Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Obama’s Command Economy—Incompetent at Every Level

The Fiscal Times
July 31, 2014
Prepare yourselves for a shock –- federal government bureaucracies produce incompetence. These days, the evidence of this is almost impossible to ignore, whether it’s the Department of Veterans Affairs and its wait-list fraud, or the IRS and its epidemic of hard drive failures that was curiously confined to those targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. One would be hard put to find evidence of government-produced excellence at any level, and most of us would be satisfied to discover a modicum of competence.
In this case, though, the government itself has confirmed its own bureaucratic incompetence. The Government Accountability Office has concluded its investigation into the debacle of HHS’ federal exchange for health insurance,, and the overall rollout of Obamacare last October. No one will faint from shock to learn that the GAO’s independent review confirms that management failures and a lack of accountability led to the disastrous rollout of the central marketplace to service the command economy created by the Affordable Care Act.
Perhaps, though, we should be a little surprised. Web portals for purchasing health insurance have been around for years; the insurance companies themselves use them to make individual plan sales in some states. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the HHS subsidiary in charge of, operates a very similar system for its Medicare Advantage program.
HHS and CMS had a three-and-a-half-year head start on the rollout after the ACA passed Congress in March 2010 to build the exchange, as did those states that wanted to set up their own exchanges. The Obama administration had every opportunity, and certainly plenty of money, to get this done right.
The report’s findings show how it all went wrong. Despite having more than three years of lead time, CMS never developed “a coherent plan” for its contractors. Instead, the contractors involved in the project ended up responding to ad hoc instruction and requests. This alone cost the project “tens of millions of dollars,” according to the GAO, as contractors had to bounce between shifting priorities.
This alone should give taxpayers pause. A project should have at its start a well-constructed plan to achieve its particular mission. That’s true on a project of any significant scope, and particularly true when the stakes were as large as they were with Obamacare, which had already suffered from deep public distrust in the federal oversight of health insurance and its mandates.
After taking a political beating over the passage of the ACA (the Obama administration lost the House and some ground in the Senate) one would have presumed that the incentive to ace the launch and build goodwill for the program at the rollout would have pushed noses to the grindstone to get it right. Instead, the GAO’s findings strongly suggest that no one at CMS or HHS understood the necessity of organization, or didn’t care enough about it to plan for success.
Or, for that matter, to follow up to see that it did succeed. Even for the work that CMS did assign to contractors, the agency failed to check whether the contractors actuallydid the work, and did it according to spec. Granted, the lack of clear instruction may have made quality control a difficult task, but that again reflects on the management rather than the contractors. 
According to the GAO, CMS rarely bothered to try. Instead, they spent taxpayer dollars on contract work they didn’t bother to check, and then when the rollout failed, they demanded more funding to fix the problems they didn’t bother to find when it mattered.
By the way, the contracts offered were open-ended, according to the GAO, rather than fixed-cost for specific tasks. That meant that no one had an incentive to ensure that the work got accomplished properly – not the contractors, who got paid for whatever whim CMS demanded they follow at any time, and very clearly not the bureaucrats in charge of the project.
Until now, the issue of incompetence focused far more on the scope of Obamacare. Critics charged that the government could not possibly run a command economy in the health-insurance industry in the manner Obamacare promised, as the tailoring of product to individual need would make such top-down control impossible. This week, we saw another example of this in the rising concern over the auto-renewal of Obamacare policies that will take place in the fall for 2015.
The Associated Press reports that the need to recalculate income levels and average policy costs for the purpose of assigning subsidies will leave many taxpayers on the hook for a big tax bite, thanks to overpayments to insurers for their coverage.
Auto-renewals of policies were supposed to simplify matters by alleviating the need to re-enroll through the exchanges each year, but it now appears that consumers put themselves at risk either way.  “The subsidy scheme created by Congress to keep premiums affordable has so many moving parts that it's turning out to be difficult for the government to administer,” the AP reported in a line that could have come directly out of F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, distilling one of the original conceptual criticisms of the ACA from the beginning.
The GAO report shows a more basic problem with government-run command economies. The massive expansion of bureaucracies needed to handle all of these moving parts, even inadequately, disperses accountability and responsibility so far and wide as to make both evaporate altogether.
We have seen the same happen at the VA, the IRS, and even the State Department in its handling of the Benghazi consulate. There are no other options for diplomacy or tax collection other than a government monopoly, but that’s not true for health insurance to veterans or Americans on the whole. 
The VA scandal and this GAO report shows why top-down control should be limited to those functions that strictly relate to governance – and why we should leave everything else to the private sector with government as a disinterested regulator.


Twin Cities internist Chris Foley is a faithful reader whom I know in his professional capacity. Today he writes to address the case of the mystery virus:
It might be worth a short commentary re the connection between the sudden “mystery” virus that is hospitalizing children all over the US and the indiscriminate distribution of illegal alien kids “all over the US.” To wit:“Human rhinoviruses and enteroviruses in influenza-like illness in Latin America.”
‘Tis anything but a mystery, yet the MSM appears utterly blinded.
In a follow-up message, Dr. Foley writes a little more tentatively:
This is basically the same virus commonly seen in the equatorial Americas and South America. The very odd emergence of this virus at this time – especially just prior to the new school year and now fueled by the congregation of children in schools – demands an explanation. The only plausible one is that this has been brought here from south of the – now non-existent – border.
Although there will be a good deal of epidemiological work to be done before this can be scientifically associated, there is a deafening silence on the part of public health officials and the mainstream media in even speculating about this association. This is not simply a case of being politically selective about the news, it is downright dangerous and could be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the emergence of diseases long absent from daily life in America now suddenly popping up “inexplicably.” By the way the article from the Journal that I cited [linked above] likely represents gross underreporting which is typical in South America.
I trust that the truth will out some time after Obama issues his royal decree regularizing illegals after the midterm elections.

The Jihadists’ Eternal Plan

The Jihadists’ Eternal Plan 
While Obama works on his golf swing, they work on mass terror attacks. 

Michelle Malkin 

Here’s the first and last rule of Islamic jihad: If at first you don’t succeed, plot, plot again.
9/11 wasn’t the first. 9/11 won’t be the last. It’s not “fear-mongering” to face reality. These head-chopping, throat-slitting, bloodthirsty hijackers — of planes, freedom, and civilization — have conspired for decades to inflict modern mass murder on the West. Their homicidal mission is spectacular destruction in the name of the Koran.
Never forget: Eternal Muslim hatred of infidels didn’t start with George W. Bush. Or George H. W. Bush. Or Ronald Reagan. Or the creation of Gitmo. Or the birth of Israel. Or the Twin Towers. Or the Khobar Towers. Or Lockerbie. Or the U.S.S. Cole. Or Fort Hood. Or the Beirut Marine-barracks bombings. Or the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Africa, the bombing of U.S. military headquarters in Riyadh, and the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi.
Allah’s animals can’t stop. They won’t stop. Sura 9:5, the verse of the sword, commands them to “slay the idolators wherever you find them, and take them, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush.” No “pagan” throat is safe: American soldiers, worldly journalists, innocent schoolgirls, Jewish teenage boys, and Christian missionaries alike are all targets of Sura 47’s call to “smite the necks” of the unbelievers.
Now our impuissant president sees fit, after one and a half laggard terms in office, to unveil a “plan” for “degrading and ultimately destroying” the Muslim terrorists of ISIS.
To call the Obama administration’s trifling gestures a “bump in the road” to Islamic domination would be an overstatement of astronomic proportions. The bloodless words of the White House are rhetorical pebbles.
While Barack Obama singles out ISIS jihad gangsters for a $5 billion kabuki counterterrorism campaign, he continues to subsidize Hamas terrorists.
He has freed countless al-Qaeda recidivists from the very Gitmo detention facility he vowed to shut down to appease international-jihad enablers of the Kumbaya/Coexist coalition.
Obama’s jihad enablers have rolled out the red carpet at the White House for Islamist funders and frontmen, including:
 Esam Omeish, former head of the Muslim Brotherhood–sponsored Muslim American Society and patron of jihad cleric Anwar Awlaki, whom he helped install at Virginia’s notorious Dar al-Hijrah mosque. (That’s the same mosque where two 9/11 hijackers, terrorist financier Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, and Fort Hood Muslim mass murderer Nidal Hasan all worshiped.)
 Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah, a top lieutenant of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf Qaradawi, who urges followers to kill every last Jew, sanctioned suicide bombings and the killing of our soldiers, and declared that the “U.S. is an enemy of Islam that has already declared war on Islam under the disguise of war on terrorism and provides Israel with unlimited support.”
 Hisham al-Talib, another Qaradawi cheerleader welcomed at the White House by Obama’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Al-Talib is an Iraqi-born Muslim identified by the FBI as a Muslim Brotherhood operative and a major contributor to the left-wing Center for Constitutional Rights, the group of jihadi-sympathizing lawyers who helped spring suspected Benghazi terror plotter Abu Sufian bin Qumu from Gitmo.
While Obama has been hitting the golf courses and Hollywood fundraisers over the past six years, the relentless jihadists have been training, recruiting, practicing, testing, and refining.
They’ve infiltrated our prisons, our military, and our universities.
They’ve penetrated our borders, abused our toothless visa programs, and exploited our indiscriminate refugee system to import and export the next generation of soldiers of Allah around the world.
They’re experimenting with shoe bombs, underwear bombs, ink bombs, dry-ice bombs, and cargo bombs.
Their dry runs on airliners continue unabated as our Federal Air Marshal Service shrinks from insufficient funds and abandonment.
They command their own rogue freighter and aviation fleets.
While Obama finally gets around to reading his teleprompter vow to destroy ISIS this week, Osama bin Laden’s heirs are diligently fulfilling their 20-year plan. According to al-Qaeda documents and intelligence released nearly a decade ago, the Islamic avengers are already in their fifth phase of “declaration of the caliphate or the Islamic state.”
Next comes “total war” and “final victory” by 2020, helped along by demographic domination: “The Islamic state’s capabilities will be great beyond measure when Muslims would number more than 1.5 billion.”
Jihadist hijackers and head-choppers don’t quit. Appeasement and empty threats are no deterrent. They will not stop trying to outdo 9/11 — unless, through our deadly adherence to political correctness, apathy, amnesia, open borders, and sloth, we do ourselves in first.
— Michelle Malkin is the author of Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies. Her e-mail address © 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Obamacare: Fewer Doctors, More Demand

Obamacare: Fewer Doctors, More Demand
The trends are not pretty if you’re a physician — or a person who needs medical care.
By Michael Tanner


There’s an old line that environmentalists are “watermelons”—green on the outside, red on the inside. A lot of environmentalists will take great offense if you say this: No no! We like economic growth and capitalism just fine! We just want it to be “sustainable,” whatever that means. And don’t ask for specificity about what “sustainability” means in detail, unless you have a lot of time and a full bottle of hootch handy. Before long you’ll figure out that “sustainable” is just a code word for green things we like, and that it has no rigor whatsoever aside from old-fashioned factor-efficiency, which economists figured out over a century ago at least.
No it doesn't.
No it doesn’t.
But anyway, environmentalists resist being called socialists. But next week Naomi Klein is coming out with a book called This Changes Everything. In case you’ve forgotten your show notes, Klein is the author of The Shock Doctrine, a book ragingly popular with the far left that is so far gone into absurd conspiracizing and looney renderings of “neoliberalism” that it makes Lyndon LaRouche look positively staid by comparison.
What is the “this” that “changes everything” in her title? Why climate change, don’t you know? And what does it “change”? Why capitalism, of course. The argument of the book in one sentence is that only overthrowing capitalism can solve climate change. Don’t take my word for it. Here’s how the progressive lefty site CommonDreams described it today: “Forget everything you think you know about global warming. The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon—it’s about capitalism.” For this bit of candor about what we’ve long suspected of the climate campaign, we owe Klein and her followers a debt of thanks. I’m going to send her a bouquet of (sustainably-raised) flowers.
Climate change is just the ultimate in “late capitalism” I guess but what’s really getting late is the odor of this badly decayed Marxism. (Klein still uses the uproariously hilarious term “late capitalism” without a trace of irony in her pre-publications articles.) Talk about trying to sell something past its “use by” date! Wasn’t World War I the crisis that “changed everything”? Then the Great Depression? Then the Cold War? The panic and crash of 2008? “This changes everything,” as G.K. Chesterton probably said somewhere, is the refrain of the lunatic in the asylum who thinks he’s Napoleon. It’s always something.
The book unwittingly reveals that none of this crusading and posturing is about the environment at all. Bill McKibben’s dust jacket blurb gives the game away: “This is the best book about climate change in a very long time—in large part because it’s about much more.” Silly me: I thought it was about greenhouse gas emissions.Thought experiment: if we wave a magic wand, will Klein, McKibben, et al suddenly say, “Oh, I guess capitalism is okay after all”? Anyone want to buy some sustainable swampland in Florida?
It will be interesting to see whether “mainstream” environmental groups will distance themselves from Klein’s book. I intend to ask them about her argument at every opportunity. I expect every kind of weasel excuse imaginable. So I guess I better put in for a large order of free-range, gluten-free, sustainably-raised Green Weenies.

Don's Tuesday Column

THE WAY I SEE IT   by Don Polson  Red Bluff Daily News   9/16/2014

CA undermines volunteer, entry-level opportunities

The Tea Party Patriots will host both Sandy Bruce and Candy Carlson, runoff candidates for District 2 Supervisor, tonight at 6:30 at the Westside Grange; they will each give a statement and answer questions.
There sure is a lot of news that accumulates over the course of 2 months of vacation-held Daily News issues. Even utilizing the “epageflip” digital version doesn’t allow for the time to grasp many articles’ newsworthiness. So it was that the headline “No More Popping Tags on Main” from July 10 failed to convey a rather blatant lesson on life in the “happy volunteer workers paradise” of California, as well as a larger revelation on the sheer hypocrisy of the counterproductive over-regulation of the private sector. (Hint: this would not happen under the purview of the State of Jefferson.)
There should be some clear lessons for our liberal friends over the inflexibility of labor laws and regulations as applied to service and charitable operations. Whatever happened to the America that French observer Alexis de Tocqueville found in the 1800s? He marveled at the ability, eagerness and effectiveness of private citizens volunteering to organize and marshal themselves into ad hoc groups to resolve problems—meet social needs—without waiting for a governmental entity to tell them what to do.
In the case of the Poor And The Homeless organization, its thrift store served the dual purpose of providing both a cash flow for PATH, as well as opportunities for those struggling to integrate into a productive role in society; they learn basic skills that could serve their move into the mainstream economy. No one should begrudge such groups the wherewithal to fashion a “path” for making such efforts work for all involved. Enter inflexible, mandated labor regulations, rules and bureaucrats whose existence depends on pronouncing and proclaiming what shall be, regardless of practicality and efficaciousness.
There is no more reason for forcing such volunteer-fueled operations to meet the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement minimum wage rules than there is for forcing those same minimum wage rules onto businesses hiring unskilled teenagers whose economic worth is a fraction of what they must be paid. Oh, but that’s a whole different situation, some on the left will say. Well, the way I see it, the institutional left—in the form of advocacy groups, academic institutions, environmental outfits, etc.—depends on the whole “intern” (meaning unpaid) staffing concept. (Maybe PATH should just call them “interns”)
Even groups whose purpose, at least in part, is to agitate and demonstrate for such loony concepts as a “$15 minimum/living wage” have unpaid interns. Graduate students at our predominantly liberal/left-leaning universities instruct students so that tenured, highly-paid professors needn’t actually teach all their classes. A truism oft stated is that if someone will learn to make themselves worth more than they are being paid, they will eventually be paid more than they are worth.
Only a small minority of workers remains in the lowest rungs of the economy their whole lives. It is patently obvious that when minimum wage and other labor laws impose an artificial floor for compensation (that many are not worth), they don’t get the basic skills and habits that help them advance to higher paying positions. Hence, liberal inspired laws designed to artificially compensate entry-level workers have the unintended effect of depriving those same unskilled people of the very skills they need to start to advance in life. All I can say is “good luck” to the volunteers that will now have little or no “path” to gain what they need to reintegrate in a self-supporting way into society.
On another topic, sometimes I really doubt that leftist advocates have the slightest sense of their own hypocritical silliness. Some anonymous (of course) online commenter actually stated that I’ve become “disloyal and unpatriotic” for my “partisan bickering against a freely elected leader of this country…” (I’m wearing my best imitation of Jon Stewart’s funny/mocking face). Does anyone remember when the Democrat left injected lie after lie after lie into the public debate about President George Bush?
Some of those lies were fully intended to undermine our deployed military as well as recruiting efforts here at home. They were the kind of lies that, in WWII, were part of the “Tokyo Rose” and “Axis Sally” propaganda efforts to demoralize our troops and aviators. Does anyone remember “the war is lost” and “the surge has failed” rhetoric? Then the left, faced with legitimate criticism for such irresponsible claims, accused us of “questioning their patriotism,” even when not one Republican ever actually did.
So, I will happily, gleefully throw these words back at such leftist trash-talkers: “I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic. And we should stand up and say, ‘We are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration.’” (A shrill, screaming Hillary Clinton, April 28th, 2003, Hartford, Connecticut) Please spare us your hypocritical double standard, leftists.

The Reality Behind the Latest Pro-Obamacare Spin

The Reality Behind the Latest Pro-Obamacare Spin

Monday, September 15, 2014


Barack Obama’s reluctant venture into war-making is causing heads to explode on the Left. The intellectually consistent are denouncing him as a warmonger and an imperialist, but there aren’t many of those. More typical is the New York Times editorial board, which, like Stalinists in the 1930s, follows the party line unquestioningly. For which it is taken to task by the far-left journal Counterpunch: “Perpetual War is Fine With the New York Times After All.” How can you not enjoy that?
George Orwell
George Orwell

The editorial board of the New York Times has an Orwellian knack for war. Sixteen months ago, when President Obama gave oratorical lip service to ending “perpetual war,” the newspaper quickly touted that end as a democratic necessity. But now — in response to Obama’s speech Wednesday night announcing escalation of war without plausible end — the Times editorial voice is with the endless war program.
Because Obama.
Under the headline “The End of the Perpetual War,” published on May 23, 2013, the Times was vehement, calling a new Obama speech “the most important statement on counterterrorism policy since the 2001 attacks, a momentous turning point in post-9/11 America.” The editorial added: “For the first time, a president stated clearly and unequivocally that the state of perpetual warfare that began nearly 12 years ago is unsustainable for a democracy and must come to an end in the not-too-distant future.”
The Times editorial board was sweeping in its conclusion: “Mr. Obama told the world that the United States must return to a state in which counterterrorism is handled, as it always was before 2001, primarily by law enforcement and the intelligence agencies. That shift is essential to preserving the democratic system and rule of law for which the United States is fighting, and for repairing its badly damaged global image.”
That was before the Democratic Party was about to be crushed in a mid-term election.
But the “essential” shift is now dispensable and forgettable, judging from the New York Times editorial that appeared hours after Obama’s pivotal speech Wednesday night. The newspaper’s editorial board has ditched the concept that the state of perpetual war is unsustainable for democracy.
"Pinch" Sulzberger
“Pinch” Sulzberger
Under the headline “The Attack on ISIS Expands to Syria,” the Times editorial offers only equivocal misgivings without opposition “as President Obama moves the nation back onto a war footing.” Without a fine point on the matter, we are to understand that war must be perpetuated without any foreseeable end.
The concluding paragraph of the New York Times editorial in the Sept. 11, 2014 edition is already historic and tragic. It sums up a liberal style of murmuring reservations while deferring to the essence of U.S. policies for perpetual war: “The American military’s actions in the Middle East has (sic) often fueled Arab anger, even when the United States was spending billions of dollars on beneficial programs, including health and education. Mr. Obama expressed confidence that the plan against ISIS will work and, at the moment, seems aware of the risks he takes.”
Like the vast bulk of the rest of U.S. mass media, when push comes to militaristic shove, the New York Times refuses to make a break from the madness of perpetual war.
Well, no: the Times refuses to make a break from supporting the Obama administration, no matter what head-snapping contradictions that may entail. The Times had no problem denouncing “perpetual war” when we had a Republican president. The only surprising thing in the editorial is a grammatical error that would have resulted in a failing grade when I was in elementary school:
Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 6.30.43 PM
Elitism isn’t what it used to be.



Global warming hysteria, as we wrote yesterday, is not science. The models on which it rests are known to be wrong, since they are refuted by observation. So why, then, does climate change hype persist?
Because a great deal of money depends on it. The purpose of global warming hysteria is to bamboozle voters into transferring vast amounts of wealth and power from the private sector to the government. This will be done via a carbon tax and regulations on, or prohibitions of, fossil fuels; but the scheme goes much deeper than that. Since virtually every human activity (including breathing) generates some quantity of carbon dioxide, global warming is an excuse to regulate pretty much everything, conferring unprecedented power on the federal government. Further, global warming justifies vast federal subsidies of “green” energy scams. The Democrats, in turn, are rewarded for those subsidies by enormous political contributions by the likes of Tom Steyer.
The Science and Environmental Policy Project reveals the tip of the iceberg, at least:
In August 2013, the White House reported in FY 2013, US expenditures on Clean Energy Technologies were $5.783 billion, Energy Tax Provisions That May Reduce Greenhouse Gases were $4.999 billion, and Energy Payments in Lieu of Tax Provisions were $8.080 for a total $18.862 billion. Such expenditures created a sustained green lobby for climate change.
That is $19 billion per year. But again, that is only the beginning of the story: it doesn’t count the vast sums that would be involved in a carbon tax, or the selective suppression of the economy through regulation that climate hysteria enables.
Still, the $19 billion figure is striking. How does it compare with what the federal government spends on actual human health issues: SEPP provides the numbers:
For FY 2013, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported its expenditures on cancer research were $5.274 billion and expenditures on all categories of clinical research were $10.604 billion. Government expenditures on alternative energy sources were 78% greater than NIH expenditures on all categories of clinical research on known threats to human health. The fear of climate change has distorted spending priorities in the Federal government.
Only they aren’t distorted if you are a Democrat eager to expand the scope of government, and to assure a steady stream of hundreds of millions of dollars into Democratic Party coffers.