Friday, June 30, 2017

The Irony Of The Health Care Conundrum.Kim Dissects The Two Protesting Republican Factions. Israel And A Future War With Hezbollah.

Stop and think about this. Hillarious tried and failed to destroy our health care system.  She is a Democrat.

Decades later, Obama succeeded in destroying our healthcare system with Obamacare.  He too is a Democrat, a more radical one.

The Republicans were elected to restore choice and to stabilize the escalating cost of America's health care system and perhaps will fail to do so.

Consequently, in 2018, the public may return to the Democrats  because the Republicans failed to correct the mess Democrats accomplished. (See 1 below.)

Meanwhile, Kim lays out a simple explanation of what the two main Republican disagreements are with respect to the current draft of the health care  bill.(See 1a below.)

And then:

This past Thursday, I had lunch with a dear friend, a sometime fellow memo reader but one of the state's finest educators.

His charter school could lose accreditation because his curriculum teaches their students to read, to be disciplined and how to reason. They do not focus on the state's stupid achievement tests.

We also discussed my theory that America is in a declining spiral from which it may not be able to recover for all the various reasons I have enumerated in previous memos and do not need repeating.

My friend, more or less agreed, with my dour thesis.  He gave as supporting reasons that we need better people in our nation.  Better, meaning citizens more capable of discernment, self sacrifice and fundamental work capabilities and ethic.
Israel's future wars are likely to get bloodier because:

a)Technological advances by their enemies.

b) Delay in striking in trying to void being blamed by  the U.N as an aggressor even when history supports the fact that the threat is obvious. (See 2 below.)
Eataly may no longer be the land of pizza (See 3 below.)

Russian car ad:


An American ad:
1) Who Knew Governing Was This Hard?
Republicans need to decide if they want to use the power they were given by the voters.
By Jonathan S. Tobin
More than five months after a Republican president was inaugurated and began to work with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, it’s time to ask the party a question: Would they like to hand the reins of government over to the Democrats?

After years of promises to repeal Obamacare, the time is rapidly approaching when we’ll know the real answer to that question. Because if Republicans can’t find the votes to pass health-care legislation that will fulfill their vow, it’s clear that they are not ready to govern the country.
The Senate bill is something of a mess and is, like Obamacare was in 2010, being hastily pushed through via quirks in the rules to allow it be reconciled with the version passed by the House, rather than undergoing a more exhaustive process that would allow for lengthy debate on every aspect of the law. Conservatives are right that it is more of an effort to fix the misnamed Affordable Care Act than a genuine repeal. Moderates are right that the political costs of placing any limits on Medicaid spending will be considerable.

In other words, it’s the sort of bill that nobody really likes, which is why several Republicans are refusing to commit to voting for it, with Democrats solidly lining up in opposition. Perhaps Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell already knows it can’t pass and is just looking to push for a vote as soon as possible to get it over with before moving on to other items, such as tax reform or infrastructure spending, that will be easier to pass. Given the difficulty of finding a compromise that conservatives and moderates can live with and the certainty that passage will unleash a wave of liberal rhetoric that will be echoed in the mainstream media about the changes to Obamacare being tantamount to sentencing millions of Americans to death, that might be enough to cause the GOP to wave the white flag.

If so, GOP conservatives will be able to tell their voters that they refused to sign on to a bill that compromised their principles, and moderates will be able to assert that they prevented something from being passed that might harm the interests of some voters. But what they will really be saying is that Republicans are no longer a party of government.

Contrary to the opinions of those who believe the failure of the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare will be just a temporary setback, the fate of the current bill will provide a watershed moment in American politics.

In 2010, faced with many of the same problems that now face Republicans, Democrats refused to back down on their health-care promises. Their bill was a far bigger mess than the one before the Senate. Few knew what was really in it or how it could be put into effect. The method by which it was passed was also a legislative trick rather than the result of an open process. But handed what turned out to be a relatively narrow window of opportunity to make their mark, President Obama and the Democrats didn’t shrink from the challenge. They passed their bill imposing federal power on the health-care system, which also set in motion a series of related mandates that sought to roll back religious liberty. The result was awful and doomed to failure by its willingness to disdain basic principles of economics. But it showed they were ready and willing to govern.

Fearful Republicans can point to what happened to Democrats after they passed Obamacare as a warning that they should not be so bold. But neither conservatives nor moderates should be deceived as to the consequences of not passing any repeal-and-replace bill.

Such a failure will be as close to a parliamentary no-confidence vote as we can get in our constitutional system. If they fail on this issue, not only will they be unlikely to succeed on other issues that they may think will be easier lifts, but a vote against the Senate bill is tantamount to a vote for leaving Obamacare in place as it is. That will erode voter confidence — both in the GOP base and among independents — that Republicans have the will or the competence to run the country.

It’s true that President Trump’s antics already have put that thought in the minds of many Americans who are not otherwise ideologically committed to “resist” his administration. But health care is the crucial test by which this Congress and the White House will be judged, no matter what they are able to do in the next year prior to the 2018 midterms. Failure here is tantamount to an engraved invitation to the voters to throw them out and give Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer another chance in power.

Though Republicans have controlled the House since 2011 and the Senate since 2015, so long as Obama was in the White House, they did not fully shoulder the burden of governing. They could indulge in meaningless gestures,  such as the dozens of Obamacare repeal votes, and care more about reaffirming their principles than about making actual choices. But they no longer have that luxury.

For conservatives, their choice is not between an ideal conservative repeal of Obamacare and the current imperfect version. It is between this bill and being stuck with Obamacare. If they choose the latter, they must prepare to spend the coming years fighting not to reform the Affordable Care Act but against Democratic efforts to impose a single-payer universal-health-care bill that will further erode economic freedom and restore the worst aspects of Obama’s signature achievement. By contrast, the current GOP bill has several aspects that are clear conservative victories. It will terminate an open-ended entitlement and turn it into something that will hopefully develop into a system that will be more affordable and allow more individual choice. Moreover, it will allow Republicans to fight Democratic efforts to expand government power from a stronger position, since they will be able to say they have provided a clear alternative.

Moderates may quail at the coming wave of largely false Democratic propaganda but — as with conservatives — their reelection chances will not be improved if they are part of a Republican majority that shows that it is unfit to govern.

The nation laughed when an exasperated President Donald Trump said back in February that, “nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” Of course, just about everyone knew that. But right now, a great many Republicans in the Senate who think they know more about policy than the president are acting as if they had no idea governing could be so hard.

Running a country in a democratic system involves compromise and choice. Majorities that make those hard choices aren’t guaranteed future victories, but they always stand a better chance of being reelected than those that demonstrate that they would prefer to be in the minority. If Republicans can’t pass an imperfect health care bill that is still better than the status quo, then they will not only be likely to be back in the minority two years from now. They will also deserve it.

— Jonathan S. Tobin is opinion editor of and a contributor to National Review Online

1a.  The Simplicity of a Health Deal

The GOP must realize protection for pre-existing conditions is here to stay.

By  Kimberley A. Strassel

As Washington continues to boggle the nation with the complex minutiae of health-care reform, the contours of an actual deal aren’t nearly so mystifying. The success of the GOP effort comes down to one simple question: Will the most conservative members of Congress accept that the politics of health care have changed?
Or more simply yet: Will they acknowledge that any reform must include continued protections for pre-existing medical conditions?
It’s that easy. Yes, the media analysis is correct that there are two camps of defectors from the Senate’s reform bill. One consists of Republican moderates— Rob Portman, Dean Heller, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski —who claim the bill is too mean to poor and sick people. Cue mind-numbing media stories about Medicaid formulas and per capita spending caps and medical inflation, all of which make a compromise sound nigh impossible.
Hardly. Here’s a tip: When a politician claims a bill “cuts too much,” that’s an invitation to be bought off. There’s a reason several senators who had been largely mum on the GOP bill (Jerry Moran of Kansas, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia) came out against it only after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed a vote. They saw the other holdouts were about to get payola, and they wanted theirs.
And there is cash to be had. With the stakes this high, the Senate leadership will gladly shuffle some money toward opioid treatment, rural health-care providers or Medicaid. So getting the “moderates” on board is simple and transactional. They name a price, they get pork, they vote yes.
The conservatives are the sticking point, precisely because they have principles. Sens. Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have been clear from the start that any bill must lower premiums, which involves getting rid of costly ObamaCare mandates. And there is no question that among the most expensive mandates are those designed to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions—in particular “community rating,” which requires insurers to charge the same prices regardless of health status.
The House Freedom Caucus was so intent on getting rid of community rating that it nearly derailed the bill. Only after the conference added an amendment allowing states to apply for waivers from community rating did the most conservative members finally came on board.
Even so, it was always clear that provision was never going to fly in the Senate—and for a simple reason. Freedom Caucus members tend to hail from inordinately conservative (and safe) congressional districts, whereas senators represent entire statewide populations. And a sizable majority of the public strongly supports retaining protections for pre-existing conditions.
This is the true legacy of the Republican presidential loss in 2008, and the health-care law that resulted. Few Americans ever understood the stunningly complex means by which ObamaCare screwed up the individual insurance market, or the wider economy. To this day, most Americans haven’t intimately interacted with the law, as they receive their health care from an employer or Medicare.
But every American remembers two particular provisions of the law—pre-existing conditions and coverage for children up to 26. These policies are simple and sound good. And they have become over the years a new standard in most people’s minds. A February poll from YouGov showed 77% support for protections for consumers with pre-existing conditions.
Principles matter, but so does public will. Conservatives will argue their side just needs to do a better job explaining how these mandates drive up costs for everyone, or lower the quality of care. These are valid points, but they’ll count for little in the face of 2018 Democratic campaign ads that flash GOP names next to a graphic of a kid in a wheelchair with cancer who can’t get care. Republicans lost this argument nearly a decade ago, when Mr. Obama won. More than 90% of Senate Republicans understand this.
Which is another way of saying that protections for pre-existing conditions are here to stay, and conservatives face a choice. They can work with their colleagues to minimize the costs of the mandates (there are innovative ways to do this) and build in different free-market reforms to lower premiums. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the current Senate bill will reduce premiums by about 30%, and the GOP can and should build on this.
Or they can kill the bill, and get no premium reductions at all, no deficit reduction, no Medicaid reform, no tax cuts, and no economic boost. Oh, and the protections for pre-existing conditions would remain. Plus, electoral disaster would loom.
It’s a binary choice, rooted in blunt political reality, which ought to make it an easy call. The question is whether conservatives will be savvy enough to forge a face-saving compromise and seek victories elsewhere in the bill. The health-care debate has changed over the past decade, and Republicans can’t reverse it on a dime. But they can pass a bill that starts the walk back to freer health-care markets.
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“The next war will be pretty bloody for both sides. Israel will evacuate its population and I suggest the Lebanese do the same.”

The next war will be pretty bloody for both sides. Israel will evacuate its population and I suggest the Lebanese do the same,” Lt.-Col. (res.) Sarit Zehavi told The Jerusalem Post at a briefing in Metulla, Israel’s northernmost town at the border with Lebanon.

Zehavi heads Alma, a local organization that briefs visitors about the security situation – which has grown a bit tense of late. In the event of war with Hezbollah, Metulla is expected to be one of the communities evacuated.
But despite the ever-present risk of conflict with the Lebanese Shi’ite group, the community of 2,000 people continues to grow. As Zehavi spoke on Tuesday, Lebanese workers could be spotted in the distance, and tractors rolled down the streets of Metulla. It was a business-as-usual scene that belied the threats overshadowing the border region.

Israel has long avoided evacuating civilians during wars, but is looking to change that policy in the North. In addition to the threat posed by Hezbollah’s stockpile of more than 100,000 rockets, the IDF is now concerned about the very real possibility of ground attacks against Israeli communities.
“Hezbollah knows how to fight and how to move large forces,” Zehavi said, stressing that the group would likely not try to seize any Israeli villages.

But many are worried that Hezbollah “may try to strike fear throughout the country by massacring civilians.”

“It will be a totally new battlefield than what we saw in 2006,” she said, pointing out that the group has significantly increased its battlefield knowledge by fighting for the regime of Bashar Assad.

“Everything they learn in Syria, including from the Russians, they will put into use here.”

Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in 2006. Since then, hostilities between the sides have been limited to occasional firing from across the border and reported Israeli air strikes against Hezbollah leaders and military equipment in Syria.

“While Israel has the dilemma of responding and deterring Hezbollah while not escalating the conflict, it’s all about deterrence and about making them understand that the cost of conflict will be very high,” Zehavi said. She discussed two scenarios that would lead to war on the Lebanese front.

“One would be Iran deciding to give the order to attack Israel, and the other would be a miscalculation by either side which would escalate into a full-blown war,” she asserted as she pointed out a large poster put up by Hezbollah on a hill overlooking houses being constructed in Metulla.

Next to the poster, which Zehavi said was put up last week to commemorate al-Quds Day, fly two Hezbollah flags and a large Palestinian one. A Hezbollah poster features a photo of the Dome of the Rock and an armed fighter. The face of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini glowers down over the dome where “We are coming” is written in Hebrew and Arabic.

Hezbollah, which is supported by the majority of the Shi’ite population in Lebanon, has not only inserted itself into every aspect of civil life, but is using civilian homes to store its weapons, an arsenal rebuilt and improved with the help of Iran.

The area near the Lebanese border has been flagged by the IDF as vulnerable to enemy infiltration and has seen two such incursions into Israel since 2009, Zehavi said. While the army hasn’t found any tunnels in the North, the terrain allows fighters to hide ahead of an attack, she said, adding, “Hezbollah knows how to dig.”

The border fence was originally built in the 1980s. While sections have been upgraded several times with engineered barriers – including reinforced concrete panels several meters high and concrete walls and fortified watchtowers – it is considered by some to be in poor condition.

This has led Israel to invest significant amounts of money and effort into strengthening defenses along the border over the past several years, creating obstacles such as artificial cliffs and building high concrete barriers to help prevent ground attacks by Hezbollah.

A six-meter tall steel and barbed wire “smart fence” stretching several kilometers with information collection centers and warning systems is to be built along two stretches of the Lebanese border. According to Zehavi, one can already see the fence being built between Rosh Hanikra and Kibbutz Hanita, northeast of Nahariya.

But it is not only along those stretches that one can find construction aimed at protecting civilians. Fortified shelters that include bus stops have recently been constructed. Additional recently built barriers can be seen when driving toward the Syrian border on a short detour toward the town of Ghajar, which straddles the Israel-Lebanon border. These barriers are intended to shield civilians from the kind of fighting that broke out on June 25, when five rebel groups attacked Syrian regime positions near Quneitra within view of the Golan Heights. After two days of fighting, in which numerous projectiles hit on Israel’s side of the border and Israel responded by targeting Syrian regime military positions, the rebel attack was beaten back and quiet returned to the border area.

Thierry Laskart, a resident and tour guide who has lived in the Golan kibbutz of El Rom for seven years, said the intermittent fighting is normal in the area for the last few years.

He recalled after the Syrian rebellion broke out in 2011 that rebels began to use the demilitarized zone along the border to move between Sunni Arab villages that formed the heart of the rebellion.

Regime forces used their artillery to strike at the rebels.

“I’m more concerned by Hezbollah and the Syrian regime.

Not as afraid of the rebels,” he said.

According to foreign reports, Israel has formed a working relationship over the years with the Syrian rebel groups across the border. This keeps Hezbollah and Iran away from the border for now, but local residents and farmers wonder when the rebels will be defeated and new flags will greet them in the morning, like the Hezbollah ones that fly in Lebanon opposite Metulla.

Effie Eitam, a former Knesset member and retired brigadier- general who lives on the Golan, said the goal must be to make our enemies understand that “Israel will not tolerate any attacks and has made it clear that it doesn’t matter if it is deliberate or as spillover from the Syrian war.”

Eitam said that means: maintaining clear red lines: no Iranian presence; freedom for the Israel Air Force to operate; not letting anti-aircraft systems near the border; and ensuring that any final resolution of the conflict in Syria leads to stability on the border.

    People-smugglers bring the migrants to the NGOs' ships, which then reach Italian seaports. Another legal inquiry has been opened about the mafia's economic interests in managing the migrants after their arrival.

    One cannot compare the migrants to the Jews fleeing Nazism. Pope Francis, for example, recently compared the migrants' centers to Nazi "concentration camps". Where are the gas chambers, medical "experiments," crematoria, slave labor, forced marches and firing squads? These comparisons are spread by the media for a precise reason: shutting down the debate.

    By 2065, it is expected that 14.4 million migrants will arrive. Added to the more than five million immigrants currently in Italy, 37% of the population is expected to be foreigners: more than one out of every three inhabitants.

First, it was the Hungarian route. Then it was the Balkan route. Now Italy is the epicenter of this demographic earthquake, and it has become Europe's soft underbelly as hundreds of thousands of migrants arrive.

With nearly 10,000 arrivals in one recent three-day period, the number of migrants in 2017 exceeded 60,000 -- 48% more than the same period last year, when they were 40,000. Over Easter weekend a record 8,000 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean and brought to Italy. And that is just the tip of the iceberg: during the summer, the number of arrivals from Libya will only increase.

A wooden boat carrying migrants waits to be escorted to the Topaz Responder vessel, as members of the Migrant Offshore Aid Station make a rescue at sea on November 21, 2016 in Pozzollo, Italy. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A replacement of population is under way in Italy. But if you open the mainstream newspapers, you barely find these figures. No television station has dedicated any time to what is happening. No criticism is allowed. The invasion is considered a done deal.

In 2016, 176,554 migrants landed in Italy -- an eight-fold increase since 2014. In 2015, there were 103,792. In 2014, there were 66,066. In 2013, there were just 22,118. In the last four years, 427,000 migrants reached Italy. In only the first five months of this year, 2017, Italy received 10% of the total number of migrants of the last four years.

There are days when the Italian navy and coast guard rescue 1,700 migrants in 24 hours. The country is exhausted. There are Italian villages where one-tenth of the population is already made up of new migrants. We are talking about small towns of 220 residents and 40 migrants.

One of the major aspects of this demographic revolution is that it is taking place in a country which is dramatically aging. According with a new report from the Italian Office of Statistics, Italy's population will fall to 53.7 million in half a century -- a loss of seven million people. Italy, which has one of the world's lowest fertility rates, will lose between 600,000 to 800,000 citizens every year. Immigrants will number more than 14 million, about one-fourth of the total population. But in the most pessimistic scenario, the Italian population could drop to 46 million, a loss of 14 million people.

In 2050, a third of Italy's population will be made up of foreigners, according to a UN report, "Replacement Migration: Is It a Solution to Decline and Aging Populations", which designs a cultural melting-pot that could explode in cultural and social tensions. The level of arrivals will fall from 300,000 to 270,000 individuals per year by 2065; during the same period, it is expected that 14.4 million people will arrive. Added to the more than five million immigrants currently in Italy, 37% of the population is expected to be foreigners: more than one out of every three inhabitants.

In addition, the humanitarian-aid system has been hit by new scandals. "The investigative hypothesis to be verified is that subjects linked to ISIS act as logistical support to migration flows", was a warning just delivered in front of the Schengen Committee, to the Italian anti-mafia and counter terrorism prosecutor, Franco Roberti. There are now judges investigating the connection between the migrants' smugglers in North Africa and the Italian NGOs rescuing them in the Mediterranean. People-smugglers bring the migrants to the NGOs' ships, which then reach Italian seaports. Another legal inquiry has been opened about the mafia's economic interests in managing the migrants after their arrival.

Only 2.65 percent of those migrants who arrived in Italy were granted asylum as genuine refugees, according to the United Nations. The other people are apparently not fleeing wars and genocide. Yet, despite all this evidence, one cannot compare the migrants to the Jews fleeing Nazism. Pope Francis, for example, recently compared the migrants' centers to Nazi "concentration camps". One wonders where are the gas chambers, medical "experiments," crematoria, slave labor, forced marches and firing squads. Italian newspapers are now running articles about the "Mediterranean Holocaust", comparing the migrants dead by trying to reach the southern of Italy to the Jews gassed in Auschwitz. Another journalist, Gad Lerner, to support the migrants, described their condition with the same word coined by the Nazis against the Jews: untermensch, inferior human beings. These comparisons are spread by the media for a precise reason: shutting down the debate.

To understand how shameful these comparisons are, we have to take a look at the cost of every migrant to Italy's treasury. Immigrants, once registered, receive a monthly income of 900 euros per month (30 euros per day for personal expenses). Another 900 euros go to the Italians who house them. And 600 euros are needed to cover insurance costs. Overall, every immigrant costs to Italy 2,400 euros a month. A policeman earns half of that sum. And a naval volunteer who saves the migrants receives a stipend of 900 euros a month. Were the Nazis so kind with their Jewish untermenschen?

The cost of migrants on Italy's public finances is already immense and it will destroy the possibility of any economic growth. "The overall impact on the Italian budget for migrant spending is currently quantified at 2.6 billion [euros] for 2015, expected to be 3.3 billion for 2016 and 4.2 for 2017, in a constant scenario", explains the Ministry of the Economy. If one wants to put this in proportion, these numbers give a clearer idea of how much Italy is spending in this crisis: in 2017, the government is spending 1.9 billion euros for pensions, but 4.2 billion euros for migrants, and 4.5 billion euros for the national housing plan against 4.2 billion euros for migrants.

The Italian cultural establishment is now totally focused on supporting this mass migration. The Italian film nominated at the Academy Awards last year is Fire at Sea, in which the main character is a doctor treating the migrants upon their arrival. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi carried with him 27 DVDs of the film to a session of the European Council. Italy's commercial television channels produced many television programs about the migrants, such as "Lampedusa", from the name of the Italian island. 100,000 Italians even took the streets of Milan for a "rally of solidarity" with the migrants. What "solidarity" can there be if half a million people have been rescued by the Italian government and the whole country seems determined to open its doors to all of North Africa?

Winston Churchill was convinced that the Mediterranean was the "soft underbelly" of Hitler's Europe. It has now become the soft underbelly of Europe's transformation into Eurabia.

    Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.

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