Saturday, December 14, 2013

op ed review 12/15



THIS WEEK’S NEWS
Oregon, once touted as a model for President Obama's health care law, signed up just 44 people for insurance through November, despite spending more than $300 million on its state-based exchange. The state’s exchange had the fewest sign-ups in the nation, according to a new report today by the Department of Health and Human Services.
New poll shows 4 in 10 would rather pay fine than buy Obamacare health insurance
New Obamacare health plans will exclude top hospitals
The new Obamacare deal:  If you want to keep your doctor, you might have to pay more..
70% Of Calfornia's Doctors Expected To Boycott Obamacare
Generation Opportunity Takes ‘Opt-Out’ of Obamacare Message to College Students

"Nice little insurance company you’ve got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it." In essence, that´s the message just delivered to the health care insurance industry.
Krauthammer on new Obamacare rules:  ‘This now approaches banana republic lawlessness”

It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the budget deal. “Embrace the suck,” House minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi told fellow Democrats Thursday morning.  Democrats are fuming that the bipartisan budget deal doesn’t extend unemployment benefits any further.  The deal, negotiated by conservative House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) puts off most of the looming “sequester” budget cuts. It shaves about $23 billion from the deficit, but provides for $85 billion in new spending over a decade, funded through cost savings and fees slapped on air travel and Medicare providers.
“It's war! Senate gears up for epic battle as ZERO Republicans line up to support budget agreement (Democrats need at least 5)”
"More than 20 conservative leaders signed a statement released Tuesday opposing any deal that raises spending levels or increases revenue. They included the leaders of the Family Research Council, the Tea Party Patriots, the tea party-aligned FreedomWorks and the American Conservative Union." And as commentator George Will wryly observed, "saving" $23 billion over 10 years "is a rounding error on the [$17 trillion] debt. ... It's trivial."

California has long been a union stronghold, but voters in the strongly Democratic state are gradually taking a more negative view of organized labor, a poll released Friday suggested. The independent Field Poll said that by a narrow margin, more voters said unions do more harm than good, as opposed to those who see organized labor as generally beneficial.

Colorado has been taken over by Democrats over the past few election cycles. But left-leaning PPP’s latest poll suggests that the Democrats are losing their grip on the state.

“Air Force Base Takes Down Nativity Scene Following Complaint”

ESPN has reportedly rejected a Christmas commercial from a St. Louis area Catholic hospital because the network found the mention of "Jesus" in the ad to be "problematic."
On Friday ESPN changed its mind and decided to allow the ad referencing “the birth of Jesus” and “God’s healing message.”

God bless Texas:  “The Grinch — and anyone else trying to dampen the holiday spirit — should stay away from Texas this year. A group of Texans is coming out in full force to protect Christmas, Hanukkah and other holiday celebrations and to make sure students, teachers and parents have the right to observe their holidays at school. “It’s time to end the war on Christmas and stop forcing our schools to bow at the altar of political correctness,” said Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values….”

“Dem Pollster Shocked to Find No Racism in Tea Partiers, So They Invent Some”

The Michigan Education Association is going to arbitration to try to force a school district to pay a former teacher who was convicted of molesting a student a $10,000 severance buyout.

"Documents filed by other groups show that two labor organizations, the International Union of Operating Engineers and the Laborers´ International Union of North America, directed a combined $400,000 to the Republican group [the Defending Main Street super PAC] in September and October." The Defending Main Street super PAC has very publicly declared war on the Tea Party.”

Not only is liberal MSNBC host Ed Schultz paid for his TV show and radio show, but he received at least $177,000 from labor unions in 2012 for “representational activities”. Yes, you read that right.

Planned Parenthood’s 2012-2013 annual report is out, and a pro-life group has already found that the pro-abortion group received nearly $1.5 million a day in government funding over the year.

The top 40 percent of households actually paid 106.2 percent of the nation’s net income taxes in 2010, according to a new study by the Congressional Budget Office. At the same time, households in the bottom 40 percent took in an average of $18,950 in what the CBO called “government transfers” in 2010.

“Under Obama, troops forced to rely on welfare, holiday charity to make ends meet.”

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THIS WEEK’S FEATURED COLUMN
Washington Examiner  12/1
Liberal activists across the nation have since 1994 demanded a “living wage,” which, depending on who is doing the defining, means the amount required to cover the basic needs of an individual or family. As with so many arguments made by the Left, the living wage appeal sounds reasonable. After all, why shouldn't an employer pay employees at least enough for them to have decent housing, clothes, food, transportation and educational opportunities?

But there is a big lie behind this seemingly reasonable argument, namely that the employer is responsible for providing a person's basic needs, not the individual himself. The falsehood is further illuminated by this question: Who is responsible for providing for the employer's basic needs? If the answer is the employer, then society has two classes and equality is just a politically convenient myth.

The practical reality is that when employers are responsible for providing a living wage, sooner or later, it becomes the government’s duty to guarantee it. The choice then is between the dependence society encouraged by the living wage or the free society that results when individuals are primarily responsible for themselves.

The stark truth that liberal activists never want to discuss is that a society that requires employers to pay the living wage is economically unsustainable and traps individuals and families in permanent dependence upon the government with no hope of ever improving their circumstances.

There are hard numbers that make clear that these considerations are not just theories. The numbers are crunched by the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis and published in the conservative think tank's annual Index of Dependence on Government. Using 1980 as the baseline for the index, there was a 3.3 percent increase in dependence from 2010 to 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, according to Heritage.

The long-term trend illustrated by the index is increased dependence upon what Heritage describes as “federally funded programs that were chosen for their propensity to duplicate or replace assistance -- shelter, food, monetary aid, health care, education, or employment training--that was traditionally provided to people in need by local organizations and families.”

At a time when it is commonly believed that defense accounts for most federal spending, in fact social welfare spending programs account for just under 70 percent of the federal budget, including both discretionary and non-discretionary categories. A parallel trend in this growing dependence is the steady long-term decline in the number of people who pay no net federal income taxes. There was a decline from 48.6 percent to 44.7 percent in this data point from 2010 to 2011 but the long-term trend is clearly in the other direction.

In short, the dependent society is a hopeless society because, as Heritage explains, “government programs not only crowd out civil society, but too frequently trap individuals and families in long-term dependence, leaving them incapable of escaping their condition for generations to come.”


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FROM OTHER COLUMNS
"There is a sense of unraveling that transcends the normal ideological disagreements that have roiled this nation to varying degrees throughout our history. Both sides of the ideological divide have endured presidents with whom they disagree, sometimes vehemently. Yet I'm getting the sense that millions of Americans of every stripe are now aware that we are in uncharted waters. We are being led by a man who is at once so very full of himself, even as virtually everything that goes wrong is either something he is unaware of, or someone else's fault. It is remarkable that in the entire five years after this president promised to fundamentally transform the United States of America, not a single reporter has asked the ultimate question: Transform it into what, Mr. President? We have three more years to learn the answer. For millions of Americans, it doesn't get any creepier than that."
                               -Arnold Ahlert

"Obama spoke about income inequality in a recent address but failed to mention one of the most significant contributors to rising inequality in America: the marriage gap. ... Unlike trust funds, marriage is available to everyone and confers the same benefits on the rich and poor. There is no substitute for two married parents who care for each other in sickness, spell each other in child and elder care, watch the kids while a spouse takes night classes and contribute to thriving communities. ... Without the basics of security and permanence in their personal lives, people find it much more difficult to rise out of poverty or maintain middle class lifestyles. They are also far less happy. If you care about the poor and the middle class, you ought to worry about marriage."
                               -Mona Charen

"We have spent $15 trillion 'fighting' poverty since 1965 and we are currently spending $ trillion a year -- an amount equal to about $22,000 per poor person or $88,000 for a family of four. Yet our poverty rate today (16%) is higher than when we started (14%)! If there has been a War on Poverty, poverty won. Is it not obvious that we are subsidizing and enabling a way of life? To put it bluntly, we are paying young women to have children out of wedlock. We are paying them to be unemployed. And we are paying them to remain poor."
                              -John C. Goodman:
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LEFTIST WATCH
Chris Matthews is crazy. Nevertheless, when left-wingers talk openly with one another, their craziness can be revealing. That is the case, I think, with this remarkable MSNBC clip. Matthews, fresh from his kneepad interview with President Obama, praises what he terms a uniquely brilliant insight by Al Sharpton: South Africa’s white politicians of the apartheid era were more patriotic than today’s Republicans.

“When I first heard the claim, I thought it was a mistake or hoax. A talking head was describing a raging war in the Democratic Party between progressives and centrists. Centrist Democrats? Aren’t they already extinct?”
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GLOBALONEY
Over 2000 cold and snow records set in the USA this past week

Temperatures in Chicago hit an 18-year low.

Snow in Cairo for the first time in 100 years. 

In August, Earth set a new record for the coldest temperature ever recorded, minus 135.3 degrees.

A Swedish study found that the planet was warmer in ancient Roman times and the Middle Ages than today, challenging the mainstream idea that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the main drivers of global warming.
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ARTICLES
Important read:  “What Will It Take? Americans still seem willing to give a pass to the disaster in the White House.”  Sample:  “Obama is a historic disaster of the first magnitude and, if not restrained, he will see to the irrevocable decline of the country which foolishly elected him, leaving the world on the brink of a conflict — or in the midst of one — whose repercussions cannot be underestimated.”

Lifson  “The GOP establishment is loath to admit it, but the government shutdown is turning out to be a brilliant political chess move on the part of Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. The Obamacare disaster, fully predictable by anyone who understands the effect of incentives and the fundamental incompetence of academic theorists and left wing ideologues, has made the go-for-broke attempt to stop it an obvious profile in courage.”

Thomas Sowell disagrees:  “….in trying to defund ObamaCare without the Congressional votes to do so, the Tea Party made a major tactical mistake.  Polls show that this mistake has already hurt the Republican Party, the only party that has any chance of repealing ObamaCare. To have any realistic prospect of repealing ObamaCare may require the Republicans to win both the 2014 and 2016 elections….. The question is whether the Tea Party itself still has its eye on the ball -- the goals it was formed to serve -- or is letting itself get preoccupied with its battle against other Republicans.

“Please Pray for Me… I Am Losing My Insurance….Why is our government doing this to us?”

Megyn Kelly, Fox News’s brightest star.  “A Fox in every sense of the word” In November, her first full month in prime time after years in daytime, Kelly was second only to O’Reilly in the overall ratings, which means she’s the No. 2 person on cable news’s No. 1 channel. http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/megyn-kelly-foxs-brightest-fastest-rising-star/2013/12/11/e4987dec-5dee-11e3-be07-006c776266ed_story.html

Earlier in the year, as the gun-control movement tried clumsily to transform an abomination into a cudgel, the Washington Post’s Kathleen Parker distilled its problem into a single sentence. “Nothing proposed in the gun-control debates would have prevented the mass killing of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” Parker contended plainly, “and everybody knows it.”
WASHPOST asks public for 'gun violence' stories for Sandy Hook anniversary...

Common Core:   One new lesson teaches our children that Obama is indeed the messiah. A language-arts lesson plan for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders has been developed around the book “Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope,” in which the author, Nikki Grimes, paints the 44th president as nothing short of a messianic figure.

For those who believe in human rights and liberty, the sight of our president bounding up some stairs to energetically shake hands with Raul Castro, dictator of Cuba, was more than a little unsettling -- regardless of the circumstance. But that´s what President Obama seemed to go out of his way to do at Nelson Mandela´s memorial service Tuesday.

How do you get your arms around the catastrophe known as Obamacare? Is it even possible? At this point, I’m not sure it is. The list of individual disasters which threaten to ruin one-sixth of the U.S. economy and what has been, up until now, the best healthcare system in the world is exhaustive, and exhausting. The examples I will identify here barely scratch the surface. First but by no means foremost, we have the supposedly new and improved HealthCare.gov. Except it’s not, even the visible part. Stories still abound of people still failing to get in or to get through the enrollment

"Once the employer mandate kicks in they'll be hunting Democrats with dogs in this country."
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NOTEWORTHY WEBSITES
The Air Force Band provides a delightful flash mob concert at the Air and Space Museum.

Funny series of pictures:  “Did an irate Michelle make misbehaving Barry switch seats at Mandela's funeral?”

In order to arm Californians with accurate information about the California Healthcare Exchange, the California Republican Assembly launched a website this past August called CoveringHealthcareCA.com -- clearly setting forth what you have to do, the date by which you have to do it and the consequences if you don't. MoveOn.org and their media pals are trying to shut down the website. 
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LATE NITE
Leno:  Kanye West said he wants to be the "Obama of clothing." To achieve his goal, he's designing fashions that nobody wants and offering them on a website that doesn't work…….This winter storm has left thousands without electricity. It's as if President Obama had taken over the power companies.
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WISE WORDS
“We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.”
                              -Thomas Jefferson

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