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Obamacare overreach

John Cassidy in The New Yorker writes about the launch of HealthCare.gov — “arguably the worst moment of [President] Obama’s five-year tenure.” But, he says, one thing the president has going for him is the “uncanny tendency of some of his Republican enemies to turn opportunities into calamities. And none is more adept at this party trick than Darrell Edward Issa, the San Diego loudmouth whose House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a public hearing [Wednesday], which backfired almost immediately.

“When your opponent is digging himself into a hole, an elementary rule of politics states, you should stand aside and let him get on with it. But rather than allowing the American public to reach their own conclusions about the troubled rollout of Obamacare … Issa and some of his GOP colleagues seem intent on launching another partisan witch hunt. …

“Rather than pursuing the charge of incompetence, one that even the president’s most dogged defenders might have difficulty knocking down, the California congressman quickly moved on to accusing two previously anonymous public servants of withholding information, misleading the public and carrying water for the president and his lackeys.

“The dangers in pursuing this strategy immediately became obvious. Neither of the targets of Issa’s questioning — Todd Park, the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Henry Chao, a senior official at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services … — looked anything like political hacks. Two calm and well-spoken Asian-Americans, they appeared to be what they are: non-partisan technology experts who have been working night and day since Oct. 1st to get the insurance exchange working properly.”

Not on Issa’s watch

The Borowitz Report (satire alert!): “In an explosive accusation, the House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., today charged President Obama with ‘using all the resources at his disposal to make the Affordable Care Act work.’

“Accusing the president of participating in ‘a wide-ranging conspiracy,’ Mr. Issa told reporters that ‘behind closed doors, the president has quietly assembled a high-tech brain trust that is working around the clock to fix the Healthcare.gov Web site—at government expense.’ Rep. Issa said that he would call for a new round of hearings and would subpoena ‘all those persons suspected of being involved in the ongoing plot to fix Obamacare.’ ”

Good Afghanistan news

Melissa L. Skorka, a U.S. counterinsurgency adviser in Afghanistan, in Foreign Policy: “Managing Afghanistan’s nascent industrial base will be critical as the nation attempts to build a modern economy that is less dependent on foreign aid. Today, there is great room for optimism … Despite having a GDP that was made up almost entirely of outside aid in 2011 and 2012, certain industries — including the Afghan telecommunications, agricultural and mining sectors — have begun to demonstrate remarkable growth and potential …

“Afghanistan’s post-2014 future will be heavily tied to its security situation. In geostrategic hot spots around the world, counterinsurgency experts have long argued that adequate development and economic prosperity follow security. But if there is a successful strategy that upends this conventional wisdom, it may lie in western Afghanistan, where the development of the nation’s multi-billion dollar mining industry is growing the economy and consequently forcing improvements in the security sector. In essence, as businesses have begun to flourish, despite the lack of fully settled security, Afghans have moved swiftly against nefarious actors to ensure that they do not impact the flow of marble and revenue generation.”

Subsidizing corporations

Paul Buchheit at Common Dreams writes that the average American family pays $6,000 a year in subsidies to big business, but that "no family would have to pay if we truly lived in a competitive but well-regulated free-market economy.”

Mr. Buchheit calls this “ a devastating attack on the livelihoods of tens of millions of American families. And Congress just lets it happen.”

Compiled by Greg Victor (gvictor@post-gazette.com).


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