Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Never Forget"? I Remember

I remember 9/11. My family lived through the aftermath in a personal way - lots of time apart, in uncertainty.  I look at the mess the government has made of the post 9/11 efforts of our military.  Either the government sent out us to do things we shouldn't, or the government took its eye off of national security and began to look to politics, or both.
My conclusion is simple.  Government is not competent to much of anything, especially wage war.
We argue about whether the death penalty is right or wrong, and whether it was Bush or Obama or Kennedy or Johnson or Nixon or the Democrats that are to blame for the seeming disasters of our incompetent foreign interventions.  Those people are just the bit players in a political system.  We commit the lives of the military with high sounding big talk about 1% risk of this or that, and then back up all the talk - after the blood is spilled and limbs lost and brains scrambled and the civilians get whipsawed as we blast in and breeze out - with decisions based on political polls and electability and some froth about the political legacy of this or that buffoon sitting behind the desk in the oval office.

Political legacy?  Pathetic.

I don't think it is possible for our government, any government, to wage a just war beyond a war of survival.  I don't think any government is competent enough to deprive a citizen of his/her life, no matter the crime that citizen may have committed.

I would prefer that the US military withdrawal from the world stage were conducted competently, rather than accidentally, but I think if it is allowed to continue, military withdrawal will eventually be a good thing.

I think of the valor of many soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines who are not here to remember.  I think of hundreds of thousands of Afghans and Iraqis who were killed in the turmoil that we created and then recreated when political expedience dictated that we leave.  Only the soulless can ignore all those who pay for the incompetence and short sightedness and soullessness of the US government.

Let other peoples' incompetent governments screw their lives up - let's get our pathetic politics out of that business, so that at worst, we Americans and only we Americans pay the cost for the idiots we elect.

Honor to you my fallen brothers and sisters.  Honor to those who did their duty, who bore the costs, who did as they had sworn they would, who defeated the enemy in the field and cared for many non-combatants who needed your care.  Honor to those who lived the horror, saw the dying and paid in blood for the privilege.  It's not your fault that politicians are who they are.  The things you were fighting for were real, and those things were much larger and more real and more meaningful than the sots who sit in DC and choose our fates based on their insatiable need for significance.  I salute you.  

Blacks Must Confront Reality - Walter E. Williams - Page full

A sordid tale of woe.
The Census Bureau pegs the poverty rate among blacks at 28.1 percent. A statistic that one never hears about is that the poverty rate among intact married black families has been in the single digits for more than two decades, currently at 8.4 percent. Weak family structures not only spell poverty and dependency but also contribute to the social pathology seen in many black communities -- for example, violence and predatory sex. Each year, roughly 7,000 blacks are murdered. Ninety-four percent of the time, the murderer is another black person. Though blacks are 13 percent of the nation's population, they account for more than 50 percent of homicide victims. Nationally, the black homicide victimization rate is six times that of whites, and in some cities, it's 22 times that of whites. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims. Coupled with being most of the nation's homicide victims, blacks are also major victims of violent personal crimes, such as assault, rape and robbery.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Good-Bye, Treaty | National Review Online

The Obama administration reckoned that climate-change diplomacy had to be based on the recognition that opposition from China and India put a climate-change treaty beyond the realm of the realizable. The Senate was not going to ratify a treaty that did not include all the major emitters, and, as a matter of arithmetic, all the major emitters had to sign the treaty if it were to have any chance of tackling global warming.
It was the same logic that had led President George W. Bush not to send the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification. Instead, his administration developed a strategy aimed at including the major emerging economies. That strategy was adopted by President Obama. Success required overcoming the division between developed and developing nations that was enshrined in the 1992 U.N. climate-change convention. It is why the Senate adopted, 95–0, the Byrd-Hagel resolution shortly before Kyoto. Speaking with one voice, the Senate said that the U.S. should not ratify any climate-change treaty unless it included specific, timetabled commitments from developing nations.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Limited Government, So It Cannot Dork Things Like This Up

The question arises, of course, after President Obama's startling confession on Thursday that he has not yet developed a strategy for confronting the Islamic State, the al-Qaeda-rooted terrorist organization still often called by its former name, ISIS – an acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Al-Sham refers to Greater Syria.
You may have noticed that President Obama calls the group ISIL, preferring the acronym that refers to the Levant to the one referring to al-Sham. After all, anything that invokes Syria might remind you of red lines that turned out not to be red lines and the administration's facilitation of the arming of "moderate rebels" who turned out to include, well, ISIS. The fact is that the president has never had a Syria strategy, either — careening from Assad the Reformer, to Assad the Iranian puppet who must be toppled, to Assad who maybe we should consider aligning with against ISIS — ISIS being the "rebels" we used to support in Syria . . . unless they crossed into Iraq, in which case they were no longer rebels but terrorists . . . to be "rebels" again, they'd have to cross back into Syria or cruise east west to Libya, where they used to be enemy jihadists spied on by our ally Qaddafi until they became "McCain's heroes" overthrowing our enemy Qaddafi.

Monday, September 8, 2014

America’s real ice bucket challenge - The Washington Post

Federal debt will reach 74 percent of gross domestic product this year, more than twice what it was at the end of 2007 and higher than in any year since 1950, the nonpartisan CBO found. In a decade, it will hit 77 percent; in 25 years, 100 percent — "a level seen only once before in U.S. history, just after World War II."
What's more, 85 percent of the federal government's spending increases between now and 2024 will be consumed by just three items: Social Security (which will claim 28 percent of the increase), Medicare and other health-care programs (32 percent) and interest on the debt (25 percent). Spending on everything else — military and domestic programs alike — would fall to the lowest proportion of the economy since at least 1940, when such statistics were first collected.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Who Gets Shot in America? | RealClearPolicy

Who Gets Shot in America?

Embry Howell, Sam Bieler, and Nathaniel Anderson of the Urban Institute have an interesting new paper (PDF) based on hospital data from six states. The number capturing headlines is their estimate that, nationwide, treating gun injuries costs almost $670 million a year, most of which is paid for by taxpayers.
We shouldn't get too caught up in this statistic. As the authors themselves have noted, the toll of gun violence goes far beyond hospital costs -- and I would add that, contrary to the widespread claim that $670 million is a lot of money in this (national) context, it amounts to just $2.13 per person in the U.S. There are many reasons to make the prevention of gun violence a priority, but the potential to save an amount of money equal to 0.01 percent of total government spending is pretty low on the list.
The paper offers a highly valuable account, however, of how gunshot injuries are unevenly distrubuted throughout the population. Here's one chart, for example, with the numbers for males age 15-34, broken down by race:

These numbers (like those discussed by Reihan Salam recently) go a long way toward explaining why we talk about black-on-black crime a lot more than we talk about white-on-white crime, even though most crime for both groups is intraracial. I think they also have ramifications for Ron Unz's argument that Hispanic and white crime rates are essentially the same. (The authors used the Census's American Community Survey to estimate the total population of each group. Given the problem of illegal immigration, any survey in the U.S. might undercount Hispanics, and perhaps there are problems with the hospital data too -- but it would take a pretty dramatic counting problem to produce the disparities seen above.)
I highly recommend reading the whole paper, which is just ten pages long.
Robert VerBruggen is editor of RealClearPolicy. Twitter: @RAVerBruggen

Paul Ryan’s Way Forward | National Review Online

Since 1999, when he became its second-youngest member, Ryan has been an intellectual ornament to the House of Representatives — and a headache for risk-averse Republican-party operatives. They pay lip service to electing conservatives who will make the choices necessary to stabilize the architecture of the entitlement system and unleash the economic growth that must finance the system's promises. But they want to let voters remain oblivious about the choices required by that architecture's rickety condition.
Such Republicans are complicit with Obama, who demonstrated the self-destructive nature of his now-evaporating presidency by his contemptuous, and contemptible, treatment of Ryan on April 13, 2011. After he loftily aspired to teach Washington civility, the White House invited Ryan to sit in the front row at a speech in which Obama gave an implacably hostile and mendacious depiction of Ryan's suggestions for entitlement reforms. Obama thereby repeated his tawdry performance in his 2010 State of the Union address, when, with Supreme Court justices in the front row of the House chamber, he castigated them for the Citizens United decision, which he misrepresented.

Both times, Obama's behavior bespoke the insecurity of someone who, surrounded by sycophants, shuns disputations with people who can reply. Ryan, however, has replied with a book that demonstrates Obama's wisdom in not arguing with a man who has a better mind and better manners.

Are Liberals the Real Authoritarians? - Bloomberg View

MM right on target.
In the ultra-liberal enclave I grew up in, the liberals were at least as fiercely tribal as any small-town Republican, though to be sure, the targets were different. Many of them knew no more about the nuts and bolts of evolution and other hot-button issues than your average creationist; they believed it on authority. 

Your Nude Selfies Will Never Be Safe - Bloomberg View

Two great quotes from a great writer:
"The feminists who get angry when people point out the obvious risks of taking nude selfies on your phone or getting extremely intoxicated at a big party full of adolescent guys seem to be arguing that if the patriarchy went away, guys could all be culturally conditioned not to steal nude photographs or rape people, with the few sociopaths restrained by the much harsher penalties that would presumably be enacted once we end "rape culture" -- that there is some way, in other words, to make it perfectly safe for young women to get trashed at frat parties or take all the nude selfies their phones can hold."
Perhaps the women's studies classes that engender these beliefs should spend a little less time assigning "Backlash" and "The Second Sex" and a little more time reading true-crime books. Because if you read those sorts of books (and I freely confess to a lowbrow taste for them), you cannot possibly subscribe to the idea that only social sanctions, well-designed law-enforcement penalties and a more equitable welfare policy stand between us and a nearly-crime-free utopia.
"But there’s only so far culture can go. Criminals don’t steal because they think theft is OK; I’m told they get quite indignant if someone steals from them. Penny-stock con men are not one good ethics class short of a regular sales job. Serial killers did not miss the memo on how killing is wrong. Some people do things that they know are evil because they want to, and they think they can get away with it. It is not “victim blaming” to urge their targets to protect themselves from that threat."

Friday, August 15, 2014

The terrible choices Detroit confronts as it cuts off water to its own residents - The Washington Post

I think this is a pretty good example of how silly it is to give government the job of delivering water to humans.  How the heck are politicians supposed to manage this nonsense and do what they are really good at - get re-elected?
The other noteworthy point - the race to the bottom effect and the "entitlement mentality bites back." This city has been nursing the entitlement game for a long time. The outcome will be bad for all.

People gather to protest against the mass water shut-offs to Detroit citizens behind in their payments during a demonstration in downtown Detroit on Friday, July 18, 2014. (Rebecca Cook/REUTERS)
On Friday in Detroit, hundreds of local residents and activists — and, somewhat inexplicably, Mark Ruffalo — gathered to protest what has become an only-in-Detroit kind of crisis: The city's water utility has been shutting off service to thousands of homes, many with the elderly, the poor and children inside.
The story of how this has happened — and on the shores of one of the largest bodies of freshwater in the world — is not as simple as one of government incompetence or indifference to the poor.
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department says that nearly half of its customers haven't been paying their water bills, for a total of about 90,000 delinquent accounts, leaving the public utility with some $90 million in debt. But in a city of abandoned properties, squatters and tremendous poverty — 38 percent of Detroit lives below the poverty line — the department has had a hard time distinguishing empty homes from occupied ones, and customers who legitimately can't afford to pay from those who've simply opted not to.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Property and Peace | National Review Online

How painfully true this is.

The foundation of classical liberalism, and of the American order, is not the rule of law, a written constitution, freedom of speech and worship, one-man/one-vote democracy, or the Christian moral tradition — necessary as those things are. The irreplaceable basis for a prosperous, decent, liberal, stable society is property. Forget Thomas Jefferson's epicurean flourish — John Locke and the First Continental Congress had it right on the first go-round: "Life, liberty, and property." Despite the presence of the serial commas in that formulation, these are not really three different things: Perhaps we should render the concept "lifelibertyproperty" the way the physicists write about "spacetime."
But we do not have any property.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tenterhooks of Tyranny

Colleges have been "discovering" for a long time about the perils of getting in bed with the government, for example, the requirement to admit females into military, and traditionally all male colleges/universities. Gordon, you made the bed, better get horizontal and try to enjoy it.

A Christian college in Massachusetts requested the freedom to live out its ideals, and since some powerful people don't share those ideals they're set to destroy Gordon College—unless it agrees to retreat to the closet.

In June, Gordon's president added his name to a public letter asking President Obama to not force religious organizations into hypocrisy. Obama plans an executive order that would be the equivalent to many organizations of forcing Human Rights Campaign to hire adherents of Westboro Baptist Church. It would force anyone who receives federal funds to hire people whose sexual conduct disgraces all the world's major religions.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Michael Brown: Unarmed man killed by police (Opinion) -

I wonder if this man (the author of the article below0 is for more government, just not the "more govt" that kills people like him?

I wonder if this man is for the drug war?  Or if he's just as tired of all the black people being killed by other black people? Or why he can't discuss the whole tragedy - the drug war, blacks killing blacks over drug matters, and the fear cops have of the folks in those wars - in the same piece?  Why do people with non-black skin have to be the only ones in the wrong?  

I've talked to police officers, and been a police officer.  Cops are all too human.  They fear known risks, of which, the drug trade is a large one.  They fear getting shot.  They have been shot at.  They know the skin color of those who shot at them.  They know the gender of those who shot at them.  

Can this author allow himself to acknowledge that certain behaviors incur greater risk?  And that if a lot of folks of identifiable characteristics - skin color, gender, style of dress, etc - present an excessive risk to those not like them, others of the same characteristics will suffer?  You know, like day follows night.  

When agents of the state kill unarmed people it is WRONG.  It is a gross tragedy.  It is wretched and scary.  Blaming it on racism misses the point.  There are racists of all races, but luckily not too many of any kind of racists in the places I live.  But racism doesn't kill.  The drug wars kill, the governments kill, and the chaos created by prohibition kills.

The author asks a stupid question, "How many unarmed people have to die?"  The question he seems to mean is "How many unarmed people like me have to die when shot by agents of the state who are frightened as a consequence of the drug wars?"  I want to know how many have to die in the name of a drug prohibition that doesn't stop people from getting drugs?  And since drug prohibition is supposed to protect "us", why do we keep it up when it puts us all at risk?  And why can't smart writers at CNN see the obvious difference?

Since we all want the cops to stop shooting us, let's give the cops fewer reasons to do anything to us at all.  Let's give them fewer rules to enforce, and fewer jobs to do.  Let their job be - keep me safe from you, and you from me.  The drug war has become a war on people, citizens, who would largely be of risk only to themselves.  When it ends we'll all wonder why we didn't learn the lesson from alcohol prohibition.

Emotional Quicksand

An actor recently died of apparent suicide.  I was reminded of when a famous race car driver died.  I read of a lady who spent three days crying in her room after that.  She had never met the driver.

On deployment to the Arabian Gulf in 2002, two of my crew mates were discussing Ozzie Osbourne. One held Oz in a very high esteem, the other - not so much.  At one point in the discussion, one cremate, about to fly into a combat zone with the other, threatened physical violence of the expressed poor opinion of a musical/life performer.  It was a joking expression but nonetheless caught my attention.

It made me wonder why we can create the pseudo relationships with people we've never met, people we will never meet, people who wouldn't know us if they saw us, people who won't answer our letters/emails/calls/instagrams if we sent them.  We can care about and think we "know" people who don't even know we are alive, and who's careers and livelihoods depend upon our favorable opinion of them.  How?  Why?  It's so weird it should be in a movie - "hey, this person has imaginary relationships with people they have never met!"  But we all seem to do this.

My best guess is that this is some version of orientation to power.  That is to say, we perceive that "stars" or celebrities have social power.  As tribal humans it was important to be aware of and orient to those tribal members who were powerful.  We needed to be able to behave around those with power in a way that was helpful to us, and did not accidentally get us into bad favor with the powerful.  Or, we needed to be able to oppose those with power, knowingly, cunningly, effectively.  And live to tell the tale.

For the actor, one could think many things about his death.  "He quit on life, he quit on his family.  His pain is over, thankfully, but I will use his choice as an example of how to not hurt others."  Or, "poor guy, don't want to believe he was in such pain and despair."  Some comments I've seen spoke of how open he was with his life's struggles, but I wonder if all those folks who read all those stories wouldn't be better off if they'd never read the carefully crafted story released by the PR agent designed to get attention to the actor when he needed to sell some product to someone.  As far as I an tell, just as politicians have to lie in order to be able to convince all of us they'll serve only us at someone else's expense, actors are constantly in need of image crafting.  They must say and do what is necessary, whatever is necessary, to get our favorable opinion, so another 1% or so of us will go to their product and pay for it.

So to me it seems like they need us, and they shape their public image to suit what they think, what they hope, we want.  And we find ways to either like, or dislike, these public folks - whom we neither know or will know, who will never either like or dislike or know us.

What a weird dance.  What I find is that the only way I can avoid the dance is to shut out the noise that all the actors and singers and politicians are always playing in order to get us to react towards them like humans naturally react.  I'm not savvy enough to participate in all of that noise and not get drawn into it.  The only way to stay clean is to stay away.  It's nuclear.

So this actor, were he alive today, would fulfill all of our imaginary notions about what his life means in the context of our own lives.  We wouldn't know what he was doing, who he was hurting, who he was loving or anything.  We would just hold this imaginary creation we have of who he is in a way that seems to serve us, a way that seems to help us.  I don't think that's bad per se, I just know it is bad for me.  It is a distraction.  It is a dilution of the energy I have for people I actually see and touch and love every day.  I'm not going to give that energy up that way.  I'm averting my eyes, I'm leaving the actor for his family to bury and grieve.  And I'm going to figure out a way not to hurt the people that I love, how to not be "that guy" as I face down life's never-ending choice to find despair or joy in the natural cycles of both we all seem to experience as we live and learn.

Controlling the Past | National Review Online

What is the law? What is the relationship between law and good intentions?

'He who controls the past controls the future," observed George Orwell. "He who controls the present controls the past." This, in one pithy, symmetrical little maxim, has been the story of Obamacare from its conception to the present day.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Watergate and the Abuse of Power: A Lesson Unlearned | The Fiscal Times

In this case, I think it's Obama's desire to show his own, and big government's, competency that is driving his willing to act in ways that corrupt the office.

"The New York Times' Ross Douthat called it "Caesarism," but most call it an abuse of presidential authority. In our constitutional system, Congress passes laws and the executive branch enforces them.  Even in agency law, where those powers are shared to a certain degree, the executive cannot exceed the grant of authority from Congress, as the Supreme Court just reminded the EPA in June. A stalemated Congress "doesn't grant the President license to tear up the Constitution," The Washington Post editorial board warned this week

"Taxes are another area in which Obama supporters are urging "Caesarism," and sometimes worse. The byzantine and burdensome US corporate tax system has prompted a wave of "inversions," where corporations relocate overseas in acquisitions and mergers to avoid paying taxes in America. Obama began warning that this violated his sense of "economic patriotism," saying, "I don't care if it's legal" – which is exactly what the executive in the constitutional model should care about. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Lack of Funding Isn't the VA's Problem | RealClearPolitics

The author's main point is that the VA should be run with more skill, or competence or something like "better oversight" vice getting more money.  That has worked when with regard to government bureaucracies? The DoD for years could even account for its spending.  More oversight?  What a joke.

As VA reform continues to languish in Congress pressure is growing on members to solve the problem with Washington's oldest solution – more funding.
As Garry Augustine, Executive Director of Disabled American Veterans Disabled Veterans, argued recently in the Wall Street Journal, the VA needs "more money – and a predictable funding stream – to do its job." Augustine and others are right to fault Congress for not doing its job of setting priorities but a lack of funding is not the VA's main problem.
The numbers show the VA has hardly been strapped for cash. Funding for the VA has gone up 57 percent since 2008. And at facilities where the worst abuses occurred, such as Phoenix, funding was ample enough to finance to lavish bonuses for the very officials who should have been held accountable for harming veterans. Across the country, the problem has not been a lack of funds but terrible misuses of taxpayer funds that were already directed to help veterans get the care they need.
Moreover, the problems at the VA are not understaffed and overburdened hospitals as much as much as poor management and a lack of accountability and oversight. While funding increased 57 percent since 2008 the number of patients treated at VA facilities went up only 13.8 percent. In other words, funding growth outpaced the growth in patient load by a more than four to one margin.
Also during this time period, the number of full-time physicians at the VA went up 40 percent – again, far more than the patient load. And these significant funding increases went through even though VA doctors, on average, see half as many patients as their private sector counterparts. Poor management is a problem more funding won't solve.
Members and outside lobbyists are also arguing that the VA needs not only more funding but more earmarks. But the earmark era itself caused congressional oversight to atrophy and abuses to grow unchecked. For decades, Congress ignored repeated warning about delays and dysfunction at the VA while it occupied itself with funding Bridges to Nowhere and Woodstock Museums.
Plus, Congress has already tried – and failed – to fix this problem with "directed" or earmarked funds. In Nevada, taxpayers funded a $600 million "state of the art" medical facility in North Las Vegas, yet Nevada continues to be the state with the longest disability claim backlog in the country. Incidentally, the facility is now costing taxpayers almost $1 billion due to cost overruns and mismanagement. The VA built an emergency room that was too small and the facility was missing an ambulance drop-off ramp. I detailed this example and many others in my recent report, "Death, Delay and Dismay at the VA."
Returning to the era earmark would guarantee that the systematic problems at the VA go unresolved. The sad fact is politicians don't do attention-getting ribbon-cutting ceremonies around unceremonious but essential tasks like reducing wait times or filling potholes. Yet, this is the very kind of tedious, difficult work members are paid to do and will be rewarded for doing by a public that is desperately awaiting results and action.
The benchmark of real reform at the VA is an effort to solve the real problem, which is Congress' failure to empower VA officials to manage, and Congress' failure to give veterans real choices. Both of those problems can be solved by making it easier for VA officials to fire bad actors and by giving veterans real choices and spending power when they face long wait times.
Congress' lack of oversight and unwillingness to tackle real problems with real solutions contributed to the deaths of more than 1,000 veterans. Solving this problem is not as difficult as Congress makes it seem. But falling back on more funding as our default solution is the surest way to cause more veterans to fall through the cracks. 

Big Gubment and IT - Not So Grand

The State Department's visa system is currently offline for weeks, keeping businessmen, tourists and exchange students from entering the country. The FBI had to abandon a massive IT project after spending hundreds of millions of dollars.
These bureaucracies did a good job of delivering passports and maintaining files in the industrial age. But they can't keep up in the information age. Moore's Law says that computer capacity doubles in two years or less. Government procurement cycles are a lot longer than that.
Governors and legislators had reason to fear that state health exchange IT wouldn't work well (as it hasn't in about half the states that tried), and they would get blamed. And blamed for being associated with an unpopular law.

All of which suggests a broader lesson. Government was reasonably good at replicating the bureaucratic processes of large corporations in the industrial age. But it's not very good -- it's often downright incompetent -- at replicating the IT processes of firms such as Walmart and Amazon.
I saw this in person.  Complex, integrated solutions were so difficult to develop that we (in the USN) almost never had them.  We developed local, work around solutions to make our IT problems manageable. But these solutions were always subject to human error.  Much pain resulted.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Did Federal Climate Scientists Fudge Temperature Data to Make It Warmer? -

Great read to be reminded how hard it is to even answer the question "what temperature was the world yesterday?"

Answer:  We think we know because we correct for measurement bias.
This is a must read - it makes crystal clear that it is entirely within the power of these NCDC folks to invent temperatures.

In contrast, the researchers at the NCDC have spent years combing through U.S. temperature data records trying to figure out ways to adjust for confounders. In 2009, the NCDC researchers detailed how they go about adjusting the temperature data from the 1,218 stations in the Historical Climatology Network (HCN). They look for changes in the time of observation, station moves, instrument changes, and changes in conditions near the station sites (e.g., expanding cities). They filter the data through various algorithms to detect such problems as implausibly high or low temperatures or artifacts produced by lazy observers who just keep marking down the same daily temperatures for long periods.

The Supreme Court reins in government bullies - The Washington Post

Thank you, George Will.

In the ACA, Congress simply required health plans to provide "preventive care" for women. An executive branch agency decided this meant the full menu of 20 technologies. So, during oral argument in March, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy asked: "What kind of constitutional structure do we have if the Congress can give an agency the power to grant or not grant a religious exemption based on what the agency determined?"
The answer is: The constitutional structure we have is the kind progressives prefer, wherein more and more decisions are made by unelected and unaccountable executive-branch "experts" exercising vast discretion. In this instance, the experts were, to say no more, willing to provoke a predictable controversy that would be convenient for the Democratic Party's "war on women" trope. Today, this war consists of subsidizing only 16 of 20 birth control methods. The court has held that some "closely held" businesses — often family-owned and adhering to religious practices — have a right under RFRA to wage this war.

"Global Warming, the Movie" Starring: Freezing

This is funny!
"A funny thing happens when Hollywood tries to portray the horrific negative consequences of global warming: they tend to end up showing an Earth that has frozen over.
I noticed this the first time in 2004′s The Day After Tomorrow, where global warming supposedly leads to a global atmospheric inversion that buries New York City under a mountain of snow. It was a striking image: a global warming movie whose poster features the hand of the Statue of Liberty poking out of the top of a glacier."

"And now we see it again in Snowpiercer, a much-praised new film that tries to be a parable for both favorite leftist causes of the day: economic inequality and global warming. The premise is that a "geoengineering" experiment intended to stop global warming has gone out of control and frozen the planet, so that the last remnants of humanity for some reason constantly circle the Earth on a train where many live in squalor in the tail while the few live in luxury in the front.
Note to anyone who knows anything about science, engineering, meteorology, economics, railroads, or rational thought: please, for the sake of your own sanity, do not examine the premises of these movies too closely."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How We All Miss the Point on School Shootings

In 1998, a high school junior named Eric Harris from Colorado wanted to put on a performance, something for the world to remember him by. A little more than a year later, Eric and his best friend Dylan Klebold would place bombs all over their school — bombs large enough to collapse large chunks of the building and to kill the majority of the 2,000 students inside — and then wait outside with semi-automatic weapons to gun down any survivors before ending their own lives.
"It'll be like the LA riots, the Oklahoma bombing, WWII, Vietnam, Duke and Doom all mixed together," Eric wrote in his journal. "Maybe we will even start a little rebellion or revolution to fuck things up as much as we can. I want to leave a lasting impression on the world."
Eric was a psychopath, but he was also smart.
Despite what media outlets would later claim, Eric Harris was not the victim of bullying any more than other students, he was not a goth or a member of the "Trench Coat Mafia." Eric was a straight-A student. He read Nietzsche and Hemingway for fun. He had friends and girlfriends. He was charming and funny and had a disarming smile.
But Eric also understood people. And because he understood people, he changed everything.

There are a number of excellent point in this article, facts I did not know, and a very clear point - all the talking heads who use psychopathic killers to make their points for them miss the point of why did it.  They did it because they want to get attention, and right now the way to get attention is to kill people.  They kill people to get attention, usually in a suicide attempt, aka, they are crazy.

Monday, June 2, 2014

"But the Numbers Don't Lie"

The commonplace view of scientific method is that hypotheses ("Inequality will always rise", "Inequality causes depression", "Temperatures have just shot up", "Culling badgers cures bovine TB") can only be rejected, or falsified. Experimental data is used in an attempt to "disprove" the null version of these hypotheses (that is, their converses: "Inequality isn't rising", and so on), in a fairly antiquated and hugely flawed statistical process known as "significance testing". If a significance test is positive, people not trained in statistical reasoning – newspaper columnists, Leftists with books to sell – have a tendency to start claiming that "the science has been proven."
It hasn't (even those statisticians who continue to hawk significance testing as a valid approach to induction wouldn't make that claim), and in any case, this isn't how our reasoning about the universe works.

Competence - Not For Sale At Any Price?

The most spectacular failure in the country occurred on the watch of Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. The Massachusetts website still does not allow residents to obtain insurance as the ACA requires, and state officials will not decide until late July whether to rebuild the site or use—even though we are now less than six months away from the next round of health exchange enrollments. In other words, the health exchange train wreck continues in Massachusetts.
Governor Patrick has stonewalled attempts by his heavily Democratic legislature to obtain an accounting of where the money went, but it appears that the state that once served as a model for the Affordable Care Act has already spent over half a billion dollars. In addition, as part of his chaotic implementation of the ACA, Patrick placed as many as 200,000 applicants who requested financial assistance onto Medicaid—whether they qualified for Medicaid or not. The state is just beginning to weed out the ineligible from the eligible, and it lacks the data to come clean with the public and CMS as to how many hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent on Medicaid payments for people ineligible for Medicaid. Where was CMS and where was the inspector general?
And there's the issue of how folks who are elected to office for their ability to say anything that is needed, whatever is needed, will be able to implement the ACA ...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Examiner Editorial: Government-run health care could be the ultimate SNAFU |

But Obamacare is only in the start-up phase. The VA department has been directly providing health care to millions of veterans for decades and evidence is growing that relying on the system can literally be a fatal decision. The Washington Examiner's Mark Flatten reported May 12 that a Texas VA clinic implemented a cost-cutting measure in 2010 that required a patient to undergo three positive bloody stool screens before the government would approve a colonoscopy. Dr. Paul Krugman, who protested the policy while serving in the VA facility, told Flatten that "by the time that you do the colonoscopies on these patients, you went from a stage 1 to a stage 4 [colorectal cancer], which is basically inoperable."

A federal bureaucracy that is wasteful and ineffective - truly situation normal.

The VA’s socialist paradise?

The VA system worked for everyone but the patients — and the whistle-blowers. The daughter-in-law of a Navy vet in Phoenix who died after never getting follow-up for his "urgent" case was told, in lines that perfectly capture the spirit of socialized medicine: "It's a seven-month waiting list. And you're gonna have to have patience."
But the bureaucracy acted with alacrity when its reporting scheme was at risk. In St. Louis, the former chief of psychiatry says he was put under administrative investigation when he complained about wait lists. A whistle-blower who worked in Fort Collins, Colo., alleges that she and a colleague were transferred when they refused to hide wait times.

Don't we all know this is inevitable with federal bureaucracies?  If not - kindly remove your head from the sand.

Here's the part we should all take offense to - they will pontificate about how unacceptable this is, then they'll make some pretty little speeches, then they'll turn their attention to the next little whatever, then all the same problems will be there to be rediscovered in ten years - at which point the cycle starts over.  They know it, I know it, you know it.  Why bother with the charade.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Poppop, Uncle Henry Clay, Glen Delong, Uncles Thad and Ellery

Remembering those we've lost and who have served - the ones that I knew where men I admired, men who I aspired to be like.  Space engineers, rocket scientists, priests, aviation professionals, and business builders/owners - they came back and got it done for themselves, their families, and the folks who employed them.

Thank you!  Fair winds and following seas on your journey, warriors!  I will do my best to savor the liberty you gave me, and teach my children to savor it also.

VA Scandal - Predictable (Sigh)

Shinseki, a retired four-star Army general who has led the VA since 2009, is prepared to tell the committee about the VA's response so far to reports that at least 40 veterans died while waiting for care at the Phoenix VA Health Care system. The Phoenix facility reportedly worked to cover up patients' long wait times by creating a secret waiting list and later destroying the evidence.
"If these allegations are true, they are completely unacceptable--to Veterans, to me, and to our dedicated VHA employees," Shinseki's prepared opening statement says. If they are substantiated by the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG), the agency's independent watchdog, Shinseki says that "responsible and timely action will be taken."

Totally predictable - and still outrageous.  Of course the VA is a disaster of efficiency and truthfulness, the relationship between client and payer is broken.