EppsNet Archive: Barack Obama

Spot the Fake News: Obamacare Subsidies

16 Oct 2017 /

I read four news stories on the same topic — the end of Obamacare subsidies to insurance companies.

The Wall Street Journal plays it straight down the middle:

President Donald Trump’s executive order on health care issued Thursday marks the first major salvo in what the White House promises will be an extensive, targeted campaign to unravel the Affordable Care Act administratively.

As does Bloomberg:

President Donald Trump said he is moving “step by step” on his own to remake the U.S. health care system because Congress won’t act on his demand to repeal Obamacare.

The Trump administration took its most drastic measure yet to roll back the Affordable Care Act Thursday evening, announcing it would cut off a subsidy to insurers hours after issuing an executive order designed to draw people away from the health law’s markets.

See if you can spot the fake news in the Politico version:

President Donald Trump plans to cut off subsidy payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage in his most aggressive move yet to undermine his predecessor’s health care law.

Politico imputes an ulterior motive, i.e., Trump is not trying to make life better for anyone, he just wants to undermine Obama. That is fake. You can’t know why someone did something. I don’t even know why I do half the things I do.

Surprisingly to me, CNBC, which I expected would have an impartial, businesslike report, went completely off the rails:

Obamacare bombshell: Trump kills key payments to health insurers

The Trump administration will immediately stop making critically important payments to insurers who sell Obamacare health plans, a bombshell move that is expected to spike premium prices and potentially lead many insurers to exit the marketplace.

Where to start on this . . .?

1. The word “bombshell” doesn’t belong in a news story. Even to call something a “surprise” or an “unforeseen event” raises the question of who exactly was surprised by it.

In this case, nobody was surprised. Everyone knew that there was no appropriation for the subsidies, meaning that they are not accounted for in the federal budget.

When Obama was president, he didn’t care that the payments were off budget, but when Trump was elected, everyone had an inkling that the payments would stop.

2. What’s the difference between a payment, an important payment and a critically important payment? “Critically important payment” is not a fact, it’s an opinion. It’s fake news.

If you want to make a case for critical importance, lay out the facts and let the reader decide.

3. “Increase” is a better word than “spike” in a news story. Using words like “spike,” “bombshell” and “kills,” especially in a story about healthcare, creates a manufactured sense of danger, fear and imminent fatality.

Also: premium prices have already gone up. Insurance companies raised the premiums in anticipation of the subsidies being stopped, despite CNBC’s characterization of the stoppage as a “bombshell” (see #1 above).

4. There’s no information in saying that something will “potentially” transpire. How many insurers did you talk to? None? One? More than one? How many said they would exit the marketplace?

Every major insurer has already partially or completely left the Obamacare marketplace.

 

There’s a taxonomy of fake news. It’s not (necessarily) fabricated. It’s more often misleading content or false context, as seen above.


What Happened?

13 Sep 2017 /

According to this review by Piers Morgan, Hillary has narrowed down the list of people and entities responsible for her 2016 election defeat to James Comey, Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and his supporters, Mitch McConnell, the mainstream media, the New York Times, Matt Lauer, Fox News, Jill Stein, men, women, white people, black people, Joe Biden, Anthony Weiner, and the Electoral College.

Notably absent from the list: Hillary Clinton.


Harvard Study Says Media Are Very Biased Against Donald Trump

23 May 2017 /

According to a Harvard University study, the mainstream media are very biased against Donald Trump.

Here’s a chart from the study, showing that the tone of some news outlets is negative in as many as 98% of reports:

Tone of Trump news coverage

I’ve noticed that even our local news station is about 90-10 negative on Trump coverage.

We have to look at the way the media handled Trump before he was elected. How many newspapers in the entire country endorsed Trump for president? I don’t think the number is zero but it has to be very close to zero.

Some newspapers — The Washington Post and New York Times come to mind — were virulently anti-Trump on the editorial page, which bled over into the news coverage.

Every news network except Fox was anti-Trump, the only positive news being that he was most definitely not going to be elected. Well, actually it was that he was definitely not going to be the Republican nominee, and then that he was definitely not going to be president.

The Huffington Post refused to cover Trump at all as part of its political reporting. All Trump news was published in the entertainment section.

And then he was elected president!

So everyone in the media had to either a) recalibrate their self-image from “We are super smart people who knew in advance that Trump would never be president” to “We are the dumbest people in the universe,” or b) commit to spending the next four years (at least) finding ways to say “we told you so,” e.g. “We told you he was a monster,” “We told you he was a moron,” We told you he was crazy,” etc.

Here’s a chart showing the tone of Trump coverage compared to other recent presidents:

Tone of Trump coverage

The media are setting a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president. No president in recent history is even close. Note that the media were mostly cheerleaders for President Obama.


Boy, Were We Wrong!

13 Jul 2016 /
Barack Obama

When the country elected Barack Obama president in 2008, those of us who disagreed with many of his policy ideas were nonetheless consoled by the fact that his victory illustrated that America had moved well beyond institutional racism. Certainly the fact that Obama had succeeded in both a hard-fought Democratic primary and a general election meant that the country was ready to move past the intense focus on race in our national politics. Boy, were we wrong!

— Steven Malanga

Bernie Sanders is Wrong About Everything But He’s Raised the Intellectual Climate

4 Jul 2016 /
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont

Socialism has been discredited about as thoroughly as possible, but one thing I greatly admire about Bernie Sanders is this: He’s never made a political issue of the fact that he’s Jewish.

He doesn’t say “It’s high time we had a Jewish president.” He doesn’t say “If you’re Jewish, you should vote for me because I’m Jewish.” And most importantly, he doesn’t dismiss criticism or critics as anti-Semitic.

And because he doesn’t do any of the above, I don’t see his supporters or the media doing it either.

It would be easy for him to do those things because it’s what people expect. Political discourse in America consists mainly of people calling each other racists, sexists, homophobes and bigots. It’s hard to complete a sentence without someone taking offense to a trigger word, a microaggression or a dog whistle.

Abraham Lincoln once said this:

If you have ever studied geometry, you remember that by a course of reasoning, Euclid proves that all the angles in a triangle are equal to two right angles. Euclid has shown you how to work it out. Now, if you undertake to disprove that proposition, and to show that it is erroneous, would you prove it to be false by calling Euclid a liar?

Today people would be more likely to refute geometry by calling Euclid a racist or attacking his position on same-sex bathrooms, but Lincoln’s point remains valid, i.e., if you disagree with someone, make an argument and knock off the name-calling.

President Obama could have taken a Lincolnesque stand on this if he had wanted to — it would have been a valuable contribution to American life — but instead chooses to use ad hominem politics to his own advantage, to further the impression that there’s no legitimate reason for anyone to oppose his agenda other than the fact that he’s (half) black.

So kudos to Bernie Sanders for his efforts, however futile, to raise the American intellectual climate.


I Pledge Allegiance to [Omitted]

20 Jun 2016 /

House Speaker Paul Ryan called on the Obama administration Monday to “release the full, unredacted transcript” of the Orlando massacre gunman’s 911 calls, slamming the Justice Department’s censoring of all references to Islam as “preposterous.”

Here’s what Omar Mateen, the Orlando shooter, sounds like in the redacted transcript:

I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].

No references to Islam, ISIS or Allah, who becomes “God [in Arabic].”

In other news, 911 calls from the Disney World alligator attack are being released after redacting all references to alligators.

It’s similar to 2012, when a terror attack (in Benghazi) was whitewashed in the months leading up to a presidential election, the thinking being that vulnerability to terrorism reflects poorly on the incumbent administration. This time they’re is not even bothering to lie about it (the Benghazi attack was supposedly a spontaneous response to an internet video), just “we’re taking out all references to Islam.”

Update: The DOJ has now reversed course and released a full transcript of at least one of the 911 calls. Allah is still “God [in Arabic]” but nothing else is omitted.


Another Thing I Like About Donald Trump

15 Jan 2016 /

Democrats don’t like him and Republicans don’t like him either.

The overarching theme of American politics is Democrats vs. Republicans, Team Blue vs. Team Red. It’s a freakishly expensive clown show for which we pay trillions of dollars a year to watch the Red clowns and the Blue clowns throw pies in each other’s faces.

Nobody really cares about truth, substance or common sense, only whether their team is winning.

When Obama replaced Bush, Democrats didn’t care that Obama kept all the same wars going and started a few new ones, kept the torture programs going, kept Guantanamo open, ramped up drone warfare, cozied up to Wall Street, etc., etc., etc. All the things they hated when Bush was doing them were okay now because their team was winning.

Elect Hillary Clinton and we’ll get four to eight years of trench warfare against Republicans. Elect a Republican candidate (other than Trump) and we’ll get four to eight years of trench warfare against Democrats. At a cost of trillions of dollars per year.

This election offers a unique choice — Trump — the best chance we may ever have to blow up the system and start over, which is long overdue.


More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of

6 Dec 2015 /

Americans are the fattest, dumbest people on earth . . . and because being fat and dumb are remediable given the proper motivation, it’s fair to say that Americans are also the most unmotivated people on earth.

This is not to say that all Americans are fat, dumb and unmotivated. There’s a subset of Americans who get up every morning, brush their teeth, go to work, excel at what they do, come home, set the alarm and get up and do it again tomorrow. And take care of their families. These people are carrying the rest of the country on their backs.

But for the average American, the best explanation for his or her life being the way it is is likely to be “I’m fat, dumb and unmotivated.” That’s a pretty tough admission to spit out though so most of us look around for something more palatable to sell to ourselves and others, like (if you’re a non-white person) “white privilege.”

 

There’s no way to have a polite conversation around phrases like “white privilege” because no one likes being categorized into a group and then insulted as an undifferentiated mass. If you’re tempted to use “white privilege” in a conversation as something other than a provocation or an alibi, help out your listeners by saying what it means to you and provide some recent examples from your own life.

I have to admit that the concept of white privilege doesn’t resonate with me given the benefits that have accrued to me personally as a white person (none that I know of) and the frequency with which I personally observe behavior that strikes me as racially motivated (never).

 

Barack Obama was elected in 2012 with 51 percent of the popular vote66 million people willing to hire a black man to the most powerful job in the country. And that’s an artificially low number because not everyone of voting age actually votes. In 2012, more than 100 million eligible voters did not vote.

Projecting 51 percent Obama support over the entire voting-age population gives us a number well over 100 million. (If you don’t like the 51 percent assumption, note that Obama would really only need the support of 34 percent of the 100 million non-voters to reach 100 million total supporters, and I don’t think a case can be made that his support among non-voters was below 34 percent.)

All the white privilege in the world doesn’t erase the fact that if you’re a black American, there are at least 100 million people willing to give you a chance to prove yourself. And you don’t need 100 million people, you probably only need one.


Still Right on the Black Family After All These Years

12 Feb 2015 /

Next month marks the 50th anniversary of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report on the black family, the controversial document issued while he served as an assistant secretary in President Lyndon Johnson’s Labor Department. Moynihan highlighted troubling cultural trends among inner-city blacks, with a special focus on the increasing number of fatherless homes.

For his troubles, Moynihan was denounced as a victim-blaming racist bent on undermining the civil-rights movement. . . .

Later this year the nation also will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which some consider the most significant achievement of the modern-day civil-rights movement. . . .

Since 1970 the number of black elected officials in the U.S. has grown to more than 9,000 from fewer than 1,500 and has included big-city mayors, governors, senators and of course a president.

But even as we note this progress, the political gains have not redounded to the black underclass, which by several important measures—including income, academic achievement and employment—has stagnated or lost ground over the past half-century. And while the civil-rights establishment and black political leaders continue to deny it, family structure offers a much more plausible explanation of these outcomes than does residual white racism.

In 2012 the poverty rate for all blacks was more than 28%, but for married black couples it was 8.4% and has been in the single digits for two decades. Just 8% of children raised by married couples live in poverty, compared with 40% of children raised by single mothers.

One important lesson of the past half-century is that counterproductive cultural traits can hurt a group more than political clout can help it.


Proud to Be a Coal Miner’s Daughter

7 Nov 2014 /

Loretta Lynch

If she is nominated and confirmed by the Senate, she would be the first coal miner’s daughter to hold the job . . .


As Bad as the Real Obama

1 Nov 2014 /

Obama mask

We had a big batch of trick-or-treaters show up at one time last night, about 9 kids age 12 and under.

“Who are you?” I asked the first kid.

“The Hulk.” I gave him some candy.

“Who are you?” I asked the second kid.

“Thor.” I gave him some candy.

“Who are you?” I asked the third kid.

“Obama.” He showed me a wadded-up Obama mask in his hand. I didn’t give him any candy.

“Put the mask on,” I said.

“I don’t want to. I can’t see.”

Meanwhile, the other kids kept coming to the front and announcing their costumes . . .

“Superman.” “Batgirl.” “Pink lady from Grease.” “I’m John Cena.” “Witch.” “Minnie.” They all got candy.

Finally no one was left but me and Obama.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“Obama!”

“Put the mask on.”

“Come on!”

“You’re not doing your job. Geez, you’re as bad as the real Obama.”


Aren’t They More or Less the Same Thing?

23 May 2014 /

Via The Nation:

http://www.thenation.com/blog/179922/university-chicago-bidding-obama-library-activists-would-rather-have-trauma-center#


Which Experts Predicted a UConn-Kentucky Title Game?

8 Apr 2014 /
UConn logo

PunditTracker tracked March Madness 2014 brackets for 26 “experts” from ESPN, Yahoo, Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports, plus President Obama.

Number of pundits who picked UConn to win the tournament: Zero.

Number of pundits who picked either UConn or Kentucky to reach the final game: Zero.

Number of pundits who picked either UConn or Kentucky to reach the Final Four: Zero.

Number of pundits who picked either UConn or Kentucky to reach the Elite Eight: Zero.


Childish Economics

22 Mar 2014 /

I have a very difficult time imagining the economic ‘theory’ that motivates proposals such as this one by Pres. Obama [to “streamline” the Fair Labor Standards Act so that more white-collar employees would be eligible for overtime pay]. The best that I can do is to imagine how a two-year-old child would respond if asked to propose a way to raise workers incomes.


Another Smoking Gun on “Keep Your Coverage”

1 Dec 2013 /
Christina Romer

Christina Romer

The conversation below took place more than four years ago — June 23, 2009 — at a congressional hearing on Obamacare. The topic was the keep-your-coverage promise, and the participants were Christina Romer, then chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Rep. Tom Price, who is also a doctor.

The conversation plays out like one of those word puzzles where you start out with one word and change one letter at a time to get a completely different word. Watch Romer’s responses on keeping your coverage go from “Absolutely” to a stammering “I’d have to look at the specifics.”

It’s also yet another reminder of what a pig in a poke Obamacare was. Even the people advocating for it had no idea what was in it.

REP. PRICE: You also mentioned, as other folks have, that the president’s goal — and it’s reiterated over and over and over — that if you like your current plan or if you like your current doctor, you can keep them. Do you know where that is in the bill?

MS. ROMER: Absolutely. And things like the employer mandate is part of making sure that large employers that today — the vast majority of them do provide health insurance. One of the things that’s —

REP. PRICE: I’m asking about if an individual likes their current plan and maybe they don’t get it through their employer and maybe in fact their plan doesn’t comply with every parameter of the current draft bill, how are they going to be able to keep that?

MS. ROMER: So the president is fundamentally talking about maintaining what’s good about the system that we have. And —

REP. PRICE: That’s not my question.

MS. ROMER: One of the things that he has been saying is, for example, you may like your plan and one of the things we may do is slow the growth rate of the cost of your plan, right? So that’s something that is not only —

REP. PRICE: The question is whether or not patients are going to be able to keep their plan if they like it. What if, for example, there’s an employer out there — and you’ve said that if the employers that already provide health insurance, health coverage for their employees, that they’ll be just fine, right? What if the policy that those employees and that employer like and provide for their employees doesn’t comply with the specifics of the bill? Will they be able to keep that one?

MS. ROMER: So certainly my understanding — and I won’t pretend to be an expert in the bill — but certainly I think what’s being planned is, for example, for plans in the exchange to have a minimum level of benefits.

REP. PRICE: So if I were to tell you that in the bill it says that if a plan doesn’t comply with the specifics that are outlined in the bill that that employer’s going to have to move to the — to a different plan within five years — would you — would that be unusual, or would that seem outrageous to you?

MS. ROMER: I think the crucial thing is, what kind of changes are we talking about? The president was saying he wanted the American people to know that fundamentally if you like what you have it will still be there.

REP. PRICE: What if you like what you have, Dr. Romer, though, and it doesn’t fit with the definition in the bill? My reading of the bill is that you can’t keep that.

MS. ROMER: I think the crucial thing — the bill is talking about setting a minimum standard of what can count —

REP. PRICE: So it’s possible that you may like what you have, but you may not be able to keep it? Right?

MS. ROMER: We’d have — I’d have to look at the specifics.


Enough of the Mealy-Mouthed Obamacare Excuses!

24 Nov 2013 /

I’d have a lot more respect for the president if he just came out and said, “As Otter so cogently observed in Animal House, ‘You fucked up … You trusted us!’

obama-233


Great Moments in Presidential Prevarication

24 Nov 2013 /

“I am not a crook.” — Richard Nixon

 

“Read my lips: no new taxes.” — George H.W. Bush

 

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” — Bill Clinton

 

“If you like your plan, you can keep it.” — Barack Obama


Obama Did Not Lie

18 Nov 2013 /
Barack Obama

When President Obama said that he could provide health care to millions without taking any health care away from people who have already got it, he had no chance of being believed. The statement was absurd on its face. This is a law of arithmetic: If you invite a bunch of friends to share your lunch, there’s going to be less lunch for you. Everybody understands that. . . .

So when the President said he could expand the availability of medical care while allowing everyone else to keep the care they’ve got, it was like saying he’d take us for a tour of England in his rocket ship. It had absolutely no chance of being believed, and therefore, it seems to me, does not count as a lie.

It counts instead as an expression of contempt for the many entirely reasonable people who tried to point out that it is not within a President’s power to suspend the laws of arithmetic.

That expression of contempt was arguably pretty contemptible, and arguably as contemptible as a lie. And of course he’s compounding it by trying to tell you with a straight face that everyone who has to switch health plans will end up with “better” plans that allow them to consume even more medical care. I could give you some pretty striking counterexamples among people I’m personally close to, but there’s no need for that, since anyone who grasps basic arithmetic can see that the president’s words cannot be true. But speaking untruths is not enough to make him a liar. For that, he’d have to speak plausible untruths, and he has too little respect for the American people to bother coming up with any.


Politics: The Profession of Scoundrels

31 Oct 2013 /

Some of the president’s most central and important claims about Obamacare are revealed now – and widely admitted – to be wrong. If he were the CEO of a private company he would be sued, publicly lambasted by all the major media, perhaps hauled before an admittedly grandstanding Congressional committee, and possibly prosecuted, convicted, fined, or even imprisoned for fraudulent misrepresentation. But because Obama is a politician, his misrepresentations are excused as simplifying descriptions aimed at persuading the doofus public to fall for legislation that they would not have fallen for had the president described that legislation honestly and accurately.

Politics is the profession of scoundrels.


ObamaCare Winners and Losers

8 Oct 2013 /
English: President Barack Obama's signature on ACA

Cindy Vinson and Tom Waschura are big believers in the Affordable Care Act. They vote independent and are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama.

Yet, like many other Bay Area residents who pay for their own medical insurance, they were floored last week when they opened their bills: Their policies were being replaced with pricier plans that conform to all the requirements of the new health care law.

Vinson, of San Jose, will pay $1,800 more a year for an individual policy, while Waschura, of Portola Valley, will cough up almost $10,000 more for insurance for his family of four. . . .

Covered California spokesman Dana Howard maintained that in public presentations the exchange has always made clear that there will be winners and losers under Obamacare. . . .

“Of course, I want people to have health care,” Vinson said. “I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.”


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