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Archive → June, 2013

How ObamaCare is directly funding the Democratic Party. Good Government? Fair?

‘Healthy’ Democrats

New York Post
Posted: 10:36 PM, June 25, 2013

If you have to keep it a secret, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

California is trying to keep secret how it spends $910 million in federal taxpayer money granted by the Obama administration to set up its health-insurance exchange, Covered California.What we’ve learned so far about the misuse of that money should raise red flags in all states setting up exchanges — including New York.

In California,some of the $910 million is going for rich compensation packages for exchange employees ($360,000 a year for the executive director). More than half the funds are being handed out in contracts to third parties, and the lion’s share of those contracts are for what the exchange terms “outreach.” In truth, the money is going to build Democratic Party enrollment.

Amazingly, the California state legislature passed a law that allowed the exchange to keep secret for a year who received the contracts and indefinitely how much they were paid. This month Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and four other senators called for an investigation of California’s concealing information on contracts awarded using federal taxpayer money.

What is known so far suggests that California politicians are exploiting health reform to enroll millions of the uninsured in the Democratic Party and fill the coffers of left-wing interest groups with taxpayer money. Here are the facts:

California lawmakers passed a law requiring that voter registration be part of the health-insurance exchange. Last month, Covered California announced $37 million in grants to 48 organizations to build public awareness about the opening of the health exchange. Of the 48 groups that got grants, only a handful are health-care-related.

The California NAACP got $600,000 to do door-to-door canvassing and presentations at community organizations. Service Employees International Union, which says its mission is “economic justice,”received two grants totaling $2 million to make phone calls, robo-calls and go door-to-door.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor AFL-CIO got $1 million for door-to-door, one-on-one education and social networking. It describes its role as “engaging in both organizing and political campaigns, electing pro-union and pro-worker candidates.”

Community Health Councils, a California organization with a long history of political activism against fracking, for-profit hospitals, state budget cuts and oil exploration, got $1 million to conduct presentations at community and neighborhood meetings and one-to-one sessions.

These groups, closely allied with Democrats, are being funded by your tax dollars to conduct “outreach” — the kind of phone-banking and door-to-door canvassing that activists do to turn out the vote. They will turn out the uninsured to enroll in the exchanges and in the Democratic Party.

California’s actual enrollment process is also outsourced to community groups, unions and health clinics. An additional $49 million is budgeted to pay them the first year, but in future years, these assisters will be paid out of the premiums collected by the exchange. The template is repeated in every state. ObamaCare creates a permanent, nationwide stream of funding for unions and community activists.

Assisters will also guide the uninsured to sign up for whatever non-health social services they may be eligible for — including welfare, food stamps and housing assistance, according to the manual prepared for California’s implementation.

Anyone who remembers the days of James Curley, Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall should get the picture. If you were poor or a newcomer, you went to the local ward boss and got whatever you needed, in exchange for your vote. The difference is that back then, politics was local. Now the Obama health law is institutionalizing this corrupt style of politics across the country to create a permanent, Democratic voting majority.

Division this close means widening social fractures

By Josh First

Legislating from the bench, a liberal majority on the US Supreme Court once again discards jurisprudence and picks up the hammer and saw of simple policy making.

Beginning their opinion with a personal attack on religious Americans and other traditionalists who thought that thousands of years of human history didn’t need to be tossed out a window, at least not by five people wearing ominous black robes, the Court said nothing about law or the basis of law in America. In fact, the majority opinion refers almost not at all to the Defense of Marriage Act which it overturned.

These are the same four or five Americans who do not believe that the Second Amendment to the Constitution means what it plainly says and always meant in practice among citizens since the nation’s founding. They are wildly out of touch with the law they are supposed to be upholding and protecting.

America is badly served by this sort of law-making. Why have a US Congress and an Executive branch if five unelected people can make something up themselves? And a lot of Americans aren’t impressed enough to start following this sort of top-down, Smarties-Know-Better-Than-You governance. Courts are supposed to be reluctant to toss out entire laws, because it demonstrates that the people, the citizenry, were just plain wrong. But in a Republic like America, government, and justices, operate only at the will of the governed.

That government that governs the least maintains the most credibility and fealty. Sweeping government decisions like today’s judicial legislation deeply alienate citizens from the government they believe is supposed to represent them. Remanding DOMA back to the states would have made the most sense, because marriage is a state issue.

But then again, Americans are locked in what is becoming a quiet civil war about what America is and how it is supposed to be, and the Court is becoming a friction point. These views are incompatible. One side wants adherence to the Constitution and founding principles easily obtained from the founding documents, while the other wants power through massive, intrusive, spying, monitoring, crushing, incarcerating, penalizing government. Apparently, some modern ideas are so good that they must be made mandatory…in other words, resistance to them is punishable, despite real, legitimate disagreement.

The biggest concern I have is how the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty is going to square up with this radical holding. Religious liberty is the hallmark of American freedoms. But can a Mormon minister be breaking some law if he declines to marry a same-sex couple? If it’s yes, and he is punished, will some states fight back by jailing the same-sex couples who wed out-of-state, but who then become incarcerated in states that criminalize same-sex marriage?

All it takes is for one governor to state that he will disregard this holding for the whole thing to boomerang back on the Court. American democracy requires little screwdrivers, but the alleged Great Brains on the Court have just used a sledgehammer. The shockwaves have only begun.

The garden as metaphor, part deux

Basil is erupting by the bushel. Four types. The pesto I made for my wife today had all kinds of exotic tastes she worked hard to identify, and it was all good.

Tomatoes are laggards, every one of them. Green, small, looking nothing like what Giant provides, they are just takin’ their sweet time.

Where did that dill weed come from? Well do I recall planting a wee sprig. Now it is about to flower, so it must be harvested in order to regenerate.

Showy zucchinis, with their big nodding leaves, they are a bunch of braggarts, with nothing to show underneath. Lots of colorful flowers, sure, but nothing edible or useful. Intrigued by the nipped flowers. Are chipmunks running amok again? Only recently did I trap the last one out of the house. Hopefully the garden isn’t inviting them back….

Not one of the peppers has produced, either, although clearly something has ‘et them but good, leaving bullet holes zooming through all of the young fruits. My pocket is picked!

Finally, the cucumbers are lazily snaking their way into the other plants’ areas, and showing nothing for it. Like the zucchinis, they are all about showmanship. But fellas, we don’t see anything to support your territorialism.

And that run-down right there is the world in a nutshell, with yet another edition of Garden as Metaphor (C)…..

Global warming: When it’s cold, when it’s hot. Can’t be wrong!

Global warming AKA Climate Change AKA Bad Humans Bad Americans Bad Capitalism, can’t be proven wrong.
We had a cold spring. Evidence of climate change, some say.
When it gets really hot this summer, it’ll be more evidence of human-caused global warming.

The data show a 19-year cooling trend. But that might be further evidence that humans are causing Global Cooling.
What’s lost in this debate is the fact that measurable, empirical amounts of pollution and health risk do happen and can be stopped or mitigated. But stopping pollution is boring. Global crises are much sexier.

Say what?

“Never put in writing something you aren’t ready to see and defend in a newspaper,” is an old adage governing good government.

In other words, be prepared to be held to what you write, especially if it’s in government emails.

If there’s one thing I am proud of, it is my willingness and ability to stake out earnest policy positions. Nothing wishy washy on this blog. But don’t ever expect to find racism or personally belittling comments here. Or in my emails.

It’s often painful to see people held accountable for their mistakes. Then again, it’s often a necessary result of having caused unwarranted pain to other people.

With great power goes great obligation and responsibility. When these basic rules of conduct are forgotten, inevitable chains of events are uncorked.

Now that we’ve seen it here in Pennsylvania, wouldn’t it be pleasing to see it in Washington, DC, too?

Happy Father’s Day

Dont know what you dads got, but my family bought me a silly tee shirt and a gardening wand for my garden hose. We are about to cook out. All is perfect. Hope you other dads feel the same.

Got Gas?

Gas royalties paid to land owners from the development of the Marcellus Shale have amounted to $731 million in Pennsylvania in the last year alone. The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy says that the $731 million is a 6,600% increase from five years ago.
Got gas? Hope so!


Can’t you just hear the voice now?

“Arrrr..Iiiiiii…I am not a crooookkkk”

Funny how that echo is getting louder and louder

Visiting DC? Try this landmark

With original carved woodwork, tiles, and other intact original surfaces the Christian Heurich House is worth the five bucks admission fee. The basement was built as a traditional German inn or pub, and includes the nicest torchier I have seen. Antlers linking three old halberds together, this torchier undoubtedly was part of a larger set used to illuminate the day’s take, arranged just-so on the ground after a traditional hunt. Photos are not allowed, so I did not take one. Hopefully the association will publish a book on the place where you can see it all in detail.

Good news for American farmers, food consumers

America’s farmland is not only the cultural heartland, it is the bread basket of our nation.

You know the old saw: No farms, no beer. No farms, no food. No farms, no watersheds, and on and on…

So let’s ask: When our flat farmland is built on, will America import tainted, contaminated food from China? Will America become food-dependent, too, on top of importing most of our transportation fuel? What kinds of vulnerabilities come with being so dependent on others, especially on nations and people who do not share our values or ways?

So it brings me great satisfaction to see Andrew McElwaine become the new president of American Farmland Trust (http://www.farmland.org/news/pressreleases/2013/AFT-New-President-Andrew-McElwaine.asp).

AFT is America’s premier farmland preservation advocacy group. I knew Ralph Grassi, AFT’s founder, from way back in my Washington, DC days. Ralph was able to narrate his own family’s farmland preservation efforts and reasons, and he had charisma, too, so when AFT testified before Congress, or held a farmland preservation event, elected officials from both parties listened, and acted, and the public dug deep into their wallets.

Since Ralph left AFT and returned to his family ranch in Marin County, California, AFT has been on a slow, quiet identity quest that culminated with financial challenges that could be ignored no longer.

Enter Andrew McElwaine, probably America’s best non-profit turnaround guru with a conservation streak a mile wide. Andrew’s bio is easily available online, so I won’t expound upon it here, but what should be noted is that he has turned around or dramatically grown both the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Heading to Washington, DC, brings him back into the conservation policy world he knows and loves so well, and gives him an opportunity to work his financial magic once again.

American farmland needs an advocate. Andrew McElwaine is the man for the job. At a time of tight finances and faltering, struggling non-profit conservation groups, Andrew’s arrival at AFT is an unusual breath of welcome and needed good news. Now saddle up, pardner, ’cause the ride ahead is gonna be long and hard…