Your morning newspaper: Where nary is heard a contrary word

WaPo illustration accompanying Reid op-ed.

Many newspapers like to give their readers a full menu of commentary, often printing adjacent pro and con op-eds on a given topic.

Today the Las Vegas newspaper devoted its entire op-ed page to essentially a pro-pro stance.

The paper reprinted an op-ed by Sen. Harry Reid that first appeared Monday in The Washington Post as well as a column by Steve Sebelius taking an identical stance, fulminating over Republicans threatening to block any Obama nominee to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

They both attacked Sen. Mitch McConnell and all the Republican presidential candidates who said the replacement for Scalia should be named by whomever is elected president in November.

Sebelius fumed, “For the record, anyone in federal elected office who advises ignoring a presidential nomination or rejecting a nominee before that person’s name is even announced is simply unfit to hold office.”

Reid ranted, “Pursuing their radical strategy in a quixotic quest to deny the basic fact that the American people elected President Obama — twice — would rank among the most rash and reckless actions in the history of the Senate. And the consequences will reverberate for decades.”

The senator also claimed, “Until now, even through all the partisan battles of recent decades, the Senate’s constitutional duty to give a fair and timely hearing and a floor vote to the president’s Supreme Court nominees has remained inviolable. This Republican Senate would be the first in history to abdicate that vital duty.”

Pay no heed to his role in filibustering the nominations of both Samuel Alito and John Roberts for purely partisan reasons.

He also seems to have forgotten the speech by Chuck Schumer in 2007, late in George W. Bush’s second term, in which he said:

“For the rest of this President’s term and if there is another Republican elected with the same selection criteria let me say this: We should reverse the presumption of confirmation. The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance.  We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another Roberts; or Justice Ginsburg by another Alito. Given the track record of this President and the experience of obfuscation at the hearings, with respect to the Supreme Court, at least:  I will recommend to my colleagues that we should not confirm a Supreme Court nominee except in extraordinary circumstances.”

Both of today’s op-eds pounded on the Senate’s constitutional duty to provide advice and consent for Supreme Court appointees. There is no criteria spelled out for refusing to consent.

In fact, both Reid and Obama — along with Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Schumer and Joe Biden — voted against confirming both Alito and Roberts as high court justices.

Both Obama and Reid stated of Roberts that he was not adequately committed to discrimination of the basis of race and gender — or was they euphemistically call it, affirmation action.

Reid said of memos written by Roberts, “But these memos lead one to question whether he truly appreciated the history of the civil rights struggle. He wrote about discrimination as an abstract concept, not as a flesh and blood reality for countless of his fellow citizens.”

Obama said of Roberts on the floor of the Senate, “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind Judge Roberts is qualified to sit on the highest court in the land. Moreover, he seems to have the comportment and the temperament that makes for a good judge. He is humble, he is personally decent, and he appears to be respectful of different points of view.”

But then he said he opposed Roberts because of his lack of agreement with him on matters of affirmative action:

“I want to take Judge Roberts at his word that he doesn’t like bullies and he sees the law and the court as a means of evening the playing field between the strong and the weak. But given the gravity of the position to which he will undoubtedly ascend and the gravity of the decisions in which he will undoubtedly participate during his tenure on the court, I ultimately have to give more weight to his deeds and the overarching political philosophy that he appears to have shared with those in power than to the assuring words that he provided me in our meeting.”

Of Justice Alito, Obama said he was eminently qualified for the job but he was supporting a filibuster of his nomination “because I think Judge Alito, in fact, is somebody who is contrary to core American values, not just liberal values, you know.”

Obama also said back then that “there are some who believe that the president, having won the election, should have the complete authority to appoint his nominee, and the Senate should only examine whether or not the justice is intellectually capable … I disagree with this view.”

How dare any Republican disagree with this view.

It is all about partisanship and rewriting the Constitution to fit their political solutions, not the least bit about constitutional duties.

Chuck Schumer in 2007:

Obama admits appointments are purely political:

He uses the everybody does it excuse.



ObamaCare proving to be unsustainable for insurers or insured

Tim Hartman cartoon

This is not exactly the best business model one could create — the businesses can’t sell the product at a profit and the customer can’t afford to buy it.

But when the facts hit your eyes like a big pizza pie, that’s ObamaCare.

The Wall Street Journal reports that UnitedHealth Group’s $425 million downgrade in forecasted earnings for 2015 was almost entirely due to losses on the ObamaCare exchanges. As a result the company is threatening to stop selling on the exchanges in 2017. It has already suspended advertising the product and stopped paying commissions for new policies. “It literally doesn’t want consumers to buy its products,” WSJ observed.

The company said the payouts for ObamaCare coverage are exceeding premium income and there is no turnaround in sight. This doubtlessly happening with other insurers as well.

Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting that many people are deciding to forego health insurance because of the high deductibles under ObamaCare. In order to keep premiums low, insurers are charging outlandish deductibles before coverage kicks in.

The Times found one family of four that paid premiums of $1,200 a month with an annual deductible of $12,700. That means they would have to pay out of pocket $27,100 before seeing a dime of coverage.

The newspaper said people are dropping coverage and risking paying the penalty under ObamaCare. It is cheaper.

Aren’t there truth in labeling laws? Affordable Care Act indeed.

Forbes points out how few are really signing up for ObamaCare.

While the Congressional Budget Office had projected that 14 million enroll this year, it looks like the number will be about 9.5 million. Of those, only 2 million will be getting refundable tax credit subsidies. “That means that Obamacare is quickly turning into a Medicaid expansion,” the article explains. The single payer is the taxpayer.

Meanwhile, the co-ops set up under ObamaCare with taxpayer loans to provide competition and keep prices lower are going broke, including Nevada’s.

David Catron at The American Thinker offered this summation: “If you increase the cost of doing business for insurers, they’ll raise premiums and deductibles. If you make it impossible for them to make a profit selling coverage through exchanges, they’ll pull out. If you make coverage too expensive, people won’t buy it. If that coverage pays doctors less than it costs to treat a patient, doctors won’t treat them. If you pass a law that ignores such realities, it will be subjected to fact after brutal fact until it finally dies.”

The UnitedHealth Group is threatening to drop ObamaCare coverage. (AP photo)



Who gets to say what, wave what flag and have what mascot?

Obama radio interview

 “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

You can’t tell what is politically correct without a program, but who the hell has the program?

Several years ago I wrote an editorial for the Las Vegas newspaper excoriating the bowdlerized version of Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” that was being published then, because it changed the nickname of the character Jim to “slave” instead of that racial slur used by Twain 219 times in the novel. To avoid the obvious hypocrisy I spelled out the word.

The then-publisher spiked it after the one black employee he could find said it was offensive. He didn’t edit out the “offensive” word, he spiked it. That was his privilege.

So in the same week that everyone is talking about removing “racist” symbols, such as state flags and university team mascots, following the killing of black churchgoers in South Carolina, Obama goes on the radio and uses that offensive term, while claiming that racism is in our DNA.

“And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say ‘nigger’ in public,” Obama said. “That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. We have — societies don’t overnight completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”

A black Las Vegas Councilman and UNLV-alum Ricky Barlow was on KXNT this morning. He opposed doing away the UNLV mascot known as Hey Reb, which was illustrated by the late-newspaper artist Mike Miller and sold to the school for a dollar.

Symbols and words don’t spur people to kill, being crazy does. We can’t gag everyone and prohibit ideas and debate because a few people are nuts.

Miller and mascot

The Las Vegas Sun has a story online saying Harry Reid did not call for UNLV to drop the Rebel name and mascot. Who are going to believe? Harry or your lying ears?

The R-J story has the same spokesman quoted by the Sun denying the stance confirming the position.




Obama calls for more of the same failures

Obama said Monday that everything is just fine, he’s fixed all that’s wrong. Things will only get better if those evil, naysaying, dastardly Republicans will just roll over and play dead.

“So if you add it all up, over the last three and a half years, our businesses have added 7.5 million new jobs,” he said. “The unemployment rate has come down.  Our housing market is healing. Our financial system is safer.”

Obama speaks Monday about economy. (Reuters photo)

The only reason unemployment is down is because more people have given up looking for work and dropped out of the labor force.

According to an article in Fortune, the nation still needs 8.3 million jobs to fully recover from the recession.

The poverty rate has climbed to 15 percent under Obama.

But Obama, who has been president for nearly five years and had Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress for the first two years, laments:

“We need to grow faster.  We need more good-paying jobs.  We need more broad-based prosperity.  We need more ladders of opportunity for people who are currently poor but want to get into the middle class.  Because even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, the top 1 percent of Americans took home 20 percent of the nation’s income last year, while the average worker isn’t seeing a raise at all. In fact, that understates the problem.  Most of the gains have gone to the top one-tenth of 1 percent.”

And whose fault is this?

He got his financial bailouts, auto bailouts, stimulus, quantitative easing, longer jobless benefits, more taxes on the wealthy and ObamaCare.

When does he get a piece of the blame?

“Our deficits are going down faster than any time since before I was born,” he said. “By the end of this year, we will have cut our deficits by more than half since I took office.”

After doubling it. The total debt is approaching $17 trillion.

The next day the CBO announced that by 2038, the total debt will equal 100 percent of GDP. In 10 years, annual deficit would grow to almost 3½ percent of GDP under current law, while federal debt would equal 71 percent of GDP.

In one sentence Obama accused the Republican Party of creating “economic chaos if it can’t get 100 percent of what it wants.”

A few sentences later, he said, “The only way to make further long-term progress on deficit reduction that doesn’t slow growth is with a balanced plan that includes closing tax loopholes that benefit corporations and the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class. That’s the only way to do it.”

Isn’t he demanding 100 percent of what he wants? Kennedy and Reagan found another way.

His grand plan, which had few if any specifics, is more of the same as he’s given us the past five years. Where has that gotten us?

Any day older and deeper in debt.

On this day in 1787

Happy Constitution Day.

On this day in 1787, the representatives at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the Constitution. It was ratified by the states and went into effect on March 4, 1789.

You remember the Constitution don’t you?

That’s the document that says the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed …” Not waive, delay or ignore parts of laws the president doesn’t like. Not tell the attorney general to not defend laws such as the Defense of Marriage Act in court.


You know, the piece of paper that says, “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives …”

It’s those four-handwritten pages that give Congress the power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States …” Not to force people to engage in commerce or pay a fine or a tax for not doing so.

They later added the Bill of Rights, which says such things as “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

It also gave Congress the power to “declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.”

The instrument also says the “President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.” Not decide for himself when the Senate is in session.

The First Amendment of those Bill of Rights says Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” That probably means Congress can’t order a religion to pay for contraceptions, abortifacients and sterilization against its beliefs.

I’m pretty sure the document did not envision a president’s administration creating by regulation laws the Congress refused to pass — think immigration enforcement, EPA, FEC, HHS, HUD, USDA.

As James Madison said, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

Foreign policy or satire: Hard to tell

A major U.S. newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, actually reported the following as straight news and not satire …

One U.S. official who has been briefed on the options on Syria said he believed the White House would seek a level of intensity “just muscular enough not to get mocked” but not so devastating that it would prompt a response from Syrian allies Iran and Russia.

“They are looking at what is just enough to mean something, just enough to be more than symbolic,” he said.

That is now our official foreign policy — avoid mockery, which is the surest possible way to invite mockery.

Obama bemoans high college tuition cost: ‘Without a trace of irony …’

The lede editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal reveals the whiplash inducing 180-degree turn recently made by Obama in his ongoing college campus lecture tour.

For years Obama has been telling students how his trillion dollars higher education loans and grants was making college affordable for everyone. Then on Thursday, he said, “We’ve got a crisis in terms of college affordability and student debt … Our economy can’t afford the trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt, much of which may not get repaid because students don’t have the capacity to pay it.”

Pay no attention to the fact it was Obama who nationalized student loans in the first place and pushed through a plan to add $1 trillion in federally guaranteed student loans. As the WSJ noted, his recent remarks came “without a trace of irony.”

As the WSJ editorial noted further down, like in so many instances of government interference, the government creates the problem and then blames someone else. They force banks to make sub-prime home loans and then blame greedy bankers and Wall Street when the buyers default.

“Politicians subsidize the purchase of a good or service, prices inevitably rise in response to this pumped-up demand, and then the pols blame the provider of the good or service for responding to the incentives the politicians created. Think housing finance and medical care,” the editorial reasoned.

Richard Vedder (WSJ illustration)

Since 1965,  when Johnson’s Great Society began subsidizing college costs, tuitions have skyrocketed. This week the White House reported tuitions have increased 257 percent since 1983, while household incomes increased 16 percent.

To add to the analysis, the Saturday interview piece is with Ohio University’s Richard Vedder, who directs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. 

At the time Nevada’s university regents were talking about double-digit tuition and fee hikes in each of the next two school years — this on top of recent increases in fees of 50 percent.

Vedder says the higher-ed bubble is bursting and this can be seen in the number of unemployed or underemployed college graduates with huge debts —$26,000 on average but many higher than $100,000.

Obama has proposed capping monthly student debt payments to 10 percent of discretionary income. The entire debt would be forgiven after 20 years, but those who go to work for government or nonprofits could eliminate their debt in 10 years.

Vedder said Obam’s plan “creates a moral hazard problem. What it signals to current and future loan borrowers is that I don’t have to take these repayment of loans very seriously. … I don’t have to worry too much about getting a high-paying job.” 

Vedder has been saying  the same thing for years. In fact in March 2011, shortly before I joined the ranks of the college educated without a job or prospects of one, I quoted from a piece Vedder wrote for the Chronicle of Higher Education. He than reported that in 1992 fully 18 percent of college grads worked in jobs classified as “noncollege level jobs.” By 2008, that number was 35 percent.

“Some in higher education KNOW about all of this and are keeping quiet about it because of their own self-interest,” Vedder said then. “We are deceiving our young population to mindlessly pursue college degrees when very often that is advice that is increasingly questionable.”

Things have gotten worse instead of better since.

Unions awake to reality of ObamaCare and its perverse incentives

Though the White House has steadfastly claimed ObamaCare will be good for the economy — slowing annual health care inflation by 1.5 percentage points and increasing GDP — some of the nation’s biggest backers of the law are finally awakened to the harsh reality.

In a letter addressed to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, three big union bosses, including longtime Las Vegas Culinary union head D. Taylor, warn that ObamaCare must be fixed before it taxes their hard-won Cadillac nonprofit health insurance plans into bankruptcy and destroys the 40-hour workweek.

The letter reminds, in no uncertain terms, how much Democrats like Harry Reid owe the union.

Harry Reid and D. Taylor in happier times. (Sun photo)

Harry Reid and D. Taylor in happier times. (Sun photo)

“We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care,” the union bosses write. “We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision.”

In 2010, that huge union surge completely changed in Nevada the turnout ratio that was the rule across the rest of the nation.

The unions now realize that the law creates “perverse incentives” for employers to keep employees’ work hours below 30 hours a week so they do not have to provide health insurance. “Numerous employers have begun to cut workers’ hours to avoid this obligation, and many of them are doing so openly. The impact is two-fold: fewer hours means less pay while also losing our current health benefits,” the letter points out.

But perhaps more importantly, the unions’ nonprofit plans will not qualify for ObamaCare subsidies though union members will be taxed to subsidize others, making “plans like ours unsustainable.”

“Time is running out,” the bosses warn, “Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it. The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe.”

Perhaps they should have been paying attention in 2010 when the Heritage Foundation warned that ObamaCare would increase the deficit by an average $75 billion per year and result in an estimated 670,000 lost job opportunities per year.

Maybe someone at the unions took a closer look at the June jobs report in which the unemployment rate held steady at 7.6 percent, but the underemployment rate rose from 13.8 percent to 14.3 percent. This is because there are more people working part-time who want to work full-time.

Principles matter naught in all out nuclear option

Nevada Sen. Harry Reid said today on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he is tired of fighting filibusters blocking presidential nominees.

“The changes we’re making are very, very minimal. What we’re doing is saying: ‘Look American people, shouldn’t President Obama have somebody working for him that he wants?’” Reid said. “If you want to look at nominations, you know what the Founding Fathers said: ‘Simple majority.’ That’s what we need to do.”

Reid signaled that he is prepared to put an end to the centuries old Senate tradition of the filibuster by exercising what is being called the nuclear option. This would allow 51 senators to change the Senate rules instead of the 67 that are normally required.

This is the same Harry Reid who in 2003 weaponized boredom by filibustering a Bush judicial nominee for eight and half hours, often reading from his book about Searchlight, and in 2005 said on the Senate floor, while arguing against the nuclear option:

“For 200 years, we’ve had the right to extended debate. It’s not some “procedural gimmick.” It’s within the vision of the Founding Fathers of our country. They established a government so that no one person – and no single party – could have total control.

“Some in this Chamber want to throw out 217 years of Senate history in the quest for absolute power.

“They want to do away with Mr. Smith coming to Washington. They want to do away with the filibuster. They think they are wiser than our Founding Fathers.”

This was about the same time Obama was arguing:

“If the right of free and open debate is taken away from the minority party, and the millions of Americans who asked us to be their voice, I fear that the already partisan atmosphere in Washington will be poisoned to the point where no one will be able to agree on anything. That doesn’t serve anyone’s best interests, and it certainly isn’t what the patriots who founded this democracy had in mind. We owe the people who sent us here more than that – we owe them much more.”

Principles matter only when you are losing the argument. The GOP never pushed the button on the nuclear option.

Immigration reform would grow the economy, Obama says, but for whom?

You’ve heard the old saw: A recession is when your neighbor is unemployed. A depression is when you are.

In a recent speech, Obama said the Senate immigration reform bill would grow the economy 5 percent over the next 20 years, or by $1.4 trillion, and cut the deficit by $850 billion.

Obama said:

“Immigration reform would make it easier for highly-skilled immigrants and those who study at our colleges and universities to start businesses and create jobs right here in America. Foreign companies would be more likely to invest here. The demand for goods and services would go up – creating more jobs for American workers.”

How are things working out right now? According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics household survey, in June the unemployment rate for native born Americans was 8.1 percent. For foreign born, making no distinction for legal or illegal residency that I could find, the unemployment rate was 6.5 percent.

The Center for Immigration Studies looked at job stats for the years 2000 to 2013 and found “all of the net gain in employment over the last 13 years has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal).”

Key findings:

Between the first quarter of 2000 and the first quarter of 2013, the native-born population accounted for two-thirds of overall growth in the working-age population (16 to 65), but none of the net growth in employment among the working-age has gone to natives.

The overall size of the working-age native-born population increased by 16.4 million from 2000 to 2013, yet the number of natives actually holding a job was 1.3 million lower in 2013 than 2000.

The total number of working-age immigrants (legal and illegal) increased 8.8 million and the number working rose 5.3 million between 2000 and 2013.

Even before the recession, when the economy was expanding (2000 to 2007), 60 percent of the net increase in employment among the working-age went to immigrants, even though they accounted for just 38 percent of population growth among the working-age population.

Where the jobs have gone.

Where the jobs have gone.