Sunday, November 29, 2015

Media That Claimed Bush Chilled Speech Strangely Quiet Under Obama

Media That Claimed Bush Chilled Speech Strangely Quiet Under Obama

Media That Claimed Bush Chilled Speech Strangely Quiet Under Obama

On September 30, 2001, Maureen Dowd published a column in The New York Times in which she lambasted the Bush administration for creating a climate where she said speech was restricted. A mere 19 days after Islamist terrorists had launched their most successful attack against the U.S., Dowd sounded the alarm.
Her primary example was actually not quite accurately conveyed. The real story is that Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer had critiqued a Republican congressman’s bigoted remarks against turban-wearers as well as comedian Bill Maher’s comments that the U.S. military was cowardly while terrorists had the virtue of bravery. Louisiana Rep. John Cooksey had said, “If I see someone come in and he’s got a diaper on his head and a fan belt around that diaper on his head, that guy needs to be pulled over and checked.” Maher had said, “We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, that’s not cowardly.”
Asked about those comments during a presser, Fleischer had called for prudence saying, “I’m aware of the press reports about what he’s said. I have not seen the actual transcript of the show itself. But assuming the press reports are right, it’s a terrible thing to say. And it’s unfortunate. And that’s why there was an earlier question about, “Has the President said anything to people in his own party?” There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do. This is not a time for remarks like that; there never is.”
Many people lost their minds. For years after that. Dowd’s column probably started it all, but even years later New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said Fleischer “ominously warned” Americans to “watch what they say, watch what they do.” He accused him of telling Americans “to accept the administration’s version of events, not ask awkward questions.”
A few years after that, then-New York Times columnist Frank Rich said Fleischer “condemned Bill Maher’s irreverent comic response to 9/11 by reminding ‘all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do.’ Fear itself — the fear that ‘paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance,’ as FDR had it — was already being wielded as a weapon against Americans by their own government.” These are just three examples of prominent columnists from one media establishment. Over at The Washington Post in 2009 (!), the imaginative Dana Milbanksaid of Fleischer’s remarks that they were “intended to be chilling” and that he “was basically telling people ‘we’re at war; shut your mouth.'”
Dissent, we were told time and time again during the Bush presidency, is the highest form of patriotism.
Fleischer, for his part, has said his words “could have been more carefully chosen,” but that “my remarks urged tolerance and openness and were addressed to those who made statements and threatened actions against Muslims or Sikhs in America.”
The media and various other progressives also were upset by Bush’s remarks from his September 20, 2001, address to Congress in which he bluntly said, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
Dowd said, “Even as the White House preaches tolerance toward Muslims and Sikhs, it is practicing intolerance, signaling that anyone who challenges the leaders of an embattled America is cynical, political and — isn’t this the subtext? — unpatriotic.”
Dissent, we were told time and time again during the Bush presidency, is the highest form of patriotism.

Is Dissent Still Patriotic?

Cut to last week when Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) explained why he was one of the rare, unquestioning supporters of President Obama’s proposed Syrian refugee policy:
Hickenlooper: "If your President decides something, you have to support it... if it's a matter of National Security"

Which is nothing at all compared to what Obama said about how people opposed to his policy distractions needed to watch what they said and did because they were helping recruit terrorists. Really:
I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric that’s coming out of here during the course of this debate.
This is years after both Hillary Clinton and Obama were featured in a video the Obama administration aired in Pakistan. In that video, which was a response to the incendiary, anti-Islam video made by an American, Obama claimed that in the U.S., “we reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.” Clinton said of the U.S. government, “we absolutely reject its content and message.”
Except that our country doesn’t reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. In fact, we state quite clearly that we believe everyone has the right to denigrate the religious beliefs of anyone, from Mormon to Methodist to Muslim. And the U.S. government has no business weighing in on videos made by Americans and has no right to try to get Google to pull it down when people object to it.
Obama further “chilled” religious and political speech by saying before the U.N. that “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
An Obama official just last week made ominous comments about critics of Islam when he said that the massacre of Charlie Hebdo employees had a “legitimacy” and certain “rationale” to it.
In these cases, Obama officials have gone far beyond admonitions to prudence and lobbed direct assaults against principles that underlie multiple aspects of the First Amendment. I’m sure I’ve missed Dowd, Krugman, and Rich’s columns sounding the alarm.
Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter at @mzhemingway

Byron York: Obamacare death spiral a gift to 2016 GOP candidates

There have been many articles in the last year with some variation of the headline "GOP Surrenders on Obamacare." The stories mostly concern a tendency among some Republican policy elites to adopt the Washington conventional wisdom that Obamacare cannot be repealed because it has already become deeply entrenched in American life.
Those Republicans might want to reconsider. A series of developments in recent days suggests the Affordable Care Act is in perilous condition and could become even more troubled in months to come.
On Thursday, UnitedHealth, the nation's largest healthcare company, announced huge losses from the sale of Obamacare plans and threatened to pull out of the exchanges altogether. "We cannot sustain these losses," CEO Stephen Hemsley said. "We can't really subsidize a marketplace that doesn't appear at the moment to be sustaining itself."
The news came on top of weeks of reports of rising costs for consumers. "Insurers have raised premiums steeply for the most popular plans at the same time they have boosted out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, copays and coinsurance in many of their offerings," the Wall Street Journal reported.
Deductibles and copays, in particular, have shot up so far, so fast, that many Americans feel as if they are paying for a policy but never see any benefit because they have to pay for so much of the costs out of their own pockets.
"We have insurance, but can't afford to use it," one New Jersey man told The New York Times.
Even with the higher rates, there's word insurance companies might have to raise rates even more next year — or get out of the Obamacare business altogether. "Every health plan I talk to tells me that they don't expect their Obamacare business to be profitable even in 2016 after their big rate increases," insurance analyst Bob Laszewski wrote Thursday. "That does not bode well for the rate increases we can expect to be announced in the middle of next year's elections."
The problem is pretty simple: Not enough Americans, and certainly not enough healthy Americans, are signing up for coverage through Obamacare. And they're not doing it because it's not a good deal for them.
A study published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in October found that about 24 million Americans are eligible for tax credits — subsidies — to buy insurance through Obamacare. This year, about 10 million of them selected plans, with about 8.6 million actually paying the money and enrolling.
That's an enrollment rate of about 35 percent of those eligible for subsidies. Think about it: Only one in three people is signing up for Obamacare even if the government gives them money to help pay for it. It's a rate below what is necessary for Obamacare to survive in the long run.
Remember that Obamacare's authors stressed it wasn't just a program for the poor, that subsidies would be provided for families with yearly incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level — that is, up to $47,080 for an individual or $97,000 for a family of four.
It's not working out that way. The Johnson Foundation found that while a lot of people with incomes below 200 percent of poverty — that is, an individual below $23,540 a year or a family of four below $48,500 — selected a subsidized Obamacare plan, very few people with incomes above that did.
It just costs too much. "Many people who shopped for marketplace coverage but did not choose a plan considered the available options to be unaffordable," the Johnson Foundation report dryly concludes.
The Obama administration is encouraging consumers to shop for a new plan and switch if they can find a better deal. "Financial literacy is important," said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, as if everyone is financially literate.
Beyond that, the administration seems insensitive to the burden of researching, shopping, and switching healthcare plans year after year. "Every year I feel like I'm starting all over again, and I just dread it," an Oregon woman who is shopping for her third plan in three years told the Times. "My stress level just shoots up."
On the coercion side, the Obama administration is also hoping increased penalties will make it more painful for Americans to avoid buying insurance, and thus encourage them to get with the program.
It goes without saying that all the stuff President Obama said while selling Obamacare — that it would save the average family $2,500, that people who liked their coverage could keep it, etc. — have long ago gone up in smoke.
This is a potent political issue. Republican base voters have never gone along with the party's Beltway elites in making their peace with Obamacare. Any candidate who pledges on the stump to repeal every word of the Affordable Care Act wins a raucous round of applause. And in light of recent news, look for them to do it more and more.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


As most of our readers know, this week the nation’s largest insurer, UnitedHealth,threatened to stop offering insurance plans to individuals through the public exchanges established by Obamacare. Low enrollment and high usage have made participation a losing proposition for the company.
If UnitedHealth exits, more than a half million people will have to find other coverage. But this might not be easy. As Katherine Hempstead, who heads the insurance coverage team at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says, “if [UnitedHealth] can’t make money on the exchanges, it seems it would be hard for anyone.”
UnitedHealth’s threat to exit wasn’t the only adverse headline for President Obama’s signature program. The folks at America Rising have compiled the following additional headlines:
Gallup: Ratings of U.S. Healthcare Quality No Better After ACA (If you look at the numbers, Americans actually think their health care has gotten worse).
The New York Times: In Many Obamacare Markets, Renewal Is Not an Option (In markets throughout the country, the plan in the most popular category that was least expensive this year will not be offered next year).
Washington Examiner: Health insurance stocks plummet on Obamacare fears
Miami Herald: Survey: Healthcare unaffordable for many even with insurance (healthcare costs are said to be unaffordable for 25 percent of privately insured working-age adults).
The Wall Street Journal: Rising Rates Pose Challenge to Health Law (higher premiums, fewer doctors, and skimpier coverage will be common in 2016).
The New York Times: Health Care Law Forces Businesses to Consider Growth’s Costs (Obamacare makes employers reluctant to expand beyond 49 employees)
Boston Globe: Critics say high deductibles make insurance ‘unaffordable’
Is Obamacare heading into a “death spiral”? I don’t know, but it certainly looks ill.


Yeah, right. With the latest U.N. confab scheduled to begin in Paris on Monday, global warming hysteria is being hyped by governments around the world. Reality, though, tends to intrude, as it did in Paris just a week or two ago. Between bullets and bombs on one hand, and the theoretical prospect of a one degree increase in average world temperatures on the other, which would bring us closer to the mean over the last 10,000 years, most people don’t hesitate. Michael Ramirez illustrates the point. Click to enlarge:
Most people understand that government exists to protect us from the actions of criminals and mass murderers like today’s Islamic extremists, not to try (futilely) to fine-tune the weather. Thus, no one expects anything from next week’s Paris conclave other than the enrichment of activists with seemingly unlimited access to government money.

Questions Asked in US Over Vetting Process for Refugees

Questions Asked in US Over Vetting Process for Refugees

Still from the Department of Homeland Security's video. (Photo: © Screenshot DHS)

Still from the Department of Homeland Security's video. (Photo: © Screenshot DHS)
U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) published a list of 12 vetted refugees who were later arrested in connection with Islamist terrorism, despite passing government checks.
“This list — which only covers 2015 and not the many jihadis from prior years — illustrates just how incapable our government is of vetting refugees or predicting post-entry radicalization.” a Hill aide told Breitbart News.
President Barack Obama has come under personal attack for the way in which he explained the government’s Syrian refugee’s policy. “He’s a father. I don’t understand why he can’t look into the camera and say, ‘If you’ve got kids traveling home for the holidays, I understand you might be afraid to put them on an airplane. You don’t have to be and here’s why’” said a former White House communications director under George W. Bush, Nicole Wallace.
The administration issued 680,000 visas to immigrants from Muslim majority countries over the past five years and wants to issue 100,000 to refugees from Syria.
So far Washington plans on absorbing 10,000 Syrian refugees this year. Last week the governors of 27 states came out to publicly oppose the settlement of Syrian refugees in their states.
A recent poll, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates on behalf of a right-wing organization, indicated 84 percent of likely 2016 voters considered immigration from the Middle East to be "dangerous" for America.
Others argue the process is already extremely rigorous. Arnesa Buljusmic-Kustura 26, from Bosnia, recounted the vetting process she  went through in order to gain refugee status in the United States in a widely publicized series of 50 tweets. She is now the executive director of the Bosniak American Association of Iowa.
“I know these people, what they’re going through, how they are when they actually get to America” she said of the refugees. “These are good people, they’re hard-working people. They just want a chance to survive.”
The Department of Homeland Security sought to assuage worries with the release of an animated video explaining the vetting process through which refugees are allowed into the country.
“It’s important to remember, we’re focused on admitting the most vulnerable Syrians -- this means mostly women, children and families," Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said. "Second, anyone who applies for and is approved for refugee status in the United States, including Syrians, must first go through a rigorous security screening process.”