com
22Mar/12Off

5 Reasons That Shouting “Racism” Doesn’t Work Anymore

My latest Townhall column is called, 5 Reasons That Shouting “Racism” Doesn’t Work Anymore. Here’s an excerpt from the column.
Because of slavery (Democrats did it), KKK violence (Democrats did it), segregation (Democrats did it), Jim Crow laws (Democrats did it) and other historic abuses heaped on black Americans in our country by the Democratic Party and its supporters, America has been a bit oversensitive about race for the last few decades. Of course, the political party responsible for all of that racism is now the one shouting, “You’re a racist,” ...

22Mar/12Off

The Obamacare Hydra


Image credit: 2009 michellemalkin.com Obamacare photoshop contest winner Rachael

The Obamacare Hydra
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2012

The Hydra was a mythical swamp beast whose multiple heads grew back after being severed. Obamacare is a real Washington monster whose countless hidden bureaucracies keep sprouting forth even after they’re rooted out. As soon as combatants lop off one of the law’s unconstitutional agencies, another takes its place.

On Thursday, as the behemoth federal health-care law marked its second anniversary, House Republicans passed a bill that would repeal the infamous Independent Payment Advisory Board. The mother of all death panels, IPAB would have unprecedented authority over health-care spending through a rogue board of 15 Medicare spending czars. The House repeal has a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving the Senate. But IPAB’s legality is being challenged in federal court by the conservative, Arizona-based Goldwater Institute. And the more the public knows about these freedom-usurping, taxpayer-soaking institutions buried in the health-care law, the less they like it.

Seven House Democrats crossed the aisle to vote for the GOP-majority rollback. Analysts on both sides of the political aisle have decried IPAB’s complete lack of accountability and insulation from judicial review. Critical decisions about public and private health-insurance payment rates would be freed from the normal administrative-rules process — public notice, public comment, public review — that governs every other federal commission in existence. Rep. Todd Akin (R., Mo.) summed up bipartisan opposition: “IPAB embodies the very thing Americans fear most about Obamacare — unaccountable Washington bureaucrats meeting behind closed doors to make unilateral decisions that should be made by patients and their doctors.”

The problem with piecemeal repeal is that for every old IPAB, there’s a new, multibillion-dollar bureaucracy waiting in the Obamacare wings. Senate Republicans and fellow medical doctors Tom Coburn and John Barrasso point to a $10 billion entity called the “Innovation Center” that “would test innovative payment and service delivery models to reduce program expenditures under Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program” (S-CHIP).

According to a new Congressional Research Service analysis of this little-known office to be operated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, there would be “no administrative or judicial review” of the director’s payment experiments. Coburn and Barrasso explain that “this means that the administrator of CMS is the sole individual in the entire federal government with the power to decide whether or not models tested negatively impact seniors’ quality of care and meet the financial requirements spelled out in law.”

This “innovation” super-czar would be allowed to tinker behind closed doors — and then impose whatever experiments the “Innovation Center” chose, without any checks or balances on the methods or results. Moreover, at least two other sub-offices within CMS (subject to normal open-meetings and open-records rules) have already been tasked with researching payment and delivery models. At National Review Online’s health-care blog, Critical Condition, Tevi Troy warns: “The ‘innovation’ center appears to be one more way in which the health-care law is going to interfere with the practice of medicine, and one that physicians should start paying more attention to.”

It’s not just physicians who need to pay attention. Every taxpayer has a stake. At the end of the month, this shadowy agency will start doling out $1 billion in grants to payment-experiment groups and data-tracking system builders. Sounds like yet another pipeline for political payoffs and Chicago-style boodle that will result in less patient autonomy, fewer health-care choices, more government intrusion, and lower-quality care.

Final diagnosis: The Obamacare beast won’t die until it’s eradicated completely, root and branch.

22Mar/12Off

The Obamacare Hydra

The Hydra was a mythical swamp beast whose multiple heads grew back after being severed. Obamacare is a real Washington monster whose countless hidden bureaucracies keep sprouting forth even after they’re rooted out. As soon as combatants lop off one of the law’s unconstitutional agencies, another takes its place.
On Thursday, as the behemoth federal health care law marked its second anniversary, House Republicans repealed the infamous Independent Payment Advisory Board. The mother of all death panels, IPAB would have unprecedented authority over health care spending through a rogue board of ...

22Mar/12Off

A Fawlty slip of the tongue

There’s a great old “Fawlty Towers” scene (if you’re unfamiliar with the 1970s British sitcom, hie thyself to YouTube!) in which Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), an innkeeper, welcomes some German patrons. He gives explicit orders to everyone: “Don’t mention the war!” He then proceeds to mention the uncomfortable subject of World War II over and over again.
In one scene, after blurting out references to the war a dozen times while seating the Germans at the restaurant, he says to his wife, “Listen, don’t mention the war! I mentioned it once, ...

22Mar/12Off

Liberal Opposition to Ryan Plan Is Delusional Demagoguery

It’s one thing for good-faith conservative Republicans to challenge the Ryan plan from the right if they believe its cuts are too small and too slow, but these liberal attacks are something else again.
How catastrophic would the nation’s fiscal condition have to be before liberals recognized its urgency? Is there any scenario under which they’d consider setting aside their partisan populism to come to the nation’s rescue? Are they capable of even temporarily setting aside their redistributionist myopia long enough meaningfully to address the main drivers of the national debt?
As ...

22Mar/12Off

Putting the Bull in ‘Bully’

In 1968, the Motion Picture Association of America effectively nationalized the movie industry’s rating system to guide parents and the wider public about the content of films before purchasing tickets. A year hasn’t gone by since that the “beautiful people” don’t throw their artistic temper tantrums when they receive a harsher rating than they want.
The latest example is a documentary named “Bully,” which investigates the lives of five bullied students during the 2009-2010 school year in five states — Georgia, Mississippi, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma. Two of the five committed ...

22Mar/12Off

Dutch Catholic Church Castrated Abused Children for ‘Homosexual Behavior’

Prepare to be even more appalled by the Catholic Church's abuse of children than you may already be: Catholic Church Abuse: At Least One Youth Castrated for 'Homosexuality'.

At least one boy under the age of 16 was castrated to 'help' his homosexual feelings while in Catholic church care in the 1950s, the NRC reported on Saturday.

But there are indications at least 10 other boys were also castrated, the paper said. The claims were not included in the Deetman report on sexual abuse within the Catholic church published at the end of last year.

The paper says the one confirmed case concerned a boy - Henk Heithuis - who reported being sexually abused by priests to the police in 1956. After giving evidence, he was placed in a Catholic-run psychiatric institution where he was then castrated because of his 'homosexual behaviour'.

There are no words.

Also see:
Dutch Church Accused of Castrating Up to 10 Young Men


22Mar/12Off

Overcriminalization Interrupted: Senate Passes House Version of Stock Act

“Hallelujah” overstates the point, but we are pleased that the Senate on Thursday accepted the revisions to the STOCK Act made by the House of Representatives. As Heritage explained in two earlier Issue Briefs on this subject, the additional public corruption provisions that the Senate initially wanted to include in the bill gave rise to a batch of different potential overcriminalization issues. Some of them were definitional problems that, perhaps, could have been remedied by redrafting the...

Click the title to read the full post.

22Mar/12Off

Same Talking Points For ALL The Countries

The below video shows Danish broadcaster Thomas Buch-Anderson from Detektor analyzing some of what President Obama has to say about other nations. Via Ace of Spades HQ (h/t Adam Baldwin).

Truly, the greatest orator of our time. Says Ace of Spades HQ, one of RedState’s strongest allies: “Remember, Obama has a gift. He said so.”

22Mar/12Off

How Did Santorum Become the Last Mole Standing?

An examination of how, unexpectedly, Rick Santorum became the last threat to Mitt Romney's acquisition of the Republican presidential nomination

In an article in November, 2011, the process of selecting a Republican presidential candidate to oppose Barack Obama was described as a combination of American Idol and Whack-a-Mole. The contestants [...]

22Mar/12Off

Boston Review Gets Serious About Tackling Income Inequality

The Boston Review just hosted a forum titled “What to
do about income inequality” featuring a lead essay by Stanford
University’s David Grusky and a number of responses including one
from yours truly. Grusky is a big name with big credentials and he
argues that progressives make a big mistake when they tackle
inequality by focusing exclusively on redistributive taxation. He
is no foe of such policies, mind you. He just believes that they
misdiagnose the true cause of income inequality, which lies in the
pre-tax income generated in the market. He explains:

As important as tax-based redistribution is, we need to
supplement it with policies that address market
inequality. We would do well to look to OWS for inspiration here.
Although OWS hardly sings with a single voice, one line in the
polyphony implies an institutional critique of inequality and a
market-based remedy for it. The institutional critique is not about
the tax system but about the ways in which American labor and
capital markets generate extreme pre-tax inequality. The core idea
is that powerful players have built self-serving and
inequality-generating institutions that are often codified in law
and come to be represented—through an ingenious sleight of hand—as
laissez-faire capitalism.

We all are familiar with the argument that extreme inequality is
the inevitable outcome of a highly competitive market. The
institutional critique turns this idea on its head and implies that
extreme inequality comes from a lack of competition and associated
market failure. Put simply, we’d have far less inequality if our
labor market and other institutions were more
competitive—if our commitment to competition weren’t mere lip
service but were honored even when the rich and powerful would lose
out.

In other words, the root cause of the income inequality malady
lies in how rich people acquire their pre-tax income—by rigging the
rules of the market to extract illicit “rents.” Therefore
redistributive taxation targets the symptom not the cause.

There is much here to warm the heart of free market libertarians
(myself included) and progressives, both of whom are easily worked
up about crony capitalism, corporate welfare and what have you. But
my issue with Grusky is that his claims about rising income
inequality are seriously overblown. And even if they weren’t, it
wouldn’t automatically follow that we should care. I note:

Any indictment of capitalism worth its salt has to show not just
that the rich are getting richer, but that they do so by making the
poor poorer. There is no evidence of that. Facebook recently
floated an IPO making Mark Zuckerberg the richest 27-year-old in
America. I didn’t notice my bank balance dip…

America remains a highly income-mobile society where poverty is
a stage of life, not a way of life. There is no permanent
underclass here. A study by Thomas Garrett of the St. Louis Federal
Reserve recently found that between 1996 and 2005—nine short
years—roughly half of taxpayers who began in the bottom income
quintile moved up to a higher one.

This doesn’t mean that Grusky’s suggestions to eradicate
economy-distorting rents are not worth pursuing. It is just that we
should do so in the name of creating a level playing field and
maximizing economic opportunities, not reducing income
inequality.

All the responses are worth checking out, including one by the
chief peddlers of income inequality gloom-and-doom, Thomas Piketty
and Emmanuel Saez. They disagree with Grusky that progressives
shouldn’t get fixated on redistributive taxation and trot out their
research showing that:

Countries that made large cuts in top tax rates, such as the
United Kingdom and the United States, have not grown significantly
faster than countries that did not, such as Germany and Denmark.
Hence, a substantial fraction of the response of pre-tax top
incomes to top tax may in fact be due to increased rent-seeking at
the top rather than increased productive effort.

The bottom line is that rich countries have all grown at roughly
the same rate over the past 30 years, in spite of huge variations
in tax policies. Using a model in which the response of top earners
to top tax rate cuts is due in part to increased rent-seeking
behavior and in part to increased productive work, we
find that the top tax rate could be as high as 83 percent—as
opposed to 57 percent in the pure supply-side model—without harming
economic growth.
(Emphasis added.)

Oooo….kay!

Also useful is the contribution of Cato Institute’s Neal
McCluskey who takes Grusky to task for completely misunderstanding
the concept of market failure.  Grusky irritatingly refers to
the scarcity of college seats created by the higher ed cartel as
“market failure.” But market failure, technically speaking, occurs
when the market can’t find a way to cost-effectively provide goods
that consumers want. The classic examples are roads and highways.
But a market that doesn’t deliver the desired results because
government regulations and policies prevent it from functioning
efficiently, as is the case with the higher ed industry, is an
example of government not market failure. Notes McCluskey:

[T]here are significant problems in American education… They
cannot, however, be pinned on market failure.  In higher ed,
government intervention is central to creating bottlenecks.
Foremost, college prices rise even more quickly than health care
costs largely because the federal government, through student aid,
ensures that students can pay them. But aid programs generally
favor middle- or upper-class parents who have the personal or
accountant savvy to take full advantage of loans and tax credits
through effective long-term planning. A 1999 study reported by the
National Center for Education Statistics shows that poor parents
are dramatically less likely than wealthy ones to estimate the
costs of college.

But arguably the most comprehensive account of the problems with
Grusky’s essay is by Brown University’s Glenn Loury. He says:

I find much of the detail in Grusky’s argument to be
unpersuasive or just plain wrong.

The wage premium for college graduates over those with a high
school education is not due mainly to non-competitive behavior by
elite colleges artificially limiting their enrollments. Nor is it
mainly due to the shortage of highly skilled workers that comes
about because of abysmal public schooling for the poor. Neither is
excessive executive compensation—as unseemly and infuriating as it
can be—an important source of economic inequality at the top of the
income distribution. (There are too many high-earning lawyers,
doctors, athletes, financial analysts, entertainers, entrepreneurs,
small-business owners, scientists, and engineers for this to be
so).

In Grusky’s rush to adopt a language of “market failure” so as
to criticize unequal market outcomes, he gives short shrift to the
larger structural forces that are at play here, over which no one
has much control: forces such as globalization, technological
change, social segregation, and middle class–oriented interest
group politics. What economists call skill-biased technological
change is not a market failure—it’s a fact of life. Likewise, the
impact of competition from low-paid offshore labor is an effect
that won’t yield to marginal policy change or the obvious
“progressive” (i.e., trade-restricting) legislation.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. The whole
forum
is well worth perusing.


22Mar/12Off

Duly Noted – Realism Fades In The Face Of The Idealist’s Pipe Dream

Leftist elites dislike conservatives because they resent reality. 1. The GOP has achieved what Obama could not have accomplished. Kudos to Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul. Most likely, the next President of the USA is again Barack Obama. The words “well- deserved” come to mind.   2. For the time being, the European Union, by massing [...]

22Mar/12Off

TN Bill Mandates Publication of Names of Abortion Doctors and Patients

The GOP's war on women's rights now has another weapon in its arsenal; in Tennessee, Republicans are pushing a new bill that would mandate publication of abortion data, including the names of both doctors and patients.

Sheer insanity.

Doctors who perform abortions in Tennessee could see their names listed online, and women who undergo the procedures could be unintentionally identified under a bill pending in the state legislature.

State lawmakers are debating a measure that would require the Department of Health to publish more details about abortions, bringing Tennessee into a roiling, state-by-state battle over how to regulate abortion procedures.

Supporters say the bill, scheduled to come up Wednesday in a state House committee, only requires state health officials to post information online that they already collect. But critics say the measure is intended to intimidate women and doctors involved in abortions, even in emergency situations.

“I think publicizing this information will do nothing but cause serious consequences,” said state Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville. “This is dangerous. This is a dangerous piece of legislation.”

UPDATE at 3/22/12 5:27:29 pm

Today, the Republican sponsor of the bill withdrew the publication mandate, after a huge outcry against it: TN Abortion Bill Sponsor Withdraws ID Provisions.

And with massive irony, he's now whining that he received threats of violence -- exactly what his bill was intended to provoke against abortion providers.

A controversial proposal to post details about each abortion performed in Tennessee on a state website has been withdrawn, with its chief sponsor accusing opponents of spreading lies about it and inciting threats of violence against him.

Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, told members of the Legislative Health and Human Service Committee on Wednesday the threats came after news of his proposal went viral this week — including being debated on MSNBC and dissected by national bloggers who suggested it would endanger women and their doctors. He said false reports about his bill also spread after the attention.

Hill said he was withdrawing the controversial provisions to be able to focus on passing other parts of the bill. What remains of the Life Defense Act of 2012, or HB3808, would require all doctors who perform abortions to obtain admitting privileges at area hospitals.

Hill said opponents’ “categorization of me as a terrorist, murderer or more has been used by their leftist friends to engender hatred and incite the threat of violence against me.” He wouldn’t discuss specific threats but said most were from out of state, and he referred them to authorities.


22Mar/12Off

Why Whitney Houston Died: Drugs, Heart Disease Played Roles

From the coroner's report
related to singer Whitney Houston's February 11 death:

Whitney Houston died from an accidental drowning in a hotel
bathtub, but the "effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and
cocaine use" were contributing factors in her death, the Los
Angeles County Coroner said in an initial autopsy report released
Thursday.

Houston, 48, was "found submerged in bathtub filled with water"
and "no trauma or foul play is suspected," the coroner said.

The toxicology tests found other drugs in her body, including
marijuana, the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, the muscle relaxant
Flexeril and the allergy medicine Benadryl, the report said. But
these drugs "did not contribute to the death," it said.


More here.


Said it before and I'll say it again
: Drug prohibition didn't
make it any easier for Houston and other substance abusers to
address their problems.

Here's Kennedy talking about Whitney, Adele, Michelle Obama, and
more back in Feb:

 


22Mar/12Off

Whom Do You Trust More: Pilots or a Door?

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told Congress whom she trusts on February 15 when she responded to Congressman (and former Federal Flight Deck Officer) Chip Cravaack’s (R–MN) question at a House hearing. The exchange is exemplified with these remarks: Cravaack: “Is a Federal Flight Deck Officer the last line of defense for our travelling public?” Napolitano: “I think the armed cockpit door actually is.” The term “armed cockpit door” must have been a mistake; she likely was...

Click the title to read the full post.

22Mar/12Off

Obama’s Secret Debt Milestone

Here is a debt milestone that we surpassed this week, yet you won’t read about it anywhere in the media.  The gross federal debt has increased more under Obama in just 3.2 years than it did during Bush’s entire 8-year tenure.  And Bush was no limited government conservative either.

When President Bush was sworn in on January 20, 2001, the total federal debt stood at $5.728 trillion.  On January 20, 2009, the day he left office, the debt had increased to $10.629 trillion, a jump of $4.9 trillion.  Just 38 months later, the debt has increased another $4.954 trillion to a grand total of $15.583 trillion!  Amazingly, $4.514 trillion, or 91% of the debt increase comes from the public share of the debt, which now stands at $10.8 trillion.

We should also keep in mind that we are on pace to breach the $16.394 trillion debt limit before the November elections, even with the uptick in revenue.  That means that he will have amassed almost $6 trillion in debt by the time he, God willing, leaves office next January.  And it’s not just the $6 billion.  He has set us on such an unsustainable trajectory that we will never achieve a balanced budget without massive restructuring of government.  If Obama’s proposed budget blueprint was allowed to come to fruition, the federal debt would reach $26 trillion in 10 years assuming rosy revenue predictions.

As Obama runs around the country advocating tax hikes for the rich, the media will conceal Obama’s biggest milestone – one that no degree of tax increases could ever countermand.

Cross-posted from The Madison Project