Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday's Political News

The Blog was down again. If you get this notice, it means Google has logged me out of G-mail and, in what I'm sure they call another improvement, blocked access to my blog until I get on the computer and log back in. Until I do, I have no way of knowing--sorry. No need to tell me--as soon as I log on, I know, before I see your e-mail. And, BTW G-mail's new compose window and hard-to-read CAPTCHA still suck. ~Bob

The time of year for giving

The Obamacare Train Wreck:

Excerpt: What I’m about to show you is in my opinion an embarrassment to the economics profession and I wish more of my colleagues would express their strong disapproval.
Take a look at the blue line in the chart below. It shows the annual rate of change in U.S. health care spending. Now here is what Paul Krugman wrote in his New York Times column the other day: (The mistake, John, is calling Krugman an economist, when he is really a progressive polemist. ~Bob)

Tom Price’s Obamacare Alternative Could Save $2.34 Trillion Over 10 Years. By Heather Ginsberg
Excerpt: Representative Tom Price of Georgia has come up with an alternative to Obamacare, and it would save the country nearly $2.34 trillion in 10 years. The legislation is called the Empowering Patients First Act, H.R. 2300.

When Idealism Gets Mugged by Reality. By Bernard Goldberg
Excerpt: But there was another guest on another Fox show the other day who wasn’t buying what the president was selling. This guest was angry because his insurance had just been cancelled and his premiums tripled from $100 a month to $300. And what irked him the most was that with his new policy he had to pay for – ready for this? — pediatric dental care. It turns out this young man wasn’t married, had no kids and didn’t need or want pediatric dental care. 

There’s No Obamacare Comeback Yet: Serious questions remain about implementation. By John Fund
Excerpt: But despite all the hype proclaiming that the Obamacare website now works, many observers say it will be too soon to tell until two questions are answered.

Obama’s Iraq: The Affordable Care Act is an administration-defining failure. By Ramesh Ponnuru
Excerpt: Obama lied, insurance plans died. Okay, it’s not as catchy as the equivalent Bush-era slogan. The thought — that there are parallels between the signature initiative of the George W. Bush administration and that of the Obama administration — has nonetheless occurred to a lot of people, especially in recent weeks, as Obamacare’s exchanges have failed to launch.

Excerpt: Congress itself is now having so much trouble signing up for the Obamacare exchanges that late Friday the top administrator in the House of Representatives laid out a backup plan in case lawmakers and staff can't get through the process by the time their enrollment ends Monday. The red flags started reaching critical mass Thursday and Friday, when some staff and members of Congress told House administrators they were having trouble enrolling through the Washington health exchange, known as DC Health Link. (I know, you are laughing so hard it hurts. ~Bob)

Covered California gave consumers' contact info to agents
Excerpt: California's health exchange has provided insurance agents with names and contact information for tens of thousands of people who went online to check out coverage but didn't ask to be contacted.

Technical problems, discord plagued health care site
Excerpt: Although state officials have provided the public scant detail about the troubled launch of Maryland's version of Obamacare, emails and documents show that the project was beset behind the scenes for months by an array of technical issues, warring contractors and other problems.

Feds balk at paper Obamacare applications
Excerpt: Federal health officials, after encouraging alternate sign-up methods amid the fumbled rollout of their online insurance website, began quietly urging counselors around the country this week to stop using paper applications to enroll people in health insurance because of concerns those applications would not be processed in time. Interviews with enrollment counselors, insurance brokers and a government official who works with navigators in Illinois reveal the latest change in direction by the Obama administration, which had been encouraging paper applications and other means because of all the problems with the federal website.

Excerpt: What does all this have to do with Obamacare? Well, for most of the three years since Obamacare was passed, the majority of the population has disapproved of it (see the second chart here at Real Clear Politics), yet that didn’t really translate into significant public anger or political action, beyond the 2010 mid-term election results. In fact, Sen. Ted Cruz’s filibuster attempt and the House’s short-lived shutdown appeared to push public opinion against those actors rather than against Obamacare. But that has changed, and dramatically, with the law actually going into effect — and going live — back on October 1st. 

Excerpt: Given the sizable majority of Republicans in the South Carolina Senate — along with moderate Democrats who may support the bill out of fear of voter wrath — H3101 is likely to pass in short order and be signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley, who has led the Palmetto State’s resistance against nationalized health care.

Obamacare’s Architects Are Plugging Their Ears: They pay little attention to what the public says and don’t think twice about misleading. 
Excerpt: Central to the goal of Obamacare’s architects — universal health insurance — was preventing the possibility of exit. Its individual mandate meant everyone had to sign up for insurance. The Supreme Court created a big exit door when it ruled unconstitutional, by a 7–2 margin, Obamacare’s attempt to coerce states into expanding their Medicaid programs. 

Treasury IG Office: Audits of ObamaCare Critics Just a Coincidence
Excerpt: A treasury agent called his home yesterday afternoon, and they agreed to meet this morning to talk about “resolving the problem.” Tucker has until the December 26 to pay a fine of $4,000 for the year 2003 and $2,000 from the year 2010, though he maintains that his tax record is clean and he shouldn’t owe them anything. When his lawyer asked the agents if they really believed that the audits were a coincidence, especially in light of the IRS’s recent history of targeting conservative groups, they replied that they couldn’t comment.

Obamacare enters the death spiral
Excerpt: Indeed, already Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid account for 48% of federal spending. Within the next few years, those three programs will eat up more than half of federal expenditures. And it’s going to get worse.

Gee, free healthcare means you pay for up to $12K in deductibles and then it's free once you pay the premiums!

Excerpt: During her opening rant, Perry doubled down on the so-called “controversial word” arguing that ObamaCare was “meant to shame and divide and demean” a way of making President Obama feel “inferior and unequal and to diminish his accomplishments.” The segment wouldn’t have been so offensive if not for the hilarious irony of the situation.

Excerpt: “You are entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts” is generally attributed to the late Senator Daniel Moynihan, but it certainly applies to President Barack Obama when he complains the GOP has not put forward a plan to resolve America’s healthcare issues.

Consumers Face Higher Deductibles Under Obamacare Plans
Excerpt: Now that more individuals are able to enroll in plans through the improved Obamacare website, they are discovering that the lower insurance premiums mean more out-of-pocket costs that many may not be able to afford. The deductibles are averaging $5,081 per year for the minimal coverage Bronze plans on the website in 34 of the 36 states on the federal exchange. That's 42 percent higher than the $3,589 deductible individual plans in 2013. For a couple or a family, deductibles may be as high as $12,700, The Wall Street Journal reports. (People are facing really heavy costs every year before any coverage kicks in, and that is going to hurt a lot. Plans with deductibles of $9000 or even more exist. Imagine you have to spend $9K on health costs before you get a dime back on anything. While paying a higher monthly premium the same months you are running up that $9,000 total. For some people they'd pay the plan costs plus close to the $9K by the end of December, and thus get really whacked financially. This becomes like having disaster insurance only. Is that what "better" healthcare is supposed to be? --Del)

The Rest of the News

Protesters in Kiev Topple Lenin Statue as Rallies Grow
Excerpt: Public protests thundered into a full-throttle civil uprising in Ukraine on Sunday, as hundreds of thousands of protesters answered President Viktor F. Yanukovich’s dismissiveness with their biggest rally so far, demanding that he and his government resign.

Excerpt: Dear Virginia: Thank you for your letter which asked me if your friends are correct, if indeed there is no Santa Claus. Dear girl, here's what I have to offer you. Virginia, your friends are wrong. Most probably they are Republicans. They have been affected by the skepticism about our ability to continue giving out welfare checks and unemployment checks and Food Stamps and even free cell phones because of our $17 trillion dollar national debt. My dear Virginia, your friends are blinded by math. They try to insist that 2 + 2 must always equal 4. They are wrong sweetie. We can make 2 + 2 equal anything we wish to make it equal. As just an example dear, I won 107% of the vote in some black neighborhoods in Philadelphia when no one said that's possible. I did the same thing in Cleveland and Chicago and Baltimore and Detroit! All we needed to do was to toss 200 voting auditors from the polling places, and "voila", victory was mine!

NYPD Going Hush Mode: Precincts Prohibited From Giving Crime Reports To The Media
Excerpt: The NYPD has ordered the city's 77 police precincts to stop giving out any information to the media about crimes taking place in their neighborhoods, cutting off a long-standing source of information for New Yorkers. (Problem: Cancel "Stop and Frisk," violent crime spikes, minorities suffer most. Solution: hide the facts from the public. ~Bob)

Dude Tries To Knock Woman Out But Ends Up Getting Rocked

Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

Excerpt: In case you’ve been living above cave level for the past couple months, you might have missed the amazing Twitter meltdown and subsequent email outbursts of In These Times liberal labor reporter Mike Elk who has been battling the likes of The Daily Beast‘s national security correspondent Eli Lake, Free Beacon‘s Alana Goodman, and in smaller measure, BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray and Ben Smith. The Mirror has obtained heated email exchanges between Elk and Lake over the past two months commencing in late October. I

Codevilla: Republican leaders care more about loss of power than loss of liberty [VIDEO]
Excerpt: The Republican Party’s leadership is more concerned with threats to its power than threats to liberty, according to Angelo Codevilla, author of “The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It.” … The disconnect between the base of voters who expect Republicans to fight for limited government and the behavior of Republican politicians is growing more pronounced, he explained.

Excerpt: But the cruelest and most senseless act of violence was reserved for Lugo’s pet parakeet, Tito. Officers overturned Tito’s cage, knocking the pretty green bird out into the apartment. Lugo’s daughter, Anna Febles, begged the police to be careful with Tito. Instead, they smashed him.

Very interesting: Whose sarin? Seymour M. Hersh
Excerpt: Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. (Hersh is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist. He first gained recognition in 1969 for exposing the My Lai Massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War, for which he received the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. Hardly a conservative. ~Bob)

President Obama accused of LYING about intelligence which he said proved Assad was behind sarin gas attacks in Syria
Excerpt: A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist has accused President Obama of lying to the American people earlier this year when he blamed President Bashar al-Assad for a sarin-gas attack that killed hundreds of Syrian civilians in August. Seymour Hersh, 76, who had previously described the official account of the 2011 raid which killed Osama Bin Laden as ‘one big lie,’ claims the current administration ‘cherry-picked intelligence’ on Syria. Hersh first gained worldwide recognition in 1969 for exposing the My Lai Massacre and its cover-up during the Vietnam War, for which he received the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. (Per article, “In his opinion, the solution would be to shut down news networks like NBC and ABC and fire 90 per cent of mainstream editors and replace them with ‘real’ journalists who are not afraid to speak truth to power.” --Barb)

Excerpt: As a place where many of the traumas and decisive events of the country’s history have played out, the southern states of America continue to hold a fascination for anyone seeking to understand the past, present and future of the nation. But the myth of the South and what makes it tick is increasingly becoming a political weapon to be wielded by liberal progressives seeking to denigrate the Right.

MSNBC’s Alternative Universe: What passes for journalism on the network is downright silly. By Charles C. W. Cooke
Excerpt: Take a quick look at the numbers. A recent Pew study revealed that the supposedly neutral CNN spent 54 percent of its time broadcasting “news” and 46 percent of its time hosting “opinion.” Fox, by contrast, transmits 55 percent opinion and 45 percent news. But MSNBC — well, MSNBC consists of a remarkable 85 percent opinion and only 15 percent news. This has consequences. (I don't watch any of them. After the ads, and the talking heads, usually shouting at each other, very little meat. I read on line and pull news for my blog. ~Bob)

Interesting: The MacGuffinization of American Politics
Excerpt: And that, of course, explains all you need to know about the abnormal political situation we find ourselves in, and the Cult of Barack Obama. For Obama's fanbois, this is not politics. This isn't even America, not really, not anymore. This is a movie. And Barack Obama is the Hero. And the Republicans are the Villains. And policy questions -- and Obama's myriad failures as an executive -- are simply incidental. 

Putin Dissolves State News Agency, Tightens Grip On Russia Media
The move to abolish RIA Novosti and create a news agency to be known as Rossiya Segodnya is the second in two weeks strengthening Putin's hold on the media as he tries to reassert his authority after protests against his rule. Most Russian media outlets are already loyal to Putin, and opponents get little air time, but the shake-up underlined their importance to Putin keeping power and the Kremlin's concern about the president's ratings and image. (Hasn't Obama been making the same noises about FOX and internet sources that disagree with his agenda? --MM)

The Mandela Myth. By Daniel Greenfield 
Excerpt: The generations that lived through Apartheid as adults make up a surprisingly small percentage of the black population. With its high crime rates and high AIDS rates, South Africa has a life expectancy in the fifties. Afghanistan, Sudan and Haiti all have higher life expectancies than South Africa. There is a reason that many Americans and Europeans remember Mandela’s campaign against Apartheid better than black South Africans do. They are more likely to still be among the living.

The Vindication of Erik Prince: The former Blackwater CEO releases a new book, Civilian Warriors, to set the record straight. By Alec Torres
Excerpt: Blackwater was an amazing success story. A company born out of a desire to help America in any way possible, it provided security for diplomats, resupply aid to soldiers, relief to disaster-struck populations, and more. Yet it was ruined by the politics and policies of the government it served. Looking back on the story of Blackwater, Prince worries about the future of the country he had risked his life for and built his company to aid and protect.

Coming To A Fast Food Restaurant Near You: Machines That Won’t Be Paying SEIU Dues. 460,000 job losses due to union's higher wage push may be the tip of the iceberg.
Excerpt: On one hand, the Service Employees International Union and its hordes of astroturf allies are unleashing their four-year old scheme to unionize fast-food workers and drive up the wages of these workers to $15 an hour. Why? Because, to the Marxist ideologues that run the SEIU and many of the groups that align themselves with the Purple People Eaters, market forces can be overridden by the demand that they are entitled to higher wages…and a union. (then they go on welfare and SNAP and vote Democrat forever. Sounds like a plan. ~Bob)

Terrorist Killed British Soldier to "Make it to Paradise"
excerpt: A British court Monday heard yet another first-hand statement that jihadist terrorist attacks are motivated by radical Islamic religious beliefs. Michael Adebolajo is one of the two men charged with hacking British soldier Lee Rigby to death in a brutal, daylight attack in London last May. He testified Monday, telling the court he did kill Rigby.

Surprise! Plenty Of Obama Money For These People: Newest plan for stabilizing economy not intended to help U.S.
Excerpt: The Obama administration is launching a program with the ambitious goals of sparking business investment, reducing investment risks, and creating and sustaining new jobs. However, the beneficiaries are Middle Eastern and North African nations, not workers in the United States, WND has discovered. The MENA Investment Initiative, or MENAII, “will provide needed support to early stage businesses in order to create and sustain jobs,” according to a Request for Information, or RFI, that WND discovered via routine database research.

Shock Claim: Obama Worse Than A Communist. Conservative author: President's philosophy closer to another notorious movement
Excerpt: Critics of Barack Obama, horrified at his “transformation” of America and particularly his government takeovers of large parts of the U.S. economy, have gone so far as to accuse him of being a communist or neo-communist. However, those critics are mistaken, contends a conservative talk host and author whose new book “Was Hitler a Leftist?” examines the German dictator’s radical agenda in light of today’s leftist movement in the United States. His conclusion? Obama is, at least in some ways, more akin to a “national socialist” than a communist.

Ex-Official Says Fbi Can Secretly Activate An Individual’s Webcam Without The Indicator Lightturning On
EXCERPT: The FBI can secretly activate a computer’s webcam to spy on an individual without turning on the indicator light, a former official revealed to the Washington Post in an article published Friday. According to the Washington Post’s account of what Marcus Thomas — former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico — said, “The FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording — for several years, and has used that technique mainly in terrorism cases or the most serious criminal investigations.” (So that's how I got on YouPorn.Com! ~Bob)

'American Warrior Blood Is Pooling In Oval Office. 'Is Obama bigger threat to U.S. military than even Taliban?
Excerpt: He was a highly decorated member of the elite Navy SEAL Team 6, but he was killed in Afghanistan under suspicious circumstances. According to his father, Aaron’s life was squandered by a president who was more concerned with appeasing the enemy, and even our allies, than protecting those serving under his command. Billy Vaughn also believes his son is dead because the Obama administration put a target right on the back of SEAL Team 6.

The Traveling Press CourtiersAdversarial journalism has been replaced by secretarial journalism. 
Excerpt: It was a sunny day in Beijing on Thursday refreshingly sunny, to be more precise — when Vice President Joe Biden met Chinese premier Li Keqiang. I know this because I have read the pool report of the occasion, a pithy and practically content-free piece of journalism that is nevertheless one of the more entertaining things to enter my inbox in recent days. The pool report confirms the lingering suspicion — if it hasn’t been confirmed a million times already — that the line between journalism and Democratic-party cheerleading has more than faded. It has become invisible.

Obama Honors Pearl Harbor Dead With Picture Of Himself
Excerpt: President Barack Obama’s Facebook page on Saturday posted a message honoring the dead from Pearl Harbor—accompanied by a picture of Obama descending the stairs next to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. The picture barely fits the name of the Arizona Memorial so it can frame Obama in the foreground. (I refer you to Dr. John’s post on Flopping Aces. --Barb)

President Obama offers solemn commemorative tweet of Pearl Harbor attack

Impeachment Lessons: The Nineties taught us it’s not guilt that matters; it’s political will. 
Excerpt: Yes, the Obama “uber-presidency,” as left-of-center law professor Jonathan Turley called it, has enveloped the nation in what he conceded is “the most serious constitutional crisis . . . of my lifetime,” but GOP strategists would just as soon have us chattering about immigration “reform” and bravely balancing the federal budget by, oh, around 2040. But as we discussed in this August column — back when the first anniversary of theBenghazi massacre loomed, back when many Americans still believed that if they liked their health-insurance plans, they could keep their health-insurance plans — it is not crazy to talk about impeaching President Obama. And if you’re going to have a congressional hearing about systematic presidential lawlessness, it is only natural that the word “impeachment” gets bandied about. (Until you have 20 Senate Democrats talking impeachment, waste of time and energy, and an effort would help him as it did Bill Clinton. Since it would lead to riots in the cities, it will not happen! ~Bob.)

Obama: Yes, Mandela has passed, but everything is a celebration of me.
Excerpt: Read the article to see how Obama manipulates the press in order to put himself in what he believes to be the most flattering light using his own photographers. …Everything is about Barack. …Extreme narcissism is also the characteristic of a psychopath.

Quelle Surprise! Five years of Barack Obama undermining American influence in the world…
Excerpt: All of that may be changing because of Barack Obama. For five years while he was busy inflicting his fascist, redistributitive economic policies on the citizens of the United States, he has been diminishing American influence abroad at the same time. Time and again Obama has come down on the side of leftists and American enemies. The Iran “deal” is only the latest in a very long line.

Expert Testifies to Congress that Constitutional Crises looming?: Obama’s ‘Ignoring Laws’ Could Lead to Overthrow of Government
(Reader Post): The habitual behavior of this administration, circumventing and ignoring the powers and responsibilities set forth in the Constitution, and it’s limitation of the powers of the office of the President could come to a head (as Michael Cannon, Cato Institute’s Director of Health Policy Studies, testified before a Congressional Committee)…. Aside from Obama’s taking over the legislative powers that the Constitution declares only shall be exercised by Congress by his unilateral changing of the ACA, he has violated finacia law by moving around appropriated set forth for specific spending, to fund his other agenda items for which Congress did not finance. He has also bypassed the legislative branch by having the government agencies under him create law (via rules, regulations and enforcement/un-enforcement orders) without these being approved by Congress.

‘I’ve never met Uncle Omar’: An incomplete list of #LiesObamaToldUs
Excerpt: The #LiesObamaToldUs hashtag is trending in the U.S.:

'We are now able to eavesdrop on the brain': Scientists come closer to mind-reading devices following breakthrough brain study
Excerpt: Science fiction has long speculated what it would be like to peek inside a person's mind and find out what they are thinking. Now scientists are one step closer to such technology after forging a new brain monitoring technique that could lead to the development of 'mind-reading' applications. The breakthrough comes from a Stanford University School of Medicine study that was able to 'eavesdrop' on a person's brain activity as they performed normal functions by utilizing a series of electrodes attached to certain portions of the brain.

The Post-Work EconomyA permanent dependency class means a citizenry deprived of dignity. By Mark Steyn
Excerpt: What do millions of people do in a world in which, in Marxian terms, “capital” no longer needs “labor”? America’s liberal elite seem to enjoy having a domestic-servant class on hand, but, unlike the Downton Abbey crowd, are vaguely uncomfortable with having them drawn from the sturdy yokel stock of the village, and thus favor, to a degree only the Saudis can match, importing their maids and pool-boys from a permanent subordinate class of cheap foreign labor. Hence the fetishization of the “undocumented,” soon to be reflected in the multi-million bipartisan amnesty for those willing to do “the jobs Americans won’t do.” (The Dems are party of entitlements, party of enslavement. --Barb)

Excerpt: An Iraq veteran who thought he was buying an iPad as a Christmas present after responding to a Craigslist posting, has been shot dead in an Indianapolis parking lot by the fake sellers. New-dad Jim Vester, 32, was lured to an address on Wednesday in the west side of the city and brothers Tyron Kincade, 19, and Tyshaune Kincade, 18, have been arrested after Vester was shot dead leaving behind his one-year-old son, Gavin and wife, Jamie.

Mexican police block hospital where suspects admitted for radiation poisoning 
Excerpt: Federal police blocked access to a central Mexico hospital Friday where six people are reportedly being treated for radiation exposure. They are considered suspects in the theft earlier this week of a truck containing radioactive medical waste….A preschool across the street, named for pioneering radiation scientist Marie Curie, has been closed to classes. (How ironic. --Barb)

5 Days Left: Congress races against deadlines as doc cuts, price spikes loom
Excerpt: Payments to doctors, the price of milk, long-term jobless benefits and more are all on the line this week as lawmakers scramble to beat several end-of-year deadlines -- and all by Friday. Though Dec. 31 is still a few weeks away, congressional sources say the House plans to adjourn at the end of this week. With the Senate returning from its latest recess on Monday, that leaves just five days when both chambers are in session. 

Christian Statues Are Being Destroyed In Germany
Excerpt: Police are baffled -- baffled, I tell you. The same police who forced an apartment dweller to remove an Israel flag from their window because it offended Muslims and they fear Islamic outrage.

CBO:Top 40% Paid 106.2% of Income Taxes; Bottom 40% Paid -9.1%, Got Average of $18,950 in 'Transfers'

Throwing the Book at Yale Republicans: Selectively applying rules, school officials tried to squash Republican campaign efforts. By Alec Torres
Excerpt: This fall, students at Yale University fielded the first Republican candidate in 20 years for Ward One alderman of New Haven, Conn. Ward one encompasses the majority of Yale’s central campus. Desperately seeking to overthrow the secure Democratic incumbent, Sarah Eidelson, student volunteers for the underdog Republican, Paul Chandler, canvassed campus with posters, fliers, and the like. However, their actions were met with administrative reproach and threats of discipline.

Excerpt: The Afghan Taliban recently claimed that the US' reliance on drone strikes to target Taliban leaders masks the decline of American power in the world and the failure of its counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban also called the US a "paper tiger," the same phrase used by Osama Bin Laden to describe the American military when it withdrew from Somalia after the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993.

Poll: Support For Obama's Iran Deal Plummets. by john Nolte

Excerpt: With a couple weeks to learn about and debate the deal, a new poll shows that Americans have completely turned, with only 32% approving of the deal and a plurality of 43% disapproving.

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