North Korea: The North Korean ambassador to the United Kingdom, Hyun Hak-bong, gave a rare press interview about current topics. He affirmed that US citizen Kenneth Bae must serve his sentence of 15 years in prison at hard labor. Hyun stated for the record that Chang Sung-taek was executed by gun fire. Most of the interview concerned Hyun's reiteration of North Korea's call for the US and South Korea to halt their annual joint military exercises in the next two months.
Comment: The peacekeeping contingents have grown slowly and they are not yet effective. The French appear to be overextended, which explains the need for soldiers from European Union states.
The UN mandate suggests the EU force will have combat tasks. - NightWatch
UNIONS SET TO WIN, ENVIROS SET TO LOSE ON PIPELINE
Fox News: “The State Department is expected to release an environmental analysis on the Keystone XL oil pipeline as early as Friday that may disappoint environmentalists and opponents of the proposed project, according to individuals briefed on the matter. The release of the long-anticipated evaluation, known as an ‘environmental impact statement,’ sets the stage for a 90-day review period, during which the nObama administration must determine whether the project is in the national interest.” - Fox News
WAR DANCE OR KABUKI ON IMMIGRATION?
House Republicans leaders announced Thursday they will back a limited path to legal status for the country’s illegal immigrants. At the annual House GOP retreat in Maryland, House Speaker John Boehner emphasized border security must come first. The speaker insisted his conference favors a “common sense, piecemeal” approach to fix the nation’s broken immigration system. The “standards for immigration reform” document, released Thursday, ruled out a special path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. More - Fox News
GOOD SCORE FOR OBAMACARE ALTERNATIVE
The Center for Health and Economy scores the leading Republican replacement to nObamaCare and finds the plan proposed by Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Orrin Hatch R-Utah would lower premium prices and save $1.4 trillion while providing coverage to a similar number of people that nObamaCare promises to enroll. The group found the plan could lower premiums by 2 percent and would lower federal Medicaid spending. - Fox News
Noonan - Meanwhile, Back in America: “All these things—the pushing around of nuns, the limiting of freedoms that were helping kids get a start in life, the targeting of conservative groups—all these things have the effect of breaking bonds of trust between government and the people. They make citizens see Washington as an alien and hostile power. Washington sees the disaffection. They read the polls, they know. They call it rage. But it feels more like grief. Like the loss of something you never thought you’d lose, your sense of your country and your place in it, your rights in it.” - Fox News
News footage captures despair on the faces of employees of a small business — the heartbeat of America’s economy...when they learn how the Affordable Care Act will impact their group health insurance plan. ABC affiliate WTAE-TV was there when a company insurance agent handed the owner and employees of Simonetta’s Collision Repair Center their new benefits sheets and premium costs. “They call it the ‘Affordable Health Plan.’ There’s nothing affordable about it. I can’t afford it,” one Simonetta worker, identified only as Jeff, says on the video. http://www.bizpacreview.com/2014/01/31/watch-employees-react-as-they-learn-of-obamacare-premium-increases-97584
4. China reveals ‘ace’ against U.S. military
Members of the Chinese military are looking to use an electromagnetic pulse as part of a “one-two punch” to knock out – literally within seconds...all defensive electronics not only on Taiwan but also on U.S. warships that could defend the island. This revelation comes in an article by Lou Xiaoqing who says the People’s Liberation Army sees an EMP weapon as the primary means of incapacitating Taiwan and disabling American defenders nearby.Given that such a strategy was made public in an article entitled “Electromagnetic pulse bombs are Chinese ace,” it is seen as reflecting the official Chinese government position. Here's what all those dollars sent to China have bought ... http://www.wnd.com/2014/01/chinas-reveals-ace-against-u-s-military/
5. GOP Crafts Plan To Wreck The Country
As House Republicans prepare to sell out the country on immigration this week, Phyllis Schlafly has produced a stunning report on how immigration is changing the country...The report is still embargoed, but someone slipped me a copy, and it's too important to wait. Leave aside the harm cheap labor being dumped on the country does to the millions of unemployed Americans. What does it mean for the Republican Party?
6. Stewart Laughs in Pelosi’s Face
House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sat down with The Daily Show host Jon Stewart on Thursday for a contentious interview...The interview became tense when Stewart attempted to get Pelosi to explain why government appears to function so poorly to the outside observer. When Pelosi attempted to explain why this was the case, Stewart became even more agitated. “Right now, we have a school of thought in the House Republican caucus that is anti-government, anti-science, anti-Obama,” Pelosi said. Stewart said that Democrats are then required to make a stronger case. He said that Democratic governance now appears “chaotic” and their execution of legislation appears to “lack efficiency.” When Pelosi again blamed Republicans for this condition, Stewart became even more agitated. http://www.mediaite.com/tv/stewart-laughs-in-pelosis-face-after-she-admits-she-doesnt-know-why-obamacare-site-failed/
7. Documents Confirm DEA Involved in Cocaine Smuggling
Newly released documents and testimony from Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Agency officials now confirm the stories that the federal government has been smuggling cocaine are true...This should come as no shock to many of us who were convinced it has been going on for some time, which is why we've been calling for an end to the "War on Drugs."Business Insider reported, "An investigation by El Universal found that between the years 2000 and 2012, the U.S. government had an arrangement with Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel that allowed the organization to smuggle billions of dollars of drugs while Sinaloa provided information on rival cartels. http://freedomoutpost.com/2014/01/newly-release-documents-confirm-dea-involved-cocaine-smuggling/
8. nObamaCare Forces Kids Into Medicaid
“The law isn’t making health-care more affordable, it’s masking a huge price increase.”...These sentiments, expressed by Shannon Wendt of Grand Rapids, Michigan, are but the latest version of a common refrain being sung throughout the United States: The Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka nObamaCare, is egregiously misnamed. Wendt, a 30-year-old mother of five, recently discovered what many other parents are also learning the hard way: If their children are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), they must be covered under that program, not under a family health plan bought on an exchange. Otherwise, the family will forfeit its premium-assistance subsidy — in many cases, the only thing making insurance affordable under the ACA, which otherwise drives up premiums. Its like twisting your arm to say yes. http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/health-care/item/17513-obamacare-forces-kids-into-Medicaid
There is a human tragedy smoldering in America’s inner cities. Twelve million poor children, mainly black and Hispanic, are trapped in failing government schools that are teaching them nothing...As a result, they will never get a chance at a middle-class life. Virtually every school board and every administration in inner city districts is controlled by Democrats, and has been for over fifty years. Everything that is wrong with inner city schools that policy can fix, Democrats are responsible for.
10. You Can’t Save the World
For only ten dollars a day or a month you can feed all the starving children in Africa. For only the price of a cup of coffee a year, you can make sure that no one in Kansas City ever goes hungry again...For just a third of your paycheck, you can subsidize a vast bureaucracy that will conduct studies on the best way to save the world and then come up with proposals that will only cost you half your paycheck. http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/dgreenfield/you-cant-save-the-world/?utm_source=FrontPage+Magazine&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=f8102d1809-Mailchimp_FrontPageMag&utm_term=0_57e32c1dad-f8102d1809-156509103
There is a growing sense among Americans outside the Beltway that while President nObama may be a good talker, he is a lousy manager.
It didn’t used to be this way. In their first few years in office, the president and his team looked and sounded great. Their resumes were littered with Ivy League degrees. They gave terrific speeches, and talked about grand visions for remaking America. But those words never translated into deeds and when they did, those deeds were disastrous.
What went so horribly wrong?
As with most tragedies, the signs were there from the beginning, it’s just that most people didn’t see them. President nObama and very few of his top advisers had any real world experience. For the first time in history the great majority of cabinet officers were drawn entirely from think tanks and universities and the public sector. That should have been our wake up call.
Almost none of them had ever built anything. They had never met production deadlines or had their budgets cut. They had never faced disgruntled employees or been held accountable for products that flopped. They never learned from experience because the only experience they had was in the world of theory and hypotheses.
If the car your company makes is a lemon, you take the loss, redesign it, and manufacture a new model. At a think tank if your theory didn’t work out, you can write a new book with a new theory. President nObama and his team didn’t understand the age-old expression, ‘it’s not what you say it’s what you do that counts.’
When I was the Pentagon speechwriter in the 1980's writing defense speeches for President Reagan, I would send out drafts of speeches in advance to various department heads for comment.
Most of the Pentagon’s senior military and civilian leaders would look for inaccuracies in what I had written and offer corrections. But the Secretary of the Navy, John Lehman, was different. He would always try to sneak in a line or two about a 600 ship navy.
We didn’t have a 600 ship navy, of course, but Lehman wanted one, and he knew if President Reagan ever uttered the magic words, "600 Ship Navy," in a speech Lehman could take it from there and build a 600 ship navy.
Lehman understood a fundamental principle of government bureaucracy. Get the boss to say something, and then work behind the scenes to make it happen.
I used to imagine Lehman in those long and boring budget meetings arguing with Defense Department numbers crunchers about the essential presidential mission of a 600 ship navy.
If they said, ‘sorry the budget doesn’t allow for a 600 ship navy because we need to devote those resources to building more tanks or aircraft, Lehman would answer, "Well, the president didn’t say how many tanks or airplanes we need, but he did say very clearly that he wanted 600 ships."
I had visions of Lehman waiving those speeches in front of those Pentagon accountants, daring them to defy President Reagan.
But it didn’t stop there. Lehman knew the first step was to get the funding, but the next step was to build the ships. He had to make sure the shipbuilding program didn’t have massive cost overruns, that the ships were built to specification and delivered on time.
So Secretary Lehman reformed the procurement program and pushed for fixed price contracts, penalties if the ships were late and bonuses if they came in early. In the end, the United States got a 600 ship navy, and it was instrumental in our winning the Cold War.
The problem with President nObama is he doesn’t have any John Lehmans. He makes great speeches, but that’s where it stops. Behind the scenes there are no competent officials turning words into deeds. There’s no follow through. No implementation. No penalties if something doesn’t work or deadlines aren’t met. There are also no rewards for success. Nobody is held accountable.
Why? Because in nObama World, nothing really goes wrong for long. Everything is a small bump in the road, a temporary inconvenience, a glitch caused by some low level bureaucrat. All that’s needed is better P.R., spin and messaging. In the Reagan administration a great speech was just the first step in a long process. In the nObama administration it's the only step.
But words don’t translate into deeds. In the classic movie, “The Ten Commandments” Pharaoh says, “So let it be written, so let it be done.” But that didn’t work out too well for Pharaoh, and it hasn’t worked any better for nObama, either.
In the real world words don't automatically translate into deeds.
They may move public opinion polls -- temporarily. They may convince the slavish and gullible Washington press corps, which despite all evidence to the contrary, still takes anything nObama says as gospel.
But a few good speeches don’t redirect the large, cumbersome, redundant ship of state to change course. They don’t get websites built, or balance budgets, or rein in unaccountable bureaucracies. They don’t build 600 ship navies.
So far, the administration’s bad management has touched very few Americans directly. But health care will be the straw that broke the camel’s back, because it affects every one of us.
We don't need the filter of the media to tell us what to think about our health care system, we're experiencing it first hand. We will know it when our premiums rise, our doctors are no longer available, our prescription prices double. And just wait until the lack of website security leads to large scale identify theft for participants.
The problems of 2013 – like nObamaCare, unemployment, Iran’s nuclear program, Al Qaeda’s expansion – won’t go away just because the calendar year changes.
They will only be solved when the president and his advisers make some course corrections.
But, I predict they won’t. Frankly, they probably can’t.
The problem with people who live in a world of speeches and books and theories is they don’t know how to fix things in the real world when they go wrong. They feign ignorance, blame others, and make another eloquent speech. That's bad for the president and really bad for the country.