Monthly Archives: March 2010

Death of the AR-15 “Greatly Exaggerated”

Death of the AR-15 Greatly exaggerated by anti-gun advocate

March 28, 2010 – by Bob Owens

Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, seems to have a simple job: find the hint of a fact, and abuse it to craft bizarre anti-gun fiction. Such was the case in “The Collapse of the AR-15 Assault Weapon Market,” Sugarmann’s recent Huffington Post article.

The article brought guffaws of laughter or outright mockery from gun bloggers, who found the closure of KBI/Charles Daly not to be evidence of a market in decline, but an example of a company with a questionable reputation for quality failing to survive even during a seller’s market.

It is absurd for anyone to ever cite the failing of a new and minor player in an industry segment as evidence of the collapse of the entire market, and it isn’t very intelligent to take the claims of outbound corporate officers at face value when they place the blame elsewhere for their company’s collapse. KBI/Charles Daly tried to jump into a market segment with which it had no experience, mistimed their entry into the market, and misjudged their niche. It collapsed as a result.

But is there any truth to the claim that the AR-15 market is in decline? Yes … and no. It depends very much on who you speak with in the crowded world of the “black rifle.”

The AR has been around in various guises since the late 1950s, with its most famous variants being the selective-fire M16 rifle and M4 carbine used by militaries around the world. The semi-automatic civilian version is extremely popular with both civilians and law enforcement. Its modular design allows for near endless customization, and it can be found in SWAT lockers and hunting cabins alike.

By far the most common basic variant sold over the past 18 months is the carbine version of the rifle that features a 16″ barrel and a 6-position-adjustable stock. No doubt favored by returning military veterans and admirers of military equipment, the carbine closely resembles the compact M4 favored by the U.S. Army and some Marine units. These so-called “M4-geries” are sold by dozens of gun companies at varying price levels and they form the backbone of the market.

Tom Spithaler is sales director for Olympic Arms, one of the larger and more commonly stocked AR manufacturers. When I spoke with him, the message seemed mixed.

The market for the AR15 is not collapsing. It has collapsed …. when you compare them to the artificially inflated numbers we saw over the last year and a half due to the election of Obama. That aside sales are VERY good. .. They are not what they were just after the election, but they are still very good. We (Olympic Arms) are always able to weather these peaks and valleys better than other brand names as we truly manufacture what we sell. For us, it is just a matter of changing focus from one type of AR to another.

What Spithaler confirmed as a market collapse was entirely relative; sales of Olympic Arm rifles are down from the dizzying pace at the height of the rush, but sales are still higher than they were in the months leading up to the 2008 elections.Stag Arms, a manufacturer that builds ARs for both right- and left-handed shooters, states that “collapse” is too harsh a word. Like Olympic, Stag has seen sales return to pre-election levels. Arthur Steadman at ArmaLite says that their operation is also faring well.

Like the bigger names, niche-market AR builders have seen sales affected by the surge and decline of market forces, and each responds differently.

Richard Falen of Quality Arms of Idaho reports his sales increasing 30%-40% per month even now for his smaller shop which specializes in a handful of specific AR models. This is due in no small measure to having lower overhead and being able to charge lower prices than some of the larger and much better known brands. In Tennessee, Jim Ruiz of Predator Custom Shop was thankful for the rush on ARs in the past year while it lasted, but was even more thankful that he specializes in long range accurized bolt-action rifles that have been the bulk of his business since the lower and mid-range of the market become flooded with inexpensive rifles.

Patriot Ordnance Factory is a high-end manufacturer of an AR variant that uses a gas-piston system that enables their rifles to run cooler and longer than the traditional AR gas system. It has also developed a more robust .308 caliber weapons-system based on a forerunner of the AR-15, the AR-10. While still selling the AR-based P415 rifles, their P308 is in very high demand.

Indeed, it seems that while “bargain bin” M4 clones are presently in decline, there is a building market for AR variants, such as rifles in different calibers than the standard 5.56NATO/.223 Remington.

Ben Triplett of Bison Armory runs a specialized “semi-custom shop” dedicated to selling high-end AR barrels and upper receivers (the more expensive top half of the gun) in just one caliber, 6.8 SPC. That a builder can be successful building and selling half of a gun, in a non-standard caliber, suggests that something else may be at play in the market.

A conversation with Michael Curlett of Sabre Defence seemed to confirm what most manufacturers, builders, and custom shops were seeing from their own unique perspectives. In general, it seems to be the smaller builders who assemble “vanilla” M4 variants from parts they buy from others who are suffering from the deflation of the AR market bubble, but the “bubble” is far from burst.

In fact, gun buyers that purchased ARs for the first time in the past year seem to have fallen in love with the design. Instead of buying a second basic model, however, they are returning to the market in search of more refined and specialized variants, or variants in other calibers. The market, instead of collapsing, seems to be transforming.

Josh Sugarmann may be right in that we’re seeing a leveling off of sales of the more utilitarian AR designs, but considering the attention being lavished on high-end competition-focused carbines, tactical rifles, and hunting models, claiming that this evolving and growing market is in collapse is an exercise in self-deception.

Bob Owens blogs at Confederate Yankee.


I can personally attest to the versatility and desirability of the AR-15.  I was the proud owner of an “M4-gery” for a number of years, until I decided to re-coup the investment and let someone else enjoy the fun.  AR-15s are restricted firearms in Canada (for no particular reason other than Alan Rock felt it would be good idea when C68 came along. Say, didn’t we just talk about Allan Rock?), so its utility is limited to firing ranges and covert ops.

AR-15 and friend
[My fully registered and transferred AR-15 once in a day when I did more 3-gun combat competition than I do now (along with one of its sidekicks. The other was on my hip.].

Certainly, it would make as decent a varmint gun as any .223 calibre rifle, but it is a black gun, which everybody knows is so much more dangerous than your average brown moose gun (/sarc for the intellectually challenged), so it was restricted for hunting. The gun-grabbers has a twisted circular logic in play here – they managed to make it restricted, so that it couldn’t be used for hunting, then advanced the argument that nobody needed one because it couldn’t be used for hunting, because, well, it was a black gun, don’t you know, and therefore had to be restricted, so no one needed one for hunting… [And before anyone drags out the "it was restricted because it is an assault rifle" schtick, park it. The AR-15 is a semi-auto (better, self-loading). NO semi-auto can be an assault weapon. The AR-15 would be classed as a battle rifle, like the majority of hunting rifles in Nunavut. And you can't change an AR-15 into an automatic rifle with a parts swap. You need an entirely different receiver casting, which is a prohibited part in Canada, and not available for sale unless you hold a specific licence. Prohibited firearms are tightly regulated.]

Frequently referred to by shooters as an SUR – “sport utility rifle”, they are not the same as their military cousins, the M4 and the M16. AR-15s are not capable of automatic fire, and in Canada, magazines are restricted to 5 shot, like other hunting and sporting rifles. In use they are no different than any other sport/hunting rifle – well, they wouldn’t be if they weren’t a black gun and therefore were restricted, so you couldn’t use them for hunting because they were restricted, because they were a black gun. So if one wants to hunt in Canada, one has to use a brown gun like a semi-auto Cooey .22 or a Browning semi-auto duck gun. Who says liberals aren’t racists…

CAUT Responds to Ud’O Provost Francois Houle

The sh!tstorm continues over the University of Ottawa’s treatment of Ann Coulter, in her three-city speaking tour of Canada.   While it speaks loudly all on its own that Ms Coulter could not be safely accommodated in Canada’s capital, there is heavy discussion on both sides of the border about Liberal Alan Rock’s university, the University of/d’Ottawa and its treatment of her (that’s Allan of the 2-billion Bill C68 firearms registration boondoggle, now president of Ud’O.  Ud’O is also the cloistered lair of Errol Mendes, and Amir Attaran – google for fun).

As we reported in a previous post (and here and here), Coulter received a preposterous and arrogant letter from the Ud’O Provost, basically telling Ann to zip her lip lest she be charged with hate speech under the Criminal Code. The letter, of course, traveled around Canada and the world faster than a U.N. pandemic, holding not only the Ud’O in ill repute, but Academia in general.

This hasn’t escaped the notice of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, whose president, Penni Stewart, and executive director, James L. Turk, issued a stern rebuke addressed directly to Dr. Houle (and a not so veiled driveby to the rest of Canada’s academics), and “posted on the Association’s website. The letter reads:

March 22, 2010

Dr. Francois Houle
Vice-President Academic and Provost
University of Ottawa
Room 217A Tabaret Hall
550 Cumberland
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 6N5

Dear Dr. Houle:

We are deeply disturbed by your correspondence with Ann Coulter regarding her speaking engagement at the University of Ottawa tomorrow. Your admonishing her about speech rights in Canada raises serious questions about the University of Ottawa’s respect for freedom of expression and academic freedom.

The purpose of a university is aptly captured in the University of Toronto’s statement on the “Purpose of the University”:

Within the unique university context, the most crucial of all human rights are the rights of freedom of speech, academic freedom, and freedom of research. And we affirm that these rights are meaningless unless they entail the right to raise deeply disturbing questions and provocative challenges to the cherished beliefs of society at large and of the university itself.

Ms. Coulter certainly does raise disturbing questions and provocative challenges. While many of us profoundly disagree with her, a university should welcome controversial speakers and vigorous debate, not seek to restrict discourse or speakers.

We feel you owe an apology to Ms. Coulter and, even more importantly, you owe the University of Ottawa community an assurance that the administration of the University strongly supports freedom of expression, academic freedom and views the role of the university as fostering and defending these values.

Yours truly,

Penni Stewart

James L. Turk
Executive Director

Strong words from a faculty that tends to wear its lefthandedness on its shirt like a badge (acknowledged in the letter), while prosletysing its moral relativism to rest of us.

Much more fun stuff at

Clarity on Obamacare – a twofer from Dr. Zero

The Parable of the Satellite Dish
by Doctor Zero, March 25, 2010

Imagine a large condominium complex is meeting to consider a package deal with a cable TV company. Over eighty percent of the condo owners have their own satellite dishes, and are quite happy with the service. Some of them don’t bother to watch television at all, preferring to rent movies from Blockbuster or Netflix for entertainment. However, the condominium Board of Directors says they’re getting a lot of complaints from the residents who don’t have satellite dishes, demanding the condo association purchase a cable TV package, and fold its cost into the monthly homeowner dues.

The homeowners already pay extremely high dues, and they’re not happy with the quality of service they receive. They also notice that most of the people clamoring for cable television aren’t even homeowners – they’re renters, so they don’t pay the association fees directly. The condo owners already host regular movie nights at the clubhouse, which also has a well-stocked library, so no one is truly starved for entertainment. Still, the owners feel guilty that anyone has to make do without TV service in their home, so they invite a cable company to give them a sales pitch.

The cable company, BFD Communications, produces an incredibly complicated plan for providing cable television service to the community. The plan is thousands of pages long, and no one even claims to have read the whole thing. They spend the weeks leading up to the big board meeting pestering all of the residents with relentless advertising for their services, covering doorknobs and windshields with brochures. Their presentation at the board meeting is several hours long.

BFD Communications explains that purchasing their service will require a lifetime contract, which can never be broken. The condo residents will be required to deal exclusively with BFD for their entertainment needs – all satellite dishes must go, and even the library will fall under their control. The contract will include funding for a large corporate security force, which will ensure compliance by issuing fines for illegal satellite dishes, or attempts to smuggle rented movies into the development. As this feature of the contract is being explained to the homeowners, a large screen behind the BFD representatives is flashing slogans like “BFD Enhances Competition!” and “BFD Saves You Money!”

The cable TV contract will be fantastically expensive. Curiously, while it is a lifetime contract, the company refuses to discuss the fee schedule beyond the first ten years. An intrepid homeowner studies the contract and discovers the costs double after ten years… and this assessment was prepared by CBO Auditing, a firm which has underestimated the cost of every contract it has ever reviewed. The condo Board rules that only the ten-year projections matter, and the intrepid homeowner is asked to leave the meeting.

Other homeowners announce they’ve been researching BFD Communications, and discovered it has never been able to deliver promised services at the contracted price. Every single project the company has undertaken experienced enormous cost overruns, and delivered poor quality to its customers. Every time a smaller competitor has been allowed to bid against them, the competitor’s price and performance were superior – that’s why BFD demands exclusive lifetime contracts. The people who make this announcement are told their input is not welcome, and asked to leave the meeting.

A resident asks what different packages BFD will offer. She has small children, so she would like educational programming, but she has no interest in premium movie channels, shopping networks, or morally offensive shows. The cable company explains that only one package will be offered. Its purchase will be mandatory, and the high price of its many channels will be charged to all residents.  A senile old man in the audience claims the BFD executives promised him there would never be any morally offensive programming.

This prompts an angry homeowner to leap from his seat, waving a portion of the gigantic cable TV contract… which says the members of the condo Board of Directors are exempt from the restrictions, along with some of their friends! They can rent movies, purchase high quality satellite service, and avoid having the exorbitant fees for BFD tacked onto their monthly dues.

A loud argument breaks out in the meeting area, with angry residents howling that they want no part of this terrible deal. These people are told their anger disqualifies them from further participation in the meeting, and they are asked to leave.

The remaining critics of the deal suggest that other alternatives should be explored. There are less expensive entertainment options to consider, and since none of them require lifetime commitments, wouldn’t it make sense to try them first?

The Board of Directors insists that the BFD contract must be signed immediately. It’s simply appalling that anyone in the development should endure a single day without entertainment. Why, all of the surrounding condo developments have already signed up with BFD! They all have appalling service and frequent TV blackouts, they’re all broke, and they borrow security officers from our development to keep their streets safe… but their Boards of Directors all laugh at us for refusing to provide BFD cable service to our residents, and our Board is tired of their mockery. The BFD executives mention that no one will actually receive any cable services for five years, but their fees will begin right away.

The meeting ends with the Board of Directors ignoring the demands of homeowners and voting for that lifetime contract with BFD. The residents leave the meeting hall wondering how they reached the point where a small group of Board members, up for re-election over the next couple of years, were able to ignore the clear wishes of the residents and saddle them with a lifetime contract.

Here are some lessons to ponder from the Parable of the Satellite Dish:

Never accept permanent solutions that are nearly impossible to change, when simpler and more easily modified plans are available.  It’s foolish to let the advocates of permanent programs dismiss flexible alternatives before they have been tried.

A proposal that requires you to ignore both the past and the future is a swindle, not a solution.

Free people do not accept restrictions from which their government is exempt. This is one of the differences between leaders and rulers.

A demand for commitment without a guarantee of performance is domination, not service.

When free people are told something is “inevitable,” their response should be an immediate and overwhelming refusal to accept it. Inevitability is a self-fulfilling prophecy in the absence of resistance. Freedom is the never-ending quest for alternatives.

The people who loudly celebrate “diversity” keep coming up with universal plans. Their State is a giant who trims citizens to fit its bed, using rusty implements. The giant, the bed, and the implements were all equal sins in the eyes of our Founders. They come as a set.

When the State refuses to let you debate the terms of its plans individually, you can rest assured the whole is worse than the sum of its parts.

Freedom requires the courage to avoid being stampeded. You should ask more questions about something you are told is an “essential right.” Sober reflection is a hallmark of maturity. A wise State would not require its citizens to act like children.

The State cannot give you anything worth having. You’ll eventually find yourself guilty of the crime of wanting more. As the State fails to live up to its promises, it will be increasingly tempted to convict you of that crime… in advance.

A Word to the Weary

by Doctor Zero, March 27, 2010

I get a lot of email from people who ask if the final degeneration from capitalism to collectivism is now inevitable. Entitlements are never repealed, after all, and we just got saddled with a back-breaking entitlement, piled atop a national debt that was already crushing us. It seems like it would take a miracle just to undo the damage Barack Obama has done in a single year… and that would just get us back to where George Bush left us. Dependency, unemployment, economic contraction, and socialist politics are a perpetual-motion engine of national decline.

I also hear from people who wonder just how bad things really are. If they’re so awful, we should be thinking about unthinkable alternatives. If not, maybe we should follow David Frum’s advice, and work out reasonable terms of surrender with our new socialist overlords. After all, Obama’s not the first guy to wipe his feet with the tattered “Don’t Tread on Me” flag. Perhaps none of the wounds from 2009 and 2010 are all that deep, and we’re just a few elections away from Bush-era prosperity again.

Thoughts about the future shape our actions in the present. If you believe the events of the past week have permanently and irrevocably deformed the American economy and culture, your feelings are likely to consist of anger, or despair.

I can understand why some are tired of fighting the good fight. Robin Koerner at The Moderate Voice reacts to the Obama Administration’s plan to offer incentives if mortgage holders will forgive part of the principle on overvalued homes:

A few months ago, the principal on my mortgage was comfortably more than the place was worth, and my low income was in decline. So I did the responsible thing, cut my expenses back to the bone, and raised and moved whatever money I could to cover it, and to try to pay it down. I wanted to deal with the fact that I was upside down on the mortgage and dangerously exposed to future rate increases; most of all, I wanted simply to reduce my monthly payments.

Why did I bother?

If I had not been so responsible, Obama’s plan (I still cannot quite believe it) would have given me (via my bank) YOUR money, humble tax-payer, as a gift to reduce my mortgage, and I would have gained to the tune of many thousands of dollars.

Those who play by the rules find themselves dealing with a lot of these sucker punches lately. It’s the nature of a politicized economy. Health care will work the same way. If you’re not part of a favored constituency, the government will milk you for the money it needs to buy the votes it requires.

When you object that such behavior is wildly inconsistent with the Constitution, you’re quickly assured that, on the contrary, these outrages are legally unassailable. Decades of court precedents, often laid down by activist judges, have become a weird quantum formula that somehow proves the Constitution was actually designed to guarantee a titanic redistributionist State with virtually unlimited powers. The ruling class can even spend weeks openly discussing the idea of passing laws without voting on them, when it’s not sure it has the votes to do what it wants.

My own vision of the future includes peril, but not doom. We’re in a bad place right now, but we can turn things around. We can do better than pacing slowly backward through the wreckage of Obama’s term, until our feet begin crunching on the empty pill bottles of George Bush’s unsustainable prescription-drug entitlement.

When I look to the past, I see a central government that has never been able to keep the promises of its welfare programs, or respect the limits of its budget projections. Even among those who accept the premise that health care is some kind of “human right,” I find it astonishing that anyone could ignore history to the degree necessary to believe politicians can provide it. It’s even more amazing that anyone could watch those politicians blindly stumble across various legislative land mines – less than a week after passing the bill – and convince themselves these people have any idea what they just signed. Only someone with religious faith in the State could look upon the rotting heap of fraudulent budgeting, deception, and last-minute deals that spawned this monstrosity, and believe it will have a happy ending in which its promises are kept.

The future holds the final, systemic crash of the New Deal and Great Society. How far away is it? It’s hard to recalibrate the doomsday clocks fast enough to keep up with our current tidal wave of deficit spending. I think we have about fifteen years, after factoring in the poisonous effects of desperate measures taken to hold off disaster, like the Value Added Tax. I can imagine many world events that would accelerate that timetable considerably.

Social Security is running deficits now. Its collapse is a matter of actuarial fact, not opinion. The Congressional Budget Office just released a report that says the national debt will reach 90% of our gross domestic product by 2020… and the CBO usually under-estimates the effects of economic slowdown on federal tax revenue. Two years ago, the CBO thought Social Security would not be in the red until 2019. Five years ago, Barack Obama’s party confidently assured us the program would remain solvent for decades. These people have always been wrong. They just compounded their errors with trillions of deficit spending from a bill none of them read.

So, yes, the situation is serious. You can’t wait fourteen years to deal with a meltdown that’s fifteen years away. Even if the system was not due to implode into a black hole of unfunded liability, the offenses against freedom required to create and sustain it would still be wrong. Those offenses did not begin with the current President. They began long before I was born. That doesn’t make them any more excusable. We should not accept decades of error as an insurmountable obstacle to doing better.

The task awaiting us at the ballot box is difficult, but not impossible. Laws have no magical, talismanic power – if they did, we wouldn’t need law enforcement. We can change laws. We can dissolve any body that tells us otherwise. No one can hold us down in our national deathbed. We are instructed to worship the political traditions of the 1940s, 60s, and 70s, when vast and eternal departments of limitless appetite and wretched inefficiency were constructed. Our birthright as Americans includes a far older, stronger tradition from 1776, which teaches us that only our liberty is eternal.

There’s no reason a country with vast natural resources, tended by a bold and innovative people, should suffer double-digit unemployment and capital flight. A compassionate nation, whose daily industry has done more for the downtrodden than every utopian scheme combined, has no reason to lower its head in shame, and tolerate the extraction of “charity” at gunpoint. The veterans of bloody wars against lawless tyranny should not accept a system that makes fools of the industrious. A great people, who live in reverence of equality, require no lists of class and racial enemies from opportunistic politicians.

This is the hour for passion and reason, not anger and disgust. The strength to restore our prosperity lies in the muscle and imagination of citizens who have been programmed to think of themselves as sheep, by those who seek power as their shepherds. The time for averting a painful disaster is short… but the most amazing chapters of American history were written in the last seconds before midnight.

It’s time for us to be amazing again. I hope you find that as invigorating as I do.

[Ed note:. see also Hotair: AP: Say, guess what we found in Obamacare!, and "This will close our business"]

Reason takes a holiday

By Bronwyn Eyre, The StarPhoenix March 27, 2010 7:23 AM
Calgary, Alberta. (Montreal Gazette)

American political commentator Ann Coulter speaks to a sold out crowd at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta.

The slogan-chanting students who shouted down U.S. pundit Ann Coulter at the University of Ottawa this week disgraced themselves, their university and their country.

If, as university students, they can’t grasp the concept that free speech is the bed rock of civilization, there’s not much hope for their intellectual growth.

Do they think progress in the world of ideas has come from embracing only the accepted wisdom of the day? Can’t they comprehend that freedom of speech is a hard-won achievement especially meant to protect ideas that may be unpopular?

University of Ottawa president Allan Rock (yes, our former justice minister), like any self-respecting university president, should have gone to pains to explain to the student body that a university that doesn’t promote freedom of speech isn’t a university at all.

And once he picked up on the gathering storm of threats preceding Coulter’s speech, Rock should have gone to the venue himself to help make sure she wasn’t shut down.

Instead, he refused interviews about the Coulter fracas and later contended it was cancelled by her own organizers. That’s like saying the tailor closed his shop, without mentioning that the Mafia was putting a squeeze on him.

Rock later issued a risible statement claiming, “Freedom of expression is a core value that the University of Ottawa has always promoted. We have a long history of hosting contentious and controversial speakers on our campus. Last night was no exception.” (I think you’ve got a problem with the definition of “hosting,” Mr. President.)

It’s well-known that Coulter — who’s had an accomplished legal career and has written numerous bestselling books — is an incendiary, often outlandish provocateur.

But as University of Alberta political scientist notes, her political invective is in the tradition of Lenny Bruce-like satirists.

“Her bright writing, sense of irony and outrage is what makes (her) so refreshing,” the Los Angeles Times wrote of her book Treason. And according to the New York Times, “a great deal of research supports (her) wisecracks.”

Author Andrew Ferguson has compared Coulter to liberal comedian Bill Maher (Coulter and Maher, incidentally, are friends). “They are ‘publicists’ as the term was once applied to public intellectuals like H.L. Mencken and William F. Buckley — mediators between the world of ideas and the world of popular culture.”

In other words, Coulter sounds like an ideal candidate for a university guest lecture.

The rich irony of the mob-like mentality that greeted her in Ottawa — her reception at the University of Calgary was much more welcoming — is that she was in the country to talk about political correctness and freedom of speech.

Imagine our dystopia if such deranged behaviour as we witnessed at the U of O greeted all controversial speakers.

This week, for example, veteran Canadian journalist Tony Burman was in Regina to discuss the imminent availability on Canadian cable TV of Al Jazeera’s English language international news channel.

What would the speech-preventing U of O students say if students there had set off the fire alarm, intimidated the speaker and succeeded in shutting him down? (I think we know that it would be another instance of “Free speech for me, but not for thee.”)

After all, many observers complain Al Jazeera isn’t above broadcasting much hatred and bigotry — particularly against Jews — including the mufti who once said on-air: “There can be no peace with the Jews because (at Passover) they suck and use the blood of Arabs.”

If that’s not hate speech, I don’t know what is. Nevertheless, letting controversial speakers have a forum often exposes them for what they are. For example, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became a laughing stock in the West when he told students at Columbia University in 2007 there were “no homosexuals in Iran.”

Sometimes, being open to other views can also change one’s own.

Not long ago, for example, I regarded filmmaker Michael Moore as an irritating, one-sided publicity-seeker. But after seeing Sicko and Capitalism: a Love Story, I came to see him as a genuine populist whose message regarding U.S. health-care discrepancies and Wall Street greed carries a lot of truth.

On the national news Tuesday night, a U of O student said she wanted to hear Coulter because she’s “a kind of Michael Moore of the Right.” What a great insight. What a refreshing attitude.
© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

[Ed note: see also this this editorial in the Calgary Herald. ]

Additional Commentary:

Canuckistani Terrorists Shut Down Coulter Speech in People’s Republic of Ottawa
by The Other McCain, March 25, 2010.

The auditorium was surrounded by a mob of thugs at what passes for a ”university” in the Third World socialist cesspool on our northern border:

“There was a risk there could be physical violence,” said Canadian conservative activist Ezra Levant, who was scheduled to introduce Ms. Coulter. . . .
In an interview, Ms. Coulter said she’s given 100 to 200 speeches at colleges and last night was the first time one of her addresses has been “completely shut down.” She said the incident reflects poorly on the University of Ottawa.
“It’s at the absolute bush league, bottom of the barrel schools that you get the worst treatment and yet and still I’ve never seen this before,” she said.
I’m guessing the scores to get into the University of Ottawa are not very challenging.”

Coulter had been warned in a letter by university official François Houle that Americans call “rights” don’t exist in Canuckistan, which may explain why the junior jihadis in Ottawa decided it was open season on blonde pundits:

Coulter said that letter set the tone for and encouraged the protesters. She said it’s well known on the campus speaking circuit that conservatives need to travel with security staff, as she did.
I’m pretty sure little Francois A-Houle does not need to travel with a bodyguard,” she said. “I would like to know when this sort of violence, this sort of protest, has been inflicted upon a Muslim — who appear to be, from what I’ve read of the human rights complaints, the only protected group in Canada. I think I’ll give my speech tomorrow night in a burka. That will protect me.”

James Fulford notes that “Anti-Americanism is respectable among Canada’s elites,” although I doubt the thugs at Ottawa could be part of any “elite,” even by Canuckistani standards. Via Kathy Shaidle at Five Feet of Fury, here’s video of an interview Coulter did on what passes for television news up there:

[Ed note: The rest of the interview can be found at this Youtube user]

The Truth Shall Set You Free.

Ann Coulter came to Ottawa to speak last night, and Ottawa’s Bolsheviks decided she shouldn’t. After the international incident created by the University of Ottawa’s Provost, you might have thought that a Canadian university might have had the intellectual enthusiasm to debate the pros, cons and nuances of her presentation. You’d be wrong. Free speech doesn’t exist in Canada. The divisive, ignorant bullies of Canada’s liberal left and our pravda-like mainstream media will see to it that there is only one truth to every story.

Canadian “media” this morning are reporting that “thousands” of protesters blocked Coulter from speaking and resulted in the meeting being cancelled, that she was jeered and boo’d in London (the actual phrase should be cheered and boo’d…).

Oddly, those that were actually there, have a very different view. The following excerpts are from comments of actual attendees at the event, taken from the commentary this morning on SDA.

I was at the event tonight. It was kind of sad. I guess we have “freedom of speech-ish”. I never got inside but I can say I didn’t really see anything that wild outside.

I was in a lineup from 7:10 pm onward waiting to get in. I was never much more then 100 feet from the front of the building. There were two long lines to get in. One for those of us that registered and one for walkups (which was looonngggg).

I didn’t see any sticks or rocks. Around 7:20 a group of maybe 30 protesters showed up with a chant. There were some sympathetic voices lined up in the walk up line. I don’t know if they were “protesters” or not.

There was chants about no more racism or islamophobia. There were some strong chants back from the crowd lined up for free speech.

Sometime 10 or 15 minutes later the fire department showed up. Some poor lone security guard announced that the fire alarm had gone off and tried to get the lineups to back up. He wasn’t very successful. 10 minutes later the firetrucks were gone.

Shortly after 8 the police showed up with campus security to announce the event was canceled, and to clear the front entrance area so the people inside could leave.

The only thing I know about the events inside was overhead from a student who left after it was canceled. He was interviewed by a CBC reporter. I don’t know if this any of this is true but the student said (from memory)

“that the hall was only half full when the fire alarm had gone off. At some point student protesters inside had knocked down a table across a doorway acting as a barricade. Campus security had to physically block the doorway to keep the protesters out.”

It didn’t sound like there was many protesters inside. Outside there was maybe 50 people gathered after the event had been canceled. It was was fairly tame when I left around 8:30.”

When I heard Coulter was coming to Canada I figured attending the event would be worth the entertainment value, if for nothing other than to witness the unhinged reaction that was sure to follow. Ottawa U didn’t disappoint.

When I arrived there was a line of a few hundred, maybe a thousand people outside the Marion building. A few of them were chanting in front of the cameras but the line was otherwise better behaved than for a typical rock concert. The size of the line was no doubt a bit of a problem because the room held no more than 400 (my estimate).

Since I had registered for the event ahead of time I had no trouble elbowing my way to the front, verifying my name was on the list, getting inside and chatting briefly with Ezra Levant.

After a while the fire alarm went off, the obvious false alarm having been dealt with we sat down expecting the event to start.

Instead Ezra announced that police told him it would be “physically unsafe” to bring Ann in due to the “unruly mob” outside. There was certainly no issue, or even noise, inside the auditorium.

Since I was inside at that point I don’t know how unruly they became outside. But this is the national capital, just a few blocks from Parliament Hill, the US Embassy, the Prime Minister’s Residence and countless embassies. The police surely have the capability to respond to anyone threatening a woman with dozens of TV cameras around. Instead, they chose to cancel the event instead.

After leaving the auditorium (from a side entrance, as the police insisted), I walked back out front to see what the commotion was.

A lone policewoman standing on the step asked me to leave after I took her picture. I did leave, after expressing disbelief that they canceled the event over what appeared to be a few dozen pathetic protesters chanting in front of the nearby cameras.

A truly pathetic situation all around.

I was just outside the door to the auditorium waiting to get in since I had registered. Most of the students had not registered and were told they would not get in because their name was not on the registration list. Those students did not leave, even after the fire alarm went off (set off intentionally to disrupt the event??), and despite the request of security and the lone policewoman.

Most were polite and patient but there was a small but very vocal group agitating. If the doors had been opened I am sure there would have been a mad rush and several hundred kids would have streamed in. One organizer at the door said it was cancelled because it was not a safe situation. This remark was booed.

A contingent of police did come, I estimate about 5 of them about 20 min after the fire alarm. No firemen. We were then told after an hour of waiting, the event was canceled. Still no one left for about 15-20 min. I was told by security that Ann Coulter did not set foot in Marion Hall.

While waiting outside, a group of students were handing out anti-racism, anti-islamaphobia, anti-hate buttons and posters trying to get people riled up. Only about 1 in 5 or 6 accepted.

Not one student I asked had a read a book she had written or could identify exactly what hate speech she actually said. Clips of you tube videos of “hateful” things were cited.

As A Canadian these leftard creeps have shamed me and tarnished Canada’s reputation for tolerance. What we witnessed tonight was anti-intellectual intolerance of the most uncivil and subversive kind.

Question: who turned off the police capability to establish order in this nation’s capital?

I just feel disgust at this moment

Hell, I don’t even particularly like Coulter but this kind of reactionary violence over such petty issues reveals a dangerous uncivil neurosis infecting our Campuses.

Ann Coulter has managed to hold a mirror to the whole world focusing on the intolerance in the soul of Canadian Universities in regards to conservatives or free speech, for that matter.
Anyone expecting unbiased reporting of Ann Coulter’s Canadian tour from Canadian MSM is being delusional.
The few CTV yappers I watched, could not hide their animosity to Coulter.

I was outside. It was not unruly at all! Not even in the slightest. 20-30 students were protesting, while hundreds of people were quietly hoping to get in to see Ann. That’s it!

I was there just a few hours ago, in the line-up with a friend. There weren’t “thousands” of protesters, as the Star et al report. Perhaps 40 or 50. Most of us were lined up quietly. We had to wait 45 minutes or more, listening to those fascists chant. Some of us yelled, (after they said, “No more hate speech”) “Then LEAVE!” I got some laughs when I said, after hearing the word “discrimination”, “Bet you can’t spell that!” and, a little while later, “I want my tax dollars back!” We also chanted, “Free Speech, Free Speech” back at them for quite a while.

The protesters behaved so badly. They chanted “hate speech” over and over. When the security was moving us down the steps, about 20 of them took the opportunity to rush in the door behind security. That’s probably what got security scared. Some were wearing chic Palestinian scarves. They crammed the front entrance and made it hard for the registered to get in. They chanted, “You won’t get in. You won’t get in.” They race-baited: one obvious Coulter fan bravely yelled, “Shut the f. . . up!” after a pompous speech by the main speaker and we all laughed; then one of the protesters said, “You’re a white man and you’re gonna tell me to shut up!” So my friend (bless her East-Indian, Jamaican soul) yelled, “I’M NOT WHITE!” That quieted them for a while. We were all told to dispurse by security, because the 600-hundred sitting inside already had to get out. One man spoke in a very frustrated manner to the police, saying to one of them, “You should do better with security! You let this happened in Cornwall too!”

I was so frustrated, watching those thugs stand there cheering when the word got out that the speech was cancelled, that I yelled at them, “You Liberal Fascists!” Someone with dreadlocks started for me, but a police man got inbetween and said, “Let’s not start anything here.” My friend and I walked the few blocks back to our car, muttering away about the whole business.

We were deprived of our right to see Ann Coulter speak. Many U of O students in that line-up wanted to hear her speak, and were deprived of that by a few fascists in their university who chose to pretend to represented all the students.

It was an embarassing night for Canada. Our security should have been better, and those thugs, going to a university that’s supposed to allow a free-flowing of ideas, should have behaved better.

What happened was wrong. It was chilling. I felt I was watching fascist youth in action.

… It was just a small group that was agitating. Most students were very interested in what Ann had to say. Really interested.

I was right beside the guy who overturned the table hoping to get others with him to storm the door. No takers. He was huge and had told me earlier he had registered and was with the Egyptian student union/club. Security hustled him out of there pretty quick. No other student pushed in after him because if so they would have been able to enter the auditorium.

Hardly any hooligans, a small number of protesters, just insufficient planning and no security/police to actually organize lines, check names and get this event going.


I was outside all night. There was a handful of pathetic little turds that were screeching outside – but nothing that could in any wat be construed as intimidating. They were a joke.

Look. I’m pissed off. I registered in advance and travelled 60 miles with friends to hear Ann Coulter speak – and it didn’t happen. What’s worse, there is NOTHING that happened at Ottawa U tonight that could in any way be construed as a security issue.

This keeps happening on University campuses. You have gutless, jelly-like administrations (who don’t want speakers like Coulter there to begin with) backed up by hopeless security. They look for any excuse to shut things down.

So here’s my advice. Don’t hold these events on University grounds. Hold them out in the rural areas and let local Landowner Associations handle the pre-registration, admission and security. End of problems… and everybody gets to hear the speaker.

I watched Coulter on Michael Coren last night. I agree with his sentiment; certainly not that of the moron from the U of O. Michael was there too.

Chicago Tribune: Victory-at what cost?

Editorial –  Chicago Tribune:  Victory – at what cost?
March 21, 2010

Democratic leaders in Congress got what they wanted Sunday night: House passage of a massive health bill the Senate approved on Christmas Eve. Muscling this bill to President Barack Obama sets up the Democrats for affirmation — or condemnation — when citizens get their vote, on Nov. 2. This legislation has cleaved America, and whatever happens next, the Democrats own it.

No major entitlement program has become law in such partisan fashion. In 1935, more than half of the minority Republicans in Congress joined Democrats to create Social Security. And in 1965, nearly half of minority Republicans joined Democrats to launch Medicare. Both parties had skin in each game.

Not this time. Sunday night’s voting in the House, like that Dec. 24 action in the Senate, had Democrats unilaterally in charge — and voting against the wishes of a majority of Americans. The Democrats are convinced that their legislation is good not just for health care but for already overextended federal finances.

That dubious conclusion rests on a Congressional Budget Office guesstimate that Washington can spend nearly $1 trillion more on health care over 10 years — and also cut the deficit by $138 billion. Writing in Sunday’s New York Times, former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin profoundly disagreed: “(T)he budget office is required to take written legislation at face value and not second-guess the plausibility of what it is handed. So fantasy in, fantasy out. In reality, if you strip out all the gimmicks and budgetary games and rework the calculus, a wholly different picture emerges: The health care reform legislation would raise, not lower, federal deficits, by $562 billion.”

Oops. Someone is terribly wrong here — and sure to be mighty embarrassed when the truth emerges. Having parsed his explanation of the CBO’s sleight of hand, and knowing how unlikely it is that future Congresses will make the difficult decisions that this Congress wouldn’t, we suspect it won’t be Holtz-Eakin.

We do know this bill isn’t settled law. Senate Democrats have pledged to make revisions the House wants. Let’s see how that goes.

As this election cycle spins on, who voted what on Sunday will animate many House races. How voters respond will determine whether this bill becomes enduring public policy or gets rolled back by some future Congress.

Remember, this legislation’s most dramatic provisions don’t take effect until 2014. That gives time to craft a more sensible compromise that extends health care coverage to more people without breaking the bank. Democrats were right to take on the issue, but woefully wrong in the scope and execution. Our choice would require insurers to take all comers but give them a big new customer base: Americans who now don’t have health coverage, but who don’t need an overhaul this expensive in order to get it.

Democrats have their victory. But at what cost?

Copyright © 2010, Chicago Tribune

WSJ: The Doctors of the House

Editorial – Wall Street Journal:  The Doctors of the House

A landmark of liberal governance whose price will be very steep.

    House Democrats last night passed President Obama’s federal takeover of the U.S. health-care system, and the ticker tape media parade is already underway. So this hour of liberal political victory is a good time to adapt the “Pottery Barn” rule that Colin Powell once invoked on Iraq: You break it, you own it.

    This week’s votes don’t end our health-care debates. By making medical care a subsidiary of Washington, they guarantee such debates will never end. And by ramming the vote through Congress on a narrow partisan majority, and against so much popular opposition, Democrats have taken responsibility for what comes next—to insurance premiums, government spending, doctor shortages and the quality of care. They are now the rulers of American medicine.

    Mr. Obama and the Democrats have sold this takeover by promising that multiple benefits will follow: huge new subsidies for the middle class; lower insurance premiums for consumers, especially those in the individual market; vast reductions in the federal budget deficit and in overall health-care spending; a more competitive U.S. economy as business health-care costs decline; no reductions in Medicare benefits; and above all, in Mr. Obama’s words, that “if you like your health-care plan, you keep your health-care plan.”

    We think all of this except the subsidies will turn out to be illusory, as most of the American public seems intuitively to understand. As recently as Friday, Caterpillar Inc. announced that ObamaCare will increase its health-care costs by $100 million in the first year alone, due to a stray provision about the tax treatment of retiree benefits. This will not be the only such unhappy surprise.

    While the subsidies don’t start until 2014, many of the new taxes and insurance mandates will take effect within six months. The first result will be turmoil in the insurance industry, as small insurers in particular find it impossible to make money under the new rules. A wave of consolidation is likely, and so are higher premiums as insurers absorb the cost of new benefits and the mandate to take all comers.

    Liberals will try to blame insurers once again, but the public shouldn’t be fooled. WellPoint, Aetna and the rest are from now on going to be public utilities, essentially creatures of Congress and the Health and Human Services Department. When prices rise and quality and choice suffer, the fault will lie with ObamaCare.

    While liberal Democrats are fulfilling their dream of a cradle-to-grave entitlement, their swing-district colleagues will pay the electoral price. Those on the fence fell in line out of party loyalty or in response to some bribe, and to show the party could govern. But even then Speaker Nancy Pelosi could only get 85% of her caucus and had to make promises that are sure to prove ephemeral.

    Most prominently, she won over Michigan’s Bart Stupak and other anti-abortion Democrats with an executive order from Mr. Obama that will supposedly prevent public funds from subsidizing abortions. The wording of the order seems to do nothing more than the language of the Senate bill that Mr. Stupak had previously said he couldn’t support, and of course such an order can be revoked whenever it is politically convenient to do so.

    We have never understood why pro-lifers consider abortion funding more morally significant than the rationing of care for cancer patients or at the end of life that will inevitably result from this bill. But in any case Democratic pro-lifers sold themselves for a song, as they usually do.

    Then there are the self-styled “deficit hawks” like Jim Cooper of Tennessee. These alleged scourges of government debt faced the most important fiscal vote of their careers and chose to endorse a new multitrillion-dollar entitlement. They did so knowing that the White House has already promised to restore some $250 billion in reimbursement cuts for doctors that were included in yesterday’s bill to make the deficit numbers look good. Watch for these Democrats to pivot immediately and again demand “tough choices” on spending—and especially tax increases—but this vote has squandered whatever credibility they had left.

    Mrs. Pelosi did at least abandon, albeit under pressure, the “deem and pass” strategy that would have passed the legislation without a vote on the actual Senate language. We and many others criticized that ruse early last week, and the House decision to drop it exposes the likes of Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and other analysts who are always willing to defend the indefensible when Democrats are doing it.

    All of this means the Senate’s Christmas Eve bill is ready for Mr. Obama’s signature, though only because rank-and-file House Members also passed a bill of amendments that will now go back to the Senate under “reconciliation” rules that require only 50 votes. Those amendments almost certainly contravene the plain rules of reconciliation, and the goal for Senate Republicans should be to defeat this second “fix-it” bill. It’s notable that Democrats didn’t show yesterday for a meeting with the Senate parliamentarian to consider GOP challenges, no doubt because they fear some of them might be upheld.

    Though it’s hard to believe, the original Senate bill is marginally less harmful than the “fixed” version, not least because the middle-class insurance subsidies are less costly and it would avert the giant new payroll tax. That’s the White House increase in the Medicare portion of the payroll tax to 3.8% that Democrats cooked up at the last minute and would apply to the investment income of taxpayers making more than $200,000.

    If the reconciliation bill goes down, Big Labor and its Democratic clients would be forced to swallow a larger excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, and it would also forestall the private student-loan takeover that Democrats included as a sweetener. In other words, they’d be forced to eat the sausage they themselves made as they have abused Congressional procedure to push ObamaCare into law.

    We also can’t mark this day without noting that it couldn’t have happened without the complicity of America’s biggest health-care lobbies, including Big Pharma, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, the Business Roundtable and such individual companies as Wal-Mart. They hope to get more customers, or to reduce their own costs, but in the end they have merely made themselves more vulnerable to the gilded clutches of the political class.

    While the passage of ObamaCare marks a liberal triumph, its impact will play out over many years. We fought this bill so vigorously because we have studied government health care in other countries, and the results include much higher taxes, slower economic growth and worse medical care. As for the politics, the first verdict arrives in November.

    Washington Times: Death by Suicide

    EDITORIAL: Democrats’ death by suicide


    The government takeover of health care will go down in history as the worst piece of legislation to emerge from a Congress held in general disdain by the American people. The only bipartisanship on the health bill was in the opposition.

    Usually autopsies are reserved for after the patient has died, but in this case it is useful to get ahead of the matter. The malformed health legislation is not the only reason Democrats are facing political extinction in November, but it is one of the most dramatic. The legislative process in this country has never been so unseemly. Arm twisting, backroom deals, special privileges and potentially criminal “government jobs for votes” agreements became a normal way of doing business. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fixated on the mantra that the Democrats’ health plan is “historic,” but so was the Black Plague.

    President Obama went to Capitol Hill on Saturday to give a final pep talk to Democrats, where he absurdly called his socialist health care measure “one of the biggest deficit reduction measures in history.” This contradicts the chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who says his staff currently has no idea what the impact of the plan is “due to the complexity of the legislation.” Democrats have been hoodwinked into believing they won’t pay a political price for their actions, but they will soon discover they miscalculated.

    The new system will suffer a tsunami of bad publicity when states sue the federal government over unfunded mandates, when the IRS begins enforcing the aspects of the bill that voters never knew existed, when small businesses start firing employees because they cannot afford the higher costs of the new system, when new and unforeseen costs blow out the already record federal budget deficit, and when seniors begin to feel the impact of Medicare cuts. All of this is what Mr. Obama euphemistically calls “bending the curve” but which seniors will find out is better termed “denial of care.” Whether the formal “death panels” will convene before the November elections is still to be determined.

    Many members of Congress probably don’t know exactly what is in the bill. The 2,300 pages of “fixes” to the Senate bill presented last week were only a draft, and no member can be certain what has been slipped in. A frantic Democratic Party memo sent out Thursday instructed members — twice, in italics — not to “get into a discussion of details of the [Congressional Budget Office] scores and the textual narrative” with the bill’s opponents. But the devil was in those details. Mrs. Pelosi’s offhand statement that members would learn what was in the bill after it was passed should have been a warning.

    The majority party was even having problems over the weekend determining if they could vote to amend a law before it was signed by the president. It is a sad day for America when senior members of Congress either dont understand the Constitution or no longer think it applies.

    Democrats in Congress refuse to believe the contempt with which the American people hold them. Gallup shows congressional approval ratings in the teens and headed downward. Gallup also found that “more Americans believe the new legislation will make things worse rather than better for the U.S. as a whole, as well as for them personally.”

    Democrats are in much worse shape than in 1994 when they lost power, and the opposition is far more energized. Once voters have a chance to tell the most irresponsible government in American history that enough is enough, the Democrats’ brief reign will expire, and be deemed death by suicide.

    Palin on Obamacare

    “This is what change looks like.” Barack Obama

    But first, Andrea Tantaros:

    The “change we can believe in” from President Obama and the Democrats has resulted in a health care bill that is virtually unbelievable. Welcome to the divided states of America.

    In President Obama’s first State of the Union address, only mere months ago, he pledged to focus on jobs and stressed that it would be priority number one. After last night’s contested, contentious and downright partisan vote on health care, one that took rule manipulation and arm-twisting to achieve, it is clear that perversion and power lust are paramount to all else.

    It is the biggest abuse of power and demonstration of arrogance ever shown by Washington, and it surely is the most gigantic and life-altering legislative move of my generation. In short, its impact can’t be underestimated.

    America, after a year long battle, we’ve learned a lot.

    We now know all about the secret deals: the Cornhusker Kickback, The Gator Aid and the Louisiana Purchase that use taxpayer money that our country doesn’t have to bribe lawmakers for their votes.

    We know that this bill will not maintain quality. What is likely to happen for the average person is that the government will exert pressure to keep premiums lower and the industry will respond by offering standardized, shoddy and non-innovative products.

    We know that people will now be fighting political battles to get a CAT scan or a cancer drug. Those who are ill won’t get the care they need because of some insurance company rule (that was ultimately determined by the government).

    Shortly before the vote on Sunday evening, Speaker Pelosi and other Democratic so-called “feminists” called being a woman a “pre-existing condition”and argued that this bill will solve these injustices. Waiting for breast cancer screenings until age 50 is now in our the future. This bill is a nightmare for women and a nightmare for a sick person.

    We know the premise that this will reduce the deficit is a hoax. The Congressional Budget Office does its analysis in a vacuum. It needs to complete its score based on assumption. Democrats can write anything into a bill and the CBO must do the tally. Even if the left writes into a bill that the revenues from a piece of legislation that will bring down the debt are coming from a pot of gold, guarded by a magic unicorn at the end of a rainbow in 2017, the CBO must score it. All of the “assumptions” that are written into this bill as almost as unlikely as that magic pot of gold (like the tax on Cadillac insurance plans in 2017).

    We know, too, that once you go down the slippery slope of offering government subsidies, it’s almost impossible to climb back up. The penalty for not having insurance under the bill is far less than the cost of insurance, meaning that the people who will obtain insurance are the people who participate in the welfare portion of the new program and get these subsidies. Average Americans will be paying for all these new welfare recipients with income we don’t have because of the lack of jobs we so desperately need.

    Even worse, others will wait until they are sick to get insurance. You and I will be paying for the freeloaders who break their legs, sign up for insurance upon arrival to the hospital and then throw their membership out with their crutches. This is a growing issue in Massachusetts where Romneycare is failing. Democrats didn’t have the political guts to make the penalty for failure to obtain insurance high enough. Because of that cowardly move we all will pay.

    We know that the most disgraceful premise of this bill uses the U.S. tax code to legislate a liberal value. Forcing people to buy insurance is unprecedented. Our government has taxed us for what we buy (i.e.: tobacco) but they have never taxed us on what we don’t buy. It’s akin to telling us what kind of car to purchase or where to buy groceries! It will open the door to whole host of mandates beyond health insurance. It didn’t work in the Soviet Union and it won’t work here. [see also: IRS looking to hire thousands of tax agents to enforce health care laws]

    We know that under President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid the title of “United” States of America no longer applies. Though candidate Obama ran on a promise to change the way Washington worked, President Obama has only exacerbated it.

    The change we can believe in has resulted in something that is virtually unbelievable. We know that there is now one thing left to do: since Speaker Pelosi couldn’t drain the swamp as she pledged to, the American people will have to do it for her.

    Andrea Tantaros is a conservative commentator and contributor.


    Scott Gottleib: What Now? (Addendum from WaPo)

    The question arises: What next? How will the health-care landscape evolve on the heels of Obamacare’s passage? Economic forces provide some clues.

    The insurance market will begin to shake up almost immediately, as health-care plans jockey for advantage in advance of the legislation’s full implementation. Insurers will begin pulling out of the individual market, and they will aggressively hike premiums in the small-group market. These consequences are the market’s response to the bill’s new regulations, which effectively prevent insurers from underwriting risk. Insurers are forced to take all comers and, in many cases, they will decide that certain business lines are no longer profitable.

    The net result is that two years from now we will likely be looking at an insurance market that has become worse, not better, with premiums higher and more Americans joining the rolls of the uninsured.

    Longer term, insurers will begin to consolidate into a handful of very large national carriers backed up by small, state-based plans that try to attract consumers using regional appeal. Health insurance will become a commodity product, one that offers little consumer choice and with benefits that are mostly defined by regulations issued in Washington. Doctors will begin to consolidate their practices into larger groups, or sell their offices to hospitals or large medical chains. That is how physicians will gain leverage on health-insurance plans and take advantage of new reimbursement rules created under the legislation’s Medicare reform.

    In the end, there will be only two places for consumers to get health coverage — through a large employer (most likely a union plan) or through the new state-based exchanges. Many large employers with a preponderance of middle-wage employees will move their workers into the exchanges, since the subsidies are richer than the tax exclusion they get through worker-provided coverage. Only employers with sticky union contracts, or those that employ a lot of high-wage workers (e.g., Goldman Sachs) will continue to offer workplace coverage.

    Eventually, the federally regulated exchanges will be the only game in town. That was the idea behind Obamacare from the start.

    — Scott Gottlieb, a practicing physician, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

    Addendum from the Washington Post:

    Obamacare’s nasty surprise
    Fewer insured, higher costs might be the result
    Here’s why: A key feature of the House and Senate health bills would prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to anyone with preexisting conditions. The new coverage would start immediately, and the premium could not reflect the individual’s health condition.

    This well-intentioned feature would provide a strong incentive for someone who is healthy to drop his or her health insurance, saving the substantial premium costs. After all, if serious illness hit this person or a family member, he could immediately obtain coverage. As healthy individuals decline coverage in this way, insurance companies would come to have a sicker population. The higher cost of insuring that group would force insurers to raise their premiums. (Separate accident policies might develop to deal with the risk of high-cost care after accidents when there is insufficient time to buy insurance.)

    The higher premium level would cause others who are currently insured to drop coverage, pushing premiums even higher. The result would be a spiral of rising premiums and shrinking numbers of insured.

    In an attempt to prevent this, the draft legislation provides penalties for individuals who choose not to buy insurance and for employers that do not offer health insurance. But the levels of these fines are generally too low to cause a rational individual to insure.

    Consider: 27 million people are covered by health insurance purchased directly, i.e. outside employer-based plans. The average cost of an insurance policy with family coverage in 2009 is $13,375. A married couple with a median family income of $75,000 who choose not to insure would be subject to a fine of 2.5 percent of that $75,000, or $1,875. So the family would save a net $11,500 by not insuring. If a serious illness occurs — a chronic condition or a condition that requires surgery — they could then buy insurance. Since fewer than one family in four has annual health-care costs that exceed $10,000, the decision to drop coverage looks like a good bet. For a lower-income family, the fine is smaller, and the incentive to be uninsured is even greater.

    The story is similar for single people. The average cost of an individual policy is $4,800. An individual with earnings of $50,000 would face a fine of $1,250 and would therefore save $3,550 by not insuring.

    The situation for the 176 million people who get their insurance through employer-based plans is more complex. To simplify, let’s look at a family in which one adult earns $50,000 and receives the family plan that costs $13,375. Employees typically pay about 25 percent of the premium cost, or $3,340. The $10,035 remaining cost is deductible by the employer and not taxable to the employee. So the total net cost to the employer of this employee’s compensation (taking into account the payroll tax and the corporate tax deduction) is $41,509. The employee would receive the $50,000 minus his part of the health insurance premium, or $46,660 as pretax income.

    If that employer stopped providing insurance, he could be subject to a fine of 8 percent of payroll, or about $4,000 for this individual. But even with this fine, he could pay a cash wage to the individual of $53,605 and still have the same net cost of $41,509 (because the cash wage would be subject to the 7.65 percent payroll tax and the combined amount would be deductible at the 35 percent corporate tax rate.) The employee’s pay would therefore rise from $46,660 to $53,605, an increase of $6,945. That would be subject to income and payroll taxes, leaving a net increase of $4,677. Even after paying the 2.5 percent personal fine on his cash income of $53,605, he would have additional net income of $3,337, a substantial rise for someone who started with pretax income of $46,660.

    In short, for those who are now privately insured through employers or by direct purchase, there would be substantial incentives to become uninsured until they become sick. The resulting rise in the cost to insurance companies as the insured population becomes sicker would raise the average premium, strengthening that incentive.

    The proposed legislation would at the same time increase the number of people who would get coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It would also provide subsidies that would limit the premium cost to some low- and middle-income individuals.

    But as the number of those who are currently insured declines, a future Congress might respond by increasing subsidies to middle- and upper-income individuals to buy private insurance. More likely, it would subsidize a public insurance company — whether or not such a public option is in the initial law — just as it now subsidizes Medicare in a way that was not contemplated when the Medicare program was created.

    The Congressional Budget Office is required to estimate the cost of the law as it is written, not as it may evolve. But we as taxpayers will have to pay those future costs.

    Martin Feldstein, a professor of economics at Harvard University and president emeritus of the nonprofit National Bureau of Economic Research, was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1982 to 1984. He is an independent outside director of the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. The views expressed here are his own.