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):
Bringing on yet another appearance of the dreaded "U-word" — "unexpectedly" (via Bloomberg) — the Labor Department reported today that initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 379,000. That's a nine-month high, and an increase from last week's also unexpected 369,000. This week's and last week's results were far above the 332,000 and 320,000, respectively, analysts had predicted.
The Department of Labor's excuse for the past two dismal weeks has been "holiday volatility." Though they mostly had a point last week, this week they don't. Last week was the week after Thanksgiving, while that holiday took place six days earlier in 2012. But the week ended December 14, 2013 and the comparable week from last year (12/15/12) are both sufficiently removed from Thanksgiving's influence on the numbers that the holiday has no meaningful impact. The business press is pretending that DOL is right.
Earlier today, Matt Hadro at NewsBusters refuted a ridiculous assertion Tuesday evening by CNN's Don Lemon who, in reaction to guest Larry Klayman's criticism, insisted that he is not "a big supporter of Obama" or an "ultra leftist." Horse manure, Don.
Lemon and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin also acted like immature children in Klayman's presence. They were clearly mortified that — ugh — Larry Klayman had to be the guy who brought suit against the National Security Administration arguing against the constitutionality of its metadata collection efforts. Apparently even worse for Lemon and Toobin, Klayman won a tentative legal victory when a judge ruled that NSA's "bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records is likely unconstitutional." Tal Kopan recounted Klayman's CNN appearance early this morning at the Politico:
On Wednesday, only NBC's Today devoted a full segment to the upcoming sentencing of top Environmental Protection Agency official John Beale for "bilking the government out of nearly $1 million by claiming he that he worked undercover for the CIA." ABC's Good Morning America only offered a 25-second news brief on the story while CBS This Morning ignored it completely. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
While NBC and ABC finally got around to the story on Wednesday, Fox News reported the scandal on the October 1 edition of Special Report, with correspondent Shannon Bream noting congressional involvement: "Massachusetts Democrat Steven Lynch was just one of many House members demanding to know how the Environmental Protection Agency could be duped for years by a top-level employee....Angry lawmakers say former EPA chief Gina McCarthy, who openly praised Beale during his time at the agency, should have known better."
They say tragedy plus time equals comedy. But is 27 years enough time? And what if the product isn’t comedy but another run-of-the-mill pop song about sex?
At the beginning of the song “XO” from her eponymous new album, pop star Beyoncé includes an odd sample: a few seconds of audio from the immediate wake of the space shuttle Challenger disaster. On Jan. 28, 1986, the Challenger exploded in mid air just 73 seconds into its flight, killing seven astronauts. The tragedy played out on live TV. Video after the break.
An Associated Press-GfK poll has found that 11 percent of an admittedly small sample of Americans insured through their employer or a family member's employer are losing their coverage in 2014. The related AP report relays that point and even has a graphic supporting it.
But reporters Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Jennifer Agiesta failed to make the drop-dead obvious connection. According President Barack Obama and his White House spinmeisters, nothing is changing as a result of Obamacare if you're employed, and Obama's false guarantee that "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" only applies to those in the private individual insurance market. Tell that to the 11 percent.
The nation's press has long since stopped paying any attention to what has actually happened in the wake of the outrageous Kelo vs. New London Supreme Court ruling in June 2005.
The court's majority wrote that "The city has carefully formulated a development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including, but not limited to, new jobs and increased tax revenue." The quite newsworthy but virtually ignored fact flying in the face of the Supremes' certitude is that nothing has happened in the affected area for 8-1/2 years. The latest idea for removing the "stain" of Kelo proposed by New London, Connecticut Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio is to place a "green" parking garage and "micro lots" (with micro homes) in the affected Fort Trumbull neighborhood where perfectly acceptable century-old housing used to stand. Excerpts from a New London Day editorial reporting on that paper's meeting with the mayor follow the jump.
In mid-November, Americans for Tax Reform compiled a list of federal spending on state Obamacare exchanges totaling a breathtaking $4.5 billion.
One number on the list stands out from the rest — and it's not California's, though its $910 million amout is awful, disproportionate, and surely highly wasteful (before considering scalability concerns, the fixed costs of building a web site should be close to the same regardless of a state's population). The big eye-catcher is tiny Vermont's staggering $208 million. The nation's second-least populous state (626,000 as of 2012) has 0.2 percent of the U.S. population, but has received 4.6 percent of grants from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Though the Green Mountain State's enrollment numbers have been among the country's least embarrassing on percentage of the population, its exchange's rollout has in many ways been as bad, if not worse, than HealthCare.gov's, according to a December 10 Vermont Public Radio report which has garnered very little attention (HT Megan McArdle at Bloomberg News; bolds are mine):
But somehow, the fact that the state's Obamacare exchange, Access Health CT, "had incorrect information online about deductibles and co-insurance impacting all 19 individual health plans from the three insurance companies that offer those plans" doesn't merit attention. Further indicating the development's national significance, as David Steinberg at PJ Media has noted, President Barack Obama himself cited Access Health CT as a success story in supposedly getting one-third of its enrollees from people who are 35 and younger (also not true) back on October 21. More verbiage from the story, as reported in the Hartford Courant by Fox Connecticut's Louisa Moller, follows the jump:
Well, it's not perfect, but it's a start — and it's certainly a far cry from what President Obama is now willing to admit.
In his report Tuesday on the congressional hearing for John Koskinen, Obama's nominee to be the next IRS Commissioner, Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press wrote that Koskinen "told senators Tuesday he will work to restore public trust in the agency in the wake of the tea party scandal even as the IRS takes on new responsibilities administering the president's health care law." That's a remarkable admission, given that the word "scandal" does not appear in Koskinen's prepared remarks, and of course given that Obama's current opinion of what is better described as the "IRS conservative targeting scandal" is that it isn't one ("they’ve got a list, and suddenly everybody’s outraged"). As nice as it is that he used the "S-word," Ohlemacher's dispatch still contained serious oversights, including his failure to cite the change in Obama's public stance since May and his contention that no one outside the IRS knew of its targeting efforts until then.
To do so, she reinvented what it is to be "rich" or "affluent." It apparently has nothing to do with how it is normally defined, i.e., based on current net worth (assets owned minus debts owed). Ms. Yen's and AP's yearning is apparently to base it on whether you're in a household which has had annual earnings above $250,000 — ever. Really. The purpose of the piece appears to be to go after this segment of the population, such as it is, because they aren't knee-jerk supporters of limitless government spending, and won't spend money on consumption to improve the economy like Keynesians think they're supposed to. Be on the lookout for a clearly misused word (HT to emailer Alfred Lemire; bolds are mine throughout this post):
This month, the Boston Globe and the New York Times have published items on the growth of homelessness in the state of Massachusetts and New York City, respectively. Based on the content of each, it's clear that the topic was ripe for coverage in 2012, but received little if any. I wonder why? (/sarcasm)
The Globe's regular-length news story by Megan Woolhouse and David Abel cited the state's "record numbers of homeless families" as "another example of an uneven recovery" from a recession which officially ended almost 4-1/2 years ago. The Times published the first of what will ultimately five parts on the plight of one homeless family, with special emphasis on Dasani, their 11 year-old daughter. The Globe cites "federal budget cuts" and "a legacy of the Great Recession" as negative factors. The Times's Andrea Elliott needlessly marred her otherwise compelling profile by hyping newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio while taking swipes at "the wealthy" and "Reagan-era cutbacks," as excerpts after the jump will demonstrate (bolds and italicized comments are mine):
As a reminder, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein was the founder of the secretive JournoList group late last decade. Their objective was to put left-wing writers, perhaps with input from the Democratic Party itself and certain of its candidates for national office, on the same page in their coverage of the news.
That's useful to know, as on Saturday Klein published a column which might as well have been called "Obama administration talking points meant to convince readers that the President's 'If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep your health insurance plan, PERIOD' promise really wasn't that important" (Alternative title: "As the Goalposts Move"). Almost four weeks after Barack Obama owned up to the fact that his guarantee wasn't true for millions of private individual health insurance policyholders (he has yet to acknowledge the current impact on certain small employer group plans or the impending impact on large employer-sponsored plans), and given the fact that his broken guarantee is already an established fact in the historical record — no less than the Associated Press acknowledged this on September 30 — Klein's topic choice is odd indeed. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post; numbered tags are mine):
Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace was not in the mood to put up with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel's standard-issue leftist guff on Sunday. Last night, I noted that the pressed Emanuel until he forced a "yes" out of him to a simple question: "Didn't he (President Obama) say, 'If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.'" That move brought out Emanuel's ridiculous contention that what Obama somehow really meant was, "If you want to pay more for an insurance company that covers your doctor, you can do that. This is a matter of choice." Everyone but you and a few deluded leftists know that isn't so, Zeke.
A good example of Wallace standing up to what amounted to a bullying attempt by Emanuel, followed by a couple of other howlers delivered by Zeke the Bleak, are after the jump.
In promoting the Affordable Care Act, or what has come to be known by friend and foe alike as "Obamacare," to the American public, President Obama spent at least four years making two fundamental guarantees: "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan," and "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor." It is quite well-known that the first guarantee has been proven untrue with private individual plans. Less known is that the guarantee is destined to become more untrue as employer-sponsored plans throughout 2014 decide whether to comply with Obamacare's costly plan design and compliance requirements and continue to cover their employees, or abandon that effort entirely and pay the related fines for not doing so.
On Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one of Obamacare's chief architects, attempted to claim that the President's second guarantee was not a lie. Wait until you see his "reasoning." [See video after jump.]