Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How safe is home birth in Delaware? The only statistical analysis ever done

(That I can find, at least ...)

This is the text of a report that will be released tomorrow night at the Division of Public Health meeting on non-nurse midwives tomorrow night in Clayton.  Follow the link for details.

This will be a public meeting that begins the process of fixing the very bad mistake that the General Assembly and DPH made last year in passing HB 194 and essentially criminalizing the entire profession of midwifery and the practice of home birth.

What most astounded me when I began talking with the bureaucrats and legislators who supported and passed this law is that they did so in response to a handful of "bad outcomes" to home births in the last year or so.  Let's not mince words, "bad outcomes" means perinatal or prenatal death, or something equally horrible for the mother.  But what I discovered that there was the typical rush to "do something" to be seen addressing the problem, and nobody stopped to determine whether these outcomes were representative of a disturbing trend or were simply a statistical clump.  I kept asking the question, and nobody knew.

So I started researching the topic and I discovered another problem:  once HB 194 became law, for midwives or the OB/GYNs who often consult with them (whether they are officially licensed or not) to talk about their clinical experiences was to risk investigation, arrest, and prosecution.  You see, in the wake of the Earl Bradley scandal, in 2010 the General Assembly passed nine different bills aiming at protecting patients, including one that imposes an ironclad "duty to report" requirement on physicians that intersects with HB 194 to make it impossible to actually have a conversation about clinical practices in home birth. 

But I'm not a physician nor any form of licensed medical practitioner, so guess what?  Under statute I have no duty to report.  I can talk to anybody, especially about events that occurred prior to 2010, and they can talk to me.

So if you are interested in knowing what nobody else in Delaware will tell you about the extent and safety of home birth, go below the fold and meet me in my academic guise ...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Highmark dumps people with pre-existing conditions (as well as cancer patients)

Why is it great to be a "supposedly non-profit" corporate giant in the land of government-subsidized corporate welfare ...

... or why Federal anti-trust laws apparently do not apply to entities like Highmark no matter how horrible the corporation's conduct is ...

Here's two new examples:

1.  Obamacare allows many procedures to be paid at a much higher rate if they are done in a hospital.  Get a stress test in a cardiologist's office?  Using exactly the same machine, the ACA says the cardiologist receives only about one-third the pay that a hospital would.  This is why most cardiology groups in Delaware have sold out to hospitals.  So what does the hospital do?  The hospital leaves the cardiology office open (the machine's already there, right?) and calls the building "a hospital clinic" so that it can continue to charge higher rates to insurance companies and Medicare than the original doctors could.  Got it?

So the same thing happens with infusion clinics that cancer patients depend on to deliver their meds and chemo.  Frankly, it is a really cheesy benefit for hospital chains that they lobbied into the ACA.

But here's the even cheesier wrinkle that Highmark is using in its continual quest to own medical insurance AND medical treatment in Pennsylvania ("und tomorrow the world!"):

Highmark does this billing trick with the Alleghany hospital chain that it bought, essentially paying itself the higher rates.

But if you're not a Highmark hospital?  Guess what?  Highmark refuses to recognize other hospital chains' clinics, and has held up millions, possibly tens of millions, in benefits payments for cancer patients.  Not just once.  But again.

So how do you run your competition out of town?  Figure out a (supposedly) legal way to pay their hospitals less than your hospitals for the same services, and as for those cancer patients who will be eventually cut off from treatment ... ?

I guess they can either go to Highmark or go to the Devil.  Which amounts to the same thing.

2.  Highmark dumps 37,000 insurance customers in PA with pre-existing conditions.  Go find your insurance on the new exchanges, Highmark says.  Or pay the penalties.  Just quit bothering us.  And, again, according to the nice bennies for insurance companies written into Obamacare, guess what?  It is completely legal for them to do so.

Just not ethical.  Or humane. Or ... well, you get the idea.

See, here's the thing:  Highmark is the kind of soulless interlocking corporate giant that cannot exist in a free market, only in a heavily regulated (Delacrat would correctly say, "rigged") market wherein the people who write the policies that give Highmark immunity and special protection are the same people who take Highmark's campaign contributions.

And in Delaware, as we shall discover in our next installment, not only is Highmark still pursuing its state-supported monopolistic strategy, but it already has the Insurance Commissioner in the bag.

The State of Michigan admits it intends to regulate sexual relationships

Many of my Libertarian friends are agnostic toward the idea of legislating same-sex marriage because they see this as extending the State's power to license another form of marriage while they would rather have the State completely out of the business of marriage all together.

Me, too, but ...

The reality is that not only do states use existing marriage status to deny legal benefits to same-sex couples, they also--quite consciously--use existing marriage laws to regulate sexual behavior.

Don't believe me?  Just check out the latest brief filed by the State of Michigan in opposition to marriage equality.

It does not get much plainer than this — 
One of the paramount purposes of marriage in Michigan--and at least 37 other states that define marriage as a union between a man and a woman--is, and always has been, to regulate sexual relationships between men and women so that the unique procreative capacity of such relationships benefits rather than harms society. 
And there you have it.  The State asserts its power (states cannot have rights) to police your bedroom via marriage legislation.

As such, marriage equality legislation necessarily reduces the State's power "to regulate sexual relationships," and is therefore something which (I suggest) Libertarians should support.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Our government doesn't sell arms to terrorists ... except when it does

The lead-in:
The Obama administration promises over and over again they are only sending arms to secular, freedom-loving Syrian rebels, not those Islamic jihadists associated with terrorist groups like al-Qaeda.
The pay-off: 
President Obama waived a provision of federal law designed to prevent the supply of arms to terrorist groups to clear the way for the U.S. to provide military assistance to “vetted” opposition groups fighting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
Some elements of the Syrian opposition are associated with radical Islamic terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, which was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., in 2001. Assad’s regime is backed by Iran and Hezbollah.
The president, citing his authority under the Arms Export Control Act, announced today that he would “waive the prohibitions in sections 40 and 40A of the AECA related to such a transaction.” 
Yep, that war on terrorism is a really high priority. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Healthcare exchanges: the Devil (Highmark) is in the Details (Obamacare) ...

You should have been able to see this coming.

First, think about those healthcare exchanges, those Federal and State-run marketplaces for low-cost insurance.  In case you forgot, here's the promise from a Health and Human Services spokesperson:
"When the marketplaces open on Oct. 1, plans will have to compete side by side, and consumers will be able to choose the one that best fits their budget and needs," said Joanne Peters, a department spokeswoman.
Plans may be competing, but insurance companies?  Not so much.

As they say--the Devil (Highmark) is in the details (Obamacare).  Read on.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Protected speech? Not according to the FBI ...

Take a few moments and read this Facebook comment by one Blaine Cooper:
Cooper posted this on either August 21 or 22, 2013, and on August 23 the local police department contacted him and told him to come downtown:  the FBI wanted speak with him.

He complied with the request for an interview, which lasted 45 minutes with federal agents present.  He was released after apparently being determined to not be a threat.
“They had every Facebook post I had ever made in a huge file, along with all my wife’s information, and parent’s information,” Cooper told policestateusa.com
Cooper said that he was told that without “defusing the situation” by complying with the interview, his house might have been raided.
“The FBI made mention they came to question me so they didn’t have to kick in my door,” Cooper toldpolicestateusa.com.
The question here is not whether anyone agrees with Cooper's viewpoint or endorses his rant (I'm not endorsing them), but whether his comment on Facebook constitutes protected political speech under the First Amendment. In the post, from what I can see, Mr. Cooper makes no threat against any individual, and his comments about "fighting back" against the "Nazi police state" remain hypothetical and hyperbolic throughout.

Under what provision of law does a Federal agency get to haul a person in and question them based on a survivalist rant that's actually quite similar to what you can find on sale as fiction at any Barnes & Nobles?

I suppose someone could argue that the FBI had other pieces of information about Mr. Cooper, and that this was just one small piece of the puzzle, but it seems highly unlikely--they let him go.

I'm sure I will be visited here by people who don't get the point of this post, which is not to endorse armed resistance, but to raise the point that what's happening to Blaine Cooper is virtually the same thing that is happening to aggressively non-violent environmentalists who are being surveilled and characterized by the FBI as potential terrorists.

Do any of you wonder if, in protesting the Delaware City refinery, or fighting against recent gun control measures in the General Assembly, you have somehow been added to a list of suspects and potential terrorists by a government that increasingly works on us rather than for us?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tomorrow's headline?

Senator Coons: A moron as well as a hypocrite on Syria?

Senator Chris Coons:  available
to repeat even the most inane
talking points without checking.
While I rarely agree with Senator Chris Coons' politics, I always thought he was a pretty smart guy.

That's over.

Here's his quote today as he is one of the few Obama loyalists still stooging for a US strike in Syria:
“I do think we know what the consequences of inaction will be,” Coons said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. Coons said Assad “will continue to use cluster bombs and scud missiles and chemical weapons to massacre thousands of his own civilians.”
Let me count the ways, Senator, in which repeating White House talking points makes you look like a tool:

1.  "will continue to use cluster bombs"--Uh, Chris?  The US is still using cluster bombs, having refused to sign the convention banning them.  If we were to attack Syria for using cluster bombs, we'd also have to attack Aberdeen Proving Ground, the Dahlgren Surface Naval Weapons Testing Center, and a wide array of US military bases abroad.

2.  "will continue to use ... scud missiles ... to massacre thousands of his own civilians"--Hello, Chris?  The US is currently using drones in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia that have, you know, massacred thousands, including hundreds of children.  We just put Bradley Manning in prison--in part--for revealing the details of how we do it.

3.  "will continue to use ... chemical weapons"--Hey, Chris!?  In any of those confidential briefings you get has anybody ever reminded you that to this day the US continues research into chemical weapons?  See, we get around the Chemical Warfare Convention by concentrating (so they tell us) on nonlethal weapons that only cause "nausea, disorganized thinking, and hallucinations," and which may well have serious long-term health impacts on the civilians in the areas where we would use them.  Let's also not forget that many researchers have compared the exposure impact of our own depleted uranium munitions (both for our own troops and nearby civilians) to chemical warfare.

Do us all a favor next time and remember that we've already got Joe Biden out embarrassing us on the national stage on a regular basis.

We don't need another uninformed clown urging us into a new war in the Middle East.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

School reform goals that (amazingly) gag even Governor Markell

The so-called Center for Education Reform has lauded Jack Markell for being an educationally reform minded governor, but apparently fears that he is being held hostage by the forces of darkness (that would be you, apparently, John Kowalko, and John Young, and kilroy, and pandora, and me) from going far enough in the "right" direction.

Thus Delaware is only in "the middle of the pack" on education reform.

What is interesting is that today's WNJ shows us the breadth of the education reformers' ultimate goals, and this is fascinating both for what is said and what is not said:

The report offers Delaware a to-do list if it wants to follow those states’ lead: 
• Create a voucher system that gives public money to parents who want to send their kids to private schools. 
• Create an independent charter school authorizer outside of the Department of Education. 
• Make it easier for more charter schools to open in the state. 
• Allow state capital money to pay for charter school construction and renovations. 
• Place more emphasis on students’ test scores in decisions on teacher pay and layoffs.
Please note what's NOT in any of the goals for school reform:

Obama and Syria: News Journal editorial board replaced by space aliens

That's pretty much the only explanation that I can offer for the fact that the WNJ today joined the rest of the country in realizing that we are even having a debate over attacking Syria because of President Barack Obama's inept foreign policy leadership.

Phrases like this stand out:
No matter how you look at it, President Obama played an important part in creating the mess he is in. Through a series of missteps and delays, he has put the prestige of the nation and the presidency at risk. It didn’t have to happen.---Unless President Obama is being deceptively clever – and that is hard to imagine at this point – ---President Obama allowed himself to be cornered by his own words that established a “red line” marker. He can say what he wants now about who first used that image, but for quite some time he has been associated with it. The world is holding him – and his credibility – to it.---This is a point blank failure of leadership. Our best hope is a solution that will allow us to muddle through without too much more harm.
In fact, I have only one real bone to pick with the entire editorial, and it comes in this paragraph:
On the other hand, a congressional failure [to approve an attack] will damage the power of the presidency for years to come. It will signal to the world that President Obama is weak and Americans are frightened. It will create even more of a gridlocked Congress than we have now. 
Two things wrong here.

1.  A congressional refusal to follow President Obama down this disastrous path will not damage the power of the presidency.  Quite the contrary, it will reassert the Constitutional limitations on the office that have been sadly lacking for decades.  The War Powers Act is a Cold-War abomination that needs to (at worst) be completely rewritten, and (at best) completely disappear.  The US Senate is the institution with the power to declare war, and we need to get over this idea that the "authorization to use military force" is anything but a blind for moral cowardice on the part of our leaders.

2.  The American people are hardly frightened.  Quite the contrary, they are angry--angry about more than a decade of continuing imperial wars under presidents and congresses both Republican and Democratic.  Angry that nation-building inside the United States has been abandoned to the carcinogenic spread of "defense" contracting and the lobbyist-pedaled notion that cutting even one over-priced toilet seat out of the DOD budget will result in the storming of American beaches by Islamist fanatics.  Angry that they are still taking off their shoes in airports, having their emails hacked, and being tracked as terrorists for peaceful political dissent.

Other than that, color me amazed that the News Journal actually admitted what we are all figuring out:  it is not racists or Republicans who will cause the lame duck term of this administration to be recorded as an abject failure.

Mr. Obama has done it to himself.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Breibart with yet another "winner"

The other day I blogged about Breitbart distorting the story about the Longshoremen's union disaffiliating with the AFL-CIO, and the impact that had on the conservative/libertarian blogging world.

The point:  if you want to win hearts and minds to your cause, in the long term an actual respect for truth and factual accuracy are, you know, kind of important.

So here's today's totally off-base and misleading headline from Breibart:

LIBERTARIAN WITH LITTLE MONEY COULD SPOIL CUCCINELLI CAMPAIGN
This is referring to the Virginia governor's race between unlikeable candidates Terry McAuliffe (D) and Ken Cuccinelli (R), where Libertarian Robert Sarvis has managed to spend only $40K (compared to their millions) and has garnered 9-10% support in recent polling.

Here's what Breitbart says (possibly parroting the Virginia-Union, but with Breitbart who can tell?):
Two months before the election, Sarvis may be the only man who is not a member of the under-performing Cuccinelli campaign team standing in the way of a possible comeback victory for the Republican. 
Uh, guys, OK Cuccinelli trails McAuliffe by about 7 points in the polls, and, yes, Sarvis is getting about 9%.

But the poll breakdown indicates Sarvis is pulling 5% from Cuccinelli and 4% from McAuliffe.

In other words, well within the margin for error, Sarvis is drawing almost equally from the voter base of both candidates, with only a slight bias toward pulling votes from the Republican.

What's spoiling Ken Cuccinelli's campaign is that he is an idiot running against a crook, and more people would prefer a competent crook in office.

What Robert Sarvis is indicative of is that the voter percentage completely turned off by both parties is now legitimately edging into double digits.

Libertarians have now become the new GOP excuse for losing.

Which I'm good with.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Top Ten stupid things about the Delaware Insurance "Marketplace"

10.  The Federal government gave Delaware a $4 million grant to get people to sign up for insurance coverage.  We're hiring people to go out and convince people to pay money for premiums.  Ironically, that $4 million could have put another 526 Delaware children on Medicaid, but it won't.

9. In competition with itself, the Federal government gave yet another $550,000 grant to a Maryland-based company to help Delaware citizens "navigate" the insurance marketplace.  So 20% of the money for jobs signing up people in Delaware goes to a Maryland company?

8.  Everybody, from the News Journal to Rita Landgraf (DHSS Secretary) is emphasizing that they want to find everybody "eligible" for these "benefits" and "access."  Nowhere does anybody mention the stick with this particular carrot, that all of these wonderful eligible people will be charged $90/adult and $47.50/child if they don't sign up?  Congratulations, mom.  We're here to help you, but if you don't want our help we'll make sure you are on the list to be fined by the IRS.  Oh, and there is no mention in any of these articles about the exemptions, either.

7.  We are doing all this advance work, and none of the plans that are supposedly going into the marketplace have had their rates approved by the Federal government, and won't until sometime in October [whether this is before or after the marketplace is scheduled to open is not clear], which means that all these marketplace "navigators" will be out selling the uninsured on a product that nobody even knows the price of yet.

6.  The message will be quite confusing:  nearly half of the people they are reaching out to will, according to Landgraf, not be covered by the insurance marketplace policies, but by the state expansion of Medicaid.  Problem is:  they are trying to get people to go to the marketplace and sign up in October (where, hopefully, there will actually be prices with the policies), but the Medicaid expansion doesn't start till January.  So the people visiting the marketplace during October-December who have low incomes are going to be solicited to pay out for plans before they know if they are eligible for free coverage under Medicaid.  Got that?  I hope so.

5.  Uh, the advertising program is not exactly the most efficient way to reach these folks, anyway, which is something nobody appears ready to acknowledge.  All you need to do to find most of them is have the local hospitals and urgent care centers provide the state with a list of the names and addresses of all the people who, within the past 18 months, have shown up for medical treatment and have had no insurance.  Then you use those names and addresses to go find them.  Much simpler than billboards, but hey--who am I to talk?--I didn't get $4.55 million in Federal grants for this.

4.  The Federal government has decided that poor families can afford to spend 8% of their income on health insurance.  Or, for a family of four with an income of $50k, the Feds have decided that it is legal for the insurance companies to sock them for up to $4,000 in premiums per year.  Yep, I know plenty of struggling working poor people who can afford that.

3.  There is not really an insurance marketplace.  The only options that people visiting this website will have for health insurance are Highmark, Conventry, and ... Coventry.  Somehow when I visualize a marketplace I think about, you know, actual options and not the same corporate giants who have been rigging the system for decades to gouge consumers and government alike.  So much for the competitive power of free markets.

2.  The program is going to leave at least 25,000 Delaware citizens with no insurance after all that.  Landgraf estimates that she'll get 35,000 new suckers victims customers for Highmark and Conventry, and that 30,000 more will be signed up for Medicaid.  In other words, the State is admitting at the outset that it will fail to find and sign up nearly one-third of its target population.  So much for the power of advertising and "navigators."  Which leads me to ...

1.  Once more Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart proves that not only can't she do her job, but she can't even give good quote:
“Our job is to enroll Delawareans that need health insurance, realizing that we won’t get all of them into it,” said Karen Weldin Stewart, commissioner of the Delaware Department of Insurance.
That's my job, says Karen, and I know before I start that I can't get it done, but you should keep voting for me forever because Highmark and Conventry really like me, and--after all--isn't that what matters?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Being careful about your facts: Longshoremen and the AFL-CIO

If you google "International Longshoremen quit AFL-CIO,"you will get pages and pages of results about the 40,000-member ILWU leaving the country's largest labor organization as a result of Obamacare.

The only major media outlet you will find trumpeting the story is Fox News, which attributes the break entirely to health care and immigration (it is s brief story and you should read it to discover I am not misleading you):
Union dumps AFL-CIO for its positions on ObamaCare, immigration reform

Breitbart is the source of the story for most small blogs:
In an August 29 letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, ILWU President Robert McEllrath cited quite a list of grievances as reasons for the disillusion of their affiliation, but prominent among them was the AFL-CIO’s support of Obamare.
The problem?  The hundreds of conservative, Ron Paul, and libertarian sites reporting this story pretty much just follow Breibart's lead, without ever bothering to check out Trumka's original letter.

In that letter, Trumka doesn't even get around to discussing Obamacare or immigration until the last of three pages.  The ILWU's main reasons for leaving the AFL-CIO have to do with disputes over contracts, AFL-CIO failures to back ILWU work actions, and actual legal attacks on the ILWU by other AFL-CIO affiliates.

Here's what Labor Notes says, in a far more honest summary of Trumka's letter than Breibart provides:

In an August 29 letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, ILWU President Robert McEllrath cited these ongoing juristictional battles as part of the union’s decision to disaffiliate. The skirmishes hit close to home: McEllrath comes out of Vancouver, Washington’s Local 4, where members of rival unions are crossing ILWU picket lines, and debate over the disputes was squelched at this summer’s state labor convention. 
The letter also cited the federation’s compromised positions on health care and immigration reform. Invoking the union’s radical and independent history, McEllrath noted the ILWU did not join the AFL-CIO until 1988—after being kicked out of the CIO during the McCarthy era for being “too red.”
In point of fact, to the extent that the ILWU left the AFL-CIO over health care at all, it left because the Longshoremen support an even more radical national single-payer option, and see Obamacare as a sell-out.  It is certainly not joining the voices wanting repeal or defunding of Obamacare to return to status quo ante.

The lesson in all this is to be careful crediting stories that report what you already believe or would like to believe without checking the sources.  Frankly, you should prefer the original sources over somebody else's analysis of them.

If you are out to build a libertarian movement, or a progressive movement or a Green movement or that matter, you really should try--as much as possible--to get your facts straight.

Monday, September 2, 2013

BlueLine: Police with their own social media site is a BAD idea

You gotta think this one through.

Here's the appropriately bland intro from USA Today:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The final stages are near completion for the launch of a law enforcement social media network designed exclusively for the men and women in blue. 
Created by former high-profile New York City police commissioner and Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton, BlueLine is being touted as a site where officers can share their expertise, insight and information securely through video, instant messaging, videoconferencing and screen share capabilities. 
The network is scheduled to go live at the International Association of Police Chiefs' annual conference in Philadelphia in late October, Bratton said.
So what could be wrong with promoting a safe atmosphere for police officers to network?

How about everything?  Let me count the ways:

1.  The BlueLine network will be hosted on servers that appear to be accessible by the Department of Defense and the FBI.

2.  There is no civilian oversight:  only police officers and the vendors who sell them products (!) will have access [but you can bet that 'corporate partners' will quickly gain standing].

3.  Although the article says that there will be no mention of specific cases, as long as there is an instant messaging feature [which there is] and not formal oversight there is literally no way to prevent this.

4.  There is room for all sorts of unsavory behavior in the guise of fighting crime and improving homeland security.  For example, take this quotation from the story:
"This is a big void that needed to be filled," Bratton said. "Our intent is to have officers locate their counterparts and closely interact with each other on a number of topics such as gangs and counterterrorism as well as share their best practices and strategies."
OK, now take a look at this very recent article from Earth Island Journal about how law enforcement and its corporate partners are not only redefining environmental watchdog groups, but literally any organized political opposition to government programs as--you guessed it!--terrorist activity.

It is important in this context to remember the Missouri fusion center report on militias back in 2009 that had law enforcement agencies sharing the "information" and "best practices" that included defining any driver with either a Ron Paul sticker or a Gadsden flag decal on their bumpers as potential terrorists.

Formal networks of law enforcement intelligence sharing are probably (and I say this with great reluctance) a necessity when dealing with interstate crime.  But as we have seen here in Delaware with the DIAC fusion center, the lack of civilian oversight and the potential for abuse of civil liberties even with such formal networks is quite daunting.

5.  And, finally, for all that security they are hyping in the article, let me assure you that from literally day one, be the source disaffected cops, bored teen hackers, or the nonexistent Mafia, BlueLine will actually be an open book to everybody but the citizens whose civil liberties it may well be used to subvert.

But, hey, in the increasingly militarized world of American dissension suppression (sorry, I meant "American law enforcement" there), this will cause barely a ripple ... because you won't be allowed to hear about it again.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Syria isn't about chemical weapons

I remember Dubya's Axis of Evil speech back in January 2002.

If I recall correctly, speechwriter David Frum originally wanted an Axis of Hatred.

Anyway, the original Axis of Evil included Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, with Syria, Libya, and Cuba later coming in for an honorable mention as being "beyond the Axis of Evil."

Iraq, of course, has disappeared from the political radar after a quick military victory and a long, bloody, and basically fruitless occupation that Barack Obama ended with as much panache as Gorbachev employed in scampering out of Afghanistan.

[Brief aside:  you gotta wonder which American general will be selected for the Boris Gromov moment of our inevitable withdrawal, probably a few weeks after the Obama Presidential Library opens in Chicago.]

Now, once again, we are being treated to the full Presidential arm-twisting in favor of a resolution (which, like Dubya, he states over and over again that he doesn't really need) that gives him carte blanche to do pretty much whatever the hell he likes in Syria.

And, of course, it won't stop at Syria.  These days the US is not the country that watches the dominoes fall--we're the one who knocks them over.  Iran, North Korea, Yemen, drumbeat, drumbeat ...

Let's be quite clear:  this action is NOT about the moral or national security imperative to somehow stop or punish the use of chemical weapons.  The record of the United States is quite clear with respect to that:  when push comes to shove our leaders really don't give a crap.  Want proof?  Keep reading below the fold.

Government forbids people to feed the homeless

I often hear people express scorn of the voluntarism embodied in Libertarian thought.  They assert that Libertarians are effectively heartless because they prefer to rely first on people helping other people than to invoke the power of the State.

But it actually takes the State to make feeding the hungry illegal:

In Raleigh NC:
On the morning of Saturday, August, 24, Love Wins showed up at Moore Square at 9:00 a.m., just like we have done virtually every Saturday and Sunday for the last six years. We provide, without cost or obligation, hot coffee and a breakfast sandwich to anyone who wants one. We keep this promise to our community in cooperation with five different, large suburban churches that help us with manpower and funding. 
On that morning three officers from Raleigh Police Department prevented us from doing our work, for the first time ever. An officer said, quite bluntly, that if we attempted to distribute food, we would be arrested.
In New York:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s food police have struck again! Outlawed are food donations to homeless shelters because the city can’t assess their salt, fat and fiber content, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
Glenn Richter arrived at a West Side synagogue on Monday to collect surplus bagels — fresh nutritious bagels — to donate to the poor. However, under a new edict from Bloomberg’s food police he can no longer donate the food to city homeless shelters. 
In Orlando FL:
 Since when is it illegal to give somebody food? In Orlando FL, it has been since April 2011, when a group of activists lost a court battle against the city to overturn its 2006 laws that restrict sharing food with groups of more than 25 people. The ordinance requires those who do these “large” charitable food sharings in parks within two miles of City Hall to obtain a permit and limits each group to two permits per park for a year.
Notice in that last one that activists took the city to court for the right to feed the poor ... and lost.

Perhaps, as my friends critical of volunteer action would argue, a Libertarian society would leave the poor and destitute behind.  I doubt it, but we can debate the matter.

What appears indisputable, however, is that in a strongly statist society the poor and destitute WILL be left behind.