Democrats Archives

How One-Party Rule Has Affected Cities

A few thoughts on this particular subject.

Chicago, Illinois; the safest city in the US because of its strict gun control laws. Heh, no, not really. It’s got some of the highest gun crime in the country in spite of, or perhaps because of, it’s strict gun control laws. Gun control is one of those things that liberals insist works in spite of the reality to the contrary.

Here’s another: in spite of Chicago being a liberal paradise – not having a single Republican governor for over 80 years since 1931 – somehow the city’s economy is crumbling. It’s Democrats who keep insisting that they, and not Republicans, know how to bring the poor out of their situation, and believe that if we only spend enough money on a problem, it’ll get solved by government. And yet Moody’s Investor Service, which rates, among other things, the municipal bonds of cities, has downgraded Chicago’s credit rating to junk level. It also said that the city’s future outlook is negative, which I guess means that someday the credit rating could drop to “extra junk”, “junkier”, or maybe “double secret junk”.

I’ve mentioned Detroit, Michigan in the past. They’ve had Democratic mayors since 1962; about 30 years less than Chicago, but still over half a century. And yet the economy and infrastructure have seen better days. The city of Baltimore, Maryland was in the headlines for riots over the death of a black youth in police custody, and the state of its economy came to the fore during that; an economy where poverty was still rampant. And its mayors? Only 1 Republican since 1947.

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    What’s Your Opinion of Opinion Polling?

    The science of polling the general public has had its good and bad times, and it appears it’s going through one of those rough patches at the moment. A friend of mine refers to polls as “cricket races”; basically a snapshot of where things are in a particular race, that has as much bearing on our lives as a race amongst crickets. If it’s a slow news day, release the results from a poll, and call it news.

    Some might put the word “science” in the phrase “science of polling” in scare quotes, not convinced that it’s much of a science at all. I do have some respect for those whose lives are in various statistical occupations. It seems like a black art, but, for example, one pharmaceutical client I worked for years ago had a Quality Assurance group that tested the products coming into the warehouse before they could be shipped out, and they explained quite a bit to me.  I couldn’t relate what they said now – I really can’t remember it all – but basically, given a good random sample, they could give you a good reading on whether or not the batch that just came in was good enough to ship out. Yeah, the only way to be totally sure was to test it all, but to get close enough to 100% sure without going overboard, there was a lot of science backing up their procedures.

    Sampling people, on the other hand, is nowhere near as straightforward as sampling pharmaceuticals. People can say one thing, and yet do another. Which apparently happened in a big way over in the UK recently, when the conservative Tories trounced the liberal Labor Party in national elections, gaining their first outright majority since 1992. This even though Nate Silver, the US polling expert, had a look at all the UK polls and proclaimed that a Tory win of a majority of seats in Parliament was “vanishingly small when the polls closed – around 1 in 500.”

    So much for that prediction. But the predictive value of polls is lessened when the pollsters themselves hide some of their results. It happened in the UK, and it happens quite a bit, apparently. No pollster wants to publish results that wind up being way out of line with those from other polls. No one wants to be the outlier, but that’s what happened in the UK. A last-minute poll by one group got the percentages virtually dead on to what the voting results were, but they didn’t publish it, “chickening out”, as the group’s CEO explained. It’s a herd mentality that we see in news coverage as well.

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      Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act

      The state of Indiana has come under fire for passing their version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. RFRA, as it’s called, was passed in response to court cases that eroded First Amendment protections of the exercise of religion. Religious freedom used to be judged on a case-by-case basis, considering whether each law had specific exemptions for religious groups. Charles Schumer, Democratic Senator from New York, introduced a bill in 1993 to set a standard on how religious freedom cases should be considered; using the same standard that another First Amendment protection – freedom of speech – was adjudicated. I’ll get to the details of that standard in a moment. The bill passed the US Senate 97-3, and by acclamation in the House. Bill Clinton signed it on November 16, 1993. Today, that same action at the state level is being called “bigoted” by Democrats.

      States have been doing this ever since a Supreme Court decision said that the federal RFRA didn’t apply to the states. Most of the states that have one use language identical to the one Clinton signed. But while religious freedom used to be supported by Democrats, the rise of a particular protected class (and reliable Democratic voting bloc) changed all that; homosexuals. Once again, as we have seen so many times, politics trumps everything else for the Left, even, apparently, the Bill of Rights.

      The fear being stoked is that this will allow Christian businesses to turn away gays just for being gay. Here are a couple of articles that are lists of frequently asked questions about the Indiana RFRA, and they explain, no, that sort of discrimination is not protected. If a Christian denies service to someone simply because they are gay, on the grounds that it’s a sin according to Christian doctrine, you would have a tough time proving those religious grounds in court. According to Christianity, we are all sinners. None of us are perfect. So that business owner would have to deny service to everyone, including him- or herself.

      Participation, one way or another, in a same-sex marriage ceremony has been the typical cause of contention. And all of the examples that I’ve seen that have been taken to court are regarding business owners that would bake cakes, take pictures, or arrange flowers for a gay customer for any purpose other than a same-sex wedding ceremony. This is most definitely not discrimination against gays because they’re gay. It is, however, a religious objection to a ceremony that the business owner does not wish to participate in.

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        What Works and What Doesn’t: Health Care

        (This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!". You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

        Liberal columnist Ezra Klein, writing in the Washington Post, June of 2009:

        If you ordered America’s different health systems worst-functioning to best, it would look like this: individual insurance market, employer-based insurance market, Medicare, Veterans Health Administration.

        Yeah, he really said that, and it was obviously untrue back then. But that didn’t stop his love of socialized medicine. Here he is again in 2011:

        The thing about the Veteran’s Administration’s health-care system? It’s socialized. Not single payer. Not heavily centralized. Socialized. As in, it employs the doctors and nurses. Owns the hospitals. And though I think there’s some good reason to believe its spending growth is somewhat understated — it benefits heavily from medical trainees, for instance — accounting for that difference still means a remarkable recent performance.

        He also called the VA system, “the program is one of the most remarkable success stories in American public policy.” Of course now everyone’s saying that the system has been awful for decades, so you can’t blame Obama for it. While that’s certainly true, you can blame liberal pundits who have been trying to suggest for years that the performance of the VA means that ObamaCare ought to work. It seems like they’ll say anything to get their policies enacted. Never mind reality.

        And they’re making the same claim as a certain presidential candidate did 6 years or so ago. So in a sense, you can blame the President for foisting on us a system based on one that was, and is, a money pit and an abject failure, and which is utterly dishonest about those failures. They can, or should, be able to see what works and what doesn’t, but I guess Obama is going with the idea that this time, it’s gonna’ work.

          (This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, “Consider This!”. You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

          Sometimes people ask what the real difference is between the Republicans and Democrats, and sometimes, for certain issues, I’m inclined to agree; not much. However, when it comes to promoting economic growth, there’s certainly a trend that favors one over the other.

          It’s been said that the states are the laboratories of American democracy. Though more and more autonomy has been taken from them by the federal government, there is still enough that one can look across the country from sea to shining sea and see what works and what doesn’t. So what has the government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis told us about the year 2013?

          Here were the top 10 states in GDP growth:

          • North Dakota — 9.7 percent
          • Wyoming — 7.6 percent
          • West Virginia — 5.1 percent
          • Oklahoma — 4.2 percent
          • Idaho — 4.1 percent
          • Colorado — 3.8 percent
          • Utah — 3.8 percent
          • Texas — 3.7 percent
          • South Dakota — 3.1 percent
          • Nebraska — 3.0 percent

          This was all while the nation’s GDP growth was just 1.8 percent. Tom Blumer writing at the NewsBusters website noted that only Colorado and West Virginia could be considered something other than deep-red states — and despite having several prominent Democrats in statewide and national office, they both arguably lean red.

          And let’s not forget, as I covered back in February, that Wisconsin, under Republican Governor Scott Walker, went from running a deficit to a $1 billion surplus by cutting taxes.

          In all of this, you’d think that someone would have predicted such an economic outcome from these policies. Oh wait, they did, and those people are called “conservatives”. So if you indeed see what works and what doesn’t, and still ignore it, you might be a Democrat.

            Defending ObamaCare With Anecdotes

            You’ve no doubt heard them yourself. I’ve heard them quite a bit; on social media, on blogs, and even in TV commercials. I’m talking about people with their own personal stories about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, has helped them personally.

            It’s great to hear that people are able to get coverage for things that they either couldn’t get covered for before, or for less money. Who wouldn’t be in favor of that, and be glad for these people? It feels good hearing how people have benefited from this government program.

            And that’s what those, especially on social media, are trying to say with their success story; this is a good thing, because it worked for me. Then I have to ask, what do we make of this story?

            William Rivers Pitt, is the senior editor and lead columnist at the leftwing web site TruthOut. He has his own story which he posted at the Democratic Underground website, a forum for the far Left. (Have we figured out where this guy’s politics lie on the spectrum?) He first extolled the wonders of Obamacare, writing about his experience in getting signed up. System goes down in the middle of the session. No problem. Call the 800 number and finish the process there. “No. Big. Deal. Thanks, Obama.” That’s how he signs off that post.

            And then reality set in. In another post later on, he relates his experience, not with signing up for Obamacare, but actually trying to use it.

            What I’ve learned after a three-month war with these fiends: the ACA says the insurance companies cannot deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, which is true as far as it goes. But they can deny coverage for the life-saving medications necessary to treat those conditions. The insurance company I signed up with through the ACA exchange just denied coverage of my wife’s multiple sclerosis medication. We’re "covered," to the tune of $700 a month…just not for what she really needs.

            He signs off that post quite a bit differently. Later he said he feels like a dupe, and wishes he had a time machine to undo what he’d done. His criticisms get to the point that the DU folks stopped allowing him to comment on his own post.

            So then let’s consider this. Does this prove that Obamacare is an abject failure? No. Additionally, good experiences with it don’t prove that it is a success, either. If you contend that one is true, then you have to accept the other, and they come to opposite conclusions. Well then, what does any of this prove, other than that some people are doing better and others doing worse?

            The answer is, it proves nothing.

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              Does the Pope Shop at Hobby Lobby

              No, but he does seem to be watching their Supreme Court case.

              Pope Francis and Vatican officials on Thursday told U.S. President Barack Obama they were concerned about "religious freedom" in the United States, an apparent reference to the contraception mandate in Obama’s health care plan.

              The talks included "discussion on questions of particular relevance for the Church" in the United States, including "the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection," a Vatican statement said.

              Obama’s 2010 healthcare law, widely opposed by Republicans, includes a provision that requires employers to cover the cost of contraception in their health insurance plans.

              Catholic and other religious groups say the mandate forces them to support contraception and sterilization in violation of their religious beliefs or face steep fines.

              Just wondering if all those Democrats who have been falling all over themselves over the Pope when he seems to be saying something they like (whether or not he’s actually saying what they think he’s saying) will take note of this rather obvious political stance.

                The Delaying Game

                Great line by James Taranto, summarizing the latest ObamaCare delay: "If you like your plan, and your state insurance commissioner likes your plan, and your insurance company likes your plan, you can keep it, possibly until after the next presidential election."

                How blatantly political.

                  Since I know there are some folks who deny that ObamaCare is impacting workers’ hours, here’s a NY Times article that notes that even the public sector is feeling the pinch already.

                  Cities, counties, public schools and community colleges around the country have limited or reduced the work hours of part-time employees to avoid having to provide them with health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, state and local officials say.

                  The cuts to public sector employment, which has failed to rebound since the recession, could serve as a powerful political weapon for Republican critics of the health care law, who claim that it is creating a drain on the economy.

                  President Obama has twice delayed enforcement of the health care law’s employer mandate, which would subject larger employers to tax penalties if they do not offer insurance coverage to employees who work at least 30 hours a week, on average. But many public employers have already adopted policies, laws or regulations to make sure workers stay under that threshold.

                  Harry Reid recently claimed, ”There’s plenty of horror stories being told [about Obamacare],” Reid said. “All of them are untrue.” Tell that to the workers of this country, Harry.

                    Did Democratic Dominance Doom Detroit?

                    I posted something on my personal Facebook page about how one of the booming businesses in Detroit is photographing the dilapidated buildings. I labeled my link to the article, “Documenting decades of Democratic dominance.” Can you tell I like alliteration?

                    This bothered one of my Democrat friends who said that my bias was showing, and that blaming Democrats for Detroit was like blaming Republicans for the Katrina response. His contention was that both were unfair. I, and some other friends of mine, had to point out a few differences.

                    • The Republican administration wanted to come into Louisiana before the storm hit to be ready when it arrived, but the Democrats in the state capitol wouldn’t allow it.
                    • The Democrats at the city level in New Orleans failed to use the resources they already had to evacuate their own people.
                    • Democrats have been running Detroit for 50 years. To say that blaming their policies is unfair, is to make one wonder how long one party has to rule a city for their policies to actually affect that city.

                    So no, the analogy isn’t even close. And the devastation in Detroit wasn’t caused by Mother Nature, either.

                    This is yet another example of how Democrats seem to take the stance that it’s never their policies that failed, and in fact the best way to solve any problems they cause is to do the same thing with more money. That has always been Paul Krugman’s solution regarding stimulus spending. That has always been the solution for failing public schools, poverty programs, and every other idea that just isn’t panning out the way they thought it should.

                    Oh, and when ObamaCare drags down our economy, expect the same excuses, because we’re hearing them already. Republicans are being accuses of “sabotaging” it, when all they did was make the Democrats own it by not voting for it. As it is, the need to a revamp of the website, and delaying key parts of the law, are not sabotage by any means. But Republicans will get the blame while the Democrats will throw more money at a program that was sold as a way to reduce the deficit.

                    Blame is useful, if it is honestly applied. Using it, we can find our mistakes, and correct them. Democrats will never accept it, even after a half century track record. Does that give you confidence?

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