Obama administration

Reid to Americans: You’re too stupid to know how to use the Internet

During a press conference on Wednesday, one that was supposed to be about immigration reform, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) found himself defending the Obama administration’s extension of the Obamacare enrollment deadline.

Reid, whose behavior in recent weeks is odd even for him, told reporters that reason the administration extended the enrollment deadline past March 31 is because Americans don’t know how to use the Internet:

“No, it’s through no fault of the Internet, because people are not educated on how to use the Internet,” Reid said.

Reid referenced a story he heard on the radio, in which a 63-year-old woman in Connecticut was able to sign up for the law in person at one of two locations set up by the state. The woman said she was nearly successful at signing up on healthcare.gov, but the system cut her off at the end.

“We have a lot of people just like this,” Reid said.

Here’s the video via the Washington Free Beacon:

NY Times reporter calls Obama administration the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation

Recent reports from the Associated Press and Cause of Action have explained in great detail that President Barack Obama hasn’t come close to living up to promises of greater transparency, a result of the White House’s effort to control information requested by the press that could prove to be a political headache or embarrassing.

The administration’s obsession of controlling of information isn’t limited to what documents are released. It also extends to how the administration tries to control the press, as James Risen, a reporter for The New York Times, recently explained at a conference (emphasis added):

New York Times reporter James Risen, who is fighting an order that he testify in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer accused of leaking information to him, opened the conference earlier by saying the Obama administration is “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.” The administration wants to “narrow the field of national security reporting,” Risen said, to “create a path for accepted reporting.” Anyone journalist who exceeds those parameters, Risen said, “will be punished.”

The administration’s aggressive prosecutions have created “a de facto Official Secrets Act,” Risen said, and the media has been “too timid” in responding.

Administration extends Obamacare open enrollment period

Just a few days after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney floated the idea, the Obama administration has extended the Obamacare open enrollment period, originally slated to end on March 31, for those who have created an account on federal exchange website, Healthcare.gov, but haven’t yet completed the sign-up process:

Federal officials confirmed Tuesday evening that all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not finish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension.

Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth.

The rules, which will apply to the federal exchanges operating in three dozen states, will essentially create a large loophole even as White House officials have repeatedly said that the March 31 deadline was firm. The extra time will not technically alter the deadline but will create a broad new category of people eligible for what’s known as a special enrollment period.

Since the administration isn’t going to put checks in place to ensure that the potential enrollee is telling the truth, this is tacit extension of the deadline for everyone, not just those who tried to sign-up in the six-month open enrollment period.

Hitting the Patent Troll without Collateral Damage

Last week, Wired magazine published a story on something of a below-the-radar issue that has gained attention recently thanks to high-profile suits involving celebrities like Adam Corolla: patent trolling.

While Wired declares the Obama administration — Obama specifically — as “the patent troll slayer” due to his willingness to push reform and discuss the issue in this year’s State of the Union address, there are some important things to keep in mind about the bills currently floating around the Hill.

The most important is that, in an attempt to target the trolls, the small, independent innovators and multiple patent holders such as universities could get caught in the crosshairs. The Wired piece, gushing about the legacy of the current administration, explains patent trolls this way:

A patent troll is generally understood to be a corporation that exists to stockpile patents for litigation purposes, instead of to build products. Often taking advantage of vague patent claims and a legal system slanted in the plaintiff’s favor, the company uses the patents to sue or threaten to sue other companies, with an eye to settling out of court for a fraction of what they were originally seeking.

The nation’s legal dockets are littered with patent cases with varying degrees of merit, challenging everything from mobile phone push notifications and podcasting to online payment methods and public Wi-Fi. Some 2,600 companies were targeted in new patent lawsuits last year alone.

Indiana becomes first state to withdraw from Common Core

Mike Pence

Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) signed a measure, SB 91, yesterday that will withdraw Indiana from Common Core, a controversial education initiative crafted by the National Governors Association and backed by the Obama administration:

Indiana was among 45 states that in recent years adopted Common Core standards spelling out what students should be learning in math and reading at each grade level. Some conservatives have since criticized the initiative as a top-down takeover of local schools, and in signing legislation Monday to pull Indiana from the program, Republican Gov. Mike Pence trumpeted the move as a victory for state-level action.

“I believe when we reach the end of this process there are going to be many other states around the country that will take a hard look at the way Indiana has taken a step back, designed our own standards and done it in a way where we drew on educators, we drew on citizens, we drew on parents and developed standards that meet the needs of our people,” Pence said.

The state began moving away from Common Core last year, when Indiana lawmakers “paused” its implementation. This year, the Republican-controlled Legislature approved a measure requiring the State Board of Education to draft new benchmarks for students.

Great news, right? The legislation rejects Common Core in name only. The Indiana Board of Education is drafting new standards that would keep much of the initiative in place, meaning that legislation signed by Pence could prove meaningless:

Administration may extend Obamacare enrollment deadline for some

The White House has hinted that it may extended the Obamacare enrollment deadline for Americans who experienced technical problems on the state and federal exchanges, much like the administration did in December for those who wanted to sign up for health insurance coverage at the beginning of the year.

“March 31 was the deadline, as was the case for the December deadline, we’re going to want to make sure that people who are already in line can finish their enrollment,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Friday, pointing them to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for further explanation.

“We want to make sure, as we did in December, on that deadline, that folks who have begun the process are able to complete it,” said Carney. “We certainly expect, naysayers notwithstanding, that there’s going to be continued interest right up to the deadline, and that interest will probably increase as we approach the deadline.”

Poll: 61% oppose administration’s move to give up control of the Internet

The Obama administration’s move to relinquish oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), part of a news dump at the end of last week, has been met with opposition from Americans, according to a new survey from Rasmussen Reports:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 61% of Likely U.S. Voters oppose the United States giving up its last remaining control over the Internet. Just 18% favor that move, while 21% are not sure about it.

Fifty-two percent (52%) think international control will make the Internet worse, but that’s less suspicious than voters were two years ago when we first asked this question. Sixty-four percent thought international control would make the Internet worse at that time. Only nine percent (9%) now think it will make the Internet better. Seventeen percent (17%) expect international control to have no impact, but 22% are undecided.

Critics of the decision to give up U.S. control of the Internet say countries like Russia, China or Iran will try to take it over to censor its content, and 66% of voters think that is at least somewhat likely. Just 25% consider it unlikely. This includes 32% who say it is Very Likely that one of these countries will try to censor the Internet and only seven percent (7%) who view it as Not At All Likely.

NASA-Funded Roman Empire Study Promotes Collectivist Policies

NASA

There’s a thick fog clouding the judgment of those currently holding official positions in Washington that should be carefully cut through so that logic is given room. Because those who lead are misguided, we’re better off identifying the problem and dealing with it now, before it deals with us.

NASA has unveiled the results of a study focused on finding ways to keep the United States from falling like the Roman Empire did. Oddly enough, the study, which has been funded by taxpayers’ dollars, managed to obtain results that seem to match what John Holdren, current Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, defends.

According to researchers, the Roman Empire fell because people were consuming too much.

The study used a formula that allows researchers to take into consideration only the broad characteristics of fallen civilizations, leaving no room for the specifics. According to NASA researchers, “two important features seem to appear across societies that have collapsed: the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity and the economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses.”

The study results suggest that collapse can only be avoided if the government is successful in keeping the “rate of depletion of nature” reduced to what researchers called “a sustainable level,” and only if “resources are distributed equitably.”

Surprise!: Obama administration not even close to living up to transparency promises

Though he once promised that his administration would be the most transparent in American history, the Obama administration has gone to great lengths to keep sunlight from shining, the Associated Press reports:

More often than ever, the administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.
[…]
The government’s own figures from 99 federal agencies covering six years show that halfway through its second term, the administration has made few meaningful improvements in the way it releases records. In category after category - except for reducing numbers of old requests and a slight increase in how often it waived copying fees - the government’s efforts to be more open about its activities last year were their worst since President Barack Obama took office.

In a year of intense public interest over the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, the government cited national security to withhold information a record 8,496 times - a 57 percent increase over a year earlier and more than double Obama’s first year, when it cited that reason 3,658 times. The Defense Department, including the NSA, and the CIA accounted for nearly all those. The Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency cited national security six times, the Environmental Protection Agency did twice and the National Park Service once.

ObamaCare Is Doomed Without the Youth

The fate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act seems bleak and who will end up undoubtedly losing because of that?

Everybody.

By now, 4.2 million people have picked their plan through the ObamaCare exchange website, a figure that is not even close to the administration’s original 7 million goal.

The Obama administration estimated that by the end of the open enrollment season for health coverage through the exchange program, which ends in one month, at least 38.5 percent of enrollees should consist of young men and women under the age of 35.

According to the latest reports, however, only 25 percent of enrollees happen to be in the “invincible” age group. At this rate, the Obama administration might not be able to get at least 1.8 million people to sign up until the end of March, which could trigger costs to exceed premiums. Once that happens, insurance companies will break even only with the help of hefty federal subsidies.

Because the program cannot stay solvent without the participation of young players, the Department of Health and Human Services has been insisting that a greater number of young enrollees will eventually sign up just before the deadline expires. It might still be early to know whether the HHS will be able to obtain the number of enrollees it needs. At the moment, many questions concerning the real number of paying enrollees linger, as the percentage of those who have picked a plan through the ObamaCare exchange website and have also made their payment hasn’t been disclosed.


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