Thursday, December 26, 2013

Virtual Insurance: How ObamaCare Saves 30 Million From Being Uninsured While Leaving 30 Million Without Coverage

Obama supporters cite the 30 million who stand eventually to gain health insurance coverage as the most compelling reason for not abandoning ObamaCare in its time of troubles. Despite a string of disappointments and broken promises, ObamaCare critics do not push back against this  claim. After all, the 30 million who will gain insurance is a calculation of the “non-partisan” CBO.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Putin Clears The Decks For Sochi Olympics With Pardons

In a surprise move near the end of his annual press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a pardon for rival, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and clemency for the Pussy Riot girls remaining in prison. These pardons signal Putin’s absolute confidence in his personal power and the importance to him of the Russian winter Olympics to begin in Sochi in February. Putin has placed his personal prestige on the line with his $50 billion investment in building the Sochi Olympic infrastructure. He cannot let anything happen to spoil his big day.

Putin’s move was timed to counter the growing list of heads of state including Obama, Harper, Hollande and Merkel who are refusing to attend. His pardons gave his Western rivals less to complain about.

Left unresolved is the world gay and entertainment community’s boycott of the Sochi Olympics in protest over Russia’s anti-gay laws and Putin’s own anti-gay stance. Even with a turnabout in policy towards gays, Putin must fear the threat of pro-gay protests in Sochi by attendees, gay participating athletes and their sympathizers.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kim Jong Un Copies The Playbook of Joseph Stalin In North Korea, The World's Last Stalinist State

Stalin would have slapped the “Great Successor” heartily on his back for executing his “traitor-for-all-the-ages” uncle. Well done, young fellow. This young guy, Kim Jong Un, doesn’t shirk from killing his own relatives. He reminds me of myself. I did not hesitate to shoot my closest friends and the relatives of my beloved first wife, Katya.  Shooting friends and relatives sends a chilling message to all. Well done!
This Un guy sure knows how to run a show trial. Uncle Song pled guilty to all charges, even the most outrageous. I had to wait until I was 49, and here he is orchestrating show trials at 30. But credit where credit is due: I pioneered the choreography back in 1936.

The apple does not fall far from the tree. Un’s grandfather dispatched 12 of his most senior officials back in 1953, my last year on earth. Un promised Uncle Song he could live if he confessed and that his wife and children would be safe. I used that trick hundreds of times, and they all fell for it, but what could I do when the courts sentenced them to death?  As I used to say: “Friendship is friendship but business is business.”

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Weak World Economy, Not ObamaCare, Is Bending The Cost Curve

Obama’s central planners are latching on to what they think is a rare  ObamaCare “win.” Harvard professor and ObamaCare guru, David Cutler (The health-care law’s success story: Slowing down medical costs) proclaims that ObamaCare has “bent the health care cost curve down” as a consequence of  measures already in effect, such as “value based reimbursements” and “Accountable Care Organizations.”  ObamaCare has thus attained one of its main goals before it even begins. Quite an accomplishment, I must say, if true.

Note that Cutler rules out that the downward bending cost curve is a result of the 2008-9 world recession and the spindly recovery thereafter. As he writes:

“Even as coverage efforts are sputtering, success on the cost front is becoming more noticeable. Since 2010, the average rate of health-care cost increases has been less than half the average in the prior 40 years. The first wave of the cost slowdown emerged just after the recession and was attributed to the economic hangover. [Wrong. The slowdown began during the recession]. Three years later, the economy is growing, and costs [No. He means the growth rate of costs] show no sign of rising. Something deeper is at work.”
Sounds too good to be true. With some minor jiggling, Obama’s central planners have somehow slowed the rise in health care costs for the first time in forty years. Per Cutler: “The Affordable Care Act is a key to the underlying change.”

Cutler fails to mention the world-wide phenomenon of slowing healthcare costs caused by the world recession and the weak recovery in its aftermath. The U.S. medical cost slowdown has nothing to do with the ObamaCare tweaks that Cutler praises. Cutler would have us believe that the somnambulant world economy explains the deceleration of medical costs in all countries except the United States, where ObamaCare must be credited. Try selling that one on the streets.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Will Kiev Streets Thwart Putin's Grand Design?

A fateful drama is playing out in central Kiev. Tens of thousands of demonstrators occupy Independence Square and block entrances to government buildings. They demand “revolution.” They clamor for the resignation of President Victor Yanukovich’s government  as punishment for his surprise decision to reject the European Union’s offer of association status and to look instead eastward for partners. Yanukovich’s use of the riot police has been met with ever larger numbers of demonstrators.

An experienced observer like Anders Aslund predicts that this is the beginning of the end of Yanukovich. If so, it will be the Ukrainian people, not President Obama or professional European diplomats, who will have dealt Vladimir Putin his first major foreign policy defeat. Putin has risked a lot of skin in the Ukrainian game, defiantly calling the Kiev demonstrations a “pogrom.”