[Guest post by DRJ]
[Guest post by DRJ]
[Guest post by DRJ]
President Obama’s willingness to engage the leaders of countries like Iran and North Korea makes as much sense as Obama in Diplomatic Talks with Raging Wildfire:
Heh. That Obama, he has a gift.
H/T Hot Air.
[Guest post by DRJ]
Here’s a combination of the two Iowahawk posted before last Saturday’s Iowa-Michigan game. My apologies to Michigan — it’s one of my favorite schools — but even Wolverine fans have to laugh at this, although it won’t be easy since Iowa won the game 30-28.
[Guest post by DRJ]
State officials are working to calculate the effect of Washington’s $787 billion recovery package in an effort to meet a national government reporting deadline. The AP says early reports show the stimulus saved government jobs, especially teaching jobs:
“The national data won’t be available until later this month. But based on preliminary information obtained by The Associated Press from a handful of states, teachers appear to have benefited most from early spending. That’s because the stimulus sent billions of dollars to help stabilize state budgets, sparing what officials said would have teacher layoffs.
In California, the stimulus was credited with saving or creating 62,000 jobs in public schools and state universities. Utah reported saving about 2,600 teaching jobs. In both states, education jobs represented about two-thirds of the total stimulus job number. Missouri reported more than 8,500 school jobs, Minnesota more than 5,900. In Michigan, where officials said 19,500 jobs have been saved or created, three out of four were in education.”
Billions of dollars in highway funds also spurred road and highway construction jobs, although the status of these projects is unclear and the job gains may be temporary.
Thus, most of the jobs saved may be in state and local government, particularly in education. America needs teachers but those are government-created service jobs, not wealth-creating jobs. The Obama Administration wants us to believe all jobs are created equal but they aren’t. Education is important but education by itself does not create wealth. America needs wealth-creating jobs, and fast.
[Guest post by DRJ]
The FBI is using facial recognition software to scan driver’s licenses in an effort to locate fugitives:
“Earlier this year, investigators learned that a double-homicide suspect named Rodolfo Corrales had moved to North Carolina. The FBI took a 1991 booking photo from California and compared it with 30 million photos stored by the motor vehicle agency in Raleigh.
In seconds, the search returned dozens of drivers who resembled Corrales, and an FBI analyst reviewed a gallery of images before zeroing in on a man who called himself Jose Solis.
A week later, after corroborating Corrales’ identity, agents arrested him in High Point, southwest of Greensboro, where they believe he had built a new life under the assumed name. Corrales is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Los Angeles later this month.”
An ACLU privacy expert describes it as a nationwide virtual lineup:
“Everybody’s participating, essentially, in a virtual lineup by getting a driver’s license,” said Christopher Calabrese, an attorney who focuses on privacy issues at the American Civil Liberties Union.
Calabrese said Americans should be concerned about how their driver’s licenses are being used.
Licenses “started as a permission to drive,” he said. “Now you need them to open a bank account. You need them to be identified everywhere. And suddenly they’re becoming the de facto law enforcement database.”
The FBI program does not take custody of driver’s license photos but instead uses state DMV databases. Its primary use seems to be for law enforcement and not terrorism since, as noted in the article, facial recognition software requires good photos but “We don’t have good photos of terrorists.”
How bad is the L.A. Times‘s coverage of local issues? Chris Reed tells that the answer is: really, really bad:
Four weeks ago, I wrote the first version of this post to express my utter amazement that the Los Angeles Times — by far the biggest newspaper in Southern California — had failed to inform its readers that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — by far the biggest water supplier in the region — was preparing to retroactively increase the pensions of its entire staff by 25 percent at a time when it was in the middle of a two-year, 31 percent increase in the rates it charges water districts serving 19 million people from Ventura to Riverside to San Diego. The MWD’s pension system was already $400 million underfunded. Now MWD bosses, who stood to reap huge gains personally, were moving to increase the unfunded liability by $70 million.
If this is not a story to the L.A. Times’ 900,000 readers, what is? It’s stupid public policy. It’s mendacious public policy. It’s the sort of public policy that normally the Times would decry.
What was amazing four weeks ago stands as literally incredible today. With the MWD board vote on the 25 percent pension spike just a few days away, a Nexis and Google search shows the LAT still hasn’t told its readers about the proposal.
Yes, that is pathetic.
Linking Reed’s post, Kevin Roderick did his own search and came up empty as well — while finding plenty of coverage in the Orange County Register.
I did my own search — and, to make commenter Foo Bar happy, I repeated it on Google to pick up anything in the blogs. I couldn’t find a thing. The paper had a story three days ago on state employees who collect pensions and a salary at the same time — but the MWD vote and its proposed $70 million in unfunded liabilities (a story sitting right under the editors’ noses) appears conspicuously absent from the paper and the blogs. (Even if the Google search somehow missed a blog entry, this is a story that belongs in the paper . . . period.)
And why is this happening? Reed rejects the explanation of ideology in favor of a more obvious answer:
I don’t think it reflects ideology. The LAT has done some good stuff on excessive benefits in the L.A. school district and has supported pension reform.
So that pretty much leaves rank, abject incompetence.
I can’t think of a better explanation myself.
[Posted by Karl]
The Washington Post’s Ceci Connolly actually provides the revealing lede:
After months of collaboration on President Obama’s attempt to overhaul the nation’s health-care system, the insurance industry plans to strike out against the effort on Monday with a report warning that the typical family premium in 2019 could cost $4,000 more than projected. (Emphasis added.)
Connolly’s story buries the reason for this turn of events:
Early in his quest, Obama wooed industry leaders in the hopes of neutralizing many of the players who helped defeat a similar effort by President Bill Clinton. Yet as the process has moved from high-minded concepts to legislative details, the tension has mounted. Hospitals and doctors have increasingly grumbled that the administration is not keeping bargains it struck over how many Americans would be covered under reform and what payment changes would be made. (Emphasis added.)
To be fair, however, Connolly did a story Friday that gets closer to the heart of the matter:
The industry heavyweights President Obama neutralized through the summer are agitating that the health-care bills in Congress violate agreements they made with the White House, leave 25 million Americans uninsured and have the potential to increase medical costs.
Many lobbyists and independent analysts underlined what they called major flaws in the Finance Committee’s bill, saying it probably would draw the sickest, most expensive patients into the health coverage system without balancing the insurance risk with more young, healthy people. The result, they predicted, would be ever-rising premiums for the people, businesses and governments that pay for medical care.
“The consequences of this would be an upward spiral; rate shock to everyone who stays in,” said Karen Ignagni, president of the industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans. “This legislation will fail the test of affordability for individuals.”
Connolly’s Friday piece also makes clear that the opposition to the Baucus vapor bill extends beyond health insurers to include the AMA and the Federation of American Hospitals.
The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn predictably questions aspects the health insurers’ study, mostly its treatments of the subsidies (ultimately paid for by taxpayers) to help people buy insurance. However, the health insurers respond that those subsidies will not stop premiums from increasing:
The chief reason, said the report, is a decision by lawmakers to weaken proposed penalties for failing to get health insurance. The bill would require insurers to take all applicants, doing away with denials for pre-existing health problems. In return, all Americans would be required to carry coverage, either through an employer or a government program, or by buying it themselves.
But the CBO estimated that even with new federal subsidies, some 17 million Americans would still be unable to afford health insurance. Faced with that affordability problem, senators opted to ease the fines for going without coverage from the levels Baucus originally proposed. The industry says that will only let people postpone getting coverage until they get sick.
This may represent the unraveling of a Faustian bargain. The essential terms of the deal were that insurers woul be forced to accept everyone (“guaranteed issue”) and charge the same rates (“community rating”) — causing insurance premiums to skyrocket — but this would be offset by the individual mandate, which would force the young and healthy to fork new money over to the insurers. Without those mandates — and hefty fines to enforce them — the insurers will balk at the rest of ObamaCare.
At National Review, Benjamin Zycher explains why the political pressures to weaken the individual mandate, supposedly the quid pro quo for nonexclusion of insurance applicants with pre-existing conditions, are and will remain irresistible. And Zycher is right to mock the lobbyists for entering into the deal at the outset. Poll after poll — including the most recent one from Quinnipiac — shows the American people think ObamaCare will not live up to its promises.
[Guest post by DRJ]
The way things used to be — We celebrated Columbus Day by making models of his ships, the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, and reciting poems about discovery. We were the kids at Art Linkletter’s House Party:
Here’s another Kids Say the Darndest Things video if you want a trip down memory lane.
The way things are today — Columbus Day is when some kids learn about genocide and schools teach the darker side of Christopher Columbus, because one man’s hero is another man’s villain:
“[Kindergarten teacher Jeffrey] Kolowith’s students learn about the explorer’s significance — though they also come away with a more nuanced picture of Columbus than the noble discoverer often portrayed in pop culture and legend.
I talk about the situation where he didn’t even realize where he was,” Kolowith said. “And we talked about how he was very, very mean, very bossy.” Columbus’ stature in U.S. classrooms has declined somewhat through the years, and many districts will not observe his namesake holiday on Monday. Although lessons vary, many teachers are trying to present a more balanced perspective of what happened after Columbus reached the Caribbean and the suffering of indigenous populations.”
A bossy ship’s captain? Imagine that.
I’m glad I live in today’s nuanced world but it’s nice to visit Art Linkletter’s world, especially on Columbus Day.
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