Friday, August 14, 2015

Ben Carson for President

Guess I'm becoming too politically correct. Heh.

I'm now giving to a black presidential candidate (Ben Carson) as well as a Hispanic presidential candidate (Ted Cruz).

And, of course, I continue to support Sarah Palin.

The Republicans have an embarrassment of riches in their presidential candidates. The Democrats not so much. Where are their black and Hispanic candidates? Apparently Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have sucked all the air out of the room for their "rising" identity group stars.

What's the world coming to when a conservative is supporting political people from all the best identity groups?


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

40 Companies That Fund Planned Parenthood and Selling Harvested Body Parts

UPDATE 2: Lots of these listed companies denied giving to Planned Parenthood and strongly requested that their name be removed. Sooo, the whole list has been removed from the Planned Parenthood site. Tweets, emails, letters, phone calls all helped to turn this around. Thanks to MaxRedline for posting on this!

UPDATE: The number of companies is now 39. Ford is not a contributor.  Melissa Quinn of the Daily Signal reports:
"Also, a Ford Motor Co. representative contacted The Daily Signal claiming they had been erroneously listed on Planned Parenthood’s website, and have contacted Planned Parenthood to be removed."
The Daily Signal has a list of 40 companies that directly fund Planned Parenthood.
. . . it’s not only the government that fills Planned Parenthood’s coffers. According to 2nd Vote, a website and app that tracks the flow of money from consumers to political causes, more than 25 percent of Planned Parenthood’s $1.3-billion annual revenue comes from private donations, which includes corporate contributions.
2nd Vote researched the corporations and organizations to find which supported Planned Parenthood and found that more than three dozen donated to the group. Some companies donated directly, while others matched employee gifts.
Forty-one corporations and organizations directly contribute to the group.
Planned Parenthood has come under heavy fire following the release of videos from the Center for Medical Progress.
The first video, released last week, showed Planned Parenthood senior executive Dr. Deborah Nucatola meeting with actors portraying buyers from a “human biologics company.” The “buyers” discussed the sale of fetal body parts with Nucatola over lunch.
In the second video, released today, Dr. Mary Gatter, president of Planned Parenthood’s medical directors council, is seen negotiating the price of aborted fetal body parts.
Here are the 40 companies that have directly funded Planned Parenthood.
1. Adobe
2. American Cancer Society
3. American Express
4. AT&T
5. Avon
6. Bank of America
7. Bath & Body Works
8. Ben & Jerry’s
9. Clorox
10. Coca-Cola
11. Converse
12. Deutsche Bank
13. Dockers
14. Energizer
15. Expedia
16. ExxonMobil
17. Fannie Mae
18. Ford
19. Groupon
20. Intuit
21. Johnson & Johnson
22. La Senza
23. Levi Strauss
24. Liberty Mutual
25. Macy’s
26. March of Dimes
27. Microsoft
28. Morgan Stanley
29. Nike
30. Oracle
31. PepsiCo
32. Pfizer
33. Progressive
34. Starbucks
35. Susan G. Komen
36. Tostitos
37. Unilever
38. United Way
39. Verizon
40. Wells Fargo
I'll be writing to some of these asking how they feel about selling harvested body parts. I'll let them know that I find it abhorrent and disgusting and will avoid doing business with them if they are in favor of it.

H/T Byron York

Update: The original list had 41 companies. One was removed in an updated version of the story.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How Rich Are You in Global Terms?

Pew Research Center has a calculator that can put your income in a global perspective.

For a four person household if you live on:

less than $2,920 per year, you are poor (15% of the world's population)

$2,920 and $14,600 per year, you are low income (56%)

$14,600 to $29,200 per year, you are middle income (13%)

$29,200 and $73,000 per year, you are upper-middle income (9%)

$73,000 and up per year, you are high income (7%)

Here's what it works out to comparing U.S. incomes:

1.6% of people in the U.S. are poor

3.4% of people in the U.S. are low income

7.4% of people in the U.S. are middle income

31.9% of people in the U.S. are upper-middle income

55.7% of people in the U.S. are high income

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. 
(Luke 12:48b)

Judge Hanen Gets Obama Administration to Follow Injunction on Unlawful Work Permits

Judge Andrew Hanen
Secretary Jeh Johnson
At National Review, Hans A. von Spakovsky reports that Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has finally issued an order that work permits unlawfully given to 2,500 illegal immigrants will be "terminated" as of July 31.

Federal District Court Judge Andrew Hanen issued an  injunction February 16 blocking the Obama administration plan to give up to 5 million illegal immigrants "three-year reprieves from deportation and work permits". Johnson's termination order applies to the 2,500 work permits issued after the injunction.

Up against a July 7 order to either fix the problems before July 31 or personally appear before Judge Hanen and face a contempt of court citation for misleading the court and violating Hanen's February 16 court order, Johnson chose to retract the 2,500 work permits given in direct contravention of Hanen's injunction.

Von Spakovsky writes:
Yesterday, the Justice Department submitted to the court copies of two new “directives” from Johnson to Leon Rodriguez, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (Rodriguez is one of the officials named in Hanen’s July 7 order.) The first directive, dated July 10, three days after Hanen’s appearance order, directs Rodriguez to mail a “Notice of Intent to Terminate” to the original 2,000 recipients of these unlawful work permits. The notice would inform the aliens that, if they don’t return their permits by July 30, DHS will terminate their “deferred action status and associated employment authorization” as of July 31 — the day DHS is required to give Hanen a status report on what they’ve done to fix the problem.
. . .
The second directive, dated July 14, basically sets out the same plan of action to take care of the additional 500 illegal aliens who unlawfully received three-year EADs.
These "terminated" work permits still do not deal with the 108,000 work permits given between November, 2014, and Hanen's February 16, 2015 injunction. Federal attorneys arguing before Hanen failed to inform him that the government was already issuing these permits leading him to believe that there was no reason to apply his injunction before February 16th.

At this point the only issue decided is that Federal officials under the Obama administration will grudgingly obey actual Federal court injunctions if threatened with contempt of court citations.

As for honestly giving information to Federal judges . . . that's still to be decided.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Melissa's Sweet Cakes' $135,000 Punishment, Religious Liberty and the Declaration of Independence

UPDATE 3: Good for George Rede of the Oregonian for reporting on the First Amendment issue.

UPDATE 2: OregonGuy supplied a link to Avakian's order.

UPDATE: Max Redline comments that Brad Avakian has put a gag order on the Kleins directing them not to talk about their views on gay marriage or face punishment. It reads:
“The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries hereby orders [Aaron and Melissa Klein] to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published … any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations … will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation,” Avakian wrote.
If an Oregon judge or Federal judge doesn't overturn this, it means that not only is First Amendment religious freedom no longer protected, but free speech is also gone.

Oregon State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian confirmed a recommendation by Administrative Law Judge Alan McCullough that Aaron and Melissa Klein pay $135,000 in damages to a same-sex couple they refused to bake a wedding cake for.

The refusal was made more than a year before U.S. District Judge Michael McShane legalized same-sex marriages Oregon so the marriage was not legal under Oregon law at the time, Rachel Cryer and Rachel Bowman, the lesbian couple, were apparently seeking a cake for a "commitment ceremony".

Oregon law allows a religious exemption from non-discrimination for sexual orientation to churches and religious institutions in housing, use of facilities and employment.

What's interesting here is that the argument on the left against the Citizens United v Federal Election Commission decision is that corporations should not enjoy the same First Amendment rights as individuals. Justice Stevens dissents from the Citizens United decision:
In the context of election to public office, the distinction between corporate and human speakers is significant. Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure, and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process.
The same thing can be said of churches and religious institutions.  They cannot "vote or run for office", "may be managed and controlled by nonresidents", "their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters" and their "financial resources, legal structure and instrumental orientation" may raise "legitimate concerns about their role" as regards Constitutional rights.

At the core of the Klein case is whether the First Amendment protection for the "free exercise" of religion is for individuals as well as religious organizations.

Oregon's current position is that religious liberty applies primarily to religious organizations and not to individuals. It's as if when you get enough people together to form an organization they gain more rights than individuals.

In the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case the court declared that the government must use similar "least-restrictive-means" for closely held corporations as for religious non-profit organizations and no-profit employers. The State of Oregon has not done that. Oregon does not require churches and religious organizations to use their facilities regardless of sexual orientation but does require Melissa's Sweet Cakes to use its facilities irrespective of sexual orientation.

The recent Obergefell v. Hodges decision may bring a clash between the Court's protection of religious freedom for individuals, churches and closely held corporations and its support for equal rights.  Both Chief Justice Roberts* and Justice Thomas** raised concerns in their dissents about a meaningful retention of the First Amendment "free exercise" clause.

Their is no such ambiguity in the Declaration of Independence. Since basic rights come from God and not government, those rights cannot justly be abridged or denied by government.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . ."
----------
*Roberts: "Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. See Tr. of Oral Arg. on Question 1, at 36–38. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.

**Thomas: "The majority appears unmoved by that inevitability. It makes only a weak gesture toward religious liberty in a single paragraph, ante, at 27. And even that gesture indicates a misunderstanding of religious liberty in our Nation’s tradition. Religious liberty is about more than just the protection for "religious organizations and persons . . . as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths." Ibid. Religious liberty is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious practice.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Oregon Health Insurer Giant Moda Having Problems; Oregon Insurance Division Bailing Them Out with Rate Payer Money?

MaxRedline has an interesting post on the Oregon Insurance Division refusing to allow Oregon health insurance providers to reduce their rates. In fact its preliminary determinations are forcing two providers to charge almost $60/month more than they want to charge.

Health Net wanted to charge a $240 monthly premium for its silver plan for a 40 year old. Zoom, a new provider, wanted to charge $233 per month for its silver plan. But the Oregon Insurance Division has given a preliminary determination that Health New will have to charge $297/month and Zoom will have to charge $291/month for the silver plan.

Why is the Oregon Insurance Division asking health insurance providers to charge more than they think is necessary? The Oregonian reports that state regulators are doing it to keep the health insurance industry "stable".
"State Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali said that while her job is to make sure consumers are not overcharged, she also has to ensure rates cover insurers' costs. Otherwise, predatory pricing could over the long term drive some companies out of the market. She said that Oregon is likely to still enjoy better rates than other states thanks to one of the most competitive markets in the country.

"Pat Allen, director of the state Department of Consumer and Business Services, said 'We need to ensure a market that long term is stable, competitive and ensures pricing that is much closer to the cost of delivering health care.'"
Zoom is new to Oregon, and Health Net covers only about 1,000 individual policy buyers out of an Oregon market of over 220,000. But, do state regulators know more about running stable long term health insurance plans than Kaiser Foundation Health Plan or Providence Health Plan who insure about 1/5th of Oregon's individual plan market? Kind of doubtful.

So, why would Oregon health insurance regulators ask Kaiser and Providence to raise their proposed rates $26/month ($271 instead of $245/month) and $27/month ($284 instead of $257/month)respectively?

Maybe to help other insurers stay in business who have not made wise decisions?

Moda, Oregon's biggest insurer with 46% of the Oregon individual market is asking for a 25.6% monthly premium raise from $245/month to $307/month. It took a big loss in 2014. It expected claims and administrative costs to equal 99% of premium income. But, instead they equaled 165% of income. Ouch!

Then there is LifeWise Health Plan which serves a tenth of Oregon's individual health care insurance market asking for $318/month (a 38.5% premium increase) in 2016.

Where were the wise state regulators on higher premiums bringing stability when they approved Moda for second lowest premium $221/month in 2014 and LifeWise for lowest premium $222/month for 2015? If $222/month is fine this year, why shouldn't $233 or $245/month be fine in 2016?

Could it be that the state regulators like Laura Cali and Pat Allen are really trying to shield big players like Moda and LifeWise from their bad business decisions? Two years into ACA coverage they aren't doing well. They insure 56% of the Oregon individual market. Too big to fail so all the individual plan premium payers of the other providers have to cough up increases too?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Effects of Unstable Currency: Brazilian Credit Cards Now Charge 360% Interest a Year

Brazilian credit card interest has now risen to 360% a year.

In the 1980's and early 1990's Brazil faced runaway inflation. One of the main tools to reign it in was high interest rates. This, of course, impacted both consumer spending and business expansion (fewer products bought = fewer products manufactured).

Out of control spending and money printing leads to disastrous side effects in any economy including the eighth largest economy in the world: Brazil.

Translation:

Juros = interest
Cartão de crédito (Rotativo) = credit card (revolving)
Cheque Especial = bank credit line
Variação porcentual ao ano = yearly percentage variation
Fonte: Banco Central = Source: Central Bank