One of the odd things about the weekend pot-stirring by Matt Drudge over his stated inclusion of one-quarter of his estimated 2014 "Obamacare penalty" tax for not carrying health insurance coverage this year — calling it a "liberty tax" — is that few if any of those who criticized him seem to have bothered to consult with a tax practitioner for an expert take on the matter before what we now know were serious misfires. Either that, or they did, decided that they didn't like the answers, and crawled back into their holes. That list includes Jesse Lee, the White House's Director of Progressive Media and Online Response (yes, that's a real position), who didn't even understand that Drudge is paying this year's taxes this year, not last year's taxes.
Thus, I thought it would be useful to publish a note I received this morning from someone who works at a CPA firm in the Midwest who had a chance to read my NewsBusters post on Tuesday and two earlier technical posts (here and here) at my home blog (bolds are mine):
Someone needs to tell the Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown that it isn't 2008 any more. While they're at it, that person also needs to inform her that the Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, could give a rip about whether or not he is perceived as "cool," and certainly isn't Obama's "replacement."
Budoff Brown wrote tonight that President Barack Obama's meeting tomorrow with the Pope "is a rare chance for Obama to associate himself with a world leader whose cool factor far outweighs his own." Gag me. Obama's ability to move merchandise, one of the supposed indicators of "cool" tanked in the fall of 2009 and has never come back. Excerpts for readers who can stand more such drivel follow the jump (bolds are mine):
On Wednesday, all three network morning shows repeated the White House line that the reason for delaying the March 31 ObamaCare enrollment deadline was due to a last-minute "surge" of people signing up. In a 20-second news brief on NBC's Today, fill-in news reader Tamron Hall announced "a reprieve this morning for people who've been trying to sign up for ObamaCare," before noting that "the Health and Human Services Department says there has been a last-minute surge in demand." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
During a 17-second news brief on ABC's Good Morning America, fill-in news reader Amy Robach gently described the law's new setback as a sign-up "grace period" and declared: "...the White House predicts a crush of applicants in the final hours could cause a computer traffic jam."
With Obamacare's March 31 sign-up deadline and subsequent penalties looming over the heads of young and old Americans, citizens are wondering more than ever — and with good reason, I might add — whether Washington has dished out another bill of bad goods. And here are a few more solid reasons our skepticism about socialist medicine continues.
Reporter Bob Unruh at WorldNetDaily recently reported about how Obamacare is blocking patients from paying for their own treatments. The feds are already capping what some citizens can spend on their own health care, even if those patients are willing and able to cover their own costs.
On her 12 p.m. ET hour MSNBC show on Tuesday, host Andrea Mitchell interrogated attorney Mark Rienzi for representing Hobby Lobby in the Supreme Court case against the ObamaCare contraception mandate: "What right do they have, again, to interfere with medical decisions by women?...I mean, this gets to the whole issue of women's health and why should women be discriminated against in ways that other medical beneficiaries are not?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Rienzi pushed back: "No one's discriminating against women, Andrea, all they're saying is that, you're right, these are personal decisions, these are things that people can come to different judgments about. But the government is trying to say – they're gonna force people to be involved in it whether they want to or not."
Appearing on Monday’s PoliticsNation, MSNBC’s Krystal Ball spat on the religious liberty that Hobby Lobby is presently fighting to defend before the U.S. Supreme Court. The co-host of The Cycle refused to believe that the Hobby Lobby case is about religious liberty, insisting it is actually about “whether your employer can decide what kind of health care you're going to have access to.” She scoffed, “Employers and corporations don't have a religion.” [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Really, Krystal? A corporation itself may not have a religion, but many employers certainly do. Employers are human beings with thoughts and beliefs just like the rest of us. Should their religious convictions not be respected, as well as their autonomy to run their businesses as they see fit?
On Tuesday, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey correctly pointed out Joy Reid's implicit anti-Catholicism during the commentary segment that closed her MSNBC program on Monday. Reid zeroed in on the Supreme Court cases challenging the Obama administration's abortifacient/contraceptive mandate under ObamaCare, and hyped how "the Court that will decide includes six Catholic justices – some of whom have not been shy about asserting their religion."
The host also bemoaned how "all of this is taking place as the country becomes more secular – even as the fervently religious fight harder than ever to push creationism in taxpayer-funded schools and on science TV shows." Reid underlined that "the question of corporate personhood has gone from whether the railroad has to pay its taxes to whether corporations can be religious people. The question is, do you trust this Court to make those decisions?" [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Friday afternoon, Matt Drudge announced in a tweet that "(I) Just paid the Obamacare penalty for not 'getting covered'... I'M CALLING IT A LIBERTY TAX!"
A White House spokesman and the "progressive" press proceeded to thoroughly embarrass itself in its rebuttal attempts. How do I know? Because, four days later, despite the substantial and widely-known uproar, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, doesn't even have a story on the topic; a search at 11:30 p.m. on Monday on Drudge's last name came up empty. If Drudge's detractors had the upper hand, AP would be all over it.
"[I]f you read a newspaper to find out about the contraception mandate cases, you will read lies," attorney and conservative writer Gabriel Malor argued in his excellent March 24 piece for The Federalist, "Six Lies The Leftist Media Tells About The Contraception Mandate Cases." "The leftist papers do not mention the substantial monetary burden put on religious business owners to violate their consciences," Malor observed. "The papers do not mention that contraception was both inexpensive and widely available before the contraception mandate, and still is. The papers omit to mention that it isn’t the businesses who have radically changed, but the mandates from government."
That's all true, and the same can be said of the broadcast and cable news networks, but Malor's focus is on newspapers, which ostensibly are supposed to be more fact-dense and less prone to spin. Do yourself a favor and read Malor's analysis here. For my money, lie number four, "corporations cannot exercise religion" is the most rage-inducing of the lot which the liberal media are force-feeding Americans (emphasis mine):
NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell had some surprisingly tough words for President Obama regarding the role ObamaCare will play in the upcoming midterm elections.
Speaking to David Gregory on the March 23rd “Meet the Press” Mitchell commented that President Obama’s decision to unilaterally delay certain aspects of ObamaCare was the “one thing that really undermines his case against the Republicans in Congress.” [See video below.]
Bill Plante acted as a stenographer for the Obama administration on Thursday's CBS This Morning, as he spotlighted the "multi-tiered state and national effort to get young people enrolled" in ObamaCare before the end of March. Plante touted the "supportive celebrity Tweets and videos....and a tongue-in-cheek tool kit that teaches parents how to get on social media and 'nag' their children 'mercilessly.'"
The correspondent again noted Zach Galifianikis' mock interview of President Obama, which the Big Three networks spent 100 times more coverage on than the low enrollment the previous week. However, CBS This Morning at least mentioned how the administration fell millions short of its original seven million goal. ABC nor NBC have yet to mention the new enrollment figures on their morning and evening newscasts. [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
President Obama filled out his annual bracket for the NCAA Tournament and NPR’s All Things Considered predictably fawned over the “annual ritual” in which “President Obama” turned sports analyst today.” The online piece ha a similar cheerleading theme which proclaimed that “In ACA March Madness, Obama's Bracket Is Just A Role Player.”
On Wednesday March 19, NPR’s Audie Cornish gushed at how “It's not just the health of the Michigan State players on the president's mind. The White House is using this as part of its own full-court press. As NPR's Scott Horsley reports, their goal is to boost enrollment in the government's health insurance exchanges.” [Click here for audio.]
Sometimes the saying "better late than never" applies. This isn't one of them.
In a report originally time-stamped on March 18 (HT Sweetness and Light) and revised this afternoon at its national web site, the Associated Press's Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and seven other AP reporters found out that Obamacare is putting the screws to many cancer patients. Of course, they didn't phrase it that way, but that's the primary takeaway from their report. The story's headline was so weak that many readers who saw it on their computers, tablets and smartphones likely blew right past it without clicking through. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
In a refreshing change of pace, CNN's John King skeptically wondered on Tuesday's New Day about the White House touting the five million "enrollments" in ObamaCare: "They wanted to get the seven million by March 31 – unlikely they'll get there....How important are the next couple of weeks, and...if they get to six, can they spin that as a success, or is this baked in as a failure?"
King later pointed out that "even if they get some policy numbers that point them toward success – maybe not where they wanted to get, but close to that – can they change the political dynamic out in the country? Because if you go to these key states, it seems like ObamaCare is still a liability." Despite this, New Day anchor John Berman still trumpeted the five million figure: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Following the release of new ObamaCare enrollment numbers on Monday showing five million sign-ups – still two million short of the original seven million goal set by the administration – fill-in CBS This Morning co-host Anthony Mason spun the news as positive: "This morning, the White House is closer to a crucial goal ahead of a key deadline for the health care law." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The headline on screen announced: "ObamaCare Milestone; Five Million Enrolled Ahead of March 31 Deadline." Mason continued: "As of yesterday, 5 million people are now enrolled for either state or federal insurance. The administration's goal is 6 million. The open enrollment deadline is March 31st."
One of the more humorous attempts at furious spin this weekend occurred over at the New York Times. Jonathan Martin and Ashley Parker somehow managed to cover how association with President Barack Obama is becoming “poisonous” to Democratic Party candidates in this fall's elections without identifying or even acknowledging the existence of the primary reason for his toxicity — namely his repeated guarantees, now all proven false, that "If you like your plan, doctor, medical provider, and prescription drug regimen, you can keep them, period."
Martin and Parker claim that the Dems' biggest hurdles are HealthCare.gov's awful rollout and the administration's inept marketing of Obamacare (HT Powerline; bolds are mine):
From its inception, everything about President Barack Obama's health care law has been controversial.
The latest controversy came with the government release of new numbers. Through February, 4.2 million Americans had signed up for health insurance on the government exchanges. Supporters believe that while the numbers are lower than they'd hoped, the problem was simply a poor website rollout.
MSNBC’s newest liberal darling Ronan Farrow paid a visit to Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” on Tuesday night, and the daytime MSNBC host was hilariously mocked by the liberal comedian during the entire segment.
Throughout the interview, Colbert repeatedly poked fun at Farrow and his liberal MSNBC network, going so far as to tell his guest at age 26 “You could actually still be on your mother's health insurance thanks to ObamaCare.” [See video below.]
Last night, I noted that the Associated Press had not deigned to consider Republican David Jolly's victory over Democrat Alex Sink in the FL-13 Congressional race a "Top U.S. Story" as of 10:13 p.m. To AP's credit (or perhaps because of yours truly's and others' razzing?), a story about the race was at the Number 6 spot in Top U.S. Stories as of 8:15 this morning.
CNN.com, on the other hand (HT to NewsBusters commenter "Jon"), is clearly playing "hide the story" with the Jolly-Sink race. Its worldwide home page as of 8:38 a.m. had one line item titled "GOP wins year's 1st election showdown" halfway down the page, and a tiny picture in the "Politics" section near the bottom of the page headlined "GOP Scores First 2014 Win." Could they be any more vague? Its U.S. home page as of 7:37 a.m. had no reference to the race at all.
We all know that if Democrat Alex Sink had defeated David Jolly in FL-13's special Congressional election tonight, the morning news shows would have been all over the story, crowing that her victory represented a convincing verdict in favor of Obamacare.
Well, that didn't happen. David Jolly won, despite being badly outspent and forced to survive a bruising January primary. He also had to deal with running against Sink, a former Sunshine State gubernatorial candidate with far greater name recognition, and a libertarian candidate who siphoned off almost 5 percent of the vote. Though the Associated Press has a fairly balanced and lengthy story on the outcome, it somehow wasn't important enough to be carried as one of its Top 10 U.S. stories at 10:13 PM tonight. One story which did make the "Top 10" cut was (not kidding) about "Oregon owners of a 22-pound housecat that trapped them in their bedroom after attacking their baby." The AP story itself also didn't present the result as quite the referendum on Obamacare the left was predicting when they thought their candidate would prevail.
On Tuesday evening, the networks continued relaying the White House's plea to young voters to sign up for ObamaCare, touting President Obama's mock interview with comedian Zach Galifianakis where Obama plugged for his own health care law. ABC's Diane Sawyer called it a "bold move" and both CBS and NBC hailed the interview as a success. CBS's Scott Pelley said, "it worked. The video became the number one reason people visited HealthCare.gov today."
The networks ignored, however, the bad news of the day for the law, that enrollment numbers for young people are still far below what is needed.
In the past week, Radio Shack has announced that will close 1,100 stores, or over 20 percent of its U.S. outlets. Staples is shuttering 225 stores, or roughly 12 percent of theirs. Smaller downsizings earlier this year have been reported at Macy's (involving store and other personnel) and J.C. Penney.
One gets the impression from press reports that these are occurring primarily because of poor management or the ongoing trend towards more online sales. Though those two factors are obviously relevant, the fact that the economy began weakening during the fourth quarter, especially so in December, rarely gets a mention. When it does get noted, it's usually something mild, along the lines of "disappointing holiday sales." A Thursday afternoon Associated Press article by business writer Tom Murphy illustrates the kid-glove approach (bolds are mine; my responses to certain of Murphy's points are in italics):
ABC’s This Week w/ George Stephanopoulos was the only Sunday show that bothered to cover the latest ObamaCare delay and with it came some interesting insight from the panel of political experts.
Appearing on Sunday’s program, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan mocked the latest delay and hilariously asked her fellow panelists if “there still a law? Is there still an ObamaCare law? It's been changed in 25 ways.” [See video below.]
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) sat down for an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl following his speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and from the beginning was met with a barrage of questions over his outspoken criticism of President Obama.
The interview, which aired on Sunday’s This Week w/ George Stephanopoulos, featured a myriad of topics including repealing ObamaCare. During the segment, Senator Cruz mocked how the “media treats that as a bizarre proposition” to which Karl laughed and asserted “it is because he’s not going to sign it. It is a bizarre proposition.” [See video below.]
Few have defended the Obama administration, and especially Obamacare, as vocally and in my view often unreasonably, as Fox News's Juan Williams. He has gone so far as to call Republican Party opposition to Obamacare its "original sin," and absurdly claimed that "massive opposition" from Republicans is what forced HealthCare.gov's rushed rollout.
One blind spot Williams does not have involves how consistently horribly leftists treat African-American conservatives, or even African-Americans who express an occasional sensibly conservative thought. One reason the left is so brazen in its persecution attempts is its knowledge that no matter how uncivil or unreasonable, their attempts will almost never gain wide exposure in the nation's establishment press. The latest example concerns calls by the faculty at Rutgers University to prevent former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from her scheduled appearance as commencement speaker there this year. Williams expressed his outrage in a Thursday Fox News column (HT Hot Air; bolds are mine):
You don't even need to know the specifics to realize that today's economic reports were weak. All you need to know is that there was no mention of them in the Associated Press's list of Top 10 business stories as of 3:35 p.m. Among stories considered more important: a product review of Apple's tiny market-share program called iWork and three dozen passengers suing Carnival Cruise Lines.
This morning's release from ADP on February private-sector employment growth reported 139,000 jobs added; the previous four months were revised down by a total of 138,000. The Institute for Supply Management's Non-Manufacturing Index came in at 51.6%, showing relatively slow expansion (anything above 50% indicates expansion) compared to January's 54.0%. The reports missed expectations of 155,000 jobs added and 53.5%, respectively. AP coverage of these two reports somewhat understated their weakness, one quantitatively and the other qualitatively.
You reap what you sow. Most MSNBC hosts have excitedly touted ObamaCare over the past four years, despite warnings that the law would increase costs for businesses. Well, now we are beginning to see the natural consequences of what the health care law is doing to businesses, and at least one MSNBC host is upset by it.
On Saturday’s Weekends with Alex Witt, Ms. Witt was incensed that Gator’s Dockside, a Florida restaurant chain, has started charging its customers a one percent surcharge to help cover expected ObamaCare-related costs. Witt fumed, “[I]s it even legal to just add on a surcharge like that? I mean, it’s essentially a tax.” [See video below the break.]
Perhaps I'm being too kind in describing the Associated Press as "The Administration's Press." Based on Jim Kuhnhenn's ridiculous "Don't worry, be happy" Saturday report on how unimportant he says the still growing national debt and the still historically large federal budget deficits supposedly are, maybe I should start calling the wire service "The Administration's Publicists" instead.
Kuhnhenn stopped just short of writing that the national debt ($17.41 trillion as of Wednesday, up from $10.63 trillion when Barack Obama took office 61 months ago, an average increase of $111 billion per month) and the annual federal budget deficit (on track to be over $500 billion for the sixth year in a row, four of which saw deficits of over $1 trillion) aren't worthy of attention, but it's clear that he believes we shouldn't be concerned about them in making electoral choices (bolds are mine):
Separately, left-leaning law professor Jonathan Turley warned a Congressional committee on Wednesday that President Obama's extensive use of executive orders, executive actions, and unilateral regulatory moves threatens to enable the President, as Turley phrased it in a Fox News interview on Thursday, to "effectively become a government unto himself." If Turley had made his statement in 2006 or 2007 during the Iraq War, it would almost certainly have become a media obsession. Instead, as will be shown after the jump, Turley's testimony is being completely ignored by everyone except center-right news outlets and bloggers.