Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Success! The Obama administration announced over the weekend that it had hit its deadline of Nov. 30 for HealthCare.gov.

Of course, there were caveats. The site will still probably get buggy when there's a lot of traffic, which is why Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius advised people to use it at off-peak hours. But that simply means peak hours will be moved to after midnight. After all, you don't alleviate crowding if you tell everyone to try a different door.

Oh, and there will still be crashes, and occasionally the administrators will have to take the whole thing offline. But, HHS insists, the "user experience" will be boffo for the majority of users.

There's still one hitch. HealthCare.gov doesn't work, at all. Sure, it provides a remarkably realistic user experience, but as of now it's basically a video game. A really, really boring video game. Call it Sim Healthcare.

This is because the so-called back end essentially doesn't exist. That's the part of the site that talks to the insurance companies, processes payments and actually, you know, gets people enrolled on insurance plans.

Reports vary on whether it needs to be "fixed" or whether it still needs to be built. On Nov. 19, Henry Chao, the administration official in charge of overseeing the site, told Congress that "the accounting systems, the payment systems, they still need to be" created. Going by the rosy version of Chao's estimate, that was roughly 30 percent to 40 percent of the system.

"It's not built, let alone tested," one insurance executive told the Washington Post last week.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported Sunday that the back-end systems "that are supposed to deliver consumer information to insurers still have not been fixed." I'm not clear on how you can fix something that hasn't been built yet, but maybe in the 11 days between Chao's testimony and the Nov. 30 deadline, the "A-Team" President Obama deployed built the back end enough for it to be recognizably broken.

Either way, it's not working. Think of it this way: Would you consider an ATM machine to be functional if it created a lifelike experience but didn't actually do anything with your commands? No money comes out, no deposits get credited, no transfers actually work, but the screen just tells you that everything worked?

Now, that's a bit harsh, of course. Insurance companies say that some people have successfully navigated the digital gauntlet. The White House's stated goal was to get to the point where 80 percent could complete the process, which is a standard of success that accepts 1 in 5 people failing. If you knew an ATM machine wouldn't work for every fifth person who used it, would you still stick your debit card in it? How about after you were told by legions of security experts that there was no way the information you entered could be handled securely?

In its triumphant progress report, the administration declared that the effort was now proceeding with "private sector velocity and effectiveness." That's adorable. A project that was sold as tangible proof of the intellectual and managerial competence of liberalism utterly fails after more than three years and $1 billion, and now the administration is bragging that it stepped up its game to the standards of the nongovernment sector.

The problem is that in the private sector, the ability to process payments is a big priority. Creating a more enjoyable user experience is nice, but the back end is where the action is. You know where the private sector has worked with real velocity and effectiveness? Sending out millions of insurance cancellation letters.

The most remarkable thing about Sim Healthcare is how it serves as an analog to liberalism in the age of Obama generally. The president talks a wonderful game about inequality, shared responsibility and the general superiority of liberal economic policies. It's all uplifting, particularly for the extremely rich liberals who've gotten even richer under Obama but who feel like they are staying true to the cause by cutting checks to the Democrats. (A New York Times study found that between 2009 and 2011, income inequality grew four times faster than under George W. Bush.)

Sim Healthcare seems like a smashing success so long as the results don't matter, just like Sim Liberalism.


Blacks and Obama  
Walter E. Williams / Townhall Columnist


In a March 2008 column, I criticized pundits' concerns about whether America was ready for Barack Obama, suggesting that the more important issue was whether black people could afford Obama. I proposed that we look at it in the context of a historical tidbit.

In 1947, Jackie Robinson, after signing a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization, broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. He encountered open racist taunts and slurs from fans, opposing team players and even some members of his own team. Despite that, his batting average was nearly .300 in his first year. He led the National League in stolen bases and won the first Rookie of the Year award. There's no sense of justice that requires a player be as good as Robinson in order to have a chance in the major leagues, but the hard fact of the matter is that as the first black player, he had to be.

In 1947, black people could not afford an incompetent black baseball player. Today we can. The simple reason is that as a result of the excellence of Robinson -- and many others who followed him, such as Satchel Paige, Don Newcombe, Larry Doby and Roy Campanella -- today no one in his right mind, watching the incompetence of a particular black player, could say, "Those blacks can't play baseball."

In that March 2008 column, I argued that for the nation -- but more importantly, for black people -- the first black president should be the caliber of a Jackie Robinson, and Barack Obama is not. Obama has charisma and charm, but in terms of character, values, experience and understanding, he is no Jackie Robinson. In addition to those deficiencies, Obama became the first person in U.S. history to be elected to the highest office in the land while having a long history of associations with people who hate our nation, such as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor for 20 years, who preached that blacks should sing not "God bless America" but "God damn America." Then there's Obama's association with William Ayers, formerly a member of the Weather Underground, an anti-U.S. group that bombed the Pentagon, U.S. Capitol and other government buildings. Ayers, in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack, told a New York Times reporter, "I don't regret setting bombs. ... I feel we didn't do enough."

Obama's electoral success is truly a remarkable commentary on the goodness of the American people.

A 2008 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reported "that 17 percent were enthusiastic about Obama being the first African American President, 70 percent were comfortable or indifferent, and 13 percent had reservations or were uncomfortable." I'm 77 years old. For almost all of my life, a black's becoming the president of the United States was at best a pipe dream. Obama's electoral success further confirms what I've often held: The civil rights struggle in America is over, and it's won. At one time, black Americans did not have the constitutional guarantees enjoyed by white Americans; now we do. The fact that the civil rights struggle is over and won does not mean that there are not major problems confronting many members of the black community, but they are not civil rights problems and have little or nothing to do with racial discrimination.

There is every indication to suggest that Obama's presidency will be seen as a failure similar to that of Jimmy Carter's. That's bad news for the nation but especially bad news for black Americans. No white presidential candidate had to live down the disgraced presidency of Carter, but I'm all too fearful that a future black presidential candidate will find himself carrying the heavy baggage of a failed black president. That's not a problem for white liberals who voted for Obama -- they received their one-time guilt-relieving dose from voting for a black man to be president -- but it is a problem for future generations of black Americans. But there's one excuse black people can make; we can claim that Obama is not an authentic black person but, as The New York Times might call him, a white black person.

Karzai says Obama told him: "The Taliban are not our enemies and we don't want to fight them"

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer


Thumbnail image for KarzaiObama.jpg

In other words, the whole Afghan adventure, which began so as to topple the Taliban and destroy their jihad training operation, has been pointless and suicidally self-defeating, as I have been saying for years. "Interview: Karzai Says He'll Agree To Deal Once The U.S. Meets His Demands," from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, November 26 (thanks to Jerk Chicken):
RFE/RL: Do you think that the Afghan security forces are able to deal with the Taliban on their own? 
Karzai: This is our responsibility. We are all Afghans and we know each other well.
Whether we would fight the Taliban or make peace with them -- that is our problem. Last year, during my visit to Washington, in a very important briefing a day before I met U.S. President [Barack Obama], his national security adviser Tom Donilon, and senior White House officials, generals, and intelligence officials, the national security adviser met with me. He told me: "The Taliban are not our enemies and we don't want to fight them." I told him "This is a very good thing and this is what we want. We have been urging you for years to stop bombing people and fighting people inside of Afghanistan. So if you don't consider the Taliban your enemies and don't want to fight them, then why are you raiding Afghan homes every night? If you don’t consider the Taliban your enemies, which are something I want you to do and am happy you have recognized, then why are you going into Afghan homes in the name of looking for the Taliban every night?" My question is whether this will go on after the security agreement. This is why I can never allow it to happen. The security agreement should end American operations.

Iran plans two more nuclear plants

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer

Mideast-Iran-Nuclear-_Horo2-635x357.jpg

Peace in our time! "‘Iran plans two more nuclear plants at Bushehr,’" from the Times of Israel, December 4:
Iran is reportedly talking to Russia about building two more nuclear plants in Bushehr province, according to a senior official who spoke to an Iranian media outlet on Tuesday. 
The head of the Iranian Parliament’s Energy Committee Jalil Jafari Boneh Khalkhal told the semi-official Fars news agency that the second and third atomic power plants will be similar to the existent facility in the southern province, but with higher safety standards.
President Hassan Rouhani announced on Saturday that Iran would build a second nuclear plant at Bushehr.
“Our first nuclear power plant is active in the (Bushehr) province which will develop, God willing,” Rouhani said in a speech Saturday night to officials in Bushehr province, Iran’s Fars news agency reported Sunday.
The current Bushehr reactor was built by Russia and reached full capacity last year.
“Based on our estimates, the second nuclear power plant will be built in the same province and I hope that we can use the facilities of this province,” Rouhani said.
The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi said Sunday that the Islamic Republic needs more nuclear power plants, the country’s official news agency reported....

Regulations Could Wipe Out Your Local Bank, Leaving Only Mega-Banks

by   / Personal Liberty Digest

Regulations Could Wipe Out Your Local Bank, Leaving Only Mega-Banks
PHOTOS.COM
A “tidal wave” of Federal regulations meant to protect American financial consumers from predatory practices of Wall Street banks is creating big problems for Main Street banks and credit unions, small bank advocates told Congress on Tuesday.

Currently, the number of banks in the United States is at its lowest level since the Great Depression, due to a combination of regulatory hurdles that are forcing many community banks out of business and lack of the same government support of larger institutions enjoy.

Since 2008, 486 small banks throughout the Nation have been shuttered by the FDIC. In many cases, the smaller banks were forced to close because of risky lending practices that were not mitigated by a Federal bailout like the risky practices of mega-banks.

Furthermore, while most of the financial rules imposed by the Dodd-Frank Act, the international Basel 3 capital standards and new regulations on credit cards apply mainly to larger banks, the spillover that pertains to smaller banks is devastating to those institutions which are not “too big to fail.”

“The overwhelming tidal wave of new regulations in recent years is having a profound impact on credit unions and their ability to serve some 96 million member owners nationwide,” Linda Sweet, head of the Big Valley Federal Credit Union in Sacramento, Calif., told a House Small Business subcommittee hearing Tuesday.

The heavy regulatory burden on small banks could mean a future where American financial consumers will be forced to choose between a handful of “too big to fail” institutions for all of their banking needs.

“We’re moving towards a system where we’re going to end up with several very large financial institutions, and that is going to leave needs unmet. Small businesses and consumers are going to find it much harder to get their financial needs met,” Hester Peirce, a senior research fellow at the George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, explained.

In January, a series of new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rules for mortgage lenders will take effect, burdening mega-banks and community banks equally. Many smaller banks will likely lack the revenues to stay in the mortgage business because of the rules, according to financial experts.

“It will decrease the amount of mortgages that we make,” B. Doyle Mitchell, president of the Washington-area Industrial Bank, told lawmakers on Tuesday. “There will be a lot of people that won’t get home mortgage financing.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed support for a two-tiered financial regulatory system to exempt community banks from some Federal regulations.

One example of legislative efforts to help smaller banks is Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer’s (R-Mo.) Community Lending Enhancement and Regulatory (CLEAR) Relief Act. The bill, which has 87 co-sponsors but hasn’t moved since April, would exempt small financial institutions and their loans from a handful of regulations imposed by the Dodd-Frank and the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Acts.

Representative Gary Miller’s (R-Calif.) Regulatory Relief for Credit Unions Act, which hasn’t been touched by Congress since June, would similarly exempt credit unions from certain Federal regulations.

This says it all...


Op-ed:                                                                                                                                                       Our military can only be pushed so far                      By: Diane Sori                                                                                                                                               

After fighting the ‘War on Terror’ for 12 years Barack HUSSEIN Obama wants to balance the budget on the backs of those who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe and free at home.

Calling once again for another restricting of rank-and-file military pay raises for the next three years, calling for more out of pocket expenses for medical treatment, and calling for a redo of retirement benefits, this most miserable of presidents…this most unqualified of Commander-in-Chiefs…has once more defamed and dishonored America’s military forces...basically implying that our brave troops are now irrelevant, expendable, and NOT worth the cost.

As terrorist attacks are increasing worldwide with a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan and with al-Qaeda evolving into a far reaching worldwide terrorist organization determined to carry out even more attacks on the West, our troops are needed more than ever yet this president diminishes them to dollar-and-cents figures alone…and does so solely to have their sweat and blood pay for his economic ineptitudes and failures…along with the given of him NOT wanting them to win against his muslim brethren…to win against those out to kill us all.

And during this time marked by islamic jihadists, Obama’s reduction of the Pentagon budget by $1.3 trillion over the next 10 years is probably the most egregious attack on our troops in our nation’s history as Obama deliberately and with malice works to render our troops impotent against this most barbaric of enemies by cutting funding needed for modernization of weaponry and for maintenance of weapons kept.

And when you add in Obama’s changing of the Rules of Engagement from fighting to win to fighting to ‘win the hearts and minds’ of the enemy, you see the results of such action coming in the form of casualty rates more than double those of the entire GWB years.

As retired Army Major General Paul E. Vallely so rightly said, “Now, our military is not even fighting, just assassinating individuals. Retreat is now known as ‘drawdown’ and victory is now known as ‘nation-building’ or ‘transitioning.”

Sad, it’s so sad to see Barack HUSSEIN Obama trying to reduce the world’s greatest fighting force into toy soldiers controlled and manipulated by him and his minions who see them as throw away pawns in a game of war that he does NOT want them to win.

A game of war Obama does NOT care losing for his actions in purging our military of its battlefield commanders…of officers who know the enemy better than most…as in nine senior commanding officers many with ties to the secrets and truths of Benghazi… General Carter Hamm, Rear Admiral Charles Gaoutte, Major General Ralph Baker, Brigadier General Bryan Roberts, Major General Gregg Sturdevant, Major General Charles Gurganus, Lieutenant General David Holmes, Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, and Major General Michael Carry…have all been fired this year without just cause or ‘forced’ into early retirement…and with this you know that a dismantling of America’s military as we know it has now begun as these most experienced of warriors are being replaced with those less qualified yet with those who support Obama’s New World Order military views.

And Obama knows that if he wants to continue to change our military from within at least... dismantling it at best…that he has to do it now while he still can for he knows our military’s sworn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of these United States is the only thing that stands in the way of his true agenda of transforming America into something unrecognizable to us. And this has forced him to see the harsh reality that our military is NO friend to him or to his administration. And he knows that if pushed hard enough…if dishonored one too many times…he cannot count on the military NOT to rise up against the anti-constitutional, traitorous actions of he and his administration for even he is smart enough to know that loyalty to the Constitution trumps any loyalty owed to him in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief.

It's this allegiance of our military to the Constitution that just might be America’s saving grace for Obama fears our military…and our military alone…as he has NO fear of Congress or the courts stopping his traitorous actions against our beloved America for he knows he has played the race card against them well. But Obama knows that even he can only gamble on our military standing down against him for just so long for his and his administration’s total lawlessness, disregard for the office of the presidency, and trampling of our Constitution…along with his misuse of power…is reaching a breaking point.

And with Obama’s calculatingly planned, systematic destruction of our country being beyond just a matter of treason, our military knows that if he and his agenda are NOT stopped before the end of this, his final term in office, treason will NO longer be an issue for his destruction of our freedoms, our Constitution, and our American way of life will have been completed…and I know in my heart that our United States military will NOT allow that to happen.

And payback for Barack HUSSEIN Obama will most assuredly be a bitch.