30 July, 2011

Fast & Furious Updates

This continues to trickle out, but the faucet has been opened a little wider. As I’ve said before, keep reading Moe Lane @ RedState. But I’ll keep providing summaries to his summaries.

Big news since my last update:


  • Let’s start with this report from the House Oversight Committee, which helpfully informs us that BATFE officials active in Mexico were allegedly deliberately not told by their superiors – and the rest of the government – that there was a program in place to allow guns to be illegally resold to Mexican narco-terrorists and then lose trace of the guns. Once those officials found out about this on their own, they were allegedly told that the program had been completed several months before it actually was… only by which time both Mexican and American personnel were dead. To say that these officials are displeased that their own organization violated their training and made them unwitting dupes in an international incident is, to put it mildly, a vast understatement.
  • Oh, and in case you were wondering: House Oversight Chair Darrell Issa (R) has indicated that the government is attempting to intimidate whistleblowers out of providing full details on this debacle.
  • And - this is the revelation that threatens to really upset the applecart – Newell testifiedthat he shared information on F&F with National Security Director (North America) Kevin O’Reilly (in other words, somebody in the White House). The White House’s response was that… O’Reilly may have been told; but he wasn’t told-told, if you know what they mean.

And it seems like every single government agency has had their hands in this cookie jar. But, as Moe Lane points out above, the fact that we now know for certain that someone in the White House knew is the biggest news.

The more we learn about this the worse it sounds. And the more we learn, the more we learn how much there is to learn.

More and more we’re just waiting for someone in the press to ask the President that fateful question.

Don’t Worry. P.T. Barnum Has You “Covered”

It has been nearly two months since I looked in on Mr. Barnum, the erstwhile ObamaCare sucker hunter. It’s not because there’s been no news for a while, but because I’ve been busy. Will attempt to catch up now, but there’s quite a bit.

The GAO determined that ObamaCare is already driving rates up, not down. From their Waiver report:

CCIIO granted waivers on the basis of an application's projected significant increase in premiums or significant reduction in access to health care benefits. According to CCIIO officials, applications with a projected premium increase of 10 percent or more tended to be approved while applications with a projected premium increase of 6 percent or less tended to be denied. Applications with a premium increase between 7 and 9 percent warranted additional staff reviews to determine if the application met the agency's criteria.

So, if your rates were going up 10% or more, you got a waiver. And almost all the waiver requests were approved. Conclusion? Just about everyone’s rates are going up 10% or more. Thought the opposite would be the case? Sucker.

And, another case of finding out what’s in it after they passed the bill:

[D]ue to a glitch in Obamacare, married couples of early retirees making around $64,000 a year will become eligible for Medicaid. That’s more than four times the federal poverty level of $14,710. According to Foster, as many as 3 million Americans will qualify for the benefit. It’s “a twist government number crunchers say they discovered only after the complex bill was signed.”

If we do a back-of-the-envelope calculation, in which the average annual Medicaid expenditure per early retiree is $15,000 per year, the ten-year cost of this glitch could be as high as $450 billion. Even if only half of those eligible opt to take advantage of the loophole, we’re talking at least $250-300 billion, as the sickest patients are the ones most likely to enroll. And the long-term cost could be in the trillions.


Medicare chief actuary Richard Foster says the situation keeps him up at night.

“I don’t generally comment on the pros or cons of policy, but that just doesn’t make sense,” Foster said during a question-and-answer session at a recent professional society meeting… “This is a situation that got no attention at all,” added Foster. “And even now, as I raise the issue with various policymakers, people are not rushing to say … we need to do something about this.”

Wait, ObamaCare is going to cost the government more than they said? You believed them? Sucker.

So, what are companies doing in response to the rising costs? Eliminating health care! You thought there was a penalty for that? Well, it turns out (as many predicted), it’s cheaper for many companies to pay the penalty than the increased cost! Though you were going to be able to keep your existing coverage, no matter what? Sucker.

Caterpillar Corp. has said it could save 70 percent on health care costs by dropping coverage and paying the penalties. AT&T’s $2.4 billion in annual health care expenses would drop to just $600 million using the same strategy.

In fact, Credit Suisse has told clients that forcing employers to drop coverage is “exactly what was intended” by the law. This was the main goal of many advocates of ObamaCare—to completely replace private insurance with a single-payer government healthcare system.

Even Obama’s former budget director, Peter Orszag, is admitting the obvious. Previously used by the White House to sell ObamaCare in the media as a net cost saver, Orszag is now admitting that ObamaCare could create a “spiral effect” of employees losing their private care and the true costs quickly become “unsustainable.”

In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, Orszag says that employers “could start dropping high-risk workers by designing health plans that encourage these employees to purchase insurance on the exchanges. This is a legitimate concern. If employers altered their plans, this could create a spiral effect, in which those employees buying insurance on the exchanges would be disproportionately high-risk patients, raising premiums and defeating the purpose of risk sharing. The cost to the federal government of subsidizing coverage in the exchanges, in turn, could become unsustainable.”

And there’s more news about small business cutting their coverage as well:

Among the most striking of NFIB’s findings was the number of employer health insurance plans that have been or will be eliminated since PPACA’s passage — 14 percent, or one in eight. Eliminating employer health care plans “is the first major consequence of PPACA that small-business owners likely feel,” the report said.

“We are not aware of any data suggesting we’ve had turnover anywhere near this level in the past,” said William J. Dennis, a senior research fellow at the National Federation for Independent Business.

But wait…there’s more.

From the Washington Times, just this week.

Despite President Obama’s promises to rein in health care costs as part of his reform bill, health spending nationwide is expected to rise more than if the sweeping legislation had never become law.

Total spending is projected to grow annually by 5.8 percent under Mr. Obama’s Affordable Care Act, according to a 10-year forecast by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released Thursday. Without the ACA, spending would grow at a slightly slower rate of 5.7 percent annually.

Sure, 5.7% to 5.8% isn’t a big change. But since we were told it was going to bend the cost curve down, any increase at all is a big deal. You really thought it was going to bend the cost curve down? Sucker.

And, finally, there’s this delicious report from the Heritage Foundation:

Private-sector job creation initially recovered from the recession at a normal rate, leading to predictions last year of a “Recovery Summer.” Since April 2010, however, net private-sector job creation has stalled.

Why am I bringing this up in a discussion of ObamaCare? Well, what major legislative change occurred just before April, 2010? Oh yeah, that’s right…

Within two months of the passage of Obamacare, the job market stopped improving. This suggests that businesses are not exaggerating when they tell pollsters that the new health care law is holding back hiring. The law significantly raises business costs and creates considerable uncertainty about the future. To encourage hiring, Congress should repeal Obamacare.

Pretty sure then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-08) told us that ObamaCare would create jobs. Let me go check. Yep, I was right.

Four million jobs will be created by the legislation when it is fully in effect. ... [T]his year, the biggest growth in jobs in our economy has been in health care jobs.

You believed her? Hahahahahaha! Sucker.

Here’s a nice pretty graph showing it quite clearly.

If you have read all my P.T. Barnum posts and you still don’t believe that ObamaCare is the biggest crap sandwich ever foisted on the American public, then please go back and reread. Either you missed something, or you’re incapable of coherent thought.

If you don’t believe that and you haven’t read them, please do so.

July 30, 1965

President Lyndon Johnson (D-USA) signs the Social Security Act of 1965, which establishes Medicare & Medicaid, thus creating higher and higher taxes for a generation, and the debt crisis of 2011. What we see today are the natural conclusions of enacting President Johnson’s Great Society.

July 30, 1956

President Dwight D. Eisenhower (R-USA) signs Public Law 84-851 which authorizes In God We Trust as the United States national motto. This was mostly a formality as it had been used on U.S. coins since 1864.

It has been challenged many times as a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. All challenges have, quite obviously, failed.

[T]he United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled: "It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency 'In God We Trust' has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise."[9] The decision was cited in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, a 2004 case on thePledge of Allegiance. In Lynch v. Donnelly (1984), the Supreme Court upheld the motto because it has "lost through rote repetition any significant religious content". So-called acts of "ceremonial deism" have supposedly lost their "history, character, and context".[10] In Zorach v. Clauson, the Supreme Court has also held that the nation's "institutions presuppose a Supreme Being" and that government recognition of God does not constitute the establishment of such a state church as the Constitution's authors intended to prohibit.

What A Surprise, AGW Alarmists Are Wrong

I have a large backlog of blog topics due to this ongoing debt ceiling issue. I’m going to try to ignore the debt for a little bit and catch up on some things that you may have missed recently, if you were, you know, out having a life or something.

First on deck, AGW suffers another severe blow this week. Two of them as a matter of fact.

Well, let’s just take a look. From the first, via Forbes.

NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.

And that’s just the first paragraph of the article. It gets better.

The new NASA Terra satellite data are consistent with long-term NOAA and NASA data indicating atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds are not increasing in the manner predicted by alarmist computer models. The Terra satellite data also support data collected by NASA's ERBS satellite showing far more longwave radiation (and thus, heat) escaped into space between 1985 and 1999 than alarmist computer models had predicted. Together, the NASA ERBS and Terra satellite data show that for 25 years and counting, carbon dioxide emissions have directly and indirectly trapped far less heat than alarmist computer models have predicted.

In short, the central premise of alarmist global warming theory is that carbon dioxide emissions should be directly and indirectly trapping a certain amount of heat in the earth's atmosphere and preventing it from escaping into space. Real-world measurements, however, show far less heat is being trapped in the earth's atmosphere than the alarmist computer models predict, and far more heat is escaping into space than the alarmist computer models predict.

When objective NASA satellite data, reported in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, show a "huge discrepancy" between alarmist climate models and real-world facts, climate scientists, the media and our elected officials would be wise to take notice. Whether or not they do so will tell us a great deal about how honest the purveyors of global warming alarmism truly are.

Emphasis from the preceding paragraph is mine. I’ll get back to that in a moment.

And from the actual press release for the report:

“The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show,” Spencer said. “There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”

Not only does the atmosphere release more energy than previously thought, it starts releasing it earlier in a warming cycle. The models forecast that the climate should continue to absorb solar energy until a warming event peaks. Instead, the satellite data shows the climate system starting to shed energy more than three months before the typical warming event reaches its peak.

“At the peak, satellites show energy being lost while climate models show energy still being gained,” Spencer said.

This is the first time scientists have looked at radiative balances during the months before and after these transient temperature peaks.

But that’s not all that came out this week. The polar bears have been saved!

From the AP:

Just five years ago, Charles Monnett was one of the scientists whose observation that several polar bears had drowned in the Arctic Ocean helped galvanize the global warming movement.

Now, the wildlife biologist is on administrative leave and facing accusations of scientific misconduct.

In case you haven’t been following the ups and downs of the AGW hysteria fiasco, let me sum up.

  1. The “hockey stick graph” isn’t “junk science”, it’s just junk.
    To wit:
    • The “tree ring” data used to create it was washed to eliminate the data that disagreed from the conclusion
    • The computer models used are incapable of generating valid results.
    • Others have shown that using “white noise” as input data produces, wait for it, a hockey stick!
    • The general premise behind the entire hockey stick idea would get you flunked out of any 100 level college statistics class. You can’t assume a correlation between two unrelated sets of data. You must define the relation first.
  2. The AGW leaders have acted as a cabal to keep research showing problems with their claims out of peer reviewed journals and the media.
  3. They have destroyed data to keep from turning it over to FOI requests.
  4. They have ignored urban heat islands where convenient.
  5. They have artificially changed the data to support their conclusions.
  6. And now we know the carbon dioxide models are wrong as well.
  7. And now it appears they lied about the polar bears.

The question is no longer whether the AGW alarmists and politicians are lying about their “science”. That has proven to be unequivocally true. The question now is why.

Hint: Like watermelons, they’re green on the outside, but red on the inside.

28 July, 2011

Supporting Speaker Boehner, Again

Wow, once again I’m forced to support Speaker Boehner (R-OH-08). I guess I’m ready for my RINO card.

There’s this from Dr. Krauthammer:

Consider the Boehner Plan for debt reduction. The Heritage Foundation’s advocacy arm calls it “regrettably insufficient.” Of course it is. That’s what happens when you control only half a branch. But the plan’s achievements are significant. It is all cuts, no taxes. It establishes the precedent that debt-ceiling increases must be accompanied by equal spending cuts. And it provides half a year to both negotiate more fundamental reform (tax and entitlement) and keep the issue of debt reduction constantly in the public eye.

I am somewhat biased about the Boehner Plan because for weeks I’ve been arguing (in this column and elsewhere) for precisely such a solution: a two-stage debt-ceiling hike consisting of a half-year extension with dollar-for-dollar spending cuts, followed by intensive negotiations on entitlement and tax reform. It’s clean. It’s understandable. It’s veto-proof. (Obama won’t dare.) The Republican House should have passed it weeks ago.

And this from one of my twitter friends (@AG_Conservative):

The House Republicans are facing off against a Democratic Senate and the most left wing president in American history on a daily basis.  They are not only fighting them at a huge disadvantage and with a media that has an evident bias, but they are actually winning by any standard.  Are they perfect or have they accomplished everything I want them too? Of course not.  However, they have accomplished a lot and for that they deserve praise and not scorn.  Republicans like Paul Ryan have taken great political risks in order to do what is right and put the country first and it’s time we start rewarding them for it.  The grass roots movements are vital to defining and expanding conservatism, but the Republicans that are now in control in Washington (at least in the house) are our friends and not our enemies.  That is not to diminish the people who are opposing the current plan, who are also doing vital work, but I for one salute Speaker Boehner, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, Allen West and others for fighting for our country’s future.  They truly are heroes of the conservative movement.

But my reasoning is even simpler. Look, you can argue that the Speaker should’ve never introduced a new bill and stuck with Cut, Cap & Balance. I might even agree with you. There’s no doubt it’s a better bill than the current one. By orders of magnitude.

But that’s not what happened. We’re not a place where we can say “it’s no bill or this bill”. It’s “this bill or a far worse one”. Those are our two choices.

Now that the new bill has been introduced, and is up for a vote, the Speaker needs our support. If he loses on this one, the Tea Party wing of the party will have cut him off at the knees. He becomes a mute voice at the negotiation table. He’s done incredibly well at negotiation so far. Until today I would’ve said it’s a guarantee that we’re going to get a small debt ceiling increase (which is what we need) with no tax increases, and a decent amount of cuts to baseline funding. Those are HUGE wins. And they’re good PR wins as well. It’s definitely not what the President has wanted.

Now, I’m not so sure. No matter what we end up with, it’s almost certainly going to be to the left of Boehner’s bill, because that bill is going nowhere in the Senate. But if it fails, the debate moves even farther to the left. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and President Barack Obama (D-USA) will know that Boehner has lost support of the Tea Party wing of the party. Thus any bill that passes in the House is going to need significant Democrat support. That means the bill moves even further to the left.

I fail to see how that’s a good thing. In my opinion, Congressmen voting no on the Speaker’s bill are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

That’s my opinion. If you don’t share it, that’s fine. I understand wanting to stick to principles. Normally I’m right there with you. Read back in this blog, if you think I’m lying. I respect your opinion if you disagree. Please respect mine as well.

July 28, 1988

The ten most dangerous words in the English language are "Hi, I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."

President Ronald Reagan (R-USA), speech to FFA.

July 28, 2001

9/11 hijacker Marwan Alshehhi pays for some flying time at Kemper Aviation in Lantana, FL.

According to a document used as evidence at the Zacarias Moussaoui trial, on the first day, “Alshehhi could not answer basic questions on the written aviation test, which he needed an instructor’s assistance to complete.” Alshehhi returns on July 30 and August 8, when he rents a plane for approximately one hour.

27 July, 2011

July 27, 1981

This is not the time for political fun and games. This is the time for a new beginning. I ask you now to put aside any feelings of frustration or helplessness about our political institutions and join me in this dramatic but responsible plan to reduce the enormous burden of Federal taxation on you and your family.

President Ronald Reagan (R-USA), address to the nation.

26 July, 2011

July 26, 1947

The National Security Act of 1947 is signed into law, thus creating the CIA,  the Air Force, the National Security Council, and the Joint Chiefs. The Department of Defense will be created two years later in an amendment to this Act.

The Act merged the Department of War and the Department of the Navy into the National Military Establishment, headed by the Secretary of Defense. It was also responsible for the creation of a Department of the Air Force separate from the existing Army Air Forces. Initially, each of the three service secretaries maintained quasi-cabinet status, but the act was amended on August 10, 1949, to assure their subordination to the Secretary of Defense. At the same time, the NME was renamed as the Department of Defense. The purpose was to unify the Army, Navy, and what was soon to become the Air Force into a federated structure.[2]

Aside from the military reorganization, the act established the National Security Council, a central place of coordination for national security policy in the executive branch, and the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S.'s first peacetime intelligence agency. The function of the council was to advise the president on domestic, foreign, and military policies so that they may cooperate more tightly and efficiently. Departments in the government were encouraged to voice their opinions to the council in order to make a more sound decision

25 July, 2011

July 25, 1978

Louise Joy Brown, the first baby conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) is born. The press calls her the “test tube baby”. This is of personal significance to me, as I have one IVF daughter, and a second conceived through a similar method.

The Catholic Church is vehemently against this practice, and while I understand the arguments, this is one area where my church and I are in complete disagreement. I have discussed this at length with my priest, and while he can not give an opinion contrary to church doctrine, I believe he understands and has no personal issues with my position. That’s good enough for me.

Happy birthday, Louise!

24 July, 2011

July 24, 1934

Chicago records its highest temperature ever, 109°F (44°C) as does Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 105 °F (41 °C). Both of these records still stand. Two years later, in July of 1936, Chicago would record temperatures of 100 °F (38 °C) or higher on 12 consecutive days.

Somehow no one thought this was anthropogenic global warming at the time. They thought it was—summer.

July 24, 2001

Silverstein Properties (headed by Larry Silverstein, left) takes out a 99 year lease on the World Trade Center, purchasing control from the New York Port Authority. It is the first time that control of the WTC has changed hands since it was built in 1966.