Saturday, February 11, 2012

Quick Hits - February 11, 2012

"Simply Unacceptable"

This was the common response by religious leaders to President Obama's 'accommodation' to religious organizations over the Administration mandate that these organizations have to provide their employees with free contraception, sterilization, and abortafacients under their health care coverage even if these organizations oppose those services and devices on religious grounds.  The 'accommodation' announced by the President yesterday morning was to make it so that the insurer pays the costs for the provision of these services and devices as opposed to the employer.

Put basically, it was no compromise regarding the issue of religious freedom and liberty guaranteed by the US Constitution, and only put some lipstick on the pig.

Clearly the President has no real interest in any 'accommodation' that supports the Constitution - or any compromise.  Let unsaid is the 'I won' pejorative to end the debate.  As in many similar cases, the President also demonstrates his cluelessness to how things really operate - that many of these religious organizations impacted are self-insured. They insure themselves and their own employees because it is the most efficient and cost effective way to do this.  Politico notes this in their report of the objections by religious leaders that go beyond just those of the Catholic faith...
But they made it clear that a “lack of clear protection for key stakeholders — for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular nonprofit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals — is unacceptable and must be corrected. And in the case where the employee and insurer agree to add the objectionable coverage, that coverage is still provided as a part of the objecting employer's plan, financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the objecting employer. This, too, raises serious moral concerns.”

Mark Steyn notes that in this case, the Church of Obama is taking precedence over the Catholic Church - and that this is another disturbing step towards the loss of freedom and liberty...
But there’s still one or two Nonconformists out there, and they have to be forced into ideological compliance. “Maybe the Founders were wrong to guarantee free exercise of religion in the First Amendment,” Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post offered to Chris Matthews on MSNBC. At the National Press Club, young Catholics argued that the overwhelming majority of their coreligionists disregard the Church’s teachings on contraception, so let’s bring the vox Dei into alignment with the vox populi. Get with the program, get with the Act of Uniformity.
The bigger the Big Government, the smaller everything else: First, other pillars of civil society are crowded out of the public space; then, the individual gets crowded out, even in his most private, tooth-level space. President Obama, Commissar Sebelius, and many others believe in one-size-fits-all national government — uniformity, conformity, supremacy from Maine to Hawaii, for all but favored cronies. It is a doomed experiment — and on the morning after it will take a lot more than a morning-after pill to make it all go away.
In another not quite a major surprise from Obamacare, the government takeover of 1/6th of the national economy that former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said that we would have to pass in order to see what's in it, the chief architect of the legislation says that medical insurance premiums are going to rise significantly as oppose to the promised decrease the legislation would deliver...
Medical insurance premiums in the United States are on the rise, the chief architect of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul has told The Daily Caller.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Jonathan Gruber, who also devised former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s statewide health care reforms, is backtracking on an analysis he provided the White House in support of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, informing officials in three states that the price of insurance premiums will dramatically increase under the reforms.

In an email to The Daily Caller, Gruber framed this new reality in terms of the same human self-interest that some conservatives had warned in 2010 would ultimately rule the marketplace.

“The market was so discriminatory,” Gruber told TheDC, “that only the healthy bought non-group insurance and the sick just stayed [uninsured].”

“It is true that even after tax credits some individuals are ‘losers,’” he conceded, “in that they pay more than before [Obama's] reform.”

Given that the Government has rarely if ever run anything more efficiently, productively, and effectively than the private sector, rising costs in health insurance premiums shouldn't be a surprise. It was one of the objections raised during the debate on the bill before it was rammed through Congress.

President Obama is slated to release his 2013 budget during the next week.  It's late, but not quite as late as Harry Reid's Senate which has gone nearly 1,110 days without passing a budget.  I referenced this a few days ago with the take on the famous movie line...'Budgets?  We don't need no stinkin' budgets' as Reid noted that he has no plans to bring a budget forward in the Senate in the near term.

Michael Ramirez, by the way, has a similar take here...

Reports are that the President's proposed 2013 budget is not fundamentally different from the 2012 budget - the one that the Democrat majority Senate rejected 0 - 97 last spring.  With nearly $4 trillion in spending, the President's budget calls for another $1.33 trillion deficit - the 5th consecutive trillion dollar plus deficit that the President will oversee.
Obama's first budget said that the current year's deficit would only be $500 billion - not the $1.3 trillion we will actually have.

The President's budget also includes $1.5 trillion in additional taxes - primarily on raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations.  $500 billion in this budget is for additional transportation infrastructure spending - as has been common in his past budgets - but with a stronger focus towards highways as opposed to high speed rail projects.

Our first $3 trillion budget was presented by President George W. Bush in February 2008 to cover FY2009...and was not passed as the Democrat controlled Congress wanted to wait until after the results of the November Presidential election.  4 years later, and the President who called his predecessor 'unpatriotic' for his spending and deficits, will add $6 trillion to the national debt, and increase spending by a third.

Today is the last day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and the last day of the Maine caucuses.  All of the major Republican candidates for President with the exception of Ron Paul spoke at CPAC yesterday.  Newt Gingrich provided a good 'red meat' speech for the conservative crowd, but also seemed to not gain another burst of momentum.  Mitt Romney, needing to reach out to hard core conservatives to regain his momentum, attempted to do just this in his speech yesterday.  However, calling himself 'severely conservative', is not only an incredibly awkward way to do this - it seemed to not sway many minds.  Later today the CPAC straw poll results will be announced...

In one aspect of news from CPAC that is not getting a lot of traction, the alliance between the AFL-CIO union thugs and OccupyDC to disrupt the CPAC events has not achieved much more than providing fodder for conservatives to hammer the groups for their astroturfing and utter fail.  Some violence took place last night between the Occupy protesters and police outside the CPAC facility - but one has to wonder if the organizers got their money's worth for paying people $60 to protest CPAC for the day...

As the video shows, the protesters have no clue as to what they are protesting or what CPAC was.  Reports are that organizers ultimately had to tell protesters to stop giving interviews to the press and actively worked to disrupt interviews that did take place.

The Maine caucus race is between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney - with Ron Paul believing that his is a race that he is likely to win.  Romney is in a bit of a doldrums at the moment as Rick Santorum surges after his hat trick in Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri last Tuesday night.  PPP, the left wing polling organization, is showing Santorum with a 15 point lead over Romney on their latest national poll.

Rasmussen Reports, looking at the match-ups between the leading Republicans and President Obama, shows not only the effects of the Santorum surge post Tuesday, but also a surge for the President in the wake of the highly acclaimed and highly distorted 8.3% unemployment rate.  President Obama is shown with a 10 point lead over Mitt Romney, but only holding a 4 point lead over Rick Santorum.

Moving to the international news...

Syria is 'relaunching' their assault on the rebel held city of Homs - using tanks and artillery in an indiscriminate bombardment.    Opposition groups in the city are asking for assistance on humanitarian grounds as their medical supplies begin to run out.  However, the conflict has also taken a new level of escalation as three gunmen in the Syrian capital of Damascus shot and killed a Brigadier General as he left his home this morning.  This is the first killing of a high ranked military officer since the uprising started last March.

The leaders of Greece's two major political parties are working to rally lawmakers in the Greek parliament to vote yes to support the austerity measure legislation that is being required by the European Union for any fiscal bailout.  The vote on the measure will be held tomorrow.

The Greek Prime Minister is warning of 'uncontrolled chaos' if the vote fails and the country defaults on its debt obligations.  6 government ministers resigned from the coalition government yesterday in protest over the austerity measures being demanded by the European Union - one stating that he was tired of Greece's 'humiliation' and had no desire to be under the boot of Germany.  The police union also lashed out the organizations seen to be forcing Greece down this path, releasing a statement threatening to arrest officials of the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund for 'blackmail, covertly abolishing or eroding democracy and national sovereignty'.

It's shocking to see the lack of real understanding at work here.  Do these people think that Greece, which cannot pay its obligations because it chose to be fiscally irresponsible, is owed a bailout by the EU, ECB, and IMF?  Do they think their preferred entitlements and social programs are absolved from adhering to fundamental laws of economics?  They have promoted and put in place a system that kills productivity, kills economic development, encourages corruption, and is fiscally unsustainable - and still refuse to accept that the failure is the architecture of that system?

Iranian President Ahmahwhackjob, speaking at an event celebrating the 33rd anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution, announced that Iran will make a 'very important' announcement on its nuclear program within the next few days.  The Iranian news agency says that the announcement will be 'scientific' in nature...

Also within his speech, Ahmahwhackjob continued with his rhetoric that the Holocaust was a 'story' used to create the nation of Israel and denounced both the US and Israel.  During his speech in Tehran, he also used a model of the captured US drone aircraft as a prop...

News Corporations flagship British tabloid The Sun was rocked this morning as 5 of its journalists, including a Deputy Editor, were arrested over alleged bribes paid by the journalists to police and defense officials to gain information for stories.

This is part of the expanding investigation in the wake of the phone hacking scandal from last summer which resulted in News Corporation shuttering their other tabloid, News of the World, because of widespread use of phone hacking by its reporters to gain information for stories.  During this investigation, first reports came out that journalists were paying police and defense officials for access to information.  Concerns are now that The Sun may have an uncertain future.

On This Day in History

1937 - General Motors signs the first contract with the United Auto Workers union, recognizing the union after a 6 week sit-down strike at a GM plant in Flint, Michigan.  GM was the first US auto manufacturer to recognize the UAW and assign it bargaining rights.

1942 - The Channel Dash - The German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, accompanied by the cruiser Prinz Eugen, sailed from the French port of Brest where they were since the spring of 1941, to Germany via the English Channel.  This was an embarrassment for the British who were unable to stop the three ships from transiting the Channel.

1956 - Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess, former members of the British Foreign Office who disappeared from England in 1951, reappeared in Moscow at a press event.  These were 2 early Cold War Soviet spies who fled England to avoid possible detection.  They were part of the spy ring that also included Sir Anthony Blunt and Kim Philby, also Foreign Office officials.

1970 - Japan becomes the world's 4th space power as it launches its first satellite into earth orbit - following the USSR (1957), the US (1958), and France (1965).

1979 - Islamic Revolution's Victory Day in Iran - celebrating the replacement of the post-Shah provisional government with the Islamic regime led by Ayatollah Khomeini. From 1979 to 1982, as the theocrats consolidated their power, they killed tens of thousands of political rivals and opponents to the expansion of their rule.

1990 - Nelson Mandela, the leader of the movement to end apartheid in South Africa, is released from prison after being held for 27 years.

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