System Fail, Mueller, and the Expert Class

There’s actually nothing here that you don’t know, but there is a lot that has not been said out loud. How many of you sit there looking at the paper, or the broadcast news, and simply gape in amazement at the garbage they throw your way. Part of it likely is the 24-hour news cycle, all that time to fill with something, insane or not, part of it is the effect of the internet on the old media. But the main result is that almost all of the media is not only going broke but is entirely despised by the people. Here’s part of why, from Lee Smith.

It will take weeks for the elite pundit class to unravel all the possible implications and subtexts embedded in Robert Mueller’s final report on the charge that Donald Trump and his team colluded with Russia to fix the 2016 election. The right claims that the report exonerates Trump fully, while the left contends there are lots of nuggets in the full text of the final report that may point to obstruction of justice, if not collusion.

But here’s all you need to know about the special counsel probe:

First, after nearly two years, the special counsel found no credible evidence of collusion. It found no credible evidence of a plot to obstruct justice, to hide evidence of collusion. The entire collusion theory, which has formed the center of elite political discourse for over two years now, has been publicly and definitely proclaimed to be a hoax by the very person on whom news organizations and their chosen “experts” and “high-level sources” had so loudly and insistently pinned their daily, even hourly, hopes of redemption.

Mueller should have filed his report on May 18, 2017—the day after the special counsel started and he learned the FBI had opened an investigation on the sitting president of the United States because senior officials at the world’s premier law enforcement agency thought Trump was a Russian spy. Based on what evidence? A dossier compiled by a former British spy, relying on second- and third-hand sources, paid for by the Clinton campaign.

That is one lesson and a very big one.

The campaign was waged not in hidden corners of the internet, but rather by the country’s most prestigious news organizations—including, but not only, The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC. The farce that has passed for public discourse the last two years was fueled by a concerted effort of the media and the pundit class to obscure gaping holes in logic as well as law. And yet, they all appeared to be credible because the institutions sustaining them are credible.

Michael McFaul was U.S. ambassador to Moscow—he knows everything about Russia. He wouldn’t invent stuff about national security matters out of thin air. Jane Mayer is a national treasure, one of America’s greatest living journalists who penned a long profile of Christopher Steele in the pages of the New Yorker. Susan Hennessy is a former intelligence community lawyer, who appears as an expert on TV. And how about her colleague at the Lawfare blog, Benjamin Wittes, a Brookings Institution fellow and a personal friend of James Comey? You think he didn’t have the inside dope, every time he posted a “Boom” GIF on Twitter predicting the final nail just about to be hammered in Trump’s coffin?

Many more jumped on the dog pile along with them, validating each other’s tweets and breathless insider sourcing. The point was to thicken the echo chamber, with voices from the right as well as the left in order to make it seem real. Hey, if this many experts are saying so, there must be something to it.

Except, there wasn’t—ever.

Read it all at The Tablet, via Ace.

Absolutely correct, I believe. Like the fake testimonials of so many snake oil salesmen in the old west, not only was there was not a sliver of truth in what these feather merchants were trying to sell us, it was all based on actual purchased lies. Given a thin veneer of respectability by being purchased from a British former intelligence spook. But Cristopher Steele, no matter what these fools think, is no James Bond. He’s just another grifter trying to get rich trading on his contacts.

And mind, I put the political consultants on TV and in the press in exactly the same category. If Karl Rove was so good, he wouldn’t be flapping his jaw on Fox, he’d have real clients, running for office, and winning. He and all the rest of them are losers, with middling excuses, and an ability to spin a tale, no truth necessary, one listens to them at one’s peril.

Political Correctness, and Other White Elitist Fads

Steven Hayward at Powerline wrote about a British study, and an Atlantic article based on it yesterday. It is interesting, to say the least.

But a new study just out from a British study group makes the left’s fanaticism about diversity and political correctness look even worse. The study, Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape, makes for rough reading for the progressive race-mongers.

Yascha Mounk, a Harvard liberal for the most part, summarizes the most embarrassing parts today in The Atlantic, in “Large Majorities Dislike PC Culture.” Some key samples:

Among the general population, a full 80 percent believe that “political correctness is a problem in our country.” Even young people are uncomfortable with it, including 74 percent ages 24 to 29, and 79 percent under age 24. On this particular issue, the woke are in a clear minority across all ages.

Youth isn’t a good proxy for support of political correctness—and it turns out race isn’t, either.

Whites are ever so slightly less likely than average to believe that political correctness is a problem in the country: 79 percent of them share this sentiment. Instead, it is Asians (82 percent), Hispanics (87 percent), and American Indians (88 percent) who are most likely to oppose political correctness. . .

Three quarters of African Americans oppose political correctness. This means that they are only four percentage points less likely than whites, and only five percentage points less likely than the average, to believe that political correctness is a problem.

If age and race do not predict support for political correctness, what does? Income and education.

While 83 percent of respondents who make less than $50,000 dislike political correctness, just 70 percent of those who make more than $100,000 are skeptical about it. And while 87 percent who have never attended college think that political correctness has grown to be a problem, only 66 percent of those with a postgraduate degree share that sentiment.

I’ve glanced at the study, it looks pretty interesting, if it proves so, maybe more to come on this, but in the meantime, the Atlantic article ends with a pretty sensible thought, that I expect many will ignore.

The gap between the progressive perception and the reality of public views on this issue could do damage to the institutions that the woke elite collectively run. A publication whose editors think they represent the views of a majority of Americans when they actually speak to a small minority of the country may eventually see its influence wane and its readership decline. And a political candidate who believes she is speaking for half of the population when she is actually voicing the opinions of one-fifth is likely to lose the next election.

Remind you of anybody you hear a lot about? Yeah, me too.

Not only in the US, either. I think much the same thing is happening in the UK, and perhaps all of Europe.

Anniversaries

Seventeen years ago today the World Trade Center was hit. It was a disaster visited on us on the scale of Pearl Harbor, made worse because its victims were civilians. It was also an intelligence failure, the perpetrators should have been easy to catch, all were what we now call ‘known wolves’. Our government ignored the warnings.

And so began the so-called Global War on Terror.

Other than the Kabuki theater of airport security, and the invasion of American’s rights by our government, there have been two campaigns. One in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Neither has been successful, although Iraq came close before Obama ordered the big bug out.

But it has kept a lot of money flowing from the government to a lot of special interests. Seventeen years is a long time – if we can’t win a war against some 7th-century tribesman (and there are legitimate reasons why that is harder than a modern society) in that time, well, maybe we should just call it a day. We can always blow it up again when they get out of line.

No real shame in that. Alexander the Great couldn’t get it done, neither could the British Empire at its height, or the Soviet Union. It’s a quagmire and a money pit.

But six years ago, we saw the results of feckless leadership, we saw it in Benghazi.  Daniel John Sobieski wrote about it for American Thinker.

The arrogance of the man who lied to the parents of the Benghazi dead in front of their sons’ caskets as they were returned to the country they fought for is mind-boggling.  As he attempted to rewrite many chapters of his failed presidency in a speech at the University of Illinois, he called the accurate and documented reports of the criminal negligence of secretary of state Hillary Clinton and himself during the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on our Benghazi compound a mere “conspiracy theory.”

Conspiracy theories don’t produce body bags, sir, but perhaps you don’t remember that night all too well because you spent the time four brave Americans were being killed under your command in Libya readying up for a Las Vegas fundraiser.

Kris Paronto, former Army Ranger and CIA contractor who fought with his colleagues on the roof of the CIA annex in Benghazi, remembers that night and tweeted his response to the then-president’s arrogant and dismissive ridicule of their sacrifice and your incompetence:

Benghazi is a conspiracy @BarackObama ?! How bout we do this,let’s put your cowardly ass on the top of a roof with 6 of your buddies & shoot rpg’s & Ak47’s at you while terrorists lob 81mm mortars killing 2 of your buddies all while waiting for US support that you never sent

Obama and Hillary had plenty of warnings that the security at Benghazi was woefully inadequate, that the compound was swimming in an ocean of terrorist training camps.  They ignored these warnings, and when the attack happened, they did nothing when a rescue mission could have been mounted.  Instead, stand-down orders were given to would-be rescuers, and following the attack, the infamous video lie was concocted and spread over the airwaves, with President Obama repeating it no fewer than six times in a speech before the United Nations.

Hicks, the last man to speak to Ambassador Chris Stevens, has exposed the video lie, documenting how he told Hillary’s State Department what was happening in real time that fateful night and how her State Department ignored warnings from Chris Stevens and others about the gathering terrorist storm and the woeful  lack of security.

Now retired, private citizen Hicks goes farther, telling Fox News Hillary Clinton broke laws while condemning four Americans to death at the hands of terrorists:

Just as the Constitution makes national security the President’s highest priority, U.S. law mandates the secretary of state to develop and implement policies and programs “to provide for the security … of all United States personnel on official duty abroad.”

This includes not only the State Department employees, but also the CIA officers in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.  And the Benghazi record is clear: Secretary Clinton failed to provide adequate security for U.S. government personnel assigned to Benghazi and Tripoli.

The Benghazi Committee’s report graphically illustrates the magnitude of her failure.  It states that during August 2012, the State Department reduced the number of U.S. security personnel assigned to the Embassy in Tripoli from 34 (1.5 security officers per diplomat) to 6 (1 security officer per 4.5 diplomats), despite a rapidly deteriorating security situation in both Tripoli and Benghazi.  Thus, according to the Report, “there were no surplus security agents” to travel to Benghazi with Amb. Stevens “without leaving the Embassy in Tripoli at severe risk.”

Keep reading, there’s more at the link.

This is the action of at best, a feckless, but more likely seditious, if not actually treasonous government. This is the history of the so-called deep state, and why it must be rooted out. It is not American government as we have known it. I’m not sure what label to apply to it, but I want nothing like it in America.

It is the major threat to the liberty of America, and Americans.

Conspicuous Consumption: The American Healthcare Boondoggle

We’ve often said, even before Obamacare really screwed it up, that one of the major problems in American health care is the disconnect between who receives it, and who pays for it. Since we pay for our insurance and our insurance pays for our healthcare, we are pretty much removed from the equation as to what we get for our money. The chart at the right indicates, if nothing else, that we spend an inordinate, not to say, ridiculously excessive amount on health care administration. This is an overhead cost, that essentially provides no value at all to the consumer. It happens because it is in no one’s interest (except the consumer, who isn’t in the loop) to reduce it. For instance, Daniel Flynn in The American Spectator tells us.

At St. Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, visitors immediately encounter a waterfall, trees, massive rocks, and a pathway for hospital-goers interested in a stroll all located underneath a glass atrium. The massive indoor nature preserve of sorts appears about half the size of a football field. It provides peace and tranquility in a place in need of such comforts.

Once one gets past the beauty and grandeur of it, thoughts run to the expense. Americans spend $3.5 trillion on healthcare annually. The lavish look of so many hospitals reminds that these institutions bankrolled in part by third parties — taxdollars and insurance companies — do not cut corners. The sheer majesty of so many big-city hospitals — and even, as this one shows, medium-sized city hospitals — acts as metaphor for the entire healthcare system. We waste a lot of money.

IU Health in Indianapolis boasts a monorail-like People Mover that shuttles patients, families, employees, and anybody else who cares to ride between hospitals for free. Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles offers deluxe maternity suites featuring such perks as access to a “personal doula,” “soft colors and recessed lighting to offer a soothing environment for laboring women,” and an “in-room refrigerator stocked with complimentary chilled juices and bottled water.” Even hospitals labeled “struggling” struggle to avoid lavish spending. The New York Postreported in 2016 that Brooklyn’s SUNY Downstate Medical Center paid consultants $83,000 for such frills as “pricey rooms at the Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side, a booze-infused ‘team dinner’ at the Docks Oyster Bar in Midtown, and sticker-shock limo bills.”

None of that is bad stuff, intrinsically. But at what cost, and how much of it is subsidized by those who would rather spend less, still receiving excellent care but without the fripperies. I don’t know about you, but if I’m sick enough to be in the hospital, I care quite a lot about the quality of the medical staff, and yes, the janitorial staff as well. I’m not particularly interested in a half a football field of tropical rainforest at the front door. My priorities just don’t extend to that.

Nor do I really wish my hard earned dollars be spent on lavish care without cost in the maternity ward, I’m fine with providing it, assuming the users want it and are paying for it. Same goes for my money paying for stays at hotels where I can’t afford a cup of coffee, most likely. These are consulting doctors, send them to Motel 6, if they want better, let them pay for it. I don’t blame them, but why am I (and you) paying for it, on top of what are most likely very high consultancy rates.

Here’s a different model.

Dignity Health St. Rose-Dominican Neighborhood Hospitals increasingly specializes in opening micro hospitals. Rather than 1,000 beds, they may contain a dozen. Some average 11-minute wait times for care. They deliver babies, replace knees, respond to heart attacks, and treat gunshot wounds. For care requiring more specialization and expense, such as cancer treatment, they might refer patients to larger institutions.

“We only transfer 5 percent, or sometimes in other locations, 4 percent of our patients,” Laura Hennum of Dignity Health St. Rose-Dominican Neighborhood Hospitals told CNBC. “We treat or discharge the vast majority of patients we see.”

The convenience and cost of such an institution appeals. Obviously, the basic idea appealed to Apple, which launches a series of well-publicized AC Wellness clinics to serve employees. Apple, like Amazon, Berskshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan Chase, thinks that a better, cheaper way exists to provide quality healthcare.

Micro hospitals appear as a small piece of this puzzle. Americans spend an average of over $10,000 per person on healthcare annually. The $3.5 trillion we now collectively spend looks to approach $6 trillion by 2026.

That sounds like a good model to me, at least for most of us. No frills, but prices we can afford, likely. I’ve said before that we will never solve our healthcare payment problem (our healthcare system has some problems, but they are a somewhat different set, and I don’t think solvable on the local level) until once again we are paying out of pocket for at least routine care, and routine can include more than we expect. There is no structural reason why we should need insurance for anything under about ten thousand dollars, and for many people considerably higher than that. We don’t use insurance to replace our car after all except after a catastrophic accident, yeah, too often we finance it, but that is a choice we make.

What we are beginning to see are private companies such as Amazon and Apple, moving into the field. Why? because it is a field rife with useless overhead, which might be fairly easy to cut, leaving a better financial experience for the customer (I mean us, not our insurance company) while being a pretty profitable venture, given some real management. It can go too far the other way, of course, cutting not only into the meat but the bone, but if we don’t do something health care is going to eat the economy.

The Swamp and Machete Report.

Senator Steve King had a few things to say about a couple;e of his colleagues, who scuttled the ‘Skinny’ Obamacare repeal the other day,, after promises going back to the corrupt passage of the monstrosity.

He’s right in all details, of course.


There was a knife attack in Hamburg the other day, which killed one and wounded several. The perpetrator shouted Allu Akbar, or Aloha Snackbar, or something. The police are puzzled by what the motive may have been. I’m puzzled that the Germans keep electing such cretins as Mutti Merkel, but I’m a simple man who believes in right and wrong, and self-defense, as a person, and a society.


Joe Klein writing at Warsclerotic has some very appropriate thoughts about the war going on between the deep state (in the State Department) and the President.

The State Department’s own “deep state” is trying to sabotage President Trump’s foreign policy agenda. From the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Iran, Qatar and climate change, the State Department, under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is reported to be in “open war” with the White House. Key high level positions remain vacant as Obama holdovers “continue running the show and formulating policy, where they have increasingly clashed with the White House’s own agenda,” according to the Free Beacon. Secretary Tillerson has reportedly run interference to protect the Obama holdovers from being removed, allowing resistance to President Trump’s foreign policy agenda to flourish within the State Department.

The first casualty of this internal coup by the State Department’s deep state is Israel. The shadow of the Obama administration’s anti-Israel bias was reflected in a report the State Department released on July 17, 2017 entitled Country Reports on Terrorism 2016. It praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for reiterating “his commitment to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, and pursuit of an independent Palestinian state through peaceful means.” The report referred to what it called “significant steps during President Abbas’ tenure (2005 to date) to ensure that official institutions in the West Bank under its control do not create or disseminate content that incites violence.”

The State Department report brushed aside clear evidence of a continuing barrage of incendiary rhetoric appearing on official Palestinian Authority and Fatah social media outlets and of inflammatory statements by Palestinian officials, including Abbas himself. Instead, it claimed that the Palestinian Authority “has made progress in reducing official rhetoric that could be considered incitement to violence.”

The State Department report conveniently skipped over the fact that Abbas remains committed to paying regular salaries to Palestinian terrorists imprisoned for killing Jews and to terrorists’ families. Their perfidiously named “Martyrs Fund” has a treasure chest of about $300 million dollars. That blood money comes in part from foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, some of which is contributed by American taxpayers. President Trump has spoken out against the ‘pay to slay Jews’ terrorist payments, but the State Department has turned a blind eye. Obama holdover Stuart Jones, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, is reported to have steered Secretary Tillerson into making the erroneous claim that the Palestinian Authority had ceased spending U.S. taxpayer funds to pay terrorists, according to the Free Beacon’s sources.

Yep, and a good part of this also goes back to the failed GOP leadership in the Senate. That is a large part of why all those Obama appointees are still scattered around the government (and there are tons of them). The Senate under McConnel just can’t find enough votes as the majority party to confirm (with 51 votes out of 100, or 101 is Pence is in the chair). Or maybe they don’t want to, they seem to be more considerate to the Democrats that to the Republican rank and file that elected them. I suspect that Draining the Swamp™ will proceed much better after more than a few GOP Senators get primaried.

 

Swampcare v Obamacare

Well, Ryan’s healthcare plan is out. What is no surprise is that it is a statist, big government plan, not as bad as Obama’s but pretty bad all on its own.

Dan Mitchel wrote back in 2010

The only way to fix healthcare is to restore the free market. That means going back to a system where people pay out-of-pocket for most healthcare and use insurance to protect against genuine risk and catastrophic expenses. The time has come to reduce the size and scope of government. …Change Medicare into a system based on personal health accounts and shift all means-tested spending to the states. …the flat tax is ideal from a healthcare perspective since it gets rid of the healthcare exclusion in the tax code as part of a shift to a tax system with low rates and no double taxation.

This video, narrated by Julie Borowski for the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, looks at the Obamacare/third-party payer issue.

via Our Healthcare Policy Problem Is Much Bigger than Obamacare

Yep, and for that matter, back in 2013, I wrote this,

Understand this, 404Care isn’t healthcare, it’s a chance to buy insurance, executed properly, in some alternate universe it might even have been useful. But here, where the sky is blue, it’s not. Why? Because with the limited number of plans available and the narrowness of providers, you’re screwed. You’re screwed, even if your identity doesn’t get stolen, which is likely as well.

Why? Because healthcare is properly defined as having a doctor and/or hospital take care of you when you are sick or injured. Depending on your choices, insurance is a valid way of paying for that (which is required, since Obamacare, before that doctors and hospitals were required to provide minimal, lifesaving care, free, if necessary.) 80 years ago, chickens and/or eggs worked, cash nearly always works, nearly anywhere. The way this is written, since I’m from Nebraska, if I go see Mt. Rushmore, and get food poisoning (because I’m too stupid to refrigerate my potato salad, say) I’d better be tough, cause I ain’t going to see a doctor in South Dakota, unless I have cash, of course.

What all the noise then and now is about is how to pay for it. Medical care in this country is very expensive. Mostly that is so because of bureaucracy, of the government, of the insurance companies, and of the healthcare industry (although to be fair, much of the industry’s bureaucracy is driven by the other two).

In 2010, John Goodman wrote,

Almost everyone believes there is an enormous amount of waste and inefficiency in health care. But why is that? In a normal market, wherever there is waste, entrepreneurs are likely to be in hot pursuit – figuring out ways to profit from its elimination by cost-reducing, quality-enhancing innovations. Why isn’t this happening in health care?

As it turns out, there is a lot of innovation here. But all too often, it’s the wrong kind.

There has been an enormous amount of innovation in the medical marketplace regarding the organization and financing of care. And wherever health insurers are paying the bills (almost 90 percent of the market) it has been of two forms: (1) helping the supply side of the market maximize against third-party reimbursement formulas, or (2) helping the third-party payers minimize what they pay out. Of course, these developments have only a tangential relationship to the quality of care patients receive or its efficient delivery.

The tiny sliver of the market (less than 10 percent) where patients pay out of pocket has also been teeming with entrepreneurial activity.  In this area, however, the entrepreneurs have been lowering cost and raising quality – what most of us wish would happen everywhere else. For example:

  • There are more than 1,000 walk-in clinics spread across the country today – posting transparent prices and delivering high-quality, low-cost services;
  • Whole businesses have been created to provide people with telephone and e-mail consultations because third-party payers wouldn’t pay for them;
  • Mail-order pharmaceuticals are a huge and growing market – one which emerged to offer price competition to consumers who buy their drugs out-of-pocket;
  • Wal-Mart didn’t introduce the $4-a-month package price for generic drugs in order to do a favor for Blue Cross. It is catering to customers who pay their own way;
  • Concierge doctors are also providing patients with innovative services – services that health insurers don’t cover.

Nothing has changed. Except that the GOP has taken ownership of Obamacare, well it might accidently be a little better, but not much. David Harsanyi says this.

First of all, the preferred free-market plan for health care policy should be no plan whatsoever. The idea that we need a federal, top-down strategy to manage a huge chunk of the economy is at the very heart of the problem. We don’t need a federal “plan” for health care any more than we need a federal plan for food or clothing. Yet, Republicans have allowed liberals to frame the entire health insurance debate in these anti-market terms.

So the American Health Care Act is obviously weak tea, falling far short of a promised free-market solution, much less a full “repeal” of Obamacare. It’s a half-measure that endeavors to fix Obamacare with small doses of deregulation while failing to repeal its core. It’s almost as if Republicans were trying to mollify their constituents and save Obamacare at the same time.

Donald Trump tweeted out something about a three-phase rollout, but the specifics of the other two parts have yet to be confirmed as of this writing. Perhaps the full proposal will reflect better on Republicans, although considering the noise moderate senators have been making and Trump’s own views on entitlement programs, it’s unlikely to meet conservative expectations. So what can be done?

In a piece highly critical of the planThe Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein, who’s done some of the most insightful writing on Obamacare, states: “the GOP will either be passing legislation that rests on the same philosophical premise as Obamacare, or will pass nothing at all, and thus keep Obamacare itself in place.” What if this is the choice?

We know the Democratic Party’s plan for health care: constrain markets to create monopolies that can be controlled by a federal regulatory regime (this is why liberals oppose markets expanding across state lines); and rather than worrying about access, choice, or cost, continue to incentivize the growth of the welfare state. When this situation becomes untenable, pass single-payer. What Democrats understand, but Republicans often don’t, is that you can reach your goals incrementally.

He asks this: “is something better than nothing?”

Perhaps, at the margins, but the basic problem is that the government has been driving healthcare fiscal policy since World War II, and the market distortions are continually getting worse. Swampcare isn’t going to help much, if at all

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