Saturday, November 9, 2013

First things first. Yes, the president's overall job approval rating is five percentage points higher today than 43's was at this point in his presidency, but that's not something to write home about.

Look at this chart:

 photo PewReseachPoll_zpsa9ecc380.png
In every single category -- health care policy, the economy, immigration policy, the threat of terrorism, foreign policy, and overall job approval -- his ratings have plummeted this year. Indeed, I half-expected his health care policy approval ratings to drop precipitously since last month, too -- you know, given everything that’s happened with the Obamacare website rollout. Nope. He’s only down four percentage points since then, which isn’t terribly impressive but hardly as low as it probably could or should be.* Most significantly, his approval ratings vis-à-vis the economy have nose-dived -- 12 percentage points (!) -- in the past month, while at the same time his disapproval ratings have soared.
Have we crossed the Rubicon?
Obama’s job ratings on the economy have been more negative than positive for more than four years, but the current measure is the worst of his presidency. Just 31% approve of the way Obama is handling the economy, while 65% disapprove.
Only about one-in-five independents (21%) give Obama positive marks on the economy, while 75% disapprove. About a third of Democrats (34%) disapprove of the way Obama is handling the economy (64% approve).
It seems as though independents in particular have soured on the president’s handling of the economy. Has he “pivoted” to jobs (and come up empty) too many times for middle-of-the-road voters to stomach? Pew digs deeper:
Obama’s current rating among independents is only slightly higher than Bush’s in November 2005 (29% approved). Like Bush, Obama retains broad support among members of his own party, though the share of Democrats who give him a positive jobs rating has fallen 10 points over the past year (from 88% to 78%). Obama’s job rating among Republicans, extremely low last December (12%), has changed little since then.
Ouch. Obama will always garner significant support from his base -- and Republican disapproval is fairly consistent for obvious reasons. But what could have caused independents’ growing disenchantment in recent weeks? And will these numbers rebound?

The jobs report today was surprisingly not awful, exceeding expectations. So maybe his approval ratings on the economy will rise in time.

The man sure could use some good news.

*UPDATE: I should have noted that while his approval rating on this issue only decreased slightly since September, he's lost a ton of ground on health care policy in general over the past 10 months.

The federal website, serving 36 states that chose not to build their own sites, has been - to quote its boss, Kathleen Sebelius - a "debacle." Its estimated cost to taxpayers stands at $394 million so far and will likely rise as the "tech surge" pours millions of additional taxpayer dollars into trying to fix the site. But federal taxpayers are on the hook for a sum more than 10 times greater - $4.3 billion - for state exchange websites. And some of them are even more spectacular failures than the federal site.

The final cost to taxpayers of the federal site may end up well short of the $910.1 million federal taxpayers have already been forced to send to just one state, California. Its troubled reportedly has a dodgy provider directory, delays for agent and provider certification, and its own variety of technical glitches.

Independent health broker Alison Gordon said: "The stats released are bogus... When they say they got 36,000 calls in one week, it's because the website isn't up and working properly."

The flawed provider directory is a big deal, because most California plans are attempting to contain costs by offering only a very narrow network of hospitals and doctors. And California is sitting on completed applications rather than send them on to carriers, because they doubt the accuracy of their own data. For this, federal taxpayers ponied up over $900 million dollars.

Other states have wasted obscene amounts of money on websites that function poorly or not at all.

Oregon's website - which seems to be a black hole for the $303 million of federal tax dollars it received, but does have a bunch of quirky, hipster-inspired advertisements - is now so bad Governor John Kitzhaber is saying: "Until that aspect of the website is working, they will not be able to enroll online." The "aspect" of being able to enroll people is kind of the whole game. Kitzhaber is urging Oregonians to apply with paper forms.

Colorado is also in bad shape. "It's painful. It's odious. It's embarrassing to have to go through all these questions that are not necessary if they're going to get kicked out anyway," said Nathan Wilkes, a board member of the Colorado exchange. After spending $178.9 million of federal taxpayer money, Colorado is now planning to replace its deeply troubled website with a brand new one by next October.

Delaware has 890,000 people and an estimated 95,700 uninsured - and its failed website has enrolled four people. But at least that pitiful failure "only" cost federal taxpayers $12.9 million.

That's a bargain compared to Vermont, which is about two thirds the size of Delaware in population, but has managed to squander 13 times as much. Vermont has a total population of 620,000 people, of whom 55,600 are estimated to be uninsured. Yet federal taxpayers have been forced to pony up $168.1 million to Vermont's exchange. That's over $3000 per uninsured Vermonter just to set up a website through which additional tax dollars will flow.

Yet even with that eye-popping largesse from federal taxpayers, the Vermont site is among the country's worst. Governor Peter Shumlin has pressed the panic button, invoking an emergency "safety valve" provision in state law to extend current insurance plans through the end of March, because otherwise Vermonters losing their existing plans will have no options once they confront a broken website.

Even the one supposedly successful state exchange, Kentucky, has cost federal taxpayers a bundle: $253.2 million. And how much "success" did that quarter-billion bucks buy? While 280,000 people there have lost their existing coverage, in the first month only 5,891 people enrolled in private health plans through the exchange.

All told taxpayers are out about $5 billion for a bunch of websites that range from disappointment to debacle. It's time to put the law on pause and figure out if there's anything worth salvaging before we squander even more money.

Obama secretly began lifting sanctions on Iran months ago

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer

Yet another gesture of good will and concession made to Islamic supremacists who will only see it as a sign of weakness, and not respond with their own gesture of good will. "Exclusive: Obama’s Secret Iran Détente," by Eli Lake and Josh Rogin for The Blaze, November 8 (thanks to Pamela Geller):
Long before a nuclear deal was in reach, the U.S. was quietly lifting some of the financial pressure on Iran, a Daily Beast investigation reveals. How the sanctions were softened. 
The Obama administration began softening sanctions on Iran after the election of Iran’s new president in June, months before the current round of nuclear talks in Geneva or the historic phone call between the two leaders in September.
While those negotiations now appear on the verge of a breakthrough the key condition for Iran—relief from crippling sanctions—began quietly and modestly five months ago.
A review of Treasury Department notices reveals that the U.S. government has all but stopped the financial blacklisting of entities and people that help Iran evade international sanctions since the election of its president, Hassan Rouhani, in June.
On Wednesday Obama said in an interview with NBC News the negotiations in Geneva “are not about easing sanctions.” “The negotiations taking place are about how Iran begins to meet its international obligations and provide assurances not just to us but to the entire world,” the president said.
But it has also long been Obama’s strategy to squeeze Iran’s economy until Iran would be willing to trade relief from sanctions for abandoning key elements of its nuclear program.
One way Obama has pressured Iran is through isolating the country’s banks from the global financial sector, the networks that make modern international commerce possible.
This in turn has led Iran to seek out front companies and cutouts to conduct routine international business, such as selling its crude oil.
In this cat and mouse game, the Treasury Department in recent years has routinely designated new entities as violators of sanctions, forcing Iran to adjust in turn. In the six weeks prior to the Iranian elections in June, the Treasury Department issued seven notices of designations of sanctions violators that included more than 100 new people, companies, aircraft, and sea vessels.
Since June 14, however, when Rouhani was elected, the Treasury Department has only issued two designation notices that have identified six people and four companies as violating the Iran sanctions....
“Sounds like Obama decided to enter the Persian nuclear bazaar to haggle with the masters of negotiation and has had his head handed to him,” Dubowitz said.
A dangerous game played by foolish men
By: Diane Sori

As Barack HUSSEIN Obama stabs ‘We the People’ in the back with his oh so many LIES about ObamaCare and then adds more LIES to cover for his first LIES as he tries to pass the newest LIES off as an apology…let’s NOT forget he honed his LYING skill by stabbing our ally and friend Israel in the back…and did it with his trademark smirk of a smile upon his LYING face.

And now enter stage our Traitor-of-State…oooops…I mean Secretary of State John ‘Swiftboat’ Kerry, who’s in Geneva right now "to help narrow differences in negotiations" as he begins talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton about Iran ending its nuclear ambitions.

To begin talks with…just like his buddy Obama, Kerry just does NOT get that America does NOT ‘talk’ to the enemy to make deals…America does NOT cow-tow to those out to do her and her people harm…America tells the enemy what is expected of them and then gives them a time frame to follow through…and if they don’t America makes sure they do.

At least in the old days that was the way it was…in the old days BEFORE Barack HUSSEIN Obama that is…BEFORE political correctness became this administration’s weapon of choice…BEFORE Obama turned America into a laughing stock…BEFORE America was knocked down a few pegs by the likes of Vladimir Putin.

But even with all the damage Obama and crew have done to America’s reputation on the world stage one fact must remain…America and nations of conscience must NOT abide Iran getting nuclear capabilities…period…for rogue regimes who come complete with unstable religious zealots as leaders are a threat NOT only to the already shaky and faltering stability of the Middle East but to Europe and America as well.

And to Israel above all else…Israel…our one true ally in the entire Middle East…a beacon of democracy in a sea of islamic jihadists.  Israel...a nation chosen by God for His everlasting protection is being thrown to the wolves as Kerry publicly bloviates that he’s committed to doing “anything he can” to overcome America’s differences with Iran. But these words speak of what is NOT outwardly being said but very much implied…Israel be damned.

Yet Iran is hurting even while having some of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves, for the sanctions to date appear to be working as they have cut Iran’s daily crude sales revenue by 60% in the last two years, caused the value of the rial (Iran’s currency) to plummet, and pushed inflation to over 40%…so why pull back and cut deals now when the sanctions are close to bringing Iran to its knees…close to having us the victors over Iran the enemy…why…

Why is Obama begging Congress to hold off on placing any more sanctions on Iran so, as he claims, NOT to undermine the new diplomatic openings…why…

Why cave now with many in Congress, including many Democrats, believing that it’s been these very tough sanctions that have pushed Iran to the negotiating table to try and cut deals…why give in when we now have the upper hand…and why NOT have the sanctions lifted AFTER Iran has dismantled its enrichment facilities instead of before...why…

Why…the answer is simple really as it's because Barack HUSSEIN Obama is using the situation with Iran…and playing a very dangerous game in the process…to try and neutralize the effect of his Arab Spring gone horribly wrong…to ‘save face’ so to speak…to try and save his legacy…to be seen as the man who disarmed a rogue nation only to have that nation playing him for the fool that he is for they are getting everything without having to take apart…to dismantle…even one centrifuge.

And so while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to warn both Kerry and the world that Iran would be getting “the deal of the century” if they were granted what they want…a rollback of the sanctions that have crippled their economy by ending a freeze on up to $50 billion in overseas accounts, and having restrictions lifted on petrochemicals, gold, and other precious metals…in exchange for stopping enriching uranium to 20% (which is just a few technical steps from weapons grade), reducing its existing stockpiles, and agreeing not to activate its plutonium reactor at Arak…Kerry is doing Obama’s bidding by tying to finalize Netanyahu says...very bad deal.

“This is a bad deal…a very very bad deal…Israel utterly rejects it (lifting the sanctions) and what I am saying is shared by many in the region, whether or not they express that publicly” Netanyahu said just few days ago.

And how right he is…BiBi usually is…as Saudi Arabia has told Obama in NO uncertain terms that they do NOT like the catering to and placating of Iran that is currently going on by the Obama administration and its mouthpiece John Kerry.

But the bottom line is that as it stands now Iran is controlling the chess game in Geneva, and a game it is as they are manipulating Obama using John Kerry as their pawn…manipulating the game with phony gestures of halting their nuclear aspirations and ending an over 30 year break in diplomatic relations that Kerry is just playing into…while Israel will once again bear the brunt of and be the fall guy for yet another Obama administration ill-advised and very dangerous Middle East policy.

That is unless Israel now decides to change the rules of the game...wink, wink.