Friday, October 31, 2014

A Speech for All Time

A Speech for All Time
Republicans must apply the principles of Reagan’s “Time for Choosing” to today’s challenges.
By Marco Rubio

How High Will Your Health Insurance Premiums Go In 2015?

How High Will Your Health Insurance Premiums Go In 2015?

 by Hugh Hewitt

Nobody knows because Team Obama has conveniently arranged for you to be kept in the dark on your health insurance costs until after everyone votes next week.
Most are expecting 5% to 10% hikes, but there are rumblings of far nastier surprises.
Read this Denver Post report of a Colorado study of expected rates for individuals on the state’s massively screwed-up exchange. (Not a failed exchange, like Oregon’s or Maryland’s, just a screwed-up exchange.)  It begins:
Colorado health-insurance consumers relying on tax credits will see their share of premiums rise an average of 77 percent next year if they keep the same plans, according to the state’s preliminary analysis.
While premiums overall are not expected to increase significantly in 2015, the way tax credits are calculated under the Affordable Care Act is creating challenges for Colorado consumers.
According to an analysis done for the Colorado Division of Insurance, the average share of costs for customers receiving tax credits in 2014 was $161.79 a month. In 2015, if they keep the same plans, their average share of costs after tax credits will be $281.01.
You’ve got to love that “[w]hile premiums overall are not expected to increase significantly in 2015″ assurance, followed by the hammer of the rarity of radically decreasing tax credits.
The bottom line is that the total cost while skyrocket for Centennial State consumers buying individual policies if they keep “the plan they like.”
Of course most voters won’t figure this out until after the elections, but the signs are there.  Here’s the start of a story from CBS Minnesota:
Minnesotans who bought policies on the state’s health insurance exchange are starting to get their first renewal notices, and many could be in for a jolt.
Premiums for most of the more than 55,000 individuals signed up for private insurance plans via MNsure are going up. For the nearly 33,000 who have coverage from PreferredOne, most who want to keep those policies next year will have to pay over 60 percent more, according to officials with the Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters who’ve seen the company’s rate data.
A 60% hike!  How would such news impact voters weighing the choice between Al Franken and Mike McFadden –if they knew about it.
Thus has the manipulation of Obamacare’s rollout be designed to keep voters from feeling the full impact of the disruptions caused by Obamacare, but like the boat hitting the first patch of rough water, heads are raised and eyebrows furrowed as bits and pieces of information cross the country’s collective screen, even as it s mostly watching the Ebola and ISIS stories.  Many suspect that something is rotten in Obamacare, and it isn’t just the state exchanges.
The ABC News/Washington Post poll is a disaster for Democrats rounding the bend into elections a week away, so they are desperate to talk about anything except the cost of health insurance, the economy, Ebola, ISIS, the collapse of Libya into chaos, Russia’s assaults on Ukraine…you name it, Democrats don’t want to go there.
They are left with…nothing.  Worse than nothing, as they hope voters aren’t reading and watching the signs of how their individual wallets will handle 2015.
Not the place they wanted to be a week before the results are tallied, and for this they have President Obama to thank.  He’s on the ballot, right there with every Democrat.  And an angry country cannot wait to send the disconnected, dispirited president a very loud message.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

THE MOST STUNNING NEWS STORY OF 2014


Back in June 2013, we covered the hacking of at least one of reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s computers by persons unknown. CBS, which, as we now know, was anything but supportive of Attkisson, verified that the intrusion(s) had taken place:
A cyber security firm hired by CBS News has determined through forensic analysis that Sharyl Attkisson’s computer was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions late in 2012. Evidence suggests this party performed all access remotely using Attkisson’s accounts. While no malicious code was found, forensic analysis revealed an intruder had executed commands that appeared to involve search and exfiltration of data.
This party also used sophisticated methods to remove all possible indications of unauthorized activity, and alter system times to cause further confusion.
Attkisson09But we heard nothing further until the publication of Attkisson’s explosive book, Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington. Now the next shoe has dropped, as the New York Post reports:
In her new memoir, Sharyl Attkisson says a source who arranged to have her laptop checked for spyware in 2013 was “shocked” and “flabbergasted” at what the analysis revealed.
“This is outrageous. Worse than anything Nixon ever did. I wouldn’t have believed something like this could happen in the United States of America,” Attkisson quotes the source saying.
She speculates that the motive was to lay the groundwork for possible charges against her or her sources.
Attkisson says the source, who’s “connected to government three-letter agencies,” told her the computer was hacked into by “a sophisticated entity that used commercial, nonattributable spyware that’s proprietary to a government agency: either the CIA, FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency or the National Security Agency.”
The breach was accomplished through an “otherwise innocuous e-mail” that Attkisson says she got in February 2012, then twice “redone” and “refreshed” through a satellite hookup and a Wi-Fi connection at a Ritz-Carlton hotel.
The spyware included programs that Attkisson says monitored her every keystroke and gave the snoops access to all her e-mails and the passwords to her financial accounts.
“The intruders discovered my Skype account handle, stole the password, activated the audio, and made heavy use of it, presumably as a listening tool,” she wrote in “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington.”
But the most shocking finding, she says, was the discovery of three classified documents that Number One told her were “buried deep in your operating system. In a place that, unless you’re a some kind of computer whiz specialist, you wouldn’t even know exists.”
“They probably planted them to be able to accuse you of having classified documents if they ever needed to do that at some point,” Number One added.
If the Obama administration hacked into a reporter’s computers, used them to spy on her, and even prepared to frame her for a potential criminal prosecution by planting classified documents, aren’t we looking at the biggest scandal in American history? Perhaps I’m forgetting something, but I can’t come up with anything to equal the stunning lawlessness on display here–if what Attkisson says is true (which I don’t doubt), and if the administration is the guilty party.
If this were a Republican administration, every reporter in Washington would be on the story, as would various law enforcement agencies. Given that we are talking about a Democratic president, Attkisson shouldn’t expect any help. If I were she, I would hire one of the top litigation firms in Washington and look into suing appropriate federal agencies. That won’t be easy; the most obvious obstacle is that she has to have evidence that a particular agency was involved in the hacking/spying operation in order to survive a motion to dismiss, but it will be hard (maybe impossible) to get that evidence without the ability to do discovery in the lawsuit. But having her own lawsuit allows her to run her own show, and private lawyers are generally far more effective at unearthing and processing information than, say, Congressional committees.

Suppose They Gave a Climate Conference and Nobody Came

climate_conference_9-17-14-1
We evil climate deniers often enjoy comparing the current uproar over the weather with Stalin’s misuse of science byTrofim Lysenko.  But I think the devotion to extreme climate, or whatever today’s catch phrase may be, is far more in the realm of magic and metaphysics than real physics — Lysenko was, after all, a genuine agronomist — and is much more akin to the story of Sabbatai Zevi, the 17th century Sephardic rabbi many Jews believed was  the long-awaited Messiah but who ended up ridiculing his supporters and converting to Islam.
Climate armageddon is a messianic cult based almost entirely on religion and faith and very little on science.  And, like the Sabbatean movement where many adherents remained devoted to Zevi no matter what he did or how he behaved,  it’s still thriving, somewhat, despite the many blows that it has taken lately — no warming in the last fifteen years, Antarctic ice cap bigger than ever, more polar bears than ever, all kinds of leaks of fraudulent figures and fudged graphs, etc., etc.   The list, available at www.wattsupwiththat.com by scrolling backwards, is almost comical in its extent.   It’s amusing to read the myriad theories for why the ice cap is bigger, motivated, for the most part, by panic on the part of the scientists involved that they might have their stipends cut.
Nevertheless,  your United Nations, at the the behest of your president, is on the case.  On September 23, they are convening a UN Climate Summit.  From their website:
Climate change is not a far-off problem. It is happening now and is having very real consequences on people’s lives. Climate change is disrupting national economies, costing us dearly today and even more tomorrow.  But there is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.
There is a sense that change is in the air. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society to Climate Summit 2014 this 23 September to galvanize and catalyze climate action.
Problem is most of those leaders aren’t coming.  Maybe they realize the whole thing’s a shuck.  From Newsweek(apparently back in print — go figure):
But the U.N. Climate Summit, set for September 23, is likely to be hampered by the failure of leaders from the U.N.’s three largest member nations—China, Russia and India—to attend. China’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli will represent the country at the summit, as well as the September 24-30 General Debate, instead of President Xi Jinping, and the Russian Foreign Ministry said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will lead the Russian delegation. The top leaders of China and Russia won’t be coming because their schedules are too demanding, Think Progress reports.
So what, pray tell, is going on here?  In a word:  distraction. Although the UN secretary general has pronounced climate “the defining issue of our times” (Obama and Kerry have made similar remarks), everyone with an IQ in triple digits knows that it isn’t — and has for some time. What we do know is that the UN Oil-for-Food scandal was a monumental example of corruption, as was and is the UNRWA housing missiles and other weapons for Hamas, not to mention the possibility that they cooperated in the building of the terror tunnels.
But forget that for the moment. Allow me to share a personal experience.  I went to Copenhagen in 2009 for this website to cover another UN climate conference (COP 15), then considered to be extremely crucial.  Several islands — Micronesia, I think — were supposedly about to go under from the rising tides.  I ran into the representative from one of those islands and asked him if he was worried.  He started to laugh and shook his head.  So I asked him what he was doing at the conference.  I want the money, he said.
So here we go again.  Climate is the real problem.  We know the song — and the motivation. Whatever happened to all those billions spent for carbon offsets…. hmmm?
But the whole climate thing is much more than a mere scam, gigantic as it is. It is the purest example of the use of moral narcissism by and against liberals and progressives. It is the perfect exploitation of the human need to feel good about ourselves.  More opine about matters scientific in our culture than in all of history, probably, while knowing less — and that’s not just because Al Gore got D in geology or because the whole idea of “settled science” is an oxymoron.  ”Climate change” is liberalism’s paradigm self-deception.  If you believe that, you can believe anything. It is so, if you want it to be so. With the world in the midst of civilizational struggle, that’s pretty pathetic — and scary.

IT’S TIME TO STAND UP FOR AMERICAN WORKERS


Today Peter Kirsanow, a Civil Rights Commissioner, wrote President Obama to urge him to abandon the executive amnesty that is planned for after the election. Kirsanow’s letter focuses on the damage an amnesty, and increased legal immigration, will do to American workers, especially African-Americans and STEM workers. First, here is Kirsanow’s letter in its entirety. Then I will excerpt some paragraphs, omitting the extensive footnotes:
I write to express my concern regarding reports that you plan on issuing an executive order that purports to grant legal status and work authorization to millions of illegal immigrants after the November elections. My concerns center around the effect such grant of legal status will have on two subsets of American workers: low-skilled workers, particularly low-skilled black workers, and high-skilled STEM workers. …
Such an increase in lawful workers would have a deleterious effect on low-skilled American workers, particularly black workers. In 2008, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a briefing regarding the impact of illegal immigration on the wages and employment opportunities of African-Americans. The testimony at the briefing indicated that illegal immigration disproportionately impacts the wages and employment opportunities of African-American men.
The briefing witnesses, well-regarded scholars from leading universities and independent groups, were ideologically diverse. All the witnesses acknowledged that illegal immigration has a negative impact on black employment, both in terms of employment opportunities and wages. The witnesses differed on the extent of that impact, but every witness agreed that illegal immigration has a discernible negative effect on black employment. For example, Professor Gordon Hanson’s research showed that “Immigration . . . accounts for about 40 percent of the 18 percentage point decline [from 1960-2000] in black employment rates.” Professor Vernon Briggs writes that illegal immigrants and blacks (who are disproportionately likely to be low-skilled) often find themselves in competition for the same jobs, and the huge number of illegal immigrants ensures that there is a continual surplus of low-skilled labor, thus preventing wages from rising. Professor Gerald Jaynes’s research found that illegal immigrants had displaced U.S. citizens in industries that had traditionally employed large numbers of African- Americans, such as meatpacking. …
Granting work authorization to millions of illegal immigrants will devastate the black community, which is already struggling in the wake of the recession that began in 2007 and the subsequent years of malaise. Americans of all racial groups have seen their incomes stagnate since the recession. African-Americans have been particularly hard-hit, however. Their median wages were already the lowest of any racial or ethnic group, and they have not recovered from the recession. In 2007, median black household income was $35,219 and declined to $34,218 in 2008. In 2013, median black household income was $34,598 – better than during the worst of the recession, but still not back to the 2007 level. …
Granting legal status to millions of people who are in the United States illegally will continue to depress the wages and employment opportunities of African-American men and teenagers. …
Finally, I would like to say a few words about the supposed need for an increased number of high-tech visas. There is little evidence, other than the protestations of tech titans and politicians, that there is a shortage of STEM workers in the United States. Statistics suggest otherwise. Five professors who, variously, study economics, public policy, labor, and computer science recently wrote, “[the] Census reported that only one in four STEM degree holders is in a STEM job … As longtime researchers of the STEM workforce and immigration who have separately done in-depth analyses on these issues … none of us has been able to find any credible evidence to support the IT industry’s assertions of labor shortages.” Others note, “America ‘produces far more science and engineering graduates than there are S&E job openings – the only disagreement is whether it is 100 percent or 200 percent more.’”
Furthermore, if there is a shortage of IT workers, why aren’t wages increasing? Hal Salzman notes that wages in the IT field fell after the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, and “[are] well below their earlier peak and now hover around wage levels of the late 1990s.” Also, as Jay Schalin notes, the fact that STEM graduates are more likely to be employed than those with other degrees does not mean that they are employed in STEM fields or at high wages. For example, students who graduated with chemistry degrees had a 6.6% unemployment rate, but had a “starting mean salary of $32,000 [which] is surprisingly below average for all graduates, equal to those with sociology degrees.” The problem is not that there are insufficient STEM graduates; the problem is that tech companies do not want to pay the wages American workers would demand absent a continual influx of high-tech visa holders.
Here and there Republican candidates in high-profile races have made defense of American workers important themes of their campaigns. Tom Cotton and Scott Brown come to mind, but there are others. Still, the coming election will probably not be what it could have been, had Republicans consistently nationalized the immigration issue.
This morning Tom Cotton appeared on the Laura Ingraham radio show. In this clip, Tom talks about his defense of American workers:



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

THE GERMAN DISEASE: COMING SOON TO A COUNTRY NEAR YOU?

Click to embiggen.
Click to embiggen.
The cover of this week’s edition of The Economist, nearby, combines a lot into a little. Above all, it has a Monty Python reference. You can never go wrong with a Monty Python reference.
Overseas the macro news is bad. Germany’s sluggish economy may take the rest of the Eurozone down with it. Japan, which has been unsuccessfully fighting deflation for two decades now, has just issued bonds with negative interest for the first time. And low oil prices are likely to tip Venezuela into default and probably put its socialist government on the course of ultimate extinction. (I didn’t say the news was all bad.  But a Venezuelan collapse could roil the economic picture quite a bit in the short run.)
The United States looks comparatively robust compared with other regions and nations. But not so fast. Back to Germany for a moment. If you think we can’t still throttle the American economy with still more stupidity out of Washington, consider the New York Times article on Friday on why German chemical giant BASF is expanding in the United States rather than Germany: lower energy prices.
Lately, though, BASF has been investing more of its money and management energy outside Germany, especially in the United States. And the company’s reasons for doing that help illustrate why the German industrial economy has been losing momentum — and why Germany risks tipping back into recession.
BASF executives say that German and European Union policies toward industry, particularly when it comes to energy, are forcing big companies to look elsewhere as they seek to expand.
Energy is perhaps BASF’s biggest cost. Tremendous amounts of electricity are required to produce chemical raw materials like ethylene, propylene and butadiene for a range of products like plastics, pharmaceuticals and rubber. And oil or natural gas are the basic feedstocks from which these chemicals are produced.
Especially in Germany, energy prices have jumped as a result of the government’s big push for renewable energy sources — a policy that the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel has labeled the Energiewende, or energy transition.
At the same time, surging production of natural gas from shale rock in the United States is creating cheap and ever more abundant energy, giving American chemical plants and manufacturing sites a new competitive edge over facilities in Europe. (Emphasis added.)
Energy costs in the U.S. are currently favorable—thank you fracking—but will they remain so for long? Just why wouldn’t we expect that the Obama Administration’s long-term EPA scheme to restructure our energy sector to have the same results as Germany in the fullness of time? Someone ought to be asking these questions on the campaign trail in Colorado, Louisiana, Kentucky, etc.

It’s the Economy, Stupid

It’s the Economy, Stupid
Republicans have a better deal for the average American — but they need to make their case.
By Fred Bauer

Barack Obama, Bewildered Bystander 
He’s angry, but not angry enough to fix what’s wrong. 
(Pool Photo/Getty Images)

 


The president is upset. Very upset. Frustrated and angry. Seething about the government’s handling of Ebola, said the front-page headline in the New York Times last Saturday.
There’s only one problem with this pose, so obligingly transcribed for him by the Times. It’s hisgovernment. He’s president. Has been for almost six years. Yet Barack Obama reflexively insists on playing the shocked outsider when something goes wrong within his own administration.
IRS? “It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it,” he thundered in May 2013, when the story broke of the agency’s targeting of conservative groups. “I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS.”\
Except that within nine months, Obama had grown far more tolerant, retroactively declaring this to be a phony scandal without “a smidgen of corruption.”
Obamacare rollout? “Nobody is more frustrated by that than I am,” said an aggrieved Obama about the botching of the central element of his signature legislative achievement. “Nobody is madder than me.”
Veterans Affairs scandal? Presidential chief of staff Denis McDonough explained: “Secretary [Eric] Shinseki said yesterday . . . that he’s mad as hell and the president is madder than hell.” A nice touch — taking anger to the next level.
The president himself declared: “I will not stand for it.” But since the administration itself said the problem was longstanding, indeed predating Obama, this means he had stood for it for five and a half years.
The one scandal where you could credit the president with genuine anger and obliviousness involves the recent breaches of White House Secret Service protection. The Washington Post described the first lady and president as “angry and upset,” and no doubt they were. But the first Secret Service scandal — the hookers of Cartagena — evinced this from the president: “If it turns out that some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then of course I’ll be angry.” An innovation in ostentatious distancing: future conditional indignation.
These shows of calculated outrage — and thus distance — are becoming not just unconvincing but unamusing. In our system, the president is both head of state and head of government. Obama seems to enjoy the monarchical parts, but when it comes to the actual business of running government, he shows little interest and even less aptitude.
His principal job, after all, is to administer the government and to get the right people to do it. (That’s why we typically send governors rather than senators to the White House.) That’s called management. Obama had never managed anything before running for the biggest management job on earth. It shows.
What makes the problem even more acute is that Obama represents not just the party of government but a grandiose conception of government as the prime mover of social and economic life. The very theme of his presidency is that government can and should be trusted to do great things, and therefore society should be prepared to hand over large chunks of its operations — from health care (one sixth of the economy) to carbon regulation down to free contraception — to the central administrative state.
But this presupposes a Leviathan not just benign but competent. When it then turns out that vast, faceless bureaucracies tend to be incapable, inadequate, hopelessly inefficient, and often corrupt, Obama resorts to expressions of angry surprise.
He must. He’s not simply protecting his own political fortunes. He’s trying to protect faith in the entitlement state by portraying its repeated failures as shocking anomalies.
Unfortunately, the pretense has the opposite effect. It produces not reassurance but anxiety. Obama’s determined detachment conveys the feeling that nobody’s home. No one’s leading. Not even from behind.
A poll conducted two weeks ago showed that 64 percent of likely voters (in competitive races) think that “things in the U.S. feel like they are out of control.” This is one degree of anxiety beyond thinking the country is on the wrong track. That’s been negative for years, and it’s a reflection of failed policies that in principle can be changed. Regaining control, on the other hand, is a far dicier proposition.
With events in the saddle and a sense of disorder growing — the summer border crisis, Ferguson, the rise of the Islamic State, Ebola — the nation expects from the White House not miracles but competence. At a minimum, mere presence. An observer presidency with its bewildered-bystander pose only adds to the unease.
 Charles Krauthammer is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2014 The Washington Post Writers Group
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/391044/barack-obama-bewildered-bystander-charles-krauthammer