Sunday, November 24th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 22 Comments
Timothy Villareal, the author of this Washington Post piece, is described at the end of it as, “a privately-vowed fraternal Catholic monk.” I don’t know what any of that means but I do know that Tim’s pretty hacked off at American Catholic bishops these days. Guess why:
On Wednesday, the Catholic bishop of Illinois, Thomas Paprocki, will perform an exorcism for the state of Illinois. That’s right, an exorcism – for the entire state. According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, entire places can become possessed by the devil, not just individuals. Paprocki is convinced that Illinois is now one such place, as the state legislature has passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, and Governor Pat Quinn plans to sign it on Wednesday.
Same-sex couples in the Land of Lincoln will soon be wallking down the aisle, exchanging rings and saying their vows. Paprocki is convinced that Satan is the wedding planner. Perhaps even the ring bearer, or the flower girl. Indeed, if you happen to be one of those Illinoisans throwing rice at the newlyweds, perhaps you ought to keep an eye out for horns spontaneously popping out of your head and the heads of your fellow rice throwers.
If you’re scoring at home, that was sarcasm. But Tim’s not trying to be funny.
Outrageous –and perhaps even a bit comical –as many might find the use of the rite of exorcism to make a political statement in the culture wars, the entire body of U.S. Catholic bishops has, in fact, implemented a far less theatrical, yet ever more serious plan in their attempt to sully the love and commitment of same-sex couples, along with their civil marriage equality, in the minds and hearts of lay Catholics. This is no laughing matter.
By the way, there’s this term that really offends Tim and that he would really not rather hear ever again, thank you very much.
Though dismissed by rightwing ideologues as “Cafeteria Catholics,” the modern reality is that most lay Catholics navigate their relationship with institutional church, the priesthood, with great thought, care and self-respect. No doubt, this capacity among lay Catholics to employ their God-given human reasoning skills mystifies, and disappoints, many of the bishops.
For example, the bishop of the Diocese of Saint Augustine, Felipe Estevez, rose at one point during last week’s annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to ask aloud why so many young Catholics “get” the Catholic Church’s message about abortion, yet don’t “get” the church’s message against homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Evidently, Estevez can’t conceptualize the fact that the reason so many young people respect the lives of the unborn while simultaneously respect the lives, and commitment, of same-sex couples is that their moral conscience is informed by authentic love; authentic love is compelled to distinguish between instances of human disregard, like elective abortion, and instances of human regard and devotion –like same-sex marriage.
Tim, if I understand you correctly, some American Catholics essentially pick and choose between those Catholic teachings that their “reasoning skills” convince them are important and those teachings that their “reasoning skills” tell them that they can safely disregard because they’re wrong or outdated and stuff.
That sounds remarkably like the behavior of the patrons of certain types of restaurants who pick this entrée rather than that one, this main dish instead of another or this dessert instead of that one. What’s the name of that type of restaurant again? Damn it, it’s on the tip of my tongue.
How about we call them Old Country Buffet Catholics if it will make you feel any better?
Let’s get real: The elective taking of a baby’s life in the womb, surgical or chemical, bears no moral resemblance to two people of the same sex falling in love and building a life together.
True as far as it goes. If I covet your house, your wife, your manservant, your maidservant, your ox, your ass or any thing that is yours, that not as serious a sin as killing you. For that matter, stealing your Rolex is also not as serious a sin as killing you.
But all of those sins are listed among the Ten Commandments. Why do you suppose that is, Tim?
Saturday, November 23rd, 2013 | Uncategorized | 20 Comments
US Senator Al Franken (Dumbass-Minn.) runs for the tall grass:
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) says he would be open to a brief delay in the individual mandate if the problems with HealthCare.gov aren’t fixed by the end of the month, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
“I think then we have to consider extending the deadline for the mandate, but let’s hope that doesn’t happen,” Franken told MPR.
Franken has so far been relatively quiet about potential changes to the health-care law, but he now joins a growing group of Senate Democrats in seats that could be targeted by the GOP in 2014 who are speaking up on the issue.
Friday, November 22nd, 2013 | Uncategorized | 7 Comments
Because you’re losing TIME:
Obama’s supporters can decry a “feeding frenzy,” but this is a critical moment for a President whose agenda for a second term amounted to little more than being not as lame as the other guy. The HealthCare.gov website may or may not get fixed on deadline, the senior staff may be booted and rebooted, but it is already too late to avoid a pageant of media scrutiny, Republican merriment, a rebuke even from Bill Clinton and a host of existential questions: Can this policy be saved? What is left of Obama’s second term if it is consumed by fixing an unpopular policy from the first? How could a White House appear so confident and incompetent at the same time?
Friday, November 22nd, 2013 | Uncategorized | 14 Comments
To find the very roots of the tea party of 2013, just go back to downtown Dallas in 1963, back to the months and weeks leading to the Kennedy assassination. It was where and when a deeply angry political polarization, driven by a band of zealots, burst wide open in America.
It was fueled then, as now, by billionaires opposed to federal oversight, rabid media, Bible-thumping preachers and extremist lawmakers who had moved far from their political peers. In 1963, that strident minority hijacked the civic dialogue and brewed the boiling, toxic environment waiting for Kennedy the day he died.
The ad hominem attacks against a “socialist president.” The howling broadcasters. The mega-rich men from Texas funding the political action campaigns. There is even another charismatic, Ivy-educated ideologue: Sen. Ted Cruz would have been quite comfortable in Dallas 1963.
Thursday, November 21st, 2013 | Uncategorized | 22 Comments
The chaos surrounding efforts to activate HealthCare.gov reinforces a key conservative meme: that whatever the test is, government will fail it. Insofar as voters experience their interaction with government as frustrating and unreliable, the brunt of political damage will hit Democrats, both as the party of government and as the party of Obamacare.
Cumulatively, recent developments surrounding the rollout of Obamacare strengthen the most damaging conservative portrayals of liberalism and of big government – that on one hand government is too much a part of our lives, too invasive, too big, too scary, too regulatory, too in your face, and on the other hand it is incompetent, bureaucratic and expropriatory.
Which it is. But let’s cut to the chase, shall we?
In addition, the Affordable Care Act can be construed as a transfer of benefits from Medicare, which serves an overwhelmingly white population of the elderly – 77 percent of recipients are white — to Obamacare, which will serve a population that is 54.7 percent minority. Over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the Affordable Care Act cuts $455 billion from the Medicare budget in order to help pay for Obamacare.
Those who think that a critical mass of white voters has moved past its resistance to programs shifting tax dollars and other resources from the middle class to poorer minorities merely need to look at the election of 2010, which demonstrated how readily this resistance can be used politically. The passage of the A.C.A. that year forced such issues to the fore, and Republicans swept the House and state houses across the country. The program’s current difficulties have the clear potential to replay events of 2010 in 2014 and possibly 2016.
If any of you think that DemocratCare has anything to do with health care, then not to put too fine a point on it but you’re an idiot.
The Affordable Care Act “is often compared to Social Security and Medicare, but these comparisons are imprecise and misleading,” as Edward Carmines, a political scientist at Indiana University, put it in an email: “The distinctive feature of the new health care law is its redistributive nature, which is mostly absent from Social Security and Medicare.”
Charity is charity; extorted charity is theft. Cheerful givers and all that.
UPDATE: Dems? Best of luck next year.
A new and independent analysis of ObamaCare warns of a ticking time bomb, predicting a second wave of 50 million to 100 million insurance policy cancellations next fall — right before the mid-term elections.
The next round of cancellations and premium hikes is expected to hit employees, particularly of small businesses. While the administration has tried to downplay the cancellation notices hitting policyholders on the individual market by noting they represent a relatively small fraction of the population, the swath of people who will be affected by the shakeup in employer-sponsored coverage will be much broader.
An analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, shows the administration anticipates half to two-thirds of small businesses would have policies canceled or be compelled to send workers onto the ObamaCare exchanges. They predict up to 100 million small and large business policies could be canceled next year.
Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 34 Comments
How badly has the DemocratCare debacle thrown the left? According to the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, telling the truth now constitutes scare tactics:
House Republican leaders could not have been more blatant in their attempts to frighten Americans if they had emerged from their weekly meeting wearing hockey masks and carrying chainsaws.
“The American people are very, very worried,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) proclaimed to the cameras after emerging from Republicans’ gathering Tuesday morning. “Moms and dads are worried that they’re going to lose their health-care plan. . . . Individuals who are going onto the HealthCare.gov Web site are beginning to fear that perhaps their identity will be stolen.”
The Republicans’ scary-movie strategy has some logic to it: If they can frighten young and healthy people from joining the health-care exchanges, the exchanges will become expensive and unmanageable. This is sabotage, plain and simple — much like the refusal by red-state governors to participate in setting up the exchanges in the first place. But those sabotaging the new law should be careful what they wish for: Instead of killing the law, they are likely to make it more expensive to taxpayers. Their efforts could have the effect of turning Obamacare, which relies on private insurance and the free market, into just the sort of big-government entitlement Republicans were worried about in the first place.
If they succeed in scaring people away, the ones who join exchanges are likely to be older and sicker, making the insurance pool costlier to insurers. As Larry Levitt, a senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, explained to me, if costs are more than 3 percent higher than anticipated in the first few years of Obamacare, the federal government will have to pick up at least half of the additional expense.
If the health-care exchanges continued to attract only the elderly and the sick in future years, premiums would rise and the only people likely to remain in the program will be those who qualify for the federal subsidies, which would increase sharply because individual contributions are limited to a percentage of the recipient’s income.
“The more successful opponents are at discouraging young and healthy people from enrolling, the bigger share of the cost the federal government will end up covering,” Levitt said. “The implication of encouraging young and healthy people to sit on the sidelines is that costs are shifted to the federal government.”
Well…you know…duh, says Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey.
This is nonsense on stilts, because it assumes that prices remained stable for these consumers in the first place. In fact, prices have already skyrocketed, and for younger consumers in particular. HHS tried to claim that rates went up “less than expected,” but did so only by comparing the new rates released in September to projections for 2016, not 2014. Avik Roy at Forbes and the Manhattan Institute showed that rates actually went up from 52% to 99% over the previous year, and quadrupled in some states. That’s before the first person signed up for these plans, healthy and young or sick and old.
Furthermore, the plans themselves changed in a way that didn’t fit the needs of those younger consumers. Those younger consumers, who are on average a lot healthier and less affluent, chose plans that made some rational sense for their economic and health situations — coverage that focused on hospitalization and covered only those issues that they had reason to predict might concern them. Now, ObamaCare forces them into comprehensive plans that make little sense for their potential use of health-care services.
Thanks to the costs of the mandates, insurance companies have had to raise deductibles just to keep premiums within range of these younger, healthier consumers, too. Instead of a cheap, affordable plan that allowed young Americans to pay retail costs for occasional clinic visits but gave them solid coverage for rare catastrophic events, they now have to spend thousands of dollars a year for coverage that doesn’t kick in at all until after they spend an additional $4,000 out of pocket first.
And this is the calculation that anyone can make. If you have to spend $4,000 on insurance and then another $4,000 on deductibles before seeing the first benefit from the insurance plan, why buy it at all? Why not just pay retail on clinic visits? Most young people will see a doctor once or twice a year, which might cost them $500 or so rather than the $8,000 they’re facing in this newly mandated apparatus. (Even if they do get subsidies for the premiums, they don’t get subsidies on the higher deductibles they now face.) Thanks to the ACA, they can buy insurance later if they do get really sick, and in the meantime will only have to pay a fine of around $500 bucks or so to avoid the mandate.
Meanwhile, while the Democrats might be putting on a brave public face, behind the scenes, they are terrified. And angry.
They are letting it be known that House and Senate Democrats are increasingly frustrated, bitter and angry with the White House over ObamaCare’s botched rollout, and that the president’s mea culpa in a news conference last week failed to soothe any ill will.
Sources who attended a meeting of House chiefs of staff on Monday say the room was seething with anger over the immense damage being done to the Democratic Party and talk was of scrapping rollout events for the Affordable Care Act.
“Here we are, we’re supposed to be selling this to people, and it’s all screwed up,” one chief of staff ranted. “This either gets fixed or this could be the demise of the Democratic Party.
“It’s probably the worst I’ve ever seen it,” the aide said of the recent mood on Capitol Hill. “It’s bad. It’s really bad.”
Meanwhile, at a recent caucus meeting with Senate Democrats and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, one senator stood up and asked for a political point of contact at the White House.
“There’s been an increase in frustration because people feel like they are continuing to be blindsided,” said one Democrat who attended the caucus meeting, adding that there’s a “check-the-box” mentality at the White House in dealing with lawmakers.
Democrats around Capitol Hill say there are lots of people to blame for the debacle that has engulfed them. But increasingly the anger is directed at one person only: Obama.
“Is he even more unpopular than George W. Bush? I think that’s already happened,” said one Democratic chief of staff.
UPDATE: If and when DemocratCare gets its sign-up web site up and running, the official over/under on its first DDoS attack has been set at one week. Not only is healthcare.gov at risk, it may already have been compromised.
“Hackers are definitely after it,” said David Kennedy, CEO of information security firm TrustedSEC before a House Science, Space, and Technology committee hearing on security concerns surrounding the problematic Healthcare.gov website.
“And if I had to guess, based on what I can see … I would say the website is either hacked already or will be soon.”
Kennedy told FoxNews.com he based this on an analysis revealing a large number of SQL injection attacks against the healthcare.gov website, which are indicative of “a large amount” of hacking attempts.
Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 16 Comments
A $6.6 trillion credit binge during the past five years, encouraged by Beijing policy makers as stimulus to combat a global economic slowdown, now threatens to stoke a debt crisis. At stake are trillions of yuan in bank loans that companies producing everything from ships to steel to solar power are struggling to repay as the world’s second-largest economy heads for the weakest annual expansion since 1999.
China’s biggest banks are already affected, tripling the amount of bad loans they wrote off in the first half of this year and cleaning up their books ahead of what may be a fresh wave of defaults. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and its four largest competitors expunged 22.1 billion yuan of debt that couldn’t be collected through June, up from 7.65 billion yuan a year earlier, regulatory filings show.
“In the next three to four years, industries with excess capacity will be the main source of credit loss for banks and their nonperforming loans as China cleans up the legacy,” said Liao Qiang, a Beijing-based director at Standard & Poor’s. “The speed of the process will depend on the government’s determination and whether they are willing to incur short-term pain for long-term gain.”
Monday, November 18th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 51 Comments
Those of you who were worried about Pope Francis I can breathe a little easier:
God save us from the “hegemonic uniformity ” of the “one line of thought”, “fruit of the spirit of the world that negotiates everything”, even the faith. This was Pope Francis’ prayer during mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta, commenting on a passage from the Book of Maccabees, in which the leaders of the people do not want Israel to be isolated from other nations , and so abandon their traditions to negotiate with the king.
They go to “negotiate ” and are excited about it. It is as if they said “we are progressives; let’s follow progress like everyone else does”. As reported by Vatican Radio, the Pope noted that this is the “spirit of adolescent progressivism” according to which “any move forward and any choice is better than remaining within the routine of fidelity”. These people, therefore , negotiate “loyalty to God who is always faithful” with the king. “This is called apostasy”, “adultery.” They are, in fact, negotiating their values, ” negotiating the very essence of being faithful to the Lord .”
“And this is a contradiction: we do not negotiate values, but faithfulness. And this is the fruit of the devil, the prince of this world , who leads us forward with the spirit of worldliness. And then there are the direct consequences. They accepted the habits of the pagan, then a further step: the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and everyone would abandon their customs. A globalizing conformity of all nations is not beautiful, rather, each with own customs but united, but it is the hegemonic uniformity of globalization, the single line of thought . And this single line of thought is the result of worldliness .”
Sunday, November 17th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 53 Comments
Remember that picture? Shortly before DemocratCare passed the House of Representatives in 2009, then-Speaker Nanner McBotox and other Democrats figured that they’d taunt some assembled Tea Party protesters. So they publicly processed to the Capitol in front of the protesters, Nanner carrying the gavel used when Medicare passed the House in 1965.
For my part, Nanner McBotox’s in-your-face move is only one of the reasons why I’m getting such an incredible charge out of watching the continuing saga of the exploding soufflé that is DemocratCare. Jonah Goldberg elaborates:
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at the unraveling of Obamacare.
First, the obligatory caveats. It is no laughing matter that millions of Americans’ lives have been thrown into anxious chaos as they lose their health insurance, their doctors, their money, or all three. Nor is it particularly amusing to think of the incredible waste of time and tax dollars that has gone into Obamacare’s construction. And the still-unfolding violence that this misbegotten legislation will visit on the economy and our liberties is not funny either. This very magazine has been downright funereal about the brazen and unconstitutional seizure of one-sixth of the economy, and rightly so.
But come on, people.
If you can’t take some joy, some modicum of relief and mirth, in the unprecedentedly spectacular beclowning of the president, his administration, its enablers, and, to no small degree, liberalism itself, then you need to ask yourself why you’re following politics in the first place. Because, frankly, this has been one of the most enjoyable political moments of my lifetime. I wake up in the morning and rush to find my just-delivered newspaper with a joyful expectation of worsening news so intense, I feel like Morgan Freeman should be narrating my trek to the front lawn. Indeed, not since Dan Rather handcuffed himself to a fraudulent typewriter, hurled it into the abyss, and saw his career plummet like Ted Kennedy was behind the wheel have I enjoyed a story more.
Alas, the English language is not well equipped to capture the sensation I’m describing, which is why we must all thank the Germans for giving us the term “schadenfreude” — the joy one feels at the misfortune or failure of others. The primary wellspring of schadenfreude can be attributed to Barack Obama’s hubris — another immigrant word, which means a sinful pride or arrogance that causes someone to believe he has a godlike immunity to the rules of life.
The hubris of our ocean-commanding commander-in-chief surely isn’t news to readers of this website. He’s said that he’s smarter and better than everyone who works for him. His wife informed us that he has “brought us out of the dark and into the light” and that he would fix our broken souls. The man defined sin itself as “being out of alignment with my values.” We may be the ones we’ve been waiting for, but at the same time, everyone has been waiting for him. Or as he put it in 2007, “Every place is Barack Obama country once Barack Obama’s been there.”
In every tale of hubris, the transgressor is eventually slapped across the face with the semi-frozen flounder of reality. The Greeks had a god, Nemesis, whose scythe performed the same function. It was Nemesis who lured Narcissus to the pool where he fell in love with his own reflection. Admittedly, most of Nemesis’s walk-on roles were in the Greek tragedies, but in the modern era, comeuppance-for-the-arrogant is more often found in comedies, and the “rollout” of Healthcare.gov has been downright hilarious. (I put quotation marks around “rollout” because the term implies actual rolling, and this thing has moved as gracefully as a grand piano in a peat bog.) But, as the president says, “it’s more than a website.” Indeed, the whole law is coming apart like a papier-mâché yacht in rough waters. The media feeding frenzy it has triggered from so many journalistic lapdogs has been both so funny and so poignant, it reminds me of nothing more than the climax of the classic film Air Bud, when the lovable basketball-playing golden retriever finally decides to maul the dog-abusing clown.
During the government shutdown, Barack Obama held fast, heroically refusing to give an inch to the hostage-taking, barbaric orcs of the Tea Party who insisted on delaying Obamacare. It was a triumph for the master strategist in the White House, who finally maneuvered the Republicans into revealing their extremism. But we didn’t know something back then: Obama desperately needed a delay of Healthcare.gov. In his arrogance, though, he couldn’t bring himself to admit it. The other possibility is that he is such an incompetent manager, who has cultivated such a culture of yes-men, that he was completely in the dark about the problems. That’s the reigning storyline right now from the White House. Obama was betrayed. “If I had known,” he told his staff, “we could have delayed the website.”
This is how you know we’re in the political sweet spot: when the only plausible excuses for the administration are equally disastrous indictments.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it took about five minutes for liberals to cast the chaos and confusion of the disaster as a searing indictment of not just the Bush administration but of conservatism itself. Whatever the merits of that argument (and there are not many), Katrina was at least a surprise. The October 1 deadline for Obamacare was set by Obama’s own administration years ago — and it caught them completely off guard. The president may now claim that he knew nothing, but he must have wondered why Henry Chao, Healthcare.gov’s chief project manager, set the bar of success at sea level last March: “Let’s just make sure it’s not a Third World experience.” At this point, it could only be more of a Third World experience if Healthcare.gov required enrollees to pay with chickens.
How often and how vigorously do I sharpen my pencil, if you know what I mean, over this train wreck? Let me count the ways (in no particular order).
For starters, there was the dictatorial way DemocratCare was rammed through. There was never any substantive debate in the Congress about what the problem was and what might be the best way to fix it. At the end of the day, US national legislators were presented with a bill more than twice as long as the Bible, which none of them had read, and were told to vote up or down.
There’s the whole web site fiasco. This bill was passed four years ago. I’m not an IT guy but it seems like four years would be more than enough time to make sure that the freaking SIGN-UP WEB SITE is functional come roll-out time. This is not a good sign to send to those people who will have to wait six years to find out whether or not their elderly mother’s pain medications are covered.
Then there were those millions of Americans who got letters in the mail from their health insurers informing them, “We’ve got some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that because your policy doesn’t meet the standards required by DemocratCare, it has been cancelled. The good news is that we have some options that do but will cost you a great deal more money every month.”
Recognizing a political firestorm when he saw one, President Making Crap Up As I Go informed the insurance companies that the law of the land wouldn’t be enforced
until after the mid-terms for a year, a prospect which bewildered insurance companies rather than reassured them.
A day after they were caught off guard by President Obama’s proposal to prevent cancellation of insurance policies for millions of Americans, top executives of some of the biggest insurance companies emerged from a meeting at the White House on Friday, expressing mixed feelings about whether the idea could work in every state.
The hastily called meeting was an attempt by the White House to address the growing frustration of the nation’s insurers over the administration’s fumbling of the health care law. It came just a day after the president announced on television that insurers could now continue coverage for people whose policies were being canceled because they did not meet the new law’s standards.
The insurers, many of whom expressed anger that the president had not consulted them before Thursday’s announcement, said they had come away from the meeting willing to work with the White House on the cancellation issue and still protect the financial viability of the new insurance marketplaces. They did not discuss in detail how the president’s goal might be achieved.
Particularly since it doesn’t much matter what the President says or does.
Already, some states, including Washington and Arkansas, have said they will not allow insurers to extend policies that do not comply with the guidelines established by the minimum standards set by the Affordable Care Act. Rhode Island also announced on Friday that it would not go along. “After reviewing the president’s announcement, we have decided to continue in the direction we are going and therefore will not be adopting the option made available to us by the president,” state officials said.
Some other states, notably Florida, are going to allow renewals. In New York, officials were hashing out a plan on Friday to deal with the change in policy, and an announcement could come early next week.
Logan Harrison, chief deputy commissioner of the Indiana Department of Insurance, said his state had not decided how to proceed but the fact that they were having to scramble to do anything was maddening.
“This is absurd,” he said. The president, he said, made a “purely political decision” that punts his problem squarely into the laps of state insurance commissioners. “It’s unfair to us and our citizens.” A number of other state officials, both Democrats and Republicans, echoed Mr. Harrison’s frustration but were not willing to speak on the record.
This issue is arguably the biggest headache for the dozen or so states — from New York to California — that have their own exchanges, some of which are working reasonably well. “We did everything Obama wanted, and this is the thanks we get,” said one high-ranking official in a state with its own exchange. “I can’t tell you how fed up we are.”
What’s really funny, as Rush Limbaugh pointed out a few days ago, is that all this only applies to people who buy health insurance for themselves, a small percentage of the market. Employer-provided health care doesn’t have to legally meet DemocratCare standards until next year.
And for those of you who actually bought, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” I hope you’re not too terribly attached to your doctor.
I love the smell of liberal panic in the morning. The New Republic’s John Judis wails that because of DemocratCare, people might actually start believing those Tea Party idiots.
Obama’s failure to make good on the promise of the Affordable Care Act is an unforced error – and the public is unlikely to forgive or forget it.
The first, and most obvious, effect will be on the Democrats’ political prospects in 2014 and perhaps even in 2016. Whatever advantage the Democrats received from the Republican shutdown, or from Republican machinations in state legislatures, has been erased by the specter of cancelled insurance policies and malfunctioning web pages. According to the Huffington Post’s polling averages, Democrats went from a tie in early August to a five point advantage in mid- October in the generic Congressional polls. That was a result of the public blaming the Republicans for the shutdown. But since then, the Democratic advantage has been falling and is now only 2.4 percent – which, given Republican advantages of incumbency and districting, is not enough to retake the House in 2014.
Democratic candidates are already underdogs in three states where Democratic incumbents are retiring — Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Hagan’s woes could carry over to Democratic incumbents in Louisiana, Arkansas and Alaska, and even in Michigan and Iowa. And if Democrats lose the Senate as well as the House in 2014, Obama will have to play defense for his remaining two years. Any chance of passing new legislation or fixing old, including Obamacare, will be lost. And if Republican Congressional leaders aren’t hamstrung by the Tea Party right, they can force Obama into unpopular vetos, as a Democratic Congressional majority did to George H.W. Bush in his last two years.
There are already clear warning signs. In the Gallup surveys of public trust in government, Americans’ confidence in the federal government already hit an all-time low in September. Indications are that it has continued to fall. This lack of confidence initially reflected disillusionment with Congress over the Republican shutdown, but the Obamacare’s current problems will deepen the public’s distrust of government.
A feature, not a bug, John. Democrats are understandably terrified.
A cursory discussion with almost anyone who knows anything about the insurance business would have alerted the president to the fact that his proposal is unworkable. The initial take from experts on both the right and the left is that the president did not fix anything yesterday. Insurance industry experts agree that the very idea that canceled health policies can be renewed or extended for one year is laughable — especially with the cumbersome rules that would have to accompany any such temporary reinstatements or extensions. One must assume the White House consulted experts before President Obama announced his plan. So we can rule out delusion. Surely this was an informed decision … right?
Meanwhile, this is the administration that felt compelled to affirmatively announce twice on camera in the past week that they are “not stupid.” Well, if Team Obama is so certain they aren’t stupid, maybe they think we are all the stupid ones. Or, maybe the president thinks he can sell this to the American people — deceiving them at least until after the 2014 elections.
You freaking own this, Democrats and leftists. Best of luck fending off all those “Because of DemocratCare, Mrs. Smith can no longer afford her medications that keep her from…” commercials you’ll be running against next year and in 2016.
Friday, November 15th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 8 Comments
Not too many people know this but since the fall of eastern European Communism, this country’s closest friend, aside from Israel, has been a majority-Muslim (at least nominally) country:
Thousands of Albanians would love for their country to become the fifty-first [American] state. And it’s not just some offbeat splinter group requesting the inclusion. The whole country seems rabidly pro-American.
When President George W. Bush visited in 2007, no one protested. No one. (I couldn’t believe it either.) It seems that Bush enjoyed higher approval ratings in Albania than a roomful of oil executives. In fact, his visit invoked newspaper headlines that read: “Please Occupy Us!” No kidding.
This odd love affair with America dates even earlier. During Bill Clinton’s presidency, thousands of Albanians named their babies Bill and Hillary. Again, all true.
Albania was also among the first nations to join the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it unflinchingly supports every American policy in the region. When the United States couldn’t find any country in the world to accept deported Guantanamo detainees, Albania stepped up and took them off American’s hands.
Albania has a fascinating history. Skanderbeg, Albania’s national hero, was a real-life King Arthur. During Enver Hoxha’s Communist regime, religion, any religion, was banned outright. So when the Communists fell, this attitude astonished me.
Albanians’ support for the war in Iraq is nearly unanimous and any perceived failings of U.S. foreign policy are studiously ignored. A two-day effort to find anyone of prominence who might offer some criticism of the United States turned up just one name and that person was out of the country. Every schoolchild in Albania can tell you that President Woodrow Wilson saved Albania from being split up among its neighbors after World War I, and nearly every adult repeats the story when asked why Albanians are so infatuated with the United States – to the point of “fetishism,” in the words of one local journalist.
Secretary of State James Baker was mobbed like a rock star when he visited the country in 1991. There was even a move to hold a referendum declaring the country as America’s 51st state around that time. Thousands of young Albanians, meanwhile, have been named Bill or Hillary thanks to the Clinton administration’s role in rescuing ethnic Albanians from the Kosovo war. After Sunday’s visit, some people expect to see a rash of babies named George.
The emotional highlight of President George W. Bush’s European tour may well be his visit Sunday to this tiny country, one of the few places left where he can bask in unabashed pro-American sentiment without a protester in sight.
Americans here are greeted with a refreshing adoration that feels as though it comes from another time.
“Albania is for sure the most pro-American country in Europe, maybe even in the world,” said Edi Rama, Tirana’s mayor and leader of the opposition Socialists. “Nowhere else can you find such respect and hospitality for the president of the United States. Even in Michigan, he wouldn’t be as welcome.”
As delightful as it is to contemplate the idea of an American state in the middle of Europe, it wouldn’t have worked. There’s too much history there and I think the Congress, whichever party controlled it, would have hesitated to absorb a sovereign nation whose national hero is Skanderbeg and who used to have a king named Zog.
All of which makes the following rather odd.
Albania rejected on Friday a U.S. request to host the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, dealing a blow to a U.S.-Russian accord to eliminate the nerve agents from the country’s protracted civil war.
Negotiations went down to the wire, delaying the scheduled adoption on Friday of a step-by-step plan to get rid of 1,300 metric tons of Syria’s sarin, mustard and other agents.
Albania’s refusal marked an unprecedented break from its traditionally staunch allegiance to NATO ally Washington. It followed a storm of protest in the Adriatic republic, where protesters complained of exploitation.
Gosh. I wonder what changed.
Thursday, November 14th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 24 Comments
Roman Catholics? I’ll see your Catholic morons and raise you these guys:
On a Veterans Day broadcast program, televangelist Kenneth Copeland and controversial historian David Barton told listeners that soldiers should never experience guilt or post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from military service.
Reading from Numbers 32: 20-22, Copeland said, “So this is a promise — if you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before the Lord for the war … you shall return, you’re coming back, and be guiltless before the Lord and before the nation.”
“Any of you suffering from PTSD right now, you listen to me,” Copeland said as Barton affirmed him. ”You get rid of that right now. You don’t take drugs to get rid of it. It doesn’t take psychology. That promise right there will get rid of it.”
Barton added that many biblical warriors “took so many people out in battle,” but did so in the name of God.
“You’re on an elevated platform up here. You’re a hero, you’re put in the faith hall of fame,” Barton said. “… When you do it God’s way, not only are you guiltless for having done that, you’re esteemed.”
I used to have bad anxiety attacks. During the single worst attack I ever had, I literally thought I was having a heart attack. I got to thinking about my personal situation at the time, which was not good, and my thoughts started to go from there.
I began to sweat, my chest was tight and it started to be tough to breathe. Oh Lord, please let me die in the apartment parking lot, I thought, as I immediately headed home.
When I safely arrived, I called in sick and then called my doctor who had me come in immediately. When he saw me, my doctor thought it might be an anxiety attack but wanted to make sure so he got me an appointment at a local facility for a stress echo test which I had later that afternoon.
That’s one of those tests where they take an ultrasound of your heart, have you get up on a treadmill and go for as long as you can while they gradually increase the speed and then take another ultrasound.
I learned several things from that test. Before the test even began, they took vitals. Whereupon a nurse informed me that one of the goals of this test was to get my heart beating at a certain rate and that I was already 70% of the way when I got there.
I learned that I was grossly out of shape; they’d seen older people than me who went two minutes longer than I did. I also learned that there was nothing wrong with my heart (and that it’s disconcerting to watch your own heart beat through the ultrasound).
So it’s good to know that I could have found myself an appropriate Bible verse and spoken all this away.
Gentlemen? Do you two cretins have any idea how many times over a great many years that Genesis 2:18 has come up in my prayers to God? Yet I remain single and will probably die alone. And have either of you ever contemplated what “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” means?
Thursday, November 14th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments
After repeatedly bashing senators like Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) over their crusade to defund Obamacare, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called for the “total repeal” of the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday. It’s a quick turnaround after the longtime senator, in September, proclaimed that it was “not rational” to think Obamacare could be defunded or repealed.
McCain outlined his “solution” during an interview with Greta Van Susteren, which culminated in an admission that the law should be repealed completely.
“The solution is, first of all, to let people keep their insurance if they want to,” he said. “Or at least reinstate them.”
He continued: “Second of all, let the insurance companies give a menu of whatever they want to provide. Third of all, medical savings account. Fourth of all, medical malpractice reform. Let people go across state lines to, in order to, if they can get a better insurance policy in another state. And remove this whole tax incentive for employers to provide employees health insurance.”
“That is repeal,” Van Susteren said, pointing out the obvious.
“That’s exactly right,” McCain replied. “That is total repeal in every other way. Because what Obamacare is, is an experiment in social engineering — in other words, making healthy people pay more…in order to subsidize the health care for people that are older and unhealthy. That is the ultimate in social engineering.”
Thursday, November 14th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 26 Comments
Church Center recently commissioned a poll on American discrimination. Know what it found out? Here’s a hint: a significant number of you people appear to be Klansmen:
A new national poll commissioned by the Episcopal Church has found that nearly all Americans (98 percent) feel that there is at least some discrimination in the United States today.
In addition, African-American respondents (49 percent) are three times as likely as white respondents (16 percent) and Hispanic respondents (11 percent) to feel there is a “great deal” of discrimination.
To Katharine Jefferts Schori and others like her, every year is 1962.
“Despite major reforms, our culture continues to perpetuate discrimination in various forms,” said Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. “Our churches and communities are critical motivators in encouraging change in these issues toward greater parity and acceptance.”
What the Presiding Bishop bases that on is the Christian leftist version of “name it and claim it.” Discrimination becomes an incontrovertible fact the moment you think it is.
Nearly seven in 10 Americans (69 percent) feel African-Americans are discriminated against, the highest of any race. In addition, six in 10 (63 percent) feel Hispanic Americans are discriminated against, while five in 10 (51 percent) feel Native Americans and nearly four in 10 (39 percent) feel whites are discriminated against.
Minority respondents in general feel that white Americans have gotten more, economically, than they deserve. African-American (58 percent) and Hispanic (49 percent) respondents are more likely than white respondents (28 percent) to agree that white Americans have garnered more economically than they deserve. This disparity was not nearly as prevalent when respondents were asked about other races receiving more economically than they deserve.
According to the results, one indication of differences in perceptions among races may be that many do not have close friends of other races. Hispanic (62 percent) and African-American (52 percent) respondents are more likely to strongly agree than white (41 percent) respondents that they can think of three close (non-family) friends of a race other than their own. People who live in the South (74 percent) and West (79 percent) are more likely to agree than those living in the Midwest (64 percent) or Northeast (65 percent) to agree.
The Episcopal Organization. Where empiricism goes to die.
Tuesday, November 12th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 19 Comments
On most Sundays, our joy of being free of the negativity and division that for so long shrouded our diocese competes with rootless anxiety. Worship groups are tenants, with leases subject to change. We get bumped from the schedule when our landlords need the space. We update our websites when we change addresses. From lining up supply priests to storing reserved sacrament in the absence of a tabernacle, worship groups manage week-to-week. We’ve been reminded how little we need, and how easily we had allowed non-essentials to encrust our faith, like barnacles on a ship. (I should substitute “dock” for “ship,” in deference to the worship group at Okatie, which did for a time worship on a dock. I still repeat their joke about “casting bread upon the waters.”)
Resentment is tempting. Why should we be reduced to rented sanctuaries and makeshift altars simply because we wanted to remain Episcopalian? A man moves here from California, decides The Episcopal Church no longer suits him, and we’re the ones told to hit the bricks? Why has his decision to leave ourchurch left us in this bind?
Resentment? We should give thanks. Leaving our buildings has been a blessing, and losing them for good would be a godsend.
When we refuse to fight for property, we escape the temptation to worship the space, rather than in the space. Those buildings are tombs. In them are buried all the good works that can’t be accomplished by congregations enslaved by facilities. Refusing to fight for property is not a sign of weakness, but of the kind of strength that says, “Take this building. We have a better refuge and a stronger fortress.”
So by letting go – letting all that brick and mortar pass into hands more desperate than ours – we win. We fulfill the promises made at baptism and embraced at confirmation. We avoid a decade of claims and counter-claims with those with whom we used to worship. We devote our resources to the Great Commission, not great attorneys. We can be both in the right and willing to be wronged.
Read the comments over at Jim’s. They are genuinely conflicted over there.
There is absolutely nothing to argue with here. I’ve been playing the same tune from the right side of the stage for a long time. Losing your building should not be considered a tragedy because it forces you out into the world, forces you out into the highways and hedges if you like and forces you to understand what really matters.
Buildings can be chains. They can tie you down, make you comfortable, make you spiritually lazy and make you forget the lost just outside your paid-for church’s door while you’re getting your theology right. And don’t give me the one about “sacred spaces.” Gather two or three together in His name, wherever you happen to gather them, and you have a “sacred space.”
But get yourselves out into the world (or, as Charles Spurgeon once put it, “The heavenly Father’s vast audience chamber”) and the sky’s the limit. And if Dan Ennis’ South Carolina Episcopalians can pull it off, more power to them.
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