Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Thelma and Louise Healthcare Bill




A 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible is an awesome ride (…or so I’m told), but if you drive one off a cliff you’ll quickly find it makes a horrible airplane.  Similarly, our government was designed to do a few things well, but when we ask it to do other things, it’s like asking a car to fly.

That’s what happened with Obamacare.  Democrats duct-taped some wings on a car, and then drove it off a cliff with all of us onboard.  Republicans will ultimately fail if their fix is merely an improvement on that flying-car model.  That seems to be where they're headed.  

Instead, Republicans and Democrats should scrap the flying-car model entirely and perform a complete separation of car stuff from airplane stuff.  Then they should allow the people who design and build the best cars to do their job, and allow their counterparts in the airplane business to do theirs. 

Of course, I’m not suggesting Boeing or GM be involved in replacing Obamacare.  The point is, there are some things the public sector must do, and everything else should be left to the private sector. Any healthcare bill that continues blending those two dissimilar functions will be as successful as Thelma and Louise.  

Healthcare, being a dynamic, complex, service-oriented market is precisely the kind of thing governments are ill equipped to micro-manage.  Like an airplane, healthcare markets are moving at breakneck speed, must be able to change course instantaneously, and are operating in turbulent three-dimensional space.

On the other hand, providing a safety net, which is essential in healthcare, is precisely the kind of thing the public sector must do.  But like a car designed by bureaucratic committees, the public sector is perennially underpowered, overweight, low on fuel, and operates on a one-way dirt road that only allows direction changes every four years.  Public sectors work best if they keep things simple, realistic, and have a clearly defined mission.

Obamacare was nowhere near our first foray into the flying-car model.   We've been moving in that direction since WWII when Democrats under Franklin Roosevelt allowed the tax code to subsidize employer paid insurance while allowing no such subsidy for individuals.  Democrats under Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s made the next big misstep by creating socialized healthcare for seniors and the poor known as Medicare and Medicaid.  The only thing Obamacare did was to take those not covered by the existing socialized healthcare system, and put them under a new poorly designed government micro-managed system.     

The reason these socialized healthcare systems are unsustainable, especially in the U.S., is the same reason Thelma and Louise couldn't fly: our form of federal government was designed for other things.  
For any airplane to fly safely, there must be an instantaneous response from the controls to the flight surfaces.  Similarly, for markets to function there must be an instantaneous response from buyers to sellers.  Nothing like that can happen within our federal system of checks and balances and constitutional limitations.  

Since Obamacare, every single American covered by health insurance has at least two thick layers of bureaucracy between them, the buyers (patients), and the sellers (doctors, hospitals, providers).  All told, about 95% of Americans get their health insurance from either the government (federal, state, and local) or their employer.   That leaves only about 5% of the population that actually buys their own health insurance.  Thanks to Obamacare, even those in the individual market are now smothered in thick bureaucratic layers.    

Unless and until health care and health insurance become primarily consumer markets, something the vast majority of Americans pay for on their own, there will never be a true functioning market.  As long as there are a minimum of two levels of bureaucracy between buyers and sellers, price, quality, speed, access, and satisfaction will all suffer.

But that doesn't mean government cannot provide a proper safety net while allowing a functioning individual free market.  In fact, it points to the solution.   

You see, the idea of direct linkage applies to cars as well.  Like airplanes, cars must have instantaneous response to steering, brakes, and power, or they too will crash.   

When the federal government provides a safety net there is a critical break in the linkage between buyers and sellers.  The reason is, the federal government has access to what appears to be free money.  Having access to the world’s reserve currency makes borrowing and printing dollars deceptively easy.  Politicians can over-promise and under-fund without negative short-term consequences. This is an illusion that eventually backfires on every society that's ever tried it long term.

To avoid this problem states must be the safety net providers.  States are forced to be more realistic, more practical, and more skilled when providing safety nets.  They are closer to the facts on the ground and cannot access money without repercussions. If states want to provide a high-cost safety net, they must be willing to tax their citizens accordingly.  That forces a discipline that the feds can too easily cheat their way around.

In its current form, the AHCA slated to be voted on tomorrow, is a capitulation to the flying-car model. GOP leadership claims this is necessary because Senate rules place certain provisions of Obamacare out of reach due to the threat of Democrat filibuster.  Ted Cruz has put that excuse to rest by pointing out that VP Mike Pence, who is the President of the Senate, can overrule the parliamentarian.  Repeal and replace can be done through reconciliation in one fell swoop based on existing law.  

The real reason the GOP won't do this is that they do not have enough members who believe in the efficacy free markets!  Despite that reality, here is the way to once-and-for-all end the Thelma and Louise approach to healthcare.  

As Ronald Reagan used to say, “There are simple solutions - just not easy ones.”  The following specific proposals are not meant to be what’s easy, just what’s simple: 


  • Repeal Obamacare entirely.     
  • Repeal Medicaid entirely.   
  • Repeal Medicare entirely.  
  • Give states a year to come up with their own solutions to provide coverage to those unable or unwilling to obtain care in the private market.  Until then, provide closed-end block grants. Give insurers a year to establish new plans.
These changes will place the safety net at the state level where it belongs, while at the same time allowing a year for the transition.  Federal taxes will go down and state taxes will go up, but overall, costs will go down because there will be less waste, fraud, and abuse.  
  • Make the playing field between employer paid and individual paid insurance tilt towards the individual.  
This can be done by providing refundable federal tax credits to individuals as the AHCA does, and/or, change the tax law so that employees must declare the value of their health insurance as income for tax purposes, and/or, disallow companies from deducting healthcare costs and lower payroll taxes by a commensurate amount.  These changes will establish a competitive, individual, free market for health insurance and health care.  Costs will go down, people will be able to buy what they want, providers will be free to practice as they wish,  innovation will flourish, drug prices will go down, medical care will improve.  
  • Repeal The McCarran Ferguson Act.  
This will allow insurance to be sold across state lines.

  • Provide private insurance to replace the VA system.
  • Convert the vast VA system to being a "caregiver of last resort" for anyone who falls through the cracks of the state safety net systems.    
This will limit the federal role, but also establish a "safety net for the safety net". 


Those are the simple things we can do.  The problem is that we have two parties and two incompatible visions for the future of healthcare. 

Democrats have been dreaming of a federal government healthcare takeover for over a century.  Republicans tend to prefer a free market with a safety net, but they have capitulated to the idea that healthcare is a "right".  That impasse is how we’ve ended-up with the worst of both worlds - the flying-car healthcare system.

It’s time to be honest and separate the two functions.  Let the free market function in healthcare, and let state governments transparently tax and spend to provide a proper safety net.  Let planes be planes, and let cars be cars.

I never said it would be easy, but it really is quite simple.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Why Not a Healthcare Debate on TV?



The Obamacare bill, plus regulations, amounts to a stack of paper taller than a man.  When government takes over and tries to micro-manage a fifth of the economy, it becomes an unknowable tangle of interrelated moving parts that is a case study in complexity and Murphy's Law.  Unravelling it can be just as impossible.

Paul Ryan loves the new bill, Rand Paul hates it, Chuck Schumer hates anything Republican, and the president says it's great, but probably hasn't read it.  (Can't blame him though. I tried to read it, and it is literally unreadable by a mortal.  It's like trying to read hexadecimal computer code.)  

Now that the bill is out there, and the critics have come out, I say have a broadcast debate among the experts.  Pick two critics and two fans from both parties, politicians and experts alike, and have them debate the bill and the options.  Have some prepared questions and some unprepared ones.  Maybe have a series of them with various people on various platforms.

This is big.  Let's get it right.  Obamacare was rammed through and there was never a televised debate until Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz squared off last month, in February of 2017!    

Remember when Ross Perot debated Al Gore over Nafta?  It was memorable and enlightening.  We got that great line about "that big sucking sound"!  Let's repeat that sort of thing for healthcare.      

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Did Obama Bug Trump Tower?

(UPDATED)
According to several sources, including a piece in the Guardian from January 11, the Obama DOJ (FBI) did attempt to obtain FISA warrants to bug Trump associates.  Here's the paragraph:

The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The Fisa court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.

Once again Trump is most likely right.

Was this justified or just a ruse to gain compromising information? If the FBI has proof Trump is a Russian agent and is doing Putin's bidding, why keep it secret?   Why allow Trump to set-up a rogue government just to have it all scrapped as he's hauled off to prison for treason?  

And once again James Comey has a lot to explain. 

UPDATE: In addition to the above, the New York Times, no ally of Trump's, reported on January 20th about "wiretaps" which grabbed information on Trump associates.  (UPDATE 3/9: The Times has changed their headline online to better fit their current narrative.  Haha. Hat tip to Andrew McCarthy who has been unequaled in his commentary on all this.) 

But all the evidence of eavesdropping notwithstanding, it is probably besides the point. Trumps tweet about Barack Obama wiretapping him is brilliant on several levels:  

  • Right before Trump's tweet, Reince Priebus had approached James Comey and asked him to state publicly what he was already saying privately, that there was no collusion between Trump and Russia.  Comey turned him down flatly saying the FBI doesn't get involved in political arguments.  Then Trump tweets, and Comey IMMEDIATELY denies any wiretapping by Obama!  Trump smoked him out, uncovered his hypocrisy, and now knows which side his FBI director is on. 
  • Leaks of wiretapped phone calls and private conversations have been dogging Trump since day one.  Now that he has implicated Barack Obama, the price for leaking has gone up exponentially for the left.  Any new leaks further implicate Barack Obama who doesn't want anyone, much less a special prosecutor, digging into his business.  
  • Note that Obama's response to Trump's tweet did not deny any wiretapping!  He just denied ordering it, and laid the blame on Loretta Lynch and the DOJ.  (Side note: Loretta Lynch has been calling for violent insurrection against Trump lately.  See here.)
  • Democrats have been spun-up calling for congressional investigations, independent prosecutors, and media investigators to look into the dubious claims of Russia collusion in the Trump campaign.  Now the playing field is level and both claims must be taken equally seriously.  Guess which side has more exposure now?           


  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Obamagate Wiretap Update



Barack Obama's response to the allegation that he wiretapped the Trump campaign is curious for three reasons.  Here's the response:
A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice. As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.
First, he does not deny the wiretap.
Second, the only thing he does deny is ordering it, which is not surprising because only a FISA judge can order one.
Third, he attributes the wiretap to the DOJ, which of course is Loretta Lynch who famously met on the tarmac with Bill Clinton during the campaign.

The Clinton/Lynch tarmac meeting occurred on June, 26th.  Also occurring in June (exact date unknown at this time) was the initial FISA wiretap request, which was reportedly turned down.  It was rewritten and resubmitted in October when it was alleged to have been approved.    

Watch here as Mark Levin lays out all the breadcrumbs:



There are two possible outcomes to all this:

1.  Donald Trump has some kind of concerning relationship with Russia - as agent, dupe, pawn, etc.

or

2.  Barack Obama used fake Russia charges to spy-on and sabotage Trump and his administration.

So, if number two is true, why use Russia?
Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.        
                                                                                       Saul Alinsky, "Rules for Radicals"

Whenever I'm puzzled by something Obama does, I always find an answer in the teachings of Saul Alinsky.  In the above rule from "Rules for Radicals", Alinsky is recommending a kind-of Judo strategy.  In other words, use your opponents inertia against him.

In the 2012 debate with Mitt Romney, where Romney fingered Russia as the #1 geopolitical foe of the U.S., Obama famously snarked that the "1980s called and want their foreign policy back."  By using Russia, Obama and the Democrats know that a certain number of Republicans will forgive any transgressions and even go along with things like wiretaps because, hey, it's Russia.  Of course we should wiretap and investigate anyone colluding with those nasty Russians!  Couldn't you see Barack Obama calling Mitt Romney as a character witness during his trial?

All I know is this:  the deeper you dig, the "curiouser" this gets.  And as long as the Democrats and their media outlets keep using the Russia smear to effectively undermine Trump and his agenda, this isn't going away.      

          


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Did Obama Bug Trump Tower?

(UPDATED)
According to several sources, including a piece in the Guardian from January 11, the Obama DOJ (FBI) did attempt to obtain FISA warrants to bug Trump associates.  Here's the paragraph:

The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The Fisa court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.

Once again Trump is most likely right.

Was this justified or just a ruse to gain compromising information? If the FBI has proof Trump is a Russian agent and is doing Putin's bidding, why keep it secret?   Why allow Trump to set-up a rogue government just to have it all scrapped as he's hauled off to prison for treason?  

And once again James Comey has a lot to explain. 

UPDATE: In addition to the above, the New York Times, no ally of Trump's, reported on January 20th about "wiretaps" which grabbed information on Trump associates.  (UPDATE 3/9: The Times has changed their headline online to better fit their current narrative.  Haha. Hat tip to Andrew McCarthy who has been unequaled in his commentary on all this.) 

But all the evidence of eavesdropping notwithstanding, it is probably besides the point. Trumps tweet about Barack Obama wiretapping him is brilliant on several levels:  


  • Right before Trump's tweet, Reince Priebus had approached James Comey and asked him to state publicly what he was already saying privately, that there was no collusion between Trump and Russia.  Comey turned him down flatly saying the FBI doesn't get involved in political arguments.  Then Trump tweets, and Comey IMMEDIATELY denies any wiretapping by Obama!  Trump smoked him out, uncovered his hypocrisy, and now knows which side his FBI director is on. 
  • Leaks of wiretapped phone calls and private conversations have been dogging Trump since day one.  Now that he has implicated Barack Obama, the price for leaking has gone up exponentially for the left.  Any new leaks further implicate Barack Obama who doesn't want anyone, much less a special prosecutor, digging into his business.  
  • Note that Obama's response to Trump's tweet did not deny any wiretapping!  He just denied ordering it, and laid the blame on Loretta Lynch and the DOJ.  (Side note: Loretta Lynch has been calling for violent insurrection against Trump lately.  See here.)
  • Democrats have been spun-up calling for congressional investigations, independent prosecutors, and media investigators to look into the dubious claims of Russia collusion in the Trump campaign.  Now the playing field is level and both claims must be taken equally seriously.  Guess which side has more exposure now?           


  

Sic Semper Hitleris!


  • He is: a tyrant, a despot, a racist, a bigot, a dictator, a liar, a demagogue, grossly unqualified, lacking in character, ugly, an idiot, a braggart, a buffoon, a monster, foul tongued, indecent, disrespectful to women, vulgar, intellectually lazy, a white supremacist, deranged from syphilis, disrespectful of freedom of the press.
  • If he is elected we will: leave the country, secede, refuse to follow federal laws.
  • He should: be assassinated, be impeached, be removed, go to hell.
  • His way of speaking and writing is: silly, slip-shod, loose-jointed, lacking in the simplest rules of syntax, coarse, devoid of grace, filled with glittering generalities.
  • He and his entire cabinet are not equal to the occasion and are full of incapacity and rottenness. 

Notably absent from the above lists are two of the most frequent slurs against Donald Trump: “He’s Hitler!”, and “He’s a fascist!”.   That’s because those words were not available in the 1860s.  You see, those were all things said by Democrats, the media, historians, and even some in his own party, about Abraham Lincoln!   You read that right.   The Republican who freed the slaves and defeated the confederacy, who has the big memorial on the mall in D.C., and who is on the penny and the five dollar bill was, prior to being assassinated, the most hated president in American history.  Until Donald Trump, that is.

I'm not implying some equivalence between Donald Trump and the now revered Honest Abe.  I am however asserting some striking similarities between what's happening with Trump and what happened with Lincoln.  In many significant and ominous ways we are reliving the disastrous 1860s.  That should concern everyone.

Democrats hated Lincoln for the same reason they hate Trump - both threatened entitlements. 

Throughout our history and up to the 1860s, Democrats had what amounted to an iron-clad slavery entitlement. Lincoln was the first president to be perceived as seriously unsympathetic to that entitlement.  You may not have learned this in school, but no Republican in history ever owned a slave.  Slavery was a wholly owned Democrat entitlement. 

Today’s Democrats have several entitlements perceived to be under threat by Donald Trump:  the teacher's union monopoly entitlement, the government bureaucrat power entitlement, the various Obamacare entitlements, the government union job entitlement, the cheap labor illegal immigrant entitlement, the Muslim refugee entitlement, the illegal voting entitlement, the congressional unlimited tax and spend entitlement, the subsidized mortgage entitlement, the media power entitlement, the lopsided trade agreement entitlement, the EPA unlimited power entitlement, the radical LGBTQ federal rights entitlement, the federally funded late term abortion entitlement, and many more.

And that list doesn’t include the traditional transfer payment entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, etc.  Even Donald Trump’s just released budget doesn’t dare touch those entrenched goodies.  But it matters little whether or not a politician explicitly threatens to take the candy away.  The only requirement for drawing Democrat vitriol is the perception that an entitlement is under threat. 

Thus, pretty much every Republican since the Progressive Era has been Hitler or equivalent.  Most recently, Reagan was Hitler, Bush was Hitler, McCain was Hitler.  Even Mitt Romney, perhaps the most decent man in America, a bishop in his church, was Hitler, wanted to bring back slavery, kept women in binders, and was a notorious abuser of puppies.

There is a big difference between dissent and hate.  Dissenters will assert that the other side is wrong. Haters will assert that the other side is evil.  When Democrats on a daily basis employ the vitriolic rhetoric they used against Lincoln, they are labeling Trump and his supporters evil. Unfortunately, all tactics, including violence, are appropriate when dealing with evil.     

In both Lincoln's and Trump's cases, Democrat civil disobedience began immediately after the election.  Southern Democrat states began seceding in 1860 right after Lincoln won.  Immediately following Trump's 2016 victory Democrats were in the streets protesting and in many cases being violent. 

Most recently, several Democrat state and local governments have announced plans to "secede" by refusing to enforce certain federal laws. In response, Donald Trump has promised to withhold their federal funds.  This type of standoff is exactly what led to the battle of Fort Sumter, the first battle of the Civil War.  Fort Sumter took place six weeks after Lincoln took office.  Donald Trump has been in office six weeks as of today. 

If you think I'm exaggerating the danger posed by hateful rhetoric and demonization, consider that Betsy DeVos, the new Secretary of Education, vilified and threatened by Democrats and the teacher's union, has been placed under the protection of federal marshals.  The only other cabinet member ever needing federal marshals was a drug czar in danger of being murdered by the drug cartels.    

Entertainers have also expressed a particularly virulent strain of hatred towards Donald Trump.  Thus, the Golden Globes and Oscars spent an inordinate amount of time bashing the new President. Saturday Night Live is pretty much full time with Trump bashing, and you can’t attend a play or concert without the actors and musicians lecturing on their Trump hatred.

Abraham Lincoln faced a similar situation from Democrat entertainers in his day.  An actor named John Wilkes Booth, whom Lincoln had seen perform only a week before, was the man who infamously shot him in the head while attending another play.  As Booth jumped onto the theater stage immediately after shooting Lincoln he shouted, “Sic Semper Tyrannis!”, which if modernized would translate to, “All fascists must die!”  Donald Trump has already survived at least one bumbling assassination attempt during his campaign. 

Dissent is a necessary part of democracy.  Hatred is a necessary part of dissolution and civil war.  Once Democrats convince themselves that half the country is made-up of deplorable fascist Hitler supporters, don’t they then have an obligation to eliminate them?  If you are convinced that any Trump supporter you know is evil, where does that logically lead?   Hateful rhetoric disguised as dissent can unintentionally paint impressionable minds into a dangerous corner with no peaceful way out.  We know what that led to in the 1860s.  

Come on America, we’ve seen this play before.  Let’s not give it a sequel.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Session's Russia Sessions

Multiple Democrats, including Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, have called on Jeff Sessions, the new Attorney General, to resign.  The ostensible reason is that he met with the Russian Ambassador twice in 2016 while he was a U.S. Senator and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Both of these meetings were public knowledge.  One took place at a Heritage Foundation confab, and the other took place in the U.S. Senate building, in Session's office.  That's real cloak and dagger stuff right there.

The reason this is supposed to be a problem is that Sessions was asked about his contacts with Russia as a Trump campaign advisor and he denied having any.  He was not asked about his contacts with Russia as an elected officeholder who is SUPPOSED to have discussions with foreign leaders!

Here's what I wrote about the whole "Russian Hacking" meme back on January 4th.  It still holds true...
Remember Benghazi?  This Russian hacking meme, and the responses to it, are just like what happened after Benghazi.  Back then, the ploy involved an anti-Muslim YouTube video instead of Russian meddling, but the goal was the same: divert attention to cover-up an ugly reality. 
There are always some "tells" with these tactics:  
  • Instantaneous determination of the culprit.
  • Unanimous talking-point buy-in from all Democrat operatives.
  • Over-the-top denunciations of routine behavior.
  • Convenient deferrals to the "intelligence community".  (Which, of course, has been thoroughly politicized in the Obama era.)
  • Disproportionate and decisive remedial action taken.
  • Inability to provide any proof.  
  • Claims that proof exists, but exposing proof would jeopardize secret national security sources and methods.
Like Benghazi, there was an instantaneous determination of complicity after WikiLeaks began releasing DNC and John Podesta emails.  It took the Obama administration several years to finally figure out that Major Hassan, screaming "Allahu Akbar" while murdering U.S. military personnel, was actually committing an act of terror.  Yet somehow the administration knew instantly Russia, and specifically Vladimir Putin, was to blame for the emails.  The same administration that couldn't competently launch an Obamacare website with an unlimited budget and years to prepare, knew instantly and with absolute certainty that the easily disguised tracks of a phishing scam led directly to Vladimir Putin.  Does this add up? 
So unanimous was the adherence to this meme, that it became a standing joke whenever a Democrat operative was interviewed during the campaign.  The interviewer would ask a question about some innocuous topic, something like, "So, how's the food on the campaign trail?", and the op would figure out a way to squeeze in a reference to Russians meddling in our election! Anyone paying attention could tell this was a meme being pushed for political expediency...just like the Benghazi YouTube diversion. 
Remember after Benghazi how every Democrat operative referred to the YouTube video as "reprehensible",  and then would go on to distance the U.S. government from having anything to do with it?  That was classic straw-man stuff, as no one ever claimed the U.S. government had anything to do with the video in the first place. With this Russian "hack",  operatives have been using superlatives for how evil and against international norms this alleged hack has been.  Oh really? Not long ago, WikiLeaks disclosed the U.S. government was actually listening to Angela Merkel's cell phone! Now that deserved some superlatives.  And during the last election in Israel, Obama spent a pile of U.S. taxpayer money in an attempt to overthrow Bibi Netanyahu.  All of it wasted, of course. Yet somehow we are to believe Putin is doing something reprehensible?  Putin actually invaded a country recently, and Obama's response?  Nothing.  Remember Anna Chapman?  She was a real Russian spy with an entire spy ring living in the U.S. who got caught in 2010.  Obama's response? Nothing - except she was asked to leave.  Now someone figures-out Podesta's "ultra-secure" password is actually... "password", and Obama is expelling people and sending troops?  Does this make logical sense?  
The intelligence community was somehow coerced into mentioning the YouTube video as a possible irritant for the murders in Benghazi.  We now know that line was Bravo Sierra.  Similarly, the same intelligence community is now pedaling the line about Putin and the Ruskies.  Just as credible, and just as political as last time.  And in both cases, there were dupes in both parties who sincerely bought into the ploy.
To make the Benghazi ploy look legit, Obama actually did imprison the hapless guy who made the YouTube video.   If only we had a first amendment or something to protect video makers from being imprisoned for speech!  Oh wait...  Now we are invading countries and expelling diplomats to make the same diversional ploy look legit.  That, and to sabotage the incoming administration. 
In both Benghazi and the email hack there is a conspicuous lack of proof to support the diversions, and none is forthcoming in either case.  Obama promised a swift response after Benghazi, and then said,  "The perpetrators will be brought to justice!".  Remember how every major network was able to interview the perps within weeks, but it took the Obama military, with a budget in the trillions, years to get one alleged attacker and bring him stateside?  His trial is conveniently scheduled for 2017, long after the election of 2016.  He would certainly know if the attack was really a film critique, and I'm sure he was offered a great deal to publicly finger the video on 60 Minutes.  Of course, any serious observer would know that the compound in Benghazi was attacked on multiple occasions long before the offending YouTube video was ever put online! 
In the case of Benghazi, one poor schmuck actually spent a year in prison to divert attention from a terrorist attack and get Obama re-elected.  Now it is a diversion to delegitimize and sabotage the incoming President who threatens to undo eight years of Obama's totalitarian liberalism.  This time the ploy has turned sinister and dangerous.  I sure hope Donald Trump can gracefully dance around all the landmines Barack Obama is putting in his path, because if not, real people could get blown up. 
(UPDATE: The company that found the alleged Russian hack, and on which the entire intelligence community assessment rests, is a Google linked company with strong ties to the Hillary Clinton campaign. CrowdStrike was funded by a division of Google, and Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Googles parent, was a staff member and advisor to the Clinton campaign.)   

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hate Trumps Civility


Consider the following words used to describe the President:

  • He is: a tyrant, a despot, a racist, a bigot, a dictator, a liar, a demagogue, grossly unqualified, lacking in character, ugly, an idiot, a braggart, a buffoon, a monster, foul tongued, indecent, disrespectful to women, vulgar, intellectually lazy, a white supremacist, deranged from syphilis, disrespectful of freedom of the press.
  • If he is elected we will: leave the country, secede, refuse to follow federal laws.
  • He should: be assassinated, be impeached, be removed, go to hell.
  • His way of speaking and writing is: silly, slip-shod, loose-jointed, lacking in the simplest rules of syntax, coarse, devoid of grace, filled with glittering generalities.
  • He and his entire cabinet are not equal to the occasion, and are full of incapacity and rottenness. 


Notably absent from the above are these: “He’s Hitler, a Nazi, a Fascist".   That’s because those words were not available in the 1860s.  You see, those were all words said verbatim by Democrats about Abraham Lincoln, not just Donald Trump! 

That's not to imply some equivalence between Donald Trump and the now revered Honest Abe.  It is, however, to imply that there are some striking similarities between what's happening with Trump and what happened with Lincoln.  In many significant and ominous ways we are reliving the disastrous 1860s.  That should concern everyone.

Here's the thing:  Democrats hated Abraham Lincoln for the same reason they hate Donald Trump; it all comes down to slavery.  

Slavery, aside from the racial, abuse, and imprisoning aspects, was all about forcing one group of people to work for the benefit of another.  Anytime one group of people is forced to work, even part time, for the benefit of another, it is a form of slavery.  

Since the Progressive Era, we began down the road of government forced redistribution. Those policies have continued and accelerated ever since to the point we now have a government (federal, state, and local) that consumes nearly 70% of all income nationally.  In the year 1900 it was under 10%. Almost all of the increase has come from wealth redistribution in one form or another.  Another word for wealth redistribution is entitlement.  

Throughout our history and up to the 1860s, Democrats had what amounted to a slavery entitlement. Lincoln was the first president to be perceived as seriously unsympathetic to that entitlement.  You may not have learned this in school, but no Republican in history ever owned a slave.  Slavery was a wholly owned Democrat entitlement. 

Today’s Democrats have several entitlements perceived to be under threat by Donald Trump:  the teacher's union monopoly entitlement, the government bureaucrat power entitlement, the various Obamacare entitlements, the government union job entitlement, the cheap labor illegal immigrant entitlement, the Muslim refugee entitlement, the illegal voting entitlement, the congressional unlimited tax and spend entitlement, the subsidized mortgage entitlement, the media power entitlement, the lopsided trade agreement entitlement, the EPA unlimited power entitlement, the radical LGBTQ federal rights entitlement, the federally funded late term abortion entitlement, and many more.

And that list doesn’t include the traditional redistribution entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, etc.  Even Donald Trump’s just released budget doesn’t dare touch those entrenched goodies.  But it matters little whether or not a politician explicitly threatens to take the candy away.  The only requirement for drawing Democrat vitriol is the perception that an entitlement is under threat. 

Thus, pretty much every Republican since the Progressive Era has been Hitler or equivalent.  Most recently, Reagan was Hitler, Bush was Hitler, McCain was Hitler.  Even Mitt Romney, perhaps the most decent man in America, a bishop in his church, was Hitler, wanted to bring back slavery, kept women in binders, and was a notorious abuser of puppies.

There is a big difference between dissent and hate.  Dissenters will assert that the other side is wrong. Haters will assert that the other side is evil.  When Democrats on a daily basis employ the vitriolic rhetoric they used against Lincoln, they are labeling Trump and his supporters evil. Unfortunately, all tactics, including violence, are appropriate when dealing with evil.     

In both Lincoln's and Trump's cases, Democrat civil disobedience began immediately after the election.  Southern Democrat states began seceding right after Lincoln won.  Immediately following Trump's win, Democrats were in the streets protesting and in some cases being violent. 

Most recently, several Democrat state and local governments have announced plans to "secede" by refusing to enforce certain federal laws. In response, Donald Trump has promised to withhold their federal funds.  This type of standoff is exactly what led to the battle of Fort Sumter, the first battle of the Civil War.  Fort Sumter took place six weeks after Lincoln took office.  Donald Trump has been in office about five weeks as of this writing. 

If you think I'm exaggerating the danger posed by hateful rhetoric and demonization, consider that Betsy DeVos, the new Secretary of Education, vilified and threatened by Democrats and the teacher's union, has been placed under the protection of federal marshals.  The only other cabinet member ever needing federal marshals was a drug czar in danger of being snuffed-out by the drug cartels.    

Entertainers have also expressed a particularly virulent strain of hatred towards Donald Trump.  Thus, the Golden Globes and Oscars spent an inordinate amount of time bashing the new President. Saturday Night Live is pretty much full time with Trump bashing, and you can’t attend a play or concert without the actors and musicians lecturing on their Trump hatred.

Abraham Lincoln faced a similar situation from Democrat entertainers in his day.  An actor named John Wilkes Booth, whom Lincoln had seen perform only a week before, was the man who infamously shot him in the head.  As Booth jumped onto the theater stage immediately after shooting Lincoln he shouted, “Sic Semper Tyrannis!”, which if modernized would translate to, “All fascists must die!”  Donald Trump has already survived at least one bumbling assassination attempt during his campaign. 

Dissent is a necessary part of democracy.  Hatred is a necessary part of dissolution and civil war.  Once Democrats convince themselves that half the country is made-up of deplorable fascist Hitler supporters, don’t they then have an obligation to eliminate them?  If you are convinced that any Trump supporter you know is evil, where does that logically lead?   Hateful rhetoric disguised as dissent can unintentionally paint impressionable minds into a dangerous corner with no peaceful way out.  We know what that led to in the 1860s.  

Come on America, we’ve seen this play before.  Let’s not give it a sequel.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The 'Caddyshack' President

The New York Times has finally figured-out that Donald Trump is Al Czervik, the Rodney Dangerfield character from the classic 1980 comedy, 'Caddyshack'.  Welcome to the club.

I've been fascinated by the Trump/Czervik congruence since Trump announced his candidacy.  Both are over-the-top, ostentatious, boorish, real estate tycoon golfers who upset the establishment.  And both are oddly lovable to their fans.  In fact, of all the great characters in 'Caddyshack', Al Czervik is the most enduring and popular according to polls.

Here is a sampling of 'Caddyshack' scenes I've used to highlight the striking similarities:










Saturday, February 4, 2017

Obamacare Replacement: How to Succeed in Three Simple Steps





A Ferrari is a superb automobile (…or so I’m told!), but if you drive one off a cliff you’ll quickly find it makes a horrible airplane.  Similarly, our government is designed to do a few public sector things well, but when we ask it to do private sector things it’s like asking a car to fly.

That’s what happened with Obamacare.  Democrats strapped some wings on a car, and then drove it off a cliff with all of us onboard.  Republicans will ultimately fail if their fix is merely an improvement on that flying-car model.

Instead, Republicans and Democrats should scrap the flying-car model entirely and perform a complete separation of car stuff from airplane stuff.  Then they should allow the people who design and build the best cars to do their job and allow their counterparts in the airplane business to do theirs. 

I’m not suggesting Boeing or GM be involved in replacing Obamacare.  The point is there are some things the public sector should do, and there are others the private sector should do.

Healthcare, being a dynamic, complex, service-oriented market, is precisely the kind of thing governments are ill equipped to micro-manage.  Like an airplane, healthcare markets are moving at breakneck speed, must be able to change course instantaneously, and are operating in turbulent three-dimensional space.

Conversely, providing a safety net, which is essential in healthcare, is precisely the kind of thing the public sector must do.  But like a car designed by committee, the public sector is perennially underpowered, overweight, low on fuel, and operates on a one-way dirt road that only allows direction changes every four years.  Public sectors work best if they keep things simple, realistic, and have a clearly defined mission.

For a long time, even preceding Obamacare, we were using the flying-car model and our designs were poor for both functions.

For an airplane to fly well there must be an instantaneous response from the controls to the flight surfaces.  Similarly, for free markets to function there must be an instantaneous response from buyers to sellers.  In both cases a direct linkage is essential.  Nothing like that has existed in healthcare for decades. 

Since WWII there has been a huge tax advantage for employers to provide health insurance to their employees.  As a result, for the vast majority of Americans covered by private health insurance, there are two thick layers of bureaucracy between buyers (patients) and sellers (doctors, hospitals, etc.).  

All told about 95% of Americans get their health insurance from either government (federal, state, or local) or their employer.  Obamacare has only made it worse.  That leaves only about 5% of the population that actually buys their own health insurance.

Unless and until health care and health insurance become consumer products, something the vast majority of Americans pay for on their own, there will never be a true functioning free market.  As long as there are two levels of bureaucracy between buyers and sellers, price, quality, speed, access, and satisfaction will all suffer.

The idea of direct linkage applies to cars as well. 

When the federal government provides a safety net there is a critical break in the linkage between buyers and sellers.  The reason is, the federal government has access to what appears to be free money.  Having access to the world’s reserve currency makes borrowing and printing dollars deceptively easy.  Politicians can over-promise and under-fund without negative short-term consequences. This is an illusion that will inevitably backfire on our descendants.

To avoid this problem states must be the safety net providers.  By definition states are forced to be more realistic, more practical, and more skilled when providing safety nets.  They are closer to the facts on the ground and cannot access money without repercussions. If states want to provide a high-cost safety net, they must be willing to tax their citizens a commensurate amount.  That forces a discipline that the feds can too easily cheat their way around. 

Ronald Reagan used to say, “There are simple solutions - just not easy ones.” By that he meant that the solutions to seemingly complex government problems can often be quite simple, but implementing them is another matter in a divided government with checks and balances.

The following three specific proposals are not meant to be what’s easy, just what’s simple: 

1.  Separation of public and private functions
·      Government should not be in the business of providing healthcare or insurance, but instead must be there to provide a safety net in the form of vouchers or cash.
·      This should be how Medicaid, Medicare, subsidies, insurance for pre-existing conditions, etc. all should be handled.
·      The private sector free market should provide all healthcare and health insurance.
·      Thus, the private sector handles all the services and products, and the public sector provides money for the safety net. 

2.  Linkage of buyers and sellers
·      All Individuals, whether self-sufficient or in the safety net, should be the buyers of their own healthcare and health insurance.
·      Tax policy should change to favor individuals over employers.
·      One possible tax change would be to dis-allow health insurance deductions for employers, and at the same time increase wages and lower payroll taxes by a commensurate amount to transfer the tax advantage and premium dollars to individuals. This would result in no net changes to anyone, but it would shift the market to individuals.  
·      Individuals should be free to form groups (marathon runners, vegans, non-smokers, etc.) to help them save on premiums. 
·      Individuals should be able to take their plans with them wherever they go.  (see below regarding McCarran Ferguson)
·      Medical providers and insurers should be free to advertise, disclose prices, and compete openly.
·      The government safety net should be voucher or cash based so that recipient individuals can make their own choices. 

3. Safety net by the States
·      There should be a transition to state funding of the safety net by starting with closed-end block grants, as some current GOP proposals seek to do with Medicaid. (Medicaid is currently managed by the states but funded in large measure by the feds with an open-ended commitment.  This creates a situation whereby states have no incentive to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse because the feds will always kick in the necessary cash.  This has made Medicaid a runaway train-wreck of inefficiency.  If the states fund and run their own safety nets, it will eliminate this problem.)
·      Federal taxes would plummet and state taxes would rise commensurately, but there would be a net savings in improved efficiency since states are better run overall than the federal government. 
·      The safety nets should provide for the essential needs of the poor, the sick (pre-existing conditions), and the incompetent.
·      Each state should be free do what’s best for their population in terms of how they structure their safety net.

4. (optional)
·      Overturn McCarran Ferguson. 

(One of the issues we hear a lot about is the inability of health insurance companies to sell policies across state lines.  This is because of an old law called McCarran Ferguson that exempts insurance from federal regulation and the commerce clause.  As a result, insurers cannot sell across state lines, must maintain separate corporations in every state, and must answer to fifty state regulators. 

Without McCarran Ferguson insurance would be portable, national, and cheaper.  

But McCarran Ferguson is not a deal-breaker. That law also covers auto insurers who appear to compete just fine.  The reason is, unlike health insurance, 95% of the auto insurance market is individual.  That’s why you cannot go a day without seeing a GEICO or Progressive ad.  So yes, it would help to get rid of this outdated law, but the individual market is the real key.) 

Those are the simple things we can do.  The problem is that we have two parties and two incompatible visions for the future of healthcare. 

Democrats have been dreaming of a federal government healthcare takeover for over a century.  Republicans tend to prefer a free market with a safety net. That impasse is how we’ve ended-up with the worst of both worlds - the flying-car healthcare system.

It’s time to be honest and separate the two functions.  Let the free market function in healthcare, and let state governments transparently tax and spend to provide a proper safety net.  Let planes be planes, and let cars be cars.

I never said it would be easy, but it really is quite simple.