Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Last Call For Revenge

The Associated Press has decided it has the power to make things very uncomfortable for the Obama administration, and has decided to hit back.

Some of President Barack Obama’s political appointees, including the secretary for Health and Human Services, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, according to a review by The Associated Press.

The scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery: Most U.S. agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees’ email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses.

The AP asked for the addresses following last year’s disclosures that the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had used separate email accounts at work. The practice is separate from officials who use personal, non-government email accounts for work, which generally is discouraged — but often happens anyway — due to laws requiring that most federal records be preserved.

The secret email accounts complicate an agency’s legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails in response to congressional or internal investigations, civil lawsuits or public records requests because employees assigned to compile such responses would necessarily need to know about the accounts to search them. Secret accounts also drive perceptions that government officials are trying to hide actions or decisions.

The Associated Press has decided that it felt the Obama administration was abusing its power and trust.  Apparently, the AP has countered by doing much the same thing by putting these email addresses out there, certainly ones they've used to communicate with administration officials.  At best, that's just being a bunch of douchebags.  At worst, it's rank hypocrisy.

The AP story gives the impression that this is unprecedented, making no mention of the use of the multiple addresses by previous administrations.

U.S. Senators and Representatives also typically have non-published e-mail addresses, though Congress exempted itself from Freedom of Information laws. It seems obvious that political figures of both parties would need an unlisted e-mail address that cannot be easily guessed for communications with advisers and colleagues — just as cabinet secretaries private cell phone numbers would not be publicly available, though their main office number would be.

Despite Alexander’s concern, the release of this information shows that both the public and private email addresses are public record and that any legitimate FOIA request or subpoena for records would include those sent to and from both addresses.

People forget that at their heart, news organizations are intelligence-gathering agencies, and that intelligence can be misused for personal reasons. Somebody might want to refresh the AP's collective memory on that, and tell them to knock off this message pitch crap.

They Still Can't Stop Lying About Obamacare

As I pointed out on Saturday, Forbes.com hack Avik Roy is paid to lie quite professionally about things like Obamacare raising premiums 146% in California, and did a great job of it right up until the point it took Ezra Klein one paragraph to bury him.

Roy got his 146 percent by heading to eHealthInsurance.com, running a search for insurance plans in California and comparing the cost of the cheapest plans to the cost of the plans being offered in the exchanges. That’s not just comparing apples to oranges. It’s comparing apples to oranges that the fruit guy may not even let you buy.

Roy, caught red-handed, has decided to respond by simply move the goalposts and declaring victory.

To Ezra, it’s galling that three-fourths of his compatriots can pay $109 for health insurance, because 12 percent were not eligible for the plan, and another 14 percent had to pay somewhat more. This is why Obamacare is a great achievement, he says, because Health Net will have to serve all comers, regardless of prior health status.

And I appreciate Ezra’s perspective. I, too, am a supporter of universal coverage, so I understand Ezra’s passion for providing health insurance to the sick. But what we didn’t know last week—and we do now—is how much more the healthy will have to pay for that insurance, under Obamacare. In Orange County, where Irvine is located, the three-fourths of the 25-year-old population that is in good health will have their premiums jacked by 95 percent.

Same false argument, dressed up in different misleading numbers.  Now Roy has found a narrow, specific category where premiums will rise for people, but that's a far cry from his "everyone will see premiums go up 64%-146%" claim earlier, plus 25-year olds will be eligible for being on their parents plans, and if you're under 30, you can get catastrophic coverage still, which exactly addresses the point Roy was attacking (that Obamacare forces young people to buy expensive insurance). But he can't leave without declaring victory on all those intellectually bankrupt liberals...

But in the end, I’m glad that we’re finally having the intellectually honest argument about Obamacare that we should have been having all along. No, Obamacare won’t decrease the cost of your insurance by $2,500 a year. Indeed, it could raise it by that much. No, under Obamacare, you can’t keep your plan, if you like your plan. Instead, you’ll be forced to buy a costlier plan with add-ons that you neither need nor want.
If you’re a leftie, you likely think that’s a good thing. But you should have said so all along. The fact is that Obamacare was sold to the public under false pretenses, and the chickens are now coming home to roost.

So now Roy has completely knocked all the pieces off the board and has claimed victory because you lied first, liberals so I win!

Jonathan Cohn sinks this argument handily:

Roy is no dummy. He’s well aware of these facts. He could have acknowledged them, and went on to make the case that the benefits are not worth those costs—that it’s fundamentally unfair to ask young, healthy, affluent people to pay more, or that Obamacare’s whole scheme is just so inefficient as to make it worse than the alternative.1 As Aaron Carroll wrote the other day, Obamacare involves real trade-offs: Higher-income people have to pay higher taxes, the health care industry has to endure lower payments from Medicare, and—yes—some young, healthy, affluent people have to pay more for private insurance. Those of us who support the law believe that's a worthwhile price to pay to help achieve universal coverage, given the lack of politically viable alternatives. Roy disagrees, I know, and he could have made that argument in a nuanced way last week.

But Roy didn’t do that. And while all of us are susceptible to hyperbole or selective interpretation from time to time, Roy's column was something else entirely. He plucked out two examples of people who would pay more in California, pretended they were emblematic of the system as a whole, then accused other writers of being irresponsible. His argument hasn't held up well to scrutiny, but it's part of the political conversation and, I'm sure, will remain so for a while.

.So the only logical explanation is that Avik Roy is lying professionally.  Like I said, paid to lie.

Hang Out In The Middle Of The Jersey Turnpike Long Enough...

...and the truck comes barreling right for you.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s death Monday morning sets up a complicated succession process that will have implications for two Garden State politicians widely believed to hold national ambitions: Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D).

With Lautenberg’s passing, it falls to Christie to appoint a temporary replacement and to decide when to schedule the election to replace Lautenberg, both while he faces his own re-election in November and tries to build his brand on the national stage. Booker, who all-but officially announced his decision to run for Lautenberg’s seat in December, may find himself simultaneously facing off against Christie’s chosen successor and confronting the consequences of the stormy relationship he had with Lautenberg prior to the senator’s death.

Chris Christie has tried to hang out in the middle of the New Jersey Turnpike for four years now, and this is now what he faces:

He's going to lose badly no matter what he does.  He can't choose a far-right Tea Party nutjob, because he's facing re-election in a blue state in less than six months.  He can't choose a moderate because the nutjobs running his party will bury him.  He can't punt and call a special election without nominating anyone because then he gets pegged as a wimp, and he can't wait until November to hold the election because it will bring out Democratic voters in a big way, and that could hurt his chances for re-election.  He can't resign, pass the buck to Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, and have her send him to the Senate because they'd both get killed in November by Democrats. Most of all, if he doesn't pick the New Jersey equivalent of Chuck Grassley, any ambitions beyond Jersey are over for him nationally.

Nate Silver actually does have some objective advice for Christie if his goal is increasing GOP power in the Garden State:

Mr. Christie might have decent choices from New Jersey’s list of current United States representatives. Six of the state’s 12 representatives are Republicans, and most of those Republicans are quite moderate.

In particular, Mr. Christie could appoint one of the two Republican representatives — Frank LoBiondo of the Second Congressional District and Jon Runyan of the Third — who won re-election last year in districts carried by President Obama. Mr. Runyan had the better fund-raising performance last year, bringing in $2.1 million for his campaign, compared with $1.6 million for Mr. LoBiondo.

Because of New Jersey’s strong Democratic lean, the appointee would still probably be the underdog against Mayor Cory Booker of Newark or whomever the Democrats nominated. But someone like Mr. Runyan would stand a fighting chance, whereas an underqualified nominee or a conservative Republican would most likely be added to the long list of Senate appointees who failed at the ballot box.

But there's no way he can do that without incurring the wrath of the teabaggers.  He's utterly screwed and he knows it. 

And it couldn't happen to a more deserving sack of crap.


Related Posts with Thumbnails