You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?
But another part of me says, “Lucky bastard.”
It took me until lunchtime to find one today? Either I’m slipping or the law is starting to work — you make the call!
Comprehensive healthcare reform was a worthy priority for the administration. It was undertaken, however, at a time when the country remained financially and economically unstable—and when people of all outlooks were wary about an ambitious remake of a huge part of the economy. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid, or the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, it was formulated and narrowly passed on a one-party basis without public opinion supporting it. If he were to do it over, Obama would no doubt take the Lyndon Johnson/Ted Kennedy approach to healthcare reform and enlist a few Republican leaders and ideas, such as tort reform or selling insurance across state lines.
That mindset does not focus on one-upping Republicans in the next news cycle or gaining an edge for the next election. It focuses on serious governance.
That’s Ted Van Dyk, explaining to readers of The Atlantic how the Democrat Party can “save itself” from its self-inflicted wounds. That’s a heck of an unintended consequence.
As I’ve said on other occasions, the quickest way to discredit progressivism is to put it into practice — but, dear lord, the cleanup.
Hot on the heels of Jim Jong Un’s sacking of his top lieutenant comes word of …not much… out of China in reaction:
“China doesn’t have many connections with (North Korea) at the top level to begin with. Jang’s purge means that China lost one of the few conduits they had,” said Roger Cavazos, a North Korea watcher at the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability.
Jang, the uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong Jun, was stripped of his titles for alleged transgressions including instigating party dissent and squandering party funds on drugs, gambling and women.
Under North Korea’s policy of collective punishment, all of his associates are likely to be purged along with him, including many members of the 2012 delegation.
Of all the possible outcomes in North Korea, I figured the really, really bad ones might happen sooner, the really bad ones might take slightly longer, and that this option would take longest of all.
But Jang is gone after just two years — no clue what happens next.
Other than it will either be really bad, or really, really bad.
Well, it blows if you’re Jang Sung Taek.
Here are the scenarios we looked at here almost exactly years ago upon Jong-Un’s ascension:
1. Kim Jong-un, Jong-il’s youngest son, steps quickly and easily into his father’s shoes. All goes swimmingly.
2. Kim Jong-il adviser Jang Song-taek acts as regent to the younger Kim and rules effectively while Jong-un continues to hone his chops in Pyongyang.
3. North Korea launches artillery attacks against the South.
4. North Korea tests a nuclear device.
5. Factional in-fighting will prevent any individual or group from exercising effective control.
6. Kim Jong-il’s death was not natural as reported. Kim Jong-un and other members of the Kim family may be next on the hit-list.
7. The additional uncertainty caused by Kim’s death drives segments of an already hungry, malnourished population over the edge. North Koreans head for the Chinese border in droves.
I added, “Number 2 is what the Party would accept. Dynasty assured, reliable regent in place. Surely this is what they’ll work for.”
Well, it’s what they got — for a while. I guess Jong-Un’s chops are now finely honed.
At this point, what’s left to do other than to shrug your shoulders and ask, “Sure, why not?”
This particular program was started in 2007, and makes clear that not only is there no form of electronic communication the NSA can’t listen to, but there’s no form of electronic communication it doesn’t listen to.
Remember when Professor Wiggleroom could at least claim a sort-of non-partisan and cool competence? Good times:
CNN political analyst David Gergen gave a scathing review of White House operations Sunday, saying recent reports about the president’s lack of interest in the Obamacare rollout borders on malfeasance.
The conclusion drawn about Obama’s signature health care plan stems from a Government Accountability Institute report released last week that said the president met privately with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on only one occasion prior to implementation of the program.
“I don’t think this is simply sloppiness on the part of the White House,” Gergen said. “What seems to me is there’s a case of near malfeasance here.”
The documents, which also include spreadsheets that list the bank’s “track record” for converting hires into business deals, offer the most detailed account yet of JPMorgan’s “Sons and Daughters” hiring program, which has been at the center of a federal bribery investigation for months. The spreadsheets and emails — recently submitted by JPMorgan to authorities — illuminate how the bank created the program to prevent questionable hiring practices but ultimately viewed it as a gateway to doing business with state-owned companies in China, which commonly issue stock with the help of Wall Street banks.
The revolution always begins with promises of power to the people, but it always ends with the privileged sons and daughters of the nomenklatura trading on their connections for riches.
I set the timer on a story like this one just as soon as I read the White House had sent the Veep to East Asia:
Washington is blaming an interpreter’s error after reports here that gaffe-prone U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told President Park Geun-hye in Seoul on Friday that betting against the U.S. is a bad bet, or words to that effect.
The U.S. has spent the last two days trying to explain the gaffe, attesting to how sensitive the matter is for both sides.
Biden’s exact words were, “It’s never been a good bet to bet against America” and America would continue to place its bets on Korea.
Perhaps his job was to defuse the tension by a process of comic relief.
“Nearly half of those who are eligible have completed their applications and more than one-third have chosen a health plan and completed their enrollment,” he said.
“We know that traditionally many people wait until the last day or the last days of open enrollment to decide on a health plan,” Sorian said, based on experience with the FEHBP and other health programs.
Join in in wishing them the best of luck with that, since the website frontend sends people to a manual-paperwork backend which is so backed up it sends people back to the front end.
I do actually feel sorry for GOP staffers who have worked hard trying to repeal and replace this thing. For the Democrat staffers, the best I can do for them is remind them that Intel is working on an 8nm fabrication process to produce a nano-violin small enough to play for them.
Since there’s still no working backend to HealthCare.gov, the Administration has encouraged people to submit paper applications. Until that stopped working:
Federal health officials, after encouraging alternate sign-up methods amid the fumbled rollout of their online insurance website, began quietly urging counselors around the country this week to stop using paper applications to enroll people in health insurance because of concerns those applications would not be processed in time.
Interviews with enrollment counselors, insurance brokers and a government official who works with navigators in Illinois reveal the latest change in direction by the Obama administration, which had been encouraging paper applications and other means because of all the problems with the federal website. Consumers must sign up for insurance under the federal health overhaul by Dec. 23 in order for coverage to start in January.
“We received guidance from the feds recommending that folks apply online as opposed to paper,” said Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Insurance.
The nonfunctioning website diverts people to paper forms which take too long, diverting people to the nonfunctioning website.
Recursive failure is recursive.
I fell behind on Friday and didn’t have a chance to go over the jobs report, but Jim Pethokoukis did. Unfortunately, underneath the headline numbers (204,000 new jobs, 7.0%) lies a lot of suck:
1. There are still 1.1 million fewer employed Americans today than right before the recession started, despite a potential labor force that’s 14 million larger. And there are 3.6 million fewer full-time workers than back in 2007.
2. The employment rate, the share of Americans with a job, is 58.6% — exactly where it was in November 2009.
3. If the labor force participation rate were where it was a year ago, the jobless rate would be 7.9%, not 7% (and 11.3% if the LFPR were at prerecession levels, though closer to 9% if demographics-adjusted).
4. More than 4 million Americans remain out of work for 27 weeks or longer.
5. Overall, according to the Hamilton Project Jobs Gap calculator, it will take another five years to return to 2007 employment levels even at the improved job creation pace of the past four months.
We do still have an employment crisis in this country. If it really is getting better, then I’m as relieved as anyone. But I get the feeling 2014 is going to be a another rocky year.
The headline to the the story (above) pretty much says it all. But let’s go for some details:
The administration has finally announced the error rate for 834 transmissions, the data sent to insurance companies after applicants fill out their information on the Healthcare.gov marketplace. It’s not good: one in ten forms contain errors, a spokesperson told reporters during a press call today.
834 is short for “834 Electronic Data Interchange Transmissions” or “834 EDI Transactions,” the files that get passed to insurance companies so new enrollees can be added to their systems. This is a critical function of the federal marketplace: if it doesn’t correctly communicate with insurers, people won’t get the coverage they think they’ve signed up for.
One in ten? Better than I thought. Hell, it’s better than I think. I’m certain, given what we know for sure already, that the Administration is using some deceptive metric (put a plan in your shopping basket and they’ll count it as purchased) to seriously lowball the real figure.
And this isn’t like UPS or Amazon screwing up your order and you send the DVD back for the right one. This is your health insurance.
FWIW, UPS has lost exactly one of my Amazon packages and Amazon has sent me the wrong item exactly one time since I became a customer late last century. And I’ve bought a lot — a lot — of stuff from them over the years.
But buying books and stuff is easy. Buying insurance is hard.
Nobody likes the iOS 7 — it’s too popular.
Meanwhile, the adoption rate for Android Jelly Bean is at about 50%. That’s last year’s version, by the way.
Even on the weekends? Yep. The law of the land is so settled that it cannot sleep. So here you go:
Obamacare is in danger of being hit by a “perfect storm” of low enrollment and bad data being sent to insurers, experts are warning as a crucial deadline looms this month for the massive insurance sign-up effort.
And if that storm strikes, they said, consumers likely will face higher premium prices in 2015, insurers will face possible losses from Obamacare policies, and hospitals and other providers could face increased costs.
“I try to be an optimist, it’s just harder each day,” said Christine Vogel, associate director in Navigant’s health-care practice, and a former special advisor for health-care reform to Connecticut’s governor. She said she expects the cumulative effect will eventually hurt people providing and receiving care.
“We all knew that it was going to impact the insurance industry, and now it’s going to impact the provider and the consumer,” she said. “It’s difficult for me not to think that perfect storm that we’ve all been trying to avoid, and not plan for, may be approaching.”
But the important thing to remember is that Professor Wiggleroom has been taught the important life lesson that “insurance is complicated to buy.”
So let’s give the guy a mulligan on this one, OK?
Apple’s iBeacon seems to be off to a rough start:
Just like GPS points you in the direction of your chosen destination, iBeacon was developed to suggest a possible phone upgrade as you pass a table of colorful iPhone 5c handsets, or inform you of upcoming in-store events when you’re close to the neighborhood Apple retailer. Specific stores can also push notifications about deals or other promotions.
On paper, iBeacon sounds like a great way to stay informed and make easy purchases from inside a congested store. But in practice, it’s not quite as impressive. That’s because it didn’t actually work for me.
During a Friday visit to two different New York City Apple Store retailers, I was unable to activate any notifications, no matter how many times I shoved my phone into a pile of iPad Smart Covers.
At my first stop — Grand Central Station — I connected to the shop’s free Wi-Fi, turned on my iPhone 5′s Bluetooth setting, and ensured that push notifications were enabled, just as instructed. No luck.
iBeacon is — or someday will be — one of those nice-but-don’t-gotta-have-it features. So if it takes Apple some time to get it working, so be it.
These in-store tracking features tend to make my skin crawl, but iBeacon at least has several layers of opt-in. You have to have Bluetooth on, you have to have elected to use the store’s WiFi, you have to have the Apple Store app installed and give it permission to send you push notifications. Oh, and push notifications have to be switched on, too.
I think I could live with that — assuming they ever get it working.
If anyone ever tries to tell you David Lee Roth wasn’t once the best frontman in rock’n'roll, you just show them this — one of the best videos in rock’n'roll.
Now gimme something to write on, man.
A longtime reader sent this in, and while they’d like to remain anonymous, I’d like to share it:
Went out West for Thanksgiving to visit the wife’s family. My In-Laws flew out too. Just a reminder: he is 88, and pretty robust. She is 86 and very demented. She is mostly confined to a wheelchair, and has full-time, around-the-clock care. It takes 2-3 people to get her to and from the restroom, into and out of a car, etc. You get the point.
They flew back home yesterday. While going through security before boarding their flight, apparently my mother-in-law’s make-up triggered something with TSA. One of their sensors got triggered. Sooo … they pulled her out of line, wheelchair and all, took her to a back room, and proceeded to waste almost an hour performing a full search of her, her wheelchair, purse, etc.
My father-in-law is still pissed beyond measure. He feels violated to his core, given how protective he is of my mother-in-law. Words can’t describe how upset he is. My wife vacillates between shear horror and absolute hysterics. The ineptitude and complete lack of grace demonstrated by TSA has her totally flummoxed.
On the one hand, I just shrug my shoulders and say “told you so.” On the other, I so totally share my father-in-law’s upset. It really is incomprehensible how we’ve allowed this system to persist.
The real crime here is that these stories no longer shock us, do they?
The conventional wisdom was that Apple’s former retail chief, Ron Johnson, is to blame for Penney’s recent woes. That’s certainly what I thought. Johnson seemed to be a one-idea guy. Focus on upscale-style customer service and reasonable, and people will come back for that without having to resort to superdoorbuster sales gimmicks. It worked at Target, it worked for Apple Stores, but his One Big Idea just seemed to a bad fit for JCP.
JCP’s losses for 2012 totaled $992 million. Tantalizingly close to a perfect billion.
How was that possible? If Ron had such a brilliant plan, the support of the board and the endorsement of Wall Street, why did he fail on such a spectacular scale?
Put simply: he did too much too soon. He scared away the old customers instead of bringing them along for the ride.
It’s a story of “the best of intentions.” Inspired by the retail philosophy of James Cash Penney, Ron believed that respect for the customer was the key to success — and manipulating prices to create a false sense of bargain was not respectful. But he changed the pricing policy before he could change the stores (which would require a 2-3 year effort).
It might have been Ron’s only mistake, but it was a doozy. It sent customers running in the opposite direction, and the mass exodus sent JCP into serious crisis mode.
Johnson’s semi-boutique plan for JCP might have worked, had he not gotten rid of the continuous superdoorbuster sales until after he’d finished upgrading all the stores.
It’s a shame we’ll never know.