Sunday, November 17, 2013

Can we trade Obama for Nixon?
It’s difficult to know, in historical terms, how best to understand the monumental catastrophe of the Obamacare rollout. Is it yet another example of the pathological weakness and spinelessness of the Democratic Party, which never seems to get anything right and always prefers to negotiate itself into unnecessary compromise and ideological defeat? Or is it another symptom of our national refusal to pursue a rational and coherent healthcare policy, fueled partly by our bogus mythology of individualism and partly by the machinations of insurance-industry racketeers? Is there, to go one step further, a relationship between those two things?

I think the answers are clearly yes, yes and yes. ...

...But who’s wearing the clown nose now? Barely a month after the misbegotten shutdown, Obama has handed the Republican congressional majority all the political momentum they had thrown away and then some, a gift-wrapped invitation to win big in 2014 and continue the polemical paralysis of Washington into the indefinite future. As I and many other people have said already, Obama’s legacy is permanently contaminated by his immense expansion of the national-security state, by the global drone wars and the Panopticon-style electronic surveillance of everyone, everywhere, at all times. Now he’s on the verge of also becoming the president who had the chance to transform our overpriced, underperforming and profoundly unjust healthcare system in his grasp, and fumbled it at the last minute, Joe Pisarcik-style. (Younger readers: Google is your friend.)...
Facebook Patented Making NSA Data Handoffs Easier
..."In June, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg blasted 'outrageous press reports' about the PRISM surveillance program, denying that Facebook was ever 'part of any program to give the U.S. or any other government direct access to our servers.' What Zuckerberg didn't mention, and what the press overlooked, is that the USPTO granted Facebook a patent in May for its Automated Writ Response System. Like the NSA-enabling systems described by the NY Times on the same day Zuckerberg cried foul, the patent covers technical methods to more efficiently share the personal data of users with law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in response to lawful government requests via APIs and secured portals installed at company-controlled locations. 'While handing over data in response to a legitimate FISA request is a legal requirement,' the Times noted, 'making it easier for the government to get the information is not, which is why Twitter could decline to do so.'"...
Hope Is All Obamacare Has Left
...Just how bad could this get? Well, here’s one scenario, maybe not the most likely, but possible: The exchanges aren’t ready by Dec. 1. In fact, they continue to experience problems in January and February. The administration’s poll numbers continue to plummet, and the reputation of the exchanges is such that come spring, young people don’t bother to sign up -- or are afraid to hand over their personal data to such a buggy system. The insurance pool is much smaller, older and sicker than expected, which is to say, much more expensive than expected. The administration comes up with small emergency patches, like allowing people to keep their old policies for a few more months. But that makes the pool of people insured through the exchanges even older and sicker than it otherwise would be.

Meanwhile, sometime between March and June, the other shoe drops: People who bought exchange policies realize that the restricted networks insurers created to keep the premium costs low cut out the best hospitals and doctors. A newly insured child with cancer cannot get into a top pediatric hospital because her insurance has zero coverage for out-of-network emergency care. Tearful Mom goes on the evening news and says that she thought when they went on Obamacare, that meant they were safe, and why can’t I take my baby to Philadelphia Children’s Hospital, Mr. President? That particular story will be fixed, through some combination of private charity, insurer PR sensitivity and government intervention. But there will be more of these cases that don’t make the papers. The folks who had no insurance and are now on Medicaid may be quite glad of their insurance, but those people don’t vote in large numbers. The middle-class voters who thought they were getting much more out of this law are disenchanted, maybe angry.

By June, insurers are filing their rate increases for next year. But there are already lawsuits being filed over the limited networks and rumblings about legal remedies in the legislature. They are paying out much more in claims for each customer than they expected when they set rates, and while the “risk corridor” reinsurance provisions mitigate some of their losses, they do not turn losses into profits. And public anger over all the downsides of the law -- the policy cancellations, the malfunctioning exchanges, the extremely narrow provider networks -- makes it look very likely that Democrats are going to lose the Senate in 2014. The law now seems to be in danger -- not in danger of outright repeal, but in danger of death from a thousand cuts, as legislators roll back anything that’s unpopular -- like, say, the individual mandate....
Time to Start Considering Obamacare's Worst Case Scenarios
...Over the weekend, several reports suggested that, despite continued assurances that, the problem-plagued online insurance enrollment portal run by the federal government, would be running smoothly for most users by the end of the month, it increasingly looks likely that the deadline will be missed.

Insurance industry consultant Robert Laszewski, who, thanks to his contacts with his insurers, has been a critical and frequently prophetic source of information about the law’s rollout, opened a blog post this weekend with the following assessment: “It is now becoming clear that the Obama administration will not have fixed by December 1 so hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions, of people will be able to smoothly enroll by January 1.” Laszewski says that months, not weeks, of work remain.

The dates he lists are important, and not only because of the administration’s self-imposed deadline of November 30. Anyone who wants to purchase insurance that kicks in at the beginning of next year must complete enrollment by December 15. If the system isn’t working smoothly at least a couple weeks prior to that rapidly approaching date, then large numbers of people simply won’t have a chance to sign up.

That is a potentially huge problem for a law whose central premise and promise was that it would create new opportunities for millions of people to sign up for coverage that goes into effect at the beginning of 2014.

It’s a problem that would be big enough on its own, but is now compounded by the fact that, thanks to rules and regulations built into the law, millions of Americans have already had their existing individual-market insurance cancelled, and estimates say that millions more cancellations are on the way. The end result could be that many people—thousands, perhaps even millions—end up with their current private insurance plans terminated due to the law, but no way to sign up for new coverage....
British Intelligence Responds To Slashdot About Man-in-Middle Attack
..."The GCHQ agency, Britain's equivalent of the National Security Agency, reportedly used fake LinkedIn and Slashdot pages to load malware onto computers at Belgian telecommunications firm Belgacom. In an emailed statement to Slashdot, the GCHQ's Press and Media Affairs Office wrote: 'We have no comment to make on this particular story.' It added: 'All GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensure that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Intelligence and Security Committee.' Meanwhile, LinkedIn's representatives suggested they had no knowledge of the reported hack. 'We have read the same stories, and we want to clarify that we have never cooperated with any government agency,' a spokesperson from the social network wrote in an email to Slashdot, 'nor do we have any knowledge, with regard to these actions, and to date, we have not detected any of the spoofing activity that is being reported.' An IT security expert with extensive knowledge of government intelligence operations, but no direct insight into the GCHQ, hypothesized to Slashdot that carrying out a man-in-the-middle attack was well within the capabilities of British intelligence agencies, but that such a 'retail' operation also seemed somewhat out of character. 'Based on what we know they've done, they are doing industrialized, large scale traffic sweeping and net hacking,' he said. 'They operate a wholesale, with statistical techniques. By "statistical" I mean that they send something that may or may not work.' With that in mind, he added, it's plausible that the GCHQ has software that operates in a similar manner to the NSA's EGOTISTICAL GIRAFFE, and used it to redirect Belgacom employees to a fake download. 'However, the story has been slightly garbaged into it being fake [LinkedIn and Slashdot] accounts, as opposed to network spoofing.'"...

GCHQ Created Spoofed LinkedIn and Slashdot Sites To Serve Malware
...Ars Technica reports how a Snowden leak shows British spy agency GCHQ spoofed LinkedIn and Slashdot so as to serve malware to targeted employees. From the article: 'Der Spiegel suggests that the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British sister agency to the NSA, used spoofed versions of LinkedIn and Slashdot pages to serve malware to targets. This type of attack was also used to target “nine salaried employees” of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the global oil cartel.'...
Daring to Complain About Obamacare
...The heated reactions even moved offline. Frustrated, I observed to one friend who was covered through her work that when an issue didn’t affect people directly, they became “theoretically generous.” Ask them to donate several thousand dollars so that the less fortunate can have medical insurance — which is exactly what President Obama is asking me to do — and I’ll bet they’d change their tune about “ending inequality” and “creating fairness” and “doing what’s good for the country.” ...

... Like Bridget Jones’s “smug marrieds,” the “smug insureds” — friends who were covered through their own or spouses’ employers or who were grandfathered into their plans — asked why I didn’t “just” switch all of our long-term doctors, suck it up and pay an extra $200 a month for a restrictive network on the exchange, or marry the guy I’m dating. How romantic: “I didn’t marry you just to save money, honey. I married you for your provider network.”

Along with the smug insureds, President Obama doesn’t care much about the relatively small percentage of us with canceled coverage and no viable replacement. He keeps apologizing while maintaining that it’s for the good of the country, a vast improvement “over all.”

And the “over all” might agree. But the self-employed middle class is being sacrificed at the altar of politically correct rhetoric, with nobody helping to ensure our health, fiscal or otherwise, because it’s trendy to cheer for the underdog. Embracing the noble cause is all very well — as long as yours isn’t the “fortunate” family that loses its access to comprehensive, affordable health care while the rest of the nation gets it. ...
Graham: Selectman could use refresher on Constitution
...Last week, Swampscott Selectman Barry Greenfield proposed the idea of mandatory home inspections for the town’s 600 licensed gun owners. He mentioned the Newtown massacre. He mentioned children’s safety.

There is no record, however, of Selectman Greenfield mentioning the Constitution.

Massachusetts law requires gun owners to store their firearms safely. Greenfield is frustrated with the inability of local cops to push their way into local homes and have a look around without all that “probable cause” and “search warrant” nonsense.

“We need the ability to enforce the state law,” the selectman said, adding that he’s discussed the matter with Swampscott Police Chief Ron Madigan.

If this incredibly bad goose-stepping attack on gun ownership sounds familiar, it should. The state of Washington considered it earlier this year. Then some lawyer heard a rumor about some “Second Amendment thingy” and it went away.

By the way, nobody should be surprised that this attempt to intimidate gun owners is happening in Swampscott, aka “Marblehead Without The Beemers.” It’s a town notorious for treating citizens like servants to be ordered around. Remember the school ordering every parent to attend a program on drug abuse and threatening to punish their kids if they didn’t show up?

Liberals who think “hatin’ on guns” is a guaranteed winner may want to check in with Westford Selectman Robert Jeffries. He proposed requiring gun owners to store them at their gun clubs. He’s now former selectman Jeffries.

But the real question for Massachusetts liberals is this: Why do Swampscotters (Swampscottians?) put up with such heavy-handed treatment from their public “servants?” Are they, as citizens, prepared to put up with government-mandated inspections of their bedrooms and closets?...
The Secret Obama
...Gay marriage. He didn’t want to keep dissembling about his real position.

“Taken in sum, Obama’s list was a revealing document,” Halperin and Heilemann write. “He believed that over the past three years his progressive impulses had too often been trumped by the demands of pragmatism. That he had trimmed his sails in just the way his critics on the left had charged.”

Some of the aides thought Obama was sketching out a rough second-term agenda, but Chief of Staff Bill Daley had a different thought, according to the authors: “Holy sh**. We have a bunch of leakers here. I hope to God this doesn’t get out.”

As it turned out, it would all be kept under wraps except gay marriage, on which the president was preempted by Vice President Biden, although he had planned to announce the completion of his “evolution” on this issue anyway....
Obama supporter miffed at botched healthcare rollout
Margaret Davis of West L.A. voted for President Obama and appreciates the ideas behind the Affordable Care Act. She agrees that everyone should have access to healthcare and no one should be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

But here's the problem:

She knows firsthand, as the new law of the land rolls clumsily into being, that it's not working out to everyone's advantage.

"I'm a 55-year-old woman in excellent health and have a catastrophic health plan," she wrote recently to Obama and California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. "I am completely happy with my plan. I received notice that the plan is being canceled and that to stay with a "comparable" plan my premiums would increase 88%, or $200 extra per month. To add insult to injury, the plan is INFERIOR to my existing plan."...

...The most striking change he's seeing, Jakowchik said, is among clients who can get pretty good deals, but only if they give up access to the doctors and hospitals they now use. Because his practice is on the Westside, he's hearing from clients who aren't happy about losing Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center as hospital options...
NYT: Obama’s lies are merely ‘incorrect promises’
...Incorrect promise.

It was an incorrect promise.

He made a promise, but it turned out to be incorrect.

Hey, it happens to everybody, right? Oh well.

“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” was a lie. Arguably the biggest lie, with the biggest consequences for the biggest number of people, in American history. So of course, Obama’s enablers at the NYT are shielding him from the fallout by… lying....
Repent for the sin of denying global warming, says theologian
Typhoon Haiyan and even Superstorm Sandy were not simply caused by global warming. They were the result of “moral evil,” according to one theologian.

“These ‘superstorms’ aren’t an ‘act of God,’ but an act of willful disregard for God’s creation, and the neglect of the human responsibility to care for the planet,” writes Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, professor of theology at the Chicago Theological Seminary and a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress.

“There is moral evil to be seen in these ‘superstorms,’ I believe, on two levels,” she added. “First, there is the moral evil of continuing to pump fossil fuels into the atmosphere, producing global warming. Second, however, is the moral evil of climate change denial, that is, those who would continue to deny, in the face of mounting evidence, that violent climate change is upon us and it is accelerating.”

Thistlethwaite is writing in the wake of the deadly Typhoon Haiyan which is reportedly responsible for the death of thousands in the Philippines. The storm has already been attributed to global warming by UN officials and has been used as a lightning rod for activism on global warming.

However, Thistlethwaite says there is a “theological prescription” for what humans need to do to stave off planetary destruction — “confession, repentance and change.”...
Health care: Obama's fix for canceled plans throws insurers a curveball
...One key component of Obamacare, insurers point out, is getting younger and healthier Americans to pay for health insurance. This is necessary to help subsidize the higher costs of other individuals, who will be putting more pressures on a system already exploding in costs.

In the previous system, rates for the young and healthy were generally much lower: Since they generally don’t get sick as much, they were able to pay less, in a setup similar to safe-driver discounts. Indeed, it is many of these Americans who have seen their cheaper health plans canceled and have seen their rates increase.

Now, they can go back to these old plans – assuming states will allow insurers to offer them. But this will undermine the cost structure for those already on new Obamacare plans – those with preexisting conditions, say, who now cannot be denied coverage. These new plans were designed with the assumption that more premiums would be paid by the young and healthy.

“And here we are now, with no effective subsidy for those who cost the system more,” Mr. Mangan says. “I am absolutely terrified that the increases [in claims] that will come for the insurance companies in the next year ... will be monumental.”...

The Lawlessness of the ‘Fix’
...The purpose here is not to prove, yet again, that Obama is a fraud, which would be like proving that Detroit may be a tad mismanaged. The purpose is also not to establish, yet again, Obama’s hypocrisy in condemning Bush’s flouting of a single statute when, once he assumed power, Obama so systematically violated laws that you’d think the oath says, “Take care that the laws be faithlessly executed.” The purpose is not even to reprise Thursday’s remarkable press conference, at which Obama — in the very moment of his humiliation over serial lying — brazenly repeated some of his most notorious and resoundingly disproved whoppers: the claim that his oft-repeated promise about Americans being able to keep their health-insurance plans somehow “ended up being inaccurate” when it was willfully false; the claim that this lie affects only the 5 percent of Americans in the individual market when he has known for years (as John Hinderaker shows) that Obamacare would force the cancellation of tens of millions of employer-provided plans; and so on.

No, the purpose is to highlight how insouciantly lawless and transparently political the president’s latest Obamacare “fix” is. I refer, of course, to Obama’s magnanimous proclamation that he now deigns to permit insurers to issue policies made illegal by the Obamacare statute — at least until the Democrats can get through the 2014 elections. This was frivolous to the point of malfeasance.

Let’s start with the basics. The president has no power to rewrite statutes — he is bereft of dictatorial power to legitimize what Congress has made a violation of law. This reflects our abiding conceit that we have “a government of laws and not of men,” ascribed by John Adams to the 17th-century political theorist James Harrington....

Obamacare's Creative, Or Illegal, Rule-Making
...The administration is already too reliant on creative rule-making to make the law work, such as their decision to delay the employer mandate even though it’s pretty firmly set into law. But now they’re reaching the limits of this strategy. There is always discretion in the implementation of any law, but that discretion is not infinite.

Moreover, this most recent exercise may create other problems. Jonathan Adler, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law who is involved in one of the lawsuits against Obamacare’s implementation, points out in an e-mail that “the president's action doesn't make these policies legal, it just says the feds won't enforce. State insurance commissioners may approve, but federal law still prohibits these policies.” Which makes me wonder: If those policies end up in court, will a judge go along with their creative approach? And if a judge doesn’t go along with it, what sort of chaos will envelop the insurance market?

That’s leaving aside the civic problems with having an administration that simply waives by fiat any rule that gets in the way of their grand designs. President Obama, who used to be so sharply critical of George W. Bush’s use of executive power, is now pioneering his own expansive views of what the president may do. The White House seems to believe that they are allowed to shinny around any rule, as long as they wrote it. I’d argue that this is exactly backward: They have an especial duty to uphold the laws that they themselves constructed, because if they don’t, why should the rest of us go along?
One fired, three suspended after undercover health care video
The Urban League of Greater Dallas fired one person and suspended three others after a video from a conservative activist reportedly showed the workers encouraging health care applicants to lie.

An edited video was released Monday that seemingly shows so-called health care Navigators encouraging people to lie on forms signing up for health care to get better rates.

The video was released by Project Veritas, which was started by conservative activist James O'Keefe. O'Keefe gained notoriety for videos in 2009 that eventually brought down ACORN. O'Keefe and three others were arrested in 2010 and later pleaded guilty to entering federal property, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu's office, on false pretenses. A 2011 video targeting NPR resulted in the resignation of the organization's CEO.

The Urban League said in a statement on Tuesday it "does not condone, nor would we ever sanction, misleading the public or any individual who seeks our assistance about any issue, and particularly in this case, an issue as critical as health care."...
Privacy Pretense
Last month, Silicon Valley purported to be shocked by revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) has routinely accessed the servers of tech giants Google and Yahoo, which store data for hundreds of millions of users. In response, the companies pledged to step up privacy protections.

There is only one problem: Such protections run counter to the business model and public policy agenda that tech companies have pursued for decades. For years, U.S. information technology (IT) firms have actively backed weak privacy rules that let them collect massive amounts of personal data. The strategy enabled the companies to work their way into every corner of consumers’ lives and gave them a competitive edge internationally. Those same policies, however, have come back to haunt IT firms. Lax rules created fertile ground for NSA snooping. In the wake of the surveillance scandals, as consumer confidence plummets, technology companies’ economic futures are threatened....
Washington State To 8,000 Obamacare Enrollees: We Goofed On Cost Estimate
...About 8,000 Washington residents will soon receive letters informing them that the price they are expecting to pay for health insurance purchased on the new online exchange marketplace is incorrect.

The letters are part of an effort by the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which operates the exchange, to correct a major error that resulted in the miscalculation of tax credits that help qualified enrollees pay for insurance premiums....
D.C. insurance commissioner fired a day after questioning Obamacare fix
A day after he questioned President Obama’s decision to unwind a major tenet of the health-care law and said the nation’s capital might not go along, D.C. insurance commissioner William P. White was fired.

White was called into a meeting Friday afternoon with one of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s (D) top deputies and told that the mayor “wants to go in a different direction,” White told The Washington Post on Saturday....
Four years ago, GOP showed exactly what was false about Obama's keep-your-coverage promise
It is now painfully evident to millions of Americans that President Obama's promise that they could keep their current health coverage under Obamacare wasn't true. But what has received less attention in the current uproar is that back in 2009, when Obamacare was under debate and Obama was making the promise, some Republicans saw precisely what was wrong with it, and said so. And when those Republicans challenged the White House, the White House had nothing to say.

Go back to June 23, 2009. The House Education and Labor Committee, chaired by Democratic Rep. George Miller, held a hearing on a draft of Obamacare. Christina Romer, then chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, testified. Among the Republicans who questioned Romer was Rep. Tom Price, who is also a doctor. Price pressed Romer to cite a basis for the president's promise, and in the process predicted much of what would happen more than four years later, in late 2013. Obama's promise fell apart right there in the hearing room. ...
Americans’ personal data shared with CIA, IRS, others in security probe
WASHINGTON — U.S. agencies collected and shared the personal information of thousands of Americans in an attempt to root out untrustworthy federal workers that ended up scrutinizing people who had no direct ties to the U.S. government and simply had purchased certain books.

Federal officials gathered the information from the customer records of two men who were under criminal investigation for purportedly teaching people how to pass lie detector tests. The officials then distributed a list of 4,904 people – along with many of their Social Security numbers, addresses and professions – to nearly 30 federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

Although the polygraph-beating techniques are unproven, authorities hoped to find government employees or applicants who might have tried to use them to lie during the tests required for security clearances. Officials with multiple agencies confirmed that they’d checked the names in their databases and planned to retain the list in case any of those named take polygraphs for federal jobs or criminal investigations.

It turned out, however, that many people on the list worked outside the federal government and lived across the country. Among the people whose personal details were collected were nurses, firefighters, police officers and private attorneys, McClatchy learned. Also included: a psychologist, a cancer researcher and employees of Rite Aid, Paramount Pictures, the American Red Cross and Georgetown University. ...
Kristen Powers: I'm Fuming That the Administration Keeps Claiming My Policy Was Canceled Becasue It Was "Substandard;" It Wasn't. It Was Canceled to Force Me to Subsidize Other People.
@johnekdahl noted that Powers was "destroying" Obama on the cancellations on Bret Baier's show.

Indeed, she was. There are three elements that made her criticism powerful:

1. This isn't hypothetical. She's an actual victim. She's not talking about other people losing her coverage, but herself. Furthermore, as she knows her own now-canceled policy, she can tick off what it covered -- which was everything on Obama's list -- and state, authoritatively, that the new policies offered to her offer nothing new... except double the premium.

2. Unlike most partisan Democrats in the media, she did not resort to euphemism. She laid it out: Her policy is only more expensive now because of the forced subsidy to other people.

3. She's a Democrat -- not one of those Republicans who, we know, always lie about everything, or are stupid, and so lie inadvertently, because their brains are so stunted and lizard-like....

...We must not rest until Obama and his Palace Guard Media have been compelled to confess the central truth of Obamacare: It was always going to cost you a lot more. That was the whole point. This is not an accident; this is not "poor implementation of the law." ...
Behind Obama’s lie, our own immaturity
We can't handle the truth

...Beyond that, reforming such a huge chunk of the U.S. economy necessarily leads to often unanticipated changes for millions of Americans.

Acknowledging that reality would have been the honest thing to do. So would asking healthier and wealthier Americans to sacrifice for the greater good of ensuring every American have health-care coverage....

...Voters want progress without sacrifice or inconvenience. Seemingly the only path to change is telling voters what they want to hear.

So accuse Obama of lying about health-care reform — but understand the simple underlying reality: we can’t handle the truth.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Rubio to introduce bill that would repeal “risk corridor” — a.k.a. bailout — provisions of ObamaCare
...Via the Weekly Standard, here’s David Cutler, one of the architects of O-Care, admitting last night that an insurance industry death spiral isn’t out of the question here. In fact, though, the “risk corridor” is designed to reduce the risk of a death spiral; so are the taxpayer subsidies for lower-income enrollees on the exchanges, which can (at least theoretically) be increased to keep pace with premiums if/when they start to rise. Without the risk corridor and the subsidies, the only way for insurers to make back their losses this year is to jack up premiums next year, which will further discourage healthy people from enrolling, which in turn will make the exchange risk pools even sicker and more costly, and thus the death spiral is set in motion. Thanks to Uncle Sam’s “generosity,” they might not have to do that. But all of this points to the same basic fact: The more adverse selection there is on the new exchanges, the more unanticipated costs there’ll be. Those costs will be borne either by the insurance industry, if Rubio’s bill prevails and the “risk corridor” provision is eliminated, or mostly by the federal government, in the form of a bailout and higher subsidies. The political challenge of Rubio’s bill for Democrats is that they don’t want to be on the wrong side of yet another TARP-like government giveaway to an unpopular industry, but on the other hand they can’t take away insurers’ “risk corridor” safety net or else the industry might turn on ObamaCare and then the whole thing will implode. Dilemmas, dilemmas....
More People Signed Petition to Build Death Star than Signed Up for Health Care via Nat’l Website
A petition to build a Death Star from the Star Wars universe received more support than people who were able to sign up for health insurance via in October.

The petition, which received 34,435 signatures, demolished health care in signups, which was starkly lower at a mere 26,794. That’s a difference of 7,641....

Congressman: 185 times more health plans canceled than selected on federal exchange
...In a Friday memo, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp emphasized that the number of people who have had their individual health insurance plans canceled due to Obamacare is 185 times the number of people who have selected an insurance plan on the federal Obamacare exchange....
UnitedHealth drops thousands of doctors from insurance plans: WSJ
UnitedHealth Group dropped thousands of doctors from its networks in recent weeks, leaving many elderly patients unsure whether they need to switch plans to continue seeing their doctors, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The insurer said in October that underfunding of Medicare Advantage plans for the elderly could not be fully offset by the company's other healthcare business. The company also reported spending more healthcare premiums on medical claims in the third quarter, due mainly to government cuts to payments for Medicare Advantage services.

The Journal report said that doctors in at least 10 states were notified of being laid off the plans, some citing "significant changes and pressures in the healthcare environment." According to the notices, the terminations can be appealed within 30 days.

Tyler Mason, a UnitedHealth spokesperson, was not immediately available for comment when reached by Reuters.

The insurer told the WSJ that its provider networks were always changing and that it expected its Medicare Advantage network to be 85 percent to 90 percent of its current size by the end of 2014.

UnitedHealth is participating in about a dozen new state insurance markets that launched on October 1 to offer subsidized health coverage under President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul....
Remember this lady?
...On 14 March 2007, Sendler was honoured by the Polish Senate. Aged 97, she was unable to leave her nursing home to receive the honour, but she sent a statement through Elżbieta Ficowska, whom Sendler had helped to save as an infant. Polish President Lech Kaczyński stated she "can justly be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize". In the same year the Polish government presented her as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. This initiative was officially supported by the State of Israel through its prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and the Organization of Holocaust Survivors in Israel residents. The authorities of Oświęcim (Auschwitz in German) expressed support for this nomination, because Irena Sendler was considered one of the last living heroes of her generation, and demonstrated a strength, conviction and extraordinary values against an evil of an extraordinary nature. Finally, the prize was awarded to Al Gore and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change....
Venezuelan military seizes major retail chain
CARACAS — Thousands of Venezuelans lined up outside the country's equivalent of Best Buy, a chain of electronics stores known as Daka, hoping for a bargain after the socialist government forced the company to charge customers "fair" prices.

President Nicolás Maduro ordered a military "occupation" of the company's five stores as he continues the government's crackdown on an "economic war" it says is being waged against the country, with the help of Washington.

Members of Venezuela's National Guard, some of whom carried assault rifles, kept order at the stores as bargain hunters rushed to get inside.

"I want a Sony plasma television for the house," said Amanda Lisboa, 34, a business administrator, who had waited seven hours already outside one Caracas store. "It's going to be so cheap!"...
Thus Spake Obama
...The most telling line, the one that encapsulates the gulf between the boundless fantasies of the faculty-lounge utopian and the messiness of reality, was this: “What we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy.” Gee, thanks for sharing, genius. Maybe you should have thought of that before you governmentalized one-sixth of the economy. By “we,” the president means “I.” Out here in the ruder provinces of his decrepit realm, we “folks” are well aware of how complicated insurance is. What isn’t complicated in the Sultanate of Sclerosis? But, as with so many other things, Obama always gives the vague impression that routine features of humdrum human existence are entirely alien to him. Marie Antoinette, informed that the peasantry could no longer afford bread, is alleged to have responded, “Let them eat cake.” There is no evidence these words ever passed her lips, but certainly no one ever accused her of saying, “If you like your cake, you can keep your cake,” and then having to walk it back with “What we’re also discovering is that cake is complicated to buy.” That contribution to the annals of monarchical unworldliness had to await the reign of Queen Barry Antoinette, whose powdered wig seems to have slipped over his eyes.

Still, as historian Michael Beschloss pronounced the day after his election, he’s “probably the smartest guy ever to become president.” Naturally, Obama shares this assessment. As he assured us five years ago, “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors.” Well, apart from his signature health-care policy. That’s a mystery to him. “I was not informed directly that the website would not be working,” he told us. The buck stops with something called “the executive branch,” which is apparently nothing to do with him. As evidence that he was entirely out of the loop, he offered this:

Had I been I informed, I wouldn’t be going out saying, “Boy, this is going to be great.” You know, I’m accused of a lot of things, but I don’t think I’m stupid enough to go around saying, “This is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity,” a week before the website opens, if I thought that it wasn’t going to work. ...

A Noble Lie?
Why ObamaCare is worse than just a case of pathological altruism.

For one, adding a weaselly phrase like "in most cases" does not constitute "extra frankness." Quite the opposite: It turns a shining promise into a foggy assurance with no clear meaning. Imagine if Obama tried that with his wedding vows:

Jeremiah Wright: Will you, Barack, take Michelle to be your wife, to love, honor and cherish, forsaking all others, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live?

Obama: Yeah, most likely.

Here is the email I read on the air tonight
"Putting things in perspective: March 21st 2010 to October 1 2013 is 3 years, 6 months, 10 days. December 7, 1941 to May 8, 1945 is 3 years, 5 months, 1 day. What this means is that in the time we were attacked at Pearl Harbor to the day Germany surrendered is not enough time for this progressive federal government to build a working webpage. Mobilization of millions, building tens of thousands of tanks, planes, jeeps, subs, cruisers, destroyers, torpedoes, millions upon millions of guns, bombs, ammo, etc. Turning the tide in North Africa, Invading Italy, D-Day, Battle of the Bulge, Race to Berlin - all while we were also fighting the Japanese in the Pacific!! And in that amount of time - this administration can't build a working webpage."
Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful
...Human resources departments tend to be staffed mostly by women. Indeed, in the Israeli study, 93% of those tasked with selecting whom to invite for an interview were female. The researchers' unavoidable—and unpalatable—conclusion is that old-fashioned jealousy led the women to discriminate against pretty candidates....
Oh Goody: Krugman Discovers Sprawl
...Krugman comes close to suggesting that if suburban sprawl around Detroit had been prevented, Detroit would be fine today. He deplores Atlanta, precisely because it has allowed suburban growth. He endorses “smart growth” policies, “which try to promote compact centers with access to public transit.” In other words, Krugman joins other liberals in wanting to use the force of the law to compel people to live in modes contrary to their revealed preferences (as most other economists would say). The irony is lost on Krugman that in order to promote social mobility, he wishes to use the power of government to prevent physical mobility—the right and ability of people to exit predatory, dysfunctional urban governments like Detroit.

It’s a mystery to me why people like Krugman can still claim to be called “liberal.” There is nothing liberal at all about them. Like his fellow elitist snob Tom Friedman, Krugman is better classified as an authoritarian. And an especially nasty one at that. Funny thing about authoritarians: they always end up being nasty sooner or later....

Regionalism: Obama’s Quiet Anti-Suburban Revolution
...The new HUD rule is really about changing the way Americans live. It is part of a broader suite of initiatives designed to block suburban development, press Americans into hyper-dense cities, and force us out of our cars. Government-mandated ethnic and racial diversification plays a role in this scheme, yet the broader goal is forced “economic integration.” The ultimate vision is to make all neighborhoods more or less alike, turning traditional cities into ultra-dense Manhattans, while making suburbs look more like cities do now. In this centrally-planned utopia, steadily increasing numbers will live cheek-by-jowl in “stack and pack” high-rises close to public transportation, while automobiles fall into relative disuse. To understand how HUD’s new rule will help enact this vision, we need to turn to a less-well-known example of the Obama administration’s regionalist interventionism....

...The administration’s “sustainable communities” grants generally require recipients to “partner” with local leftist community organizations. Opponents of Plan Bay Area often outnumber supporters at public meetings. Yet such supporters as are present–groups like TransForm, the Greenbelt Alliance, Marin Grassroots, and East Bay Housing Organization–are funded (or slated to be funded)with the help of the same federal grant that backs up the bureaucrats in charge...
Our Government Has Weaponized the Internet. Here’s How They Did It
...According to revelations about the QUANTUM program, the NSA can “shoot” (their words) an exploit at any target it desires as his or her traffic passes across the backbone. It appears that the NSA and GCHQ were the first to turn the internet backbone into a weapon; absent Snowdens of their own, other countries may do the same and then say, “It wasn’t us. And even if it was, you started it.”

If the NSA can hack Petrobras, the Russians can justify attacking Exxon/Mobil. If GCHQ can hack Belgacom to enable covert wiretaps, France can do the same to AT&T. If the Canadians target the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Chinese can target the U.S. Department of the Interior. We now live in a world where, if we are lucky, our attackers may be every country our traffic passes through except our own....

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Obama’s Massive Fraud
...Attorney General Eric Holder’s minions have recently sued Bank of America and UBS. The complaints filed in court by prosecutors allege that these financial institutions defrauded investors in the sale of mortgage-backed securities by failing to disclose important facts about the underlying mortgages. Indeed, prosecutors asserted that financial institutions’ statements about these securities were both lies and, even where arguably true, material omissions. That’s because the statements withheld from investors the fact that the institutions well knew, based on internal analyses, that many of the mortgages backing the securities would go into default.

Recall that President Obama knew three years ago, based on internal analyses, that because of his administration’s own regulation-writing, millions of Americans would lose the health plans he nonetheless continued to promise they could keep. The president hid the data . . . just as did those financial institutions that his trusty attorney general has sued. Comparatively speaking, though, the financial institutions defrauded significantly fewer victims. Thus it is noteworthy that Holder is now demanding that the institutions pay hundreds of millions of dollars for their fraudulent misrepresentations....
Having been caught engaged in out-and-out fraud, Obama engages in a familiar pattern to cover up his lies *UPDATED*
More than five years ago, when Barack Obama threw his hat into the political ring, I realized that he was a malignant narcissist who lied compulsively. For Obama, truth was then and is now defined by the needs of the moment. If it will benefit him at that moment to say something at variance with facts as other people know them, he is telling the truth because his political needs are the ultimate yardstick by which all truth must be measured. This pathological outlook means that, when Obama is caught in what ordinary people would characterize an out-and-out lie, he engages in a cascading cover-up of lies, all dictated, not by objective facts, but by his needs at the moment.

Think of it this way: We’re all living out the movie Gaslight, with Obama as the dangerously manipulative, dishonest Charles Boyer character, and the American public as the hapless, helpless Ingrid Bergman character, whom Boyer is trying to drive mad so that he can take her wealth....
The White House effort to blame insurance companies for lost plans
...But how many people actually would have kept their individual plans that long in the first place? HHS, when it drafted the interim rules, estimated that between 40 and 67 percent of policies in the individual market are in effect for less than one year. “These estimates assume that the policies that terminate are replaced by new individual policies, and that these new policies are not, by definition, grandfathered,” the rules noted. (See page 34553.)...

...Of course, the Affordable Care Act was enacted more than 44 months ago. Using the data available in the chart, we roughly calculated the Gamma distribution curve beyond 44 months. Under our model, only 4.8 percent keep the policy longer than 44 months — and that is likely an overestimate.

Translated, that means about 95 percent of people now getting cancellation notices likely purchased their plan after the effective date of the law....

...Blaming the insurance companies can only go so far. First of all, the administration wrote the rules that set the conditions under which plans lose their grandfathered status. But more important, the law has an effective date so far in the past that it virtually guaranteed that the vast majority of people currently in the individual market would end up with a notice saying they needed to buy insurance on the Obamacare exchanges.

The administration’s effort to pin the blame on insurance companies is a classic case of misdirection. Between 75 and 95 percent of the problem stems from the effective date, but the White House chooses to keep the focus elsewhere....

Obama’s Second, and Continuing, Big Lie
...The bottom line is that the administration expected 51% of all employer plans to be terminated as a result of Obamacare. That is the mid-range estimate; the high-end estimate was 69%. So as of 2010, the Obama administration planned that most Americans with employer-sponsored health care plans would lose them, whether they liked those plans or not….

The administration never intended to allow any American to keep a non-Obamacare insurance policy for any length of time....

...if Obamacare is fully implemented, at least 129 million (68%) will not be able to keep their previous health care plan either because they already have or will lose that coverage by the end of 2014. This includes:

9.2 to 15.4 million in the non-group market

16.6 million in the small group market

102.7 million in the large group market

A dishonest presidency
The Wall Street Journal broke the news this weekend that, even as President Obama was telling the American people they could keep their health plans, “some White House policy advisors objected to the breadth of Mr. Obama’s ‘keep your plan’ promise. They were overruled by political aides.”

Overruled by political aides? This is simply damning.

It’s not easy to get a lie into a presidential speech. Every draft address is circulated to the White House senior staff and key Cabinet officials in something called the “staffing process.” Every line is reviewed by dozens of senior officials, who offer comments and factual corrections. During this process, it turns out, some of Obama’s policy advisers objected to the “you can keep your plan” pledge, pointing out that it was untrue. But it stayed in the speech. That does not happen by accident. It requires a willful intent to deceive. ...
White House Making Life Miserable for Democratic Lawmakers, Reformers
...According to exit polling, 53 percent of voters in Virginia opposed the health care law. Of those, 81 percent voted for Cuccinelli, who made Obamacare a battle cry in the campaign's closing days. Obama's team dismissed the concerns, pointing to exit polls showing that just 27 percent of Virginia voters identified health care as the most important issue in the race and, of those, Cuccinelli won 49 percent to McAuliffe's 45 percent. Obamacare "is not as toxic as [Republicans] want people to believe," said Mo Elleithee, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.

True, the GOP has an ax to grind--and no off-year election results can be extrapolated to predict the next cycle's results. But Elleithee's quote and Pfeiffer's tweet are a repudiation of fellow Democrats who have good reason to worry about Obamacare. At a time when Obama desperately needs allies (his approval ratings are dropping), the White House is insulting its friends.

They may not be exit-poll experts, but Democratic lawmakers know the stakes. They know what happens to their party--in 2014 and beyond--if reforms sought for decades get suffocated by government incompetence. They know what happens to Obama if he keeps squandering his credibility. They know what happens to them--in their reelection campaigns--if the White House doesn't shift from spinning to fixing....
Obama 'Matrix' -- a world of deniability: Column
...But nearly five years into office -- after Fast and Furious, after Benghazi, after the snooping on Associated Press phone records, after the IRS political vendetta and now the Obamacare website mess, President Obama has shown his preference for a different kind of "buck" -- with a deliberately amorphous Constitution. By his own choice, Obama has become the "know-nothing" president.

To be fair, Obama's absent responsibility isn't rooted in a villainous conspiracy (call me a RINO, but I don't believe the president is an evil man). Instead, Obama's invisibility encapsulates the delusional looking glass through which he sees the world.

Welcome to the Obama Matrix -- the president's created world of absolute deniability. A world in the unwitting mold of another fictional Matrix … that of the Wachowski brothers....

...It's obvious that Obama regards himself as "the one" – a presidential "Neo", a pure leader harassed by the emotionalism, incompetence and malevolence of others. In Obama's Matrix, the Republicans constitute "Agent Smith" -- arrogant malcontents driven by an inexorable anger. The American people are the cocooned humans -- requiring "liberation" from their ideological slumber. Valerie Jarrett is "the Oracle" -- the fountain of hard and necessary understanding. Everyone else? They're "the machine" -- the system that constricts Obama's positive intention.

By plugging himself into this Matrix of certainties, Obama has found a self-sustaining moral cause -- the belief that he's responsible for all that's politically favorable and nothing that's politically toxic. Festooned by adoring supporters and fortified behind unquestioning staff, Obama has always presumed a kind of Moses-esque self-awareness. These are the springs from which the presidential Matrix flows....
Obamacare Shouldn't Have Been Managed Like a Campaign
...According to two former officials, CMS staff members struggled at “multiple meetings” during the spring of 2011 to persuade White House officials for permission to publish diagrams known as “concepts of operation,” which they believed were necessary to show states what a federal exchange would look like. The two officials said the White House was reluctant because the diagrams were complex, and they feared that the Republicans might reprise a tactic from the 1990s of then-Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), who mockingly brandished intricate charts created by a task force led by first lady Hillary Clinton.

In the end, one of the former officials said, the White House quashed the diagrams, telling CMS, instead, to praise early work on those state exchanges that matched the hidden federal thinking....

CBS: White House warned three years ago that ObamaCare was running off the rails
...Three years ago, a trusted Obama health care adviser warned the White House it was losing control of Obamacare. A memo obtained by CBS News said strong leadership was missing and the law’s successful implementation was in jeopardy. The warnings were specific and dire — and ignored.

David Cutler, who worked on the Obama 2008 campaign and was a valued outside health care consultant wrote this blunt memo to top White House economic adviser Larry Summers in May 2010: “I do not believe the relevant members of the administration understand the president’s vision or have the capability to carry it out.”

Cutler wrote no one was in charge who had any experience in complex business start-ups. He also worried basic regulations, technology and policy coordination would fail.

“You need to have people who have understanding of the political process, people who understand how to work within an administration and people who understand how to start and build a business, and unfortunately, they just didn’t get all of those people together,” Cutler said....

Feinstein: Hey, you could have kept your plan … until we enacted ObamaCare
...SCHIEFFER: The president said in the beginning that one thing was that if you liked the health care program you had, you could keep it. We now know there was debate within the administration before he said that as to whether that was actually a promise that could be kept. Should the president not have made that statement?

FEINSTEIN: Well, as I understand it, you can keep it up to the time — and I hope this is correct, but this is what I’ve been told — up to the time the bill was enacted, and after that, it’s a different story. That part of it, if true, was never made clear....

It's a Paternalistic World as Obamacare Advocates Admit Their Love for Bossing Us Around
...But all the possible solutions have tradeoffs. Laszewski's preference, he said in a recent interview, would've been for the administration to grandfather in more existing insurance plans. That would've meant higher insurance premiums in the exchanges, as healthier people who're able to buy into the individual market now would've just stayed there. High-risk pools or any other kind of direct, government-provided insurance or subsidy for the sick needs to be paid for by someone.

There are no easy solutions to the health-care trilemma. Someone always loses....

...Noah dispenses with that inconvenient philosophical hurdle to his "we all dig paternalism" argument by simply dismissing consistent objections to exactly that as "outside the mainstream of practical governance." Paternalism is nothing for which to apologize, he tells us, loud and proud. It isn't a matter of whether we should all be pushed around by the state, but only the specifics of the pushing. Nothing else rates discussion.

So welcome to world of paternalism as explicit policy, in which substituting the preferences of politicians for our own choices is a moral good, and lying to us about the outcome of rules and laws is just fine in the pursuit of a worthy goal.

CNN: ObamaCare “war room” worried about reaction when some enrollees figure out they can’t keep their doctors
...Officials expressed concern that the next shoe to drop in the evolving story about the Affordable Care Act would be disappointment from consumers once they are able to get on the troubled website – disappointment because of sticker shock and limited choice, according to a new document obtained by CNN.

“Mike described a general concern of PM (Project Management): getting to the point where the website is functioning properly and individuals begin to select plans; the media attention will follow individuals to plan selection and their ultimate choices; and, in some cases, there will be fewer options than would be desired to promote consumer choice and an ideal shopping experience. Additionally, in some cases there will be relatively high cost plans,” say the notes from the Obama administration’s Obamacare ‘War Room’ from one week ago…

Other notes from the war room meeting describe specific “problem plans,” and a problem with the site that prevents certification, perhaps due to a misspelling on the website....
The Myth of Americans' Poor Life Expectancy
...If you really want to measure health outcomes, the best way to do it is at the point of medical intervention. If you have a heart attack, how long do you live in the U.S. vs. another country? If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer? In 2008, a group of investigators conducted a worldwide study of cancer survival rates, called CONCORD. They looked at 5-year survival rates for breast cancer, colon and rectal cancer, and prostate cancer. I compiled their data for the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, and western Europe. Guess who came out number one?...

...Another point worth making is that people die for other reasons than health. For example, people die because of car accidents and violent crime. A few years back, Robert Ohsfeldt of Texas A&M and John Schneider of the University of Iowa asked the obvious question: what happens if you remove deaths from fatal injuries from the life expectancy tables? Among the 29 members of the OECD, the U.S. vaults from 19th place to…you guessed it…first. Japan, on the same adjustment, drops from first to ninth.

It’s great that the Japanese eat more sushi than we do, and that they settle their arguments more peaceably. But these things don’t have anything to do with socialized medicine....
Obamacare Leaves Doctors On the Hook for Deadbeats
Tucked inside nearly 11,000 pages of the Affordable Care Act is a little-known provision that doles out three months of free health care to individuals who choose to default on their premiums.

People who receive the federal subsidy to be part of Obamacare will be allowed to incur a three-month “grace period” if they can’t pay their premiums and then simply cancel their policies, stiffing the doctors and hospitals.

Their only repercussion is that they have to wait until the following year’s open enrollment if they want coverage on the exchange.

“It will help break the system,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, one of a core group of Republicans who oppose Obamacare. “This is a huge piece of evidence to show this can’t work, you will break the system and bankrupt people involved.

“The hospitals, doctors and insurance companies will be left holding the bag. There will be disagreements over who will pay for what. Lawyers will get involved because we are talking about a lot of money,” he said....
Maybe Pain Will Teach You Millenials Not To Vote For Your Own Serfdom
You Millenials voted for Obama by a margin of 28 percent, which will make it a lot easier for me to accept the benefits you will be paying for. We warned you that liberalism was a scam designed to take the fruits of your labor and transfer it to us, the older, established generation. Oh, and also to the couch-dwelling, Democrat-voting losers who live off of food stamps and order junk from QVC with their Obamaphones.

You didn’t listen to us. Maybe you’ll listen to pain.

I have been told that being hard on you Millennials will turn you against conservatism, that I should offer you a positive, hopeful message that avoids the touchy problem of your manifest stupidity.

No. There’s no sugar-coating it – your votes for Democrats have ensured that you are the first generation in American history that will fail to exceed what their parents attained. Embracing liberalism was a stupid thing to do, done for the stupidest of reasons, and I will now let you subsidize my affluent lifestyle without a shred of guilt.

I’m a 48 year old trial lawyer living on the coast in California – I should have “Hope and Change” tattooed on my glutes. I’d have an excuse to be lib-curious, but you Millennials? Why do you support an ideology that pillages you to pay-off Democrat constituencies? Your time in the indoctrination factories of academia trained you in a form of “critical thinking” that is neither. Somehow, you came to embrace the bizarre notion that conservatives are psychotic Jesus freaks who want to Footloosisze America into a land of mandatory Sunday school and no dancing.

But liberals, in contrast, are nice. Obama is cool. You chose petty fascism with a smile. Not a lot of thought went into it. Facts, evidence – these were mere distractions from the feelings-based validation that came from rejecting us wicked conservatives. ...
4 On Your Side investigates traffic stop nightmare
... While there, Eckert was subjected to repeated and humiliating forced medical procedures. A review of Eckert's medical records, which he released to KOB, and details in the lawsuit show the following happened:

1. Eckert's abdominal area was x-rayed; no narcotics were found.

2. Doctors then performed an exam of Eckert's anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.

3. Doctors performed a second exam of Eckert's anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.

4. Doctors penetrated Eckert's anus to insert an enema. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.

5. Doctors penetrated Eckert's anus to insert an enema a second time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.

6. Doctors penetrated Eckert's anus to insert an enema a third time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.

7. Doctors then x-rayed Eckert again; no narcotics were found.

8. Doctors prepared Eckert for surgery, sedated him, and then performed a colonoscopy where a scope with a camera was inserted into Eckert's anus, rectum, colon, and large intestines. No narcotics were found.

Throughout this ordeal, Eckert protested and never gave doctors at the Gila Regional Medical Center consent to perform any of these medical procedures. ...
Obamacare is junk insurance
...Yet there is no shortage of people who are finding they will now pay more for less coverage under Obamacare – higher deductibles, smaller provider networks, significantly higher premiums – and end up with little more than free birth control to show for it.

That's the second and more convincing reason to disbelieve the White House's new defense. If these millions of cancelled plans are “junk,” then why are so many of the Obamacare substitutes so vastly inferior and more expensive?...

...Rather than prioritize federal or state government budgets to subsidize those with pre-existing conditions – treating them as the rare special cases they are – Obama chose to finance their care by making you pay more into the system and get less out of it whenever you eventually become sick. Someone out there is benefiting from Obamacare. It just isn't you....
Who Sabotaged ObamaCare?
...The idea that Republicans have "sabotaged" ObamaCare is ludicrous on its face. Sabotage entails destroying or damaging something by subverting it--by stealthily undermining it from within. Republican opposition to ObamaCare has been neither stealthy nor "within." Every Republican member of Congress has opposed ObamaCare consistently, openly and honorably....

...In the spring of 2011, CMS staffers "struggled . . . to persuade White House officials for permission to publish diagrams known as 'concepts of operation,' " which would have shown what a federal exchange would "look like." The White House balked for fear that "Republicans might reprise a tactic from the 1990s of then-Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), who mockingly brandished intricate charts created by a task force led by first lady Hillary Clinton." Instead, the White House ordered CMS "to praise early work on those state exchanges that matched the hidden federal thinking."

At about the same time, some states were indicating that they intended to exercise their option under ObamaCare to opt out of starting their own exchanges. "The more states in the federal exchange, the more complex [would be] the task of building it," note Goldstein and Eilperin. But in bidding out the contract to create the federal exchange, the White House "would not let this fact be included in the specifications" because they were afraid "Republicans would seize on it as evidence of a feared federal takeover of the health-care system."...

...This is in part a story of political incompetence and hubris. Obama and his allies in Congress were unable to win a single Republican vote--and it doesn't seem to have occurred to them that a monstrously complicated law enacted by a slender partisan majority might prove especially difficult to implement. As Obama himself admitted yesterday in a rare truthful statement: "Now, let's face it, a lot of us didn't realize that passing the law was the easy part."...
Fixing California: The Green Gentry’s Class Warfare
...Primarily, this modern-day program of class warfare is carried out under the banner of green politics. The environmental movement has always been primarily dominated by the wealthy, and overwhelmingly white, donors and activists. But in the past, early progressives focused on such useful things as public parks and open space that enhance the lives of the middle and working classes. Today, green politics seem to be focused primarily on making life worse for these same people.

In this sense, today’s green progressives, notes historian Fred Siegel, are most akin to late 19th century Tory radicals such as William Wordsworth, William Morris and John Ruskin, who objected to the ecological devastation of modern capitalism, and sought to preserve the glories of the British countryside. In the process, they also opposed the “leveling” effects of a market economy that sometimes allowed the less-educated, less well-bred to supplant the old aristocracies with their supposedly more enlightened tastes.

The green gentry today often refer not to sentiment but science — notably climate change — to advance their agenda. But their effect on the lower orders is much the same. Particularly damaging are steps to impose mandates for renewable energy that have made electricity prices in California among the highest in the nation and others that make building the single-family housing preferred by most Californians either impossible or, anywhere remotely close to the coast, absurdly expensive....

...But in today’s gentry-dominated era, traditional industries are increasingly outspent and out maneuvered by the gentry and their allies. Even amid tough times in much of the state since the 2007 recession — we are still down nearly a half-million jobs — the gentry, and their allies, have been able to tighten regulations. Attempts even by Gov. Jerry Brown to reform the California Environmental Quality Act have floundered due in part to fierce gentry and green opposition.

The green gentry’s power has been enhanced by changes in the state’s legendary tech sector. Traditional tech firms — manufacturers such as Intel and Hewlett-Packard — shared common concerns about infrastructure and energy costs with other industries. But today tech manufacturing has shrunk, and much of the action in the tech world has shifted away from building things, dependent on energy, to software-dominated social media, whose primary profits increasingly stem from selling off the private information of users. Servers critical to these operations — the one potential energy drain — can easily be placed in Utah, Oregon or Washington where energy costs are far lower.

Even more critical, billionaires such as Google’s Eric Schmidt, hedge fund manager Thomas Steyer and venture firms like Kleiner Perkins have developed an economic stake in “green” energy policies. These interests have sought out cozy deals on renewable energy ventures dependent on regulations mandating their use and guaranteeing their prices....
Common Core May Suck, But It's Unfairly Blamed for Politicized Public School Lessons
...The specific complaint this time is about fifth-grade English worksheets which ask students to edit sentences including: "Government officials' commands must be obeyed by all" and "An individual's wants are less important than the nation's well-being." ...
C.I.A. Is Said to Pay AT&T for Call Data
WASHINGTON — The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company’s vast database of phone records, which includes Americans’ international calls, according to government officials.

The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract, not under subpoenas or court orders compelling the company to participate, according to the officials. The C.I.A. supplies phone numbers of overseas terrorism suspects, and AT&T searches its database and provides records of calls that may help identify foreign associates, the officials said. The company has a huge archive of data on phone calls, both foreign and domestic, that were handled by its network equipment, not just those of its own customers. ...

... Because the C.I.A. is prohibited from spying on the domestic activities of Americans, the agency imposes privacy safeguards on the program, said the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because it is classified. Most of the call logs provided by AT&T involve foreign-to-foreign calls, but when the company produces records of international calls with one end in the United States, it does not disclose the identity of the Americans and “masks” several digits of their phone numbers, the officials said.

Still, the agency can refer such masked numbers to the F.B.I., which can issue an administrative subpoena requiring AT&T to provide the uncensored data. The bureau handles any domestic investigation, but sometimes shares with the C.I.A. the information about the American participant in those calls, the officials said. ...
Obama to Cantor in 2010: 8 to 9 million Americans will lose coverage
President Barack Obama admitted in 2010 that 8 or 9 million Americans would lose their existing health insurance plans under Obamacare.

“The 8 to 9 million people that you refer to that might have to change their coverage — keep in mind out of the 300 million Americans that we’re talking about — would be folks who the CBO, Congressional Budget Office, estimates would find the deal in the exchange better,” Obama said to Rep. Eric Cantor at a February 25, 2010 White House summit on health insurance regulation....

Access shock a bigger problem for Obama than lost insurance
...That’s why it isn’t Obama’s repeated pledges that people could keep their health care plans that are likely to cause him the most political headaches. It’s his other promise.

As he formulated it in a 2009 speech to the American Medical Association: “[N]o matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.”

Ultimately, if the tech problems plaguing the rollout of Obamacare are fixed, and Americans are able to obtain affordable health insurance through the law’s new exchanges that allow them to keep their doctors, the current uproar over lost insurance plans will simmer down.

But if Americans also lose their doctors, the political problems confronting the president and Obamacare will only deepen.

In the face of media reporting on the high cost of Obamacare-compliant insurance plans, defenders of the law have typically noted that the Congressional Budget Office expected them to be even more expensive.

But one of the main ways insurers contained costs was by stripping down the number of hospitals and doctors that are covered by their plans....

...In August, Modern Healthcare reported on a McKinsey & Co. analysis of 955 Obamacare plan offerings in 13 states, which found that almost half were of “the narrow-network type,” meaning enrollees' choices were restricted and that they would “have limited or no coverage if they seek care outside their plan network.”

A survey of 409 doctors by the Medical Society of the State of New York found that 44 percent weren’t participating in any health plan offered on the state’s exchange, 33.5 percent weren’t sure if they were participating in any plans and just 6.4 percent said they were participating in more than five plans....

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Most US Station All-Time Record Maximum Temperatures Were Set Prior To 1940
There are 863 USHCN stations which have been continuously active since at least 1930. The majority of them recorded their all-time record maximum temperature prior to 1940....

...Since 1999, NASA and NOAA have tried to delete the hot 1930′s from the US temperature record, because it doesn’t suit their agenda....
White House Official Website Still Features Video "Debunking" the "Disinformation" That People Will Lose Their Coverage; Features Obama Promising Twice "If You Like Your Insurance, You Can Keep Your Insurance"
...UPDATE: As part of our effort to push back on the misinformation about health insurance reform, we've launched It's full of videos and tools you can use to share the facts with your friends and family. Check it out.

Opponents of health insurance reform may find the truth a little inconvenient, but as our second president famously said, "facts are stubborn things."

Scary chain emails and videos are starting to percolate on the internet, breathlessly claiming, for example, to "uncover" the truth about the President’s health insurance reform positions.

In this video, Linda Douglass, the communications director for the White House’s Health Reform Office, addresses one example that makes it look like the President intends to "eliminate" private coverage, when the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

For the record, the President has consistently said that if you like your insurance plan, your doctor, or both, you will be able to keep them. He has even proposed eight consumer protections relating specifically to the health insurance industry....
The Drift toward Despotism
...Officers decided that they didn’t like the tight clench of his buttocks, a subject on which New Mexico’s constabulary is apparently expert, and determined that it was because he had illegal drugs secreted therein. So they arrested him, and took him to Gila Regional Medical Center in neighboring Hidalgo County, where Mr. Eckert was forced to undergo two abdominal X-rays, two rectal probes, three enemas, and defecate thrice in front of medical staff and representatives of two law-enforcement agencies, before being sedated and subjected to a colonoscopy — all procedures performed against his will and without a valid warrant.

Alas, Mr. Eckert’s body proved to be a drug-free zone, and so, after twelve hours of detention, he was released. If you’re wondering where his lawyer was during all this, no attorney was present, as police had not charged Mr. Eckert with anything, so they’re apparently free to frolic and gambol up his rectum to their hearts’ content. Deming police chief Brandon Gigante says his officers did everything “by the book.” That’s the problem, in New Mexico and beyond: “the book.”

Getting into the spirit of things, Gila Regional Medical Center subsequently sent Mr. Eckert a bill for $6,000. It appears he had one of what the president calls those “bad apple” plans that doesn’t cover anal rape. Doubtless, under the new regime, Obamacare navigators will be happy to take a trip up your northwest passage free of charge. That’s what it is, by the way: anal rape. The euphemisms with which the state dignifies the process — “cavity search” — are distinctions that exist only in the mind of the perpetrator, not the fellow on the receiving end. Fleet Street’s Daily Mail reports that this is at least the second anal fishing expedition mounted by local authorities. Timothy Young underwent a similar experience after being fingered by the same police dog, Leo, who may not be very good at sniffing drugs but certainly has an eye for a pert bottom. At the time of Mr. Young’s arrest, Leo’s police license had reportedly expired a year-and-a-half earlier, but why get hung up on technicalities?...

...Meanwhile, an unarmed woman was gunned down on the streets of Washington for no apparent crime other than driving too near Barackingham Palace and thereby posing a threat to national security. As disturbing as Miriam Carey’s bullet-riddled body and vehicle were, the public indifference to it is even worse. Ms. Carey does not appear to be guilty of any act other than a panic attack when the heavy-handed and heavier-armed palace guard began yelling at her. ...

...Did I mention she was African American? When a black teen dies in a late-night one-on-one encounter with a fellow citizen on the streets of Sanford, Fla., it’s the biggest thing since Selma. But when a defenseless black woman is gunned down by a posse of robocops in broad daylight on the streets of the capital, the Reverend Jackson and the Reverend Sharpton and all the other bouffed and pampered grievance-mongers are apparently cool with it.

This isn’t very difficult. When you need large numbers of supposedly highly trained elite officers to kill an unarmed woman with a baby, you’re doing it wrong. In perhaps the most repugnant reaction to Ms. Carey’s death, the United States Congress expressed their “gratitude” to the officers who killed her and gave them a standing ovation....
Seniors lose insurance and doctors under Obamacare
Retired chemist Edward Schokowitz was incredulous when he received a letter from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey early last month saying his Medicare Advantage Plan, which had no premium, would be eliminated next year.

“They took all the senior citizens and threw us out of the plan. They now want to give us the same plan for $153 [per month],” he told the Daily Caller. “The President said you can’t be kicked out of your plan. He lies.”

Schokowitz is one of many Medicare beneficiaries now learning that — like Americans who buy insurance on the individual market — they are losing their insurance, and in some cases their doctors, under Obamacare....
Global warming 'pause' may last for 20 more years and Arctic sea ice has already started to recover
Study says warmer temperatures are largely due to natural 300-year cycles
Actual increase in last 17 years lower than almost every prediction
Scientists likened continuing pause to a Mexican wave in a stadium

The 17-year pause in global warming is likely to last into the 2030s and the Arctic sea ice has already started to recover, according to new research.

A paper in the peer-reviewed journal Climate Dynamics – by Professor Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Dr Marcia Wyatt – amounts to a stunning challenge to climate science orthodoxy.

Not only does it explain the unexpected pause, it suggests that the scientific majority – whose views are represented by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – have underestimated the role of natural cycles and exaggerated that of greenhouse gases. ...
Health Consumers Finding Out They Were Sold a Lemon
...U.S. cost-sharing is actually low, by international standards; just 23 percent of our private health spending comes from out-of-pocket expenditures by the consumers of health care. We like being insulated from costs, and we’re rich enough to demand it. Assuming that the Cadillac tax goes into effect (though I’m still sort of skeptical), a whole lot of those in the 80 percent category are going to lose a plan they liked because the government made it too expensive for companies to keep delivering it. Yes, of course, companies already cancel plans quite frequently. But these cancellations are going to happen all at once, because the law demanded it. ...

...In this, read the future of U.S. policy-making. Not just because Obamacare means that we can now join the rest of the “civilized” world in spending most of our political energy quarreling about the health-care system, but also because we have reached the end of the era when you can have a policy that’s mostly benefits. Social Security, Medicare, Medicare Part D -- these programs gave people a new benefit, with very little taken away from them. The same can be said about Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. But the rest of the program -- the part that took up most of the legislation and legislative energy -- tries to remake the benefits that the majority of the country is already enjoying. And so far, they’re not enjoying it.
Is The Tea Party Really All About Alger Hiss?
...But Professor Sunstein does have a point. The Hiss case was not a cause of the Tea Party, or even of the anti-intellectual tradition in American politics that Richard Hofstader analyzed in the early 1960s. It was, however, a prominent manifestation of the class snobbery and intolerance that so often shapes elite liberal responses to political events and that so frequently fills so many Americans with loathing and disgust.

For a generation after Alger Hiss was convicted on two counts of perjury, American liberals went on to defend him as a plumed knight and a martyr. They slimed his accusers as knuckle dragging know-nothings and McCarthyite enemies of freedom. They never forgave Richard Nixon for helping Whittaker Chambers. As the evidence against Hiss mounted, they fought a long rear-guard defense. ...

...After decades of vicious invective and bile-spewing, liberals find the whole Hiss subject dull and don’t want to think about the case anymore—but they just hate it when other people don’t appreciate their selfless dedication to the public good....
Journalists Receive Specialized Training From Group Led by Former Health Adviser to the President
As the month of October has rolled on and stories regarding the train wreck that is Obamacare mount, one has to wonder when the President's media allies will come to the rescue and skew reality on health care reporting.

The answer may be ... now.

The Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) is once again teaming up with a private U.S. foundation known as the Commonwealth Fund. The Fund, a self-described ‘progressive’ organization, is currently led by David Blumenthal, former senior health adviser to the Obama campaign. The group makes little to no secret of their support for Obama's universal health care plan.

The Commonwealth Fund's relationship with an organization that deals with supposedly objective journalists is a rather cozy one, offering specialized teletraining to reporters at the SABEW, as well as thousands of dollars in grants for meetings designed to train reporters on how to properly cover the Affordable Care Act....

Report: Is Big Labor about to get some of its doggedly sought-after ObamaCare relief after all?
...Weeks after denying labor’s request to give union members access to health-law subsidies, the Obama administration is signaling it intends to exempt some union plans from one of the law’s substantial taxes.

Buried in rules issued last week is the disclosure that the administration will propose exempting “certain self-insured, self-administered plans” from the law’s temporary reinsurance fee in 2015 and 2016.

That’s a description that applies to many Taft-Hartley union plans acting as their own insurance company and claims processor, said Edward Fensholt, a senior vice president at Lockton Cos., a large insurance broker....

You Also Can't Keep Your Doctor
...My grievance is not political; all my energies are directed to enjoying life and staying alive, and I have no time for politics. For almost seven years I have fought and survived stage-4 gallbladder cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 2% after diagnosis. I am a determined fighter and extremely lucky. But this luck may have just run out: My affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31.

My choice is to get coverage through the government health exchange and lose access to my cancer doctors, or pay much more for insurance outside the exchange (the quotes average 40% to 50% more) for the privilege of starting over with an unfamiliar insurance company and impaired benefits. ...

...Since March 2007 United Healthcare has paid $1.2 million to help keep me alive, and it has never once questioned any treatment or procedure recommended by my medical team. The company pays a fair price to the doctors and hospitals, on time, and is responsive to the emergency treatment requirements of late-stage cancer. Its caring people in the claims office have been readily available to talk to me and my providers.

But in January, United Healthcare sent me a letter announcing that they were pulling out of the individual California market. The company suggested I look to Covered California starting in October....

...Before the Affordable Care Act, health-insurance policies could not be sold across state lines; now policies sold on the Affordable Care Act exchanges may not be offered across county lines.

What happened to the president's promise, "You can keep your health plan"? Or to the promise that "You can keep your doctor"? Thanks to the law, I have been forced to give up a world-class health plan. The exchange would force me to give up a world-class physician....
Media skip disclosure of paid Obamacare shill
MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, who had a closed-door meeting with President Obama in Boston last week to discuss Obamacare, has resurfaced to defend the Affordable Care Act; but neither he nor the media that have given him a platform disclosed the $400,000 he was paid by the Department of Health & Human Services in 2009.

Gruber, who was on CNN, MSNBC, FOX News and was the subject of an article in the New Yorker this past week, has emerged as the go-to-voice for reporters looking for an academic view on Obamacare in recent years.

None of these news organizations disclosed Gruber’s ties to HHS.

Gruber’s HHS contract was not incidental to once paid for “technical assistance in evaluating options for national healthcare reform,” according to a copy of his contract from the General Services Administration. The government paid Gruber a cool $297,600 in that contract, and he made $95,000 from another HHS contract that same year....

Expert: At least 129 million will ‘not be able to keep’ health care plan if Obamacare fully implemented
If Obamacare is fully implemented, 68 percent of Americans with private health insurance will not be able to keep their plan, according to health care economist Christopher Conover.

Conover is a research scholar in the Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research at Duke University and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. In an interview with The Daily Caller, he laid out what he estimates the consequences of Obamacare’s implementation will ultimately be.

“Bottom line: of the 189 million Americans with private health insurance coverage, I estimate that if Obamacare is fully implemented, at least 129 million (68 percent) will not be able to keep their previous health care plan either because they already have lost or will lose that coverage by the end of 2014,” he said in an email. ”But of these, ‘only’ the 18 to 50 million will literally lose coverage, i.e., have their plans entirely taken away. This includes 9.2-15.4 million in the non-group market and 9-35 million in the employer-based market. The rest will retain their old plans but have to pay higher rates for Obamacare-mandated bells and whistles.”...

Obama’s health-care promise that people can keep their insurance comes back to haunt him
...Rather than straightforwardly acknowledging that the regulations will help drive coal plants out of business — and arguing that the damage to the industry will be outweighed by environmental and public health benefits — administration officials have insisted that these are achievable standards that will maintain the nation’s diverse energy mix.

Obama’s reassuring sales pitch on health care represented an effort to avoid the political pitfalls that others encountered when trying to overhaul the system in the past.

In 1994, for instance, the Clinton administration’s effort to insure the 15 percent of the population lacking coverage foundered because of the fear that the proposal generated in the 85 percent who had insurance.

Obama “was sort of overlearning the lessons of Hillary Clinton’s time on health care. What destroyed Hillary Clinton’s plan was that people became convinced they were going to lose their health care,” said Elaine Kamarck, who was a White House aide at the time and now heads the Brookings Institution’s Center for Effective Public Management.

“The one lesson that was learned about messaging was that you had to guarantee people that nothing will change,” she said....

Text: Obama’s Speech on Health Care Reform
...Published: June 15, 2009

So let me begin by saying this: I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage – they like their plan and they value their relationship with their doctor. And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what. My view is that health care reform should be guided by a simple principle: fix what's broken and build on what works....

Obama promised on Sept. 26 that people in individual market would keep their plans
...And so today, I want to speak plainly, clearly, honestly, about what it means for you and for the people you care about.

Now, let’s start with the fact that even before the Affordable Care Act fully takes effect, about 85 percent of Americans already have health insurance -– either through their job, or through Medicare, or through the individual market. So if you’re one of these folks, it’s reasonable that you might worry whether health care reform is going to create changes that are a problem for you — especially when you’re bombarded with all sorts of fear-mongering.

So the first thing you need to know is this: If you already have health care, you don’t have to do anything. ...

Obamacare works by chaining Americans to local providers
...The Obamacare-compliant health benefit plans usually only pay for services within each citizen’s local region, said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former government health care official and an expert at the American Enterprise Institute.

Throughout 2014, the small regions will help regulators and executives narrow the variety, quality, number and cost of medical services available to at least three million Americans who already had plans on the individual market and are now being forced into Obamacare.

“They’re very narrow plans, they’re a throwback to the 1980s-style HMOs,” Gottlieb said.

“The majority of plans do not offer care beyond their regions,” said Yevgeniy Feyman, an expert at the New York-based Manhattan Institute.

“What this effectively does is limit the quality of care that some people are able to get,” Feynman said. “The more rural you get, the worse it is going to be,” he added....