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November 2013 Archives

November 5, 2013

Coming Revelations on Obamacare

Good liberal though you are, you have learned that the wonderful website didn't work. You know, presumably, that the promise that "if you like your plan you can keep it" has been broken--unless you choose to believe that the President not only "misspoke" (in the euphemism of the New York Times) but also was sabotaged by "bad apple insurers". You may now acknowledge that millions of individuals will pay more for medical insurance, but perhaps you console yourself with the comfort that those who pay more will help subsidize those who will pay less. The redistribution is crude, you surmise, but there it is.

If you are a good progressive you also probably chalk up the claim that the average family will save $2500 a year to campaign rhetoric. That's not going to happen, but you don't care. Ho, ho, ho.

What you perhaps have not yet acknowledged--because the media have not done so--is that we have some more devastating icebergs looming straight ahead of the SS Titanic/Obamacare.

Continue reading "Coming Revelations on Obamacare" »

November 6, 2013

Venezuela Health Care--Preview of US

There is a trajectory for US health care and it ends at something like Venezuela. You want lots of free services? You want the government to be responsible for individual decisions? Well, welcome to the people's paradise of Venezuela.

Says the AP,

The relevance to the United States is that the Chavistas, like the Obama Administration, seem to think you can provide high quality health care just by ordering that it be done. Real life economics is not like that.

Continue reading "Venezuela Health Care--Preview of US" »

November 7, 2013

Next to Go: Employer Provided Health

A few days ago I pointed out here that Obamacare is not just targeting the individual market. If you have a health care plan provided by an employer and it comes up for renewal in 2014 you can expect major trouble. New reports are showing this to be true.

Several million people have lost their policies now; soon it will be scores of millions.

November 13, 2013

Government Stifles Health Innovation

The problems attendant on big government's attempt to run health care extend to the innovation of new cures. This is yet another issue Congress must take up--in addition to all those around Obamacare and insurance.

George Gilder's article in the current Forbes brings this subject to the forefront and provides another insight into the patterns of mismanagement that characterize the present Administration.

November 14, 2013

Obama & Shade of Government Shutdown

The Republicans in Congress deserve an apology from the media, among others.

It was only a month ago, but you would think it was the paleolithic age; the media and the politicracy have forgotten that the infamous government shutdown was fought over the issue of Obamacare. The Republicans wanted to stop it, or at least delay it. The White House and Congressional Democratic were totally, indignantly recalcitrant. The White House and the Democrats won. The Republicans were made to look unreasonable. Their poll rankings sank.

Now President Obama himself is acknowledging the failure of the Obamacare rollout and, quite apart from the federal website screw-ups, is having to face up to the cancellations of millions of individual policies. Actually the problems are just beginning.

Continue reading "Obama & Shade of Government Shutdown" »

November 17, 2013

Neuroscientist Ben Carson Emerges as Most Effective Foe of ACA

Dr Ben Carson.jpeg

There are many strong voices of opposition to Obamacare, but Dr. Ben Carson, recently retired head of the department of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University, may be the most effective.

Speaking at the Restoration Weekend annual conference of conservatives in Palm Beach on Friday, the highly decorated Dr. Carson analyzed President Obama's failure on health insurance as one of hubris.

"You can't be an expert in every area, but you have to know what you don't know in order to be an effective leader," Newsmax quoted him. Thinking you are smarter than everyone else and therefore don't have to have genuine experts around you is a leadership deficiency, according to the renowned brain surgeon.

Continue reading "Neuroscientist Ben Carson Emerges as Most Effective Foe of ACA" »

Reminder of JFK Assassination Aftermath

Fifty years after President Kennedy was killed in Dallas some in the liberal press still cannot quite accept the truth that conservatives didn't do it. The New York Times publishes a review by Steven Weinberg of Dallas 1963, a book by Bill Minutaglio and Steven J. Davis that portrays Dallas as a den of hatred for Kennedy. The problem with the book would appear to be that the authors somehow think that the anti-Kennedy conservatism of Dallas (which was true) was responsible for the act of Lee Harvey Oswald, a communist sympathizer. Worse, Weinberg seems supportive of this hair brained idea.

This is a slander of conservatives in general, not to mention of Dallas, that brings back my own unpleasant memories of the time--and of more recent times, too. People in the liberal media apparently want the perpetrators of crimes to turn out to be conservatives so they can make political hay of it. Since that almost never happens to be realistic--the killers are usually deranged persons of no particular politics--you would think they would have some shame about the habit of leaping to biased conclusions. There is no word I know of for this syndrome, though you might call it victimhood projection. You want your foe to behave in a dastardly fashion so you can pretend to be his victim (or that others are his victims).

James Pierson gave the perfect rejoinder to this way of thinking about November 22, 1963--and Dallas, 1963--in an article that ran only a few days ago in the Wall Street Journal. Indeed, Mr. Pierson, a fellow of the Manhattan Institute, has written Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism" that should be reviewed by the New York Times, too, but probably won't be.

Continue reading "Reminder of JFK Assassination Aftermath" »

November 18, 2013

Don't Try to "Fix" It: Repeal and Replace It

To cite that great Obama sage, Rahm Emanuel, never let a crisis go to waste. Wouldn't it be fine if the biggest government fiasco in decades led to real medical reform? And the reform process didn't stop with the insurance issue?

It was worthwhile suggesting a delay in Obamacare as a way of avoiding the government shutdown in October, but that option (you recall) was vehemently and successfully opposed by the President. Now the President himself wants to "allow" delays. He put the onus on dumbfounded insurers while also sowing confusion among state regulators.

The Upton bill passed by the House with 39 Democratic votes and all but four Republicans is not likely to be adopted by the Senate. However, that may be a good thing, because the problems with Obamacare keep getting more extensive and increasingly look terminal. On the current path, even with a nominal delay, everyone's rates may go up as adjustment costs cascade from the individual market to the employer-provided market. The federal government's costs also are going to rise, a story just now being sniffed out in the press. In short, with the exception of insurance being provided for people with previous conditions, there are almost no winners in this deal.

Furthermore (you probably are reading it here first), there soon could be media interest in revelations abaout the political schemes that were undertaken to pass Obamacare. The public doesn't really appreciate the extent of the wheeling and dealing that went on. First, there were the pacts to buy off the insurance companies. Remember the big pro-Obamacare TV ad campaign they provided in compensation, with fulsome "thank you" publicity for senators and congressmen who backed the bill? Then there were the special waivers--political bailouts--for favored unions and major employers that permitted them to retain advantages that were systematically denied others. As the emails and notes describing these deals come to light, what's in those emails and notes may not be pretty.

Continue reading "Don't Try to "Fix" It: Repeal and Replace It" »

November 19, 2013

"Faked Labor Numbers" Story is Weak

Charges by John Crudele in the New York Post that the U.S. Census Bureau fudged the monthly unemployment numbers a couple of months before the 2012 election are not persuasive.

First, according to the Census' statement today, Julius Buckmon, the individual quoted in the New York Post story "left" the Census Bureau payroll (on what terms we don't know) in 2011; so he hardly was in position to fix the numbers the following year in a September, 2012 monthly report.

Second, there is no corroborating evidence of statistical skullduggery. Reading between the lines, there would seem to be a job performance issue here that is personal, not political.

Third, the ability of one minor functionary to change the numbers is very small. Mr. Buckmon didn't have that big a role in his regional office. For example, he didn't consolidate the major numbers reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Fourth, as AEI's Pethokoukis points out, the Philadelphia region where Mr. Buckmon supposedly skewed his numbers (with directions from someone else), actually reported an increase in unemployment that month. If Buckmon was finding employed people who didn't exist and reporting them, why did unemployment go up, rather than down, in the affected region?

Fifth, the unemployment reduction reflected in the September, 2012 household survey is in sync with the Bureau of Labor Statistics' trend data in the establishment survey that provides an alternative measure of employment.

Sixth, those who say that the White House must have been responsible, since it brought the Census under its direct supervision in 2009, dropped a page out of their contemporary history book. The new Obama Administration tried to take the Census under its wing, but failed after a public outcry by, among others, myself, as a former Director.

Continue reading ""Faked Labor Numbers" Story is Weak" »

November 20, 2013

Story of Rigged Employment Report Still Weak

A new story in The New York Post by John Crudele reports that the House Committee that oversees the Census is going to examine the story about supposed rigging of employment numbers to effect the 2012 election. So, too, as I reported yesterday, are the Inspectors General for the Labor and Commerce departments. That's good, but I would be surprised if much turns up other than conventional employee misbehavior--for example, fudging of interviews ("curbstoning") to meet quotas. In that case, it may well be that the malfeasance was caught and disciplinary action taken--the kind of "personnel" action that is fully warranted but that bureaucracies understandably are loathe to ventilate.

If the curbstoning was more widespread it could represent a pattern the Census Bureau definitely will have to address--if it is has not done so already. But that is a process problem in the statistical system not a political scandal.

What the story still lacks is any evidence that people working for the Census to collect data for the household survey (that in turn provides figures for one of the two federal monthly employment reports) were manipulated by people in the White House or elsewhere to rig the numbers to affect the 2012 election.

Connect the dots? What dots?

Most important, the unexplained fact that the figure at the heart of the story so far--one Julius Buckmon--was no longer employed at the Census Bureau after 2011, while the purported rigging of numbers happened in 2012. How could he have been involved?

Continue reading "Story of Rigged Employment Report Still Weak" »

November 21, 2013

US Ignores Persecution of Middle East Christians

You will search hard for examples of voices raised in the US Government, or even in the Christian community in the US, against the worsening persecution of Christians in the Middle East. Over half of the population of one million Christians in Iraq, for example, has now fled the country. The current population of Christians in Iraq is estimated at 400,000. Similar patterns of flight have developed in Egypt and Syria, among other countries.

The deputy prime minister of Turkey, whose government has done little for the Christian minority under either secularist or Islamic regimes, is proposing the conversion of Hagia Sophia--the great cathedral of Byzantium that later was turned into a mosque, and then in modern times into a museum that honors all its history--back into a mosque. There would be no point to this change other than an assertion of cultural hegemony. Istanbul has many, many mosques.

But the worst problem is the terrorist attacks against churches and Christian neighborhoods in Iraq and Egypt, not to mention Syria. Almost nothing is being said about it by American leaders.

Continue reading "US Ignores Persecution of Middle East Christians" »

November 22, 2013

When the Money Runs Out

by Discovery Sr. Fellow Scott Powell

Most everyone--economists and policywonks alike--take Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's statements at face value and refer to QE (quantitative easing) as a policy developed to help the private economy. QE may have started out with that objective, but after nearly four years of failure to spur job growth, combined with the accumulation of $6 trillion of new federal debt, it may be plausible that QE's purpose has morphed into a policy to enable government to borrow cheaply so that it can spend more money itself--more for corporate and low-income welfare, more to grow state power and more to buy votes.

Continue reading "When the Money Runs Out" »

November 24, 2013

Who Do You Believe on Iran?

This paper was just posted at Family Security Matters by Discovery Sr. Fellow John C. Wohlstetter:

Iran's Thugs Smile, We Lose

Sunday morning's interim nuclear deal that six Western powers made with Iran's rulers is a disaster in search of catastrophe--the latter in the form of the planned final deal six months hence.

On Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace began his report on the deal having been reached with "While many were sleeping"; it would have been more accurate for him to have said "While our negotiators were sleeping."

President Obama's first official statement about the deal included this:
While today's announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back. Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralizing part of its stockpiles. Iran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges, which are used for enriching uranium. Iran cannot install or start up new centrifuges, and its production of centrifuges will be limited. Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor. And new inspections will provide extensive access to Iran's nuclear facilities and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments.

The canary in the diplomatic coal mine, however, is this report, that the US had been secretly negotiating since March 2013 with Iran--(a) without telling its mortally-endangered ally, Israel until two months ago (seven months into the talks); and (b) negotiating (for one of the five meetings) with Rouhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Continue reading "Who Do You Believe on Iran?" »

November 26, 2013

Seniors Also Targeted by Obamacare

People who have insurance provided by employers probably were confused--and misled-- as to whether they would be affected by Obamacare. The millions already irate about the false promises of the President and his Administration about the individual mandate are going to be joined by this time next year by scores of millions of those under employer-provided plans.

Meanwhile, senior citizens are targeted, too, and that reality still has to settle in. Yet many were suspicious in 2012 (and earlier), which may be why President Obama lost this age cohort in the election.

Sometimes a letter to the editor is better than an editorial, and that is the case of a letter to the Washington Times by Thomas Bower of Towson, MD that appeared today:

Continue reading "Seniors Also Targeted by Obamacare" »

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