Friday, April 04, 2014

Cruising the Web

Reuters writes how health insurance companies are afraid that there will be a political backlash from the Obama administration over the rate increases that they'll have to make for next year due to Obamacare.
But insurers have already said that the first group of new enrollees under Obamacare, as the law is widely known, represent a higher rate of older and costlier members than hoped. To keep their health plans from losing money in the coming years, many expect monthly premium rates to rise by double-digit percentages in some parts of the country.

That could set the stage for a public outcry ahead of congressional elections this year, giving ammunition to Republicans and creating new friction with the White House that could endure into the 2016 presidential election.
So then expect Democrats to push for some sort of regulations that would prevent such rate increases along with proposals for federal aid to insurance companies and more subsidies to those purchasing more expensive plans. It's hard to sympathize with insurance companies who went into this mess with their eyes open. But millions of Americans are going to see substantial rate increases and they'll have Obamacare to thank for that.

A new study shows that New York City's public charter schools are more segregated than the regular public schools. many of the charters are overwhelmingly minority as parents flee the rotten regular public schools for the hope of a better education for their children. This is not a bad development, but a product of parents seeking out the best education for their own children. As Jason Riley writes,
Charter critics pretend that something invidious is going on, but the reality is that charter operators consciously locate in slums and ghettoes to offer poor minorities better school choices. The racial makeup reflects the neighborhood, not some racist conspiracy. Moreover, public charter schools in New York City (and elsewhere) typically outperform the surrounding traditional public schools, and some are among the highest-performing schools in the state. This belies the notion that black children must be sitting next to white children in order to learn.

The political left has a longstanding obsession with the racial makeup of schools. The Supreme Court's 1954 Brown decision introduced the notion that "separate" was inherently "unequal." Ever since, and despite the fact that high-quality all-black schools have proliferated, the liberals have placed racial parity above all other concerns. The Obama Justice Department is currently trying to shut down a voucher program in Louisiana by arguing that it will harm desegregation efforts.

In other words, liberal policy makers would relegate disadvantaged black kids to inferior schools for esthetic reasons. Of course, polls over the decades have consistently shown that black parents care most about having access to a quality school in their neighborhood. The racial composition of that school is a secondary concern at best.
Alas, charter schools represent the kind of "choice" that many liberals find invidious.

To the surprise of no one except John Kerry, his newest push in the so-called peace process has collapsed. He's all broken up about it. John Podhoretz explains why Kerry's fatuous efforts have not been crowned with success. Kerry kept acting like it was the Israelis' fault that nothing came of the latest efforts when they were the ones who had been willing to make concessions and the Palestinians haven't offered up anything.
Kerry can’t grasp why Palestinian leaders would be utterly uninterested in making a deal with Israel that would give them a sovereign state. But it’s been clear for nearly 15 years that they have no interest in the burdens of statehood. They prefer outright war or cold war, and the continued immiseration and statelessness of the Palestinian people.
They don’t want to bear the responsibility for the conditions under which Palestinians live and the necessity of designing a conventional relationship between Palestine and its democratic neighbor on tedious but necessary issues like the use of water, natural resources, air space and maintaining border security.

That is why the new option of establishing a virtual Palestine — a state that exists only in the corridors of international institutions but not on the ground — is so alluring to them. It provides all the trappings of statehood and none of the obligations. It is the state granted by the Wizard of Oz, the equivalent of the diploma handed to the Scarecrow to provide him with external evidence of the brain he lacks.
Charles Krauthammer writes on the same subject today.
Kerry has given up trying to get a final agreement. He’s given up on even getting a “framework agreement.” He’s reduced to simply trying to keep the moribund talks going.

At a price, of course. For Israel. It is supposed to keep releasing imprisoned terrorists simply to keep the Palestinians at negotiations that they themselves say have achieved nothing.

Abbas wants to call off the farce so he can go to U.N. agencies for recognition — a strategy of achieving statehood without negotiations with Israel that contradicts every agreement the Palestinians have signed since the 1993 Oslo Accord.

For their part, the Israelis are tired of the diplomatic Ponzi scheme in which they are required to release terrorists to keep Abbas at the table. Until when? Until every murderer has been freed — at which point Abbas will go to the U.N. anyway?

The Hill asks if Clarence Thomas is pulling the Supreme Court closer to his views. Even if he is willing to go further than the other justices in some issues, by staking out a position out there, the other justices may find more room to move in his direction.

Matthew Continetti analyzes how Comcast has bought the Democratic Party. But that is not the sort of "big money" in politics that you'll hear Democrats complaining about.

No, Rand Paul. Sanctions against the Japanese did not lead to Pearl Harbor.

Oh, pity poor John Edwards. He was barred from Bunny Mellon's funeral. After taking using her money to channel to his mistress, somehow the Mellon family didn't want John Edwards smarming his way around her funeral.

Cheers for a victory for a conservative newspaper who has won a suit against Oregon State University which tried to remove their distribution bins.

Peggy Noonan has an excellent column on the catastrophic mess that is Obamacare.
The program is unique in that the bill that was signed four years ago, on March 23, 2010, is not the law, or rather program, that now exists. Parts of it have been changed or delayed 30 times. It is telling that the president rebuffed Congress when it asked to work with him on alterations, but had no qualms about doing them by executive fiat. The program today, which affects a sixth of the U.S. economy, is not what was passed by the U.S. Congress. On Wednesday Robert Gibbs, who helped elect the president in 2008 and served as his first press secretary, predicted more changes to come. He told a business group in Colorado that the employer mandate would likely be scrapped entirely. He added that the program needed an "additional layer" or "cheaper" coverage and admitted he wasn't sure the individual mandate had been the right way to go.

Finally, the program's supporters have gone on quite a rhetorical journey, from "This is an excellent bill, and opponents hate the needy" to "People will love it once they have it" to "We may need some changes" to "I've co-sponsored a bill to make needed alternations" to "This will be seen by posterity as an advance in human freedom."
And she suggests a good test for the success of a policy decision.
There's a brute test of a policy: If you knew then what you know now, would you do it? I will never forget a conversation in 2006 or thereabouts with a passionate and eloquent supporter of the decision to go into Iraq. We had been having this conversation for years, he a stalwart who would highlight every optimistic sign, every good glimmering. He argued always for the rightness of the administration's decision. I would share my disquiet, my doubts, finally my skepticism. One night over dinner I asked him, in passing, "If we had it to do over again, should we have gone in? would you support it?"

And he said, "Of course not!"

Which told me everything.

There are very, very few Democrats who would do ObamaCare over again. Some would do something different, but they wouldn't do this. The cost of the blunder has been too high in terms of policy and politics.

They, and the president, are trying to put a good face on it.

Republicans of all people should not go for the happy face. They cannot run only on ObamaCare this year and later, because it's not the only problem in America. But it's a problem, a big one, and needs to be hard and shrewdly fought.

Kimberley Strassel explains why trial lawyers will be desperate to keep Republicans from taking the Senate.