Friday, February 28, 2014

This Could Have Gone a Whole Lot Worse

Some Things Aren't Meant to Be Done

This may be one of them:


To whoever ordered the "Reliance Controls PC3010 10-Feet 30-Amp L14-30 Generator Power Cord for up to 7500-Watt Generators" through the Amazon Associates link on the right side of the blog.  You have contributed a little bit to the blog, at least covering my image hosting costs for a month, and reaffirming my faith in humanity....

Four Arrests in Gas Docks/Fracking Protest

Four arrested in Cove Point protest
A local Unitarian minister and three western Maryland residents were arrested just before noon today outside the Allegany County Courthouse in Cumberland for peacefully protesting Virginia-based Dominion Resources’ plan to build a liquefied natural gas export facility at Cove Point in southern Maryland. The protesters blocked the courthouse entrance to demand justice in the controversial federal handling of the massive $3.8 billion project, which would take nearly a billion cubic feet of gas per day from fracking wells across the Appalachian region, liquefy it on the Chesapeake Bay, and export it to Asia.
Note that this is a protest in Cumberland, Maryland, a 2.5-4 hour drive from here, and not actual "neighbors" of the plant in question.
“I am here today as both a citizen of this beautiful state and as a minister deeply concerned that the proposed Cove Point gas export facility would take us in exactly the wrong direction,” said Reverend Terence Ellen, a minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Greater Cumberland. “It is inconceivable to me that a project so huge and so potentially harmful to our health and welfare would not even receive a full Environmental Impact Statement. We’re sitting in today because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is failing to serve the public.”
. . .
"A thorough Environmental Impact Statement would undoubtedly prove that fracking, drilling and extracting is not a sustainable path for our communities,” said Gabriel Adam Echeverri of Frostburg. “I stand in solidarity with the residents of Cove Point, with the residents of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, and Ohio, and with my neighbors in opposition to any corporation that would take all for profit and leave nothing for progeny.”
So, as I suspected, their primary objection is not, in fact, the plant itself, but the fact that having a place to sell the gas from fracking, and encourage more fracking.
Dominion’s Cove Point export plan has sparked growing opposition across Maryland in recent months, drawing a record crowd of environmental protesters to Baltimore last week as hearings began at the Maryland Public Service Commission. The state must sign off on Dominion’s permit to build a 130-megawatt gas-fired power plant to run on-site liquefaction operations, and the Public Service Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal this Saturday in Calvert County.
Lock 'em up and throw away the key.

Bright and Brutal Beach Walk

A truly beautiful, and yet brutal day at the beach. The temperature struggled all day to reach 20 F, while the wind died from 20 to about 10 mph. Dang, it's cold out there.
 It wasn't much of a day for fossils, but I did stumble on this spinal disc, presumably from a dolphin or whale.  A few teeth, too, but nothing special
Oh, look, somebody exploded a nuclear bomb over the Eastern Shore!  No, just a marsh fire. They set them deliberately to "renew" the marsh. It makes them green up nicely, but, sadly, it keeps them from laying down new peat which helps them keep up with sea level rise.
It's cold enough that the Bay water is starting to freeze into slush, and the slush is being piled up on the shore.  If it goes on much longer, we could get some interesting formations on the beach.

I Suggest We Trade 10 for Thomas Friedman and a Hollywood Celeb to be Named Later

The 'Chinese Dream' is the U.S., Survey Reveals
The Chinese may have a nationalistic reputation, but when asked to pick their ideal country, more than a third are looking to the U.S., according to a survey by advertising group WPP.

Around 35 percent of Chinese picked the U.S. as their ideal country today, more than any other country. However, 42 percent expected their own country will have taken the title in just 10 years, the survey found. It's a stark contrast to the results in the U.S. and Britain, where respondents mostly chose their own country as ideal, both now and a decade from now.

Chinese also view the U.S. as the world's most powerful nation, more so than most Americans, the survey found, with 80 percent of Chinese selecting it, compared with only 66 percent of Americans.
Some of them are starting to see the hanzi (漢字) on the wall, though.
Only 12 percent of Chinese see their own country as the most powerful nation today, less than the 18 percent of Americans who view China that way, the survey said.

But Chinese are also expecting this power differential to change, with 44 percent expecting their own country will become the most powerful within a decade, in line with the 45 percent of Chinese who expect the U.S. will remain the most powerful, the survey found.
Friedman of course, is the New York Times columnist who pines for the dictatorial powers of the Chinese government to direct social, political and economic policies to his liking:
If we know anything about America's worst successful columnist, it's that he won't rest until he's flogged a terrible idea again and again and again. The latest, care of Jonah Goldberg, was Friedman's authoritarian envy on Meet the Press over the weekend:
Well, David, it's been decimated. It's been decimated by everything from the gerrymandering of political districts to cable television to an Internet where I can create a digital lynch mob against you from the left or right if I don't like where you're going, to the fact that money and politics is so out of control—really our Congress is a forum for legalized bribery. You know, that's really what, what it's come down to. So I don't—I, I—I'm worried about this, it's why I have fantasized—don't get me wrong—but that what if we could just be China for a day? I mean, just, just, just one day. You know, I mean, where we could actually, you know, authorize the right solutions, and I do think there is a sense of that, on, on everything from the economy to environment. I don't want to be China for a second, OK, I want my democracy to work with the same authority, focus and stick-to-itiveness. But right now we have a system that can only produce suboptimal solutions.
And the Hollywood celebrity to exchange? There are so many too choose from. I'm open to suggestions. Sean Penn seems like an obvious choice, but perhaps a better deal can be struck with Venezuela. Alex Baldwin? Matt Damon? Barbara Streisand?  All three Dixie Chicks?  That sounds like a good deal.

Obamacare Schadenfreude - Figures Don't Lie, but Liars Figure

Another clear, cold morning here in Slower Maryland.  It looks like our next "extreme" normal winter weather event is scheduled for Monday, with possible rain, snow, and the most dreaded "icy mix," from the storm currently giving California some relief from it's historic drought. Until then, we seem to be in the clear, with rising temperatures and mostly sunny skies.

The fallout of Harry Reid's accusation that all the anti-obamacare anecdotes, facts and figures being brought out are lies constructed by the plans enemies, paid for by the the evil "unamerican" Koch brothers (who are American-born non-felons, unlike, say, George Soros) continues to reverberate:

ObamaCare’s headaches: Are all of these untrue, too?
This came from NPR, so is this a lie, Senator? Julie Boonstra’s life means nothing to Reid.Sheila Lawless’ time will mean even less. But it should mean something to us:
Sheila Lawless is the office manager at a small rheumatology practice in Wichita Falls, Texas, about two hours outside of Dallas. She makes sure everything in the office runs smoothly – scheduling patients, collecting payments, keeping the lights on. Recently she added another duty–incorporating the trickle of patients with insurance plans purchased on the new Affordable Care Act exchanges.
Open enrollment doesn’t end until March 31, but people who have already bought Obamacare plans are beginning to use them. “We had a spattering in January—maybe once a week. But I think we’re averaging two to three a day now,” says Lawless.
That doesn’t sound like many new customers, but it’s presented a major challenge: verifying that these patients have insurance. Each exchange patient has required the practice to spend an hour or more on the phone with the insurance company. “We’ve been on hold for an hour, an hour and 20, an hour and 45, been disconnected, have to call back again and repeat the process,” she explains. Those sorts of hold times add up fast.
In the past, offices have been able to make sure patients are insured quickly, by using an online verification system. But for exchange patients, practices also have to call the insurer to make sure the patient has paid his premium. If he hasn’t, the insurance company can refuse to pay the doctor for the visit, or come back later and recoup a payment it made.
So NPR has joined the ranks of the evil unamerican liars?  We're winning! I guess Harry figured that no one would question his assertion.

Guy Benson just lays it out:  Harry Reid: Liar
Allahpundit described my reaction to Harry Reid’s latest broadsides against truth and decency rather accurately, writing that I was “virtually shaking with rage and disbelief that this tool could say this with a straight face.” I eventually channeled that anger — and it was genuine anger — into a rapid fire Twitter fact-check of the US Senate’s dishonorable leader. Reid asserted that “all of” the personal accounts from people who have been harmed by Obamacare “are untrue.” In short, this known liar unironically and casually smeared millions of Americans, including a number of cancer patients, as liars for daring to notice that Democrats’ unpopular healthcare law was actively hurting them. With a tip of the hat to our Twitchy cousins for compiling these tweets into a single post, here is a small slice of what the second most powerful Democrat in America sneers at as “untrue” fabrications of the Koch brothers. Cancer patients whose plans they liked and depended on were canceled under Obamacare, violating the president’s promise and throwing their lives into turmoil:
See them all...

Closer to home, Maryland stands to waste a mere $30 million (with an "m") due to a mistake in the nearly non-functional Obamacare website:
The cost to taxpayers of flaws in Maryland’s online health insurance exchange is coming into focus, with officials estimating at least $30.5 million in unnecessary Medicaid spending and conceding that they have no idea how much it will take to get a system that works.

The state has paid $65.4 million to the contractor hired to build the system and fired this week because of the protracted problems. Costs are likely to keep rising as Maryland figures out how to fix or replace the system.
Up in the District, the powers-that-be have decided that sex changes "gender reassignment surgery" should be covered under Obamacare:
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Thursday announced that the city will recognize gender dysphoria as a medical condition, forcing insurance companies to cover treatments such as gender-reassignment surgery for transgender people.

The coverage extends to all D.C. residents with group or individual health insurance — including the roughly one-third of city residents receiving Medicaid benefits — whose doctors diagnose the condition and for whom treatment is deemed medically necessary.

“This action places the District at the forefront of advancing the rights of transgender individuals,” Mr. Gray said at his ceremonial office at City Hall. The District joins California, Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon and Vermont in requiring the coverage, which the federal government will not be made to offer to its employees.

Transgender activists applauded the move, saying it guarantees coverage for treatments such as gender reassignment surgery that can cost tens of thousands of dollars and which have been denied by insurance companies that deemed the procedures cosmetic.

“This isn’t about who’s paying for things. This is about whether or not it’s medical care and who gets to decide that,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Nobody in America wants their health care decisions made by the insurance companies.”
Yes, dearie, this is so about who's paying for things.  If it weren't about whose paying for things, transgendered people who felt strongly enough to want surgery to alter their body would be willing to pay for it out of their pocket.  This way, they can have someone else pay for the surgery, and if it gets botched, or they just end up not liking the sex they change to (no one ever claimed transgendered people were the clearest thinkers), they can just have it changed back on the tax payers other policy holder's dime.

Reason Magazine runs down the list of failed state Obamacare websites, including some I hadn't seen before:
The federal government spent more on broken state-run exchanges than it did on its own troubled system. Of the 14 states, plus the District of Columbia, that established their own health insurance coverage under Obamacare, seven remain dysfunctional, disabled, or severely underperforming. Development of those exchanges was funded heavily by the federal government through a series of grants that totaled more than $1.2 billion—almost double the $677 million cost of development for the federal exchange.
for example:
Vermont has always had a problem with Obamacare: The health law isn’t progressive enough. Following the passage of the federal law, state officials said they were pursue a state-based single-payer program under an exemption beginning in 2017. But in the meantime, they would build their own exchange. Like the federal government and several other states, they relied on tech contractor CGI to do the bulk of the work. The state’s exchange failed on launch day, and months later, some functionality, including small business insurance options, remains offline. A February article in Newsweek reported that prior to the failed launch, CGI created a dummy demo site in order to pass inspection, andstate legislators are calling for an investigation.
Total Federal Grants: $165.2 million (a $1 million planning grant, three level one establishment grants of $18 million, $2.2 million, and $42 million, and a second level establishment grant of $102 million for ongoing operations; like Massachusetts, the state also received a share of the joint early innovator grant given to a consortium of New England states.)
Courtesy of Theo's 
So what have they achieved for  $162 million?  28,486 paid sign ups (as of the 25th).  So it cost the Federal government roughly $5,000 bucks each to sign each Vermonter up (setting aside the fact that quite likely a majority of those signing up were people pushed off previous plans due to Obamacare itself?

One benefit of Obamacare that we conservatives have tended to undervalue is the jobs given to people to help others sign up. For example, this convicted Palestinian bomber who was signing up Americans for Obamacare in Illinois:
A terrorist from Jordan briefly worked as an Obamacare navigator in Illinois while authorities remained unaware of her conviction for involvement in a deadly grocery store bombing and two other attacks.

Rasmieh Yousef Odeh was convicted in Israel for her role in several bombings, including the 1969 attack on an upscale Shufersol grocery store, which killed two Hebrew University students who had stopped in to buy groceries for a hiking trip in the Jerusalem hills. Leon Kanner and Eddie Joffe were killed by a bomb hidden in a candy box tucked on a shelf, which also injured nine or 10 others, according to a website maintained by the Israeli government to commemorate terror victims.

The Illinois Department of Insurance quietly revoked Odeh’s certification as a Navigator In-Person Counselor on November 24, explaining in a disciplinary report that the decision was “based on an investigation which revealed that she had been convicted in Israel for her role in the bombings of a supermarket and the British Consulate in Jerusalem and failed to reveal the conviction on her application.”
Look, it's a Hockey Stick!  Even the uninsured are beginning to be leery of Obamacare: The Uninsured Are Turning Against Obamacare.
The Obama administration is running into a somewhat surprising roadblock in its final push to get Americans enrolled in Obamacare ahead of the March 31 deadline: The nation's uninsured are increasingly suspicious of the law.

Fifty-six percent of those who identified as uninsured in a new poll conducted in February by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a research institution, had an unfavorable view of the health care reform law, compared to just 22 percent who said they view it favorably. The uninsured now see Obamacare less favorably than they did when the enrollment period began in October. As recently as September, more uninsured approved of the law than disapproved.

HuffPo thinks that's a problem.  Apparently Sen. Kay Hagan (D), N. Carolina thinks it's a problem too:
At least not according to one local news report; Hagan officially filed for reelection earlier this week, and the occasion marked yet another instance of some painfully transparent ObamaCare deflection:
Today we asked her again about the estimated 473,000 residents that faced cancellations when the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, launched last fall and when she knew it might happen. Again Hagan did not answer directly. Instead she said she wanted to clarify something.
“The State of North Carolina under the insurance commissioner along with insurance companies in North Carolina, and if you had a plan, and you liked that plan, you can keep that plan in North Carolina,” Hagan said during an interview from the US Capitol. “And I have sponsored legislation to make that permanent.”
Hagan says in the two years before the ACA launch, insurers sold policies that would not meet minimum standards of the new law. She made a similar comment earlier this week. In response, Blue Cross Blue Shield told the Raleigh News & Observer that’s not true.
Even the Queen of government health care, Hillary Clinton, is trying to avoid the possible fallout of Obamacare's unfavorability as she gets ready to run for Preznit in 2016.
Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton nudged the accelerator in her effort to get past the problems with ObamaCare bedeviling the president and their party. Talking to a gathering of health information specialists in Florida, Clinton sounded more than open to substantial changes to President Obama’s signature law. From Reuters:
“Part of the challenge is to clear away all the smoke and try to figure out what is working and what isn’t,’ Clinton, who served as secretary of state in Obama’s first term, was quoted by CNN as saying. ‘What do we need to do to try to fix this? Because it would be a great tragedy, in my opinion, to take away what has now been provided.’” Clinton previewed her expected talking points for the 2016 campaign, praising Obama’s goals but lamenting his poor execution:
This makes the decision to accept Obama's invitation to run the State Dept. while he destroyed the nation's healthcare system seem brilliant.  It gives her plausible deniability, and allows her to claim to want to fix the problems he created.

Except for four dead in Benghazi.  

We Really Need some Summer...

How about some Sports Illustrated Swimsuits?  First up - Nina Agdal:


There's some overlap between the videos. I had to watch them several times to be sure...

Linked at Pirate's Cove in his weekly linkfest "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup" and by Wombat-Socho in the catch up edition of "Rule 5 Monday" at The Other McCain.

Speaking of Winter Kills, This One Doesn't Bug Me a Bit

Cold U.S. Winter Killing Off Stinkbugs
Humans aren’t the only species bugging out from the polar vortex, the winter weather system that’s still menacing large swaths of the United States with bone-chilling temperatures.

Be glad you’re not an Asian stinkbug, which are dying off in large numbers due to the cold, a new experiment shows. The invasive insect, commonly called the brown marmorated stinkbug, has been plaguing homes and devouring agricultural crops in 38 states for years.
But they've been crazy abundant in our neck of the woods for several years now.

Thomas Kuhar, a professor of entomology at Virginia Tech, and his team have been gathering stinkbugs for the past three years near his campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, to use in lab experiments. The bugs spend the winter outside in insulated buckets that mimic the walls, shingles, and attics that they inhabit when the temperature drops.

That normally works out quite well for the bugs—but this year stinkbugs have been, well, dropping like flies.

“In the previous two years, natural mortality averaged about 20-25 percent,” he wrote in an email. In January 2014, however, Kuhar’s team discovered that the subfreezing temperatures had killed off 95 percent of the population.
That's the best weather news I've heard this winter.

Midnite Music - Larkin' Poe - "The Principal of the Silver Lining"

Never heard of them before; thanks, Hook.

Linked by Wombat-Socho in the catch up edition of "Rule 5 Monday" at The Other McCain.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

There's No Arguing with Crazy

But Stacy McCain gives it the college try anyway. Arguing With Psychotics
How are we supposed to have meaningful discussions of politics and policy, when Democrats are devoted to promoting paranoia?
Study: Global Warming Will Cause180,000 More Rapes by 2099
Using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s warming projections, Ranson calculated that from 2010 to 2099, climate change will “cause” an additional “22,000 murders, 180,000 cases of rape, 1.2 million aggravated assaults, 2.3 million simple assaults, 260,000 robberies, 1.3 million burglaries, 2.2 million cases of larceny, and 580,000 cases of vehicle theft” in the United States.
See? it’s science, and you can’t argue with science. This certainty of impending climate-induced doom is intended to provoke global-warming panic that will elect more Democrats pledged to enact draconian anti-business regulations that will strangle the economy. The resulting poverty and misery can be blamed on “the rich,” who will be targeted with punitive confiscatory taxes.

Irrational fear and hatred are essential to the agenda of the Democrat Party, and this kind of “science” gives them an excuse to say that if you oppose their environmental policies, you are pro-rape. But of course, Amanda Marcotte knows you’re pro-rape:
I have a better suggestion for Republicans: If you want the war-on-women narrative to go away, stop waging it. The reason that “war on women” is such a simple, evocative phrase is that you don’t really have to explain what it means to the public. Indeed, the phrase was initially the “Republican war on women,” but the “Republican” part fell off because it was so clearly implied in the other three words. Just as the phrase “just do it” immediately calls to mind an athlete ready to spring in a pair of prominently featured Nikes, the phrase “war on women” immediately calls to voter minds a bunch of middle-aged men in suits trying to figure out how to take away control of the nation’s vaginas from the women who are currently sitting on them.
Show of hands: Any of you Republican guys want to “control” Amanda Marcotte’s vagina? I didn’t think so. But the agenda of paranoia — inducing people to fear non-existent threats — isn’t about facts or logic. Or vaginas, for that matter.
Yuck, not me.

There Goes That Speckled Trout Fishery

Recreational fishing for trout is out in Virginia

Anglers throughout the lower Chesapeake Bay have voiced concern for weeks about dead or dying speckled trout.

Suffering from frequent and substantial dips in water temperature caused by colder-than-normal air this winter, thousands of fish have been seen dead in the shallows or swimming lethargically just under the surface in Middle Peninsula creeks, and inside Lynnhaven and Rudee inlets.

To help save potential spawning fish from being taken, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission on Tuesday issued an emergency order closing recreational fishing for speckled trout, other than catch-and-release, effective Saturday.

The move comes several weeks after North Carolina fisheries managers closed their trout fishery for the same reason.
Many of those fish that were killed down in Virginia were fish from Maryland waters that migrated down to the "warmer" waters near the Bay mouth.  I can't help but think that Maryland won't consider a moratorium on Speckled Trout fishing if, as I expect, the population has been decimated.  It's not an emergency here, though because the fish are currently gone from our waters.  Try all you want, you won't catch any.
But unlike in North Carolina, Virginia's closure - which came at the urging of the recreational angling community - does not include commercial interests, a decision that has angered many.

"If it's so bad that they issue an emergency closure, isn't it bad enough to close it for everybody?" asked Peninsula recreational angler Wes Blow. "I'm not anti-commercial in any way, but it's just wrong.

"It just blows my mind that they can't do the same thing as North Carolina did and just shut it down for everybody if it's an emergency measure."

The closure runs through July 31 but will be revisited when the Virginia Marine Resources Commission board meets March 10.
I'm not shocked that the commercial fishery has been allow to go on when the recreational fishery was closed; the waterman lobby in Virginia is strong; maybe even stronger than in Maryland.

We had a few good years with a surprisingly good Speckled Trout fishery; nothing lasts forever, and my expectation is that we'll be back to the situation that a Speck is a pleasant surprise while Stripper fishing, rather than being a species for special targeting.

Obamacare Schadenfreude Comparison Edition

We're between storms here today.  It's cold, but getting above freezing, and blue.  I have to leave soon, so this one will cover a lot of material fast...

My feelings are deeply hurt this morning; Ace informs me that Jim Geraghty of National Review Online has taken over my beat of listing and commenting on the daily damage done by Obamacare, complete with trainwreck gifs and all: Another Round of Obamacare Train Wrecks.

So how well did he do?  Well I had 8 items yesterday, he had 6, some of which I had covered, some not (and at least one on deck for this morning)
Sheila Lawless is the office manager at a small rheumatology practice in Wichita Falls, Texas, about two hours outside of Dallas. She makes sure everything in the office runs smoothly — scheduling patients, collecting payments, keeping the lights on. Recently she added another duty — incorporating the trickle of patients with insurance plans purchased on the new Affordable Care Act exchanges.
. . . It’s presented a major challenge: verifying that these patients have insurance. Each exchange patient has required the practice to spend an hour or more on the phone with the insurance company. “We’ve been on hold for an hour, an hour and 20, an hour and 45, been disconnected, have to call back again and repeat the process,” she explains. Those sorts of hold times add up fast.
That's new.
In Illinois, workers’ hours are dropping dramatically — almost as if a new law had given employers a major incentive to have employees working less than 30 hours a week!
In fact, average work hours increased slightly in two of these sectors between 2008 and 2010. But all three sectors (retail trade, food and beverage, and general merchandise) saw dramatic reductions in average work hours after ObamaCare was enacted.
That's new.
In Hawaii, the state has spent roughly $27,000 per enrollment.
That one has moss on it, as does: Maryland looks on in envy at a barely used state exchange that generally works:

He does find some new details  article about Oregon's website debacle:
But perhaps Maryland’s mess looks good compared to Oregon, where the accusations of lying are piling up:
Carolyn Lawson, the IT expert who tried and failed to build Oregon’s online insurance exchange, complained to an Oregon Health Authority official that she was forced to leave under false pretenses in an email uncovered by the On Your Side Investigators. . .
This one is so old its moss has moss:
Sure, most Americans say the law hasn’t affected their lives yet. But among those who have, more say the impact is negative:
While most Americans (54 percent) continue to say they haven’t been impacted by the law one way or another, the share saying they’ve been negatively affected has inched up in recent months (29 percent in February, up from 23 percent last October) and continues to outpace the share saying they’ve personally benefited from the law (17 percent). . . 
 And this one was on deck for this morning:
And evidence continues to mount that the uninsured have a remarkably resilient capacity to tune out news, information, and details of a massive, complicated piece of legislation that overhauled the entire health-care system in the name of helping them get insurance:
The vast majority of uninsured Americans do not know they must sign up for health insurance by March 31 or pay a fine, according to a new poll. . . 
Give him a score of 3 out of six.  So what I have I got?

One grade school teacher quits her job thanks to Obamacare being subsidized by us China
Now that Karen Willmus can get health insurance through Obamacare, she plans to quit teaching 9th grade English at the end of the school year.

The 51-year-old found policies on the Colorado state exchange for about $300 a month. That's less than what she's paying now for employer-sponsored coverage and less than half what she paid on the individual market in 2007.

Like Willmus, millions of people could quit their jobs or cut back on their hours in coming years because of Obamacare, according to a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office. . .
. . .
Instead of eating bonbons on her couch, Willmus plans to start her own business with her teen daughter publishing materials for non-native English speakers and others looking to improve their literacy. She expects to work even more than she does now and hire two or three people.

"I can't afford to go out and buy insurance while trying to start a business," said Willmus, of Colorado Springs, Colo. "Obamacare will allow me to be more comfortable at risking what I own."
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride...

Speaking of beggers, it turns out the vast mass of uninsured haven't been reading my blog, or doing much to get any information: 76% of Uninsured Unaware of ObamaCare Sign-Up Deadline
It’s quite obvious the overwhelming majority of Americans have tuned out the lame-duck president and his minions. They’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to force people into their socialized medicine scheme and people just refuse to participate, despite the phony numbers of people they’ve claimed have signed up.
The vast majority of uninsured Americans do not know they must sign up for health insurance by March 31 or pay a fine, according to a new poll.
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), in its monthly tracking survey, found that 76 percent of the uninsured are not aware of the looming sign-up deadline. Only 24 percent could name the date correctly.
Tax filing delayed thanks to Obamacare: Can't file your taxes? Blame ObamaCare.
Some TurboTax customers are mad at Intuit, maker of the popular tax-prep software, because they've finished their returns but are unable to file. Their anger is misplaced. They should blame the Internal Revenue Service, along with the 111th Congress and President Obama for enacting and signing the tax increase with which TurboTax can't yet comply. (They could also blame George W. Bush if they're in a jocose frame of mind.)

At issue is ObamaCare's new 3.8% "net investment income tax." It took effect Jan. 1, 2013, so that taxpayers are encountering it just now as they prepare their returns for last year. In effect, it applies the Medicare payroll tax to interest, dividends and capital gains.
With "4 million" signups (most of which are medicaid, and people who signed up for Obmacare after Obamacare forced them off their own plans) out of "7 million" needed for success, and just a month to go before the March 31 deadline:  Pace of Obamacare sign-ups is slowing in February
But the Tuesday claim of 4 million sign-ups represents a smaller 700,000 gain from the 3.3 million total the administration reported as of Feb. 1.

Last year, before the law's exchanges had opened, an HHS memo had projected about 200,000 more individuals would sign up in the month than in January. That memo estimated nearly 1.3 million sign-ups in February -- or nearly 600,000 more than HHS claims have signed up thus far.

The open enrollment period for health insurance extends through the end of March, and the administration is hoping for a late surge in sign-ups, especially among young and healthy individuals. Before the botched rollout of the law's exchanges, the administration had defined success as 7 million total sign-ups.
Can Obamacare Avoid a Consumer Rebellion? Apparently not...
When Obamacare handed insurance companies millions of compulsory customers, it also handed them a reminder of one of their industry's toughest realities: Consumers want low premiums, and they want to see any doctor they want. And it's impossible to give them both.

Generally, insurers selling plans on Obamacare's exchanges opted to keep premiums low, hoping the public would prefer a low upfront price tag—even if that meant customers couldn't always pick their first-choice doctor.

But "if you like your doctor, you can hope she's in our network" was always going to be a tough sell for insurers. With the insurance market now viewed through the distorted lens of the endless partisan fight over Obamacare, it's going to be harder than ever. Republicans have pounced on the narrow networks, citing them as further proof that President Obama lied when he said the Affordable Care Act would not cost people their doctors.

And as the volume of enrollees and rhetoric rises, insurers are worried about a possible backlash. Narrow networks are getting a bad reputation, and consumers may demand more choices.
Brutal: Obama vs. reality on Obamacare costs for small businesses
Via the Libre Initiative, here’s America’s Liar of the Year (not my words!) doing his thing in October of 2009. In a speech peddling Obamacare to small business advocates, the president warmed up with his shattered “keep your plan” vow before enthusiastically touting the glorious ‘affordability’ that awaited exchange participants:
“What we will do is make the coverage that you’re currently providing more affordable…You’ll be able to get better deals than you could have ever received on your own. In fact, small businesses that choose one of the plans in this exchange could save 25 percent on their premiums by 2016.”
The operation of said magical exchange, by the way, was just delayed for the second time, for another full year — with many small businesses being offered a single “option.” And now, 2014′s reality check, via — er – the Obama administration:
Nearly two-thirds of small businesses that currently offer health insurance to their workers will pay more for coverage as a result of new rules in the health care law, as will millions of small-business employees and their family members, according to new estimates released by the Obama administration…”We are estimating that 65 percent of the small firms are expected to experience increases in their premium rates while the remaining 35 percent are anticipated to have rate reductions,” CMS’ Office of the Actuary wrote in a new report.
These looming rate increases will compel many employers in the small group market (whose businesses fall below the employee thresholds established in the again-postponed employer mandate) to simply drop coverage for their workers. Experts — including those within the administration — have projected that tens of millions of American workers will ultimately lose their existing employer-based coverage due to Obamacare. Those employees will be shuffled into the individual market, where many will choose between paying significantly more for health insurance and forking over mandate-tax penalty payments to the IRS for the privilege of being uninsured. You’ll recall that White House officials have repeatedly assured consumers within the employer-based market that the recent furor over canceled plans “doesn’t apply” to them. ”They don’t have to worry about, or do, or change anything,” Jay Carney told reporters in late October. According to the administration’s own numbers, that’s not even close to being accurate. This crew simply lies about Obamacare. Period.
But not too worry,  All the horror stories about Obamacare are lies, says Harry Reid:
"Despite all that good news, there's plenty of horror stories being told. All of them are untrue, but they're being told all over America," said Reid.

"The leukemia patient whose insurance policy was canceled [and] could die without her medication, Mr. President, that's an ad being paid for by two billionaire brothers. It's absolutely false. Or the woman whose insurance policy went up $700 a month--ads paid for around America by the multibillionaire Koch brothers, and the ad is false.
Squirrel! Koch

Get that squirrel!

So that's eight additional fresh Schadenfreude's compared to Geraghty's three or so (depending on how you count).  Advantage, Fritz!

Time to Top Off The Japanese Weirdness Content

Linked by Wombat-Socho in the catch up edition of "Rule 5 Monday" at The Other McCain.

A Great Milestone for Science

A Computer program able to write and publish peer-reviewed articles!

What a great time saver! Why didn't I think of this? I guess my skills in Fortran, Basic, and Apple II+ machine language just weren't up to snuff.  Take it away, Ace:

120 Scientific Papers Withdrawn After Being Proven to be Gibberish. No, Actual Computer-Generated Gibberish.
Multiple layers of painstaking fact-checking editorial oversight.
So, some scientists at MIT had invented a program called "SCIgen" to generate, by computer, random scientific-sounding papers. They did this for amusement.

But people (especially in China, apparently) have been using the program to generate papers and then submit them to actual scientific publishers' subscription services.
“The papers are quite easy to spot,” says Labbé, who has built a website where users can test whether papers have been created using SCIgen. His detection technique, described in a study published in Scientometrics in 2012, involves searching for characteristic vocabulary generated by SCIgen. Shortly before that paper was published, Labbé informed the IEEE of 85 fake papers he had found. Monika Stickel, director of corporate communications at IEEE, says that the publisher “took immediate action to remove the papers” and “refined our processes to prevent papers not meeting our standards from being published in the future”. In December 2013, Labbé informed the IEEE of another batch of apparent SCIgen articles he had found. Last week, those were also taken down, but the web pages for the removed articles give no explanation for their absence.
Ruth Francis, UK head of communications at Springer, says that the company has contacted editors, and is trying to contact authors, about the issues surrounding the articles that are coming down. The relevant conference proceedings were peer reviewed, she confirms — making it more mystifying that the papers were accepted.
It's possible the reviewers chalked up the computerese nonsense to a language barrier, figuring the "scientist" who wrote them spoke Chinese as a first language and was struggling with the English language. But this only goes so far, because, ultimately, these papers didn't make sense in any language. Because they were gibbrerish.
Labbé (the guy who built the tool for finding these fakes) wanted to prove how easy it was to spoof the system so he created a fake scientist named "Antkare."
Labbé is no stranger to fake studies. In April 2010, he used SCIgen to generate 102 fake papers by a fictional author called Ike Antkare. Labbé showed how easy it was to add these fake papers to the Google Scholar database, boosting Ike Antkare’s h-index, a measure of published output, to 94 — at the time, making Antkare the world's 21st most highly cited scientist.
Ike Antkare?  I couldn't kare less...
Why? Why would 120 fake, gibberish, nonsense papers be submitted to these publishers? And how did they make it onto the system?

Well possibly this is a prank, or an attempt to prove how easy it is to get nonsense published, as Labbé already proved.

Or, possibly:

Apparently, in science, one gross method of ranking your authority is by counting up the number of times you're cited in other scientific papers.

So, what if you could just spam a lot of fictitious, gibberish papers and get them into "the system" (the subscription services) citing you a whole bunch of times? Then your crude bean-counting ranking goes up.
I'm willing to bet this new "batch" of faked papers is not, in fact, an educational prank, but rather curriculum vitae padding by a bunch of Chinese authors.  They are extremely smart, extremely competitive, and many of them are desperate to get out of China and into civilized countries.  They know that most of the people who they are hoping to hire them to allow them to move out of China aren't actually going to read their old papers, just the title, and if they're unlucky, maybe the abstract. They have a high bar to overcome, many United States scientists have a strong bias against foreign scientists (which they will mostly vociferously deny), and Chinese in particular. An impression of productivity and familiarity with English is what they are trying to convey, hoping that the prospect of getting their names on subordinates papers will be enough of a carrot to get them to take a risk on a Chinese post-doc who, on the face of things, seems to have questionable English skills.

Midnite Music - $#!* Alex Posts on Facebook

Sweet Child of Mine Polka

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

EPA Obstructed Fraud Investigation

You may remember the wild and wooly case of John Beale, the senior EPA bureaucrat who managed to dodge years of work while getting paid by claiming to be a CIA agent, in addition to more traditional forms of fraud such as having the agency pay for travel he didn't take, and getting first class upgrades on travel he did take, amounting to some $900,000 in fraud, all the while getting performance and retention bonuses.

It seems that the investigation into his performance was directly obstructed by EPA officials
The WFB reports on a letter from the EPA inspector general to Sen. David Vitter released on Wednesday, wherein the IG describes how several agency employees tried to get in the way of getting to the bottom of the ordeal:
EPA employees threatened Inspector General investigators, refused to cooperate, and handed out non-disclosure agreements to other employees to keep them from being interviewed, EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. wrote in response to a request for information by Vitter on the case.
“Over the past 12 months, there have been several EPA officials who have taken action to prevent [the Office of Investigations] OI from conducting investigations or have attempted to obstruct investigations through intimidation,” Elkins wrote. …
After closing its criminal investigation, the Inspector General began an audit of the lack of internal controls that allowed Beale to defraud the agency. That audit has implicated a growing number of EPA officials. …
“During the course of an OI administrative investigation, Mr. [Steve Williams in the EPA's Office of Homeland Security] approached an OI special agent in a threatening manner, preventing the special agent from conducting her official duties in an ongoing investigation involving Mr. Williams and other members of OHS,” Elkins wrote. “Additionally, Mr. Williams issued non-disclosure agreements to EPA employees that prevented these employees from cooperating with [the Office of the Inspector General] OIG investigations.”
I can't say I'm shocked. In any bureaucracy, from the Catholic Church to the EPA, any threat of exposure of wrong doing by any one of it's upper minions is perceived as a threat to the organization itself, and the reaction by the vast majority of the personnel is to circle the wagons, and protect the guilty.  Who knows, the next investigation could be you, and everyone's guilty of something.

"Don't Turn On the Lights, 'Cause I Don't Want to See!"

Democrats Resent Republican Election Fraud Findings

One of the usual charges that democrats make to attempts by Republicans to reduce election fraud by policing the voting rolls, mandating ID for voting and other efforts is that election fraud is vanishingly rare, and that policing it is a waste of time and effort.  Much the same argument that criminals make against locks and alarm systems.  Because democrats, unlike criminals, have some say in the matter, voting rolls are rarely questioned, ID is rarely mandated (and strongly resisted when suggested) and efforts to find fraud after the fact are rarely allowed.
. . .When such laws aren’t “hateful” they are “unnecessary.” The Brennan Center for Justice says “voter fraud is essentially irrational” so it almost never happens. Voter fraud is so rare “you’re more likely to get hit by lightning than find a case of prosecutorial voter fraud,” insists Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of the liberal Advancement Project.
But recently, Iowa under a Republican Secretary of State investigated voter fraud, and, low and behold, it exists, even in relatively moderate Iowa.
Well, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation disagrees. Not a state known for its hateful politics, Iowa’s DCI wrapped up its investigation this month and has referred more than 80 cases of voter fraud to county attorneys for possible prosecution. Since the investigation was initiated by GOP Secretary of State Matt Schultz a year and a half ago, five people have pleaded guilty to voter fraud and 15 others are facing charges.

Iowa governor Terry Branstad told that such investigations cut down on voter fraud because they increase the risks for perpetrators. “By people knowing that there is going to be an investigation and scrutiny of people that vote illegally, it serves as a deterrent to voter fraud,” he said. The number of races for Iowa’s legislature that have been decided by fewer than 100 votes has grown. A full ten races have involved margins of less than 50 votes since 2008.
And we can be sure that if 50 cases of voter fraud were detected, probably 500 went undetected.

So, indeed, voter fraud does take place, and it does have the potential to alter the outcomes of elections.

And that makes sense, because given the consequences of criminal penalties, and the unlikelihood that a single act of fraud (say, a single individual voting twice under two names, or a single ineligible person voting) altering the outcome, it would be imprudent for a single person to do it, but it could well pay off if a group of people colluded to weigh heavily in a few, closely contested elections.
Liberals aren't convinced. They accuse Secretary of State Schultz of misusing his office resources to pursue insignificant amounts of voter fraud. “Schultz chose to spend his Secretary of State career collaring a relative handful of voters whose mistakes might have been cleared up with a public information campaign,” sniffed the liberal Quad City Times.
"Don't Turn on the lights, 'cause I don't want to see!"

Obamacare Schadenfreude for Yet Another Snow Storm

Yep, it's snowing here today again.  Much like yesterday, we're just below freezing, and fluffy white stuff is falling from the sky and accumulating on the grass, the trees, the houses, the deck, but not on the the driveway and roads.  It's not supposed to be a big deal, we're supposed to get an inch or so, and the weather channel is starting to husband spouse its names and isn't giving this one the honor.

The main Obamacare news of the day is that the administration proudly announced they had reached their enrollment goal, enrolled four sevenths of their goal, had four million hits among all their assorted non-working websites: ObamaCare enrollment now up to 4 million, administration says
As we head into the last five weeks of this historic open enrollment period, millions of Americans are taking advantage of the new choices they now have to access affordable, quality health care thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The most recent data indicate that approximately 4 million people have now signed up for a private health insurance plan through the Federal and State-based Marketplaces since October 1. A full enrollment report for February will be released in mid-March.

With individuals and families enrolling in coverage every day, we continue to see strong demand nationwide from consumers who want access to quality, affordable coverage. Our outreach efforts are in full force with community partners and local officials participating in hundreds of events each week and enrollment assistors are helping more and more people enroll in coverage.
Of course, there is no accounting by the administration as to 1) how many of these were people booted out of their pre-existing plans by Obamacare and forced to find new plans, 2) how many have actually paid for the plans, the real test of enrollment, and 3) the demographic mix of young and old people necessary for the health of the health care plans.  One assumes if that news was good, they would have headlined it.

Secretary Sebelius now says 7 million signups by March 1st wasn't really the goal after, just some number CBO threw out:
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday dismissed the goal of 7 million Obamacare enrollees by the end of March as something that the Congressional Budget Office made up.

However, that contradicts Sebelius's own statement on national television in September that "success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March 2014."

“First of all, 7 million was not the administration. That was a CBO Congressional Budget Office prediction when the bill was first signed. I’m not quite sure where they even got their numbers. Their number’s all over the board, and the vice president has looked and said it may be closer to 5 to 6,” Sebelius told HuffPost Live host Marc Lamont Hill.

Who are you going to believe, you're own lying eyes and ears or Sebelius?
"I think success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March 2014," Sebelius told NBC's Nancy Snyderman.
Meanwhile, in an effort to boost enrollment the government is starting to show the fist in the velvet glove: IRS Warns: Obamacare Tax Must Be Paid with Tax Return
President Obama’s Internal Revenue Service today quietly released a series of Obamacare “Health Care Tax Tips” warning Americans that they must obtain “qualifying” health insurance – as defined by the federal government – or face a “shared responsibility payment” when filing their tax returns in 2015. The term “shared responsibility payment” refers to the Obamacare individual mandate tax, one of at least seven tax hikes in the healthcare law that directly hit families making less than $250,000 per year.

In “Four Tax Facts about the Health Care Law for Individuals” the agency writes:

Your 2014 tax return will ask if you had insurance coverage or qualified for an exemption. If not, you may owe a shared responsibility payment when you file in 2015.
In “The Individual Shared Responsibility Payment- An Overview” the agency warns Americans they must prove they were covered each and every month of the year:

For any month in 2014 that you or any of your dependents don’t maintain coverage and don’t qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment with your 2014 tax return filed in 2015.
. . .
Once fully phased in, the Obamacare individual mandate tax will rise steeply, to a maximum of 2.5 percent of Adjusted Gross Income or $2,085 – whichever is higher.
Remember, the Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts decided that Obamacare was only legal if viewed as a tax.

Both Preznit Obama and Secretary Sebelius have consistently denied advanced knowledge of how badly the rollout of the Obamacare was going to go (how bad is it when ignorance of the law named in your honor is your defense), but new information shows that White House had ample warning:

HHS official found White House 'disarray' months before health law rollout
A senior Health and Human Services official was so frustrated last May over the White House's “disarray” on health care before the launch of Obamacare insurance exchanges that he warned of needing a “come to Jesus meeting” with his counterparts.

The comment from Anton Gunn, then-HHS director of external affairs, came in an email exchange with Anne Filipic, the president of the outside group Enroll America, a nonprofit with close ties to the White House that was formed to promote the fall Obamacare rollout and boost enrollment — an effort the two were working on closely.

While criticism of the botched healthcare rollout has focused on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and her department's failures, the email exchange dated May 1 between Gunn and Filipic reveals that HHS officials harbored deep frustrations about the White House's own health care messaging and preparations in the middle of 2013, months before the troubled rollout.
It's probably a good thing that most of the Obamacare enrollees waited until near the end to sign up, because new documents show that the websites were at high risk of cyber attack:
Documents provided to The Associated Press show that more than two-thirds of state systems that were supposed to tap into federal computers to verify sensitive personal information for coverage were initially rated as "high risk" for security problems.
Back-door attacks have been in the news, since the hackers who stole millions of customers' credit and debit card numbers from Target are believed to have gained access through a contractor's network.

The administration says the documents offer only a partial and "outdated" snapshot of an improving situation, and the security problems cited were either resolved or are being addressed through specific actions. No successful cyberattacks have taken place, officials say.
Of course, you can't find cyberattacks that you don't bother to look for.  As Three Dog Night sang back in the stone ages "Don't turn on the lights 'cause I don't want to see!"

Here in Maryland, the prime contractor on the Obamacare website his been canned:
Maryland has fired the contractor that built its expensive online health insurance marketplace, which has so many structural defects that officials say the state might have to abandon all or parts of the system.

The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange voted late Sunday to terminate its $193 million contract with Noridian Healthcare Solutions. Columbia-based Optum/QSSI, which the state hired in December to help repair the flawed exchange, will become the prime contractor, and Noridian will assist with the transition.
As of Monday, Maryland had paid Noridian $67.9 million for its work and had unpaid invoices totaling $12.9 million, state health officials said.

Maryland “is preserving all rights to seek damages against Noridian and its subcontractors for problems with the IT system,” Joshua M. Sharfstein, state secretary of health and mental hygiene, said Monday before a legislative panel that is monitoring the exchange.
Maryland is a heavily democratic state, and Gov. O'Malley is a strong supporter of Obamacare.  They can't blame Republicans for the catastrophic failures of the Obamacare websites.  Why have states like Maryland, Oregon, and Minnesota and federal government had so much trouble implementing the policies they supported so strongly?

I think it's because the goals are just unreasonable.  You have to crawl before you walk, let along walk on the moon.

Even the Obama's friends in Hollywood are leery of becoming too closely associated with the quagmire:
. . . It seems that not even the president’s most fervent and committed supporters want to get too close to ObamaCare. Some of Obama’s most powerful allies — figures including Oprah Winfrey, Bruce Springsteen and Beyoncé — have stayed in the wings for the enrollment push.

Less than a year ago, Jennifer Hudson, Amy Poehler, and representatives for Winfrey and Alicia Keys were guests at the White House to discuss a strategy to promote the healthcare law. Many expected this would lead to an advertising blitz full of famous faces. But, with limited exceptions, stars have largely failed to participate in a substantial ad campaign to promote Obama-Care’s new coverage options.

To date, the only noteworthy celebrities appearing on behalf of ObamaCare in national ads are retired NBA players Magic Johnson and Alonzo Mourning, who left professional basketball in 1991 and 2009, respectively.
You know; a few days ago I was hoping afraid I'd have to give up this feature, but it just keeps going, and going and going:

When Bad Food Becomes Good Again

An article from Salon about 7 foods that we all loved, and used to think were bad for us, for which science in now finding new support.  Of course, being Salon, they have to throw some well meaning nonsense in as well, but then, what do you expect from liberal digital rag?

7 Foods that were supposed to be incredibly unhealthy — but are actually anything but
1) Coconut Oil

. . .It turns out that unrefined coconut oil offers terrific health benefits. Yes, it is a saturated fat. But the scientific consensus on whether saturated fats are bad for us is changing. Now researchers are stressing that saturated fats like coconut oil actually lower bad cholesterol in our bodies. Studies of people in countries that consume high amounts of coconut oil have found fewer instances of heart disease than in nations, such as the United States, where coconut oil has not been a staple. Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which is known for its antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial properties. Coconut oil, the new wisdom says, is good for our bodies inside and out. . .
Georgia is a recent convert to the cult of coconut oil.  In addition to all the above, it makes the kitchen smell really good.  You can order it on Amazon here, and support the blog by using my Amazon Associates link.

Midnite Music - "Whoop De Doo"

Mark Knopfler is one of the greats.  I was delighted to find this little gem embedded at the end of a political post by Smitty at the Other McCain:

Dear Peasant Scum:

We have heard heard your complaints about the IRS pig rooting up all of your property, and have graciously afforded it some fresh lipstick. You’re welcome.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Even Journolister Agrees: Piers Morgan is a Douche

Deft, but also delightfully brutal:
Sunday night, after David Carr broke the news that Piers Morgan would be ending his CNN show, I searched Twitter to find how his fans were taking it. This was a mistake. Really, who was a Piers Morgan fan? Have you ever met one? No, reaction to CNN’s scheduling news ran the gamut from suppressed glee to running-naked-through-the-streets glee, from gun lovers declaring victory over the “Brit” to nonpartisan journalists reminiscing about Morgan’s finest ethical lapses. . . .
The live broadcast of Morgan’s show drew around half the viewers that MSNBC did, and a fifth as many as Fox News. Morgan welcomed Fox’s Megyn Kelly to 9 p.m. by telling her (on Twitter) to “bring it on.” She did.
In fact, Morgan’s humiliation was so total that he’s at risk of becoming a martyr for True Journalism. . . . Were we wrong about the guy?
We were not. Morgan was the beneficiary of a curious American habit. We assign 20 extra IQ points to anyone who speaks with a British accent, redistributing them from the people who speak with Southern accents. . . .
It goes on from there. Having known Weigel since 2006, when he worked at the libertarian magazine Reason, I understand that conservatives hate Weigel for his relentless sarcasm, which is usually aimed at Republicans. His sarcasm is much more enjoyable when aimed at somebody you hate, and everybody hates Piers Morgan.
A word about David Weigel, for those who don't follow closely (or don't remember).  He was a member of the Journolist, a group of left wing "journalists" organized by Ezra Klein, who used a listserve to coordinate left-wing attacks on conservatives:
David Weigel, who was hired by The Washington Post to blog about conservatives, resigned Friday after leaked online messages showed him disparaging some Republicans and commentators in highly personal terms.

Weigel, whose tenure lasted three months, apologized Thursday for writing on a private e-mail exchange that Matt Drudge should "handle his emotional problems more responsibly and set himself on fire." He also mocked Ron Paul, the Texas congressman, by referring to the "Paultard Tea Party."

(Washington Post's ombudsman comments)

The Daily Caller reported more inflammatory comments on Friday, with Weigel writing that conservatives were using the media to "violently, angrily divide America" and lamenting news organizations' "need to give equal/extra time to 'real American' views, no matter how [expletive] moronic." When Rush Limbaugh, who has called for President Obama to fail, was hospitalized with chest pains, Weigel wrote: "I hope he fails."

These and other remarks were drawn from Journolist, an off-the-record listserv for several hundred independent to left-leaning commentators and journalists that was founded in 2007 by Ezra Klein, now a liberal blogger for The Post's Web site.
Others were similarly kind to Morgan; from Ace's:

Piers Morgan Wasn't Rejected Because He Comes from England. He Was Rejected Because His True Nationality Is The Isle of Smug.
Jim Geraghty objects to the silly notion that Americans "reject" British people for their Britishness. This is of course silly; Americans tend to love British people. As someone (perhaps Geraghty) notes, we automatically assign an additional 20 points of IQ to anyone speaking with a British accent.

Charles C.W. Cooke has a simpler reason for Americans not liking Piers Morgan: For the same reason British people don't like Piers Morgan. He's an insufferable twit (sp?).

[I]nsofar as Morgan has made an impression on the country at all, his brief foray into American television appears to have served primarily to extend the territory in which he has thus far rendered himself unpopular. Back in the old country, Morgan’s name is synonymous with arrogance and with overreach, and he is known less for his interviewing skills and show-business acumen than for allegedly hacking the telephones of celebrities; for retaliating against even minor criticism by siccing paparazzi on the speaker; for having published “calculated and malicious” fake photographs of British soldiers abusing prisoners; and for considering nothing whatsoever to be more sacred than his insatiable ambition.

On a British talk show, guests were playing a game in which they were invited to define words. Steven Fry was offered the word "countryside."

This is a home-run slow pitch; the only question is whom you wish to make the target of the joke. Fry chose Piers Morgan.

Democrat Comes Clean on Immigration

Florida Democrat: Without immigration reform, where will we get our landscapers and maids?

. . .Sink’s problem is that it sounds at first blush like she’s griping that she might not be able to find cheap help to clean her home. How much is she going to have to fork over if we pass on immigration reform and she’s forced to hire a citizen to scrub her toilet? That’s not what she’s saying, though; she’s talking about landscapers and maids needed to staff local hotels, in case that makes you feel better. Perish the thought that any politician might have self-interested reasons for supporting amnesty. Now, if only we can get a Republican to repeat this verbatim, maybe it’ll gain some outrageous-outrage traction in the media. Any takers? Haley?
I don't know about landscapers and maids, since we haven't employed any, but I do know that the local contractor who did our roof had a whole crew of Hispanics (El Salvadoran, I suspect, that being the default in the DC area). I also saw a whole wing of a federal building being constructed by dark skinned people with a poor command of English.  I would rather have paid more to have a crew of "down on their luck" red blooded Americans males (or even females if they were so inclined) to do the work, although I suspect they wouldn't have been as fast, as clean or as polite. But without immigration control we'll never find enough American's willing to compete with the low cost immigrants, particularly while unemployment is heavily subsidized, and if we give the immigrants SNAP and healthcare they'll not be inclined to go home to cutting bananas.

Whale Enters Chesapeake Bay; Dies

CSI: Chesapeake Bay - whale's death investigated

It was likely a fin or humpback whale that was found dead in a shallow-water area near the Maryland-Virginia state line in the Chesapeake Bay, an official said.

Rescue teams with the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team hope to learn more about the 30-foot-long animal’s death from samples taken from its badly decomposed body.

Part of the difficulty with identifying it is the animal is partially submerged in shallow water, unlike whale strandings in which the animal is beached, so it is difficult to see its markings.

“They are hoping to talk with others and identify the whale,” said Joan Barns, a spokeswoman with the aquarium.

“They did take some samples that should give them a general idea of the health of the animal at the time of the stranding,” she said.
Actually, it turns out it's not that uncommon for whales to enter the lower Chesapeake Bay:
She said the whales generally found in the bay during cold-weather months are the fin and humpback, baleen whales that are sometimes spotted during winter wildlife boat trips, Barns said.
Even whales have to die sometimes of disease or old age, and there's not a lot in the world able to eat a whole whale quickly, so sometimes, whales just wash up dead for no apparent reason.  It stinks, but that's the way it goes.

There's (Still) Gold in Them Thar Hills

Drought Has Created California’s 2nd Gold Rush
Prospectors in Southern California are heading to the hills, saying the severe drought has exposed gold that has never been touched by human hands. As water levels continue to drop more nooks and crannies are easier for these gold hunters to access.

“A lot of time you would just see a husband. Now you’re seeing the whole family out,” said Kevin Hoagland, of the Gold Prospectors Association of America.

Prospectors at Lytle Creek, 60 miles from Los Angeles in San Bernardino County, pan for gold, using metal detectors and sluice boxes. CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Art Barron witnessed veteran prospector Jack Barber pull up large pieces of the precious metal.

Armed with simple equipment, anyone can look for gold as long as it’s not on someone’s property or violates an existing gold claim. Many amateur prospectors are joining in the search.
When I was a little kid, and my parents had a vacation cabin near Lake Arrowhead, Calif. (in San Bernardino County, he took me on a few day trips to a place reputed to have had a minor "gold rush" in the good old days, Holcomb Valley.  Equipped with pans and a home made "rocker" sluice box, we (I should really say he, because I'm sure all I did was run around chasing frogs and lizards) tried our hands at gold prospecting.  I even recall a few flakes of something that might have been gold and not fools gold.

Thanks, Dad!

Obamacare Schadenfreude - Back At It

First, the now traditional weather report.  It's 30 F and snowing to beat hell right this instant, but the radar, as well as the forecasts, suggest it won't last too long, or amount to much.  I may need to make another pot of coffee, though.

We've been away for a couple days, and I didn't have the chance to pore over the internet and collect examples of Obamacare Schadenfreude, but we're back now, and the Schadenfreude continues:

Even the usually reliably pro-adminstration "fact checker" at the Washingtoon Post couldn't talk himself into believing Preznit Obama's claim that Obamacare has put 7 million people into insurance.  I'm going to double up the linkage here by linking to Ace's commentary:

Washington Post Rates Obama's "7 Million Have Signed Up for ObamaCare" Claim... Four Pinnochios, the Highest Rating for Deception
No one believes these numbers, because Obama refuses to parse the numbers to determine how many people were already eligible for Medicaid, and how many became eligible due to Obamacare.

Even Politico raps Obama for deeming this basic question an "unreasonable" one which Obama's team refuses to offer answers to.
Two different groups have estimated the extent to which ObamaCare has expanded Medicaid to the uninsured. One is Acela, which estimates the figure at between 1.1 million and 1.8 million. Kessler also quotes Charles Gaba, who puts the number at 2.6 million. Both are far below Barack Obama’s claims, and also far below what the administration expected to see by this stage. The most motivated of all the uninsured should have been those eligible for Medicaid, and yet we haven’t seen a rush to enroll — and those who are motivated to do so probably already have. That means there won’t be a big spike coming in the next couple of months.
Omelets and eggs.
In the same post, Ace also deal with the unusual case of the anti-Obamacare (and anti-him) advertisement that Rep. Gary Peters (D), running for Senate, is trying to get banned by the FCC:

The Washington Examiner notes that Rep. Gary Peters, D, the target of this ad (who is running for Senate this year), is having his attorneys go after the television stations running the ad on the grounds that the precise situation with her insurance is unclear and her claims here are debatable. It appears that after a period of uncertainty and difficulties navigating the website, she did eventually get insurance, and although the precise figures are unknown (even to the woman in the ad, apparently), it may cost her roughly the same amount per year.

Of course, the uncertainty, the broken promise, and the fact that at least one drug she needs may no longer be covered all remain reasons members of Congress who voted for Obamacare should be scared about 2014.
Wow, democrats should be proud; joining the war on women and the war on freedom of speech simultaneously.
After relating her story publicly in an ad produced by the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), Peters dispatched lawyers to prevent the spot from running on local television stations. Boonstra, who says she is now struggling to pay out of pocket for her rising healthcare costs, told the Washington Free Beacon she is stunned by Peters’ efforts to censor her story.

“I’m appalled. I’m appalled as a mom, as a woman, and as a cancer patient, as someone living with cancer … who has stood before this nation to say, ‘I cannot afford that out of pocket expense,’” said Boonstra, who said she was given a 20 percent chance of surviving her disease. “As a Michigan resident, to silence my voice, I’m absolutely appalled.”

Peters, who is running for a seat in the Senate, instructed his legal counsel earlier this week to demand that stations stop running the AFP ad until additional evidence of the cancer victim’s claims could be produced.

“For the sake of both FCC licensing requirements and the public interest, your station should immediately require AFP to provide the factual documentation for its claims if you are going to continue airing this advertising,” read the letter from Peters’ lawyers. The letter went on to question Boonstra’s motives and the facts presented in AFP’s ad.

Boonstra said she is “surprised” by what she described as the Peters campaign’s strong-arm tactics. “I’m very surprised,” Boonstra said just hours after she attempted to confront Peter face-to-face at his Bloomfield Hills residence. “I have every right to tell my story and express my point of view and opinion on how Obamacare has affected me.”

Boonstra attempted to confront the congressman at his door, but he did not answer when she knocked.
A real paragon of courage there, Peters.

Governors Struggle with Obamacare:
While governors from Connecticut to Louisiana sparred Sunday over how best to improve the nation's economy, governors of both parties shared a far more pragmatic outlook on the controversial program known as "Obamacare" as millions of their constituents begin to be covered.

"We're just trying to make the best of a bad situation," said Republican Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa, who called the health care law "unaffordable and unsustainable" yet something he has to implement by law. "We're trying to make it work as best we can for the people of Iowa."

As governors gathered in Washington this weekend, Democrats such as Maryland's Martin O'Malley and Connecticut's Dannel Malloy made pitches to raise the minimum wage, while Republicans such as Louisiana's Bobby Jindal and Indiana's Mike Pence called for more freedom from federal regulations, particularly those related to the health insurance overhaul.

But governors from both parties say a full repeal of the law would be complicated at best, if not impossible, as states move forward with implementation and begin covering millions of people — both by expanding Medicaid rolls for lower-income residents or through state or federal exchanges that offer federal subsidies to those who qualify.
And hot off the presses at the Washington Post, this news that Obamacare will further complicate life for the small business that form the vascular system of the United State economy:

Obama administration: Health law’s new rules will increase costs for most small businesses
Nearly two-thirds of small businesses that currently offer health insurance to their workers will pay more for coverage as a result of new rules in the health care law, as will millions of small-business employees and their family members, according to new estimates released by the Obama administration.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which has spearheaded the implementation of the law, has acknowledged that new rules requiring insurers to offer guaranteed coverage and renewal options to small employers will likely drive up the price of insurance for some companies. So will rules banning insurance companies from varying their rates based on factors like a company’s industry or the age of its employees.
As Hillary explained when told her health care plan would bankrupt many small businesses:
'I can’t be responsible for every under-capitalized small business in America'!" -- Tony Snow reporting on Hillary's health care plan.
At least she explained it. Obama just went golfing.