Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cruising the Web

David Harsanyi had the funniest take on Obama's unilateral extension of the employer mandate in his post titled "Obamacare Is Just Another Word For Laws We Ignore Together"
Don't worry, it's going to be a good thing. You'll see."
Another Obamacare fiasco? Guess what? We’ll rationalize that disaster into something awesome, tout de suite. You can’t keep your insurance if you like it? Consider yourself lucky. Obamacare disincentivizes work. Be grateful! The Affordable Healthcare Act will cost three times as much as initial estimates? Spending creates jobs. The exchanges have been a disaster? Stop rooting for the president to fail, for God’s sake....

If some of your deep-pocketed cronies visit the White House, delay the law’s employer mandate. Why not? If the risible Medicare cuts you concoct to sell ACA to voters by keeping the price tag under a trillion dollars become distasteful to voters leading up to an election, just delay the cuts until you have a more advantageous environment. If caps on out-of-pocket insurance costs haven’t panned out like you promised — delay for another year. Small Business Health Options Program? Delay. Employee Auto-enrollment? Delay. Pre-existing conditions insurance sign-up? Delay.
Remember back when the administration denied that there would be any employers who would cut down on their number of employees in order to avoid the employer-mandate? Well, now they are suddenly aware that employers will change their behavior based on the disincentives inherent in Obamacare. But now the administration is requiring employers to attest that, if they happen to lower their number of employees below 100, they did not do so to take advantage of the extra year of delay of the employer mandate. This leads Ed Morrissey to wonder,
Er … exactly what gives Treasury the authority to demand that kind of pledge, anyway? The law only mandates that employers provide coverage for full-time employees, a status defined by working 30 or more hours a week. It doesn’t contain any authority for Treasury or anyone else to force current full-time employees to stay in that status, nor for the federal government to dictate ratios of full-time/part-time staff....The Obama administration is big on self-attestation, huh? Just ask the Little Sisters of the Poor. They’ve certainly gotten the “bully” part of the bully pulpit in mind these days at the White House.
Ed Rogers is similarly gobsmacked by this overreach.
This president doesn’t just selectively enforce the law as he sees fit; now he is actually inventing new crimes. It’s jaw-dropping that if you fall below 100 employees, the burden will be on you to prove that you meant no disrespect to Obamacare. I can’t wait to see the video of the first Democrat who tries to defend this new threat of prosecution within Obamacare. In fact, look for the White House to fix this and somehow drop this provision altogether. It’s completely indefensible.

Well, at least President Obama has set a precedent for a future Republican president.
But with a little more than two years until another presidential election, they [Republicans] may take comfort in the precedent that if a Democratic president has the authority to suspend significant parts of Obamacare, so would a Republican president.
Hey, why not? Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois has found the perfect partner to advertise to young people to sign up for Obamacare: The Onion. Apparently, young people will be encouraged to sign up for Obamacare instead of having to sell their action figures. Right.

Get ready for a new avalanche of Obamacare regulations.

The left has had to redefine the word "job" in order to defend Obamacare from charges about how it is destroying jobs.

Sean Trende, who is one of the most astute analysts of electoral demographics lays out his argument that demographic changes don't really doom the GOP.

Women at Wellesley have their panties all in a knot because of a statue of a zombie-looking sleepwalking man in his underwear. It's a stupid statue, but there is no reason why such a statue should make students afraid of sexual assault. But that is the basis of the protests. Remember when liberals derided social conservatives because they didn't see any art in a crucifix placed in urine? They've come a long way since then. As Lenore Skenazy writes in the WSJ,
Since when is it a "civil right" not to feel disturbed by a piece of art? And who gets to decide which art we chuck? You don't like the "Sleepwalker," but I don't like "Winged Victory." It stirs scary thoughts of decapitation. Dear Louvre, please stash that headless gal in the attic.

Where does it stop? Cultural critic Jonathan Rauch coined the term "offendedness sweepstakes" to describe our present condition: We've gotten to the point where almost any group can declare almost anything unnerving or politically incorrect and demand its removal. These censors automatically win because anyone who demurs is criminally callous. That explains how, in October, some colleges in England banned the Robin Thicke song "Blurred Lines." Students there claimed that this catchy tune I happily listen to with my own family somehow perpetuated "rape culture."

While no one would ever deny the misery of real-life traumas like rape and assault, including the lingering trauma of flashing back on them, since when is it the job of a university to make sure its students never encounter material with unhappy associations? Art is a trigger....

At last report the Wellesley administration, to its credit, had no plans to move the statue, which is scheduled to remain until July. But there's a great irony in hearing that so many Wellesley students, espousing feminist rhetoric, want to be treated like Victorian maidens, too delicate to view a statue of a guy in his undies. It's the opposite of feminism. Feminists fought a revolution to insist that grown women don't need the kind of paternalistic protection that once kept them sheltered like little girls. Now that's the very treatment the students are demanding for themselves.

The Economist reports on a Harvard study that demonstrates that social mobility is no greater now than it has been in the past 40 years.

Seth Mandel writes on a lesson from Thomas Jefferson's presidency that President Obama might have learned from his tour of Monticello.

Hans von Spakovsky and Michael Carvin describe the Democrats' version of protecting voting rights by looking at a bill proposed by Patrick Leahy to give Democrats a hook for calling racism whenever they want if they don't like how voting turns out in a a district.
What's more, under the proposed bill "extremely low minority turnout" would be considered a "voting rights violation" that would count toward triggering preclearance, even if a jurisdiction engages in no discriminatory conduct. While low turnout might have been a plausible indicator of racial disenfranchisement in 1964, it is not plausible today.

Even worse, under the bill, low turnout by white voters would not count as a violation, even if they are a minority of voters in the district. If adopted, this would mark the first time that the Voting Rights Act actually excluded some Americans from protection based on their race.

Other violations triggering coverage would include "objections" filed by the U.S. attorney general, which don't require any finding of intentional discrimination. A discriminatory effect based on statistical disparity is sufficient—"disparate impact" once again.

This is especially galling given the many past court decisions castigating the Justice Department for filing unwarranted objections under Section 5. In 2012, a federal court overturned Attorney General Eric Holder's objection to South Carolina's voter ID law—but it cost the state $3.5 million to beat the Justice Department. Most jurisdictions don't have the resources to fight the department.

Because tallying up rulings against a jurisdiction will trigger coverage, Mr. Holder and outside groups will have every incentive to file as many objections as possible and manufacture vexatious litigation. The triggers are so low (depending on the size of the jurisdiction, ranging from five to three to one so-called "voting-rights violations") that just about any place in the U.S. could be targeted.
The bill has no chance of passing. But that is probably not the point. The Democrats want to introduce a bill so egregious that Republicans will vote against it and then be demagogued for supposedly opposing voting rights. Of course, the details of the bill will be buried under an avalanche of calls of racism that will obfuscate any of the real issues involved. Standard playbook for the Democrats. That's all they have now when they're trying to figure a way to salvage their numbers in the the off-year election. They can't fight on the economy or Obamacare so all they'll have left is cries of racism, wars on women, and other ginned-up social issues.