It’s Thursday, March 28th, 2013…and despite our dinner engagement, there’s so much going down we just couldn’t help but put out a quick commentary.

So, any grammatical and/or syntax errors notwithstanding, here’s The Gouge!

First up, here’s a real shocker, courtesy of Jammie Wearing Fools and The Hill:

They Lied: Sebelius Admits “There May be a Higher Cost” With ObamaCare

 

Remember when Obama said his “healthcare” scam would save families $2500 a year? Well, he was lying.

Well, costs will rise at least 32%, just for starters. Heck, you could be paying as much as 116% more for you insurance premiums.

Everyone knew this, which is why the sneaky Democrats rammed it through without reading the bill. Now HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius goes on the record admitting insurance premiums will [likely] go up:

The Obama administration acknowledged Tuesday that some people could see their premiums rise under the healthcare reform law. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters that “there may be a higher cost associated with getting into that market” where “folks will be moving into a really fully insured product for the first time.”

The comment was among the first from the Obama administration to reveal a degree of uncertainty about the impact of the law on insurance premiums. Sebelius said that transparency and “market strategies” will ease any potential instances of rate shock for consumer buying insurance.

Yeah…

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They’ve lied about Benghazi and Fast & Furious, misrepresented every fact and figure related to the economy and unemployment, circumvented the Constitution, forced America to pay more than double what energy should cost and covered up the abject failure of Cash-for-Clunkers and the Stimulus.  And now it’s clear they consciously deceived the country about the true impact of their health care “reform”.

Wake up and smell the coffee, America!

Since we’re on the subject of those needing a dose of reality, given the facts detailed in today’s “Government of the Bureaucrats, By the Bureaucrats and For the Bureaucrats” segment, perhaps Californian’s will finally realize why their state’s facing insolvency:

California County Administrator to Get $423,644 a Year – After Retirement

 

When local California official Susan Muranishi retires from her job in a couple of years, she’s going to be walking away with a fat paycheck — $423,664 a yearfor the rest of her life. Muranishi, an Alameda County administrator, makes $301,000 in annual base pay. But in addition to that, the San Francisco Chronicle reports she’ll also receive:

$24,000 in “equity pay” to make sure she makes at least 10 percent more than anyone else in the county, even in retirement.

An annual performance bonus of $24,000, even in retirement.

Another $9,000 a year for serving on the county’s three-member Surplus Property Authority, even in retirement.

$54,000 a year in “longevity” pay for having stayed with the county for more than 30 years, even in retirement.

You can’t make this stuff up.  No, seriously; you can’t make this stuff up!  What was Ms. Muranishi doing for Alameda County; spinning straw into gold?!?  Assuming a number of very good friends were to move north or east, we’d rather the once-Golden State simply slid into the sea; otherwise, when Sacramento’s bills finally come due, it’ll be the rest of us picking up the tab.

Meanwhile, back East, the federal government continues to practice the same unconscionable pandering to public employees California’s perfected:

Official fired in wake of GSA spending scandal gets his job back with back pay

 

Speaking of those who had to know…

Obama taps woman to head scandal-plagued Secret Service

 

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President Barack Obama on Tuesday named veteran Secret Service agent Julia Pierson as the agency’s first female director, signaling his desire to change the culture at the male-dominated service, which has been marred by scandal. Pierson, who most recently served as the agency’s chief of staff, will take over from Mark Sullivan, who announced his retirement last month. The agency faced intense criticism during Sullivan’s tenure for a prostitution scandal during preparations for Obama’s trip to Cartagena, Colombia, last year.

“Over her 30 years of experience with the Secret Service, Julia has consistently exemplified the spirit and dedication the men and women of the service demonstrate every day,” Obama said in a statement announcing Pierson’s appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also praised Obama’s “historic decision” to name Pierson as the service’s first female director.

What…did The Obamao never see The Untouchables?!?

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The President can appoint any individual he wants to head the Secret Service; even a woman based solely on her gender.  But PLEASE don’t pretend the appointment of a 30-year veteran of the same organization…the chief-of-staff to the now-disgraced former director who had to be aware of what was going on…is a serious attempt to change a corrupt corporate culture.

In the words of the immortal Dean Vernon Wormer…

And in the Wonderful World of Science, researchers now believe…

Brain scans can predict whether a criminal is likely to reoffend

Area of convicts’ brains showed ‘low activity’  in executive functioning skills

 

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Other “tells” include development of a taste for human liver and fava beans washed down with a nice chianti!

Neuroscientists claim to have found a way to predict whether convicted criminals are likely to re-offend by looking at their brain scans. According to American imaging experts, convicts showing low activity in an area of the brain associated with decision-making and action are more likely to be arrested again.

A team led by Kent Kiehl, a neuroscientist at the Mind Research Network in Albuquerque, studied a group of 96 male prisoners shortly before they were due to be released. They scanned prisoners brains while they were carrying out computer tasks in which subjects had to make quick decisions and inhibit impulsive reactions.

You know…sorta like politicians who believe cutting secret deals behind closed doors, eliminating public input and circumventing normal legislative processes somehow serves the public good.  Take, for example, a governor who employs a rarely-used executive trick (a “message of necessity”) to bypass normal legislative procedures and ram through an all-encompassing, absolutely unconstitutional anti-gun measure in less than 24 hours; only to find it’s…GASP!…unworkable, if not unenforceable:

Cuomo’s 7-Bullet Limit to Be Suspended Indefinitely

 

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Whadda ya mean, “Nobody makes a 7-round magazine”?!?

In other words…

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…if they gave anyone time to consider the import of what they proposed, they couldn’t pass gas!

Next up, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times and AEI, Jonah Goldberg recounts…

The wisdom of Dan Quayle

His 1992 speech criticizing ‘Murphy Brown’ stirred controversy, but he was right about the importance of marriage in raising children.

 

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Almost exactly 20 years ago, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead wrote a controversial essay for the Atlantic titled “Dan Quayle Was Right.” In case you forgot (or never knew), let me fill you in on what Quayle was right about.

There once was a popular sitcom called “Murphy Brown.” The title character, played by Candice Bergen, was a news anchor. The show had its moments, but it was also insufferably pleased with itself and its liberalism. At least until the arrival of the Aaron Sorkin oeuvre (“The West Wing,” “The Newsroom”), it set the standard for such things.

Murphy Brown was rich, powerful and independent. In a 1992 episode, she got pregnant and decided to have the baby, without a husband or, as so many say today, a “partner.” On May 19, 1992, then-Vice President Dan Quayle delivered a speech titled “Reflections on Urban America.” His address was a response to the riots in Los Angeles that month, and he placed a heavy emphasis on the breakdown of the black family — sounding a bit like Barack Obama today.

Quayle mentioned “Murphy Brown” once. “Bearing babies irresponsibly is simply wrong. Failing to support children one has fathered is wrong, and we must be unequivocal about this. It doesn’t help matters when prime-time TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid, professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice. I know it is not fashionable to talk about moral values, but … it’s time to make the discussion public.” (It still isn’t.)

Quayle succeeded in launching a public discussion. His side lost. Feminists, Hollywood big mouths and the usual suspects went ballistic. “Murphy Brown’s” producers made the execrable decision to write a show in which Quayle had attacked the “real” Murphy Brown, not a fictional character. In full martyr mode, the make-believe Murphy Brown said, “Perhaps it’s time for the vice president to expand his definition and recognize that, whether by choice or circumstance, families come in all shapes and sizes.”

Dan Quayle

Yet someone claiming to have visited 57 states with 1 to go never received any MSM attention whatsoever.

Quayle, of course, never said that families don’t come in all shapes and sizes. What he said was that children raised by married, responsible parents do better than those who aren’t. And that’s where Whitehead came in. Marshaling the still-gelling social science at the time, she put numbers behind Quayle’s assertions.

Back then, Whitehead’s essay was heretical. Today, it’s conventional wisdom. Last year, Isabel Sawhill, a widely respected liberal economist at the Brookings Institution, wrote an op-ed article for the Washington Post titled “20 years later, it turns out Dan Quayle was right about Murphy Brown and unmarried moms.”

Sawhill noted that kids raised by married parents — not just parents living together, never mind single mothers — simply do better. They do better academically and are less likely to get arrested, get pregnant or commit suicide. They’re also much less likely to be poor or stay poor.

None of these claims are particularly controversial among social scientists. And none of this is particularly aimed at gay marriage, pretty much the only kind of marriage liberal elites want to celebrate now.

But where Quayle was wrong — though only partially — was putting the blame on Hollywood. The black family was falling apart decades before “Murphy Brown.” And since then, the white family has been breaking down even as the majority of Hollywood fare continues to romanticize traditional marriage or does an adequate job of showing how hard single motherhood is.

I don’t know why marriage for all but the well-off and well educated continues to disintegrate; maybe it would help if elites “preached what they practiced, ” to borrow a phrase from Charles Murray. Forbes writer Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry notes that being married correlates about as positively with a person’s wages as going to college does. But experts hammer the importance of college while ignoring marriage.

Maybe after the debate over gay marriage settles down, elites could focus on the far more pressing marriage crisis unfolding before their eyes.

With the possible exception of George W. Bush, never has a politician been so unfairly maligned as Dan Quayle, who’s a rocket surgeon compared to the current VP.  More importantly, Goldberg fails to answer why the black family was disintegrating decades before Murphy Brown:

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Welcome to…Uncle_Sams_Plantation_1939_2010_sm_xlarge

…Uncle Sam’s Plantation; all that’s required is your abject surrender to enslavement by entitlement.

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Then there’s these thoughtful observations on the gay marriage debate from Ed Morrissey, courtesy The Week:

Government should get out of the marriage business

And the Supreme Court certainly shouldn’t overrule the will of the millions of California voters who backed Proposition 8

 

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This week, the Supreme Court will hear two cases that could lead to decisions changing the traditional definition of marriage. That definition, let’s remember, is based on thousands of years of Western culture in which such a union has been between one man and one woman. The justices might change that definition to a union of any two adults.

Polls show that the acceptance of same-sex marriage in the United States has rapidly increased in just a single generation. Politicians in both parties have begun jumping on an expanding bandwagon, beginning last year with Joe Biden in the middle of a presidential campaign (which momentarily left his boss twisting in the breeze). Barack Obama later “evolved” from his previously stated opposition to same-sex marriage to support of it, though at the time, Obama declined to provide any direct action to change the definition of the institution.

Before the judiciary settles this question — or perhaps leaves it unsettled — it would behoove us to pause in this rush, and ask what purpose the institution of marriage serves in our society.

Let’s start by refining the argument. Supporters of same-sex marriage talk of “legalizing” gay marriages, but that’s not an accurate depiction of current law. No U.S. state, regardless of its definition of marriage, will prosecute same-sex couples who call themselves “married,” nor should they, outside of an intent to defraud — which is a crime regardless of the sexual circumstances. In fact, the government has a very limited legitimate interest in sexual or living arrangements. Especially after the Lawrence v. Texas case, the government has no role in regulating sexual activity with the exceptions of consanguinity (close blood relations), use of force and victimization, commercial trafficking of sexual favors, and exploitation of minors.

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They already can!

No one wants the government to dictate who may or may not share a bed, outside of those exceptional circumstances. Those who choose to cohabit in non-traditional relationships have ample options for formalizing their arrangements through the private contract process, which government enforces but does not sanction. That leaves adults free to choose whatever sexual arrangements they desire outside of the actual prohibitions that are objectively applied to everyone. That is actual freedom and equality.

Marriage, however, is a unique status even apart from religious concerns, which I’ll address later. Marriage licenses exist as government recognition of the unique procreative potential of heterosexual relationships. The government takes a special interest in that potential for good reason — because a failure of the procreators to act as proper guardians forces the government to build safety-net systems for children whose parents either cannot or will not provide for them. Marriage provides a structure for assigning responsibility for children potentially produced by heterosexual relations. Put simply, it fixes responsibility for paternity on the husband, regardless of who may have fathered the children during a marriage — a fact that more than a few cuckolded husbands have discovered during divorce settlements. That structure ensures that the state can enforce responsibility for the care of its most vulnerable citizens, even to the extent of criminal prosecution for neglect.

In Western societies, including the U.S., marriage has always been a forward-looking institution aimed at protecting and nurturing the next generation of children, not a love license for the adults of the present.

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Most states, until relatively recently, provided incentives for marriage and disincentives for divorce. Social experimentation undermined both, and safety-net programs accelerated the process. Thanks to no-fault divorce laws that put the whims of adults over the needs of children, the results of devaluing marriage for heterosexual unions have produced heavy social costs for the past few generations that have fallen outside of the traditional family structure.

That being said, marriage recognition is a government policy just like all other statutory and regulatory policies. In a democratic republic, government policies are open for debate and change, either through direct democratic mechanisms like referenda or through legislative action by elected representatives of the voters. In a few cases, states have legalized same-sex marriage through those channels. While many disagree with those changes, few would argue that the process or the outcome was somehow illegitimate.

However, one case in particular presents a contradictory question to the Supreme Court. In pushing to overturn a referendum passed by a large majority in California that enshrined the traditional definition of marriage into the state constitution, the opponents of Proposition 8 argue in essence that both the process and the policy chosen by the voters are entirely illegitimate. Voters used a direct-democracy mechanism that has existed in California for decades to amend the constitution no differently than other such propositions, and affirmed the definition of marriage that has existed during the entire history of this country. The challengers don’t like the outcome, and argue that nine justices should only accept as a legitimate result of that referendum a definition of marriage that until the last few years few would have accepted, and negate a legitimate outcome in an election. That’s an argument for an oligarchy or an autocracy, not a democracy.

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Tolerance, it seems, works only in one direction — and that brings us to the religious argument, but not in the manner one might think.

While as a practicing Catholic my definition of marriage involves its sacramental character, I understand that others may not share my faith and perspective on its meaning or value. That, however, will not work both ways, as recent examples have made plain. For example, a baker in Oregon faces potential criminal charges for refusing to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs. What happens when churches refuse to perform such ceremonies for the same reason?

Most people scoff at this question, but religions have partnered with the state on marriages in a way that bakers have not. Priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams act in place of the state when officiating at wedding ceremonies, and states that legalize same-sex marriage are eventually going to be forced by lawsuits to address that partnership, probably sooner rather than later. In similar partnerships, that has resulted in pushing churches out of business.

Massachusetts demanded that Catholic adoption agencies, which handle private adoption in an arrangement that is less of a stand-in for government than officiating at weddings is, place children with same-sex couples. The Boston diocese opted to drop its adoption services rather than fight the state in court. (Or compromise their religious beliefs.) Most recently, the federal government imposed a requirement on religious organizations and individual business owners to provide and/or facilitate free birth control and sterilization services even though doing so conflicts with their beliefs and doctrine. Part of the argument put forward in favor of this policy is that these religious organizations — especially Catholic health-care providers — partner with the government to deliver those services, and therefore have no right to stand on religious-liberty grounds. It’s not difficult to see the writing on the wall when it comes to the ability of churches to perform a core sacrament in any meaningful sense once the government changes the definition of marriage.

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The best outcome would be for Americans to recall the limited state interest in marriage and preserve it as a forward-looking institution, and return to incentivizing families rather than lowering barriers to failure. While society increasingly places no value on marriage except as a government love license, the best outcome would be to have government get out of the marriage business altogether, restricting itself instead to enforcing contracts. People that want to change the definition of marriage should use the proper methods in our form of government to address government policy rather than suing to overrule the will of the electorate. The worst outcome for both society and democratic processes would be for the Supreme Court to invalidate a fair election result to impose a new definition of marriage in California that voters made clear they didn’t accept, and force the rest of the country to accept that outcome.

Next stop…

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They won’t want to kill us; they’ll do it out of concern for the feelings of others!

On the Lighter Side….

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Finally, in the Environmental Moment, a report on a…

Report: Big Okla. quake in 2011 likely man-made

 

Chad Devereaux

An unusual and widely felt 5.6-magnitude quake in Oklahoma in 2011 was probably caused when oil drilling waste was pushed deep underground, a team of university and federal scientists concluded. That would make it the most powerful quake to be blamed on deep injections of wastewater, according to a study published Tuesday by the journal Geology. The waste was from traditional drilling, not from the hydraulic fracturing technique, or fracking.

Not everyone agrees, though, with the scientists’ conclusion: Oklahoma’s state seismologists say the quake was natural.

The Nov. 6 earthquake near Prague, Okla., injured two people, damaged 14 houses and was felt for hundreds of miles in 14 states, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was the largest quake in the central part of the country in decades and largest in Oklahoma records, experts said.

The study by geophysicists at the University of Oklahoma, Columbia University and the USGS says that a day earlier there was a slightly smaller quake in an old oil well used to get rid of wastewater, right along a fault line. That smaller quake triggered the bigger one, and a third smaller aftershock.

The location of the tremors right at the spot where wastewater was stored, combined with an increased well pressure, makes a strong case that the injections resulted in the larger quake, they said.

Imagine an earthquake occurring “right along a fault line”.  Maybe we’re reading too much into this report, but given the Administration’s war on fossil fuels, we’ll be watching to see if this signals the opening of hostilities on another front.

Magoo