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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cruising the Web

Here's a true sign of how far Obama has fallen - the networks aren't going to air his prime-time address tonight.

Thomas Sowell slashes away at the idea that it is the "legacy of slavery" that is keeping blacks poor today.
Kristof’s other “overwhelming” evidence of the current effects of past slavery is that blacks do not have as much income as whites. But Puerto Ricans do not have as much income as Japanese Americans. Mexican Americans do not have as much income as Cuban Americans. All sorts of people do not have as much income as all sorts of other people, not only in the United States, but in countries around the world. And most of these people were never enslaved.

If we wanted to be serious about evidence, we might compare where blacks stood a hundred years after the end of slavery with where they stood after 30 years of the liberal welfare state. In other words, we could compare hard evidence on “the legacy of slavery” with hard evidence on the legacy of liberals.

Despite the grand myth that black economic progress began or accelerated with the passage of the Civil Rights laws and “War on Poverty” programs of the 1960s, the cold fact is that the poverty rate among blacks fell from 87 percent in 1940 to 47 percent by 1960. This was before any of those programs began.

Over the next 20 years, the poverty rate among blacks fell another 18 percentage points, compared to the 40-point drop in the previous 20 years. This was the continuation of a previous economic trend, at a slower rate of progress, not the economic grand deliverance proclaimed by liberals and self-serving black “leaders.”

Ending the Jim Crow laws was a landmark achievement. But, despite the great proliferation of black political and other “leaders” that resulted from the laws and policies of the 1960s, nothing comparable happened economically. And there were serious retrogressions socially.

Nearly a hundred years of the supposed “legacy of slavery” found most black children being raised in two-parent families in 1960. But thirty years after the liberal welfare state found the great majority of black children being raised by a single parent.

The murder rate among blacks in 1960 was one-half of what it became 20 years later, after a legacy of liberals’ law-enforcement policies.
The evidence goes on and on. It's amazing what happens when factual evidence is put up against emotional arguments.
If you know someone who would benefit from such arguments, I would suggest any book by Sowell as a present.
Or Sowell himself recommends Jason Riley's new book.
If we are to go by evidence of social retrogression, liberals have wreaked more havoc on blacks than the supposed “legacy of slavery” they talk about. Liberals should heed the title of Jason Riley’s insightful new book, Please Stop Helping Us.
Taking the opposite view from many black liberals, Juan Williams celebrates black Republicans who were elected to Congress this year.

David Brooks is so very disappointed in Barack Obama. When once it seemed to be enough that Obama had crisp creases in his pants, now The One is just not playing politics in the way that Brooks approves. What is funny is how Brooks bemoans how Obama is getting sucked into the sort of obstructionism that he used to oppose. Oh, please. Where is the evidence that Obama ever worked in a bipartisan fashion whether as a senator or as president to craft substantive policy proposals?

Ramesh Ponnuru makes mincemeat of some of the arguments that liberals are making now about why Obama is right to go ahead with his plans for executive amnesty.
The second response is that the president has to act because the system is broken. Nathan Pippenger, writing at Democracy's blog, argues that the president is striking a mighty blow against "the normalization of dysfunction." This is very different, he says, from saying that the president should act whenever he doesn't get his way. But he never explains the alleged difference. The closest he comes is to complain that House Republicans haven't held a vote on the Senate immigration bill and that they haven't followed through on promises to pass one of their own.

I tend to think that the House's failure to pass a deeply flawed Senate bill is a sign of the political system's health, even if the status quo isn't anybody's ideal. But let's assume for the sake of argument that the bill is worth enacting. The House's failure to go along doesn't give the president a license to do what he pleases. Pippenger suggests that the presence of millions of illegal immigrants in our country may constitute a "crisis," but doesn't fully endorse the idea. He was right to stop short. Illegal immigrants and the rest of us have managed to put up with this -- again, admittedly less-than-ideal -- situation for years. The president himself decided that action could wait until after the election. There's no justification for dispensing with the normal mandate that legislation is required for major policy changes.

The alternative isn't for the president to "surrender." It's for him to accept the limits of his constitutional authority.
Meanwhile, Mark Krikorian looks at the amnesties that Reagan and George H.W. Bush signed and how they were nowhere on the scope that Obama is contemplating.
Whatever their merits, the Reagan and Bush measures were modest attempts at faithfully executing legislation duly enacted by Congress. Obama’s planned amnesty decree is Caesarism, pure and simple. “Precedent” isn’t the right word for the Obama crowd’s invocation of Reagan. The right word is “pretext.”
We cannot establish the precedent that, whenever a president doesn't get Congress to pass a policy proposal he likes, he can go ahead and do it on his own authority. Barack Obama used to understand that. As Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post demonstrates, Obama is quite clearly reversing himself from previous statements he'd made that the President doesn't have the power to do this sort of executive order absent action from Congress. In fact he has said so 22 separate times.

Daniel Henninger explains the real problem for Democrats in the Gruber videos.
The problem is not one MIT economist’s arrogance. The problem is that the technocracy itself has become a political problem for the Democratic Party.

For some 80 years, that technocracy has been the life force of the Democratic Party. Now it’s a kind of noxious green sludge consuming the party.

Calling itself “the administrative state,” a technocratic army of social scientists, lawyers and bureaucrats has kept the Democratic Party supplied for decades with the policy details behind its promises to the electorate. ObamaCare was going to be one more victory march into the end zone of federal entitlements with a playbook designed by Jon Gruber and the other grandchildren of the original administrative elites.

But no one’s popping champagne for this one. When 50 years from now historians search for evidence of when the Democratic Party’s decline began, they’ll fix on this famous blurting of the truth about ObamaCare by House Speaker Pelosi: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”
For over a century, liberals have put forth the idea that they have good intentions to help people and when you put those intentions together with running the government through the benevolent actions a disinterested experts, they could achieve great things. Unfortunately, the results don't bear out these assumptions.

Jon Stewart has a lot of fun ridiculing "Petty Woman" Nancy Pelosi who stuck by antiquated caucus rules to prevent Tammy Duckworth from voting by proxy since Duckworth is eight months pregnant and has been advised by her doctor not to travel to Washington.
"Seriously, you should go." Ouch.

Pelosi argued that she didn't want to create a precedent whereby all sorts of members would be ducking their responsibilities and skipping important caucus meetings. But there was an alternative that has been used for decades. Someone who was going to vote the opposite of Tammy Duckworth could have abstained and thus made moot Duckworth's absence. A thoughtful Speaker could have facilitated such a maneuver. But not the Petty Woman.

And the precedent argument is so bogus. As Christine Rousselle writes,
The "slippery slope" argument is essentially moot--there simply are not that many pregnant congresswomen to merit alarm.
Apparently, House Democrats were not impressed with Pelosi's pettiness and voted down her candidate for the House Energy and Commerce Committee anyway.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cruising the Web

Well now that Mary Landrieu's pretense of exercising her supposed influence to get a Keystone bill through the Senate has fallen short, she seems to have no hope of winning her runoff election. Why should Louisiana voters choose to keep her there for her supposed influence when her influence couldn't get through a bill when her party is in control of the Senate? They can elect Cassidy and look for the new GOP majority to easily pass in January what Landrieu couldn't get done for the past several years. I count up 9 Democrats who voted Yea and who will be in the Senate come January. So the Republicans can easily pass the bill then. And they still won't have the 2/3 vote to override a veto. And now it turns out that she hasn't been such a leader on energy issues as she is now pretending. Bloomberg News reports,
Yet her outspokenness and perseverance in legislative forums is relatively new, emerging in the 10 months since she took over the chairmanship of the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee and as she faces an uphill battle in a Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Representative Bill Cassidy.

Between January 2009 and this week, Landrieu didn't speak or submit written testimony or questions at almost 70 percent of the energy committee hearings, according to an analysis of congressional records, videos and transcripts....

But Landrieu hasn't always been so vocal on the energy panel. From 2009 to 2010 she was silent at or skipped 65 of 87 hearings. From 2011 to 2012, she didn't say anything at or didn't attend 50 of 66 meetings. And from 2013 to 2014, her presence was undetectable at 22 of 47 sessions. Some of those hearings covered important issues for her coastal state, including the potential for oil spills, gas prices, the Department of Energy's budget, nominations of key energy regulators, the implementation of the stimulus bill, and the current status of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Defenders will say that legislators typically miss committee hearings. Perhaps that is evidence that Congress is doing too much missable stuff. I do an activity with my students when we cover the Congress unit and give them an excerpt that David Price, a Democratic representative from our area of North Carolina wrote. He includes a schedule from a typical day in his life as a congressman. The students soon notice that he has overlapping meetings all day long. He meets with constituents and interest groups, pops in at several committee meetings and then goes to several fundraisers in the evening. He's busy from early in the morning until late in the evening. Then I ask the class what he does not have on his schedule. Someone will finally notice that there is no time on his daily schedule for him to read bills, do research, or have a briefing on a policy. If this is what they're doing all day long, how do they have time to understand the policies they're voting on? They have to just vote the way their party leadership or interest groups or aides advise them to. Is this what the Founders had in mind when they set up a system of representative democracy?

I start off the unit on Congress by giving them Edmund Burke's famous speech on what it means to be a representative.
Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
We discuss the trust model of a representative as Burke enunciates it and the delegate model in which a representative just votes how his or her constituents want. Some students prefer one model or the other. But what we seem to have now is something else in which representatives vote how their party or interest groups indicate they should. They are neither delegates of their constituents' choices or representatives whose judgment we can trust.

The NYT reports that, just as Al Sharpton has become a more important member of the liberal movement praised by Democrats from President Obama to Mayor de Blasio, he seems to have somehow neglected to pay taxes.
Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills. Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses.

And though he said in recent interviews that he was paying both down, his balance with the state, at least, has actually grown in recent years. His National Action Network appears to have been sustained for years by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees.

With the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary, the kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration recently characterized as “abusive,” or “potentially criminal” if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful.

Mr. Sharpton and the National Action Network have repeatedly failed to pay travel agencies, hotels and landlords. He has leaned on the generosity of friends and sometimes even the organization, intermingling its finances with his own to cover his daughters’ private school tuition.
And this is the man who has bragged about his influence in helping Obama choose the next attorney general. This guy has built his career on corruption and despicable race-baiting. Why should anyone expect him to have changed? Kudos to the NYT for this detailed report.

Politico says that Democrats are craving Obama's leadership. But wasn't it his leadership that has led them to lose both houses of Congress as well as several governorships and state legislators?
Democrats are in worse shape than when President Barack Obama came into office — the number of seats they have in Congress, the number of governors, a party approval rating that’s fallen behind Republicans for the first time in recent history, enthusiasm, energy. The White House, Brazile said when she came to meet with Simas, has got to focus for the next two years on getting the party into better shape, and Obama’s the best and most effective person to get out the message.
Story Continued Below
As much Hillary Clinton anticipation as there is, two weeks later, Democrats are still reeling and anxious. Obama may have built his political career without the party — and created anti-establishment alternatives — but he’s a lame duck with a new Congress that’s been elected to oppose him. He needs Democrats. And they need him.
“The base craves his leadership,” Brazile said in an interview later that week, following a meeting of the DNC committee that’s beginning to set the rules for the next presidential nomination. “They want him in the mix, talking about what Democrats accomplished, what Democrats are fighting for, and what the president has done to make lives better.”

....“He may or may not be the best messenger,” said Vic Fazio, the former California congressman who was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair for the 1994 rout. “But at this point, he is still our messenger. And the first year is very important.”
At least until the next presidential campaign begins in earnest, Democrats say, it’ll be up to Obama to centralize the Democratic message around something other than simply trying to paint the Republicans as extreme.
Isn't this what Obama has been blaming his party's losses on - that he hasn't been able to communicate to the American people how wonderful his policies have been for the country? And somehow, the American people are all too "stupid" to understand just how fantastic everything Obama has done has been for our country and world affairs.

Sean Davis collates all the evidence that Jonathan Gruber played a key position in designing Obamacare and that Democrats were touting him as such up until these embarrassing videos emerged.
Jonathan Gruber was a key architect of Obamacare who was intimately involved in the drafting of the legislation.

That is a fact. It is not arguable. It is not assailable. It is backed up by overwhelming contemporaneous evidence long before Gruber became a controversial figure whose loose lips threatened to sink the Obamacare ship. And the people who pimped Gruber as the all-knowing health care savior who single-handedly built the model that guaranteed a future of health care glory were not Obamacare’s critics. They were its most ardent proponents.
You can now watch a clarifying two-minute video of Gruber's greatest hits that pairs Democrats praising his importance for crafting the bill with some of his more honest videos expressing what the Democrats were thinking as they merrily misled the American people.

David Harsanyi explains why Obama's actions to try to legislate without Congress is ultimately more damaging to the country than whatever actions he takes on immigration. I've been teaching checks and balances this week in my A.P. Government class and I can't help thinking that the typical list of what the Constitution created for each branch to balance the others is now totally out of date. And the harm of creating the many precedents that Obama has created of executive action beyond the laws that Congress may or may not pass is a harm that will endure much longer than the effects of anything he does on immigration.

Mark Steyn isn't impressed with Obama's skills at social media and the role of the American media in deceiving the public.
Kate McMillan contrasts the fawning media coverage from a couple of years back about Obama's brilliant use of social media with the revelation that over 60 per cent of Obamacare Facebook comments come from just 100 users. She adds:
It doesn't matter if you "win" the social media battle. What matters is that you convince an incurious, supportive media that you've won. That's why they spend so much effort on faking it.
This is true, and an important point. Almost every aspect of Obama's "cool" - from his peerless communication skills to his genius at cutting-edge social media - is totally bogus. His real genius is in pulling the wool over the media's eyes, and given that they walk into the room wearing back-to-front ski-masks that doesn't take much doing, either. For example, Jonathan Gruber couldn't get away with his contempt for the American people if he didn't also have a contempt for the American media. In the latter case at least, it's well deserved.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cruising the Web

David Axelrod weighs in on Jonathan Gruber.
Ah, so why did your administration pay him $400,000 for his help in designing the health care bill? And why did you guys tout his help and send him to Congress to help pass the bill? Guy Benson points to this video of Gruber explaining how Obama asked for help to basically mislead people so that the bill would get passed.
“The problem is it’s a political nightmare, and people say ‘no, you can’t tax my benefits’…so what we did a lot in that room was think a lot about well how could we make this work? … And [Obama] is really a realistic guy. He was like, ‘look, I can’t just do this.’ He said ‘it’s just not going to happen politically. The bill will not pass. How do we manage to get there through phase-ins and other things?’ And we talked about it. He was just very interested in that topic.”
Trying to pass Gruber off as someone who was "not on our staff" is just too lame to pass the sniff test. He might not have officially been on staff, but he was in the room and helping to write the bill. And he was helping Obama twist things so they could fool the American people into passing their monstrosity.

Jonah Goldberg explains another aspect of the Gruber story - how the administration and media worked together to push Gruber as if he were a neutral analyst commenting on how well Obamacare was constructed instead of the guy who was being paid millions of dollars by the federal government to help craft the law.
You’ve got this guy who is pretending to be an objective independent analyst, who’s got huge amounts of skin in the game in terms of money he can make off of consulting fees, but also of the prestige being involved and the speeches he could do which haven’t been tallied into these numbers -- anyway, it’s millions of dollars – being touted around through a transmission belt of liberal journalists, who all are all pretending to be objective analysts too, quoting each other, reaffirming each other, all with the help of the White House which went along with this soup to nuts – a process which this guy says was all about lies and misleading the American people. And then when caught about it, the same administration tries to dismiss him as if he was just some sort of random White House intruder. The whole thing stinks.

It’s not just that’s he’s getting rich, it’s the hypocrisy that every time Republicans complain about ObamaCare, they say “Oh, it’s just because those evil, profit-hungry Koch brothers are trying to get rich,” which was always a lie. It’s also that this law itself makes American life more complex and then there’s this leaching new class of people who profit from the complexity that they are imposing upon the society.
Goldberg called the Grubers who make money off the government and turn around and used by the liberal media to push the very programs they're profiting from as "rent-seeking remoras" sucking off of the government Leviathan. That's quite a phrase...and quite descriptive.
Bret Baier covered how the administration hid Gruber's role at first so that they could shop his support for Obamacare around as if he were a neutral commentator. And liberal columnists happily entered into the deception.

Do you want to know how the Supreme Court will rule on any issue? Ask this 30-year-old guy in Queens who happens to be the best predictor in the world of Supreme Court decisions. He beats the experts and their models. And he's won FantasySCOTUS three years in a row.

Keep an eye on this affirmative action case that was filed yesterday against Harvard and UNC Chapel Hill. It challenges both the system set up in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke and Grutter v. Bollinger. One interesting aspect of the cases is that they focus on the claim that the racial policies used in admission at the universities have the effect of discriminating against high-achieving Asian-American students.

This is how media bias comes down from the top. Here is CNBC reporter Melissa Francis.
Melissa Francis is now an anchor at Fox Business Channel and Fox News Channel, but during the debate over Obamacare, she worked at CBNC.

While she worked at the business-oriented cable channel, Harvard-educated Francis says that she noticed that the numbers that President Obama and the Democrats were offering in support of the healthcare bill did not add up.

“You can’t add millions of people and have it not cost everyone. You can’t add people who have pre-existing conditions and not charge more,” Francis says she noticed at the time, adding that the American people might have supported the bill even if they knew all of that, but the administration was not revealing all of the facts needed to make a sound judgement on the bill.

Francis told Fox and Friends today that she pursued that line of questioning whenever she conducted interviews on Obamacare, until one day when she got a call to speak to her manager in his office.

“I got told that I needed to stop. And I said ‘Why? This is math, not politics,’” Francis recalls.

“They said that I was ‘disrespecting the office of the president,’ that was the exact language that they used.”
CNBC denies it. Determine whom you believe.

Jonah Goldberg tags an extremely silly NYT editorial (is that redundant?) opposing U.S. policy that allows Cuban doctors to defect to the U.S. Goldberg writes,
hat I find astounding however is the disconnect with the Times’ views on immigration in every other realm of American policy. They have no problem with low skilled illegal immigrants coming to the US at a time when there’s a surplus of low-skilled workers and a shortage of low-skilled jobs. They have no problem (and I don’t either) with the brain drain our immigration policies cause among high-skilled and high-tech workers from every other country in the world — except for Cuba. Only Communist Cuba’s problems deserve redress by a change in American policy.

David French is exactly right when he marvels at how modern feminism has now become "Appalling stupidity backed by hysterical rage." It is as if once women made great strides in the western world, feminists decided to focus on ever smaller ersatz issues instead of turning their anger towards how women are treated elsewhere in the world.
Treating women as equals in our culture and politics is simple fairness. Modern feminism, by contrast, has nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with the special pleading of its entitled commentariat.

Treating women as equals does not mean that we ignore differences — men and women tend to have different strengths and weaknesses, different likes and dislikes, and will often choose different career paths, family roles, television shows, books, and movies. In fact, men and women tend to like that they’re different and celebrate those differences. Feminism has reacted to this obvious reality by either arguing that our myriad differences are mere social constructs or by arguing that — to borrow my wife’s excellent summary of feminist philosophy – men and women are the same, except when women are better. After all, it wasn’t long ago that one prominent feminist argued that our entire “postindustrial society” was just “better suited to women.”

Feminism doesn’t really have a philosophy. It’s barely even an ideology. It’s mostly just a series of temper tantrums thrown by a small, privileged minority. And, unless it changes, it will soon be irrelevant.
Meanwhile, women are being sold into sexual slavery by ISIS, Iran executes a woman for killing her rapist in self defense, and Saudi Arabia routinely allows the rape and mistreatment of female migrant workers. Meanwhile, feminists are having meltdowns over the shirt that a scientist wore when he was interviewed after having landed a probe on a comet. Something is seriously wrong with these women if that is what it takes to outrage them. As Ashe Snow writes,
Thinking about the whole situation another way, women pushing for more women in STEM decided to focus on clothing instead of science, something they routinely call out men for.

Jay Cost explains the structural aspects of House districts that favor Republicans in controlling the House of Representatives over the course of time.
But something similar helps Republicans in the battle for Congress. In the House of Representatives, the GOP now unites white voters in the suburbs and rural areas; combined, these blocs are usually enough to yield a Republican House even when Democrats win the presidency, as happened in both 1996 and 2012. The problem for Democrats in the House is that their coalition, increasingly nonwhite and urban, is concentrated in deep blue districts. That gives the GOP a variety of paths to a House majority.

The problem for the Democrats is a combination of law and geography. The 1982 amendments to the Voting Rights Act require the creation of majority-minority districts whenever they can be drawn with reasonable lines. In effect, state legislatures are required to concentrate Democrats in a handful of districts, while dispersing GOP voters across the remainder. Meanwhile, the geographical distribution of the Democratic coalition reinforces the effect of the law. Outside the Deep South, Democratic voters tend to be densely packed into urban areas, making it harder to distribute them across many districts, even in cases where the law does not require a majority-minority district.
Perhaps this is why the Democrats are now before the Supreme court challenging such majority-minority districts in Alabama as impermissibly partisan. Cost also points to how the Republicans have somewhat of an advantage in the Senate because of their strength in rural areas.
If “safe Democratic” states yield 204 electoral votes, they are only good for 32 senators. Meanwhile, “safe Republican” states are only good for 182 electoral votes, but provide 44 senators. That leaves 24 senators from 12 states that either side may win in presidential years. If both parties won all their safe seats, and they split the seats in contested states, we would see a GOP majority in the Senate of 56-44.

The advantage the GOP enjoys in the Senate is not as decisive as its edge in the House, as Democratic senators in red states have done a better job of holding on than their House counterparts. Still, liberal policy breakthroughs inevitably depend on Democratic senators’ going against their own constituents and running the risk of defeat. Obamacare would not have been passed by the Senate without the support of Democrats from states that have voted Republican for president since 1964;
The result is a tendency for our government to see a Democrat in the White House and Republican control of at least one house of Congress. The result -- gridlock. And that is just how the Founders conceived of our government with factions balancing each other out to prevent any one faction from gaining total control. In order for one party to win and maintain control of both the presidency and Congress, the party needs to play to the middle. Any move too far right or left will lead to a rejection of that party's control. That accounts for the pendulum swings in party control of the government in the past couple of decades.

The Washington Post chides Obama for thinking he can govern without Congress.
DEMOCRATS URGING President Obama to “go big” in his executive order on immigration might pause to consider the following scenario:

It is 2017. Newly elected President Ted Cruz (R) insists he has won a mandate to repeal Obamacare. The Senate, narrowly back in Democratic hands, disagrees. Mr. Cruz instructs the Internal Revenue Service not to collect a fine from anyone who opts out of the individual mandate to buy health insurance, thereby neutering a key element of the program. It is a matter of prosecutorial discretion, Mr. Cruz explains; tax cheats are defrauding the government of billions, and he wants the IRS to concentrate on them. Of course, he is willing to modify his order as soon as Congress agrees to fix what he considers a “broken” health system.

That is not a perfect analogy to Mr. Obama’s proposed action on immigration. But it captures the unilateral spirit that Mr. Obama seems to have embraced since Republicans swept to victory in the midterm elections. He is vowing to go it alone on immigration. On Iran, he is reportedly designing an agreement that he need not bring to Congress. He already has gone that route on climate change with China.

The legal or constitutional case for each is different, but the rationales overlap: Congress is broken, so Mr. Obama must act. Two-thirds of Americans did not vote in the midterms, and the president must represent them, too. He has tried compromise, and the Republicans spurned him.

We will not relitigate that last contention except to note that behind the legislative disappointments of the past six years lies fault on both sides. The bigger point is this: In an era of fierce partisanship and close division, there will always be a temptation to postpone legislating until after the next election and to spend the intervening two years jockeying for political advantage. But a knockout blow will remain out of reach for both sides, and the price of postponement will be national decline. Many areas need federal attention and hold a possibility of bipartisan accord: building the nation’s infrastructure, protecting its cybernetworks and reforming its tax code, to name just three. It would not be rational for Republicans to spurn compromise in these areas just because Mr. Obama acts unilaterally in others; but it is entirely foreseeable.
Well, it would be rational for the Republicans to refuse compromise if they feel that they can't trust Obama to enforce whatever part of the compromise he dislikes. and that is the situation he has brought about through his unilateralist decisions to not enforce laws he doesn"t like.

Byron York explains the GOP strategy to try to defund President Obama's immigration action without shutting down the government. If the President vetoes such an appropriation, a shutdown would occur only within the government agency tasked with carrying out Obama's executive order. The rest of the government would be funded. There would be no general shutdown. And this would not be an uncommon tactic. Even Democratic Senator Carl Levin admits that this happens all the time.
“It happens all the time,” retiring Senator Carl Levin (D., Mich.) told National Review Online while walking through the Capitol Thursday evening.

Levin emphasized the distinction between shutting down the government, as happened last year, and refusing to appropriate money for something.

“That’s not uncommon that there’s amendments saying ‘none of the funds in this appropriation bill may be spent for’ — fill in the blank,” Levin said.... He described withholding funds for the executive orders on immigration as a standard congressional procedure that should not be confused with shutting down the government.

“That’s not slash-and-burn,” he told NRO. “That’s not bringing down the government. That’s a fairly traditional, targeted approach to make a policy point.”

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cruising the Web

President Obama is now denying that his administration misled people in order to get Obamacare passed. What about those repeated promises that those who liked their health care could keep it? What about the promises that this would "bend the cost curve down"? And Obama is denying that the loquacious Jonathan Gruber was never on "our staff." Well, that's just being Clintonian. He might not have been officially on the administration's staff, but he sure had a part in designing the bill. Politico isn't buying the President's weaseling.
While Gruber was not a staffer, he was a paid consultant whose models were used to help assess the impact of various policy changes being considered as part of health care legislation. Official logs show he visited the White House about a dozen times between 2009 and this year.

Despite Obama’s dismissive tone toward Gruber, the president has acknowledged that some of his own statements about the law were ill-advised, in particular his repeated promises that if Americans liked their health care plans they could keep them. In fact, many plans were deemed inadequate under the law, leading people to get notices that their plans were being canceled. As Peter Wehner writes, "We have a president who is lying about his lies."
As the WSJ writes Obamacare was passed by gaming the CBO. Gruber admits this now; conservatives knew it back when the bill passed.
Recall five years ago. The White House wanted to pretend that the open-ended new entitlement would spend less than $1 trillion over 10 years and reduce the deficit too. Congress requires the budget gnomes to score bills as written, no matter how unrealistic the assumption or fake the promise. Democrats with the help of Mr. Gruber carefully designed the bill to exploit this built-in gullibility.

So they used a decade of taxes to fund merely six years of insurance subsidies. They made-believe that Medicare payments to hospitals will some day fall below Medicaid rates. A since-repealed program for long-term care front-loaded taxes but back-loaded spending, meant to gradually go broke by design. Remember the spectacle of Democrats waiting for the white smoke to come up from CBO and deliver the holy scripture verdict?

On the tape, Mr. Gruber also identifies a special liberal manipulation: CBO’s policy reversal to not count the individual mandate to buy insurance as an explicit component of the federal budget. In 1994, then CBO chief Robert Reischauer reasonably determined that if the government forces people to buy a product by law, then those transactions no longer belong to the private economy but to the U.S. balance sheet. The CBO’s face-melting cost estimate helped to kill HillaryCare.

The CBO director responsible for this switcheroo that moved much of ObamaCare’s real spending off the books was Peter Orszag, who went on to become Mr. Obama’s budget director. Mr. Orszag nonetheless assailed CBO during the debate for not giving him enough credit for the law’s phantom “savings.”
Both sides have gamed the CBO. Perhaps this might be an opportunity to get some realism for CBO analyses for the Republicans.

Kyle Smith explains how Obamacare is deceit all the way down.
Gruber’s jocular tone wasn’t surprising. In explaining why a huge tax increase was disguised to conceal it from the American people, he was admitting what was obvious to close observers: The law is really just a redistribution scheme.

Even the Democrats didn’t think ObamaCare could pass by being so described.

That’s why deception, as Gruber says, was central to its design.

Except Gruber got it wrong: The people weren’t actually fooled. Most Americans are not wonks. They simply suspected that the law was too good to be true.

ObamaCare will cut your premiums? By $2,500 a year? And reduce the deficit? While giving gold-plated coverage to tens of millions more people? Who won’t have to pay much? And none of this will result in anyone losing their current plan?

To the average person, Obama sounded like a used-car dealer shouting, “Free Ferrari. Gets 100 miles to the gallon! Did I mention it runs on rainwater?”

Americans didn’t buy it. Never did. At no time has approval for ObamaCare hit 50% in the Gallup poll.

So the Democrats pushed the program through anyway, without a single Republican vote, via legislative legerdemain.

No program of similar scope had ever been rammed through without bipartisan support. The only thing bipartisan about ObamaCare was the opposition: 34 House Democrats joined all of the Republicans to vote against it.

What’s important about Gruber’s words is that they highlight the fact that ObamaCare isn’t just “controversial” or “divisive” or “hotly debated.” It is fraudulent. Being based on lies, it is illegitimate.
Smith quotes the contortions that liberals are going through to try to excuse what Gruber admitted happened. And then wonders what would be the reaction if any Republican tried to use that sort of excuse-making for their errors. And, as Smith points out, Obamacare was designed to fix a problem that didn't exist.
And all of this to solve a problem that was as overhyped as “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”
In July 2009, six months into the Obama era, a Time magazine poll found that while there was widespread consternation with something called “the system” (i.e., what people were told about others, from news reports), 86% of Americans approved of their own personal health care.
Eighty-six percent! Abraham Lincoln wishes his approval ratings were that high. We’re talking about something that Americans liked at least as much as motherhood, the Grand Canyon and summer.
But it had to be completely redesigned, because there just wasn’t enough for the Jonathan Grubers and Jonathan Chaits of the world to do.
The reason liberals consistently mislead, or try to mislead, the public on their policies is that they don’t pass the common-sense test.
It would have been better to have designed a much more limited reform to address the much smaller number of people who couldn't get health care instead of turning the entire system upside down.

Byron York examines how Jonathan Gruber's remarks have revealed how Obamacare made a lot of people, including Gruber, extremely wealthy. He sure was paid a lot by the federal government for a man that Obama is now trying to disassociate his administration from. And then he made even more from individual states. All in all, Gruber earned over $2 million for his work for the national and some state governments.

A new report from Pew Research Center looks at who the 92 million Americans are who aren't looking for a job. They're more likely to be young people and women.

Two-thirds of Oregon voters didn't want to give illegal immigrants drivers' licenses as they voted to cancel a new state law that had done just that. NNot what you'd expect from Oregonians, is it?

Having spent time and effort after the 2012 election to improve their polling techniques for overestimating how Romney was doing, the Republicans are now having to figure out what they did wrong since their polling underestimated how well GOP candidates were doing in 2014. Maybe polling is just becoming an impossible task given how many people refuse to talk to pollsters.

Joel Kotkin looks at how progressive policies are so damaging to suburban residents.

William Voegeli, author of the very perceptive Pity Party, offers up his description of "liberal bullshit" which involves putting forth arguments that phony.
Criticizing Republican proposals to cut spending on Head Start and other educational programs, for example, President Obama said, “We know that three- and four-year-olds who go to high-quality preschools, including our best Head Start programs, are less likely to repeat a grade, they’re less likely to need special education, they’re more likely to graduate from high school than the peers who did not get these services.” The first part of Obama’s statement is not bullshit, because it does nothing worse than employ the politician’s constant companion, the selectively revealed half-truth. Children who attend the best Head Start programs show positive results but, as we have seen, Head Start attendees overall are no better off than peers not enrolled in the program. Obama invokes the sunny side of the law of averages without acknowledging its grim side: If children who attend the best Head Start programs do better than their peers, children who attend the worst programs must, necessarily, have developmental problems even more severe than those afflicting children in a control group who never enrolled in the program at all.

The more interesting part of Obama’s statement, for our purposes, is the generic political prescription, the assertion that government program X will solve problem Y. Prescription lends itself to bullshitting if, following Frankfurt, the prescriber has a lack of connection to a concern with efficacy. Both kinds of bullshitters, de-scribers and prescribers, are more concerned with conveying their ideals, of which idealized understandings of their true selves are a central component, than with making statements that correspond scrupulously to empirical or causal reality. A bullshit description may be, at least in part, factually accurate, but any such accuracy is inadvertent. The accurate data were incorporated into the spiel not for the sake of correctness but because it helped express the speaker’s “values” or “vision.”

A bullshit prescription, by the same token, might actually work to some degree, but any such efficacy is inadvertent and tangential to the central purpose: demonstrating the depths of the prescriber’s concern for the problem and those who suffer from it, concerns impelling the determination to “do something” about it. As the political project that exists to vindicate the axiom that all sorts of government program X’s can solve an endless list of social problem Y’s, liberalism is always at risk of descending into prescriptive bullshit. Liberal compassion lends itself to bullshit by subordinating the putative concern with efficacy to the dominant but unannounced imperative of moral validation and exhibitionism. I, the empathizer, am interested in the sufferer for love of myself, Rousseau contended. Accordingly, an ineffectual program may serve the compassionate purposes of its designers and defenders as well as or better than a successful one....

Conservative critiques of liberalism sometimes concede that liberals’ aspirations are laudable before insisting that the means liberals favor are insufficiently practical and at least potentially destructive. The way liberal compassion lends itself to liberal bullshit, however, argues for a less forgiving interpretation. Liberals’ ideals make them more culpable, not less, for the fact that government programs set up to do good don’t reliably accomplish good. Doing good is often harder than do-gooders realize, but doing good is also more about the doing and the doer than it is about the good. Too often, as a result, liberals are content to treat gestures as the functional equivalent of deeds, and intentions as adequate substitutes for achievements.
It is time to judge policies by their results and not their benign intentions.

Fred Bauer poses ten very pertinent questions for President Obama on the proposed executive action on immigration. A sampling:
1) Mr. President, you often blame congressional Republicans for Congress’s inability to pass immigration reform. However, your party held Congress during 2009 and 2010. If the need for immigration reform is so great, why did you not work to pass it during that period?

2) Mr. President, it is no secret that many top Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner and former vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, are very sympathetic to passing immigration reform. Why do you think, then, that your administration has struggled to pass an immigration package during this Congress?

3) For years leading up to this decision, you denied that you had the ability to bypass Congress and implement changes to U.S. immigration policy unilaterally. Yet now you seem to be claiming that you do have the power to go it alone on immigration. Were you wrong when you earlier denied that you had this power? Were those earlier statements “speak-os,” as Jonathan Gruber might put it?

4) Many on both the right and left have asserted that your potential executive action on immigration could set a dangerous precedent, allowing future presidents to essentially nullify portions of the law that they disagree with as a policy matter. They have posed hypotheticals relating to tax policy, environmental laws, and so forth. Are you in any way concerned about setting such a precedent? How could you procedurally differentiate your action on immigration from a future president’s potential decision to stop enforcing parts of the tax code?
Read the rest. Of course, what are the chances any reporter would ask any of these questions?

More undeserved honors for Chelsea Clinton who has to be the princess of undeserved benefits. And Katie Couric is touting her as "Mom of the Year" for the unheard of ability of having given birth six weeks ago. No other young woman could possibly have accomplished that, right?

Glenn Reynolds writes about the stupidity of objecting to the shirt that a scientist wore on the day that the ESA landed a probe on a comet.
So how are things going for feminism? Well, last week, some feminists took one of the great achievements of human history — landing a probe from Earth on a comet hundreds of millions of miles away — and made it all about the clothes.

Yes, that's right. After years of effort, the European Space Agency's lander Philaelanded on a comet 300 million miles away. At first, people were excited. Then some women noticed that one of the space scientists, Matt Taylor, was wearing a shirt, made for him by a female "close pal," featuring comic-book depictions of semi-naked women. And suddenly, the triumph of the comet landing was drowned out by shouts of feminist outrage about ... what people were wearing. It was one small shirt for a man, one giant leap backward for womankind.

The Atlantic's Rose Eveleth tweeted, "No no women are toooootally welcome in our community, just ask the dude in this shirt." Astrophysicist Katie Mack commented: "I don't care what scientists wear. But a shirt featuring women in lingerie isn't appropriate for a broadcast if you care about women in STEM." And from there, the online feminist lynch mob took off until Taylor was forced to deliver a tearful apology on camera.

It seems to me that if you care about women in STEM, maybe you shouldn't want to communicate the notion that they're so delicate that they can't handle pictures of comic-book women. Will we stock our Mars spacecraft with fainting couches?
Larry Correia sums up how absurd this brouhaha was.
(Link via Ed Driscoll.)

The UNC acadmic fraud scandal has taken a deliciously ironic turn. It wasn't only the African-American Studies department that was taking athletes and other students into phony classes. Apparently, the Philosophy department was also in on it. Philosophy? Yup. There is a professor of - sports ethics - who was also offering paper classes. The Daily Tar Heel reports on the absurd number of independent study classes she was offering. You can't make this stuff up.