Insurance Pawns, I

Here’s the column I was going to write today. It would use facts and data that have been reported for almost a decade to show, yet again, how the boosters of our current Unaffordable Care Act and the medical conglomerate it supports have become insurance pawns.

George Gobel was about six months older than my parents. He died at age 71 in 1991, shortly after undergoing heart surgery.

“Here’s the thing, Nancy Pelosi told George Stephanopoulis yesterday, “when we did the [Un]affordable Care Act, if everyone loved their care, if everyone loved it, which they didn’t, and their insurance, we would still have had to do it because the escalating cost of health care in our country were (sic) unsustainable to individuals, to families, to small business, to corporate America, and to the public sector…”

We “had three goals,” Rep. Pelosi continued. “One, to lower costs. The other, to expand benefits. And the third, to improve — increase access of many more people.”


Lower costs: In 2008, healthcare cost $7,889 per capita. In 2016 healthcare cost $10,345 per capita. In Rep. Pelosi’s world, jacking the costs by 31% is “lowering costs.”
In 2014, my own new plan cost 15% more (from $5,172 per year to $5,965) and covered less than my commercial, “substandard, predatory, and inadequate insurance.” In fact, my own individual premium was $2,502 at the beginning of the Obama Administration in 2009. Premiums soared to $7,239 on the Exchange in 2017.

Expand benefits: The Unaffordable Care Act added some coverage guarantees (you can buy insurance only during open enrollment) and premium guarantees (they will rise based on family structure, geography, the actuarial value of the benefit, age, and tobacco use).
Benefits don’t include bariatric (weight-loss) surgery, infertility treatment, alternative medicine including acupuncture, long-term care, foot care, eye exams, and more. And co-payments have skyrocketed. The co-payment for an asthma inhaler used to cost $7. Then it went to $30. Then $60. Now it’s $100, every month. Flexible spending account are limited to $2,500.

Increase access: 20.4 million people were forced at gunpoint to buy health insurance. My existing, commercial Blue Cross plan was dropped and I had to buy a new one on the Exchange.

For the record, the standard plan premiums on the Vermont Exchange were $6,880 for gold, up from $5,965 in 2014, $5,814 for silver, or $4,910 for bronze in 2016.

For the record, the standard plans on the Vermont Exchange had a $750 individual medical deductible for gold, a $2,000 individual medical deductible for silver, and a whopping $4,000 individual medical deductible for bronze in 2016, with additional deductibles for prescriptions and other services. The so-called standard “High Deductible” plans are worse.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is beating the horse again. “20 million people are about to lose their health insurance as the GOP ‘destroys’ the [Un]affordable Care Act,” she says.


Remember the flat out lies about the Unaffordable Care Act?

Caduceus• Mr. Obama said, Like your plan, keep your plan.
• Mr. Obama said, Like your doctor, keep your doctor.
• Ms. Pelosi said, Premiums will decline.
• Mr. Obama said, Premiums will drop on average $2,500.
• Mr. Obama said, Deductibles will go down.
• Ms. Pelosi said, We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.
• Kathleen Sibelius said, The Exchange website will work.
• Jonathan Gruber said, The Exchange website was secure.
• Ms. Pelosi said, Emergency room visits would decline.
• Ms. Warren said, Obamacare is the best thing that ever happened to this country.

Mr. Obama and the Congress knew the public wouldn’t buy this gift to the insurance companies, so they forced mandates and regulations and false guarantees on us. The only real guarantee was to drive up the cost of health care.

We’re going to make people buy it, Mr. Obama decreed about the false promise of the Unaffordable Care Act, and if they don’t buy it, they’re going to get penalized.

I simply do not understand why so many people, from insurance pawns like Ms. Warren to my liberal friends who support her, don’t get how bad this thing is. The news, the statistics, the facts have shown over and over that Obamacare is accelerating the demise of a system that has failed us.

“Make America Great Again!” Presidential candidate Donald Trump, 2016.
“America never stopped being great.” Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton February 27, 2016.
“The average American is actually economically in a lot of economic desperation, insecure. We have parts of this country that are — really, desolate…” Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, February 26, 2017.

Apparently the American protesters want their unaffordable premiums to climb more and more and more. American protesters want their unaffordable prescription drugs to cost more and more and more. American protesters want to their healthcare system to kill more patients than Iraq, the Maldives, Mexico, and 126 other countries. Apparently the American protesters want to buy the lies.

Those inconvenient truths, of course, don’t fit Ms. Warren and Ms. Pelosi’s story.

That’s the column I was going to write, until I realized the futility of using facts to counter the religious belief in Obamacare. I’ll just repeat a joke instead.

Squares Day…
True or false, George: experts say there are only seven or eight things in the world dumber than an ant.
George Gobel: Yes, and I think I voted for six of ’em.


I don’t get it. What is wrong with it if I talk to the Russian ambassador? I’m a private citizen now and should be able to associate with anyone I want. And if I were confirmed as an appointee, my conversations would be called “diplomacy.”

And yet, we managed to drum Gen. Michael Flynn out of a job.

Anybody smell some jealous politicians running scared again?

Turns out there is a law. The Logan Act states, in part:

“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”


So no private person can try to conduct foreign policy without the permission of the gummint. Specifically, I’m forbidden to talk with a foreign government or its representative and try to influence foreign policy.

“Is true!” Liz Arden said.

It came about after the French Revolution when the new United States didn’t help France because of a treaty with England. The French were upset and began robbing American ships and jailing our sailors.

“They should have been upset because they helped us.” Ms. Arden reminds us.

We're Here to HelpOfficial envoys tried unsuccessfully to patch things up and it looked as if we’d end up at war with France. I reckon we’re lucky they didn’t gang up on us with England.

That’s when Dr. George Logan, a Quaker Republican lawmaker from Pennsylvania, set off for France. He succeeded, but when he got back to the U.S., then-President John Adams, George Washington, and the rest of the gang were furious over his interference. Congress pushed the law through to stop lone wolves like Dr. Logan from doing it again.

“Cuz jealous?”

80% of our laws are.

And here I wanted to talk with Kim Jong un!

Anyway, the Logan Act feels like a violation of the first amendment. Freedom of association is both an individual right and a collective right, guaranteed by all modern and democratic legal systems, including the Bill of Rights, article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and international law. Be interesting to test that.

“Well, freedom to associate, sure. But with the intent to influence policy?” she asked.

It’s an interesting line.

Assuming I could even get in to talk with an opponent’s ambassador, how much influence would I have? Or would Gen. Flynn, before the election? And should we prosecute Rex Tillerson? Look how many times he’s talked to Mr. Putin directly, before the election.

After the election is a different story. I’m thinking we want a new Administration — any new Administration, left or right — to get its ducks in a row.

Gen. Flynn lied and deserved to be fired but so should the politicians who put him in that position.

And, for the record, we haven’t seen Dennis Rodman prosecuted yet.


Two-Faced Lying Liars

The 24-7 “Muslim Ban” reportage should remind us of the first rule of Journalism:

Tell the truth, then quit.

The Mainstream Media lies, but maybe not for the reason we think.

The yellow press of the 19th Century set a pretty low bar for truth culminating when Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal battled to drive up circulation.

Yellow Journalism presents “little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, sensationalism” and outright falsehoods. We us the term today “as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.”

Today, there’s talk that the low bar is set for political reasons.

Journalism transformed itself from making stuff up and muckraking to the investigative reporting of the mid-century. American reporters have discovered and reported on individual and corporate and government wrongdoing, secret practices, corruption, and witch hunts.

The iconic news organizations had a golden age. Murrey Marder exposed Sen. Joe McCarthy. Edward R. Murrow, the most distinguished figure in broadcast journalism, simply gathered news completely and then broadcast it. Walter Cronkite assumed the mantle of investigative journalism as a watchdog who delivered the facts as a CBS anchor. Woodward and Bernstein may be the last of the modern era “complete, factual” investigative reporters.

Reading the NewsNews writing and journalism transformed again in the 60s and 70s. The so-called “new journalism“ driven by writers including Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson moved the bar to the long-form narrative that uses novel-like scenes in stories instead of straight reportage of facts.

That’s where we come in today.

“Political reporters” in particular want to tell a story rather than tell a fact. That story is often not true. Let’s look at some examples.

Mark Hertsgaard wrote that press coverage of the Reagan Administration was “extraordinarily positive.” The media “abdicated its responsibility” to report accurately what the government was doing. Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee himself said the media had been “kinder” to President Reagan than to any other President in his time at the Post. Prominent journalists and news organizations, Mr. Hertsgaard wrote, “allowed themselves to be used” by the President’s political operatives. The media told at least some of the truth but the stories excused it.

The Teflon™ didn’t stick (heh) around for George H. W. Bush. From the reports about the grocery store scanner to Bill Moyer’s insistence that the first Iraq war was based on lies, the media abdicated again but this time chose to report inaccurately what the government was doing. The media told at least some of the truth and the stories blamed the president.

“Read my lips. No new taxes,” may be the most famous line that sank a presidency.

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman” may be the most famous line that didn’t.

The press narrative covered Bill Clinton’s lies and none-the-less forgave him. They played by the Clinton rules. The media told at least some of the truth but the stories excused it.

The Internet — Facebook, Twitter, Bloomberg, Google and YouTube, WikiLeaks, blogs, thousands of digital news and information sites — has pushed the media icons even farther away from the truth.

The botched 60 Minutes piece on George W. Bush’s National Guard service defined the tone for press coverage. It was, purely and simply, a lie. “The story we reported has never been denied by George W. Bush, by anyone in his close circles, including his family,” Dan Rather continues to say. In fact, Bush spokesmen have repeatedly denied it. In the other Bush narrative, the MSM to this day claims Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. The truth? Iraq certainly had chemical weapons but the MSM denial lives on. The media told at least some of the truth but the stories pilloried the president.

NBC News correspondent Lisa Myers found this statement in the 2010 Obamacare regulations: “A reasonable range for the percentage of individual policies that would terminate is forty percent to sixty-seven percent.” Did you know that? From lies about health care to lies about the deficit to lies about tax cuts to lies about terrorism, to lies about scandals, Mr. Obama’s lies are legion but excused or buried by the mainstream media. The media told at least some of the truth but the stories excused it.

This weekend, a protest lawyer told ABC News “the immigration ban is unconstitutional.” The network treated that as fact. When a lawyer said the same about ObamaCare, the network immediately cut to “experts” explaining why the program was indeed constitutional. The media tells at least some of the truth but the stories blame the president.

Since the press chooses some Republicans and some Democrats for praise and different Republicans and other Democrats for excoriation, I can’t simply point to “liberal bias” or even “conservative bias.” Liberal papers like the New York Times were nice to Mr. Reagan. Conservative papers like the Wall Street Journal were (relatively) nice to Mr. Clinton.

I love news and data but I am ashamed of what I see happening in this most important bulwark of democracy.

I have long thought the media was star-struck by Mr. Reagan but hated Mr. Bush 41’s class. Since Democrats love to play the race card, perhaps the press excused Mr. Obama because they were afraid of racial accusations. Perhaps they simply hate Mr. Trump.

A lot is our own fault dear reader.

Facebook, Twitter, Bloomberg, Google and YouTube, WikiLeaks, blogs, and thousands of digital news and information sites means We the People read less real journalism today than ever before. And sadly, that means the “real journalism” we do read or watch tells us more lies by commission or omission than ever, just to try to get our attention.

We pay attention. And we believe the stories.

Can you hear the shades of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst chortling?


The Legacy

Today is Barack Obama’s final day as President.

Politicians like Mr. Obama have get out front to talk about their legacy because they fear more than anything else that even their True Believers might hear the truth. On his last full day as President, here’s the truth. It is a Legacy of Failure.

The Legacy of Shame
• Aleppo. Benghazi. China. Iran. Iraq. Israel. NATO. Russia …
• Mr. Obama drew the line in the sand to Bashar al-Assad over his use of chemical weapons, then ran away. He spoke forcefully to Vladimir Putin, then ran away. He spoke harshly to Iraq in 2011, then ran away (that precipitated the rise of ISIS).
• Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis said Mr. Obama will someday look back on his Syria policy “with deep sorrow and some shame.”

The Legacy of Broken Dreams
• “We [don’t have] an energy policy in this country that makes sense,” Mr. Obama said in remarks on the American Jobs Act in 2011. There is still no coherent energy policy. Sadly, the coherent energy policy is to bankrupt any energy producer not on the “friends” list. FAIL.
• The cost of college has increased faster than the rate of inflation. FAIL.
• China devalued their currency to make their goods cheaper and our goods more expensive. The Obama China policy was never to challenge them. FAIL.
• Health care policies have failed to lower health costs. FAIL.
• In 2008, Mr. Obama claimed his investments in green energy would create 5 million new jobs. FAIL.

The Legacy of Bankruptcy
• In 2008, Mr. Obama said that adding $4 trillion to the national debt was “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.”
• On Jan. 20, 2009, the debt held by the public was roughly $6.307 trillion. Intragovernmental Holdings added 4.32 trillion bringing the total national debt to $10.63 trillion on the day of Mr. Obama’s own inauguration. The national debt stands today at 19,961,179,000,000 (>||< close to TWENTY TRILLION DOLLARS) and counting.

The Legacy of Ill Health
• About 9.1% of people in the U.S., or around 28.6 million, were uninsured in 2015.
• “If you’ve got health insurance, we’re going to work with you to lower your premiums by $2500 per family per year.” The average family premium increased by $3,065 from $12,680 in 2008 to $18,142 this year, a 43% increase.
• U.S. health care spending grew 5.8% in 2015 alone, reaching $9,990 per person. Health spending accounted for 17.8% of the Gross Domestic Product. It is now $10,384 per person.

The Legacy of Joblessness
• 86,591,000 men and women, young and old, either don’t have, don’t want, or can’t do a job. The Obama administration does not count them as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the BLS survey.

The Legacy of Lies
• “We will pursue the housing plan I’m outlining today. And through this plan, we will help between 7 and 9 million families restructure or refinance their mortgages so they can afford-avoid foreclosure.” Uh huh.
• “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan.” Okey dokey. (Obamacare alone is a legacy of deception unlike any previous government program.)
• “I cut spending by over a trillion dollars in 2011,” Mr. Obama said in 2012 on Meet the Press. Right. (Spending actually increased by $147 billion in that period.)
• “As president, I will work to solve this energy crisis once and for all.” How’d that work out for us?

The Legacy of Overreach
• The Environmental Protection Agency is the poster child for Administration overreach. The Supreme Court had to smack down the EPA over and over again including the EPA’s first limits on coal-fired power plant emissions, Sackett v. EPA, and more.
• EPA head Gina McCarthy was not concerned about the power plant emissions ruling. The regs went into effect “three years ago,” she said. “Most of [the plants] are already in compliance, investments have been made.”
• The EPA would send armed agents to incarcerate landowners for a spill similar to the Animas River in Colorado but now won’t pay $1.2 billion for the damages it itself caused.
• Now, the EPA has madly pushed through new regulations, not because they think they will work, but to create a mass that Mr. Trump’s EPA will have to correct, allowing the Far Green to decry a “rollback.”
• The EPA is not alone. In 2011, after Boeing had hired 1,000 new employees to work at its new factory in South Carolina, the Obama administration ordered the company to shut down the factory, because the factory was non-union.
• Armed SWAT agents raid the Gibson guitar factory, ordered the employees to leave, and seized guitars and other property from the factory, all without warrants or charges filed. It was later revealed that Gibson had not broken any laws.

The Legacy of Poverty
• In 2009, 42.9 million people had income below the poverty line. That was 14.3% of the U.S. population. The official poverty rate is now 14.5%. That means 45.3 million people in poverty, up by over 8 million since 2008.

The Legacy of Terror
• In December, Mr. Obama told us that “no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland.” Uh huh.
• He called the 2009 Christmas Day bomber an “isolated extremist.”
• The Fort Hood shooter who shouted “Allahu Akbar as he pulled the trigger” committed “workplace violence.”
• He called the 2013 Boston marathon bombing a “vicious attack” and directed the full resources of the government to Boston to find the source of that “terrorist act.”
No terrorist attacks?

The Legacy of Theft
• Mr. Obama stole General Motors from its stockholders — the government took a 60.8% ownership of the company and fired its CEO — then delivered ownership of the company to reward his voting block.

The Legacy of Wimps
• Even NBC’s Meet the Press questioned his manhood.

The Wrap Up
Mr. Obama brought a legacy of inadequacy and fear to America but he didn’t do it alone. There are still about 2,700,000 Executive branch civilians, 535 Congress critters, and about 65,000 people working for Congress in place and ready to keep on keeping on.

Mr. Trump has promised a clean sweep would start tomorrow but he has a lot to overcome.


Big Hack Attack

The Electoral College convenes in every state today, the last Monday before the start of Winter.

A friend found this meme:

“I’m outraged at the lack of outrage, especially on my side.” former Rep. Joe Walsh said on CNN. “I get that the country’s divided, but my God, a foreign government interfered with our election. That should piss everybody off!” Mr. Walsh is a talk radio host from Illinois who served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

If a foreign government hacked our election, that’s an Act of War and I will indeed be outraged.

If the Obama Administration is making up the hack, that’s a Criminal Act and I will indeed be outraged at that.

Here’s all we know for sure so far:

• Ms. Clinton and the DNC conspired to commit election fraud and I am already outraged over that.
• The DNC leaks have been thoroughly dismissed the Obama Administration, by the DNC, by most pundits on the Left, and about half of social media. “It’s been non-news for months. I don’t understand the continual flogging of that dead horse,” one friend said. That’s outrageous.
• The Department of Homeland Security tried to hack Georgia‘s voter data computers. CA, CO, CT, DE, IL, MA, MD, ME, MN, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OR, RI, VA, VT, WA, and DC allowed DHS in without a hack attack (note that I’ve been unable to confirm that list). This is only a little outrageous, right?
• There is a sudden “consensus” among intelligence agencies that the Russians committed election fraud (but that Ms. Clinton did not). And no one has seen the proof. Outrageous.
• The president has ordered the Office of National Intelligence to conduct a review of the Russian interference. The Director of National Intelligence said Friday that they conveniently could not brief the Electoral College because of the review. Another outrage.

Apparently the Administration thinks election fraud by a foreign government is not actually an Act of War. (“I told him to stop it,” Mr. Obama claims he told Mr. Putin in the strongest possible terms.) That is outrageous, as well.

There’s more to this story.

Democrats committed enough election fraud to get Ms. Clinton nominated but couldn’t pull off enough to get her elected. I cited the Daily Kos because it is a fake news source that Democrats quote wholeheartedly.

Pressure on members of the electoral college to select someone other than Donald Trump has grown dramatically in the weeks since the election. (If this all sounds too too familiar, recall that Democratic operative Bob Beckel plotted to kidnap Bush 43’s electors to push the election into Congress. Mr. Gore himself tried to flip “faithless” electors.)

Now they have a “new” program they hope we don’t recognize.

Can o' Industrial WhoopassUnlike Republicans who questioned Mr. Obama’s credentials and fitness to serve as president in 2008 and 2012, the “Just Say No” Democrats have used the hack attack to try to “turn” half the Electoral College.

It’s time for something actually new.

I agree with the Democrats but they don’t go far enough. It’s time to open up that can o’ whoop ass. It’s time to rend both parties asunder. It’s time for the Electors to buck the parties and go rogue.

Democrats want the Electoral College to subvert the democratic process and pick an “acceptable” candidate? I agree. They should cast all 538 votes for Ellen Kullman, or Ryan Lance, or Alan Mulally, or David S. Taylor for President and they should cast 538 more for politician and businessman Jon Huntsman for V.P.