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Showing posts from November, 2013

My traditional Thanksgiving post: Eating an atheist turkey

I originally wrote this one for Thanksgiving 2007, when this blog was all of three weeks old, which meant that next to nobody read it at the time. This year I'm not about to leave for Virginia to carve turkey (that I didn't cook), but for the vicinity of Magnolia to eat turkey that I didn't cook.  So that's changed.  But the many ways in which the next four to six weeks will be used to denigrate a significant portion of the American populace is still as applicable today as it was six years ago. Hence:   Eating an atheist turkey .

Why we actually need an opposition party in Delaware ...

Let me count the ways: The Democrats have given us: 1.  A Secretary of Education with only minimal actual public education experience along with an bald-faced allegiance to a corporate reform agenda so confusing that he can't even keep his stories straight when talking to the chief school officers in a public meeting. 2.  An Attorney General who announces for re-election but won't come clean about his semi-public health issues. 3.  A State Treasurer who they are so upset with that they plan to primary themselves next time around. 4.  A State Insurance Commissioner who is so blatantly incompetent and/or corrupt that the Democratic Party already  primaried her and lost last time around. 5.  A Lieutenant Governor who is a really good guy but who has abruptly disappeared over the last year when any serious issues come up so he won't be forced to be associated with them and can run (believe it or not) as some sort of "outsider." 6.  A Governor who has (a)

Let's just call him Lavrenti Beria and have done with it

The idea of curbing the power of the State by vesting unfettered and unbalanced power in the hands of a single State officer is not only ludicrous but dangerous. Want better suggestions? Simple:  let's do initiative, referendum, and recall. But please give up on the idea of creating a character reminiscent of something out of Dostoevsky or Kafka before people realize how insane this all sounds.

Karen Weldin Stewart does exactly what you'd expect for 12,000 people who lost their insurance: less than nothing

Here's the misleading opening from today's WNJ story of our Insurance Commissioner: Delaware Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart said Monday her office has reached agreement with two more health insurers to grant limited renewal of policies that would have been discontinued Jan. 1 because of the new requirements of the Affordable Care Act.   The agreement could affect up to 12,000 Delaware policies. I guess it could  affect 12,000 policy holders, but it won't.  Why? Because here's what the KWS agreement does NOT do: 1.  It allows Highmark and Coventry to renew those policies, but does not require them to do so. 2.  It places the onus of inquiring about the possibility of renewal on the consumer, not the corporation. 3.  It only allows a window of renewal until 31 December 2013. 4.  It allows the insurance company to make such renewals contingent on paying premium increases. 5.  It provides no relief for anyone whose company has moved out of s

Read the Iran deal for yourself

It's really time to stop listening to the spin, and to first view the actual document .  It's only four pages long, and will take you about that many minutes to understand. The chief question is not the quality of the terms (they are actually pretty good), but the quality of the inspection regime to be carried out by the IAEA.  It is pretty robust for a six-month interim agreement, and the IAEA (whether we like to admit it or not) has a pretty good track record of either conducting inspections or announcing publicly that it was unable to do so. It is also a potential road to peace rather than war, which I know bothers a lot of people. For those who worry that tomorrow Iranian nukes will begin raining down on Israel, let's recall that it took Pakistan 26 years to develop nuclear weapons, and that our "friends" the Saudis have a simpler regime for acquiring them-- they simply intend to buy them . Given past history I'd argue that real Saudi purchased nu

Poor Highmark. Mean old Aetna is picking on it.

Turns out that the division of corporate territories among insurance corporations by the ACA ain't working out quite congenially : When Westinghouse Electric Co., the Cranberry-based nuclear engineering giant, announced this autumn that it was jilting Highmark Inc. and handing its health insurance business to Aetna in 2014, Highmark responded with radio and TV ads implying that Aetna is an out-of-state carpetbagger, stealing business and jobs from Pennsylvanians.   While those Highmark ads are more indirectly targeted at local rival UPMC than at Aetna Inc., the Connecticut-based health insurer wants Pittsburgh to know that the carpetbagger suggestion is misplaced.   "That is just so far from the truth, [we] feel obliged to correct it," said Walt Cherniak, a spokesman for Aetna. So Highmark is whining because Aetna is cutting into its territory? Implications for Delaware, by the way, include the fact that Aetna is present on the local health insurance exchange ..

Health care exchanges will get fixed because insurance companies are losing money

Highmark is whining: In Pennsylvania, Highmark has seen an enrollment of 1,665, while enrollment in West Virginia was 198 and enrollment in Delaware was 126. Enrollment data was of those who have been loaded into Highmark’s system as of Tuesday. Highmark is the only insurer on the marketplace in West Virginia, and the company said “in almost all situations in all of our markets, we offer the lowest priced health plans on the marketplace.” Highmark described the need as “urgent” to improve how the federal marketplace works. See, if it was really all about providing health insurance to either the indigent or those whose policies President Obama canceled, we'd be in trouble.  But since it's about gigantic corporate profits from sending Highmark, Aetna, and Coventry your tax dollars ... Expect a fix real soon.

Yes, we apparently HAVE already fought a nuclear war

A Japanese scientist put together this montage showing every verified nuclear explosion, by country, set off since 1948.  If you don't have the full 7 minutes available, fast forward to 1962 when things really get scary.  Over 2,000 nukes exploded since 1945--more than half by the US.  Just sorta makes me feel proud, yup. Or, as a friend of mine said, "Now you know why any aliens lurking in orbit have never decided to land." Watch it all.  Really.

The best lying headlines of the week: eating while driving more dangerous than driving drunk

Eating While Driving Significantly Increases Chances Of A Car Accident, Experts Say Except that the article from CBS Los Angeles beneath this headline does not say anything of the sort. Only one person is quoted in the article who says eating while driving is unsafe (so forget the plural), and--guess what?--he's not an expert. He's a California Highway Patrolman who admits that eating while driving isn't illegal but that he's used a variety of dodges to get around the law to charge people anyway. But don't let that stop you, pseudo-journalists.  Then WTOP picks up the story today , including this sentence:  Experts tell  CBS Los Angeles  that eating while driving increases your chance of a car accident by 80 percent. Except that if you click through the link (which I left in the sentence for your convenience) you go back to the original CBS story, and--guess what?--there is no such quote in the first story.  The California Highway Patrolman (who

LOL News Journal discovers that ethanol subsidies are bad ...

... and they don't even touch either the impact on Delaware's poultry industry or John Carney's feckless pandering on the issue. Let's note two things there: 1.  I've been talking about the idiocy and harm of ethanol subsidies here since 2008; our liberal friends started to pick up the story in 2009.   How come it takes the WNJ another four years to actually get around to thinking about this? 2.  The only candidate for Congress this year who had the right stand on ethanol subsidies last time around was Libertarian Scott Gesty , who called for their elimination long before the trend followers in the WNJ figured out they were a disaster.

Time to elect the head of Delaware public education?

Yes. It's pretty simple.  We currently live in a one-party state, and even the honest Democrats will admit that the winners of the highest statewide offices are generally corporatists and not progressives (thought I have seen NO evidence that so-called progressives would actually be any better at governing). Our Secretary of Education gets picked, routinely, by a corporate lackey, and is immediately the flack for Rodel, Race to the Top, Component V, Common Core, and whatever else is the Reform de Jure  that Vision 2012  2015 2020  is pushing. So let's try a thought experiment.  What would be the downside?

Now it is the principals' fault that it is all the teachers' fault ...

The destruction of Delaware public education continues on many levels. The latest round come from Rodel flack  Secretary of Education Mark Murphy in his claim that the system is failing because more principals have to be tough enough to list more teachers as ineffective. Turns out that the buy-in of principals to the new Component V evaluation system was only about ... 1%.  That's how many teachers they listed as being ineffective. This bothers both Murphy and the other Rodel flacks  the News Journal editorial board (not to mention the ever-ignorant Publius ed Decere) because, after all, the only thing necessary to improve the educational system is keep firing the teachers we have until better ones miraculously show up. Perhaps, just perhaps, they don't actually understand how this works.

Congratulations Obamacare! Highmark to cancel 5,300 Delaware insurance policies

Yesterday we had hit the number of 100 policies canceled for each person who signed up via the new insurance exchanges. Today the number is 1,433 policies canceled for each person to sign up in the new exchanges. And that's just Highmak's announcement.  Conventry (your only other realistic choice in the "private" insurance market in the First State) has yet to make its announcement. Yes, eventually (some time before the years 2100) the technical glitches with the new exchanges will be fixed.  That won't be because of the overwhelming need to provide insurance, but because Highmark, Coventry, Aetna et al cannot access their profits via the massive Federal subsidies for over-priced plans.  Trust me, the entirety of Obamacare is being driven by the government engaging in the largest transfer of wealth from middle- and lower-class taxpayers to corporate interests that we have ever seen. Supporters of Obamacare continue to talk about not being denied coverage f

The paradoxes of Delaware politics and "journalism"--what we care about and what we don't

These are the things that strike me as darkly funny about Delaware politics and so-called journalism: 1.  That the News Journal prints a multi-day story  on the inept low-level antics of State Treasurer Chip Flowers and his entourage (which is, admittedly, entertaining), and while I don't expect any less of a newspaper that's in-the-tank for Markell, all my liberal friends go nuts about the story and feel like they are honing in on the First State version of Boss Hogg style corruption.  At the same time, Governor Jack Markell creates an illegal charter school committee (don't ask me, ask the Attorney General), consistently runs his administration through back room deals that subvert rules and regulations (new rehab hospital in Middletown), and runs major parts of his government--DPH and DNREC--via "secret" attorney general opinions nobody is allowed to see and which apparently cannot be FOIA'd.  Then there are the millions of dollars in our tax money that ha

Been away so long ...

Yeah, I know.  The difficulty with lone-wolf blogging is life and energy. Real life spent the last six weeks intruding, and--to be brutally honest--creative energy went into working on two book contracts I'm behind on, not slapping down material at a keyboard for free to an indeterminately smallish audience. But I do miss it, so we pick it up again. This is, of course, NOT THE WAY TO DO IT if you are concerned about building an audience.  My friends of Delawareliberal and even my friendly enemy Eric Dondero at Libertarian Republican understand this quite well.  I understand it.  I just don't place the blog at that high a priority level in my life right now. But it is there and will continue, if sometimes sporadically.  Your best bet is simply to follow the blog so you get notified when I do write something.