Struck down

December 31, 2013

When New York State passed its execrable gun law, limiting the number of bullets that may be loaded into a magazine, I wrote:

I defy anyone to name any constructive purpose served by such a rule. If you were to ban 10-round magazines outright, one might imagine — following the usual pattern of gun-controllists’ wishful thinking — that it would make them a little harder for criminals to obtain. But allowing the magazines eliminates even that highly-unlikely salutary purpose.

The sole consequence of this rule will be that law-abiding persons will have seven rounds, while having no effect on criminals whatsoever.

In other words, this law is not about stopping criminals, but about disarming innocents.

Now a federal court has ruled pretty much exactly that:

It stretches the bounds of this Court’s deference to the predictive judgments of the legislature to suppose that those intent on doing harm (whom, of course, the Act is aimed to stop) will load their weapon with only the permitted seven rounds. In this sense, the provision is not “substantially related” to the important government interest in public safety and crime prevention. . .

This Court has ruled that New York is entitled to regulate assault weapons and large-capacity magazines under the principal presumption that the law will reduce their prevalence and accessability in New York State, and thus, inversely, increase public safety. The ban on the number of rounds a gun owner is permitted to load into his 10-round magazine, however, will obviously have no such effect because 10-round magazines remain legal. As described above, the seven-round limit thus carries a much stronger possibility of disproportionately affecting law-abiding citizens.

UPDATE: Andrew Branca points out that the law was even worse than I thought. He points out that merely complying with the law is no protection, if an arresting officer miscounts the bullets in your magazine (inadvertently or not). The only way to protect yourself would be to use a magazine that could not be loaded with more than seven rounds, and for the most part those don’t exist. So among people who don’t trust New York police to treat gun owners fairly (which should be everyone) it’s a de facto ban on most semi-automatic pistols.

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Struck down

December 31, 2013

In one day, four injunctions (1, 2, 3, 4) against the HHS mandate in four separate cases. (Via Instapundit.)

Cases like Hobby Lobby are difficult, since they raise the question of whether people have any right to practice their religion in the conduct of their business. (The answer certainly ought to be yes, but will it?) But cases like these, involving religious organizations, should be no-brainers. There’s no earthly way the HHS mandate can stand up under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

(Previous post.)


The human cost of Obamacare

December 31, 2013

Read this. Wow.

(Previous post.)


Surprise, surprise

December 31, 2013

Syria will miss the deadline to give up its chemical weapons, and will face no consequences as a result.


Anti-christians play at lamenting biblical illiteracy

December 28, 2013

One instance I would brush off — particularly coming from MSNBC — but when I see two in one day, I wonder if I’m seeing a new narrative from the anti-Christian left. That narrative is that Christians aren’t being true to the Bible, because of biblical illiteracy.

To be sure: it’s true that Christians, being sinners, are not true to the Bible. It’s also true that biblical literacy, even among Christians, is nowhere near where it ought to be. (I include myself in that generalization.) And it’s even true that Christians would be more true to the Bible if they were better familiar with it.

All that said, the thesis of these two pieces is that the practices and beliefs of Christians are contraindicated by the Bible, which Christians would know if they were only more biblically literate. That thesis is wholly unsupported by the evidence the two pieces are able to muster.

First, there’s MSNBC, which had a piece attacking Sarah Palin because she has a Christmas tree. (Seriously, you hate Sarah Palin so you go after her through her Christmas tree?! Bizarre.) Now it’s true that the Christmas tree, like many of our modern Christmas traditions, is not Biblical, and some Christians have chosen to eschew them for that reason. But MSNBC is trying to make a different point, claiming that the Bible actually forbids them.

As their proof text, MSNBC cites “Jeremiah 10-10”. So right off the bat, they’re doing a poor job at feigning biblical literacy; less significantly by using a hyphen in the scripture reference in place of a colon, but more significantly because the passage they go on to quote is actually Jeremiah 10:3-5, which begins:

For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because the cannot walk.

Superficially, this sounds sort of like a Christmas tree: a tree adorned with silver and gold. But to make that interpretation work, you have to ignore the part about shaping it with a chisel. That makes it clear that the passage is talking about fashioning a wooden idol, which the final sentence makes explicit. (Isaiah 40:20 has a similar description of a wooden idol.)

I hadn’t heard this particular notion before, but apparently it’s been out there for some time. Billy Graham even has a web page rebutting it. (Via Newsbusters.) As long as you’re not worshiping the tree as an idol, you’re okay, and the tree can even have some positive symbolism.

So MSNBC runs this piece attacking Sarah Palin’s religious practices — and, in passing, everyone who gets a Christmas tree — but doesn’t think to verify the Bible reference they cite, or do the slightest amount of research to determine if their thesis holds any water.

Second, is a piece at Alternet (a left-wing site similar to Daily Kos but with greater pretense to journalism and scholarship), the thesis of which is that “the right” (by which he apparently means Christian conservatives) are biblically illiterate, or they wouldn’t hold the views they do:

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly defended the Republican Party’s spending cuts for SNAP by effectively declaring Jesus would not support food stamps for the poor because most them are drug addicts. If his insensitive remark is inconsistent with Scripture, which it is, then the question becomes why do talking heads on the right get away with proclaiming what Jesus would or wouldn’t support?

The answer is simple: Conservatives have not read the Bible.

I don’t know what Bill O’Reilly actually said. The piece doesn’t link him, which is an indication that the author is probably not quoting him fairly. The weasel-word “effectively” is another indication. Moreover, O’Reilly is not known as a Christian conservative. So let’s leave O’Reilly out of it and focus on the evidence the piece manages to muster.

The piece rambles a lot. There’s some weak argument about how Jesus’s actual positions lend themselves more to liberalism than conservatism (he is entitled to his opinion). It quotes some some poll results, which, like all polls on questions of fact, are dismaying. But, being a poll of Americans in general, it doesn’t tell us much about the biblical illiteracy of Christian conservatives. There’s some general libel about how conservatives killed Jesus and are also like Nazis. And there’s an attack on the Koch brothers, which I guess is de rigeur for a leftist screed these days.

The meat of the argument, such as it is, is this:

For instance, when Republicans were justifying their cuts to the food stamp program, they quoted 2 Thessalonians: “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” One poll showed that more than 90 percent of Christians believe this New Testament quote is attributed to Jesus. It’s not. This was taken from a letter written by Paul to his church in Thessalonica. Paul wrote to this specific congregation to remind them that if they didn’t help build the church in Thessalonica, they wouldn’t be paid. The letter also happens to be a fraud. Surprise! Biblical scholars agree it’s a forgery written by someone pretending to be Paul.

Let’s just take all this in order: I don’t know any Republican who actually said that in regard to food stamps, but never mind that. I don’t believe that 90% of Christians attribute that verse to Jesus, but I do believe that 90% of Christians view the New Testament as divinely inspired whether it’s in red letter or not (2Ti 3:16).

2 Thessalonians 3:7(b)-10 reads:

We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

There’s no textual support here whatsoever for the proposition that Paul was talking about paying for church construction.

And what about the supposed fakery of the book? The statement that biblical scholars agree it’s a forgery is simply a lie. In fact, although some have questioned Pauline authorship (due to differences in style and eschatology from Paul’s other writings), most agree that Paul did write it. (Certainly all don’t agree that he didn’t!)  And if he didn’t, it easily could have been written by Silas or Timothy, who are listed as the epistle’s co-authors.

Furthermore, note the construction: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule.” This is something Paul had already said before. Even if the book were a fake, it is quoting an earlier statement that Paul did make; if he hadn’t, the book never could have fooled the church at Thessalonica.

Moreover, even if we were to throw out 2 Thessalonians, what about 1 Thessalonians 4:11? It reads:

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

This is a similar message to 2Th 3:7-10, and the authenticity of 1 Thessalonians is unquestioned even by progressives.

The piece is strange, and fundamentally dishonest, because the author (one CJ Werleman) feigns to decry biblical illiteracy, while in fact he hates the bible. He is a militant atheist with his very own book in the the-bible-is-full-of-lies-and-atrocities genre that is so popular with militant atheists. And he can’t hide his animus in the piece, producing bits like this:

The best argument against a historical Jesus is the fact that none of his disciples left us with a single record or document regarding Jesus or his teachings. So, who were the gospel writers? The short answer is we don’t know. What we do know is that not only had none of them met Jesus, but also they never met the people who had allegedly met Jesus.

This is entirely untrue. Matthew and John were Jesus’s disciples. Luke never met Jesus, but travelled with Paul, who did. The authorship of Mark is not certain, but the early church universally believed it was written by John Mark, an associate of Peter. Furthermore, many believe that the young man of Mark 14:51 was the author (otherwise its inclusion is hard to explain), which would make him an eyewitness. So at least two and possibly three of the gospels were written by eyewitnesses, and all four are written by people who met the apostles.

Of course, some of these facts are contested by progressive theologians, but adopting the well-supported, traditional view hardly constitutes biblical illiteracy.

In our modern political discourse, there are few things so tedious as people who don’t believe something (e.g., the truth of the Bible, or libertarianism), and don’t understand it, lecturing those who do believe on what that belief should imply. Not only do they fail to understand the nuances of those views, and they frequently fail to understand that there even are nuances.

But the point isn’t to convince the believers, it’s to attack them. Do they care if Sarah Palin has a Christmas tree? No. Do they care what Christian conservatives believe? Yes, but they don’t expect it to change, and they’re certainly not trying to change it here. But they do want people to hate Sarah Palin, and Christian conservatives, like they do.


Cool

December 27, 2013

This bridge looks totally impractical, but I still like it.


Why politics sucks

December 27, 2013

Answer: because of liberalism. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Item #1: The blogosphere is abuzz over this ad from Barack Obama’s twitter account:

obamacare-pajama-boy

As many have pointed out, this tells you a lot about this how they see their own followers. I think it’s even more insulting to Obama’s non-followers: the very idea that grown men and women with jobs and families are going to change their opinion of the government taking over health care, just because a spoiled man-child came home from college for the holidays carrying marching orders from the president to harangue his parents with hope, change, and ironic eyebrows.

More on this in a moment, but first, item #2: Americans are sorting themselves into red and blue communities:

Democrats and Republicans are much less likely to live among each other than they were a generation ago.

Back in 1976 — the year of a close presidential election — just over a quarter of the population lived in “landslide counties,” where the winning margin was greater than 20 percentage points. . . Last year, more than half the country lived in landslide counties. . .

States themselves have become more polarized, with most legislatures and governorships controlled entirely by one party. As a result, not only are blue and red states tracking different courses on just about every issue, but some people are seeking to escape their states.

But if Americans are sorting themselves into like-minded communities, are they doing so on purpose? In other words, are people voting with their feet by consciously moving to states or counties that reflect their own partisan preferences?

Researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of Southern California suggest that, yes, they may be.

This comes as no surprise to me. The fact is, blue-state liberals are very frequently a pain in the neck to work with. (Or to live with, I would guess, but fortunately I don’t have pajama boy in my family.) Why? Because of the constant political harangues in what ought to be non-political contexts. Exactly the kind of harangues that President Obama is asking ironic pajama-clad children to inflict on their parents this Christmas.

Case in point: Years ago I related the story of how a discussion of candidates for an important position in my department was turned to a nonsensical slam on Sarah Palin, apropos of nothing at all.

Case in point: More recently, at a retirement party for a valued member of our faculty (who happened to be female), another faculty member launched into a speech about how the departing faculty member reminded him of Hillary Clinton who was then leaving her job as Secretary of State. This was intended as a high compliment. In fact, the comparison was absurd and insulting; the two women have nothing at all in common other than their gender, and the departing woman was quite accomplished, in contrast to Clinton’s complete lack of any accomplishments at the State Department (unless you count her courageous stand against security at overseas consulates).

Case in point: More recently still, a colleague sent me an essay he wrote on the government shutdown. It rambled a bit, but I can summarize its key points: (1) Republicans claim to oppose Obamacare. (2) Obamacare is obviously great; no one could honestly oppose it. (3) So why are Republicans really shutting down the government? (4) It must be because they’re racist. He asked me for my comments, which I duly provided him.

I could go on, but I won’t. (Indeed, I’m leaving out the more painful harangues I’ve received.) In short, if blue-state liberals in general are anything like the liberals I know in ultra-blue academia, it’s no wonder conservatives and libertarians prefer nothing to do with them.

For all I know, red-state conservatives are just as insufferable. To some extent, I’d be surprised if they weren’t. Nevertheless, it’s still the fault of liberalism. The phenomenon at work is the intrusion of politics into all aspects of life. To some extent that’s because of the liberal media and the president’s pajama-clad minions, but fundamentally it’s because of the intrusion of government into all aspects of life.

Liberalism is at war with civil society. Civil society is the collection of disparate institutions, independent of the government, that make society work. The problem with civil society, to liberals, is that independence. Liberals can’t control it, so sometimes it does things of which liberals don’t approve. In fact, it often does such unacceptable things, since civil society, being made up of churches, other civic organizations, and individuals, has a strongly conservative character.

As a result, liberals have been very deliberately trying to crowd out civil society with government, by replacing activities that people just did on their own — but sometimes in a fashion that didn’t comport with liberal preferences — with government programs that liberals can control.

For instance, in the Obamacare HHS mandate you see a very deliberate effort to get religious organizations out of the business of charity. For years, Democrats have been trying to raise taxes on charitable donations, since any monies spent by private charities would be better spent by the government.

As the government supplants more and more of civil society, and as it simultaneously takes increasing control of our individual lives, politics — which ought to be a sideshow — is becoming dreadfully relevant. We have to fight over it, because it affects us so much.

And that’s why politics sucks. In part it’s because of liberal jerks like Barack Obama’s pajama-clad harangue brigade, but in greater part it’s because of liberalism itself.


Government education

December 27, 2013

Ohio Democrats recently introduced a bill to make it very difficult for parents to homeschool their children — after all, outside the public school who knows what those kids will be learning! (The bill was quickly withdrawn in the face of public outrage.)

In the public schools, we can be sure that the kids are learning the right things, thanks to the new federal “Common Core” that teaches important truths like “government officials’ commands must be obeyed by all” and “an individual’s wants are less important than the nation’s well-being.”

POSTSCRIPT: We can be sure that Common Core isn’t offered in good faith. If it were, the Obama administration wouldn’t be making clumsy efforts to turn it into a racial wedge issue.


$10.5 billion

December 27, 2013

You can close the books on the GM bailout. All it took to rescue GM and give it to the unions, other than screwing all GM’s creditors, was $10.5 billion in taxpayer money.


MSNBC sees Christianity as homo-erotic

December 27, 2013

Because Christians are awfully into Jesus, dontcha know:

The same men who will stand up in the church of all men. “I put my God, Jesus, overall women. I love him more than I love her.”

Hmmm. Do you really? That sounds interestingly homoerotic to people who are outside your religious traditions. I’m not suggesting it is but I’m suggesting that there are some very interesting, subtle, narrative tensions within the Bible itself and within Christianity beyond that.

ASIDE: Don’t be distracted by the “I’m not suggesting it is”, since that’s exactly what he’s suggesting. Otherwise, why bring it up?

Now, this is so stupid, it’s hard to be offended by it. But I am a bit offended that this guy is teaching sociology at Georgetown University, which I thought was a respectable school. He teaches sociology and he’s ignorant of the very existence of non-sexual love? Yikes.


They don’t like the dog food

December 26, 2013

Even the well-implemented Obamacare exchanges aren’t winning customers:

Our state-based exchange has been hailed as one of the best in the country and yet signup numbers are low. “Why,” they queried? . . .

With all this and having already spent or committed well over 50 million dollars, the number of individual New Mexicans who have signed up for Obama’s health insurance is… 291.

The NM HIX did everything right to sell Obamacare. The people are not buying.

(Previous post.)


Judge rejects Obama’s “secret law”

December 26, 2013

Yep, they tried to do that.


Obamacare-compliant, non-functioning exchange

December 26, 2013

Even Massachusettsians who liked Romneycare generally oppose Obamacare. And for good reason, it turns out:

I live in Massachusetts, a state that had, under Governor Mitt Romney, pioneered the “individual mandate” and “universal coverage” that are at the center of Obamacare. You’d think they’d have a functioning Web site for health insurance. And they did, a year or so ago when I window-shopped for health insurance. Since then, however, to become compliant with Obamacare, the state scrapped the old RomneyCare web site and replaced it with a non-functioning Obamacare site.

By “non-functioning,” I mean, “non-functioning.” As in, it really doesn’t work.

They replaced their working exchange with an Obamacare-compliant broken exchange. Awesome.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


All your assets are belong to Medicaid

December 26, 2013

One of the main ways that Obamacare is expanding health coverage is by expanding Medicaid. This is not only bad for the country as a whole, it’s bad for the recipients themselves. Medicaid is so bad, its recipients actually have worse health outcomes than if they had no health insurance at all.

Now comes a new revelation about how truly awful Medicaid is: Not only is it worse than nothing, it doesn’t even cost nothing. People think of Medicaid as a government entitlement, like Medicare, but it’s not. If you’re on Medicaid, the government reserves the right to seize any meager assets you might have, to pay for your worse-than-nothing Medicaid care.

(Previous post.)


“Leading by example”

December 24, 2013

Barack Obama has signed up for Obamacare:

President Barack Obama has signed up for health insurance through an Affordable Care Act exchange, the White House said Monday. In what an official acknowledged is a “symbolic” move since the president gets his medical care from the military, Obama selected a low-cost bronze plan through the District of Columbia exchange.

Obama gets free gold-plated personal care at an instant’s notice (he likes that plan and will keep it), but, as a PR gesture, he will throw a little money into a plan he doesn’t need. At least he’s suffering through Healthcare.gov with the common people. . .

Oh, wait:

But Obama did not directly sign up for insurance. Rather, his staff went in person to sign him up, an official told POLITICO. “Like some Americans, the complicated nature of the president’s case required an in-person sign-up,” the official said.

Figures. When the system didn’t work for him, he sent his flunkies to a back door that is not available to the common folk. So get this:

Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told American Urban Radio Networks that the president is “leading by example” . . .

Leading by example? I don’t think that means what you think it means.

(Previous post.)


The Sergeant Schultz administration

December 23, 2013

ramierz_obama_knows_nothing_12-22-13

UPDATE: The Washington Post has its own version of this.

(Via Ed Driscoll.)


HHS won’t disclose security breaches

December 23, 2013

HHS, which under the execrable Obamacare law gets to make its own rules, has decided that it will not be required to disclose any security breaches, even to the people whose information is stolen.

And security breaches are a virtual certainty; recall that the system was deemed too insecure to go live, but went live anyway, in violation of government rules. Indeed, they’ve happened already.

(Previous post.)


OMG

December 21, 2013

Could an embattled spy agency possibly be more tone deaf than this?

nothing-is-beyond-our-reach

This is the real mission patch for a NRO mission, tweeted out proudly by the Office of Director of National Intelligence.

(Via Instapundit.)


Potemkin investigation

December 21, 2013

Remember the how the FBI was going to investigate the IRS’s harassment of conservative groups?

Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday that he had ordered an FBI investigation to determine whether the Internal Revenue Service broke any laws when it targeted conservative groups for closer scrutiny of their tax-exempt status.

It turns out, the investigation never happened:

The Justice Department acknowledged the impropriety of what the IRS had done and promised a thorough FBI investigation.

It never happened. Last month, an attorney working for 41 of the targeted nonprofit groups said no one at any of the groups had ever been interviewed by federal investigators.

Last week, the Justice Department and the FBI refused requests from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to provide information on its investigation. FBI officials also canceled a previously scheduled meeting with committee members.

(Previous post.)


World of spycraft

December 21, 2013

The NSA has been spying on World of Warcraft:

The National Security Agency (NSA) and UK sister agency GCHQ sought to infiltrate the massive virtual worlds in online video games such as “World of Warcraft” and interactive environments like “Second Life,” according to the latest secret documents stolen by Edward Snowden and jointly released by the Guardian, the New York Times and ProPublica.

According to a document titled “Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments,” the secretive spy agencies were concerned by potential terrorist use of such games and felt an immediate need to begin analyzing in-game communications as early as 2007.

Why were they so concerned? Get this:

“[Certain] games offer realistic weapons training (what weapon to use against what target, what ranges can be achieved, even aiming and firing), military operations and tactics, photorealistic land navigation and terrain familiarization, and leadership skills,” the document notes.

Fortunately, this is just bad reporting. The NSA wasn’t really making a connection between World of Warcraft and realistic weapons training; they were talking about games like America’s Army. But then why the concern over a game in which the most realistic weapon is a Gnomish blunderbuss? I wonder if this was just an excuse to play games on company time.


Independent Hawaii

December 21, 2013

Ah, the Huffington Post. If it didn’t exist, we would have to invent it:

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article referred incorrectly to Hawaii as an independent country.


No numbers

December 21, 2013

I’m sure the reason the Obama administration refuses to release any meaningful statistics on Obamacare enrollment is the numbers are really, really good.

(Previous post.)


Congress warned against trusting Healthcare.gov

December 21, 2013

Healthcare.gov is good enough for America (or so we are told), but it’s not good enough for Congress:

Congressional staffers were warned Wednesday not to rely on information provided by the ObamaCare exchange website, in an email alert informing them they might not be enrolled for coverage even if they technically signed up.

The “very important” message, sent to Capitol Hill officials Wednesday afternoon, is the latest sign that the government has concerns about the reliability of the system. Despite improvements in the basic operation of the exchange websites, and increased enrollment, there are lingering concerns about whether those signing up will actually be covered on Jan. 1.

“Please DO NOT ASSUME you are covered unless you have seen the Confirmation Letter from the Disbursing Office!” the email to staffers said.

The email urged staffers who have signed up via the DC Health Link — the health care exchange for the District of Columbia — to double check with the office that they’re enrolled.

(Previous post.)


White House appoints new Healthcare.gov chief fixer

December 21, 2013

Politico reports:

The White House is tapping the private sector for its next point man to oversee the troubled Obamacare website. The administration is set to announce that Kurt DelBene, a former executive at Microsoft, will succeed Jeff Zients in leading the oversight of the embattled HealthCare.gov.

Wait, I thought they told us Healthcare.gov was fixed now. Why do they still need someone to fix it? They couldn’t have been lying, could they?

(Previous post.)


Armed guard stops school shooting

December 21, 2013

After the Newtown massacre, the NRA was widely mocked (for example) for their response. Their “crackpot” idea: schools should have armed security. The anti-gun media has become so dedicated to the nonsensical proposition that the best defense is no defense at all, they actually seem to have come to believe it.

Nevertheless, reality prevails outside journalists’ heads:

As they investigate the latest school shooting in the United States – Friday at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo. – one thing is clear to law enforcement officials there: The presence of an armed deputy sheriff on regular duty at the school was the key factor in preventing more deaths and injuries.

As soon as he heard the first of five gunshots, that officer and the two school administrators he was talking to raced toward the commotion shouting their presence and ordering students and staff to follow the school’s lock-down protocol.

As a result, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said at a briefing Saturday afternoon, the heavily-armed shooter realized he was about to be confronted by an armed officer, and he took his own life.

(Via Power Line.)


Healthcare.gov deemed too insecure to go live, went live anyway

December 21, 2013

The chief information security officer at CMS (which runs Healthcare.gov), determined that Healthcare.gov was too insecure and recommended that it not go live. As usual, political considerations took priority over reality and she was overruled.

And the security failings continue to be serious:

A top HealthCare.gov security officer told Congress there have been two, serious high-risk findings since the website’s launch, including one on Monday of this week, CBS News has learned.

Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), revealed the findings when she was interviewed Tuesday behind closed doors by House Oversight Committee officials. The security risks were not previously disclosed to members of Congress or the public.

Well, of course they didn’t disclose the problems to Congress! Literally their entire effort has been organized to avoid disclosing problems to Congress.

(Previous post.)


Robot lies

December 21, 2013

I suppose programming robots to lie is a big step forward in making them behave like humans.


Nuclear fallout

December 21, 2013

One consequence of the Democrats ending the filibuster is the era of presidential nominees answering questions from the opposing party is now over:

Johnson could go into the process knowing he didn’t need a single Republican vote to be confirmed. If Johnson could be confident that he had at least 51 of the Senate’s 55 Democratic votes — he actually had all of them — he didn’t need to pay attention to Republicans at all.

And so he didn’t. . .

On Nov. 15, several Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee . . . sent Johnson a list of more than 50 questions, most of them about immigration, that had not been answered during Johnson’s confirmation hearing. . .

In a Dec. 12 letter, Johnson essentially blew them off.

Johnson was the first post-nuclear nominee, and I think we’ll soon find his scorn for the opposing party’s questions has set a precedent.

POSTSCRIPT: Johnson, by the way, wasn’t nominated to run a highly political department like HHS, Justice, or the IRS. He was nominated to run homeland security!


MSNBC encourages viewers to commit fraud

December 21, 2013

These people like to style themselves as morally superior. They’re not:

“If a lie is told to a corporation, it’s not really a lie,” Touré [Neblett] declared.


No health insurance at any price

December 21, 2013

The latest Obamacare catastrophe is so bad, it would be comical if it weren’t ruining lives. Due to a drafting error in the law (I’m assuming it was an error), it will be literally impossible to buy health insurance at any price in the Northern Mariana Islands:

Because of a quirk in the Affordable Care Act’s drafting, the Northern Mariana Islands and the four other American territories are subject to some parts of the law but not others. This has messed up the individual market in the Northern Mariana Islands so badly that the one plan selling policies there told the territory’s top insurance commissioner it would not sell new plans for 2014.

In other words: Beginning Jan. 1, regulators expect it will be literally impossible for an individual to buy a new policy in the Northern Mariana Islands, and difficult in other territories.

If you like your health insurance, you lose it, and you can’t get any to replace it.

(Previous post.)


Unmitigated gall

December 21, 2013

John Podesta — a senior Democratic party functionary who ran the Clinton administration and the Obama transition and was re-hired this month by the Obama White House — says that the Republican party is “a cult worthy of Jonestown” (and that’s why Obama should rule by executive fiat).

The unmitigated gall of this guy to liken the Republicans to Jim Jones’s death cult. Jim Jones was a Democratic party power broker.

He had close ties to the Democratic Party in San Francisco, committing voter fraud to help get George Moscone elected mayor and Harvey Milk elected supervisor. (Whether Jones’s fraud was decisive can’t be known, since the Democratic district attorney terminated the investigation without any charges against Jones’s people and destroyed the election records.) Moscone rewarded Jones by appointing him the chairman of the San Francisco housing convention. Jones did not give up the position until after moving to Guyana. (He resigned by shortwave radio.)

During the 1976 presidential campaign, Jones met personally with VP candidate Walter Mondale and First-lady-to-be Rosalynn Carter. Mondale later wrote, as Jones moved his movement to Guyana, that “Knowing of your congregation’s deep involvement in the major social and constitutional issues of our country is a great inspiration to me.”

At a dinner honoring Jones at his “People’s Temple”, Willie Brown — long-time Democratic speaker of the California Assembly — likened Jones to a combination of Martin Luther King, Angela Davis, Albert Einstein, and Mao Tse-Tung (two out of four ain’t bad!). Also in attendance at the dinner was California governor (then and again today) Jerry Brown, and lieutenant governor Mervyn Dymally. Dianne Feinstein (current Senator from California) also accepted Jones’s hospitality.

Jones’s cult was a peculiar one, as it had nothing to do with religion. He preached that “those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion had to be brought to enlightenment — socialism”. When he slaughtered his cult, he directed that all his assets (millions of dollars), be given to the Soviet Union:

Dear Comrade Timofeyev,
The following is a letter of instructions regarding all of our assets that we want to leave to the Communist Party of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Enclosed in this letter are letters which instruct the banks to send the cashiers checks to you. I am doing this on behalf of Peoples Temple because we, as communists, want our money to be of benefit for help to oppressed peoples all over the world, or in any way that your decision-making body sees fit.

Jones was a Democratic communist, and his work for the Democratic party still reverberates in California politics today. He was, in short, the exact opposite of a Republican. Podesta has apologized for the comparison, as he should. But the rest of us should take the opportunity to remember how the Democratic party embraced the monster.


Narcissus

December 16, 2013

This is a man who really loves himself.


Gross incompetence

December 16, 2013

John Kerry is talking about keeping North Korea from getting nuclear weapons, which will be hard since they already have them.


Your lips are moving again

December 16, 2013

This isn’t too surprising (given how hard we already know the White House worked to hide the ball):

The White House systematically delayed enacting a series of rules on the environment, worker safety and health care to prevent them from becoming points of contention before the 2012 election, according to documents and interviews with current and former administration officials.

Some agency officials were instructed to hold off submitting proposals to the White House for up to a year to ensure that they would not be issued before voters went to the polls, the current and former officials said.

The delays meant that rules were postponed or never issued. The stalled regulations included crucial elements of the Affordable Care Act, what bodies of water deserved federal protection, pollution controls for industrial boilers and limits on dangerous silica exposure in the workplace.

But it’s still notable because, yes, the White House lied about it:

The Obama administration has repeatedly said that any delays until after the election were coincidental and that such decisions were made without regard to politics. But seven current and former administration officials told The Washington Post that the motives behind many of the delays were clearly political, as Obama’s top aides focused on avoiding controversy before his reelection.

Really, there’s no excuse for ever believing any Obama administration denial of anything. This bunch lies about everything.


Oh yeah, that’s going to happen

December 12, 2013

The Obama administration wants health insurers to cover people who sign up but don’t pay:

Another Obamacare deadline was pushed back on Thursday and now the White House is asking insurers to accept late payments and still give individuals coverage in the interim. . .

HHS is asking insurers to accept payments through this extended date and give consumers additional time to pay their first month’s premium while still offering coverage starting on Jan. 1

Somehow I think giving people free health care will be a non-starter for most health insurers.

Why? I think the answer to that is actually the bigger news:

The latest pushback also comes after a glitch that was confirmed last week by CMS, that the back-end mechanism that allows the government to pay insurers for subsidized and cost-sharing plans had not yet been built. Insurance companies will have to bill the government for these premium tax credits, and the government has announced it will act in a timely manner.

OMG! They haven’t even implemented the part of the system that pays the government subsidies! Moreover, I can’t imagine why anyone would trust them to to “act in a timely manner” when they are proving, again and again, that they can’t.

UPDATE: More on this.

(Previous post.)


From the “horrifying, but predictable” file

December 11, 2013

What? Channeling military assistance to Islamist rebels in Syria hasn’t worked out well? Who could have predicted that such a thing might happen?

Oh, that’s right, everyone.


From the “sad, but predictable” fle

December 11, 2013

Cuba has successfully indoctrinated Elian Gonzalez to hate America. Since becoming a valuable propaganda tool, he’s led a very comfortable life quite unlike those of his countrymen:

Fidel Castro attended his 7th birthday party. His father went from being a waiter to being a member of the country’s national assembly. Now he studies engineering at a military school in Cuba and appears to be emerging as a new spokesman for the Cuban government.

“Appears to be emerging?” Of course he is; that was obviously the plan all along. Sheesh.

Even with what he’s become, I still feel for the poor fellow. He has a rude awakening in store for him when he outlives his usefulness.


Healthcare.gov fails at least 1 in 4 enrollments

December 8, 2013

The Washington Examiner reports:

After refusing for weeks to detail the extent of back-end problems with healthcare.gov, the Obama administration on Friday said a technical bug affected approximately 25 percent of enrollments on the federal exchanges in October and November.

Those technical bugs, separate from the troubles consumers had experienced accessing information on the website during the first two months, are posing a significant new problem for those who signed up and are expecting insurance coverage come Jan. 1. . .

A spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Friday suggested that the only way those who enrolled in October and November can be sure they will be covered in January is by paying their insurance bill and contacting their insurer to confirm their standing.

(Emphasis mine.)

In order to verify your enrollment, you need to contact your insurer directly. In other words, to make sure Healthcare.gov worked, use something other than Healthcare.gov. Awesome!

(Previous post.)


Report: Obama administration faked pre-election jobs report

December 5, 2013

The New York Post is making a blockbuster allegation:

In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington. The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed. The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated.

And the Census Bureau, which does the unemployment survey, knew it.

There was a time, not so long ago, that allegations such as this would have sounded outlandish. But now that we know that the IRS abused its power to harass conservative groups, did so with the full knowledge of top administration officials, and no one was ever disciplined for it, the allegation hardly seems outlandish at all.

The Post also identifies other instances of falsification that were covered up by the Census Bureau.

POSTSCRIPT: As Glenn Reynolds is good enough to remind us, the White House took over control of the Census early in the Obama administration.


White House admits: yeah, you might lose your doctor

December 5, 2013

Remember when Obama promised that if you like your doctor your can keep your doctor? (Indeed, they still have it up on Whitehouse.gov.) Just like keeping your health care plan, that was a lie.

(Previous post.)


Who has time for security when there’s a health care system to ruin?

December 5, 2013

After a month of hastily implemented patches, Healthcare.gov is now even more insecure:

The Obamacare insurance marketplace is even more vulnerable to security breaches since the administration “fixed” Healthcare.gov, according to a cyber security expert.

Health and Human Services (HHS) released a progress report on Sunday following its self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline to repair the website. . . The eight-page report made no mention of the website’s numerous security flaws, which experts say put Americans’ personal information at risk.

“It doesn’t appear that any security fixes were done at all,” David Kennedy, CEO of the online security firm TrustedSec, told the Washington Free Beacon.

POSTSCRIPT: If you think that its security failings are merely theoretical; they’re not.

(Previous post.)


Your lips are moving again

December 5, 2013

Just don’t believe anything these people say about anything:

President Obama acknowledged on Thursday that he lived with his Kenyan uncle for a brief period in the 1980s while preparing to attend Harvard Law School, contradicting a statement more than a year ago that the White House had no record of the two ever meeting.

Their relationship came into question on Tuesday at the deportation hearing of his uncle, Onyango Obama, in Boston immigration court. His uncle had lived in the United States illegally since the 1970s and revealed in testimony for the first time that his famous nephew had stayed at his Cambridge apartment for about three weeks. At the time, Onyango Obama was here illegally and fighting deportation.

This is weak beer compared to his lies about substantial issues (if you like your plan you can keep it), but it underscores that this bunch will lie about anything at all.

(Via Hot Air.)


Whoa

December 5, 2013

I knew that Healthcare.gov was sending a lot of bad data to insurers, but I didn’t know it was this bad:

The enrollment records for a significant portion of the Americans who have chosen health plans through the online federal insurance marketplace contain errors — generated by the computer system — that mean they might not get the coverage they’re expecting next month.

The errors cumulatively have affected roughly one-third of the people who have signed up for health plans since Oct. 1, according to two government and health-care industry officials. The White House disputed the figure but declined to provide its own.

(Via Moe Lane.) An error rate of one-third!  Wow.

ASIDE: Remember when the White House disputed the allegation that virtually no one was successfully using Healthcare.gov, and the real number of successful users turned out to be six? Good times.

Also, I knew that a lot of the people signing up for plans weren’t actually paying, but I didn’t know it was this bad:

One insurer, Physicians Health Plan of Northern Indiana, has received payments from only about 20% of applicants, nearly all using the firm’s online portal. . . If payment isn’t made by New Year’s Eve, PHP has been told by federal officials that it must void the application.

(Previous post.) (Via Hot Air.)