Friday, November 15, 2013

The Lie ...and Obamacare

I occasionally post items I encounter while surfing the 'Net to my Facebook page ...for the benefit of like-minded friends who might not have seen them and, occasionally, to tweak the noses of others.


I am dedicating this issue of The View to the seven (!) items I shared today. Careful readers will notice a theme: The Lie ...and Obamacare.


I started by posting Michael Tanner's column on Cato.com: a review of the various justifications offered for President Barack Obama's now infamous promise that "if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan. Period." It's a promise even the Washington Post's Fact Checker has thoroughly debunked.


To that I appended a link to this column by Byron York, in which the author asserts that Obama and the Democrats had to lie about Obamacare, to provide the necessary political cover for passage of the bill.


FOX News' Arthur Herman reminds us that the "If you like it" lie is just the most recent of a litany of Obama's lies, and that the concept of the "Noble Lie" ...necessary, to protect the ignorant masses from the painful truth ...dates back to the Greek philosopher Plato.


Jim Geraghty, of the National Review, and Jonah Goldberg, writing for Townhall.com, expound on one of those painful truths: that Obamacare's very existence depends on forcing millions of people out of their preferred heath insurance policies, and into policies mandated by the government.


Finally, the Washington Post's Keith Koffler suggests that perhaps Plato ...and President Obama ...should give us "dim-witted rubes" more credit. It doesn't take an Ivy League education to know "you don't get something for nothing."

Monday, October 7, 2013

The System Is Down


It's 5:30 on a Monday morning. I can't sleep. So I think to myself: Obamacare!

I've been trying since Tuesday, October 1, to enroll for coverage under the celebrated Affordable Care Act. I recently retired and just wanted to see what my options are. But if my enrollment experience on healthcare.gov is any indication, millions of Americans will remain uninsured out of sheer frustration.


For the first several days, I couldn't get past the question on the front page about where I live. I live in West Virginia, which has not set up an exchange of its own ...so I had to enroll on the federal government's website. But every time I clicked on West Virginia, the system was busy.

I had a major breakthrough on Saturday. I successfully selected my state of residence, and opened my Obamacare account. Before I could begin the actual process of enrollment, though, I had to verify my email address. healthcare.gov sent me an email, with a link to take me back to the account I had just opened to finish my enrollment. But it didn't recognize me. I was a complete stranger. I had to start all over.

I opened a second account on Sunday ...with the same personal information, but a different user name and password. I tried to log in using the name and password I had set up the day before, but healthcare.gov didn't recognize them. Then, when I tried to open a new account using the same name and password, I couldn't, because they were already taken ...by the very account it claimed not to recognize.


Now that I had an Obamacare account, it was time to enroll. The next section dealt with issues of risk, like how much I weigh and whether I use alcohol and tobacco. I clicked on the link, and went ...nowhere. There was no such section. It didn't exist. A dead end. The only option I had left was a live chat helpline. I logged on and, and the representative suggested trying again early the next morning when traffic would be lighter.

So I did. I tried again at 5:30 this morning, and the entire website was down ...for scheduled maintenance. Back to the live chat helpline, and this advice:

Keep trying.

It's a good thing I'm retired. I've got nothing but time, and I will keep trying ...just to see what happens. I wonder how many others will.



Monday, September 30, 2013

Obamacare and the Possible Government Shutdown




So ...we are on the brink of yet another government shutdown.

This time the issue is the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which Democrats and Republican agree is a big deal.



The problem is ...that's about all they agree on.

House Republicans twice have sent the U.S. Senate a Continuing Resolution that would keep the federal government funded. The Senate rejected the first C.R., which would have defunded Obamacare; it has not yet voted on the second C.R., which would delay Obamacare for one year and repeal the new tax on medical devices.

The U.S. Senate is President Obama's creature. The Wall Steet Journal suggests Senate Democrats may reject the second C.R., simply to create a crisis that will motivate the base to go to the polls and send the House Republicans packing.

In other words, the Democrats would be willing to risk a government shutdown for political reasons.



Republicans themselves are divided. Some say a government shutdown would, in fact, hurt their chances in the next election; they also say Obamacare is so flawed that it would be better to allow it to go into effect, as scheduled, and become the Democrats' problem in 2014. Others say Obamacare already is harming the economy and slowing the recovery: employers are no longer hiring, or hiring part time workers only, or reducing full time workers to part time. And then there's the budget deficit. They know Obama would likely veto any C.R. that defunds or delays Obamacare, but are determined to proceed anyway, just to make a point.

In other words. the Republicans would be willing to risk a government shutdown for political reasons.

Students of government know that our system has certain built-in tensions, designed to limit extremism: the checks and balances between the branches of government, the two major political parties, and the factions within those parties. Disagreement is not only good, it's essential to good government.



But someone, at some point, has to step up and broker a compromise that both branches, both parties, and most of the factions can live with. If someone doesn't step up, maybe they all should shut up.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Illegal Immigration Dilemma



We have good friends in Morgantown named Peter Galik and Ida Holaskova.  Peter and Ida are from Slovakia.  They came to this country looking for freedom and opportunity.  They started a family here, earned advanced university degrees here, and built a business here.  They are exactly the kind of people most of us would be proud to welcome as new Americans.

The ongoing debate over immigration reform must be very frustrating for them:  Millions of people who chose to enter this country illegally might be allowed to stay and eventually become citizens themselves, while good people like Peter and Ida ...who have done everything by the book ...hurry up and wait.

What kind of a country rewards, or offers the promise of a reward, to people who broke the law to get here?  I understand that many of them are good people, with families and jobs and futures they could never imagine in their countries of origin.  But the very first thing they did when they crossed the border was break the law.  They broke the law.  Is that the kind of people we want here?

Or do we want people like Peter Galik and Ida Holaskova, who have obeyed the law to the very letter, and are still waiting for the reward they so richly deserve?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What Difference Does It Make?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finally has answered some questions about what the Obama administration knew, and when, about the deadly attacks on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya.


One question addressed an apparent attempt by the White House to mislead the American people about the nature of the attack.  The White House said it was the spontaneous work of a mob, angry about an unflattering YouTube video about Islam.  The truth, it turns out, was well known to the White House ...and something completely different.  The truth was that it was a well organized attack by terrorists associated with al Qaeda.

And Mrs. Clinton's answer?
"With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk last night who decided to kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again."
It makes a huge difference, of course.  The Obama administration had claimed to have had al Qaeda on the run since Seal Team Six killed Osama bin Laden.  An active al Qaeda, capable of planning and executing a devastating attack on a U.S. consulate, was significantly off message,  Especially in an election year.


So the administration trotted out its Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, to pitch a story about an angry mob.

What terrorists?

I don't know what's more insulting: The fact that our president thought we wouldn't find out about the lie, or that he didn't care. And today, when confronted with the lie, all Mrs. Clinton could offer was:

"What difference does it make?"

It makes a huge difference, Mrs. Clinton.

And it is embarrassing that the people whose job it is to hold our leaders accountable  ...to ferret out the lies and the people who tell them ...have decided that it's not a story worth pursuing.


Oh. And what about the terrorists who committed the attack? What happened to them? We're waiting...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

First, He Was Against It...



President Obama was somewhat disingenuous Monday, in the last news conference of his first term in the White House, when he said, "Raising the debt ceiling  does not authorize us to spend more."

What it does do is acknowledge that the federal government will spend more, and that it won't have enough money.  It will have to borrow more money.  And to do that, Congress must raise the debt ceiling.

In the past, when Congress has raised the debt ceiling, the federal government has spent even more.  It has, as a result, had to borrow even more, making it necessary to raise the debt ceiling further.

This way lies madness...


At some point, it might occur to a reasonable man that it's time to stop the madness ...to break the cycle, by cutting spending.  Not just increasing spending by smaller and smaller amounts, but actually cutting spending.


Here's what then-Senator Obama said about raising the debt ceiling in 2006, when President Bush was in the White House:
"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadersip failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government san't pay its own bills. It is as sign that we know depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies ...America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."
The only things that have changed since then are the extent of our debt, which has almost doubled in the last four years ...and the man in the White House.  It is President Obama whose leadership has failed us.  And Americans still deserve better.


Monday, January 7, 2013

The Looming Battle Over Gun Control



Mrs. Zipp and I are building our retirement home in rural West Virginia. Close enough to Morgantown and Pittsburgh to enjoy the advantages of big city life;  far enough away not to have to worry about the neighbors ...much less what they think.  It is a little slice of "Almost Heaven."

One concern, though: police protection.  If someone were to show up on our doorstep and demand money ...or worse ...we would not be able to rely on a sufficiently fast response from the local gendarmes. So we decided to buy ourselves some insurance:  a couple of semi-automatic handguns (one bullet discharged for every pull of the trigger) and later, another semi-automatic and a revolver. We also obtained his-and-her concealed carry permits. Neither of us actually carries a weapon, concealed or otherwise.  We just wanted the training and experience.

Then came the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, followed by a drum beat for gun control ...louder and louder, faster and faster.  So we bought a 12-gauge shotgun ...while we still could.  (The shotgun is to scare off the bears that frequent the local environs; it might scare off bad guys, too.)

Gun control advocates seem to believe that everyone obeys the law and that when Congress slaps restrictions or bans on gun ownership, everyone immediately will comply.  More realistic people understand that law-abiding people might go along  ...but that scoff-laws will not.  Net result?  See the illustration above.  The bad guys will have the guns.  The good guys will not.  Who would that help?  Would you feel safer?

And what about the kids in your local elementary school. Would they be safer in a world in which the bad guys have guns and the good guys don't?


I am in favor of stricter record checks, to reduce the chances that a criminal or someone with poor mental health legally can buy a gun.

I am in favor of harsher penalties for anyone who commits a crime with a gun.

I am in favor of armed police officers in public schools. Many West Virginia schools have prevention resource officers, or PROs. Why not all of them?



I am not in favor of government-imposed limits or restrictions on the kinds of guns law-abiding citizens may own. Any government-imposed limit or restriction would fly in the face of the intent of the Second Amendment.

The purpose of the Second Amendment is to give citizens the means to protect themselves, not from each other or from foreign invaders, but from a tyrannical government.  How could any limit or restriction on gun ownership, imposed by the very government against which the Second Amendment offers its protection, be anything but unconstitutional?

And yet:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Kicking It Down the Road ...Again




Here we go again.


The House of Representatives has joined the Senate in extending the Bush tax cuts for most Americans. We have avoided the dreaded "fiscal cliff." But at what price?

Every working American (not just the high earners) will pay more in payroll taxes. A lot more, in some cases. And the deal extends unemployment benefits for a year.

More taxes for people who do work; more benefits for people who can't, or don't.

I have read that the Congressional Budget Office has determined that the deal includes $41 in tax increases for every $1 in spending cuts. 

Left unresolved: 

Debt limit: We've reached another ceiling. President Obama will insist that Congress raise the ceiling. 

Sequester: Congress has delayed a scheduled $1.2 billion in spending cuts for two months.

Federal budget: the current spending authorization will expire on March 27. The Senate hasn't passed a spending plan in years. 

Congress hasn't solved or settled anything. It has simply kicked the can down the road. Again.