Jonathan Gruber’s Lucrative Lies

by David Crocker on November 11, 2014, 10:17 am

in Economics,Health Care,Politics

It seems our old buddy Jonathan Gruber is back in the news. He’s the Obamacare “principal architect” recently outed by Phil Kerpen, publicly advocating lying to the American people.

Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass. It’s a second-best argument. Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.

It bears repeating that Dr. Gruber has made a very good living as a liar. Consider once again his own personal payoff:

• “One of the key voices for Congressional health care legislation, MIT economist Jon Gruber, is taking fire … over the fact that he is on contract with the Department of Health and Human Services. He’s been paid $297,600, according to federal documents, to produce ‘a technical memorandum on the estimated changes in health insurance coverage and associated costs and impacts to the government under alternative specifications of health system reform.’ The contract, which was awarded June 19, wasn’t widely known or regularly disclosed.” (Ben Smith, “Gruber responds: ‘Completely consistent,’” Politico, 01/08/09)

• “Jon Gruber, the MIT economist, defended himself this morning after criticism that he’d spoken publicly in favor of the administration’s health care plan without disclosing a nearly $300,000 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to model the plan’s costs and effects.” (Ben Smith, “Gruber’s disclosure,” Politico, 01/08/09)

Yes, the country’s in the best of hands.

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Has the United States government ever repudiated its lawful debts? You bet – in 1933. And would Uncle Sam do it again? I think he would.

The story goes like this. To finance the First World War, the U.S. government issued bonds. Because the bondholders were worried that the government could, through currency manipulation, devalue any repayment in paper money, the bonds contained a clear and unambiguous promise to repay the debt in gold at the bondholder’s option.

Fast forward to 1933, with the Great Depression at its absolute nadir. Currency devaluation was very much on the mind of the Roosevelt Administration, which saw inflation as a way to stimulate the economy and permit debtors to dig out from under their debts in a period of steep deflation. But there was that pesky gold clause, which pinned the government down to gold payments at a fixed value.

Enter the Congress. In its “Joint Resolution to Assure Uniform Value to the Coins and Currencies of the United States” both houses of Congress explicitly agreed to repudiate all “gold provisions” in any any public debt. There were two key provisions in the resolution:

(1) “Provisions of obligations which purport to give the obligee a right to require payment in gold obstruct the power of the Congress” and

(2) “Every provision contained in or made with respect to any obligation which purports to give the obligee a right to require payment in gold is declared to be against public policy.”

Boiled down to essentials, here it is: legal obligations mean nothing when that obligation is deemed to “obstruct the power of Congress”. Any promise made by the U.S. government can – by the magic of the joint resolution – be re-written into a “purported” promise. And upholding a lawful – and unambiguous – contract can be declared “against public policy”.

Suckers.

Naturally, the bondholders sued the government and the three consolidated “gold clause cases” were eventually decided by the Supreme Court, which held in favor of the government on a 5-4 vote. Neither the majority nor the minority was happy with the government’s action. Even the majority castigated the government for being a dishonorable deadbeat and recognized that this was an exercise of raw power with scant reference to principle. Five of the nine justices labeled the government’s actions a “repudiation”.

It’s called arbitrary government, boys and girls. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

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Military Monday: China, Japan and the “Panay Incident”

by David Crocker on December 2, 2013, 10:32 am

in History,Military

Because I read history, watching China’s aggression against Japan and Korea in the East China Sea gives me the willies. Clearly, there’s never been any love lost between China and Japan. Japan was the aggressor in the two Sino-Japanese wars (1894-95 and 1937-45) and now the shoe is on the other foot. China is reverting to historical form: when its fortunes rose over the centuries, it automatically bullied its neighbors. So, taking the long view, honors are fairly even.

After Japan invaded China in 1937, they moved on the city of Nanking (leading to the infamous “Rape of Nanking”). The Japanese military was very arrogant and while assaulting Nanking, they bombed and sank the USS Panay, a navy gunboat anchored in the Yangtze River. The Panay was part of the US Navy’s “Yangtze Patrol”, safeguarding US lives and commercial interests in the Chinese interior (see The Sand Pebbles in all its imperialistic glory).

Although the Japanese apologized and paid an indemnity, this incident hardened US public opinion against Japan and is generally considered part of the run-up to Pearl Harbor. The point being, when countries start pushing and shoving in a small space, bad – and unintended – things happen.

I watch the current contretemps in the East China Sea and wonder who’s going to make a mistake. Because when it happens, no one can predict the outcome.

But here’s what’s giving me the willies: will China instigate its own Panay Incident? And then what happens?

Here’s a newsreel from 1937:

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Are We Degenerates?

by David Crocker on December 1, 2013, 3:07 pm

in Culture,History,Philosophy

Karl MarxAt the end of his life, Karl Marx was forced to reevaluate his Promethean notions of inexorable historical movement and progress. In fact, under the influence of Oxford evolutionary biologist Edwin Ray Lankester, he began to view matters quite differently: he questioned whether man’s ‘evolution’ was, in fact, degeneration – thereby making all of us ‘degenerates’. Lankester’s essay “Degeneration” questioned the “tacit assumption of universal progress – an unreasoning optimism.” Lankester reminded both self-styled revolutionaries and smug English society “that we are subject to the general law of evolution, and are as likely to degenerate as to progress.” He challenged the ideology shared by thinkers of the day from Herbert Spencer to Karl Marx alike that evolution meant inevitable progress – which is not supported by biological data.

As compared with the immediate forefathers of our civilisation – the ancient Greeks—we do not appear to have improved so far as our bodily structure is concerned, nor assuredly so far as some of our mental capacities are concerned. Our powers of perceiving and expressing beauty of form have certainly not increased since the days of the Parthenon and Aphrodite of Melos. In matters of the reason, in the development of intellect, we may seriously inquire how the case stands. Does the reason of the average man of civilised Europe stand out clearly as an evidence of progress when compared with that of men of bygone ages? Are all the inventions and figments of human superstition and folly, the self-inflicting torturing of mind, the reiterated substitution of wrong for right, and of falsehood for truth, which disfigure our modern civilisation – are these evidences of progress? In such respects we have at least reason to fear that we may be degenerate.

The point here is that we smugly assume that ‘modernity’ means we’re somehow smarter and more enlightened that those who went before. Worse, we ignore history and collective human experience because we somehow think we have nothing to learn from our forebears simply because we are so different – and therefore better – than them. A truly idiotic assumption.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the record to support any of our notions of superiority and quite a lot to indicate a continuing degeneracy.

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Liberating Us From Our Liberties: The People’s Rights Amendment

by David Crocker on November 23, 2013, 12:54 pm

in Law,Politics

Trampling Our Liberties: the People's Rights AmendmentIn response to the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, several leftist groups have been hard at work seeking support for a constitutional amendment that would severely restrict the rights of people who choose to work through incorporated entities.

In Citizens United, the Court overturned on First Amendment free speech grounds the federal ban on “independent political expenditures” by for-profit and non-profit corporations and unions. Such expenditures are independent of any party or candidate. The court, however, left intact the existing ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates and political parties. While leftist groups vociferously denounced both the court and the ruling, Citizens United did nothing more than reestablish the law as it existed for more than a century.

Apart from propaganda, the left’s response to the decision has taken the form of two proposed constitutional amendments that go far beyond reversing Citizens United and would abridge – wholesale – the rights and liberties of the people if enacted. The groups mounting the respective amendment efforts are apparently well-funded and professionally run, with operatives working in various states

The first such amendment is the so-called the “People’s Rights Amendment”. Sponsored by Rep. James McGovern of Massachusetts, the PRA consists of three sections (with emphasis added):

SECTION 1. We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this Constitution to be the rights of natural persons.

SECTION 2. The words people, person, or citizen as used in this Constitution do not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulation as the people, through their elected State and Federal representatives, deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution.

SECTION 3. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the people’s rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, freedom of association and all such other rights of the people, which rights are inalienable.

The weaknesses of this language should be obvious to all: the PRA goes way beyond Citizens United and First Amendment free speech protections and instead eliminates all constitutional rights for incorporated entities.

So what rights would these be? Well, let’s think of just a few. How about the Fourth Amendment protection from unlawful search and seizure? Or what about due process and property rights under the Fifth? In light of the clear language in section 1, the section 3 “savings” provision is a flat-out lie.

Under the PRA, government could conduct warrantless searches of any property not owned by a “natural person” and seize such property without compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Government could even deny First Amendment rights, including free speech and religious liberties to any incorporated entity, including unions, churches, news organizations, and even political parties themselves.

The PRA makes no distinction between for-profit and non-profit entities. This means that government – federal, state and local – would have the power to silence and seize the property of non-profit groups as varied as the NRA, the Sierra Club, the Roman Catholic Church or Planned Parenthood. All are incorporated and all own property and speak out on public issues.

The group promoting the PRA is Seattle-based “Free Speech for People”, an apparent front group for Voter Action, a leftist voter surveillance organization with ties to the now-defunct International Humanities Center.

The second proposed amendment is the “We the People Amendment”, which is even more candid than the PRA about cancelling peoples’ liberties – all in the name of the “people”, of course:

Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]

Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

This choice proposal is the brainchild of Minnesota Reps. Nolan and Pocan and is promoted by “Move to Amend”, a broad coalition of leftist groups also based in Minnesota with branches nationwide.

These amendments are bone-chilling for any liberty-loving person. They go way, way beyond overruling Citizens United, which only dealt with limited political contributions by corporate entities. Instead, the proponents – either through ignorance or outright malice – have seized Citizens United as a pretext to assault all the Constitution’s protections.

The simple ignorance displayed is appalling enough: in the modern world, people choose to order their affairs through corporate entities large and small. Overwhelmingly, “corporations” are small groups of people – or one person – organizing for some for-profit or non-profit purpose. And the First Amendment rightly protects a variety of expressive political acts, like burning a flag – or contributing money.

Most organizations choose to incorporate as a matter of course including churches and synagogues and all manner of charitable and social and political organizations. Would we consent to the arbitrary seizure of our church property or allow government to dictate official doctrine? Would labor unions and various leftist non-profits consent to the same treatment? All are incorporated and their members stand to lose their liberties as well.

These amendments are, simply, a bait-and-switch scam designed to liberate us from our liberties.

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The Gettysburg Address 150 Years On

by David Crocker November 19, 2013

Old fogyish as it may sound, in my day school children were required to memorize the Gettysburg Address because it’s a brief catechism in the American religion of liberty. But the two-minute speech definitely got mixed reviews in the press of the day. You see, Lincoln was invited to the dedication of the new National […]

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Military Monday: DDG 1000 Launches

by David Crocker November 18, 2013

Back in 2009, I wrote a lengthy piece criticizing this program (see “Why is the Navy Building DDG 1000?”) that was picked up by the Navy Times. I still have the same reservations four years on. However, for better or worse, DDG 1000 hit the water recently, launching from BIW’s floating dry dock. Although I […]

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Is Leftism Inherently Narcissistic?

by David Crocker November 17, 2013

I think so. Let’s define our terms. By “leftism” I mean the operationalizing – in political or ideological programs – of superbia, the outsized human pride that drives man to worship himself instead of God. While the term “leftism” as applied to politics has been around only since the 18th century (see Hertz and others), […]

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Dealing With The Islamic World – In 1805

by Crocker September 14, 2012

The first war we fought as a new nation was against Islamic pirates along the North African coast in Tunis, Algiers and Tripoli. At the time these were Islamic city-states loosely under Ottoman control. The pirates were a scourge and once we were no longer under British and then French protection, it was open season […]

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Report: State Department Had Intelligence About the Benghazi Attacks 48 Hours in Advance and Did Nothing

by Crocker September 13, 2012

And we have to find out about this from the foreign press. From the UK Independent: The US administration is now facing a crisis in Libya. Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the “safe house” in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under […]

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Why Are We Still Shipping M1A1 Tanks to Egypt?

by Crocker September 12, 2012

According to Defense Industry Daily, Egypt continues to order M1A1 tanks from us and we continue to kit these tanks for assembly in Egypt, giving the Egyptian military the ability to build and maintain their current fleet, which is scheduled to grow to 1,200 units. According to DID, we’ve continuously upgraded the models the Egyptians […]

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9/11, Egypt, Libya and Murder: Obama Channels Jimmy Carter

by Crocker September 12, 2012

By now we know of our ambassador’s murder in Libya. The pictures of the mob dragging his corpse in the streets of Benghazi are already circulating on the web. I cannot in decency post or link to the pictures. Let’s compare and contrast: Look familiar? Tehran 1979 vs. Cairo 2012. And what was our fearless […]

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9/11 – Eleven Years After

by Crocker September 11, 2012

Was it really eleven years ago? Everyone has their story and remembrance of that day. I was working in my office at home and heard a radio announcement about the first Tower. No word on the type of plane or the circumstances. Strange, I thought. A tragic accident. But very odd, given the unlimited visibility […]

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The 2012 Democrat Convention: Cardinal Dolan’s Prayer

by Crocker September 7, 2012

And now for something more serious. By now we know the story of how Timothy Cardinal Dolan was initially rebuffed and then invited to deliver the closing prayer at the Democrat Convention. Come to think of it, Dolan’s treatment seems to synch perfectly with the platform committee’s efforts to disinvite God. Well, now that he […]

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Barack Obama’s Definition of Sin

by Crocker September 3, 2012

From a 2004 interview with Catherine Falsani of the Chicago Sun-Tribune: Falsani: Do you believe in sin? Obama: Yes. Falsani: What is sin? Obama: Being out of alignment with my values. The perfect narcissist. When I look at Barack Obama and his leftist crew, I see a void from which not even light escapes. Hat […]

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Karl Rove and American Crossroads PAC: Is He His Own Favorite Cause?

by Crocker September 1, 2012

I don’t much like Karl Rove. Judging from his behavior at the Republican Convention, he apparently fancies himself The Most Important Person There Is. His exclusive breakfast with billionaire donors to his American Crossroads PAC was well reported. According to the same press report, he made a harmless little joke about Todd Akin: He also […]

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RNC Rules, Delegates, Ron Paul and the Maine Convention: A Few Thoughts

by Crocker August 31, 2012

Now that that the Republican Convention is history, a few thoughts. I write as one who’s never involved himself in Republican Party politics in Maine, whether at the state, county or local level. I do know many of the players involved, however, and I hope I can show some objectivity. Let’s start with a few […]

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Barack Obama: ‘If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.’

by Crocker July 17, 2012

Shades of Elizabeth Warren, Barack the Destroyer showed his true colors this weekend at an event in Roanoke, Virginia – as if we were in any doubt. Clearly, we belong to the omnipotent State. All Hail. “That government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Tweet

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Military Monday: Test Firing Live Torpedoes in Bar Harbor, Maine

by Crocker July 9, 2012

Hard to imagine this happening today, even if the US were in a full-fledged, no-holds-barred global war. The enviro-weenies would complain about the fish. But in World War II, the military used Bald Porcupine Island in Bar Harbor, Maine, as a live-fire site for gunnery practice and, on at least one occasion, for live-firing torpedoes. […]

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Obama’s America – And Don’t Forget the Odor Sample for the Dogs

by Crocker July 8, 2012

Don’t be an enemy of socialism. It would be very bad. And don’t forget the IRS, either. Not exactly the Stasi – yet. But you could be looking at a great career. Think of the opportunities to intimidate your fellow citizens in Obama’s America. You’d be one of favored ones, blessed by the One himself. […]

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Has the Irrepressible Conflict Begun?

by Crocker July 7, 2012

Are We the People in an irreconcilable struggle? The kind where the political and cultural tectonics are stuck and there’s no room for compromise between those who want to live peacefully in liberty and the aggressive ones who are determined to enslave. Where the issue – duly clarified – comes down to a fight between […]

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Lincoln, July Fourth and the Declaration of Independence

by Crocker July 4, 2012

Our ‘progressive’ masters have worked overtime to eradicate the Declaration of Independence and its natural law foundations from our national consciousness. The law professors tell us that the Declaration has no bearing on constitutional interpretation and, indeed, it shouldn’t even figure into our constitutional discussions. This, in spite of the 9th Amendment that recognizes other, […]

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TSA Agent Spills Granddad’s Ashes, Agent Laughs

by Crocker June 27, 2012

Just another reason to abolish the TSA. From Breitbart: Get the name of the agent . . . Tweet

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The EPA Wins in Court: Jurisdiction Over “Greenhouse Gases”. Interior Department Takes Aim at Natural Gas

by Crocker June 27, 2012

You’ll recall that the Supreme Court in 2007 declared in a 5-4 decision that CO2 was a “pollutant” that fell under the purview of the Clean Air Act, even though the 1970s legislation never contemplated such a result. And now we have the logical result of that ruling: the DC Court of Appeals has ruled […]

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German Court Criminalizes Religious Circumcision

by Crocker June 27, 2012

This is disturbing. From AFP: Circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to grievous bodily harm, a German court ruled Tuesday in a landmark decision that the Jewish community said trampled on parents’ religious rights. The regional court in Cologne, western Germany, ruled that the “fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the […]

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