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etc. - a little of this, a little of that - by Oliver Del Signore



Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

 

Truth in Toons: 2012 Election Edition

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Comments welcome.
Which are your favorites?
Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obama Campaign Sues to Restrict Military Voting

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

You might think the Commander in Chief of a nation’s military would want to make it as easy as possible for the troops he commands to vote. You might think that, but in the case of Our Dear Leader, you’d be wrong.

Obama Campaign Sues to Restrict Military Voting
by Mike Flynn

President Barack Obama, along with many Democrats, likes to say that, while they may disagree with the GOP on many issues related to national security, they absolutely share their admiration and dedication to members of our armed forces. Obama, in particular, enjoys being seen visiting troops and having photos taken with members of our military. So, why is his campaign and the Democrat party suing to restrict their ability to vote in the upcoming election?

On July 17th, the Obama for America Campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the Ohio Democratic Party filed suit in OH to strike down part of that state’s law governing voting by members of the military. Their suit said that part of the law is “arbitrary” with “no discernible rational basis.”

Currently, Ohio allows the public to vote early in-person up until the Friday before the election. Members of the military are given three extra days to do so. While the Democrats may see this as “arbitrary” and having “no discernible rational basis,” I think it is entirely reasonable given the demands on servicemen and women’s time and their obligations to their sworn duty. 

The National Defense Committee reports:

[f]or each of the last three years, the Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program has reported to the President and the Congress that the number one reason for military voter disenfranchisement is inadequate time to successfully vote. 

I think it’s unconscionable that we as a nation wouldn’t make it as easy as possible for members of the military to vote. They arguably have more right to vote than the rest of us, since it is their service and sacrifice that ensures we have the right to vote in the first place. 

If anyone proposes legislation to combat voter fraud, Democrats will loudly scream that the proposal could “disenfranchise” some voter, somewhere. We must ensure, they argue, that voting is easy and accessible to every single voter. Every voter, that is, except the men and women of our military. 

Make no mistake, the Democrat lawsuit is intended to disenfranchise some unknown number of military voters. The judge should reject it with prejudice.

How telling is it of the Obama and Democratic mindset that they would attempt something like this? Don’t they understand how bad this makes them look? Don’t they care? Or are they so desperate at this point that they will do absolutely anything to minimize the number of votes against The Smartest President Ever® when November rolls around?

I may not agree with some things the military is used for, but I absolutely agree that every service man and woman should be able to cast a vote for the person he or she wants to lead them.

Were I in charge, I’d make sure ballots were distributed to every service member at least two months in advance, collected soon after, and transported to everywhere they will be counted no later than a week before the election. I might even make it a serious felony to mess with such ballots, just to forestall anyone deciding to “forget” or lose” the ballots in states where they might well make a difference in the outcome of an election.

Obama, his campaign, the DNC, and the Ohio Democratic Party should be mightily ashamed of themselves. But then, shame is not something anyone ever associates with any of them.

What do you think?

Much ado about nothing or an open attempt to disenfranchise voters not likely to vote “the right way”?

 

Are some cultures inherently “better” than others?

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Are some cultures inherently “better” than others?

It’s a question many have pondered and one that is in the news again thanks to the media trying to paint Mitt Romney as a racist who holds that view when he did not say that at all.

What he actually said was:

I was thinking this morning as I prepared to come into this room of a discussion I had across the country in the United States about my perceptions about differences between countries. And as you come here and you see the GDP per capita for instance in Israel which is about 21,000 dollars and you compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority which is more like 10,000 dollars per capita you notice a dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality. And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States. I noted that part of my interest when I used to be in the world of business is I would travel to different countries was to understand why there were such enormous disparities in the economic success of various countries. I read a number of books on the topic. One, that is widely acclaimed, is by someone named Jared Diamond called ‘Guns, Germs and Steel,’ which basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth. And you look at Israel and you say you have a hard time suggesting that all of the natural resources on the land could account for all the accomplishment of the people here. And likewise other nations that are next door to each other have very similar, in some cases, geographic elements. But then there was a book written by a former Harvard professor named ‘The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.’ And in this book Dr. Landes describes differences that have existed—particularly among the great civilizations that grew and why they grew and why they became great and those that declined and why they declined. And after about 500 pages of this lifelong analysis—this had been his study for his entire life—and he’s in his early 70s at this point, he says this, he says, if you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it’s this: culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference. And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.

Do you see racism there? I don’t. I see someone pointing out that more freedom generally produces better economic results than less freedom. The simple fact is that Israel’s economy is much better than that of the Palestinians. And yes, perhaps some of that is due to travel and shipping restrictions, which liberal reporters are quick to point out. But they never seem to mention why those restrictions are in place. If they did, then they’d have to call attention to the many decades of Palestinian and Arab aggression that caused Israel to impose the restrictions, thus belying their original contention of racism.

The fact is, some cultures are superior to others in fostering innovation, risk-taking, and economic advancement for all. Does that make them “better?” I guess it depends on how you define “better.”

I think an easy way to settle such an argument is to look at the number of people who want to go live in a nation. Do you see hoards clamoring to get into Mexico, China, North Korea, or the Palestinian-controlled territories? Or do you see them heading to America, nations in Europe, Australia, and, yes, Israel?

No nation is perfect, especially America. But all-around, it’s still a damn sight better than Mexico or China or lots of other places on the planet, including the Palestinian territories. And all this media baloney aimed at Mitt Romney is little more than an attempt to steer the election conversation away from the horrendous job performance of Barack Obama.

I’m no fan of Romney, as you know if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile. But I’d much rather have a president who believes in American exceptionalism than I would one who goes around the world apologizing for our success and then comes home and tries to turn us into bankrupt Euro-weenies.

What about you?

Do you think some nations “better” than others? If so, in what way(s)?

And which kind of president will you prefer to have come 2013?

 

And so health care rationing begins

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner — Susan.

***

I’ve maintained for many decades that whenever government sticks it’s collective nose into something, costs go up while quality goes down. I’m hard-pressed to think of even one exception.

When Romneycare passed here in Massachusetts, we saw costs go through the roof, even though they’d previously been driven up by government mandating that insurers must cover a host of things most people did not need or want, would never use, but were forced to pay for anyway.

All went swimmingly, from government’s perspective, while federal money flowed in to keep down the cost of providing insurance to those who could not afford to pay for it. But even federal funds are not unlimited and as more and more people became “insured,” costs began to spiral out of control.

Now, a thoughtful person might wonder if getting government out of the health care business entirely might be the best solution. Repeal all the mandates and let the free market offer insurance products people want and can afford, for those who want insurance. Those who don’t want to buy insurance can pay cash or set up payment plans should they need health care. And the truly needy will still be cared for, as they always were before government decided to play doctor.

But thoughtfulness is not generally a trait one finds in the liberal politicians who run Massachusetts. They pass a health care bill requiring universal coverage, promising it will reduce costs for everyone once everyone is insured, then scratch their heads in confusion when all those newly insured folks, especially the ones who get “free” insurance, suddenly begin flocking to emergency rooms and doctor’s offices, driving up costs across the board. So they try a tweak here and a tweak there but expenditures continue to escalate until there is only one thing left to do — clamp down on costs by legislating spending limits.

Mass. lawmakers pass health care cost-control bill

Lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a 350-page health care cost-control bill Tuesday afternoon, a compromise between House and Senate leaders that sets spending targets for hospitals and doctors in the state and penalizes those that exceed them.

Governor Deval Patrick said he would sign the bill. “This is more than a good bill; this is a great bill,” he told reporters after visiting a Roxbury organization that seeks to reduce youth violence. “This is a commonwealth that has shown the nation how to extend coverage to everybody and to do it in a hybrid system with an emphasis on private-sector insurance with subsidies for those who can’t afford it. And now we’re going to crack the code on cost control.”

He said he does not believe the legislation will lead to layoffs in the health care sector or hospital closures. “There are going to be changes,” Patrick said. “But if those changes mean we get lower-cost and higher-quality care because care is being delivered in different settings — in homes, for example, in neighborhoods, in communities, rather than in hospitals — then I think that’s something we all ought to strive for and will strive for.”

The plan allows health spending to grow no faster than the state economy overall through 2017. For the five years after that, spending would slow further, to half a percentage point below the growth of the state’s economy, although leaders would have the power under certain circumstances to soften that target.

Supporters believe the bill will help moderate increases in insurance premiums for consumers and businesses. While the measure does not spell out specific cuts, health providers are expect­ed to expand efforts already under­way to slow the proliferation of some medical procedures, better coordinate care to keep patients healthier and out of the hospital, and steer patients to lower-cost care­givers.

Providers and insurers that do not meet the spending targets would have to submit “performance improvement plans’’ to a new state commission. Failure to implement their plans could lead to a fine of up to $500,000.

“This is going to save us $200 billion over the next 15 years, and it’s going to provide better quality of care and better access,’’ Senate President ­Therese Murray said in an inter­view Monday night. “This is a big plus for us. We’re once again in the forefront on health care in the nation.’’

Murray said the 350-page bill will build on the state’s 2006 landmark health insurance mandate, which ­became the model for President Obama’s national health care legislation.

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said in a written statement that “while this bill may seem complex, its goal is simple: to cut health care costs that burden businesses and consumers while not interfering with the high quality of health care Massachusetts residents enjoy.”

Click Here to read the rest of the article.

So, let me get this straight. This bill is going to save us all money by limiting the amount of money that can be spent on health care and while doing so, will provide better care for everyone.

That sounds an awful lot like what was promised when Romneycare passed and see how well that worked…or didn’t work.

What you will not hear anyone say, because the media outlets will not report it, is that simple logic dictates that if costs are capped while demand increases, either quality or quantity must be reduced to stay under the cap.

That means, your doctor might not order the expensive test that could pinpoint the cause of your pain. Instead, you get a prescription for painkillers. It means that when the guy who had a bypass operation in his fifties returns for a second procedure in his seventies, he might well be sent home with a “care and comfort” order to wait to die.

When you limit spending you must limit care. All the shuffling and dancing in the world will not get around that simple fact.

I’ve been telling all you kind readers who don’t live here in The People’s Republic to go to school on what Romneycare has done to us because the same thing is going to be done to you, eventually, thanks to Obamacare.

Watch us closely, because sooner or later, rationing will come to you, too.

 

Was it corruption, incompetence, or both that ruined this man’s life?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Was it corruption, incompetence, or both that ruined this man’s life?

Former Pennsylvania psychologist says he reported child molestation, lost license

Jim Singer, formerly a psychologist working in Pennsylvania, said that he reported a case of child molestation in 1986 to Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services agency, and not only was his report ignored, but soon after, in retaliation, the Pennsylvania Psychology Board prosecuted Singer and eventually removed his license to practice psychology.

Former psychologist Jim Singer

As the aftermath of the Penn State University molestation scandal unfolds, most observers believe that if the proper authorities had been alerted to the crimes much earlier, many children could have been saved. That’s not always the case, says Singer.

Speaking exclusively with The Daily Caller, Singer said that most of the same Pennsylvania government agencies that were outraged over the PSU scandal — Child Protective Services, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, and the Pennsylvania State Police — all ignored and buried his report of child molestation.

In 1986, Singer was working as a psychologist at the Dubois Regional Medical Center in Dubois, Pa. During a session with a female teenage patient, Singer said the patient revealed to him that she was being sexually abused by her father. Upon having two more medical professionals confirm this, Singer said that he reported the abuse to the state’s Child Protective Services agency.

TheDC has exclusively acquired a letter from one of the two medical professionals, Dr. Albert Varacallo, vouching for the veracity of Singer’s claims.

“If all this seems hard to believe,” Varacallo wrote to then-Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey, Sr. in 1991, “I agree with you … the events of the past three years have proven to me that this nightmare is indeed a reality and not just Mr. Singer’s imagination from the stand point of any health professional, once he knew all the facts.”

“While the state is supposed to provide immunity for reporters,” Varacallo wrote, “it actually prosecutes those who seek to protect the rights of children.”

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

This is purely conjecture, but what I think happened, after the alleged abuser was informed of Dr. Singer’s report and given his identity, is that he turned to someone pretty high up in government who either put pressure on various agencies or arranged for false reports to be generated and acted upon.

While I feel badly for Dr. Singer, I feel worse for the children who may not have had their cases reported, as the law requires, because the health practitioner knew what happened to Singer and did not want to be similarly treated by the state agencies.

It’s been twenty-six years since Singer filed that report. How many children have suffered horrendous abuse because nobody would do anything to save them?

If I had my way, a very lot of people back then and now, would spend a lot of time in prison for dereliction of duty and abuse of authority.

But then, I’m not a Pennsylvania child welfare bureaucrat or worker. What do I know?

Is anyone more familiar with this case or similar cases elsewhere?

 

Skype makes chats and user data more available to police

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

So, you thought that by using Skype, the Internet-based communication service, you could talk or text without having to worry about Big Brother listening or watching?

Skype makes chats and user data more available to police

Skype, the online phone service long favored by political dissidents, criminals and others eager to communicate beyond the reach of governments, has expanded its cooperation with law enforcement authorities to make online chats and other user information available to police, said industry and government officials familiar with the changes.

Surveillance of the audio and video feeds remains impractical — even when courts issue warrants, say industry officials with direct knowledge of the matter. But that barrier could eventually vanish as Skype becomes one of the world’s most popular forms of telecommunication.

The changes to online chats, which are written messages conveyed almost instantaneously between users, result in part from technical upgrades to Skype that were instituted to address outages and other stability issues since Microsoft bought the company last year. Officials of the United States and other countries have long pushed to expand their access to newer forms of communications to resolve an issue that the FBI calls the “going dark” problem.

Microsoft has approached the issue with “tremendous sensitivity and a canny awareness of what the issues would be,” said an industry official familiar with Microsoft’s plans, who like several people interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly. The company has “a long track record of working successfully with law enforcement here and internationally,” he added.

The changes, which give the authorities access to addresses and credit card numbers, have drawn quiet applause in law enforcement circles but hostility from many activists and analysts.

Authorities had for years complained that Skype’s encryption and other features made tracking drug lords, pedophiles and terrorists more difficult. Jihadis recommended the service on online forums. Police listening to traditional wiretaps occasionally would hear wary suspects say to one another, “Hey, let’s talk on Skype.”

Hacker groups and privacy experts have been speculating for months that Skype had changed its architecture to make it easier for governments to monitor, and many blamed Microsoft, which has an elaborate operation for complying with legal government requests in countries around the world.

“The issue is, to what extent are our communications being purpose-built to make surveillance easy?” said Lauren Weinstein, co-founder of People for Internet Responsibility, a digital privacy group. “When you make it easy to do, law enforcement is going to want to use it more and more. If you build it, they will come.’’

Two days ago, Microsoft-owned Skype, denied its architecture restructuring was done to allow for future government access, but did not deny that it might be so used in the future.

The idea of the Internet being a place safe and free from government intrusion has always been more dream and fantasy than reality. Yes, you can still use TOR to mask your Internet travels, but my guess is that it will not be too long before the NSA or some other government concern figures out a way to beat it, or its use is made illegal.

Now, more than any time in history, Big Brother is watching and the surveillance will only continue to intensify as long as most Americans pay more attention to what’s on TV tonight than to what their government is doing.

IMHO, of course.

What’s your opinion on the matter?

 

Does This Sound Like “Standing Behind Small Business” To You?

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Today’s offering is a guest post, of sorts. It was borrowed, it toto, from the blog of my favorite talk-show host, Michael Graham. My comments follow.

~~~

Does This Sound Like “Standing Behind Small Business” To You?

So says President Obama in his new ad, attempting to undo the damage of his previous “You didn’t build that” comments.

“Those ads taking my words about small business out of context, they’re flat out wrong,” Obama says. “Of course Americans build their own business. Everyday hardworking people sacrifice to meet a payroll, create jobs and make our economy run. And what I said was that we need to stand behind them as America always has.”

So here is President Obama “standing behind [small business]” in his previous speech that, he says, was “taken out of context.” Does this sound like he’s pro-business to you?

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

If this is what Obama sounds like when he’s PRO-business, I’d hate to hear what he sounds like when he’s not “standing behind” them.

I think the President’s problem is that he said what he meant and he meant what he said. He’s an economically-idiotic, far-Left, envy-spreading, class-warfare hack who’s so far out of his depth he’s suffering a case of electoral bends. He may be a nice guy and a loving dad, but as a president, Barack Obama’s record absolutely, positively sucks.

But please—don’t take me out of context.

~~~

Does Obama really believe more of the same, failed policies will somehow magically turn things around in America?

I love it when politicians forget themselves and mistakenly say what they really think, then have to spend days and lots of campaign money trying to make it seem like they said something else.

Obama has always been a collectivist. Because he was glad-handed up the ladder his whole life, rather than advancing through hard work and accomplishment, he apparently really believes that everyone else must have relied on other people to make them successful.

He really believes the individual “owes” the collective, that successful people owe their success to everyone else and so should be happy to have government take and redistribute what they earned.

He is so blinded by his ideology, he cannot see the damage his utopian dreams have done to America and like, all such folks who live in a state of self-delusion, he’s sure the problem is not his policies but that we just need more of them.

Even a child understands that if you hit a board with a hammer and it cracks, hitting it harder, again and again, is not going to fix it.

I guess it’s a good thing Obama never appeared on the TV game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader.”

Obviously, he’s not.

 

Poor and middle class subsidize electricity costs for the wealthy, businesses, and government

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner — K Howe.

***

For the sake of this discussion, let’s say your local utility charges 12 cents for each kilowatt hour of electricity that they buy on the open market for 8 cents. You get tired of paying so much to power your home so you spend $17,000 to install solar panels. Now, the panels produce power all day long, even when you’re not home, so you get to sell what you’re not using to the local utility. But instead of paying you the going 8-cent wholesale rate, they are required by law to pay you the 12-cent retail rate! And since you’ll save $2000 a year on your electric bill, you’ll pay off the solar investment in 8.5 years and after that, it’s all gravy.

You might wonder how the utility can pay you 12 cents/kWH and turn around and sell it to someone else for the same price. Don’t they have costs for infrastructure and labor and insurance and lots of other things? Of course they do, but you needn’t worry. Those costs related to what you sell to the utility will be paid by folks who can’t afford to install solar panels, primarily the poor and middle class.

Sweet deal for you, eh?

Now, you might think such a scheme would be illegal, but you’d be wrong. Here in The People’s Republic, they want to double the size of the program!

Wind, solar subsidy set for review
Program’s growth spurs fairness issue

Former Massachusetts secretary of energy and environmental affairs Ian Bowles, who thinks it just fine if others have to pay more so he can pay less.

The array of solar panels recently installed on Ian Bowles’s slate roof in Jamaica Plain should pay off for him in less than a decade, but the green power the state’s former top environmental official generates may cost other utility customers for many more years.

Bowles and the increasing number of homeowners, businesses, and municipalities connecting solar panels and wind turbines to the region’s power grid receive a little-known subsidy, and the cost is being borne by other utility customers, who may soon pay anywhere from a dime to as much as $100 more on their monthly electricity bills.

The surcharge on customers who do not feed into the grid has become increasingly controversial as state lawmakers this month hash out the language in a bill that would double the amount of power that utility companies could buy from those producing their own energy.

“At a certain point, there’s absolutely a fair argument about the equity of this,” said Bowles, the former secretary of energy and environmental affairs, who argues that the benefits of reducing harmful carbon emissions outweigh the relatively small costs to utility customers.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

Talk about hubris. If reducing carbon emissions are really beneficial, shouldn’t everyone have to share in the cost since everyone shares in the benefit? Apparently not in the privileged world of politicians and former bureaucrats like Bowles, whose attitude translates as “Let the suckers pay.”

I suppose it should not surprise me to discover this has been going on here in The People’s Republic, where the left is so entrenched a tsunami could not dislodge them.

How is it where you live?

Are you, too, being forced to subsidize solar installations for those who can afford them?

 

Bleed me fast or bleed me slow

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Last week, someone sent me the following graphic:

I expect it was intended to convince me Republicans are better than Democrats because they are, on average, more fiscally responsible. But that is not how I see it.

What I see is that Republicans are a little less fiscally irresponsible, but so what? They are still fiscally irresponsible.

If the graphic concerned murders rather than money, would anyone think Republicans were somehow better because they only killed 159 people while the Democrats killed 372?

The fact is, for far too long, both parties have been spending taxpayer money like drunken sailors on leave in a whorehouse. (And isn’t ‘whorehouse’ the perfect metaphor for Congress?)

Keep in mind that the numbers in the graphic reflect only state debt. The $15 trillion federal debt is a horse of a different color. Heck, it’s a whole ‘nother animal entirely.

Neither party has anything to be proud of and would have much to be ashamed of, if any of them had any shame. But they don’t. Except, perhaps, for Ron Paul.

I suppose, as voters, we can use the numbers above to decide in November, when it comes time to vote, how deeply in debt we prefer our state be, but really, it’s just a matter of bleed me fast or bleed me slow.

Either way, we inevitably end up dead.

Or am I missing something?

 

Truth in Toons: Obama Edition

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Comments welcome.
Which are your favorites?
Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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