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THAT’S SO GAY: White House Lights Up in Rainbow Colors, Satan Does a High-Five

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The Obama administration is having a gay ‘ole time with the gay marriage ruling.

State Dept. Gets Libya Emails That Hillary Clinton Didn’t Hand Over – She Is Dirty Again

by Michael Schmidthillary-clinton-no-teeth-big-smile-ap
The State Department said on Thursday that 15 emails sent or received by Hillary Rodham Clinton were missing from records that she has turned over, raising new questions about whether she deleted work-related emails from the private account she used exclusively while in office.

The disclosure appeared to open the door for Republicans on Capitol Hill to get more deeply involved in the issue. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who is running for president, said he planned to send a series of questions to the State Department about the missing emails and about why it allowed her to use the personal account.

Republicans said that the State Department’s statement was likely to increase pressure on the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, to subpoena the server in Mrs. Clinton’s home that housed the account.

Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton, on a lunch break from a Benghazi committee hearing.House Benghazi Committee Examines the Origins of Emails to ClintonJUNE 17, 2015
Hillary Rodham Clinton in New Hampshire on Monday. Sidney Blumenthal, a close confidant of Mrs. Clinton, turned over emails about Libya to a House committee.Sidney Blumenthal, Hillary Clinton’s Confidant, Turns Over Memos on LibyaJUNE 15, 2015
Mrs. Clinton has said that she gave the State Department about 50,000 pages of emails that she deemed to be related to her work as secretary of state and deleted roughly the same number. She said the messages she deleted were personal, relating to topics like yoga, family vacations and her mother’s funeral.

Her longtime confidant and adviser Sidney Blumenthal, responding two weeks ago to a subpoena from the House committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, gave it dozens of emails he had exchanged with Mrs. Clinton when she was in office. Mr. Blumenthal did not work at the State Department at the time, but he routinely provided her with intelligence memos about Libya, some with dubious information, which Mrs. Clinton circulated to her deputies.

State Department officials then crosschecked the emails from Mr. Blumenthal with the ones Mrs. Clinton had handed over and discovered that she had not provided nine of them and portions of six others.

Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, who is running for president, said that she had given the State Department “over 55,000 pages of materials,” including “all emails in her possession from Mr. Blumenthal.”

The chairman of the House committee, Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, said that many of the emails that Mrs. Clinton had not handed over showed that “she was soliciting and regularly corresponding with Sidney Blumenthal, who was passing unvetted intelligence information about Libya from a source with a financial interest in the country.”

“It just so happens these emails directly contradict her public statement that the messages from Blumenthal were unsolicited,” he said. Mr. Blumenthal identified the source of his information as Tyler Drumheller, a former high-ranking C.I.A. official, according to a person with knowledge of his testimony to the Benghazi panel. Mr. Drumheller was part of a group that sought to do business in Libya.

Supporters of Mrs. Clinton have argued that the committee’s mission has crept far beyond its original scope: to investigate the Benghazi attacks, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Republican committee members have said that they are within their right to look into her email use because the resolution that created the panel directed them to examine how the administration complied with previous inquiries into the attacks. Mrs. Clinton’s emails relating to the attacks were not handed over to any of the panels conducting those inquiries.

Other panels in Congress may consider investigating the matter. Mr. Graham, who oversees a Senate subcommittee with sway over the State Department’s budget, said that the department “seems to have a system that is not working very well” in regards to its production of documents to Congress.

“I’m going to ask them whether they think Mrs. Clinton has handed over everything she should and what they are going to do about it,” he said. “And if they give me runaround responses, we’ll drag them up on Capitol Hill and make them answer these questions in public.”

While the State Department acknowledged that it did not have several of Mrs. Clinton’s emails, it also told the Benghazi committee that it had not turned over other messages of hers. The department said that it had not done so because the contents of those messages fell outside the requests made by the committee.

“The State Department is working diligently to review and publish the 55,000 pages of emails we received from former Secretary Clinton,” it said in a statement.

That statement is unlikely to satisfy the committee, which believes it has been clear in its requests. Members of the panel have contended that the State Department has withheld documents to protect Mrs. Clinton and grind the investigation to a halt. State Department officials have said that one of the reasons it has taken so long to produce documents is that the department’s record-keeping system is cumbersome. They have also said that the committee has not been specific enough in its requests.

Justice Antonin Scalia Speaks Truth to Power on Obamacare Tyranny

by Mark home111005_antonin_scalia_ap_605

Justice Antonin Scalia dissented powerfully from the atrocious Obamacare ruling.

As you know, yesterday we reached the exciting climax of Supreme Court Theater: The Sequel. It should surprise none of us that it ended in the same place at which the first drama ended. Part of my anger is that I allowed media hysteria to tempt me into hoping that the Supreme Court would do the right thing. Another part of my anger is the knowledge that many Republicans in Congress are thrilled with this ruling.

The minority opinion was written by Justice Antonin Scalia. Here are some highlights that are definitely worth reading:

The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says “Exchange established by the State” it means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.” That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so.

A few other highlights:

This case requires us to decide whether someone who buys insurance on an Exchange established by the Secretary gets tax credits. You would think the answer would be obvious—so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it. In order to receive any money under §36B, an individual must enroll in an insurance plan through an “Exchange established by the State.” The Secretary of Health and Human Services is not a State. So an Exchange established by the Secretary is not an Exchange established by the State—which means people who buy health insurance through such an Exchange get no money under §36B.

[…]

Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is “established by the State.”

[…]

Under all the usual rules of interpretation, in short, the Government should lose this case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved.

[…]

The Court’s decision reflects the philosophy that judges should endure whatever interpretive distortions it takes in order to correct a supposed flaw in the statutory machinery. That philosophy ignores the American people’s decision to give Congress “[a]ll legislative Powers” enumerated in the Constitution. Art. I, §1. They made Congress, not this Court, responsible for both making laws and mending them. This Court holds only the judicial power—the power to pronounce the law as Congress has enacted it. We lack the prerogative to repair laws that do not work out in practice, just as the people lack the ability to throw us out of office if they dislike the solutions we concoct. We must always remember, therefore, that “[o]ur task is to apply the text, not to improve upon it.”

And he closed:

The somersaults of statutory interpretation they have performed (“penalty” means tax, “further [Medicaid] payments to the State” means only incremental Medicaid payments to the State, “established by the State” means not established by the State) will be cited by liti- gants endlessly, to the confusion of honest jurisprudence. And the cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.

I dissent.

While it is true that the Supreme Court is usurping authority from the Legislative Branch by “fixing” statutes, the truth is a little bit more sinister. The Supreme Court, in doing so, is placing itself in service to the Executive Branch. So, given all the secrecy and spying and underhanded dealings we have seen from this administration, against the American people and against journalists, how do we know that the Executive Branch hasn’t found a way to “encourage” the Supreme Court to assume this role?

A man who openly invents kill lists cannot possibly be above threatening or bribing or blackmailing a judge. I don’t know that he has done so but no American can be sure that he hasn’t.

Read more at http://politicaloutcast.com/2015/06/justice-antonin-scalia-speaks-truth-to-power-on-obamacare-tyranny/#jFfDZmDiF2msrQH3.99

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has rewritten the law to save Obamacare—again.

supreme-court-clipartObamacare

Roberts’ majority opinion today in King v. Burwell, which ruled that the Obama administration’s decision to allow health insurance subsidies flow through the law’s federal exchanges, leaves no doubt that Roberts considers it his duty to keep the law afloat.

“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” he writes. “If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”

And so Roberts decided that a law which explicitly and repeatedly states that subsidies are limited to exchanges “established by a State,” and which defines “State” as one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia, actually allows subsidies in exchanges established by a State or the federal government. Roberts’ decision does not interpret Obamacare; it adds to it and reworks it, and in the process transforms it into something that it is not.

Roberts has not merely tweaked the law; he has rewritten it to mean the opposite of what it clearly means. Why include the phrase “established by a State under Section 1311″—the section dealing with state-based exchanges—except to limit the subsidies to those particular exchanges? Roberts’ opinion reconceptualizes this limiting language as inclusive.

The Chief Justice frames his decision as a form of respectful deference to congressional intent. As my colleague Damon Root noted earlier, his opinion cautions that in “every case we must respect the role of the Legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done. A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan.”

But Roberts’ opinion is far more than a fair reading of the legislative plan; it is a Court-imposed decision as to what that plan must be.

As Justice Antonin Scalia writes in a scathing dissent, Roberts presumes, with no definitive evidence, that his interpretation is the one that Congress intended. “What makes the Court so sure that Congress ‘meant’ tax credits to be available everywhere?” Scalia asks. “Our only evidence of what Congress meant comes from the terms of the law, and those terms show beyond all question that tax credits are available only on state Exchanges.”

Roberts’ opinion declares its intent to uphold the law’s basic policy scheme, arguing that there would be adverse insurance market effects to a decision in favor of the challengers. In other words, there would have been policy implications to a ruling for the plaintiffs. That is almost certainly true, but it is not an excuse to rewrite the clear language of the law.

As Scalia says in the dissent, “The Court protests that without the tax credits, the number of people covered by the individual mandate shrinks, and without a broadly applicable individual mandate the guaranteed-issue and community-rating requirements ‘would destabilize the individual insurance market.’ If true, these projections would show only that the statutory scheme contains a flaw; they would not show that the statute means the opposite of what it says.” The majority has decided how Obamacare’s policy scheme should work, and redrafted the statute accordingly.

If Roberts had truly wanted to defer to Congress, he could have ruled that the law means what says rather than what it does not, and effectively handed the issue back to the legislature, letting Congress decide whether and how to update the law in accordance with its own wishes. Instead, Roberts made the choice for Congress—taking its power to craft law for itself. As Scalia writes, “the Court’s insistence on making a choice that should be made by Congress both aggrandizes judicial power and encourages congressional lassitude.”

This is not the first time that Roberts has rewritten the law in order to uphold it. In 2012, he declared that the law’s individual mandate to purchase insurance was unconstitutional under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause—and yet upheld it by declaring that the law’s penalty was instead permissible as a tax. In the same decision, he also found that the law’s threat to revoke all federal Medicaid funding from states that decline to participate in Obamacare’s expansion of the program was unconstitutionally coercive. But rather than strike the whole thing down, Roberts rewrote it, allowing the Medicaid expansion, and the rest of the law, to continue but without the same threat to state budgets.

In his dissent, Scalia argues that there’s a pattern to these rulings. “Under all the usual rules of interpretation, in short, the Government should lose this case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved.”

If anything, it’s even worse. What Roberts has saved is not the law so much as the Obama administration’s dubious, textually unsupported interpretation and implementation of Obamacare. This is not judicial restraint. It is judicial hubris.

And while it would be overstatement to say that this damages the legitimacy of the Court, it certainly reflects on the legacy and status of the law. As even Roberts admits in his opinion, the law “contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting” and generally “does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one might expect of such significant legislation.” It is a shoddy, messy piece of legislation, held together, barely, by Supreme Court duct tape.

At this point, then, the law is as much a joint project between the administration and the Roberts court as it is a creation of Congress. As Scalia snarks at the end of his dissent, “we should start calling this law SCOTUScare.” Regardless of what we call it, that’s effectively what it has become.

‘Rise Above Hatred’ – Ben Carson Speaks Out After Church Shooting

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by Alex Pappas
Ben Carson on Thursday spoke out against the mass shooting in Charleston, S.C., saying he hopes America can “rise above hatred and join hands.”What do you think?

In a statement released by his presidential campaign, the former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon said:What do you think?

The tragic shootings in Charleston, South Carolina yesterday are a manifestation of the evil that has gripped our society. Many of us have allowed the purveyors of hatred and division to create conflict between the races, the genders, religious groups, age groups and income groups. The Bible says that a house divided against itself cannot stand. With external jihadist forces trying to destroy us, why would we aid them by engaging in self-destructive behaviors stimulated by hate?What do you think?

We must remember that we are a pluralistic society with many components and many beliefs. If we are to live together peacefully and with prosperity, we must learn the true meaning of tolerance, and that it goes in both directions.What do you think?

I join with millions of Americans in praying for comfort for the families who lost loved ones in that tragedy. Someone close to me lost relatives last night in that tragedy. We all lose when senseless tragedies like this remove vibrant lives from our midst. May God give us the ability to rise above hatred and join hands and recognize that our strength is in our unity and love heals all wounds.What do you think?

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2015/06/18/rise-above-hatred-ben-carson-speaks-out-after-church-shooting/#ixzz3e5tpxFfs

House votes to weaken Obama’s climate rule

factory_emissions_013114thinkstock

By Timothy Cama and Cristina Marcos
The House voted Wednesday to delay the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate rule for power plants and let state governors opt out of complying.

The bill, passed 247-180, is a major blow to the main pillar of President Obama’s effort to reduce the greenhouse gases that cause climate change, although the White House has promised a veto to protect his legacy.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s power subpanel, sponsored the legislation as House Republicans’ principal response to the EPA’s climate rule. The rule has become the most controversial aspect of the Obama administration’s environmental policy, and one of its most controversial regulations.

Under the bill, state governors could opt out of adopting state plans for the EPA’s regulation if such a plan would harm electricity rates, reliability or important economic sectors in the states.
The regulation’s enforcement would also be delayed until all court challenges are resolved.

The GOP believes that the rule will not withstand judicial review, so the delay is designed to ensure that the regulation never takes effect.

“They’ve picked up a shotgun and pointed it at the heart of the American economy, our power generation,” Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) said of the EPA.

But Democrats warned it would ultimately gut the regulation intended to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

“This ‘just say no’ bill would effectively give governors the power to sabotage EPA’s proposed clean power plan by allowing them to opt out of the federal requirements of the plan based on arbitrary and ambiguous determinations,” said Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.).

The EPA proposed the regulation last June, and plans to make it final this August. It seeks a 30 percent cut in the carbon emissions of the nation’s power plants by 2030, with specific targets assigned to each state.

Regulators will give states 13 months to draft plans to hit their targets. If they don’t, the EPA will write its own plans and impose them — something the GOP is trying to prevent.

“Earlier we heard the gentleman from Illinois say that this was a ‘just say no’ bill,” Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) said in response to Rush. “You bet it is. That’s exactly what it is. It’s a ‘just say no’ bill. No to a weaker electric grid. No to fewer jobs, particularly in manufacturing and also in the coal and energy industries.”

The White House sees the bill as a threat to the centerpiece of Obama’s climate legacy, and it has threatened a veto.

“The bill would give governors unprecedented and broad discretion to avoid compliance with the [CAA, Clean Air Act], thereby delaying the delivery of important public health benefits,” the White House wrote to lawmakers Tuesday.

“The bill’s effects would be felt hardest by those most at risk from the impacts of air pollution and climate change, such as the elderly, the infirm, children, native and tribal groups, and low-income populations,” it said, calling the bill “premature and unnecessary” and saying that Obama’s advisors would urge a veto if it gets to his desk.

The White House added that it “is not aware of any instance when Congress has enacted legislation to stay implementation of a CAA standard during judicial review.”

Senate Republicans have put their efforts into a similar bill that would go even further in its attempts to weaken the rule and impair the EPA’s ability to set carbon rules for power plants.

Their bill, led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), would give governors even more reasons they could cite in rejecting compliance, including if doing so would hamper economic growth, competitiveness or jobs.

The Senate legislation would also repeal the EPA’s rule and reinterpret the Clean Air Act to make it extremely difficult for the agency to regulate power plants’ carbon.

FBI Files Document Communism in Valerie Jarrett’s Family – Yes it Smells

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Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) files obtained by Judicial Watch reveal that the dad, maternal grandpa and father-in-law of President Obama’s trusted senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, were hardcore Communists under investigation by the U.S. government.

Jarrett’s dad, pathologist and geneticist Dr. James Bowman, had extensive ties to Communist associations and individuals, his lengthy FBI file shows. In 1950 Bowman was in communication with a paid Soviet agent named Alfred Stern, who fled to Prague after getting charged with espionage. Bowman was also a member of a Communist-sympathizing group called the Association of Internes and Medical Students. After his discharge from the Army Medical Corps in 1955, Bowman moved to Iran to work, the FBI records show.

According to Bowman’s government file the Association of Internes and Medical Students is an organization that “has long been a faithful follower of the Communist Party line” and engages in un-American activities. Bowman was born in Washington D.C. and had deep ties to Chicago, where he often collaborated with fellow Communists. JW also obtained documents on Bowman from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) showing that the FBI was brought into investigate him for his membership in a group that “follows the communist party line.” The Jarrett family Communist ties also include a business partnership between Jarrett’s maternal grandpa, Robert Rochon Taylor, and Stern, the Soviet agent associated with her dad.

Jarrett’s father-in-law, Vernon Jarrett, was also another big-time Chicago Communist, according to separate FBI files obtained by JW as part of a probe into the Jarrett family’s Communist ties. For a period of time Vernon Jarrett appeared on the FBI’s Security Index and was considered a potential Communist saboteur who was to be arrested in the event of a conflict with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). His FBI file reveals that he was assigned to write propaganda for a Communist Party front group in Chicago that would “disseminate the Communist Party line among…the middle class.”

It’s been well documented that Valerie Jarrett, a Chicago lawyer and longtime Obama confidant, is a liberal extremist who wields tremendous power in the White House. Faithful to her roots, she still has connections to many Communist and extremist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Jarrett and her family also had strong ties to Frank Marshal Davis, a big Obama mentor and Communist Party member with an extensive FBI file.

JW has exposed Valerie Jarrett’s many transgressions over the years, including her role in covering up a scandalous gun-running operation carried out by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Last fall JW obtained public records that show Jarrett was a key player in the effort to cover up that Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress about the Fast and Furious, a disastrous experiment in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) allowed guns from the U.S. to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels. Instead, federal law enforcement officers lost track of hundreds of weapons which have been used in an unknown number of crimes, including the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona.

In 2008 JW got documents linking Valerie Jarrett, who also served as co-chairman of Obama’s presidential transition team, to a series of real estate scandals, including several housing projects operated by convicted felon and Obama fundraiser/friend Antoin “Tony” Rezko. According to the documents obtained from the Illinois Secretary of State, Valerie Jarrett served as a board member for several organizations that provided funding and support for Chicago slum projects operated by Rezko.

ObamaCare Beyond the Handouts – Wall Street journal June 24th

We’ve already proved we can subsidize health care. But which subsidies make sense?
By HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.

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By one standard no government program can fail, and that’s the standard being applied to ObamaCare by its supporters: If a program exists and delivers benefits, the program is working.

Paul Krugman, Nancy Pelosi and others consistently point to the fact that people are willingly receiving ObamaCare benefits as proof of the program’s value. Mr. Obama himself says: “When you talk to people who actually are enrolled in a new marketplace plan, the vast majority of them like their coverage. The vast majority are satisfied.”

And the polls indeed show that 74% of ObamaCare’s eight million enrollees are “satisfied” with their plans, because the polls fail to count the 12 million who are eligible but decline to enroll.

Of the eight million who have signed up, some 87% are receiving taxpayer subsidies. In other words, they are getting health care partly or wholly at someone else’s expense. The latest data reveal that the average monthly benefit amounts to $276 per person (up from $268 in February), allowing the typical HealthCare.gov user to buy a plan for $69 per month out of pocket.

To put it another way, the annual subsidy amounts to $3,312 per recipient. Which is excellent if you’re one of the recipients.

Steve Rattner, a Wall Street figure and President Obama’s former auto-bailout czar, insists in a recent New York Times op-ed that ObamaCare “is working,” by which he apparently means it’s in operation, which nobody denies. Mr. Rattner, like a lot of analysts, writes as if costs are benefits—as if millions of people lining up for something from the wallets of their fellow citizens, ipso facto, is proof of a worthwhile program.

Mr. Rattner, in a throwaway line—really, a partisan pleasantry—adds without evidence or elaboration that health-care costs are lower than they otherwise would be at least partly due to the new law.

Now, if this were true, it would be the greatest validation of ObamaCare as public policy but there is no reason to believe it’s true.

The right question about any program is whether the benefits justify the expenditure of taxpayer money. ObamaCare’s cheerleaders provide not cost-benefit analysis but benefit analysis—as if money grows on trees or is donated by Martians or can be printed in limitless quantities by the Fed.

ObamaCare, with its subsidies to those with low incomes, is not the worst thing in our health-care system by far. Medicare indiscriminately subsidizes everyone in Warren Buffett’s age group; and, more insidiously, trains Americans from an early age to expect somebody else to cover their medical costs in retirement. And the giant tax handout to employer-provided insurance perversely treats the richest taxpayers as the neediest.

It pays to remember, however, why the pending Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell is such a lethal threat to ObamaCare. King v. Burwell argues the IRS is illegally misreading the law to grant subsidies to 6.7 million users of the federal ObamaCare exchange known as HealthCare.gov.

King is a threat to ObamaCare because, without subsidies, ObamaCare is nothing. It fixes no problem in our health-care system, except to subsidize more people to consume health care at taxpayer expense. Not that subsidies are always undesirable: They help some people get necessary care. But subsidies do the most good when used sparingly, because subsidies also tend to inflate prices for everyone as well as encourage inefficient consumption that doesn’t improve health and may even endanger health.

In a final irony, many Republicans, seeing the damage an adverse Supreme Court ruling would do, take the statesman-like view that a GOP Congress must stand ready to find a new way to extend subsidies to the 6.7 million people who, since the advent of ObamaCare, expect themselves to be subsidized.

Fine, but let’s also have a major rethink of who should be subsidized and who shouldn’t, across our whole range of health-care programs, including Medicare and the workplace tax benefit.

Never going to happen? It will, if the GOP summons the courage to fix ObamaCare along the lines of the original, rational, “reform” that has motivated health-care thinking for four decades. A place to start would be reducing ObamaCare’s costly coverage mandates so policies would be genuinely attractive to people spending their own money; subsidies could then be trimmed back because fewer people would need subsidies to induce them to buy coverage.

We’ve always said that ObamaCare, for all its flaws, could become the instrument by which responsible reformers renew their push for health care that delivers value for money. In the meantime, however, no worthwhile thoughts about ObamaCare, pro or con, are to be heard from people who count a program as a success just because Americans enjoy receiving benefits at the expense of other Americans.

Another ObamaCare Dream Goes Bust

Health-care cooperatives last year suffered an estimated $377 million in net underwriting losses.
By GRACE-MARIE TURNER And THOMAS P. MILLER

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The Affordable Care Act created a new kind of “cooperative” heralded by supporters of health reform. These Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, chartered and regulated by the states, would compete with for-profit health-insurance companies and were meant to appease disgruntled advocates of a single-payer and “public option” model for the nation’s health-care system.

All but one of the co-ops are operating in the red. One already has been shut down, and others are in precarious financial condition. Chalk up another ObamaCare failure.

Generous federal loans helped 23 cooperatives to get up and running. They have enrolled more than a million people, according to the National Alliance of State Health Co-ops. Their supporters believed that consumer cooperatives, which must meet the same regulatory requirements as private insurers, would provide better benefits and lower prices than commercial carriers.

In practice, most co-ops have significantly underpriced premiums and grossly underestimated medical claims. Many seek significant premium increases for 2016: 58% for individual plans in Utah, 38% in Oregon and 25% in Kentucky, for example.

Iowa’s CoOportunity Health, which operated in both Iowa and Nebraska, was the first to confront the hard reality of insurance economics as medical claims far outpaced premium income. After the co-op burned through $145 million in federal loans, an Iowa state court in February ordered the organization to be liquidated.

At least 120,000 members were forced to quickly find coverage elsewhere. The Iowa Insurance Division had this helpful advice: “Your coverage with CoOportunity Health will stop, and claims will not be paid after cancellation. If you do not purchase replacement insurance, you may be penalized by the federal government.”

Meanwhile, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services reported early this year that 10 co-ops had worse loss ratios than Iowa’s in the third quarter of 2014 resulting from a “high medical claims trend and not enough scale to offset administrative costs.” Citing Iowa’s experience, the report warned: “The solvency problems experienced by CoOportunity Health introduce questions about co-ops’ finances in general.”

A separate analysis by the insurance-rating agency A.M. Best expressed concerns “about the financial viability of several of these plans” as losses escalated throughout 2014. Other estimates based on quarterly financial statements filed with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners show co-ops as a whole reported net underwriting losses of $377 million in 2014. Only Maine’s Community Health Options has been operating in the black.

Congress has cut funding for co-ops three times—cuts all signed into law by President Obama—reducing appropriations from $6 billion to $2.4 billion. All the upfront money from the feds has been allocated mostly in the form of “solvency” loans. Most co-ops survive on what little remains unspent from those loans.

New York’s Health Republic Insurance received $265 million in federal loans and had the largest enrollment, with 155,000 members in 2014. Its premiums are significantly lower than established carriers in virtually every region of the state. But the co-op has applied for premium increases in 2016 of more than 14%, with some regions of the state as high as 30%. Industry actuaries believe that those raises will not be enough to offset high claims costs and the exhaustion of federal loan dollars.

Until recently, the Kentucky Health Cooperative had been considered one of the more successful co-ops, with 75% of enrollees in the state’s health exchange. It attracted consumers primarily by offering significantly lower premiums and running the risk of future insolvency.

Yet there are disturbing similarities between this cooperative and the one that failed in Iowa. Kentucky Health Cooperative’s $147 million in taxpayer loans has been exhausted. To maintain a semblance of solvency, it is applying for a big premium increase of 25% for next year and banking on so-called risk-protection payments from other insurers.

The Affordable Care Act provided for risk-protection payments in which insurers with better pricing and higher profits are required to make payments to insurers with inaccurate pricing and bigger losses. Co-ops book these expected payments on their balance sheets as “assets.” But those risk payments are expected to be significantly lower, and they don’t solve the co-ops’ long-term problems.

Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans feed the agenda of progressives who disparage profit-driven commercial health-insurance carriers. But the co-ops are failing. Underpricing risks to gain market share and then counting on further bailouts from taxpayers is a losing business plan, and not much of a political strategy either.

Congress can exercise its oversight function by: 1) making sure that no additional federal dollars are wasted on this program; 2) investigating how $2.4 billion in taxpayer loans has been spent; and 3) determining who will be responsible for paying back the loans.

Ms. Turner is president of the Galen Institute. Mr. Miller is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Their report “ObamaCare Co-ops: Cause Célèbre or Costly Conundrum?” is released this week.

HOW ISLAM GOT IT’S AMERICAN PRIVILEGES

BY islam-in-america

by Daniel Greenfield

What is Islam? The obvious dictionary definition answer is that it’s a religion, but legally speaking it actually enjoys all of the advantages of race, religion and culture with none of the disadvantages.

Islam is a religion when mandating that employers accommodate the hijab, but when it comes time to bring it into the schools, places that are legally hostile to religion, American students are taught about Islam, visit mosques and even wear burkas and recite Islamic prayers to learn about another culture. Criticism of Islam is denounced as racist even though the one thing that Islam clearly isn’t is a race.

Islamist organizations have figured out how lock in every advantage of race, religion and culture, while expeditiously shifting from one to the other to avoid any of the disadvantages.

The biggest form of Muslim privilege has been to racialize Islam. The racialization of Islam has locked in all the advantages of racial status for a group that has no common race, only a common ideology.

Islam is the only religion that cannot be criticized. No other religion has a term in wide use that treats criticism of it as bigotry. Islamophobia is a unique term because it equates dislike of a religion with racism. Its usage makes it impossible to criticize that religion without being accused of bigotry.

By equating religion with race, Islam is treated not as a particular set of beliefs expressed in behaviors both good and bad, but as an innate trait that like race cannot be criticized without attacking the existence of an entire people. The idea that Islamic violence stems from its beliefs is denounced as racist.

Muslims are treated as a racial collective rather than a group that shares a set of views about the world.

That has made it impossible for the left to deal with ex-Muslims like Ayaan Hirsi Ali or non-Muslims from Muslim families like Salman Rushdie. If Islam is more like skin color than an ideology, then ex-Muslims, like ex-Blacks, cannot and should not exist. Under such conditions, atheism is not a debate, but a hate crime. Challenging Islam does not question a creed; it attacks the existence of an entire people.

Muslim atheists, unlike all other atheists, are treated as race traitors both by Muslims and leftists. The left has accepted the Brotherhood’s premise that the only authentic Middle Easterner is a Muslim (not a Christian or a Jew) and that the only authentic Muslim is a Salafist (even if they don’t know the word).

The racialization of Islam has turned blasphemy prosecutions into an act of tolerance while making a cartoon of a religious figure racist even when it is drawn by ex-Muslims like Bosch Fawstin. The New York Times will run photos of Chris Ofili’s “The Holy Virgin Mary” covered in dung and pornography, but refuses to run Mohammed cartoons because it deems one anti-religious and the other racist.

The equating of Islam with Arabs and Pakistanis has made it nearly impossible for the media to discuss violence against Christians in those parts of the world. The racialization of Islam has made Arab Christians, like Bangladeshi atheists, a contradiction in terms.

The ethnic cleansing of the Yazidi could only be covered by giving them a clearly defined separate identity. Middle Eastern Christians are increasingly moving to avoid being categorized as Arabs because it is the only way to break through this wall of ignorance.

While racialization is the biggest Muslim privilege, race provides no protection for many Islamic religious practices. Muslims then seek religious discrimination laws to protect these practices even if it’s often a matter of debate whether their lawsuits protect their religious practices or impose them on others.

Islam is a theocracy. When it leaves the territories conquered by Islam, it seeks to replicate that theocracy through violence and by adapting the legal codes of the host society to suit its purposes.

Islamic blasphemy laws are duplicated using hate crime laws. Employers are obligated to make religious concessions to Muslim employees because of laws protecting religious practices, but many of these practices, such as refusing to carry out jobs involving pork, liquor or Seeing Eye dogs, are really ways of theocratically forcing behaviors that Islam forbids out of public life much as Saudi Arabia or Iran do.

Accusations of bigotry are used to outlaw ideas that Islam finds blasphemous and religious protection laws are used to banish behaviors that it disapproves of. By switching from race to religion and back again, Islamists construct a virtual theocracy by exploiting laws designed to protect different types of groups.

Religions in America traded theocracy for religious freedom. They gave up being able to impose their practices on others in exchange for being able to freely practice their own religions. Islam rejects religious freedom. It exploits it to remove the freedom of belief and practice of others. When it cannot do so through religious protection laws, it does so through claims of bigotry.

Religions were not meant to be immunized from blasphemy because that is theocracy. Instead religions are protected from restrictions, rather than from criticism. Islam insists on being protected from both. It makes no concessions to the freedom of others while demanding maximum religious accommodation.

While race and religion are used to create negative spaces in which Islam cannot be challenged, the creed is promoted positively as a culture. Presenting Islam as a culture allows it easier entry into schools and cultural institutions. Islamic missionary activity uses the Western longing for oriental exotica that its political activists loudly decry to inject it into secular spaces that would ordinarily be hostile to organized religion.

Leftists prefer to see Islam as a culture rather than a religion. Their worldview is not open to Islam’s clumsy photocopy of the deity that they have already rejected in their own watered down versions of Christianity and Judaism. But they are constantly seeking an aimless and undefined spirituality in non-Western cultures that they imagine are free of the materialism and hypocrisy of Western culture.

Viewing Islam as a culture allows the left to project its own ideology on a blank slate. That is why liberals remain passionately convinced that Islam is a religion of social justice. Their Islam is a mirror that reflects back their own views and ideas at them. They pretend to respect Islam as a culture without bothering to do any more than learn a few words and names so that they can seem like world travelers.

By morphing into a culture, Islam sheds its content and becomes a style, a form of dress, a drape of cloth, a style of beard, a curvature of script and a whiff of spices. It avoids uncomfortable questions about what the Koran actually says and instead sells the religion as a meaningful lifestyle. This approach has always had a great deal of appeal for African-Americans who were cut off from their own heritage through Islamic slavery, but it also enjoys success with white upper class college students.

The parents of those students often learn too late that Islam is not just another interchangeable monotheistic religion, that its mosques are not places where earnest grad students lecture elderly congregants about social justice and that its laws are not reducible to the importance of being nice to others.

Like a magician using misdirection, these transformations from religion to race, from race to culture and from culture to religion, distract Americans from asking what Islam really believes. By combining race, religion and culture, it replicates the building blocks of its theocracy within our legal and social spaces.

Separately each of these has its advantages and disadvantages. By combining them, Islam gains the advantages of all three, and by moving from one to the other, it escapes all of the disadvantages. The task of its critics is to deracialize Islam, to reduce it to an ideology and to ask what it really believes.

Islam is a privileged religion. And there’s a word for that. Theocracy.

Read more at http://barbwire.com/2015/06/11/0650-how-islam-got-its-american-privileges/

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