News/Politics 6-26-15

What’s interesting in the news today?

Open Thread

1. The FBI is rounding up ISIS sympathizers. 

From BloombergView  “The FBI has been rounding up more potential “lone wolf” terrorists, Congressional leaders and the Justice Department say, in response to the perception of a mounting threat of domestic attacks inspired by the Islamic State.

Since the thwarted attack on a “Draw Muhammad” conference in Garland, Texas, on May 3, the Justice Department has announced the arrests of 10 individuals it says were inspired by and supporting the Islamic State. The lawmakers say there have been more arrests that have not yet been announced.

They say the FBI has shifted its approach toward arrests rather than keeping suspects under surveillance, and is also targeting individuals thought to be planning attacks in the U.S., unlike the bureau’s past focus on volunteers preparing to join ISIS’s fight abroad.

“Lately, we have seen an uptick in the number of arrests of ISIL followers who were planning violent acts in our homeland,” said John Carlin, the assistant attorney general for national security. “ISIL, differing from some other foreign terrorist organizations, has demonstrated that they see value in mobilizing sympathizers anywhere in the world.”

The spate of arrests comes in response to what Congressional leaders and the Justice Department say is a mounting threat that radicalized Americans will attempt low-tech, lone wolf attacks in the near future. Lawmakers see the changes as necessary because the Islamic State uses social media so effectively to radicalize Americans and because the group is getting better at using encryption to shield its communications with new recruits.  

The shift has downsides. An emphasis on arrests rather than surveillance limits intelligence gathering. Arresting suspected recruits before they’ve acted makes prosecuting them more difficult. It could also violate the First Amendment right to free expression, if terrorist sympathizers are treated as terrorist supporters.

______________________________________

2. The Confederate flag has an unlikely ally, the former head of the N.C. NAACP. 

From WYHH  “Hours after “Black Lives Matter” was spray-painted on monument for “North Carolina’s Civil War Governor,” H.K. Edgerton stood with a Confederate flag, telling those passing by why he wanted it to continue to fly.”

“Edgerton, one of few African-American members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, was outside the monument waving the Confederate flag soon after the graffiti was removed.

He said the graffiti artist protested incorrectly.

“I’m not going to blame it on a Yankee because I’ve seen some southern folk around here that are real questionable too that don’t know anything about who they are and their families and the honorable people in the southland of America, red, yellow, black, white and brown,” Edgerton said.

He said the Confederate flag needs to continue to wave.”

More here from WISTV

______________________________________

3. Words mean nothing anymore. 

From TheNYTimes  “The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Obama’s health care law allows the federal government to provide nationwide tax subsidies to help poor and middle-class people buy health insurance, a sweeping vindication that endorsed the larger purpose of Mr. Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

The 6-to-3 ruling means that it is all but certain that the Affordable Care Act will survive after Mr. Obama leaves office in 2017. For the second time in three years, the law survived an encounter with the Supreme Court. But the court’s tone was different this time. The first decision, in 2012, was fractured and grudging, while Thursday’s ruling was more assertive.”

“In dissent on Thursday, Justice Antonin Scalia called the majority’s reasoning “quite absurd” and “interpretive jiggery-pokery.”

He announced his dissent from the bench, a sign of bitter disagreement. His summary was laced with notes of incredulity and sarcasm, sometimes drawing amused murmurs in the courtroom as he described the “interpretive somersaults” he said the majority had performed to reach the decision.

“We really should start calling this law Scotus-care,” Justice Scalia said, to laughter from the audience.”

______________________________________

4. It. Just. Keeps. Getting. Worse. 

From TheDailyBeast  “Infidelity. Sexual fetishes. Drug abuse. Crushing debt. They’re the most intimate secrets of U.S. government workers. And now they’re in the hands of foreign hackers.

It was already being described as the worst hack of the U.S. government in history. And it just got much worse.

A senior U.S. official has confirmed that foreign hackers compromised the intimate personal details of an untold number of government workers. Likely included in the hackers’ haul: information about workers’ sexual partners, drug and alcohol abuse, debts, gambling compulsions, marital troubles, and any criminal activity.

Those details, which are now presumed to be in the hands of Chinese spies, are found in the so-called “adjudication information” that U.S. investigators compile on government employees and contractors who are applying for security clearances. The exposure suggests that the massive computer breach at the Office of Personnel Management is more significant and potentially damaging to national security than officials have previously said.

Three former U.S. intelligence officials told The Daily Beast that the adjudication information would effectively provide dossiers on current and former government employees, as well as contractors. It gives foreign intelligence agencies a roadmap for finding people with access to the government’s most highly classified secrets.”

______________________________________

5. Anyone shocked?

From TheWashingtonTimes  “Homeland Security will begin releasing more illegal immigrant families from detention, Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Wednesday as he bowed to political pressure from activists and members of Congress who’d called the conditions inhumane for families.

Despite offering amenities for the illegal immigrants ranging from flat-screen televisions in every suite, classrooms and ball fields at their disposal and 24-hour access to snacks and sodas, Mr. Johnson said he’s concluded things are still too harsh in the three facilities designed to hold families.

He said illegal immigrant parents and children who claim they fear for their lives back home will now have the chance to post a “reasonable and realistic” bond that will earn them the right to be released into the U.S., with the hope that they eventually return for their deportation hearings.”

“It’s a major reversal for Mr. Johnson, who just a year ago pointed to detaining families as one of the key steps he was taking to push back against the surge of illegal immigrant children and families from Central America.

It also comes as new data shows those released from detention almost never show up for their court hearings or to be deported, meaning that any of those families later deemed deportable will likely be difficult to round up.”

90+% aren’t showing up for their hearings now, and they do nothing about it. 

______________________________________

News/Politics 6-23-15

What’s interesting in the news today?

Open Thread

1. Repealing ObamaCare would help the deficit, but we already knew that. 

From TheDailySignal  “These new “dynamic” estimates aren’t perfect by any means. However, they will provide policymakers with a better assessment for how legislation will actually affect the federal fisc.

The new dynamic scoring rule was recently tested in response to a request from Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., to estimate how the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, would affect the deficit and the economy.

For the first time, the CBO and JCT found that repealing Obamacare would increase the gross domestic product by 0.7 percent and that effect alone would reduce projected deficits by $216 billion over the 2016 to 2025 period.

This may sound trivial, but a 0.7 percent increase in GDP is equivalent to an additional $1,400 in the pocket of each household per year. CBO also found that repealing Obamacare would increase capital stocks and the number of people working over the next 10 years.

CBO and JCT also found that that repealing Obamacare would reduce the deficit over the next five years but would then steadily increase the unified budget deficits. However, that assumes Congress will allow both the 40 percent excise tax on high cost health care plans and an automatic reduction in Obamacare subsidies to kick in by 2018, both which seem increasingly unlikely to actually happen.”

_______________________________________

2. Today is the vote on ObamaTrade in the Senate. Let’s hope it loses, but with so many RINO’s, it’s looking unlikely. 

From CenterForImmigrationStudies  “Republican leaders, who seem curiously eager to facilitate this deal for the president, have bent over backwards to assure the many skeptical Republican members that neither Trade Promotion Authority (TPA, or “fast-track” authority) nor the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact, which would be the next trade agreement to be rushed through the approval process on an up or down vote without possibility of amendments, includes or allows changes to immigration or visa law.

Some might be willing to trust our leaders on that, but in fact the biggest danger is not that the TPA bill and the TPP treaty make direct changes to immigration law. The biggest danger lies in theother deals that the president’s team is working on. Provisions in these deals do change immigration laws, and also would preventCongress from adjusting immigration laws that are currently being abused. That is the very goal of all trade pacts — to lock in open access to markets under current or more favorable terms, so that it cannot be changed. (For more on the implications of trade agreements for immigration law, see here.)

If we were just talking about free trade in widgets, these treaties would not be particularly relevant to immigration law. But other countries are pushing hard for open access to U.S. job markets, too, euphemistically calling it “trade in services” and the “movement of natural persons”.

Our current visa rules allow foreign-owned labor contractors who “trade in services” to bring in hundreds of thousands of foreign guestworkers each year. These rules, which the president’s trade negotiators would like to freeze in place, have permitted employers to replace some of their U.S. workers with foreign guestworkers, not because the guestworkers have better skills, but because they are cheaper (see the testimony at a recent Senate Judiciary committee hearing). Those who think the current guestworker rules are adequate certainly will not be troubled by freezing them in place, but there is a growing bipartisan consensus that Congress should change the law to curb abuse.

One of the treaties being negotiated by President Obama’s team is known as the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). The contents were secret until it was obtained by Wikileaks. The documents reveal that the administration hopes to greatly expand access for foreign workers in dozens of occupations including engineering, veterinary medicine, management consulting, construction, waste disposal, hotel and restaurant work, transportation, and recreation. This is not just about computer programmers and nurses; TiSA would facilitate the movement of unlimited numbers of skilled and unskilled workers from participating countries.”

This is what they’ve been trying to hide. 

_______________________________________

3. Sen. Sessions is pleading with Republicans to vote no on this immigration expanding, jobs killing piece of trash. 

From TheWashingtonExaminer  “Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., called on GOP lawmakers to block a “Fast Track” trade bill on Tuesday that President Obama hopes to finalize in order to secure a string of new trade pacts.

Sessions, one of the Senate’s staunchest opponents of the Trade Promotion Authority legislation, or TPA, said new trade deals threaten to cause further economic damage and job loss in the United States and could lead to a back-door deal with China later on.

Approval of TPA will give President Obama expedited power to secure new trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 Pacific Rim nations, or TPP. But Sessions said in his letter that Obama has not spelled out how the U.S. economy might change if the TPP were approved, and that Obama is looking to inject environmental issues into the agreement.

“All of this information gives us more than enough basis to slow down and not fast track anything until all of our questions are answered,” Sessions said in a letter sent to Republican Senate lawmakers on Monday. “We should be inherently skeptical of grand designs, too complex to oversee, whose creators can provide no specifics yet pledge utopian results.”

Sessions’ call to oppose the bill came just two hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled he was optimistic lawmakers will approve a two-part trade package this week.

The plan calls for lawmakers to vote on TPA on Tuesday, and then vote on Wednesday to extend the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, a retraining and aid program for workers displaced by trade deals.”

So they’re trying to bribe unions into supporting it. 

_______________________________________

4. First the IRS harasses conservative groups, now the DoJ is harassing conservative websites. 

From HotAir  “Two weeks ago, Ken White at Popehat reported that the Department of Justice had subpoenaed the records of Reason Magazine to identify anonymous commenters on its website.  Nick Gillespie had criticized the DoJ for its prosecution of the Silk Road case, and a few of its commenters had responded with the usual hyperbole. White found out about the subpoena, but Reason remained so quiet that it became a matter of open speculation as to whether the court had slapped a gag order on the libertarian magazine. Today, Gillespie confirms the gag order, which has since been vacated, and explains the circumstances in which the government of the United States prevented a publication from discussing the abuse of power directed at it:

At about 10:30 am ET on Thursday, June 4, our attorney Gayle Sproul (of Levine, Sullivan, Koch, & Schulz) called Velamoor to discuss the subpoena. The call did not go well. Sproul asked Velamoor to consider scaling back the scope of the subpoena by omitting the more benign commenters. Velamoor said simply, “No.” Then Sproul informed him that we would be notifying our commenters about the subpoena to give them the chance to defend their rights to remain anonymous, and that we would not comply with the subpoena as it related to any commenters who moved to quash the subpoena before our compliance deadline. Sproul explained to him that there is case law firmly establishing that these commenters have the right to speak anonymously, and that we would withhold the information of anyone fighting the subpoena. Velamoor disputed that any such free speech rights exist. He asked that we delay notifying the commenters so he could get a court order prohibiting us from disclosing the subpoena to them. We refused. Sproul pointed out that we were perfectly within our rights to share the subpoena given the law and the wording of his own letter. Velamoor then suggested that Reason was “coming close” to interfering with the grand jury investigation. The call ended abruptly. …

Later that day, at approximately 5:35 pm ET, Velamoor sent Reason a gag order he had later secured blocking us from discussing the subpoena or the order itself with anyone outside of Reason, other than our attorney. …

Having already suggested that Reason might have interfered with a grand jury investigation, Velamoor contacted Sproul on the afternoon of Friday, June 5, in response to a letter from her explaining the commenters’ constitutional rights and laying out the timeline of Reason’s notification to them. Velamoor told her that he now had “preliminary information” suggesting that Reason was in violation of the court order. Sproul said we were not and asked for further information. Velamoor refused to give any specifics, saying simply that he was “looking into it further.”

So as of this point in the saga, Reason had been subpoenaed, we had been vaguely—and falsely—accused by a United States Attorney’s office of actions verging on obstruction of justice and contempt of court, and we were now told that we were being investigated further.

Be sure to read it all. White is outraged over the intimidation from the DoJ, especially given the specious claim that any of these comments represented a “true threat” in a legal sense. He calls it “the everyday arrogance of unchecked power”

_______________________________________

5. These guys never seem to get the numbers right in anything. The Chinese hackers were supposed to have gotten the info on 4.2 million Americans. But as with all the math this administration does, the numbers don’t add up. 

From TheWashingtonExaminer  “Approximately 18 million Americans reportedly had their personal records compromised when hackers attacked the Office of Personnel Management’s databases last year.

That number is exponentially bigger than the 4.2 million OPM first acknowledged earlier this month, and far more than the “up to 14 million” figure that began circulating after OPM acknowledged a second attack reached the sensitive information of not just current and former federal employees, but also of some people who simply applied to work for the federal government.

According to CNN, the larger number reflects family members of government workers who may have had their information stolen.”

_______________________________________

News/Politics 6-8-15

What’s interesting in the news today?

Open Thread

1. China has hacked data on 4 million US govt workers. 

From Bloomberg  “The disclosure by U.S. officials that Chinese hackers stole records of as many as 4 million government workers is now being linked to the thefts of personal information from health-care companies.

Forensic evidence indicates that the group of hackers responsible for the U.S. government breach announced Thursday likely carried out attacks on health-insurance providers Anthem Inc. and Premera Blue Cross that were reported earlier this year, said John Hultquist of iSight Partners Inc. The cyber-intelligence company works with federal investigators.

The thefts are thought to be part of a broader effort by Chinese hackers to obtain health-care records and other personal information stored on millions of U.S. government employees and contractors from various sources, including insurers, government agencies and federal contractors, said a U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The data could be used to target individuals with access to sensitive information who have financial, marital or other problems and might be subject to bribery, blackmail, entrapment and other espionage tools, the official said.”

_____________________________________

2. In hindsight I’m guessing the mayor sees the error in her “let them have space to destroy things” strategy. At least you would hope she’d see the connection.

From CBS/Baltimore  “Baltimore’s top cop confirms what WJZ has been reporting – -almost 200,000 narcotics are on the streets of Baltimore, and police say they’re fueling deadly turf wars.”

“Police believe stolen prescription drugs are driving the violence sweeping the city. “There’s enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year,” Commissioner Batts said.

More than 175,000 units or doses of drugs were looted from 27 pharmacies and two methadone clinics during the April 27 riots. Almost half of those businesses haven’t even finished assessing what was stolen.”

“I think that part of it’s connected to turf battled between gangs and independent drug dealers. You also have a new source, a new inventory of drugs on the street that people have to sell,” said DEA Special Agent Gary Tuggle. “They’re selling to a limited number of people, so they’re vying for that customer base.””

_____________________________________

3. Worst part is many still believe the lies. They’re too lazy to check it on their own. Others don’t even care that they’re false, since it fits their memes. 

From NationalReview  “Have you noticed your liberal friends on Facebook spotlighting some unbelievably shocking comments from Republican presidential candidates lately?

Comments like Ted Cruz declaring on May 22, “While there may have been an age difference, Josh Duggar’s transgressions are far less an affront to God than what gays do to each other.”

Or Dr. Ben Carson saying on May 10, “Mother’s Day is a sad, lonely day for women who aborted their babies. Even if they have a living child, they focus on the one they murdered. It’s why suicide rates are so high on Mother’s Day.”

Or Marco Rubio asking on May 26, “Why wouldn’t I trust Josh Duggar to babysit my children? I’d rather leave my daughters alone with him than with Beyonce or Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift.”

Of course, all of these quotes are fake. They come from a “satirical” Facebook page, “Stop the World, the Teabaggers Want Off.” But that hasn’t stopped more than a few liberals from enthusiastically sharing graphics featuring the imaginary incendiary comments, and stirring themselves into the attendant froth of outrage. The site declares itself to be “for entertainment purposes only,” and that may be true — if you’re the kind of person who devours made-up, outrageous quotes from conservative politicians for fun. But there’s nothing funny about it from the perspective of the politicians’ presidential campaigns, who are starting to see the fake quotes and positions permeate the world of actual news.

“It’s obviously frustrating for any campaign, because the point of these sites is not to inform the public, it’s to cause trouble,” says Brian Phillips, director of rapid response at Cruz for President, who deals with these sorts of stories all the time. “There’s a whole industry of anti-conservative reporters or sometimes just folks on the Left who don’t really care about reporting the truth, who have another agenda to make a candidate look extreme.””

_____________________________________

4. And on a related note……

Same goes for the liberal media. They don’t care if it’s true, as long as it furthers the cause.

From HotAir  “RedState’s Erick Erickson was the closing keynote speaker after a two-day conference on food stamp reform, Obamacare and government fraud hosted by the Foundation for Government Accountability. Here, Erickson spoke at length about liberal media culture, and the delusions from within these circles.”

“Erickson described this cadre of lefty reporters and bloggers as clubby; they’re more interested in narrative than facts, they’re interested in getting from A to B, and they want to change the world for the better, whatever that is–but there are ways to disrupt that narrative.”

“Also, for the grassroots activists, Erickson noted how members of Congress tell him how “dumb” the foot soldiers have become, but it’s not their fault. They’re just not properly informed, with their fact sheets filled with errors–and in some cases not really knowing the policy which prompted the phone call to said legislator.”

“Erickson also said conservatives have to do a better job defending our friends. Granted, there are some people who need to be let go – Erickson didn’t name names – but overall, we shouldn’t sit idly by as the left descends upon the Duck Dynasty guys in an effort to drive them out. He noted that they’re not martyrs of the early Christian period, but we need to stand by folks when they voice their opinions or try to tell the truth about government corruption and fraud.

Now at the same time, the left, which Erickson described as the “Hordes of Mordor,” don’t just go after conservatives; they eat each other–and it’s just as bad.”

_____________________________________

News/Politics 5-18-15

What’s interesting in the news today?

Open Thread 

Here’s a couple to start things off. 

1. First Iran, and now China. Is it just me, or does this guy want to arm all the bad actors with nukes?

From DirectorBlue  “Writing at the Washington Post, Steven Mufson observes that “Obama’s quiet nuclear deal with China raises proliferation concerns.”

It seemed like a typical day for President Obama. He taped a TV interview on trade, hosted the champion NASCAR team on the South Lawn and met with the defense secretary in the Oval Office.

Not so typical was something that didn’t appear that day on the president’s public schedule: notification to Congress that he intends to renew a nuclear cooperation agreement with China. The deal would allow Beijing to buy more U.S.-designed reactors and pursue a facility or the technology to reprocess plutonium from spent fuel. China would also be able to buy reactor coolant technology that experts say could be adapted to make its submarines quieter and harder to detect.

The formal notice initially didn’t draw any headlines. Its unheralded release on April 21 reflected the administration’s anxiety that it might alarm members of Congress and nonproliferation experts who fear China’s growing naval power — and the possibility of nuclear technology falling into the hands of third parties with nefarious intentions.”

________________________________________

2. Another ObamaCare success story……. 🙄

From CNSNews  “President Barack Obama’s home state of Hawaii is shutting down its state-based health care exchange, the Hawaii Health Connector (HHC), due to incurring debts and the unwillingness of state legislators to put more taxpayer money into the struggling operation, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Saturday.

Established in 2011, the non-profit organization is Hawaii’s state-based health exchange for the President’s Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. There are currently about 37,000 Hawaiians enrolled in health care plans through the exchange, far short of the roughly 70,000 needed to raise enough money to sustain it, the article reports.

Officials with the exchange released a report to its board of directors on Friday declaring that the state-based marketplace simply does not have the money to continue operations, the article stated.

“Now that it is clear that the state will not provide sufficient support for the Hawaii Health Connector’s operations through fiscal year 2016 (ending June 30, 2016), the Connector can no longer operate in a manner that would cause it to incur additional debts or other obligations for which it is unable to pay,” the report read, according to the article.”

Nice how they want the states to pick up the tab for this, huh?

More here, from American’s for Tax Reform  “While the exchange has struggled since its creation, it is not for lack of funding. Since 2011 Hawaii has received a total of $205,342,270 in federal grant money from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In total, HHS provided nearly $4.5 billion to Hawaii and other state exchanges, with little federal oversight and virtually no strings attached.

Despite this generous funding, the exchange has underperformed from day one. In its first year, Hawaii enrolled only 8,592 individuals – meaning it spent $23,899 on its website for each individual enrolled. Currently over 37,000 individuals are enrolled in Hawaii’s exchange – well below the estimated 70,000 enrollees that is required to make the website financially viable. Unfortunately, taxpayers will have to hand out an additional $30 million so that Hawaii can migrate to the federal system.

This is not the first time that a state exchange has failed, and taken millions of dollars in federal funds down with it. Earlier this year, Oregon’s state exchange was officially abolished at an estimated cost of $41 million. Cover Oregon, as it used to be known received $305 million in funds from HHS but failed to produce a workable website months after the 2013 November deadline. The debacle has prompted numerous federal agencies and organizations to investigate allegations of inappropriate political interference from then Governor Kitzhaber’s 2014 reelection campaign.”

________________________________________

News/Politics 4-21-15

What’s interesting in the news today?

Open Thread

1. Yes please! 

From TheNYPost  “Despite repeated claims to the contrary, Mayor Bill de Blasio is positioning himself to be the leftist “progressive” alternative to Wall Street-friendly Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Democratic candidate for president, a national party operative told The Post.

De Blasio’s hope, the operative said, is a “Draft de Blasio’’ movement will develop among progressive activists over the next several months that will lead to the mayor being able to defeat Clinton in the primary elections next year in much the same way leftist Sen. George McGovern successfully challenged the initially front-running establishment Democratic candidate, Sen. Edmund Muskie, more than 40 years ago.

Standing ready to back de Blasio against Clinton, said the operative, is the state’s small but influential Working Families Party, which has strong ties to de Blasio and is funded by some of the nation’s most powerful labor unions.”

Let me fix that. They mean small but communist Working Families Party. 

______________________________________

2. Dropping the ball yet again….

From HotAir  “The collapse of Yemen into a failed state has trapped between 3,000 and 4,000 American citizens in the country, caught between al-Qaeda and Houthi Islamists and the military action against both from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Almost until the moment that the Hadi government was put to flight, the White House has insisted that its counterterrorism efforts in Yemen had been a model of success. The final collapse appears to have caught the Obama administration so off-guard that it didn’t have time to organize an evacuation for Americans still left, andMcClatchy’s John Zarocostas reports that no rescue plans will come in the immediate future, either (via Twitchy):

The Obama administration so far has declined to organize a rescue mission for the estimated 3,000 to 4,000 U.S. citizens in Yemen. U.S. officials have said they believe it is too dangerous for U.S. military assets to enter Yemeni waters and air space. They’ve also suggested that organizing Americans to meet at a single departure point would put them at risk of attack from al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula or other terrorist groups seeking American hostages.

That, however, has left Americans largely on their own to find a way out of the country. The U.S. Embassy in Sanaa has been closed for months, and the last American troops in the country were evacuated last month, a few days before the Saudi bombing campaign began.”

______________________________________

3. Math is hard I guess. And California isn’t the only state that fudged the numbers. The White House enrollment numbers are not to be trusted either. They did the same thing. 

From TheDailySignal  “California’s health insurance exchange, established under the Affordable Care Act, has been held out as a national model for Obamacare. In some ways—not all of them good—it is. Whether it’s falling far short of 2015 enrollment goals or sending out 100,000 inaccurate tax forms, Covered California is struggling with its share of challenges.

Now, several senior-level officials integral to the launch of Covered California—who enthusiastically support the Affordable Care Act—are speaking about what they view as gross incompetence and mismanagement involving some of the $1 billion federal tax dollars poured into the state effort.”

“Covered California’s disastrous debut triggered a house of cards. When the website crashed, consumers were directed to fill out paper applications; they were 33 pages long and took at least an hour to complete. What’s more, they couldn’t be coordinated with the electronic version because of a major design flaw. The forms didn’t match.

But Covered California counted duplicate applications as if they were enrollments, giving the impression that more people had successfully signed up. (The Obama administration did the same with national HealthCare.gov applications.)

For example, Covered California’s Lee publicly touted 30,000 successful enrollments for the first month. Hill says the actual number was closer to 4,000.”

______________________________________

News/Politics 2-18-15

What’s interesting in the news today?

1. What does ISIS want? Depends who you ask….

This one is long, but it’s worth it.

From NationalJournal/MSN  “What is the Islamic State?

Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.

The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.

Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.”

_____________________________________

2. According to the idiots at the State Dept. all they need are jobs.

From TheRightScoop State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf told Chris Matthews tonight that we cannot win this war with ISIS by killing them. She said we have to get to the root cause of why people are attracted to Jihad — you know like poverty, jobs, etc…

“We’re killing a lot of them and we’re going to keep killing more of them. So are the Egyptians, so are the Jordanians. They’re in this fight with us. But we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs…””

_____________________________________

3. Some see the obvious danger.

From HSToday  “With estimates that 20,000 foreign fighters—including 3,400 Westerns— from 90 countries around the globe have traveled to Syria to fight for terrorist organizations, US counterterrorism officials are becoming increasingly worried that they will return to American shores to conduct an attack on the homeland.

 “We need to accurately define the threat – violent Islamist extremism – and recognize it is spreading like wildfire around the globe,” said House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX). “These fanatics want nothing less than destruction of our way of life, and now their ability to match words with deeds is growing at an astonishing rate. In recent years, their safe havens have proliferated and their ranks have swelled.”

 In the wake of the Islamic State’s (ISIS) barbaric display of the horrific murder of the Jordanian pilot, the House Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing last Wednesday to examine current efforts to thwart the dual threats of foreign fighters and homegrown terror.

 “This evolving Islamist terror landscape has given rise to the ―dual threats of foreign fighter returnees and homegrown terrorism,” McCaul said. “The recent terror attack in Paris, and other attacks and plots in Belgium, Germany, the UK, Australia, Canada, and here in the US are proof that the threat has surged and that the enemy is dead set on attacking the West.””

_____________________________________

4. Oh yeah, great idea. 🙄

From ABCNews  “Top U.S. counterterrorism officials say they worry a potential terrorist could be hiding among refugees who are looking to come to the United States after escaping the brutal war in Syria.

“It’s clearly a population of concern,” the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Nicholas Rasmussen, told the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday.

Committee Chairman Mike McCaul, R-Texas, went further, saying it would be a “huge mistake” to bring refugees from the conflict to the U.S. – even as an estimated 4 million children, women and men have been forced to flee Syria and another 7 million have been displaced from their homes there, unable to leave.”

_____________________________________

5. It’s moves like this that make me question the president’s efforts.

More from CNSNews  “The United States does not support Egyptian and Emirati airstrikes against Islamist militias in Libya because the U.S. believes the crisis in Libya must be resolved politically and without outside interference, a Department of Defense spokesman said Tuesday.

Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrying out airstrikes in Libya was different from U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant forces in Iraq, Pentagon spokesman Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told a briefing, because the U.S. was acting in Iraq, in a “very targeted” manner, at the request of its government.

“This wasn’t some unilateral decision by the United States to strike targets inside Iraq.”

““We discourage other nations from taking a part in Libya’s issues through violence,” Kirby said. “We want the issues solved in Libya to be done peacefully and through good governance and politics and not violence.””

_____________________________________

6. Meanwhile, at the White House’s so-called terrorism summit the conversation is about the big threats posed by Christians. But Islamic terrorism? Not so much…

From CNSNews  “A U.S. Islamic advocacy group says that Vice- President Joe Biden, addressing a White House summit on “countering violent extremism (CVE)” on Tuesday, referred to right-wing extremists and supremacists committing violence “in the name of the Bible.”

The comments did not feature in Biden’s 19 minute-long opening remarks, televised by C-SPAN, in which the vice-president focused on America as a nation of immigrants, the need for different communities to “see” each other, and for countries to engage with “marginalized” communities.

“Biden just talked about the right wing militias & supremacist groups that are violent in the name of the Bible,” the Washington-based Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) tweeted later in the afternoon.”

_____________________________________

7. Obama’s amnesty plan has suffered a setback.

From LegalInsurrection In a decision which is to have a profound impact on both the immigration debate and the currently stalled funding of the Department of Homeland Security, a federal court judge in Texas has issued a Temporary Restraining Injunctive Order preventing implementation of Obama’s Immigration executive action. The Order and 123-page Opinion are embedded in full below.

From a political perspective, if Obama is enjoined from enforcing his immigration executive action, how can Congress fund an illegal act? Or if it were funded, thereby relieving the current continuing resolution stalemate, Obama could not enforce it. Either way, this may provide Congress a way out of the jam just days before the funding deadline.

What this allows Republicans to do, is pass a 30 day spending bill without any limitations on the argument that the immigration plan cannot be acted upon anyway, and wait and see how the courts rule. IF the courts refuse to put the injunction on hold, or if the courts uphold the injunction on the merits, then there is no need to worry about defunding the executive action. If an appeals court reverses, then the Republican leadership can say that it has already been upheld as lawful so there is no legal basis for the claim it is unconstitutional. This could be a victory at least to get over the current impasse, although it may not be a long term solution.

The case involves 26 states (originally 17) led by Texas.”

_____________________________________

8. Shouldn’t liberals be shrieking about separation of church and state about now? Oh that’s right, the ends always justify the means.

From TheWeeklyStandard  “In an effort to sign up as many consumers as possible for insurance under the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare), the Obama administration has gone to extraordinary lengths to partner with churches and other faith-based groups, even publishing sample church bulletin inserts, flyers, and scripts for announcements, as well as “talking points.” These materials are part of the “Second Sunday & Faith Weekend of Action Toolkit,” which is available on the website of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

From the beginning, HHS has sought to develop partnerships with faith-based organizations to promote the Obamacare. This “toolkit” has been available since 2013. However, the details of these partnerships have largely escaped the attention of the national media. The Second Sunday & Faith Weekend of Action program encourages churches to use the second Sunday of each month during open enrollment to hold informational meetings and sign-up events. “

_____________________________________

 

News/Politics 2-11-15

What’s interesting in the news today?

1. The ObamaCare ruling may end civilization as we know it.

Or not.

From TheAmericanSpectator  “The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell three weeks from now, and the possibility that the justices might uphold the health care “reform” law as written has driven our liberal friends to the edge of lunacy. This is never a long journey for anyone on the left, of course, but they have arrived at the precipice with unusual alacrity this time. Their predictions about the outcome should the Court rule that “established by the state” actually means “established by the state” have gone from the merely portentous to the downright apocalyptic in only a few months.

When the Court agreed last November to hear this lawsuit, which challenges the IRS decision to ignore the text of the law and issue tax credits through federally created insurance exchanges, Obamacare advocates were clearly shocked. Still, they affected confidence that the plaintiffs had no prayer of prevailing. The justices, they said, would never rule against the government based on a “drafting error” in the statute. But when these people discovered that the typo argument was so thin that even the Obama administration had stopped using it, they began to show signs of alarm.

They started predicting that the Court would “cripple” Obamacare. But 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the law, so this didn’t exactly cause panic in streets. Next, they said that a ruling against the government could deprive many of taxpayer-funded insurance subsidies. The taxpayers were oddly unmoved. Now, they have resorted to claims so wild that even progressives will have trouble taking them seriously. Think Progress, for example, published a screed last week with the following title: “How King v. Burwell Threatens the Lives of Millions of Children.”

And DNC mouthpieces like Think Progress are by no means the only purveyors of such balderdash. The nominally independent Slate warns that “9,800 additional Americans will die each year” if the Court rules against the Obama administration. Even relatively respectable publications have joined this chorus. The Hill posted a story last Friday titled, “King v. Burwell will decide the Fate of Millions,” whose author solemnly warns that “the wrong outcome” would put “American lives in peril” and “erode some of the largest coverage expansions in decades.””

_______________________________________

2. Somehow I doubt this will calm ObamaCare’s left-leaning supporters.

From TheNYPost  “For five years, President Obama has ridiculed Republicans for not having “a meaningful alternative” to ObamaCare. The tables are turning.

Republicans announced a plan on Wednesday, just two weeks before the Supreme Court will hear a new, major challenge to the health law. If the president loses in court, he will have to deal with this GOP blueprint, not dismiss it.

The plan kills the major features of the Affordable Care Act, including mandates on individuals and employers, numerous taxes and the IPAB rationing board.

In their place, it offers tax credits for low-income citizens, more consumer choice, regulatory relief for employers and medical-malpractice reform to drive costs down.

Right now, it’s pie in the sky. Obama would veto it tomorrow.

But in a crisis, “the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable,” noted economist Milton Friedman. Whatever idea’s ready to go becomes the course of action.”

_______________________________________

3. Obama is putting forward his new authorization for military force against ISIS.

From BloombergView  “President Barack Obama will soon give Congress his proposal for a new authorization for the use of military force against Islamic State fighters, and it will place strict limits on the types of U.S. ground forces that can be deployed, according to congressional sources.

Almost six months after the president began using force against the Islamic State advance in Iraq and then in Syria, the White House is ready to ask Congress for formal permission to continue the effort. Until now, the administration has maintained it has enough authority to wage war through the 2001 AUMF on al-Qaeda, the 2002 AUMF regarding Iraq and Article II of the Constitution. But under pressure from Capitol Hill, the White House has now completed the text of a new authorization and could send it to lawmakers as early as Wednesday. 

If enacted, the president’s AUMF could effectively constrain the next president from waging a ground war against the Islamic State group until at least 2018. Aides warned that the White House may tweak the final details before releasing the document publicly. “

_______________________________________

4. How a family adoption trip led to a charge of criminal child neglect.

From MSNNews  “For three years, Jessica Smith’s son had been begging her for a little brother.

Then the orphanage in Mongolia that had given her Ziggy called to tell her that it had another young boy for her. At the time, Ziggy, whose given name is Zorigt, had just started second grade at a D.C. public school.

Smith had to make a decision. Should she and Ziggy fly to Ulaanbaatar and adopt the child they’d been seeking to make their family three? Or should she avoid the risk of too many classroom absences and give up on the child for which they had been longing and waiting?

The decision she made landed Smith in D.C. Superior Court last month on a charge of criminal child neglect. In a city battling a sky-high truancy rate, her story illustrates the absurd rigidity of the rules, which forbid excusing more than 10 absences without a doctor’s note, a court note or an emergency.”

_______________________________________

5. Anybody shocked? They keep insisting there’s nothing there, yet they keep hiding documents.

From TheHill  “The Obama administration is refusing to publicly release more than 500 documents on the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups.

Twenty months after the IRS scandal broke, there are still many unanswered questions about who was spearheading the agency’s scrutiny of conservative-leaning organizations. 

The Hill sought access to government documents that might provide a glimpse of the decision-making through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

The Hill asked for 2013 emails and other correspondence between the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The request specifically sought emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner and Treasury officials, including Secretary Jack Lew, while the inspector general was working on its explosive May 2013 report that the IRS used “inappropriate criteria” to review the political activities of tax-exempt groups.

TIGTA opted not to release any of the 512 documents covered by the request, citing various exemptions in the law. The Hill recently appealed the FOIA decision, but TIGTA denied the appeal. TIGTA also declined to comment for this article.”

_______________________________________

6. HA! Finally the proof I needed to justify my afternoon nap. 🙂

From TheDailyMail  “Indulging in a power nap can repair the damage caused by a lack of sleep, new research today claims.

Having a 30-minute snooze can help relieve stress and bolster the immune systems by restoring hormones and proteins to normal levels.

Scientists hope their findings will help shift workers and those suffering insomnia, by mitigating the damage caused by too few hours sleep.

Sleep deprivation not only puts people at increased risk of suffering accidents, but they are also more likely to develop chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.  

Dr Brice Faraut, of the Université Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris Cité, said: ‘Our data suggests a 30-minute nap can reverse the hormonal impact of a night of poor sleep.”

_______________________________________