Monday, March 31, 2014

If you don't say it, it won't happen

The rain all day yesterday turned to snow. Slick driving to work, I tell ya.

I read a lot this weekend; I finished the Nora Roberts, and started and finished the Veronica Mars and David Handler books. I'll probably be going back to the S J Roberts book again and have a digital loan of DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver. This is the first of a teen dystopian where love has been considered a disease to be "cured" of for the betterment of the society. The procedure sounds sort of like a lobotomy. The writing is good for this kind of subgenre, however, somehow it doesn't quite pull one in to the story, that is, I'm struggling a little to stay interested.

Tonight I have The Blacklist on TV, if I can stay awake that long.

Have a good one. 

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Current Events - March 31, 2014


Veterans Affairs purged thousands of medical tests to 'game' its backlog stats

By Mark Flatten

Thousands of orders for diagnostic medical tests have been purged en masse by the Department of Veterans Affairs to make it appear its decade-long backlog is being eliminated, according to documents obtained by the Washington Examiner.
About 40,000 appointments were “administratively closed” in Los Angeles, and another 13,000 were cancelled in Dallas in 2012.
That means the patients did not receive the tests or treatment that had been ordered, but rather the orders for the follow-up procedures were simply deleted from the agency’s records.
It is not known how widespread the practice is, or how many veterans hospitals have mass-purged appointment orders to clear their backlogs.
Agency officials refused an Examiner request for documents describing when the practice began or how many appointments have been canceled.
Internal VA memos say administrators at medical centers across the country were allowed to remove the appointment orders that were no longer necessary because the patient died or received medical treatment elsewhere.

Obamacare Agency Sends Out Voter Registration Cards Pre-Marked for Democrat Party

By Ashley Herzog
I’ll grant Democrats one thing: they sure have a lot of nerve. An Obamacare agency in California sent out voter registration cards already marked for Democrats.

This ploy was apparently the work of Covered California, the state-run agency responsible for implementing Obamacare. Even after ACORN and Al Franken’s Senate race, I’m still shocked by the Democratic Party’s willingness to lie and cheat.
A local couple called 10News concerned after they received an envelope from the state’s Obamacare website, Covered California. Inside was a letter discussing voter registration and a registration card pre-marked with an “x” in the box next to Democratic Party.
They have lived in La Mesa for years and they have always been registered to vote Republican. Now, they are perplexed as to how the voter registration card pre-marked Democrat ended up in their mailbox.
“I’m an old guy and I never would have noticed it, except I have an accountant that notices every dot and dash on a piece of paper as a wife,” said the man who received the mailer.
What a bunch of con artists–and brazen con artists at that. I suspect organizations like Covered California have gotten away with fraud for so long, they’re not even trying to hide it anymore.

Congress this week tackles Medicare payments, jobless pay and employer mandate

By Susan Ferrechio

The Senate this week will take up medicare payment legislation and a jobless benefits bill while the House votes to redefine the full time work week under Obamacare and clear a Ukraine loan and sanctions bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a test vote Monday on what lawmakers have come to call the “doc fix,” a bill that prevents a scheduled 24 percent cut in federal reimbursements to doctors who treat Medicare patients. The bill is a patch, and not a permanent fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate, which is what causes the regular cuts in pay that Congress must then undo through legislation.
Both Democrats and Republicans were working on a permanent repeal of the SGR, but with the current patch expiring on April 1, leaders in both parties decided to move ahead with a one-year fix. The move angered some lawmakers in the House, which moved the bill with a simple voice vote.
...The doc fix bill also includes a provision to delay by one year the October 2014 implementation of the massive expansion of the medical coding system.
The new system will require medical coding used by health care providers and insurers to expand from 14,000 codes to 69,000 codes. It is expected to be costly for many doctors and practices and there is a general sense that few are prepared for the changes.
The Senate will also take up legislation to extend federal unemployment insurance benefits by five months.
The legislation has already cleared a critical test hurdle and because it was co-authored by five Republicans, it is expected to pass the Senate as early as Monday.
The bill would cost nearly $10 million and would provide retroactive benefits for those who qualified for the program when it expired on Dec. 28.
The House has so far rejected the idea of taking up the bill. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said it lacked provisions to create jobs and said it was “unworkable,” because state employment officials would not be able to determine who is legitimately entitled to retroactive benefits.
Instead, the House will continue tackling perceived overreach by the Obama administration, with a vote on the Save American Workers Act, sponsored by Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind. The bill would repeal the 30 hour definition of full time employment under the Affordable Care Act. Critics of the 30-hour threshold say it has caused employers to reduce hours and lay off workers to avoid the new law's “employer mandate,” which requires that they provide health insurance for full-time employees.
...The House will also clear legislation providing $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine and authorizing President Obama to issue additional sanctions on Russia, which invaded Ukraine and has taken over Crimea.

White House week ahead: Russia waiting game, Obamacare deadline

By Brian Hughes

The White House this week will attempt to manage the fallout from hastily arranged U.S.-Russian talks on Ukraine, which produced no breakthrough in the standoff between the Obama administration and the Kremlin over the Eastern European nation.
And on the home front, the White House will make a final push to sign up more Americans for Obamacare on the final day before individuals are penalized for not obtaining health insurance -- unless consumers contend they had technical difficulty signing up.
The combination of the Ukrainian crisis and the Obamacare pitch will have enormous influence on President Obama's legacy and how effectively he is able to manage his final years in office.
...Also this week, Obama will host the Boston Red Sox at the White House Tuesday to honor their 2013 World Series championship.
On Wednesday, the president heads to Ann Arbor, Mich., where he will hold an event to call for an increase in the minimum wage. Later that day, he'll attend fundraisers in Chicago.
The president and first lady Thursday will host U.S. members and delegations from the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
And on Friday, the president welcomes Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa to the White House.

The week ahead in economics: The jobs report and long-term unemployment

 By Joseph Lawler
....The BLS will report on the jobs market for March on Friday. Deutsche Bank’s projections are for 275,000 new jobs and a 6.5-percent unemployment rate, down from 6.7 percent in February.
Although February's 175,000 new payrolls number was weak relative to the average month's gains during the recovery, it was stronger than many had expected. Job growth has been weak in recent months, but it's not yet clear to what extent the slowdown was influenced by weather -- a strong March report would suggest underlying strength.
As for other events happening this week, the Senate is expected to debate both extending the long-term unemployment insurance program that expired in December and the Obama administration's proposal to lift the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour rate to $10.10, indexed for inflation.
On Tuesday, the Senate Budget Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on opportunity and mobility featuring Nobel Prize-winning Columbia economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard economist Raj Chetty, one of the authors of an influential new study showing that the rate of mobility in the U.S. hasn’t changed significantly in decades.


GOP establishment turns to Jeb Bush

By Thomas Lifson

The Washington Post has laid on the table a story sure to rile conservatives: Influential Republicans working to draft Jeb Bush into 2016 presidential race.

LAS VEGAS — Many of the Republican Party’s most powerful insiders and financiers have begun a behind-the-scenes campaign to draft former Florida governor Jeb Bush into the 2016 presidential race, courting him and his intimates and starting talks on fundraising strategy.
Concerned that the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal has damaged New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s political standing and alarmed by the steady rise of Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), prominent donors, conservative leaders and longtime operatives say they consider Bush the GOP’s brightest hope to win back the White House.
Bush’s advisers insist that he is not actively exploring a candidacy and will not make a decision until at least the end of this year.

Ron Radosh of PJM sums it up: “The folks who gave us McCain and Romney have already made up their minds.”

68,000 criminal aliens released last year

By Rick Moran
A recent Homeland Security report reveals that 68,000 illegal aliens who were deportable due to their being convicted of a crime, were instead released back into the general population.

The report, provided to Breitbart News ahead of its late Sunday evening release, reviews internal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) metrics to conclude that the Obama administration released 35 percent—or 68,000—convicted criminal aliens back into the U.S. general population when they could have been deported. “The criminal alien releases typically occur without formal notice to local law enforcement agencies and victims,” CIS’s Jessica Vaughan, the report’s author, added.

By “criminal,” ICE means people who have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony that is not a traffic violation. For instance, traffic violations like Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or even vehicular manslaughter do not count toward this description of “criminal alien.” As for the definition of “alien,” ICE mostly means illegal aliens, though some are legal aliens when they are considered deportable legal aliens—which is possible for legal immigrants who have committed a serious crime, like a felony.

The documents also show ICE only deported a small fraction of the aliens they encountered overall.

“In 2013, ICE targeted only 195,000, or 25 percent, out of 722,000 potentially deportable aliens they encountered,” CIS’s Vaughan wrote. “Most of these aliens came to ICE’s attention after incarceration for a local arrest.”

This report comes out on the heels of a report from the office of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) last week which found that only .08 percent of the aliens deported in 2013 were not serial immigration law violators or convicted of serious crimes.

In response to these findings from CIS that follow up on his office’s report last week, Sessions said immigration law in America has essentially ceased to exist.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

You can't see meee......

My allergies have hit like mad this week so I've been taking meds which make me tired so in the evenings when I have time to read ... I zonk out on the couch and then wake up and go to bed. Ok, so that's been the last couple nights. But seriously! Luckily, Steve has had gun class coaching and doesn't catch me at it or he would be really disappointed in me.

I picked up the books I need to read for the High Plains Book Festival. There were only two this time (yay! In years past it's been six-ish) and one of them looked really interesting, THE BOOK OF MATT, about the murder of Matthew Shepherd in Wyoming that the media spun as a gay-hatred killing but evidence actually apparently points to drug trafficking. The media using a tragedy for its own agenda?!? Say it ain't so! But this happened 15 years ago so we were not as savvy to their ways. I have until May 9 to get through the two books.

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I want hair like this

On Kindle, I have a Veronica Mars original, THE THOUSAND DOLLAR TAN LINE by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham. This is hopefully the beginning of a series.  Here is a description:
Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case. Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case; the house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.
Published March 2014, it has 338 pages. 

I will also be starting SHADOW SPELL by Nora Roberts. This is 2nd of the The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy. Here is a description:
With the legends and lore of Ireland running through his blood, falconer Connor O’Dwyer is proud to call County Mayo home. It’s where his sister, Branna, lives and works, where his cousin, Iona, has found true love, and where his childhood friends form a circle that can’t be broken… A circle that is about to be stretched out of shape—by a long-awaited kiss. Meara Quinn is Branna’s best friend, a sister in all but blood. Her and Connor’s paths cross almost daily, as Connor takes tourists on hawk walks and Meara guides them on horseback across the lush countryside. She has the eyes of a gypsy and the body of a goddess…things Connor has always taken for granted—until his brush with death propels them into a quick, hot tangle. Plenty of women have found their way to Connor’s bed, but none to his heart until now. Frustratingly, Meara is okay with just the heat, afraid to lose herself—and their friendship—to something more. But soon, Connor will see the full force and fury of what runs in his blood. And he will need his family and friends around him when his past rolls in like the fog, threatening an end to all he loves…

Published March 2014, it has 352 pages. 

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a repeat tonight, darnit. To console myself, here's a photo of Agent Coulson:

So, I guess I'll be reading one of the three books I have going. 

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster 

Current Events - March 25, 2014

I want minions, too

Saturday, March 22, 2014

'Tocks! And completely comfortable with it

I couldn't sleep last night in the middle of the night so I read THE ELITE by Kiera Cass on Kindle. This is 2nd of a teen dystopian trilogy. The first was THE SELECTION. Here is a description of THE ELITE:
Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea. America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide. Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

Published in 2013, it has 337 pages. Yes, another of those rebellious 16-17 year old girls going up against the dystopian establishment. In this one, the society has a caste system (from Ones who are the top of the top down to Eights who are servants or homeless people and there is almost no opportunity to improve one's number) and the wrongness and manipulation of having a monarchy in what used to be the US. The shorthand for this trilogy is THE HUNGER GAMES (without the death) meets The Bachelor TV show. Not as good as THE HUNGER GAMES or DIVERGENT, but it was amusing and I read it in a couple hours when I couldn't sleep, so there is a positive. 

I'm very glad it's the weekend. It was another tough week. Next week is the last with the consultants. Finally. What we really have to do now is take it and run and grow the business. I am more positive about it than Steve, unfortunately.

Not a whole lot on TV tonight but I'm sure we'll surf for a bit, then I'll read. It is cold this weekend with skiffs of snow. I took the boys with me to get dog food at Petsmart earlier. Doing bedding and towels laundry. We may do fish for dinner, we'll see.

All right, off you go.

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Current Events - March 22, 2014


Friday, March 21, 2014

Strange puppy knows how to amuse himself....

TGIF. That's all I'm saying.

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I getchu!


So.... I didn't so much as read last night as to nap and then go to bed. I guess I was tired. Therefore not a lot of reading done. I will try again tonight. I'm liking the Parris book and it's a big honkin' 500+ pager, but I would say sleep has the priority every time.

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Current Events - March 20, 2014

The Obama Scandal Bracket 2014 — by Jon Gabriel

Since nothing else is going on in the world, President Obama went on ESPN today to unveil his annual NCAA bracket.
The President’s “Barack-etology” always gets big buzz from the media, unlike his administration's growing mountain of scandals. Wouldn’t it be convenient to organize the bad news into a format the average reporter can follow?
Why bet on the NCAA when you can bet on America's future? Enjoy the Obama Scandal Bracket, updated for March Madness 2014!

First Lady Takes Her Mother & Daughters to China – But American Press is Shut Off from Visit

By Caroline Schaeffer
We may be paying for Michelle Obama to bring her mother and daughters to China, but don’t expect to hear anything about it. The First Lady will not be accompanied by the press, and there are no interviews scheduled.
Mrs. Obama is making the trek with her mother and her two daughters, and the White House is justifying the lack of press coverage by emphasizing that this trip represents a “person-to-person exchange” to emphasize the importance both countries place on education.
The Administration is also justifying the large number of family members traveling with the most bogus cop-out ever by saying that it’s a matter of culture.
via The New York Times:
Tina Tchen, Mrs. Obama’s chief of staff and a first-generation Chinese-American, said a multigenerational visit would be appreciated by the Chinese, who value tradition.
The White House has not disclosed how much money this will cost American taxpayers.
So we’re paying for the Obama ladies to vacation in a country across the world, where they’re planning to do no diplomatic business, and they’re refusing press coverage and not telling us how much it will cost? This, a month after Michelle, Sasha and Malia flew to Aspen, and after Michelle had an extended vacation in Hawaii in celebration of her birthday in January.
Who do these people think they are? And how are we letting them get away with using our money for vacations and then refusing press coverage? This is not a monarchy, Mr. President, even though you think you can do whatever you want.

The most transparent administration, cont.

 By Dylan Byers
A quick look at how the sausage gets made, or doesn't...
On Tuesday night, The New York Times reported that no reporters would be traveling with First Lady Michelle Obama to China, and that she would be giving no interviews while there. Nicholas Kristof, the Times columnist, called the First Lady's decision "a mistake," and said it "signals weakness or fear of coverage." Several conservative outlets picked up the Times report, including the influential Drudge Report, which linked to a Weekly Standard article about it.
Shortly after noon on Wednesday, I reached out to the First Lady's office to inquire about the decision. A spokesperson for the First Lady responded to my inquiry but declared the response "off the record," meaning I wasn't allowed to use the information therein. When I told the spokesperson that I needed a response I could use, the spokesperson replied with another off-the-record statement regarding the First Lady's trip.
(Also on POLITICO:Barack Obama: No U.S. ‘military excursion’ to come in Ukraine)
The spokesperson then wrote, "If you need something attributable, you can take this on background from a White House official..."
The statement that followed did not address my original inquiry. Instead, it offered a formulaic explanation about "the power and importance of education" and "reaching people," followed by an explanation that the First Lady would participate in open press events and take questions online and in forums.
By now it was 5 p.m. ET, nearly five hours after my initial inquiry. When I told the spokesperson that I did not see why the quote needed to be anonymous and attributed to "a White House official," the spokesperson said if I needed something on the record I could refer to the First Lady's travel guidance and a transcript of a press call regarding the trip. These documents did not contain an answer to my question regarding why no reporters would be traveling with the First Lady.
(Also on POLITICO: The Fed chair's debut: Dull with a dash of folksy)
Now, I'll leave frustration over Michelle Obama's trip to The New York Times, Nick Krisfof, The Weekly Standard and Drudge Report (a motley crew right there). What I want to know -- and what I've wanted to know since last October -- is why the spokesperson in the First Lady's office didn't want to give me a name I could put on a harmless, formulaic quote?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

DON'T get on the bed ...

I'm currently reading TREACHERY by S J Parris. This is 4th of 4 in series featuring Giordano Bruno, a monk, philosopher, and astronomer on the run from the Roman Inquisition, serving as an agent for Queen Elizabeth I, in late 16th century England. Here is a description:
August, 1583. Giordano Bruno, a heretic fleeing the Inquisition, finds a new life working as a spy for Sir Francis Walsingham.Along with his friend, Sir Philip Sidney, Bruno travels to Plymouth on the Queen’s behalf. There, they meet Sir Francis Drake, who is preparing to launch a daring expedition against the Spanish, which could turn the tide of war.Unbeknownst to Bruno, however, Sidney plans to stowaway with Drake’s fleet and return a hero – dragging Bruno with him to the New World. But when a murder occurs aboard Drake’s own ship, fear and suspicion grip the fleet and threaten to abort the expedition before it begins.Navigating the jealousies and loyalties of the crew, Bruno learns that someone with a deadly grudge is shadowing his investigation.Tracking the killer through Plymouth’s menacing backstreets, he uncovers some of the darkest secrets the city is harbouring. Failure will come at the highest cost – not just for Bruno, but all of England…

Published in the UK in February 2014, it has 544 pages.  No release date for the US at this time.

I will probably read tonight. Steve has shooting and I don't have anything on TV.

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Current Events - March 18, 2014

How Sanctions Against Russia Could Signal the Beginning of ‘World War III’

By Sara Carter
Russia is preparing to fight World War III against the United States, not with conventional weapons but with the American dollar, a financial analyst told TheBlaze.
Kevin Freeman, a global financial analyst with expertise in financial warfare and terrorism, warned that Russia, along with allies like China, could cripple the U.S. financial system.
It’s not a theory but a “very real reality” that should not be ignored, he said.
“The real risk is if we go after them with economic weapons, they come back after us and this creates World War III,” said Freeman, who has consulted for the Pentagon, CIA and FBI. ”This is a very tough game of chicken that we’re playing, and Putin is serious.”
...U.S. analysts told TheBlaze that the sanctions announced Monday against seven of Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs and politicians may not be enough to stop Putin. Some Russian leaders have even joked that these are insignificant measures from a weak U.S. administration.
“There is no doubt that Russia has been thinking long and hard about how to disrupt U.S. power and the value of the dollar in the global market,” a U.S. defense official said. “We’re mindful but I don’t think we’re mindful enough. One thing is certain the greatest threat to our stability is not a conventional war but the destabilization of our economy by an enemy.”
For the past five years, Putin has promised that he would take America’s role as the leading global financial mammoth away, vowing to create alternatives to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. In 2011, he criticized the U.S. debt load, saying the “U.S. is living way beyond their means and shifting a part of their weight of their problems to the world economy.”
“To some extent [the U.S. is] living like parasites off the global economy and their monopoly of the dollar,” Putin said.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported a significant drop in foreign central banks’ Treasury bond holdings at the Federal Reserve. Analysts said they believed the drop was a result of Russia shifting Treasury bond holdings out of the Fed and into offshore accounts so it would be able to buy or sell its portfolio if the U.S. and its European allies imposed economic sanctions over Ukraine.
Earlier this month, Kremlin economic aide Sergei Glazyev made Russia’s intentions for economic warfare very clear, saying, “an attempt to announce sanctions would end in a crash for the financial system of the United States, which would cause the end of domination of the United States in the global financial system.”
Glazyvev said Russia could stop using the dollar, creating its own payment system with “our partners in the East and South.”

Michelle Obama and family take another taxpayer-funded trip

By Neil Munro
The first lady, her mother, her two kids, plus numerous White House aides and security personnel are going to tour China this month, but White House officials are refusing to say how much the taxpayers will pay for the trip.
However, they did say it would be a thrill for everyone on the trip, including for Michelle Obama’s top aide, Tina Tchen.

Penn Dem AG Shuts Down Corruption Sting After Only Black Democrats Are Caught, Blames Racism
By Duane Lester
So the Attorney General of Pennslyvania set up a sting.  Some politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, are offered bribes by undercover agents. The Republicans pass.  Only Democrats accept the bribe.  Black Democrats, to be precise.  So clearly it was racist, or something:
...The undercover sting, begun three years ago by Kane’s predecessor, Republican Tom Corbett, captured leading Philadelphia Democrats, including four local members of the state’s House delegation, on tape accepting money. The lobbyist who agreed to wear a wire and tape officials reacting to offers of cash and/or gifts is Tyron B. Ali, 40, who was arrested in a $430,000 fraud case.
“Sources with knowledge of the sting said the investigation made financial pitches to both Republicans and Democrats, but only Democrats accepted the payments,” said the Inquirer.
Four state lawmakers took money, the sources said. State Rep. Ronald G. Waters accepted multiple payments totaling $7,650; State Rep. Vanessa Brown took $4,000; State Rep. Michelle Brownlee received $3,500; and State Rep. Louise Bishop took $1,500, said people with knowledge of the investigation.
But it was racism that made them take the bribe.

When the going gets tough...

 By Thomas Lifson
It’s good to know that our commander in chief has plenty of time for his March Madness bracketology, even as the United States is humiliated by Russian officials’ mockery of meaningless sanctions for Putin’s Anschluss in Crimea. I’ll bet The Russkies are quaking in their boots over the preezy’s basketball prowess, as evidenced by this recent Instagram photo put out by the White House on Instagram:
There’s also plenty of time for the president to raise money for his Democrat allies, for instance New York fundraisers yesterday, “including a high-dollar fundraiser at the home of Alan Patricof, the founder of a New York venture capital fund. Patricof is a longtime Clinton friend and financial bundler for her Senate and presidential campaigns.”
President Obama is going at double the pace of President Bush’s second term when it comes to fundraising. As Bloomberg BusinessWeeek puts it, “Raising money is the least -- and the most -- Obama can do for” Democrat candidates. Nobody wants to be photographed anywhere near him, because he is “political poison.”  But members of the Party of the Little Guy are more than happy to take money from Wall Street guys, green energy cronies, Hollywood airheads, and other Dem moneybags that is raised by a president who’s got nothing more important on his mind than sports, money, and finding a replacement for the White House pastry chef.

Epitaphs for the Obama presidency (1)

By Thomas Lifson
Things are falling apart for Obama so fast (“freakout” is the current term showing up in even liberal outlets) that the measure of his presidency is already being taken. Bret Stephens, writing in the Wall Street Journal, has a particularly pungent and insightful column full of near-aphorisms on the president and the media forces which sustain him with decreasing effectiveness. A sample:
A cavalier foreign policy by an inattentive president that elicits the contempt of the people it intends to punish ultimately encourages their aggression as well.
…We need a fat president. Or at least one who rarely thinks and never speaks about how he looks in jeans. And one who doesn't spend his day testing his wits against a Hollywood stoner or bantering with Ryan Seacrest while a European ally is being pummeled by Russia. And one who would rather spend his time working than working out, even if it means putting on a few pounds. And one who can pitch from the mound and reach home plate. However confined.

Epitaphs for the Obama presidency (3)

By Thomas Lifson
We are at the cusp of a whole lotta noticing going on.
Kimball continues:
What exactly are you going to do about that, Mr. President?  (UPDATE: Besides, I mean, the pretend sanctions against 11 individuals that caused such hilarity among the Russians yesterday?) For five years, you’ve been jetting around the world at vast expense to apologize for America. You apologized to the Muslims. You apologized to Hugo Chavez. You bowed deeply to the Saudi despot. You cancelled the promised missile defense programs for Poland and the Czech Republic, thereby both selling out important allies and waving the flag of weakness to the country that, come to think of it, might just be American’s “number one geopolitical foe,” as someone once said.
It’s all starting to unravel, isn’t it? The preposterous and hideously expensive socialized medicine program you shoved down the throats of the American people with no Republican support and against the will of a majority of the people: Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass it to find out what’s in it. Well, you bribed, cajoled, and threatened to get it passed, and now the American people are indeed finding out what’s in it. “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, period.” You said that over and over and over. You knew it wasn’t true. But you decided to lie to the American people in order to set about “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”  That’s what you promised to do in 2008.  And boy have you made good on that promise.
Kimball sees where this is leading:
Meanwhile, those very American people you, like Mencken,  hold in such contempt: they are waking up.  They do not like what you are doing to this country. Which is why your approval rating is in the 30s.  That’s Bush territory. And all signs are that the impending direction is south. It may seem extreme now, in March 2014.  But just wait.  I reckon it won’t be long before you’re faced with one of those unhappy dilemmas I mentioned at the outset. Abdication or resignation may be one option. The other begins with “i.” But that’s something that no establishment Republican wants to broach. Not yet, anyway. Not yet.
The next two and a half years are going to be perilous and very interesting (in the purportedly Chinese sense of the term).

How's This for Flexibility, Mr. President?

By Ken Blackwell & Bob Morrison
It was a shocking disclosure just two years ago.  In Seoul, South Korea, President Barack Obama’s voice was picked up on a hot mic as he told Russia’s Dmitri Medvedev: "Tell Vladimir [Putin] I can be more flexible after the election."
It was an unprecedented confession by an American head of state.  It was shocking – or should have been – because it showed the president of the United States conspiring, literally whispering assurances to a foreign leader that may not have been consistent with his own public pronouncements to us, the American voters, or to the world.
American presidents are not supposed to be dealing behind the hand or under the table with foreign leaders.  It speaks of a fundamental lack of trust between the governors and the governed.  Our liberal media – always in the tank for Mr. Obama – yawned and brushed it all off.
Mitt Romney tried to raise the issue, but he stumbled badly.  He pronounced Russia “our number-one strategic enemy.”  If he had been elected, how could he have dealt with Putin’s Russia with that deeply flawed pre-supposition?
Russians are not our enemy.  Nor should we let Vladimir Putin’s Great Power ambitions make the Russians our enemy.  Successful U.S. presidents from Harry Truman through JFK to Ronald Reagan maintained the view that the Russian people were our friends, however much their dictatorial rulers tried to make them our enemies. 
President Obama has done virtually everything wrong in dealing with Russia.  He let Hillary Clinton present them with a misspelled “reset” button in 2009.  That button was red, but it was a green light for Russian aggression against the Republic of Georgia.  It signaled the Obama administration’s willingness to let bygones be bygones and let Putin’s seizure of several Georgian provinces stand.  Flexible.
Next, Mr. Obama stiff-armed the Poles and Czechs over missile defense.  He withdrew an American offer of help to our new NATO allies while wishfully thinking this would make Putin more amenable to aiding us with Iran’s nuclear program.  Putin pocketed the concession and gave not an inch, nor a millimeter on Iran, or, for that matter, on Syria.  More flexible still.
Now, we have Secretary of State John Kerry tripping over his shoelaces with every public utterance.  We’re going to impost sanctions against the ruling Russian clique – the crowd that used to be known as the nomenklatura.  They won’t be able to travel freely in the West.  They won’t be able to access their offshore bank accounts, presumably.
But this is a ruling elite that can already command the best that a country spanning twelve time zones can offer.  They will have their dachas on the Black Sea (and now they will have easy access through a newly acquired province in the Crimea).
But Secretary Kerry hastens to add that this is not a “threat,” not “personal.”  Does he believe that?  Does anyone?
So much for this administration’s post-election flexibility.  The latest public opinion polls show that the bloom is off Barack Obama’s red rose.  Americans are increasingly becoming disenchanted with his left-wing politics and his mistrustful dealings with foreign dictators.
Remember that open hand with which he approached the Iranian mullahs?  How has that worked out?
Meanwhile, this administration is showing manly firmness with at least one foreign nation.  The Obama State Department has taken to counting Jews in Judea and Samaria and is daily berating the Israelis about settlements.
They are doing this on behalf of the PLO.  That terrorist outfit lined up unapologetically with the USSR for decades.  Only when Western resolve helped bring down that evil empire did Yasser Arafat and his PLO cohorts shift sponsors.
Why the United States should be flexible with Putin and PLO boss Mahmoud Abbas never made sense.  It makes even less sense now.

Insurance industry predicts skyrocketing Obamacare premiums next year

By Rick Moran
According to the Hill, many insurance companies are contradicting HHS Secretary Sebelius's rosy predictions about modest increases in Obamacare premiums next year.
Some of the increases will be "significant." How significant? In some states, the increase may be as much as 300%.
The expected rate hikes will be announced in the coming months amid an intense election year, when control of the Senate is up for grabs. The sticker shock would likely bolster the GOP’s prospects in November and hamper ObamaCare insurance enrollment efforts in 2015.
The industry complaints come less than a week after Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sought to downplay concerns about rising premiums in the healthcare sector. She told lawmakers rates would increase in 2015 but grow more slowly than in the past. 
“The increases are far less significant than what they were prior to the Affordable Care Act,” the secretary said in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee.
Her comment baffled insurance officials, who said it runs counter to the industry’s consensus about next year. 
“It’s pretty shortsighted because I think everybody knows that the way the exchange has rolled out … is going to lead to higher costs,” said one senior insurance executive who requested anonymity.
The insurance official, who hails from a populous swing state, said his company expects to triple its rates next year on the ObamaCare exchange. 
The hikes are expected to vary substantially by region, state and carrier. 
Areas of the country with older, sicker or smaller populations are likely to be hit hardest, while others might not see substantial increases at all.
...Much will depend on how firms are coping with the healthcare law’s raft of new fees and regulatory restrictions, according to another industry official.
Some insurers initially underpriced their policies to begin with, expecting to raise rates in the second year. 
Others, especially in larger states, will continue to hold rates low in order to remain competitive.
But insurance officials are quick to emphasize that any spikes would be a consequence of delays and changes in ObamaCare’s rollout. 
They point out that the administration, after a massive public outcry, eased their policies to allow people to keep their old health plans. That kept some healthy people in place, instead of making them jump into the new exchanges.
Note that part of these massive increases is due to President Obama's desperate attempts to deal with consumer backlash about his failed promises as well as his desire to push back some Obamacare mandates beyond election day next year.
...The problem for the Democrats is that Obamacare has left the realm of the theoretical and entered the real world. As long as Obamacare's problems were predictions, Democrats could claim that Republicans were bad mouthing the law in order to kill it.
Now, the American people don't need Republican spin to see the damage this law is going to inflict on them. They are experiencing it first hand and if the GOP is smart, it will develop ads and social media campaigns to buttress what people already know and are seeing in their own lives. No need for overkill. The truth is devastating enough.