07/30/14

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Faith Edition

The Watcher’s Council

IDF soldiers sing before entering Gaza: “The whole world is a narrow bridge and you must not be afraid. Serve G-d with joy and come before Him with song. We have no one to rely upon except our Father in heaven.”

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:

Ah, the big news today is that it’s party time…

Our own Courtney, GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD adds another year to the ledger. The actual date was Monday, but we’ll celebrate it today… especially since she managed to get through her birthday weekend in one piece and without any serious encounters with the authorities.

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First, some flowers, just because…

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Now this is a decadent rum cake… the alcohol’s cooked off, but that wonderful flavor of Mount Gay Bajan rum remains. And I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to mar that wonderful chocolate top with candle holes, but I’ll let the birthday girl decide that one… and how many candles.

And some chilled Veuve Cliquot on the side to wash it down…

Another year Courts, and you still crack me up with the joyful mayhem you perform on the defenseless English language in your articles and of course in our asides! Even better is the real substance in what you write that’s behind it. It’s a great pleasure to have you in the group and especially to have you as my friend… many, many more and keep treading the Narrow Way.

The Council In Action!!

My latest over at The Times Of Israel is up. When it comes to Hamas and Gaza, ‘demilitarization’ is the new buzzword and it gets mentioned frequently as a solution. In What ‘Demilitarization’ Really Means’, I revisit what happened the last time this carrot was held out to push a ceasefire with the full force of the ‘international community’ behind it.

This week, The MidKnight Review, Blazing Cat Fur and Gates Of Vienna 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 for you this week…

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

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

07/25/14

Obamacare Receives a Split Decision from the Courts

By: Bethany Stotts
Accuracy in Media

The courts this week issued two conflicting rulings regarding whether the federal government has the ability to provide subsidies to persons purchasing health care on the federal exchanges under the so-called Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. The battle of the courts has the potential to affect not only the provision of federal subsidies, but also the enforcement of the individual mandate and the employer mandate.

“The ruling also could undermine the requirement for larger employers to offer health coverage to their employees,” reports The New York Times’ Robert Pear on the 2-1 vote by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. “That requirement is enforced through penalties imposed on employers if any of their employees receive subsidies to buy insurance on an exchange.” Thus, the Washington Examiner noted back in March that, if the plaintiffs ultimately win, “anti-Obamacare states could become more attractive to businesses trying to get around the employer mandate.”

Accuracy in Media’s Roger Aronoff reported on this ruling’s potential back in March of this year, when most of the media were focusing on the Hobby Lobby case. At that time, he predicted that it was likely that the ruling would be in favor of the plaintiffs, who support the plain language of the law, i.e., that federal subsidies are only supposed to go to individuals who have signed up for healthcare on state exchanges, and that an en banc review was likely, meaning the full court will hear the case.

As Aronoff pointed out, MSBNC’s Adam Serwer hopes that an en banc review would rule in favor of the government because the President has stacked the court. “Though judges’ opinions don’t always track with those of the party that appointed them, thanks to the changes to the filibuster, more Democratic appointees than Republican appointees would rule on the matter,” Serwer wrote. “Of the 11 judges that could rehear the case, seven are Democrats and four are Republicans,” reports Fox News. Indeed, an en banc judgment could easily overturn this ruling and favor the government.

Fox also reports that the D.C. Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the plaintiffs dealt Obamacare a “major blow” because there are only 14 state-run exchanges. The Washington Times calls it a “massive setback” that could “blow a massive hole in President Obama’s signature domestic achievement.”

The Obama administration seems unconcerned about the ruling. Little surprise, considering that the Fourth Circuit ruled in their favor on the same issue on the same day, within hours. “While this ruling is interesting to legal theorists, it has no practical impact,” said press secretary Josh Earnest about the D.C. Court of Appeals ruling, which had described the Justice Department as “tilting at windmills.”

After the “en banc” hearing, this case may go the Supreme Court.

But the media—even conservative media—are committing malpractice in their coverage of this issue.

Currently, according to Fox News, the government estimates that it will pay $1 trillion in subsidies over the next 10 years. The average subsidy is about $4,400 per person this year, according to Pear. But what are they purchasing? Is it “affordable” care?

Fox News and other outlets fall into a dangerous trap in talking about the provision of “affordable” health insurance. As we have discussed earlier, there is no such thing as an “affordable” Affordable Care Act, which depends on the redistribution of monies from one group to another through subsidies and taxes.

And it seems like those with Obamacare sometimes may not even receive treatment while covered. Yet, Fox’s Barnini Chakraborty writes, “Nearly 90 percent of the federal exchange’s insurance enrollees were eligible for subsidies because of low or moderate incomes, and the outcome of the case could potentially leave millions without affordable health insurance.” If the health care’s not affordable, it’s likely because the costs have skyrocketed due to the law, not despite it. The Washington Times’ Tom Howell calls the subsidies “critical to making coverage affordable.” Pear writes, “Subsidies, in the form of tax credits, are a crucial element of the Affordable Care Act. Without them, insurance would be unaffordable to millions of Americans.”

And thus a new entitlement upon which members of the populace have artificially been made dependent is defended in the guise of helping the helpless.

This isn’t affordable coverage; this is highway bank robbery.

You want free, cheap or subsidized health care? Then you’ll take what the government gives you, whether that means you can see your doctor or not. We’ve long known that Obama was lying when he said, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Period.” But now that reality is coming home to roost.

Consider, for example, Shawnna Simpson, who I reported about in January. She was unable to find a family doctor who accepted her insurance within her county due to a narrow network. That was in Tennessee. Politico’s Brett Norman reports more recently that “In New Hampshire, for instance, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield was the only insurer on the market, and it cut 10 of the state’s 26 hospitals out of its network.” And, he reports, “Even if a patient goes to an in-network hospital, not all the doctors are necessarily part of the plan. For instance, patients can get stuck with thousands of dollars in bills for anesthesia, even if surgery is covered.”

These types of shenanigans have become a major electoral issue. “But since the beginning of 2013, more than 70 bills have been introduced in 22 states to clarify the network rules, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures,” writes Norman. He casts the issue as a waiting game for consumers: next year will be better. But customers shouldn’t have to pay a whole year for a failing product just because the government takes a year to fix itself. Nor should they have to swallow the line that subsidies make Obamacare “affordable,” when the Heritage Foundation has shown that 45 out of 50 states saw price increases in the first year of this law. Now, faced with a potential broadening of their narrow networks, insurers threaten that they cannot control costs, according to Norman.

Heritage called savings under Obamacare a “fantasy” back in 2013. It’s still a fantasy now, and one that the conservative media should not be furthering alongside the mainstream media.