Woz da madder wit Ellinois?

Darn that evil Scott Walker, ruining Wisconsin with all those ugly jobs!

Good analysis of Illinois’ multiple, connected fiscal-political problems at the WSJ.

If the states are laboratories of democracy, then a great comparative policy experiment is taking place in America’s Great Lakes region. Democrats in Illinois have been pursuing their blue-state model of higher taxes and union-dominated government. Neighboring states since 2010 have gone for lower taxes and union reform.

The comparison is especially apt because Illinois Democrats are doubling down on their strategy in this election year. Governor Pat Quinn has announced plans to make permanent the “temporary” tax hikes that were supposed to sunset at the end of this year. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan last month floated a 3% surcharge on income over $1 million, only to have it shot down by some in his own caucus. Yet Democrats are still flogging a progressive income tax, which Mr. Quinn all but endorsed last year.

All of which makes it an ideal moment to consider how the Quinn-Madigan policies are working.…

Fun review of Napoleon Chagnon’s autobiography

From Stephen Malanga over at City Journal.

His anthropology education had taught him that kinsmen—the raiders were related to those they’d attacked—were generally nice to one another. Further, he had learned in classrooms that primitive peoples rarely fought one another, because they lived a subsistence lifestyle in which there was no surplus wealth to squabble about. What other reason could humans have for being at one another’s throats?

Worth your time.

The Future of ACA

Golden GrowthThis morning, GorT heard an interesting question regarding the new HHS Secretary’s nomination: Should the GOP put up a fight in her nomination hearings?

My personal take on it would be a conditional yes.  Conditional in that, there should be some pretty basic questions asked of the nominee:

  1. Will you commit to providing accurate ACA enrollment numbers within 60 days of being in place at HHS?  Specifically, how many enrolled, how many paid their premiums, how many didn’t have health insurance prior to enrolling, what are the demographics of the enrollment numbers and how many were Medicare enrollees?
  2. What is the plan and outlook for the PP-ACA program for the next 5 years?

If the candidate cannot answer these then they don’t belong in the position.  Period.  Neither party should object to these questions.  From the democrats side, if the PP-ACA is such a great law regardless of the numbers, then why not divulge them?  Further, both Nancy Pelosi and President Obama have touted being transparent, so again, why not share the numbers?  Finally, it’s the national healthcare program so why aren’t the numbers public anyway?

GorT has heard industry analysts (folks that have been involved in the Healthcare industry for years and years) estimate that only 2 to 2½ million people have enrolled and paid.  The 7 or 7½ million number is bogus and meaningless and only serves as political fodder.  Additionally, a recent survey of 148 insurance brokers shows that the average premium increase for next year will be around 12% with some states exceeding that: Delaware (thanks, Joe Biden) at 100%, California (home of Nancy Pelosi) at 53%, Florida at 37% and Pennsylvania at 28%.  Even the averaged increase is higher that recent years (prior to ACA being in place).

The Obama Doctrine or #itsallconnected

Gentle Readers,

Dr. J. has never been thrilled with the president’s foreign policy. Bowing to foreign leaders, alienating friends, acting overly friendly to rivals and enemies, unilaterally disarming, making red lines and letting them be crossed, droning enemies, hiring the droning-on-and-on John Kerry, leading from behind, etc…

This approach is antithetical to the approach taken by President Reagan in the 1980s. Peace through strength and always being a friend to those who love freedom and liberty.

Dr. J. could never figure out how someone could could get it wrong every single time, until now.

Hail Hydra


It all makes sense now…

Sad Reality

How terrible and tragic is the news from Overland Park, Kansas. Passover is a holiday rooted in horror, when you think about it, but this holiday will never be the same for the many families that knew or included the victims.

The Czar is uncomfortable to take the conversation in this direction, but knows in his heart that the mainstream media will largely drop this story after two or three days. Coverage will continue with the odd update, but most of the serious journalism will be performed by local sources.

Perhaps our cynicism is shaded by other factors, but let us be realistic:

  • The shooter was a member of the KKK with a fascination with Nazism. You can well bet that the media types checked in to see if he was a registered Republican voter or participated in a Tea Party event: of course, his political leanings will almost certainly land him solidly in the other direction, if he voted at all.
  • He used a shotgun. Of course he had a handgun and something called an assault rifle, but he never used them. He did not even, it appears, have the rifle on him. This will not play well into the gun control argument at all. Sure, shotguns are dangerous and deadly weapons, but unfortunately they are Joe Biden’s weapons of choice, so this story will not serve the Left in any meaningful way.
  • Even though two of the victims may have been Methodist, this was intended to be an attack on Jews. Not Muslims, not Democrats (Johnson County, Kansas, is heavily Republican), not gays, not illegal immigrants. Hell, one of the victims was a Boy Scout: these are not victims the media cares about for very long.

This is ugly analysis, and the Czar admits it. However, when the story disappears off the big name pages by Thursday or Friday, you will know that it was right.

Why Lerner Should Not Get Immunity

So many Americans are wondering why the hell the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform doesn’t just grant immunity to Lois Lerner so we can finally learn the delicious details of the IRS scandal, and discover once and for all how high up the illegalities go.

The Czar will reveal why Lois Lerner has not been granted immunity, and why this process is taking so long.

Imagine for a moment that you are a Republican candidate for US Senator, running against Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin. You are delighted to observe that the polls are starting to tip your way, and that you might be able to prevent a terrible and corrupt liberal squid from becoming a career politician.

Now imagine that you get a phone call from Lois Lerner’s office, then working at the Federal Election Commission. A staff member there explains to you that a campaign loan you made to yourself is illegal, but she would be willing to drop the matter if you drop out of the election and pay her $200,000. You are stunned by this blackmail, and explain patiently that the loan you took from your coffers was in fact perfectly legal. All right, she agrees: she can drop the matter if you pay her $100,000. You say no, and the counteroffer now drops to $40,000 cash and a promise to never run for office, anywhere, again. You hang up.

Lerner calls you and wants to know what your problem is. You explain that the loan was perfectly legal, but that her understanding of how it was reported to the Federal Election Committee could have been mistaken. Lerner than responds that if you drop out of the election and never run again, she will drop the case. You chuckle and ask if she would kindly put that letter in writing…since this must clearly be a legally authorized offer and not, you know, some extortion shakedown attempt by an official. Lerner tells you that the government does not work that way, and that you will “find out” what happens next.

Now imagine that your opponent, Dick Durbin, is running television commercials against you claiming that you refused to cooperate with a joint FEC/IRS investigation, and there is an unsettled matter pending in the courts about you making off with over a million dollars of campaign money. You realize you are losing the election.

Actually, this is precisely what happened to Republican Al Salvi in 1996, whose political career was ruined, even though an FBI investigation and civil court hearing proved he was innocent beyond a doubt.

In 2013, Lois Lerner offered to cut a deal with the Oversight committee: grant her immunity and she will tell what she knows.

She knows nothing. She wants immunity because her career is riddled with stories like Al Salvi’s. She knows it. The House Oversight committee knows it. And she knows they know this.

There is enough material on Lois Lerner—outside of the IRS targeting of conservative groups—to put her behind bars for a while. If she gets immunity, she walks…without revealing anything of substance to the committee. “Ha.” she might one day boast over a martini. “I shook down Republicans for cash, and all I got was this T-shirt,” with a clink of freedom. “And I didn’t have to reveal a thing. Oops. Sorry, Republicans.”

She knows little that will prove useful to the investigation: she was just a bit player. And the committee knows it. Why grant her immunity when she won’t be able to name a powerful enough official. Heck, the committee almost certainly knows who she would blame for it all, and they already know there isn’t enough evidence to get anywhere.

But if they stick her with a contempt of Congress charge, run her before a court and put her behind bars, other folks at the IRS will get nervous. Sweaty palm nervous. Loose bowel nervous. And maybe they will be willing to talk to avoid Lerner’s fate…you know, in exchange for the immunity the committee didn’t waste on her.

You need to make that stick. Be deliberate, and make sure everything is by the book. Take your time: the longer they stretch her on the rack of public opinion, the faster the next person in line will crack.

Lois Lerner is a patsy, a distraction. A red herring, even. That doesn’t mean she can’t be made into a useful lever.

Cutest of the Seven Deadly Sins

Hello children. Hello.

It has been a busy time at the Castle, getting ready for Spring and teasing the robins and running unusual experiments on the tulips to see if we can grow them in infrared. Obey me. Many of you wonder what has taken up so much of your Mandarin’s time lately. All we can say, besides “Obey me,” is that involves baby sloths squeaking.

Sloth Squeak! from Lucy Cooke on Vimeo.

Yes, you may wonder what any of this has to do with orbiting mind control lasers and other deadly weaponry, but did you watch the video? Did you see the little one in the wicker basket?

Bear Watch ’14: Northern & Southern fronts [Updated]

Two good posts from Andrew Stuttaford at NRO’s Corner. First, the ominous appearance of “little green men,” the unofficial Russian troops who took Crimea, in various places in eastern Ukraine.

One data point in a pattern:

Men in camouflage, armed with machine guns, have been seen at the entrance to the town of Slovyansk, Donetsk region, where armed men seized the building of the local police department early on April 12, the OstroV online newspaper has reported.

Then, from the Baltics, an account of a music festival with an undercurrent of dread.

In stark contrast to that sonic beauty is the reaction yours truly elicits at the festival after-party, a few hours on. Chatting to a chirpy young restaurant manageress (there’s a food offshoot too, TMW Tastes), I slightly flippantly mention the Lithuanian chap’s prophecy about the imminent Russian invasion, as if passing on a bit of juicy celebrity gossip. And she starts to cry. Such things really shouldn’t be taken lightly.

UPDATE: Stuttaford adds another post on public opinion in eastern Ukraine.

Forgotten atrocity of the Civil War

Good lord. You may not want to read this, but you should. By Fergus Bordewich over at the WSJ:

On April 12, 1864, the worst war crime ever perpetrated during the Civil War took place on a bluff above the Mississippi River, 65 miles north of Memphis, Tenn. Three years to the day after the firing on Fort Sumter, 1,500 Confederate troops swept over defenses of Fort Pillow and massacred hundreds of surrendering Union soldiers, most of them black.

There were shouts of “No quarter!” and cries to kill all the black soldiers as soon as the Confederates penetrated the fort. Union troops attempting to surrender were shot, hacked with sabers and beaten to death with rifle butts. According to eyewitnesses, several were burned to death in huts. Others were reportedly thrown into pits with the dead and buried alive.

Government investigators traveled to Tennessee two weeks after the battle to interview survivors. “We saw bodies still unburied of some sick men who had been fleeing from the hospital and beaten down and brutally murdered, and their bodies left where they had fallen,” one investigator reported. “We could still see the faces, hands and feet of men, white and black, protruding out of the ground.”

Read the rest.