Media Matters for America, the leftist “watchdog” organization funded in part by George Soros, declared victory on Friday in its long battle against Fox News and is moving on to other fronts, including social media and blogs:
[I]n the coming years, Fox will no longer be the center of Media Matters’ universe. That’s because the group believes it has effectively discredited the network’s desire to be seen as “fair and balanced.”
“The war on Fox is over,” said Media Matters Executive Vice President Angelo Carusone. “And it’s not just that it’s over, but it was very successful. To a large extent, we won.”
According to its strategic plan for the next three years, a copy of which was provided to The Huffington Post, Media Matters envisions shifting its focus to new, increasingly influential targets, including Spanish-language media, social media streams, alternative online outlets and morning and entertainment sources. It will enhance its state media and issue-based monitoring, as well as continue its focus on right-wing radio and legacy outlets.
Fox News has long-been a target of the left. Media Matters and others claim that it has a conservative bias. President Barack Obama has called Fox News “destructive” and some of his subordinates have labeled the news channel as a “wing of the Republican Party.”
Obama seems to be losing ground with the voting bloc that put him in office in both elections. According to the latest Reason-Rupe Survey, the all-important 25-34 year-old voting bloc is no longer so sure about the direction Obama is taking this country. Of course this poll did cover public opinion about ObamaCare, and the abysmal numbers aren’t limited to just the presidency - Congress is also losing the hearts and minds of the people.
Nearly three out of four Americans, 73 percent, believe members of Congress do not understand health care or how health care laws impact Americans. Just 25 percent think members of Congress understand the consequences of the health care laws they pass.
Seventy percent of Americans oppose making young people pay more for health care to help fund health care for older or less healthy Americans. Six in 10 oppose requiring younger, healthier people to help fund insurance for those with pre-existing conditions. And 57 percent believe lower cost health care plans that provide fewer benefits than required by the Affordable Care Act should be allowed.
Of the 44 percent of respondents who say that they liked the Affordable Care Act when it passed, 41 percent of them like it less now. Of the 52 percent who disliked the law when it was passed, 14 percent like it more now.
Also, the administration and Congress should not expect these numbers to improve, if the latest news on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is accurate. ObamaCare navigators apparently have been encouraging citizens to lie about their income, so that they can benefit from governmental subsidies for policies in the exchanges.
Mike Huckabee announced on Friday that he has quit his syndicated radio gig in what some are calling a clear sign that he is planning a bid for Republican presidential nomination in 2016, telling followers on his Facebook page to “[s]tay tuned” for announcements on his “new endeavors.”
Huckabee, who served as Governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007, has been talking like a candidate for some time. Supporters have been pushing polling out of early primary states — Iowa and South Carolina, where social conservatives tend to do well — that shows him ahead of other potential Republican candidates.
But even as Huckabee, an unsuccessful candidate for the GOP nomination in 2008, begins making moves toward a 2016 bid, some conservatives are raising awareness to his record, which is checkered with tax hikes, spending increases, and support for nanny state policies. These policies earned Huckabee the nickname, “Tax Hike Mike.”
The Club for Growth, a conservative group that advances pro-growth economic policies, sent out an email blast to reporters on Friday in which they called attention to a 2007 white paper on Huckabee’s fiscal record.
The white paper (below) outlines how Huckabee repeatedly raised sales and excise taxes and increase spending by 65.3%, triple the rate of inflation. The number of state workers increased by 20% on his watch and Arkansas’ debt obligations rose by $1 billion. He also supported and signed a minimum wage increase into law.
It’s an idea that has been floating around for a while in some of the more frustrated circles of the conservative movement, and one that recently seems to have become a possible future political reality: an Article V Convention of the States to amend the Constitution with the goal of reigning in the growth and power of the federal government.
The newest movement to save the republic began this past Saturday on the grounds of George Washington’s old estate. Shortly before 9 a.m., nearly 100 state legislators from 32 states filed into the library that sits above the museums of Mount Vernon. It was state legislators only; supporters (and reporters) learned that the hard way, as they called for details or were stopped at the security gates.
The Slate piece is decidedly critical of the effort but it breaks down like this: Article V of the Constitution mandates that Congress convene a national convention of the States upon receipt of application for such a convention from 2/3rds of the available states. Or 34 states.
From there, 38 states would have to approve any amendments before those amendments could pass. It sounds unlikely. But then…
In the latest signs of desperation over Obamacare, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced late last week that it is taking steps to extend a federal high-risk pool program by one month and is “urging” insurers to cover customers who selected plans on January 1, even if they haven’t made a premium payment.
The Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), a high-risk pool for those considered uninsurable, was set to end at the end of December, but the one-month extension of the program is notable because these customers were set to enter the Obamacare exchanges. But the extension of the program is an obvious move to lessen the impact of expected premiums hikes for 2015, a sign that HHS has a gloomy outlook on enrollment numbers.
“By delaying this population’s entry into the pool for just one month, the administration’s decision will mean insurers have one less month of real claims data to use in setting premiums for 2015, no small matter when only three or four months’ worth of data will be used, potentially shaving a point or two, or even more, off of the insurer’s claims experience,” wrote Sean Parnell last week at The Federalist.
The USA Freedom Act, which is cosponsored by 102 House members, would correct some issues with the Patriot Act by curbing the National Security Agency’s ability to administer communication sweeps and ensuring that searches of data of Americans would not be performed without warrants.
In spite of the great support this bill has been receiving, President Obama recently decided to maintain a previous arrangement that allows a single military official to direct the National Security Agency while also directing the military’s cyberwarfare command. This follows a recent statement delivered by President Obama himself concerning his commitment to restrain the spying agency’s power.
The Obama Administration decided to maintain the controversial arrangement despite criticism, showing that it might not be inclined to restrain the NSA’s activities anytime soon.
Top U.S. intelligence officials urged the administration to maintain the Cyber Command and the NSA under separate leadership due to accountability concerns. The administration was also warned that problems could stem from the undue concentration of power in case it decided to uphold the arrangement.
The administration vaguely described its decision to maintain one person as the NSA director and the Cyber Command commander as “the most effective approach to accomplishing both agencies’ missions.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney tried to downplay the “Lie of the Year” dishonor bestowed to President Barack Obama by PolitiFact for frequent claim and insistence that Americans could keep their health plans under Obamacare.
“[A]s you know, the President in an interview, earlier this fall took this question head on and expressed his concern for those individuals, those as Americans who received cancellation notices and were potentially adversely impacted by or affected by that and took action to encourage states and state insurance commissioners to allow those who wanted to stay on existing plans to stay on them longer,” Carney told reporters on Friday during his daily press briefing.
“So I think he’s, in a very honest way, addressed this question,” he said. “End-of-the-year categorizations like that are always fun, even when they don’t jive with past characterizations of the same exact statement. But, we’re focused on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) sought to smooth things over with conservative groups on the budget deal he struck with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) in a pre-recorded appearance with on NBC’s Meet the Press, saying that the groups are “very important elements of our conservative family.”
Ryan’s comments came after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) blasted conservative groups on Wednesday and Thursday for opposing the budget agreement before it was formally released, telling reporters that they’ve “lost all credibility.”
“I think John just kind of got his Irish up. He was frustrated that these groups came out in opposition to our budget agreement before we reached a budget agreement,” Ryan told host David Gregory. “I was frustrated, too.”
“But I think these are very important elements of our conservative family. I would prefer to keep those conversations within the family,” the House Budget Committee chairman said. “And I think he was just basically voicing his frustration with their opposition before we had reached our agreement.”
Folks, there is going to be a minimum wage increase. Despite the fact that only a fraction of workers actually draw minimum wage, and despite the fact that folks are actually living better on minimum wage than they did 20 years ago, we are going to see the minimum wage increase.
One of the problems with democracy is that the rule by the masses means that those who feel they have a tough spot in life will automatically vote with anyone who offers to make it better, while those who feel sorrow for such people will often vote along the same lines out of either guilt or pity. This is why we have entitlement programs that, while having done absolutely nothing in the war on poverty, are here to stay.
Support for increasing the minimum wage is high. In a recent report from the Wall Street Journal:
Americans strongly favor boosting the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour but oppose raising it above that, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds. In the survey, 63% supported a rise to $10.10 from the current $7.25 rate. Senate Democrats have proposed an increase of that size and it is supported by President Barack Obama.
In the poll, 43% said they backed an increase to $12.50 an hour. Only 28% backed a $15 wage—the rate sought by union-linked demonstrators at fast-food restaurants across the country.
During congressional testimony on Wednesday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave some insight into the cost to build the federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov. The price tag for the dysfunctional website? $319 million, and that may only be the tip of the iceberg when it’s all said and done:
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday said the information technology costs for the HealthCare.gov website totaled $677 million through the end of October.
The HHS has only spent $319 million of that amount so far, Sebelius testified in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but commitments to contractors and government officials could reach $677 million if the agency makes good on all of its obligations.
Sebelius has hinted that the Health agency could seek to withhold some payments to contractors due to the poor performance of the website.
The problems with the website have been well-documented. The glitches and errors that users experienced was related to poor enrollment numbers, far below what the Obama Administration had predicted.