Monday, May 19, 2014

Cruising the Web

Ben Shapiro reminds us of the five times that Obama officials have expressed outrage at their own incompetence: the VA scandal, Benghazi, the IRS, the Secret Service scandal, Fast and Furious, and, of course, the Obamacare launch.
President Obama and members of his administration constantly express rage and anger over events totally within their control. It’s an odd and unsettling fact of American life that so many Americans seem to think that such expressions of frustration should substitute for actual competence.
There is a standard pattern for how the administration responds to these scandals: they express horror and vow to get to the bottom of the scandal. Then they stall and stall until they tell everyone that this is all old news and we should all move along. Exclaim and then delay until they can get the media to ignore the scandal until a new one comes along.

Lurking underneath the VA scandal is the connection between government-run healthcare and rationing. And that establishes the connection to Obamacare.
The obvious question to ask about the VA scandal is: Why? Why would a VA hospital administrator direct doctors not to perform colonoscopies until patients had three positive tests for bloody stools? Or why were VA employees ordered to “cook the books” and hide long wait times that veterans faced when seeking care from heart, cancer, or other specialists? Why did some VA administrators go so far as to create a secret waiting list to hide year-plus wait times?

There’s only one plausible answer to these questions: rationing. The VA is but a smaller version of the sort of government-run, single-payer health care with which the political left is so enamored.

When individuals receive care through the VA, it becomes the only payer and hence, the only decision-maker. The VA decides who gets care, when, and how much. Moreover, as the single payer, the VA bears the risk of loss: If tax dollars aren’t enough to pay for the care demanded, there’s only one result — rationing of care.

Rationing care can take many forms. It can be overt, like the Canadian or British health care systems, which have unambiguous, publicly-announced waiting times and coverage denials for certain procedures. Or rationing can be more subtle, with little or no public participation. This latter, covert form of rationing is what the VA has adopted.

Covert rationing appears to be the only form of rationing that’s politically palatable to Congress. Another example is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the so-called “death panel” created by Obamacare. Congress charged IPAB with cutting Medicare spending below certain levels, without reducing Medicare benefits or increasing beneficiary cost-sharing.

The only way to achieve IPAB’s lofty goal, as Congress surely understood, is to reduce payments to hospitals, doctors, and other health care providers. As providers make less money per patient, there will be fewer providers willing to accept Medicare beneficiaries, and waiting times will inevitably rise. Increasing waiting times, as VA executives well know, is a subtle but effective form of rationing.

Betsy McCaughey reports on how Obamacare risks care of the elderly as the law now punishes hospitals if a senior returns within 30 days. Hospitals are scored as providing more "value" for how they cut costs on Medicare patients. So they won't admit seniors if they've last been admitted within 30 days? And they'll cut spending on seniors and send them home early? And now they're bragging about how they're improving care for the elderly. It's Orwellian.

As John Fund points out, these forms of rationing that we're seeing at the VA and with Medicare are necessary components of single-payer health care plans. check out what goes on in the UK and Canada.
The veterans’ hospital scandals now in the news in the United States show just how bad things can get when the pressure of patient demand and waiting lists affects bureaucratic behavior. As many as 40 veterans reportedly died at a Phoenix veterans’ facility because they couldn’t get the care they needed. VA administrators there and at other hospitals apparently covered it up by establishing secret waiting lists and falsifying reports.

No one is suggesting that such scandals are widespread in the general health-care system. But they should serve as a warning sign of what could happen as the pressure to ration, inherent in all government-managed health care, is applied to the general population.

Gosh, today's college students seem so fragile. They can't hear a talk by anyone with whom they might disagree politically or whom they feel morally superior to. And now it seems that they can't read the literary canon without being issued trigger warnings that the work might contain material that makes them uncomfortable. Now they're asking professors to provide blanket trigger warnings for their entire syllabus.
At Oberlin College in Ohio, a draft guide was circulated that would have asked professors to put trigger warnings in their syllabuses. The guide said they should flag anything that might “disrupt a student’s learning” and “cause trauma,” including anything that would suggest the inferiority of anyone who is transgender (a form of discrimination known as cissexism) or who uses a wheelchair (or ableism).

“Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression,” the guide said. “Realize that all forms of violence are traumatic, and that your students have lives before and outside your classroom, experiences you may not expect or understand.” For example, it said, while “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe — a novel set in colonial-era Nigeria — is a “triumph of literature that everyone in the world should read,” it could “trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide and more.”

After several professors complained, the draft was removed from a campus website, pending a more thorough review by a faculty-and-student task force. Professors and campus administrators are expected to meet with students next fall to come up with a more comprehensive guide.
My gosh. Any history course would have to issue trigger warnings because, you know, bad stuff has happened in history. There were all sorts of wars and persecutions. How about a trigger warning for life? After all, there are all sorts of hurtful things happening to people around the globe and they are not even getting trigger warnings before evil people invade their village and blow people up or kidnap their daughters. Imagine how disturbing that must be. Will we need trigger warnings before every news show? Seriously, when did young people get so fragile?

Cities and states have started back in using eminent domain to take private property to give to some other private entity. Sometimes, they don't even have plans for what they want to use the property for. It is nine years since that awful decision of Kelo v. New London and they still haven't built anything on the property that they took from 70 homes and businesses. But that doesn't halt the arrogance of local governments thinking they know better how to use people's private property.

This is the difficulty facing Democrats this election:
Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster, said the key for Democrats is to frame the election as a choice between governing philosophies. "If it's a referendum on whether you like the way Democrats have governed…that's a harder election for us to win," he said.
Gee, if the governing party can't run based on how they've governed, all they have left are demogoguery and lies.

The IRS has been stalling FOIA requests for a year over contacts between Democratic senators and IRS officials. And they continue to stall. Think there might be something they're hiding?

Secretary of State Kerry descends into farce.

Jennifer Rubin is enjoying schadenfreude over the NYT vs. Jill Abramson story. It is all too delicious for words as both sides are putting out their stories in an attempt to control public opinion. She was fired for protesting being paid less than her male predecessors according to the side of the story she leaked to the New Yorker. The Times then retaliates by trashing her performance as leader of the paper.
According to the Times, their colleagues in the liberal media are a bunch of rumor-mongering saps who are prone to accept any accusation of gender bias as the gospel truth; their iconic ex-editor who became a role model for women in journalism is, well according to the Times, a liar playing victim to disguise her own dishonesty. If a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged, perhaps a responsible newspaper is a liberal one that got smeared in the gender-victim game. But don’t get your hopes up that the Times, editorially speaking, will address gender bias with a more skepticism. Compartmentalization is essential for ideologues (too many messy facts!).

The Times may have it wrong, of course. In Jill Abramson’s version (via her leak to the New Yorker and then her fans in MSM-land) she was tough and accomplished, vilified for the same behavior tolerated in men. She too was a victim of gender bias and like Joan of Arc was burned by the Times, a martyr to her cause. Lying? Bullying? What a bit of nonsense, she would claim. But here too the irony is palpable. She co-authored a book and rose to fame on her demonization of now-Justice Clarence Thomas. Could it be that powerful people’s slight flaws and occasional behavior gets exaggerated, magnified and distorted in the retelling so they become in the public eye someone barely recognizable to them and those who know them best?

Either way, there is much for conservatives to enjoy as the liberal media thrash and squirm, caught on the hook of identity politics. Whatever you believe and whichever telling is the truth, it should be a lesson for reporters who reflexively side with everyone with a good yarn about victimhood, for liberals who confuse the Times for their religion and for those who reduce every human encounter to race, gender or sexual orientation. (As an aside the Times recently ran a piece bemoaning the lack of openly gay CEOs at big companies. Before leading a new diversity quest, maybe the Times should see how many openly gay people run media outlets and if there are none, consider if this factual nugget is meaningful.)

Conservatives can enjoy this comedy while it lasts. After they finish ripping each other’s reputations to shreds, the liberal media will be back to attacking conservatives in the “war on women,” running interference for Democrats and pursuing the next quest to show Justice Sonia Sotomayor had it right in the recent affirmative action case (i.e., American rubes are hopeless bigots). But their pristine image of moral superiority will be a bit blemished and their knee-jerk accusations of bias might just be met with a tad more skepticism.
It's all a very delicious story, reminiscent of the White House sputtering defense of why its female employees earn less than male employees. They try to bring up all those pesky details with which experts have rejected the women-earn-77%-of-men arguments that liberals keep throwing out there. Gosh, it must hurt to be hoist by their own petards.