Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sorry, Donald Trump. But Megyn Kelly is a fantastic debate moderator!

The Washington Post ^ | January 29, 2016 | Callum Borchers 

There was no avoiding it, and Fox News Channel didn't really try: Megyn Kelly was the star of the show at Thursday's Republican presidential debate in Des Moines.
Kelly, of course, is a big reason that GOP front-runner Donald Trump refused to participate. Ever since their run-in at the first primary debate in August, Trump has maintained that Kelly is a "lightweight" who doesn't ask fair questions. (Never mind that he previously said she's a great moderator.) Unreasonable as Trump's critique might be, all eyes were on Kelly and her questions in Des Moines.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

In Fraud They Trust: Obama Administration's Obamacare Failures Cost Taxpayers Millions ^ | January 29, 2016 | Justin Haskins 

A new report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reveals in 2014, the year the Obamacare health insurance exchanges first opened, there was a significant lack of oversight of tax-credit payments sent to insurers, leading many to question how much of the $11 billion of taxpayer money paid to insurers in 2014 was fraudulent.

One of the most important parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) legislation was the creation of taxpayer-funded credits that would theoretically help offset the cost of paying for health care for millions of Americans who couldn't afford to pay for health insurance on their own and weren't receiving adequate insurance through an employer.

Although most tax credits are applied at the end of a tax year, Obamacare health insurance credits are sent automatically to health insurance companies when qualified Americans sign up for a policy through an Obamacare exchange. This is a necessary feature in ACA, because if qualified individuals or families had to pay the full cost of health insurance up front, many would be unable to make the required health insurance payments each month.

According to HHS's Office of Inspector General, in 2014 there weren't any solid mechanisms in place to ensure the subsidy payments made to health insurance companies were legally made. As The Wall Street Journal reported on January 6, 2016, "the [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is responsible for overseeing ACA,] couldn’t verify the payments to insurers were only for consumers who had paid their premiums."

Without having any way to verify subsidy payments were properly made, it was virtually impossible for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to prevent fraud and waste, two problems that have plagued Obamacare since it was first implemented.

Kristina Ribali, senior coalitions director for the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), reported for The Blaze an investigation in July 2015 revealed "defrauding Obamacare was still very easy."

"With a fake name and fake documents, the investigators were able to receive both insurance coverage and taxpayer subsidies, a year after they proved the first time that this fraud was achievable," wrote Ribali.

Ribali also recounted in her article how nearly $350 million in Obamacare tax credits had been overpaid by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by early 2015, and Ribali reported back in August 2015 the ACA made it virtually impossible to retrieve the lost cash.

What is disturbing is not that another massive government-created social program is irresponsible with taxpayer money—a problem present in virtually every federal program—it’s that the Obama administration was well aware of these problems at least as early as 2013 and chose to move forward knowing millions of dollars were likely going to be wasted or stolen.

In December 2013, Rachael Bade and Lauren French reported for Politico, "[T]he [IRS] may not yet have a system in place to stop tax cheats seeking to underestimate their incomes and fraudulently cash in on health subsidies."

Bade and French quote directly from a Treasury Department report on the possibility of fraud, "The ACA Program has not yet completed a fraud mitigation strategy. It is important for the IRS to thoroughly consider fraud threats and risks that could impact new ACA systems."

Unfortunately for taxpayers, the necessary changes made to the "ACA systems" didn't take place until it was too late. Only now are automated systems being put into place that may prevent a significant amount of fraud and waste.

While it's impossible to know how much money was wasted and how much of the taxpayer subsidies paid to insurance companies in 2014 were legitimate, it's important to note in 2014 HHS found 1.2 million people who signed up for health insurance in an Obamacare exchange had, as reported in August 2014, "inconsistencies in their applications." also reported the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) claimed 85 percent of Obamacare applicants were considered eligible for some sort of taxpayer subsidy, which KFF estimated would cost "about $10 billion in subsidies in [2014]." Now that we know the total cost actually reached $11 billion, it's necessary to ask, "Where did the rest of the money go?"

It's impossible to say how much of the $1 billion difference between KFF's report in 2014 and the actual costs revealed in 2015 is the result of fraud, mismanagement, improper payments, waste, or just mistakes made by KFF and other groups calculating costs. There simply weren't any mechanisms in place to prevent or identify the waste—the result of decisions made by the Obama administration. What we do know, however, is that, at the very least, hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted, that fraud was possible and did occur, and that the Obama administration moved forward with the Obamacare system knowing in 2013 it had no way of protecting taxpayers' money.

State Department: Hillary Clinton’s email correspondence contained ‘top secret’ material

WaPo ^ | 01-29-2016 | Rosalind S. Helderman and Carol Morello 

The State Department has concluded there is "top secret" material in Hillary Clinton's email correspondence from the time she was secretary of state, indicating that some of her emails will never be released, even in heavily redacted form, because they are too sensitive for the public to view.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said the material crosses seven email chains, amounting to 37 pages worth of material.
The finding is likely to deepen the political consequences for Clinton of her decision to use a private email account, routed through a server installed in her suburban New York home, and it comes just three days before the Iowa caucuses, as Clinton remains locked in a heated battle with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for the Democratic presidential nomination.

SEIU, top Dem team up to turn 5 million Latino immigrants into voters!

Washington Examiner ^ | 01/29/2016 | By Nicole Duran 

U.S. citizens and voters as possible before Election Day.

Leading the charge is Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., who said Thursday that he believes the "stand up to hate" push can get 1 million of those Latinos naturalized by May, which would see them become citizens in time to register for the presidential election.
The campaign's mantra is "Naturalize. Register. Vote."
Gutierrez advised Latinos to "get angry" over the anti-immigrant rhetoric emanating from Republican presidential candidates "then naturalize, register and vote."
"Can you believe calling all Mexicans rapists?" he asked during a conference call announcing the New American Democracy Campaign, referring to controversial comments made by real estate mogul and former reality TV star Donald Trump. "Banning all people of one religion from the United States?"
There's nothing the groups can do to speed up the naturalization process, but the initiative is aimed at making sure the millions of legal permanent residents trade in their green cards for citizenship.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Tim Allen: The Clintons are like herpes, you know

Hotair ^ | 01/29/2016 | Ed Morrissey 

The man who made “more power!” a household grunt wants decidedly less power given to the federal government — and offers up a colorful metaphor about one family’s quest to grasp it for life. Tim Allen, star of the long-running sitcom Home Improvement and the new Last Man Standing, talked to the Hollywood Reporter about his conservative political orientation and its emergence in the show. Despite having a “liberal” writing staff, Allen pushes to express his own point of view, albeit somewhat more moderated than in real life:
Do you have more comedic leeway now than you did on Home Improvement?
Definitely. But you know what? I’ve earned it. I don’t say that lightly. I’ve been on a successful show and learned from the best. But I findLast Man Standing actually rougher than Home Improvement. We’re getting away with a lot of stuff. I’m really shocked. This is a meaner, sharper comedy than I’m used to. There’s a lot of times our very liberal writing staff will come up with stuff that even my character would say, “I don’t know if I can say that.”
When asked why Last Man Standing has taken slaps at Hillary Clinton but none at Donald Trump, Allen expresses skepticism about Trump’s staying power, which might make the jokes stale. The Clintons will never fade away, Allen argues memorably:
It’s a little surprising to me. We have a very liberal writing staff, so I’m surprised they haven’t taken a shot at him. But we’re not sure he’s going to last, whereas the Clintons are like herpes: Just when you think they’re gone, they show up again.
That’s the headline shot, of course, the kind of one-liner that a comedian would be expected to deliver about a politician. Allen takes his politics a little more seriously, though, and especially his disdain for what he calls “free-s**t” demagoguery:
What riles you up the most?
Unearned responses, unearned praise, unearned income: I have opinions about it. When you watch the debates, on both sides you see clowns who say shit that ain’t ever going to happen, but lately one party is the free shit party. They are just telling people they’re going to get all sorts of free shit. When you say you’re going to get free education, free health care -- f--, free brown loafers -- of course everybody’s going to say yes to that. But you don’t mean it. That’s how you rack up debt, and debt is killing us. Whatever party is going to get us out of debt is my party.
Allen isn’t backing Trump, and calls his remarks about immigrants “ignorant,” but says Trump might be a worthwhile choice for one particular area — infrastructure:
Trump can’t send everybody to Mexico or whatever the f-- he said. But give that guy the roads, bridges, infrastructure, power grid -- just have him fix that shit for four years. He’s good at that. And he’s a businessman so he understands how debt load works. Forget the stupid shit he says about immigrants. That’s just ignorant. But he might be able to do the stuff that really needs fixing.
Be sure to read it all. Perhaps Allen might get inspired to speak out more on conservative issues; he certainly feels pretty fearless at the moment. That’s remarkable enough in Hollywood for conservatives to note the moment.

Hillary’s lame excuses for her e-mail misconduct are crumbling!

NY Post ^ | 1-29-16 | Post Editorial Board 

The State Department just knocked a gaping hole in Hillary Clinton's happy e-mail fable.
State, the Associated Press reports, won't release 22 of Clinton's messages to the public because they contain too much most-secret information.
OK: Clinton's only promised that none of her e-mails were labeled "classified" - so she's technically not a blatant liar.
But US intelligence agencies have determined these message contain enough sensitive information that even blacking out whole passages isn't enough to make them safe for public view.
These e-mails are part of a trove of 7,000 pages - the last from Hillary's private server the State Department was poring through - that were to be released this month.
But State's not done: Last week, it declared that the winter storm would cause a delay - conveniently until after Monday's Iowa caucuses.
And this week, State added another delay: It got a late start in getting clearances from various intelligence agencies, so it now won't finish until Feb. 29 - after the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.
By holding the "top secret" e-mails on her home-brew server, Clinton should be looking at 22 criminal counts. But her campaign is claiming she's just a victim - of bureaucratic overclassification.
Funny: Hillary's staffers should have no way of knowing if that's so - unless she let them view the e-mails, which would be another crime.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Did the NOAA Cook the Books to Show Warming During Hiatus?

P.J. Media ^ | 1-29-16 | Rick Moran 

One of the least reliable sources for data on climate change is the U.S. federal government. Now, a group of 300 scientists and academics want Congress to investigate the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for cooking the books on climate data in order to erase the pause in the rise in temperature cited by, among other sources, the IPCC.
Incredibly, the NOAA accumulated data by measuring the water temperature from the engine intake valves of oceangoing cargo ships. The scientists want Congress to investigate whether the agency violated the Data Quality Act, which seeks to ensure the accurate dissemination of scientific information to the public.
Daily Caller:
"We, the undersigned, scientists, engineers, economists and others, who have looked carefully into the effects of carbon dioxide released by human activities, wish to record our support for the efforts of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology to ensure that federal agencies complied with federal guidelines that implemented the Data Quality Act," some 300 scientists, engineers and other experts wrote to Chairman of the House Science Committee, Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith.
"In our opinion... NOAA has failed to observe the OMB [Office of Management and Budget] (and its own) guidelines, established in relation to the Data Quality Act."
The Data Quality Act requires federal agencies like NOAA to "ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information, including statistical information."
Smith launched an investigation into NOAA's study last summer over concerns it was pushed out to bolster President Barack Obama's political agenda. Democrats and the media have largely opposed the probe into NOAA scientists and political appointees, but Smith is determined to continue investigating. NOAA officials surrendered emails to congressional investigators in December.
"It is this Committee's oversight role to ensure that federal science agencies are transparent and accountable to the taxpayers who fund their research," Smith told The Daily Caller News Foundation. "Americans are tired of research conducted behind closed doors where they only see cherry-picked conclusions, not the facts. This letter shows that hundreds of respected scientists and experts agree that NOAA's efforts to alter historical temperature data deserve serious scrutiny."
Of the 300 letter signers, 150 had doctorates in a related field. Signers also included: 25 climate or atmospheric scientists, 23 geologists, 18 meteorologists, 51 engineers, 74 physicists, 20 chemists and 12 economists. Additionally, one signer was a Nobel Prize winning physicist and two were astronauts.
NOAA scientists upwardly adjusted temperature readings taken from the engine intakes of ships to eliminate the "hiatus" in global warming from the temperature record.
This is a blatant attempt to politicize science by the administration and should be exposed for the dishonest research it is. The only question is who at NOAA was behind the attempt to whitewash the termperature hiatus and whose orders they were acting under.
There is yet to be a credible scientific explanation for the lack of rising temperatures despite models saying there should have been close to a one-degree increase over the last 17 years. NOAA's attempt to create an explanation out of whole cloth only shows the desperation of climate hysterics who are vigorously denying the facts in front of their face.