Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cruising the Web

Vanity Fair marvels that George W. Bush is no longer uncool, but is actually a "bona fide hipster icon." Imagine that. In fact Obama is the one who has rather jumped the shark. I notice this with my AP Government and Politics students. Most of them are in 10th grade and are 15 or 16 years old. Most of them seem to have no idea that they're supposed to hate and deride Bush or admire unequivocally Barack Obama. They barely can remember the 2008 election and last year's election was, for them, more about how Romney was uncool than Obama was cool. How times change. I can well remember how awe-struck my students were in 2008. Now those students are a year away from graduating college and they're worried about what will happen to them then. The Obama coolness-factor just does not register with most of them. For my students, any president pre-Obama is more from the history books for them. And they haven't read those books yet, so they have about a one-phrase identifier for those presidents. For Clinton, the only thing they seem to know is about Monica Lewinsky and that he was impeached. For George H.W. Bush, they know that he was the other Bush's father and that's it. And for Reagan, they know he had something to do with the end of the Cold War and that he was great, but they don't know why, but they always seem very interested when we get to the 1980s in my history classes. When we talk about young people and their voting habits, it helps to remember that the population of young people keeps changing.

Ace links to a story about how, eight and a half years later, New London Connecticut has still not had anything built on the land that the Supreme Court allowed them to take from Susette Kelo. Since Pfizer pulled out, they still don't have anything to put on that land and they're fishing around for some idea that would justify using eminent domain to take the homes from the people who lived in that neighborhood. Now, the mayor is pitching building a parking garage there. Oh, and building some small "environmentally self-sustaining homes" there. You know, like the small homes that they went to the Supreme Court to tear down.

Michael Barone goes against the CW to argue that John Boehner has had a rather successful year on policy and politics.

The New York Times has found the real grade rubrics for Harvard. It sounds about right.

My state of North Carolina is already shaping up to be the most expensive Senate race for next year. A PAC to help the Democrats maintain control of the Senate is already targeting Kay Hagan's possible challengers.

Rich Baehr explains how Obamacare has now become Obama's way of shaking down the insurance companies in order to hide all the things that the Obama administration messed up in designing Obamacare.
The left, which has been demanding universal coverage for decades, is now forced to defend the indefensible, since to admit failure or acknowledge widespread government incompetence would be to abandon not only their leader but his and their “achievement.” So we will continue to have a government which lawlessly makes it up as they go along and hopes the country can be distracted. Meanwhile, the left and its mouthpieces will proclaim that all is well.

Mickey Kaus follows on the sorts of arguments Baehr made by describing how Obamacare has escaped the chains of law.
It would be hard to frame this policymaking process as a rule. How about: “Insurance companies will have access to Obamacare’s exchanges if they’ve sacrificed a reasonable portion of their expected profits to cover for our screw-ups, as determined by us, and haven’t said anything too nasty about us in the press.”

HHS has pretty clearly escaped the rule of law and entered a world of corporatist haggling, where political leaders and a few big industry types sit around the table and work everything out. True, they have a mutual interest in doing so–Obama needs Obamacare to work, insurers are counting on it working well enough to make them money. The interests aren’t symmetrical though—at some point, long before Obamans give up on Obamacare, insurance companies could decide to cut their losses, bail, and go make money somewhere else. That gives HHS a motive to make sure they get enough money to keep them in the game: ‘Don’t worry, we’ll make it up to you later.’ This is a policy best announced at a small table in a noisy restaurant, not in the semi-judicial proceedings required for formal rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act.
Mollie Hemingway ponders those Obama voters who are now finding out that the reality of Obamacare is so very different from the nice-sounding promises that were originally made.
For some people being “for” something is sufficient reason to support most government action proposed in its name. This works even better if the legislation expanding government has a good name, say “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” or “The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013,” or “The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act.” Who could oppose affordability or fairness or the protection of the Bill of Rights? If the political powers that be assure us that a bill is good and must be passed, we might be inclined to trust them.

Other Americans may share the general goals of improving health insurance markets, the condition of the poor or fighting the scourge of violence but are more focused on Ms. Sweeney’s second sentence: “But what is the reality of it?”
This could be the rallying cry against all the nice-sounding promises that liberals make. If we can communicate "the reality of it" rather than the promise, conservatives can fight against damaging liberal policy recommendations.

Byron York warns about the trap that Democrats are hoping Republicans will fall into. They'll argue that Obamacare is now so embedded into the system that Republicans have to work together with them to "fix" their monstrosity of a law.
In such a scenario, Democrats will ratchet up their demands that Republicans join them in "fixing" the law. They will condemn Republicans who declare Obamacare beyond repair and decline to go along. And at the same time, Democrats will steadfastly refuse to back down in their full support of the law they — and they alone — passed that is causing all the trouble. The blame, they will argue, lies with the GOP.

It's an astonishingly brazen strategy. And it might work.

If any company that wants to work with the Oregon Obamacare exchange, they have to sign an agreement not to say anything negative about Obamacare. But I bet it would be within the scope of the agreement to simply report the facts and those facts don't make the state's exchange look anything but incompetent. You know, like mentioning that the state has spent more than $400 million on setting up their exchange and has enrolled a grand total of 44 people. Just the facts.

The American Studies Association has voted to boycott Israeli researchers. They don't even want to boycotting collaborative research between Palestinians and Israelis. For shame.

One college class of students figured out how to balance the federal budget. Let's put them in charge in Washington.