Friday, December 11, 2015

Cover Oregon: The Scandal That Won't End ^ | December 11, 2015 | Brian McNicoll 

When last we left Oregon, John Kitzhaber, the Democratic governor, had been forced to resign because his girlfriend, Cylvia Hayes, had involved him in her green energy get-rich-quick scams.
Hayes, who lived in the governor's mansion and served as first lady, was said to be steering state consulting contracts for green energy to firms controlled by her and friends of the administration.
The state's attorney general was mulling criminal charges. Federal prosecutors were looking at some of the issues. Kitzhaber was walking out on difficult interviews.

Meanwhile, Cover Oregon, the state's attempt to establish its own healthcare exchange, collapsed amid finger-pointing and threats of allegations without a single Oregonian being enrolled.
There was a feeble effort on the part of Kitzhaber's staffers to erase some emails, and a general consensus, even among Democrats in the state, that "Kitzhaber fatigue" had set in.
Soon, political support collapsed, and, with liberal Secretary of State Kate Brown, who would become the nation's first openly bisexual governor, waiting in the wings, Kitzhaber was shown the door.
With Kitzhaber on the way out and little left in the way of things he could do to help his well-connected friends, the state's attorney general sued the software firm that created Cover Oregon, with a Portland law firm and Kitzhaber ally heading the case at $450-per-hour.
This vendor "repeatedly lied and defrauded the state" during the course of its Cover Oregon work, according to Ellen Rosenblum, the state attorney general. "Through this legal action, we intend to make our state whole and make sure taxpayers aren't left holding the bag," she said.
Only there's a problem with that, too. It wasn't solely Oregon taxpayers on the hook for the lost $300 million. That money came from the federal government, which provided grants to help states set up their own Obamacare exchanges.
And, as Maryland and Massachusetts out recently, Washington wants its money back.
The head of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which has overseen implementation of state exchanges, and two U.S. senators have said in recent days any money recovered by Oregon in court would have to go to the federal government.
"The recoupment of funds form the state-based Marketplace contractors is an area where the federal government has a specific interest," wrote Andrew Slavitt, acting CMS administrator, in a letter dated Sept. 23 to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Slavitt's letter pointed out that Maryland has settled with Noridian, one of the contractors on its failed exchange, and recovered $45 million.
This means all the money Oregon is spending to sue a vendor, in what many consider a spurious suit in the first place, likely will produce no revenue for the state even should it prevail.
Rosenblum's spokesman says, "A lot depends on what kind of damages the state is awarded from the court."
No, it doesn't. It was Washington's money, and Washington is under pressure to claw back any money states get from winding down their exchanges or suing vendors.
That pressure has increased in recent weeks after a Government Accountability Office report revealed that only about a third of the $4.5 billion the federal government gave to states to establish the IT functions of their exchanges was spent on IT. The rest about $3 billion is mostly unaccounted for because of lax accounting practices and confusing assignments of duties.
There are whispers of slush funds and kickbacks in some instances, but it's obvious where a lot of the $1.9 billion in federal grants Oregon received to improve its processes went.
According to Cover Oregon, about 170,000 people signed up to begin health insurance in January through Cover Oregon or the Oregon Health Plan. But because of the website's problems, the state had to hire hundreds of staff to process health insurance applications by paper and through call centers.
Oregon's experience with Obamacare and with green energy for that matter illustrates the problem with integrating government into what should be private economic functions. Money was wasted. Controls were non-existent. The systems did not function. And now, the state is suing the contractor at $450 per hour even though it is unlikely to win and would not get to keep the money even if it did.
It's time for Oregon to cut its losses with this lawsuit and for all of us to learn to think twice before we endorse big government solutions to individual problems.

John Kerry Admits CO2 Cuts Won’t Slow Global Warming!

dailycaller ^ | 3:47 PM 12/11/2015 | Andrew Follett Energy Reporter 

Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. and developed world will not help the environment or even slow down global warming at the United Nations Paris summit Wednesday.
“If all the industrial nations went down to zero [carbon dioxide] emissions, it wouldn’t be enough. Not when more than 65 percent of the world’s ‘carbon pollution’ comes from the developing world,” said Kerry in the video shown below.
Kerry’s comments are another sign the COP21 U.N. Paris global warming conference is failing. Even environmentalist groups admit the conference has problems.
Attempts by the U.S. and other developed countries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are mathematically futile if China, India, and the rest of the developing world keep increasing emissions. The emissions gap is why the Obama administration has claimed the United States must “lead by example.”
China is, by far, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide and has been since 2006, while India has long accounted for the largest share of global emissions growth. According to a 2014 study by the European Union, China emits 29 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide while the U.S. is only responsible for 15 percent of the world’s emissions (the European Union itself only accounts for 10 percent and India accounts for another 6 percent.)
CO2 emissions are declining rapidly in the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany, the nations most interested in negotiating a treaty. This is largely due to increased use of natural gas, not so called “green” energy.” Developed countries simply cannot cut enough emissions to account for the emissions growth of developing countries.
Under its proposed commitments, India can triple its CO2 emissions by 2030. Even with that, India has expressed disappointment in the draft text of the U.N. Climate Change Conference
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Apple looks poised to sell 21 million watches in first year

Cult of Mac ^ | 2:17 PM, DECEMBER 10, 2015 | BY DAVID PIERINI

The Apple Watch is quickly becoming the dominant wearable.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Didn't think the Apple Watch would catch on? Not everyone agrees, especially analysts who study sales projections.

Cupertino is on track to sell 21 million watches and rake in about $8.4 billion in revenue in the first 12 months of the Apple Watch, according to one of the hottest Apple analysts around. Not bad for a company that entered the wearables game late.

The projections come from Asymco analyst Horace Dediu, who presented his findings at the Glance conference in San Francisco. The conference is headlined by a number of speakers, Dediu included, with observations on the impact of the Apple Watch.

Dediu's remarks were reported on Twitter by Philip Elmer-DeWitt, an editor at Fortune who is attending the conference. Cult of Mac attempted to reach Dediu, who was not immediately available for comment.

If Dediu is correct about Apple moving 20 million units in its first year (and he usually is), this would further cement Apple as the king of the fast-growing smartwatch segment. Only 6.8 million smartwatches were sold in 2014 by 89 companies, according to a report by Smartwatch Group, with Samsung leading the pack last year.

Apple's swift rise to the top would be further validation of the company's "second-mover advantage" -- the company is famous for waiting until it gets a product "right," even if that means not being first to market.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been coy about Apple Watch sales figures, saying only that they exceed company expectations. Apple is on pace to sell 7 million watches by the end of the year, according to projections by Asymco and others. Dediu said another 14 million are projected to sell during the first two quarters of 2016, Elmer-DeWitt reported.

The Apple Watch price has been slashed by $100 at Best Buy and other outlets for the holiday season, and Apple and is expected to roll out a second-generation watch in March. Glance Conference speakers said many prospective buyers are waiting for a newer version that runs more independently of the iPhone before adopting the watch.

In other conference news, research firm Wristly reports 40 percent of Apple Watch users say they have used their nose as an input device.

ACLU Board Member: Trump Supporters Should Be Shot!

The Gateway Pundit ^ | 12-10-2015 | Kristinn Taylor 

Liberals are taking their war on leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to a new level-beyond calls to assassinate Trump-with a call to shoot his supporters before they can vote for him!
"The thing is, we have to really reach out to those who might consider voting for Trump and say, "This is Goebbels. This is the final solution. If you are voting for him I will have to shoot you before election day." They're not going to listen to reason, so when justice is gone, there's always force, as Laurie would say.'
Loring Wirbel, a board member of the Colorado ACLU and co-chair of Colorado Springs chapter, is reported to have posted on Facebook a screed that said Trump supporters should be shot. The Daily Caller and Twitchy reported on and made screen grabs of Wirbel's post and professional positions.
Daniel Cole, Executive Director of the El Paso County Republican Party is credited with first finding the post by Wirbel.

Trump was recently given Secret Service protection as a result of threats. Is there a precedent for a presidential candidate's supporters getting their own Secret Service protection?

Why Trump Will Win

Breitbart ^ | 12/10/2015 | ROGER STONE 

International businessman, entrepreneur, builder and reality TV star Donald J. Trump once again displayed his uncanny and unprecedented ability to both dominate the national dialogue and roil the political waters with his most recent proposal to temporarily halt Muslim immigration.
Not surprisingly the mainstream media and the political establishment demonstrated their willingness to do anything necessary to smear Trump, distort his proposals and derail his candidacy.
The pundit class and their allies in the political establishment are already flummoxed by their failed prediction that the "summer of Trump" would dissipate in the Autumn as voters became "more serious" and looked again at the career politicians running for President. These are, of course, the very same people who said that Trump would never run to begin with and that his candidacy was simply a publicity stunt designed to burnish his brand.
The firestorm began when Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." Incredibly, NBC would edit Trump's remarks to delete "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on" to make it appear Trump would close the country to Muslims forever, not at all what he proposed.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

My Turn: Cruz has best blueprint to move nation forward

The Concord Monitor ^ | December 11, 2015 | Archie M. Richards, Jr., for the Monitor 

‘To restore America,” says Sen. Ted Cruz, “we must rein in the leviathan. We must revive our love story with liberty and restore America as a shining City on a Hill.”
How vital it is to cut back the power and intrusiveness of the federal government! When government is big, the rich gain wealth faster than the poor, because the rich induce government to help them. Liberals say they intend to help the poor, but their policies actually widen the gap between rich and poor.
Cruz is the best candidate to begin a reversal.
“Never underestimate Ted Cruz,” said professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School. “He is off-the-chart brilliant.” Plus, the man is a dynamic speaker.
To tackle the massive Social Security program, he will need this skill to persuade younger workers to convert to personal savings. Cruz has sponsored legislation that would repeal Obamacare. He wants health care subjected to free markets. Government’s deep involvement in American health care has reduced its quality and convenience and greatly increased its costs. A previous government shutdown of Obamacare, he notes, led to a blowout election victory for conservatives in 2014....
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Academia on San Bernardino Attack: No Jihad Here!

American Thinker ^ | 12/11/15 | Cinnamon Stillwell 

As Islamic terrorist attacks increase in the West, so, too, does the obfuscation of Middle East studies academia.  By employing the predictable tropes of poverty, alienation, workplace violence, the need for gun control, bullying, "Islamophobia," and other alleged Western ills, academics avoid assigning responsibility to the actual perpetrators or their Islamist ideology.

Such has been the reaction to the December 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, which authorities were slow to describe as a terrorist attack, despite early evidence that married shooters Syed Rizwan Farooq and Tashfeen Malik had radical sympathies, including with ISIS.  This led to speculation that, not coincidentally, omitted the actual culprit.

Omid Safi, director of Duke University's Islamic Studies Center, immediately jumped on the gun control bandwagon and – echoing President Obama's recent gaffe following the latest Paris attacks – claimed that mass shootings occur only in the U.S.: "This is everyday [sic], everywhere in America – and no where [sic] else in the world."  He decried America's "deadly fetish" and "gun obsession," urging readers to "Stand up to #NRA," as if the National Rifle Association's adherence to 2nd Amendment rights were the cause of Islamic terrorism.

University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole maintained that "white supremacists" are a greater threat than "al-Qaeda-style terrorism."  He disregarded the significance of the terrorists' Middle Eastern names, alleging that they "may or may not be very pertinent to the incident," and condemned "politicians and pundits" for making "hay with the threat of 'terrorism.'"  He attributed the perpetrators' motives to the likelihood of "someone going postal over his work situation" or "workplace violence linked to some sort of grievance."
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

The pariah at the Republican funeral

Washington Times ^ | 12/10/15 | Wesley Pruden 

The Republican elites sound like the man who was so beset by troubles and miseries that he hitchhiked to New York because there wasn’t a building in his hometown tall enough to jump from.
The elites have tried insult, argument, persuasion and begging, but nothing has persuaded Donald Trump to go away. The more the elites belittle, tease and taunt, the higher he flies in the public-opinion polls.
The Donald clearly enjoys playing the elites, like a cat toying with a mouse. He knows how to manipulate their fears of an independent candidacy if, like Rodney Dangerfield, he “don’t get no respect.” The odds strongly suggest that he can’t win the nomination, but some of the professionals with a history of mismanaging campaigns are not any longer so sure that he can’t.
Donald Trump’s rambunctious language upsets many people, but rough times invite rough justice. The elites cannot wrap their brains around the incontrovertible fact that these are rough times. Treating the Donald and his followers like pariahs invites a Republican funeral next November. And no flowers.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...



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