Prioritization

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Damn that Fernandez, he always says things so much better than I could.

This time, it’s about why Obama isn’t stopping Putin. Best paragraph:

“One of the most ironic things about the Obama presidency is that Yes We Can hasn’t even been replaced by No We Won’t. It has shriveled to No We Can’t.”

A President who doesn’t have the guts to take on the Sierra Club isn’t going to make an ex-KGB man quake in his boots. Or even a chinless ophthalmologist. If everybody knows you’re not willing to use the stick, there’s no point is speaking at all.

Joe Doakes

Well, to be fair, the citizens require so much supervision that it’s hard to spare much effort for overseas “enemies”.

Like Waiting For “One Direction” Tickets In A Blizzard

(SCENE:  Mitch BERG is walking his dog down Grand Avenue in Saint Paul.   He’s walking past an organic car repair shop when Avery LIBRELLE walks out, almost bumping into BERG).

LIBRELLE:  Merg!  Hah! I woke up this morning thinking “Merg must be feeling sad today! Obamacare is a huge success!”

BERG:  Well, it’s not really…

LIBRELLE:  Which bums you out more, Merg – that more people weren’t insured, or that less weren’t?

BERG:  Well, I’m just trying to figure out what all the happiness is about.

LIBRELLE:   Seven million subscribers!

BERG:  Let’s assume the Administration is giving real numbers.  That’s seven milion people who’ve signed up.  Not seven million paid, issued policies.  But if you put it up against the five million people wholosttheir coverage over the past year, that means we’re up a net two million – assuming they all actually pay their premiums, which all of them will not.

LIBRELLE:  You’re just jealous that no Republican healthcare plan gets people lining up for it!

BERG:  Wait – you say that’s a good thing!

LIBRELLE:  When people line up to buy something, that means it’s popular.    Like an iPhone!

BERG:  If that analogy held up – if Obamacare is extremely popular – then they’d have been waiting in line last October, when the plans first hit the market.  This is like people waiting in line to buy iPhone 3s before they go out of production.

LIBRELLE:  That’s stupid!  Nobody would do that!

BERG:  Unless it was your only shot at getting a phone, and you were going to wind up without a phone if you waited another day.  The “lines” had less in common with these…:

HyPsTrZ at the sacrament of unveiling.

…and much more in common with these…:

Waiting for bread in Moscow, 1980s

…or these:

Minnesota clinic, 2018. Just kidding – it’s a DMV line.

People trying to get something before an onerous deadline makes it impossible.

LIBRELLE:  Wow.  You’re a real debbie downer.

BERG:  As always, I’m a realist.  The Administration is trying to put lipstick on a dead pig in time to save the Democrats in time for the mid-terms.

LIBRELLE:  Hey – you used the word Democrat!  You hate women and their children!

(And SCENE)

Subtitled

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The President spoke at Union Depot in St. Paul the other day. Here is a transcript of his remarks:

***

My fellow Americans:

Our country is in a mess. I believe I’m the man to fix it. That’s why I’m announcing my candidacy for President in 2016. Yes, I know the Presidency used to be limited to two terms, but our problems are too serious to wait for Congress to act; therefore, I’ve revoked that limitation by Executive Order.

The biggest problem with the world today is that things are not equal. Inequality makes life unfair. It’s inequality and unfairness that are destroying the world and America with it. And Americans are the cause of that inequality and unfairness. It’s time for America to change. I hope Americans can change. No . . . I Know Americans can change. Ordinary Americans can change their lifestyles, and with them, the world.

Americans consume more natural resources, more energy, more food and more medical care than the rest of the world combined. Ordinary Americans need to cut back on everything so you live more like people in other countries.

Americans must eat less and let children go to bed hungry more often. Ordinary Americans must drive less and walk more, carry your groceries in reusable bags and haul purchases on your backs. Ordinary Americans must dress warmer and turn the heat down in Winter, open a window and turn off the air conditioner in Summer.

The world is over-crowded. We must reduce the surplus population. It’s essential that Ordinary Americans cut back on prenatal and infant care so more babies die prematurely. We must eliminate end-of-life care so old people pass more quickly. We need to double, even triple the number of abortions performed every day, to make room for new generations of illegal immigrants to take the place of natural-born Americans. All of you must live more simply, closer to nature, and for a shorter lifetime, the way the rest of the world does.

As President, I will oversee the transformation of every American’s lifestyle to one that I deem more appropriate for that person. I will use every power at my command to make Ordinary American lives hungrier, poorer, sicker and shorter. I know it’s a giant task but I do not shrink from it, and I will not be alone in my efforts: I will ask my most important friends and donors to assist me in redistributing the country’s wealth and reordering American society. And when Ordinary Americans finally achieve equality with the rest of the poverty-stricken world, when there is no First World, no Second World, no Third World, but only One World, I will voluntarily resign as President to accept the position of King of the World, to ensure that these good works continue with full vigor, that no Ordinary American will ever raise his head above another person, that equality of misery will be world-wide, universal and forever.

Thank you for your support.

***

Well, those may not have been his exact words, but I think that’s the gist of it.

Joe Doakes

“Fake but accurate”.

Slash And Burn

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

New thinking for the military.

We’re keeping the fantastically expensive and kludgy F-35 plus all 11 Carrier Battle Groups but we’re going to cut the A-10 Warthog, since we’ll never again need a tank-buster.  And the U-2 is obsolete in the satellite era.  Oh, and we don’t need 100,000 people.

I get that we don’t want to be preparing to fight the last war.  But what war are we preparing to fight?

Joe Doakes

Back in 1987, the great historian Edward Luttwak wrote The Pentagon and the Art of War, a comprehensive critique of US military strategy at a time when we’d just endured five straight military failures (Vietnam, the Mayaguez incident, Desert One and Lebanon) and one unnecessarily costly victory (Grenada).

The conclusion?  The US didn’t really have a strategy; our military was designed to fight the Cold War as a rematch of World War 2, and our military was not really suited for the threats we faced or the society we had.

The book tied in with a wave of thinking in political and military circles that led to the epic reforms of the late eighties, based on the world as it was at the time.

I’m not convinced that the cuts Obama is proposing have anything to do with the world we live in.

Our Loathsome Elites

Julie Boonstra, in the middle of being treated for Leukemia, had to go chasing after alternative health insurance.

Because of Obamacare.

The WaPo’s “fact check” column, “Politifact”, leaped into action and did what it’s paid to do; uphold the Democrat narrative:

Media organizations investigating the ad’s claims note that Boonstra was able to find comparable new insurance under the law.

Which I’m sure was big comfort, what with being in the middle of being treated for Leukemia and all.

But that whole “finding alternate care” bit?  Ummm…


Obama Repeatedly Promising You Can Keep Your… by ShockDoctrin

Even if I didn’t love my doctor, I’d suspect that right in the middle of freaking Leukemia treatment would be a time when having the Presidentnot lie to memight be a good thing.

But today’s Democrat party?  They know what matters.

The messengers; they must be lined up and shot:

And the campaign of Rep. Gary Peters is also going after television stations airing ads in which her story is featured, threatening their licenses.

The reason our country is so polarized is that half of the population supports rank evil.

The New, Slacker Normal

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

If you voluntarily reduce your income to avoid paying full price for child support, you are a deadbeat Dad.  We want people to work so they can afford things like medical care for their kids.

If you hide your income to avoid paying full state income taxes, you are a tax cheat.  We want people to work, on-book, and pay their fair share.

If you give away your income to qualify for nursing home care, you are disqualified from receiving it.  We want people to pay for their own medical care, if they can.

If you cut your hours, reduce your income, move it off-book, and make yourself poor on paper . . . you get Obama-care subsidies.

We don’t want people to work?  Who’s going to pay for all the free unicorns and rainbows?

Joe Doakes

The Obama administration’s whole “reducing the need to work” schtick reminds me of a joke from the nineties; “Q:  How many Microsoft developers does it take to change a light bulb?  A:  None; Bill Gates will declare Darkness ™ the new standard”.

Soon We’ll All Be Rogues

Joe Doakes from Como Park emailed:

Congress foolishly passed laws that allow payday lenders to help poor people make it from one paycheck to the next.  President Obama – who vowed before God to faithfully execute the laws enacted by Congress – doesn’t like that one (never has; when he was in the Illinois legislature, Obama backed legislation to ban payday loans).

Suddenly, federal bureaucrats have set about to undermine the law allowing payday loans and now to stonewall Congressional questions about it.

President Obama will learn of the operation by reading the newspapers and begin blaming “rogue” agents in 5 . . . 4. . . .3 . . . .

Joe Doakes

The definition of totalitarian; everything that isn’t mandatory is “rogue”.

Democrats: This Is Your Mess

Obamacare is going to eliminate 2.5 million jobs over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office:

It said the equivalent of 2.3 million workers would be lost by 2021, compared to its previous estimate of 800,000, and that 2.5 million workers would be lost by 2024. It also projected that labor force compensation would be reduced by 1 percent from 2017 to 2024 — twice its previous estimate.

Although the CBO projects that total employment and compensation will increase over the coming decade, that increase will be smaller than it would have been in the absence of the healthcare law.

The findings immediately roiled the debate over the healthcare law on Capitol Hill ahead of this year’s midterm elections.

The CBO’s director was pretty blunt:

“All our analysis led us to conclude the effects of the [healthcare law] on labor force participation would be a good deal larger than we had thought originally,” CBO Director Doug Elmendorf said. “Fundamentally, the Affordable Care Act provides subsidies to lower income people and those subsidies phase out … that will have some effects on discouraging labor supply.”

This is on top of the fact that the “job growth” we have (or that the Administration said we had up until December; it’s actually gotten worse) wouldn’t get us back to 2006 levels until the 2020s.  Sometime.  Maybe.  Barring any other problems. 

Like Obamacare. 

By all means, Democrats – keep changing the subject.

State Of The State Of The Union

I watched President Obama’s 5th State of the Union out at the Cinema Grill in New Hope last night, at a party thrown by Americans For Prosperity, hosted by Siri Freeh and some guys. 

Main observations?  Well, first things first; this was the first time in a long time I’ve sat through an entire speech by this president.  And he’s still a first-rate orator.  Dad was a speech teacher, and I grew up listening to great speeches on LP (and have quite a few on my iPhone), Kennedy and Churchill and Martin Luther King and many more.  Speech is the family business.  And in a nation full of politicians who are usually groaningly awful public speakers, Obama is very, very good. 

Unfortunately, pretty much everything he said was vapor; Obamacare has nine million members only if you count Medicare subscribers who were already on the plan; we have “eight million jobs” at a time when we should have have many, many more in a normal economic recovery.  The unemployment rate is “dropping” only because people are leaving the work force.  Obama’s executive orders are either meaningless, skirt the Constitution, or both. 

The usual stuff.  Better people than me have fact-checked it and found it wanting.

For my part?  Three things jumped out at me.

Thunderous Silence:  Last year’s SOTU’s marquee issue was guns.  The 2013 State of the Union’s message to the law-abiding gun owner?  “Shut up or get cut up”. 

This year?  One fairly tepid paragraph – and the Democrats’ applause was more of the “golf clap” variety. 

Clearly, leading with guns hurt the Democrats last year; it nearly lost them the Colorado legislature, and it’s mobilized Real Americans in a way that has to have the Administration thinking of 1994 and 2010 (and Minnesota DFLers of 2002). 

I think the paragraph was a sop to the far-left, and not by any means an indication that the Administration or its minions are going to ease off their assault on the Second Amendment.  They’ve just switched from a frontal assault to a guerrilla war. 

Picking Artisan Cherries In 20 Pound Buckets:  I laughed out loud at the two businesses the President chose to trumpet his “income equality” “vision” last night; Costco and Saint Paul’s  Punch Pizza. 

I laughed out loud at both examples. 

Costco is not WalMart.  It’s a completely different business model.  It carries a tiny fraction of the number of individual items that a WalMart or Target or Cub Foods does; they are located in fairly well-to-do areas.  The idea is to provide high service for limited items to a well-off market, using higher-skill workers in what is, in the world of big-box retail, more of a high-service environment.  There are many fewer classic “entry-level” jobs at Costco; they aim to hire skill and retain it – in an environment and business model that finances it.  In short, very few of even their lowest-level workers are “low-skill” in the classic sense of the term. 

They don’t pay minimum wage, because they don’t have “entry-level” jobs; they choose to pay more to attract a higher-skill worker. 

Punch is similar; it’s a high-end pizzeria in a posh neighborhood that aims toward a high-value clientele on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul; I wouldn’t doubt that in a neighborhood full of “living wage” activists, starting people at $10 an hour is good marketing.  But Punch Pizza is no Taco Bell; it’s a tony niche retailer that gives a robust markup for an uptown dining experience.  And again – I’m going to suggest that Mr. Punch gets to pick and choose who he hires. 

And in both cases, Costco and Punch are exercising their free will to hike their base wage.  Maybe it makes sense given their business model.  Maybe it’s a gamble that’ll backfire on them.  But it’s something the market – not the law – will sort out. 

For now. 

Outsourcing Liberty:  But the biggest laugh-out-loud line of the night was when the President ran down (a very indulgent interpretation of) his foreign policy “accomplishments”. 

He said “From Tunisia to Burma, we’re supporting those who are willing to do the hard work of building democracy. In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully, and to have a say in their country’s future”. 

And I couldn’t stop myself from replying “But here, we sic the IRS on dissenters!”. 

For all President Obama’s soaring, deft rhetoric, and all his vaporous claims, that is the real truth of Barack Obama’s five years in office; underneath the flowery messaging, an ugly, repressive. authoritarian reality, jamming a square free people into a round statist hole. 

And that’s the state of our union.

Why’s Johnny So Depressed?

Youth Misery Index – a combination of unemployment rate, college loan debt and each youth’s share of the national debt - breaks all prior records under Obama:

The index, released Wednesday, was calculated by adding youth unemployment and average college loan debt figures with each person’s share of the national debt. While it has steadily grown over the decades, under Obama the figure has shot up dramatically, from 83.5 in 2009 to 98.6 in 2013.

The index has increased by 18.1 percent since Obama took office, the highest increase under any president, making Obama the worst president for youth economic opportunity, according to the nonprofit that released the figure.

“Young people are suffering under this economy,” said Ashley Pratte, program officer for Young America’s Foundation, which developed the index and calculates it annually using federal statistics. “They’re still living in their parent’s basements, unable to find full-time jobs that pay them what they need in order to pay back their debt.”

Like most people who have a younger generation to talk to, I will tell the young ‘uns that things were much tougher when I was a kid than today.  The snow was deeper, the weather colder, the wind sharper, the teachers meaner. 

And in many cases I’m right.

But as a guy who grew up under the Carter years, and turned 18 right after Reagan’s election, even I don’t envy the lot of today’s 16-to-25-year-olds.

It’s Almost As If They Don’t Consider Perverse Incentives Perverse…

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Federal officials claim crude oil from North Dakota has a lower flash point, so it’s more dangerous to transport by rail than crude oil from other sources.

Federal officials continue to block the Keystone Pipeline, which would transport crude oil safely underground.

Federal officials maintain their policy of refusing to issue permits to pump crude oil from leased federal lands.

It’s as if the Obama Administration is determined to stop oil and natural gas production, any way it can, just as we’re facing some of the coldestweather ever.

This is the same mind-set that brought us Obama-care: arrogant despite being ignorant, unswayed by unintended calamity, serenely observing others suffer.

Joe Doakes

You gotta break eggs to make…

…er, whatever the Administration is trying to make.

The Thing About Obama Supporters

You go into these tastefully-appointed homes in Crocus Hill and Highland Park, and, like a lot of comfy urban-but-not-too-urban neighborhoods full of college-educated middle-aged academics and non-profiteers and mid-to-upper-level government and institutional employees, the sense of their historical invincibility has been gone now for 2-3 years and nothing’s replaced it. And they felt invincible, like a historically-deterministic event, through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna achieve the utopia that their entire education said they would, and they have not.

And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to rote activism or Volvos or blind ideology or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or their posh education or anti-faith sentiment or anti-White-Republican-Male-Cliché sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Lack Of Sound And Fury Signifying Nothing

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

People are claiming the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral was a fake because “. . . the man communicated nothing with his hand and arm movements.”

Maybe he accurately interpreted Barak Obama’s speech. The man basically said nothing so the interpreter said nothing.

The real complaint shouldn’t be with the meaningless interpreter, but with the content-free speakers.

Joe Doakes

Silly me.  I thought all of those sign language people were waving away nonsensically.

The Left Hand Doesn’t Know What The Farther-Left Hand Is Doing

It was one of the stories that got no play last session, in spite of the fact because it highlights the bizarre schizophrenia of using politics to allocate human capital, but while on the one hand AFSCME was working to unionize home-child-care providers – who are independent contractors and don’t have “management” – it was instituting full-day kindergarten, reducing the number of kids who’d be in daycare at all.

Which wasn’t entirely incongruous, if you think about it; to the DFL, racket money from daycare providers and union dues from a doubling of Kindergarten teachers are both just revenue streams.

But this?

The final rule, for the most part, confirmed a proposed rule, issued in July, which will cut the Medicare home health benefit by $22 billion over the next four years.

“Congress asked [Center for Medicaid Services],” Halamandaris said, “to do a comprehensive evaluation of the home health benefit, to isolate what works and what needs improvement, how to increase access and efficiency, and how to reduce costs while improving the quality of care. CMS did none of this. Instead, all they did was look to impose the largest possible cut —3.5 percent a year — on the Medicare home health benefit. This adds up to 14 percent over the next four years, or a total of $22 billion.”

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice has produced studies showing that the Medicare home health benefit has already endured more than its fair share of cuts. The benefit has been cut a disproportionate $78 billion since 2009. Add in the newly imposed cut and $100 billion in cuts will have been taken from the most popular and most-needed Medicare program. And as a result of these cuts by the end of 2017, 75 percent of Medicare-certified agencies will be forced under water with profit margins of zero or less.

“The clear conclusion is that saving money is more important to CMS than serving those who are so sick they cannot leave home without assistance,” Halamandaris pointed out. “It is obvious that they turned a deaf ear to our pleas on behalf of aged, infirm, disabled, and dying Americans.”

In other words, while the SEIU was working calling in markers with the DFL to unionize home-care workers, President Obama was working to shut the industry down completely.

Good job, guys.

Poll Cats

Toronto’s crack-addict mayor Chris Farley Rob Ford is many things.

Among them; “more popular than Obama“:

According to a new Forum Research survey of 1,049 Toronto voters, Ford, who admitted to using crack in a “drunken stupor” on Nov. 5, has an approval rating of 42 percent. The Telegraph notes that though this is “a two point drop from two weeks ago, it is up from the 39 [percent] approval rating he had before he admitted smoking crack cocaine.”

In contrast, President Barack Obama’s approval rating has fallen to an all-time low this week. According to a CBS poll released Wednesday, only 37 percent of Americans approve of the job the president’s doing in the White House — a nine-point drop since October.

To be fair, Ford benefits by being mayor of a city full of Canadians.

On the other hand, I can easily see President Obama needing to triangulate his way out of this.  Perhaps with the help of Senator Booker’s pal “T-Bone”.

American Poobah

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

It’s nice to have a modern leader in office.

In the olden days, Congress passed the laws and the President faithfully carried them out. Nowadays, Congress passes laws and the President does as he chooses. He faithfully carries out those parts of the law that he likes, when he feels like it, exempting friends and delaying implementation at whim. And if a problem arises, no need to go back to Congress for amendments, he changes the law of the land by press conference.

President isn’t really a fitting title for that sort of leader. King? Supreme Leader?

I’ll go with “Czar”.

They should give the Beltway media really snazzy uniforms. Like the Swiss Guard.

What If…

…the President’s “fix” were to throw the entire insurance market into complete chaos?:

The debacle threatens to swamp Obama’s entire second-term agenda, raising questions about his competency and credibility. Polls released this week show the president’s job-approval rating at a historic low and a majority of voters saying, for the first time, that he isn’t trustworthy.
“A White House interested in stabilizing this presidency would want to leave no stone unturned in the effort to deal with both those problems,” said William Galston, a former policy adviser to President Bill Clinton who’s a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a center-left policy research center…Insurance companies already have devised plans for next year, received the necessary approval from states and begun to sell policies. They aren’t required to continue to offer their existing policies and state insurance commissioners aren’t required to approve those 2013 plans.

“Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers,” Karen Ignagni, the president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, which represents the industry.

What was it that Kevin Williamson said? Politics are the worst possible way to allocate resources?

Scrivener’s Error

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The President did not lie about letting people keep their health insurance. The problem is right-wing kooks keep mis-spelling the President’s carefully chosen words in their wicked efforts to confuse and panic the public. The whole thing was caused by a scrivener’s error.

“If ewe like their health insurance, ewe can keep it.”

Ewe are sheep. You are not a sheep. Therefore, you cannot keep your health insurance.

Don’t call the President a liar just because you can’t spell, you ignorant racissssssssss.

By the way, the problem of journalists not knowing how to spell is not a new problem. William F. Buckley, Jr., pointed it out when George Bush the Elder was in office. The President said:

“Read my lips, no gnu taxes.”

The President did not lie. Your gnu was not taxed. But Democrats pounded him for something he didn’t say and the media was too embarrassed to fess up to their stupid blunder in transcribing his remarks.

History is repeating itself on the other foot, with Obama in the crosshairs. Ha! About time.

Joe Doakes

And re Sarah Palin?

She was worried about “cross heirs” – peevish trust-fund babies.  Like our current governor.

It all makes sense now.