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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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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.

Tuesday
Dec032013

Project 21 Members Draw Line in Sand on "Knockout Game"

As New York City deals with what law enforcement officials believe to be the 10th recent local incidence of what is popularly known as the “knockout game,” Village Voice writer Roy Edroso downplays the assaults as “a small fraction of U.S. crime.”  In the big picture, Edroso is madder at conservative bloggers.  He blames them for “us[ing] the phenomenon to revive the old Ooga Booga.”  He says the Ooga Booga “is sort of a hit-and-run thing itself; its practitioners come out and strike when the news cycle is right.”

These attacks affect wholly innocent people who are simply going out their business.  For no real reason, they become recipients of premeditated attempts to throw one-shot knockout punches.  Victims are often the elderly, and race and religion may also play a factor in at least some of the selection criteria for the attacks.   But, on the black-oriented and MSNBC-affiliated web site The Grio, NBC digital production manager Will J. Wright wrote that the knockout game is just “a new avatar of fear [that] has emerged to be the proxy to disregard the innocence of young black men.”

All this insistence that the knockout game is unfounded hysteria (while never being fully discounted as false) fails to acknowledge the findings of James E. Causey, a editorial page writer for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.  In a commentary he wrote after visiting Milwaukee youth at a local boxing gym, he noted:

Counselors who work with troubled youth tell me that these crimes have been occurring for years; they weren’t tagged with a headline-grabbing name like “knockout game”…

The web site worldstarhiphop.com has a monthly “fight compilation” that shows excerpts of hundreds of fights, from women being sucker-punched to brutal gang attacks.  A majority of these acts involve people of color, and far too often there are more people recording the incidents than [breaking] them up or offering assistance to the victims.  These videos often earn thousands of views and “likes” and “recommendations” on Facebook, which turn the perpetrators into overnight sensations…

Most of the boys I talked to either say they have seen people sucker-punched and knocked out, or they know someone who has been involved in the crime… Those who participate do so solely for the thrill.

Even Mike Tyson, someone with a very violent past, is aghast at what he hears about the knockout gang.  Tyson told CNN’s Piers Morgan: “[I]t doesn’t make any sense… I don’t think it’s cool… There’s just some evil people.”

A lack of responsibility among black writers and the media in general, among activists and from so-called leaders in the black community about how to deal with the problem of the “knockout game” is a long-running source of anger for many of the members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network.  They even disagree that the word “game” should be associated with the random, senseless attacks.

Project 21 members are calling on the media, the so-called leaders in the black community and even the general public to join with them in calling for a quick and decisive end to the violence.  In doing so, they are also thanking those who have already spoken out — sometimes at potential harm to themselves or their standing in their communities.

For example, Project 21 member Stacy Washington, a radio talk show host in the St. Louis area — where knockout attacks have been reported — said:

When the victim is black, and an opportunity exists to further trumpet the race narrative to benefit their bottom lines, race-baiters and faux leaders in the black community never fail to speak loudly and fervently.  Many times, this is done before the entirety of the facts are fully known.

Yet, in the case of the cowardly sucker-punching of women and the elderly by black teens, a pernicious silence permeates the national airspace.

My, how the race hustlers are oddly silent!  Could it be that their shame prevents them from speaking out?

Most notably absent from the national discourse on the knockout attacks is President Obama.  After seeing fit in the past to comment on an arrest of a black professor in Boston and a stand your ground case in Florida, numerous attacks on white citizens (some resulting in death) occurring around the country in what could be deemed an epidemic garners only silence from President Obama.

Since our President isn’t leading on this issue, members of Project 21 will.  I condemn the cowards that are perpetrating these criminal acts on innocent citizens and call on the media to repudiate these attacks and cease to call this deadly criminal activity a “game.”  The media needs to use its investigative powers to aid in the capture and prosecution of these felonious invaders instead of coddling them with soft speech and a refusal to fully cover the carnage.

Additionally, Derryck Green — a Project 21 member who is seeking his masters in divinity in southern California — said:

First, it was “flash mobs.”  More accurately, these groups should be called “crash mobs” or “crime mobs” — when groups of teens would coordinate and descend on specific areas and destroy private property, attack unwitting victims and wreak as much havoc as possible, seemingly simply for fun.

Then there was “apple picking,” where teens of all colors — but primarily black — would steal Apple products, such as the iPhones, iPads or iPods of unsuspecting victims that would be kept for personal use or sold for pure profit.

Now, it’s the “knockout game” — or “polar bear hunting,” as it’s sometimes referred.  At its very core, is contemptible no matter what it’s called.  This aggressive and animalistic behavior by black youths is a shameful reflection of what’s happened in the black community.

Though this behavior is reflective of only a small subsection of black America — particularly the black underclass — black Americans in general will be implicated in this grotesque conduct.  That is very unfortunate, and it is wrong.

This behavior is also a violent illustration of two things: the effect of the disintegration of the traditional family structure and the degeneration of a sound moral value system.  Both of these things continue to plague segments of black Americans.  This is inarguable and undeniable. 

More discouraging and to the point, blacks — regardless of political allegiances or professional affiliations — should be loudly and actively condemning these unprovoked attacks.  That many “leaders,” and those considered to be culturally influential, remain relatively silent in condemning such chaos.  It appears to be a sad reflection of their cowardice while also giving clear insight to their apparent lack of concern for the growing numbers of innocent victims and public safety because of this “game.” 

The members of the racial grievance industry who’ve attempted to sanitize rather than denounce this chaotic behavior on the grounds that the offenders are black do so as an insult to all black Americans.  In their sanitation process, they excuse the very behavior society shouldn’t excuse — nor allow — from any other race.  In effect, these people are saying blacks cannot be expected to live up to society’s standards and must be excused.  This, however one wants to justify it, is offensive.

Thank you to those blacks who stand courageously and condemn this behavior.  Equal thanks are deserved by white Americans who also condemn this behavior — unaffected by the potential and false charges of racism for doing so.   

Project 21 member Kevin Martin, a resident of the Washington, D.C. area who has commented on the political and media reaction to knockout game violence on many occasions, added:

Project 21 members such as me will continue to speak out against the racially and religiously-motivated assaults taking place nationwide that have come to be known as the “knockout game.”

The action by black youth playing this so-called game for cheap thrills is reprehensible in itself.  But the relative silence by groups such as the NAACP, Rainbow PUSH and the National Urban League as well as the Congressional Black Caucus is equally reprehensible.  It essentially gives quiet approval to those who carry out these assaults.  The silence of these groups only give their critics more reason to call them out, and it gives heft to the charge that they are silent because there is nothing for them to gain politically in speaking out against those assaults.  

I would like to commend those blacks in our community who have already joined Project 21 in publicly condemning these assaults, such as former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.  I would encourage more public figures in our community to speak out when it is needed and not just when it’s politically expedient.

top photo credit: iStockPhoto

Tuesday
Dec032013

ObamaCare Enrollment: The Mt. Everest Of Data Compilation

The political left is always telling us that “health care is different.”  And seeing how hard it is for the Administration to tabulate enrollment numbers, one can’t help but think that the left might be right.  For example, here is TPM Livewire:

Monday
Dec022013

Guess It Can't Handle 50,001

Well, just tried to log on to Healthcare.gov and got this message:

 

Hmm…this new-and-improved website looks an awful lot like the old clunker.  

I don’t know what the problem is, exactly, but here is my best guess:  The administration insisted that with the improvements Healtcare.gov couldhandle 50,000 users at any given time.”  Only 50,000?  Didn’t anyone involved in the process think that maybe, just maybe, once we reached the December 1 deadline there might be a surge of people logging on to Healthcare.gov that might exceed 50,000?  By the looks of the above message, it might have been a good idea to shoot for a slightly higher number.

(And while I’m on the subject, what about the December 23 deadline for getting insurance that begins January 1?  Couldn’t a similar surge happen as that deadline approached?)

Oh, well, apparently that 50,000 number isn’t to be taken to seriously: According to the Washington Post, “government officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing operations, cautioned last week that they will not know if they have expanded the site’s carrying capacity to 50,000 users at once until they have that many users online.”  Maybe they now have their answer.

Final thought:  Google handles, on average, 5.1 billion hits a day.  Do the math, and you’ll find that works out to over 59,000 hits per second.   Yet handling over 50,000 users at any given time proves too much for ObamaCare website.  Which is the more accurate description of Healthcare.gov: “Amateur hour” or “sad joke”?

Sunday
Dec012013

ObamaCare Exchange Delays a Human Rights Violation?

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The wait time to get on ObamaCare's online exchange is 60 days so far, about half the average wait time for an actual surgical procedure in Canada.

And Canadian wait times are so long that the country's Supreme Court once deemed it a violation of human rights.

So what does that make ObamaCare?

Friday
Nov292013

Fox's Neil Cavuto Gives President Obama a Piece of His Mind on ObamaCare

Too bad I don't mean that literally. Neil can spare it, the President needs it.

Wednesday
Nov272013

Hogberg Explains ObamaCare Subsidy Problem on Fox News

On the 11/27/13 edition of “Special Report” on the Fox News Channel, National Center health care policy analyst Dr. David Hogberg explains how much-hyped ObamaCare subsidies for young people are not likely to live up to expectations — casting a pall over the overall chances of success for the big government scheme.

Most economic experts deem it necessary for young, healthy people to sign up for ObamaCare in large numbers rather than choose to instead take a penalty and not seek coverage under the government plan.  Their contributions are considered to be vital toward paying for the costs of older, sicker enrollees.  But Jim Angle, the Fox News Channel’s chief national correpondent, suggests in his story that the notion of subsidies for the young as a means of encouraging them to join may be nothing more than a pipe dream.

In referencing the work of the National Center’s Hogberg, Angle said that “new research [is] calling into question how much subsidies will dull the pain” of ObamaCare costs.

In particular, speaking about how the high deductibles and premiums will cause young people to flee ObamaCare in droves, Hogberg said:

It’s one more “incentive” that this law creates to discourage young and healthy people from signing up for insurance.

Wednesday
Nov272013

How's This For Transparency?

In an op-ed for Politix today, I write that

The incompetence, dissembling and lack of transparency at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is already well-established. But the degree to which the mess at HHS jeopardizes our health is only beginning to come to light. And it has nothing to do with Obamacare.

Rather, it has to do with how this government is handling what should be the most basic role of a public health agency, preventing deadly communicable diseases such as influenza. Please read the piece and share your opinion on the very active comments section. 

The purpose of this blog item, however, is to share with you the back-story on how the press office at the Obama Department of Health and Human Services performs in terms of the president’s promise to run “the most transparent” government in history. The degree of evasiveness was mind boggling. Here’s just one example.

Last week, by phone, I asked the HHS press office whether the secretary’s April determination about the threat of an emergency was still in effect.

The press office asked me to send in my question in writing. Fair enough.

I did, asking for a response by the end of the following day, to give them both plenty of time (to answer a straight-forward question), but also a deadline, so I could include the department’s response in my piece.

They missed the deadline.

I followed up the missed deadline with another phone call, finally reaching the friendly Director of Communications at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS.

I made my concerns about the policy clear on the phone, and again sought specific and direct answers to the questions I emailed. 

A central element of my questioning was, as I wrote,
Is the emergency still in effect?  
I was seeking a yes or no answer.
Instead, again missing the second deadline, the spokeswoman responded in writing:
A: The Secretary’s declaration based on this determination has no statutory limit. The Secretary must terminate the declaration if she finds that the circumstances identified in her determination changed, or there has been a change in the approval status of the product so the circumstances identified in her determination have ceased to exist.
Wouldn’t a “yes” have been a bit more direct? It would have been, but it also wouldn’t have served the administration’s narrative as a defense for the policy (or lack of action) I was criticizing in my piece.

As you'll see in the piece, I translated the bureaucracy-talk into English for my readers:

The startling declaration is still in effect, according to an HHS spokeswoman.

So much for transparency.

Wednesday
Nov272013

If Organizing for America Accosts You at the Thanksgiving Table, Be Aware: Life Expectancy and Infant Mortality Statistics DO NOT Mean We Need ObamaCare

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In their increasingly desperate attempts to find a way to defend the accumulating disasters of ObamaCare, I've heard more than a few liberals in recent days make the claim that, problems or not, ObamaCare is better than the status quo.

Their argument frequently rests on the oft-cited, but thoroughly misunderstood, claim that the U.S. health care system isn't good because other first world nations have better life expectancy and infant mortality statistics.

If you find yourself debating a liberal who makes this claim (possibly during Thanksgiving dinner?), don't fall for it.

A few years back, the National Center's David Hogberg wrote a paper, "Don't Fall Prey to Propaganda: Life Expectancy and Infant Mortality are Unreliable Measures for Comparing the U.S. Health Care System to Others," that supplies necessary context.

For example, in response to the liberal claim that U.S. infant mortality statistics are poor compared to those of other first-world nations, David writes:

...infant mortality tells us a lot less about a health care system than one might think. The main problem is inconsistent measurement across nations. The United Nations Statistics Division, which collects data on infant mortality, stipulates that an infant, once it is removed from its mother and then "breathes or shows any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles... is considered live-born regardless of gestational age." While the U.S. follows that definition, many other nations do not. Demographer Nicholas Eberstadt notes that in Switzerland "an infant must be at least 30 centimeters long at birth to be counted as living." This excludes many of the most vulnerable infants from Switzerland's infant mortality measure.

Switzerland is far from the only nation to have peculiarities in its measure...

In other words, tables commonly cited by the left comparing infant mortality statistics are comparing apples to oranges, not apples to apples. Some of the nations that have better infant mortality statistics than the United States are only counting babies born at term or near-term, while we're counting all our preemies, too.

On life expectancy comparisons, David has plenty to say, including this:

Life expectancy is a poor statistic for determining the efficacy of a health care system because it fails the first criterion of assuming interaction with the health care system. For example, open any newspaper and, chances are, there are stories about people who die "in their sleep," in a car accident or of some medical ailment before an ambulance ever arrives. If an individual dies with no interaction with the health care system, then his death tells us little about the quality of a health care system. Yet all such deaths are computed into the life expectancy statistic.

Life expectancy also largely violates the second criterion - a health care system has, at most, minimal impact on longevity... Greece, the country that spends the least per capita on health care, has higher life expectancy than seven other countries, including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. Spain, which spends the second least per capita on health care, has higher life expectancy than ten other countries that spend more.

More robust statistical analysis confirms that health care spending is not related to life expectancy. Studies of multiple countries using regression analysis found no significant relationship between life expectancy and the number of physicians and hospital beds per 100,000 population or health care expenditures as a percentage of GDP. Rather, life expectancy was associated with factors such as sanitation, clean water, income, and literacy rate.

But why isn't America's life expectancy statistic better than it is? David explains:

The primary reason is that the U.S. is ethnically a far more diverse nation than most other industrialized nations. Factors associated with different ethnic backgrounds - culture, diet, etc. - can have a substantial impact on life expectancy. Comparisons of distinct ethnic populations in the U.S. with their country of origin find similar rates of life expectancy. For example, Japanese-Americans have an average life expectancy similar to that of Japanese.

A good deal of the lower life expectancy rate in the U.S. is accounted for by the difference in life expectancy of African-Americans versus other populations in the United States. Life expectancy for African-Americans is about 72.3 years, while for whites it is about 77.7 years. What accounts for the difference? Numerous scholars have investigated this question. The most prevalent explanations are differences in income and personal risk factors. One study found that about one-third of the difference between white and African-American life expectancies in the United States was accounted for by income; another third was accounted for by personal risk factors such as obesity, blood pressure, alcohol intake, diabetes, cholesterol concentration, and smoking and the final third was due to unexplained factors. Another study found that much of the disparity was due to higher rates of HIV, diabetes and hypertension among African Americans. Even studies that suggest the health care system may have some effect on the disparity still emphasize the importance of factors such as income, education, and social environment.

President Obama's Organizing for America group has somewhat infamously encouraged its supporters to use the occasion of Thanksgiving dinner to convince reluctant relatives that the unfolding disaster that is ObamaCare is still better than the health care system we have today. If you are expecting one of your relatives to follow Obama's script, I suggest you read David's entire paper before you sit down to dinner.

Tuesday
Nov262013

Project 21's Cooper Comments on Contraceptive Case at Supreme Court

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to address whether businesses can use religious objections to escape a White House requirement that is imposed by ObamaCare to cover birth control for their employees.

In doing so, the justices will take up an issue that has divided the lower courts in the face of roughly 40 lawsuits from for-profit companies.  These lawsuits ask for the businesses to be spared from having to cover some or all forms of contraception, including abortifacients that effectively terminate unborn babies.

This latest legal challenge to the President’s signature policy initiative comes from the consolidation of two of those 40 similar cases.  One involves Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., an Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain with 13,000 full-time employees.  The owner of Hobby Lobby says he runs his business on biblical principle and is opposed to the contraception mandate found in ObamaCare.  Hobby Lobby won in the lower courts.  In the other case, the Mennonite-owned Conestoga Wood Specialties lost on a similar religious challenge.

The cases will likely be argued in March of 2014, with a decision rendered by the end of June.  Arguments will undoubtedly touch on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the previous Court ruling in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

Project 21 co-chairman Horace Cooper, a former professor of constitutional law and former leadership staff member with the U.S. House of Representatives, had this statement regarding the potentially landmark case:

I am pleased to see that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case.

The Obama Administration clearly over-reached in this case.  Being so fixated on maintaining a political wedge issue to frighten women voters in America, they were willing to trample on religious freedom in the process.

This case need never have gone forward if the White House would have simply accepted the counsel of people of faith both within and without the Obama Administration that its contraception mandate went too far.  Just as the President refused to listen to those urging a go-slow approach on the ObamaCare web site and the overall roll-out, the Obama Administration pushed forward with disastrous and disruptive results for many Americans.

Apparently, only the U.S. Supreme Court can force this White House to put the fundamental principle of religious liberty ahead of its dogmatic left-wing ideology.

Cooper has written a National Policy Analysis paper for the National Center for Public Policy Research about the unconstitutionality of ObamaCare’s contraception mandate.  That paper can be found by clicking here.

Tuesday
Nov262013

Black Conservative Criticizes Selective Media Ignorance

What “knockout game?”

The initial response of the mainstream media to reports of random attacks on individuals by thugs apparently hoping to render victims unconscious with a single blow was to not report on it at all.

Now, after the story has begun to gain traction (thanks to reports by conservative media outlets) and VIPs such as the Reverend Al Sharpton and Philadelphia Mayor Michal Nutter are speaking out against violence that has left many injured and some dead, the media has latched onto the theory that there is no such trend of violence.

For example, writer Emma Roller, in an essay published on Slate.com, calls reports about a knockout game trend are a “fallacy” and “the type of story meant to animate the deepest recesses of our lizard brains.”

Other media is joining in the new angle with the mantra that the reporting of the conservative media is overblown.

Roller admits the knockout game “definitely exists,” but claims it is just a “new scare” created by the conservative media.  Her defense seems motivated in wanting to also dispel the notion that many of the perpetrators are black youth.

Interestingly, Roller uses this example to make her point against the knockout game coverage:

Imagine if another national “journalist” started doing the same for, say, any crime committed in Alabama, or any arson charge in the country.  People would start to think Alabama was going through a crime epidemic, or that arson was becoming all the rage with criminals.  That would be ridiculous, because it’s ridiculous to assume that a few unrelated counts of arson make arson an epidemic.

While not acknowledging it, this is pretty much what the mainstream media did in 1996 about an alleged arson epidemic targeting black churches.  The mainstream media was fully on board for that “new scare” — motivating banks to offer rewards for information on the prpetrators and President Bill Clinton condemning it in a national address.  But conservative writer Michael Fumento did some investigating and found that it was all a lot of hype.  In fact, Fumento said an activist group played fast and loose with fire statistics and “labeled fires as arsons that were not — all in an apparent effort to make black church torchings appear to be escalating.”

Considering this is almost the same thing that Roller is now accusing the conservative media doing with the knockout game, did she cite this apparently apt analogy?  Of course not — perhaps she was unaware that she had made, according to her obvious train of thought such an astute potential match.

Kevin Martin, a member of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network, thinks the media was pointedly ignoring the problem, and now actively trying to disavow the problem even exists.  While George Zimmerman’s many traffic stops and other run-ins with the law considering to be breaking news by a mainstream media obsessed with the death of Trayvon Martin, deaths by senseless violence — now and in the past — are being swept under the rug by that same media.

It’s too much for Kevin to stand, who said:

It would seem that Slate’s Emma Roller has sought to create a straw man argument against conservative media now that Americans are learning about the “knockout game” through non traditional media outlets.

She seems to believe that the media — conservative or otherwise — should not sensationalize the rash of physical assaults taking place nationwide based on possible racial and religious profiling, because — in her opinion — there is no “trend” behind the attacks.  This is despite the fact that she admits the game does exist.

Well, Ms. Roller, hate crimes are hate crimes — and racism is racism in these cases since these youths allegedly know quite well who they are picking out as victims and why.  Let’s not make excuses for black youth or anyone engaged in racial and religious attacks, only to scapegoat conservative media for simply reporting it.

There are too many liberals who want to assume the sole responsibility for determining what constitutes racial and religious intolerance.  But the facts don’t lie.  This is real.

It’s time to admit that the knockout game is a problem.  Parents inside the black community need to help solve it by telling their children that these attacks are wrong, and that they could end up with the loss of their lives for a quick thrill among their friends.

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto