Saturday, May 4, 2013

Protesters at the NRA Convention: Where are they? (VIDEO)

Guns.Com ^ | May 4, 2013 | S.H. Blannelberry

Okay, so if you’re following the mainstream media news headlines with respect to this convention, you’d probably expect to see a “clash” or a major confrontation between gun rights advocates/NRA members and gun control activists, descriptions that make it appear as if this is some kind of political warzone.
For example, on Friday MSNBC ran a story entitled, “NRA: Protesters plan a showdown at the gun show.” The opening sentence read, “Gun control advocates plan to clash with members of the National Rifle Association this weekend…”
Likewise, the Houston Chronicle published this article yesterday, “Protesters set sights on NRA meeting Houston.” According to their report, an “alliance of gun-control groups and advocates is planning to press its case at the gun world’s ground zero: The annual National Rifle Association.”
So, what’s the truth? Are there hordes of protesters here at the NRA convention? A coalition or an “alliance” of gun control advocates present? Is there a major showdown? An epic clash between the two sides?
No. Not even close.
From what I’ve witnessed around the premises and from what I’ve heard from fellow journalists and the police officers patrolling the area, there were roughly 5 protesters here on Friday and about 10 protesters here on Saturday.
Now, does that mean they won’t show up by the busloads later today or that they won’t descend on the convention tomorrow by the thousands?
No. But it seems highly unlikely.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Medicaid’s Oregon Trail - The Left, science, and the inevitable failure of Obamacare!

National Review Online ^ | May 3, 2013 | Daniel Foster

Medicaid is already a $450-billion-per-year program, and a major chunk of the coverage expansion Obamacare promises comes by way of expanding it. So it would be nice to know if it worked, right? On Wednesday, a group of researchers released a new study on expanded Medicaid eligibity that suggests that it, sort of, well, doesn’t. Here’s what you need to know about it.
What the Study Doesn’t Show
The Oregon study compared health outcomes along several measurable indicators — including blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol level — between people enrolled in Medicaid and the uninsured. What’s nice about this study is that the experimental and control groups are randomized, or close to it, because the state held a lottery to enroll a proportion of those newly eligible for Medicaid. There is some potential for bias in the fact that only some of those who “won” the lottery actually enrolled, but this should tilt in favor of Medicaid proponents, because people who are likelier to enroll are also those likelier to need treatment.
So what difference did the study show in health outcomes between Medicaid patients and the uninsured? Almost none at all. Specifically, they found no statistically significant reductions in hypertension, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, or broad markers of cardiovascular health. And this was despite the likelihood that the Medicaid enrollees were sicker to start with and the fact that, as Avik Roy points out, Oregon’s Medicaid program pays doctors better than most states do, thus increasing access to care (21 percent of Oregon doctors won’t take new Medicaid patients, compared with 31 percent nationwide).
What the Study Does Show
So does the study show any benefit to Medicaid? Sure, it shows an increase in health-care spending and treatment consumption, an improvement in subjective reports of mental well-being, and “reduced financial strain.” In other words, the only statistically significant results of the study show that 1) subsidizing something causes people to spend less of their own money on it, and to use more of it, and 2) that this makes them marginally happier. But since none of these measures seem to actually make people healthier, it might be better to just cut checks for them or put Prozac in the water.
How the Left Is Spinning It
The current study is actually a two-year follow-up to a 2011 study that showed more or less the same thing: greater feelings of well-being and reduced financial strain, but little in the way of tangible health benefits. When the original study came out, left-leaning health wonk Ezra Klein called it “the most important health-care policy experiment since the 1970s” and “the gold standard in research.” He titled his post on the subject “Amazing Fact! Science Proves Health Insurance Works.” Klein and others anxiously awaited the new data, which many sincerely expected would confirm the effectiveness of Medicaid and, by extension, Obamacare. So what are they saying now? Klein’s Wonkblogger Sarah Kliff admitted the basic result but threw in a sly adverb to suggest the study showed only that Medicaid doesn’t improve outcomes “quickly.”
Others on the left spun like whirling dervishes. Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum wrote that “the study showed fairly substantial improvements” (emphasis his) but that “the problem is that the sample size of the study was fairly small, so the results weren’t statistically significant.” Au contraire: The sample size is impressively large for a randomized social-scientific study like this — which is why the Left used to love it — but never mind that. Drum is basically saying that the study shows improved outcomes if you throw out widely accepted statistical methodology.
Other lib spinners moved the goalposts. Paul Krugman, for instance, wrote that “until now the claim of right-wingers has been that Medicaid makes you sicker.” He concluded: “Above all, you should bear in mind that if health insurance is a good idea . . . Medicaid is cheaper than private insurance. So where is the downside?” Well, cheaper for some, anyway, though we might ask whether “it won’t make people sicker” is a robust enough justification for a program that will cost the federal government, and especially the states, more than $7 trillion over the next ten years.
Jonathan Gruber’s response was perhaps most striking of all, since he is an architect of Obamacare, co-author of the study, and a kind of Obi-Wan Kenobe for lefty health wonks. “The most important thing the Affordable Care Act will accomplish,” Gruber said, “is end the daily stress and uncertainty that face individuals who are uninsured.”
Let that sink in for a moment.
What All This Means for Obamacare
So there is no evidence as of yet that Medicaid controls health-care costs. Just the opposite, in fact: It encourages greater consumption of health-care services. And there is no evidence that it significantly improves (physical) health outcomes. (In this finding, it comports with many other studies.) So what does this mean for the rest of Obamacare?
Well, remember, if all the states had implemented the Medicaid expansion, half of the coverage expansion promised under the Affordable Care Act would have been accomplished through it, and much of that in states with Medicaid programs stingier than Oregon’s. In other words, they are going to be brought into a program, at great cost, that has shown no sign of improving people’s health, even at its most generous. And since these incoming Medicaid patients are by definition poorer and tend to be sicker than average, they represent a modest baseline against which to measure any improvement. The framework of mandates, price controls, and subsidies meant to cover everyone else under Obamacare is likely to be even less effective at improving outcomes, since by definition it will cover a group that is already relatively better off, financially and health-wise.
But all of this is okay, we are told, as long as you feel healthier. So go ahead and think about a trillion in new spending, wall-to-wall premium hikes, individual mandates, abortion mandates, the regulatory vise on small business, and the “train wreck” (as Max Baucus describes it) that is implementation, and tell me: How do you feel?
Daniel Foster is NRO’s news editor.

Obamacare Affects Part-Time Employment Yet Again! ^ | May 4, 2013 | Mike Shedlock

At a business level, the penalty for not offering a qualified healthcare plan is $2,000 per person, for companies that have more than 30 full-time employees.

As I have discussed before, Obamacare is behind the surge in part-time employment as corporations have been cutting hours worked and hiring more part-time workers to make up the difference.

Part-time employment rose this month by a whopping 441,000 as private average weekly hours fell 0.2 to 34.4 hours and average weekly earnings fell from $824.52 to $821.13 due to fewer hours worked.

For details see Jobs +165,000, Part-Time Employment +441,000; Unemployment Rate 7.5%; Dow Tops 15,000

Nullification Bill Passes South Carolina House

A constitutional showdown may be coming up as South Carolina House passes bill making ‘Obamacare’ implementation a crime.
The South Carolina state House passed a bill Wednesday that declares President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to be “null and void,” and criminalizes its implementation.

The state’s Freedom of Health Care Protection Act intends to “prohibit certain individuals from enforcing or attempting to enforce such unconstitutional laws; and to establish criminal penalties and civil liability for violating this article.”

The measure permits the state Attorney General, with reasonable cause, “to restrain by temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, or permanent injunction” any person who is believed to be causing harm to any person or business with the implementation of Obamacare.

Earlier this year in her state of the state address, Gov. Nikki Haley said that South Carolina does not want and cannot afford the president’s plan, “not now, not ever.”

“To that end, we will not pursue the type of government-run health exchanges being forced on us by Washington,” she said. “Despite the rose-colored rhetoric coming out of D.C., these exchanges are nothing more than a way to make the state do the federal government’s bidding in spending massive amounts of taxpayer dollars on insurance subsidies that we can’t afford.”
IRS the Enforcer

The court ruled Obamacare a tax because the IRS collects the penalty if people opt out of the system. The penalty will come on Federal income tax returns. Still, it will be curious to see precisely how this would be handled.

Analysis of Penalty Rates

Aside from South Carolina, who will opt out of the system, and what happens then? The answer involves a comparison of various penalty rates.

At an individual level, Fact Check notes the minimum penalty for not having insurance in 2014 is a mere $95. Government will probably waste far more than that attempting to figure out who has insurance and who doesn't.

For 2014 anyway, regardless of what South Carolina does or does not do, low income people will likely opt out across the board if their employer does not provide insurance.

The minimum penalty for 2015 will be $325 and for 2016 and beyond, $695 indexed per inflation.

Fact Check notes the tax is higher for higher incomes "But the penalty can never exceed the cost of the national average premiums for the lowest-cost bronze plans being offered through the new insurance exchanges called for under the law."

For a couple making $100,000, income thresholds might mean a combined penalty of about $2,000 compared to insurance costs of roughly $10,000 for family coverage based on models for state exchanges.

At upper income levels, healthy people may compare the cost of insurance with higher penalties and make the decision to opt out.

Here is an interesting point: "The law prohibits the IRS from seeking to put anybody in jail or seizing their property for simple refusal to pay the tax. The law says specifically that taxpayers “shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty” for failure to pay, and also that the IRS cannot file a tax lien (a legal claim against such things as homes, cars, wages and bank accounts) or a “levy” (seizure of property or bank accounts)."

In addition to encouraging more part-time work, the law as written is begging for noncompliance regardless of what states like South Carolina do.

Companies line up to drill after survey shows Dakota oil, gas fields far bigger than believed !

foxnews ^ | May 4 2013 | foxnews

Energy companies are lining up for their shot to drill in the Dakotas and Montana after a new government report revealed that a massive geological formation stretching across the states contains twice the oil and three times the amount of natural gas than was originally believed.
While the new estimate is drawing smaller companies to the game, the larger players like Schlumberger, Halliburton and Continental Resources are pushing forward with ambitious multi-year plans to stake their claim in the industry.
Continental recently announced a five-year plan to triple its production by 2017. The company’s growth is based on success in North Dakota and Montana as well as in parts of Oklahoma.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Rattlesnake Logic

Now the news media will spend days trying to determine why these men did what they did in Boston.  They will want to know what America did to make these brothers so angry with us.  

They will want to know why these men were 
not arrested before they did something unlawful.  The media will be in a tissy about the new era of home grown radicals and about how they could live among us and still hate us. 

Here in southwest Texas, I have rattlesnakes on my place.  I have killed a rattlesnake on the front porch.  I have killed a rattlesnake on the back porch.  I have killed rattlesnakes in the barn, in the shop and on the 
driveway.  I kill every rattlesnake I encounter.  I kill rattlesnakes because a rattlesnake will bite me and inflict me with poison.  I don't stop to wonder why a rattlesnake will bite me.  It will bite me because it is a rattlesnake and that is what rattlesnakes do.  

I don't try to reason with a rattlesnake.  I just kill it.  I don't try to get to know the rattlesnake better so that I can find a way to live with the rattlesnakes and convince 
them not to bite me.  I just kill them.  I don't quiz a rattlesnake to see if I can find out where the other snakes are because (a) it won't tell me & (b)I already know that they live on my place.  I just kill the rattlesnake and move on to the next one.  

I don't look for ways that I might be able to change the rattlesnake to a non-poison rat snake.  I just kill it.  Oh, and on occasion,  I'll kill a rat snake because I thought it was a rattlesnake at the time.  Also, I know that for every rattlesnake that I kill, two more lurk out there.  

In my lifetime I will never be able to rid my place of 
rattlesnakes.  Do I fear them?  No!  Do I respect what they can do to me? 

Yes!  And because of that respect I give them their fair justice:

I kill them! 

Maybe as a country we should give more credit to the jihadist just being a rattlesnake!

Senate Finance Committee's hearing Wednesday on the Affordable Health Care Insurance Oversight.

Okay folks, I know you think the C-Span Channel that broadcasts all those Congressional hearings is boring, but, really, you should have been around to watch the Senate Finance Committee's hearing Wednesday on the Affordable Health Care Insurance Oversight.
Folks, you haven't seen so many faces of misery since you watched Les Miserables for three and a half hours...and they were all Democrats. And one of them, Senator Max Baucus, was the primary sponsor of ObamaCare in the Senate!
Now, try to follow me here because this gets pretty complicated. (It seems that Nancy Pelosi was right; you have to pass ObamaCare to find out what's in it...and the Democrats are now learning what the Republicans warned them about. It's an unworkable mess that is throwing millions of Americans off the health care rolls!)
Okay, apparently, tens of thousands of American employers began throwing workers off their health care plans and opting to pay the much lower federal fine for not offering health care for their workers. Thousands more are even now converting their full time workers to part time workers by limiting working hours per week to less than 30, in compliance with ObamaCare rules. (Remember when Paul Ryan and the Republicans predicted employers would do this? Remember when Democrats were warned that employers would move to save operating expenses by moving their entire work force into federal healthcare exchanges?)
Now, these workers who have lost their health care benefits are busy trying to sign up for state health care exchanges. (There are internet sites available if your state has agreed to sign up to ObamaCare).
However, when these American workers, soon to be without employee provided health care, go to the Health Exchange to sign up, they are finding they are not qualified! It seems that during the signup process, applicants are required to fill in various income and benefit data, which then flows over to IRS computers who then are to spit out what your premium costs will be and how much federal tax credits you'll receive in order to receive subsidies to help you afford health care premiums that are as much as 30% more than you were paying under your employer's plan!
Big Problem! The IRS is only allowing somewhere around 9% subsidy support for ObamaCare Health care Exchange premiums that are priced so much higher than the worker was paying under his employer plan!
(Surprise, Surprise! Remember Republicans warning that forcing working Americans to pay for the 30 million tit suckers who pay nothing for their health care under Medicaid would drive the premiums of working Americans higher?)
Second Big Problem! The IRS computers won't mate up with the Health Care Exchange computers because the IRS computer system is obsolete! So when workers try to sign up for ObamaCare the IRS and the Health Exchanges are telling applicants to go to hell!
And so fireworks really broke out at the Finance Committee hearings on ObamaCare yesterday afternoon. Senator Max Baucus, (Dem), said... "How could this happen? I'm hearing from my constituents that they and their families have been left out in the cold and are without health care because the Exchanges are not accepting them!". Quote from Senator Bill Nelson, (Dem), Florida "my constituents are not going to be happy to hear this administration failed to implement the necessary changes to accommodate health care applicants...someone has to pay for this!"
Similar outrage was professed by Senator Ron Wyden (Dem) from Oregon.
Sadly, Obama Program Director for the Health care Affordability Act was on hand to lend testimony. All he could seem to do was sympathize with his Democratic buddies, saying that maybe the problems could be ironed out by the end of 2014 but could offer no ideas about how that could be done.
An Update! This morning a Harvard economics professor came on CNBC and announced that, according to a federal study his group just completed, the Health and Human Services Secretary is going to be forced to come back to this same committee, hat in hand, and request $700 billion dollars more be allocated to ObamaCare just to pay for those automatically covered under current federal programs.
Also, sadly, the Wall Street Journal reported that, in addition to the 30 million Americans not currently covered under ObamaCare, we can expect tens of millions more who will be left in the "no health care Twilight Zone"; those who were doing just fine with their employee health care plan until ObamaCare was implemented this year. And many of those who were working 40 hour weeks will find themselves deemed "part time employees" working less than 30 hours per week and unable to afford Obama's premiums even if they could get through the application process.
And, as usual, while the working poor, and the rapidly declining middle class will be out in the cold without any health care, the Medicaid/Welfare tit-suckers have no worry. They are covered by that $700 billion dollar pot of gold Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services will be demanding from Congress soon!
Sad. Damned Sad.
Lest we forget --- today, like every other day, over 90 million, LAW ABIDING, AMERICAN GUN OWNERS have murdered no one.

Ted Cruz: Biden’s shotgun advice is “useful” if “attacked by a flock of geese”!

By Kelsey Osterman

Ted Cruz Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) isn’t the biggest supporter of Vice President Joe Biden’s self-protection advice — unless you’re protecting yourself from angry birds.
While speaking at the NRA-IRL Leadership Forum — part of the 2013 National Rifle Association Annual Meetings in Houston, Texas — the Republican mocked Biden for his recommendation to just fire a shotgun in the air.
“I have to note, by the way — Vice President Joe Biden did have some very helpful advice on this issue,” Cruz told the crowd on Friday. “You know, he said if your house and your family are ever under attack, all you need to do is go outside with a double-barreled shotgun and fire both barrels in the air — which is very, very useful if it so happens that you’re being attacked by a flock of geese.”
The Texas Republican also challenge the Vice President to an hour-long debate on gun violence and ways to solve it.
“I would like to invite the vice president to engage in an hour-long conversation and debate, ‘How do we stop crime,’” he said, to applause from the audience.
Cruz added that Biden should “welcome the opportunity to talk” if the facts were really on his side.
Biden indicated this week that he was continuing his push for gun control legislation, even though he “hasn’t really discussed” it with President Obama yet.

Obama: The fall

By , Published: May 2

Fate is fickle, power cyclical, and nothing is new under the sun. Especially in Washington, where after every election the losing party is sagely instructed to confess sin, rend garments and rethink its principles lest it go the way of the Whigs. And where the victor is hailed as the new Caesar, facing an open road to domination.

And where Barack Obama, already naturally inclined to believe his own loftiness, graciously accepted the kingly crown and proceeded to ride his reelection success to a crushing victory over the GOP at the fiscal cliff, leaving a humiliated John Boehner & Co. with nothing but naked tax hikes.

Thus emboldened, Obama turned his inaugural and State of the Union addresses into a left-wing dream factory, from his declaration of war on global warming (on a planet where temperatures are the same as 16 years ago and in a country whose CO2 emissions are at a 20-year low) to the invention of new entitlements — e.g., universal preschool for 5-year-olds— for a country already drowning in debt.
To realize his dreams, Obama sought to fracture and neutralize the congressional GOP as a prelude to reclaiming the House in 2014. This would enable him to fully enact his agenda in the final two years of his presidency, usually a time of lame-duck paralysis. Hail the Obama juggernaut.
Well, that story — excuse me, narrative — lasted exactly six months. The Big Mo is gone.
It began with the sequester. Obama never believed the Republicans would call his bluff and let it go into effect. They did.
Taken by surprise, Obama cried wolf, predicting the end of everything we hold dear if the sequester was not stopped. It wasn’t. Nothing happened.
Highly embarrassed, and determined to indeed make (bad) things happen, the White House refused Republican offers to give it more discretion in making cuts. Bureaucrats were instructed to inflict maximum pain from minimal cuts, as revealed by one memo from the Agriculture Department demanding agency cuts that the public would feel.
Things began with the near-comical cancellation of White House tours and ended with not-so-comical airline delays. Obama thought furious passengers would blame the GOP. But isn’t the executive branch in charge of these agencies? Who thinks that a government spending $3.6 trillion a year can’t cut 2 percent without furloughing air-traffic controllers?
Looking not just incompetent at managing budgets but cynical for deliberately injuring the public welfare, the administration relented. Congress quickly passed a bill giving Obama reallocation authority to restore air traffic control. Having previously threatened to veto any such bill, Obama caved. He signed.
Not exactly Appomattox, but coming immediately after Obama’s spectacular defeat on gun control, it marked an administration that had lost its “juice,” to paraphrase a charming question at the president’s Tuesday news conference.
For Obama, gun control was a political disaster. He invested capital. He went on a multi-city tour. He paraded grieving relatives. And got nothing. An assault-weapons ban — a similar measure had passed the Congress 20 years ago — lost 60 to 40in a Senate where Democrats control 55 seats. Obama failed even to get mere background checks.
All this while appearing passive, if not helpless, on the world stage. On Syria, Obama is nervously trying to erase the WMD red line he had so publicly established. On Benghazi, he stonewalled accusations that State Department officials wishing to testify are being blocked.
He is even taking heat for the Boston bombings. Every day brings another revelation of signals missed beforehand. And his post-bombing pledge to hunt down those responsible was mocked by the scandalous Mirandizing of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, gratuitously shutting down information from the one person who knows more than anyone about possible still-existent explosives, associates, trainers, future plans, etc.
Now, the screw will undoubtedly turn again. If immigration reform passes, Obama will be hailed as the comeback kid, and a new “Obama rising” narrative proclaimed.
This will overlook the fact that immigration reform has little to do with Obama and everything to do with GOP panic about the Hispanic vote. In fact, Obama has been asked by congressional negotiators to stay away, so polarizing a figure has he become.
Nonetheless, whatever happens, the screw will surely turn again, if only because of media boredom. But that’s the one constant of Washington political life: There are no straight-line graphs. We live from inflection point to inflection point.
And we’ve just experienced one. From king of the world to dead in the water in six months. Quite a ride.

Read more from Charles Krauthammer’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.
Read more: Jamelle Bouie: Why Obama struggles to ‘beat’ the GOP E.J. Dionne Jr.: Obama needs to hope again Dana Milbank: A presidential bystander Greg Sargent: No, Obama can’t bend Congress to his will Jonathan Capehart: Obama’s real ‘leadership’ problem Jennifer Rubin: Obama’s condescending press conference
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