Bits & Pieces

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This is a collection of shorts, addressing multiple stories that I found interesting. First is the administration’s claiming victory over the “8.1 million ‘enrollees’ for ObamaCare,” neglecting to tell us that the 8.1-million figure is grapefruit – when the CBO reported that 7 million would be a tenable number of enrollees during the initial sign-up period, it was referring to the number of people who had acquired insurance through the program. The administration’s figures refer to those who chose a plan, not those who have paid the at least the first premium – not those, in other words, who were actually enrolled in a policy. The administration claims not to know how many have paid – that part of the website still isn’t written yet(!) You better believe the insurance companies know that number. All the White House need do is ask. And I will bet you they have – if that number was over or even near 7 million, the administration would be holding giggling, in-your-face, I-told-you-so press conferences lamenting the hapless GOP for ever doubting them. The 28% of “enrollees” being under 35 years old is also grapefruit (the CBO noted that 40% of policies had to be young and healthy for the math to work), as it includes ages zero to 35, not the policy-holding 18 to 35 CBO was talking about. Again, the insurers know this number, and I’ll bet the White House does, too.

On another front, aside from CIA, four other intelligence agencies (Israel’s Mossad, NATO’s NATOIU, Britain’s MI-6, and Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst) have busied themselves studying footage of the demonstrations in Eastern Ukraine and comparing them to footage of those in Crimea. Together, they have managed to use facial recognition software to match over 30 individuals who participated in both, dozens of which later turned up as uniformed members of Spetsnaz, Russian special forces. The implication, of course, is clear – Russia is “officially” orchestrating the unrest in Ukraine, and in the case of Crimea, eventually took total control of the destabilized territory. This does not bode well for Eastern Ukraine, and puts the remainder of the country – and the rest of the civilized world – on notice. Observing the West’s (who will not act absent American leadership) feckless response, PRC has stepped up its belligerence over Japan’s Senkaku Islands (known as the Diaoyu Islands in PRC) and the Philippines’ Spratly Islands. The Chinese defense minister told hapless American SecDef Hagel that they [PRC] “owned the East and South China Seas” (site of both archipelagos). The child of American weakness is a more dangerous world for all.

From the Stupid Human Tricks File comes the tale of Jeffrey Wade Chapman. It seems he is on trial in Barton County District Court [KS] for first degree murder, and has filed a motion to allow the removal of a tattoo before his court appearance. The reason: he has “MURDER” tattooed across the front of neck from bottom to top. If he looks at you, it can’t be missed. He also sports a teardrop tattoo at the corner of his left eye, which typically means that each teardrop represents a killing by the wearer, that is older than the MURDER tattoo. The defense no doubt will present Mr Chapman to the court in a suit, a new haircut, and probably makeup covering the teardrop, enthralling the jury with tales of his pillarness of the community, his innate goodness, and love for children, puppies and mom’s home cooking. Good luck with that.

To bring things full circle, Oregon is abandoning its ObamaCare website in favor of using the federal HealthCare.gov. The reason: it used the $300 million federal grant to set up a statewide website that has, as of 23 April, failed to sign up a single individual – by anyone’s cartoon accounting method. So, rest easy HHS, incredibly, somebody botched the rollout worse than you did. While Kathleen Sebelius will remain the poster child of incompetence, Oregon gets the MVP for sheer excellence in the field.

6 thoughts on “Bits & Pieces

  1. Interesting observations on a patchwork of topics as you have said. As I said several blog postings ago, I will not make any more comments on the ObamaScare / ObamaCares topic.

    On the Ukraine crisis, there is no doubt that the source of the unrest in eastern Ukraine is being instigated by Russian military elite units. However, I don’t agree with your conflation that Europe is being “feckless” because America is not “leading” those countries in a concerted effort to drive Putin’s troops out of eastern Ukraine as a solution or even a viable option in solving the crisis. And neither does NATO I might add.

    And to make the assertion that PRC is flexing it’s muscles over the disputed islands between Japan and China simply because we the United States won’t “flex our muscles” back at them can only come from someone who is looking to blame the Obama Administration for not being hawkish enough in handling all and any global conflicts. Which you and all of the Neocons do. Fine. I get it. Sabre rattling is the solution to global conflicts.

    I’m not familiar with the Jeffrey Wade Chapman case, but I do agree with you that there is something wrong with our legal system that allows gimmicks like what defense lawyers do in order to influence jurors in favor of their obviously guilty clients. Under our statute of “innocent until proven guilty” this kind of stuff happens all the time. It’s sad but unaviodable until or unless we amend that law.

    • I can’t blame you for abandoning ObamaCare as a topic – I, however, continue to be fascinated by the shameless prevarication by this president on things about which we know better.

      The Ukrainian situation is of peripheral interest to NATO, as Ukraine is not a member – only juxtapositioned to member states. Notice, though, that NATO intelligence is taking great interest in tracking events there. I don’t say that we should be “driving Russian troops out of Eastern Ukraine,” only trying to stop the aggression against that country, and the ridiculously meager sanctions aren’t even a speed bump to Mr Putin. Europe, whose problem this actually is, will not act assertively without American leadership – they haven’t since 1945.

      No, you don’t get it. I’m not saying that “saber rattling” is the answer to everything. I’m saying that in the face of America’s lack of willingness to stand for anything is leading the world’s bad actors to take advantage of the situation, which the Chinese are currently doing. The lack of a cohesive foreign policy isn’t just – or even primarily – an American political football, it’s obvious to all observers worldwide. It brings sadness and anxiety to our friends, and opportunity to our adversaries. When the normally circumspect Chinese tell our Defense Secretary to his face to stay out of the East and South China Seas, that’s a significant break from normality. And the Chinese don’t do things serendipitously. There is a good reason they think it will be a cost-free affront.

  2. Your thinking on the Ukrainian crisis seems to be right in line with John McCain’s position. I’m not surprised. The old warhawk from the Vietnam era is urging us to send weapons and fighter planes to Ukraine so that they can “defend” themselves against the Russians. What a great idea! That’ll show Putin that WE mean business and he’d better think twice about expanding his military adventurism in Europe! When it comes to global relations he and you seem to think that our military superiority and might need to be used. At the very least we should threaten to use it in order to maintain global stability. Which of course is our role in the world since we are “The Leaders of the Free World”.

    And if China talks tough at us and “insults” our Sec. of Defense, well…We can’t just ignore that! We probably should insert one of our carrier fleets into the disputed islands between Japan and China. That will show China that WE MEAN BUSINESS and we don’t take insults lightly. Global diplomacy (or lack thereof) circa mid-twentieth century. Let’s do the time-warp again…Cold War thinking and Cold War strategies in the 21st century. Uh huh.

    • Nice rant. Any ideas on how to stabilize a world largely destabilized by your hero?

      First of all. I missed the part where Senator McCain wanted fighters sent to Ukraine – I heard him say we should send them to neighboring NATO states (which we have done). Russia has sent special forces into Ukraine, and they have asked, not for troops but weapons, which their own troops might use in self defense. We promised to send Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), though none have yet been sent – apparently the conquest of Ukraine will be catered. Thirdly, I think like I think – if it coincides with Senator McCain, or anyone else, that’s coincidental. Unlike liberals, I do not look to talking points to see what I think about something – I keep up with what’s happening in the world.

      And yes, I think we have an obligation to help protect Europe, the seat of Western Civilization. As the strongest member of that civilization, we have a disproportionate responsibility. That’s not politics, it’s just how the real world works.

      My comments about PRC were lost on you. Sorry about that. PRC has a millennia-long history of keeping its own council, especially on matters of foreign affairs. The fact that they chose to officially put our defense secretary on notice, and to do it in a particularly offensive manner, demonstrates their view of American as a paper tiger, not worthy of any need to tread carefully in our presence. That portends adventurism in their periphery, and portends real problems for our allies Japan, ROK and ROC (and possibly Australia) in the region. And portends yet another string of “red lines” issued by our president that will be ignored and unenforced. In other words, PRC sees the United States, under current leadership, as nothing more than a speed bump to whatever Beijing wants to do in its region (also removing any pressure to reign-in DPRK).

      This in no way is enhancing global stability.

      As to your Cold War reference, Vladimir Putin is a product of the Cold War, and is behaving very much in a Cold War manner. If our president decides not to engage the contest with which he is confronted, his chances of shaping the event are nil. We don’t get to choose the type of conflict we wage, the enemy does.

  3. Nice rant. You win. Have a nice day. Your blog readers (other than me) will be mightily impressed by your talking points.

    • Just stating facts – unless you can find a mistake in my points, which, if valid, I will readily admit.

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