Friday, January 23, 2015

Obama's State of the Union: Buy one lie get five free.

One of the things president Obama is actually good at, or let's say succeeds at, is saying things in such a way as to pull the wool over the eyes of people who can't or won't think for themselves. That usually means journalists and people who read so called "progressive" web sites. And that was on display during his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

One of the more preposterous lies was that as a result of his healthcare reform law "ten million people now have health insurance who didn't have it before". There could be no more blatant,  intentional lie about  his healthcare reform law than this. It's his way of  continuing to try to continue cover up  his selling out the public healthcare option, the only real meaningful healthcare reform which Democrats had the votes to pass, to the health  insurance companies.

Unfortunately almost everything else in Obama's State of the Union speech that he touted as a success the previous year was a lie. But none more blatant than on healthcare reform, or as it is affectionately known,Obamacare or The Unaffordable Care Act. 

First, he lied about 10 million. That number is based on the White House claim that 7 million enrolled last year and 3 million this year adding up to 10 million. That is the kind of accounting that has sent shady accountants and CFO's to prison.

Of the 7 million applications claimed last year that Obama tries to claim as enrollments,  20% never sent in their first months premium which invalidated their applications. That lowers the number to 5.6 million. According to the health insurance companies about 5% were multiple applications, the result of web site glitches or perceived glitches where people thought their application didn't go through and filled out another one. That brings the number down to about 5.4 million. And the IRS has said a substantial number of applications claimed incomes lower than that filed with their tax returns in order to qualify for subsidies for which they werent entitled which invalidated those applications and the subsidies that went with them. That could bring the total  for last year down to 5 million or even less.  Of the 3 million more Obama is claiming this year,  more than 90% are renewals of policies bought last year not new enrollments.

A more honest figure of the number who purchased polices  since Obamacare was implemented is about 6 million not ten.

The bigger lie is when Obama said "ten million people now have health insurance who didn't have it before". Not only is the number of people buying polices not ten million but closer to 6, but according to the Gallup Well Being Index more than 97% of those who purchased policies through the exchanges already had health insurance before Obamacare  even existed and went shopping for a better deal.

Of the 50 million Americans who were uninsured , those who didn't have health insurance before Obamacare, only 2.2% bought polices. The remaining 97.8% rejected the lower tier policies offered through Obamacare, policies even the White House admitted last year to the New York Times were substandard. Most who did buy those lower end silver or bronze policies reported horror stories about the insurance not being accepted at most hospitals and with most doctors , deductibles as high as $6,000 and high co-pays. 

Obama's other sleight of hand on healthcare reform was when he touted 
" the number of people now without health insurance is the lowest since 2008".

Think about that. The lowest number of uninsured since 2008. This is proof of Obamacare's failure and Democrats and the mass media still doesn't get it.


After all the political bloodletting and everything else associated with healthcare reform and  Obamacare, the number of uninsured the year  after Obamacare was finally implemented  is about the same as it was in 2008, the year before he was even elected.  That is the snake oil Obama is trying to sell as success. And this is what Democrats stood up and loudly applauded. And they wonder why they were wiped out in the last election.

There  were other lies as well.  According to an AP fact check, Obama's claims about "turning the page" and his successes with the economy arent exactly true. The AP wrote " "the U.S. may not have ' risen from recesssion'   quite as rousingly as President Obama suggested in his State of the Union speech.". It pointed out that seven years after the recession, household income still hasnt recovered from its pre-financial crisis levels. It also points out that Obama's touting of job growth isnt what it seems since most of the jobs created have been "poor quality" low paying jobs. His claims of higher wages is also deceptive. Hourly wages rose 1.7 percent last year, half the average growth of a healthy economy.

His lies and deceptions regarding Syria and Isis is for another time. As is his failures with Russia in Crimea and his failure to stand up to Putin in Ukraine and help arm the Ukrainian army against Russian tanks and troops illegally fighting with the rebels.

None of this stopped Democrats from standing and applauding.  And sending out emails the next day saying how Obama " nailed it". Unfortunately for them, most of the country including Democratic voters not only didn't applaud, they sat on their hands over the same news last November.And the only thing Obama nailed was the last nail in the Democrats coffin through 2015. Something Democrats need to admit and do something about if they want to win in 2016.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Obama no show at Paris rally was justified: march was about courage and principle.

It was the greatest demonstration of democracy standing up to fascism since the liberation of Paris when the allies marched down the Champs Elysee in 1944.

 It was a demonstration that  3. 7 million French took part in, 1 1/2 million in Paris alone, more Parisians than those who  lined the streets that day in 1944. And an event at which more than 40 world leaders attended  to show their resolve in standing up for free speech and human values and against terrorist attempts to stifle it. That Obama wasn't there in many ways was understandable. The rally and march was about courage. And resolve. And standing up against adversaries and standing up for something. Obama would not have fit in. Unfortunately he also didn't see fit to send any high ranking American official in his place.  Maybe because he didn't get the point. 

That Obama didn't attend and first had the White House issue excuses that wouldn't have held water for a 10 year old trying to explain why he was absent from school the previous day, is one more example of the shallowness and lack of conviction that has defined Obama and his presidency. 

At first the White House threw out all kinds of silly excuses about how hard it is to schedule a presidential trip and its attendant security concerns. But like most lame excuses, they forgot Woody Allen's  insightful line that when you tell the truth all the time you never have to remember anything. What the White House didn't remember was that less than two weeks ago while still on his vacation in Hawaii, Obama decided to make an impromptu Christmas visit to the troops in Afghanistan.  Afghanistan. It wasn't too hard to arrange the security and logistics for a last minute presidential trip to a war zone but it was  too dangerous or complicated  to go to Paris. Even when he had three days notice. 

Democratic Rep Adama Schiff's hollow attempts at trying to makes excuses for Obama's no show or not sending anyone with rank to the unity march just added to the embarrassment for both Obama and the Democrats.

But aside from an American presence being conspicuous by its absence, it was clear that one minute of watching the demontrations in Paris packed more emotion and commitment to human freedom and instilled more inspiration than every word  of Obama's empty rhetoric over the last 6 years. And he probably knew it. So maybe that was the reason too. 

Or maybe  it was because  Obama remembered that in 2012 when Charlie Hebdo was fire bombed by jidhadists for its cartoon depictions related to radical Islam  Obama said at the time that it was the magazine that  had showed "bad judgement" in publishing the cartoons in the first place.  Which was a little like blaming the rape victim for wearing a skirt that was too short. That might have made him feel out of place too. 

Maybe Obama didn't want to expose himself to the fact that it was his own bad judgement in calling Isis the "junior varsity" and his rejection of the advice of his former secretary of state and three secretaries of defense to arm the moderate Syrian rebels 3 years ago which has not only seen the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians, but  saw the rise of Isis and may have even played a part in the killings at Charlie Hebdo since the two terrorists had gone to Syria, were trained in Syria and then returned to France that he wanted to avoid. It would have been hard under the circumstances not to have brought that up. 

And let's not forget  this is the president who, when Iranian citizens took to the streets  in the hundreds of thousands to protest a rigged presidential election and demand  democracy  with many being beaten, shot and even killed, Obama's public repsonse was that he " didn't want to meddle " in Iran's affairs. So you can't blame Obama if he would have felt out of place at the Paris pro democracy rally. And then there was  the "red line" Obama drew threatening retribution against Assad if he used chemical weapons against civilians , then after Assad used them killing more than a thousand including 300 children,  Obama backed down proving his threat was hollow. 

But even without Obama's presence, the public criticism of Obama not deeming it important enough  to have a high ranking American at the rally started almost immediately. Even  David Gergen on CNN  said he was mystified that Obama didn't show or at least send Biden or Kerry.  Jake Tapper said he was "embarrassed as an American" by no American  presence. 

In response,the White House went into damage control the next day as criticism began to pile up from all quarters and finally admitted that they made a mistake. Mostly because they knew they couldn't defend it. But adding to " the dog ate my homework"  absurdity of their admission, was also the way it was reported.

Jim Acosta, the White House correspondent for CNN said, " something truly amazing happened today at the White House". Wolf  Blitzer chimed in, " it was unprecedented". So what was so truly amazing and unprecedented? Reported Acosta, " The White House today admitted it made a mistake". Not exactly a Charlie Hebdo kind of response.

Which could lead the French and others around the world who took a stand that day in Paris  and elsewhere for liberty, freedom, freedom of expression,and courage,and  who expressed their solidarity by holding up signs that read " Je suis Charlie Hebdo",( "I am Charlie Hebdo")  to one day hold up another sign that expresses those same ideals:
"Je suis no Obama."

Friday, January 9, 2015

Why American journalists have nothing to fear from a Charlie Hebdo style attack.

The journalists, cartoonists and editorial staff at Charlie Hebdo were known for defying convention, unwavering principles, having staunch convictions,  courage, and had a commitment to telling a truth they felt that needed to be told  and did it with unflinching resolve and without fear or concern for who they might offend.  Characteristics that are precisely the opposite of 99% of all mainstream American journalists and has been for almost 20 years .  Which is why American journalists have nothing to fear from the kind of attack that hit the offices of Charlie Hebdo. Because they are and always have been  congenitally too afraid to do anything that might provoke it. Or even provoke criticism. 

Mainstream American journalists back down or water down the truth every day so as not to offend somebody or some group on everything  from Washington politics and policy to the events in Ferguson and protests in New York.  And it's most prevalent everyday on cable news. 

In Washington D.C. for example, the coin of the realm for journalists is "access". Access to higher ups or key people in government who might be willing to give an exclusive. Be too tough on an administration and your access dries up. Which is  why trying to get American journalists to report the unvarnished truth  is like pulling teeth from someone who doesn't have any.   Because American journalists are generally toothless except when they feel it's safe to go on the offensive.

They are notable for caving in whether its to the Bush administration over WMD in Iraq and the non-existant connection between Sadaam and 9/11, the Obama administration and serial lying and ineptitude about policy from health care reform to a  foreign policy that resulted  in the resignations of 3 Secretaries  of Defense and a Secretary of State, and media dishonesty over events in Ferguson and any issues concerning race.

In other controversial issues, such as the release of documents last year  by Roman Catholic dicoceses in Los Angeles and Milwaukee as part of two separate court orders that revealed the sexual abuse of literally tens of thousands of children,(8,000 incidents in Milwaukee alone)  the news media virtually ignored it and its contents.   But Wolf Blitzer had no problem getting tough in attacking Anthony Weiner for not admitting to his  consensual online sex chats.  And it was only because the news media didn't think Anthony Weiner could cause them any damage.

Back in 2012, when the offices of Charlie Hebdo was  bombed for publishing cartoons that poked fun at aspects of Islam, Jay Carney,  Obama's spokesman, criticized the newspaper for what he called "bad judgement" in publishing the cartoons in the first place which is a little like blaming the rape victim for having the "bad judgement" to wear a short skirt.  No one in the White House press corps criticized Carney or Obama for their blaming the victim point of view at the time.

News organizations in Europe have been publishing the cartoon images from Charlie Hebdo that prompted the attack. That has important news value. It points out  and heightens the absurdity that cartoons ignited the killers, motivated their mission, the mission of others like them and  why they were willing to kill and for what. CNN on the other hand made an editorial decision not to publish the images and gave an official "explanation"as having something to do with not wanting to offend people.  Which is exactly what has made them useless as journalists for years.

The New York Times also refused to publish the image of the cartoon that motivated the attack. Their stated reason? The cartoon was "intentionally offensive". The terrorist attackers thought so too. Which means that the New York Times editorial board has more in common with the terrorists than they do with their readers. 

When you live in a democracy you have the right and sometimes the duty to say anything you want even its offensive to some.  You can offend anyone and anything including the president, congress or any other thing you choose without fear of someone killing you for doing it.  And that is what the American news media should be standing up for. It's what the French people have been standing up for. Its what American journalists run and hide from.

CNN had no problem showing 15 seconds of video of the terrorists and their attack including the killing of a helpless French policemen and showing it about 2000 times over the last 24 hours, repeating it constantly over and over practically non stop while others spoke or gave opinions or analysis off camera. They showed that footage  like it was on a loop, their own special brand of journalistic peep show that CNN pioneered. Which in its own way glorified the terrorists by showing their attack repeatedly, something Al-Qaeda must have loved,  but unlike the European press, too cowardly to show  the cartoons that motivated their murders,too afraid to show the cartoons behind the terrorists desire to shut down freedom of expression that they didn't like.

CNN's stated reason for not showing the cartoons because they didn't want to offend sensibilities is true.  But the sensibilities they were most concerned about offending were those of the terrorists. And if CNN can't be honest about itself is no wonder they can't and don't report the truth about other things.

The real reason CNN and other American outlets didn't show the cartoons  was and is their own fear which is the single biggest operating principle in mainstream American journalism.
And when American journalists do that and act like cowards as they so often do, then terrorists win in trying to suppress free expression.  

What happened to Charlie Hebdo is a good time to remember what was courageous about them in the first place and cowardly about mainstream American journalism. There is a reason Edward Snowden turned over all his files and information on the NSA to Glenn Greenwald, a journalist for The Guardian, a news organization in the UK, and not any American media organization.

Journalists who are afraid have no business being journalists. Because they are useless. Maybe the outpouring of solidarity in France by French citizens in support of freedom of expression and the courage of those killed at Charlie Hebdo will give some American journalists a backbone. If not, at least they won't  have to worry that standing up for principles will be put them at risk.  Just like always. 

But they should keep in mind that while CNN, the New York Times and other news outlets make editorial decisions based on what they think might be offensive to some, what people really find most offensive is the way they report the news.