Monday, November 18, 2013

None Dare Call It Fascism

John C. Goodman

Here is something that is odd:  For the past six years President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have waged a relentless attack on the health insurance industry. In the most recent iteration, the president assures us he is not responsible for the wave of health insurance policy cancellations. The insurance companies are.

Okay, so where is the other side?

When is the last time you saw an insurance industry executive interviewed on a TV talk show, presenting the industry's answer to all these attacks? You can't remember seeing that? I can't either.

Well what about the health insurance industry trade groups, the folks who are supposed to explain to Congress and the general public the industry's position? When is the last time you saw one of those representatives on TV? Can't remember? Nor can I.

Okay, let's try one more option. When is the last time you saw someone from a university or independent think tank giving the health insurance industry side of all the complaints that are being slung their way? Don't bother responding. We both know that answer as well.

I submit that this is not a small matter.

A free society requires the free flow of information. In any public policy dispute, if only one side is heard from, we are likely to get further and further away from the truth. The attackers will find there is no penalty for getting minor facts wrong or shading the truth. That will embolden them to make more serious errors, eventually resorting to downright lying. If the only entity providing any push back is the Washington Post fact checker, we are in real trouble. Roughly 99.99% of the population doesn't read the Washington Post.

But what threatens the foundations of a free society most of all is when it is the government (and its allies in the private sector) who are doing the attacking, and when the reason there is no response is that the victims of the attacks have been threatened and bullied into silence.

I believe that is where we are today -- not just with respect to health insurance, but with respect to health care generally. I'm afraid other industries are not far behind.

During the debate leading up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, I talked to a number of CEOs of large health insurance companies. I frequently heard such comments as, "Don't tell anyone I told you this" or, "If you use this information, don't mention my name" and even, "Don't tell anyone that we ever had this conversation."

As far as I can tell, things have gotten worse. In fact I don't know any employee of any health insurance company that is willing to go on the record with any statement that is critical of the Affordable Care Act.

Now it's possible that my experience is unique. And I know that there are many readers of this blog who also interact with folks in the industry. So if I'm wrong about this, please correct me in the comments.

The result is unanswered charges that are getting more and more reckless. Within the past two weeks, for example, we have had the president himself, David Axelrod, Zeke Emanuel and others all asserting…

[BTW, have you ever noticed how Republicans in public tend to speak their own mind and as a result all seem to say something different? That doesn't happen to Democrats. When they go on TV they are the epitome of the disciplined message. They all say the same thing, even using the very same words. Have those words been tested before focus groups prior to the Democrats even appearing before the cameras? I would bet so.]

Anyway, back to the most recent charge, which is that under the pre-Obama system insurers cancelled policies after people got sick. Really? So says the president. And Axelrod. And Emanuel.

Hmmm. I remember when one insurer got hit with one of the biggest judgments ever because the insurer would not approve a bone marrow transplant to treat breast cancer (a procedure we all now know doesn't work). Are we supposed to believe that these same companies routinely cancel policies and refuse to pay medical bills just because someone gets sick?

Please, give us an example. I don't believe you.

In the early 1980s (while there was still a Berlin Wall), I went through Check Point Charlie from West Berlin to East Berlin. On either side of the wall, there were the same people with the same culture, same genes, etc. The only difference was a difference of political systems, and because of that difference East Berlin was of course poorer.

After about an hour of touring, though, I sensed that there was some other difference and it took me a while to pin point it. In East Berlin, no one smiled. No one laughed. No one joked. People looked at us and at each other with hesitation and even apprehension. Were we really tourists? Or might we be posing as tourists to report on their behavior?

If I could summarize everything in one word, it would be "fear." The East Germans were afraid. You could see it in their eyes. And that was something you never saw in the West.

So why am I telling you about a 30-year-old experience? Because I sense that same feeling again ? right here, in the United States of America.



An Incurious Or Willfully Ignorant President

When President Obama stepped in front of the cameras Thursday to magically waive a wand and arbitrarily change his signature accomplishment, he couldn’t help but lie to the American people…again. But lying about the accomplishments of his administration isn’t a compulsion; it’s a requirement.

Looking back on the last five years, what has the Obama administration accomplished? Anything? Put your partisanship aside and be honest – can you name any?

His trillion-dollar stimulus was such a failure that progressives had to invent a new, unverifiable measure to claim victory –and the pathetic “it stopped things from getting worse” defense was the absolute best his team of spin-doctors could muster.

The economy has not recovered. The unemployment rate has decreased only because people have given up the hope to find work and no longer count. We’re on the verge of acquiring as much debt under this president as under all previous presidents combined. And the Middle East is in shambles. The only growth we’ve seen is in a stock market propped up by the Federal Reserve’s printing presses, taxpayer subsidized “green” company bankruptcies, disability and food stamp rolls and the bottom lines of Canadian web design firms.

Obamacare was the only real hope the president had left. After months of scandals exposing him as either disconnected from his own administration or callous and vindictive, the president put all his chips on the Oct. 1 launch of The idea that the American people, who had just re-elected him, would turn on him and his baby was the furthest thing from his mind.

When they did he was ill-prepared to deal with that reality.

The failures of the website were far from his biggest problem. The website is but the portal to a failed concept, and its unveiling – luckily for the president – was drowned out in the news by the government shutdown. But after 16 days, the clouds cleared and the lousy website’s problems would give way to the failed concept taking center stage.

The failed concept is that the government can create a structure in which the private sector can function and flourish. The reality is the government can’t even build the most expensive website ever constructed and make it work.

When the concept started causing people to lose the health insurance they voluntarily purchased, Democrats were relieved to be talking about the failed website because it could be fixed. When the numbers of people losing their health insurance climbed into the hundreds of thousands, that aspect of the problem no longer could be ignored.

When the media switched from website crashes to human stories of people being harmed by the government, even cheerleaders of the law started putting down their pom-poms.

Had the president and scores of congressional Democrats avoided specifics and promised only that lives would be made better by the law, the media would have granted a pass, as usual. But they went out of their way. Period. More than three-dozen times in the case of the president alone. Period. To ensure us that if we liked our plan, we would be able to keep it, no matter what. Period.

Partisans and their friends in the media could not explain this away. The big lie was exposed. The game was up.

President Obama tried to fall back on his personal charm and talk his way out of it. Acting like a person summoning memories of what humility was like from stories heard long ago, he offered something resembling as close to an apology he has in him. The “I’m sorry you didn’t understand what I was saying was the opposite of what I was actually saying, so it’s really your fault” line went over like a brick. But it was all he had.

It was so ineffective that it, and the damage the law was doing to people, left former President Bill Clinton no choice but to attempt to distance and differentiate himself, and more importantly his wife, from this law and this president. Having the first prominent Democrat call for a change to the law be named Clinton without it being Hillary, to still give the illusion of loyalty, was important for their future plans.

When one rat starts to leave a ship, the rest follow…

The chorus rose to the point of legislation being introduced, not only by Republicans but by Democrats as well. Action was coming, one way or another.

Never one to worry much about Constitutional constraints, the president pre-empted his detractors and pretended the law that was set in stone only six weeks earlier was made of clay and he changed it.

When asked about his repeated promise he said, “With respect to the pledge I made that if you like your plan you can keep it, I think -- you know, and I've said in interviews -- that there is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate.”

The only way he could not have known it was if he didn’t want to know – if his staff was under orders or chose not to tell him. There’s no reason to believe he’d know on his own. He has no real-world experience in business or the private sector in general, but he does have a staff. The motivation for his lie is either willful deceit or willful ignorance. But neither excuses it.

On the website, what he said was telling. “I was not informed directly that the website would not be working as -- the way it was supposed to.”

The key word is “directly.” Either the president was remarkably incurious about the main consumer aspect of his proudest achievement or he was lied to. If he was lied to, the fact that no one has been fired is a disgrace. If he was incurious…

So, either the president of the United States has surrounded himself with people who deliberately keep him in the dark and/or lie to him, or he is an incompetent man in over his head so far that he’s frozen in ignorance, unable to muster the wherewithal to ask even the most basic questions on major issues. Or else he’s lying.

History will judge, but the present, between now and the end of his term, can’t be allowed to forget.



MSNBC Guest: Abortionists Are “Doing Wonderful, Important Work”

This MSNBC segment was an attempt to soften the image of the pro-abortion side. You know, trotting out the super rare personal and (as usual) very emotional narrative that is supposed to make you forget the 99-plus-percent of abortions (that's why the the only go-to card pro-abortionists pull during their defense of the abortion industry is the rape or incest scenario).

After viewing this you will see the massive gulf between the two sides. Mrs. Weinstein tells us how she had an abortion to "end her pain," meaning, her unborn babies pain. Huh?! Consider the implications if we determined human life or death on whether one was experiencing "too much" pain? And how does one decide how much pain is too much for a fetus to endure? How did Mrs. Weinstein know her baby was experiencing too much pain? BTW: Since when did pro-choice activists become so concerned with the pain of a fetus? And then there was the "doing wonderful and important work" comment from Meaghan Winter....

The one part I did appreciate was their personal run-ins with pro-life protesters. This is life and death we're dealing with so I empathize with the intense passion and urgency expressed and felt from my pro-life brothers and sisters, but it MUST be done from a loving and compassionate heart--not just for the baby but for the women who have had or are considering having an abortion.



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