“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, May 31, 2013

The increasingly embarrassing McCain was eager to immerse himself in Syria to endorse the rebels and rushed headlong into the country to give his imprimatur to the civil war, but he showed little interest in finding out who the rebels he was posing with were, or what they stood for.

Spokesman Says Incident 'Regrettable,' McCain Didn't Know

by Jason Ditz, May 30, 2013

Sen. John McCain’s Monday decision to sneak into Syria for a photo-op with rebel commanders is quickly going from publicity stunt to embarrassment, with the revelation that one of the “commanders” in question is the head of a kidnapping ring.
According to freed kidnap victims, the photo shows Abu Ibrahim, the leader of the rebel Northern Storm brigade, which has been fighting in Aleppo and whose strategy has centered around kidnapping foreigners and Shi’ites and holding them for ransom.
McCain’s spokesmen have issued statements terming the incident “regrettable,” but insisting that McCain had no way of knowing who the rebel commanders he took pictures with were, adding that none introduced themselves as Abu Ibrahim.
Which of course underscores the problem with McCain’s visit. He was eager to endorse the rebels and rushed headlong into the country to give his imprimatur to the civil war, but he showed little interest in finding out who the rebels he was posing with were, or what they stood for. That they were on the side of a war that McCain is hoping to suck the US into was simply good enough for him.


  1. A new analysis of government data compiled by Green Energy Markets finds Australia on track to not only hit 22% renewables by 2020, but reach an unprecedented 51% of all electricity by 2050.



  2. Two time Medal of Honor recipient Marine Major General Smedley Butler once said “war is a racket.” He might have added that while enriching the few it victimizes and degrades everyone else who is caught up in the meat grinder, soldiers as well as civilians.

    Consider how accounts of soldiers who are captured and subsequently turn on their own country are as old as warfare. American soldiers taken prisoner are only supposed to provide their names, ranks, and serial numbers to their captors though in practice many find themselves agreeing with their interrogators or even signing confessions to avoid abuse or obtain better conditions in their prisons. A number of American prisoners were described as having been “brainwashed” during the Korean War, the expression initially suggesting that they had been subject to psychological conditioning and indoctrination that made them question their loyalties and which subsequently produced episodes of aberrant behavior. In some cases the psychological conditioning was combined with physical torture, but in most cases not. In nearly all cases the victims later recanted the confessions they provided to their captors, were despondent over what they had done and said while under North Korean and Chinese control, and sometimes had difficulty in readjusting to life in the United States.

    Vietnam also produced its own crop of American prisoners of war, numbering perhaps as many as 2,000 when the Paris peace talks started in 1973. One of them was John McCain, now a reliably hawkish Senator from Arizona who has recently visited Syria in an attempt to jump start a new war in the Middle East. While it is well known that McCain was a captive of the North Vietnamese for more than five years after his plane was shot down while bombing a power plant, considerably less well known is his behavior while a prisoner of war in Hanoi which has long been the object of some speculation due to allegations of possible cooperation with his captors. McCain, who was saved from drowning by a Vietnamese civilian and was treated at a Hanoi hospital for his wounds, was the son of the Admiral commanding the Pacific Fleet, so he was what might be referred to as a high value captive for the North Vietnamese regime. As such he received considerable attention from his captors, was referred to by his fellow prisoners as the “Crown Prince,” and was, by some accounts, handled with kid gloves. And his connections may have ensured that he would receive additional high value treatment from the Pentagon upon his return to the U.S., he being awarded an astonishing Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his 22 missions spent bombing mostly civilian targets in North Vietnam.

    McCain’s own tale of his torture and the confession he recorded for the North Vietnamese comes largely from his book Faith of My Fathers, in which he describes his shame at cooperating with the enemy. But some of McCain’s fellow prisoners, who were tortured and did not collaborate, have challenged his narrative, expressing their belief that McCain was not physically abused at all and that he was well treated. Others who were also in the prison camp dispute that claim. But by McCain’s own account he may have begun cooperating with the North Vietnamese within three days of his capture and was fully on board within two weeks, providing specific intelligence on his aircraft carrier, its aircraft, and the support vessels attached to it, information that was later featured in North Vietnamese radio broadcasts. One account that appeared on a wire service entitled “PW Songbird is Pilot Son of Admiral” reported that McCain may have gone beyond an acceptable level of collaboration in assisting the psychological warfare offensives aimed at American servicemen: “The broadcast was beamed to American servicemen in South Vietnam as a part of a propaganda series attempting to counter charges by U.S. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird that American prisoners are being mistreated in North Vietnam.”


  3. {…}

    Douglas Valentine, in a 2008 article in Counterpunch, describes how “On one occasion, General Vo Nguyen Giap, the top Vietnamese commander and a nationalist celebrity of the time, personally interviewed McCain. His compliance during this command performance was a moment of affirmation for the Vietnamese. His Vietnamese handlers thereafter used him regularly as prop at meetings with foreign delegations.”

    It has also been claimed by retired Army Colonel Earl Hopper, admittedly without any corroborating evidence apart from what might be contained in inaccessible Pentagon files, that “McCain told his North Vietnamese captors, highly classified information, the most important of which was the package routes, which were routes used to bomb North Vietnam. He gave in detail the altitude they were flying, the direction, if they made a turn… he gave them what primary targets the United States was interested in…the information McCain provided allowed the North Vietnamese to adjust their air-defenses. As result…the US lost sixty percent more aircraft and in 1968 [and] called off the bombing of North Vietnam, because of the information McCain had given to them.”

    If McCain indeed collaborated beyond the point that might have been understandable for any prisoner seeking to ameliorate his confinement it would be an intriguing tale, particularly if it could be plausibly demonstrated that it might have influenced his subsequent behavior as a senator cheerleading for the Pentagon while simultaneously covering up some of the more disgraceful by products of Vietnam.

    Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Sydney Schanberg, who was intrigued by the Vietnam POW issue, began pursuing the McCain story in the late 1980s. Schanberg, a former senior editor at the New York Times, is best known for his coverage of the war in Vietnam and his book The Killing Fields about Cambodia, which was made into an Oscar winning movie. Schanberg was unable to find a mainstream paper or magazine interested in the story but he eventually completed a feature article on the Senator and the prisoners in Vietnam entitled “McCain and the POW Cover Up,” which first appeared on the website of The Nation Institute in September 18, 2008. The article was later replayed by The American Conservative in its July 2010 edition, together with critical commentary.


  4. {…}

    Schanberg makes two key points: first that a number of American prisoners of war were left behind in Indochina in 1973 with the connivance of top levels in the U.S. government and second that John McCain has worked assiduously to obstruct any efforts to open Pentagon files and follow up on leads to determine the status of the POWs and the “missing in action.” Admittedly, the prisoner of war issue is considerably more complicated than Schanberg represents it to be with many of the sightings and other evidence subject to challenge while his assumption that the Vietnamese were interested in exchanging their remaining prisoners for U.S. financial assistance is also somewhat speculative. But it appears undeniable based on the statements of senior U.S. government officials cited in the article and accompanying commentary that at least some prisoners were left behind with the full knowledge of and even enablement by the White House and Congress. Numerous elected and appointed officials subsequently lied to cover up their mendacity. It was a national disgrace, compounded through the fully documented case Schanberg makes for subsequent obstructionism by McCain and a number of other Senators who followed his lead, including current Secretary of State John Kerry, to impede any serious search for the missing in action and POWs.

    One might reasonably infer that McCain’s cover up of Vietnam era POW sightings could well have been driven by fear that some released prisoners might have unpleasant things to say about his activities while at Hoa Lo prison. But as the war is now long over and any remaining prisoners are surely dead, none of this would matter a great deal today realistically speaking except to the remaining POW families. But the past does shape the present and character surely does matter, particularly if one wants to become president and have the authority to send American soldiers to their deaths in support of questionable interventionist policies that might be rooted in a psychological need to fix what went wrong in Vietnam.

    Though no longer a presidential candidate, John McCain is still a powerful voice in the Senate consistently advocating policies calling for the United States to use military force around the world. He is a reliable hawk who contrary to all the evidence continues to embrace the Iraq fiasco as if it were an American triumph and who is now the most active senator agitating for direct U.S. military action against Syria and Iran. His recent visit to Syria to demonstrate support for the rebels is, in fact, a violation of the Logan Act which forbids the conduct of foreign policy by anyone outside the executive branch of government.

    More troubling perhaps, McCain has consistently and irrationally advocated an undeviating hard line against Russia, the only country with the military capability to confront and destroy much of the United States through its nuclear armed ballistic missile forces. McCain supports untouchable defense budgets, American Exceptionalism, and a proactive “defense” policy that is a holdover from the George W. Bush years. He constantly flouts his patriotism and war record, which have become essential parts of his political persona, and he might well be reasonably described as the leading advocate of militarism in the United States Senate.

    Much of McCain’s chauvinistic bluster might indeed be explained by guilt over his long ago confession to the North Vietnamese, a failing for which he might be making atonement through doubling down to demonstrate his unwavering support of the military. And there is also a darker side to him, possibly fed by guilt, evident in his frequently observed volcanic temper, which has been sometimes been directed against families of former prisoners who have raised the POW issue. It has been plausibly described as the side of a man who is not at peace with himself.



  5. {…}

    So who is the real John McCain? A credible case has been made that McCain may have crossed the line and collaborated extensively while a prisoner in North Vietnam. His subsequent actions to block any inquiry into the status of possible POWs have also been examined in some detail and quite reasonably questioned. Many journalists and former government officials have long been aware of McCain’s possible misrepresentation of his deportment in Hanoi even if the story has not exactly made the front pages. The Pentagon reportedly has recordings of McCain’s radio broadcasts, which could be released if the Senator allows the Department of Defense to do so. And there would also been an intensive intelligence debriefing after the return to the United States, an unredacted version of which has never been produced. If the recordings were truly limited to an under duress script fabricated to satisfy McCain’s tormentors, as he states in his book, they would only have reinforced the image of war hero, so it raises the question of why that was not done in 2008 or when McCain made his first run for the presidency in 2000. The president of the United States has his finger on the nuclear trigger, surely making his mental state and possible betrayal of his comrades while in military service legitimate lines of inquiry. The documents relating to McCain in the Pentagon archives would reveal one way or the other at least some of the truth about the man.

    There are a number of possible reasons for the unwillingness within the media and among the public to seek the truth about John McCain, also noted most recently in the broader reluctance to confront the legacy of the war against Iraq on the tenth anniversary of the invasion. No one likes to reopen old wounds, particularly since both Vietnam and Iraq were wars fought on lies and both are now widely viewed as major policy disasters. And in post-9/11 America, government secrecy has created a situation in which information can easily be managed to both protect and benefit those in the White House and in Congress while embedded journalists increasingly become part of the story as they integrate seamlessly with policy makers. This groupthink is largely driven by the intangible beltway consensus about the underlying American myth of “we are the good guys” that the public is inclined to support in an age when the country is falsely and deliberately perceived as drowning in a sea of terrorists and ungrateful foreigners. Confidence in America’s public institutions can be criticized but must not be seriously damaged so there is a well understood line that must not be crossed. If one were to read about a war hero Senator who turns out to be considerably less than that and who did his best to block the return of American prisoners it would undermine confidence in government and just might call into question the legitimacy of America’s wars since 1945. But it is perhaps not too late to take another look at McCain and the post-Vietnam POW issue while many veterans of that conflict are still alive. It might also help to discredit the Senate’s leading warmonger. Either way, it would be a reckoning that is long since overdue.

    1. Just imagine the Missile Defense Systems, F22's, B-2's, etc, we could have built with the $2 Trillion we pissed away on bush, and McCain's lies in Iraq.

      With the spare change we could have made ourselves entirely independent of Imported Oil.

      Now the dirty motherfuckers want to do it again.

    2. And, in all fairness, Hillary Clinton voted for that war, too.

      She, also, pushed for the clusterfuck in Libya.

      I don't believe she's nearly the slamdunk that some dems seem to think she is.

    3. It does gladden my heat to see that you have come to realize just how dangerous McCain is, was.

      The idea of John McCain, as President, well, thank the Four Winds that the public saw through the charade.

    4. gladden my heart

      Gotta get some coffee.

  6. Data acquired during the 2013 deployments off Castine, Maine, will be used to optimize the design of UMaine’s patent-pending VolturnUS floating wind turbine system. The program goal is to reduce the cost of offshore wind to 10 cents/kWh by 2020, in order to compete with other forms of electricity generation without subsidies. This launch celebrates an important milestone in the development of a cost-effective, job-creating, innovative U.S. offshore wind technology.

    And here’s a bit more information from a separate . . . . . .


    156 Gigawatts of Offshore Wind Potential

  7. The syrian rebels/terrorists are no different in quality than the Palestinian Liberation Army.

    Kerry just offered them 4 billion on top of the massive aid we have already given them over the last 20 years since oslo and they still name squares after suicide bombers.

    Want to solve the middle east problem? Make arab/islamic oil meaningless, develop our own energy.

  8. ANd let's remember

    The 2006 Hezbollah cross-border raid was a cross-border attack carried out by Lebanon-based Hezbollah militants on an Israeli military patrol on 12 July 2006 on Israeli territory.
    Using rockets fired on several Israeli towns as a diversion; Hezbollah militants crossed from Lebanon into Israel[1] and ambushed two Israeli Army vehicles, killing five soldiers and abducting two of the soldiers. Another four soldiers were killed in a failed rescue attempt. Hezbollah demanded the release of Lebanese prisoners held by Israel in exchange for the release of the abducted soldiers. Israel refused and launched a large-scale military campaign across Lebanon in response to the Hezbollah incursion. This marked the start of the 2006 Lebanon War. Two years later, on 16 July 2008, the bodies of the two abducted soldiers were returned to Israel by Hezbollah in exchange for Samir Kuntar and four Hezbollah prisoners.

  9. The Lebanon hostage crisis refers to the systematic kidnapping in Lebanon of 96 foreign hostages of 21 national origins—mostly American and western European—between 1982 and 1992. At least eight hostages died in captivity; some were murdered, while others died from lack of adequate medical attention to illnesses.[1]
    Those taking responsibility for the kidnapping used different names, but the testimony of former hostages indicates almost all the "groups" were actually one group of "a dozen men" coming from various clans within the Hezbollah organization

  10. March 16, 1984: Hezbollah Takes the CIA’s William Buckley Hostage in Beirut

  11. BUENOS AIRES — The special prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center here that killed 85 people released a report on Wednesday claiming that Iran had set up intelligence stations in different parts of Latin America with the aim of carrying out terrorist attacks directly or through Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militant group.

    Prosecutor in Argentina Sees Iranian Plot in Latin America
    Published: May 29, 2013

  12. Aside from al Qaeda, no terrorist group has killed more Americans than Hezbollah, which is bankrolled by Iran to the tune of at least $100 million a year. Hezbollah’s main theaters of operation are Lebanon, its home country (where it killed hundreds of Americans during the 1980s), and the West Bank and Gaza, where it helps Palestinian rejectionists target Israel. But the group is active in the United States as well. Hezbollah is believed to have cells in at least 10 U.S. cities.
    Although the organization has yet to launch an attack on U.S. soil, its U.S. activities are far from benign. Its work in this country has two major purposes: One is to raise money and smuggle arms to Hezbollah fighters, often by criminal activities ranging from credit-card fraud to cigarette smuggling; and the other is to conduct surveillance behind enemy lines, with a possible eye toward launching attacks on U.S. targets in the event of an armed conflict between the United States and Tehran. Like his backers in Iran, Hezbollah boss Hassan Nasrallah routinely denounces the United States and Israel as his organization’s main enemies. Given the events of September 11, and given Hezbollah’s own record of kidnapping, torturing and killing Americans when it has had the opportunity, we ignore the group’s operations in this country at our peril.
    Outside of metropolitan Detroit, last month’s arrest of Nemr Ali Rahal, a 41-year-old businessman, at his Dearborn home on charges of smuggling funds to Hezbollah, went largely unreported by the news media around the United States. But the story deserves our attention. In Mr. Rahal’s house, agents found a videotape of a Hezbollah rally he attended in Lebanon three years ago. The FBI said it found $600 worth of change in buckets in the Rahal home, and that he said the money was meant to go to “orphans” — the children of suicide bombers. Mr. Rahal has been charged with stealing more than $400,000 by means of credit-card fraud. When Mr. Rahal returned Feb. 9 from a trip to Canada, Customs agents found traces of explosives on his passport.
    In March, Mahmoud Kourani of Dearborn pleaded guilty to providing material support for Hezbollah. He will be sentenced next month. Kourani ( whose brother is Hezbollah’s chief of military security in southern Lebanon) is an illegal alien who sneaked into the United States from Mexico in February 2001. Federal authorities have repeatedly arrested suspected Hezbollah operatives for attempting to smuggle night-vision goggles and other military equipment to the organization. One suspect, arrested in 1998, skipped bail and fled to Lebanon before returning to the United States last year to face federal charges. In 2003, a federal court convicted a Hezbollah cell based in Charlotte, N.C., on charges of aiding Hezbollah by operating a cigarette-smuggling ring. The leader of that group, Mohammed Hammoud, received 155 years in prison.

    Read more:

  13. You should be who you want to be, quot.

    But your attention to detail, well, it is rather "sloppy".
    "O"riginal would never be so messy.

    His wife ran a neat emporium.

    1. General Bunk says:

      His wife ran a neat emporium.

      What the fuck are you talking about?

    2. The chocolate store, quot.

      She kept it real neat, clean.

      She would never have allowed " to stand as a quot.

      She kept things real clean, neat.
      You are a slob, a quot.

    3. The"O"riginal would tell us of his arsenal, the varied weapons he embraced, the multiple calibers he collected, to trade as an arms merchant, after society collapses because of the EMP attack he knew was coming.

      quot never mentions the personal firearms he's collected.
      Guess students in Tel Aviv don't collect guns.

    4. The "Story" bio, this quot forgot to read it, or he'd have known that the wife of "o" was part of the Story.

    5. quot would have known of the chocolate store, if he'd have read the Story of "O".

    6. General Bunk is like a spider on drugs, weaving a web of incoherence -

    7. amazing..

      web of insanity.

      General Bunk, obsessed, deranged and out and out crazzzzy.

    8. Please fill us in General Bunk,

      I guess you have specific information you care to share?

      "desert ratFri May 31, 08:57:00 AM EDT
      The "Story" bio, this quot forgot to read it, or he'd have known that the wife of "o" was part of the Story."

      Really back to invention?

    9. desert ratFri May 31, 08:52:00 AM EDT
      The"O"riginal would tell us of his arsenal, the varied weapons he embraced, the multiple calibers he collected, to trade as an arms merchant, after society collapses because of the EMP attack he knew was coming.

      quot never mentions the personal firearms he's collected.
      Guess students in Tel Aviv don't collect guns.

      I moved on, I now own arms factories dont ya know...

    10. General Bunk says: Guess students in Tel Aviv don't collect guns.


      Where do you get this stuff from???

      It's getting funnier by the hour...

      YOu say: Hitler was a Jew, Israel is a city, I am an Israeli, that you have specific quotes of mine that you refuse to post and now you say I own a chocolate store and my wife keeps it clean AND I am a student in Tel Aviv, and that there are two of me...

      And I thought my life was boring...

    11. :)

      Most interesting life. I have recommended to Hamdoon that you be recruited for our team.

      Chocolate store is a good front, dutiful wife as an accesory agent, student in Tel Aviv on the weekends off from the chocolate store in Ohio, two of you.....kind of feller we need.

      My computer screen went dark. If my wife finds me using her computer I'm finished.

    12. commute is a bitch. but the collection of mini pretzels is excellent

  14. The US is at war with radical terrorist that have attacked US.
    These folks were identified as Wahhabi radicals, commonly referred to as al-Quieda.

    Elements of this al-Quieda group are fighting the Syrian government and Hezbollah.
    The US is not at war with Hezbollah, Lebanon, Syria, or Iran.

    It is at war with al-Quieda.

    We should be standing down in Syria, or arming Assad.
    McCain should go back to his compound in Sedona.

    1. McCain is a tool of the oil companies. He doesn't care what side we're on, as long as we're over there fighting.

    2. desert ratFri May 31, 08:42:00 AM EDT
      The US is not at war with Hezbollah, Lebanon, Syria, or Iran.

      Tell that to the DEAD USA Marines, tell that to the family of William Buckley.

      Oh that's right, YOU LIKE Hezbollah...

  15. Nicole Lynn Mansfield, 33, a single mother from Flint was killed while fighting alongside anti-government rebels her family says. Her family says she left for Syria without telling them and without giving a reason why.
    By Nina Golgowski / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

    A 33-year-old Michigan woman was killed while fighting alongside anti-government rebels in Syria.

    The family of Nicole Lynn Mansfield, a single mother from Flint, said FBI agents visited them on Thursday and informed them of her shocking death.

    “I’m sick over it,” Monica Speelman, the woman’s 53-year-old aunt, told the Detroit Free Press.

    Her family said Mansfield, who has an 18-year-old daughter and converted to Islam in recent years, left for Syria without telling them and without giving a reason why.

    Read more:

    A hyphenated American that followed her heart.
    Left the US for the land that had captured her fancy.

    Voted with her feet, she did.
    Paid the ticket in full.

    But at least she had the courage of her convictions.

  16. Rate Shock: In California, Obamacare To Increase Individual Health Insurance Premiums By 64-146%
    Avik Roy Avik Roy, Contributor
    299 comments, 271 called-out
    Comment Now
    Follow Comments

    Angela Braly, then-CEO of WellPoint, testified before Congress about allegations that its California unit, Anthem Blue Cross, was raising premiums on some customers by more than 30 percent. Last week, California announced that the Affordable Care Act would increase non-group insurance premiums by as much as 146 percent. (Image courtesy U.S. House of Representatives)

    One of the most serious flaws with Obamacare is that its blizzard of regulations and mandates drives up the cost of insurance for people who buy it on their own. This problem will be especially acute when the law’s main provisions kick in on January 1, 2014, leading many to worry about health insurance “rate shock.”

    Last week, the state of California claimed that its version of Obamacare’s health insurance exchange would actually reduce premiums. “These rates are way below the worst-case gloom-and-doom scenarios we have heard,” boasted Peter Lee, executive director of the California exchange.

    Aetna CEO Bertolini: Get Ready for 'Rate Shock' as Some Health Insurance Premiums to Double in 2014 Avik Roy Avik Roy Contributor
    Insurance Analysts: Obamacare to Increase Out-of-Pocket Premium Costs, Despite Lavish Subsidies Avik Roy Avik Roy Contributor
    CMS on Obamacare's Health Insurance Exchanges: 'Let's Just Make Sure It's Not a Third-World Experience' Avik Roy Avik Roy Contributor
    How Obamacare Dramatically Increases The Cost of Insurance for Young Workers Avik Roy Avik Roy Contributor

    But the data that Lee released tells a different story: Obamacare, in fact, will increase individual-market premiums in California by as much as 146 percent.

  17. Guess what - Anthem Blue Cross has asked the State of California to Refile, with Lower Premiums.

    Rates are coming in way lower than expected in Ca (I posted this a couple of days ago,) and it appears that rates are going to come in lower, while coverage will be more extensive.

    A few young males may see their premiums go up, but most of those will be subsidized.

  18. .

    We have Paul Krugman's take on California healthcare rates as presented here a couple dates ago, and then we have this.

    When it Comes to Healthcare Issues Paul Krugman is Wrong 100% of the Time

    Who are you going to believe on Obamacare?

    Forbes or Krugman?


    1. I get all my info from the Huffington Post and MoveOn. org my6self.

      Then I put it in a reverse mirror and I've got a perfect image of the truth.

    2. Yeah, and during the election you were getting your information from PlumbdumbPolling.

      Basically, you're just a moron.

    3. Krugman won a Nobel Prize; Forbes just inherited a magazine.

    4. You yourself said you thought Romney was going to win.

      The IRS stole the election, we all know that now!

    5. Moron yourself.

      (never let an insult pass Go for free)

    6. I thought it was going to be close. I was afraid Romney might squeak out a win. Plumdumbpolling, and Fox, were predicting Romney landslides.

    7. Ethanol breath.

    8. Hadn't factored in the effect of the IRS voter suppression, and the amount of residual anti-Mormon feeling among the 'less thoughtful' Christian masses.

      Plumbdumbpolling had to file a Chapter 11 because of it.

    9. arafat and obama BOTH got nobel prizes

      so what?

    10. .

      Krugman - No Contest.

      Krugman won a Nobel Prize...

      And Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize. That and $7.50 will get you a latte at Starbucks.



    11. .

      Sorry, WiO. Didn't see your post.

      I was in the middle of pulling together a much longer post refuting the Krugman California the Model meme and then thought why bother so just cut it out except for the first sentence.


    12. >>I was in the middle of pulling together a much longer post refuting the Krugman California the Model meme and then thought why bother so just cut it out except for the first sentence.<<

      Form this into a unbreakable habit, Q.


  19. I think this whole issue about iran and syria and should we be arming the rebels is off target...

    We should be arming the lebanese that hate hezbollah.

    AND Israel should take out Hezbollah's assets in southern lebanon NOW.

    After all 6 thousand hezbollah fighters are in Syria. NOW is the time to take out their bases, rockets and infrastructure and give weapons to those that are fighting against them

  20. Good idea.

    Arming somebody that actually might someday do us some good makes sense to me.

  21. There are two statues in a park; one of a nude man and one of a nude woman. They had been facing each other across a pathway for a hundred years, when one day an angel comes down from the sky and, with a single gesture, brings the two to life.

    The angel tells them, 'As a reward for being so patient through a hundred blazing summers and dismal winters, you have been given life for thirty minutes to do what you've wished to do the most.'

    He looks at her, she looks at him, and they go running behind the shrubbery.

    The angel waits patiently as the bushes rustle and giggling ensues. After fifteen minutes, the two return, out of breath and laughing.

    The angel tells them, 'Um, you have fifteen minutes left, would you care to do it again?'

    He asks her 'Shall we?'

    She eagerly replies, 'Oh, yes, let's! But let's change positions.

    This time, I 'll hold the pigeon down and you sh!t on its head.'

  22. Approximately 200 dead crows were recently found near Northam on the Great Eastern Highway in West Australia and there was concern that they may have died from avian flu.
    A bird pathologist examined the remains of all the crows, and confirmed the problem was definitely NOT avian flu (to everyone's relief).
    However, he determined that 98% of the crows had been killed by impact with trucks, and only 2% were killed by an impact with cars.
    The State Government then hired an ornithological behaviorist to determine the disproportionate percentages for truck versus car kills.
    The ornithological behaviorist determined the cause and the conclusion in short order was: When crows eat road kill, they always set up a lookout crow in a nearby tree to warn of impending danger.

    His conclusion was that the lookout crow could say "Cah", but could not say "Truck."

  23. Which Syrian neighbor has the most to lose?

    Which of Syria's neighbors has most to lose in the fight?

    Lebanon, which lived under Syrian occupation for 30 years and has battled its own bloody sectarian wars, is now in the crosshairs of a spiraling regional conflict.

    It's all part of Barky's Arab Spring.

    Dead people all over the landscape....

  24. >>>Unemployed man stabs wife to death because he felt their life on benefits was meaningless...

    Nothing to do other than watch television... Drudge<<<

    "Well, guess I'll stab the wife to death for something to do."


    "The headlines in the daily newspapers are the record of spirit trying to overcome itself and failing."

    Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

  25. "Canada is now the leader of the Free World."

    Robert Spencer from JihadWatch on why we should NOT arm the Syrian rebels.

    8 minute video

  26. Why the Keystone pipeline should be stopped in its tracks --

    Brought to you courtesy of Arizona Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva.

  27. >>>Like Watergate, Benghazi has several layers. But the most revealing one is the active collusion between this administration and Al Qaida.....

    In Benghazi we ran arms from Libya to Al Qaida rebels in Syria. The Saudis are funding that rebellion.

    There's that Saudi link again.....

    In Egypt we backed the Muslim Brotherhood against Hosni Mubarak, who kept the peace treaty with Israel for 30 years. Thirty years of peace in the Middle East is a huge achievement.....

    Today Egypt is starving, and the people hate the new regime.....

    The Saudis are naturally on the side of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood because they share the Sunni war theology.....

    So the Saudis have won again, with Obama acting as their American errand boy.....

    In Libya, we again made common cause with Sunni radicals against Muammar Gadaffi, a real nutcase, but a man who was able to run Libya's tribal federation for years. Gadaffi had turned over his nuclear program to the George W. Bush Administration. We still betrayed him to support his enemies, and Libya is in a civil war even now.....

    Again, the Muslim radicals won.....

    The bottom line is that Obama has consistently supported the most radical Muslim elements in the Middle East.....

    But we never supported the young people of the democratic Green Revolution against the vicious mullah regime in Iran. When Obama first met Benyamin Netanyahu he acted like an abusive bully.

    Obama only bows down to Third World reactionaries.....<<<

    June 1, 2013
    Dangerous Times: Benghazi Revealed Collusion with Al Qaida
    By James Lewis

    The trouble with American Thinker is it makes too much sense.

  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  30. Jihad Watch

    Pakistan: Council of Islamic Ideology rules DNA tests not acceptable as primary evidence in rape cases

    "Why did they not produce for it four witnesses? And when they do not produce the witnesses, then it is they, in the sight of Allah , who are the liars." -- Qur'an 24:13

    The Council of Islamic Ideology rejects DNA testing as primary evidence because it isn't mentioned in the Qur'an. The Qur'an mandates that four witnesses are required to establish sexual crimes -- zina -- and that's that. Women are victimized by this ridiculous and impossible rule? Who cares? It's the will of Allah.


  31. A circus owner runs an ad for a lion ta me r and two people show up.

    One is a good looking older retired golfer in his late sixties and the other
    is a gorgeous blonde in her mid-twenties.

    The circus owner tells them, "I'm not going to sugar coat it. This
    is one ferocious lion. He ate my last ta me r so you two had better be good
    or you're history, here is your equip me nt -- chair, whip and a gun. Who
    wants to try out first?"

    The girl says, "I'll go first."

    She walks past the chair, the whip and the gun and steps right into
    the lion's cage. The lion starts to snarl and pant and begins to charge
    her. About half way there, she throws open her coat revealing her beautiful
    naked body.

    The lion stops dead in his tracks, sheepishly crawls up to her and
    starts licking her feet and ankles. He continues to lick and kiss her
    entire body for several minutes and then rests his head at her feet.

    The circus owner's jaw is on the floor.

    He says, "I've never seen a display like that in my life." He then
    turns to the retired golfer and asks, "Can you top that?"

    The tough old golfer replies, "No problem, just get that lion out of
    the way".

  32. A wife being the romantic sort, sent her husband a text...

    "If you are sleeping, send me your dreams. If you are laughing, send
    me your smile. If you are eating, send me a bite. If you are drinking,
    send me a sip. If you are crying, send me your tears. I love you."

    He texted back... "I am on the John. What should I do?"

  33. Hardeharhar:)

    Quirk don't miss Top Hooker on Animal Planet tonight.

    1. Another show from Las Vegas that has sparked your interest, boobie?

  34. If you go

    U.S. Natural Gas Production

    you will see that U.S. gas production is, essentially, flat for the last 16 months (actually, down slightly from Jan. 2012.)

    And, although it doesn't show it on this graph, we still import about six or seven percent of our nat gas from Canada. Now, you tell me why we should be exporting this vital resource.

    1. Profits on the spread.
      The nat gas is not National asset, it is privately owned.
      Looking for more subsidies, from the Federals

      Profits are sovereign.
      Risks are for the little people, like taxes.

    2. Actually, we Have always treated nat gas as a National Asset. That's why you have to get permission to export it. (and, a lot of nat gas, such as that from the Gulf of Mexico, does come from Federal leases.)

      One or two companies will make a fortune, but the entire rest of the country will get hammered - think: home heating bills doubling, or even, tripling.

  35. Goods news from Lebanon!
    Reagan evacuated the US Marines, no US troops or interests in the impact area.

    More than a dozen rockets and mortar rounds fired from Syria struck eastern Lebanon Saturday, security officials said, as tensions rise in the two countries' borderlands where Hezbollah militants are playing a bigger role in Syria's civil war.

    The Lebanese security officials said the Baalbek region was struck 16 times, igniting fires in fields but causing no casualties. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

    Syrian rebels have fired dozens of rockets on Lebanon's northeastern region of Hermel over the past weeks but Saturday's attack was the first on Baalbek, a stronghold of Hezbollah.

    The Wahhabi start shooting at civilians, when their shit starts goin' south.

    Just look at all the bottle rockets they launch from Gaza.
    More of a 'feel good' gesture, for the shooter, than a militarily significant event.

    Just not a lot of bang for the buck.

  36. "igniting fires in fields . . . "

    That'll get her done. :)

  37. The Wahhabi attack the state of Syria, attempting to displace the sovereign government and wipe the Alawi from the map.
    Now these same Wahhabi terrorists are attacking Lebanon.

    Wahhabi terrorists with ties to al-Quieda, whom the US is supplying with night vision equipment and state of yesterday's art commo gear.

    The US supporting the terrorists in Syria and now, the destabilization of Lebanon.

    1. Israel supports of the Wahhabi terrorists with air strikes against the Syrian government, while their public shill tell us that the Christian population of Syria are NAZI, not worthy of humanitarian assistance.

      Why has the US and its proxies sided with al-Quieda?

    2. As a teenager, I sometimes looked long, and hard for trouble to get into; but This takes the cake.

    3. Why does John McCain support al-Quieda?
      Why does he pose, smiling, with their operatives?

      And most of you fellas wanted him to be President.

  38. .

    Let us also overlook the excellent treatment received from the IRS by members of the president's family. Although acting commissioner Steven Miller apologized for the "horrible customer service" conservative taxpayers had gotten, a gentleman by the name of Malik Obama received impeccable, express service when he took the precaution of mailing in his nonprofit application from N'giya, Kenya, rather than notoriously slower mail processing centers such as Phoenix and Dallas. Malik, the brother of President Obama, runs the Barack H. Obama Foundation, named for the president's father. On May 30, 2011, they applied for tax-exempt status, and had their approval signed less than a month later by Lois Lerner herself, and conveniently backdated by Lois to cover the two-and-a-half years the enterprising Malik had already been raking in "tax-deductible" donations from Americans.

    The Washington address of the Barack H. Obama Foundation appears to be bogus, and it's not clear whether the funds are being used back in Kenya for anything other than supporting the famously lavish lifestyle of Malik and his 12 wives. Given that the IRS is not shy about asking American conservatives for Facebook posts and lists of who attends their meetings, Ms. Lerner surely would have been within her rights to ask Malik Obama about the "exclusive" photographs currently displayed on the Barack H. Obama Foundation website of a recent meeting in Sudan, one of only four countries the U.S. government designates as a "terrorist state," and the foundation's apparently extensive association with the Sudanese president and blood-soaked genocidal war criminal Omar al-Bashir. Given that the IRS likes to ask conservative taxpayers whether their friends and relatives are planning on running for office, Ms. Lerner might like to ask Malik Obama when his friend President Bashir is planning on leaving office. After another quarter-million corpses?


    1. .

      There seems to be ever more evidence for that. Every day brings revelations that the IRS conservative crackdown went way beyond the Tea Party. McClatchy Newspapers reports that a woman known only as "Ms. Richards" in the Cincinnati office of the IRS told Coalition For Life of Iowa that their application for nonprofit status could be approved only if they signed a letter promising not to picket in front of Planned Parenthood...


    2. There you go, more evidence that corporations should not be allowed tax exempt status.

      No person or corporation should be able to operate tax free.
      No donations, to corporations that advocate political action, should be tax deductible to the donor.

    3. If corporations are attempting to abuse the tax code, forming 'Social Welfare" corporations that are just false flags for political activity, the Congress should eliminate that opportunity for fraud.

    4. The IRS has abused the Tax Code, both should be reformed.

    5. Here you go Quirk.

      >>should not be allowed

      should not be allowed

      should not be tax deductible

      Congress should

      should be reformed<<

      Just listen to General Bunk, he knows what should be dictated. Bunk knows what is best for everyone.

      By the way, Top Hooker is on tonight. Animal Planet.

      You've mentioned Animal Planet. Never watched it myself but was intrigued by the name Top Hooker. Thought you might like it.

    6. .

      If corporations are attempting to abuse the tax code, forming 'Social Welfare" corporations that are just false flags for political activity, the Congress should eliminate that opportunity for fraud.

      I happen to agree.

      What are your views on the current administration's flunkies at the IRS 'abusing the tax code' in targeting conservative groups?


    7. .

      Likewise, do you call an organization like True the Vote that "seeks to ensure the integrity of elections by, among other things, working to clear voting rolls of people who have died."

      Do you call that abusing the tax code?


    8. If there have been illegal activities at the IRS, the miscreants should be prosecuted.
      If the activities were not illegal, the law should be reformed.
      If there are prosecutions, the law should be reformed
      If there are not prosecutions, the law should be reformed.

      The Tax Code is our own worse economic enemy
      We have met the enemy, he is us.

      I do not think, based upon the snippet, that True the Vote would classify as a Social Welfare corporation.
      The Secretary of State, in AZ, is tasked with maintaining the voters roles. I would think that each State has a comparable administrator.
      If there is a failure, at the State level, I do not think that the Federal taxpayers in well administrated States should be subsidizing private corporations ferreting out incompetency in others.

      The ferrets don't need Federal subsidies, to do the digging.

    9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    10. .

      The Tax Code is our own worse economic enemy

      True enough. But to expect it to change is probably naive.

      If there is a failure, at the State level, I do not think that the Federal taxpayers in well administrated States should be subsidizing private corporations ferreting out incompetency in others.

      Well this gets to the definition of a 'well administered state' but also, and more importantly, to the philosophical question of who should be subsidized by the government. Whenever you are talking about the allocation of power (as in elections) or the allocation of resources (as in subsidies, mandates, etc.) you are dealing with political decisions and there will always be disputes depending on whose ox is being gored.

      You say these organizations should not be subsidized, others would disagree. You would say there should be subsidies and mandates for renewable energy, others would disagree.

      There was talk that some in Texas were getting 'free energy' from wind power at certain times of the day but the idea ignorses the concepts of marginal revenue, maximization of profits, and the PTC. In effect, some are getting free power and the rest of America is paying for it.

      There are currently too many vested interests in the tax code to see many major changes. You have an opinion on what is appropriate. I have an opinion on what is appropriate. Add them together and they amount to zip, 0 + 0 = 0.

      Therefore, all we can go by is your first four lines, for in the IRS case, there is the possibility of at least assuring that the law is applied evenly by the IRS.


    11. Any reform, Q, would have to go through the legislative process, which one would hope could provide a better starting point for both fairness and economic growth, then where the US stands today.

      Is it naive to hope for better things to come, nah.

      I do think it naive to believe there will be wholesale reform of the system.

      I would gladly trade ethanol mandates and subsidies for a Tax Code that did not encourage off shore investments, allowing to never bringing the profits 'home'. Amongst 'other' things.

  39. Spiders weave on drugs -

  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

  41. Holy Mackerel! Filed under: Things I never even suspected:

    3) We also see how Franklin Roosevelt explicitly ignored the South’s racial problems in order to keep southern Democrats voting for the New Deal. A key moment came in 1934, after Colorado’s Edward Costigan and New York’s Robert Wagner (both Democrats) introduced an anti-lynching bill in response to a renewed wave of lynchings in the South.

    FDR refused to support it: “If I come out for the anti-lynching bill, [the southerners] will block every bill I ask Congress to pass to keep America from collapsing,” he told his advisers. “I just can’t take that risk.” In the end, the bill died.


  42. We've certainly come a long way since then. Now Zimmerman is on trial for defending himself when his brains were being beaten out on the sidewalk by Barky's son, if Barky had a son.

    1. And, that's exactly the type of response that would have come out of Mississippi in 1934.

    2. We, obviously, haven't come very far at all.

    3. Didn't this occur in Florida? Isn't it Florida the state with the stand your ground law?

      Zim was defending himself from his back on the only ground he had left, the concrete of the sidewalk, into which the back of his head was being slammed by a punk.

      The Police didn't charge him.

      Barky must have called the prosecutor. Hey, that's my son dead there.

      Case shouldn't even be in court.

    4. It is an absurd case, Rufus. Even you ought to be able to see that.

      Zimmerman >>called the police<< about the guy.

      He wasn't out there hunting blacks.

    5. Zimmerman was a tutor or Big Brother to some black kid, I have read. He wasn't a racist. Trayvon had drugs in his system. His mother had kicked him out. His father couldn't deal with him. The school district couldn't deal with him.

      It is an absurd case.

    6. Bob, you don't know a bit more about that case than I do; but you do know as much. Therefore, you know that the cop (911 Dispatcher) told Zimmerman NOT TO Follow that boy.

      Zimmerman DID Follow the boy, and ended up Shooting him. How in the hell could the prosecutor NOT Prosecute?

      It's the Jury's job to divine guilt, not yours, mine, or the cops'.

    7. Zimmerman, from the published accounts, pursued Martin.
      Martin stood his ground.

      Zimmerman shot him.

      Those reports could be wrong.

      Twelve citizens will decide.

    8. I hardly ever (okay, Never) recommend reading the comments on any blog (the exception being, "The Oil Drum - and, of course "The Elephant Bar/Libertarian.") :)

      However, the comments on the Wonkblog article, I posted, are very good, and in some cases, informative, from a historical standpoint.

    9. The race of the victim, that of the shooter, irrelevant to the law, to justice.

      Did Zimmerman pursue Martin?
      If he did ...

      The Zimmerman was not 'standing his ground'.
      He was the aggressor.

      His motive for the aggression, only matters in mitigation, not in guilt or innocence.

      If Zimmerman pursued Martin, then it was Martin that was 'standing his ground', if or when he then punched Zimmerman.

      Twelve citizens will decide.

      That's how it goes, in the United States.

      Martin's past, will most likely not be considered germane to the case.
      A state of Florida judge will decide, that.

  43. Now, be sure to mark the date, Q.

    This may be the start of the Turkish civil war.

    How will we classify it, if it is, as caused by internal or external circumstance?

    (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called for an immediate end on Saturday to the fiercest anti-government demonstrations for years, as thousands of protesters clashed with riot police in Istanbul and Ankara for a second day.

    The unrest was triggered by government plans for a replica Ottoman-era barracks housing shops or apartments in Istanbul's Taksim Square, long a venue for political protest, but has widened into a broader show of defiance against Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

    Police fired teargas and water cannon down a major shopping street as crowds of protesters chanting "unite against fascism" and "government resign" marched towards Taksim, where hundreds were injured in clashes on Friday.

    1. "Unite Against Fascism"

      I kinda like the sound of that.

    2. Goes well with with ...

      "Unite Against Lebensraum"

    3. I had to look it up. :)


      [ láybənz ròwm ]

      1.additional territory claimed by Nazis: additional land in Eastern Europe that the Nazi government claimed was necessary for the continued political and economic development of Germany for growth: adequate room for life or development

    4. Sounds a little "familiar," doesn't it? :)

    5. More than a little, rufus.

      It is exactly what the 1948 UN Treaties were designed to prevent.
      Fascists that ignore international convention, they are still on the march.

    6. .

      Looks pretty local at this point, rat.


    7. Just so we are all on the same page, this outbreak in Turkey, we are not putting it on US policies or Obama's complexion, his hair cut or choice of suit?

      Not happening because of Turkey inserting itself in Syrian affairs, aiding the Wahhabi terrorists, outside of Turkey?

  44. Imagine you went to Best Buy and found a great deal on a plasma television set. I want to be clear here: You didn’t find a great television set. This television set is actually a bit crummy. The picture is fuzzy. Consumer Reports says it breaks down a lot and it’s expensive to fix. But it’s really cheap. The price tag reads $109.

    When you take it to the counter, the saleswoman tells you that the set will actually cost you $199. And count yourself lucky, she confides in a conspiratorial whisper. There are customers whom Best Buy won’t sell it to at any price. You ask her which customers those are. The ones who need the TV most, she replies.

    So here’s the question: Does that television really cost $109?

    Best Buy, of course, would never do this to you. If they say you can buy a television set for $109, you can buy it for $109. Plus, they’re handsome, and their customer service is great, and I hope they advertise in The Washington Post forevermore, amen.

    But this is actually how the individual health-insurance market works. And understanding why is crucial to understanding a lot of what you’re going to read about health reform in the next year.

    Last week, California released early information on the rates insurers intend to charge on the new insurance marketplaces — known as “exchanges” — that the state is setting up under Obamacare. They were far lower than anyone expected. Where analysts had anticipated average premiums of $400 to $500, insurers were actually charging $200 to $300. “This is a home run for consumers in every region of California,” crowed Peter Lee, director of the state’s exchanges.

    1. The Affordable Care Act’s critics saw it differently. Avik Roy, a conservative health writer at Forbes, said Lee was being “misleading” and that “Obamacare, in fact, will increase individual-market premiums in California by as much as 146 percent.” Obamacare, he said, would trigger “rate shock,” the jolt people feel when they see higher rates. That doesn’t sound like a home run at all.

      Who’s right? In typical columnist fashion, I’m not going to tell you just yet. But stick with me, and you’ll be able to parse the next year of confused and confusing Obamacare arguments with ease.

      Here’s the first thing to know: We’re talking about a small fraction of the American health-care system. This isn’t about people on Medicare or Medicaid or employer-based insurance. It’s about people joining Obamacare’s insurance exchanges. That’s people who buy insurance on their own now, as well as some of the uninsured. In 2014, 7 million people, or 2.5 percent of the population, is expected to buy insurance through the exchanges. By 2023, that will rise to 24 million people, or 8 percent.

      So we’re talking about a small portion of the market. Worse, we’re talking about that small portion of the market all wrong.

      Roy got his 146 percent by heading to, running a search for insurance plans in California and comparing the cost of the cheapest plans to the cost of the plans being offered in the exchanges. That’s not just comparing apples to oranges. It’s comparing apples to oranges that the fruit guy may not even let you buy.

    2. I ran the same search Roy did. I looked for insurance in Irvine, Calif. — my home town. The average monthly premiums of the five cheapest plans is $114. So I took the middle plan, HealthNet’s IFP PPO Value 4500. It’s got a $4,500 deductible, a $2,500 deductible for brand-name medications, huge co-pays and a little “bestseller” icon next to it. And it’s only $109 a month — if they’ll sell it to you for that price.

      That’s the catch, and it’s a big one. Click to buy the plan and eventually you’ll have to answer pages and pages of questions about your health history. Ever had cancer? How about an ulcer? How about a headache? Do you feel sad when it rains? When it doesn’t rain? Is there a history of cardiovascular disease in your family? Have you ever known anyone who had the flu? The actual cost of the plan will depend on how you answer those questions.

      According to, 14 percent of people who try to buy that plan are turned away outright. Another 12 percent are told they’ll have to pay more than $109. So a quarter of the people who try to buy this insurance product for $109 a month are told they can’t. Those are the people who need insurance most — they are sick, or were sick, or are likely to get sick. So, again, is $109 really the price of this plan?

    3. Comparing the pre-underwriting price of this plan to those in Obamacare’s exchanges is ridiculous. The plans in Obamacare’s exchanges have to include those people. They can’t turn anyone away or jack up rates because of a history of arthritis or heart disease.

      They also have to offer insurance that meets a certain minimum standard. Under Obamacare, for instance, the out-of-pocket limit for someone making 100 to 200 percent of the poverty line is $1,983. Under the Value 4500, you could spend up to $9,500 before the out-of-pocket limit kicked in. Obamacare also has subsidies for people making up to four times the poverty line. The poor pay next to nothing. The rich pay full freight.

      “We as a society have never really said here’s what reasonable insurance is,” says Larry Levitt, director of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “It’s just been anything goes. For the first time they’re setting a minimum about what reasonable insurance should be.” They’re also setting a minimum about who should be able to get it, and at what cost. Now it really will work like Best Buy, where the price on the tag is the price everyone actually pays.

      Some people will find the new rules make insurance more expensive. That’s in part because their health insurance was made cheap by turning away sick people. The new rules also won’t allow for as much discrimination based on age or gender. The flip side of that, of course, is that many will suddenly find their health insurance is much cheaper, or they will find that, for the first time, they’re not turned away when they try to buy health insurance.

      That’s why the law is expected to insure almost 25 million people in the first decade: It makes health insurance affordable and accessible to millions who couldn’t get it before. To judge it from a baseline that leaves them out — a baseline that asks only

      The Rest of the Story

    4. Plagiarism, thy name is Rufus. :)

    5. .

      Obamacare California

      From John Goodman at Forbes

      In Monday’s New York Times column Krugman pronounced ObamaCare a success before it has even been tried. Why? Because the premiums to be charged in California health insurance exchange are apparently lower than what the experts thought they would be:

      “Well, the California bids are in — that is, insurers have submitted the prices at which they are willing to offer coverage on the state’s newly created ObamaCare exchange. And the prices, it turns out, are surprisingly low. A handful of healthy people may find themselves paying more for coverage, but it looks as if ObamaCare’s first year in California is going to be an overwhelmingly positive experience.

      I did a quick check and discovered that if a 25-year-old in Los Angeles chooses the least expensive plan offered on the California health instance exchange, the premium will be $142 a month. Yet the cheapest plan offered on eHealth today is only $92 a month.

      Aah…let’s see…Everybody thought health insurance premiums would be 100% higher. In fact, they are only 60% higher…Hooray…Break out the champagne!

      I’ll come back to these price comparisons in a minute. For the moment, I would ask: what kind of an economist would celebrate an expected price decline without asking what happened to quantity or quality? This is an Econ 101 mistake.


    6. .

      As it turns out the health insurance to be sold in the California exchange excludes some of the best hospitals and the best doctors. Also, the fees paid to providers will not be the same as commercial insurance are paying. They will be somewhere between the commercial rates and Medicare rates. This means that people with exchange acquired insurance will be less desirable to providers from a financial point of view than people in orthodox plans. As the Los Angeles Times explains:

      “People who want UCLA Medical Center and its doctors in their health plan network next year, for instance, may have only one choice in California’s exchange: Anthem Blue Cross. Another major insurer in the state-run market, Blue Shield of California, said its exchange customers will be restricted to 36% of its regular physician network statewide.

      And Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, one of Southern California’s most prestigious and expensive hospitals, said it’s not included in any exchange plans at the moment.

      Krugman points to the experience of health reform in Massachusetts in predicting how wonderful health reform is going to be:

      “Massachusetts has had essentially this system since 2006; as a result, nearly all residents have health insurance, and the program remains very popular. So we know that ObamaCare — or, as some of us call it, ObamaRomneyCare — can work.

      But what has really happened in the Bay state? Insurance sold in the Massachusetts exchange pays doctors and hospitals only about 10% more than what Medicaid pays. And for reasons that are not entirely clear, doctors are less willing to see the newly insured (with exchange subsidies) than Medicaid patients.

      The Massachusetts reformers believed that once everyone was insured, patients would go to the doctor’s office for primary care rather than to the hospital emergency room. But in expanding the demand for care, they (just like ObamaCare) did nothing about supply. The newly insured can’t go to doctors’ offices for their primary care if there aren’t any more doctors’ offices.

      Here is what is happening on the ground. Traffic to hospital emergency rooms in Massachusetts is higher today than before health reform. Traffic to community health centers is almost one-third higher than it was before reform. Yet, the time it takes to get care is growing. The wait to see a new doctor in Boston today is two months ― the longest wait in the entire country.

      On balance, the only thing that seems to have changed in Massachusetts is that patients are waiting longer. They are going to the same places to get care that they went to before. They are getting the same care from the same providers. In the process, more money is being moved around. A lot more money.

      Let’s return to the subject of California premiums. Krugman links to a Johnathan Cohn New Republic column claiming that premiums on the newly created healthy insurance exchange will actually be lower that they are today. Yet this assertion is based on comparing premiums in today’s small group market with expected individual premiums on the health insurance exchanges. That’s not the right comparison. Small group premiums are significantly higher than individual premiums in most states. The relevant comparison is today’s individual insurance premiums versus the individual premiums in the exchange. Exchange premiums are going to be higher.

      With health reform, California premiums will be higher than they are today, but the sticker shock will not be as severe as in other states. The reason: California already has unisex rate requirements. As a result the age differential for males (60-year-old versus 20-year-old) is already close to the 3 to 1 band required by ObamaCare. In states without unisex regulation, the age differential would be 6 to 1.

      Still, middle class families in California should brace themselves. The surprises in ObamaCare are going to be just as arbitrary and unfair on the west coast as they will be in the rest of the country.


    7. Absolutely. In many cases they will actually be able to "buy" insurance.

    8. But not be able to find a doctor.

    9. So they will go to the emergency room like always.

    10. This is called 'progress' in some quarters.

      'Stupidity' in others.

  45. A Failure to Communicate

    The most important number from last week was 0.7%

    That was the number for Headline Inflation. Seven tenths of one percent.

    1. Full disclosure: written by Paul Krugman

    2. Yes, the man with the Nobel Prize in Economics.

    3. What do those Swedes know, rufus?

    4. :) Ah. This one is SOOoo rife with possibilities.

    5. They must be pretty smart folks. They gave the "Peace" Prize to Obama Before he brought the war in Iraq to a screeching halt. :)

    6. "With stocks down and the dollar up, this looks like a market that has upgraded its estimate of the chances that the Fed will tighten too soon. And yes, I mean too soon, for sure. Look not at the unemployment rate, which to some extent reflects people dropping out of the labor force, and instead look at the employment-population ratio — focusing on prime-age workers to avoid demographic issues:"

      Chart of Employment to Population Ratio - 25 to 54

    7. I've never been so uncertain about the direction of an economy in my life.

    8. UN: Iraq saw deadliest month in years
      More than 1,000 civilians and security personnel were killed in sectarian conflict in May, UN casualty figures show.

  46. Ah, lifted from the Donkblog.

  47. Somehow this came to my e-mail, addressed to General Bunker. I do not know how this occurred.

    >>Please excuse the somewhat personal nature of this email, but the information we are about to share below is extremely important for both you and your digestive health.

    You may not think that you're constipated, but in reality, it is VERY likely that you ARE.

    You see, constipation is not simply "not being able to go", or only eliminating once a week...that's severe constipation. The truth is, a healthy digestive system should be eliminating after every meal.

    Are you moving your bowels several times a day, once for every meal you eat? If not, you are suffering from constipation, which will cause a build up of toxins and undigested, rotten, putrid food in your digestive system.

    This can make it much harder for you to lose fat while also wreaking havoc on your digestive system and overall health...really bad stuff. Just imagine all that rotted, disgusting food sitting there in your digestive system...yuck!

    Fortunately, this can be corrected rather quickly, with a few simple steps:

    4 tips for healthy digestion and regular bowel movements<<

    The symptoms fit. Irritability, anger, rudeness, irrationality. Toxin bugs in your gut, good Lord. No wonder then, but there is hope in regularity.

    1. Start with three or four fish oil caps daily, then 'go from there', is recommended.

  48. Here's a novel idea - bring back the Ottoman Empire -

    June 1, 2013
    Bring Back the Ottoman Empire
    By Michael Curtis

    >>Like Europe five or six centuries ago, the Middle East today is the scene of shifting alliances among states, political groups, and warring armies, in a struggle for supremacy or hegemony in the area. By contrast, the Ottoman Empire from its establishment in 1453 was a powerful, multinational, multilingual state that lasted until November 1, 1922, when the Turkish monarchy was abolished and a Republic was declared. The Ottoman Caliphate was abolished in March 1924.

    In spite of problems, the Ottoman Empire remained intact for four and a half centuries. It ruled using boundaries of administrative divisions: provinces, or vilayets and districts, or sanjaks, Islam sustained the empire, and the sultan, the personification of a family that had ruled for seven centuries, was the protector of Islam.

    The Palestinian narrative of victimhood has made the world familiar with the Palestinian concept of the Nakba, the so-called catastrophe, resulting from the displacement of Arabs during and after the 1948-49 war (a war which they started). But from an objective point of view, the real Nakba for Arabs was the end of the Ottoman Empire, which, in spite of political and military problems, had ruled with a strong army and accepted political institutions, and which had created alliances with political and racial groups...<<

    There is a problem here, however. How is this to be done. A magic wand?

    Well, we know from General Bunk that it is not whether or not something has happened or will happen or not that is important, but who brung it. But who do we point to that can brung it or not brung it in this case? Whether it's brung or not? That is the brung question.

  49. Ruf, the leggy lawyer ladies on The Five are saying it won't be long now till limited immunity is going to be offered.

    Lois Lerner will be talking.

    One of the girls held up her hands like a mouth jabbing.

    yak, yak, yak

    Another said, not just on the IRS scandal either. Benghazi too, and the Press Scandal.

    These folks have to look out for their own futures.

    Holder is going under the bus. Like Krauthammer says, so many people under the bus, another bus is needed.

    Not long now.....

    1. The inimitable, irreplaceable, fearless Mark Steyn recommends that you too use the Lois Lerner Defense --

      >>Let us also overlook the excellent treatment received from the IRS by members of the president’s family. Although acting commissioner Steven Miller apologized for the “horrible customer service” conservative taxpayers had gotten, a gentleman by the name of Malik Obama received impeccable, express service when he took the precaution of mailing in his non-profit application from N’giya, Kenya, rather than notoriously slower mail processing centers such as Phoenix and Dallas. Malik, the brother of President Obama, runs the Barack H. Obama Foundation, named for the president’s father. On May 30, 2011, they applied for tax-exempt status, and had their approval signed less than a month later by Lois Lerner herself, and conveniently backdated by Lois to cover the two-and-a-half years the enterprising Malik had already been raking in “tax-deductible” donations from Americans. The Washington address of the Barack H. Obama Foundation appears to be bogus, and it’s not clear whether the funds are being used back in Kenya for anything other than supporting the famously lavish lifestyle of Malik and his twelve wives. Given that the IRS is not shy about asking American conservatives for Facebook posts and lists of who attends their meetings, Ms. Lerner surely would have been within her rights to ask Malik Obama about the “exclusive” photographs currently displayed on the Barack H. Obama Foundation website of a recent meeting in Sudan, one of only four countries the U.S. government designates as a “terrorist state,” and the Foundation’s apparently extensive association with the Sudanese president and blood-soaked genocidal war criminal Omar al-Bashir. Given that the IRS likes to ask conservative taxpayers whether their friends and relatives are planning on running for office, Ms. Lerner might like to ask Malik Obama when his friend President Bashir is planning on leaving office. After another quarter million corpses?<<

      May 31, 2013 6:30 PM
      The Lois Lerner Defense
      File it the next time the IRS calls you up.

      By Mark Steyn

      We can all be Lois Lerners each in our own small ways.