Thursday, November 26, 2015

FDR's Thanksgiving Day Prayer



I, FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Thursday, the twenty-first day of November 1940, to be observed nationally as a day of thanksgiving.

In a year which has seen calamity and sorrow fall upon many peoples elsewhere in the world may we give thanks for our preservation.

On the same day, in the same hour, let us pray:

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in Thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; Amen.

 From: Pilgrim Hall Museum

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Christianity Today Asks and Answers Unhelpful Questions

Just came across a promo from Christianity Today to read (partially) this article:  How 1,000 Women Who Aborted Feel About the Local Church.

One surmises* that the gist of the article is that most women don't consult their local church about getting an abortion because they expect a negative response.  Duh.

How many who divorce, smoke pot or cigarettes, don't give much to charity, gossip, overeat or swear consult their local church about the practice or expect a positive response from their local church?

Should the church show a more caring face for all bad habits/sins? Probably Christianity Today would say no. One thinks rape, murder, child molestation and on the lighter side probably cigarette smoking, anti-vaccination, littering and causing global warming would receive a clear negative response.

But, there are some habits/sins that are viewed as culturally difficult by Christianity Today so they get a pass, or at least some writers Christianity Today publishes believe leeway should be given.

The real issue is how to separate one's response to the sin from one's response to the sinner. That's always an important question. Response to one particular sin as opposed to all sins says more about personal or cultural preference rather than about what is eternally true, right and good.

This is another reason why we stopped subscribing to Christianity Today decades ago.

*I say "surmises" because the article is behind a pay wall and not worth paying for to resolve doubts.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Obamacare in Trouble: Can Only Reimburse Insurers for 12.6% of Losses; Only 35% of Eligibles for Subsidies Signing Up

The Washington Examiner has two good articles today on crucial problems for Obamacare.

The first relates to health insurance companies pulling out of the Obamacare market. The nation's largest health insurer, UnitedHealth Group announced yesterday that it may be leaving the "public exchange markets" (i.e., Obamacare). Not only is UnitedHealth Group impacted adversely but other insurers are also only being reimbursed 12.6 cents on the dollar for losses.
Now that insurers have been able to look at medical claims, what they've found is that enrollees in Obamacare are disproportionately sicker, and losses are piling up. For the 2014 benefit year, insurers losing more than expected asked for $2.87 billion in government payments through the risk corridors program, but HHS only collected $362 million from insurers performing better than expected. Thus, the funds available to the federal government only amounts to 12.6 percent of what insurers argue that they're owed.
The second relates to way too few people (including only about 35% of those eligible for subsidies) signing up for Obamacare. It's just too expensive even with subsidies.
A study published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in October found that about 24 million Americans are eligible for tax credits — subsidies — to buy insurance through Obamacare. This year, about 10 million of them selected plans, with about 8.6 million actually paying the money and enrolling.
That's an enrollment rate of about 35 percent of those eligible for subsidies. Think about it: Only one in three people is signing up for Obamacare even if the government gives them money to help pay for it. It's a rate below what is necessary for Obamacare to survive in the long run.
Remember that Obamacare's authors stressed it wasn't just a program for the poor, that subsidies would be provided for families with yearly incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level — that is, up to $47,080 for an individual or $97,000 for a family of four.
It's not working out that way. The Johnson Foundation found that while a lot of people with incomes below 200 percent of poverty — that is, an individual below $23,540 a year or a family of four below $48,500 — selected a subsidized Obamacare plan, very few people with incomes above that did.
MaxRedline has been keeping up on this. Here's a link to just one of his posts.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Oregonian 2015 Circulation Continues Drop

Oregonian Paid Daily Circulation for September
from Statement of Ownership reports
On October 1, 2013, the Oregonian went to a four day a week delivery of its print newspaper. It has not worked out well for paid circulation.

By September of 2014 its paid daily circulation had dropped to 163,635 almost 18% off its 2013 pre-four day delivery paid daily circulation of 203,051.

That pattern has continued into 2015. The September 2015 report published Friday on page A4 of the Oregonian shows that paid daily circulation has dropped another 19% in a year to 121,573.

That's almost a 45% loss in paid daily (Friday) print circulation in just three years from September 2012 to September 2015.

The Oregonian already was in a slide. From 2012 to 2013, the newspaper lost 7.7% in paid daily print circulation going from 219,997 to 203,051. But, the decrease has accelerated with four day delivery.

These figures do not include digital paid daily circulation, but up to the time the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) stopped giving circulation figures, the Oregonian was not doing well on digital circulation. The September 2012 digital circulation figure was 17,323 out of a total AAM circulation figure of 228,599. (The AAM figure is almost 9,000 higher than the Statement of Ownership report cited above for 2012 because it used different metrics than Statement of Ownership information required by Federal law for any publication that uses the U.S. Postal Service special rates.)

Here are the September Statement of Ownership reports for the Oregonian from 2012 to 2015:

Friday print paid circulation:
2012 - 219,997
2013 - 203,051
2014 - 163,635
2015 - 121,573

Sunday print paid circulation:
2014 - 203,031
2015 - 167,458

Using AAM metrics here are Oregonian September daily circulation figures:
2000 - 348,468
2005 - 333,515
2010 - 239,071

President George W. Bush Won't Criticize Obama, But Disses Cruz; Cruz Stays Classy

Sen. Ted Cruz - Nov. 2015
Pres. George W. Bush - Nov. 2014
If reports are true (and President Bush's spokesman did not deny that disparaging remarks were made), President George W. Bush claimed he doesn't "like" presidential candidate Ted Cruz. 
Former President George W. Bush reportedly ripped into Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at a weekend gathering of donors to his brother's presidential campaign, according to a published report Monday.
Politico reported that Bush said of Cruz, "I just don't like the guy," at the event, which was held Sunday night in Denver. 
According to the report, which cited at least six donors who were at the event, Bush said he did not like Cruz's de facto alliance with Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who has notably spared Cruz from the criticism he has ladled onto other members of the 15-candidate Republican field. 
"He said he found it 'opportunistic' that Cruz was sucking up to Trump and just expecting all of his support to come to him in the end," one donor told Politico when asked to describe Bush's remarks about Cruz. The report added that the former president had been engaging with amiable discussions about the state of the GOP race when Cruz's name came up.
This is the same President who has not said a negative word about President Barack Obama since Obama's election in 2008 out of a sense of what's best for the presidency and the country. But, one of the top five candidates for his own party's presidential nomination is fair game for criticism on such a trivial issue (not publicly clashing with another Republican candidate) in such a petty way (I don't like him)? Sad.

How politically unusual such a negative comment was can be gauged by the reaction of one of the donors present at the meeting.
"I was like, 'Holy s---, did he just say that?'" the donor told Politico. "I remember looking around and seeing that other people were also looking around surprised."
To his credit, Ted Cruz showed real class in responding that he "will always be grateful" to President Bush.
Cruz, in a written statement put out by the campaign on Tuesday, said he would not be "reciprocating" after the comments.

"I have great respect for George W. Bush, and was proud to work on his 2000 campaign and in his administration," he said in the statement. "It's no surprise that President Bush is supporting his brother and attacking the candidates he believes pose a threat to his campaign. I have no intention of reciprocating. I met my wife Heidi working on his campaign, and so I will always be grateful to him."
Poor President Bush. He strains at a gnat* in not wanting to appear to criticize President Obama on Iran and ISIS policy just last April and swallows a camel in criticizing Cruz for being "opportunistic" in not clashing with Donald Trump.
*Matthew 23:24

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Ideas that Need More Thought: Support the Republican Speaker Nominee or Be "Ostracized"

Apparently some Republicans in the House think it would help Republican unity to "ostracize" all Republicans who don't vote for the majority candidate for Speaker (and other positions?). From Pete Kasperowicz
House Republicans are considering a change to House rules that would force GOP lawmakers to either vote for the new House speaker nominee, or be "ostracized" from the Republican Party and lose all committee assignments. 
Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., said on C-SPAN that the idea behind this possible rule change is to force Republicans to unite around one leader, and end the squabbling that has divided the party for the last few years. 
"There may also be a rule change proposed that says if you don't support the nominee of the conference on the floor of the House, that you will be ostracized, or otherwise removed from the conference, and your committee assignments may be taken away," he said.
The fear is that there will not be 218 votes to elect a Speaker.

Hmm. The Republicans now have 247 members in their caucus. They are afraid of losing 30 in the vote for Speaker. That same 30 means the difference between controlling the House or not.  If you need 30 for a majority, how smart is it to antagonize them? And push them out of your conference?

And what does it do to committee assignments? Do Republicans just give up their members on some committees so they no longer have the majority. Not smart. Or dole out the assignments of the 30 among the 217? As though the current committees are getting necessary work done.

Rep. Ross argues for open process in presenting bills in the House. But he seems not to have the same open process view as regards leadership positions. Sounds like his position needs some fine tuning to be consistent.

See the CSPAN video of the interview with Rep. Ross. About the 27:00 mark is where he talks about the possible rule changes.

H/T Byron York