Tag: politics

So the Politicians still actively at it

An ongoing debate in the military community is that despite all the wishful thinking by the PC desk jockeys in DC, reality has been a harsh mistress. General physical requirements for women already differ from those that men must qualify for, and without exclusion the requirement for females is far lower than that for males. I will not bore you with the logic that was used to get this to pass. Basically the argument has always been that while physical strength will matter on the battlefield, non-combat jobs shouldn’t have the same restrictions. The problem some have pointed out is that on the modern battlefield all jobs tend to, at one point or another, end up as combat jobs. Someone less qualified, because of lower physical standards, not only runs the risk of performing poorly when that happens, getting themselves killed in the process, but actually costing others their lives. I remain ambivalent about women in non-combat military jobs, but I detest the fact that we can’t have either an honest discussion or get the military to accurately report the facts. That ship has already sailed, and we now must live with what is.

The problem is that the SJW types still demand more, because as things stand right now their argument that there is no difference between men and women is easily disputed based on facts. For decades now the political class has been demanding women be given access to combat billing in the military that have remained exclusively male. It should be no surprise that these billets usually are highly specialized combat infantry billets with extremely demanding physical requirements. Amongst the billets that the PC Police has targeted to push their agenda to prove that there is absolutely no difference between men and women are the Marine Infantry Officer program, NAVY SEAL program, the Army Ranger/Delta Force programs, and the Air Force Special Operations program. These programs have actively resisted lowering standards for anyone because lives would be lost. So far not a single female to try out has succeeded in passing the rigorous and demanding physical part of any of these programs, and the reason is simple biology.

But the SJW types remain undeterred in their quest to be able to say they were right, so this announcement by Navy Secretary Mabus should come as no surprise. Here is a snippet, emphasis mine:

Fair fitness standards,/b>, less online training, more educational opportunities and a better balance of work and family life. Those hot button issues for sailors and Marines are now at the forefront of a new campaign by the Navy’s top civilian to boost quality of life and recruit more women into the ranks.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is set to unveil a host of far-reaching initiatives and policy changes Wednesday, aimed at improving quality of life and careers for sailors and Marines, many which came directly from the deckplates, a senior Navy official has confirmed to Navy Times.

Mabus plans to to ease body fat restrictions, boost career flexibility, andpush to recruit more women in the Navy and Marine Corps, while opening up the last billets that remain closed to them.

The initiatives have been in the works for some time. Mabus has publicly voiced support for increasing the number of women and the jobs open to them, while Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Bill Moran’s office has been collecting fleet feedback on everything from revamping Navy Knowledge Online and the PFA to beefing up education and civilian training opportunities. Mabus is also expected to highlight recent moves to accelerate promotions for top performing corporals.

So there you have it: physical standards will again be reduced because “fairness”. My bet is, barring a reduction for show purposes, that they will only be reduced for one gender. I doubt the SEALs or the Marines will be happy to go along with any of this crap. SJW will not care who loses their lives as long as they get to pretend the dumb shit they believe is true however.

For those not in the know, this is being coupled with early promotions if you have the right plumbing. To me, that line about early promotions of corporals, which means Marine Corps enlisted females, since there are no corporals in the NAVY, basically means they are running the risk that they will promote people that might not have had enough time to be prepared. That’s neither fair for those people promoted or those that could suffer from this bad choice.

Women belong in the military. Many have served and will serve with distinction. However, just like no one bats an eye when some programs wash out overweight, physically unqualified, or mentally lacking men, nobody should be surprised that without compromising standards women will not make it into these elite combat forces. It’s simple biology, and no amount of mental fortitude will overcome the physical reality that there is a difference between the sexes. Meddling by inept people that have not served a day in the military or worse, don’t give a shit who gets hurt by their political agenda, however, might just make that happen. And we will all lose when that does happen.

GoreSat Finally Orbits

One of my pet peeves is the contention that conservatives and Republicans are “anti-science” while liberals and Democrats are “pro-science”. Having been in the field for twenty years, I’ve observed little difference in how well science is funded under the two parties, with a slight bias in favor of Republicans. And while it’s true that Republicans are more dubious of science on the big topics du jour — global warming and evolution — that doesn’t mean they are more anti-science in general. When it comes to GMOs, vaccines or nuclear power, the Left is way more anti-science.

My dislike of this meme is embodied in the person of Algore, who has a reputation as this great scientific mind but has always crossed me as a poser: someone who pretends to be a friend of science because he wants to look smart (and, in his case, wants to advance a big government agenda). He wrote a well-praised book — Earth in the Balance — that was shredded in P.J. O’Rourke in All The Trouble in the World and proved to be massively wrong on many issues. He touted a plan to move the United States to alternative energy within ten years that was total science fiction. His advocacy on global warming — hypocritical advocacy — touted doomsday scenarios and marginal studies. It was ultimately a disservice to the climate debate.

But if you want Algore in a nutshell, I give you the Triana satellite, a version of which was launched today. Triana started with this crackpot idea of Gore’s to have a satellite launched which would sit in the L1 Lagrange point and take pictures of the Earth. That’s it. It would take pictures of the Earth to “raise awareness” of our climate. NASA devoted $100 million to this boondoggle, without any peer review, and desperately tried to get scientists to find some use for it. The best they could come up with measuring Earth’s albedo and cloud patterns, although Triana was not what you would have designed with that science program in mind. When the SOHO spacecraft was having trouble, they came up with a plan to put instruments on it to measure solar activity, since the L1 point is good for that.

Triana was mothballed after Bush won the White House but was resurrected by Obama. The satellite — now named DSCOVR — has been revamped so that its primary mission is to measure solar storms and provide and early warning of space weather. The Earth picture thing is an afterthought. Notice that’s NASA’s video doesn’t mention Algore’s original Triana mission at all.

If anyone other than Algore had proposed Triana, burned $100 million on it and had NASA scramble to find an actual scientific use for it, they would have been laughingstock. But today the press is filled with stories about how this is Algore’s “dream” even though his original proposal had nothing to do with DSCOVR’s primary mission.

DSCOVR is a good mission and I’m glad it launched today. I’m even gladder that it was launched by SpaceX. Space weather is a serious issue and we desperately need to address the impact that a severe solar storm could have on our planet (think about a world-wide power grid meltdown to get the picture). But let’s not pretend this has anything to do with Algore. This is NASA making some very good lemonade from a $100 million lemon.

They Don’t Want a Welfare State; They Want a Plunder State

The strange thing about the 2014 election is that Obama seems to have taken it as a mandate … for more liberal polices. In addition to unilateral immigration “reform”, he has just released his budget proposal, which has massive tax hikes and spending hikes, no hint of entitlement reform and claims it will find $640 billion in deficit reduction (a paltry amount over the time frame) from tax hikes, immigration reform and, I believe, money imported from Narnia. It’s a fantasy budget that is making the hard-core liberals at Vox swoon but has connection to reality. And it puts the lie to the idea that Obama is a “conservative” as one newly-retired blogger has argued.

Here’s the thing, though. Liberals have long said that what they favor is a European-style welfare state (such as the one that imploded in Greece). Obama says this and his budget makes noises in this direction and is being praised as a step in that direction.

But the Democrats do not want a European welfare state. As much as they claim they do, that’s not what they want and not what they are advocating. If they really wanted a welfare state, they would be proposing something very different: huge tax hikes on the middle class.

The United States has one of the most progressive tax systems in the world, being very reliant on the wealthy for revenue. The European welfare states, by contrast, are more regressive, having flatter taxes and relying on VATs and sales taxes that are regressive. They have to be that way because you simply can’t finance a welfare state by taxing the 1%.

A welfare state financed by the rich doesn’t even work politically. When everyone is paying taxes, there is more support for a welfare state because everyone is pitching in. The perception is that you’re getting out something related to what you paid in, which is why Social Security and Medicare are popular in this country (both financed by a regressive tax that is denounced by Democrats for not soaking the rich enough). But a system that is dependent on taxing the rich isn’t a welfare state, it’s a plunder state. And as I’ve pointed out before, most people don’t want that. They don’t want to feel like they’re living on someone else’s dime or on stolen property. The Communists discovered this 70 years ago when they tried to “redistribute” estates to the commoners only to discover that the commoners didn’t want that wealth if it was stolen.

The gripping hand, of course, is that there isn’t any support for a huge middle-class-funded welfare state either, which Vermont discovered when they had to abandon their experiment in single-payer healthcare. And so the Democrats keep trying to sneak their welfare state through the backdoor. First it was taxes on the savings in 529 plans, which was quickly killed. Now it’s a tax on overseas earnings. Tomorrow, it will be more sin taxes.

(And if that fails, I expect them to embrace Modern Monetary Theory, currently being pushed by Bernie Sanders. This theory says that government shouldn’t worry about deficits; it can just print money. Taxes only exist to keep the rich from getting too rich. Seriously, that’s what it says. It’s like a politician’s wet dream: spend whatever you like and never worry about the bills.)

Thankfully, none of this is going to fly with the Republican Congress. But Obama’s absurd tax-and-spend proposal is a sign that we are still running out of other people’s money.

Don’t Be Fooled

Over the weekend, there was a massive march in Paris in response to the Charlie Hebdo killings and subsequent hostage events. World leaders — with one notable Nobel-prize-winning exception — marched with the protesters to show their commitment to freedom and unity.

At least, that’s what the narrative is. But, as usual, the narrative is bull:

Following the terrorist attacks on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the EU has issued a joint st​atement to condemn the act and work to prevent extremism and safeguard freedom of expression. The leaders’ suggestion? More surveillance and internet censorship.

The statement, adopted by EU representatives including UK Home Secretary Theresa May, focuses on addressing radicalisation “in an early stage.” It condemns the January 7 attacks, in which two Islamist gunmen killed 12 people, and specifically mentions the internet as a factor in the “fight against radicalisation.”

“We are concerned at the increasingly frequent use of the internet to fuel hatred and violence and signal our determination to ensure that the internet is not abused to this end, while safeguarding that it remains, in scrupulous observance of fundamental freedoms, a forum for free expression, in full respect of the law,” the statement reads.

“With this in mind, the partnership of the major internet providers is essential to create the conditions of a swift reporting of material that aims to incite hatred and terror and the condition of its removing, where appropriate/possible,” it continues.

Ignore the caveats, concentrate on the message: they want to control internet content. And as we’ve learned, controlling internet content doesn’t just mean silencing terrorists. It means silencing anyone who says anything deemed racist or bigoted or insensitive. The EU wants to stop terrorists from silencing critics of Islam all right. They will do this by silencing Islam’s critics on their own.

David Cameron has specifically responded to these events by saying he wants to mandate a back door into all internet communication:

British Prime Minister David Cameron reacted to last week’s terrorist attack in Paris by participating in a march declaring solidarity with freedom of expression. Then he went home and attacked freedom of expression with a promise: If his party, the Conservatives, win an upcoming election, they’ll pass legislation that would empower security services to read anything sent over the Internet.

He favors a Britain where everything that anyone communicates can be spied upon if authorities determine that certain conditions are met. In short order, this would enable security services to spy on all innocent communications even as terrorists and non-criminals begin to communicate in code or through still-dark channels. And that is just the beginning of the problems with this privacy-killing proposal.

As has been noted many times, when the government demands a backdoor into your cellphone or computer, that makes it possible for the backdoor to be abused by hackers, terrorists and other criminals.

Oh, and that march? The world leaders weren’t even there:

Now, a different perspective on the leader’s portion of the march has emerged in the form of a wide shot displayed on French TV news reports.

It shows that the front line of leaders was followed by just over a dozen rows other dignitaries and officials – after which there was a large security presence maintaining a significant gap with the throngs of other marchers.

The measure was presumably taken for security reasons – but political commentators have suggested that it raises doubts as to whether the leaders were really part of the march at all.

And their commitment to free expression? You should check out Daniel Wickham’s tweets, which run down their level of “commitment”. Example:

So this March for Solidarity or Unity or whatever was not really a march against censorship or for free speech. Not as far as world leaders were concerned, at least. The only reason they oppose terrorists attacking freedom of expression is because they see that as their job. Fresh off of silencing critics, imprisoning journalists and attacking civil liberties, they are going to use this attack on free expression to ratchet up the attack on our liberties through more censorship, more control of media and more “sensitivity”. Don’t think for a second this is about stopping future Charlie Hebdo attacks. This is about control.

Politicians hate free speech. They hate the free press. They will enact as many controls on expression as they can get away with. The only people who care about our civil liberties are us. The Hebdo attack is seen by the majority of politicians as a way to ramp up their control of us. They will mask it with concern about terrorism, as they always do. But in the end, we will all be under their thumb.

If they were really committed to freedom of expression, they would be challenging the blasphemy laws that infest dozens of countries around the world. If they were really committed to freedom of expression, they’d be trying to free imprisoned journalists. If they were really committed to freedom of expression, they would be challenging the speech codes that have flowered on college campuses. Until they attack those things, I will not believe them when they talk about their commitment to freedom of expression. They’re just placating us.

A lot of people misunderstood the “I Am Charlie Hebdo” thing. It’s not that liking their content. The point is that we are all under the real or implied threat of censorious thugs and we must zealously defend our freedom from those thugs. That mean terrorists, yes. But it also means the thugs who wear suits and ties and march near crowds to show their unity.

Cuomo Gone

Mario Cuomo, who was a fixture of 80’s anti-Reagan liberalism, died yesterday. I don’t like to post memorials unless I have something nice to say. I’m of the opinion that Cuomo was massively over-rated. His much-revered 1984 speech, which you can read here, has not aged well and looks almost quaint in its faith in big government and offensive in its portrayal of Reagan. Its wooly sentiments and aggressive rhetoric were a big reason why I came of age as a political conservative. His dallying with a Presidential run was the only reason he was in Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary. And his ultimate legacy was being ousted in the 1994 election.

Still, at least he was honest. He didn’t pretend to be “moderate” or “practical”. He was a big-government liberal who fundamentally believed government could make us better.

Steal, Lie, then Steal Again

Earlier this year, I talked about an outrageous government swindle enabled by the Democrats. The IRS was withholding $75 million of people’s tax refunds based on decades-old Social Security overpayments to their parents. In the face of withering criticism, Social Security backed down.

Guess what?

The Social Security Administration, which announced in April that it would stop trying to collect debts from the children of people who were allegedly overpaid benefits decades ago, has continued to demand such payments and now defends that practice in court documents.

After The Washington Post reported in April that the Treasury Department had confiscated $75 million in tax refunds due to about 400,000 Americans whose ancestors owed money to Social Security, the agency’s acting commissioner, Carolyn Colvin, said efforts to collect on those old debts would cease immediately.

But although some people whose refunds were seized were reimbursed in recent months, some of those same taxpayers have since received new demands from Social Security, asserting that the debts remain and seeking repayment.

This shouldn’t surprise us. This is what our vindictive greedy government does. When they are caught in outrageous behavior, they back down, wait for the furor to die, and then continue to do it. They’re like roaches who scatter when the light is turned on then come back out when it’s dark. Asset forfeiture efforts slowed after Kelo, then resumed with greater furor. Drug War abuses will be suspended when there is a particularly horrible case, then resume when everyone’s moved on. And this particular Social Security-IRS grave-robbing hid under the baseboards for a few months and then came back. And any attention now will make them back down. And then in six months, they’ll be demanding money again.

Until Congress changes the law, Social Security will continue to hound people like this. It’s not enough to get outraged; Congress needs to act.

Opening Cuba

This is a pretty big deal:

President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba and ease economic restrictions on the nation, an historic shift he called the end of an “outdated approach” to U.S.-Cuban relations.

Obama said he’s instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations, and that the U.S. will re-open an embassy in Havana. The administration will also allow some travel and trade that had been banned under a decades-long embargo instated during the Kennedy administration.

There are aspects of the embargo that Obama can’t undo because they were encoded into law when it was feared that Clinton might normalize relations with Cuba. Related to this are the release of about 50 political prisoners in Cuba, including Alan Gross and at least one US intelligence asset who has been in prison for 20 years. Apparently, the Vatican and Canada played a role in bringing this about.

As you can imagine, this is drawing a lot of fire from Cuban-Americans and Cuban-American politicians:

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer he would do everything in his power to block any potential U.S. ambassador to Cuba even receive a vote.

He also called the easing of economic restrictions “inexplicable” in a statement.

“Appeasing the Castro brothers will only cause other tyrants from Caracas to Tehran to Pyongyang to see that they can take advantage of President Obama’s naiveté during his final two years in office. As a result, America will be less safe as a result of the President’s change in policy,” he said.
Rubio promised that as incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Western Hemisphere subcommittee he’ll “make every effort to block this dangerous and desperate attempt by the President to burnish his legacy at the Cuban people’s [sic] expense.”

I have long been in favor of lifting the embargo. For 53 years, it has accomplished nothing. The vile Castro brothers have kept their brutal police state in place while becoming extremely wealthy. Meanwhile, average Cubans are among the poorest in the hemisphere, despite past support from the former Soviet Union and ongoing support from other socialist and communist idiots. It’s not like we don’t have relations with vile regimes like China or Saudi Arabia.

Will this cause “reform” in Cuba? I’m dubious, especially as the embargo is only partially lifted and most American businesses will not be able to open shop in Cuba. But I’m also aware that the Castros are in their 70s. Even assuming that they live for much longer, their rule is going to become increasingly fragile. Trade and travel between the two countries can hasten that day by loosening the absolute political and economic power Castro has over his citizens. But even if it doesn’t, it is long since time we abandoned this stupid and destructive approach.

We’ll have to see what happens. But overall, I think this is a good step. The most encouraging sign to me is the number of liberals lamenting that capitalism is going to take over Cuba.

Good Lord, we can only hope so.

I am CRomnibus, Hear Me Roar!

While we weren’t watching, Congress quietly passed a continuing resolution/omnibus bill to avoid a government shutdown and fund the government through FY 2015. The bill basically keeps spending flat and funds everything except the Department of Homeland Security, which will be the stage for a fight over Obama’s immigration orders.

I don’t have a problem with the budget, per se. Flat spending is OK, especially with revenues growing. Addressing the long-term problem is going to require entitlement reform, which is unlikely to happen while Obama is in the White House. But, as I said a month ago, I’d prefer the Republicans put together a reform package to balance the budget long term and force Obama to veto it.

What’s really gotten attention, however, are the riders on the bill, which are laws unrelated to the budget itself. I’ll go through them quickly.

  • The most controversial is the effort to block marijuana legalization in DC. It forbids the DC government from funding marijuana regulation. I think you can probably guess that I hate this provision. The DC voters decided to legalize pot. It’s ridiculous for Congress to override them like this and a worrisome sign that Republicans are going to fall on the wrong side of history. Again.
  • The bill increases the limits on what people can donate to political parties. I don’t really have a problem with this since organizations can give tens of millions if they want.
  • They have given some schools flexibility in how they meet the new nutrition requirements for school lunches. Considering that I think these new requirements are based on junk science and are going to leave active kids starving, I’ll take this baby step on the way to repealing the regulations completely.
  • They blocked the EPA from adding the sage grouse to the endangered species list. I don’t know much about this issue, but my impression is that the grouse is declining but not in danger of extinction.
  • They forbad the government from spending money painting portraits of government officials and committee chairs. Good. Let them pay for their own damn portraits. We pay them enough.
  • They extended the time that incandescent bulbs can be manufactured. Considering that I’m typing this by the dim light of a worthless CFC bulb, I’m fine with this.
  • They required the WIC program to include more fresh veggies. Sure.
  • They forestalled requiring truckers to get more sleep. I’m supportive of this law because I know someone who was nearly killed by a sleepy long-haul truck driver. This is one of those rare times I think the incentives are lined up badly and we need a regulation. Not that I expect truckers to obey it anyway; a trucker friend once showed me how to fake the logs to make it look like you’re getting the required sleep.
  • Some clean water rules are delayed in farming areas. Sure.
  • Gitmo prisoners can’t come to the United States. I’ve indicated that I would prefer these guys be tried, but that idea isn’t going anywhere.
  • They rolled back a provision of Dodd-Frank that forbids banks from using FDIC-backed money to trade in derivatives. This was one of the few Dodd-Frank provisions I liked. If banks want to play financial games, that’s fine. But I don’t want to have to bail them out when it inevitably blows up in their faces.
  • The bill blocks the IRS from targeting certain groups. This is fine, but I don’t see any reason why the IRS would obey a second law forbidding them from doing what they’re already doing.
  • The bill mandates sexual harassment training for Hill staffers. Sure. Everyone else in the country has to get sexual harassment training. Why should Congress be exempt?
  • So, a mixed bag overall. But what’s hilarious is that the liberals are screaming bloody murder over this, as if attaching unrelated riders to a budget bill is something that was invented this week. Our government has constantly done this. There’s even a phrase for it: land-mine legislation. Huge encroachments on our liberty are passed this way all the time.

    And to complain about the DC marijuana initiative being shut down this way is blazing hypocrisy. Yes, I think it was a bad thing to do. But when Barack Obama used the “stimulus” bill to shut down the DC Voucher program, we didn’t hear a peep out out of the liberals. So should the government of DC only have sovereignty when they’re doing something you like?

    I think we know the answer to that.

    Turkeys and Drumsticks 2014

    For seven years running, I have taken advantage of the Thanksgiving Holiday to give out my awards for Turkey of the Year and Golden Drumsticks. The latter are for those who exemplify the best traits in our public sphere. The former are for those who exemplify silliness and stupidity. I rarely give them out to someone who is evil; they are reserved for those who regularly make me shake my head and wonder what they’re thinking. It’s a sort of “thank you” for making blogging easier.

    We’ll start with the Turkeys of the Year. For reference, the past winners are:

    2007: Alberto Gonzalez, Nancy Pelosi, Hugo Chavez

    2008: Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin’s critics, Hillary Clinton, Congress, Joe Biden

    2009: Mike Steele, Glen Beck, the State Department, Sarah Palin, Andrew Sullivan.

    2010: Janet Napolitano and TSA, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, MSNBC, Lower Merion Schools, California Voters.

    2011: Nancy Pelosi, Republican Presidential Field, Occupy Wall Street, Anthony Weiner, the Eurozone.

    2012: The Culture Warriors, Unions, The Poll Unskewers, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, MSNBC

    2013: Healthcare.gov, the Platinum Coin, the Shutdown Caucus, the National park Service, Fiscal Cliff Panic Mongers.

    For this year, I picked:

    Jonathan Gruber: #3 was in the lead most of the year. Then #2 took over earlier this month. But the millionaire consultant from MIT has to take the top prize now. The thing about Gruber is not that he made comments that support Halbig. It’s not that he helped create Obamacare. It’s not even that he called the voters stupid. It’s that he revealed the ugly reality that undergirds of much of the progressive movement in this country: the belief that Americans are stupid, that leaders are wise and that the latter must lead the former to good choices through deception, obfuscation and coercion. The most common thing I read on liberal message boards after Grubergate was “Hey, he’s right!” There is a large section of the Left Wing that thinks we need to be ruled by a technocratic elite. Gruber pulled back the veil. And that he looked like a horse’s ass into the bargain was just gravy.

    Lamenting Democrats: In the wake of yet another electoral shellacking, the professional whining class went into overdrive, trying to find something, anything to blame for their loss. Random articles about science topics would start with lamenting that evil Republicans were taking over the Senate. Robert Reich screamed that Republicans might use reconciliation to do stuff (reconciliation being a legitimate tactic up until November 3). A thousand articles sprang up about “how to talk to your crazy right-wing uncle/parents/cousin/neighbor/imaginary friend at Thanksgiving about Issue X” (hint: don’t).

    I’ve been disappointed by elections. But I hope I never get to the point where the results of an election make me gnash my teeth and rend my garments in such hilarious fashion.

    Barack Obama: The only reason his approval ratings aren’t at record lows is because of mindless Democrat loyalty. The economy continues to improve despite the Republicans rejecting every “jobs bill” he proposes. His party got crushed in the election. And his response to this was to … implement immigration reform through executive action (polls show Americans support the policy, but oppose the means). His White House is also becoming famous for what are called “bad optics” and would be called scandalous if Bush were doing it: fund-raising while the Ukraine is in turmoil, having a huge dinner while Ferguson is burning, golfing right after a press conference on an ISIS beheading. He has earned the low poll numbers. And earned a place on this list.

    Jim Ardis: Earlier this year, Ardis persuaded a judge to launch a raid on a house because one of the inhabitants was … mocking him on Twitter. He apparently still thinks this was a fine idea. Jim Ardis … meet the Streisand Effect.

    (One infuriating note: a judge has upheld the drug charges that resulted from the raid finding drugs in the house. Because warrants to arrest parody account holders are apparently just fine.)

    Paul Krugman: Another year for Krugman, another set of factually-challenged opinion pieces apparently written by unpaid interns. My favorite was his assertion that Halbig represented “corruption” in the courts, a claim the indispensable Walter Olson demolishes here. As several bloggers noted, Krugman was a big supporter of the Platinum Coin Caper, where he said, essentially, that we should concentrate on the letter of the law, not the spirit, the opposite of what he’s saying now.

    Note, also. This year is coming a cropper for things Krugmans believes in. The Picketty analysis of inequality appears to be badly flawed. And Keynesian ideas are failing all over the globe.

    Dishonorable Mention: Wendy Davis, whoever is doing PR for the Ferguson Police, the Ferguson rioters, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Secret Service, Mary Landrieu, Everytown USA.

    Now the Golden Drumsticks, awarded to those who best exemplified what is right with the world. Here are the past awards, the first round from West Virginia Rebel.

    2007: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ron Paul, Barack Obama, David Petraeus, Juan Carlos, Burma’s monks

    2008: US Military, Jeff Flake, Ron Paul, Republican Governors, Barack Obama

    2009: The American Fighting Man, Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd, George W. Bush

    2010: The Tea Party, Chris Christie, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the Next Wave of Republicans, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, The American Soldiers

    2011: Seal Team Six, Mark Kelly, The Arab Spring (ugh), the Technicians at Fukushima

    2012: Down Ballots, The Sandy Responders, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, Mathew Inman

    2013: Francis I, Edward Snowden, Rand Paul, The American Military, The Institute for Justice

    For this year, I picked:

    Ebola Responders: In the face of a colossal healthcare crisis and one of the most terrifying diseases out there, Africa has been flooded with volunteers risking their lives to help. Hundreds of healthcare workers in Africa, including Humarr Khan, have been killed trying to comfort or save the dying. Even in this country, we’ve seen nurses and doctors work hard to care for Ebola victims, including two nurses who were infected in Dallas and mercifully saved by modern medicine.

    Here’s a little thing about me: I tend to dislike movies about dystopias. Not because I think a dystopia won’t happen or because I’m ignorant about the dark side of human nature. I dislike them because they usually ignore the flip side of human nature: our capacity to be generous, brave and compassionate.

    Francis I: He continues to shake up the religious world while adhering closely to Catholic doctrine. My initial impression of him remains unchanged. He is just a good man.

    Rand Paul: Paul gave a speech earlier this year that was a rebuke to the neocons: defining a foreign policy that defends our interests while avoiding senseless overseas debacles. He is pushing the Republicans toward reforms of our criminal justice system, our surveillance state and our War on Drugs. I’m a bit worried whether he’ll hold up to the pressure of special interests, especially if he has Presidential aspirations. But right now, he’s doing good.

    David Brat and the Republican Candidates: “A monarch’s neck should always have a noose around it—it keeps him upright.” – Robert A. Heinlein. I’m not sure what to make of Brat at this point, but I think his defeat of Cantor is an important reminder to the Republicans of what will happen if the get stupid again. Among the other Republicans running for office this year, there was barely a gaffe to be heard. In fact, the biggest War on Women complaint was about Mark Udall, criticized by his own supporters for talking too much about the War on Women. In general, they stuck to the bread and butter themes of the economy, Obamacare and big government. Let’s hope they deliver.

    The Supreme Court: It’s always a mixed year from the Court, but this year they gave us good decisions in Riley, Hobby Lobby, Harris v. Quinn, McCullen v. Coakley, NLRB v. Noel Canning, Town of Greece v. Galloway, Schuette v. BAMN and McCutcheon. They continued their streak of unanimously rejecting Obama’s power grabs. You can check on this year’s key decisions here. There are a few I had issues with but most were solid.

    Honorable Mentions: marijuana decriminalization efforts, Scott Walker, Charlie Baker (anyone who defeat Martha Coakley gets a mention), the American military

    Put your nominees in the comments. And I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving.

    The Gruber Chronicles

    No doubt, you’ve heard a bit about the Jonathan Gruber videos emerging this week. Gruber came to light earlier this year for videos in which he argued that the supposed “scribal error” in Obamacare was intentional — i.e, that states that do not build exchanges shouldn’t get Obamacare subsidies. These new videos show him slagging the American voter, boasting about how they deceived the public on aspects of Obamacare and basically acting like an arrogant twerp.

    There’s been a small wellspring of sympathy for him, since he’s now caught up in an unexpected controversy. Personally, I find it difficult to find a lot of sympathy for a man who was paid $400,000 to help deceitfully foist Obamacare on us, but whatever.

    I don’t think Gruber’s comments, however angering they are, are going to make much difference. Obamacare passed and has survived at least one SCOTUS challenge. His comments on the subsidies are a good talking point on Halbig but SCOTUS is going to base their decision on Congressional intent, not the post-facto comments of some MIT windbag. No matter how involved he was in writing Obamacare, it is the intent of the legislators that matters.

    But there is one aspect of the Gruber videos that is important. It proves that not only were critics of the law right, but that the Administration knew they were right and lied and obfuscated about the law. It’s not a “scandal” in the sense that anyone broke the law. But it’s a scandal in what it reveals about Obama, the Democrats and the so-called fact-checkers.

    Take the CBO scoring. One of the big selling points of Obamacare, from day one, was that it would decrease the federal deficit. Critics pointed out that it only did this because of gimmicks — the taxes penalties fines taxes phased in a little faster than the subsidies. Critics pointed out that it depended on unlikely money-saving events, such as not enacting a “doc fix” (said doc fix having been promised to the AMA in return for their support of the bill). Critics pointed out that while it was technically balanced over the ten years, by year ten, Obamacare was running a deficit, a deficit that would only increase over the years. Critics also pointed out that CBO analysis, if you dug deep, made exactly these points. While they were required by law to score it the way they did, they noted, numerous times, the flaws in their projection.

    When we pointed this out, we were called liars and tools of the insurance industry. Fact-checkers rated this claim as false. Of course, time has born out our complaints. But what the video shows is that the Administration was well aware of their deceit — how could they not be? This wasn’t a quirk; this was an act of deliberate deception. And they were laughing about it all the way back to their comfy positions in academia and industry.

    Another big point is the so-called “cadillac tax”, which enacts a fee on healthcare plans that cost more than a certain amount (at least, for some people). When this plan was rolled out, critics pointed out that it was indexed to inflation, not healthcare costs. This would mean that, over time, more and more plans would qualify as “cadillac plans”. The result would be to effectively eliminate the tax deduction for health insurance.

    Now one can make the case that the tax deduction is bad law. But that’s not the case the Obama Administration made because they knew eliminating the tax deduction for health insurance would be extremely unpopular and likely scuttle the entire bill. So they came up with a convoluted and tangled way of doing it. And when critics pointed this out, they were called liars and tools of the insurance industry (the insurance industry having written much of Obamacare).

    Now that everyone is admitting to what Obamacare does, the President’s supporters are … blaming the stupidity of the voters for making these lies necessary. We’re being told this is standard operating procedure in Washington (it isn’t), that everyone does it (they don’t) and that the critics are being hypocrites (for … um, being right all along?)

    We see this over and over again with this Administration. Here is my own attempt a one-act play that encapsulated the last six years:

    Obama: My law does X.

    Critics: The law also does Y and Z and it doesn’t do X very well.

    Obama Supporters: Tea Partiers! Extremists! How dare you come here with your astroturf talking points!

    “Fact Checkers”: Obama says the law does X. We rate your claim as false.

    [Three years pass]

    “Fact Checkers”: Actually, the law also does Y and Z and does’t do X very well.

    Critics: We told you!

    Obama Supporters: Shut up! Y and Z are great policies! Obama had to lie about it because you’re so fucking stupid!

    The gripping hand here is that this will not make any difference. Most of the vast American public could give two shits about Jonathan Gruber. This will not have any impact on the Halbig case or any other legal challenges nor will it play a role in any attempts to fix or repeal Obamacare. It will persuade few to repeal the bill who don’t already want to. It’s mostly Washington insider stuff. I find myself agreeing with Tyler Cowen: let’s put all this energy into explaining why these policies are so bad rather than whether Gruber is an arrogant prick or the devil incarnate.

    Gruber is nothing. Obamacare is everything. We can do something about the latter. And now we can use the Administrations own words to help make it happen.