How do you say Obamacare in Spanglish?

February 14, 2014

The Spanish-language version of Healthcare.gov isn’t actually in Spanish:

The Associated Press reports “the translations were so clunky and full of grammatical mistakes that critics say they must have been computer-generated.” The situation is even worse when applicants begin digging into then nitty-gritty of the plans. “When you get into the details of the plans, it’s not all written in Spanish. It’s written in Spanglish, so we end up having to translate it for them,” Adrian Madriz, a health care navigator in Miami, told the AP.

From a Republican, this would be proof of racism.

(Previous post.) (Via PJ Tatler.)

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Not a smidgen of corruption

February 14, 2014

Every single 501(c)(4) group that the IRS selected for audit was conservative. Imagine that.

And the Democrats want more:

Senate Democrats facing tough elections this year want the Internal Revenue Service to play a more aggressive role in regulating outside groups expected to spend millions of dollars on their races.

(Previous post.)


Schadenfreudelicious

February 14, 2014

This can’t help but bring a smile to your face:

It’s getting difficult and slinking toward impossible to defend the Affordable Care Act. The latest blow to Democratic candidates, liberal activists, and naïve columnists like me came Monday from the White House, which announced yet another delay in the Obamacare implementation. . .

The win-at-all-cost mentality helped create a culture in which a partisan-line vote was deemed sufficient for passing transcendent legislation. It spurred advisers to develop a dishonest talking point—”If you like your health plan, you’ll be able to keep your health plan.” And political expediency led Obama to repeat the line, over and over and over again, when he knew, or should have known, it was false.

Defending the ACA became painfully harder when online insurance markets were launched from a multi-million-dollar website that didn’t work, when autopsies on the administration’s actions revealed an epidemic of incompetence that began in the Oval Office and ended with no accountability.

Then officials started fudging numbers and massaging facts to promote implementation, nothing illegal or even extraordinary for this era of spin. But they did more damage to the credibility of ACA advocates.

Finally, there are the ACA rule changes—at least a dozen major adjustments, without congressional approval.

Read the whole thing, and enjoy.

(Previous post.)


Error and cover-up

February 14, 2014

Perjury is so common from this administration it hardly even seems notable any more. But let’s note it anyway:

After seven years of litigation, two trips to a federal appeals court and $3.8 million worth of lawyer time, the public has finally learned why a wheelchair-bound Stanford University scholar was cuffed, detained and denied a flight from San Francisco to Hawaii: FBI human error. FBI agent Kevin Kelley . . . checked the wrong box on a terrorism form, erroneously placing Rahinah Ibrahim on the no-fly list. . .

Instead of admitting to the error, high-ranking President Barack Obama administration officials spent years covering it up. Attorney General Eric Holder, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and a litany of other government officials claimed repeatedly that disclosing the reason Ibrahim was detained, or even acknowledging that she’d been placed on a watch list, would cause serious damage to the U.S. national security. . .

Holder went so far as to tell the judge presiding over the case that this assertion of the state secrets privilege was fully in keeping with Obama’s much-ballyhooed 2009 executive branch reforms of the privilege, which stated the administration would invoke state secrets sparingly. . . In his declaration, Holder assured Judge Alsup that the government would not be claiming national security to conceal “administrative error” or to “prevent embarrassment” — an assertion that is now nearly impossible to square with the facts.

(Emphasis mine.)


The first rule of Obamacare job cuts is: do not talk about Obamacare job cuts

February 14, 2014

The latest in Barack Obama’s make-it-up-as-we-go-along approach to implementing the law:

You’ve no doubt heard about the latest ObamaCare “delay”–the announcement that the Internal Revenue Service will waive fines on certain employers that do not provide workers with medical insurance. That “employer mandate,” which by law took effect this year, had already been put off until 2015. Now it won’t be enforced until 2016 for companies with between 50 and 99 employees, and those with 100 or more will escape fines if they offer insurance to 70% of their employees rather than the 95% stipulated in the law.

Of course, they have no statutory authority for any of that. And yes, that’s still an outrage, however common it is becoming from this administration. But I want to look a different aspect of this. Employers can avoid the mandate until 2016 if they can get below 100 employees. And thus the administration responds:

Obama officials made clear in a press briefing that firms would not be allowed to lay off workers to get into the preferred class of those businesses with 50 to 99 employees. How will the feds know what employers were thinking when hiring and firing? Simple. Firms will be required to certify to the IRS–under penalty of perjury–that ObamaCare was not a motivating factor in their staffing decisions. To avoid ObamaCare costs you must swear that you are not trying to avoid ObamaCare costs.

The administration has no statutory authority to make any such demand, and even if it did, the statute would be unconstitutional. But that may not matter, because no one wants to be harassed by the IRS, even if they have the law on their side.

What the Obama administration is saying is this: go ahead and cut jobs to get under 100, but don’t tell anyone that’s what you’re doing. If we see any embarrassing stories about Obamacare job cuts, we’re siccing the IRS on you.

(Previous post.)


Milbank plays to type

February 14, 2014

milbank 001Dana Milbank, the notoriously biased Washington Post reporter, levels an accusation so flimsy it was debunked by MSNBC:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been caught using purloined passages in several of his speeches. Now the aspiring presidential candidate stands accused of filing a lawsuit stolen from its author.

Since December, the libertarian lawmaker, a tea party favorite, had been working with former Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein to draft a class-action suit seeking to have the National Security Agency’s surveillance of telephone data declared unconstitutional. . . But when Paul filed his suit at the U.S. District Court in Washington on Wednesday morning, Fein’s name had been replaced with that of Ken Cuccinelli. . .

Fein, who has not been paid in full for his legal work by Paul’s political action committee, was furious that he had been omitted from the filing he wrote.

Milbank backed up his claim by quoting Fein’s ex-wife. Amazingly, he never verified it with Fein himself. MSNBC did, and found it was bogus:

Did Rand Paul lift legal work from a celebrated conservative lawyer without fully paying him? The attorney in question says he didn’t. . .

A spokesperson for RANDPAC forwarded an email from Fein denying Mattie Fein’s allegations. “Mattie Lolavar was not speaking for me,” Fein said in the email. “Her quotes were her own and did not represent my views.  I was working on a legal team, and have been paid for my work.” Bruce Fein confirmed to msnbc that the email was from him.

Seems convincingly debunked to me, but Milbank isn’t ready to give up. In a column entitled “E-mails back claim that Sen. Rand Paul ‘stole’ NSA lawsuit”, he dumped a bunch of internal emails (presumably leaked by the ex-wife) that indicate he was disgruntled about being left out of some key decisions. But they also make clear that Fein was indeed hired and paid for his work.

In Milbank’s original column, he claimed that Fein wasn’t paid at all. (ASIDE: I haven’t been able to verify this myself, since the Washington Post won’t let Archive.org crawl their site, but Milbank says so (“An early version of my Wednesday column said that Fein had not been paid and that Paul’s aides had not responded to inquiries.”), and I assume he wouldn’t lie about his own work in a way that makes him look worse.)

Now Milbank has edited his column to say that Fein “has not been paid in full,” as you see it in the quote at the top. That is technically true but deliberately misleading. What Milbank doesn’t say, but you can see in the emails he publishes, is that the outstanding payment isn’t even due until today:

My outstanding invoice for work indispensable to the lawsuit should be paid no later than Friday, February 14, an expectation which is completely justified in light of all the circumstances.

Truly shoddy work, and typical of Milbank. I’ll bet the Post is glad they have him off the news page and onto opinion.

(Via Instapundit.)


Demagogue

February 13, 2014

Barack Obama used to have this thing he did were he would give the opposing argument its due before disagreeing with it. It was the only thing I liked about him. For example:

[Theodore Roosevelt] believed then what we know is true today, that the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history. It’s led to a prosperity and a standard of living unmatched by the rest of the world.

But Roosevelt also knew that the free market has never been a free license to take whatever you can from whomever you can. He understood the free market only works when there are rules of the road that ensure competition is fair and open and honest.

But that was back when Obama thought he had the winning argument. Now he knows he doesn’t, so all he does is demagogue:

The bottom line is there are folks out there who don’t want to see this program succeed, and there are folks out there who don’t want to see you get health insurance if you don’t have it.

Yeah, right. We don’t want people to get health insurance. That’s exactly it. Geez.


Settled law

February 12, 2014

Barack Obama, October 2013, responding to Republican efforts to delay implementation of Obamacare:

Stop this farce. End this shutdown now. The American people don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their job. Neither does Congress. They don’t get to hold our democracy or our economy hostage over a settled law. They don’t get to kick a child out of Head Start if I don’t agree to take her parents’ health insurance away. That’s not how our democracy is supposed to work. That’s why I won’t pay a ransom in exchange for reopening the government.

February 2014, delaying implementation of Obamacare:

For the second time in a year, the Obama administration is giving certain employers extra time before they must offer health insurance to almost all their full-time workers. Under new rules announced Monday by Treasury Department officials, employers with 50 to 99 workers will be given until 2016 — two years longer than originally envisioned under the Affordable Care Act — before they risk a federal penalty for not complying.

Obamacare is “settled law” exactly as much as Obama wants it to be:

unilaterallychanged

 

(Via Instapundit.)

BONUS: News from an alternate universe:

In a move certain to please his conservative supporters and infuriate his critics, President Romney announced this afternoon that his administration would make yet another change to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In a terse release, posted without fanfare to the Department of Health and Human Services website, officials revealed that the law’s employer mandate would be suspended until 2016 for all businesses that employ between 50 and 99 people.

Read the whole thing.

(Previous post.)


“I can do whatever I want”

February 12, 2014

Yep, Barack Obama said that:

That’s the good thing as a president. I can do whatever I want.

The context was relatively benign, breaking the rules for Monticello visitors, or something like that. (It wasn’t like he was claiming the right to unilaterally alter the law or anything outrageous like that.) What’s troubling is the mentality that leads him to say things like that, out loud, in public.

This is America, and Obama is a president, not a king. You’re not supposed to talk like that. The president serves the people, he is not above the people. And he does not seem to understand that at all.


Was there ever any doubt?

February 12, 2014

The only surprising thing here is that someone wrote it down:

Shortly before Hillary Clinton’s effort to pass health care reform died in the summer of 1994, the first lady asked a close friend and confidant for advice on “how best to preserve her general memories of the administration and of health care in particular.”

When asked why, according to the friend’s June 20, 1994, diary entry, Clinton said, “Revenge.”

Hillary must be furious, because she knew better than to keep a diary:

“She told me she does not keep a diary and thinks it best not to keep one,” Blair wrote about Clinton in June 1994.

Blair later wrote in January of 1995 that Clinton said “she dare not… keep records of inti9mate (sic) thoughts and conversations” for fear of “subpoenas.”


Liberal behaves like liberal

February 12, 2014

The New York Post reports:

A politically connected Brooklyn pastor was arrested for a pair of open warrants — but was spared a night in jail after Mayor de Blasio called an NYPD boss to inquire about his close pal. . . Findlayter — the head of Brooklyn’s New Hope Christian Church who was instrumental in delivering the black vote to de Blasio — was pulled over at 11:21 p.m. Monday in East Flatbush for making a left turn without signaling, police said.

This is how it always is under a progressive regime. They proclaim equality for all, but there are always different rules for the nomenklatura. Some are more equal than others.

(Via Instapundit.)


Law of unintended consequences, repealed!

February 12, 2014

One big problem for liberal social engineers is the law of unintended consequences. They pass a law that is supposed to accomplish a goal (e.g., raise the minimum wage), but people then change their behavior to mitigate the law’s effect (e.g., hire fewer low-wage workers). Why won’t people just cooperate: change the one thing liberals want and leave everything else alone?

So, get this:

Some lawmakers, though, have claimed that the mere threat of the employer mandate is causing companies to shed full-time workers in the hope of keeping their staff size below 50 and avoiding the requirement.

Administration officials dispute that this is happening on any large scale. Further, Treasury officials said Monday that businesses will be told to “certify” that they are not shedding full-time workers simply to avoid the mandate. Officials said employers will be told to sign a “self-attestation” on their tax forms affirming this, under penalty of perjury.

(Via Hot Air.)

Now, I’m not sure what legal authority they have to demand this; certainly I never heard of any. But in those thousand pages there could certainly be some provision that wasn’t noticed before (“we have to pass it to find out what’s in it”!). Let’s assume there is. (And if not, it doesn’t really matter to my point.)

This is simply brilliant. Liberals have a problem with people changing their behavior to cope with their interference, why not simply prohibit that? Simply ban the unintended consequences!

Why stop here? Tax increases make people cut back on business expansions. Make them attest — under penalty of perjury — that they are growing their business every bit as much as they would have. Price controls lead to shortages? Don’t let producers cut back. (It’s working in Venezuela, right?) Debasing the currency leads to inflation? Prohibit employers from raising wages. Welfare and social engineering destroying the nuclear family? Just require any single people to attest that they wouldn’t otherwise have gotten married. And if the self-attestation process has unintended consequences, just ban those too.

There’s really no limit to what they can accomplish, once behavior becomes clay they can mold instead of living people’s choices. (Darn those living people and their choices, anyway!)

And if it doesn’t work, at least you’ve got more ways you can harass the people you don’t like. It’s a win-win for liberals.

UPDATE: More here.

(Previous post.)


STAP cells

February 9, 2014

Scientists appear to have discovered a new way to create stem cells without killing embryos that’s even easier than iPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells). They found that simply exposing blood cells to acid turns them into stem cells. They call the process STAP (stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency).


You can check out any time you like

February 9, 2014

As hard as it might be to enroll in Obamacare, un-enrolling is even worse:

Think it’s hard to enroll in ObamaCare? Try getting out of it.

Missouri resident Lesli Hill learned the hard way that terminating an Affordable Care Act plan can be far more difficult than navigating the website to buy one. She spent six weeks being bounced from operator to operator, calling the help line, using the online chat, blasting out emails to anyone who would listen, before ultimately driving to Kansas City last week to enlist her insurance company’s help. Only then was she able to break through the bureaucratic logjam, and cancel her policy.

(Previous post.)


Useful idiots

February 9, 2014

Charles Blow, a New York Times columnist, says that Barack Obama can’t be a lawless president, because he hasn’t issued very many executive orders.

Apparently he is arguing that the number of executive orders matter more than their contents! If the next president were to issue an executive order to imprison one Charles Blow for excessive ideological idiocy, that wouldn’t make him lawless, because that would be just one order.

He can’t actually be stupid enough to believe this, which tells you what he thinks of the New York Times’s readership. I wonder if he’s right.

(Via Instapundit.)


OMG

February 8, 2014

NBC calls communism one of history’s pivotal experiments. No matter how low your opinion of them, they still manage to disappoint.

UPDATE: Meredith Vieira calls the end of communism “bittersweet”.


QFT

February 5, 2014

Glenn Reynolds has an insightful observation:

When you no longer can be sure that there are things the government wouldn’t do, you have to base your assessments on the things that it could do. As I’ve noted, making “crazy” conspiracy theories seem more-or-less sane is one of Obama’s toxic legacies.

There’s an old adage that in geopolitics you need to prepare based on your enemy’s capabilities, not his intentions. It used to be that adage didn’t apply domestically: we didn’t have domestic enemies (other than fringe elements), only opponents. But now it’s clear that Obama does view us as enemies, so we have to do the same.


Handwritten notes are superior

February 5, 2014

A new study confirms what I have long believed, that taking handwritten notes leads to better learning than typed notes. Those who type tend to record verbatim, while those who take notes by hand actually process the material.

(Via Instapundit.)


Obamacare delenda est

February 5, 2014

The only silver lining to Obamacare is all the chances I get to say I told you so:

The new healthcare law will cost the nation the equivalent of 2.5 million workers in the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in a report released Tuesday.

The nonpartisan agency found the reform law’s negative effects on employment would be “substantially larger” than what it had previously anticipated.

It said the equivalent of 2.3 million workers would be lost by 2021, compared to its previous estimate of 800,000, and that 2.5 million workers would be lost by 2024. It also projected that labor force compensation would be reduced by 1 percent from 2017 to 2024 — twice its previous estimate.

But wait, there’s more:

One killer detail comes on Page 111, where the report projects: “As a result of the ACA, between 6 million and 7 million fewer people will have employment-based insurance coverage each year from 2016 through 2024 than would be the case in the absence of the ACA.”

Well, maybe millions will lose their employment-based coverage, but they’ll all get coverage back from the exchanges, right? Nope:

“About 31 million nonelderly residents of the United States are likely to be without health insurance in 2024, roughly one out of every nine such residents.”

Why? Because, in selling the bill to the American people in a nationally televised September 2009 address, President Obama said the need for ObamaCare was urgent precisely because “there are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage.”

Now the CBO is saying is that in 10 years, about the same number of people will lack insurance as before. This, after new expenditures of as much as $2 trillion and a colossal disruption of the US medical system.

ASIDE: That statistic, bad as it is, doesn’t even tell the whole story. It just counts all those with some kind of insurance, neglecting the fact that nearly everyone is paying more for worse insurance.

In short, Obamacare is a complete failure. It is wrecking the economy, while utterly failing to do anything about the problem of the insured. More precisely, it’s a disaster, not a failure. Despite everything, it is succeeding in its real aim, which is to give the government more power.

BONUS: As a bonus, Glenn Reynolds digs this up, where Factcheck.org “fact-checked” Republican predictions that Obamacare would fail:

Independent, nonpartisan experts project only a “small” or “minimal” impact on jobs, even before taking likely job gains in the health care and insurance industries into account. . . One leading health care expert, John Sheils of The Lewin Group, puts the loss at between 150,000 and 300,000 jobs, at or near the minimum wage. And Sheils says that relatively small loss would be partly offset by gains in the health care industry.

Look, you can’t fact-check a prediction. It’s a prediction! And, as it turns out, all the predictions that they labeled misleading (as many as 1.6 million jobs lost) were much more rosy that what the CBO now says is actually happening (2.5 million jobs lost).

POSTSCRIPT: It’s worth noting that we’ve moved on from the side-show which was the Healthcare.gov debacle (although Healthcare.gov still doesn’t work!), and on to the first confirmation of real economic damage. Healthcare.gov was a surprise; we assumed that they would be able to build a web site. Stuff like this is what we were expecting. And worse to come.

(Previous post.)


A teachable moment

February 5, 2014

Ah, the community organizers:

Trader Joe’s wanted to build a new store in Portland, Oregon. Instead of heading to a tony neighborhood downtown or towards the suburbs, the popular West Coast grocer chose a struggling area of Northeast Portland.

The company selected two acres along Martin Luther King Blvd. that had been vacant for decades. It seemed like the perfect place to create jobs, improve customer options and beautify the neighborhood. City officials, the business community, and residents all seemed thrilled with the plan. Then some community organizers caught wind of it.

The fact that most members of the Portland African-American Leadership Forum didn’t live in the neighborhood was beside the point. “This is a people’s movement for African-Americans and other communities, for self-determination,” member Avel Gordly said in a press conference. Even the NAACP piled on, railing against the project as a “case study in gentrification.” (The area is about 25 percent African-American.)

After a few months of racially tinged accusations and angry demands, Trader Joe’s decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. “We run neighborhood stores and our approach is simple,” a corporate statement said. “If a neighborhood does not want a Trader Joe’s, we understand, and we won’t open the store in question.”

Hours after Trader Joe’s pulled out, PAALF leaders arrived at a previously scheduled press conference trying to process what just happened. The group re-issued demands that the now-cancelled development include affordable housing, mandated jobs based on race, and a small-business slush fund. Instead, the only demand being met is two fallow acres and a lot of anger from the people who actually live nearby.

“All of my neighbors were excited to have Trader Joe’s come here and replace a lot that has always been empty,” said Nghi Tran. “It’s good quality for poor men.” Like many residents, Tran pins the blame on PAALF. “They don’t come to the neighborhood cleanups,” he said. “They don’t live here anymore.”

“There are no winners today,” said Adam Milne, owner of an area restaurant. “Only missed tax revenue, lost jobs, less foot traffic, an empty lot and a boulevard still struggling to support its local small businesses.” The store was to be built by a local African American-owned construction company.

Instead of a new development bringing shoppers and jobs, they have an empty lot. That’s what the community organizers do. Bringing money to the neighborhood if of no use to them if they can’t control where it goes. “You can’t bring jobs here unless you let me wet my beak a little.”

If a development’s projected profitability is large enough, maybe the developers will pay protection. If it’s marginal, they won’t. And here’s the thing: in a struggling neighborhood, every potential developments is marginal! Places like northeast Portland are never going to get ahead while they let self-interested community organizers speak for them.

(Via Instapundit.)


Obamacare malware

February 4, 2014

Just when you thought Obamacare’s woes couldn’t get any worse:

U.S. intelligence agencies last week urged the Obama administration to check its new health care network for malicious software after learning that developers linked to the Belarus government helped produce the website, raising fresh concerns that private data posted by millions of Americans will be compromised. . .

Specifically, officials warned that programmers in Belarus, a former Soviet republic closely allied with Russia, were suspected of inserting malicious code that could be used for cyber attacks, according to U.S. officials familiar with the concerns.

It seems astonishing that they would have hired Belarusian developers to build the Obamacare exchanges, until you remember that Obamacare’s developers were chosen specifically for their ability to refuse a Congressional subpoena. Then it doesn’t seem so astonishing after all.

On some level it even seems appropriate, since Obamacare is basically a malware attack on the US health care system.

(Previous post.)


You can’t teach people to program, this is California!

February 3, 2014

California cracks down on unregulated lessons. Because California thinks it’s better for people to remain ignorant than to be taught by the wrong people.

(Via Instapundit.)