Saturday, November 30, 2013

Iron Bowl

I'm not a huge college football fan but - damn - that Alabama-Auburn game was one for the ages.  With one second left on the clock, Alabama tried an improbable 57-yard field goal that fell short then Auburn ran the short kick back 100+ yards to win the game.  Crazy.

Hard sell in FLA

Matt Labash of the Weekly Standard followed around some "nonpartisan" advocates for Obamacare as they tried to get Floridians to sign up.  The story reaches this pitiful denouement:
All told, even with all the hand-holding Navigators, I’m assured by members of the two Navigator groups who worked the session that of the 100 or so prospects in attendance, exactly none walked out with a completed enrollment.
If you read the article, the issue wasn't the glitchy website (which was glitchy).  It was sticker shock which is a problem that will not be fixed no matter how smoothly operates.

Smarter - so much smarter - than everyone

Ed Rogers in the WashPost: "Why would Obama say he is not ideological?"
It appears that President Obama believes that dissenting views are irrational or the result of clouded, lesser thinking.  Being blind to his own ideology makes him unable to respectfully deal with others who might readily embrace an ideological point of view. The president’s inability to effectively work with Congress, orchestrate Washington, or build strong alliances or even friendships overseas probably stems from his belief that others should defer to his clear thinking without many questions or objections. He doesn’t see politics as a great debate with multiple possibilities among equal voices.
Obama constantly intones that there's "no reason" to oppose something he supports, as if the other side isn't entitled to dissent and the opposition springs purely from political or more nefarious motives.  Recall how he berated the media for providing "false balance" by even giving attention to these other voices.  And, to a large degree, the media went along.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Western Massachusetts update

The town of Palmer is close to where I live - too close - and for years they've been trying to get Mohegan Sun to build a casino.  One small issue: the voters said "no" and today they had the recount and the answer is still "no."   Whew.  Thank heaven.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Out of the loop

Atlantic: "Why did President Obama Say the Healthcare Website Would Work?"  "Once again: It does not seem credible that Obama was unaware that failure was likely. And if he really was unaware, the implications are extremely unflattering. Either he failed abjectly to ask the right questions of a staff that was also derelict in informing him, or else he asked the right questions and his staff misled him."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

But don't call it socialism

It's just government control of one-sixth of the economy coupled with a redistribution of wealth.  But, heavens no, don't call it socialism.

The 2014 box canyon

Tom Maguire notes that the Obama administration pushed back the health insurance enrollment requirement in 2015 until after the election to avoid headlines over sticker shock.  But the real problem for Obamacare is that - by law - insurers must give policy holders 90-days notice that they're losing their coverage.  That means a little more than a month before the 2014 elections, millions of Americans will be getting cancellation notices.
Obviously, the next step would be for Obama to waive the 90 day notice requirement, but the legality of that would be laughable.
Don't sell Obama short!  Maybe it's time for some more "enforcement discretion" that's all the rage nowadays.

The transformation to Jimmy Carter is now complete

With his domestic agenda in complete shambles, Obama now takes his bull-in-a-china-shop act to foreign affairs.  Everything you need to know about our "agreement" with Iran is in Judith Levy's "Deal with the Devil":
The short version of the interim deal just struck between the P5+1 countries and Iran is this: Iran gave away almost nothing, got a major financial payoff, and will retain its entire nuclear infrastructure. The US got a check mark on Obama's legacy ledger, under the column Stuff I Did That Looks Reasonably Good If You're Myopic Or Uninterested But In Fact Conceals a Seething Cauldron of Awful That Will Probably Not Affect Me Personally, Since I Will Be Out of Office When the Full Magnitude of This Failure Becomes Manifest.
Read the whole thing: the mullahs are laughing their asses off at us.  Iran does not need to stop uranium enrichment, the heavy water reactor at Arak will be unaffected (although there will be a six-month cessation in "construction activities"), and sanctions will be eased so trade can resume and up to $10 billion in Iranian assets will be released.  What the hell, let's throw in another $4.2 billion for good measure.

The only ally that matters - Israel - is furious about the deal and some have started a betting pool as to when they'll start bombing.  At least there's a certain value to knowing you're alone.

So you have a President who is desperate to divert attention from the Obamacare debacle coupled with a blowhard Secretary of State who wants nothing more than to burnish his image and you end up with this awful deal so the White House can put out a press release.

Peace for our time, indeed.

Extra - Daniel Pipes: "Barack Obama has made many foreign-policy errors in the past five years, but this is the first to rank as a disaster. Along with the health-care law, it is one of his worst-ever steps. John Kerry is a too-eager puppy looking for a deal at any price."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

The "expand Social Security" craze

I normally don't bother with Paul Krugman who has a long history of being wrong and never admitting it.  But now he's in my wheelhouse with "Expanding Social Security."  The transparent ploy here is that since Social Security is on a path towards bankruptcy the entitled Left isn't going to play defense - it's playing offense.  It's a shame this argument is based on such a dearth of facts.

First, the Krugtron tells us that raising the retirement age is wrong because it benefits the wealthy who have the advantage of living longer.  But Social Security is supposed to be a universal system, one that benefits Americans equally and proportional to the taxes paid into the system.  There's already a degree of progressive scaling to Social Security but Krugman wants it to be a full-on welfare program.  Because that shows you care.  I say that in the same tone of disdain that Krugman holds for those of us who think that adding a trillion dollars in debt every year is "austerity."

The second point Krugman makes is that Americans have done a terrible job of saving for retirement and only Social Security can save them from penury.  Maybe Americans could have saved more if they weren't having 6.2% (or 12.4% depending on your point of view) siphoned away to a program only to have automatic benefit cuts kick in the moment they retire.

But let's assume for a nanosecond that - yes - we should expand Social Security.  Who will pay for this expansion?  Surprise surprise, Krugman doesn't say and neither does Elizabeth Warren.  Because it's all about rights and benefits paid for by mysterious benefactors.  They both know that if Americans were asked to support a Social Security expansion by, say, raising the FICA tax by 2% nobody but nobody would support it.

But it's fun to play the populist.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dr. Nick will see you now

WashPost: "Insurers restricting choice of doctors and hospitals to keep costs down."  "As Americans have begun shopping for health plans on the insurance exchanges, they are discovering that insurers are restricting their choice of doctors and hospitals in order to keep costs low, and that many of the plans exclude top-rated hospitals."  If you like your affordable doctor, you can keep your affordable doctor.  Quality is another matter.

Spool, darn you, spool!

In school I had an awful dot-matrix printer, so I laughed at this:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Your Obamacare factoid of the day

Colorado has signed up more dogs than Oregon has signed up people.

The dog is a 14-year-old Yorkie so it's not one of the "young invincible canines" the exchange is looking for.

New rights

Hit & Run: "The Constitutional right to conscript a wedding photographer."

Can't possibly be true

Sometimes I read a story and say: "Can't possibly be true."  Yesterday it was the story that the Census Bureau manipulated the jobs report before the 2012 election.  Nope - I don't buy it.

But what about this statement from an official from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services?  Hot Air: "CMS tech officer: Roughly 30-40% of the ObamaCare exchange system still needs to be built — including the payment system."

What?  Three-and-a-half years after starting, eight months after warnings that there were serious problems at and only a couple weeks after assurances everything would be cool by December, now - now? - we hear that one-third of the programming still needs to be done?  No.  Can't be.  He must have misspoken.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

When Obama says he's working 24/7, he means 24 minutes and 7 seconds

If you're like me and Patterico, you're getting pretty sick of this guy telling us how hard he's working.  Oh, he's always working 24/7 and we're "working around the clock" and "as long as I’ve got the honor of having this office, I’m just going to work as hard as I can."

By his own admission, he was meeting with people working on the health care rollout "once a month."  Once a month for the single most significant legislation in his administration.  Patterico again:
So he’s meeting with “folks” about the health care Web site once a month, and playing golf more than twice a month.
It gets worse. His rounds of golf last six hours. Do you figure the health care meetings lasted six hours every month? I’ll bet my house they didn’t.
Me too.  I'll bet President Box Checker didn't spend a half-hour a month on Obamacare.  This guy has never run a major project and has never heard of a benchmark or a Gantt chart.  A normal person who is cognizant of his own shortcomings might spend extra time trying to understand what's going on but that would mean he's not the smartest guy in the room.  Can't have that.

Rest assured, though, that Mr. 24/7 - appropriately chastened by the disastrous rollout of Obamacare - is newly dedicated to the arduous labor required to make everything right.

Or not.  USA Today: "Obama has a sporting Sunday: Golf and Basketball!"  (I added the exclamation point)
President Obama is having a sporting kind of Sunday, featuring golf and basketball.
In the late morning, Obama hits the links at the Andrews military base near Washington, D.C.
Early Sunday evening, the president and his family will attend a college basketball game between the University of Maryland and Oregon State University, which is coached by Obama's brother-in-law, Craig Robinson.
It's good to be the king President.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Everybody's doing it

Illegal plans are still illegal

The blog post of the day goes to Jonathan Adler at the Volokh Conspiracy and "The Legality of the Latest Obamacare Fix."  Adler sidesteps the question of whether Obama's "enforcement discretion" is legal (it's not) - rather he asks why insurance companies would open themselves up to the liability of an illegal plan:
..under Section 300gg-6 insurers are barred from offering health insurance plans in individual and small group markets that do not include the essential health benefits package. This obligation remains. Would it affect the enforceability of such an insurance policies terms in private legal dispute in state court? It’s understandable if insurance companies will be in no rush to find out.
Today on NPR, the person reporting the story of the Upton bill was dismissive about the legislation because it supposedly does exactly what Obama proposed.  She further opined that Obama wouldn't rescind his discretionary enforcement because - well, I didn't hear - because I was laughing out loud.  Putting aside the established point that Obama believes that his Constitutional duties are flexible to his political well-being, this is completely aside the point.  As Schoolhouse Rock taught us, a law is a law and Congress decides; it's the President's duty to enforce the law...even his own.

Obama's pinkie-swear to let everything slide is just another blame-shifting ploy.  Who is fooled by this farce?

Extra - Ace: "The only way to even have a chance to get these policies offered is if they're officially legal, like legal legal, not illegal, but I'll ignore it for now "legal.""

More - From the Lonely Conservative.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Can anybody find me somebody to blame?

Only two days ago, Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner had an article titled: "Obama won't make insurers his punching bag because he needs them."  My reaction at the time: oh yeah?  Watch.  He can't blame Bush anymore, none of the Republicans in Congress voted for Obamacare - so who's left?  Oh yeah, those insurance companies.  Why they're the ones who aren't going to let you keep your insurance policy!

One thing about that: after making a deal with the devil to comply with Obamacare, the insurance companies are not ready to play the fall guy.
We have expressed these concerns with the Administration and are concerned by the President’s announcement today that the federal government would use its “enforcement discretion” to delay enforcement of the ACA’s market reforms in 2014 for plans that are currently in effect.  This decision continues different rules for different policies and threatens to undermine the new market, and may lead to higher premiums and market disruptions in 2014 and beyond.
That "enforcement discretion" by the way is a clever way to say "I'm ignoring my oath to uphold the law."  Because...Republicans.  So now, knowing that insurers either cannot or will not invite an insurance death spiral, Obama gets to say "hey, I tried!"

The blame has been shifted, now check that box.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Obamacare and the great Al Dunlap flim-flam

In case you haven't heard, the administration is going to inflate the number of Obamacare enrollees by counting applicants who placed health plans into a shopping cart but never checked out.  Because an intention to maybe buy something is as good as a sale!

Hmmm...I think I've heard this story before.  Back in the mid-1990s, Al Dunlap took over as the CEO of Sunbeam Corporation and, only a year into his tenure, Sunbeam reported record earnings.  It turns out that Dunlap was engaging in "channel stuffing" to make sales numbers look better temporarily.  Wikipedia explains the rest:
However, industry insiders were suspicious when they discovered certain seasonal items were being sold at higher volume than normal for the time of year. For instance, large numbers of barbecue grills were being sold during the fourth quarter. It turned out that Dunlap had been selling products to retailers at large discounts. The products were stored in third-party warehouses to be delivered later. This strategy, known as "bill and hold", is an accepted accounting practice as long as the sales are booked after delivery. However, Dunlap booked the sales immediately.
To recap: a bunch of products were being held in limbo, likely never to be sold, but the head honcho re-defined a "sale" to make his numbers look better.  The main difference is that Dunlap was brought up on charges by the government for fraud.

Extra - Me and Iowahawk, GMTA.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

Great photo gallery of the real men and women of the military over at The Brigade.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

It's funny because it's MSNBC

Mediate: "Former MSNBC Host’s Health Plan Cancelled, New Plan Costs 3.5 Times More."

He's can't appreciate how awesome he is

Slate (!) offers up this critique: "A sorry apologyPresident Obama wants to apologize without taking responsibility. That’s not how apologies work."
Not only did the president not meet the Daschle standard in this case, but he bubble-wrapped it with lots of explanations and rationalizations—his broken promise only affects 5 percent of the population, insurance companies are offering subpar plans, there’s churn in the market, and so on. All of this may be true, but when your apology sputters out at the end of a list of mitigating conditions, it lacks much punch. It seems grudging. So do the people going through this feel better? Probably not. Does it look like the president was trying to make himself look better? Yes, it does.
If it helps, Chuck Todd says that Obama doesn't believe he lied.  So you can stuff your sorry in a sack, mister!

Friday, November 08, 2013

First they came for the individual market

From NPR's Marketplace: "Now small businesses are receiving health insurance cancellation notices."
On Tuesday, the Dunns received a letter from their health insurer, Humana. It was labeled, "Important information regarding your coverage."  It informed them that they would not be able to continue with their current medical plan in 2014,  as it did not meet all of the ACA requirements.  The letter included information on a new Humana medical plan did comply with the ACA's standards, but it would raise the Dunns' premiums by 60 percent. 
The Dunns' business has only 13 employees so they can cancel their employees' health plan.  That's an option on the table.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Damn those fear-mongerers!

Hot Air: "Obama promised on Sept. 26th that people in individual market would keep their plans."  He regrets that you misunderstood this very specific claim.

Obama's you-a culpa

There's a Simpsons episode where Bart dupes Mrs. Krabappel into a blind date with a fictional man.  Later, when he sees his dejected and humiliated teacher after being stood up, Bart says: "I can't help but feel partly responsible."

If you've seen Bart's reaction then you'll understand the non-apology that Obama offered up in this interview with NBC's Chuck Todd.  People are losing their health plans and, boy, he regrets those events that seem to have happened but maybe I didn't explain things very well.

That's the gist.

Extra - Ace: "I'm sorry you're sorry."  Yeah.

More - From Iowahawk.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Hippies in a snit - insurance clipped by nitwit

Ricochet: "Obama voters learn the hard way"...that there's no free Obamacare lunch.
Massive governmental interference creates unintended consequences? Get out!
So far, there are scarce intended consequences.

Future heart attack victim speaks out

Fox News: "Michael Moore: Guns don't kill people, Americans kill people."

Western Massachusetts update

The only vote I really cared about last night was the vote in nearby Palmer whether to allow Mohegan Sun to develop a casino.  Turnout was huge and the measure failed by 93 votes.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

NY Times doubles down on beclowning

In case there was ever any doubt, the reason Obama has been able to get away with outrageous lies is that he can always depend on media outlets like the New York Times to protect their guy.  In the wake of a general pushback on their boot-licking editorial in defense of Obama, the Gray Lady's Public Editor had to address the issue: "Editorial is under fire for saying President "clearly mispoke" on health care."
On Monday, I asked the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, about the wording.
“We have a high threshold for whether someone lied,” he told me. The phrase that The Times used “means that he said something that wasn’t true.” Saying the president lied would have meant something different, Mr. Rosenthal said — that he knew it was false and intended to express the falsehood. “We don’t know that,” he said.
Emphasis mine.  The editorial in question appeared in the November 3rd edition.  A week earlier, NBC News ran this story: "Obama admin. knew millions could not keep their health insurance."  And only a day before, the Wall Street Journal ran an extensive story "Aides debated Obama health-care coverage promise" in which "political aides" decided it would be better to deliberately deceive Americans about whether they could keep their health plan.  The only explanation the Times could adopt to explain their position is that the Smartest President Ever didn't understand his own legislation, his own aides kept him in the dark, and he just mouthed the words that appeared on his teleprompter.

Hmmm...on second thought.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The New York Times beclowns itself again

I always love to read stories like this because the so-called "Paper of Record" should go bankrupt.  The NY Times editorial page is a sycophantic carbon-copy of White House press releases and its principles - such as that word conveys - depend entirely on political affiliation.  If you were wondering if they would, for once, call out Obama for his unequivocal lie that "you can keep your health plan", wonder no more:
Congressional Republicans have stoked consumer fears and confusion with charges that the health care reform law is causing insurers to cancel existing policies and will force many people to pay substantially higher premiums next year for coverage they don’t want. That, they say, violates President Obama’s pledge that if you like the insurance you have, you can keep it. 
Mr. Obama clearly misspoke when he said that.
He "misspoke."  Wow.  Take note that the Times wastes no time to let readers know where the real problem lies, those Congressional Republicans who didn't vote for Obamacare, consistently warned about its genuine faults, and urged for an implementation delay, one that Obama should have leapt at.  The remainder of the editorial indicates that words don't really matter because, hey, those insurance policies that people liked were no good so Obamacare is doing everybody a favor.

This is how tyranny spreads:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis
Nixon once said "it's not illegal if the President does it."  In the eyes of the New York Times, there's no word or action from this President worthy of rebuke and no position they won't defend.  The only saving grace to this servile editorial is the comments section where most are a variant of "don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining."

Extra - Patterico: "The NY Times is way beyond parody."

More - Power Line: "NY Times editorial board hacked by the Onion."

And this - Twitchy: "Boot-licking fail."

Plus - American Power, The Other McCain, and Rick Moran: "In an editorial as flagrantly partisan as any this full-fledged arm of the Democratic Party has ever published, the editors of the Times want you to know that you’re stupid for buying an insurance policy that wasn’t as wonderful, as comprehensively sweet, as just plain good as those being offered as a result of changes made by the Affordable Care Act."

Saturday, November 02, 2013

The new Obamacare spin

Now the White House is tweeting with the great news that no insurance company can drop you as a customer.  Hot Air de-spins:
Obama never really promised that you could keep your same insurance plan, but rather that you could keep your same insurer. If you don’t actually want to purchase one of the more expensive, more ‘comprehensive’ plans that your insurer is now offering after they were required to cancel your previous plan, well, that’s your problem.
Yeah, so get with the program.

Freedom of speech-free zones

Legal Insurrection: "Brown University professor recalls when a real fascist came to campus, calls Ray Kelly shout down 'a shameful day'."

Different Drum

Here's a interesting story from the WSJ on Linda Ronstadt's first big hit: "When the red light went on at Hollywood's Capitol Studios in 1967, singer Linda Ronstadt was scared. There to record "Different Drum"—her first lead-vocal single as a member of the Stone Poneys—Ms. Ronstadt was expecting to sing an acoustic ballad version of the song accompanied by her two bandmates."