01/29/14

Watcher’s Council Nominations – State Of Disunion Edition

The Watcher’s Council

NRO: Great Caesar’s Ghost

George Washington showed the world that men do not need a king. We, his heirs, have allowed the coronation of something much worse.

— Kevin D. Williamson is a roving correspondent for National Review.

“L’Estat is Moi! Apres Moi, le deluge!” Yes, we are officially back in the days of the French Bourbons and the ineffectual, narcissistic and parasitic pre-revolution days of Louis XVI.

He is, given his own words, a failure. The five years of inequality and economic stagnation he talked about belong to him, as much as he tries to put the blame elsewhere.

So now, he informs us that he plans to rule with a pen, to stop ‘standing still’ and rule even more than he already has by diktat, decree and executive order… even if he has to precipitate a constitutional crisis to do it.

Oh, and that bit of drama about ‘forcing’ Federal contractors to pay a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour? The contractors will do so gladly, with a cynical smirk or two, because they know they won’t be picking up the bill, and neither will the president – the taxpayers will. It’s a perfect example of this president’s signature dishonesty and contempt for the rest of us.

It was embarrassing to listen to and even more embarrassing to reflect that this is whom we have leading our country.

Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday morning.

Council News:

As you might remember, last week at this time we said farewell to our dear friends and Council mates The Mellow Jihadi and The Political Commentator. We were certainly sorry to see them go, but look what we have here… this week marks the debut of a new Council member, Ask Marion and the return of an old friend, The Independent Sentinel. Our regular readers are familiar with both of these fine writer’s work from their frequent appearance in our Honorable Mentions, and in The Independent Sentinel’s case, her previous work as part of the Council.

Those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of reading them are definitely in for a treat.

Watcher’s Council Activities: My latest piece over at The Times of Israel, ‘Baseless Hatred, Israel’s Ultimate Price Tag’ can be read here.

WoW community member, Council Alumnus and noted author Trevor Loudon is on a book and speaking tour currently. As Tom White over at VA Right said, if he’s speaking anywhere near you, go see him! I certainly second that.

His next scheduled appearance is a speech before the Medina OH TEA Party.
The Lodge, 600 High Street, Wadsworth, OH
Thursday, January 30, 2014 — 7:00 pm

Up and coming appearances and events can be found on his site, And his books are available here, or directly from the author here.

This week, The Blue Ridge Forum, Seraphic Secret and The Pirate’s Cove earned honorable mention status with some great articles.

You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.

To bring something to my attention, simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title and a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address (which won’t be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6 PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category. Then return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week when it comes out Wednesday morning/

Simple, no?

It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members, while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?

So, let’s see what we have this week…

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that!

01/29/14

No Care Under Obamacare

By: Bethany Stotts
Accuracy in Media

At this point we’ve all heard about the problems plaguing Obamacare, from the poor security on the Healthcare.gov website, to the glitches on the web that prevented many Americans from purchasing health care on the exchanges in the first place. Or, even if visitors did “purchase” their health care coverage with a healthy government subsidy, they still had to check with their insurer to confirm that the application made it to the right place with the right background information.

But new information shows that Obamacare coverage is, for many, no care at all despite the high prices. The idea that you can keep your doctor has been exposed as a bold-face lie reaching up to the President himself. But the fact that you not only cannot keep your doctor, but even when insured, may not be able to find a doctor in your own county or city, is what’s surprising some Americans.

“But, as it stands, Obamacare is largely a health insurance replacement system rather than an expansion,” writes Michael Gerson for The Washington Post. “And the replacement is often less generous, more expensive and more restricted in options than promised.” The Wall Street Journal has reported that 65% to 90% of the 2.2 million who had purchased health insurance on the exchanges by the end of 2013 already had health insurance.

These new enrollees may be surprised by what they’re about to get themselves into. Politico reported this month that Republican Senator Tom Coburn (OK), who is struggling with cancer, can no longer see his oncologist using his Obamacare plan. He’s opted to pay out of pocket to see this doctor. “We hope the White House will work with us to make sure Americans who can’t afford to pay out of pocket don’t lose access to life-saving care,” said Coburn spokesman John Hart.

Not everyone has money lying around to pay for medical care out of pocket, especially if they are paying skyrocketing premiums. According to The Washington Free Beacon, two Tennessee residents signed up for the micro network BlueCross Network E under Obamacare and can’t see the doctor. “‘We have health insurance at this point that is worthless,’ Shawnna Simpson said of the plan that she pays $600 a month for,” reported the Beacon. She can’t find a family doctor in her county that accepts her plan. And David Pearce was rejected by his doctor’s office for using this health plan as well.

“BlueCross Network E is a micro network—a very small network with limited doctors and hospitals,” reports the Beacon (emphasis added). “Neither Vanderbilt nor TriStar are in the network.”

Lest you think this is an outlier, consider that “a Dec. 13 McKinsey study of 20 U.S. metropolitan areas found that two-thirds of ACA plans analyzed had ‘narrow’ or ‘ultra narrow’ networks, with at least 30 percent of top 20 hospitals excluded for coverage,” according to Time magazine. In other words, two-thirds of these Obamacare plans had restricted coverage networks.

Time titled their piece “Obamacare: Keeping Your Doctor No Easy Feat,” an implicit recognition that the President’s promise that if you like your doctor you can keep him or her was a lie.

But then Time goes off the deep end in quoting sources who argue, unfathomably, that what is happening in Obamacare is “market competition.” That is how Karen Pollitz, “a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation who studies the insurance market,” characterized it. “Whether you like it or not, this is what we signed up for,” she said.

Pollitz is identified as “work[ing] for the Department of Health and Human Services helping to implement the ACA before taking a post at Kaiser.” Clearly, she is no unbiased source, yet she is quoted extensively.

The other source, Dr. Jeff Rideout, is the California “exchange’s senior medical adviser.” He says that “Better value occurs when there’s better alignment between a plan and a relatively tight network.”

“In other words, when insurers and providers are more dependent on each other, there’s more motivation to deliver efficient care,” reports Time’s Kate Pickert.

Let’s unpack the word “efficient” for a second.

Paul Hsieh, writing for Forbes, notes that, before Obamacare, the incentives for doctors were to sometimes over-bill by prescribing unnecessary care and procedures. The incentive under Obamacare, however, is to provide less care. “Under ObamaCare, doctors will face increasing incentives for undertreatment rather than overtreatment,” writes Hsieh (emphasis in original). For example, it includes pilot programs that replace the fee-for-service model with bundled payments. “If the hospital and doctors treat the patient for less than the bundle, they keep the excess,” writes Hsieh. “But if their costs exceed the bundled payment, they must absorb the loss.” In other words, profit comes from short-changing the patient.

As for “narrow networks,” they “will create a powerful incentive for physicians to adhere to any treatment guidelines mandated by the government or by government-approved insurance plans,” and effectively drive a wedge between the patient and the physician because “many doctors will lose long-standing relationships with patients they’ve seen for years,” he writes.

This, Time magazine brazenly allows to be called market competition. It actually is a realignment of the marketplace that favors the poor against the wealthy and redistributes wealth in the name of liberalism. “In part, Obamacare is fashioned as a vehicle to redistribute income through healthcare benefits,” writes Scott Gottlieb for Forbes. And a new study by the Brookings Institution finds it does just that—it “increase[s] the incomes of Americans who fall in the bottom one-fifth of the income levels, while slightly decreasing…the incomes of senior citizens,” according to USA Today. And it reduces the income of the wealthy using Medicare taxes.

Despite all that, Obamacare still seems to be giving poor families the short straw. “Children who qualify for Medicaid, the safety-net program for the poor and disabled, can’t be included on subsidized family plans purchased through the federal marketplace, a fact that is taking many parents by surprise and leaving some kids stuck without coverage,” reported CBS. “And in New Hampshire, some parents who’ve enrolled in private plans for themselves alone are finding out later that their children aren’t eligible for Medicaid after all, leaving their kids with no options.” For many, those seem to be the main features of Obamacare: high costs, no options, and no coverage.

Bethany Stotts is a freelance writer, and former staff writer for Accuracy in Academia. She blogs at http://bethanystotts.wordpress.com/.

01/29/14

Liberalism, Mental Disorders and the Maryland Mall Shooter

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

If the Maryland mall shooter had lived, he would not have faced the death penalty. That’s because the “progressives” running Maryland have eliminated capital punishment. Maryland also has tough “gun control” laws, but those didn’t stop the murders.

A January 24 Washington Post story said that about two-thirds of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s recent “State of the State” address was devoted to what he described as “the accomplishments of his tenure, including legalization of same-sex marriage, repeal of the death penalty and passage of one of the toughest gun-control measures in the nation.”

Those “tough” measures had no impact on the mall shooter, Darion Marcus Aguilar, who shot and killed two people and himself at a clothing store at the shopping mall in Columbia, Maryland.

It is not known at this time if the shooter was on drugs. Reports indicate he expressed “general unhappiness with his life,” an indication of depression, perhaps exacerbated by or brought on by drugs. He carried out the murders with a 12-gauge shotgun, had a large amount of ammunition and two homemade explosive devices inside a backpack.

Numerous reports indicate the killer was an animal rights activist. Ellis Cropper, a man who identified himself as a spokesman for the Aguilar family, told The New York Times that the murderer “stopped eating meat after watching a documentary on animal cruelty.”

The Baltimore Sun added some more detail, quoting Cropper as saying, “He became a vegan last year or the year before after he saw a documentary on PBS and he saw how animals were slaughtered.”

So he opposed slaughtering animals but believed in slaughtering humans.

His human victims were Brianna Benlolo, 21, and Tyler Johnson, 25.

But rest assured: the mall shootings will not be portrayed by the media as a blot on the record of Maryland Governor O’Malley, who ran for office on a tough-on-crime platform.

However, some failures by the extreme liberal governor have been impossible to ignore.

Inside The Washington Post, in the 14th paragraph of the story about O’Malley’s “accomplishments” as Maryland governor, the paper informed readers about O’Malley’s health care website debacle. “O’Malley said his administration has learned from the failures of the online health insurance exchange, which crashed on its debut Oct. 1,” it noted.

Post columnist Petula Dvorak asked, “How could this epic bungling have happened in a state that often oozes self-satisfaction with its progressive policies, led by a governor who considers himself a 2016 presidential contender?”

She insisted, “Hubris, vanity and plain incompetence all played a role and have cost tens of thousands of Marylanders health coverage for months. Some of these folks have heart conditions, diabetes or other chronic health problems and need treatment that they can’t afford.”

Perhaps the answer lies in the “progressive policies” that are designed to fail in all aspects of life.

Dvorak added, “O’Malley’s Web site scandal deserves as much scrutiny and derision as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell (R) and his wife, Maureen, got for their sins.”

To the credit of the Post, the paper ran an investigative piece on January 11 noting that “More than a year before Maryland launched its health insurance exchange, senior state officials failed to heed warnings that no one was ultimately accountable for the $170 million project and that the state lacked a plausible plan for how it would be ready by Oct. 1.”

On top of these failures: Maryland State Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller has endorsed the legalization of marijuana.

A local Maryland paper, the Towson Patch, reported last May that Miller supported so-called “medical marijuana,” saying, “I’ve got a fractured nerve in my tooth right now. I wouldn’t mind a toke myself.”

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has opened a Maryland branch, the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland, to lobby for a bill to legalize marijuana. “More than two dozen legislators have already signed on to co-sponsor this important reform, led by Senator Jamie Raskin, and Delegates Curt Anderson and Sheila Hixson,” it says.

Raskin is the son of Marcus Raskin, co-founder of the Institute for Policy Studies, the far-left think tank.

The results of a long-term study released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that persistent marijuana use reduced IQ by eight points, and that cutting back later in life did not fully eliminate the IQ loss.

NIDA also finds that “A number of studies have linked chronic marijuana use and mental illness. High doses of marijuana can produce a temporary psychotic reaction (involving hallucinations and paranoia) in some users, and using marijuana can worsen the course of illness in patients with schizophrenia.”

Before Senator Miller takes “a toke” for his toothache and recommends it to young people, he may want to consult Dr. Asaf Keller of the University of Maryland, in his home state, whose research finds that marijuana can cause permanent brain damage and trigger mental illness.

Keller, professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says, “Over the past 20 years, there has been a major controversy about the long-term effects of marijuana, with some evidence that use in adolescence could be damaging. Previous research has shown that children who started using marijuana before the age of 16 are at greater risk of permanent cognitive deficits, and have a significantly higher incidence of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. There likely is a genetic susceptibility, and then you add marijuana during adolescence and it becomes the trigger.”

His new research confirms that “regular marijuana use in adolescence, but not adulthood, may permanently impair brain function and cognition, and may increase the risk of developing serious psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia…”

Senator Miller and his wife Patti currently live in Chesapeake Beach in Southern Maryland and describe themselves as the proud grandparents of 14 grandchildren.

Let’s hope and pray they don’t follow grandpa’s lead on dope.

Other members of the pro-marijuana Maryland coalition include:

  • ACLU of Maryland
  • CASA de Maryland
  • Criminal Justice Policy Foundation
  • Demand Progress
  • Equality Maryland
  • The International Women’s Cannabis Coalition-Maryland Chapter (IWCC)
  • Job Opportunities Task Force
  • Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
  • League of Women Voters of Maryland
  • Marijuana Policy Project
  • Maryland Justice Project
  • Maryland NORML
  • Medical Cannabis Advocates of Maryland
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Maryland State Conference
  • Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

01/29/14

The DuPage IL TEA Party To Hear Trevor Loudon Expose ‘The Enemies Within,’ Feb 15

Pacific Freedom Foundation

Hear a modern-day Paul Revere, Trevor Loudon! He will expose the enemies within the U.S. Congress that seek to destroy America. Don’t miss it!

The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the U.S. Congress is like no other book written on American politics. The book exposes, in layman’s terms, the comprehensive communist, socialist and extreme progressive infiltration of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

The book profiles fourteen Senators and more than fifty Representatives and their ties to the Communist Party USA, Democratic Socialists of America, the Workers World Party and the Institute for Policy Studies, Council for a Livable World and other radical anti-American organizations. Trevor has done the hard work to connect the dots of why the U.S. Congress has moved further and further left over our lifetime and you won’t want to miss him.

The Mid-Terms are coming. It’s time to clean House — and Senate! Get yourself prepared with facts. Don’t miss it!

The DuPage IL TEA Party
Date: Saturday, February 15
Time: 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm
Venue: Carriage Greens Country Club
8700 Carriage Greens Drive
Darien, IL

If your TEA Party, 9.12 Project, or patriotic group would like to have Trevor Loudon speak, please contact Regina Thompson.

Check Trevor’s TOUR MAP AND SCHEDULE, constantly being updated with new events and venues.