On Thursday, Stephanie Condon at CBS News reported ("Security chief: HealthCare.gov has passed security testing") that Teresa Fryer, who had recommended against allowing HealthCare.gov going live before its October launch but was overruled, "told Congress ... that the Obamacare website passed security testing in December, and she would recommend that its official Authority to Operate (ATO) be extended when the current ATO expires in March."
On Friday at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, in an otherwise keister-covering dispatch apparently designed to show that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was really, really unaware of the web site's prelaunch security problems, claimed without qualification that "There have been no successful attacks on the site" — even though by law the government "need never notify customers that their personal information has been hacked or possibly compromised."
It's hard to imagine how the Politico's Kyle Cheney could have written up his Thursday story about the government's dissatisfaction with soon to be (but not yet) former prime HealthCare.gov contractor CGI with a straight face. But it appears that he did.
The opening sentence of Cheney's report is an absolute howler. When you read it after the jump, keep in mind that the firm worked on HealthCare.gov for well over a year before its October 1 debut, and that it was obvious to everyone within hours of its launch that the web site's construction had been horribly botched. So guess when the government wants us to believe it finally figured out that CGI wasn't up to its assigned tasks?
Let's see. We know, to name just a few of many impositions, that much of the enrollee information that HealthCare.gov and other exchanges have communicated to insurers has been erroneous, that insurers have had to deal with signing up hundreds of thousands of policyholders they originally cancelled, that deadlines for premium payments have been serially revised, and that there is no computerized subsidy payment system in place.
Yet Chad Terhune at the Los Angeles Times is irresponsibly steering gullible readers into believing that insurers are responsible for the Obamacare-related chaos and poor customer service, when it's a virtual miracle that anyone is being served at all (HT Patterico; bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Bullying by staffers of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has denied knowledge of their actions when they were taken, is a national news obsession. Bullying by staffers of Colorado Senator Mark Udall — which the Senator has acknowledged and is defending — is barely a blip.
The story, first reported in the Colorado blogosphere at Complete Colorado, is that Udall staffers "worked assiduously to revise press accounts that 249,000 Coloradans received health care cancellation notices" by pressuring the state's Department of Insurance to change the definition of "cancellation." There is no dispute that the cancellations as normal people understand the word occurred (links are in original; bolds are mine):
In the competition for most obvious Obama administration apparatchik at the Los Angeles Times (i.e., the biggest tool in the toolbox), Doyle McManus has to be considered a front-runner.
As I noted on Tuesday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), McManus, in a Sunday column, contended that "President Obama has run into his share of controversies, but none that quite reached scandalhood." He even petulantly asked, "Does anyone even remember the IRS flap?" McManus was apparently so unconcerned about being seen as inconsistent that he didn't bother telling readers that he held exactly opposite positions on at least two Obama administration "scandals" — that's what he called them – just eight months ago (HT to frequent commenter Gary Hall).
I kept looking for any sign that Ta-Nehisi Coates, described as "a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues," was kidding in his Monday afternoon column about Melissa Harris-Perry when he called her "The Smartest Nerd in the Room." He wasn't.
When last seen here at NewsBusters, Coates was pretending that the wealth gap between blacks and whites has consistently widened during the past 20 years, when the reality is that almost all of the widening has occurred during the past five years for which data is available. That delusion is nothing compared to his assessment of Harris-Perry, excerpted after the jump (bold is mine):
Los Angeles Times columnists have produced several delusional doozies in the past few days.
One of the more hysterical came from Doyle McManus on Sunday ("The president's hump year; The sixth year is often tough, but Obama could triumph"). While acknowledging that "The public's initial romance with the president has faded" and that "events are in charge now," he backhandedly described Obama's presidency thus far as scandal-free. Really (HT to frequent commenter Gary Hall):
In June, the Politico's Jennifer Haberkorn filed a report with the following headline: "Kathleen Sebelius: Exchange enrollment goal is 7 million by end of March." She reported in her first two paragraphs that "7 million" is "how many people the Obama administration hopes to enroll in its new health insurance marketplaces by the end of March."
Apparently that clearly expressed target isn't supposed to matter now, and the White House is trying to pretend that it never existed. Of course, the press, including the Politico, has been helping them.
When something important is falling apart — say a relationship or a business idea — it's not always easy to keep up appearances. After all, one still has the occasional private conversation with close friends and confidants where the truth gets acknowledged, even when one doesn't want the rest of the public to know about it.
Meet the Press host David Gregory appears to have forgotten for the briefest moment that he was not in private but in the public eye this morning. As blogger Ann Althouse noted (HT Instapundit; MTP transcript here), Gregory had the following to say at the conclusion of a segment whose purpose was supposedly "to get beyond some of these political arguments over Obamacare here in Washington" by interviewing "two top leaders in the medical field from the hospitals mentioned by the president to give us their insights on the future of Obamacare" (bolds is mine):
In late October, continuing a four-year pattern of making such claims, MIT's Jonathan Gruber, who along with Ezekiel "Zeke the Bleak" Emanuel is considered one of the two "architects" of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, pointed to a study which claimed that "the Affordable Care Act is working even better than expected, producing more coverage for much less money." But, as Wingfield noted in his Friday column, Gruber sang a totally different tune when quoted in the Washington Post on Thursday.
On Thursday, the New York Timescalled for the Obama administration to enter into a plea bargain or offer clemency to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden in order to bring him back to the United States.
On PBS’s McLaughlin Group Friday, syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan observed during a discussion about this issue, “There is an inherent conflict of interest between journalists and so-called whistleblowers” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Obamacare's designers appear to have assumed that life is completely static. As far as they're concerned, people who are single don't marry, women don't have children, married couples don't sometimes divorce, individuals and families don't move, and workers don't change jobs. I say that because HealthCare.gov will from all appearances not accommodate any of the aforementioned common life changes. Seriously. (I'm not about to test that assertion myself; the site is still hopelessly not secure, remember?)
A very weak headline at an Associated Press report by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar carried at Yahoo News attempted to limit the damage, perhaps in hopes that smartphone users and others won't click through and see how awful and far more sweeping the problems are (bolds are mine):
Apparently, "I will think before I tweet" should be on Irin Carmon's New Year's resolution list. Her failure to do so shortly before the ball dropped in Times Square signaling the beginning of 2014 has caused her considerable embarrassment.
On Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an injunction which "temporarily prevented(the government) from enforcing contraceptive coverage requirements (in Obamacare) against the Denver-based Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged." MSNBC Digital National Reporter Carmon then proceeded to compare the "wise Latina" to the man who betrayed Julius Caesar (HT Twitchy):
Drudge's headline linking to a Politico item by Carrie Budoff Brown and John Allen about the Obama administration's plans to aggressively identify and promote Obamacare successes in 2014 ("White House Plans to Step up Obamacare Propaganda in 2014") is far better than the tired one Politico itself used ("White House looks to spread good Obamacare news").
What Team Obama plans to pursue will be propaganda, because as it identifies and "spread(s) good news," it's going to have to ignore a far larger volume of bad news. An NBC investigative report (video at link; HT Political Outcast) two days ago about the situation at a Michigan car dealership makes that point about as well as it can be made (bolds are mine):
In a December 27 blog post, New York Times columnist and incurable Keynesian economist Paul Krugman capitalized on the problems United Parcel Service and to a lesser extent Fedex had in delivering Christmas packages on time: "Can’t the private sector do anything right?"
While I recognize that there's sarcasm in his question, Krugman then went on to try to make HealthCare.gov's problems appear analogous: "[M]any pundits were quick to declare healthcare.gov’s problems evidence of the fundamental, irretrievable incompetence of government, and as an omen of Obamacare’s inevitable collapse. ... (But) none of these people are making similar claims about UPS or Amazon." Since the Nobel Economics laureate appears to be too dense to understand the differences between the two situations, Robert P. Murphy, "the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism," explained many of them in a Sunday post at the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada's web site (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Bloomberg Businessweek and others are trying to capitalize on the difficulties United Parcel Service and to a lesser extent Fedex had in delivering packages in time for Christmas to claim that the U.S. Postal Service is coming out of it smelling like a rose ("An Unlikely Star of the Holiday-Shipping Season: The U.S. Postal Service").
Not so fast, people. Let's be extremely generous and take it as a given that the Post Office didn't have any late arrivals, and that it deserves props for delivering 75,000 packages on Christmas Day. It's hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison, but based on the quoted number of packages UPS planned to deliver on Christmas Eve, the private company's package volume, particularly its air package volume, dwarfs that of the Post Office, and would overwhelm it if it tried to pull off what UPS routinely does:
Remember when George W. Bush was intensely criticized in 2004 for using a couple of seconds of footage from the World Trade Center attacks in a campaign commercial? He was "exploiting" 9/11. Let's talk about an example of really crass exploitation which the press has largely ignored.
As reported by Politico's Joseph Delreal, recently elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's daughter Chiara recently opened up "about her struggles with depression and substance abuse and for her decision to seek treatment." White House National Drug Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske, "in a statement issued by the White House," praised "her and the entire de Blasio family for addressing this important public health issue." Fair enough. But he went one step further, as seen after the jump:
With a headline at a Washington Post story by Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin reading "Obama administration quietly extends health-care enrollment deadline by a day," you would think that the administration issued some kind of press release without comment — or at least, as was the case with its announcement waiving the individual mandate for those who had individual policies cancelled, communicated the change to sympathetic senators or congresspersons.
Nope. The Post's detailed coverage tells us that those involved merely made "a software change that government officials and IT contractors inserted into the computer system over the weekend for the online insurance marketplace." Readers will see who was actually told about the change after the jump (bolds are mine):
Their stated excuse is, "These could never happen here, so why should U.S. news consumers care?" Their real excuse is, "We don't want anyone thinking that Obamacare could lead to this, even though there are already plenty of signs that it will."
Two weeks ago, the UK Daily Mail reported on three just-released "damming reports" on Great Britain's government-run National Health Service. A separate December 20 UK Telegraph dispatch reports that the NHS is "on the brink of crisis" because it has been "treated as a 'national religion' while millions of patients receive a 'wholly unsatisfactory' service from GPs and hospitals." A scroll through supposedly U.S.-based news results from December 11-26 in a search on "national health service" (in quotes" at Google News returns precious little actual coverage here; the few exceptions are at conservative-leaning outlets like Amy Ridenour's National Center Blog. Excerpts from both UK items just noted follow the jump.
Major establishment press outlets ignored Friday's news that "Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) ... explicitly recommended denial of the website’s Authority to Operate (ATO), but was overruled by her superiors." Fryer also "refused to put her name on a letter recommending a temporary ATO be granted for six months" In other words, HealthCare.gov should not have launched.
Brian Fung at the Washington Post's "The Switch" blog didn't consider the idea that HC.gov shouldn't even have gone live the most important story element. While failing to disclose Fryer's no-go recommendation and refusal to go along, he and his post's headline instead obsessed over whether Republican Congressman and House Oversight Committee chair Darrell Issa might "release files" that "could aid hackers." It wouldn't be a surprise to learn that hackers already have them, or at least have figured out how to work with or around them. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
It seems that Associated Press reporter Maggie Michael and Sarah El Deeb, her partner in distortion, can hardly believe that Egypt's military-backed government is calling terrorists "terrorists."
The Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization. Even if one believes, as Michael asserts, that "The Brotherhood, founded in 1928, denounced violence in the late 1970s," that alleged repudiation was rendered null and void after hard-line Islamist Mohammed Morsi, who lost his legitimacy when he took dictatorial powers in November of last year, was ousted from power in July. After that, the Brotherhood, as I noted at the time, with evidence, "rededicated itself to terrorism." Egypt's government is recognizing the obvious, and the in three process thumbing its nose at the Obama administration, which as far as I can tell has never backed away from its position that the Brotherhood should have a role in Egypt's government.
Not to worry, people. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Medicare Part D got through "technical glitches, political hostility and gloom-and-doom denouncements." So will Obamacare.
That's the Christmas love letter delivered to the left by Tom Raum of the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, late this morning. Raum "somehow" failed to note that the size and scope of Obamacare's screw-ups, errors, and from all appearances deliberate omissions (e.g., no system for paying subsidies to insurers after a 42-month head start) dwarf that seen in any previous major rollout. Though other programs had their share of broken promises (e.g., Walter Williams ran down Social Security's original lies in a November column), no program has been handicapped by anything near the equivalent of the President's false guarantee ("if you like your insurance plan-doctor-medical provider, you can keep your insurance plan-doctor-medical provider"). Of course, Raum didn't mention that bitter reality. Excerpts from Raum's report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
In a Monday dispatch about Obamacare's really bad year and future prospects at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, reporter Calvin Woodward took as a given the left's assumption that Republicans and conservatives take pleasure in the suffering of real people as long as it furthers their political aims when he wrote that "Republicans, of course ... feigned indignation that the law many of them despise wasn't working out so well." That's pure lefist projection.
The genuine indignation has two sources, Mr. Woodward. The first is that much of what has transpired as a result of the deeply flawed Affordable Care Act was predicted or known and ignored. The other is that there were red flags galore ahead of the debut of the HealthCare.gov web site that it wasn't ready. They were deliberately ignored. To name just one instance, those in charge of security wouldn't sign off on the idea of going live on October 1; of course, Team Obama launched anyway. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
In an October 3 column at USA Today, economics correspondent Tim Mullaney pronounced "HealthCare.gov a winner despite glitches."
Mullaney from all appearances has never retracted any of what he wrote that fateful day. He also defended himself vigorously in correspondence with yours truly during the week or so after my NewsBusters post critical of his writeup appeared. Accordingly, in light of what has really happened with HealthCare.gov, it seems more than appropriate to republish several paragraphs from his October review for their value as pure comedy gold.
Kelsey Snell "is a tax reporter at POLITICO Pro." Her output in a column entitled "Indiana lures 'Illinoyed' biz with tax breaks" makes one wonder how she arrived at her current position.
Snell's piece is riddled with striking omissions and lame progressive talking points. But the most jaw-dropping element in her report is her clear inability to detect erroneous numbers which she and her employer should know make no sense.
Attempting to build his national profile, Al Sharpton "took up residence on the West Side (of Chicago) in November and began hosting ... (weekly) town halls as part of an effort to find solutions to the city’s outsize homicide rate among young black males."
Rebel Pundit at Breitbart News reports that a Thursday meeting in the city's Hyde Park area not far from President Obama's Chicago home didn't exactly turn out the way Sharpton would have liked. There was even talk of having "Tea Party" meetings "like Republicans do." Sharpton doesn't need to worry too much, though, because Chicago's establishment press has ignored what happened. Shamefully, so have a couple of smaller publications which apparently prefer bland misdirection over substantive reporting. Excerpts from the Breitbart report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
In January 2010, Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation studied the draft language in what ultimately turned into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or what came to be known as Obamacare. His two most important findings: 1) Obamacare would encourage divorce while discouraging marriage; 2) Individuals and couples earning what most would consider to be nice but certainly not opulent incomes — especially those aged 50 and above — would pay disproportionately high premiums, while those making just a few thousand dollars less per year would, after subsidies, pay far less. Yours truly has made these points subsequently on several occassions (examples here, here, and here).
Well glory be, almost four years later, acting as if they're breaking some kind of new ground, Katie Thomas, Reed Abelson and Jo Craven McGinty at the New York Times have discovered that "the cost of premiums for people who just miss qualifying for subsidies varies widely across the country and rises rapidly for people in their 50s and 60s." Imagine that. Even then, the Times trio pegged the suffering Obamacare is inflicting to gross income and not net — and the difference is stark. Excerpts, beginning with a weak headline, follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Friday morning, CBS News's Sharyl Attkisson reported that Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), "told Congress there have been two, serious high-risk findings since the website’s launch." Further, Fryer "told congressional interviewers that she explicitly recommended denial of the website’s Authority to Operate (ATO)" in late September, "but was overruled by her superiors." Fryer's statements make sworn assertions by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that "no senior official reporting to me ever advised me that we should delay" at best difficult to believe.
While the press properly devotes attention to serious security breaches at leading retailer Target, the arguably more serious problems at HealthCare.gov continue to get scant attention. Searches on Fryer's name (not in quotes) at the Associated Press, the New York Times, and Politico all return nothing relevant. Excerpts from Attkisson's startling, read-the-whole-thing report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
As would be expected, Associated Press reporter Martin Crutsinger Wednesday treated Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's announcement that the nation's central bank will reduce the amount of money it creates out of thin air from $1.02 trillion per year to $900 billion, i.e., from $85 a month to $75 billion, as "its strongest signal of confidence in the U.S. economy since the Great Recession." As will be shown, it's a sign of continued serious weakness.
The pretense inherent in all of this is comparable to teaching a child how to ride a bike, raising the training wheels by one-eighth of an inch, and pronouncing him or her ready to roll. What should be troubling is that the tiny reduction means that the Fed will be financing a much higher percentage of next year's projected deficit and increase in the national debt than it has in previous years. That would seem to indicate that the nation is running out of other buyers who might be interested in purchasing Treasury securities, and that Bernanke's own words in July, namely that "the economy would tank" if he wasn't so obviously and artificially propping it up, are truer than ever.
Barack Obama gets to jet around on Air Force One, golfs every once in a while (/sarc), and has all the trappings and perks of the highest office in the land. But according to a headline in Monday's Washington Post, he is the one person in the whole USA above everyone else — not those who have lost health insurance plans with which they were happy, not those who are paying outrageious amounts for far skimpier coverage than they formerly had, not the millions of potential workers so discouraged that they are no longer looking for work or considered to be workers, not the increasing ranks of the homeless — who has taken it on the chin this year (bolds are mine throughout this post):