Last Monday, Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily reported that insurers say Affordable Care Act enrollment is shrinking, and it is expected to shrink further. Some of those who signed up for insurance on the exchanges never paid; others paid, then stopped paying. Insurers are undoubtedly picking up some new customers who lost jobs or had another “qualifying life event” since open enrollment closed. But on net, they expect enrollment to shrink from their March numbers by a substantial amount — as much as 30 percent at Aetna Inc., for example.
How much does this matter? As Charles Gaba notes, this was not unexpected: Back in January, industry expert Bob Laszewski predicted an attrition rate of 10 to 20 percent, which seems roughly in line with what IBD is reporting. However, Gaba seems to imply that this makes the IBD report old news, barely worth talking about, and I think that’s wrong, for multiple reasons.
The first is simply that we didn’t know what the attrition rate would be until we actually saw the final numbers, and it could have been lower — or higher — than Laszewski suggested. It’s always valuable to have actual data rather than guesstimates (and we should remember that we’re still getting data; we won’t know the final attrition rate until December).
The second is that while attrition was predicted, not everyone was necessarily expecting it. People are still citing enrollment figures from March as the number of people covered by Obamacare policies, even though that number didn’t tell us how many would ultimately pay. In fairness, the Barack Obama administration conveniently stopped issuing enrollment reports after that March peak, so there isn’t a better hard number to use. But if enrollment is indeed declining, then we should include that caveat when we discuss the figures we have.
Does this mean that Obamacare is doomed and we’re all headed to perdition? Hardly. But these numbers matter a lot politically, and they also matter for the future health of the system — particularly if the people dropping their policies tend to be the younger and healthier members. These are numbers we should all be watching closely, and I’m glad IBD is on the story.
by Burt Prelutsky
(Thomas Sowell, Friedrich Nietzsche, George Orwell, Thomas Paine, Gen. James Amos, Emma Thompson, Ruth Bader Ginsburg)
As a rule, I prefer to fill my articles with my own well-chosen words, but there are some thoughts that deserve the widest possible circulation. For instance, in critiquing the state of education in America, it’s hard to improve on the following 21 words of Thomas Sowell: “In an age when scientists are creating artificial intelligence, too many of our educational institutions seem to be creating artificial stupidity.”
Although he wasn’t necessarily known for his positive messages, I believe Friedrich Nietzsche neatly encapsulated the differences between socialism and capitalism when he wrote: “The craving for equality can express itself as a desire to pull everyone down to our own level or as a desire to raise ourselves up along with everyone else.”
Or as someone else once pointed out, “Socialism is the system under which all are made equally miserable.” But of course that isn’t quite true. Whether we’re referring to China, the Soviet Union, Cuba or North Korea, the ruling class always manages to feather its own nests very nicely. As George Orwell observed in “Animal Farm,” in which he turned the Soviet Union nightmare into a fable: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
While some of us can’t help trying to point out — logically, honestly, at times even humorously — all the damage being wreaked by Obama and his henchmen and henchwomen, Thomas Paine noted that “Time makes more converts than reason.” That would explain why Obama became the first two-term president to receive fewer votes the second time around. So while it’s true that time makes more converts, it doesn’t necessarily make them quickly enough to suit some of us.
But we don’t want to get too carried away with what other people have to say when I still have so much on my mind. So, let me commend General James Amos for having the courage to complain about the way the Commander-in-Chief is doing his job. Someone has to have the nerve to point out that the emperor is as naked as a blue jay, and it’s nice when that someone has stars on his shoulders.
For my part, as a Jew, I want to call out every Jewish member of Congress for not confronting Obama, Kerry and the anti-Semitic State Department, for spending weeks pretending there is a moral equivalence between Israel and her 8th century dwelling enemies. It is high time these Jewish politicians understood that Obama needs their support a lot more than they need his. Only the rankest sort of partisanship can explain why they either remained silent or joined anti-Semites like Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave and a slew of other show biz lunkheads in condemning Israel for “over-reacting” to thousands of missiles and scores of tunnels.
Let us keep in mind that these are the same coddled celebrities who take to their beds and sulk for a week if they even get a bad review. But they demand that Israel not raise a finger to prevent missiles from killing its own people.
The numerous references in the world’s media to Israel’s committing genocide was particularly insufferable not only because the Jews stood accused of doing to others what was so tragically done to them, but because it flies so blatantly in the face of reality. I mean, does anyone actually believe if the mission of Israel’s military was to wipe out the Palestinians that after a month of trying they would have only managed to kill a thousand of them?
To be perfectly honest, I don’t believe that anyone in the so-called civilized world actually cares about the Palestinians or about any Arab or Muslim. How could they? These are the folks who celebrate suicide bombers. These are people who burn down churches and behead Christians. These are people who believe in honor killings and clitorectomies, and where different pay for the same work is the least of women’s concerns. All of that being the case, you’ll please pardon me if I don’t believe those who claim that it’s always Israel that’s in the wrong in these Middle East conflicts, and who then self-righteously deny that they’re Jew-haters.
Closer to home, we have Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg griping that while the Supreme Court is using language of “equal dignity” in recent rulings supporting same-sex marriages, “gender cases rarely get the same consideration.” She complains: “The Court has yet to embrace the ability of women to decide themselves what their destiny will be.”
Inasmuch as Roe v. Wade has been on the books for about 40 years, I can only assume she’s referring to women’s inability to have a butcher like Dr. Kermit Gosnell perform third-trimester abortions. But in response, I say that if women really wish to decide their own destinies, they might want to refrain from engaging in unprotected, irresponsible, sexual relations.
Otherwise, Justice Ginsburg, it’s a lot like whining that people who use illegal drugs, rob banks or commit suicide, don’t get to determine their own destinies because their addiction, jail time or death, has unfairly intervened.
Be sure to catch Burt’s weekly hour-long webcast on Wednesdays, at noon, Pacific Coast Time.
The show is accessed at K4HD.com. The call-in number is (818) 570-5443.
Obama can talk as moderate as he wants, but when he pals up to notorious race-baiters such as Al Sharpton, he can’t hide. If Obama were man enough, he’d call Sharpton out for pouring fuel on various racial fires.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote in his diary, “Al Sharpton has done more damage to the black cause than (segregationist Alabama Gov.) George Wallace. He has suffocated the decent black leaders in New York. His transparent venal blackmail and extortion schemes taint all black leadership.”
It starts, often, like a case of the flu. Tired. Body aches, headaches, back pain. Nothing actually tastes good. It’s hard to concentrate. You’ve got no appetite, or you only want sweets or chocolate.
No matter how long you sleep, you never feel rested, and it’s harder and harder to get out of bed. Perversely, you may also have trouble getting to sleep, and you may find yourself waking in the middle of the night, unable to get back to sleep. Your digestion is often disturbed — queasiness, constipation, diarrhea, or, thrillingly, alternating constipation and diarrhea.
Then it gets worse. There’s a pain in your chest, an ache that feels like your heart has been cut out with a rusty number 11 tomato can. Your muddy thinking starts to get a little obsessive: you remember every bad breakup — and blame yourself. You remember every time you did something dumb or hurt someone’s feelings, and the shame is as fresh as if it just happened. And — especially the first time it happens — you begin to think it will never improve, you’ll never be better, that the obsessive thoughts that you’re worthless and a burden to everyone are true.
Robin’s Williams’ suicide last week has brought the whole topic of depression to people’s attention again. It was quickly followed by a tremendous outpouring of grief and distress — as well as the usual collection of damn fools who don’t have the faintest notion of what depression, real depression, is.
So, okay, what is it?
First of all, people need to understand depression is something essentially physiological. It’s not just a bad mood, being sad. (Look at that list of symptoms: that’s not just me, that’s beenobservedmedically and is part of the standard diagnostic criteria for depression.) Understanding that there’s a physiological basis for depression has been slow in coming, but the discovery of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (or SSRIs for short) like fluoxetine (Prozac) made it clear that there was a neurological basis. (A good description of the studies that established this can be found in Peter D. Kramer’s Listening to Prozac; an excellent follow-on is Kramer’s Against Depression.)
That doesn’t mean life events can’t precipitate it. It turns out that in rats — and very plausibly, in humans — uncontrollable traumatic events lead to physiological changes that are exactly the ones that SSRI drugs help control.
Second, it is treatable. Again, I know. After trying a number of different drugs, it turned out my best treatment was Prozac, the first of the SSRIs. That wasn’t enough for me, though — I had a significant seasonal component — the dark days from about Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day really were dark days for me. It’s pretty well established that depression is associated with sleep disorders; it’s less well known that sleep disorders are also associated with depression. After seeing some suggestive studies, I added daily doses of melatonin and vitamin D, which seemed to help a lot. My recent habit of “walking to work” — leaving the house for a walk, out in the sun, every morning — seems to help as well.
That’s really the third thing, too. It is treatable. No matter how much the depressed part of your brain is saying that you’re hopeless, and bad, and a burden on everyone, that’s in a very real sense not you.
It’s not your fault.
It’s not your fault, any more than it’s your fault if you have tuberculosis or cancer. And there is help. The image at the top of this article has a phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. The phone number is 1-800-273-8255. Call it if you need it.
Then, of course, we find out that Williams had early Parkinson’s disease as well. It turns out that depression is strongly associated with Parkinson’s disease and often precedes the onset of overt Parkinson’s symptoms. Parkinson’s and depression seem to have come common underlying mechanisms.
I started this as a rant about that particular damn fool, and all the other damn fools who don’t understand depression.
I don’t think I’ll bother.
I’ll just point out that by definition someone in a deep depression isn’t thinking clearly. Someone in a deep depression is in great pain. Someone in a deep depression has obsessive thoughts that it will never ever get better — which have to be even worse if you have a disease like Parkinson’s, which won’t get better.
Anyone who then imagines that someone like Robin Williams deserves to be reviled in that situation. …. Well, those people deserve to have to live with themselves.
I don’t know what happened in Ferguson, Missouri between the cop and the kid. And neither do you. When I covered hard news I saw cops who crossed the line and I saw kids who started trouble. So let’s not jump to conclusions.
But what do you think the reaction in Ferguson would have been if the kid who got shot was black and so was the cop? Or if the kid was white and the cop was black — or white? You think there would have been demonstrations and riots and an onslaught of national media?
I recently wrote a column in this space about the trouble in Gaza and I quoted the conservative thinker Victor Davis Hanson on how the sophisticates in Europe and America wail when Israelis kill Arabs who wage war on them, but are silent when Arabs kill Arabs: “Apparently the West, in racist fashion, assumes that killing one another is what Arabs do best. But when Israelis kill those who wish to kill them, outrage follows.”
It’s pretty much the same when blacks kill blacks, isn’t it? It happens all the time in big cities like Chicago. No one riots because a black kid killed a black kid. National news organizations don’t show up to do live shots day and night. It’s as if we’re saying: “Blacks killing one another is what blacks do best.” How’s that for racism! Not the old fashioned KKK kind. No, this is elite liberal racism, the supposedly softer variety.
And Al Sharpton doesn’t jump on a plane to show up when a black thug kills a white victim. He’s not in business to protest that kind of crime. Some people just can’t get past the bad old days. They need to feel that America is still a simmering racist country. They need to feel that black kids are being hunted down like rabid dogs by modern day Bull Connors. In a perverse way, it makes them feel good – maybe “relevant” is a better word – to think that nothing has changed in America since the March on Selma.
But they are partly right, those who think young black men are in the crosshairs. According to the Justice Department’s latest statistics (2005), although African-Americans make up 13 percent of the population, they represent 49 percent of the nation’s homicide victims – and 93 percent of those black victims were killed by other black people.
That doesn’t mean that all white cops are angels who don’t harbor any racial animus. But when it comes to crime, nasty white cops aren’t what’s plaguing black America.
I’m pretty sure if George Zimmerman had been black, we’d never know the name Trayvon Martin. And if 18-year old Michael Brown were white, we probably wouldn’t know his name, either … and neither national news reporters nor the civil rights establishment would even know what state Ferguson is in.
Members of the African-American elite, along with many white liberals, have said we don’t put enough value on the lives of young black men. They certainly don’t. Or they’d have a lot more to say when a black kid gets shot in the street – by another kid who is black.
UCLA is a fine school. But like all universities today, it has a spending problem, starting at the top. UC Chancellor Janet Napolitano earns four times what California’s governor earns. Then there is the administrative bloat.
How to pay for all this? Raise tuition and fees and rake in extra dough by admitting out of state students.
The University of California system is expected to enroll a record number of out-of-state students this fall — and will receive millions of dollars in return.
More than a fifth of all UC freshmen will come from such places as Texas, Washington, China and India and each will pay an additional $23,000 in tuition, providing the system with an estimated $400 million in extra revenue that officials say helps support the education of Californians.
The out-of-staters will include incoming UCLA freshman Bridget Bruggeman, who passed over her home state school, Indiana University, and other colleges that accepted her.
“Being from the Midwest, there is definitely an idea of California as a place where you can dream as big as you want to. That’s something I was very drawn to,” said the 18-year-old, who intends to major in international development studies and Spanish.
Her family decided UCLA was worth the extra cost, which will mean tuition about three times what it would have been for her at Indiana University.
“It definitely would have been less expensive to go to I.U., but I don’t think I would have been as happy,” said Bruggeman, who attended a recent orientation program at UCLA.
Decisions like that are more frequent as students from outside California and the United States for the first time will constitute more than 20% of freshmen, according to preliminary data for the fall.
Here comes the whopper:
Although critics contend it hurts Californians and reduces political support for the campuses, UC officials insist no California residents are being pushed out to make room for these students. The $23,000 non-Californians pay on top of the regular $12,192 tuition will provide about 6% of UC’s core educational budget and help maintain classes and financial aid for Californians, administrators say.
In other words, slots at UCLA are infinite. Tell that to the thousands of California kids currently on waiting lists.
Although the article focuses mostly on stories of American students, the graph shows that 2938 of them are from China, triple the number from the top five states.
That amounts to more than 10% of the UCLA undergraduate class.
In a major shift from the 2012 presidential campaign year, only two of the nation’s top 20 donors to federal campaigns favor the GOP, and a stunning 11 are labor unions including the AFL-CIO, and both teachers unions, according to a new report.
The highly respected Center for Responsive Politics put the pro-Democratic fundraising group ActBlue at the top of the organization donor list, coughing up over $30 million, with 99 percent going to Democrats.
Among individuals, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ranked second in donations, with $8,710,678 of his $9,495,798 going to Democrats and Democratic causes.
“One of the first things you may notice about the 2014 list is that of the top 20 organizations, only two favor Republicans. The rest, with the exception of one ‘on the fence’ trade association, all strongly prefer liberal policies and Democratic candidates,” said the report.
“This is a pronounced shift from 2012. In that election cycle, seven of the top 20 organizations favored conservatives,” said the report from the group well known for its website, OpenSecrets.org.
Among individual donors, the top three are also Democrats. The rest of the list is evenly split in who they give money to.
En route to a photo shoot last Thursday, I passed this spot on Mulholland Drive. It was still daylight and you could see for miles. Twenty years ago in August, this would have been miles of murky goop.
I didn’t have time to stop until my shoot was over, but took a few moments to capture this. I waited until a plane made its approach to LAX and caught the streak of light. For scale, look near the bottom center of the image to see the car parked under the street light.
Click the image to enlarge.
Bryan Preston on how Democrats are trying to taint another possible GOP campaign.
AUSTIN (KXAN) – A grand jury has handed up an indictment against Gov. Rick Perry in connection with the investigation into an effort to force Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign.
Perry wanted Lehmberg to resign because she had been busted for drunk driving. It’s not good to have a drunk driver, captured on camera abusing the officers who arrested her, heading up the Public Integrity Unit.
At the center of the issue is a complaint about intimidation stemming from Perry’s threat to veto of $7.5 million in state funding to the Public Integrity Unit run by Lehmberg’s office. The threat came after she pleaded guilty to drunk driving and served a 45-day sentence; Perry called on her to step down but she refused to resign her position. Perry then vetoed the funding for the PIU.
A grand jury was called to determine whether or not Perry broke the law when he threatened to veto the funding. As a result they issued indictments on two felony charges: abuse of official capacity and coercion of public servant. If found guilty on the charges, Perry could be sentenced to a maximum 109 years in prison.
The office is funded by the state. As governor, Perry has veto power. Full stop.
This indictment is political. Every bit as political as the kangaroo court charges that former District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat, lodged against numerous Republicans over the years — both because that office is politicized, and Travis County is full of guttersnipes and fools.
But that doesn’t mean that the charges will get thrown out. The legal jeopardy to Perry is quite real.
Earle got former Rep. Tom Delay, Republican, convicted on crimes that were not even committed in Travis County, and were not even crimes at the time they were supposedly committed.
Those convictions were eventually thrown out, but not before Earle had totally destroyed Delay’s career and tainted the entire Republican Party — which was the goal all along.
by Burt Prelutsky
Isolationists are always insisting that America can’t be the world’s policeman; what they don’t tell you is who should be. After all, even the most liberal pinheaded pacifist wouldn’t dare suggest this is a safe world. So who gets the job? The U.N.?!
There are two reasons that’s a lousy idea. The first is that the U.N. is incapable of keeping the peace even on a grammar school playground. Hell, they can’t even wipe out the few hundred members of Boko Haram, a name which apparently translates to “Western education is a sin,” but should conclude with “but kidnapping 300 Christian girls is a virtue in the eyes of Allah.”
The second reason is that all the worst foxes are already inside the big glass henhouse, and one of the very worst, Russia, sits on the Security Council and therefore has veto power.
I could add that this is an organization that has made a practice of condemning Israel on a regular basis for the past several decades, but never even censures China, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan or the Palestinians.
To get an honest picture of the U.N. and the world media, all you have to do, as my friend Donald Melquist suggests, is compare the reaction to Israel’s killing a thousand Arabs in Gaza in order to stem the firing of missiles and the burrowing of tunnels, to the fact that in nearby Syria, Assad has been responsible for the deaths of over 150,000 of his own people.
When civilian deaths, however justified, can be laid at the feet of the Israelis, we have cries of moral outrage from every corner of the globe and front page denouncements in the New York Times. When it comes to Assad, a butcher who has used poison gas to murder his political opponents, you can hear a pin drop. It’s a deathly silence, except, of course, for the screams of the dying.
As I see it, the problem isn’t with the U.S. serving as the world’s policeman, but that, unfortunately, in Obama we have a cop who prefers golfing and giving speeches to keeping the peace.
The most astonishing thing about modern times is that followers of Islam have declared a jihad on the West, but it is a war that the West refuses to acknowledge. Instead of taking on our common foe, Russia, Europe and America, all dither around, stepping on each other’s toes like the Three Stooges.
Instead of accepting that when they bomb train stations, pizza parlors, theaters and consulates, they mean business, the West pretends that it’s only a tiny group of zealots. Of course it was only a tiny group of zealots who overthrew Czar Nicholas, took over the Weimar Republic or, for that matter, sent King George III packing. Instead, we either go to war in order to defend one gang of Islamists from another or we bow and scrape, for fear that we may have bruised the feelings of some Muslim in Dearborn, Michigan, by pointing out that virtually every act of terror committed since 1979 has been accompanied by a cry of “Allahu Akbar!”
Every time I see one of those well-dressed lizards from CAIR showing up on TV claiming that Islam is as benevolent as the Shriners, I find myself wondering if we would have ever gone to war with the Nazis if Hitler had merely claimed to be spreading a religion known as Nazism and was not really out to conquer the world.
I hate to admit it, but when the three Central American presidents met with Obama and they blamed the drug cartels plaguing their nations on us, they were right. If millions of Americans hadn’t chosen to dedicate their lives to heroin, cocaine and marijuana, the drug cartels would be out of business by this weekend. I know it suits our vision of ourselves to blame farmers in Afghanistan for growing poppies or Latino thugs in L.A. for peddling the stuff, but if it weren’t for all those good solid Americans who can’t bear the thought of facing life if they can’t sniff, smoke or shoot some sort of crap into their bodies, addiction would just be a word in the dictionary.
A friend of mine suggested that a step in the right direction would be to decriminalize all drugs. I don’t think that’s any kind of solution. What I would really like to see happen is for people and especially judges to stop calling drug addiction a disease. A disease is something that happens to you, it’s not something you choose to go out and buy in an alley or on a street corner. And surely I can’t be the only person who is sick and tired of people breaking the law while under the self-induced influence and who then, instead of going to jail, get to enter rehab.
I know that some Republicans are concerned that in recent polls, Hillary Clinton has a 54% approval rating, and that in imaginary races against certain potential opponents, she’s running 10-12% ahead of them. I say we Republicans have nothing to fear but fear itself.
For one thing, her numbers have been falling for months, ever since we saw Hillary being Hillary on her book tour, talking about being flat broke in 2001 just before she and Bill scooped up $150 million in book deals and speaking fees, and boasting about how her reset button with Russia was a piece of brilliant diplomacy.
For another thing, when people are voting in fantasy face-offs two years before one side has even nominated a candidate, the results are meaningless. Keep in mind that once 2016 rolls around, the RNC will begin running TV spots in which night after night, we’ll all see Hillary, glaring through her Coke-bottle glasses, and barking “What difference, at this point, does it make who murdered four Americans in Benghazi?” I’m already salivating.
But in preparation for the all-important 2016 presidential election, it’s not too early for me to take the pulse of the electorate.
In this, my latest poll, I am asking that you let me know which of the following Republicans (listed in alphabetical order) you would like to see carry the Republican banner into battle.
Vote for just one person and please refrain from commenting, unless it’s to pay me a compliment. So keep it short and sweet, just like me.
Jeb Bush….Ben Carson….Chris Christie….Ted Cruz….Trey Gowdy….Mike Huckabee….Bobby Jindal….Susana Martinez….Sarah Palin….Rand Paul….Mike Pence….Rick Perry….Mitt Romney….Marco Rubio….Paul Ryan….Rick Santorum….Scott Walker….(Other).
Please take a moment and let me know who you favor by submitting your vote to me at BurtPrelutsky@aol.com.
Be sure to catch Burt’s weekly hour-long webcast on Wednesdays, at noon, Pacific Coast Time.
The show is accessed at K4HD.com. The call-in number is (818) 570-5443.
Are most of the kids from central America actually kids? Most of the photos I’ve seen on TV were cute tots and grade schoolers.
A friend living in south Texas said most of the immigrants in his area were teenage boys.
Even home grown teenage boys can be a pain in the patoot, so why attract those without families or English skills? Just asking. Because now they’re being enrolled in school.
The caption for this photo in the LA Times reads: Nurse PractitionerJoyce Yoshimizu weighs and measures a student enrolling in the LAUSD from a foreign country.
Duck, low ceiling!
Are you worried that at some point in your day, you might unknowingly make a personal decision untainted by any political considerations whatsoever? Afraid that a single penny of your hard-earned money* might go toward someone who doesn’t share your views of the world?
Great news! Colby Itkowitz, WaPo:
Enter Matthew Colbert, a former campaign and Hill staffer, who has built a new app for smartphones that allows users to scan the barcode of products in the grocery store and immediately find out what political party the company and its employees support…
The app, based on data from Center for Responsive Politics, the Sunlight Foundation and the Institute for State Money in Politics, is the first rollout from Colbert’s new company, “Spend consciously.” It’s [sic] tagline: “Wouldn’t it be great if you could spend how you believed?”
The goal of the company, he said, is make “every day Election Day” through “spending choices.”
It’s called Buypartisan. Get it?
Well done, Matthew Colbert. I need to go to the grocery store today anyway. I just downloaded your app, and I’m going to go “spend how I believe.”
That is, unless there’s something I really want or need anyway. In that case, I’ll just buy it, because I’m not a miserable leftist who can’t even make a food run without turning it into a goddamn political statement.
*Or, y’know, whoever earned.
ISIS supporters brought “glad tidings” (as they put it) to shoppers on Oxford Street in London today. The “Khilafah [sic] has been re-established” and “the dawn of a new era has begun,” read their posters.
The bearers of glad tidings encouraged shoppers to “resettle” in the newly proclaimed Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
It could be a tough sell. The shopping is much better in London. On the other hand, there’s plenty of space in the new Islamic State. The territory under ISIS control is larger than Great Britain.
Actually, it is estimated that approximately 500 Brits have already joined ISIS. The fear is not so much that they will leave Britain for the “Islamic State,” but rather that they will return and commit acts of terror.
On May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush flew onto the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln anchored off the coast of San Diego and announced an end to “major combat operations” in Iraq. As if that wasn’t bad enough given the years of war that followed those words, the president was standing beneath a giant banner on the ship’s superstructure that read: “Mission Accomplished.”
The vast majority of casualties in Iraq, both military and civilian, came after that speech.
“Mission Accomplished” became a kind of punch line that stood in for all the mistakes Mr. Bush and his team made in Iraq. President Bush standing under that sign was proof to his many liberal critics that he was a dolt, the worst president ever. Never mind that five years later, in November 2008, President Bush told CNN: “To some, it said, well, ‘Bush thinks the war in Iraq is over,’ when I didn’t think that. It conveyed the wrong message.” Never mind that in January 2009, Mr. Bush said, “Clearly, putting ‘Mission Accomplished’ on an aircraft carrier was a mistake.”
Too late, Mr. President. Liberals (and some others) had already rendered their verdict: You’re really stupid and you don’t have a clue! What could be more embarrassing than a president of the United States declaring – even though he never actually uttered the words – mission accomplished in Iraq?
Well, how about …
On October 21, 2011, this headline appeared on the official White House Web site: “President Obama Has Ended the War in Iraq.”
Or how about in December 2011, when the U.S. troops were about to come home from Iraq, President Obama gave a speech at Fort Bragg in which he noted this “moment of success” and claimed that America was leaving behind a “sovereign, stable and independent Iraq.”
Or on November 1, 2012, Mr. Obama, running for re-election, said in a stump speech, “Thanks to sacrifice and service of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over …”
Scott Wilson, a political reporter with the Washington Post, wrote this about Mr. Obama in 2012: “For much of that election year, Obama had included a line of celebration in his standard stump speech, one that among an electorate exhausted by more than a decade of war always drew a rousing applause: ‘Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq,’ Obama proclaimed in Bowling Green, Ohio, in September 2012, and did nearly every day after until the election. ‘We did.’
No we didn’t, Mr. President.
It’s true that the president never spoke beneath a banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished” but the banner was all that was missing from his message. A “sovereign, stable and independent Iraq” … “the war in Iraq is over” … “President Obama Has Ended the War in Iraq” … “I promised to end the war in Iraq” and “we did.”
It sure sounds like “Mission Accomplished.” ISIS, the army of terrorists waging war in Iraq while President Obama is, in the words of one journalist, engaging in Operation Martha’s Vineyard, never got the “war is over” memo. But somehow, the president who goes golfing while the world around him is on fire is spared the ridicule that W could never escape.
And they said Reagan was the Teflon president.
Robert Gates, who is the Captain Renault of our time, recounts the following White House exchange between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, back when she was serving the president loyally as secretary of state and he was taking notes as secretary of defense.
“In strongly supporting a surge in Afghanistan,” Mr. Gates writes in his memoir, “Duty,” “Hillary told the president that her opposition in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the primary. She went on to say, ‘The Iraq surge worked.’ The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.”
Here’s a fit subject for an undergraduate philosophy seminar: What, or who, is your true self? Are you Kierkegaardian or Aristotelian? Is the real “you” the interior and subjective you; the you of your private whispers and good intentions? Or are you only the sum of your public behavior, statements and actions? Are you the you that you have been, and are? Or are you what you are, perhaps, becoming?
And if Mrs. Clinton supported the surge in private—because she thought it would help America win a war—but opposed it in public—because she needed to win a primary—shall we conclude that she is (a) despicable; (b) clever; (c) both; or (d) “what difference, at this point, does it make?”
All this comes to mind after reading Mrs. Clinton’s remarkable interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic. “Great nations need organizing principles,” she said, in the interview’s most quotable line, “and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”
That one is a direct riposte to the White House’s latest brainstorm of a guiding foreign-policy concept. But it wasn’t Mrs. Clinton’s only put-down of her old boss.
She was scathing on the president’s abdication in Syria: “I know that the failure”—failure—”to help build a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad . . . the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.” She was unequivocal in her defense of Israel, in a way that would be unimaginable coming from John Kerry : “If I were prime minister of Israel, you’re damn right I would expect to have control over security [on the West Bank].” She was dubious about the nuclear diplomacy with Iran, and the administration’s willingness to concede to Tehran a “right” to enrich uranium. (more…)
by Burt Prelutsky
When Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, after referring to the blood of the fallen soldiers having consecrated the ground of that Pennsylvania pasture, he concluded his brief remarks by saying that because of their ultimate sacrifice, “This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that the government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
What Lincoln could not foresee was that a century and a half later, we the people would elect and then re-elect a despot who would usurp the role of Congress simply because it refused to do his bidding and would make a practice of ignoring all the constitutional limits on the executive branch with such regularity that even those who voted for him less than two years ago have begun to experience buyer’s remorse. A recent poll has disclosed that if they could do it all over again, a sizable number of those who gave him another four years in 2012 now wish they had voted for Mitt Romney.
I happen to be one of those people who voted for Romney. I still believe he would have been a great president, but he wasn’t a great candidate. But it wasn’t entirely his fault. For one thing, the Democrats knew that he would eventually beat out Santorum and Gingrich for the nomination, and therefore spent months attacking him and his connection to Bain Capital while he was kept busy beating out Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum.
Once he was a candidate, he was stuck debating Obama in what was never a fair fight because the referee – a liberal moderator named Candy Crowley — kept working Romney over with a blackjack.
He also suffered from either not possessing or not having the opportunity to display a sense of humor. His writers didn’t help. Even after running for the nomination in 2008 and running for president in 2012, the only two things anyone ever remembers his saying was that illegal aliens should self-deport and that 47% of the people would never vote for him. Compare that to the number of lines we continue attributing to Ronald Reagan.
Speaking of humor, a reader sent me the following definition: A Hillionaire is a woman who is worth millions of dollars, but claims to be dead broke.
I would like to know who it is that hires those who speak for the State Department. You only have to look and listen to Jan Psaki and Marie Harf, two supercilious young women who come off like a pair of teenage brats, address the press corps to suspect it was Barack Obama himself who signed them up. He has, after all, made a practice of surrounding himself with such obnoxious louts as Eric Holder, Kathleen Sebelius, Lois Lerner, Jay Carney, Valerie Jarrett, Van Jones and John Koskinen. I swear, if you could convert arrogance into electricity, you could wire up those weasels and make America energy-independent for the next century.
Because I believe that a progressive income tax is socialistic and therefore unfair, I would like to see it replaced. Some favor a Flat Tax, some a Fair Tax. I am open to persuasion, but what I do know is that the current system is far too cumbersome and is at its core un-American.
Liberals are always calling for the rich to pay their fair share. But what’s fair about their having to pay at a higher rate than other people? If a person makes a million dollars a year and pays, say, 10%, he will pay the taxman $100,000. Someone earning $50,000 will have to cough up $5,000, and someone making $20,000 will owe $2,000. But why should the rich guy have to pay at, say, a 20% rate? What’s fair about that? Besides, he’s already paying much more in sales taxes because he buys more expensive stuff than the rest of us.
I don’t often quote members of the entertainment industry because they are generally pinheads and never say anything bright or amusing unless someone else is writing their dialogue. But the star of my favorite TV series, “Doc Martin,” a rather odd-looking Englishman named Martin Clunes, had the wit and candor to describe himself thus: “Jug ears and child-bearing lips.”
Finally, I would like to speak up on behalf of those people among us who are generally described as mentally-challenged. I used to live next door to a home that housed half-a-dozen young men whose collective IQ probably didn’t top 450, but they were unfailingly polite, kind and, to the extent of their ability, helpful neighbors.
Where I now live, I often see vans conveying similarly disabled young men and women to and fro between their homes and their jobs. They often wave when they see me walking my dog Angel and seem delighted when I wave back.
What got me to thinking about them was seeing a segment on TV about the government finally deciding to only buy American flags made in America, and not in China or Indonesia. One of the American workers they showed was just such a woman. But when she was asked how she felt about sewing the flags, she smiled proudly and said, “It makes me feel just like Betsy Ross.”
I can’t help wondering how many college students, who are drowning in debt so that left-wing professors can live high off the hog, have ever even heard of Betsy Ross.
Be sure to catch Burt’s weekly hour-long webcast on Wednesdays, at noon, Pacific Coast Time.
The show is accessed at K4HD.com. The call-in number is (818) 570-5443.
Hillary derided that slogan, purported to be Obama’s foreign policy standard. If so, then:
- Is toppling Khaddafi without a plan to stabilize Libya stupid?
- Is drawing a red line in Syria, then demanding “Assad must go” and doing nothing stupid?
- Is using our geopolitical foe Russia as a mediator in Syria stupid?
- Is kissing up to Putin (“reset button” and “Tell Vladmir I’ll have more flexibility after the election”) stupid?
- Is believing the Iranian mullahs negotiate in good faith stupid?
- Is offering Ukraine little more than MREs to fend off Russia stupid?
Yes to all, stupid.
It would be nice if the media could acknowledge that the vast majority of criticisms of Obama from the Right — that he’s naïve in his understanding of the world, that he underestimates America’s foes, overestimates his own persuasiveness and abilities, dismisses criticism from all corners, that he withdraws and tunes out the world when the job gets hard, is a much more ruthless partisan than he claims, ignores Constitutional limits on his power when they prove inconvenient…
Kyle Smith, writing in the New York Post, Aug. 10:
One of these words is not like the others (or maybe they’re all pretty much the same — you make the call): Loon, nutjob, crank, wingnut, whackjob, cuckoo, crackpot, dingbat, wacko, conservative.
Can’t spot the outlier? You might be a liberal. Because even among the Very Serious and Highly Respected voices on the left, “conservative” and “crazy” are synonyms.
A recent example: A highly acclaimed book that examines the conservative movement in the 1970s, Rick Perlstein’s “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan.” The book is the kind of thing that liberals praise as an evenhanded portrait of the Right. You know, kinda like how “Super Size Me” was totally fair about McDonald’s. . . .
What about the liberal writers who make no pretense whatsoever of understanding their ideological opposites? Here’s a partial list of the hundreds of conservatives who have been labeled “wingnut” by Salon.com alone: Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, columnist Jonah Goldberg, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (and his predecessor Eric Cantor), the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Chris Christie.
If these people and institutions are cuckoo, then conservatism itself is crazy. And that is exactly what liberals think. (Sometimes this tendency takes eccentric form, as when liberals argue that it’s “crazy” not to panic about climate change.)
Liberals hope to tag completely mainstream conservative thought as outside the boundaries of polite discourse, but the electorate keeps refusing to comply by, for instance, electing a Congress designed to serve as a stalwart check on progressivism for 16 of [the] last 20 years. This is baffling to liberals.
The latest reviews of Barack Obama‘s foreign policy are in, and flattering they are not. “Just leaves you scratching your head,” says one, about the President’s rationale for providing limited support to the Kurds in Iraq. “Nothing we can point to that’s been very successful,” says another about the President’s policy in Syria.
And then there’s this zinger: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”
In case you are wondering which trio of neoconservative naysayers we’re quoting here, we refer you, respectively, to James Steinberg, formerly the President’s Deputy Secretary of State, and Robert Ford, formerly his Ambassador to Syria, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, formerly his loyal Secretary of State.
Mrs. Clinton’s remark is especially notable given the hints she’s dropping about her 2016 plans. She made them in an interview in the Atlantic, in which she also staked out hawkish positions on nuclear negotiations with Iran and Syria’s Bashar Assad. At this rate, she may be re-advocating Saddam Hussein’s ouster by the time primary season approaches.
This all could be—perish the thought—political opportunism on the part of those who have now found the flaws in the foreign policy they once helped execute. Then again, if opportunism causes liberals to acknowledge the failures of Mr. Obama’s worldview, we’ll take it. Better that than a dogmatist in the White House sticking to his case for America’s retreat.
Obama pulls a two-fer with his pen and phone. WSJ:
August is a month of political vacations, so naturally the Obama Administration is using the free time to push through more policies that do an end run around Congress. The latest dash is an executive order from President Obama that would unilaterally reshape federal employment policy, create negotiating leverage for labor unions and open new platforms for the plaintiffs bar. How’s your summer going?
Under the order signed last week, contractors and subcontractors who receive more than $500,000 in federal money will be obliged to report to government agencies any labor-law violations going back three years. The order covers violations of everything from family and medical leave to federal wage and hour laws in the three years before applying for a contract.
That’s not all. There will now be a labor contract adviser at every federal agency handling contracts. They’ll be busy. The Executive Order fact sheet notes that the new reporting rules will sweep in some 24,000 businesses with federal contracts, employing about 28 million workers, according to Labor Department estimates.
For organized labor, this is political leverage from heaven. When unions are in a collective bargaining fight with a company, they typically file complaints with the likes of OSHA, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Under the new executive order, the government will have the ability to revoke the contracts of those with violations. That’s punishment above and beyond any remedies meted out by the NLRB.
That would be another finger on the scales to force settlements on terms favorable to the President’s political allies. If you’re a government contractor, any time a union files an unfair labor practices charge, the pressure to settle becomes overwhelming. Choose to fight and you face not only the civil penalties of violating a law but the risk of having your federal contracts revoked or suspended.
For the trial lawyers, the executive order includes a transparency provision that requires contractors to provide their employees with information about pay, overtime pay and deductions
Sometimes the best things are found deep into news articles. For instance, Oracle is suing Oregon for slander over the botched $248 million healthcare exchange that so bad, they threw it all away and moved over to HealthCare.gov.
Among other things, Oracle claims that Oregon had incompetents running the show.
…Oracle alleges that Rocky King, the former Cover Oregon executive director, did not seem to grasp the extent of the technical problems his agency was facing.
Days before the website was supposed to launch on Oct. 1, King sent an email to an Oracle consultant underscoring that the Cover Oregon website should at least look good for consumers, even if it was not going to operate well.
“If the road is going to be be [sic] bumpy, let me at least be driving a good looking car,” King’s email said.
Sure, let’s put lipstick on the corpse.
In other news, the NY Post reports that New York City is seeing a return of the obnoxious squeegee men. These are the shakedown artists who rush up to cars stopped at traffic lights and clean drivers’ windshield, then aggressively “ask” for tips.
Mayor Guiliani got rid of them years ago, but now NYC has a progressive twit for mayor.
One of two squeegee men working the Queens side of the Queensboro, or 59th Street, Bridge on Thursday defended his craft.
“Doing it this way is better than going out and selling drugs, sticking people up,” said the man, who wouldn’t give his name.
Well, no doubt…
“I’d rather be doing this than to go back to what I was doing before Giuliani came into office: pimping … selling drugs, all that.”
“I need to pay rent, and this is the best way to do it.”
Such a stunted outlook.
Once police had Nathan Hunter in handcuffs, they tended to his wife.
She was covered in blood. She told the officers Hunter flew into a rage that night in February 2013 because she hadn’t bought him a Valentine’s Day gift. He beat and choked her before stabbing her in the face with a screwdriver and throwing her down a flight of stairs at their apartment in South L.A., according to police and court records.
Hunter, 55, was convicted of felony spousal abuse and sentenced to six years in prison.
Under FBI rules followed by police departments across the country, the beating should have been counted as an aggravated assault because Hunter used a weapon and caused serious injuries.
That’s not what happened. The Los Angeles Police Department classified it as a simple assault — a minor offense not included in the city’s official tally of serious crimes.
It was no isolated case. The LAPD misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes during a one-year span ending in September 2013, including hundreds of stabbings, beatings and robberies, a Times investigation found.
The incidents were recorded as minor offenses and as a result did not appear in the LAPD’s published statistics on serious crime that officials and the public use to judge the department’s performance.
Nearly all the misclassified crimes were actually aggravated assaults. If those incidents had been recorded correctly, the total aggravated assaults for the 12-month period would have been almost 14% higher than the official figure, The Times found.