Five Game-Changing Questions On Obamacare

“What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?”  is the question that tripped up the bridge-keeper in the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, resulting in the bridge-keeper’s immediate death.

Well-thought out questions about Obamacare directed at President Obama would not result in the same fate, but politically-speaking, they could be just as much of a game-changer.  Maybe this is why President Obama has allowed so few questions following his recent statements concerning Obamacare.  This is an unpopular law that is being promoted with empty slogans and outright lies.

But tough questions must be asked.  Here are five of my suggestions:

Question 1:  “Why do you refer to Obamacare as a law that is already in place when your administration has been treating it as a malleable bill for three years?”  There are many examples of administrative actions taken that contradict the wording of the Affordable Care Act, but here are a few: over 1200 Obamacare waivers have been granted since the law’s passage, primarily to labor unions.  The administration has also abandoned the CLASS Act part of Obamacare, and the administration has recently announced a delay of two years for the employer mandate.  None of these actions have any basis in the wording of the law as passed by Congress.

So why not make a few more changes to Obamacare, especially if they are supported by the general public?  Republicans in Congress only seem to be taking their cue on the changeability of Obamacare from the Obama administration itself.  It is pretty inconsistent to spend three years changing a law and then claim that because it is a law, with the president’s signature, that the law cannot be changed.  Of course it can be changed – President Obama has been changing it on the fly for three years!

Question 2:  “Why is it so wrong to bargain with congressional Republicans on a continuing resolution that changes some or all of Obamacare when you have essentially been bargaining with your supporters on Obamacare since it passed three years ago?”  This is the problem with granting waivers and exemptions from the law that is binding on the general public.  Apparently it is fine to bargain with supporters of the administration – and that is what it is, an implicit bargain for continued political support — but not OK to bargain with Republicans.

I will answer my own question here, which is that the Republicans cannot threaten to withdraw political support for President Obama, because Republicans are the loyal opposition.  But the question should be asked anyway.  It exposes the cynicism at work here.

Question 3:  “When you were a senator in 2006 and a Republican president requested that Congress raise the debt ceiling, you spoke on the Senate floor that such a request showed a ‘lack of leadership’ and you voted against the increase.  Now your aid compared congressional Republicans who oppose raising the debt limit to terrorists and arsonists.  Do you stand by that characterization?”

Let’s face it: President Obama is asking senators and representatives to vote “yes” on something.  And instead of meeting with these people and making the case for a higher debt limit, he calls them names and threatens them with blame for a “no” vote or not acting at all.  Not only is this childish, but it is also unrealistic.  Calling people names is not a good way to get them to do what you want them to do.

Question 4:  “Why not equalize the applicability of Obamacare to everyone, including yourself, the entire executive branch, Congress, their staffs and families?”  This different treatment may be the most annoying part of Obamacare.

The public has watched with disgust the shenanigans in Washington, where healthcare policies for the political class and federal workers are exempt from the healthcare laws that apply to the rest of us.  Even the IRS agents who are in charge of enforcing Obamacare on the rest of us do not want to be subject to it.

Question 5:  “How could you have been so wrong in promising a $2,500 annual drop in healthcare premiums for a typical family of four under Obamacare?”  President Obama mentioned this figure many times throughout his 2008 campaign, and in the months preceding the passage of the law.  President Obama may claim that he was making a good faith projection, but the reality is that when he repeatedly made this promise he was way off.  Instead of going down, most family’s healthcare costs are going up.  Way up.  Healthcare premiums may well replace the mortgage, food and car payments as a typical American family’s top monthly expense.

So, after all these and other questions, a typical Obamacare supporter might complain of ineffective messaging – they usually do.  But in this case the Obama administration has already pledged $67 million to over 100 organizations to help “navigate” consumers through their health insurance options under Obamacare.  Celebrities have signed up to help promote Obamacare.  Now NBC News has decided to spend a whole week extolling the virtues of Obamacare.

Maybe NBC News can persuade me that the letter I received last week telling me of a 71% premium increase, for a worse health insurance policy, was not in fact true.  Or maybe NBC News can tell thousands of employees whose hours were dropped to part-time because of Obamacare, that their demotions were for the best.  Obamacare is a disaster and anyone trying to sugarcoat it or even explain it has a tough road to hoe.

Reality is difficult to hide.

 

This column was originally published in Front Page Magazine

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Obamacare On The Balcony

Recall from history that one of the Eastern Block’s longest-serving and brutal dictators, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, fell from power after a single speech in front of his subjects.  On December 21, 1989, President Ceausescu spoke from a balcony in Bucharest to a group of about 80,000 Romanians, during which opposition to Ceausescu’s rule galvanized.  A few people in the crowd began booing and jeering, totally unheard-of during Ceausescu’s rule.  The booing spread, then the crowd began chanting opposition slogans, and eventually charged the presidential building en masse.

Proof that government control and media support can fall in a flash

Proof that government control and universal media support can fall in a flash

The popular opposition galvanized despite unanimous support of the military and state-run media.  Within three days of the speech, Ceausescu and his wife had been deposed and executed, and Romania became a newly-freed, former communist country.  It was a staggeringly-swift turn of events.  And it all began and gathered momentum during a single speech, now known as the Ceausescu Balcony Speech.

Metaphorically, Obamacare has just now walked onto the balcony and has begun to speak to its subjects, us Americans, who will be held captive by its new regime of laws, regulations and distortions.  Despite widespread positive coverage from the mainstream media, liberal celebrities, and even politicians who accuse opponents of racism, doubts are coalescing.  Popular support has never been that strong, and people are only now coming face to face with the real problems of Obamacare, and they don’t like it.

The media is starting to cover horror stories of healthcare premiums doubling and tripling, and thousands of workers getting laid off or converted to working less than 30 hours a week.  Doctors are retiring to avoid having to deal with it.  Retired workers are losing their insurance and told to go to the Obamacare exchanges for coverage.  Health insurance companies are exiting states.  A new problem has also emerged: Americans are being told of a newly-discovered Obamacare “family glitch,” in which many workers will be able to keep their healthcare coverage but their spouses and children will be dropped.

The hundreds of millions of dollars spent by the Obama administration to provide paid “navigators” to “get the word out,” and help from liberal celebrities can only sugar-coat things so long.  Within the next few weeks Americans will receive notices in the mail describing the true, terrible details of changes to their healthcare coverage.

A few lucky Americans, like some unions and members of Congress and their staffs, will be exempt from Obamacare.  Agents at the IRS, who will enforce Obamacare on the rest of us, are urging Congress to vote against a proposal that will place them in the same healthcare boat as the rest of us.  Seems like the healthcare that is good enough for the rest of us is not good enough or the IRS!

And whatever happened to President Obama’s promises?  Remember when he told us “if you like your doctor or healthcare plan, you can keep it”?  The White House doesn’t want us to remember those comments.  President Obama also probably wants us to forget when he said that under Obamacare a typical family’s healthcare premium will decrease by $2,500.  The reality is that for most Americans, their health insurance premiums will rise dramatically, and they may not be able to keep their current insurance coverage at all.

The dynamics in Congress are just beginning to change.  A few days ago the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution to fund the government except for Obamacare.  Even some Democrat representatives voted for it.  Only a few weeks earlier, this would have been unthinkable.

While the Democratically-controlled Senate is expected to pass a resolution that will fund Obamacare, Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid is trying his best to pass the resolution in such a way that vulnerable Democrat Senators up or re-election in 2014 do not need to publicly show their support for Obamacare.  Voters back home in Alaska, Arkansas or North Carolina, for example, might not approve of their senators voting to keep Obamacare in place.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s filibuster did not win a vote on defunding Obamacare, but he was at least successful in presenting to the general public some of the arguments against Obamacare that are usually ignored by the mainstream press, and Democrats in general are on the defense.

Yes, the bottom is falling out of Obamacare support, and like the end of Nicolae Ceausescu, it could be very quick.

 

This column was originally published in Front Page Magazine

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Journalism School Class Offerings

A spontaneous meeting of journalism school students -- right in front of me!

A spontaneous meeting of journalism school students — right in front of me!

Imagine my surprise!  There I was, enjoying my lunch at a sidewalk cafe right across the street from a prestigious school of journalism.  Suddenly a few feet away from me accumulated a group of journalism students, chatting, gossiping, talking about the latest student parties, all those fun things that make college years so fun.  Just listening to them, for a few moments I was taken back to my years in college — what fun I had!

Anyway, these journalism students were on their way to a “brown bag lunch discussion” given by a member of the Pulitzer Prize committee!  Wow!  Very impressive, indeed.

After they left I noticed that one of them had accidentally dropped a list of current class offerings at this journalism school.  As a news junky, I was interested in the focus of modern journalism, so I picked up the list of classes.  Here is what I read:

Journalism 101: Mass Deception: How To Distract The Public And Advance The Democrat Agenda. Different news items can add up to a Democrat or a Republican victory in the day’s news.  This class will teach you how to retrieve and report only those news items that culminate in a Democratic victory for the day’s news cycle.

Journalism 110: Conformity and Pack Journalism: once sneered at, the so-called “Mainstream Media” now provides guidance to reporting current events, quickens research, and provides career advancement for the journalist.

Journalism 120: Economic News Reporting: focusing on high numbers of homeless and lay-offs during Republican presidencies, rebounding economies and mass hirings during Democratic presidencies.

Journalism 130: The Genius of Joseph Goebbels: Repeat any narrative enough times and even the stupidest news-reader will begin to believe it.  Clever political figures have adopted this approach, and if those politicians are liberals then we journalists need to follow.

Journalism 140: The “Journolist”: the importance of a unanimous media front.  Not only the news that is reported but even the buzzwords used by member journalists should match (“gravitas,” “political stunt,” etc.)  If we journalists get our stories straight, the people will believe what we tell them, and we can reinforce each others’ messages, paying dividends at the ballot box.

Journalism 150: How To Investigate And Demonize Republican Donors.  Without such focused demonizing, the Koch Brothers, Foster Friess, Harold Simmons, and other prominent Republican donors might be seen as totally normal people.  Dogged investigations and targeted demonizing can change that.  Find ex-girlfriends with grudges, fired employees, public records like liens, judgments, and court records.  For those records that are sealed, this course will teach the intrepid reporter how to get unsealed records that embarrass Republican donors.  Extra digging and familiar officials in high places can reveal Republican donors’ credit and IRS records, and anything else sealed by court orders.  When no dirt can be found, it always helps to repeat a criticism made up in The Nation magazine.

Journalism 160: Blowing the Whistle on Whistle-blowers: How To Demonize Whistle-Blowers of Democratic Scandals.  Laws protecting whistle-blowers were put in place to protect whistle-blowers of Republican scandals, not of Democratic scandals, because there aren’t any Democratic scandals.  Yet, some trouble-makers try to claim whistle-blower status and protections for calling Democratic officials on fabricated misdeeds.  This class teaches the reporter how to blow the lid off of any whistle-blower protections of such trouble-makers.

Journalism 170: Selective Outrage: for example, screaming bloody murder about the Bush Administration’s water-boarding of a few suspected terrorists and the ho-humming the drone-killings of hundreds of suspected terrorists and their friends and family-members by the Obama Administration.  Unless we journalists focus our outrage, news-readers run the risk of making up their own minds.

Journalism 180:  Perils Of An Open Mic: last September, sneaky Republicans left a microphone turned on before Mitt Romney appeared for a press conference, enabling the world to hear reporters coordinating their “hostile” questions for the GOP candidate.  This class will teach you what to look for to make sure such valuable coordinations go unnoticed.

American PravdaJournalism 190: Role changes since the 1970′s: long gone are the days where the journalist tries to get the facts while the White House claims there is no story, move on.  Nowadays the public tries to get the facts while the journalist says that there is no story, move on.  Will today’s journalist be able to embrace these new roles without getting whiplash?  This class will help.

Oh, and by the way, the brown bag lunch discussion that featured the member of the Pulitzer Prize committee, was entitled “Furthering A Lie Does NOT Necessarily Disqualify A Journalist From Receiving A Pulitzer Prize – the case of Walter Duranty.”

Looks like those journalism students were learning their lessons well!  This class list explains a lot!

 

Pointless MP3 6-24-2013

This column was originally published in REDSTATE

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Man Of Steel: Chock Full Of Christian Dog Whistles

As we walked into the Man Of Steel movie, my wife and I ran into two groups of friends who had just seen the movie and were leaving the theater.  One group was Christian, the other group was not.  Our Christian friends agreed with what we had heard, that there were several Christian themes and images in the movie.  Our non-Christian friends told us that they had not noticed any Christian messages at all.  This fits the definition of a dog whistle, a message broadcast to all but heard only by certain ears.  And we Christians are the dogs.

But that’s OK with this Christian.  In fact, the movie was so chock-full of dog whistles for Christians, it almost felt intentional.

Christian images and themes were all over this movie, starting with the fact that Superman was a likable, humble servant, respectful of his parents, even having been born with the last name of “El,” the Hebrew name for God.  The bad guys from his old planet, led by General Zod, fit the part of fallen angels, pursuing and trying to kill the Christ-like Superman here on Earth.

Crucifixion poses by Superman exist throughout the movie, as are crosses themselves.  Superman’s mother wears a cross necklace, and a church is seen with a prominent cross on the side of the building.  A cross is also seen formed from the i-beams of one of the collapsed buildings at the end of the movie.

At one point, a young Clark Kent is seen getting picked on by schoolyard bullies, and he is seen with out-stretched arms.  As with Jesus on the cross, Superman could have easily fought back and killed those who were persecuting him.  Whereas Jesus purposely offered himself a sacrifice for our sins, Superman didn’t want to blow his cover as a person with superpowers.  Later in the movie, Superman even allows himself to be handcuffed when he turns himself in to the American military to be interrogated.

In one scene of a younger, grade-school aged Clark Kent, as he is getting to know his super-powers, sees through the flesh of his classmates and teacher, essentially seeing skeletons with eyeballs, talking to him.   While the scene acquainted the viewer with the super-hero’s x-ray vision, the images of skeletons with eyeballs was clearly more graphic than needed.

And this was unique to the young Superman.  Other immigrants from Krypton also experienced x-ray visions, but their views were merely of their hand bones, not of entire skeletons.

These skeleton visions seen by the young Clark Kent may have been meant to evoke the image from the Old Testament book Ezekiel, known as the Valley of Dried Bones, in which the bones await God’s breath to bring them to life.  These visions may also have been meant to refer to the New Testament books Ephesians and Colossians, where non-believers are described as “dead in their trespasses and sins,” until they would accept the savior Jesus Christ, who brings them eternal life.

There are other similarities between Superman and Jesus.  Clark Kent is 33 years old when he is fully engaged with his powers and risks his life to save the world, the same age as Jesus when he went to Calvary.

Superman’s Earthly father, played by Kevin Costner, filled the part of a blue-collar Joseph figure, having had a strong moral impact on his adopted son but having died several years before the epic battle.

There is even a parallel to the biblical scene of Jesus in the Garden at Gethsemane.  When General Zod and his team begin their attack, Superman struggles with whether to submit himself to Zod in order to ransom Earth.  Superman consults a priest in a church, and as he asks the priest whether he should engage General Zod, immediately behind Superman is seen a stained-glass depiction of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  A Christian in the audience can almost hear Superman ask God to “take this cup from me.”

Man-of-steel-Christ-poseStill, Man of Steel is not a coherent gospel message, and there are some serious differences between Superman and Jesus.  For example, Superman is attractive, whereas Jesus, according to a passage in Isaiah, had an appearance that did not attract attention.  And Jesus never disguised himself, unlike the casual suit and black-rimmed glasses that Clark Kent donned towards the end of the movie (and what a great disguise it was — those glasses never fail to throw everyone off!).

There may be other Christian themes in this movie, but what does it all mean?  Is it all on purpose?  I researched the director, all of the producers, the writers and the top actors in this movie, and none of them appear to have made any news proclaiming their Christian faith.  If any of them are Christians and purposely injected Christian themes into this movie, it was done without any fanfare.

In fact, most of the Man Of Steel writers and producers have resumes filled with work on other superhero-type movies.  A year or two from now, most of them will be rolling out the next Batman, Captain America, or Spiderman movie.  Currently, a couple of them are putting the finishing touches on the movie 300: Rise Of An Empire.

So what happened here?  How did a group of apparently-secular Hollywood veterans produce a movie with so many Christian dog whistles?  While there are some biblical undertones in the original Superman story, I would like to think that this may be a case of what is described in the book of Romans, that even a non-Christian has the law of God written on their heart.  And in producing this movie, the hearts of the cast and crew led them to produce quite a Christian-themed but otherwise secular action movie.

It worked for me.  Not every movie will remind us of the gospel message like Passion Of The Christ, or The Gospel of John, but I was still glad I saw Man Of Steel.  And I would definitely recommend it to other Christians.

 

 

Pointless MP3 6-17-2013

This column was originally published in Caffeinated Thoughts

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2013: The Year Privacy Died

One civil rights attorney recently called the NSA phone-gathering activities “beyond Orwellian.”

If privacy were a patient, you could say that in 2013, this sick patient has finally died.  Under President Obama, the federal government has seized phone and credit card records and emails, catalogued images of the front and back of mailed letters, gathered information from Internet searches, given IRS records to political opponents, and soon: medical records gathered, managed and interpreted by the helpful and omniscient IRS.

It has gotten so bad, that someday we may see the headline: “government has placed listening devices in everyone’s bedroom,” and such a headline would not be from The Onion.

Not bad for a president who only five years ago proclaimed “as for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our security and our ideals.”

But wait – I thought the War on Terror was over, and we won it.

As Mark Steyn recently pointed out in National Review Online, it is not as if all this snooping is geared towards fighting terrorism.  Just look at the public statements Maj. Hassan made in public for all to see before his jihadist rampage at Ft. Hood, or the suspended immigration controls that allowed free entry and departure for the Tsarnaev brothers before their terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon.

The federal government appears to be accumulating information on citizens for reasons that have nothing to do with fighting terrorism.  Sometimes the reason is to harass political opponents, like what happened to True The Vote, and prominent Romney donor Frank Vandersloot, or the information given to the groups ProPublica and the Human Rights Campaign on their political opponents.  But for other citizens, whatever the reason, it is impossible to imagine the sum total of information the government over the past few years has amassed on all of us, to be used whenever the government deems necessary.

One NSA whistleblower, William Binney, has said that everyone in the United States is under “virtual surveillance” and the NSA has dossiers on nearly every United States citizen.

What if you have nothing to hide, that you have done nothing wrong, as Senator Lindsey Graham recently suggested regarding his own Verizon account?  This is a common rebuttal to complaints of loss of privacy.  According to the former NSA analyst Binney, “the problem is if [the citizen] thinks they’re not doing anything that is wrong, they don’t get to define that, the central government does.  The central government defines what is right and wrong and whether or not they target you.”

So what if you want to live your life in private?  What if you say “I just won’t mail any letters or go online, use a phone, make any credit card transactions, make any campaign contributions, participate in politics, and just mind my own business on my own land”?  Some people actually think by living without the activities government routinely snoops on, they can “escape” the surveillance and live a life of complete privacy, being “left alone.”  Well, think again: government use of domestic drones for spying on American citizens is being considered by county and local governments, including law-enforcement agencies.

In addition, hiding in plain sight is the omnipresent, watchful eyes of Google Earth, which will give anyone with a computer a snap-shot of your land.  Some local governments have already used Google Earth to detect zoning and permit violations.

It is not so farfetched to envision a day when we could see a government agent approaching you on your land and saying, “we noticed from satellite images of your land that you were planting some vegetables that are high in carbohydrates.  This will cause more expenses, longer term, for the government under the Affordable Care Act.”

Same for smoking cigarettes, sunbathing, barbecuing red meat, or any other activity you think you are engaging in in private on your own land.  The government is now a partner in your everyday activities, and it feels it has a right to know … everything.

There really is no escape – no possibility of just being “left alone.”  1984 indeed.

 

Pointless MP3 6-10-2013

This column was originally published in The Blaze

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