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Obama makes 10 big government lies list

In a list of 10 big government lies, published by Moyers & company last June, Barack Obama heads the list with his infamous 2009 statement about the proposed Affordable Care Act:

If you like the [health care] plan you have, you can keep it.

Of all the government lies I can think of, this one seems ill-suited for the most notable list, as it was actually true for 95% of people1, hardly in the same league with Nixon denying that the White House was involved in the Watergate break-in, or George W. Bush announcing that we had found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

But quibbles aside, the government does lie sometimes, and birtherism holds the premise that the Obama administration lies about everything, along with the State of Hawaii when it comes to birth records.

I think that it is beyond the resources of most people to verify everything the government says to them. This leaves the individual to decide who to trust. I take the “innocent until proven guilty” stance towards government pronouncements and leave it to investigative journalists to set the record straight when necessary. While I think my approach is practical and usually works, it is not without chance of error. What is the alternative? For those who lack confidence in both the press and the government, they can choose to believe whatever matches their personal preference and is in line with their prejudices. Police violence would seem to be one topic where facts  are taking second place to prejudice on both sides (this is a “reserve judgment” issue for me).

imageThe book that prompted the Moyers & company story is 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity by Chuck Lewis. Lewis makes the point that facts become irrelevant in a democracy when most people don’t believe them. His example for this is weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I would cite Republicans and birtherism, or conservatives and climate change. We are in a sad state when facts become matters of opinion.

I’m reading the book.

1It was PolitiFact’s 2013 Lie of the Year.

New FOIA about Obama’s social-security number

Here is the text of a FOIA request I filed online with the Social Security Administration today:

I am requesting relevant sections from SSA regulations and/or policies relating to the following questions:

1) Are SSA database inquiries through consumer-facing systems such as E-Verify, Self Check and ACA health exchange interfaces blocked for high-ranking government officials either routinely or on an as-requested basis.

2) If the answer to the first question is "yes," what response codes and response text would be returned by these systems in response to a blocked inquiry?

3) A 2013 news story stated that President Obama had difficulty signing up for health insurance through the ACA health exchange online because of identity verification. I am interested in SSA regulations and procedures that might be pertinent to understanding this news item as it relates to blocked database entries for government officials.

Unlike some birther FOIA requests, I intentionally designed this one to ask for information that they can legally give me. I filed it because I am interested in deciding between two competing theories of why Obama’s SSN fails E-Verify: The database inquiry is blocked, or Obama changed his number.

Obama Conspiracy Theories 2014 reader survey

Here’s the 2014 Obama Conspiracy Theories reader survey. In addition to the usual birther stuff, I have added some questions about the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).

Both birthers and anti-birthers are urged to take the survey. The poll will close at midnight on March 22.

I think that birther activity one year from now will be...

  • Less than today. (56%, 102 Votes)
  • About the same. (37%, 67 Votes)
  • Greater than today. (8%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 183

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I visit the following web sites at least once a week (check all that apply):

  • Obama Conspiracy Theories (93%, 157 Votes)
  • The Fogbow (54%, 90 Votes)
  • Birther Report / ORYR (36%, 60 Votes)
  • Orly Taitz Esq. (23%, 38 Votes)
  • Native Born Citizen (15%, 26 Votes)
  • The Free Republic (15%, 25 Votes)
  • Reality Check Radio blog / Radio show (14%, 24 Votes)
  • WorldNetDaily (14%, 24 Votes)
  • Other anti-birther site (8%, 14 Votes)
  • PPSimmons/Gallups (6%, 10 Votes)
  • (5%, 9 Votes)
  • The Post & Email (5%, 8 Votes)
  • Other birther site (4%, 7 Votes)
  • Canada Free Press (4%, 6 Votes)
  • Pastor Manning YouTube channel (2%, 4 Votes)
  • CDR Kerchner's Blog (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 168

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Do you think Barack Obama is constitutionally eligible to be President?

  • Yes (94%, 167 Votes)
  • No (5%, 9 Votes)
  • Not sure (1%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 178

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Have you ever donated money to any of the following?

  • I have not donated to either. (70%, 86 Votes)
  • Anti-birther web site or organization (27%, 33 Votes)
  • Birther web site or organization (3%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 123

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How did the Affordable Care Act affect your coverage status?

  • My health insurance situation is largely unchanged under the ACA. (75%, 123 Votes)
  • I became insured thanks to the Affordable Care Act. (12%, 20 Votes)
  • My costs for health insurance significantly decreased under the ACA. (7%, 11 Votes)
  • My costs for health insurance significantly increased under the ACA. (4%, 6 Votes)
  • I became uninsured thanks to the Affordable Care Act. (2%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 164

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Affordable Care Act (check all that apply)

  • I didn't change either. (93%, 138 Votes)
  • I had to change insurance companies due to the ACA. (8%, 12 Votes)
  • I had to change doctors due to the ACA. (2%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 149

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I expect that my out-of-pocket medical costs, including insurance premiums, and allowing for normal inflationary cost increases, to:

  • Stay about the same under the ACA (75%, 113 Votes)
  • Decrease under the ACA (19%, 28 Votes)
  • Increase under the ACA (7%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 151

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OR LY for CA AG?

Orly Taitz is seeking statewide office in the postal abbreviation for California, or at least exploring the possibility, as she reports in her article, “Intent to run for state wide office in CA.” After sifting through what’s available for 2014, she came up with Attorney General.

One of her commenters asked:

I don’t know. To be the attorney general, don’t you have to have some qualifications as an attorney that has actually been in practice for a long time and has helped many clients?

Orly replied that all it takes is having been an attorney for 5 years, and she qualifies.

I actually thought this made sense in a way, Orly running for Attorney General. As AG, she would have the power to bring  lawsuits on behalf of the State and gain all sorts of new opportunities in her quest to unseat Barack Obama, which seems to have been her main goal in life for the past 5 years. Surprisingly, her 8-point platform has nothing about prosecuting Obama. Is it possible that she understands that this is a losing issue? The closest she gets is this:

assuring lawful elections with US citizen candidates instead of candidates like Barack Obama who ran for office based on fraud and using a stolen CT SSN and fabricated IDs and aided and abetting by corrupt and criminally complicit officials

The word that appears over and over in her platform is “nullification.” Interested readers can check out the Wikipedia article. Generally it is a legal theory that a state can ignore (nullify) federal laws, a theory that has generally failed in the courts. In response to one comment that nullification was unconstitutional, Orly wrote:

South Carolina is nullifying Obamacare, Western states have nullified multipe (sic) federal mandates which infringed on Second Amendment rights

South Carolina is in the process of considering legislation to nullify the Affordable Care Act. House Bill 3101, the “South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act,” was passed by the House (28-16) last May and is up for consideration by the Senate this month. The bill makes it a crime for any state official to aid the enforcement of any provision of the ACA, provides a tax deduction1 for anyone who pays a penalty for not buying insurance under the ACA, and prohibits any political division of the state from purchasing health insurance from a health care exchange established by a nonprofit organization. I think the law might be better titled: “The South Carolina Insurance Company Profits Protection Act.”

Nullification is a historically-significant term in South Carolina that brings to mind the Nullification Crisis of 1832, which almost lead to armed conflict between South Carolina the federal government.

In her typical way, Orly is asking her web readers to pay the filing fee to run, $3,022, and to foot the bill of $6,000 to get her 250-word platform included in the official state voter pamphlet. Her draft platform is 376 words. She will need to come up with a 5.32 point platform to fit the requirements.

1The top marginal income tax rate in South Carolina is 7%.

Is Obama a good President?

Lest any one be disappointed, let me say up front that I don’t plan to answer the question that titles this essay. I frankly do not know the answer, nor even have a firm opinion.

When it comes to where President Obama was born, there is a right answer and a wrong answer, and I don’t think that the perspective of history will add much if anything to that question. When it comes to a President’s job performance, the phrase “fog of war” comes to mind and it’s hard to be objective from the middle of the propaganda battle.

People who dislike Obama through confirmation bias or something more sinister, portray everything he does as a disaster, and the worst ever. It is trivially easy to find anything that is not perfect and claim that it should be better, whether it reasonably could be made better or not. No President (save perhaps Lincoln) actually presided over the near destruction of the country, and while we have problems, I don’t think the country is anywhere near the verge of civil war nor an economic collapse like the Great Depression. Obama critics on the left had, I think, an unrealistic view of how liberal he was, and so they are disappointed when he’s not what they expected. I see Obama as a moderate pragmatist and not at all compatible with extremists and radicals on either the left or the right—and those people are the ones who make the most noise.

If I could point one unequivocal failure of the Obama Administration, it would be the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. However, that is mitigated by an army of people working as hard as they could to make it fail. Understanding this issue, too, will benefit from the hindsight of history, and 5 years from now, the ACA may be as popular as Social Security.

So ask me again in 10 years whether I think Barack Obama was a good President.

ACA web site sabotage?

I had the choice of an essay about “shiny objects” and this one, so I picked this one.

PoliticusUSA is liberal web site. I was intrigued by a piece there titled: “Republicans Deliberately Sabotaged the ACA Website, Hoping the Law Would Implode.” As is the case with most stories with outrageous headlines, the story is a little more mundane.

One theory behind the story is something I myself have noted, that the failure of 36 states, particularly Republican-controlled ones, to set up their own health exchanges forced many more people into the federal marketplace, placing extra burden on the servers supporting

The article also notes that Republicans blocked extra funding to deal with the unexpected number of non-participating states, and the government shutdown on the day went live prevented necessary support activities.

OK. So a liberal web site blames Republicans. Is that news? I mean, they would say that, wouldn’t they? What’s news is when a well-respected mainstream newspaper site,, carries the same story, saying:

That may sound like a left-wing conspiracy theory — and the Obama administration itself is so busy defending the indefensible early failings of its signature program that it has barely tried to make this case. But there is a strong factual basis for such a charge.

I don’t hold myself up as an expert, but I have read some of the commentary about what went wrong. What I find is a classic failed IT project like dozens I’ve witnessed in my career. Most big IT projects fail (over budget, late, don’t meet expectations) and frankly governments micromanage such projects to an extent that it’s hard to actually get stuff done. Specifications were slow in coming, and the legislative mandate meant implementation couldn’t be delayed until everything was right. Given that the actual project shouldn’t have cost maybe 5% of what they paid, the other 95% had to be spent on things that just got in the way.

That said, Republicans made it plain that they were going to do everything they could to kill the Affordable Care Act, and apparently that extended to making the rollout of go as badly as they could make it.

The Politico story is a good read.

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