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Aug 06 2014

Obamacare Update

We keep being assured that Obamacare is working – aside from minor glitches like the federal subsidies possibly being unconstitutional. But we’re told more people have health coverage, and everything is sunshine and lollipops now. So why has public approval of Obamacare dropped to an all-time low in the new Kaiser Family Foundation survey? Kaiser found that from June to July, the public’s unfavorable rating for Obamacare leaped 8 points to 53 percent, one of the biggest one-month swings ever, for any issue. And quite a few of those early buyers that were trumpeted by the White House have stopped making payments and dropped their policies. Why?

The New York Times discovered that many Obamacare buyers who are new to health insurance feel bamboozled. They thought they were getting free or less expensive health care. Instead, they’re wading through reams of confusing paperwork, only to find that their payments, deductibles and co-pays are higher than expected. Worse, many doctors won’t take their policies because of the low reimbursement rates. Patients with preexisting conditions who need to see certain doctors are finding they’re only included under the most expensive policies. So they still don’t have access to the doctors they need – the Times calls this “access shock” – plus they now have the added expense of useless insurance. And the price is still rising: it was just predicted that premiums on the Florida exchange will rise over 13 percent next year. So they’re dropping the policies.

It’s all because a problem that should have been narrowly targeted – helping the poor and sick obtain health care – was turned into a giant, federal Rube Goldberg machine. For instance, how many sick people could have been helped with $850 million worth of medical care? Because that’s the latest estimate of the cost just for setting up the Obamacare website – which still won’t be functional until at least 2015. I take back what I said about it being a Rube Goldberg device. Those ridiculously inefficient contraptions might have involved monkeys and cannons and bowling balls, but at least, they worked.

Did someone drop the Bill of Rights into a paper shredder when we weren’t looking? I can’t think of any other way to explain the news that the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division of the IRS (the same fair and objective squad of public servants that was once headed by Lois Lerner) has agreed to appease atheists by promising to “monitor” church sermons for any forbidden expression of opinions on matters of public morality. For instance, if a minister speaks out against gay marriage or Obamacare paying for abortion drugs, his church might lose its tax-exempt status, because those are political issues. Of course, they are also basic moral issues, the type of things you might expect would be addressed, oh, I don’t know…in CHURCH!!

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist group, cited in its complaint the 1954 Johnson Amendment that bars tax-exempt groups from endorsing candidates (two points: speaking out on a moral issue that has a political component is not endorsing a candidate, and besides, I don’t see them complaining about all the liberal candidates who practically live in black church pulpits during election season) and a 2009 court ruling that requires the IRS to have a staffer to monitor churches to prevent them from politicking. The IRS claims this latest move is just to comply with that ruling that they’d been ignoring.

But they should have been ignoring it. The First Amendment contains five key freedoms, and for the government to monitor what’s said in church pulpits and punish them for it makes a mockery of at least two of them: freedom of speech and freedom of religion. If the IRS bans the sermon from being printed in the church bulletin, we can add freedom of the press to the death list, too. The only thing left of the First Amendment would be the rights to assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances. So if this latest assault on conservative churchgoers by the IRS makes people decide to assemble in Washington with tar and feathers, just consider it an exercise of the two-fifths of the First Amendment that are still in force.

Read more here: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/073114-711290-irs-deal-with-atheists-to-monitor-churches.htm

President Obama is too busy shaking down fat cat donors as a combination of Boss Hogg and Daddy Warbucks for the Democrat party than taking care of his day job that he has no interest in actually doing. His AWOL status combined with his passive indifference to a world in crisis makes his leadership model the combination of Nero and Neville Chamberlain—he fiddles (and golfs) while the world burns, and seeks to appease the enemies of freedom instead of challenging them. In Israel’s fight for survival, his administration’s policy is embarrassing. It attempts to equate a terror group’s intentional targeting of civilians with a legitimate government seeking to defend its civilians and protect its children. The deaths of both Israelis and innocents in Gaza are tragic, but to equate Israel’s defense of itself with the aggressive, inhuman, and savage acts of Hamas is as ridiculous as if Franklin Roosevelt would have said to the Brits and the Nazis that they both were about the same. 41 years ago this month, I made my first trip to the Middle East. I tried to be sympathetic to the Arab sentiments about Israel and wanted to believe that everyone wanted peace. Several wars, 2 intifadas, thousands of terrorist acts and suicide bombings, the disastrous Oslo accords, the repeated rejections of any peace agreement by the Palestinians despite the give away of massive amounts of land by the Israelis made me realize that radical Islam wants annihilation of Israel. The very charter documents of Hamas and other terror groups openly state—they don’t want peace for their children; they want death to the Israeli children. Israel has done more than any nation, including the United States, to avoid the killing of civilians by going to unprecedented lengths to warn residents of Gaza of impending attacks through phone calls, leaflets, and text messages. Israel isn’t trying to take 1 inch of Gaza back—they just want Hamas to stop firing rockets into their neighborhoods. Do they get credit for that? Are they acknowledged for building field hospitals to treat Palestinian victims near the Gaza border? Are they thanked for not celebrating the deaths of children? No. Meanwhile John Kerry that is intended for assistance for civilians, but will be used to buy more weapons and rockets offers the psychopathic killers of Hamas $47 million dollars of your money. The vast network of tunnels under Gaza and into Israel aren’t for a subway system, but as the means of murdering more Israelis. The UN should demand that Hamas stop firing rockets and unilaterally disarm and fill in the tunnels, but they won’t. When it was discovered that a UN relief facility was actually housing Hamas rockets, the UN at first expressed outrage, and then gave the rockets back to Hamas so they can kill more Jews. The UN shouldn’t get another dime of American money. What defenders of the murderers and terrorists of Hamas fail to get is that the same people who hate Israel and who enjoy the deaths of Jewish children also hate America, and are merely practicing on Israel what they hope to do to us. If Americans, and especially our naïve President and his clown car cabinet don’t know that, then we’re in more danger than we’ve ever been in.
I doubt President Obama has been able to pull himself away from the fundraisers he’s been busy with this week to read the papers. That’s where he claims he finds out about things like the IRS criminally abusing taxpayers, or the Justice Department violating the Constitutional rights of reporters like Fox News’ James Rosen, or the immigration disaster on our southern border, but if he could break away just a moment from fundraising and photo-ops eating hamburgers and from planning his long August vacation, he might find out the world is on fire and could really use some leadership. This week, Israel finally had enough of the terrorist strikes against their civilian population and launched a ground campaign into Gaza, the hell hole of Hamas. Twice Hamas violated a cease fire agreement and continued to launch rockets over 80% of the Israeli population. The best we got from the White House was a ridiculous admonition for “both sides to restrain themselves.” If 225 million Americans(which would be 80% of our population) were having rockets explode over our heads, do you think we’d appreciate someone telling us to restrain ourselves? Hamas is a terrorist organization, not a legitimate government. Israeli PM Netanyahu bluntly explained the difference between the so-called “2 sides." It is indeed a tragedy that several hundred residents of Gaza have been killed. It’s an even greater tragedy that the savages who operate Hamas use innocent people as human shields to protect their weapons. None of those Palestinians would have died if Hamas didn’t insist on acting like vicious mad dogs intent on making mayhem. And please don’t buy the lie that if Israel would give up some more land, it would be okay. Israel lives on 1/6 of 1% of the amount of land possessed by Arabs and Muslims. There are 300 million Middle Eastern Muslims and Arabs to only 5.5 million Israeli Jews. The idiotic proposal to give away more Israeli land is to assume that if you let the mad dog get closer to your face, the less likely they are to bite. Israel has a legitimate right to the land and a legitimate right to defend itself. It is the only Middle Eastern country that gives women full rights; the only one who outlaws honor killings of women; it’s built 6 universities, 20 community colleges, and 166 clinics for Palestinians between 1979 and 2006. Israel accommodates 15 different religions. How many Christians, Hindus, or Buddhists are free to worship in Pakistan, Iran or Iraq, Saudi Arabia or Gaza? Hamas is a puppet of Iran. The barrage of rockets fired into Israel is the pre-game for the real target—the United States. If we pussyfoot around now and have nothing better to offer than telling everybody to just get along, we’ll rue the day when the Iranian terrorists turn loose in the United States and we’ll wonder why we never bothered to control our borders or our brains. A President showing leadership would announce that since Hamas is firing rockets at Tel Aviv, we will move our embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel where it’s safer; we’d urge an escalation of building Jewish neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria so that those families living amidst their Arab neighbors would live in a neighborhood less likely to be targeted. We’d announce that there wouldn’t be another dime of US taxpayer money going to the PA until they publicly renounced and separated from Hamas and until they recognized Israel’s right to a safe and secure homeland. I don’t say these things because I’m Jewish, because I’m not. But I believe there’s a difference between good and evil, and I would never tell good to restrain itself nor treat evil as if were the same as good. I have spoken to friends in Israel every day over the past 12 days of attacks . I admire their patience and their hesitation to escalate their defense of their children that might result in the death of someone else’s. But enough is enough, and America shouldn’t keep the world guessing as to who it will stand with—the terrorist organization Hamas, or an elected democracy, Israel.

The Supreme Court got it right, today, but barely. In the 5-4 decision, the court ruled that the government can't force an employer in a privately held company to provide abortifacient drugs as part of its health care plan.

Only in the la-la land of left would it sound reasonable that government has created not only a 'right' to take the life of a child, but the obligation of providing it, even when it violated the First Amendment rights of that employer. The government can't say, 'you can have some religion, but only what the government agrees is sufficient.'

The Hobby Lobby ruling is yet another repudiation of the overreaching dictates of the Obama administration and a good day for freedom.

Eric Cantor gets shown the door, and no one saw it coming. The House majority leader made history by being the first person in America who held that position to be defeated in a primary. If the post-mortems from the pundit class are so brilliant and accurate, then why didn’t they have a clue before the fact? Explanations have run all over the map for Cantor’s stunning defeat---The Tea Party influence, Cantor’s support for immigration reform, his being better connected to the Washington crowd than to his district, and his over confidence due to his raising 22 dollars for every dollar that David Brat, his opponent had. All of those issues were certainly a factor, but I don’t think the winning candidate, David Brat, has been given enough credit. Fact is, Brat, the Randolph Macon economics professor, happens to be a very articulate, common sense candidate. It wasn’t all about what Cantor did wrong—it was also what Brat did right. He connected with people about free markets, and spoke about making sure that laws applied to the big boys on Wall Street who not only were too big to fail, but too big to jail. If the average American worker struggling to put food on his family’s table on an hourly wage had gamed the system like the Ivy League leeches who bled their companies dry, they’d go to jail. Brat had the audacity to suggest they should. Cantor spent more campaign money on steakhouses than Brat did in his entire campaign. That looked about as out of touch as Hillary whining last week that she and Bill were struggling to pay all those pesky taxes on a measly $10 million dollars of book income, not to mention the paltry $200,000 per speech that Bill was getting. Here’s what folks in the Wall Street to Washington corridor of power still don’t get. People in the real world are struggling. They aren’t opposed to immigration because they’re racists; they are opposed to their government is creating dumb job-killing regulations and then importing competition for the few jobs that are available. If Mexico won’t let one Marine loose from one its tortuous prisons, then a lot of Americans aren’t too keen on Mexico sending several million of their folks over the border. If taxpaying American citizens have to present a photo ID and be electronically strip searched and felt up by federal hands just to board a flight from Dallas to San Antonio, then they don’t want people to be able to get jobs without at least stopping by at the border and passing a background check. Americans aren’t mean; we’re the most generous, tolerant, and welcoming people on earth. If you don’t believe that, then try to cross the border into Mexico, and demand that you want your instructions in English when you press 2; you want free food, health care, and education; and you want to continue celebrating the 4th of July and expect the government to let you vote in Mexico. Americans aren’t mad that people want to come here. We get on our knees every night and thank God we live in a country people are trying to break into rather than one they’re trying to break out of. But if our own government is going to secure jobs for people here illegally before they first help secure jobs for American citizens, then Eric Cantor won’t be the last to go.
One of the funniest and yet painfully poignant cartoons I saw this week, was this internet dandy (photo), proposing to Mexico that we trade 5 Democrats for one Marine. The spoof on the raging controversy of President Obama releasing 5 of the worst and most hideous terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay for an American soldier said by those who served with him to be a deserter was one way we laughed to keep from crying. The initial reaction to a soldier being released was to thank God and be grateful and to especially be glad for his family. I’m still glad the young man is out of the hands of the Taliban, and will return home. If he indeed deserted, and if he turned from his oath of loyalty to America and to his fellow soldiers, then the full weight of the law should rain down on him. The families of those soldiers who were killed looking for him will never be fully comforted by whatever punishment might be meted out for Sgt. Bergdahl. And those 5 terrorists we turned loose will likely kill again, and I’m not sure what words of comfort President Obama will give to the families of those future victims of these monsters. Many questions have yet to be resolved: Why did the President act in direct violation to the law that required him to notify Congress at least 30 days in advance of a detainee’s release at Gitmo? Even the President’s sympathizers can’t deny that he clearly broke the law with his actions, though some defend it because of the argument that Bergdahl was sick and needed immediate medical attention. Why did we violate our long standing policy and negotiate with terrorists at all? Does that not endanger more Americans from capture so that they can become hostages to pressure the President to open more doors from the lockup at Guantanamo Bay? If we traded one suspected deserter for 5 of the worst thugs in Gitmo, imagine what power the terrorists would have in kidnapping an ambassador, a ranking officer serving honorably, or for that matter, an innocent American teenage tourist, tooling around Europe on spring break? And why is it that Susan Rice was once again made into the White House Stooge, this time peddling yet another ludicrous and laughable line about Bergdahl being rescued with the swap of the terrorists because he had served with “honor and distinction". She or at least the people who trotted her out there again with a notebook full of claptrap must have known that “honor and distinction” mean something to our military, and allegedly walking off from one’s post to join up with the enemy is neither. I honestly expected her to blame a You Tube video for his walking off post and creating the crisis. But there’s one unanswered question that this curious case brings up, (and forgive my cynicism). Was it to take the disgusting and outrageous maltreatment of our veterans in the VA system off the front page and make the President look like a hero for getting a soldier out of captivity? The President and members of his team have repeatedly justified their hostage swap of terrorists because we leave no man behind. America doesn’t desert its soldiers—apparently even when they desert us. Then here’s my question for the President and honest to God, I want an answer: If you were this committed to saving Sgt. Bergdahl, so that you’d break the law and let 5 mad dogs loose, then why on God’s green earth didn’t you do something to rescue the 4 Americans slaughtered at Benghazi? Why did you roll over, go to sleep, and fly off on Air Force One the next day for a Las Vegas political fundraiser instead of moving heaven and earth to save Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty? That’s the real question.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my wife and I were celebrating 40 years of marriage, so we took a trip to China. From the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square in Beijing; the Terra Cotta Warriors near Xian; the stunning skyline of Shanghai; to the Sichuan Province and Chengdu. It was there Janet held and fed a baby Panda. And no, I didn’t bring a real one home for the grandkids! Many Americans fear that China might get too strong. I must confess that I’m not worried that China will get too strong. I am worried that America might be getting too weak. Other nations having a strong economy is not bad for the United States. One less hungry mouthed country wanting us to take care of it and its people is great.

If they have money, maybe they will buy the things we innovate and make. We need to be fear that we will quit innovating and making things because excess taxation, regulation, and litigation will drive the jobs and the money away from American working men and women. I was stunned that China is becoming more like America used to be, and America is becoming more like China used to be. While America’s infrastructure crumbles, China is busy building its roadways, bridges, airports, and utility systems. China is still a communist governed country and we’re still a constitutional republic, but they are allowing more and more free enterprise and personal ownership, and we’re watching our government take away land rights and personal and religious freedoms at a stunning rate.

I don’t want what still remains of Chinese communism, but maybe we could loan them our Constitution—doesn’t appear that we’re using it much these days anyhow. We still have some advantages: The Chinese exercise strict control over the internet, blocking FB, You Tube, and a lot of websites, including the New York Times because they feel it’s proganda; but then, we have members of Congress pushing for greater control over the internet as well, and I’m not sure but what the Chinese might have it right on the New York Times. They scrub their history books of moments like the brutal killing of protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989; good thing we don’t re-write our history just to ignore parts of it that aren’t politically correct. But then, have you seen an American history book lately? The Chinese are notorious for spying on its citizens and using the full force of government to monitor its people and minimize dissent and religious expression. Thank God the United States would never do that! Oh, but then our government collects our phone calls, web searches, and tracks us and is systematically scrubbing God from the public square. China’s government regulates much of daily life for its citizens, from housing, health care, education, and personal artistic freedom, even though one can see a lot of personal freedoms in public parks where people can sing, dance, or do Tai Chai. I’m pretty sure that if people used personal amplification devices in New York’s Central Park, the strong arm of New York City would stop that. China has a history of dealing harshly with those it perceives as its enemies---some just disappear. We have strict constitutional protections in America to guarantee civil rights, being able to face our accuser, not having our homes searched or our property seized without a warrant. Unless of course, we happen to be a citizens sitting where a drone drops a bomb or fires a missile at us, but that saves the cost of a pesky trial. And sometimes the people we kill aren’t even our enemies. Sometimes, they are our veterans, who thought we’d give them protection and health care. They gave us our liberties; by mistreating them and killing them, we take away theirs. I don’t fear that China is becoming more like the United States used to be; I fear America is becoming more like what China used to be.

May 28 2014

Tuesday In Texas

Tuesday in Texas, the Tea Party proved that like Mark Twain, reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. Tea Party-backed conservatives won big over Establishment Republicans in the Texas GOP primary runoffs, racking up nearly 2-1 margins in the Attorney General’s race (where Ken Paxton, whom I endorsed, beat Dan Branch,) and the Lieutenant Governor’s race (where Dan Patrick, whom I endorsed, trounced David Dewhurst.) Some of the issues that resonated with Texas voters included tougher enforcement of immigration laws – or enforcing them at all – and keeping Obamacare out of Texas. A few candidates also shot themselves in the foot by running incredibly nasty negative ads, only to see them backfire. It’s heartening that sleazy, unfounded attack ads are starting to repulse voters who see the perilous road America is one and who want someone serious in charge for a change.

As to whether the Texas landslides represent a resurgence of the Tea Party and conservatism in general, or just an isolated stronghold, we’ll find out next Tuesday when eight more states hold primaries.

There was another factor at work in Texas’ 4th Congressional District runoff. After 18 terms in office, Ralph Hall became the first incumbent to lose to a primary challenger this year. The winner, former US attorney John Radcliffe, questioned whether Hall, the oldest member of Congress at 91, was fit for another term. A lot of people thought he was: he had the endorsement of the NRA, Ron Paul and a number of Republicans, including (full disclosure) me. But voters decided it was time for new blood, and in that solidly Republican district, Radcliffe won’t even have to face a Democrat in November. Rep. Hall took his loss gracefully, wishing Radcliffe well and telling reporters, “I just got whipped and I got beat and my folks are sad. But they know I’m not sad. I’m pleased to have had the opportunity.”

But Hall’s departure means more than just the end of a long political career. With Democrat John Dingell retiring and Hall defeated, next year will bring the first Congress in over half a century to contain no World War II veterans. The Greatest Generation that did so much for the world and for America is fading into history, as Baby Boomers and Gen X and Y’ers assume the reins of power. Let’s hope that in between all their rebelling, they absorbed even a fraction of the wisdom of their parents and grandparents, and some of their appreciation for what makes America the great and exceptional nation that it is. Maybe once they are completely responsible for preserving this nation and all it represents for their own children and grandchildren, they’ll finally be able to see the entire precious jewel instead of only the tiny flaws.

May 26 2014

Real Heroes

Thank God for your freedom and for the men and women in uniform who provided it.