It’s Wednesday, March 20th, 2013…and before we begin, we note a small but significant victory for Freedom and the Constitution:

Assault weapons ban dropped from Senate gun control bill

 

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Now, here’s The Gouge!

First up, courtesy of the AEI, Ramesh Ponnuru offers a rather different perspective on the latest budget proposal from the House:

Paul Ryan’s budget won’t help Republicans win

 

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Some of Paul Ryan’s biggest fans are disappointed in his latest budget.

Take New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. He credits Ryan, the Republican House Budget Committee chairman, for trying to give Medicare recipients the power and the incentive to make health spending more efficient, and getting his party to take up this reform. He also credits Ryan for revising his Medicare plan between 2011 and 2012 to respond to the smartest criticisms. But Douthat says that the 2013 version of the budget is “a step backward” — and I’m inclined to agree.

My own list of the pros and cons is slightly different from Douthat’s. I would have preferred that Republicans rein in the growth of Social Security, especially for people with high lifetime earnings. That way younger and poorer Americans would have to bear less of the burden of budgetary restraint.

For the same reason, the budget should find savings from Medicare faster. Ryan’s 2011 plan would have created a competitive structure only for people younger than 55. Now that he’s advancing a version of Medicare reform with fewer risks for seniors, that slow phase-in makes less sense. And the plan should raise co-pays, especially for the affluent, which would also lighten the burden on younger people.

A budget that reduced spending on those older than 55 would make it possible to bring the government’s long-term debt to a manageable level while allowing for a higher (and more realistic) level of Medicaid spending than the Ryan budget includes.

The House Republicans should have been bolder on health care, too. Their new budget envisions the repeal of President Barack Obama’s health-care law but outlines no replacement for it, which is rather odd for a document that purports to provide a Republican vision for the future of the welfare state.

Political Liability

The Ryan budget keeps the level of revenue that resulted from the tax increases that came at the start of the year, but it aims to raise that revenue with a new tax code that features a top rate of 25 percent. A 25 percent rate would mean a big tax cut for the highest earners in the country: Someone who makes $1 million a year isn’t going to have enough tax breaks to make up for a 14.6 percentage-point reduction in rates. The middle class would almost certainly have to pay higher average tax rates to make the numbers work. A similar plan seems to have been a serious political liability for Mitt Romney in last fall’s presidential election.

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And it is a little strange for the Republicans to leave the recent tax increases in place. Some House Republicans voted to limit the tax increases that were taking place, and some voted against any deal to register their opposition to any increase. None of them favored the new taxes. So why aren’t they calling for a rollback? Because it’s a dead issue? It’s no deader than the promise to repeal the health-care law, a promise they renewed.

Or is it because it helps them reach their new goal of balancing the budget in 10 years? Just a few months ago, though, Republicans didn’t think higher taxes for a smaller deficit was a good trade.

Whatever their reasons, the 10-year deadline is the real innovation in the 2013 budget. Yet there’s no particular reason to think eliminating the fiscal shortfall in 10 years is an urgent goal. The country isn’t going to look appreciably different if it takes 15 years, or if we shrink deficits to a modest size and keep running them.

Ryan’s Regrets

I suspect that Ryan himself shares some of these regrets about his budget. He has sponsored legislation to reform Social Security and health care in the past, but he did so on his own and not in the name of House Republicans. He has always been more interested in structural reform of the federal government than in ending deficits.

Another thing I suspect Ryan appreciates is that different budget choices would have come at a political cost. Hitting zero in 10 years was a way to get House conservatives to accept a budget strategy that didn’t involve a debt-ceiling showdown in February. A lot of conservatives would have complained if he had abandoned the 25 percent tax rate, too.

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Democrats would certainly have said the Republicans had become “even more extreme” if they had limited spending on those over 55, and House Republicans — including some of the conservatives who say Ryan is being too soft — would have gotten very nervous about public opinion.

Still, the risks would have been worth taking. The choices that Ryan made have kept Republicans unified but also reinforced the impression that they are too attuned to the interests of the rich, and more concerned with their own obsessions than what the public wants. House Republicans are in danger of becoming like the House Democrats of the early 1980s: secure and comfortable in their power base, and not oriented toward achieving a governing majority.

While we understand Ponnuru’s point, this is one time when something is truly better…

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…than nothing!

Since we’re on the subject of “something” and “nothing”, today’s “Penny Wise, Pound Foolish” segment notes how the once-Golden State continues turning a once-significant something into absolute nothing by offering business a one-way ticket out…of the state:

California Seeks Retroactive Taxes From Business Owners

 

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A decision by California’s taxing agency to seek retroactive levies on small business owners has state taxpayers crying foul. California’s Franchise Tax Board reinterpreted a tax break in December following a court decision striking down part of the code, and decided to bill anyone who had taken advantage of the law for the previous five years, Fox News reported.

A state appeals court had ruled unconstitutional a provision that required companies to maintain 80 percent of their workforce in California in order to qualify for the break. Instead of consulting the state legislature, the board suspended the break entirely and is seeking back taxes totaling $120 million from some 2,500 business owners, Fox reported.

Many small business owners already saw their taxes rise when voters passed a ballot initiative in November raising rates on incomes over $250,000, with marginal rates rising to 13.3 percent from 10.3 percent for incomes over $1 million. “How would you feel if you made a decision, which was made four years ago, you absolutely knew was legally correct and four years later a governing body came in and said, ‘no, it’s not correct, now you owe us a bunch more money. And we’re going to charge you interest on money you didn’t even know you owed,’” San Francisco entrepreneur Brian Overstreet told Fox. Overstreet, who along with other investors sold Sagient Research Systems, said his retroactive tax bill was “well into the six figures.”

Hell, even Bill Maher‘s starting to understand the concept of Taxation versus Confiscation:

Moving on to the Health Section, brought to us today by Bill Meisen, Kaiser Health News, the mouthpiece for the healthcare giant which fully-backed Obamascare, prepares the populace for the inevitable decline in healthcare quality which is inevitable under the Unaffordable Care Act:

Group Appointments With Doctors: When Three Isn’t A Crowd

More doctors are holding appointments with multiple patients, a trend some say may help ease a forecasted shortage of physicians.

 

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When visiting the doctor, there may be strength in numbers. In recent years, a growing number of doctors have begun holding group appointments — seeing up to a dozen patients with similar medical concerns all at once. Advocates of the approach say such visits allow doctors to treat more patients, spend more time with them (even if not one-on-one), increase appointment availability and improve health outcomes.

Some see group appointments as a way to ease looming physician shortages. (Caused, of course, by the lower payments under Obamascare.) According to a study published in December, meeting the country’s health-care needs will require nearly 52,000 additional primary-care physicians by 2025. More than 8,000 of that total will be needed for the more than 27 million people newly insured under the Affordable Care Act.

“With Obamacare, we’re going to get a lot of previously uninsured people coming into the system, and the question will be ‘How are we going to service these people well?’ ” says Edward Noffsinger, who has developed group-visit models and consults with providers on their implementation. With that approach, “doctors can be more efficient and patients can have more time with their doctors.” (Not that anyone should have considered such issues before passing Obamascare!)

Some of the most successful shared appointments bring together patients with the same chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease. (Not to mention yeast infections, rectal bleeding and dengue fever.) For example, in a diabetes group visit, a doctor might ask everyone to remove their shoes so he can examine their feet for sores or signs of infection, among other things. A typical session lasts up to two hours. In addition to answering questions and examining patients, the doctor often leads a discussion, often assisted by a nurse.

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Insurance typically covers a group appointment just as it would an individual appointment; there is no change in the co-pay amount. Insurers generally focus on the level of care provided rather than where it’s provided or how many people are in the room, Noffsinger says.

Some patients say there are advantages to the group setting. “Patients like the diversity of issues discussed,” Noffsinger says. “And they like getting 2 hours with their doctor.” Patients sign an agreement promising not to disclose what they discuss at the meeting. Although some patients are initially hesitant about the approach, doctors say their shyness generally evaporates quickly. (“Shyness”; what about just wanting PRIVACY?!?)

“We tell people, ‘You don’t have to say anything,’ ” says Edward Shahady, medical director of the Diabetes Master Clinician Program at the Florida Academy of Family Physicians Foundation in Jacksonville. Shahady trains medical residents and physicians to conduct group visits with diabetes patients. “But give them 10 minutes, and they’re talking about their sex lives.” (And what if we’re not the least bit interested in hearing about their sex lives?)

Though group appointments may allow doctors to increase the number of patients they see and thereby boost their income, many doctors are uncomfortable with the concept, experts say, because they’re used to taking a more authoritative approach with patients rather than facilitating a discussion with them. (Note the slant of the article, written by an organization that backed Obamacare: doctors must be uncomfortable because they’re authoritarian; NOT due to a commitment to provide their patients the best individual care possible.)

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…Some studies have found that group visits can improve health outcomes. In an Italian trial that randomly assigned more than 800 Type 2 diabetes patients to either group or individual care, the group patients had lower blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI levels after four years than the patients receiving individual care. (“In an Italian trial”; talk about conclusive!)

Doctors say patients may learn more from each other than they do from physicians. “Patients really want to hear what others patients are experiencing, ” Shahady says.

Yeah, just like the other day in the bank…when the teller and we really wanted to listen to the elderly lady’s stories about her health, bodily functions and personal circumstances.  We don’t know the patients Kaiser’s quoting (if they actually exist), but it’s certainly not anyone we know…and it’s sure as shootin’ not TLJ!!!

Speaking of shootin’, it’s the subject of our next feature, “And You Didn’t Think It Could Happen Here!”, courtesy of The Blaze…and some overzealous public parasites feeding on The Garden State:

Dad: This Picture of My Son Holding a Gun Triggered a Visit from NJ Police, Family Services

 

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Did this photograph spark a police action that tried to enter a New Jersey home without a warrant? That’s the story being told on a website dedicated to “Open Carry” in the state of Delaware. The title of the story, “The fight has officially been brought to my front door.”

The young man in the photo is the 11-yr-old son of Shawn Moore. The gun is a .22 rifle, a copy of the AR-15, but a 22 caliber. The photo was posted on Facebook by a proud father. That Facebook posting apparently triggered an anonymous call to New Jersey’s Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). On Friday night, March 15th, two representatives from the state’s social services office (along with four local police officers) came to the Moore home and demanded to see the family’s firearms.

According to Moore’s lawyer, Evan Nappen (an attorney with considerable expertise in NJ’s very strict gun laws), the situation was “outrageous.”

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Here’s what Moore alleges on the Delaware open carry forum:

  • NJ’s Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) came to his home, accompanied by police officers. They claimed to be responding to a call about a photo of a young boy holding a firearm.
  • Without a search warrant, DYFS demanded entry into Moore’s home and access to all of his firearms. Moore was not initially there, but his wife called him.
  • With his lawyer listening to the exchange on the phone with police and DFYS, Moore denied entry to his home and access to his safe where he stores his guns.
  • When Moore requested the name of the DFYS representative, she refused to give it to him.
  • After threatening to “take my kids,” the police and Family Services worker left — “empty handed and seeing nothing.”

In an exclusive interview with TheBlaze, Mr. Nappen — the attorney who was listening to the entire incident via Moore’s speaker phone — added more details:

  • The DYFS worker repeatedly demanded access to the house and for Moore to open his safe where the firearms were stored. She said that the guns should be catalogued and checked to make certain they were “properly registered.” (NJ does not require registration, it is voluntary.)
  • The four police officers acted professionally, they were there at the request of DYFS. (Kudos to the police!)
  • The worker refused to identify herself. Mr. Moore demanded that she giver her name. She refused and ran away.
  • As of Tuesday morning, Mr. Nappen believes that DYFS is still pushing for an inspection, “which is not happening.”

Mr. Nappen also shared few very important facts about this case. For instance, Shawn Moore holds three very significant firearms designations:

  • NRA Certified Firearms Instructor – One of the toughest certifications to attain, requiring skills with the weapons as well as teaching.
  • NRA Certified Range Safety Instructor
  • NJ State Certified Firearms Hunting Instructor

Shawn’s son is also someone who has been certified by the state of New Jersey. In order for a person under the age of 18 to go hunting in New Jersey, they must be accompanied by a parent or adult supervisor, and they must also pass a state firearms hunter safety test. The young Mr. Moore passed the test and his father was NOT his instructor.

…Moore has not spoken with us, but as mentioned we talked with his attorney and he has answered a few of our questions via e-mail. Late Monday night he wrote to TheBlaze saying, “I have dyfs still insisting to see the inside of my safe.”

Does the DYFS have a right to look inside Moore’s safe? Can they demand that he show his firearms to them? (HELL no!!!) The agency and local law enforcement may be looking to see if Moore violated New Jersey’s Code of Criminal Justice, specifically, 2C:58-6.1 Possession of firearms by minors; exceptions.

b.No person under the age of 18 years shall possess, carry, fire or use a  firearm except as provided under paragraphs (1), (2), (3) and (4) of this subsection; and, unless authorized in connection with the performance of official duties under the provisions of N.J.S.2C:39-6, no person under the age of 21 years shall possess, carry, fire or use a handgun except under the following circumstances:

(1)In the actual presence or under the direct supervision of his father, mother or guardian, or some other person who holds a permit to carry a handgun or a firearms purchaser identification card, as the case may be;  or

(2)For the purpose of military drill under the auspices of a legally recognized military organization and under competent supervision;  or

(3)For the purpose of competition or target practice in and upon a firing range approved by the governing body of the municipality in which the range is located or the National Rifle Association and which is under competent supervision at the time of such supervision or target practice or instruction and training at any location; or

(4)For the purpose of hunting during the regularly designated hunting season, provided that he possesses a valid hunting license and has successfully completed a hunter’s safety course taught by a qualified instructor or conservation officer and possesses a certificate indicating the successful completion of such a course.

c. A person who violates this section shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.  For purposes of this section the fact that the act would not constitute a crime if committed by an adult shall not be deemed to prohibit or require waiver of family court jurisdiction pursuant to N.J.S.2C:4-11 or to preclude a finding of delinquency under the “New Jersey Code of Juvenile Justice,” P.L.1982, c.77 (C.2A:4A-20 et seq.), P.L.1982, c.79 (C.2A:4A-60 et seq.), P.L.1982, c.80 (C.2A:4A-76 et seq.) and P.L.1982, c.81 (C.2A:4A-70 et seq.).

TheBlaze reached out to DYFS to confirm Moore’s account of the incident. The local office that covered the Carneys Point, NJ, area where Shawn Moore and his family live, would not respond to any questions from us. In fact, after our call was transferred to a “supervisor” named Lynette we were directed to the Trenton offices. When we requested a correct spelling of Lynette’s last name, she started to spell it and then suddenly stopped, saying, “I’m not comfortable giving you my name.” When we asked for a phone number to the Trenton office, Lynette told us “Google it. Goodbye.”

Calls to the Trenton office of DYFS (now known as “The Division of Child Protection and Permanency”) have not yet been returned.

Had Chris Christie a truly Conservative, Constitutionalist bone in his obese body, he’d have already ordered an investigation.  We won’t hold our breath.

In the meantime, if you didn’t think it could happen here…think again!

On the Lighter Side…

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And in another sordid story ripped from the pages of the Crime Blotter…

Defiant teen gets life sentences in Ohio shooting

 

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Wearing a T-shirt with “killer” scrawled across it, a teenager cursed and gestured obscenely as he was given three life sentences Tuesday for shooting to death three students in an Ohio high school cafeteria. T.J. Lane, 18, had pleaded guilty last month to shooting at students in February 2012 at Chardon High School, east of Cleveland. Investigators have said he admitted to the shooting but said he didn’t know why he did it.

Before the case went to adult court last year, a juvenile court judge ruled that Lane was mentally competent to stand trial despite evidence he suffers from hallucinations, psychosis and fantasies.

Lane was defiant during the sentencing, smiling and smirking throughout, including while four relatives of victims spoke. After he came in, he calmly unbuttoned his blue dress shirt to reveal the T-shirt reading “killer,” which the prosecutor noted was similar to one he wore during the shooting.

At one point, he swiveled around in his chair toward the gallery where his own family members and those of the slain teenagers were sitting and spoke suddenly, surprising even his lawyer. “The hand that pulls the trigger that killed your sons now masturbates to the memory,” he said, then cursed at and raised his middle finger toward the victims’ relatives.

Lane may have been mentally competent to stand trial, but does anyone really doubt he’s…

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or perhaps, to be more precise…

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…a Loughner?!?  By the way, it’s not that we disagree in the slightest with his sentence, or mean in any way to mitigate his guilt; we’re only pointing out that by any rational definition, this guy is bonkers.

Next up, as James Taranto observes…

Gay’ Doesn’t Necessarily Mean ‘Happy’

 

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So Hillary Clinton endorsed same-sex marriage the other day, If there was any element of surprise in this announcement it was that Mrs. Clinton hadn’t already taken what by now is a required position for a Democratic politician.

But then we saw this quote in the WSJ.com coverage of her announcement, and we got to wondering:

“Like so many others, my personal views have been shaped over time by people I have known and loved, by my experience representing our nation on the world stage, my devotion to law and human rights and the guiding principles of my faith,” she said. “Marriage, after all, is a fundamental building block of our society, a great joy and, yes, a great responsibility.”

If we were gay, we’d enthusiastically support Proposition 8 in response to the news that marriage is “a great joy” according to Hillary Clinton.

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And THAT‘s when I cut Bill’s nuts off!

Finally, in a related headline, we’ll call it a day with this follow-up, courtesy of Speed Mach, to an earlier item detailing the government’s $1.5M funding for a study of lesbian obesity:

$2.7M Federal Study: Why Do Lesbians Have Higher ‘Risk for Hazardous Drinking’?

 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $2.7 million to study why lesbians are at a higher “risk for hazardous drinking.”

The University of Illinois has received grants since 2009 for its project, “Cumulative Stress and Hazardous Drinking in a Community of Adult Lesbians,” which aims to develop “culturally sensitive” strategies to prevent lesbians from being drunks.

Sooo…they’re fat, they’re drunk…and being overwhelmingly Liberal, they’re undoubtedly stupid.  Why not save the combined $3.2M and just offer them this snippet of sagacity:

Or perhaps all lesbians, like Elizabeth Warren…

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…are of Indian heritage.

Magoo