Thursday, December 25, 2014

Year End Reflections - Part IV

A University of Michigan professor, who is the head of the communications department, wrote an article in which she announced: "I hate Republicans." Very professional, and very nice for any Republicans who might be enrolled in any of her classes. She also wrote this: "I can't stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehnor, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legion of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal 'personhood.'"

She left out gay marriage as one of the big issues for the left. And certainly no mention of the ongoing threats from Islamic terrorist groups or North Korea or Russia or China. No concern about Iran getting Nukes. No worries about the left's assault on the Constitution. And certainly no concern over jobs.

In California, the labor force participation rate, those working or actively seeking work, is down to 62.3%. That is the lowest it's been since the 1970s. In December, 2007 - pre-Obama - it was 65.9%. (Stats from the 12/4/14 LA Times.)

And I do not know how distraught Professor Douglas was over the recent brutal murders of 148 people, of which 132 were children, by the Taliban in Pakistan. Of course, the list of atrocities recently committed by Islamic terror groups could take up several paragraphs. Are these of concern to Professor Douglas?

Professor Susan Douglas must be just beside herself. Imagine, the Republicans control the Senate and have the largest Republican majority in the House since the WWII era. Republicans control 31 governor mansions. And Republicans control 67 of the 98 state houses in the country. (Nebraska has a nonpartisan unicameral legislature.) I think it's fair to say that the predictions of the Republican Party's demise were a tad premature. And I suspect Professor Douglas may not be getting much sleep during the next two years.

Out of Macalester College in Minnesota comes this story - the college is banning the use of words that may be hurtful to others and have an oppressive impact on culture. Words like "wuss" and "you guys." How about "swell" and "so's your old man?" (See "The Music Man.") It seems to me that we are raising a generation of fragile wusses. Oops.

Speaking of which, Columbia Law School announced that students could defer taking their finals if they were too traumatized by the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and the lack of indictments of the police officers involved. That would be appropriate for family members or close friends of the Brown and Garner families. But everyone?

Getting back to Professor Douglas, it is clear she is in touch with the issues that people care about. Or is she? The 12/22/14 Investor's Business Daily reported on a poll conducted by the UN about what issues are of most concern to people worldwide. The top three - no, not climate change or abortion or immigration. The top three were: A good education, better health care and better job opportunities. Protection from crime and violence came in at number 6. Climate change was number 16.

Maybe Democrats took the shellacking they did because they focused on the wrong issues. "...Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them...and put all of our focus on the wrong problem - healthcare reform." That's not from me. That's from liberal Senator Charles Schumer. Something for Professor Douglas and other liberals to think about.

Year End Reflections - Part III

The very liberal state of Vermont had what they thought was a good idea - a single payer healthcare system. However, Governor Peter Shumlin recently put an end to those plans. Said the Governor: "It was clear to me that the taxes required to replace health-care premiums with a publicly financed plan that would best serve Vermont are, in a word, enormous."

The higher taxes would have hurt the citizens and businesses in Vermont. The Governor was unable to justify the negative impact on his state's economy. But notice what else he said, a "plan that would best serve Vermont." Could it be that he realized that not only would the taxes be enormous in order to provide quality healthcare to the people; but that if he lessened the tax impact it would result in a lower standard of care, with long waits for treatment and less choices. Did the Governor have a conservative moment? Did he actually let reality dictate his beliefs and policy? Good for him!

Meanwhile, SCOTUS will be hearing a case next year on an issue that could have a major impact on the ACA. The issue is whether or not the subsidies available to Obamacare enrollees are only available to those who enroll through a state exchange; or can those who enrolled through the federal exchange (because their states did not set up a state run exchange) also be eligible for the subsidies? As most states did not set up their own exchange, the impact on Obamacare could be enormous.

Paul Krugman, the award winning far-left columnist for the New York Times, said in his 11/10/14 opinion piece that it was all much ado about nothing. The drafters merely made a typo in referring to "state" run exchanges. Anyway, he said you could ask them. Okay, let's ask Jonathan Gruber, one of the main architects of Obamacare. Gruber: "If you're a state and you don't set up an exchange that means your citizens don't get their tax credits. But your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill." (Comments by Gruber on 1/18/12.)

Recall that SCOTUS upheld the ACA by calling the penalty/fine a "tax." (See 7/1/12 post discussing the Supreme Court decision.) The statute said it was a fine, Obama said it was a fine. So now we have a challenge to the law as to whether "state exchange" also means "federal exchange."

Will the Chief Justice be all in? It was Chief Justice John Roberts who voted with the four liberal Justices to uphold the ACA by rewriting the statute and calling the "fine" a "tax." It seems to this writer that it will be just as easy for Roberts to rewrite the statute yet again in order to define "state" as also meaning "federal" with regards to the exchanges. The Court has no power to write or rewrite legislation. But we know the four liberals on the Court will put their agenda ahead of the law. Will Roberts?

Gruber also said the bill was intentionally written with a lack of transparency. Said Gruber: "Call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass." Because Gruber believed the ACA was an important piece of legislation, and as a typical left-wing elitist also believed he knew what was best for the American people, he had no compunction about the lies and lack of transparency surrounding the ACA. But Gruber was not an elected official. Our top leaders, Obama, Reid and Pelosi, also had no compunction about lying. After all, the ends always justify the means to these people. Truth is not a value in and of itself.

So will Roberts be all in? I hope not; but if the past is any indication, he will allow the enrollees in the federal exchanges to get the same subsidies as those in the state exchanges. He will be all in.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Year End Reflections - Part II

You have to hand it to the Europeans. Home of the appeasers. The European Court of Justice ruled that Hamas should be taken off the EU's list of terrorist organizations. So what if they are responsible for numerous terrorist attacks on civilians in Israel, and the firing of thousands of rockets and mortars into Israeli cities in the hopes of killing civilians? The Europeans love them - just like Jimmy Carter does. Next, let's remove Hezbollah, ISIS, Al Qaeda from the list. Hell, let's just do away with the list. It's so judgmental.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said this: "Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization whose charter says that its aim is to destroy Israel." I need to tell Netanyahu a little secret - the Europeans do not give a damn if Israel is destroyed!

The great "moderate" leader of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas, recently said this: "We cannot recognize a Jewish State...because it contradicts our interests." Yes, their interest in destroying Israel. There was some honesty out of Abbas; just don't expect to see it in the mainstream media.

While the palestinians have been pushing for a return to the 1967 borders, there has also been talk of some land swaps. But the "moderate" Abbas would have none of it, as he said: "I will not allow, or force, any Arab to relinquish his Israeli far as I'm concerned, Arabs remaining citizens of Israel is a sacred matter." Sacred matter? What a bunch of... What he really means is he wants Arabs and Jews living in Israel, but only Arabs in a new state of Palestine (he already has said no Jews will be allowed) and then eventually merge the two into a single Arab state.

Meanwhile, liberal commentator Roger Cohen, wrote a piece in the 12/21/14 New York Times entitled: "What Will Israel Become?" Mr. Cohen was agonizing over growing numbers of "settlements" in the West Bank, and a growing wave of nationalism that has resulted in a proposed law to remove Arabic as an official language of Israel.

As do others, he frets over whether Israel will remain a democracy or not. In his support, Cohen refers to Israel's founding charter of 1948, indicating that the new state was to be based "on freedom, justice, and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or sex."

Very nice. But let me remind Mr. Cohen that the palestinian's charters (of Hamas and Fatah) call for Israel's DESTRUCTION! The nice thing about being a liberal is that you need not concern yourself with either facts or reality. As I have stated before, liberals let their beliefs dictate their reality, conservatives let reality dictate their beliefs.

Just the other day a man in France drove his car directly into a crowd of 12 pedestrians. Two were reported to have been badly injured. I should point out that the man was heard to yell "Allahu Akhbar!" He also apparently claimed to act on behalf of the children of Palestine. Would I be that far off if I said here is the European mentality - if we let them kill the Jews maybe they will leave us alone? After all, the largely secular Europeans have not shown much interest in the plight of Christians throughout the Arab world, so why would they concern themselves with the Jews?

Interestingly, the Jerusalem Post reports that Secretary of State Kerry recently said Arab leaders are willing to make peace with Israel and stand up against the likes of Hamas and Boko Haram. Now wouldn't that be something - the Arabs tiring of the terrorists in their midst while the Europeans seek to empower them.

Year End Reflections - Part I

Two NYPD officers were shot and killed by a lunatic who had already shot his girlfriend. However, he felt a need to take revenge on the police for the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The Mayor of New York, after the killing of Eric Garner, said this on 12/3/14: "People need to know that black lives and brown lives matter as much as white lives." After saying he had to warn his mixed race son about how to deal with the police, he also said this: "...we are dealing with centuries of racism that have brought us to this day."

Actually, we are dealing with leftist elected officials - morons - who, while not responsible for these deaths, did not help. Mayor DiBlasio sees fit to accuse the officers involved in the death of Eric Garner, and really the entire police department, of racism. Where was his evidence for that? Are all the black and Hispanic and Asian cops racist also? Or was the Mayor taking his cue from much higher elected officials? Recall Obama calling the Cambridge P.D. officers stupid for arresting Professor Gates, a black man. Had it been a white professor, we never would have heard from the media or the President about it.

But if Obama had a son, he would look like Trayvon. And the Attorney General of the United States saw fit to go to Ferguson and announce that he was there not just as the A.G., but as a black man. Holder also said: "I think it's pretty clear that the need for wholesale change in the Ferguson police department is appropriate"; but deferred on what changes would be needed "until we complete our inquiry." Then how did he conclude "wholesale change" was even necessary before the inquiry was completed?

The great thinkers in the mainstream media piled on. Ezra Klein did not believe officer Wilson's account of the Michael Brown shooting. He wrote on Vox asking why Michael Brown, described as an 18 year old headed to college, would refuse an order to get out of the road, or would curse at a police officer, or would attack a police officer, and so on. He concluded that "none of this fits with what we know of Michael Brown."

I would bet Mr. Klein saw the video of Brown robbing the convenience store and shoving the store clerk. Did he know that Mr. Brown was headed for a trade school, not a college? Or that his mother said she relied on family and friends to help mentor him, presumably because his father was not around? Did he know Brown's parents were just teenagers when Brown was born? But why add any complexity to the story when it's so much easier to go with the lying, racist police officer.

The Eric Garner case brings up some interesting political issues. Garner was selling individual cigarettes - loosies - on the street. Apparently, shop owners were not happy, especially since they have to collect and pay the taxes on the cigarette sales. Garner, undoubtedly, had an all cash business; and we can assume he was not concerned about taxes. Garner had been arrested many times before. He was resisting arrest. Yet no one with whom I have spoken feels the same way about Eric Garner's death as they did about Michael Brown's death. What if Garner was a 10 year old kid selling lemonade? Would the police "take the kid down?"

Yes, I know that local authorities have in fact stopped kids from selling lemonade in some communities. And there is the issue - just how much government control and involvement do we need in every single aspect of our lives? Secondly, if selling loosies is bad, does that mean it requires police involvement in the first instance? What if a civil employee, or someone equivalent to a traffic cop, simply gave him a citation? What if there were no police involvement unless a judge ordered his arrest for failing to pay the fine or appear in court?

Do I believe the police are always right in everything they do? No. I thought they hit Rodney King too many times. And it was fairly shocking when the police shot, and thankfully did not kill, 2 small Hispanic women they somehow mistook for Christopher Dorner. But I'm not a politician. I'm not going to make wholesale charges of racism and widespread police misconduct in order to satisfy an agenda or please a base. So rest in peace Officer Rafael Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu. May your lives be an inspiration to others who want to protect and serve.