CNN down for maintenance on final Obamacare sign-up day down for maintenance

It’s the final day of the first quarter of the year, which, if you’re a politics nerd, means that your inbox is filled with last-minute fundraising pleas from politicians and candidates looking hoping to post strong numbers on their next FEC disclosures.

It’s also the deadline to enroll in a health plan on the state and federal Obamacare exchanges, and the Obama administration is making its final push to get people enrolled. In a little more than a week, this author has received five emails from “The Team” with reminders that the March 31 deadline is approaching.

March 20 (click to enlarge):

March 26:

March 28:

March 29:

The last email, sent yesterday, March 30, says, “YOU ONLY HAVE 1 DAY LEFT!” to enroll in a health plan on the exchange. “Don’t put this off any longer,” they wrote. “We don’t want you to miss this opportunity for quality, affordable health coverage through the Marketplace.”

Today in Liberty: CNN stoops to a new low, our insurance salesman-in-chief

“The proverb warns that ‘You should not bite the hand that feeds you.’ But maybe you should if it prevents you from feeding yourself.” — Thomas Szasz

— CNN apparently now run by Alex Jones: CNN has been following the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 almost nonstop for several days now, seeing it as ratings gold. But the cable network’s coverage, which had already jumped the shark, fell to a new low last night when host Don Lemon asked panelists “is it preposterous” to think a black hole caused the plane to crash? CNN is still relevant, they said. Give it a chance, they said. It’s like they’re not even trying anymore.

— Insurance Salesman-in-Chief: The presidency used to be considered a prestigious office with heavy influence and gravitas. But the influence of the office has been reduced to appearances on radio and television talk shows as President Obama tries to sell his healthcare law to a skeptical public, the latest of which will be a live interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The appearances are targeted to reach a certain audience and it’s probably a smart strategy to get a message to the crowd they’re trying to reach. At the same time, however, it’s just sad to see a president reduced to being a cheap insurance salesman. Well, that and a college basketball expert.

Expect more House Democrats to announce retirements

It was a mostly foregone conclusion that Republicans would keep control of the House of Representatives even before the special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Now that there’s talk of a wave election, in which Republicans could build upon their majority in the House and take control of the Senate, there may be more Democrats who decide to retire rather than face voters this fall.

“We’ve seen a number of senior House Democrats announce their retirements,” noted John King yesterday on CNN’s Inside Politics. “I’m told in the next week to 10 days look for two, perhaps three, more as Democrats decide we’re not going to win the majority back, might as well get out of Dodge.”

CNN’s John King: Obama Is Not Welcome In Key 2014 States

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John King makes note of President Obama’s absence on the campaign trail in key states and his toxicity, which could haunt Democrats in the 2014 mid-term election. “The one person we don’t see on the road yet…is the President,” King said. “We know he’s not welcome in Kentucky, we know he’s not welcome in Arkansas.”

Today in Liberty: CBO on employer mandate, religious liberty and business owners, CPAC boots atheist group

“A good measure of how serious Republicans are on cutting spending is how they react when the tiniest Pentagon spending cuts are proposed.”Coalition to Reduce Spending

— CBO report on employer mandate measure: House Republicans may have received a bit of set back yesterday on a measure that would change the definition of a full-time employee from 30 hours per week, as set under the employer mandate, to 40 hours. The Save American Workers Act would reduce the number of people receiving employer-based coverage by 1 million, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and increase budget deficits by $73.7 billion in the net 10 years. Republicans plan to bring the measure to the floor some time next month. The Obama administration has delayed the mandate for small and medium-sized businesses until 2016. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many other organizations back the Save American Workers Act.

— Tea Party Express likely to endorse in Kansas GOP Senate race: Though she didn’t outright say that they were endorsing Milton Wolf, Amy Kremer, chair of the Tea Party Express, intimated that in a tweet this morning. “Headed to Kansas today for a big announcement tomorrow,” Kremer tweeted. “Looking forward to seeing my friend !”

CNN cancels Piers Morgan’s primetime talk show

The free market has spoken, folks. CNN has decided to pull the plug on Piers Morgan’s eponymous primetime talk show, focused heavily on gun control and other contentious political issues, due to its poor ratings:

CNN is pulling the plug on “Piers Morgan Live” after just three years in a key primetime slot.

The program, hosted by former newspaper editor Piers Morgan, had struggled to gain traction at the 9 p.m. hour, and was routinely beaten in the ratings by cable competitors.

“CNN confirms that “Piers Morgan Live” is ending,” the network said in a statement. “The date of the final program is still to be determined.” 
In his interview with the Times, Morgan said he thought the audience may have grown weary of his focus on gun control — a major topic of conversation on the show in the wake of several mass shootings in the United States.

“Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing,” he said. “There is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it.”

It’s probably not going to be the end of Morgan’s presence at CNN, but this move is a response to the obvious challenges of having a guy in a primetime slot who can’t connect with viewers. He may not be leaving the United States, as some have wished, but, at the very least, his big platform to talk about his anti-freedom views has been squashed.

CO Senate: Udall won’t say if he’ll campaign with Obama

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) insists that vulnerable Senate Democrats will campaign with President Barack Obama as they seek reelection in this year’s mid-term election. But some members of conference aren’t playing along.

Shortly after the State of the Union address, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) refused to give a direct answer to when he was asked whether he would campaign with President Obama. Instead, Udall said that his campaign staff and White House would have to check their schedules.

“We’re going to be running a strong campaign based on Colorado’s interests and Colorado’s future,” Udall told CNN reporter Dana Bash. “My job, I think, is to protect Colorado’s way of life.”

“That was not a yes or no. Yes or No?” Bash asked.

“We’ll see what the president’s schedule is; we’ll see what my schedule is. But Coloradans are going to re-elect me based on my record, not the president’s record,” the Democratic senator replied. “Not what the president’s done, but what I’ve done and how I have stood up for Colorado. That’s the case I’m going to make to Coloradoans.”

Bash was taken aback by Udall’s reluctance to answer a very simple question. Still, she asked one more time, to which the Udall replied, “We’ll see what the schedule allows. I’m running for re-election, not the president of Colorado.”

NSA metadata programs wouldn’t have stopped 9/11

Khalid al-Mihdhar

Since the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs were publicly exposed in June 2013, President Barack Obama and intelligence officials have argued that the surveillance had foiled dozens of terrorist plots, a claim that has recently been proven false.

Other supporters of the programs opined that it could have prevented the September 11 terrorist attacks. That opinion was promulgated by U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley, who held last week that the NSA metadata collection is legal.

“Prior to the September 11th attacks, the National Security Agency intercepted seven calls made by hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar, who was living in San Diego, California, to an al-Qaeda safe house in Yemen,” wrote Pauley in ACLU v. Clapper. “The NSA intercepted those calls using overseas signals intelligence capabilities that could not capture al-Mihdhar’s telephone number identifier.”

“Without that identifier, NSA analysts concluded mistakenly that al-Mihdhar was overseas and not in the United States. Telephony metadata would have furnished the missing information and might have permitted the NSA to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the fact that al-Mihdhar was calling the Yemeni safe house from inside the United States,” he added.

But the notion from Pauley and others is counterfactual thinking. It cannot be proven. But Justin Elliott of ProPublica, a public interest organization, noted last summer that federal law enforcement officials had the means to bring in al-Mihdhar, who was on the flight that crashed into the Pentagon, and simply didn’t act.

CNN poll: Just 17% support Afghanistan war

After more than 12 years of fighting and occupation, the American public has soured on the war in Afghanistan to some of the highest levels recorded for any conflict, according to a CNN poll released this morning (emphasis added):

The CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicates that a majority of Americans would like to see U.S. troops pull out of Afghanistan before the December 2014 deadline.

Just 17% of those questioned say they support the 12-year-long war, down from 52% in December 2008. Opposition to the conflict now stands at 82%, up from 46% five years ago.

“Those numbers show the war in Afghanistan with far less support than other conflicts,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. “Opposition to the Iraq war never got higher than 69% in CNN polling while U.S. troops were in that country, and while the Vietnam War was in progress, no more than six in 10 ever told Gallup’s interviewers that war was a mistake.”
The discontent evident in the CNN poll is also seen in two other national surveys conducted earlier this month. Two-thirds of those questioned in an ABC News/Washington Post poll said the war has not been worth fighting, and an Associated Press/GfK survey showed 57% saying the U.S. did the wrong thing in going to war in Afghanistan.

The truth is that the United States should have withdrawn from Afghanistan years ago. Had Washington focused on only one war at a time — never invading Iraq in 2003 on false pretense — perhaps that could have been possible, but history says that would still have been an unlikely endeavor, given Afghanistan’s reputation as the “graveyard of empires.”

Poll: Americans pessimistic about the economy

More than five years after the recession officially ended, there are some signs of life in the economy. There have been a couple months solid job growth and the stock market is surging. But the vast majority of Americans are still pessimistic about the economy as they head into 2014, according to a new CNN poll:

A new CNN/ORC poll released Friday showed people were pessimistic that the economy was improving. Nearly 70% said the economy is generally in poor shape, and only 32% rated it good.

Two-thirds of respondents said most of the economic news they’ve heard recently was bad news. More rural than urban dwellers said the economy was in poor shape.

And just over half expected the economy to remain in poor shape a year from now.
Those people aren’t buying big-ticket items like furniture or appliances, and some were cutting back on essentials. Thirty-six percent said they were cutting back spending on food or medicine, up from 31% in late 2008, the year the housing market collapsed.

It hard to blame people for feeling this way about the economy and for doubting that there will be any improvement in the next year. They’ve been told time after time by President Obama that the economy was improving. How many times were we told that the 2009 stimulus saved the economy or hear the phrase “summer of recovery”?

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