Saturday, January 30, 2016

This is not a conservative speech

After I read a good post by Elizabeth Warren yesterday, I read a few more columns, including one from David Brooks  (a good read by itself) about a speech given by conservative British PM David Cameron In most industrialized nations not called the United States, the terms conservative and liberal do not line up with what those terms mean here. Heck, within this country, those terms do not even mean what they did 20 years ago, and to some degree, both terms are talked about in caricature terms. 

After reading and appreciating what Brooks had to say, I read the speech from Cameron. Of several things that popped out at me from Cameron's speech, one thing in particular struck a chord, wherein he said that a particular leftist view is to simply write a check to make up for gaps in income, and I actually agree that our approach in this country, to some degree, does reflect that. However, a lot of people getting benefits ARE working and aren't just sitting on their ass being coddled. He goes on to talk about the right of center view which is that free markets are a tide that lifts all boats and that there MUST be personal responsibility. But, he also acknowledged something that I believe many in this country will not, which is that millions start so far behind from birth that it is nearly impossible for them to catch up. From there, cycles keep repeating. 

He mentioned some interesting stats I knew nothing about, namely that more children are growing up with single mothers in Britain, and that for some reason, their prison system is also chock full of Black males. He doesn't say much other than mentioning the stat. He does, however, go on to offer a pretty comprehensive plan. Whether the plan makes sense or not is really kind of beside the point in this country, because IMO, we still seem locked in a fight to the death mentality to claim once in for all that government programs can fix everything (a false premise in my thinking) or that the one and only road to salvation is to just slash the shit out of everything because government assistance can ONLY cause dependence and never ultimate self reliance (a premise I also disagree with)

For a very brief period when Clinton was POTUS and Newt was speaker, we had what I believe was something that could have been a start toward what Cameron is talking about. THAT particular window, however, has been slammed shut. In any event, I think both articles are a good read. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Trump Wins Again

By being absent from the Fox debate trump won. As it turned out, without Trump, the debaters turned their knives on Cruz, Trump's only real rival.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Mayor Mike and the FBI

Does Mike Bloomberg Know Something

We Don’t About the Clinton FBI Probe?

The Fiscal Times
Does Mike Bloomberg Know Something We Don’t About the Clinton FBI Probe?
View photo
Does Mike Bloomberg Know Something We Don’t About the Clinton FBI Probe?
Does Mike Bloomberg know something we don’t? The former New York City mayor is tiptoeing into running for the White House as a third party candidate, causing jitters amongst Democrats fearful that he might siphon off voters.
Liberal media outlets speculate that Mr. Bloomberg thinks Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders may emerge as the standard-bearers for their prospective parties. From Bloomberg’s perspective, they suggest, that match-up could allow a contestant who is fiscally conservative but socially liberal -- like himself -- to scoot through the middle.
Related: Clinton and Obama Launch Their Mutual Support Group
Another explanation is that he sees trouble ahead for Hillary Clinton. Because of his close relationship with former NYC police Chief Ray Kelly and others in the law enforcement community, he might have the inside track on the FBI investigation into the former Secretary of State’s handling of classified documents and questionable foundation-related activities. Democrats have done a fine job of completely dismissing the FBI inquiry, but the possibility that Clinton could face serious legal hurdles may be encouraging Bloomberg’s ambitions.
The probe is not, as some Hillary backers have claimed, scandal-mongering by right-wing zealots. It is a serious investigation, reportedly employing more than 100 FBI agents not normally known for idle gestures. It is being directed by the famously apolitical James Comey, who heads President Obama’s FBI. Comey faced down apparatchiks in the George W. Bush administration seeking to continue a warrantless wiretapping program, putting his job on the line to do so. When a reporter asked him if he didn’t have a duty to support President Bush, Comey answered “No, my responsibility, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Obama proudly cited that independent streak when he announced Comey’s appointment. If the FBI discovers evidence of wrong-doing – and there are many reasons to think they will – Comey will not sit on the findings. The FBI does not indict; that is up to the Justice Department. But, if the FBI makes a recommendation to indict, and Justice ignores the report, rumor is the FBI could make public the incriminating material. Either way, Hillary Clinton’s political ambitions are toast.
Related: Why Every Candidate in the 2016 Race Should Fear Mike Bloomberg
The inquiry began by looking into whether Clinton’s use of a personal email server violated security standards; it has since been expanded twice. As reported by Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News, Clinton signed an oath promising to comply with the laws protecting national security information, violations that the Obama administration has aggressively prosecuted.
As Napolitano says, “The Obama Department of Justice prosecuted a young sailor for espionage for sending a selfie to his girlfriend, because in the background of the photo was a view of a sonar screen on a submarine….  It also prosecuted Gen. David Petraeus for espionage for keeping secret and top-secret documents in an unlocked drawer in his desk inside his guarded home. It alleged that he shared those secrets with a friend who also had a security clearance, but it dropped those charges.”
Napolitano contends that the bar for prosecution is low, and can be based on negligence. That is, the government need not prove that Clinton intended to reveal state secrets – only that she did so through carelessness.
Charles McCullough, the intelligence community’s inspector general, recently stirred the pot when he wrote to the chairmen of the Senate intelligence and foreign affairs committees that he has received sworn declarations from an intelligence agency he declined to name identifying “several dozen” classified emails, including several marked as “special access programs” – the highest security level possible. SAP information can include the names of intelligence assets, for instance, and other highly sensitive information. To date, some 1,340 “classified” emails have been discovered amongst those stored on Clinton’s server. 
Clinton argues that those communications were not so designated at the time. Undermining her defense is a series of emails exchanged with aide Jake Sullivan in which she appears to order him to get around security protocol and simply cut and paste sensitive information to be faxed to her. The compromising communication was amongst those released in a recent Friday night “dump.” In the exchange, Sullivan reports that staffers have “had issues sending secure fax. They’re working on it.” Clinton answers, “If they can’t, turn into non-paper w no identifying heading and send non-secure.” The intent is clear.
Related: How the FBI Could Derail Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Run
Meanwhile, Clinton and her operatives continue to brush off this major FBI investigation as unimportant. They have claimed that the information sent by Charles McCullough III, a long-time FBI agent who was appointed by Obama as the first Inspector General of the Intelligence Community in 2011, is part of a Republican conspiracy. In Clinton’s world, everything is a “vast right-wing conspiracy,” as she famously declared the Monica Lewinsky scandal. She may be able to cow a teenage intern; James Comey may be tougher to dismiss.
For Bloomberg, Clinton’s problems may be but one of his many reasons to run. His initial election as Mayor of New York City in 2001 occurred against a backdrop of political chaos, similar to what we are seeing nationally today. Former Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani could not run because of term limits; it was widely expected that he would be succeeded by a Democrat in the very blue city. However, the liberal Mark Green defeated Fernando Ferrer in a nasty primary battle with racist overtones, alienating blacks and other Democratic voters. Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat, switched to the GOP to run, narrowly defeating the bruised and battered Green. So, his political opportunism has worked before.
Perhaps most persuasive to Mayor Mike, running for president, however long the odds, would give him a platform for the next several months on which he could push his favorite causes. He is an avid supporter of increased gun control as well as a climate change activist. He has been out of office and with a muted national voice for two years; $40 billion will buy quite a megaphone.
Clinton’s legal problems could make that megaphone a whole lot bigger.

Bundy arrested. One killed

So, Ammon Bundy was finally arrested and one of his group was killed. This has been a shit show from the start and the response was way overdue. Imagine if some black radical group stormed a Southern white Republican legislature to arrest a governor for some ridiculous charge, or if some pro choice group set up machine gun nests outside of an abortion clinic and said they do not recognize the authority of some local government to restrict abortion. Further, imagine if in the middle of either example the leaders of the group openly walked around, went to dinner and basically held the entire community hostage. It would not be tolerated. I think the FEDs made a bad choice in allowing this guy to run the show.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Donald Trump Will Skip Fox Debate

He doesn't like how Megyn Kelly Treated him, poor baby.  Here is the full story:

Monday, January 25, 2016

Abortion Activists Indicted In Texas Over Video

Here's A Totally New Slant On The Possible Trump Presidency

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, MIT graduate and accomplished hypnotist, has a plan. And, yes it is  serious.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Rick and Max won't care about this



Hillary’s team copied intel off top-secret server to email

By Paul Sperry

January 24, 2016 | 5:09am

Photo: Zuma Press

The FBI is investigating whether members of Hillary Clinton’s inner circle “cut and pasted” material from the government’s classified network so that it could be sent to her private e-mail address, former State Department security officials say.

Clinton and her top aides had access to a Pentagon-run classified network that goes up to the Secret level, as well as a separate system used for Top Secret communications.

The two systems — the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) and Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS) — are not connected to the unclassified system, known as the Non-Classified Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNet). You cannot e-mail from one system to the other, though you can use NIPRNet to send ­e-mails outside the government.

Somehow, highly classified information from SIPRNet, as well as even the super-secure JWICS, jumped from those closed systems to the open system and turned up in at least 1,340 of Clinton’s home e-mails — including several the CIA earlier this month flagged as containing ultra-secret Sensitive Compartmented Information and Special Access Programs, a subset of SCI.

SAP includes “dark projects,” such as drone operations, while SCI protects intelligence sources and methods.

Top aide Huma Abedin sent emails containing classified materials to Hillary, according to intelligence agency reviewers.Photo: Reuters

Fox News reported Friday that at least one of Clinton’s e-mails included sensitive information on spies.

“It takes a very conscious effort to move a classified e-mail or cable from the classified systems over to the unsecured open system and then send it to Hillary Clinton’s personal e-mail account,” said Raymond Fournier, a veteran Diplomatic Security Service special agent. “That’s no less than a two-conscious-step process.”

He says it’s clear from some of the classified e-mails made public that someone on Clinton’s staff essentially “cut and pasted” content from classified cables into the messages sent to her. The classified markings are gone, but the content is classified at the highest levels — and so sensitive in nature that “it would have been obvious to Clinton.” Most likely the information was, in turn, e-mailed to her via NIPRNet.

To work around the closed, classified systems, which are accessible only by secure desktop workstations whose hard drives must be removed and stored overnight in a safe, Clinton’s staff would have simply retyped classified information from the systems into the non-classified system or taken a screen shot of the classified document, Fournier said. “Either way, it’s totally illegal.”

FBI agents are zeroing in on three of Clinton’s top department aides. Most of the Clinton e-mails deemed classified by intelligence agency reviewers were sent to her by her chief of staff Cheryl Mills or deputy chiefs Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan.

‘It takes a very conscious effort to move a classified e-mail or cable from the classified systems over to the unsecured open system and then send it to Hillary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.’

 - Raymond Fournier, veteran Diplomatic Security Service special agent

In one e-mail, Clinton pressured Sullivan to declassify cabled remarks by a foreign leader.

“Just e-mail it,” Clinton snapped, to which Sullivan replied: “Trust me, I share your exasperation. But until ops converts it to the unclassified e-mail system, there is no physical way for me to e-mail it.”

In another recently released e-mail, Clinton instructed Sullivan to convert a classified document into an unclassified e-mail attachment by scanning it into an unsecured computer and sending it to her without any classified markings. “Turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure,” she ordered.

Top Secret/SCI e-mails received by Clinton include a 2012 staff ­e-mail sent to the then-secretary containing investigative data about Benghazi terrorist suspects wanted by the FBI and sourcing a regional security officer. They also include a 2011 message from Clinton’s top aides that contains military intelligence from United States Africa Command gleaned from satellite images of troop movements in Libya, along with the travel and protection plans for Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was later killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi.

“Receiving Top Secret SAP intelligence outside secure channels is a mortal sin,” said Chris Farrell, director of investigations for Judicial Watch, the Washington-based public law firm that has successfully sued State for Clinton’s e-mails.

“A regular government employee would be crucified, and they are, routinely,” added Farrell, who as a former Army counterintelligence agent investigated such violations.

The prosecution of former CIA Director David Petraeus for mishandling secret intelligence centered on a classified-information nondisclosure form he signed swearing to protect such information. Clinton signed the same agreement on Jan. 22, 2009.

As a result of Clinton’s negligence, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in a recent interview he thinks “the odds are pretty high” that hostile foreign powers like Iran, China and Russia hacked Clinton’s homebrew e-mail server and stole US secrets.

Paul Sperry, a visiting media fellow at the Hoover Institution, is the author of “Infiltration.”

Latest Gun News

A man and his son are killed over a $25 service charge for a gun they sold to the shooter.

Ted Cruz "I am a Christian first and American second"

Isn't that curious, since he condemns Muslims for saying the same thing about their religion. What happened to separation of church and state? Meanwhile, Donald Trump says he will make this a Christian country when he is elected. Anything for a vote?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Another post about hockey and life and entitlement

So, I read this article today  If you don't follow hockey, the gist of this story is that the young man mentioned in the article was a very highly touted draft pick for the Tampa Bay Lightening (who the Hawks beat last year for the Stanley Cup. That part doesn't matter but just thought I'd put it in) He didn't seem to be fitting in very well and allegedly his agent had quietly asked for a trade. This is really not that unusual. Depending on which story you read from there, however, the team benched the kid, sent him to the minors for an alleged "reconditioning assignment" and then the player's agent made it public they had asked for a trade back in the fall. Since then, it has been a war of words.

I think article is a good read and I think the author's take on agents and parents makes a lot of sense to  explain the "entitlement culture" that many feel is becoming rampant in sports. I think, however, the premise extends further into everyday life. Whether we are talking about entitlement as a government program, or entitlement as an attitude, the premise is the same. Someone believes they are owed something they are not getting, and frequently, when you dig down, the person who believes they are owed something have some person or entity convincing them they are owed. In the article, the author restricts his point to parents and agents who are telling their kids they are so special they don't need to go through the channels that other, lesser talented people have to go through. Yet, I feel like this context can be expanded.

Last night, (start your outrage now, William) Bill Maher ripped on both the Oregon militia AND a black looking student who was literally screaming a Yale faculty member over an email the wife of the faculty member wrote. Both, to me, smack not so much of entitlement, but of the anger that seems inseparable from entitlement behavior. In the Maher video, he makes an excellent point that there are no shortage of wars the militia could be fighting in to defend the constitution, and if the student really wanted to get huffed about something, maybe she could go after the custom of forcing women to wear burkas. Instead, they are sitting in positions of comfort, believing they are so wronged and so trampled on that nothing short of angry outbursts and grandiose gestures will suffice to get their point across. Which kind of loops back to the point the hockey author was making. Way too many people in this country today, IMO, from all political spheres immerse themselves in the rantings of others, rantings that tell them they deserve more and being denied what they rightly deserve by some institution.  It's not that all of these people from the hockey kid, to the angry student to the angry militia dude don't have a point from time to time, because they do. Still, because they are so whipped into a frenzy and amped up 24 hours a day, they are not able to go about their lives and pick their battles smartly. Eventually, it all becomes noise and people who might even be sympathetic just get pissed off and walk away. No  matter what your political leanings are, nobody likes entitlement behavior and I think we'd have a lot less of it if people figured shit out for themselves. Those who block that process are the ones that really create entitlement behavior.

Are You Smarter Than A Presidential Candidate?

Take this short quiz and find out, then you can compare your score to the scores if the rest if the crowd.

And Rev. Wright was a radical whack job?

I have to admit, I do not know a lot about these end of times type preachers. Every now and again I see something about one of them on a show like Rachel Maddow's, but I generally don't give them much consideration. Left and right both have their radicals who rant and rave about a ton of crazy shit, but they are usually outside of the mainstream. Recently, William did a post about Obama, Malcolm X and Rev. Wright and put this quote in near the end "My point is that Obama received a strong influence from acknowledged hard left ideologues."   So if we are to be fearing for the preservation of the country due to Obama being influenced by these ideologues, then how bout explaining Mike Bickle.

Maddow's premise was that McCain had relished in the support of a particular minister that eventually turned into kind of a poop storm for him. I'm not even gonna bother mentioning his name. Now, Cruz has gotten the support of this scary whack job named Mike Bickle, and he is proud of it. The link on this page is bizarre enough claiming that Oprah is paving the way for the anti Christ, but this whack job has far scarier shit in his bag of tricks.

This link is more disturbing. Now I'm gonna be honest here, I just googled Bickle's name coupled with Hitler and got to this second one, I have no idea what the organizations who posted these links are about. I especially grabbed the second one because it has a video of this guy selling his vision. Basically, he's saying that Jews need to move to Israel and convert to Christianity, or face the wrath of God. At first, they will be given subtle nudges from "fisherman". If that fails, God will then send the "hunters" after them and he then claims that Hitler was one such hunter. In other words, Hitler was doing God's work.

While Maddow and me have both undoubtedly cherry picked some inflammatory shit, the truth is that the same was done to Rev. Wright. It's easy to find offensive stuff he has said, and it's certainly very easy to find stuff he said that is racist. I don't think what he said, however, is equal to claiming that Hitler was doing God's work. Obama at first defended his connection to Rev. Wright in what I felt was a thoughtful speech. And then Rev. Wright had to double down and Obama cut that tie. If I am to believe, as William postulated, that the seed had already taken hold, then I think we have to accept the Ted Cruz believe the extermination of Jews was something they had coming for not heeding the message to move to Israel and convert to Christianity.

I no longer claim Christian affiliation, but after spending the entirety of my formative schooling in a private Lutheran School, I don't think it can be said I am ignorant of what is in the bible. I don't have a problem with Christians, even the pretty conservative one's who I find little to agree with on regarding social norms. That said, I believe people like this guy, and politicians who court or celebrate their endorsement, are scary. These people seem to be praying for the end of the world to start. Judging from recent comments of Rev. Wright, Obama is a failure. When I look at Cruz and what he is saying, I don't believe he will be viewed as a failure by guys like Bickle if he gets into office.

Cruz Has Insurance After All

Do you think he will blame Obama for his having insurance?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hillary, Bernie and Establishment

I had never heard of The Intercept before, but stumbled across this link today I also stuck around and read some other interesting stories there as well. The gist of this story is that a lot of the groups that have given support to Hillary, allegedly, have done so without really consulting their membership. I kinda questioned Bernie's use of the term establishment, but this story made me rethink that a bit.

Since I have some time until the new job starts, I have way to much time to explore the lint in my navel and high class philosophical dilemmas. The reality today is that no matter what your political leanings are, whether communist and support of Bernie, or pretty hard right/libertarian/conservative and supportive of groups like the Tea Party, you eventually face the fact that you are going up against some kind of "establishment". The establishment is well entrenched and typically, rich and full of resources to protect their place. Grass roots movements start up and gain traction, and it seems that when they reach a size sufficient enough to cause some damage to the establishment, they are bought off. It's not that clear at first. Maybe some rich dude (and it's always rich DUDES) pops and says he agrees and offers some money to help your cause. It's hard to turn that down. You don't want to be bought, but a few million dollars can go a long way to getting your message out. So you take it, and then the decline starts.

At some point, you get big enough to have a budget, to have full time paid staffers, to have offices in high rent places like NY and other big cities and eventually, you have a board of directors. You are still doing some good, undoubtedly, but it is really hard to keep calling you grass roots. Eventually, you are fundraising and you are having gala's so the rich people can show up, pay 5k for a plate of shitty food. They help you out and basically agree to help end discrimination, so long as it doesn't affect their bottom line. You are now establishment. Hillary and Bill, to me, have done genuine good things that have helped people. But, they also walk that line of taking from the rich to help the poor that can border on that thin line of being an apologist and enabler. They are far from the only ones caught in this dilemma. It seems these days that many people who want to be do gooders remain beholden to begging for money from the very people they should be opposing. I guess that's always been the case eh?

SAP: Who's going down? Hillary or the FBI?

The smoking gun?

Special Access Programs (SAP) is a game changer.  It is now undeniably clear that the results of the FBI investigation will be the end of one of two things:  Hillary’s bid for the White House or the legitimacy of the FBI—at least when it comes to prosecuting cases on the mishandling of classified material.
In 2006, a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) from my company was deployed to Afghanistan.  Theirs was a particular mission that differed from the combat missions the typical ODAs were conducting at that time.  Everyone on that team maintained a Top Secret Sensitive and Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) clearance and was “read-on” to their special program.  A few months into their deployment, their Intelligence Sergeant lost a thumb-drive that possessed classified information.  A week later the thumb drive was found for sale at a local bazaar.
In response to the events, Col. Ken Allard (ret.) stated, “You've got a situation in which the U.S. is going to be forced to change an awful lot of its operational techniques."Beyond the compromise of classified information, a lot did change.  New protocols for the handling of classified material were established, and the transportation of classified material on thumb drives was strictly forbidden.  The knee jerk reaction even went as far as to disable USB ports on our work computers—in case we forgot.
Since then I’ve deployed to several locations where, at times, we operated in small teams with only non-secure cellphones with which to communicate.  We often found ourselves with a lot of information that needed to be sent up in reports, but due to the nature of our mission we were forced to sit on it for a few days until we were able to type it up and send it through a secure medium.  I’d be lying if I said we didn’t concoct elaborate plans with “foolproof” ways to communicate the information over non-secure channels, but in the end, no one was willing to take the risk of our “fail-safes” failing.
As more information from Hillary Clinton’s server has been made available, it is clear that the contents of the server contained Imagery Intelligence (IMINT), Human Intelligence (HUMINT), and Signal Intelligence (SIGINT).  Understanding that much of the information has been retroactively classified, there are a few facts that are tough to grasp—at least from the perspective of an intelligence practitioner.
First, when imagery that is classified SECRET//NOFORN (no foreign national) is viewed, regardless of the absence of classification markings, it is distinctly evident. Second, any documents that contain or reference HUMINT is always classified SECRET, and if specific names of sources or handlers are mentioned, they are at a minimum SECRET//NOFORN.  Third, SIGINT is always classified at the TS level.  It’s not uncommon for some SI to be downgraded and shared over SECRET mediums, however, it is highly unlikely that a Secretary of State would receive downgraded intelligence.  Finally, SAP intelligence has been discovered on Clinton’s private server, and many are now calling this the smoking gun.  SAP is a specialized management system of additional security controls designed to protect SAR or Special Access Required.  SAR has to do with extremely perishable operational methods and capabilities, and only selected individuals who are “read on” or “indoctrinated” are permitted access to these programs.  The mishandling of SAP can cause catastrophic damage to current collection methods, techniques and personnel.
In other words, if you have worked with classified material for more than a day, it seems highly implausible that someone could receive any of the aforementioned over an un-secure medium without alarm bells sounding.  However, reading about a Special Access Program on an unclassified device would make anyone even remotely familiar with intelligence mess their pantsuit.
With more damming information being released almost weekly now, it’s interesting that during last Sunday’s Democratic debate, Clinton resoundingly stated: “No one is too big for jail.”  Although the context was referencing bank CEOs and Hedge fund managers, the obvious correlation left many scratching their heads and wondering—did Hillary Clinton just say, “I dare you” to the FBI?”
DeChristopher is a 9-year veteran of the United States Army Special Forces.  He holds an M.A. in Strategic Security Studies from National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs with a concentration in Irregular Warfare.  He currently works as an Independent Intelligence Consultant and blogs at  Follow @exceptionism

Gettin' down on Max Yasgur's Farm

Obama's To Blame (Well Not Really)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I love this ad

Yep. This is downright propaganda, and I love it In a race that will eventually become nothing but another shit smearing campaign, this ad, perhaps, is the high watermark of decency. Just average people and a song the right will undoubtedly hate for it's assumed communist themes. For a few nights, anyway, this is awesome. No shit talking, no denigration of others, just a bunch of people who are excited to see Bernie. Those of us who like Bernie will eventually have to choose to accept the cynicism and vote for Hillary, or choose someone else who has no choice of winning. That sad day WILL come and Hillary and her believers will look like Colonel Jessup claiming,

 "And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives WINS ELECTIONS! You don't want the truth, because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. on the top of that ballet. You need me on that wall on the top of the ballet."

It will be a bummer indeed, but for a short while I get to have a little optimism and follow a candidate that I believe genuinely gives a shit about the middle class. Tell it while you can Bernie, the Democratic machine is about to hit you with both barrels. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Anti Cruz ad

Well, here is an ad against Cruz it's kinda funny to me. I think a small change is going to happen in this upcoming primary season, and possibly the presidential next year. That change is that people are going to stop freaking out about socialism. Younger people today, who truly have had much handed to them from indulgent parents and who have also had instant access to everything thanks to technology gains, are not going to buy that what is best is for everybody is no holds barred, only the strong survive, capitalism. While they run ads like this, and come at Bernie for socialism as well, there are probably going to be side discussions about what modern socialism means versus Soviet, soul crushing enslavement.

It is possible to have freedom, and limited socialist policies that provide some stability for everyone. And of course there is a dead opposite view of this. The more socialism is attacked and subsequently defended, the less younger people are going to keep freaking out about it.

An excellent read

I read this article today and thought it was fantastic and pretty accurate. Bullies do operate and win by caricaturing a weakness. Nobody wants to deal with them because there is that kernel of truth they are raising, and also because if you swing at the bully and don't draw blood, you make the taunts look that much more accurate. Cruz is kind of hanging in against Trump I believe because Cruz does seem to genuinely believe he is truly that much better and that much more correct than anyone else on the stage. When Trump hits the others, they respond and typically respond in a way that makes you think they might have been better off to just ignore the jab.

Rambling thoughts, what else is new?

So, I finished up my last day of work as a bedside RN on Monday, and have until the end of the month to relax before starting my new gig as an NP. I pretty much parked my ass on the couch from mid afternoon on and watched hockey and MSNBC between periods. I watched as much of Sarah Palin's endorsement speech as I could tolerate, an interview with Bernie, and subsequent bloviating on what Trump means to the Republican party. The Blackhawks set a new franchise record by winning their 12th straight game and though a correction is inevitable, they are hot to watch right now.

It struck me that Sarah Palin is a pretty striking representation of this character "Effie" from the hunger games. Except for the fact that Palin is kind of a hateful bitch. Both women seem to believe what they are saying to the cores of their being, both have kind of a shrill voice over a PA system, and both seem honored to carry the water of someone they deem a great leader. All candidates and supporters eventually make wise cracks about the others. When Palin speaks, and Trump for that matter, it is inevitable that some piece of the speech must be filled with insults and shit talking about other people. At one point in Palin's speech, she railed on "establishment" candidates and other alleged takers who are living at the trough, of course, she did not see an ounce of irony in that. Regardless of whether one believes what Palin believes or not, I think it's hard to deny that she is the epitome of the word gold digger.

In the interview with Bernie, he echoed something that Howard Dean had said awhile back, which is that Democrats must have a 50 state strategy. I fully agree. For a long time, Democrats have thumbed their nose at any state they don't have a chance of winning, or that doesn't hold much electoral power. There is a lot I don't understand about the South, but there is no denying that there are a lot of working poor people in the South who have been brutalized by our trade policies, signed by both parties, and by trickle down tax plans that have done nothing to better their lives. And that leads back to Trump.

On the end of the day shows, there was a discussion several guests, about Trump and about how Sarah Palin just openly gave the middle finger to the very people who made her what she is. It cannot be said that Republicans have not had a chance to do things their way. They got an entire decade of tax cuts, they got bi partisan support for war mongering, they got support for trade deals that totally destroyed the middle class, and they did not have to do a damn thing about the debt. The majority of people who supported them, IMO, got nothing. These people now equally hate both the Democrats and Republicans and believe that by electing a rich man who talks shit about everyone, they are finally going to get a person who hears their voice. To me, Trump has figured out what these people want to hear, and he is delivering it. Whether he really plans to do anything of value for them remains to be seen.

Condolences for Carson campaign

You don't think about possibly dying for your beliefs in a car accident, but that was happened to Carson staffer Braden Joplin. It does still seem like big money rules a lot of campaigns, but in a primary race, an army of volunteers do the work of getting out there and representing the candidate. It is admirable to me that this young man was out DOING something for his beliefs instead of just bitching about it. May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Supreme Court Rejects Latest Obamacare Appeal

Republicans Fire NBC Over Tough Questions

Poor babies, mean old NBC was picking on those sweet little innocent debaters.

Hillary's Huma Problem

The Truth about Huma Abedin that Media Matters Doesn’t Want America to See

“Still don’t believe Media Matters functions as a propaganda machine to aid and abet Hillary Clinton’s political aspirations? Just  read its response to a Vanity Fair article titled Is Huma Abedin Hillary Clinton’s Secret Weapon or Her Next Big Problem?

The left-wing attack machine wasted no time in posting an article with false information and smears in order to protect the Clinton campaign.
Hillary Clinton has stated publicly that she helped “start and support” Media Matters, and that organization has consistently come to Clinton’s aid with a consistent campaign of misinformation, half-truths and smears of her critics that can then get repeated by the mainstream media.
The Vanity Fair article must have sent shockwaves through the Clinton camp. It’s rare to read mainstream press criticism of Huma Abedin.
Instead, mainstream adoration for Huma by the media is often so over the top that even other outlets are forced to say something. For example, after Abedin’s husband, disgraced former New York congressman Anthony Weiner, was once again caught sexting with other women as he ran for mayor of New York City, New York magazine published a piece so gushing that it led the Atlantic to write an article titled New York Magazine Has a Crush on Huma AbedinNew Republic chimed in and said that “Abedin always gets good press, but this piece takes it to a new level” and cited this description of Huma as an example of New York’s Silliest/Creepiest Huma Abedin Descriptions:
She wore bright-red lipstick, which gave her lips a 3-D look, her brown eyes were pools of empathy evolved through a thousand generations of what was good and decent in the history of the human race.
Despite the fawning coverage she has received, there are many unanswered questions about Abedin, especially given her complete access to Hillary Clinton, one of the most powerful people in the world, a former Secretary of State and possible future president. As Vanity Fair’ William Cohan writes in his piece:
Over the years Huma has served in several positions, with increasingly important-sounding titles. She has been Hillary’s “body woman,” her traveling chief of staff, a senior adviser, and a deputy chief of staff when Hillary was secretary of state. Now, based in Brooklyn, she is the vice-chair of Hillary’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The Facts about Huma Abedin and Abdullah Omar Nasseef

To his credit, Cohan’s Vanity Fair piece on the secretive Abedin confirms a number of facts that have been reported by conservative media for a couple of years but have been twisted and convoluted by the mainstream media.
For example, the Vanity Fair article flatly lays out the information that Huma Abedin was an assistant editor at a publication called the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs from 1996 until 2008. He writes:
When (Huma) Abedin was two years old, the family moved to Jidda, Saudi Arabia, where, with the backing of Abdullah Omar Nasseef, then the president of King Abdulaziz University, her father founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, a think tank, and became the first editor of its Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, which stated its mission as “shedding light” on minority Muslim communities around the world in the hope of “securing the legitimate rights of these communities.”

It turns out the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs is an Abedin family business. Huma was an assistant editor there between 1996 and 2008. Her brother, Hassan, 45, is a book-review editor at the Journal and was a fellow at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, where Nasseef is chairman of the board of trustees. Huma’s sister, Heba, 26, is an assistant editor at the Journal.
Not one statement is actually controversial because they can all be confirmed by simple research that refers to primary sources. In other words, you don’t need to reference conservative media in any way to determine the truth about the Abedin family and their connections to Abdullah Omar Nasseef.
As the masthead of this 1996 issue of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs shows, Huma Abedin was an assistant editor at Journal. Down the masthead you can see the name of Abdullah Omar Nasseef.
Because of the smear tactics used by Media Matters and repeated by the mainstream media, this point cannot be stressed enough: this is a primary source showing Abedin was an Assistant Editor of the Journal. It’s not a right-wing theory, a conservative fever dream, Islamaphobia nonsense or anti-Muslim fear-mongering. It’s a fact, a cold hard fact shown on the Journal’s masthead at the site where the Journal itself publishes.
Because it’s such it’s an easily verified fact, it should not be a significant breakthrough that the mainstream publication Vanity Fair published the truth about Huma Abedin’s clear and indisputable connection to the Journal and Naseef.
It is a breakthrough, however, and that’s precisely why Media Matters for America immediately went to work trying to obscure the facts, telling its readers— which include many journalists— that claiming Huma Abedin has connections to alleged terror funders is a “spider-web of guilt by association.”
Although Cohan brought the facts about Abedin to light for the first time in a mainstream media article, he failed to flesh out some of the key background of Abdullah Omar Nasseef.
Again, please note that we can point out these facts about Abdullah Omar Nasseef without linking to a single conservative media source. We are only going to link to primary sources and widely respected, left-leaning media like CNN and the New York Times.
Aside from helping found the “Abedin’s family business” it’s beyond dispute that Abdullah Omar Nasseef was the secretary-general of a group called the Muslim World League. That’s not controversial and Cohan does acknowledge this in Vanity Fair:
 In his early years as the patron of the Abedins’ journal, Nasseef was the secretary-general of the Muslim World League, which Andrew McCarthy, the former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the “Blind Sheik,” Omar Abdel Rahman, in the wake of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, claims “has long been the Muslim Brotherhood’s principal vehicle for the international propagation of Islamic supremacist ideology.”
Although it describes itself a nongovernment organization, the Muslim World League is an effectively an arm of the Saudi Arabian government. As a lawsuit posted on the Philadelphia Enquirer website states “a full time employee of the Muslim World League testified as follows:”
Let me tell you one thing, the Muslim World League, which is the mother of IIRO (International Islamic Relief Organization) is a fully government funded organization. In other words, I work for the government of Saudi Arabia. I am an employee of that government.
Second, the IIRO is the relief branch of that organization which means that we are controlled in all of our activities and plans by the government of Saudi Arabia.
Keep that in mind, please … I am paid by my organization which is funded by the [Saudi] government … the [IIRO] office, like any other office in the world, here or in the Muslim World League, has to abide by the policy of the government of Saudi Arabia. If anybody deviates from that, he would be fired; he would not work at all with IIRO or with the Muslim World League.
According to the group’s own website, the Muslim World League:
…is engaged in propagating the religion of Islam, elucidating its principles and tenets, refuting suspicious and false allegations made against the religion. The League also strives to persuade people to abide by the commandments of their Lord, and to keep away from prohibited deeds. The League is also ready to help Muslims solve problems facing them anywhere in the world, and carry out their projects in the sphere of Da’wah, education and culture. The League, which employs all means that are not at variance with the Sharia (Islamic law) to further its aims, is well known for rejecting all acts of violence and promoting dialogue with the people of other cultures.
The group’s claim about “rejecting all acts of violence” is specious given its connection to the Saudi government and the Kingdom’s advocacy for sharia law, which it practices with gusto.
Desperate to retain the Saudi royal family’s iron grip, Saudi Arabia banned all public gatherings. The Saudi Arabian government uses both public beheading and crucifixion as punishments, for example, and in 2012 sentenced a 16-year-old who’d protested against the government to both. Saudi Arabia recently sparked international outrage when it executed over 40 people deemed “terrorists.” Many were beheaded.
Following 9/11, the Saudis came under intense government scrutiny for their role in funding terror through ostensively charitable groups. In 2007, ABC News reported Saudis Still Filling Al Qaeda’s Coffers:
Despite six years of promises, U.S. officials say Saudi Arabia continues to look the other way at wealthy individuals identified as sending millions of dollars to al Qaeda.
“If I could somehow snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country, it would be Saudi Arabia,” Stuart Levey, the under secretary of the Treasury in charge of tracking terror financing, told ABC News.
The mainstream media has done nothing to serious vet the connection between the Clinton and Saudi Arabia, and the key role Huma Abedin plays in the life and work of Hillary Clinton are one core link. Abedin not only lived in Saudi Arabia from the time she was two years old, but her mother currently lives in Saudi Arabia and runs the Journal for Muslim Minority Affairs as well as being a dean at a woman’s college there.
Further tying the Clintons to the Saudis is big money.  CNN reported in 2008 that “donations to the William J. Clinton Foundation include amounts of $10 million to $25 million from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” Vanity Fair points out Huma’s ties there after Clinton left her role as Secretary of State:
In addition to the State Department and Teneo jobs, Huma was hired as a consultant to the William J. Clinton Foundation to help plan for Hillary’s “post-State philanthropic activities,” and as a personal employee of Hillary’s.
The Saudis have denied the accusation they’ve funded terrorism and also say they complied with U.S. orders, telling ABC “that after the Sept. 11 attacks, the country took prompt action and “required Saudi banks to identify and freeze all assets relating to terrorist suspects and entities per the list issued by the United States government.”
One of the organizations specifically singled out for funding terrorism was founded by the Abedin family benefactor. In 1988, Naseef also founded the charitable giving arm of the Muslim World League, an entity called Rabita Trust.
Remember the League’s connection to the Saudis as stated earlier and it’s clear that Naseef was not a loose cannon but effectively acting as an “employee” of the Kingdom.
One of the other founders of the Rabita Trust was Wa’el Hamza Julaidan, who that same year would also become one of the four founders of Al Qaeda. In 1984, Julaidan had worked with Osama bin Laden to set up mujahedin training camps in Afghanistan. As U.S. News reported in 2003:
Afghanistan forged not only financial networks but important bonds among those who believe in violent jihad. During the Afghan war, the man who ran the Muslim World League office in Peshawar, Pakistan, was bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam. Another official there was Wael Julaidan, a Saudi fundraiser who would join bin Laden in founding al Qaeda in 1988. Documents seized in raids after 9/11 reveal just how close those ties were. One record, taken from a Saudi-backed charity in Bosnia, bears the handwritten minutes of a meeting between bin Laden and three men, scrawled beneath the letterhead of the IIRO and Muslim World League. The notes call for the opening of “league offices . . . for the Pakistanis,” so that “attacks” can be made from them. A note on letterhead of the Saudi Red Crescent–Saudi Arabia’s Red Cross–in Peshawar asks that “weapons” be inventoried. It is accompanied by a plea from bin Laden to Julaidan, citing “an extreme need for weapons.”
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the government froze the assets of the Rabita Trust for funding terrorism. As the New York Times reported in October, 2001:
The Bush administration vowed today to seize the assets of more individuals it says support terrorism, including a prominent businessman from Saudi Arabia, a United States ally whose reluctance to move against people and groups with ties to Osama bin Laden has become a politically sensitive

Also on the list is Rabita Trust, a Pakistani charity that at least until recently had Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, on its board. Administration officials said they warned President Musharraf of the impending order against the Rabita Trust and encouraged him to disassociate himself from what they described as its founder’s links to Al Qaeda, Mr. bin Laden’s terrorist network.
In March, 2002 federal law-enforcement officials conducted raids on 15 organizations that the Treasury Department suspected of laundering money. The New York Times reported:
One other place searched today was the office of the International Islamic Relief Organization at 360 South Washington Street in Falls Church, Va., another Washington suburb.
That charity has a parent, the Muslim World League, that officials said was also searched. Corporate records show that the Muslim World League, which is financed in part by the Saudi government, is based at the same address as the relief organization, in Falls Church, but that it has used the Herndon building as a mailing address.
Last October, the Treasury Department listed another Islamic charity financed by the Muslim World League, the Rabita Trust, as having connections to Al Qaeda.
The connection of Abdullah Omar Nasseef to terror funding in general and Al Qaeda specifically is clear and convincing; just as clear and persuading as his connection to the Abedin family is.
The Muslim World League was the mother organization of two groups the government believed were involved in funneling money to terrorists–the Rabita Trust and the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO). Both groups are listed on the Treasury department’s website. Both Naseef’s co-founder Wa’el Hamza Julaidan himself and the Rabita Trust as an organization were placed by lists of terror funders by both the United States and the United Nations.
The Treasury Department met cited the Rabita Trust “for providing logistical and financial support to al Qaida.”
The Treasury Department’s discussion of the IIRO goes into detail about the money and logistics support they provided terror groups and includes information that shows that these provide both legitimate charity services but also act as a money laundering operation to get funds to terror groups:
International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO)
The IIRO was established in 1978 and, according to its website, the organization has branch offices in over 20 countries in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Abd Al Hamid Sulaiman Al-Mujil (Al-Mujil) is the Executive Director of the IIRO Eastern Province (IIRO-EP) branch office in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Al-Mujil has been called the “million dollar man” for supporting Islamic militant groups.  Al-Mujil provided donor funds directly to al Qaida and is identified as a major fundraiser for the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

The IIRO-PHL is a source of funding for the al Qaida-affiliated ASG.  IIRO-PHL has served as a liaison for the ASG with other Islamic extremist groups.  A former ASG member in the Philippines familiar with IIRO operations in the country reported that a limited amount of foreign IIRO funding goes to legitimate projects and the rest is directed to terrorist operations.

The IIRO Indonesia director has channeled money to two Indonesia-based, JI-affiliated foundations.  Information from 2006 shows that IIRO-IDN supports JI by providing assistance with recruitment, transportation, logistics, and safe-havens.  As of late 2002, IIRO-IDN allegedly financed the establishment of training facilities for use by al Qaida associates.
Vanity Fair did publish some other elements of the close connections between the Abedin family, Naseef and groups with terror funding designation. Writing about Abedin’s father and mother, Cohan writes that “in 1993, his wife succeeded him as director of the institute and editor of the Journal, positions she still holds.She has also been active in the International Islamic Council for Da’wa and Relief, which is now headed by Nasseef and was banned in Israel on account of its ties to the Union of Good, a pro-Hamas fund-raising network, run by Yusuf al-Qaradawi.”
After some solid initial work in the article, howerCohan suddenly gives readers the impression that Nasseef’s connection to terror funding might possibly be a sketchy, tenuous affair that still up for debate, pushed by “right-wing screeds.” The article doesn’t even mention the IIRO or the Rabita Trust despite Naseef’s clear connections and both group’s designations. Instead, the Vanity Fair article says:
Google Abdullah Omar Nasseef, the man who set up the Abedins in Jidda, and a host of right-wing screeds pop up. Though he is a high-ranking insider in the Saudi government and sits on the king’s Shura Council, there are claims that Nasseef once had ties to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda—a charge that he has denied through a spokesman…
Again, if you’re skeptical about these claims just click on any of the above links. There’s not a right wing screed in the bunch. Everything about Abedin and Naseef can be proven through primary and left-leaning mainstream media sources.
The lack of any mention of all about the Rabita Trust or the IIRO combined with the inherently insulting phrase “right-wing screeds” may have been intended to mollify Democrats who are desperate to smother the Huma Abedin story, but it utterly failed.
Media Matters went on the attack against Vanity Fair, anyway. And why not? The mainstream media had already proven that it wouldn’t report any of this material as it related to Huma Abedin in 2012.

Anatomy of a Smear Campaign

The “protect Huma” smears have six elements:
  1. Never mention that Huma Abedin was an Assistant Editor at the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs for over a decade. Simply leave that fact out of your reporting and assume your audience won’t do the research themselves.
  2. Never mention Abdullah Omar Nasseef’s clear connections to terror funding, as supported by both the U.S. goverment and reporting in sources non-right wing sources like the New York Times.
  3. Write the whole thing off as a convoluted, completely unsubstantiated conspiracy theory. Because the audience does not know Huma worked at the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs or about Naseef’s terror funding ties., with no clear connection to Huma Abedin at all.
  4. Call it a conservative fantasy. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy since nobody else in the mainstream media will report the facts, so the facts are only being reported by conservative media.Point to the lack of MSM coverage as proof the the whole thing is a right-wing chimera.
  5. Exaggerate the claims of the critics. Tell your audience that Huma is being accused of being “a spy” when in fact what critics are pointing out is that there are clear connections and gaps in the record that raise troubling questions about Huma Abedin that should be answered. If you make the claims seem outrageous, you can distract from the actual facts.
  6. Point to Huma Abedin’s Republican defenders such as
    Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
    as proof that “even Republicans” don’t think questions should be raised about Huma Abedin. Once again, this conveniently avoids the actual facts.
The new Media Matters article uses every one of these tactics. It doesn’t acknowledge that Huma Abedin was an Assistant Editor at the Journal or explain Abdullah Omar Nasseef’s connection to terror funding.
Media Matters begins its attack on Vanity Fair and Cohan by saying:
Cohan chose to introduce Abedin to the magazine’s readers by regurgitating a series of right-wing attacks that have previously been widely covered or discredited by other journalists — including the ridiculous and offensive question of whether she might have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Media Matters closes the section discussing Vanity Fair’s treatment of Abedin’s associations:
Although Cohan describes some of the allegations as “right-wing hysteria” and provides quotes from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and the Clinton campaign denouncing the attacks, Cohan takes no position on the claims.
In fact, everyone from the Department of Homeland Security to former Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio to former GOP chairman of the House Intelligence Committee
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL)
(R-MI) has denounced the attacks as false and despicable.
The way these deceptive tactics have played out in the media is important to understand, because it gives a clear indication of what is in store for the 2016 election. Republican presidential contenders and their consultants would do well to study how the media not only failed to vet Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin, but actually covering up the facts and attack people for pointing them out.
The six smear tactics outlined above were also used in the summer of 2012 when a handful of Republican representatives including Louis Gomert and Michele Bachmann began asking questions about Abedin.
If you want to be clear on why Andrew Breitbart said: “The media is the enemy” take the time to see what people who don’t read conservative media were being told about Huma Abedin during the last election cycle.
For a prime example, watch Anderson Cooper’s explanation on his CNN show AC360 in 2012 talking about the connection between Huma Abedin and Abdullah Omar Nasseef. He takes over a minute to explain what he calls a “conspiracy” and never once mentions that Huma was the Assistant Editor of the Journal for Muslim Minority affairs for 12 years.
Here’s liberal radio host Sam Sedar in 2012 describing the relationship using hand gestures behind the back of his head to indicate just how crazy it is to think that Huma Abedin has a connection to Naseedf but again, no mention that Huma worked at the Journal.
The Atlantic also published a piece in 2012 called The Convoluted Connections That Link Huma Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood, complete with a wacky chart that looks like it was drawn by a crazy person. You’ll note that the chart makes no mention of the Rabita Trust, either.
That article begins:
The spectacle of right-wingers like Michele Bachmann throwing around accusations that State Department deputy chief Huma Abedin is a secret agent of the Muslim Brotherhood has been remarkably information-free. So we decided to trace the most ardent supporter’s case for radical Islamic infiltration of the U.S. government. The results are a tangled, convoluted mess.

Huma Abedin Must Be Vetted

The Vanity Fair article may be the first crack that breaks the mainstream media’s protective shell around Hillary Clinton’s top aide.
The case for raising questions about Huma Abedin is compelling but needs to be laid out in a methodical, fully documented and factually accurate way that will stand up to the inevitable defense mechanism of the mainstream media and Democrat machine.
It’s not just the media that needs to be held accountable; it’s the entire Democratic machine as well as Republicans who defended Huma, including John McCain and Marco Rubio.
They say that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and there is ample proof that when politicians get pressed for facts, they often fold like a cheap card table.
I asked Representative
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
about the factual points about Abedin in 2012 on Twitter. Democrats often tout Ellison as a brave pioneer, the first Muslim elected to Congress. Congressman Ellison then blocked me.
Follow Breitbart News lead investigative reporter and Citizen Journalism School  founder Lee Stranahan on Twitter at @Stranahan.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Amerian way

Obamacare customers are gaming the system, buying coverage only after they find out they’re ill and need expensive care — a trend insurers warn is destabilizing the fledgling health law marketplaces and spiking premiums for everyone.

Insurers blame the problem on lax rules that allow more than 900,000 people to sign up for coverage outside the standard enrollment season — for instance, when they change jobs or move — without sufficient proof they are eligible. No one knows precisely how many might be manipulating the system, but the plans say they run up much higher medical bills and then jump ship, contributing to double-digit rate increases and financial losses.

Health plans also complain some customers are exploiting a three-month "grace period" — when they can keep getting subsidized coverage even if they’ve stopped paying their share of premiums.
Both those trends make the risk pools skew toward sicker, costlier customers — and under Obamacare, plans can no longer deny coverage to those with expensive medical conditions. That problem has been exacerbated by the large numbers of healthier people who are choosing to stay uninsured rather than shell out money for coverage.

The issue represents a huge challenge for the Obama administration, which faces a delicate balancing act in regulating the exchanges. On the one hand, it wants as many people as possible to sign up for coverage since that's the main goal of the Affordable Care Act. But it also needs to make sure that the insurance companies see the exchanges as worthwhile markets in which to compete.
In a speech Monday night, Andy Slavitt, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the exchanges, acknowledged the problems and said the administration would tighten the rules for special enrollments — and terminate coverage for those who found to have signed up improperly.

"There are some [special enrollment periods] that we need to clarify because they're subject frankly to abuse," Slavitt said at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. "There may be bad actors and others out there who are abusing those." He said the administration would spell out its plans in the next week, and stressed that people who want coverage need to get it by the Jan. 31 deadline for the regular signup period.

The stakes couldn't be larger: UnitedHealth Group, the country’s largest insurer is threatening to pull out if the problems aren’t addressed. Others are demanding that loopholes be limited or closed, saying they fear the marketplaces could unravel.

"Unless some fundamental flaws are corrected, we believe there is a grave risk that the federal exchange will not operate as a viable, competitive market in 2017," Aetna wrote to the Obama administration about proposed marketplace rules for 2017.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, whose members dominate many of the exchanges, offered a stark warning. "Current rules and procedures allow millions of consumers who enroll through [special enrollment periods] to have an adverse effect on the overall market stability because they can purchase coverage only when they need medical care,” the trade group wrote the administration.
BCBSA calculates that exchange customers who sign up during special enrollment periods are 55 percent more expensive than their counterparts who enroll during the regular season. Aetna estimates that 25 percent of its enrollments last year came through special enrollments and those members have “unusually high claims generation” and remain on the rolls for less than four months on average — less than half the time of other Obamacare consumers.
UnitedHealth Group said last year that it expected 30 percent of its exchange enrollments to come outside the normal sign-up window — and that those customers were 20 percent more expensive than other Obamacare enrollees.

On Friday, Humana became the latest insurer to anticipate losses from its Obamacare business. The health plan announced in an SEC filing that it is unlikely to collect enough money to cover costs for some customers who bought individual Obamacare plans and is setting aside what’s known as a premium deficiency reserve to cover losses.

Some are skeptical the numbers are as bleak as health plans say. Through June of last year, about 10 percent of total enrollees through, or about 940,000 individuals, had signed up for coverage through special enrollments, according to administration figures. But there's no obvious reason why certain insurers would attract a disproportionate share of those enrollees.
"It's still a small minority of enrollees," said Larry Levitt, senior vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan research group. "It's overstating it to say people can simply sign up whenever they want."

Special enrollments are supposed to be limited to big life events that necessitate a change in coverage. About half of those enrolling in plans outside the standard window say they’ve lost health coverage, typically because of a job change.

But plans say that people don't have to document they've changed jobs or lost insurance through work. America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s main lobbying group, has identified 41 reasons consumers can use to sign up for coverage outside of the standard window, including natural disasters and a change in immigration status.

Those enrollees are "incurring extremely higher costs over the rest of the ACA risk pool," AHIP wrote in comments on the 2017 payment rule.

Greg Scott, who oversees Deloitte's health plans practice, says it isn't surprising that consumers are finding and exploiting opportunities to save money. He compares it to how they maximize tax deductions.

"We should expect to see similar behavior in the world of public health insurance exchanges," Scott said. "I would think there is a potential to become somewhat more specific and restrictive in defining and administering [special enrollment periods]."

Besides limiting the reasons individuals may sign up outside the typical window and tougher verification rules, health plans want the administration to shorten the 90-day grace period in which consumers with subsidized plans can continue to receive coverage. They note many people have figured out they need pay for only nine months to get a full year of coverage. An enrollee might buy an ACA policy, get their health needs addressed and then let their coverage lapse — without having to pay the penalty for being uninsured.

Levitt said it's not surprising that individuals signing up for coverage off-season are more expensive than others. People who need medical care are more likely to invest the time and energy to figure out how to sign up outside the normal enrollment window.

"The trick is to limit these special-enrollment periods to people who truly find themselves in unforeseen circumstances, but without making the burden of documentation so great that it discourages people who really qualify," he said