Tolerance is something the left consistently advocates for, yet contradicts when doing so would thwart their own political agendas. Phil Robertson's suspension from Duck Dynasty by the A&E television network is a fresh example of this hypocrisy. But the very week that Robertson was being pulled off the air for speaking his mind on gay relationships, a legal analyst invited to speak on CNN was being pulled from the taping of a live show.
The guest, Larry Klayman, was the plaintiff who claimed the National Security Agency's data-collecting programs were unconstitutional. Considering he won the argument, his opinion on the legal debate should hold some clout, don't you think?
Unfortunately for Klayman, CNN Newsroom anchor Don Lemon got a little offended by the attorney's on-air comments:
Perhaps Klayman did not handle the situation with perfect grace. But in his defense, he did seemingly try to revert the focus of the segment from himself to the meat of the argument:
Let’s talk about the NSA, let’s not talk about Larry Klayman. This victory is for the American people. It wasn’t for me. And you, as somebody from the left … should appreciate that you don’t have a police state in this country that’s going to be able to intimidate Americans to chill their free speech rights.
Klayman might just have to find another platform to practice his First Amendment rights.
This video is old, but is beginning to make the rounds again. In it, economist Paul Krugman attempted to show how amazing the Canadian healthcare system was. As it turns out, actual Canadians are not so fond of it. Enjoy!
I was privileged to interview Bill Yenne, the author of Hap Arnold: The General Who Invented the U.S. Air Force.
The Q&A is provided in part below:
Why did you write about Hap Arnold?
Hap Arnold is the most important figure in the history of American military aviation, and he has not been the subject of a biography for several decades. I thought it was time to reacquaint new generations of readers with this man.
Who was Hap Arnold?
Hap Arnold was a young recent West Point graduate who (a) learned to fly from the Wright Brothers; (b) grew into a career with the US Army Air Corps; (c) became its chief; (d) turned it into the autonomous US Army Air Forces; (e) turned the USAAF into the largest air force in the history of the world (even to this day); (f) used the USAAF to win World War II; (g) and then laid the groundwork to transform the USAAF into the independent US Air Force.
You write that Hap Arnold earned near-universal respect - yet it seems today's military leaders like Panetta and Hagel are unable to achieve that. Do we need another Hap Arnold?
Last question first: Yes, we need people in leadership who know how to lead, AND (a) who have a thorough understanding of what the capabilities and job descriptions of the people they lead, (b) who have a clear idea of the strategic goal, (c) if those above them do not have a strategic understanding, to formulate and decisively articulate the goal themselves and explain it to their bosses who must make the decision to execute it. Finally, these leaders must have the confidence and respect (if not the admiration) of those above them and those they lead. Both Panetta and Hagel have lacked the kind of understanding of the services that inspires confidence. There is no room in such important business for on the job training. Both are political appointees who fail to inspire confidence.
What predictions did Hap Arnold have for America's future, and did they come true?
At the end of World War II, when the service chiefs – Army, Navy and USAAF – were asked to write their final reports, Arnold alone devoted a third of his report to the future of his service. He brought together the best scientific minds in fields from aerodynamics to electronics and asked for projections 10, 20 and even 50 years in the future – including radar, guided missiles, and, yes, unmanned aircraft. He also founded Project RAND (Research and Development), which became the RAND Corporation. In less than a year, RAND had developed a plan for the world’s first orbital spacecraft (more than a decade ahead of Sputnik). After World War II, Arnold favored not resting on his laurels of having built the world’s largest air force, but advocated a complete rethinking of American airpower strategy for the future. He was still a visionary.
People sometimes ask what he would have thought about drones. To this, I point out that Hap Arnold went overseas in the FIRST World War to prepare for the deployment of the US military’s FIRST drone, the Kettering Bug, which he had helped to develop. It was already flying and ready for overseas deployment when the war ended in 1918.
What is the most fun fact you discovered about Hap Arnold?
Did you know that Hap Arnold was a children’s book author? In the 1920s, he penned the “Bill Bruce” series for boys. They tell the story of a young man who learns to fly and becomes a US Army pilot.
How did you conduct your research, and how long did it take?
I have been writing about American military history and the US Air Force for over 25 years, collecting information and mentioning Arnold frequently, so it is hard to say how long it took.
Why don't Americans know more about Hap Arnold?
I am a bad one to ask because I don’t understand why more people do not know him. Part of the answer is the poor condition of the teaching of history in schools...When you ask why Americans don’t know more about Hap Arnold, I counter with this question: Aside from Patton, Eisenhower, Bradley and MacArthur, how many average Americans can name more than two other American generals from WWII? Try asking.
I am guilty as charged - I openly confess my ignorance about Hap Arnold. Thankfully, Bill Yenne's book ensures that even I can have a comprehensive understanding of the "General Who Invented the U.S. Air Force." Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the book is the translation of 25 years of expertise into a thorough original work that is receiving widespread critical acclaim.
In a field increasingly saturated with biographies to the same, well-known military figures, Yenne's book pays tribute to one of the greatest unsung heroes of American history and aviation as a whole.
Regardless of whether you passed the ignorance test ("When you ask why Americans don’t know more about Hap Arnold, I counter with this question: Aside from Patton, Eisenhower, Bradley and MacArthur, how many average Americans can name more than two other American generals from WWII?"), Hap Arnold is sure to be a rewarding and informative read.
Hap Arnold: The General Who Invented the U.S. Air Force can be purchased here.
The Obamacare deadline is coming. One state well aware of the date is Minnesota, where computer problems have surfaced since the Oct. 1 launch of its health insurance marketplace MNsure, leaving many frustrated and without insurance. As Guy reported, in the midst of this crisis executive director April Todd-Malmlov did what any overseer would do: She went to Costa Rica.
After Todd-Malmlov announced her resignation this Tuesday, Scott Leitz, the assistant commissioner of the Department of Human Services, became MNsure’s interim chief executive officer until someone fills the post permanently. In light of these recent setbacks, Minnesota is considering postponing next week’s enrollment deadline, which means Leitz and the rest of the MNsure board has a host of anxious Minnesotans on their hands.
MNsure is the only way for those on Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare to obtain insurance coverage. But, technical glitches, along with a highly publicized incident in which an employee accidentally emailed private insurance broker information, stymied Minnesotans ready and waiting to sign up. Now, with the executive director’s resignation, those insurance plans seem as unattainable as ever.
“With less than a week before the critical enrollment deadline for Minnesota families, zero insurance policy cards have been issued and the MNsure help line is anything but helpful,” House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said Tuesday night. “Tonight’s news offers no comfort to hardworking Minnesotans who are still unsure if they’ll have insurance coverage on Jan. 1.”
These glitches were embarrassing enough. But, for the executive director to leave as her fellow citizens are struggling to get covered is the bitter icing on the cake.
Oddly, Todd-Malmlov wasn’t the only director to resign after taking a tropical vacation during her state’s health care rollout. Maryland’s director stepped down as well after returning from a trip to the Caribbean.
Todd-Malmlov may have left for some fun in the sun, but Minnesotans are the ones who got burned.
What would you do with $40 million? Would you give it all away to charity? Because that’s exactly what this guy is doing.
‘Tis the season:
A Calgary man who won $40 million seven months ago and then kept it secret from his own children says he will donate his entire winnings to charity.
Widower Tom Crist was the winner of the Lotto Max jackpot on May 3.
“Cancer is a big one because my wife passed away from cancer, two years ago in February,” Crist said Monday.
“She was fairly young,” Crist told CBC Radio. “She beat it for six years before it finally caught up to her.”
“I just retired at the end of September so I was fortunate enough in my career to set myself up and my kids anyway, and there was no doubt in my mind where that money was going to go, it was going to go to charity.”
Even if he was fortunate enough to “set himself up” -- and his kids, too -- this is an unbelievably kind and generous gesture. After his late wife’s passing, he wants to donate to cancer research charities that will honor her memory, and in the process, hopefully save lives. Most of us, I reckon, would keep the bulk of the winnings, and perhaps give some away to charitable causes we felt were important. Not Tom Crist. He’s giving away all of it.
Faith in humanity, restored.
According to a CNN poll released Friday, President Obama’s approval rating—42 percent—matches the all-time low he reached last month in CNN’s polling. His disapproval rating—56 percent—is unchanged, but still at an all-time high in CNN’s surveys. While the numbers are expected considering what a terrible year it’s been for the president, some may be surprised to learn that one in five of those who disapprove of Obama think he’s too conservative:
According to the poll, which was released Friday, 40% say they disapprove of the President because they say his policies and actions have been too liberal, with 12% saying they disapprove because he hasn't been liberal enough.
"The growth in negative views of the President comes almost equally from the left and the right," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Not surprisingly, the number of Americans who disapprove of him because he is too liberal is up six points since the start of the year. But the number of Americans who disapprove of him because he has not been liberal enough is up almost as much since January, indicating that his slide is due as much to disappointment as it is anger."
In December 2005, George W. Bush had the same approval rating in CNN polling, while at this point in their second terms Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan had a 56 and 63 percent approval rating, respectively.
Speaking from the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House today, President Obama delivered some brief remarks at his final press conference of the year before departing for the Hawaiian Islands for a two week vacation. Given the sorry state of his signature domestic achievement, Guy wonders why the president is leaving at all considering millions of Americans are fretting about the status of their health insurance. Will they be covered after the New Year? Some, of course, will not be. And by the time he returns from the beaches of Hawaii, it will be too late to enroll them. Fleeing the capital now might be a decision he later comes to regret.
In any case, after his initial remarks discussing the economy and next year’s budget, the president spent his end-of-the-year presser mostly defending his signature health care law and the controversial NSA program, which he promises to evaluate more fully after the New Year.
“The healthcare website problems were a source of great frustration,” he conceded. “On the other hand, since that time I now have a couple million people who are going to have health care on January 1. And that is a big deal. That is why I ran for that office.”
The president did his best to defend the much-pilloried federal overhaul. However, he did not mention anything about the millions of Americans who’ve lost their health care plans -- or might lose their health care plans -- in the New Year. He did add, however, that more than one million citizens signed up for health insurance on the exchanges over the past three weeks.
Meanwhile, he also addressed the public’s growing concerns about the controversial NSA surveillance programs.
“As you know the independent panel came back with a series of recommendations,” he said. “What we’re doing now is evaluating all the recommendation that have been made. Over the next several weeks we’re going to assess…how we might apply and incorporate their recommendations. And I’m going to make a pretty definite statement about this in January.”
He said he did not think that the NSA was “snooping” on Americans, but conceded that he understands the public is concerned about the program, and that more transparency on behalf of the government is to be expected.
Most significantly, perhaps, the president emphasized time and again that the economy is the strongest it’s been since he took office -- deflecting criticism from the Affordable Care Act -- and dodged whether or not 2013 was the worst year of his presidency.
“A lot of our legislative initiatives in Congress had not moved forward as rapidly as I’d like, which means I’m going to keep at it,” he said.
We'll see how that goes in the New Year.
Despite the fact that the immigration reform debate has largely centered on a path to citizenship, a recent poll found that Hispanics and Asian-Americans are most concerned about relief from the threat of deportation.
Although 89% of 701 Hispanics and 72% of 802 Asian-Americans still want a pathway to citizenship, pluralities in both demographics believe deportation is the more urgent issue:
By 55% to 35%, Hispanics say that they think being able to live and work in the United States legally without the threat of deportation is more important for unauthorized immigrants than a pathway to citizenship. Asian Americans hold a similar view, albeit by a smaller margin—49% to 44%.
Both demographic groups are especially important because (1) they make up a massive majority of America's legal and illegal immigrant totals, (2) a majority of Hispanic adults and a majority of Asian-American adults currently in the US immigrated, and (3) they are relatively active voters who favored Obama by a huge margin (70%) in 2012.
If comprehensive immigration reform misses its moment and fails, Republicans may lose both Hispanic and Asian American votes. CBS News reports:
According to Pew, a plurality of both groups – 43 percent of Hispanics and 48 percent of Asian-Americans – would heap most of the blame on Republicans in Congress if immigration reform continues to falter. 34 percent of Hispanics and 29 percent of Asian-Americans would mostly blame Democrats and the president.
Yet there is some hope from the research for those Republicans who are staunchly opposed to easing deportation laws. Surprisingly, illegal immigration reform is not at the top of the agenda for most individuals in the high-immigrant demographics:
- Among Hispanics, 32% say the issue of immigration is an “extremely important” one facing the nation today. Among Asian Americans, just 17% say the same.
- For both Hispanics and Asian Americans, the surveys find that among five domestic issues tested—jobs and the economy, education, health care, the federal budget deficit and immigration—immigration ranked last.
Say hello to your pre-holiday, late-week, kitchen-sink news dump. Kevin wrote about the administration's new batch of staggering last-minute decrees last night, and Avik Roy has additional details here. The brand new regulations will offer two new options for people whose plans have been canceled due to Obamacare: First, this group will now have the opportunity to purchase "catastrophic" coverage that was previously reserved for people under the age of 30. This might sound like a great deal, but it's not. Roy points out that people on catastrophic plans are ineligible for any subsidies, and liberal Jonathan Cohn notes that these plans aren't significantly cheaper than Obamacare's "Bronze" plans. Also, will people who do sign up for the catastrophic plans be yanked off of them when the exemption expires next year, in yet another "keep your plan" violation? Second, the dumped coverage crowd will be free to claim a self-reported "hardship" exemption from the individual mandate tax altogether in 2014. A few thoughts:
(1) These hardship exemptions apply to perhaps millions of Americans who are newly uninsured because of Obamacare. Note well that the "hardship" here is not technical or enrollment troubles with the exchange websites. Instead, the new category of hardship applies to those who "believe" they cannot afford the law's new rates. This is the administration's first high-profile admission that the 'Affordable' Care Act is in fact unaffordable for huge swaths of Americans. So damning. On a logistical level, it will be somewhat complicated to keep track of who genuinely falls within this group, and it will be impossible to determine if claims of self-reported financial hardship are well-founded. It appears there will be no attempt by the government to verify claimants' financial status. Incidentally, Kaiser Health News reports today that people on employer-based plans should brace for significant cost increases next year. And that doesn't even take into consideration the massive "disruptions" (ie, insurers pulling out of exchanges and additional premium spikes) triggered by these new on-the-fly rule changes. And don't forget that some large number of Americans with employer-based plans will lose their coverage ahead of the employer mandate kicking in. That mandate was unilaterally delayed by the president until 2015.
(2) In the previous item, we described how the administration is conceding that Obamacare itself, and specifically its high costs, is a "hardship" for millions. With that in mind, how can they justify not extending the same waiver to all uninsured people? Or all Americans, for that matter? Yes, people who've been dumped from their existing coverage are the immediate victims of Obamacare's most visible (for now) broken promise -- but if the administration is acknowledging that Obamacare's supposedly affordable coverage really isn't as advertised, that's not a problem that's unique to the newly uninsured. It applies to everybody affected by the law. Ezra Klein frets that this delay could be the camel's nose under the tent on delaying the individual mandate tax even further. Republicans will argue, convincingly, that it's a matter of fairness. Why waive the penalty/tax associated with not buying (unaffordable) coverage for some untold percentage of the population, but not for everyone else? The whole ostensible purpose of Obamacare was to assist a group of millions of Americans who couldn't afford health coverage prior to the law's passage. As of now, those people will still be subjected to the individual mandate tax, whereas people who were insured before Obamacare uprooted their arrangements will enjoy exemptions. Is that politically sustainable? Policy-wise, the more people who are granted passes on the individual mandate, the worse the risk pool's "adverse selection" problem gets. This is a disaster for the law, and is already creating migrane headaches for insurers, who are trying to keep their heads above water as a panicked White House lobs new bombs at them every few days. Their warnings of coming "disruptions" are euphemistic.
(3) With his signature law in utter shambles -- and with millions of Americans deeply worried about their healthcare situation as a result of its technological and substantive failures -- President Obama is about to embark on a 17 day Hawaiian vacation. Is he aware that two state-level Obamacare exchange directors have resigned over taking ill-timed tropical vacations within the last two weeks? Here is the man who is more responsible for Obamacare than literally any other human being on the planet shipping off to paradise, leaving others to grapple with the consequences of the mess he's leaving behind. It's tough to discern which is worse: The optics or the leadership.
(4) At what point do ardent supporters of this law wave the white flag and change their tune on repeal -- or at least a one-year delay? A new poll shows that a majority of Americans support scrapping the entire law, and an overwhelming super-majority would back a comprehensive postponement until 2015. On a practical level, the full delay isn't feasible at this stage, and various "fixes" would only erode its underpinnings. Don't forget that Democrats were offered an opportunity to get a desperately-needed delay in September, but they rejected that political bailout in order to shut down the government and blame the GOP. Are any of them regretting that short-sighted decision, which merely delivered a transient pyrrhic victory? In order for these same Democrats to resist growing calls for sweeping delays, they'll have to explain the concepts or risk pools and death spirals -- wonk talk that won't move many voters. They've created a real hot mess for themselves, and the White House's latest maneuverings only create more instability.
(5) I would be remiss if I didn't mention another hugely important Obamacare story that is developing today -- which, if not for everything else we've just discussed, would be the top headline. ABC News is reporting that two separate internal reviews have elicited findings of "high" data security risks associated with the Obamacare website, and that "nearly three months after its launch and as millions of Americans log on to shop for health plans, HealthCare.gov has still had serious security vulnerabilities." One of these security gaps was just uncovered last week. CBS News quotes an administration official who says she recommended that the site be taken off-line until the risks had been dealt with, but was overruled by higher-ups. Why? Who made those reckless calls? Remember, other Obamacare IT workers had fired off memos warning of "limitless risks" associated with the site, and expert hackers told Congress that Healthcare.gov should be taken down until the myriad vulnerabilities were resolved. That didn't happen, and Americans are being asked to plug their sensitive data into a website that still isn't secure. The finger-pointing has commenced. As Allahpundit says, "it's subpoena time." Darrell Issa is going to be a busy man in 2014:
I'll leave you with this image, which is how the front page of Healthcare.gov looked earlier this afternoon:
Time Stamp. pic.twitter.com/ilqdOejjSm— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) December 20, 2013
Earlier today, Massachusetts State troopers found 1,250 bags of heroin labeled with “Obamacare” during a traffic stop in Hatfield, MA. I guess this isn’t exactly what the White House was looking for when they wanted to increase Obamacare recognition!
According to the state police, most times when sealed bags of heroin are found, they are labeled with different markers in order to differentiate between the various strains of the drug. Apparently this is not something new to police. Since Obama’s election in 2008, many drugs have been branded with the president’s name.
“The Commander-in-Chief’s name and face has been slapped on a wide variety of contraband products including ecstasy pills, LSD tabs, heroin baggies and a popular strain of medical marijuana,” according to the report, including 26 different types of Ecstasy pills alone.
Huh!? I mean the White House did say they needed to work on their PR strategy for the new health care law…I just don’t think this was what they were looking for!
Make sure to check out the picture on Politico!