Friday, November 29, 2013

Long Weekend Newsbites: Fri., Sat., & Sun., Nov. 29 thru Dec. 1, 2013


Our Thanksgiving ended with me... sober.

Yep...

I don't know what happened! I can't explain it! Just... too much food. I simply can't consume the amounts of food and drink consumed in days of yore!

(Except... sometimes I can! It all depends on the day! Very strange...)

It could have been subconscious, though...

Earlier in the week I'd received a call from my best bud (my gracious host this year) cautioning me about where political talk during the holidays can lead...

(*HUGE FRIGGIN' GRIN*)

Also... tonight is Mary's High School Graduation Class of '83 Reunion; I'm expecting some serious drinking; we're going with two of our closest friends - one a classmate of Mary's and one my good pal!

(*DOUBLE THUMBS UP*)

So, yeah... perhaps yesterday my brain and liver were communicating at a subconscious level... "protecting" me from myself last night!

Oh... get this, folks! Last night after Thanksgiving... after the stroke of midnight which brought us into today... Mary and I actually did a bit of "Black Friday" shopping! No... nothing to crazy. Both of us simply needed new footwear (me, sneakers; Mary, shoes) for the upcoming "American Raj Over India" (Kimmy's wedding!) trip! I got a $59.99 pair of New Balance sneakers for $29.99 and Mary got a pair of $54.99 shoes for $16.49 - plus, with the additional purchase of a $3 candy bar we qualified for a $15 "Kohl's Bucks" certificate!

Later on this morning... off to J.C. Penny (and/or Sears) for some new underwear and perhaps socks! (Buy one get one free if we get there before 1:00 p.m.!)

Anyway... hopefully I'll get around to a bit of newsbiting over this weekend! As always... the actual newsbites will be posted within the Comments Section of this newsbites post!

Enjoy your weekend, folks, and to all my Jewish friends... enjoy the rest of Hanukkah!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Barker's Newsbites: Wednesday, November 27, 2013


'Twas the day before Thanksgiving,
And all through the house...
Sorry, gang - that's all I've got!

Big day tomorrow! Feasting with the VanDemarks! (Already received my marching orders... no politics...)

As for the weekend... we'll see... the only shopping we may do is pre-vacation (Kim's Indian Wedding) cloth shopping. (A new pair of black sneakers, perhaps; a new pair of khakis... some new tee-shirts, socks, underwear...)

No Christmas per se for the Barkers this year! This trip is tapping us out so please... no presents for us.

(Mary refuses to even send cards this year! So don't be offended! All will be back to normal next year!)

Anyway... for the rest of you who WILL be celebrating Christmas with gifts exchanges... allow me to reiterate my yearly plea:

BUY AMERICAN...!!!

Nope. Not everything. Just... what you can. It matters, folks. Just Google "American Made Products and Gifts" or think about what someone on your list would want and search for that item adding the term "American Made."


Monday, November 25, 2013

Barker's Newsbites: November 25, 2013


So, gang... remember once upon a time when if you were faced with the question, "Who do I trust... the Israelis... the Saudis... or the President of the United States," the answer would be clear?

Well...??? Does anyone believe the answer is clear today...???

Anyway... let's put foreign policy aside for the moment so that I can rant about a certain "domestic policy" which really roasts my chestnuts...
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Enough with this "Happy Holidays" crap!!!

And, no, before anyone gets the wrong idea, it's not "just" about Christmas... it's about how political correctness is pissing me off across the friggin' holiday board!

Prior to Halloween... HALLOWEEN... people were wishing me "Happy Holidays!"

Are you friggin' KIDDING me...?!?! Now we can't say "HALLOWEEN...?!?!"

And then there's Thanksgiving...

Thanksgiving is not "the start to the holiday season" in my book; in my book Thanksgiving is...

(*DRUM ROLL*)

...THANKSGIVING...!!!

Is Thanksgiving a religious holiday? Yes and no. Definitely "yes" in the sense that we're talking the friggin' PILGRIMS and they were giving thanks to GOD... the Christian God if you wanna be technical... BUT... Thanksgiving is secular as well... a PATRIOTIC holiday... an AMERICAN holiday... and thus one all Americans regardless of religion (or lack thereof) should be celebrating!

RESPECT THANKSGIVING... IN AND OF ITSELF...!!!

Say it with me, my friends: "Happy Thanksgiving...!!!"

Next... Hanukkah... the Festival of Lights... a MINOR Jewish holiday that this year falls on Wednesday, November 27 (sunset) and goes on through Thursday, December 5 (sunset).

Do I have anything against Hanukkah? Nope! Does my referring to Hanukkah as a "minor" Jewish holiday mark me as a bigot? Nope! (It marks me as educated!)

If a million people were to wish me "Happy Hanukkah" from now till sunset on Thursday, December 5 would I feel blessed? Sure! Why not?! My Savior was a friggin' Jew and I'm guessing that as a boy Jesus looked forward to Hanukkah every year! (And you know what I say... "If it was good enough for Jesus...")

In all seriousness, it's NOT disrespectful to spread the joy of one's holidays! It is indeed a blessing! (So says I and I was made in God's image and therefore...")

(*SHRUG*)

My Jewish friends... each year I sincerely wish them a Happy Hanukkah. To the many Hasidim I run into... I wish them a Happy Hanukkah! If someone wishes me a Happy Hanukkah I wish them one back...!!!

What is so friggin' hard to understand about the logic and correctness of "The Bill Approach?"

But, folks... come December 1... it's CHRISTMASTIME...!!!

It's not "holiday" time no matter how many different religions are celebrating whatever their religions call for them to celebrate.

December is "holiday" time in America and throughout "the Christian World" only in the sense that it's CHRISTMASTIME! This has absolutely nothing to do with Hanukkah... or Thanksgiving or Halloween or New Year's Day...

I believe that current scholarly thought is that Christ was actually born in the summer. Let's say he was. Let's say that instead of celebrating Advent every December... celebrating Christmas Eve every December 24... celebrating Christmas Day every December 25... that in place of all this we "moved" Christmas to August.

(*SMIRK*)

Folks... no Christmas in December... no December "holiday time." 

Winter Solstice...??? (Yeah... good luck with that! Quick... without Googling... what date does this year's Winter Solstice fall upon?)

So... with all due respect to all the non-Christians out there who have a problem with CHRISTMASTIME... 

(*PAUSE*)

Go stuff your heads in thawed "holiday" turkeys and heat up your ovens!

To anyone who disagrees with the basic premise of my call to treat every holiday with respect... to NOT disrespect any one by trying to fold it (or rather "them") into some politically correct all-encompassing "holiday season"...

(*ANOTHER PAUSE*)

Stand up... walk over to the nearest wall... start banging your head against that wall until you either change your mind or knock yourself unconscious!

And that's my rant for "the season."

(Well... one at least! More to come...!!!)


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Barker's Newsbites: Thursday, November 21, 2013


Well, folks... back on a roll! Nine separate newsbites yesterday (including one directed specifically to "He Whose Name Dare Not Be Mentioned") and a stand-alone!

So... what's new today? More "knock-out" attacks in Philly I see...

(Of course I'm sure there's nothing "racial" about... er... what seems to be exclusively or near-exclusively black on white, black on Asian unprovoked attacks...

(Hey... it's just a "game," right?)

(*SNORT*)

(*SHAKING MY HEAD*)

Oh... let's see... what else...

(*PURSED LIPS*)

Oh... this might be of interest to some of you: Harry Reid has just staged a coup!

Well... not literally. All ol' Harry has done is overturn nearly 225 years of precedent...

(*SHRUG*)

Hmm... today should be a good day of newsbiting!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Stand-Alone Based Upon "Perks Ease the Way," a NYT Article by Robert Pear




Members of Congress like to boast that they will have the same health care enrollment experience as constituents struggling with the balky federal website, because the law they wrote [supposedly] "forced lawmakers to get coverage from the new insurance exchanges."

That is true...

* AND THE ABOVE "THAT IS TRUE" WAS SARCASM... (READ ON!)

...as long as their constituents have access to “in-person support sessions” like the ones being conducted at the Capitol and congressional office buildings by the local exchange and four major insurers; or can log on to a special Blue Cross and Blue Shield website for members of Congress and use a special toll-free telephone number — a “dedicated congressional health insurance plan assistance line.”

(*SMIRK*)

And then there is the fact that lawmakers have a larger menu of “gold plan” insurance choices than most of their constituents have back home.

* WHOEVER SAYS "VIOLENCE ISN'T THE ANSWER" APPARENTLY DOESN'T TRULY APPRECIATE THE LIMITED CHOICES!

While millions of Americans have been left to fend for themselves and go through the frustrating experience of trying to navigate the federal exchange, members of Congress and their aides..

* AND... THEIR... AIDES...

...have all sorts of assistance to help them sort through their options and enroll.

Lawmakers and the employees who work in their “official offices” will receive coverage next year through the small-business marketplace of the local insurance exchange, known as D.C. Health Link, which has staff members close at hand for guidance. “D.C. Health Link set up shop right here in Congress,” said Eleanor Holmes Norton, the delegate to the House from the nation’s capital.

Insurers routinely offer “member services” to enrollees. But on Capitol Hill, the phrase has special meaning, indicating concierge-type services for members of Congress. If lawmakers have questions about Aetna plan benefits and provider networks, they can call a special phone number that provides “member services for members of Congress and staff.”

* AND... STAFF...

On the website run by the Obama administration for 36 states, it is notoriously difficult to see the prices, deductibles and other details of health plans. It is much easier for members of Congress and their aides to see and compare their options on websites run by the Senate, the House and the local exchange.

(*PURSED LIPS*)

Lawmakers can select from 112 options offered in the “gold tier” of the District of Columbia exchange, far more than are available to most of their constituents.

* THE "GOLD" TIER... NICE...

* 112 OPTIONS...

Aetna is offering eight plan options to members of Congress, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield is offering 16. Eight are available from Kaiser Permanente, and 80 are on sale from the UnitedHealth Group.

(*CLAP...CLAP...CLAP*)

Lawmakers and their aides are not eligible for tax credit subsidies, but the government pays up to 75% of their premiums, contributing a maximum of $5,114 a year for individual coverage and $11,378 for family coverage. The government contribution is based on the same formula used for most other federal employees.

* BUT THEY'RE NOT "MOST OTHER FEDERAL EMPLOYEES."

* BY THE WAY... ALL THE LAWMAKERS AND MID-LEVEL TO SENIOR STAFF ARE HIGHLY PAID. WHY MUST TAXPAYERS SUBSIDIZE THEM AT ALL - LET ALONE TO THE TUNE OF 75% OF THEIR PREMIUMS?! LOGIC CALLS FOR WEENING PEOPLE OFF OF EMPLOYER-BASED COVERAGE! WHO BETTER TO START WITH THAN LAWMAKERS AND THEIR AIDES?!

In debates leading up to passage of the Affordable Care Act, members of both parties suggested that all Americans should have coverage as good as what Congress had. President Obama said in 2009 that people should be able to buy insurance in a marketplace, or exchange, “the same way that federal employees do, same way that members of Congress do.”

* YEAH. PRESIDENT OBAMA SAYS A LOT OF THINGS...

For decades, members of Congress have received coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. They generally like their coverage, but — like millions of Americans facing the loss of their policies next year — they cannot keep it.

In the past, if lawmakers did nothing in the open enrollment period, their coverage would automatically continue. This year, by contrast, they must affirmatively pick a plan. Their coverage under the federal employee program will end on Dec. 31. If they do not choose a plan via D.C. Health Link by Dec. 9, they will lose the government contribution to their premiums and could lose their right to retiree health benefits as well.

* WHY DO THEY GET RETIREE HEALTH BENEFITS IN THE FIRST PLACE...?!?! WHY ISN'T THE SAME SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM THEY DESIGNED FOR "THE MASSES" GOOD ENOUGH FOR THEM..?!?!

In addition, lawmakers who go without insurance next year may, like other Americans, be subject to tax penalties.

Jacqueline A. Thomas, a 26-year-old legislative correspondent for Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida, said she was able to reduce her monthly premium to $60, from $120, by switching to a Kaiser plan from a Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan. “I’ll be paying half as much for comparable coverage,” she said.

* BUT WHAT'S THE PLAN ACTUALLY COST...?!?! WHAT'S IT COST TAXPAYERS...?!?!

* ONE... MORE... TIME: "...the government pays up to 75% of their premiums, contributing a maximum of $5,114 a year for individual coverage and $11,378 for family coverage."

The congressional work force is full of young, healthy people like Ms. Thomas, precisely the type of customer insurers want to attract.

* I DON'T CARE ABOUT WHOM INSURERS WANT TO ATTRACT! WHAT I CARE ABOUT IS HOW MUCH I HAVE TO PAY TO SUBSIDIZE THESE PEOPLE WHILE STILL PAYING FOR MY OWN HEALTH INSURANCE AT MARKET RATES!

Congressional aides naturally have a few complaints. Some are confused by the large number of options. When they sign up for a plan online, they get no confirmation, so they are apprehensive. In addition, the website for the local exchange does not display the government contribution for members of Congress and their aides.

(*JUST SHAKING MY HEAD*)

It shows, for example, that a couple with one child may pay $1,300 a month for a plan, when, in fact, their share of the premium is only $352; the government pays $948.

* THE... GOVERNMENT... IS... BROKE...!!! THE GOVERNMENT BORROWS WHAT... IS IT STILL FORTY-SOMETHING-PERCENT OF GENERAL OPERATING EXPENSE FUNDING... ADDING DEFICITS UPON DEFICITS, DEBT UPON DEBT?

Local exchange officials said their website had not been set up to calculate premium contributions using the formula required for lawmakers and other federal employees.

(*HEADACHE*)

One part of the new insurance program is veiled in secrecy. Lawmakers may allow some or all of their employees to keep their current insurance by declaring that they do not work in the “official office” of a member of Congress. Members do not have to disclose such decisions, though some have voluntarily done so.

* WHAT'S IT GONNA TAKE, FOLKS...??? HOW MUCH WILL YOU STOMACH...???

Thus, for example, a spokesman for Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California, said the congressman had decided that all of his staff members, including those who work in his personal office, could stay in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and would not have to go into an exchange.

* THAT SON OF A BITCH...

By making it easier to compare the costs and benefits of different health plans, the exchange could make it easier for insurers to compete with Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which has long dominated the market on Capitol Hill.

For its part, Blue Cross and Blue Shield says it can best meet the needs of lawmakers and their aides because its national plans have a large network of providers, including nearly 90% of all doctors in the United States.

One perk is not in danger. Lawmakers can receive care from the attending physician to Congress, conveniently located in the Capitol, for an annual fee of $576. And they can get care at military hospitals.

* FOLKS... OVER THE YEARS I'VE SHARED WITH YOU THE REALITY OF "THE ATTENDING PHYSICIAN." YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND - THIS IS CONCIERGE MEDICINE. THIS IS A SCAM. YOU ARE BEING USED AND ABUSED BY THESE BASTARDS AND IF YOU'RE PREPARED TO ACCEPT THAT THIS IS HOW IT MUST BE... THEN YOU DESERVE EVERY BIT OF ILL TREATMENT YOU RECEIVE.

Barker's Newsbites: Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Yep... there'll be newsbiting today!

Friday, November 15, 2013

All "Heil" Obama! (A stand-alone newsbite.)



Via McClatchy... Anita Kumar and Lesley Clark [assisted by] Tony Pugh, Curtis Tate and David Lightman... Barbara Anderson of The Fresno Bee and Christopher Cadelago of The Sacramento Bee [who] contributed to this report:

Facing growing outrage from Americans, President Barack Obama reversed course Thursday and offered to "let" insurance companies sell existing plans even if they don’t meet the minimum standards set by his new problem-fraught health care law.

* HE HAS NO CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY TO FOLLOW THROUGH ON SUCH AN OFFER. (OR AT LEAST WHEN AMERICA STILL EXISTED AS A CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC NO CHIEF EXECUTIVE HAD SUCH POWER.)

 “We fumbled the roll-out on this health care law,” a contrite Obama said in an hour-long news conference Thursday at the White House. “We should have done a better job getting that right on day one – not on day 28 or on day 40.”

* FOLKS. IGNORE WHAT HE SAYS. PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT HE DOES. IN ANY CASE... HE SHOULD RESIGN. HE'S A TOTAL INCOMPETENT.

The president flatly took responsibility for the slew of problems that have bedeviled his signature domestic achievement...

* NO HE DIDN'T. THAT'S MCCLATCHY EDITORIALIZING WITHIN THEIR NEWS PAGES. TAKING RESPONSIBILITY WOULD BE RESIGNING.

On Thursday, Obama announced that he’d allow – but not require – insurance companies to extend existing policies for a year as long as they notified customers that their benefits might be diminished with their current plans and that alternative policies might be available to them.

* THIS IS NOT THE EQUIVALENT OF PROSECUTORIAL OR POLICE OR EVEN REGULATORY "DISCRETION" WHILE KEEPING FAITH WITH THE LAW ITSELF. THIS IS UNILATERALLY DECLARING THE LAW TO BE NO LONGER THE LAW. THIS IS THE ACT OF A TYRANT... A DICTATOR.

Companies based their rates for 2014 on certain assumptions, including that consumers who bought plans after 2010 or had their prior plans substantially change wouldn’t be able to keep them. If more customers are allowed to keep their plans, companies probably will have to raise premiums and offer fewer choices.

“The point of the law was to provide health care insurance that was affordable and comprehensive and that protected people from catastrophic, out-of-pocket costs, so going back and allowing people to keep plans that are substandard seems not to fit the goal of the law,” said Sara Collins, the vice president for health care coverage and access at the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that promotes access to health care and has supported the Affordable Care Act.

* HOW'S THAT "POINT" WORKING OUT FOR YOU FOLKS...? MARY AND I PAY MORE THAN 20% OF OUR INCOME FOR HEALTH INSURANCE (ABSENT DENTAL!); IS THAT "AFFORDABLE" IN TERMS OF OBAMASPEAK...?

The White House says it will try to keep prices down through an existing program that could provide companies financial assistance.

* CORPORATE WELFARE...?!?! THAT'S THEIR ANSWER...?!?! FURTHER EXPAND DEFICITS...?!?! FURTHER EXPAND NATIONAL DEBT...?!?!

“I am highly skeptical that they can do this administratively,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio said at a news conference. “There is no way to fix this.”

* AND THIS IS "OUR" GUY. THIS IS THE REPUBLICAN SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE! HE'S "HIGHLY SKEPTICAL." NOT... "OUTRAGED." NOT "BOUND AND DETERMINED TO STOP THIS ASSAULT ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL SEPARATION OF POWERS." NOPE... JUST... er... "HIGHLY SKEPTICAL."

* I WISH JOHN BOEHNER WOULD DROP DEAD.

In spite of the anxieties of some Democrats in the Senate and House, the party’s House leadership circled the wagons Thursday, offering to help fix the law’s problems but making no apologies for them. “Our members were pleased with the president’s statement today,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

* THE BOEHNER REPUBLICANS DON'T CARE ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION; THE PELOSI/REID DEMOCRATS ARE ACTIVELY ANTI-CONSTITUTION. YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND THIS. YOU NEED TO ACCEPT THIS. THIS IS NOT HYPERBOLE. I'M DEADLY SERIOUS.

Sherry Taylor, 63, of Tulare, Calif., said she welcomed Obama’s news after her Anthem Blue Cross policy was canceled in lieu of a slightly higher-priced one. “I’m going to keep my policy until Congress works out what they’re actually going to do,” said the hairdresser, who broke her pelvis in two places in a bicycle accident.

* CONGRESS ALREADY PASSED A LAW. THE LAW IS CALLED OBAMACARE. IT WAS CHAMPIONED BY PRESIDENT OBAMA. IT WAS "DEEMED" LAW BY PELOSI. IT PASSED ON ALMOST STRAIGHT PARTY LINE VOTE. THE ONLY WAY TO CHANGE IT IS TO CHANGE IT. OBAMA IS NOT KING. AMERICA IS NOT A MONARCHY. (OR IS IT...???)

Administration officials say they don’t know how many people would be affected by Obama’s decision...

* HIS "COMMAND." HIS ILLEGAL POWER GRAB. HIS VIOLATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL SEPARATION OF POWERS DOCTRINE. HIS ABSOLUTE CONTEMPT FOR THE RULE OF LAW.

...though they continue to insist that the problem is limited to people who buy their own insurance, about 11 million people. But a 2010 administration estimate indicates that as many as 69% of people with certain employer-based insurance plans – as many as 41 million – could have lost their policies.

Nicholas Bagley, a health policy expert and law assistant professor at the University of Michigan, said Obama’s fix raised more questions than answers, from the effect on premiums to the ability of insurance commissioners to swiftly approve previously canceled plans. And, he said, it remains to be seen whether the effort is legal.

“The administration hasn’t offered a legal justification, so it’s difficult to deliver a thumbs up or thumbs down,” he said. “There’s at least a big question mark whether the president can do this.”

* THERE IS NO "BIG QUESTION." THERE IS NO "QUESTION" PERIOD. IF PRESIDENTS HAD SUCH POWER THEY'D BE NO NEED - OR PURPOSE - IN HAVING A CONGRESS... IN HAVING SEPARATE STATES... IN HAVING A CONSTITUTION. RULE BY DECREE IS PROPERLY TERMS TYRANNY.