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The official blog of the National Center for Public Policy Research, covering news, current events and public policy from a conservative, free-market and pro-Constitution perspective.

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Friday
Dec272013

Horace Cooper to Appear on O'Reilly Factor to Discuss DOJ Charging Alleged 'Knockout Game' White Attacker with Hate Crime

OReillyFactorLogoWProject 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper will be a guest this evening on the Fox News Channel's "O'Reilly Factor," discussing the U.S. Department of Justice's decision to charge a white Texas man with a hate crime after he allegedly punched and severely injured a black man while "playing" the so-called "knockout game."

The Daily Caller's Caroline May (a National Center alumnus!) has reported on the story:

The Department of Justice has charged a Katy, Texas man who participated in the "knockout game" with a federal hate crime.

On Thursday, federal officials announced that they arrested and charged 27-year-old Conrad Alvin Barrett -- a white man -- with a federal racially-motivated hate crime for attempting to knock out an unsuspecting 79-year-old African American man with a single punch.

"Suspected crimes of this nature will simply not be tolerated," said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson in a statement. "Evidence of hate crimes will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted with the assistance of all our partners to the fullest extent of the law."

Nearly all "knockout game" attacks have featured black attackers targeting white or Jewish victims.

DailyCallerLogoHairlineWAccording to Justice Department officials, Barrett recorded the attack on his cell phone and showed it to other people. He also made other videos identifying himself in one of them and making a racial slur in another.

"The plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?" said Barrett in one video, according to the complaint...

Read the rest of Caroline's story here.

This will be Horace's third appearance on the O'Reilly Factor this year. He last appeared on the show in August.

Horace Cooper fans can also catch him on national radio on January 6, when he is scheduled to be interviewed by Sean Hannity about the Duck Dynasty controversy.

The O'Reilly Factor interview will mark Horace's 260th live radio or television interview for the National Center in 2013 alone.

Friday
Dec272013

Jesse Jackson's "Duck Dynasty" Rant Rejected

Already marginalized by the election of a black president and his own left-wing fringe politics, the Reverend Jesse Jackson is further alienating himself from mainstream America by suggesting that “Duck Dynasty” reality star Phil Robertson is worse than the bus driver who refused to let Rosa Parks sit in peace.

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family featured on the hit show “Duck Dynasty” on the A&E basic cable network, was suspended indefinitely from filming after comments he made against same-sex marriage enraged the homosexual special interest lobby.  There is, however, a tremendous backlash against the suspension.  Additionally, a move by the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain to remove “Duck Dynasty” merchandise from its shelves was quickly reversed after a flurry of complaints.

Jackson is demanding a meeting with executives from A&E Networks and Cracker Barrel to discuss Phil Robertson’s comments in the GQ magazine interview that got him suspended, but is focusing particularly on other comments Roberts made relating to race relations.

In that interview, Phil Robertson complained that progress in the black community was hurt by the creation of the welfare state in the late 1960s.  Pointing out that, long before he was as rich as he is portrayed on “Duck Dynasty” and was working on the same farms as civil rights era blacks, he noted:

I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person… Not once.  Where we lived was all farmers.  The blacks worked for the farmers.  I hoed cotton with them.  I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash.

In particular, Jackson takes offense with Phil Robertson’s additional comment:

They’re singing and happy.  I never heard one of them, one black person, say, “I tell you what: These doggone white people.”  Not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-wlefare, you say: Were they happy?  They were godly.  They were happy.  No one was singing the blues.

Jackson claimed:

These statements uttered by [Phil] Robertson are more offense than the bus driver in Montgomery, Alabama more than 59 years ago… At least the bus driver, who ordered Rosa Parks to surrender her seat to a white person, was following state law.  Robertson’s statements were uttered freely and openly without cover of the law, within a context of what he seemed to believe was “white privilege.”

A&E Networks and Cracker Barrel executives have not yet responded to Jackson’s demand.

Members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network are responding to the Jackson-created controversy, telling the targeted businesses to stand firm against any of Jackson’s potential radical demands and shakedown tactics.  They also see Jackson making too much of the situation — essentially leading his own quixotic “me too” campaign to regain relevancy in a nation that no longer seeks his advice.

Project 21 member Demetrius Minor said:

Jesse Jackson compared Phil Robertson’s comment and same-sex marriage and race to the bus driver who demanded Rosa Parks give up her seat to a white man on a bus.

The comparison of a reality show star’s personal beliefs to a key catalyst of the civil rights movement is not only asinine — it’s straight foolery.

Additionally, Project 21 member Darryn “Dutch” Martin said:

So now Jesse Jackson want to have a sit-down with A&E Networks and Cracker Barrel over the Phil Robertson flap.  Let me guess: he’s gonna try for a shakedown.

I wish that I was an executive or on the board of directors of either company.  I’d deal with Jackson the way Rudy Giuliani, as the newly-elected mayor of New York City, did with Al Sharpton.

In less delicate terms, Rudy told Sharpton that his brand of race politics were unwelcome at city hall.

Thursday
Dec262013

Project 21 Awaits ObamaCare Debut

For ObamaCare, it’s about time for the rubber to really hit the road.  And things don’t look promising to the membership of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network.

Unless, of course, the hope is that President Obama’s signature plan to try to take over America’s health care system crashes down upon itself before too many innocent Americans are hurt.

Coverage for enrollees is supposed to kick in on January 1.  However, for those who enrolled in Oregon, the fears of many applicants and observers that a lack of confirmation on the part of the exchanges may lead to people across America being left uncovered and ignorant of that fact became realized in a robocall.  Covered Oregon called applicants on Friday, December 20 to warn them that they should make plans to find immediate coverage elsewhere if they don’t hear anything from the government by the following Monday.  That would mean there was a problem in that coverage they so diligently enrolled for.  Oopsie.

This new fear added to the fears of others who were still having trouble enrolling in the first place.  The Obama Administration once again took the law into its own hands, extending its enrollment deadline by another day to Christmas Eve.  There’s no word yet on how many people Santa encountered still waiting in the ObamaCare queue while on his appointed rounds early on the 25th.

And, in a bizarre move that seems effective only in poking fun at the masses, Obama himself added to the enrollment chaos by allegedly signing up for a bronze plan on the D.C. Health Link exchange.  While it may seem odd that a family man of means such as Obama would sign up for the lowest-tier of the ObamaCare regime, he has absolutely no reason to fear high deductibles and premiums as he and his wife and kids will never have to use it – they will continue to get the best coverage and treatment of likely any American through the U.S. military as presidents always do.

In the days and weeks ahead, people will be learning a whole lot about what came in that bill that most lawmakers never read.  And most of these discoveries are likely going to be unhappy ones.

Project 21 member Christopher Arps wonders about the disconnect between the deceptive practices of this White House and its continued support among the radical fringe.  On one hand, the left remains angry toward Obama’s predecessor and Bush’s justification for launching portions of the Global War on Terrorism.  Yet, when the Obama Administration is caught misleading the public when it comes to the administration of government-run health care, the claims of lies and obfuscation from the left are virtually nonexistent.  Arps said:

If health care “experts” knew people were going to be losing their plans because of ObamaCare, you know darn well the Obama Administration was also aware of the problem!

As David Nather pointed out in Policito, cancelled individual health plans were no surprise to those who understood how ObamaCare operated.  In fact, he said, “the new rules for health insurance prices create winners and loser.”  Yet Obama sold it to the American people as a winning prospect for all.

Some people cried bloody murder that President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Powell “lied” us into a war in Iraq.  But they now seem to excuse this president’s lying about someone so personal as your health care.

Another Project 21 member, Ak’Bar Shabazz, notes new higher prices for deductibles and premiums are not coming at an increase in quality.  He pointed out:

Look at your health care deductibles and your grandmother’s prescription drug costs.  After you do that, tell me that having health insurance is equal to having quality health care coverage.

Expensive deductibles and co-pays are put in place to discourage people from actually using their policies.  They want you to pay, but they also want to prevent you from overusing it – or using it at all.

This concern about a new and precipitous rift between coverage and quality in medical services under ObamaCare has long been a focus of Project 21 member Dr. Elaina George, an award-winning otolaryngologist.  In a recent blog post, Dr. George wrote:

It is no longer about the content of one’s character.  It is all about winning at all costs.

How else can the blind and dogged devotion of progressives to ObamaCare be explained at this point in time…

Cheerleaders of this ghoulish system apparently think it’s okay for people to die from a lack of access due to high costs or a denial of medical services deemed to be either medically unnecessary, experimental or simply too expensive.  The real human costs are distilled down to statistical talking points because it is more important to be on the winning team no matter the consequences.

For those who still believe in ObamaCare after all of this, it brings a whole new meaning to the notion of taking one for the team.

Nonetheless, at least one Project 21 member is seeing the current state of affairs with hope.  Stacy Washington thinks that the very obvious cracks on the ObamaCare plan may lead to its quick demise.  She said:

I cannot stomach listening to President Obama lie about ObamaCare.

But he’s apparently eliminated the individual mandate for the more than six million Americans who had their insurance plans cancelled as a result of his agenda.  At least for now.

He’s on a roll!

Every couple of weeks, he dismantles ObamaCare a little more.  By the summer, it should be completely gone!

Wednesday
Dec252013

Unto You is Born This Day

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Luke 2: 1-14

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Thursday
Dec192013

“Duck Dynasty” Dumping Derided by Project 21

While acknowledging his behavior on the show bears no resemblance to the current portrayals of him by his critics, A&E Networks still acquiesced to liberal rage and suspended Phil Robertson from future filming of the reality show “Duck Dynasty.”

In an interview with GQ magazine, Phil Robertson — the patriarch of the entrepreneurial family that is the heart of the “Duck Dynasty” program — was asked about his definition of sin.  A devout Christian, he reportedly replied: “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there.  Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and that man.”

Robertson, however, has also said he would “never threat anyone with disrespect” despite any personal behaviors of which he may personally disagree.

But the GLAAD (originally named the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) condemned the remarks as “some of the vilest and most extreme statements uttered against LGBT people in mainstream media.”

A&E Networks quickly announced: “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series ‘Duck Dynasty’… The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

Since the announcement by the network, hundreds of thousands of people have signed petitions and liked Facebook pages supporting Phil Robertson.  The “Boycott A&E Until Phil Robertson’s Put Back on Duck Dynasty” page on Facebook had just under 600,000 likes as of 3:00PM eastern on 12/19/13 — more than the number of likes for the official A&E Networks Facebook page (584,825).

The “Duck Dynasty” program is a cable TV blockbuster.  It regularly brings more than 9 million viewers to the A&E channel — an extremely high number of viewers for any network, premium or basic cable channel.  It has set basic cable viewership records.

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, the Robertson family’s home state, issued a statement that said, in part:

I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment.  It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.

Members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network are also commenting on the Robertson controversy.  These black conservative activists are surprised at the liberal outrage, and suggesting that supporters of Phil Robertson use their remote controls to do the talking for them.

After hearing the actual remarks that caused the outrage leading to Phil Robertson’s suspension and likely termination from the show, Project 21 member Coby Dillard said:

That’s ALL Phil Robertson said?

A&E is gonna regret their little tantrum long before it hurts him.

They should’ve just said the standard “his views ain’t ours, enjoy the show,” meant it and kept it moving.

Project 21 member Christopher Arps added:

I fully support “Duck Dynasty’s” Phil Robertson’s right to express his religious beliefs.

I also fully support A&E’s right to terminate their business relationship with him.

And I fully support our rights as consumers to watch another channel.

And Project 21 member Darryn “Dutch” Martin said:

The PC police strike again!

But, this time, I honestly think it’s going to backfire on GLAAD and other thin-skinned liberal groups that want to go after Christians who openly express their devout beliefs.

“Duck Dynasty” is A&E’s highest-rated show.  People are getting tired of the PC garbage.

Mary my words.  Fans of the show are going to raise holy hell, and Phil will be back on the show in no time.

top photo credit: iStockPhoto

Thursday
Dec192013

Project 21 Members Talk Christmas Cheer and Jeers

A creche located outside city hall in Chincoteague, VirginiaAs common as the sales in the stores and the wassail at the parties, the Christmas season inevitably generates protests against the holiday’s religious underpinnings.

From the removal of Nativity scenes by the federal and local governments to schools banning the obvious trappings of the holiday, some people have taken to calling this secularization of the season the “war on Christmas.”  It bothers some people enough that Texas passed a law protecting people who want to celebrate the traditional holidays.

Members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network have a myriad of opinions about the atheist and politically correct assault on outward displays of Christmas cheer.

Project 21 member Christopher Arps, for example, wonders if those against having a “Merry Christmas” have read the Constitution.  He sees no problem with crèches at city hall since there is no imposition of religion.  He says:

I’m no attorney, but I’ve never understood how Nativity scenes on government property or prayers at a high school graduation violate the so-called separation of church and state.

That separation, by the way, is not even in the Constitution.  The First Amendment of the Constitution says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting free exercise thereof…”

How do these examples establish religion by law?

Talking about the atheist assault on Christmas in particular, Project 21 member Derryck Green — in a recently-published New Visions Commentary — said:

Wherever these innocent — and usually welcomed — Christian religious displays are found, there’s often a bitter atheist complaining to local authorities and the media because public display of the baby Jesus in a manger offends their irreligious sensibilities…

It’s also interesting that it’s only the God worshipped by Christians with whom radical atheists really take issue.  They don’t seem to have the same fervor for challenging Ramadan, Passover or Diwali.  Is it easier to bully those who believe in “turn(ing) the other cheek” than those more forceful in defending their beliefs?

I think there’s more to it.  Atheists feel threatened because they have nothing to offer.  Religion, any religion, does.

Project 21 member Council Nedd II, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Missionary Chuch, added in his own New Visions Commentary:

As a man of the cloth and a staunch defender of the Judeo-Christian faith that built our great nation, one thing that always bothers me is when atheists seek to deprive us of the true reason for the season — the birth of Jesus.

There are legal and physical attacks on public Nativity scenes, restrictions on religious aspects of holiday programs and even those who want to essentially ban the “Merry Christmas” greeting.  Atheists seem to come of out hiding as stockings and tinsel make their appearance — acting like Grinches wanting to steal our Christmas spirit.

I think it’s a superiority complex on the part of atheists.  It’s an affront to the faith that founded our nation and made it the great power it is today.  Yet this attack on our heritage appears every year like the first snow.

Project 21 member Demetrius Minor has a more optimistic perspective.  He says that no attack on Christmas or Christianity at this time or any other will score the mortal blow that critics seek.  Why?  Because people who are confident in their beliefs have nothing to fear from challenges.

In a commentary published by the Washington Times, Minor said:

There can truly be no war on Christmas. Even if the more mainstream guided individuals seek to secularize Christmas by omitting a religious phrase, it will never overwhelm the spirit of Christmas, which is displayed in actions, not mere words…

The best way to address the differences in how individuals choose to issue out Christmas greetings is to let each exercise their First Amendment rights in the manner they see fit.  If they say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays,” we must all realize that is still a sharing of peace and goodwill towards men, which is what this holiday season represents.

If we were all confident in our beliefs and moral practices, nothing will offend us.

Wednesday
Dec182013

Did Sebelius Lie About Preventive Care?

One of the most misleading and yet pervasive notions about health care is that preventive care saves the health care system money.  This leads politicians and others to advocate for laws the prohibit insurers from requiring any cost-sharing for preventive care.  Let patients use lots of preventive care, the thinking goes, and the health care system will save lots of money in the long run.

That notion was on display in this exchange between HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had the below exchange with Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) at Energy and Commerce Hearing last Wednesday: 

So, Sebelius believes that catching an illness early and avoiding expensive hospitalization lowers health insurance premiums.  Sebelius should know better.  Indeed, does she?  In other words, is Sebelius lying?  For a statement to qualify as a lie it must (1) be untrue and (2) the person uttering it knows it is untrue.  

On balance, Sebelius’ statement is untrue.  Back in 2008 the New England Journal of Medicine published an article in which the authors performed an exhaustive review of the cost-effectiveness of preventive measures.  The authors noted that statements similar to the one made by Sebelius were inaccurate:

Our findings suggest that the broad generalizations made by many presidential candidates can be misleading. These statements convey the message that substantial resources can be saved through prevention. Although some preventive measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the health economics literature do not. Careful analysis of the costs and benefits of specific interventions, rather than broad generalizations, is critical.

On health care there is a ton of misinformation masquerading as fact, and the notion that preventive care saves money is one of them.  Thus, I’d like to give Secretary Sebelius the benefit of the doubt.  I’d like to, but I won’t.

First, when Congressional Budget Office “scored” Obamacare, it never scored any of the preventive care provisions as saving any money.  It explained why in a letter to then-Rep. Nathan Deal:

Although different types of preventive care have different effects on spending, the evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall.

That result may seem counterintuitive. For example, many observers point to cases in which a simple medical test, if given early enough, can reveal a condition that is treatable at a fraction of the cost of treating that same illness after it has progressed. In such cases, an ounce of prevention improves health and reduces spending—for that individual. But when analyzing the effects of preventive care on total spending for health care, it is important to recognize that doctors do not know beforehand which patients are going to develop costly illnesses. To avert one case of acute illness, it is usually necessary to provide preventive care to many patients, most of whom would not have suffered that illness anyway. Even when the unit cost of a particular preventive service is low, costs can accumulate quickly when a large number of patients are treated preventively. Judging the overall effect on medical spending requires analysts to calculate not just the savings from the relatively few individuals who would avoid more expensive treatment later, but also the costs for the many who would make greater use of preventive care.

Given that Sebelius was intricately involved in the development of Obamacare, what are the odds that she didn’t know the CBO had said that the preventive care provisions wouldn’t save any money?  Slim and none, and slim left two hours ago.

Then there is the fact that the aides in the White House knew that President Obama’s promise that if you like your insurance you could keep your insurance was not true but let Obama repeat it anyway.  If the President’s staff aren’t willing to stop a whopper directed constantly at the American public, then one member of his staff will have no concern over a lie concening a less important issue stated at a Congressional hearing. 

Tuesday
Dec172013

Enrollment Fallout 

Over at National Review Online Jim Geraghty notes that most Obamacare exchanges—45, in fact—have not even reached 10 percent of their enrollment goals.  Geraghty writes, “The only states that have reached 10 percent of their enrollment goals are California, Colorado, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island; Kentucky is close.” 

And of those, Connecticut is somewhat illusory.  According to the Hartford Courant a “glitch” at Access Health CT resulted in a lot of people thinking they were buying policies that covered more out-of-pocket costs than those policies actually do:

More than 2,400 Connecticut customers who bought health plans on Access Health CT were given incorrect information about their insurance plans, in one case underestimating the maximum out-of-pocket by at least $4,000….

Access Health CT would not say how the problem started, or who was responsible. The exchange did say that the problem was discovered in late September and was fixed by Oct. 30.

The exchange said a letter was mailed to 2,408 people who bought plans from the starting date of Oct. 1. A spokeswoman did not respond to a request Wednesday for the number of enrollees who changed their plans after receiving the letter.

Presumably the spokeswoman also didn’t say how many people dropped their plans after receiving the letter.  Thus, Connecticut’s reported enrollment figure 14,365 is inaccurate. 

Connecticut is not the only one.  The Washington state exchange, which was initially considered one of the exchanges with a website that worked well, also has suspect enrollment numbers.  It turns out that the Washington exchange miscalculated the subsidy for a lot of enrollees:

About 8,000 Washington Health Benefit Exchange applicants will get smaller federal tax credits for their health insurance than originally anticipated because of computer problems on the federal and state health insurance websites.

The average difference is about $100 per month, or $1,200 per year, according to a statement from Richard Onizuka, the exchange chief executive officer.

So far, no word on how many of those people have also cancelled their policies.  But at least one is likely to:

Jessica Sanford, the Federal Way woman who got a shout-out from President Obama last month with her fan letter for the Affordable Care Act, got a rather rude awakening last week. Turns out she doesn’t qualify for a tax credit after all.

At least that’s what the letter said that she got from the state. Now she says her dream of affordable health insurance has gone poof. She can’t afford it. She’ll have to go without. “I’m really terribly embarrassed,” she says. “It has completely turned around on me. I mean, completely.”

Some other notes on enrollment:

-For updates on enrollment, visit the website Enroll Maven.  According to Enroll Maven, nearly 42 percent of the enrollment period is over and total exchange enrollment is only 6.2% of the way toward the goal of 7 million.

-I’ve previously estimated what enrollment might look like by the end of the enrollment period on March 31.  I won’t repeat how I did the estimate (see this blog post), but I will re-print the table here:

-Finally, what happens if the exchanges fall well short of the enrollment targets?  For starters, it will be another PR debacle for the White House—make that a well-deserved PR debacle.  Of course before the final enrollment report comes out, presumably in mid April, it will be pretty clear how far the exchanges are from meeting enrollment targets.  Thus, it won’t be the shock that the disastrous healthcare.gov was in its opening days.  Nevertheless, expect the story to get a few days press which will only add to the headaches the administration has over Obamacare.

A bigger concern is whether the number of people without insurance will increase.  Thus far, 5-6 million insurance cancellation notices have been sent out in the individual market.  Since some of those cancellation notices surely went out to couples and families, the number of people losing insurance is higher than that 5-6 million figure.  Assuming the exchanges fall short of enrollment targets, then the difference between policies sold in the exchange and policies cancelled in the individual market will lead to questions about whether the number of uninsured increased.  Since Obamacare was supposed to reduce the uninsured, that could prove another big headache for the Obama Administration.  And, of course, it will be a much bigger headache for the people who have lost their insurance policies and have not been able to find a suitable replacement.

Then there is the impact low enrollment will have on insurance policies on the exchange.  Let’s assume that those who sign up will be older and sicker than those who don’t.  At this point that’s a fair assumption.  Eighteen-to-34 year-olds comprise less than 25 percent of the enrollees in most of the exchanges that have reported enrollment data by age.  That’s far short of the 40 percent the administration estimates it needs to keep the exchange insurance pools from entering a death spiral.  (Only Massachusetts is close to 40 percent.  See this excellent graphic at the New York Times.)

If an insufficient number of young and healthy people sing up, premiums will rise precipitously for 2015.  Don’t be too surprised to see rate increase of 30 percent or more.  But that may not be the only way that insurers try to meet their costs.  One that they have already used is to restrict the networks of physicians and hospitals that are available in exchange plans.  Restricting those networks even further could be a consequence of insufficient enrollment.  

In the end, missing the enrollment target could mean exchange policies with even higher premiums and worse choice of providers.

photo: iStockPhoto

Monday
Dec162013

Which Is Having A Worse Year, Obamacare or NHS?

The bureaucrats at the Dept. of Health and Human Services and those at Great Britain’s National Health Service should consider getting together to compare notes on 2013.   

I don’t know who would come out the winner in the pity competition, but at least the ObamaCare exchanges aren’t abandoning 1 in 4 women who are giving birth:

One in four new mothers were left alone by midwives when they were in labour, the NHS watchdog has revealed.

Some were forced to give birth on the floor in waiting rooms, having earlier been told not to come in as they were ‘not in enough pain’.

Other women said they felt ‘lonely, helpless and uncared for’ after being made to wait two hours for morphine following a caesarean.

The NHS’s chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards, who oversaw a survey of 23,000 women, said some cases were ‘shocking’.

He added that failings in maternity wards were turning what should be the ‘most joyous’ experience of a woman’s life into one of the ‘most frightening’.

Treatment of pregnant women isn’t the only appalling problem in Britain’s single-payer system.  According to the Daily Mail:

Thousands of cancer patients are being denied urgent tests by their [General Practitioners], figures show.

Family doctors are typically referring fewer than half of all victims for fast-track appointments that are meant to ensure they have the best chance of survival.

Here’s a few other highlights:

-A “survey said thousands of patients have all but given up trying to secure appointments with their family doctor.”

-A report released in early 2013 was the fourth investigation of its kind into the terrible neglect at Mid Stafford Hospital.  A previous report found that conditions at Stafford may have led to 1,200 needless deaths between 2005 and 2009. 

-Between September 2012 and September 2013, “255,640 patients were kept waiting outside English hospitals [in ambulances] for at least double the 15 minutes recommended by NHS guidance.”  A patient in “Wales was made to wait six hours and 22 minutes before being admitted, while another in the East of England was delayed for five hours and 51 minutes.”

At the same time this is going on, Physicians For A National Health Plan, a single-payer group in the U.S., is promoting a new video and twitter hashtag to promote a single-payer bill in Congress.  Amusingly one of the actors in the video says “maybe I should’ve been British.”


Friday
Dec132013

Politifact Admits The Obvious

Many conservatives and libertarians are cheering Politifact’s decision to name President Obama’s claim, “If you like your health care plan you can keep it,” as lie of the year.  A bit less enthusiasm is in order.

Sean Higgins of the Washington Examiner has been tracking Politifact’s “evolving” position on Obama’s claim and dubs its current stand as an “impressive display of chutzpah”:  

And in an October 2008 column — just before the election — PolitiFact actually rated Obama’s promise as “true.” It said at the time: “Obama is accurately describing his health care plan here. He advocates a program that seeks to build on the current system, rather than dismantling it and starting over.”

In other words, it rated him on the basis of whether he was accurately stating his own campaign promise, a hurdle no politician could fail to clear.

 By contrast, Higgins notes how Politifact treated GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney:

In June 2012, PolitiFact rated a claim by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that “up to 20 million Americans” could ultimately lose their insurance under Obamacare as “false.” It did this even though it acknowledged that the Congressional Budget Office analysis that Romney was citing included the 20 million figure as a possible scenario.

To read more on Politifact’s disingenuousness, see Higgin’s columns here, here and here.

Cato’s Michael Cannon also had some good takes on Politifact:

 

 

For more, see Cannon’s Twitter feed.

Wednesday
Dec112013

Duped and Disenfranchised by ObamaCare

It’s been another bad week for President Obama’s signature policy initiative and the payback is intense.

Over the weekend, Ezekiel Emanuel — one of the key players in the creation of ObamaCare — candidly said that one of the real keys necessary to keeping one’s doctor or policy under the new government-controlled health care regime is having the money or the power to do so.  The desire to keep it isn’t enough.  Period.

Emanuel said on “Fox News Sunday” on the Fox News Channel:

The President never said you were going to have unlimited choice of any doctor in the country you want to go to… [I]f you want to pay more for an insurance company that covers your doctor, you can do that.  This is a matter of choice.  We know in all sorts of places you pay more for certain — for a wider range of choices or a wider range of benefits. 

Then, later in the week, MSNBC mouthpiece Melissa Harris-Perry declared that the term ObamaCare — which was once embraced by Obama himself and claimed by former liberal Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) — was actually  “conceived of by wealthy white men who needed to put themselves above and apart from a black man, to render him inferior and unequal, and to diminish his accomplishments.”  It’s now, according to her, a “derogatory” term “meant to shame, to divide and to demean.”

ObamaCare is exposed to be a lot worse of a deal for the American people than how it was sold to them.  And, with their backs against the wall, its supporters are cranky.  It’s gotten so bad that those willing to speak up and offer constructive criticism about it are now being called racist as an obvious gambit to silence complaints.  Dissent, which was patriotic in the Bush era, now apparently bordering on treason.

Project 21 member Dr. Elaina George, an award-winning otolaryngologist, says the depths to which ObamaCare’s supporters have plunged is too much to abide.  It’s an offense to society’s sensibilities about race and fairness as well as an affront to the legacy of the civil rights movement.  Dr. George says:

It is no longer about the content of one’s character.  It is all about winning at all costs.

How else can the blind and dogged devotion of progressives to ObamaCare be explained at this point in time.

The architects of ObamaCare admit the law is inherently unfair.  It creates a two-tiered system that benefits the wealthy and privileged friends while relegating the poor, middle class and disenfranchised to an inferior health care system likely to be devoid of quality doctors.  The unlucky ones who can’t afford such quality will be locked out of medical centers of excellence such as Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center — stuck paying higher costs for medication and paying extra as if it is a privilege.

Cheerleaders of this ghoulish system apparently think it’s okay for people to die from a lack of access due to high costs or a denial of medical services deemed to be either medically unnecessary, experimental or simply too expensive. The real human costs are distilled down to statistical talking points because it is more important to be on the winning team no matter the consequences.

For those who still believe in ObamaCare after all of this, it brings a whole new meaning to the notion of taking one for the team.  It is immoral and unfair for those who created this system, along with their friends, to opt out while falsely crying racism to silence anyone who dares question their hypocrisy of the President Obama’s policy.

It is past the time to demand that we really live by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call for people to be judged by the content of their character instead of being silenced by hypocritical race hustlers who want to control our destiny.

The race card, which has been overdrawn for far too long, must be declined.  Those who want to create and perpetuate victims in order to remain relevant need to be exposed and rejected.

Wednesday
Dec112013

Obamacare Exchanges Won't Hit Enrollment Targets

The Dept. of Health and Human Services released its latest enrollment report for the Obamacare exchanges.  According to the report, 364,682 selected a plan among all the exchanges.  137,204 selected plans in the federal exchanges and 227,478 selected plans on state exchanges.

Those numbers means that the selection of plans increased in November compared to October.  But it also means the exchanges are on track to fall short of the enrollment targets of 3,923,000 for the federal exchanges and 7,066,000 for all exchanges.

In the table below I’ve taken the daily rate of enrollment plan selection for all exchanges in November and assumed they continued through March 31.  I also assumed that the rate quadruples in the two weeks prior to Dec. 23 the deadline for purchasing a plan that begins coverage on Jan.1   I also assumed that the rate quadruples in the two weeks before March 31 when the open enrollment period ends.   I then applied the rates to both the federal exchanges and all exchanges.

The federal exchanges fall about 44% short of the enrollment target and all exchanges fall about 43% short.  The only question is whether the shortfall will be distributed evenly among all age groups?  Probably not.  In states where we have information, such as Colorado, Kentucky, and California, enrollment of 18-34-year-olds are falling far short of 35% rate that the Obama Administration estimate it needs.

Death spiral, here we come.

photo: iStockPhoto

Monday
Dec092013

When Somebody Says It's Not About The Money...

With apologies to H.L. Mencken, when Obamacare supporters say it ain’t about the cha-ching or ba-bling, it’s about the cha-ching and ba-bling.

That is the the lens through which one should view the video “Forget About the Price Tag,” the winner of the Dept. of Health and Human Services ’ Healthy Young America video contest in which people submitted and the public voted on videos designed to sucker encourage young people to purchase an insurance plan on the exchange.

Here’s the video.  The key part happens at about 0:46:

A few thoughts.  First, if you have to sell something by telling the target consumer to “forget about the price tag,” isn’t that a tacit admission the product is overpriced?  I’m hard pressed to think of the last time a commercial made a similar pitch.  The reason, I suspect, is advertisers know that if you encourage people to ignore the price of what you’re selling, most of the public, including younger people, see multiple red flags flying up the poles.

Second, when the young lady says it’s not about the money (okay, cha-ching), what she means is that Obamacare supporters hope young people age 18-34 are dumb enough to think it shouldn’t be about the money.  That way, the young people can help fund the older and sicker people in the exchange for whom it is definitely about the cha-ching.  It is also all about the ba-bling for the Obama Administration, because without enough young people buying insurance, the exchanges are headed for disaster. 

In the end, I doubt the young are that easily fooled.  For more, see Jeffrey Anderson in The Weekly Standard.

photo: iStockPhoto

Friday
Dec062013

Health Care Odds & Ends

1. MyCancellation Town Hall. The Independent Women’s Voice is kicking off a town-hall tour of its “My Cancellation” project this Saturday:

My Cancellation town-hall tour will begin on Saturday, December 7th at 12:30pm at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.  The panel will feature healthcare policy expert Naomi Lopez of the Illinois Policy Institute, insurance leader C. Stephen Tucker of Small Business Insurance Services, Inc., and medical professionals.  

IWC will be holding other town halls in North Carolina, Louisiana and Arizona.  More details here.  And also visit MyCancellation.com to see lots of photos of people with their insurance cancellation notices.  Here’s one of my favorites:

2. Sen. Harry Reid Repeats The Lie.  No description is necessary.  Just watch the clip:

3. Hey Doc, You Don’t Mind Treating Me For Free, Do Ya?  It’s The Law.  Will this lead to a flood of doctors going to “all-cash” practices?  One can hope.  From Michelle Malkin:

The Affordable Care Act created a 90-day grace period before insurers can drop patients who fall behind on premiums. So, delinquents who obtain tax-subsidized health insurance through an Obamacare health insurance exchange have three months to settle up their bills prior to their policy being canceled. As written, the law puts insurers on the hook for the grace period.

But the bureaucrats at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services decided to issue a rule in March making insurers responsible only for paying claims during the first 30 days of the debtors’ grace period. Who’s on the hook for the other two months? Well, customers are entrusted to foot the bills for additional services. But if they blow off the payments, it’s up to physicians and hospitals to collect.

In real-world practice, this means providers will be eating untold costs. 

4. How To Opt Out Of Obamacare.  I’ve never liked the idea of encouraging young people to protest Obamacare by forgoing insurance.  But Sean Parnell lists way to opt out of Obamacare—i.e., not purchase insurance on the exchanges—and still get health coverage.  Here’s one option:

Buy a short-term health insurance policy. These policies usually last between 1 and 11 months (6 months seem to be standard) and are not regulated under Obamacare, and therefore don’t offer the same high level of benefits that can drive up costs. Deductibles are available that are higher than what is allowed with Obamacare-compliant health insurance, leading to further savings. They can typically be renewed at the end of the policy, although it is a new policy that won’t cover any conditions that occurred under the previous short-term policy. Another limitation is that they often can’t be renewed over and over again, it looks like 3 years of coverage is about the maximum. But they are much less expensive than conventional health insurance, and can be a good option for covering major medical expenses.

For more options, visit Parnell's blog, The Self-Pay Patient.

5. They’re Enrolled In Medicaid…Or Not.  You’ve probably already read that the federal exchange is having trouble getting the proper enrollment information to private insurers.  As a result, up to one-third of people who have chosen a private plan on the exchange may not end up not being enrolled.  Well, it turns out the federal exchanges are having a similar problem with Medicaid enrollment: 

People shopping for insurance on the federal marketplace may be informed they’re eligible for Medicaid and that their information is being sent to state officials to sign them up. However, states aren’t able enroll them because they’re not receiving usable data from the Obama administration….

The problem with Medicaid coordination could affect tens of thousands of applicants and represents the latest issue to arise in the rollout of a website that’s been plagued with long waits for users and other glitches….

Essentially, if you’re a consumer on healthcare.gov, it will tell you you’re eligible for Medicaid and the state agency will take care of it, but there’s no real way for the state Medicaid agency to know anything about it,” said Salo, who leads the nonpartisan membership group for state Medicaid chiefs.

But not to worry, the federal government is on the case:

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services wrote a memo to the 36 states using the federal website last week acknowledging the information wasn’t being transferred automatically and saying another system was being developed to send it. More complete files could be sent as soon as next week.

 photo: iStockPhoto

Friday
Dec062013

"About Those Jobs Numbers" — November

Like Wonderland, life in the Obama economic recovery is getting curiouser and curiouser.

Today’s federal jobless numbers indicated a change for the better, with the unemployment rate dropping three-tenths of a percentage point to 7.0 percent in November.  Yet there were more jobs created in October (204,000), when the unemployment rate actually rose one-tenth of a point that in November (203,000).  The labor force participation rate is flat as well.  And we are entering the temporary boost of holiday season.  Jobs numbers may also be influenced by the end of October’s federal government slowdown.

Speaking of influence, there is also a potential scandal — largely under the radar right now — in which the government’s job figures in 2012 may have been spoiled by tainted survey data.

What does all this mean?

As he usually does when the federal jobless report is released, Project 21 member Derryck Green shares his wisdom and commentary about the economic state of the nation in his “About Those Jobs Numbers” report.

This month, Derryck says:

It would appear there’s reason for celebration at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  It was announced that the official unemployment rate has fallen to 7.0 percent for the month of November.

Really?  I mean,… really?!

That appears to be an improvement, but the U-6 rate — the calculation that includes all of the people out of work, underemployed and so despondent that they’ve given up despite being able-bodied and ready to work — remains at a very high rate of 13.2 percent (not quite twice as much as, but close enough to, the lower rate that the media will report and Obama will embrace).

And then there are the more specific unemployment rates among the President’s key supporters.

For Hispanics, for instance, the unemployment rate is 8.7 percent.  For blacks, Obama’s most ardent supporters, the unemployment rate is 12.5 percent.  This, by the way, finally breaks the 55-month run during the Obama presidency in which the black unemployment rate was at least thirteen percent or higher.  Hooray!

Unemployment among black teens dipped only slightly to 35.8 percent.  This makes it the 54th month that the unemployment rate for black American teens has been at least 35 percent.

Not to be overlooked, the labor force participation rate rose only slightly to 63 percent (from 62.8 percent).  The number of able-bodied Americans now out of the workforce is 10.9 million.

Many people may have good reason to question the accuracy of these numbers.  There’s reason to believe the monthly jobless reports may actually have been worse than the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.  These numbers might have been manipulated to reflect a strengthening economy, just as it seems they were doctored during last year’s election cycle.

It’s been reported that at least one former Census Bureau employee was caught “fabricating data that went into the unemployment report.”  Higher-ups allegedly encouraged this, and false survey data showed an increased number of Americans employed.  It’s believed this dropped the unemployment rate significantly — thus helping President Obama in his bid for re-election.  In August of 2012, the rate was 8.1 percent.  The next four months the rate was 7.8 percent, 7.9 percent, 7.8 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively.

More troubling, because this possible scandal has largely been swept under the carpet, there’s no guarantee a corrupt manipulation of the numbers isn’t currently happening.  If it is, the unemployment rate — both the official U-3 and the total U-6 figures — could be much higher.  This would mean that the economy could be in worse shape than were being led to believe.

And, just a reminder: the President essentially moved the Census Bureau into the White House at the beginning of his first term, giving then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel oversight of the 2010 population count.  This further raises the appearance of impropriety when it comes to speculation about the politicization of economic numbers.

This possible falsification of economic data is yet another manifestation of the questionable behavior that undermines the Obama Administration’s credibility.  Considering all that’s happened with topics such as ObamaCare, Benghazi, the IRS allegedly targeting conservatives and Operation Fast and Furious, I’m not sure this administration has any credibility left!

Then there’s the overall misery in America.

Aside from the record number of 47 million Americans on welfare, President Obama’s economic stewardship also increased the number of Americans on federal disability to approximately 11 million people — a number higher than the populations of countries such as Greece or Portugal.   Even worse, the Disability Insurance Trust Fund, one of the many federal “safety nets,” has run a deficit every fiscal year during Obama’s reign.  The insurance fund program ran a deficit just 11 years in its almost 60-year history — with five of those 11 years belonging to our current dear leader.

One would think all this misery would make revenue-collection hard for the government.  To the contrary.  Remember, this is the Obama era.

The White House expects to collect over $3 trillion in revenue as a result of last year’s bipartisan tax increases.  This will be a record for federal tax collectors.

It seems the only time both political parties come together is to confiscate the money from hardworking Americans, regardless of how quickly that number may decrease.

Possibly doctored jobless numbers, accompanied by a sense of apathy and despair, are a characteristic staple of the Obama economy.

The so-called economic recovery under Obama seems much too slow to compensate for the number of Americans out of work.  It’s why people like me consider it possibly the worst recovery in our nation’s history. 

Obama’s apparent attempt to cure the slow-growth economy this week, by the way, was another long and uninspiring campaign speech about income disparity.

I apologize in advance to Oprah, as she may feel that I’m disrespecting the executive office.  But the President is foolish.  Obama’s a foolish, foolish man if he thinks that boring, recycled campaign rhetoric predicated on class warfare and envy qualifies as economic policy.

Obama said on December 4: “I believe this is the defining challenge of our time —  Making sure our economy works for every working American.  It’s why I ran for president.  It was at the center of last year’s campaign.  It drives everything I do in this office.  I do it because the outcomes of the debates we’re having right now… all these things will have real, practical implications for every American.”

This would qualify as the belly laugh of the year if the consequences of his ineptitude weren’t so serious.

It’s also another lie.

The rest of President Obama’s recycled campaign speech was his desire to reduce inequality, which in progressive-speak means more redistribution.  The speech, reflective of the President’s economic plan as a whole, lacked a vital, critical element — detailed plans for growth.

Reducing inequality from the top down through redistribution, rather than from the bottom up through increased economic prosperity — resulting from emergent economic opportunities without detailed plans for economic growth — is not only foolish, it’s irresponsible.

But being economically foolish and irresponsible has characterized the President Obama’s entire time in office.

top photo credit: iStockPhoto

Thursday
Dec052013

NOAA's Hurricane Prediction Failures "Undermine the Agency's Credibility"

NOAA — the federal weather forecasting agency — predicted between seven and 11 hurricanes for 2013, with three to six being major storms.  There were actually two weak hurricanes.

National Center for Public Policy Research President David Ridenour recently told Cox Media D.C. correspondent Jacqueline Fell that NOAA’s failure at predicting hurricanes “undermines the agency’s credibility.”  It also potentially puts lives at stake, as a string of poor pre-season predictions might cause people to disregard important near-term forecasts from NOAA that are important, accurate and vital to public safety.

Thursday
Dec052013

The Quality Of Exchange Plans Is Not Better 

Contrary to the claims of the President, the quality of exchange insurance is not necessarily better.

Yesterday at a Ways and Means Committee hearing, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute testified:

…it’s now well established that more than 50 percent of the plans sold on healthcare.gov (including the lower-cost plans that consumers are being most encouraged to purchase) are “narrow network” options that offer a very limited choice of providers. I don’t think the full scope of how restrictive these networks have become is fully appreciated, or the extent of the costs that are going to get transferred to patients. This is going to put particular hardship on patients with special medical needs or serious illnesses. 
Gottlieb examined the provider networks for the leading Preferred Provider Organization in nine state with Bronze policies on offer in their exchanges.  Here is what he found regarding the availability of specialists:
 

Gottlieb’s research puts the lie to another of President Obama’s claims.  The claim that health plans on the exchange would be better wasn’t as prominent as “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” but the damage is serious nonetheless.  I’ll end with some unnerving anecdotes from Gottlieb’s testimony:

We found one low cost plan in Florida that currently only has seven pediatricians in its network, to service a county that has 260,000 children according to census data. 

In New York City, we found a plan that doesn’t list a single gynecologist in its current  provider network, and another plan that doesn’t have a single cardiologist.

In San Diego County, we found a health plan that doesn’t have a single pediatric cardiologist in its network. In San Bernardino County, the nearest urologist offered by one plan is 80 miles away. The same health plan has 9 dermatologists but most of these doctors are at least 100 miles away and none appear to do specialized skin cancer surgery.

 photo credit: iStockPhoto

Thursday
Dec052013

Project 21's Swimp Warns Against False ObamaCare Prophets

On the 12/3/13 edition of “The Wilkow Majority” on SiriusXM satellite radio, Project 21 member Stacy Swimp said that the social agenda embedded in ObamaCare “fl[ies] in the face of our Judeo-Christian values,” and pastors who use their pulpits to promote the President’s health care takeover and encourage enrollment are acting as false prophets.

Stacy shocked Wilkow when he said:

If you see a pastor preaching ObamaCare from his pulpit, I stand on your show today and tell you what he or she has become is an enemy of the cross.

In particular, Stacy takes issue with ObamaCare’s promotion of abortion and the same-sex marriage.

Wilkow asked Stacy to be on the show to comment about a recent Washington Post commentary highlighting how a black church in the D.C. area, at the urging of its pastor, was holding an event to promote ObamaCare enrollment.  Columnist Colbert I. King wrote that the Reverend Frank D. Tucker “issued an emotional call to his congregation, young and old, to enroll in the program, resorting to language associated with the battle to win the right to vote.”

King added that “Tucker hammered at the obligation of the uninsured to enroll in the insurance program that Obama and other health-reform advocates have worked so hard to create.”  King noted that “talk show criticism and the pulpit defense crystallized the ObamaCare debate.”

 On Wilkow’s talk show, Swimp pointed out that he was not trying to score political points.  “I’m not talking conservative politics,” Stacy assured Wilkow, “I ‘m talking about the word of God.”

Focusing on the notion that pastors have a duty to promote ObamaCare for moral reasons, Stacy said:

If it is a moral issue, then the moral dilemma for [a pastor] should be: why in the world would I support something like this when, in fact, most of the people in my congregation are probably gonna be dropped from their health care?  They’re probably not going to continue to have their doctor.  All the false promises of this administration are actually undermining the quality of life of most of the people in his pews.  So, really, if you see a pastor doing this, you know what’s going on.  He’s bought and paid for by special interests.  He is, in fact, a false prophet, and he is turning people against God.

Stacy suggested real solutions to fixing problems with America’s health care could include paying more respect to free market ideas such as allowing people to purchase plans across state lines and promoting personal responsibility as a means of preventing future health care problems.

Thursday
Dec052013

Higher Costs, Less Choice... and Those Subsidies Might Not Help

National Center policy analyst Dr. David Hogberg was featured in a Fox News Channel report on 12/2/13 about the latest bad news regarding ObamaCare.

In a segment featured on “Special Report,” it was noted that President Obama’s promise of cheaper health care is not quite as clear-cut as it seems — bordering on being a lie.  Plans are turning out to be more expensive than anticipated, choices of doctors and medical facilities are being cut and there is now evidence that officials knew long ago that the subsidies some people will rely upon to afford ObamaCare mandates might not be as helpful as needed.

In particular, Dr. Hogberg pointed out a bronze plan offered through ObamaCare could end up costing $6,000 — a cost that may be unhelpful to many Americans who may want or need the lowest-cost plans available.

Tuesday
Dec032013

NOAA Should Get Out of the Hurricane Forecasting Business

ALT TAGWe once hired a chimp to make a point about forecasts.

Saturday marked the official end of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season and once again, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proved itself utterly incapable of accurately forecasting hurricanes.

It's time NOAA stop issuing hurricane forecasts.

In May, the agency predicted an "active or extremely active" hurricane season, forecasting that there would be 7-11 hurricanes, 3-6 major hurricanes, and 13-20 named storms.

The year's final tally: 2 hurricanes, no major hurricanes, and 13 named storms... not even "close enough for government work."

This marked the 7th time in the past ten years that NOAA's hurricane forecast has been wrong and its epic failure this year rivals even its disastrous forecast in 2005, when it predicted there would be 7-9 hurricanes and there ended up being 15.

NOAA's forecasts were only accurate in 2008, 2010 and 2011. In 2010 and 2011, the actual number of hurricanes just barely fell within NOAA's forecast range, despite being uncharacteristically large.

Perhaps NOAA could be forgiven, somewhat, if it at least got the post-season analysis right. But it can't even do that.

In its November 25 mea culpa, sans the culpa (NOAA never mentions its forecast nor its spectacular failure), NOAA asserts that the season ranks as "the sixth-least-active Atlantic hurricane season since 1950, in terms of the collective strength and duration of named storms and hurricanes."

This is a bit misleading, to say the least. Most Americans would see this statement and conclude that there were five other years since 1950 with less storm activity.

But that's not what it means.

What NOAA it means is that if you only count the storms that our government noticed, then it is the sixth least active since 1950.

That's akin to a Keystone Kop facing once direction with all sorts of criminal activity behind his back saying, "No crime around here."

NOAA is attempting to suggest a degree of precision that it simply does not possess.

It wasn't until 1966, with the launch of ESSA-1 and ESSA-2, that we had a weather satellite system in place.

Prior to this system, the odds were pretty good that storms - in particular those outside of shipping and travel lanes - would be missed entirely.

Since the start of the satellite age, our capabilities have improved dramatically and this makes it appear as though the number of tropical storms and hurricanes have increased, even when they haven't.

In terms of the number and intensity of hurricanes, the 2013 hurricane season might be the weakest... EVER.

This year, there were just two weak category 1 hurricanes. The 1982, 1930, 1919, 1917 and 1890 seasons also had two or fewer hurricanes, but at least one in each year was a major hurricane.

Dating back to 1850, there were just a handful of years - 1925 (one), 1914 (zero), 1907 (zero), and 1905 (one) - in which fewer hurricanes were recorded than this year. But because these seasons occurred prior to the advent of satellites, the odds are good that there were more hurricanes in some, if not all, of these years that went undetected.

Being wrong so frequently poses a more significant risk to NOAA than just a little embarrassment. It threatens to undermine the agency's credibility, undermine the public's faith in even its short-range forecasts, and ultimately place lives at risk.

And NOAA isn't alone in undermining it credibility by suggesting a greater level of certainty than it possesses.

For years now, we've been told that there is a scientific consensus that our burning of fossil fuels is creating dangerous warming of the planet.

Now the public has learned that we're in the midst of a 17-year "pause" in global warming that not one of the 73 climate models used by the U.N. Intergovernmental Climate on Climate Change in its Fifth Assessment Report predicted.

In 2002, commenting on the possibility that Iraq had supplied or might supply Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) to terrorists, Donald Rumsfeld, then Secretary of Defense, famously said: "...there are known knowns... There are known unknowns... But there are also unknown unknowns - there are things we do not know we don't know."

NOAA, the IPCC and other voices of science should be as candid and honest.