Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cruising the Web

James Taranto ponders why the Democrats have intensified their demagoguery on race.

Joe Biden does it again as he told Bostonians at a memorial for last years marathon bombing that "it was worth it."
let me say to those 'quote survivors,' my God, you have survived and you have soared. It was worth it. I mean this sincerely - just to hear each of you speak. You're truly, truly inspiring."
Does the man have no monitor on what comes out of his mouth and how it sounds? Can you just imagine if a Republican had been similarly inept in his remarks?

IBD explains why you shouldn't have much faith in the CBO's projections that Obamacare will cost $104 billion less over the next ten years than previously thought.
That drop rests almost entirely on the CBO's belief that premiums will remain virtually flat next year, which then lowers the insurance subsidy costs.

But the CBO somehow missed the fact that the industry is already warning of double-digit rate increases across the country next year. Right now, in fact, it's pushing for changes to minimize the rate shock. A sharp spike in premiums will drive ObamaCare's costs up far beyond the CBO's current estimate.
Next, the CBO claims 12 million uninsured will gain coverage this year because of the law.

Never mind that this is a huge downgrade from the CBO's original estimate, which had 21 million added to insurance rolls this year. Just to hit 12 million, the CBO assumed that at least 83% of those who got coverage in the ObamaCare exchanges were previously uninsured.

That's despite a growing pile of evidence to the contrary. The latest Rand Corp. survey finds only a third of exchange enrollees lacked coverage. If Obama's 7.5 million enrollment number is true, that means just 2.5 million came from the ranks of the uninsured.

The CBO likewise assumes that almost all the new Medicaid enrollees previously lacked coverage. But Rand's survey found that only half of the 6 million added to Medicaid lacked insurance before.

CBO's number crunchers need to look up from their computer models to see what ObamaCare is doing in the real world.
Megan McArdle has a restrained reaction to the news that the Census Bureau is revising their health insurance questions in a way that will make it impossible to have any direct comparison of how many formerly uninsured people gained insurance after Obamacare was implemented.
I’m speechless. Shocked. Stunned. Horrified. Befuddled. Aghast, appalled, thunderstruck, perplexed, baffled, bewildered and dumbfounded. It’s not that I am opposed to the changes: Everyone understands that the census reports probably overstate the true number of the uninsured, because the number they report is supposed to be “people who lacked insurance for the entire previous year,” but people tend to answer with their insurance status right now.

But why, dear God, oh, why, would you change it in the one year in the entire history of the republic that it is most important for policy makers, researchers and voters to be able to compare the number of uninsured to those in prior years? The answers would seem to range from “total incompetence on the part of every level of this administration” to something worse.
And she's not comforted that White House advisers had a role in approving the new questionnaire.
I find it completely and totally impossible to believe that this problem didn’t occur to anyone at Census, or in the White House. It would be like arguing that the George W. Bush administration might have inadvertently overlooked the possibility that when the U.S. invaded Iraq, there would be shooting. This is the biggest policy debate of the last 10 years, and these data are at the heart of that debate. It is implausible that everyone involved somehow failed to notice that they were making it much harder to know the effect of this law on the population it was supposed to serve. Especially because the administration seems to have had a ready excuse as soon as people reacted to the news.

Even if the administration genuinely believes this is defensible, why would they give anyone reason to believe that it is cooking the books? Because those charges are being made, and they’re a lot harder to dismiss than the complaints about birth certificates or dark intimations that the administration has simply made up its enrollment figures out of whole cloth.

I just don’t get it.

I mean, I can certainly think of explanations, but I can’t quite bring myself to believe the worst of them. Which leaves me with the only slightly-less-utterly-appalling conclusion: At some point, very early on in the process, folks noticed that asking the new questions would make it difficult to compare Obamacare’s implementation year to prior years, and decided that assessing the effects of the transition wasn’t nearly as important as making urgent changes to … questions we’ve been asking basically the same way for a decade and a half.

No, wait, that doesn’t make any sense, either. Let’s go back to inexplicable, shall we?

If the administration is really serious about transparency and data-driven policy, as I’ve been told for a year now, then it will immediately rectify this appalling mistake and put the old questions back into circulation double-quick. But we’re more likely going to hear the most transparent and data-driven administration in history citing these data -- without an asterisk -- to tout the amazing impact of its policies.
Of course, that is what is going to happen. They know and we know that the great majority of people won't be interested in a technical explanation of changes in data-gathering that are skewing results. All the Democrats need is a good sales line for a 30-second ad that they can flash up there with a mention of how the data come from the Census Bureau and presto, change-o, they've got their evidence of how much Obamacare has improved the situation for the uninsured in America.

And apparently, Republican senator Judd Gregg warned about this sort of problem back in 2009 when he learned that the administration was taking more control over the Census Bureau.

The UNC academic cheating scandal may be leading the NCAA to change their rules for evaluating what constitutes aa scandal they should be investigating.

A decision in the Sixth Circuit rightly slaps down the EEOC and the zany methodology they'd used to go after Kaplan for using background checks for employees.
Such is the case with last week's hilariously caustic rebuke of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The EEOC had sued Kaplan, the for-profit education company, for using "the same type of background check that the EEOC itself uses," as Judge Raymond Kethledge cheekily put it in the first sentence of his ruling in EEOC v. Kaplan.

Despite its own practices, the Obama EEOC has made a cause of suing private companies because it claims that credit and criminal background checks discriminate against minorities. In 2012 the agency issued "guidance" to get companies to think twice before using criminal checks but stopped short of doing the same for credit checks.

That didn't stop it from suing Kaplan for using credit checks, which the EEOC claimed had no business necessity and resulted in a "disparate impact" on blacks. A federal judge tossed the case, but the EEOC is so convinced of its virtue that it appealed. Bad idea.

Judge Kethledge eviscerated the EEOC like a first-day law student, writing that Kaplan had good reason to conduct credit checks on "applicants for positions that provide access to students' financial-loan information" because employees had "stolen payments" and "engaged in self-dealing."

As for proving disparate racial impact, Judge Kethledge noted that "the credit-check process is racially blind; the [credit-check] vendor does not report the applicant's race with her other information." But the EEOC had relied entirely on Kevin Murphy, a consultant who assembled a team of five "race raters" to look at the drivers' licenses of a sample of applicants and then classify them by race. If four of the five agreed on the race of the individual, the applicant was classified by that race.

The district court had found that Mr. Murphy's methodology lacked, to put it mildly, "standards controlling the technique's operation." The EEOC "responds that the relevant standard was Murphy's requirement that four of five raters agree on an applicant's race," wrote Judge Kethledge. "But that response overlooks Murphy's own concession that the raters themselves had no particular standard in classifying each applicant; instead they just eyeballed the DMV photos."

Thus do President Obama's enforcement police attempt to prove discrimination—by pointing at photo IDs and guessing. As Judge Kethledge put it in closing: "We need not belabor the issue further. The EEOC brought this case on the basis of a homemade methodology, crafted by a witness with no particular expertise to craft it, administered by persons with no particular expertise to administer it, tested by no one, and accepted only by the witness himself."
A high school science teacher has been suspended from his job at a Los Angeles high school because he...helped students with their science projects.

Rich Lowry ponders the hounding of Condoleezza Rice.
If Condoleezza Rice were as self-pitying and politically crass as Attorney General Eric Holder, she would be wondering aloud what it is about her race and gender that accounts for the hostility of her enemies....

The Minnesota professors say that it is in a “spirit of free expression” that they ask for the reversal of Rice’s invitation. Because nothing says free expression like shutting down someone’s lecture.