More #ObamaGate #wiretap Evidence

Jail CellOn Sunday morning Mr. Levin laid out his argument on Fox and Friends that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign. The administration maintains that it was looking for inappropriate contacts by the Trump campaign with Russian officials. This domestic spying operation started in January of 2016 and continued through the end of the Obama administration. At least six agencies were involved and there were two applications for FISA warrants. Considering that there are no indictments you have to wonder you have to wonder whether the FISA court was deliberately misled. Twitter is following this story under the hashtag, #ObamaGate, due to a similar abuse of power in Watergate. Mr. McCarthy in the article, FISA and The Trump Team,  expressed this concern when he said:

The idea that FISA could be used against political enemies always seemed far-fetched. Now it might not be.

At this time we have to assume the FISA warrant was used by the Administration for political purposes.

Here is the link to Levin’s clip on Fox And Friends, http://video.foxnews.com/v/5348359459001.

For those looking for more information on this subject, “Tapping Trump?” is an excellent summary of the events. The article that broke this story is “EXCLUSIVE: FBI ‘Granted FISA Warrant’ Covering Trump Camp’s Ties To Russia“.
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If “no reasonable prosecutor would bring” a case against Hillary, who approved the Trump Tower #wiretap?

Jail CellIf we are to believe that the Judicial Department and the NSA are bastions of reasonableness, who approved the Trump Tower #wiretap and why?  I am hoping that this is fake news but considering the Flynn leak was classified information you have every right to be suspicious. This action has to be at least as stupid as Ms. Clinton having a private email server, the IRS targeting of conservative groups, and Ms. Rice going on five Sunday morning talk shows and saying the YouTube movie caused the Benghazi attack. At some point, you have to start prosecuting to cut down on the stupidity.

Sweden’s Problem With Assimilating Muslims

When the press jumped all over President Trump’s comments about Sweden’s immigration policies it reminded me of the PBS Mystery series, Wallander. For people who are unfamiliar with the series, it is about murder mysteries involving a Swedish detective named Wallander. In the 2010 episode, Faceless Killer, one of the major subplots was Sweden’s struggles assimilating Muslims into society. Although most of the Swedes enjoy a high standard of living, the Muslim community does not. The author chose to personalize the assimilation question by portraying Wallander struggling with his daughter’s new boyfriend of Syrian descent. If this episode is a reasonable portrayal of the Swedish Muslim situation in 2010 and there has been no progress assimilating Muslims then it is hard to disagree with filmmaker Ami Horowitz’s two assertions.  Sweden’s choice to accept large quantities of refugees is directly related to the surge in crime. Dumping refugees into a volatile situation is a really, bad idea.

Update

After writing this piece I ran across this article on The Federalist, Yes, Violent Crime Has Spiked In Sweden Since Open Immigration. Although I am naturally skeptical when an author chooses to remain anonymous, I did follow one of his links to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet – Brå) and picked up this graph.

Rape and sex offences - BRA

Reforming The Filibuster

I was struck by this passage in the latest Imprimis issue, How and Why the Senate Must Reform the Filibuster.

But beginning in 1970, the number of filibusters exploded by a magnitude of 36-fold. There have been 1,700 in the 46 years since then. Why? Because in 1970, Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield instituted a “two-track” system that allowed the Senate, by unanimous consent or the approval of the minority leader, to bypass a filibustered bill and go on to another. This relieved a filibustering senator of the job of having to talk through the night and it relieved his colleagues of their frustration.

The over-use of filibusters goes against the middle-class view of a well-functioning government. If the Senate would like to get back on the good side of the middle-class voters, a good start would be to get rid of the “two-track” system.

Braised Chicken With Leeks, Peas, and Cannellini Beans

This is a Cannellini version of Real Simple’s recipe, Braised Chicken With Leeks, Peas, and Butter Beans.Braised Chicken With Leeks, Peas, and Cannellini Beans I substituted Cannellini beans since I had beans on the shelf. With chicken thighs at 99¢ per pound at Sams Club, this meal is delicious and inexpensive.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 pound cooked Cannellini beans
  • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill, plus sprigs for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. ?Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon each ?salt and pepper. Cook, skin-side down, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Add the leeks and garlic to the Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the leeks are just tender, ?6 to 8 minutes. Add the broth and sour cream and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken, skin-side up, and simmer over medium-low heat until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest piece registers 165° F, 12 to 14 minutes.
  3. Stir the beans, peas, lemon juice, and chopped dill into the sauce and simmer until the beans are hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve topped with dill sprigs.

Neil Gorsuch: Q&A with Randy Barnett

I enjoyed the reason.com Q&A with Randy Barnett. I knew Mr. Gorsuch embraced originalism but his skepticism of the Chevron deference is a big plus compared to the late Judge Scalia. Like Mr. Barnett and Gorsuch I feel the Chevron deference has transferred too much legislative power to the executive branch and made the government more partisan and dysfunctional. They also talked briefly about Mr. Barnett’s new book, Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People, which I found at the local library. For those who are curious here is the video clip:

The Forgotten ACA Goal: Affordable Health Care

One of the greatest ironies about the Affordable Care Act was that it whiffed on providing affordable health care. Any idiot can expand Medicaid without paying for it. It takes a savvy group of politicians to bend the cost curve in a sustainable way. The key to sustainability was to focus on the unsubsidized health insurance cost.

The Hidden Health Insurance Goal

The Affordable Care Act supporters did believe in the importance of affordable health care. In fact, they had a very specific goal for affordable health insurance. When you go to healthcare.gov it says that if the lowest cost Bronze-level plan available to you through the Marketplace is more than 8.13% of your household income then your health insurance is unaffordable. This implies that since the Marketplace subsidies cease at 400% of the federal poverty limit(FPL), the lowest cost Bronze-level plan should cost no more than 8.13% of the 400% FPL. As an example for a two person household, the lowest Bronze-level plan should cost no more than .0813 times $64,080 or $5,209.70 per year. This rate is not unreasonable. A couple of years ago my grandfathered health insurance plan cost that much.

Affordable Health Insurance For The Middle Class Means Affordable Health Insurance For Everyone

My Health Inflation

My Health Inflation

As a healthy family who not filed an insurance claim in twenty years, I find it exceeding odd that I cannot find affordable health insurance. As an example when I priced health insurance in the Marketplace last October, the lowest cost Bronze-level plan would cost me $12,696 per year. Even my grandfathered health insurance plan exceeds the 8.13% limit. The cost control performance of the Affordable Care Act remind me of the Zig Ziglar quote,

You hit what you aim at, and if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.

The canary in the coal mine is those healthy people purchasing unsubsidized health insurance and yet this is the group that is most likely to be taken advantage of. When I look at five years of 13% increases in my health insurance premium, I feel like my insurance company took advantage of my situation. When I look at the $12,696 premium from the Marketplace, I feel like the government and the insurance companies conspired to take advantage of my situation. The Urban Institute has offered some ideas on fixing the Affordable Care Act such as a premium cap at 8.50% of income and an individual mandate modeled after Medicare. The premium cap at 8.50% of all income is a step in the right direction but I prefer 8.13% of the 400% FPL. Since I do not think the Affordable Care Act supporters and insurance companies have been honest with me over the last five years, I think the only way we can keep these folks honest is to have no mandate. Frankly, I have not found any Medicare participants who like their mandate so why push this headache on the rest of the population? The most pragmatic solution for me is to self-insure even though healthy, unsubsidized people are the foundation that allows us to offer affordable health insurance to everyone.  If the Affordable Care Act had any redeeming value to the middle class, I do not see it in this graph. We did not get more affordable health care.

Life expectancy vs. health expenditure over time, 1970-2014

 

Cutting The Cord With Fioptics

Cincinnati Bell Telephone Speed Test on 2017-01-21Last week I got an offer from Cincinnati Bell I could not refuse. They offered to upgrade my Internet to 30 Mbps, keep my home phone, and give me video streaming for about the same price as I was paying for the Internet and the home phone. Due to our distance from the road cable TV has never been an option. Getting the Internet from the telephone company was our best option. Our farm is about 8000 feet from the telephone company equipment providing us with Internet access. That distance pretty much guarantees us slow Internet access. As an example, my Internet was advertised to be 20 Mbps but I never had a speed test greater than 7 Mbps. On the other hand, if the technology had improved enough to support faster Internet over longer distances, I could replace DirecTV and save over a hundred bucks a month.

The installation went smoothly until I got home and turned on the television in the bedroom. Both the television in the bedroom and the living room locked up. When I ran a speed test on my laptop it said I had only 2 Mbps. Video streaming is never going to work at this speed! So I called Cincinnati Bell and they sent out a technician. After a little bit of troubleshooting, he replaced the ADSL filter. My engineering background says that changing the filter should not affect the Internet speed but my speed was now 24 Mbps.  That is three times faster speed than I ever had. I am confused but not complaining. Even when I run just one television the speed test is showing 21 Mbps. This is more than enough capacity for me to watch football while my wife watches a movie. As soon as my wife is comfortable programming the DVR we should be ready to cut DirecTV from our budget.