Sunday, January 19, 2014

How Retail Giants Saved the Obama Administration a World of Grief

It has gone relatively unnoticed, but the Obama administration has dodged a devastating PR bullet this month.

According to the Daily Mail, “[A]s many as one-third of new enrollees’ applications have seen problems when the government transmits them to insurance companies.” If seven million Americans have indeed signed up for Obamacare, this means that potentially millions of Americans now believe that they have insurance, but as far as the insurance companies they believe to be covered by are concerned, they are uninsured.

We have already heard (however faintly) stories about a few unfortunate Obamacare enrollees who headed to the hospital expecting to be covered for treatment, only to find that their doctors could not verify their insurance and they were liable for the entire cost. If a million or more Americans, believing to be covered by Obamacare, were to find that they could not get their needed prescriptions because an inept government broker failed to deliver their information and buying intent to their insurance company of choice, there would be a whirlwind of public disapproval that might be untenable even for the Obamacare spin team.

So retail giants rushed in and saved the Obama administration the headaches.

Both Walmart and Walgreens have, according to Reuters, said that they would “provide a month’s supply of certain prescriptions at no up-front cost to participants of U.S. President Obama’s signature healthcare law who have not yet received a plan identification number.” Kroger, Rite Aid, and CVS have introduced similar policies. Chain Drug Review reports that CVS is providing “a 15- or 30- day “bridge”” for “temporary insurance gaps,” meaning that CVS will essentially give prescription medicines to Obamacare subscribers who, by all accounts, have no insurance.

These retailers suggest that they will seek to recover these short-term losses by going to the insurance companies afterward to cover the costs. Assuming that all works out for the retailers, these products are indeed “sold,” and they will benefit in the long run.

There are elements of risk involved in that, though. Unless there is some obscure passage of Obamacare scripture which demands that they do so, there is no guarantee that these insurers will come out of pocket to pay for the medicines of customers who were not policyholders at the time of “purchase.” If insurance companies do not pay and the government cannot force their wallets open, we can assume that the customers will be asked to cover retailers’ costs, which is introduces another element of risk in offering these products at no up-front cost and no interest. Insurance companies have an assumed creditworthiness. These customers do not, and there is certainly no guarantee that these uninsured customers, without a contract or credit check, will pay the entire cost of their prescription medicines if retailers demand, particularly when they took the medicines with the expectation that they wouldn’t be liable for the entire cost.

And it’s important to understand that it is a very distinct group Americans that will benefit from this decision. You see, a consumer usually looks for three things: a desired product, a good price, and a smooth buying process. To be enrolled in Obamacare means you have invested time and effort in the notoriously painstaking buying experience on the Obamacare exchanges, and in many cases, it means you have paid more than you have in the past for a policy with more bells and whistles than you previously thought you needed. To have done all of that means that you might have a vested political interest in Obamacare’s success, or at the very least, you serve as a bulwark strengthening Obamacare’s bid for continued survival. In other words, it will largely be supporters of Obama’s healthcare legislation, ideological or otherwise, receiving this benefit. That’s a pretty focused recipient group.

It all seems curiously convenient. If you were to find yourself uninsured because your insurance broker failed in his job or your company decided to discontinue providing health insurance benefits due to Obamacare's myriad regulations and requirements, retailers wouldn’t be champing at the bit to accommodate you with prescription meds at no upfront cost or interest, but they’re doing it for Obamacare enrollees. So altruism has little, if anything, to do with it. While we might not be surprised at some future revelation that this decision somehow involved Obamacare’s social architects, there simply isn’t evidence to assume that any such collusion took place at this point.

But implicit collusion isn’t necessary to recognize the most unsettling problem this incident exposes. These are the largest pharmaceutical retailers in the nation. They are private companies, and yet they now function as a delivery system distributing a benefit to a specific, preferred group of political constituents in a way that uniquely benefits this administration by protecting its ideological sacred cow.

What is the message that Americans, particularly independents with no strong opinion on the healthcare law, might take from this? That by putting your faith in government, complying with its edicts, and enduring its incompetence, you might somehow be insulated from the potential adverse realities you would face if you choose to do otherwise.

And that’s certainly a huge win for Obama and the ideologues out there peddling government dependence.

William Sullivan

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Media Christens the Christie Scandal, [Sigh...] "Bridgegate"

Motorists that found themselves stranded on the George Washington Bridge, if they're anything like me, have something else to be annoyed about.

Chris Christie is now embroiled in a scandal which caused these traffic jams, allegedly the result of a petty political vendetta. The media has unsurprisingly dubbed the scandal "Bridgegate" or "Traffic-gate," depending on the source.

It seems a small grievance, I know, but somebody needs to say it.  This "gate" nonsense has gone well beyond ridiculous.  Seriously, at some point, American opinion makers should realize that the practice of giving nouns that are relevant to a particular scandal the suffix of “gate” isn’t wit, and completely ridiculous on its face. After all, the Watergate scandal that the practice invokes wasn't a maritime or public utilities issue -- it was the name of a hotel-office building which happened to be the site of a politically motivated break-in by the Nixon administration.

I do sincerely hope that my grandkids will not have to endure such annoying indicators of our society’s banal groupthink and unoriginality.

And what of the Chris Christie scandal that's up next on the docket? He is now the subject of a federal investigation questioning the funding used in his $25 million "Stronger that the Storm" advertising campaign, which was launched in 2012 in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Will the media do the expected thing? Will they call this scandal "Stormgate," or something even more ridiculous and stupid, like "Sandygate?"

Wait a tick... they already did. Here, here, and here. I hope we can all come to terms with the fact that it's really, really gotten out of hand.  Conservative, progressive, sportswriter, blogger,or anything in between, I don't care.  It's really, really stupid and all equally deserving of my derision.

I know it grabs hits and all that, but please, I just want it to stop.  I don't know what I'll do if I wake up tomorrow and the A-rod story is being called "Steroidgate" or some other ridiculous thing.  But know I that the last thing I'd be is surprised.

William Sullivan

Friday, January 10, 2014

Why a Gender-Neutral Military Doesn't Make Sense

Reason was once viewed and applied as an avenue to progress. So strong is the power of reason, and so entangled is it in American foundational principles, that Thomas Jefferson once said that “we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor tolerate any error so long as reason is left to combat it.”

But what if Jefferson’s qualifier was absent? What if reason is no longer intact in a society in such a way that it might combat erroneous contradictions to reasonable thought?

Take this excerpt from a USA Today report, which relates:

More than half of female Marines in boot camp can’t do three pullups, the minimum standard that was supposed to take effect with the new year, prompting the Marine Corps to delay the requirement, part of the process of equalizing physical standards to integrate women into combat jobs.

In what way might these standards be “equalized” in the future? By reducing the physical standard for our soldiers to match those which might be expected of a unisex collective? Undoubtedly so. But let’s assume that the ideas of militant feminism are not enough to drive an evolutionary change in womankind’s physiological makeup before the military brass, with their PC affectations ordered from above, makes these protocol changes this year or next. How would any military benefit by reducing its physical standards? The supposed benefits of “gender diversity?”

As many might say of a female infantry soldier’s inability to carry their loved one out of harm’s way in battle, the social currency of that term isn’t worth the practical value to be had in a stronger set of arms.

It’s a simple matter of whether a set of realistic facts yields specific outcomes (reason), or whether preferred outcomes are dictated by a set of preferred and/or malleable facts (fantasy).

Logically, if I were a man and unable to do three pull ups, I would be deemed incapable of carrying out the duty of a soldier, and thus I would never be expected to be in position to carry my fellow wounded soldier from the battlefield at all. It is such a corruption of realistic expectations to suggest that if my gender were opposite the practical outcome would be somehow different, and I could carry out the tasks expected of me.

And here we have Matt Walsh with something of a manifesto on the subject, exposing the fascists who demand we adhere to a gender-neutral worldview which history disproves and nature deems impossible. It is honest, and oh, so refreshingly un-PC. By far the best I’ve ever read on the matter. I will not gut the entire thing, but I ask that you do yourself a favor and read the piece in its entirety.

Let me be more specific: I disagree with the notion that women need to be “integrated” into combat roles.

I disagree with the fools who like to pretend we’re living in a Charlie’s Angels movie, where ladies can shout “girl power” and then kick butt and take names with the best of ‘em.

I disagree with the bureaucrats who think the military should be an instrument for social experimentation.

I disagree with anyone who claims that the battlefield is a place for “equality.”

I disagree that there is any tactical or strategic advantage to getting more women involved in combat.

I disagree that the military should place feminist ideology over tactical and strategic concerns.

I disagree with the pencil pushers and politicians ignoring the combat troop who has rightly worried about a scenario where he is wounded and needs to be carried out of a firefight, but the woman fighting next to him is completely physically incapable of doing so.

I disagree that we should get people killed just so that pushy liberals can feel like they’ve won some sort of bizarre moral victory.

I disagree with the notion that military fitness requirements are “barriers” to “gender equality” and ought to be adjusted because of it.

I disagree with the “gender equality” fable entirely.

I disagree with the strategy of achieving “equality” by treating different groups unequally.

I disagree with every single thought process and ideological dogma that goes into creating a scenario where the home of the Few and the Proud is transformed into a place for the Many and the Physically Incapable.


Here’s a funny thought: if women can fight in combat roles, then all-male conscription must assuredly be unconstitutional. So, when the Supreme Court strikes it down, and the draft is reinstated, will the liberal feminists of America jump for joy as their daughters are forcibly recruited and sent off to die in some godforsaken desert halfway around the world? If you want to be like men, will you die like them?

Maybe you would. But we are a shameful, cowardly country if we would send our daughters off to war for no reason other than to obey our New-Age Gender Creeds.

There are other aspects that go beyond the physical toll of battle. I’ve never been to war, but I understand (in the abstract, anyway) how the horrors of it can weigh on a man. In a world where we must pretend that women are as physically strong as men, I suppose there’s no hope that we’ll acknowledge the more difficult reality: that men are more psychologically equipped to deal with the lasting mental burden of combat. No human being is designed to deal with the carnage of war, but men at least have a better chance of carrying it and processing it. Research has shown that women are more vulnerable to developing PTSD than men — a fact that should come as no surprise to anyone with even the most basic understanding of the inherent emotional and psychological differences between the sexes.

And, somewhere in my disgust at this whole thing, I must admit that I am also personally fed up with what it all represents: the cheapening of masculinity.

No man would claim that they can do everything a woman can do. Or, I should say, not very many men would make that claim. It is a generally accepted truth that women possess unique capabilities. Women are invaluable and indispensable. Who would deny this? Not I, that’s for certain.

But what about the unique capabilities of men? Are we completely replaceable in every facet of society? Is that the new philosophy? And what about all of the things men have built, and achieved, and won, and died for, just so that we can live in a country where you’re allowed to be a crazed gender revolutionary? Women could have done all of that?


You know, maybe it would be wise to raise our daughters to have an appreciation for manhood. Maybe we should stop filling her head with this “you can do everything a man can do” garbage. Maybe she isn’t benefitted by this lie. Maybe it will only make her bitter and arrogant. Maybe it will cause her to see men as worthless, with the only characteristics particular to them being negative stereotypes about leaving the toilet seat up and drinking too much beer.

Maybe we should tell her that it is men who fight the wars, and men who are best equipped for the task. This is not because of “discrimination” or “glass ceilings,” it’s because men are men, and women are not. Women need men. GASP. What a scandalous notion. But I say it again: women need men.

Of course, in turn, I have absolutely no trouble admitting that men need women. I need my wife. The world needs my daughter.

Just not on the battlefield.

Okay. So I quoted a lot of it.

But those last four sentences happened to strike me particularly hard. That is reality, and if we lose sight of it, we are indeed a confused mess of a country.

Again, a brilliant piece by Walsh, please read here.

William Sullivan