Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ann Telnaes Joins Line of Cartoonists Who Like to Caricature Republicans as Monkeys

Ann Telnaes
Fifty-five year old political cartoonist Ann Telnaes is in the line of cartoonists who like to caricature Republicans as monkeys.

Among the first was a Richmond cartoonist (thought to be David Strother) who in 1863 published this cartoon of Abraham Lincoln.

Strother was a little classier than Telnaes as he pictured Lincoln himself as the monkey.

Modern cartoonist Telnaes slips lower in making the little five and seven year old daughters of Ted Cruz monkeys.

As far as I know no Civil War political cartoonist pictured Lincoln's children as monkeys--not even in the darkest days of the Confederacy. They had a dash of decency.

Friday, December 11, 2015

We Already Have a President Who Wants to Take Away Constitutional Rights; But No Media Outrage

From the Los Angeles Times:
It seems simple enough: If the federal government, based on intelligence or policing, puts a person on its watch list of suspected terrorists or decrees that he or she is too dangerous to be allowed on an airplane, then surely it would also be foolish to let that person buy a firearm in the United States. Makes sense, doesn't it?
That was the thrust of a proposed law by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that her Senate colleagues rejected last week amid much political furor. The idea was resuscitated by President Obama in his Oval Office address Sunday evening. "What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semiautomatic weapon?" the president asked.
When he puts it that way, it does sound pretty stupid. But, in fact, there are several strong arguments against the proposal.
One problem is that the people on the no-fly list (as well as the broader terror watch list from which it is drawn) have not been convicted of doing anything wrong. They are merely suspected of having terror connections. And the United States doesn't generally punish or penalize people unless and until they have been charged and convicted of a crime. In this case, the government would be infringing on a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution — and yes, like it or not, the right to buy a gun is a constitutional right according to the U.S. Supreme Court. [emphasis added] 
The LA Times says that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms would be violated here. But, more than that Constitutional right would be taken away.

How about Fifth Amendment right to not "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"?

Or Sixth Amendment rights
1. to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed
2. to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation
3. to be confronted with the witnesses against him
4. to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor
5. to have the assistance of counsel for his defense

If a person can lose Constitutional rights just by being put on a Federal list, without a trial or proof given or ability to confront their accusers, many Constitutional rights have already been taken away. No need for Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. The government assumes evidence. No need for Fifth Amendment protection from forced self-incrimination. The government assumes incrimination . Obviously no need for trial by jury or any of the process of defense that goes with it. Placement on the list is all that is needed.

The New York Sun has a great tongue-in-cheek editorial on taking one, two or many Bill of Rights protections away.
Fie on the Eighth Amendment. Fie on the Ninth and Tenth. Fie on the whole idea of the Bill of Rights. What good is it if the government can stick a person on a Watch List without a trial and then suspend their rights? If the President wants to suspend the Second Amendment, the logic is to suspend them all.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Marco Rubio Outsmarts Obama Administration; Oregon Health Insurers Face Heavy Losses

Update: Senator Rubio was not a major or even an important player in this. The real heroes are Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and then-Representative Jack Kingston (R-Ga.).

Senator Marco Rubio added a provision to last year's spending law that requires all payments to overspending Obamacare health insurers come from money other health insurers pay in for not spending as much as they thought they would rather than from taxpayers.

The risk corridors program takes from health insurers who spend less than 97% of what they thought they would spend on "allowable costs" and gives that to health insurers who spend more than 103% of what they thought they would spend on "allowable costs".

The Obama administration assumed that insurers would make enough money with young, healthy people forced by law to pay for health care they previously did not buy to cover the influx of previously uninsured sick people. To assure this outcome they enrolled millions of people in "free" Medicaid plans funded by taking more than half a trillion dollars from Medicare.

That hasn't worked. At least the amount healthy people have paid in has not offset the amount insurers have had to pay out. In fact, the balance is so skewed that about 2/3rds of insurers are asking for $2.9 billion in help to make up for losses.

From the New York Times:
A little-noticed health care provision that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida slipped into a giant spending law last year has tangled up the Obama administration, sent tremors through health insurance markets and rattled confidence in the durability of President Obama’s signature health law.
. . .
Mr. Rubio’s efforts against the so-called risk corridor provision of the health law has hardly risen to the forefront of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, but his plan limiting how much the government can spend to protect insurance companies against financial losses has shown the effectiveness of quiet legislative sabotage. 
The risk corridors were intended to help some insurance companies if they ended up with too many new sick people on their rolls and too little cash from premiums to cover their medical bills in the first three years under the health law. But because of Mr. Rubio’s efforts, the administration says it will pay only 13 percent of what insurance companies were expecting to receive this year. The payments were supposed to help insurers cope with the risks they assumed when they decided to participate in the law’s new insurance marketplaces.
The Obama administration didn't try to stop Rubio's funding limitation because Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials believed its own promises. HHS really thought that lots more money would roll in from healthy people than would go out for sick people. Profits seemed especially likely considering the high co-pays, massive deductibles and big out-of-pocket payments Obamacare allowed. All those didn't make more than a 13%  ($362 million) dent in the $2.9 billion subsidy need. It just shows that what you believe to be true can blind you to the realities you are really facing.

Kind of funny is the complaint from an Oregon insurer forced out of business:
“Risk corridors have become a political football,” said Dawn H. Bonder, the president and chief executive of Health Republic of Oregon, an insurance co-op that announced in October it would close its doors after learning that it would receive only $995,000 of the $7.9 million it had expected from the government. “We were stable, had a growing membership and could have been successful if we had received those payments. We relied on the payments in pricing our plans, but the government reneged on its promise. I am disgusted.”
Funny, first of all because Health Republic of Oregon got a $59 million dollar interest free loan from the federal government for its start up. Guess that won't be paid back.

Second, before Ms. Bonder was disgusted with government reneging on its promise, millions of Americans were disgusted by President Obama not keeping his promise that "if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan", not to mention that each family would see a drop in health insurance premiums of up to $2,500 per year. Actually, Ms. Bonder was a part of reneging on those two promises to the American public. Her co-op didn't offer family plans $2,500 less than the previous average despite receiving $59 million in interest free dollars. Nor, of course, did Health Republic of Oregon offer plans that would allow people who liked their previous plans to buy a similar plan through Health Republic of Oregon.

Health Republic of Oregon was one of seven Oregon health insurers to ask for a reimbursement. Only Providence, Bridgespan, Kaiser, and Trillium* paid less out than they thought and will have to pay for doing that. Oregon's stats: 10 health insurers, losing $107.5 million, with $1.1 million coming in from 5 insurers to cover that.
*Community Care of Oregon has to pay $53,500 for its small group care plans, but that was dwarfed by its $1.5 million loss in individual plans.

H/T Byron YorkAmerican Thinker and Health Affairs Blog

Monday, December 07, 2015

Pearl Harbor and FDR

Some things bear repeating. Reposted from December 7, 2011.

photo from Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library
December 7, 1941, is a day that will live in infamy, and a large part of its living on in the American memory is due to the spectacular war time leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Though my parents changed early on from Democrat to conservative Republican, they still revere Franklin Roosevelt. Not for his domestic policies but for his ability to galvanize and lead the country in time of war.

My dad served in the Pacific theater in World War II. America lost over 400,000 men with another 600,000 wounded in World War II. My mom, on the home front, suffered not only the anxiety of her young husband going off to war but a stiff rationing program endured by the entire nation for more than four years.

Yet from December 7, 1941, to his death on April 12, 1945, President Roosevelt rallied the country to overcome economic and military obstacles in pursuit not only of military victory, but an "unconditional surrender" victory in a two front war in which military service was not for a fixed time period but for the duration plus six months.

The nation also peacefully accepted the "relocation" of nearly 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese to internment camps by executive order--with no civil or political rebellion. Though this proved an unnecessary precaution, it is a token of Roosevelt's ability to unite the nation to all out war at whatever cost.

The national unity and resolve that Roosevelt inspired is breathtaking in light of the civil and political opposition against every significant U.S. war since World War II, especially the war in Vietnam. This despite the fact that none of the succeeding wars have incurred anywhere near the losses in terms of military casualties and home front sacrifices of World War II.

Franklin Roosevelt, like Winston Churchill, was an extraordinary war time leader. Churchill gave the British spine to resist and fight when their homeland was daily under attack. Roosevelt gave Americans a resolve to fight, sacrifice and die in the hundreds of thousands even when their homeland was not under attack after Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor, a surprise attack American loss matched only by 9/11, stands as a monument to the greatness of the American people to turn an unprovoked attack into a complete military victory in African, European and Pacific theaters of war and as a monument to the outstanding war time leadership of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Jake Tapper Mocks Politico

Politico has a 34(!) paragraph story about Senator Marco Rubio's "water thing"--needing water when he speaks. As if it's something newsworthy. Jake Tapper had the perfect tongue in cheek response:

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Republican Establishment the Party's Least Bright Wing?

Remember the handwringing when conservatives* didn't turn out to support Mitt Romney? What if, instead of just staying home, they had said they would vote for Barack Obama if Romney were nominated?

Well, Mike Fernandez, a billionaire Jeb Bush donor, has said he will vote for Hillary over Donald Trump.
"She's the lesser of two evils," Florida healthcare billionaire Mike Fernandez told the Miami Herald.
"If I have a choice — and you can put it in bold — if I have a choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton, I'm choosing Hillary," Fernanedez said. "You have no idea how furious I am with my friends in the Republican Party who have embraced this guy."
"My frustration is really with that sector of Republican voters that are so blinded by the demagoguery," he said.
Not too far behind is the Conservative Establishment. Bill Kristol, head man at the Weekly Standard, has said on ABC's This Week television show: "I have come to loathe Donald Trump."

If these aren't as good as enemies to the Republican party, they are certainly among it's least bright members**.

As Sarah Palin said about Chris Christie in 2012:
“I do care to take him to task — poor Chris. This was a rookie mistake. He played right into the media’s hands. Here’s a host that asked Chris, ‘Does Newt embarrass the party.’ I think he asked him twice, and there Chris played right into it and spewed that about Newt embarrassing the party. Sometimes if your candidate loses in just one step along this path, as was the case when Romney lost to Newt the other night and of course, Romney is Chris Christie’s guy, you kind of get your panties in a wad and you may say things that you regret later. And I think that that’s what Chris Christie did. His response to what the media was asking him was reflective of a lack of self-discipline. I’ve learned my lessons all along the way, too, and not responding, not playing into the media’s hands when they’re trying to get you to say something like is this candidate an embarrassment to your party?”
. . .
“He just produced an ad for the Democrats. If Newt is the nominee, he just handed them free this negative PR ad that they’re going to incorporate into their negative scenario against somebody who came out there against HillaryCare back in his day, who came out balancing budgets, working with a Democrat governor, who came out cutting taxes and trying to rein in government growth in order to put the country on the right track back then, and has intentions of doing that today.”
Mike Fernandez and Bill Kristol have just created a "free . . . negative PR ad" for the Democrats. Guys, that's not too bright.
*Some are now challenging that conservative voters stayed home in 2012. Maybe a better formulation is that Obama managed to get liberals to turn out in higher numbers in 2012 than turned out in 2008 or 2004 and Romney didn't get conservatives to turn out in equally higher numbers.

The "missing" conservative voters were actually the "not found" conservative voters.

Romney actually won Independent voters (50% to Obama's 45%) putting to rest the old canard that he who wins the independents will win the election. But Romney's conservative voters were only up 1% from 2008 (35% vs 34% in 2008), whereas Obama's liberal voters were up 3% (25% vs 22% in 2008). Not to mention that 86% of liberals voters voted for Obama while only 82% of conservative voters voted for Romney. Obama found and won more liberal voters than Romney found and won conservative voters.

**Along with Gov. John Kasich, who apparently thinks not affirming that he will keep his promises on presidential politics will inspire people to trust him on other issues.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Trump, Politics and Civility

The harumph over Donald Trump's mocking of a reporter's disability* has brought the issue of civility in politics to the fore.

Certainly every person with compassion disapproves of such mocking. The problem is that in current politics only one side is held to account for such mocking.

Jeffrey Lord points out that the Obama campaign mocked John McCain's disability of not being able to use a keyboard (because of his war time injuries). No outrage. Not even a sniffle from mainstream media.

I don't like Trump's kind of talk. But, when many politicians (especially Democrats) are doing kickboxing politics, it's a little late to faint when Republicans politicians don't follow Marquess of Queensberry rules.

Hillary Clinton has compared Republican presidential candidates to terrorists.

President Obama is allowed to say what he thinks about Republicans (they are like Iranian hardliners; they are not American).

When a food fight is already going on, it's ridiculous to single out some people for participating when other people have been given the green light for a long time.
*The Washington Post also says Trump boasted of having one of the "all-time great memories" and yet denied personally knowing the reporter. Hmm. I don't remember the Washington Post implying anything personally negative about President Obama's memory or claims to be at least up to average intelligence when Obama wrote 2008 as the year of his 2011 visit to Westminster Abbey in their guestbook. It was just a "goof". And they didn't even report on President Obama thanking himself in 2009 in a teleprompter "goof".  And then there's Obama's 57 (U.S.) states error only commented on by the New York Times three years after it was made--couldn't find a Washington Post story on that. Some people get called to account for faulty memories. Others--not so much.