Patterico's Pontifications


ObamaCare Premiums to Skyrocket . . . Again

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:07 pm

CNN Money:

Obamacare premiums are set to skyrocket an average of 22% for the benchmark silver plan in 2017, according to a government report released Monday.

The price hike is the latest blow to Obamacare. Insurers are raising prices and downsizing their presence on the exchanges as they try to stem losses from sicker-than-anticipated customers. Enrollment for 2017 will be closely watched since insurers want to see younger and healthier consumers enroll.

Nobody could have predicted this . . . except anyone familiar with free-market economics.

Steven Den Beste, R.I.P.

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:11 pm

Someone that most of us here respected and cared about has passed away: Steven Den Beste.

You can read something about Steven here. Because Steven was a commenter here over the years — something that I found very humbling — I thought that the best tribute I could write would be to republish his first and last comments here.

The first comment Den Beste left on this blog was on November 29, 2004 — nearly 12 years ago. To appreciate the comment, you need a bit of background. I had written a post slamming the New York Times for its view on judicial filibusters. (That week, filibusters helped the Democrats — so that week, they were against them. Ask them next week and they might say something different, depending on whether it promotes leftist policies.) In addition to failing to check out the context for quotes they used, NYT editors also offered this absurd opinion:

According to Senate rules, changing the filibuster rule should require a two-thirds vote. But in the “nuclear option,” Vice President Dick Cheney, as Senate president, would rule that filibusters of judicial nominees could be ended by a simple majority.

That would no doubt put the whole matter in the courts, an odd place for the Republicans – who are fighting this battle in the name of ending activist courts – to want it resolved.

Den Beste responded by cutting right to the quick:

Article I, section 5 of the Constitution clearly says, “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings…”

The courts don’t have jurisdiction. Any attempt to get the courts involved would be a clear violation of separation of powers.

The last comment that Steven Den Beste left on this blog had to be fished out of moderation by JVW because it contained some (quite appropriate, as you’ll see) profanity. This comment was left on August 18, 2016, on JVW’s post about Obama getting away with ignoring floods in Louisiana:

For liberals, including most of the MSM, getting Obama elected was the triumph of a lifetime. They need Obama to go down in history as a good president, so that some other minority (or woman) can get elected.

Remember all talk about him being “like a god”, a “light worker”, and suchlike. No one says anything like that any more.

The problem is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to cover up the fact that the Obama presidency has been an unmitigated disaster in nearly every way. The big nightmare now for the left/MSM is that Obama will gain the reputation as being the worst president in US history, and that may mean the voters will shy away from minorites and women (unless they’re Republican).

People are starting to refer to him as a fool, a failure, a slacker.

The left/MSM can’t totally paper over all the failures and fuckups but they’re trying hard to paper over as much as they can.

You’ll be missed, sir.

P.S. Another person whom most of us respected rather less has also passed away: Tom Hayden. I have really only one thought about Hayden’s passing:

I would have liked to have read what Steven Den Beste had to say about it.

Lawmakers Come To The Aid Of Soldiers Being Forced To Pay Back Their Bonuses

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:04 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Yesterday I told you about how, as a result of a military screw-up, nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers who accepted signing bonuses a decade ago when there was a shortage of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, are now being forced by the Pentagon to pay back the enlistment bonuses.

It’s an outrageous story, and infuriating as hell that many combat veterans would be told they have to pay back money that the government gave them if they went and fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well after the story drew lots of media attention, California lawmakers are now as outraged as the public. On my way home from work tonight, I heard Rep. Darrell Issa speak about the issue on a local radio show. He said that this demand for soldiers to pay back the bonuses will not only be stopped, but lawmakers will also be making sure that any soldier who has paid back the bonus in part, or in full, will be getting their money back. He sounded quite convincing. And he has already taken steps to stop the madness:


Further, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the practice “disgraceful,” and promised a full investigation:

“The Department of Defense should waive these repayments, and I will be requesting a full brief from Army and National Guard leadership,” McCarthy said in a statement. “The House will investigate these reports to ensure our soldiers are fully honored for their service.

“Our military heroes should not shoulder the burden of military recruiters’ faults from over a decade ago,” McCarthy said. “They should not owe for what was promised during a difficult time in our country.”

Democrats were also appalled:

“These service members — many of whom were sent into combat — are now being forced to make difficult and painful decisions to pay back thousands of dollars they never knew they owed,” said Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. “The solution to this ridiculous situation is an act of Congress.”

“I am appalled by the California National Guard’s effort to claw back bonuses and benefits improperly paid to service members 10 years ago,” Takano added.

As a reminder, there are several petitions that you can sign here and here.

I hope everyone contacts their Congressmen and women, and keeps the pressure on them to do right by these brave men and women, many who have been permanently injured in service to their country. I’m afraid if there isn’t constant pressure from the public, lawmakers may stop the collections but not restore the thousands of dollars veterans have already paid.

Oh, and for the record, President Obama, who is in California today and tomorrow to speak at a $100,000-per-person fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, as well as make an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, hasn’t said boo about this situation because, you know, Hollywood...


Unearthed Trump Quote from 2012: “I Don’t Believe” in Deporting Most Illegals

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

In an interview in 2012, Donald Trump said he did not believe in deporting illegal aliens who had been here for a long time and been productive — the sort of de facto amnesty he claimed to oppose in his primary campaign. The quote was unearthed by Andrew Kaczynski at CNN and appears to have been overlooked this entire campaign season. CNN:

Just four years ago, Donald Trump took a drastically different position on what is now his central issue: deporting undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Since he announced his candidacy last June, Trump has promised to build a wall on the US border with Mexico and at various times said he would, as president, deport all or many of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country. However, in an June 2012 interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box reviewed by CNN’s KFile, Trump said he didn’t believe in deporting undocumented immigrants who, he said, “had done a great job.”

Asked about his views on immigrant labor, Trump said, “You know my views on it and I’m not necessarily, I think I’m probably down the middle on that also. Because I also understand how, as an example, you have people in this country for 20 years, they’ve done a great job, they’ve done wonderfully, they’ve gone to school, they’ve gotten good marks, they’re productive — now we’re supposed to send them out of the country, I don’t believe in that, Michelle, and you understand that. I don’t believe in a lot things that are being said.”

Unless Donald Trump is saying that most illegals are not the good folks he describes here, he’s taking a position that most of them should not be deported.

The question is: does anybody care any more?

It is a measure of the way the race has developed that this will likely be greeted with a collective yawn. CNN has a video a the link that shows the tougher line Trump took during the primaries, saying flatly “they have to go” and speaking of a deportation force. “The good ones” would be allowed back, but first they would be deported. This is what he said. Trump voters were definitely duped in the primaries.

But the thing is, they will look you in the eye and tell you they weren’t. And Trump has known this ever since August, when his campaign floated a trial balloon of a softer approach on immigration, and his fans shrugged and said OK.

Let’s review some of the recent history. In August, it was suspected that Trump would be pivoting on immigration, based on comments he made at a town hall, and Big Media was buzzing with stories about a possible “softening.” For example, the L.A. Times reported on August 25:

Trump appeared to be test-driving a new, more moderate approach during a Fox News town hall this week. The idea, which sounded strikingly similar to those of his Republican primary rivals former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, would allow some immigrants to remain in the country as long as they had no criminal records and agreed to pay back taxes.

The Trumpers didn’t seem to care. Rush Limbaugh even told his listeners he had never believed Trump on immigration anyway — so, who cared if he was pivoting?

Ultimately, when Trump gave his immigration speech in Arizona on August 31, 2016, it was received as a reaffirmation of all his tough policy proposals. He did his level best to make it sound like he favored deporting everyone . . . in theory:

In a Trump administration all immigration laws will be enforced, will be enforced. As with any law enforcement activity, we will set priorities. But unlike this administration, no one will be immune or exempt from enforcement. And ICE and Border Patrol officers will be allowed to do their jobs the way their jobs are supposed to be done.

Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation. That is what it means to have laws and to have a country. Otherwise we don’t have a country.

CNN covered the speech with an article headline: Trump on immigration: No amnesty, no pivot:

That idea that Donald Trump is softening his immigration policy: Not going to happen.

The Republican presidential nominee on Wednesday re-upped the harsh immigration rhetoric that electrified his primary campaign, vowing “no amnesty” for undocumented migrants living in the United States and promising to build a “beautiful” and “impenetrable” border wall that Mexico would pay for — hours after that country’s president vowed that it wouldn’t.

But the lead-up to the speech, in which the Trump camp was floating the idea of amnesty, or at least refusing to deport huge masses of people, revealed for Trump that his most ardent supporters don’t really care about this issue. (Or any issues. As long as Trump seems to embody a generalized notion of combat with the left, any particular issue can be sacrificed for The Greater Good — whatever that is.)

And, frankly, the idea that 2012- or 2013-era Trump would support amnesty is not much of a shock, given that he seemed to approve of the idea of amnesty in 2013 . . . in a tweet:

So the big CNN story is likely to have no effect. That’s our politics these days, folks. Giant contradictions in policy positions are meaningless.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Whoa: Clinton Crony Funded Political Campaign Of Wife Of FBI Official Who Oversaw Email Investigation

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:00 am

Alternate headline: “Hillary Clinton still corrupt.” (Indeed, the eyes-glazed-over effect of accurate headlines such as the one above in the area of political corruption will be the topic of a rant later in the post. In short: if you bothered to click into this post, you’re part of a disgustingly small elite that cares about political skulduggery.)

Remember Terry McAuliffe? Sure you do! And I’m sure you’re just shocked to learn that he acted as a bag man to pay off people sniffing around Hillary’s emails:

The political organization of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, an influential Democrat with longstanding ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, gave nearly $500,000 to the election campaign of the wife of an official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation who later helped oversee the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email use.

Campaign finance records show Mr. McAuliffe’s political-action committee donated $467,500 to the 2015 state Senate campaign of Dr. Jill McCabe, who is married to Andrew McCabe, now the deputy director of the FBI.

The Virginia Democratic Party, over which Mr. McAuliffe exerts considerable control, donated an additional $207,788 worth of support to Dr. McCabe’s campaign in the form of mailers, according to the records. That adds up to slightly more than $675,000 to her candidacy from entities either directly under Mr. McAuliffe’s control or strongly influenced by him. The figure represents more than a third of all the campaign funds Dr. McCabe raised in the effort.

That damning indictment comes from the Wall Street Journal, from yesterday evening.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is introduced by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe at a campaign event at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Monday, Feb. 29, 2016.  (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
Above: Hillary Clinton and her bag man Terry McAuliffe

Back in May, Dan McLaughlin told us about the federal investigation into McAuliffe for possible campaign finance violations. As Dan said in that post:

McAuliffe, the former DNC Chairman, is of course best known as a longtime confidant of the Clintons and all-purpose bag man for their shadier ventures.

How utterly convenient it is that ol’ Terry McAuliffe would be the guy greasing the palms of the (wives of the) folks who later gave Hillary a pass on the emails?

Hillary defenders will no doubt argue that McCabe only assumed an oversight position after the political donations, and took steps to stay out of his wife’s campaign after his wife received the donation. Why, his wife’s campaign was even over once he assumed the oversight position! they will say.

That’s not good enough. The American people would naturally assume that, once Hillary Clinton’s longtime and well-known ally scratched the McCabes’ back, Hillary expected a back-scratch in return. That’s how it works, folks. And it’s that kind of crap, frankly, that fuels the anger that drives Donald Trump’s campaign.

McCabe should have formally recused himself from anything having to do with Hillary’s emails, after his wife benefited from the largesse of the Clinton crowd. The fact that he apparently doesn’t see the problem — well, that’s a big part of the problem.

AND NOW, A RANT: Stories about Hillary Clinton are stories about utter political corruption. Such stories are seemingly harder to follow than trashy tabloid stories about Donald Trump. Everybody can understand when a tacky 59-year-old talks about grabbing women by the p***y, or about how awesome it is to walk in on women naked as long as they are beauty-pageant gorgeous. But when a candidate’s long-time bag man starts paying off the spouse of a law enforcement official who later investigates the candidate for potential violations of federal crimes . . . well, people’s eyes go out of focus, from boredom. Something something campaign contributions whaaa? says the average voter. Tell me more about that p***y-grabbing!

I don’t mean to minimize boasting about sexual assault. But I also think we should not minimize political corruption — even if it’s not as sexy.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


Sunday Night Music: Long Ryders: Lights of Downtown (Acoustic)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:31 pm

A new version of a classic song. Worth your time.

Court Overturns Refugee’s Conviction for Raping 10-Year-Old Boy, Saying . . . Maybe He Consented!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:00 pm

Why do people think throwing the doors open to tens of thousands of Muslim refugees without adequate screening might be a problem? Exhibit A:

An Iraqi refugee who was jailed after claiming it was a sexual emergency when he raped a boy in a swimming pool has had the sentence overturned.

An appeal court accepted the defence lawyer’s claim that the lower court had not done enough to ascertain whether or not the rapist had realised the schoolboy was saying no.

The attacker, identified as 20-year-old Iraqi migrant Amir A., had been treated to a trip to the Theresienbad pool in December 2015 as part of the integration process.

He had also been provided with a 15-year-old helper and translator who was supposedly teaching him how to integrate into life in Vienna.

At the pool, Amir A. dragged the schoolboy, aged ten, into the changing rooms where he locked the door and violently sexually assaulted him, leaving him in need of urgent treatment at a local children’s hospital. The boy is still plagued by massive post-traumatic stress disorder.

. . . .

Amir A., who had worked in Iraq as a taxi driver, was still clothed in swimwear when handcuffed. He confessed to the rape, saying he knew it was wrong but did it anyway because it was a “sexual emergency” as he did not had sex for four months.

The Sunday Express reports how severe the child’s injuries were:

The child suffered severe anal injuries which had to be treated at a local children’s hospital, and is still plagued by serious post-traumatic stress disorder.

This case is so outlandish, it makes you wonder how it can really be happening. However, this is not an isolated incident; the huge influx of Muslim refugees into Europe from war-torn parts of the Arab world has already led to sexual assaults and efforts to mainstream deviant behavior, so as not to denigrate the refugees. This is not only dangerous; it’s also condescending. Leftists are not likely to be concerned with either problem, though.

If there’s any story that explains why some people (not me) want to vote Trump, it’s stories like this.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Video: Saturday Night Live Does the Third Debate

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:03 pm

Early on in this clip, they make a crack to this effect: you may not want to watch this debate…but hey, you’ve come this far.

That’s kind of how I feel about this clip. It may not be as good as the others, but neither was the third debate — and you watched that, right?

(Oh, you didn’t? Well…)

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Government Screws Up, Makes Soldiers Pay For It. Literally.

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:30 am

[guest post by Dana]

The military screws up and makes soldiers pay for their mistakes, which is hard to understand because debt forgiveness and bailouts by our government seems to be all the rage these days:

Short of troops to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago, the California National Guard enticed thousands of soldiers with bonuses of $15,000 or more to reenlist and go to war.

Now the Pentagon is demanding the money back.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers, many of whom served multiple combat tours, have been ordered to repay large enlistment bonuses — and slapped with interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they refuse — after audits revealed widespread overpayments by the California Guard at the height of the wars last decade.

It gets worse:

Investigations have determined that lack of oversight allowed for widespread fraud and mismanagement by California Guard officials under pressure to meet enlistment targets.

Instead of letting this go and forgiving the debts because it was not the fault of those who believed what they were being told, the soldiers must pay back the money. And let’s face it, $15,000 – $25,000 for most Americans is not a piddly amount of money.

While the betrayal is unbelievable, the excuses made for treating veterans this way are all too believable. Gosh darn, what just a shame that everyone’s hands are tied:

“At the end of the day, the soldiers ended up paying the largest price,” said Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, deputy commander of the California Guard. “We’d be more than happy to absolve these people of their debts. We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law.”

Read the whole thing. It’s infuriating to read the personal accounts of veterans who have been so worn down by the red tape process to fight this that they have resigned themselves to paying back the bonuses. It’s almost as if the system is intended to have this eventual outcome.

A White House petition has been set up here that you can sign if you are so inclined. And as always in these cases, call your congress person or representative and make some noise.

If this isn’t a travesty and fight that Americans ought to be willing to get involved with, what is?



Ayotte Set to Lose Senate Race for Saying Donald Trump is a Good Role Model

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:00 am

Steve Berman at The Resurgent has dire news about the Senate race in New Hampshire — and I don’t want to say it’s all Donald Trump’s fault . . . but it’s all Donald Trump’s fault:

[Democrat challenger and sitting Governor Maggie] Hassan is now up between 1 and 7 points in the last two polls. FiveThirtyEight gives Hassan a 65.8 percent chance of winning what should have been a safe senate seat from a popular Republican.

As New Hampshire goes, so goes the nation. If the highly elastic presidential polling has moved the down ballot race in the Granite State, imagine what it’s doing in other key senate races that are more positively correlated to the top of the ticket.

The highest probability event based on FiveThirtyEight’s model is that Democrats take control 51 to 49.

And what is Gov. Hassan’s strategy? Running this ad, which is airing all over the state:

All you have to do, as this video effectively does, is take Sen. Ayotte’s claim that she would “absolutely” see Donald Trump as a role model, and contrast that with his own piggish statements over the years. Voila! A seat the GOP should keep is in severe jeopardy.

Donald Trump is the greatest gift the GOP could give the Democrats. We told you this. We told you, over and over. Some of you didn’t listen — and your “reward” may well be worse than losing the presidency.

If you’re a fervent Trump supporter, please: go into a closet and don’t come out again until never.

This ends the public service announcement.

Thanks to DRJ.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

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