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Inside the Beltway: Obamacare lost in translation

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Gentlemen, start your engines and let the FOIAs begin. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus already has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services asking for information on the number of Americans who have enrolled in Obamacare. Now comes another request, with an interesting demand.

"Taxpayers have a right to know the foreign language translation costs related to President Obama's rollout of the Affordable Care Act — especially in light of the spectacular failure of the telephone hotline and website which includes a Spanish-only version," says Robert Vandervoort, executive director of ProEnglish, an organization which advocates making English the official language of government operations.

The group has asked for all records concerning the use of government translation funds for the Affordable Care Act.

"The Obamacare law is already an expensive entitlement and now we learn that translators in 150 languages were commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services for the rollout as well for a Spanish-language website which initially failed to work. What is this costing taxpayers? Why is Obama spending whopping amounts of taxpayer dollars promoting immigrant dependency and multiculturalism?" Mr. Vandervoort asks.

"Providing foreign language services simply caters to activist-led ethnic interest groups who have a stake in keeping immigrants isolated and alienated, while in the process diluting America's English language heritage," he adds.

There have been other requests for information, meanwhile. Judicial Watch has sued the Department of Health and Human Services on four occasions, seeking documents related to taxpayer funds used to promote Obamacare, coverage waivers and records of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan's role in discussions about the health care law while she served as Mr. Obama's solicitor general.


"Air Angels Drone"

— Hobby drone now sold in the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals gift catalog, priced at $324.

"Using your hobby drone, you can collect instant to-your-phone video footage of hunters engaging in illegal activity, such as drinking while in possession of a firearm, injuring animals and failing to pursue them, and illegally using spotlights, feed lures and other nasty but common hunting tricks," the advocacy group advises prospective buyers. "Your amateur footage can be used to alert game wardens and other authorities to who is doing what to animals."


The 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination is a month off. Still, 290 items of Kennedy memorabilia go up on the auction block at noon Thursday. They include three pickets from a fence that stood on the infamous "grassy knoll" site in Dallas, plus the very window that Lee Harvey Oswald took aim from when he shot the president. The glass-encased artifact is deemed "the controversial and extremely historically important Texas School Book Depository sixth-floor corner window," by RR Auction, which has organized the sale.

Also up for bid: Oswald's wedding ring and his official Dallas Police Department mugshot, nightclub owner Jack Ruby's jaunty hat he wore when he shot Oswald, plus many personal items of the slain president. They include an unsmoked La Azora cigar still in a cellophane wrapper, his personal rosary, a lock of hair once collected by a barber and even a limousine from the White House motorpool.

The bulletproof, black 1960 Continental Mark V6 limo has beige leather interior and "a very uncommon two-way telephone in the back seat," the auction house says.


"How likely is it that there will be another government shutdown in January when the current federal budget deal expires?" asks an Economist/YouGov survey released Wednesday.

Americans, apparently, are expecting more: 73 percent reported that another shutdown was likely. A mere 13 percent said it was unlikely, while 15 percent just were not sure.


"This nation has gone through 18 government shutdowns in the last 37 years. Fifteen of those 18 shutdowns occurred when Democrats controlled the House. In those 15 shutdowns, the Democrats demanded increased abortion services and labor and environmental policy concessions," Rep. Tom McClintock advised his colleagues in a speech on the House floor Wednesday.

"Perhaps the reason we don't remember those shutdowns as vividly is because in those days, presidents negotiated around the clock to resolve the disputes that caused them and did everything they could to minimize the public's inconvenience and suffering," the California Republican said. "This time was different. This time, the president refused to negotiate and took unprecedented steps to amplify the pain and suffering that the public endured."

Mr. McClintock pointed out that the White House has flirted with the idea of delaying the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate by dropping the penalty for noncompliance — something Republicans previously had begged for. Their requests were ignored.

"These facts speak for themselves and need no embellishment from me," Mr. McClintock said. "John Adams once observed that 'Facts are stubborn things.' As passions cool and reason resumes its rightful place in the nation's discourse, these facts will speak eloquently and stubbornly of what happens when politics trumps policy and propaganda trumps reality."


He's famous for pushing the glories of Lone Star business sense anywhere he can. Now Texas Gov. Rick Perry is going for diplomacy. Flanked by Israel President Shimon Peres, Mr. Perry announced on Wednesday that he had founded an international branch of Texas A&M University in Israel, specifically in Nazareth. The governor calls the new branch the "Peace Campus," to be funded by private donations.

"Texas A&M and Israel make a good fit, as communities built upon the values of family, commitment and tradition. That's reflected in the goals we've established for this university. We want to see the Nazareth branch as a means to preserve peace and build understanding between cultures," Mr. Perry proclaimed from the home of Mr. Peres.

"The founding of such a renowned institution in an Arab city in the State of Israel sends an important message to Israeli society and the Arab public in Israel. I am certain that this splendid institution will have the power to enhance the vision of peace and equality," observed Shai Piron, Israel's minister of education.


50 percent of Americans disapprove of the Affordable Care Act; 86 percent of Republicans, 53 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats agree.

44 percent of those 18 to 29 and 54 percent of those over 65 also disapprove.

45 percent overall approve of the health care law; 11 percent of Republicans, 39 percent of independents and 83 percent of Democrats agree.

51 percent of those 18 to 29 and 38 percent of those over 65 also disapprove.

6 percent overall have "no opinion" about the law; 4 percent of Republicans, 8 percent of independents and 2 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,528 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 18 to 20.

Skeptical mutterings, enthusiastic affirmations to

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