WASHINGTON (MU News) — Kathleen Sebelius visited a Miami hospital today, and shook hands with Obamacare navigators. The new photo-op’s aim was illustrating the number of people being helped by Obamacare, and to show how easy it was to sign up for the program.
However, what happened was that the site crashed while one lady was attempting to sign up for the program, and while the enrollee was speaking with Secretary Sebelius. The couple enrolling and at the mercy of the site remarked, “It’s OK – it’ll come back. It happens everyday.” Quickly trying to patch the situation, the Office of Health and Human Services revealed a “new” way to sign up for Obamacare, without even using the glitchy website.
At an HHS Obamacare program update, in Washington D.C., the agency introduced a man dressed in a jumpsuit as a new speaker for the department. He at first appeared nervous and out-of-place, but after shuffling some papers handed to him and being winked at by another man in a suit, seemed to compose himself and began to answer reporters’ questions.
How badly will this new program fair? Could HHS actually be any more incompetent? Read the rest of the satirical piece on The Constitution Club.
Another post of the Friday irregular feature!
Today’s pick three cover what I think are the first, second, and third oldest occupations in the world: prostitution, medicine, and politics.
1. In a move that seems all too familiar with anything connected to Obamacare, program administrators for O-care, in Orange County, California are being asked to work in a building that they claim is making them sick. Toxic materials were found in the soil, but the county claims they don not exceed federal limits. Union members are not convinced that the location is as safe as the government tells them it is. (story via CBSLA)
2. Women’s empowerment through prostitution? That seems to be the message in Switzerland, where cities like Zurich are building special prostitution boxes and zones for prospective johns to find a woman, haggle on prices, and then do whatever. The Telegraph says the measures, costing 1.4 million, were approved by voters last year, and the posters touting condom-use and anti-AIDs messages will help combat STDs and prevent violence against the prostitutes.
3. From NJ.com, it was reported that Governor Chris Christie vetoed three firearms bills that the New Jersey legislatures passed. For their rebuttals, Democrats in the legislature engaged in hyperbole and bogus rhetoric, with Shelia Oliver even inventing a perfect-storm-like scenario with a Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle, and incendiary bullets at a chemical plant. Despite his criticisms, Christie did approve of mental health personnel asking about gun ownership, and he supported penalties for firearm owners if minors used the firearms to commit crimes.
So, our dear leader warns us that once again, those crazy Republicans want to drive this country into the ground – by stealing money from everyone of us, who are struggling to break even, and then generously give it to people that hardly need it (their filthy rich buddies – the 1%). He neglects to mention that the fact so many of us are struggling to break even may have something to do with his still-failing economic policies – but that is ok, since, as he has promised us for three years now, happy days are just ahead (thanks to him). The GOP just wants to cut and cut, like a mad lumberjack in a forest, not caring what they strike, so long as the ax connects, the president would have us believe. Obama even went so far as to claim Republicans’ mentality as being “…driven by our ideological vision about how government should be” and he went even further, claiming the Republicans were sticking with the same types of economic decisions that drove the country into the Great Depression.
The Senate, having not given the country a budget in the past three years, has not deterred Republicans from trying their hands at writing one in the House, but Paul Ryan’s most recent effort was met with the usual scatterbrained excuses and rhetoric. Obama tells us children will starve and Medicare patients will be without their medicines (never mind his own cutting of $528 billion from the Medicare roles, via Obamacare), and finally, that he is not the extreme progressive that he is painted. Indeed, he even went so far as to invoke the names of two outstanding Republicans to compare himself to – Abraham Lincoln (yes, again) and Ronald Reagan. By talking of the Reagan-era, Obama attempted to point out how far right the GOP has moved, and claims Reagan could not win a primary now. For their parts, Republican leaders took the most natural response: they snickered and asked what Obama’s policies would do to help the country. After stumbling, and realizing how much his words were parsed these days, he sauntered off.
I find it odd, that the man who thought it would be brilliant to sign into law, legislation that no one had read, and who continues to defend his administration’s $535 million boondoggle loan to a solar company that “needed” talking robots, would be criticizing anybody’s plans. The president who has created more debt and higher deficits than any other president in history – wants to criticize others’ efforts to try to fix the mess? On the administration’s face, it has been do-little as a matter of course. When it has actually done anything, it seems to be with negative outcomes, or so completely, horribly wrong, one has to wonder if anyone is awake at the wheel. In Iran, with the promising “Green Revolution”, he did nothing as people were beaten in the streets – now he wants to punish some of the same people with crippling sanctions. The president wanted to help Libyan rebels – but violated the War Powers Act to do so. He wanted to help and support the Egyptian uprising – but he stalled for so long, now it appears the Muslim Brotherhood is licking its lips at a presidential election run. In Syria now, where civilians are being fired on, and bombed by the military? The president decides it is better to let the region solve that problem on its own. Our ally in the region, Israel recently had intelligence on their own allies leaked as well. Former Ambassador John Bolton points his finger at the administration…
Obama’s record is so anemic and is full of massive failures. He cannot kowtow to his base of environmentalists, without having the rest of America howling about oil prices. He cannot stretch the military much further than he already has. And he cannot do anything but tear down others, to even make it seem as though he has accomplished anything (I call that “maximizing by minimizing”). At this point, I would rather have a coin in the Oval Office – after all, you can count on it to make a right decision 1/2 of the time.
So, according to the talking heads, Rick Santorum is the newest GOP front runner, and is therefore unstoppable (like the others were in their turns at the top). If he is going to successfully run against Mitt Romney, and displace the projected GOP nominee, and then go on to face Obama in the general election, people need to give him a closer look, instead of just making him their “Not-Mitt” pick. Now, I get a strange feeling from the guy, especially when he claims to be the only conservative candidate left with a shot in the primary (Newt claimed the same thing at one time). I would never vote for (or not vote for) a candidate because of a feeling, and I would not ask anyone else to do so either. So, I did a little research, and from what I have read, Santorum’s claimed conservancy is shaky at best.
My first concern is that Santorum was a legislator. Now, I realize this sounds this minor, but I think the mindset of a man with a legislative background is different from a man with an executive background. The legislator wants to build consensus, and reach compromise. I would rather have a candidate who has lead something, via governorship or as a business executive. Rick Perry would have perfectly fulfilled my idea of a candidate with leadership skills and was someone who understands that building a consensus takes time you may not have. I offer the current president, as example of a person who looks to build a coalition of yes-men and enablers (his cabinet/czars/advisers), and seems to be awkward and stiff when pushed to make a decision, which frequently turns out to be problematic.
Another concern I have is the things Rick supported while he was in the United States Congress. Bills and programs that do not seem too “conservative” to me. For example, legislation like “No Child Left Behind”, which not only grew educational and federal government bureaucracies, but mandated testing and tracking of school children, was something supported by Santorum. Just within the last month, it was given a waiver in ten states. While in the Senate, Santorum sponsored the “GAS Act”, which would have created a new, Federal Trade Commission-run “Competitive Pricing Task Force” to study energy pricing, and levy fines if the seller was determined to be fixing their prices after a release of strategic petroleum reserves by the president. Thankfully, the bill went nowhere, and the chance for bureaucratic growth was stymied. In my mind, all this legislative double-talk would have done nothing more than increase the size of government bureaucracy for (ultimately) arbitrary reasons.
Santorum has also shown a few lapses in judgment. He supported George W. Bush’s failed judicial nominee, Harriet Miers, saying that the fact she had never been a judge before did not matter. A closer, more critical review of her (and increasing criticism by democrats and others), led him to retract his support. He voted for a Chuck Schumer-sponsored bill that restricted abortion protesters from blocking or impeding access to abortion clinics. While I do not think those choices are in and of themselves bad, for a politician like Santorum, that has espoused so many conservative beliefs and voted so conservatively for so long – it really makes his rare, occasional departure from those conservative ideals unexpected and seem radical to me. Despite all this, I would still see myself as able to hold my nose and vote for him.
Unfortunately, I still have not mentioned what I consider to be the worst of his transgressions. He has bragged about working with Barbra Boxer, and he even bragged about the number of earmarks he has supported. In the worst behavior Santorum exhibited, he supported Arlen Specter in the 2004 Senate race against conservative Republican, Pat Toomey. Ironically, some of the same supporters who donated to Santorum, found themselves at odds with his support (of Specter), because the donators supported the more conservative Toomey instead. Again, that may not seem too bad when considered only on that fact. However, as we know, Arlen Specter continued to veer increasingly-leftward in his politics after winning a narrow race against Toomey, and Specter ended up switching party allegiances, becoming a Democrat, and then losing his election following that switch. The worst part of the whole mess, was that it was Specter who cast the crucial 60th vote for Obamacare. Here is Specter, bragging about both his switch and vote. As we have found this last week, now the Obamacare fiasco has been used to try to force religious agencies/employers to cover things completely contrary to the tenets of their faith. While it may be unfair to blame Santorum for all the fallout from his support for Specter, he certainly does not have clean hands in the ongoing messes either.
Way back during the last presidential election season, the country was sold an idealistic, Utopian vision. It would usher in a new age, where the government would be truly responsible to the people, and that same government would be seen as the most open and transparent than any we have ever seen before. The new incoming government would end bureaucratic language and simply legislation to make it understandable and easily understood by the average American. If we only had a crystal ball, eh?
The promise of transparency was that legislation and administration policies would have no hidden agendas, little “fine print”, and would be straightforward. With the induction of President Obama to the Oval Office, both Robert Gibbs and Jay Carney have shown the transparency to be little more than a talking point. It has clearly fallen by the wayside as it appears Washington and its political animals are back to business as usual. Both Gibbs and Carney have had their shares of contentious moments with the White House Press Corps, trading barbs infrequently with Ed Rollins, Major Garrett, and Jake Tapper – who, to their credit, did not allow the Press Secretaries much wiggle room.
The reality of the transparency promise seems to fall far short of the rhetoric, however. The ongoing Obamacare fiasco, passed with a promise of “We have to pass it to see what is in it”, by a smiling, seemingly bemused, Nancy Pelosi is one of the sorest examples of this presidency’s opaque-transparency. After some 1,400 waivers to various groups and even states (benefiting over three million people), the administration finally said that no more waivers were to be granted. If you do not remember hearing this – it is little wonder, as the administration released that information on a Friday. While the waiver-list is easily accessible online, it does seem to be top-heavy with groups and business owners who are cozy with the administration. Is this honest? Is this how the legislative process is supposed to operate? I suppose if one looks past the flagrant waivers, and the irresponsible method the bill flew through Congress, one could smile and try to call it honest. I say the thing stinks to high heaven.
Another measure of transparency in my mind, is the personnel, and types of personnel that the administration has seen fit to employ to work on policy issues. It appears to be a cavalcade of incompetence, special interest leaders, and yes-men. An example is the avowed communist, Van Jones. With the minimal vetting the press did before he joined the administration, it is little wonder that he seemed so extreme once people did start digging into his background. When news of the former “Green Czar’s” ties to a Marxist group and a 9/11 truth group (911Truth.org), he was forced to resign, bemoaning the “smear campaign” and “lies and distortion” used against him. If the allegations were untrue, why hasn’t he sued for slander or libel, or tried to refute them?
Finally, the most appalling lack of transparency (and ultimately, a massive cover-up) is the one that threatens to embroil the entire Department of Justice. “Operation Fast & Furious” was based on an awful plan to provide guns, bought with taxpayer money, to Mexican cartel members. Someone thought this was a simply brilliant idea. Run out of the Phoenix office of the ATF Bureau, its paper trail seems to easily run clear back to Washington D.C., and it has plenty of people involved. Both Lanny Breuer and Eric Holder are listed as recipients of emails detailing the extent and development of the program. Darrell Issa, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, has sought to obtain documents and emails regarding the “Fast & Furious Program”. What he was sent consisted of heavily redacted pages of solid black. Transparency, indeed.