Thursday, November 19, 2015

A very old controverrsy revisited

I have put up some further comments on my Scripture Blog about the nature of Christ.


Obama's Islamic Trojan Horse

The terrorist attacks in France this weekend demonstrate the stark reality that radical Islamic terrorism has no borders. (That’s why we coined the term Jihadistan — a borderless nation of Islamofascists with global reach.) Every civilized Western nation has borders for the main purpose of keeping its citizens secure from outsiders who seek to do harm. Yet when a nation’s government decides to accept refugees from another nation, a vulnerability is created, which in the case of Paris was exploited by those seeking to terrorize the population.

So what’s Barack Obama’s real agenda with Syrian refugees?

Two months ago, Mark Alexander warned of the jihadi pipeline Obama was opening by welcoming 100,000 Syrian refugees. Indeed, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called Obama’s crisis “a disaster of biblical proportions” and warned that terrorists would infiltrate the ranks of refugees. Many of the Muslims flooding into Europe were not “refugees” at all but rather migrants — only 15% were women and children. At least one of the French attackers was a “Syrian refugee.”

Yet despite Clapper’s warning, Obama decided to open the pipeline into the U.S. — not the Keystone pipeline, but the one for jihad.

Last month, we warned that Syrian refugees would be coming soon to a city near you. It’s already happening. In fact, 32 states have accepted a total of 1,809 Syrian refugees since Jan. 1, with the highest numbers in California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida.

Fortunately, the Paris attacks awoke a sense of caution. More than two dozen governors have now closed their doors. Though most are Republicans, even the Democrat governor of New Hampshire has said enough is enough.

Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul, a GOP presidential candidate, introduced legislation calling for an “immediate moratorium” on all Syrian immigration.

Though Obama yawns at jihadi attacks, what really makes him angry is Republicans. During his press conference Monday in Turkey, Obama slammed opponents of his agenda to flood our nation with Syrian refugees. “That’s shameful,” he lectured. “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have a religious test for compassion.”

The last was a reference to proposals to limit refugees to Christians — those who are worst persecuted in the Middle East.

If Obama’s moral preening wasn’t outrageous enough, he also told other world leaders that “slamming the door” shut to Syrian refugees “would be a betrayal of our values.” He went on, “Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own safety. We can and must do both.”

It’s hard to fathom the nonsense that comes out of Obama’s mouth. What’s actually shameful is that this commander in chief will not acknowledge the threat posed by radical Islamic extremists. (In fact, he mentioned climate change Monday before he got around to terrorism.) It is un-American to think that the safety of these refugees is more important than the safety of the citizens in our country whom he and countless others swore an oath to protect.

If we don’t have a religious test for compassion, then why does Obama welcome Muslim refugees but turn a cold shoulder to Christians fleeing persecution? CNS News reports, “Of 2,184 Syrian refugees admitted into the U.S. since the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, only 53 (2.4 percent) have been Christians while 2098 (or 96 percent) have been Muslims, according to State Department statistics updated on Monday.”

All of the terrorist attacks in the Middle East, France and America have been carried out by Islamic extremists who are committed to waging jihad wherever they can. Christians are facing persecution and slaughter, yet their plight goes unrecognized by this administration.

Clearly, not all Muslims are terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslim. So why on earth would we even take the chance to let thousands of un-vetted refugees into our homeland knowing the incredible risk that one or two of them could very well carry out an attack like that in Paris or worse?

Hours before the attack in Paris, Obama boldly proclaimed that he has “contained” the Islamic State. This so called containment policy clearly isn’t working, yet he has the audacity to claim that we can welcome potentially hostile migrants while maintaining our own safety. Containing an enemy doesn’t mean opening your borders to them. It means stopping them from expanding their operations and expanding their influence. It means taking the fight to them on their turf, rather than allowing them to gain a foothold on yours.

National Review’s David French sums it up nicely: “The Obama administration insults our intelligence if it claims we can trust the government’s vetting process. And it insults our character if it pretends that aiding refugees abroad while defeating the enemy that drove so many of them from their homes is a ‘betrayal of our values.’ Americans have big hearts, but we also have brains, and we can certainly discern the difference between generosity and foolishness.”

Finally, the real question is this: Why is Obama burning so much political capital on this issue? First, he’s a narcissist, and opposition usually serves only to make him double down. But second, and more important, he knows if he gives way on Syrians, Republicans will point out that our porous southern border poses a national security threat, which is going to eat into Democrats' appeal with illegal immigrants. His faux immigration strategy is to play the issue for political gain. The political capital he’s investing now is all part of the plan.

Addendum: The Wall Street Journal editorialized, “If Mr. Obama fought the Islamic State with half the vigor with which he delivers moral lectures, he’d find that a much less fearful America would welcome far more refugees.”



Obamacare critics say high deductibles make insurance ‘unaffordable’

A telling episode: A woman returned to her native Ethiopia, where care is cheaper, to consult a neurologist and seek follow-up care

OH: When President Obama’s landmark health care law ushered in a slew of new insurance options in 2013, the Andersons could not wait to sign up. Roger Anderson, 54, a formerly uninsured construction worker, has a bad back and a bad heart. He and his wife are still paying for his earlier heart surgery and feared another crisis could ruin them.

“This law was going to give people a chance,” said Cassaundra Anderson, 44, a freelance proof reader.

But in April, when Roger Anderson fell while hiking and hurt his shoulder, he discovered, to his dismay, that simply being insured was not enough. The Andersons’ mid-tier plan, which costs them $875 a month, requires them to meet a $7,000 deductible before insurance payments kick in.

“We can’t afford the Affordable Care Act, quite honestly,” said Cassaundra Anderson, whose family canvassed for Obama in their neighborhood, a Republican stronghold outside Cincinnati. “The intention is great, but there is so much wrong. . . . I’m mad.”

The Andersons’ experience echoes that of hundreds of thousands of newly insured Americans facing sticker shock over out-of-pocket costs. Although the law survived two Supreme Court challenges, it could still be on the line in the 2016 presidential election, posing a significant political barrier to Democrats in this critical battleground state, which includes both conservative rural sections of Appalachia and diverse cities.

The problem experienced by the Andersons is particularly acute in Ohio, which has the fourth-largest number of people enrolled in high-deductible insurance plans in the country, after Texas, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s trade association based in Washington.

Now that the law’s major provisions are in place, the outcry over cost has prompted Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, to call for changes to Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

“This will be an issue at least one more time in the 2016 election. It could absolutely still hurt Democrats,” said Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health. “Polls about the Affordable Care Act have a considerable amount of middle-income people who say either the program has done nothing for them or actually hurt them.”

Governor John Kasich, like other Republicans running for the party’s presidential nomination, blames rising insurance costs on Obama’s 2010 health reform law and has called for its repeal.

Clinton defends the Affordable Care Act on the campaign trail but is pledging to lower out-of-pocket costs including deductibles and making affordable health care a “basic human right.” Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist challenging Clinton for the Democratic nomination, says Obama’s health law does not go far enough and advocates for a “Medicare-for-all” single-payer system instead.

The percentage of Ohioans who view the law unfavorably is higher than in the nation as a whole, especially among independents and Democrats, according to new data from the annual Ohio Health Issues Poll. Nearly half of Ohioans do not like the law, compared with the 42 percent national figure reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation in October.

Nearly 30 percent of people insured through the federal marketplace who had deductibles higher than $1,500 went without needed medical care in 2014 because they could not afford it, according to Families USA, a health care consumer group based in Washington. That includes diagnostic tests, treatments, and follow-up care as well as prescription drugs.

Deductibles have grown six times faster than wages since 2010, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study. The growing national problem is also reflected in Massachusetts, where a 2015 annual report by the state’s Center for Health Information and Analysis shows that more than half of those enrolled in individual plans faced high deductibles.

“Unfortunately, what we are headed toward now is universal crappy health insurance,” said Dr. Budd Shenkin, a California pediatrician who wrote the American Academy Pediatrics policy on high-deductible plans, which he calls nefarious.

“It’s just not a good deal for people,” he said. The academy last year advised the federal government to restrict such plans to adults because they discourage families from seeking necessary primary care for their children.

The Obama administration, in response to the criticism, acknowledges that high deductibles are an “important issue” but says the problem is part of longstanding insurance trends.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services points out that the law, for the first time, caps the out-of-pocket costs families pay to $13,700. It recently introduced an online “cost calculator” that gives those shopping for insurance a fuller picture of their total out-of-pocket costs.

The Affordable Care Act, while providing coverage to millions of previously uninsured Americans, does nothing to turn the tide away from high-deductible plans. The government provides subsidies that lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs for people with incomes below 250 percent of the federal poverty line, individuals making less than $30,000 a year. More than half of those buying insurance through the marketplace receive subsidies to offset copays and deductibles, according to the administration.

But those with more moderate incomes receive no help. Mandated by the law to buy coverage, they most often opt for high-deductible plans as a way to make their monthly premium payments more manageable. And they end up making medical decisions much like they did when they were uninsured, advocates say — by putting off care.

In fact, the growing use and size of deductibles as a way to lower premiums “threatens to undermine the gains Americans have made in coverage since 2014,” according to a September report by The Commonwealth Fund on the affordability of marketplace plans.

Cost concerns have lead tens of thousands of the newly insured to drop their Affordable Care Act plans and opt for free or discounted care at community health clinics. Consumer advocates worry that the numbers will increase as the trend toward high deductibles worsens.

Cassaundra Anderson has been bombarded by a slew of e-mails reminding her to reenroll when the 2016 sign-up period for marketplace plans begins in November. She is not certain the family will re-up. Their premium next year would jump to more than $1,000 a month.

“We’re in the process of looking at going without insurance,” she said, calculating that the family will be better off financially just paying the $2,000 tax penalty for not abiding by the law’s mandate. “What am I even paying these insurance people for? Why should we re-enroll?”

She figures that the amount the couple pays toward their insurance premium could instead go toward paying off her husband’s latest round of medical bills, now tallying $6,700. The mounting debt has Roger Anderson choosing to forgo the twice-weekly physical therapy prescribed by his doctor — and losing muscle mass as a consequence — because he can’t afford the $200-a-month copay. He’s also skipping a follow-up MRI of his back.

Cassaundra Anderson said she still plans on voting for whoever the Democratic nominee for president will be. “Republicans who have fought this law tooth and nail are not going to try to make it better,” she said.

But independent swing voters may not be as forgiving. “If they are having the experience we’re having, they are going to say, ‘This is a lot of doo-doo,’ ” she said.

On a recent afternoon, Laura Torres, a 62-year-old home health aide who is in nursing school, visited a community health clinic tucked into a strip mall 20 minutes from downtown Columbus. This is where she sought care when she was uninsured, paying an affordable sliding scale rate based on her $22,000 yearly income.

Now she visits Whitehall Family Health Center seeking financial — not medical — help. An insurance counselor there helped Torres apply for a government subsidy, lowering her $6,000 deductible to $800. But she says she was better off before having to buy insurance.

“I cannot get anything with this insurance. Nothing,” said Torres, who avoids seeking treatment for her thyroid condition and high blood pressure because of cost. “I just pay my monthly payments, try to take care of myself, go to work, and hope something serious doesn’t happen to me.”

Amete Kahsay, 53, works as a temporary warehouse packer in Columbus. The Affordable Care marketplace is her only option for health insurance. She and her husband, an airport shuttle driver, pay $275 a month for a “bronze” plan with a $13,200 deductible.

Shortly after they signed up for insurance last year, her husband rushed her to the emergency room when she experienced dizziness. The visit, which included a CT scan of her brain, cost $1,700. She paid the charge from her savings, then returned to her native Ethiopia, where care is cheaper, to consult a neurologist and seek follow-up care.

“I support Obamacare. Without it, I wouldn’t have any type of insurance. But I’m not sure it’s worth the money,” said Kahsay, a US citizen who is registered as an independent voter. “Now, unless I get very, very sick, like only if it’s life-threatening, I won’t go to the doctor. I just lay down and take a rest.”


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- with some encouraging news from Poland.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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