Friday, March 30, 2012

Obamacare on Life Support?

The fate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare” and less popularly known as “Romneycare,” is now in the hands of the United States Supreme Court.

According to most observers, no real surprises emerged from the hearings. Most conservative justices exhibited skepticism about the government's arguments; and in light of the poor presentation by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, most liberal judges eased in to make his arguments for him. The complete audio recordings of the hearings can be heard here, here, and here.

And according to most observers, Obamacare appears to be on life support until June, when the court will pull the plug and declare it unconstitutional. But I would not bet on that.

The centerpiece of the case remains the individual mandate that requires everyone to purchase health insurance. The government claims that the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution permits the mandate. The government argues that the refusal of individuals to purchase insurance impacts commerce. thus permitting government regulation. Attorneys for two dozen states claim that the interstate commerce clause does not grant power to create commerce in order to regulate it.

Some critics also call the plan “socialized medicine.” I suppose for those too poor to comply with the individual mandate, it is just that. Their costs will be subsidized by everyone else. But the plan could also be seen as a boon for insurance companies. If the supreme Court upholds the PPACA, the insurance industry will received a substantial increase in business.

Interesting enough, it is the insurance companies that most strongly support the individual mandate. Why? It is because this is the only way they can afford to comply with other requirements of the government. The PPACA is a classic example of how the government works to solve problems at least partly created by the government.

Like Nancy Pelosi  I have not read the entire PPACA.

From what I have read, it contains many provisions that actually drive up the cost of insurance and medical care.
 Some of the provisions include the following:

Guaranteed issue, regardless of preexisting conditions. This drives up the costs for insurers. In addition, this provision may even encourage people to simply pay the tax fine tax until they need care. Then they can sign up for expensive medical procedures. Once they complete their treatment, they can  drop back out of the system until the next time they need it.

Community ratings that require similar premiums for everyone in spite of differences in anticipated medical costs.

Mandated benefits that many customers do not need or want.

Subsidies for low income or no income people.

And then there is the great unknown: will private companies drop coverage and force everyone into the government subsidized portion of the program, escalating costs exponentially.

We do not have to speculate on how the PPACA will work if upheld. This system has had a trial run in Massachusetts. The results are in and it is not pretty.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Trayvon Martin's Media Facilitators

The media blitz continues in the sad and tragic case of Trayvon Martin.

Although the legal issue at hand is whether the facts in the case regarding Zimmerman's actions fall within the parameters allowed by Florida's so-called "stand your ground" self defense statute, the "national conversation" seems to be all about race. Martin's parents played the race card in claiming that Trayvon was murdered because of the color of his skin. In response to such accusations, the Zimmerman family cannot simply point to the legal issues. (The facts, once they are uncovered, may not even justify Zimmerman). In order to wage war in the media, they, too, have to play the race card. (see my previous post).

The media, of course, have served as sympathetic facilitators to the Martin family's public relations offensive. Mainstream media sources feature repeated coverage of every protest march.  Most media outlets display the  juxtaposition of  these two photos of Martin and Zimmerman: a police photo of a scowling Zimmerman and that of a fresh faced teen provided to the media by the Martin family.

The danger of the Martin family strategy is that alternative media may uncover information and images that paint a different picture of Trayvon.

For example, let's juxtapose a couple of different photos. The Orlando Sentinel posted a more recent photo of Zimmerman provided by his family. Courtesy of the Wagist, we now have this photo of the 17 year old Trayvon Martin sporting a gold grill:

A new photo of George Zimmerman obtained by the Sentinel.

Martin's photo comes from his now deleted Twitter account, where he went by the name No Limit Nigga. Recent activity from friends on Twitter features assorted RIP messages, including those congratulating him for whipping Zimmerman before taking the shot and alluding to Martin taking a swing at a school bus driver.  (Was this why he was suspended from school and sent to Sanford?) Martin's Twitter followers seem more informed than the mainstream media.

See more at Wagist.

Martin's handle No Limit Nigga refers to a song rap by Kane and Abel featuring friend C Murder--lyrics and video below.

Say twins you know how we go do a fucking show
Get that bitch rowdy how crazy they be acting out there
Niggas can't control theirself be like uh

They call me C-Murder and I got TRU tagged on my motherfucking back
Ever since I started rapping all my real ass niggas come and follow my lead
Got my balls and my word nigga ask Young Bleed
We come do a show in your motherfucking city
They call me the baddest cause No Limit act shitty
Beats By The Pound make them ignant ass beats
When a nigga like me bring the shit to the streets
Because the ghetto is my home nigga I'm ghetto raised
I'm unpredictable ask the nigga with the braids
My motherfucking music be jumping out of record stores
Nigga where's your proof motherfucker check billboards
To all my tank dogs that's bout it
Then throw off your set and get this motherfucker rowdy


We be No Limit niggas and we bout it
We come to a club and get the motherfucker rowdy

6 shots of hennesey I'm feeling right in this bitch
Hit the dash flow off Mike start a fight in this bitch
I got the crowd jumping gangstafied shit pumping
Tell that bitch and that hoe I'm trying to do something
I cracked the optimal open in the middle of the club
Don't give a fuck about the popos niggas smoke some bud
Let's go half on a 40 sack show me some love
I stucked a pistol in the club for them wannabe thugs
TRU niggas smoke dank all the way to the bank
All the hustlers picks the baddest so love to bank
Kane & Abel kick butt knuckle up don't give a fuck
We bout it and I'm gon' get this motherfucker rowdy


I was dropped from the clouds above given a gat and some slugs
Killing whatever bugs that ain't a soldier does
For the love of drugs half of my paper go to bud
Ebonic you speaking in the club uh nigga what
Everytime I buzz the tank does when I it
With the type of skills to knock a baller off his pivot
I admit it I'm one of the baddest that ever lived
You ain't seen nothing wait till I'm full of that shit
Take a pull of that shit
And you can meet the pieces

My ironic thesis first heard on a player's leases
Lyrical adhesives making these niggas meet Jesus
I guess we just got them to pieces like greases
To my tweakers it's a piece of dope you was needing
My vocals got wannabe slugs bleeding
It's believing get you tore up by my shotty
Fiendzotie forever bout it staying rowdy


Yeah another example of that gangsta shit
C-Murder in this bitch Kane & Abel the F. I. Fiend
Shit just another motherfucking day another dollar
Get it right cause we bout it peace

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Pick a Card, Any Card"

Especially the race card.

Both the families of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman appear to be doing just that.

An unnecessary confrontation occurred in which one family now suffers the indescribable pain of losing one of their children and the other experiences ostracism of the media and the prospect of their son spending years in prison.

 Evidence is sparse on what exactly happened.

George Zimmerman volunteered as part of a neighborhood watch. In the past, he had made multiple calls to police concerning people he did not recognize in his neighborhood. He made a similar call the day he saw Trayvon Martin. Against the advice of the 911 dispatcher, Zimmerman decided to follow Martin and initiate some kind of contact. A physical confrontation broke out and Zimmerman shot Martin, killing him.

In an egregious dereliction of their public duties, the local police decided not to conduct more than some preliminary questioning of Zimmerman as part of their investigation. Zimmerman claimed self defense under the provisions of Florida's so-called "stand your ground" law and the police dropped the investigation. When Martin's family saw what was happening, they quickly organized a widespread publicity campaign to bring attention to their son's case.

Instead of making the simple case that Zimmerman's behavior probably failed to conform to the provisions of Florida law, Martin's family pulled out the race card: he was killed "for the color of his skin."

Near the end of the interview, Martin's parents acknowledge the legal issue about self defense in Florida. But this has been all but eclipsed by the rallies involving such controversial hustlers such as Al Sharpton.

Zimmerman's family replied in kind. Already hearing the accusations  Zimmerman is a racist, they, too, played the race card. In a letter to the Orlando Sentinel, Robert Zimmerman explained why his son George is not  racist:

“The tragic events of February 26 are very sad for all concerned. The Martin family, our family, and the entire community have been forever changed.

The portrayal of George Zimmerman in the media, as well as the series of events that led to the tragic shooting are false and extremely misleading. Unfortunately, some individuals and organizations have used this tragedy to further their own causes and agendas.

George is a Spanish speaking minority with many black family members and friends. He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever. One black neighbor recently interviewed said she knew everything in the media was untrue and that she would trust George with her life. Another black neighbor said that George was the only one, black or white, who came and welcomed her to the community, offering any assistance he could provide. Recently, I met two black children George invited to a social event. I asked where they met George. They responded that he was their mentor. They said George visited them routinely, took them places, helped them, and taught them things and that they really loved George. The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth.

The events of February 26 reported in the media are also totally inaccurate. Out of respect for the on-going investigation, I will not discuss specifics. However, the media reports of the events are imaginary at best. At no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin. When the true details of the event become public, and I hope that will be soon, everyone should be outraged by the treatment of George Zimmerman in the media.

Because George Zimmerman is Hispanic, he could not have "profiled" Trayvon Martin. Why? Because as everyone knows, people of color are not racists . . . except when they are.  They, too, acknowledge the legal issue at hand. But the bulk of their defense rests on George Zimmerman's sentiments about race.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Comedy: The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel?

The fallout continues from Rush Limbaugh's ill considered verbal attack on contraception activist Sandra Fluke.

After the expected critiques from the left, conservative commentators pushed back by pointing out the double standard that governs left wing attacks on conservative women. At her website,  Michelle Malkin reflected on some of her own experiences and mentioned other noteworthy examples of liberal misogyny.  And in a somewhat surprising reaction, liberal commentator Kristen Powers over at The Daily Beast reviewed similar attacks on conservative women. The most egregious offender from the left seems to be Bill Maher.

Defenders of liberal misogyny deflect criticism by attempting to draw distinctions between Limbaugh and Maher. Limbaugh, they say, is a conservative  operative or de facto head of the Republican Party, while Bill Maher is only a comedian. Bill Maher himself takes up this defence. He claims that he is a comedian dealing with public figures and that Limbaugh attacked a "civilian."

Of course, all of this is nonsense. Fluke is no longer a civilian. She is a veteran volunteer soldier in the "culture wars." In addition, Limbaugh does not lead the Republican Party in any sense of the word. That's just another example of the "paranoid style" of politics from the left that imagines that Republicans do not think for themselves and that  Limbaugh or the Koch brothers are behind the scenes pulling all of the strings. Finally, what difference does is make to say one is a comedian? Does being an entertainer exclude one from accountability for words one uses?  I am still searching for how Maher's  premise relates to the conclusion that he can say anything he wants.

Rush Limbaugh himself admits he is an entertainer. So Rush's cases is not all that different. He and Maher are comedians and neither are very funny.

Is comedy now, "the last refuge of a scoundrel?"

Friday, March 16, 2012

President Obama's Snake Oil

President Obama,  in campaign mode since his inauguration , recently defended his administration's energy policy and attacked Republican critics.

He mocks the Republican plan to increase drilling by claiming that we only have 2% of the world's oil reserves while we consume 20% of the world's oil. He confirmed with daughter Sasha that these facts constitute a numbers problem.

But there is another numbers problem. The 2% figure he cites covers only the 22 billion barrels in those fields in which oil drilling is currently taking place. As his own Department of Energy points out, however, the United States has 430 billion barrels of oil recoverable with today's technology. As the DOE report adds, these figures do not include the estimated 1.4 trillion barrels of shale oil.

The President also claims that drilling has actually increased during his administration. As many pundits have noted already, most of the new drilling results from permits issued under the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Finally, the President mocked the Republican affinity for fossil fuels. He compared them to flat earthers and people who have no vision for the future. He dropped the names of Edison, Gates, and Jobs as American innovators who made their vision of the future today's reality.  Of course, we did not stop making adding machines, calculators, and typewriters while waiting for Gates and Jobs to perfect personal computers and the software that drives them. Neither did we stop using traditional lighting while anticipating Edison's light bulb.

The President also characterized the Republican call for increased drilling as "the same script for thirty years"  likening it to a bad movie rerun. For thirty years, however, the Democrats have opposed these Republican calls for expansion of drilling. Instead, they argued for alternative energy sources to fossil fuels.  The Democrats and their environmentalist clients claimed that drilling would have no immediate impact on prices or energy independence.

While that was true, expansion of drilling over the last thirty years may have impacts prices and energy independence today.

So when the president makes similar claims today that drilling will not immediately impact prices, maybe we should ask what he is doing to prevent high oil prices ten years from now.

If he deflects such question by pointing to the promise of alternative fuels, he needs to be reminded that Democrats have been saying reading  that script for thirty years.

Someday we may find cost effective alternatives to fossil fuels. Right now, however, the science that will yield such alternatives remains in the distant future.

Republicans, unlike Democrats, know the difference between science . . .  and science fiction.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Comforter in Chief

Politico , among others, reports that President Obama telephoned Georgetown University Law Student Sandra Fluke to comfort and encourage her after Darrel Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, denied her an opportunity to testify and radio personality Rush Limbaugh called her a "slut" and a "prostitute."

("Third-year law student" is the conventional media description of Ms. Fluke, implying she is a young, twenty-something idealistic college student. She is actually a thirty-something student who apparently is both politically and sexually experienced.)

In an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, Fluke reports that  “He did express his concern for me and wanted to make sure that I was ok, which, I am. I’m ok." Mitchell's opening remarks that Fluke has shown "extraordinary grace"  served as a portent of things to come in the liberal narrative about the issue of religious freedom.

While liberals lambasted Issa for violating the newly found "right" to testify before Congressional committees, Issa's office offered this explanation:

“As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration's actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness."

Fluke may not be a prostitute, but she as a scholaship student who now wants her school to pay for her birthcontrol, she  appears to be somewhat of  a parasite .

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi  attempted to buttress the liberal narrative that the issue is not about religious freedom but about contraception. She provided a good example of a famous Mark Twain quote: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."