Token retreat on Obamacare
President Obama, who has stood by his landmark health care law through court attacks and legislative efforts to repeal it, told the nation’s governors on Monday that he was willing to amend the measure to give states the ability to opt out of its most controversial requirements right from the start, including the mandate that most people buy insurance.
In remarks to the National Governors Association, Mr. Obama said he supported legislation that would allow states to obtain waivers from the mandate as soon as it took effect in 2014, as long as they could find another way to expand coverage without driving up health care costs. Under the current law, states must wait until 2017 to obtain waivers.
The announcement is the first time Mr. Obama has called for altering a central component of his signature health care law, although he has backed removing a specific tax provision that both parties regard as onerous on business.
But the prospects for the proposal appear dim. Congress would have to approve the change through legislation, and House Republican leaders said Monday that they were committed to repealing the law, not amending it. Even if the change were approved, it could be difficult for states to meet the federal requirements for the waivers.
Political calculations, as much as policy ones, were at work in the president’s announcement. The shift comes as the health care law — and the mandate in particular — is under fierce attack in the courts, where federal judges have issued conflicting opinions on its constitutionality. The mandate is also a rallying cry for conservatives and Tea Party supporters, who regard it as a prime example of overreaching by the federal government.
Mr. Obama has been trying to reposition himself in the political center on some issues in the wake of the drubbing his party took in the November midterm elections; dropping his insistence on the mandate is one way to do that. And with governors pressing the administration to allow them to cut Medicaid rolls to ease their fiscal distress — a step Mr. Obama does not want to take — the president is trying to look flexible in other ways.
But Mr. Obama’s flexibility goes only so far. “I am not open to refighting the battles of the last two years,” he said, “or undoing the progress that we’ve made.”
Mr. Obama’s announcement did not appear to appease his Republican critics. The House majority leader, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, told reporters that the health law was “an impediment to job growth” and that Republicans remained committed to its repeal.
Obama's Narcissistic Personality Disorder
During the 2008 campaign, Hillary Clinton suggested that if the emergency phone rang at 3 a.m. in the White House, you wouldn't want President Obama picking it up. She was wrong. Obama wouldn't pick it up in the first place. He'd let it go to answering machine. He'd be too busy chasing the nearest camera.
Obama is the "Girls Gone Wild" president: Stick a lens in front of him and he'll take off his shirt, mince about like a coed, and babble nonsensical nothings to an audience oddly fascinated by his antics.
How else to explain Obama's desperate injection of himself into the Oscars this past Sunday? Even as the Middle East goes up in flames, even as oil prices spike dramatically, even as the national debt skyrockets toward $19.6 trillion by 2015, Obama took time out to tackle a pressing question: What is his favorite movie song? Answer: "As Time Goes By," from "Casablanca." Feeling better about the world situation yet?
Obama had a busy week -- at least in terms of pop culture. Thursday evening, Obama held yet another party at the White House, this time in honor of Motown music. Celebrity attendees included Stevie Wonder, Jamie Foxx, Smoky Robinson, John Legend, Seal, Sheryl Crow, Nick Jonas and Jordin Sparks. Jamie Foxx summed up the Obamas' view of what it means to inhabit the "people's house" in his rendition of Robinson's "Get Ready": "We won the election. White House, baby, so much fun!" Meanwhile, Muammar Qadafi shot people at will in the streets of Tripoli, and Americans struggled to pay their rent.
President Obama has become the Salahis of entertainment, cropping up in random places when he's least wanted. We can't escape him. He delayed the fifth game of the 2008 World Series, so he could broadcast a 30-minute infomercial for his campaign. He threw out the first pitch at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2009. He did a 10-minute interview with Katie Couric during the 2010 Super Bowl broadcast. In both 2009 and 2010, he did interviews with ESPN to tell the world about his NCAA tournament brackets. In 2010, Obama showed up on "American Idol." As commander-in-chief, he's hit "The View," "The Tonight Show," "The Late Show" and "Jersey Shore." OK, he hasn't hit "Jersey Shore" ... yet.
In fact, Obama is worse than the Salahis -- at least the Salahis don't use tax dollars to subsidize their antics. Obama doesn't just crash other parties -- he spends hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to throw parties of his own. Not that Obama cares; as he put it, "This is a pretty big house so we get lonely. It's hard for me to move around out there sometimes, so I got to bring the world to me."
Obama's desperate need for attention is clearly a psychological condition. He drinks in applause like a washed-up movie star. It is usual for neglected children to develop narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), typically characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a strong sense of entitlement, preoccupations with utopian fantasies, elitism, manipulative tendencies and pathological need for praise.
President Obama was abandoned by his parents during childhood. Now he exhibits the textbook symptoms of NPD. He thinks his powers are godlike in import; "I have a gift, Harry," Obama once told Sen. Harry Reid. He believes he is entitled to positions of power and prestige. He has never worked a real job in his life, yet deigns to tell the rest of us that he embodies our hopes and dreams. He is obsessed with nonsensical utopian fantasies of one-world peace and harmony in which nuclear weapons are beaten into plowshares.
Obama is an elitist through and through, disdaining ordinary Americans as "bitter [people who] cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them." He is manipulative in the extreme, seeing every crisis as an opportunity to magnify his personal power.
Most dangerous, he requires a constant stream of paeans to his persona. Radical Muslims, socialists, anti-Semites -- so long as they clap, they're worthy of his warmth. Obama strongly resembles a once-abused puppy; he doesn't care who pets him, so long as he receives the petting.
With one exception: Obama has no interest in the attention or praise of Americans who challenge his radical agenda. To make himself subject to their philosophy would force him to acknowledge a fundamental truth: His parents abandoned him because they were bad parents, not because America is a "downright mean" country. Obama has told himself for decades that America's selfishness forced his parents to make him a social outcast. To acknowledge now that the system was largely good and his parents were largely bad would fracture his fragile ego.
So expect to see President Obama on the next telecast of the next big event. He can't stay away from the cameras, and he certainly won't leave behind the enthusiastic hurrahs of his supporters. Mr. De Mille, he's ready for his close-up.
Crony capitalism and bloated government prevent entrepreneurs from producing the products and services that make people's lives better
By CHARLES G. KOCH
Years of tremendous overspending by federal, state and local governments have brought us face-to-face with an economic crisis. Federal spending will total at least $3.8 trillion this year—double what it was 10 years ago. And unlike in 2001, when there was a small federal surplus, this year's projected budget deficit is more than $1.6 trillion.
Several trillions more in debt have been accumulated by state and local governments. States are looking at a combined total of more than $130 billion in budget shortfalls this year. Next year, they will be in even worse shape as most so-called stimulus payments end.
For many years, I, my family and our company have contributed to a variety of intellectual and political causes working to solve these problems. Because of our activism, we've been vilified by various groups. Despite this criticism, we're determined to keep contributing and standing up for those politicians, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who are taking these challenges seriously.
Both Democrats and Republicans have done a poor job of managing our finances. They've raised debt ceilings, floated bond issues, and delayed tough decisions.
In spite of looming bankruptcy, President Obama and many in Congress have tiptoed around the issue of overspending by suggesting relatively minor cuts in mostly discretionary items. There have been few serious proposals for necessary cuts in military and entitlement programs, even though these account for about three-fourths of all federal spending.
Yes, some House leaders have suggested cutting spending to 2008 levels. But getting back to a balanced budget would mean a return to at least 2003 spending levels—and would still leave us with the problem of paying off our enormous debts.
Federal data indicate how urgently we need reform: The unfunded liabilities of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid already exceed $106 trillion. That's well over $300,000 for every man, woman and child in America (and exceeds the combined value of every U.S. bank account, stock certificate, building and piece of personal or public property).
The Congressional Budget Office has warned that the interest on our federal debt is "poised to skyrocket." Even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is sounding alarms. Yet the White House insists that substantial spending cuts would hurt the economy and increase unemployment.
Plenty of compelling examples indicate just the opposite. When Canada recently reduced its federal spending to 11.3% of GDP from 17.5% eight years earlier, the economy rebounded and unemployment dropped. By comparison, our federal spending is 25% of GDP.
Government spending on business only aggravates the problem. Too many businesses have successfully lobbied for special favors and treatment by seeking mandates for their products, subsidies (in the form of cash payments from the government), and regulations or tariffs to keep more efficient competitors at bay.
Crony capitalism is much easier than competing in an open market. But it erodes our overall standard of living and stifles entrepreneurs by rewarding the politically favored rather than those who provide what consumers want.
The purpose of business is to efficiently convert resources into products and services that make people's lives better. Businesses that fail to do so should be allowed to go bankrupt rather than be bailed out.
But what about jobs that are lost when businesses go under? It's important to remember that not all jobs are the same. In business, real jobs profitably produce goods and services that people value more highly than their alternatives. Subsidizing inefficient jobs is costly, wastes resources, and weakens our economy.
Our elected officials would do well to remember that the most prosperous countries are those that allow consumers—not governments—to direct the use of resources. Allowing the government to pick winners and losers hurts almost everyone, especially our poorest citizens.
Recent studies show that the poorest 10% of the population living in countries with the greatest economic freedom have 10 times the per capita income of the poorest citizens in countries with the least economic freedom. In other words, society as a whole benefits from greater economic freedom.
New Israeli weapon downs anti-tank rocket fired from Gaza
'Trophy' system sensed incoming missile, blew it up away from tank
A new Israeli weapons system knocked down a Palestinian anti-tank rocket in its first combat test Tuesday, the military said, showing off technology that could protect the heavy vehicles that have been the mainstay of the world's ground forces for decades.
Palestinian militants said they fired a rocket-propelled grenade at an Israeli tank as it patrolled near the Gaza-Israel border, a frequent occurrence. This time, the "Trophy" system sensed the incoming rocket and fired its own projectile, blowing it up away from the tank, the military said.
Trophy is thought to be the only active defense system of its kind in the world. Up till now, tanks have relied on heavier and thicker armor plating to protect against more powerful anti-tank weapons.
Experts say the active defense concept, if it works consistently, could allow the construction of smaller, lighter and more efficient tanks.
The Israeli military did not make pictures or video of the Tuesday encounter available to the media, instead issuing a short statement. It said a tank came under fire while on routine patrol, and "for the first time during operational activity, the Trophy system, ... designed to actively protect against anti-tank missiles, identified, alerted and intercepted the (anti-tank rocket)."
Why boom is a no-show: A lack of net investment: "Although the economy is showing some signs of revival, many people wonder why it hasn’t roared back, as it did after most previous contractions. If consumer spending were the key, the economy would be going strong. ... What is to blame is the collapse of private business investment."
The President’s own dumb rules: "While red tape is rising under his watch, President Barack Obama promised recently in a Wall Street Journal op-ed to undertake a grand review of economic regulation in the United States and get rid of rules that 'are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb.' Yet he has added plenty of dumb regulations himself."
GAO: US bureaucracy wastes billions: "The U.S. government could save tens of billions of dollars a year by streamlining a bloated federal bureaucracy, according to a report Tuesday from the Government Accountability Office. In its first annual report on the subject, the GAO reviewed a wide range of federal programs, agencies, offices and initiatives to identify where the government is duplicating its goals or activities"
SCOTUS: Hospital punished worker for being in Reserves: "The US Supreme Court on Tuesday embraced a broad reading of a federal law designed to bar workplace discrimination against current or former members of the US armed forces. The high court ruled 8 to 0 in favor of a former hospital lab technician who said he was fired from his job at a Peoria, Ill., hospital because his supervisors were hostile to his responsibilities as a member of the US Army Reserves."
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)