DC Circuit Court of Appeals deals major blow to #Obamacare

Posted by: ST on July 22, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Obamacare

Reason’s Peter Suderman has the deets:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit delivered a huge blow to Obamacare this morning, ruling that the insurance subsidies granted through the federally run health exchange, which covered 36 states for the first open enrollment period, are not allowed by the law.

The highly anticipated opinion in the case ofJacqueline Halbig v. Sylvia Mathews Burwell reversed a lower court ruling finding that federally run exchanges did have the authority to disburse subsidies.

Today’s ruling vacates the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulation allowing the federal exchanges to give subsidies. The large majority of individuals, about 86 percent, in the federal exchange system received subsidies, and in those cases the subsidies covered about 76 percent of the premium on average.

The essence of the court’s ruling is that, according to the law, those subsidies are illegal. They were always illegal, and the administration never had the authority to offer them. (According to an administration official, however, the subsidies will continue to flow throughout the appeals process.)

The court’s ruling agreed with challengers who argued that the plain language of the law, which in multiple instances limits subsidies and credits to any “Exchange established by the State,” does not allow subsidies to be disbursed in exchanges where a state declined to establish its own exchange and is instead run by the federal government. Basically, the federal government cannot step in and create and run an exchange that is somehow still an exchange established by a state.

Think this is interesting? Come to find out, a different circuit court ruled in quite a different direction on this same issue:

Update 2: A different circuit court ruled today that subsidies offered through federally run exchanges are authorized on the law. This creates a circuit court split, which increases, but does not guarantee, the chances of an eventual hearing by the Supreme Court. It is also possible, and arguably even more likely, that the circuit split will be dealt with via en banc review.

Fasten your seat belts, y’all.

Memeorandum has much more.

 

Hypocritical White House criticizes journos for use of anonymous sources

Posted by: ST on July 21, 2014 at 7:38 pm
obama-mirror

The two-faced nature of this administration continues.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest angered a lot of journalists at today’s press briefing over his comments regarding the anonymous sources of a story he was questioned on.  Via The Hill:

Complaints from White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Monday about anonymous news sources prompted a testy exchange with reporters who noted that administration officials regularly demand anonymity.

Earnest was asked about a Washington Post report charging that the administration ignored predictions last year from the Department of Homeland Security about the surge of unaccompanied minors who have flooded across the border in recent months.

ut the spokesman looked to challenge the report by arguing it was “based entirely on anonymous sources.” Earnest also offered a broader critique on the use of anonymous sourcing in a bid to challenge the credibility of the story.

“In the course of reporting, I think it’s important, based on my own personal view, for those kinds of quotes and those kinds of stories to be given greater weight than just anonymous sources,” Earnest said. “So, what that means is, if you have anonymous sources at the White House who are telling you something, and you’re gonna say to them — that anonymous source — ‘Look, I’m willing to give your side of the story a little less weight right now, because you’re telling me this anonymously.’ “

That prompted complaints from reporters who noted that the White House routinely insists on anonymity when unveiling new efforts.

“Would you guys commit then, when you have situations like today’s call, which is people specifically picked by the White House to roll out a policy of the White House, would you commit to have those people speak on the record?” asked Associated Press White House correspondent Julie Pace. “Because there doesn’t seem to be a reason to put them on background.”

[....]

“What I will commit to is a case-by-case evaluation of the background or the ground rules of each of these kinds of calls and a commitment to an open dialogue with you about the ground rules that will serve your interests and the White House interests the best,” Earnest said.

Make sure to click on the link above from The Hill to read how some Washington Post journos responded on Twitter to a particularly ridiculous criticism Earnest leveled at them about not sending anyone to the briefing to “defend themselves” on their border story published today.  It goes without saying that the write-up wasn’t exactly flattering to the administration, and for that – of course – journalists must be punished.  It’s the Chicago-on-the-Potomac way.

As always with this White House, it’s do as I say – not as I do.  “Transparency” you can believe in, and all that … 8-|

 

Scientific proof: Socialism makes you more likely to lie and cheat

Posted by: Phineas on July 21, 2014 at 4:31 pm

**Posted by Phineas

"Liar"

“Liar”

This is amusing. Researchers from the University of Munich and ST’s beloved Duke University conducted a joint study that examined a person’s willingness to lie, if he could profit from that lie. The subjects were Berliners who were asked to play a game in which they could win a small amount of money. Each person would roll a die and record the results: higher numbers meant you won more money. This is what they found:

Honest participants would be expected to roll ones, twos and threes as often as fours, fives and sixes. But that did not happen: the sheets handed in had a suspiciously large share of high numbers, suggesting many players had cheated.

After finishing the game, the players had to fill in a form that asked their age and the part of Germany where they had lived in different decades. The authors found that, on average, those who had East German roots cheated twice as much as those who had grown up in West Germany under capitalism. They also looked at how much time people had spent in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The longer the participants had been exposed to socialism, the greater the likelihood that they would claim improbable numbers of high rolls.

The article carefully points out that this disparity might also be due to the relative poverty of the old East Germany (and the region does continue to lag the rest of the country to this day), but, come on. A Socialist society, in which the State controls the money you’re allowed to make gives you every incentive to cheat, just as the incidence of tax cheating goes up here when tax rates rise beyond a certain point. These people are doing what the system encouraged them to do.

What makes this amusing is that it’s directly contrary to the Socialist claim of being able to “perfect’ society, culminating in the USSR’s “New Man.” Instead, it’s apparently the capitalist societies, with their bourgeois notions of personal accountability, limited government, free enterprise, the Rule of Law, and property rights that produce more honest citizens.

Maybe they should survey conservatives vs. progressives, next. smiley wink

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

 

QOTD: Cruz encourages Reid to leave the DC Ritz-Carlton & visit the border

Posted by: ST on July 21, 2014 at 12:17 pm
Senator Harry Reid

How about it, Senator Reid?

I love it:

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) responded to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) characterization of the U.S.-Mexico border as “secure” by telling his colleague to come take a look for himself.

“President Obama and Harry Reid both engage debates divorced from the facts and divorced from the reality,” Cruz said on Fox News Sunday. “Harry Reid lives in the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., and I’m sure from his perspective the border seems secure. I would invite Harry Reid to come with me down Texas and see the border.”

Make sure to view video of Senator Cruz’s comments at the Mediaite link above.

Meanwhile, reports are surfacing that Texas Gov. Rick Perry will announce today a plan to deploy 1,000 TX National Guard troops to the border:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) reportedly plans to dispatch the Texas National Guard to the U.S. border with Mexico, according to news reports.

Perry will announce his plans Monday to mobilize some 1,000 guardsmen to the Rio Grande Valley to increase security at the border, according to the Monitor, a south Texas newspaper. The newspaper quoted a state senator and an internal memo it obtained from a state official’s office.

Perry spokesman Felix Browne told The Washington Post he would neither confirm nor deny the report, but said all details will be given at a news conference at 2 p.m. Central time Monday in Austin. It was unclear what mission the guard will have.

I suspect the major TV news outlets will have coverage of Perry’s afternoon presser. Make sure to tune in to your preferred network at that time. If the reports are indeed true, please keep the troops in your thoughts and prayers. It’s not just hot and uncomfortable at the border right now. It’s dangerous.  

 

.@SkyNews journo rifles through #MH17 luggage, network apologizes after backlash

Posted by: ST on July 21, 2014 at 10:01 am

Unreal. A new low in modern journalism – via the WaPo:

A Sky News reporter drew criticism over the weekend when he rummaged on camera through a bag belonging to a victim of the MH17 air crash in Ukraine, even as he said he “probably shouldn’t be doing this, I suppose.”

It appeared to be a momentary lapse and the reporter, Colin Brazier, quickly put an item back in the bag after picking it up to display to viewers. Coming as foreign leaders were criticizing Ukraine separatists for piling up bodies of victims and going through personal belongings, the footage was not well received.

According to the Guardian, Sky News later apologized:

Huffington Post has documented the widespread outrage from both journalists and non-journos alike. Twitchy Team has more.

Here’s an image from the “news” segment, which you can watch at YouTube. I didn’t feel comfortable posting the video here.

Sky News

Sky News journalist Colin Brazier sifts through the luggage of dead MH-17 passenger.

Just an incredible, stunning lack of judgement, basic sensitivity and common decency, not to mention a total disregard for the feelings of the families of those killed in the crash. As the WaPo noted, even Brazier realized as he was doing it that it was wrong – but really, the whole segment was about sifting through the personal effects of dead passengers. Highly unseemly, to say the least.

I’m sure Sky News has heard quite an earful about this – if you haven’t let them know your thoughts, tag their Twitter account and let them know. And please rise above and express your thoughts respectfully, as hard as it may be to lash out over the completely inappropriate on-scene reporting of Brazier.

 

Surprising no one, California loses another business to Texas

Posted by: Phineas on July 20, 2014 at 8:03 pm

**Posted by Phineas

Moving

This time, Perry’s Poachers have snagged Omnitracs LLC of San Diego, a fleet management firm that will be moving to Dallas and taking 450 jobs with it:

Fleet management software company Omnitracs LLC will relocate it headquarters to Dallas from San Diego, creating 450 jobs and $10 million in capital investment, Gov. Rick Perry’s office announced Friday.

The company will move into KPMG Centre downtown.

Omnitracs is the latest in a wave of California relocations to North Texas announced this spring and summer.
The Texas Enterprise Fund is providing a $3.9 million incentive to attract Omnitracs. The new headquarters will house jobs in a variety of high-paying fields, including engineering, research and development and finance.

Omnitracs provides fleet management solutions for the trucking industry. Its services include software applications, GPS fleet tracking, platforms and information services.

Omnitracs is just the latest in a long line of businesses that have fled or are about to flee the once-Golden State. The article lists others, including Toyota, and mentions Vista Equity Partners, a California firm that specializes in buying firms and moving them to Texas.

Yes, the one business that California can keep is one that helps others get the heck out.

Well, we bloody well deserve it, with a business climate that’s designed to drive people away, not bring them here. I’m old enough to remember when California was a place to people rushed to, in order to build a future.

Now, thanks to 40 years of progressive misrule, they rush to get out, in order to save what future they have left.

via Stephen Frank

RELATED: Victor Davis Hanson, a fellow Californian, on our frivolous legislature. Must reading.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

 

#IRS under oath: Lerner’s hard drive destroyed to ‘protect taxpayer info’

Posted by: ST on July 20, 2014 at 1:54 pm

IRS

Oh yes - they went there (hat tip):

The IRS said under oath Friday that former agency official Lois Lerner’s hard drive was destroyed and recycled, echoing earlier testimony from its commissioner.

In its most extensive comments yet on Lerner’s hard drive, the agency said in court filings Friday that the hard drive was destroyed in 2011 to protect confidential taxpayer information.

Before that, the IRS said, the hard drive underwent a process designed to permanently erase stored data. That process occurred after a series of IRS technical officers examined Lerner’s hard drive, and found that it couldn’t be restored after a crash.

The IRS’s court filings came as part of a lawsuit filed against the agency by True the Vote, a conservative activist group.

A week ago, Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court in Washington imposed a Friday deadline for the IRS to tell the court what happened to Lerner’s hard drive, among other questions.

The IRS said last month that Lerner’s hard drive crashed in 2011, leaving a chunk of her emails for the previous two-plus years missing.

That admission reignited the investigations into the IRS’s improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt groups. Lerner kicked off that controversy in May 2013 by apologizing for the IRS’s behavior, and has since become the central figure in the inquiry.

[...]

 

[GOP] skeptics, along with Judge Walton, also sought the serial number to Lerner’s hard drive.

In its court filing, the IRS said that it got the hard drive’s serial number from an outside contractor who sold the agency Lerner’s laptop computer. The IRS added that it only puts bar codes on larger pieces of equipment, like laptop or desktop computers.

The IRS said that it was standard practice for hard drives to be shredded before any of their parts were recycled. Because of its tracking system, the IRS said that it’s now impossible to say what happened to any of the parts of Lerner’s hard drive that might have been put back into use.

Stewart Baker at the Volokh Conspiracy legal blog quips:

Why? According to The Hill, “the agency said in court filings Friday that the hard drive was destroyed in 2011 to protect confidential taxpayer information.”

I’m sure the IRS feels it’s a little ungrateful of Tea Party groups to complain about the agency’s heroic efforts to protect them.

Indeed. The irony, and much more importantly, the bull sh*t IRS excuses are so thick you could cut them with a knife.  I know it’s just a fantasy that will never in reality happen but I’d love every one of these sad excuses for “public servants” be carted off to prison to serve some serious time for what they’ve done.  It’s absolutely sickening – and rest assured, if this happened under the Bush administration those involved would have already done the perp walk, and then some.

 

Moral clarity in Gaza: Israel vs. Hamas

Posted by: Phineas on July 18, 2014 at 3:47 pm

**Posted by Phineas

Hamas uses civilians to protect its weapons

(Source: Israel MFA)

Leave it to Charles Krauthammer to clear away the nonsense and lay bare the key difference between democratic Israel and the Hamas dictatorship in Gaza:

“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.

Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.

And what happened after the Israelis left Gaza? Did the residents take the numerous greenhouses the Israelis left behind to grow food for their own people? Did they build roads and schools and a reasonable social safety net? Did they attract foreign investment to provide their people with productive jobs and a better life?

Oh, heavens no. That would be to imitate the Jews next door, and we can’t have that!

No, Hamas and their supporters destroyed the greenhouses and used all the aid and money the world (including Israel) gave them to instead dig tunnels, tunnels in which they hid weapons (and their leaders, for those times when Israel has had enough). They spent those millions buying rockets to fire at Israeli civilians (and at a nuclear reactor!), out of a religious need to fight and kill Jews.

Not “Zionists.” Jews. Because Allah tells them to.

And Hamas turns their own civilians into human shields not just to protect their precious missiles, but in the hope of getting some of their own civilians killed, because they want gory photos to wave before the world while shouting “See what those awful Jews did to us!” As for Gazans who get killed, well, it was Allah’s will and Allah will welcome them as martyrs. Whether they wanted to be one, or not.

That is the so-bright-it’s-almost-blinding difference the jihad-terror group Hamas, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the State of Israel, and any attempt to draw any equivalence between them is obscene.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

PS: Israel has launched a ground offensive into Gaza, and I hope they go all the way and destroy Hamas. I think this time they could do it, because Egypt, under President al-Sisi, who loathes the Muslim Brotherhood (along with many Egyptians), will do nothing to protect its Gazan branch.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

 

Will the #Obamacare employer mandate be delayed again?

Posted by: ST on July 18, 2014 at 9:41 am

Obamacare

The Hill reports that the pressure is on for the White House on whether or not to delay the employer mandate for the third time:

The White House needs to make a decision soon on whether ObamaCare’s controversial employer mandate will take effect in 2015.

With the mandate set to take effect in January, businesses are awaiting final world from the administration on whether they will be required to track and report how many of their employees are receiving coverage.

Federal officials are late in delivering the final forms and technical guidance necessary for firms to comply, raising suspicions that the mandate could once again be delayed.

The mandate has been pushed back twice before, both times in late summer.

The delays to the mandate have angered House Republicans, who are now taking President Obama to court for what they say is his refusal to follow the letter of the law.

Another delay to the mandate would be sure to create a political firestorm and draw charges that the administration is playing politics with ObamaCare ahead of the midterm elections.

But support for the mandate on the left has begun to soften in recent months, with influential figures and former Obama administration officials questioning whether it’s needed to make the law work.

Seven business lobbyists interviewed by The Hill said it is unlikely the administration will defer the employer mandate wholesale one more time, given the intense political pressure from Republicans.

But many groups are expecting partial relief to be announced prior to November, perhaps in the form of looser reporting requirements that would be easier to follow.

“I’d be shocked if they did another [full] delay … but it wouldn’t surprise me if something else came out before the election,” said one source who requested anonymity in order to speak freely.

I wouldn’t be shocked one bit, considering their past history of delaying the more controversial parts of this bill they know will hurt them more in the voting booth than any other.  But, as they say, stay tuned.

 

Malaysian jetliner carrying 295 reportedly “shot down” in Ukraine, near Russian border

Posted by: ST on July 17, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Breaking news

Still too early to know exactly what has happened but here’s an initial report from Fox News:

A Malaysian Airlines passenger plane with 295 aboard was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in Ukraine near the Russian border, according to multiple reports.

The airline, the same one whose plane disappeared over the Indian Ocean in March, confirmed only that “an incident” had occurred involving the Boeing 777, which was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.

“Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam,” read a tweet from the airline. “The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow,” read a tweet from Malaysia Airlines’ account.

Multiple reports said the plane was shot down at cruising altitude. Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister told The Associated press that the plane, carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew people onboard, was shot down.

Gerashenko says on his Facebook page the plane was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet when it was hit Thursday by a missile fired from a Buk launcher. A similar launcher was seen by Associated Press journalists near the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne earlier Thursday.

The adviser also told Russian news agency Interfax that all onboard have been killed.

Prayers to the families of those hurt or killed, of course.

To keep up to date on the latest developments, all the major nets are all over this story. And, of course, there is the Twitter machine