Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cruising the Web

My students finished watching the movie, Glory, yesterday and we had a very interesting discussion of the choices the moviemakers made in transforming history to the screen and why they chose to depict the Massachusetts 54th as made up mostly of escaped slave instead of the free blacks who were the real members of the regiment. With some time left in the period, I told them about the New York Times story about trigger warnings. I remarked that it hadn't occurred to me to give them a trigger warning before the movie despite its depictions of racism or before any of the documents that they had read this year. The kids thought this was such a funny idea and one girl said, "Mrs. Newmark, you would have had to give us a trigger warning every day!" Then I gave them the quote about the classic novel by Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart, which they had all read in 10th grade.
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.”
They thought that was so funny. Then they started running through every book they'd had to read in English and decided that, by this logic, they would probably need a trigger warning for every book they'd been assigned. One boy remarked that most literature was about bad stuff happening to someone so, by the logic of trigger warnings, everything they had read could upset someone if a person was looking for reasons to be upset. Exactly. I hope these fragile university students and their cowed professors realize that high school students are laughing at them.

Jason Hart explains why the media see John Kasich as their favorite Republican governor. Peter Beinart tells us why "Democrats are aching to run against Jeb Bush." Peter Hamby explains how Mitch McConnell had such a resounding victory in his Republican primary. In the Washington Post, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa explain how yesterday's GOP primary results were a disappointment to Democrats. The Republicans have learned the lessons from 2010 and 2012 about how to avoid being knocked out in primaries by Tea Party candidates. And GOP voters are more wary about choosing candidates who will be weak in a general election because of something wacky they have said in the past.

A. J. Delgado, a conservative writer, explains how there really isn't a "rape culture" on college campuses. What we're really seeing is a relaxed definition of rape as well as loosened protections of due process. For some reason, accusations are often being investigated by university officials rather than the police. Couple this with the prevalence of alcohol on campuses and the end to the presumption of innocence for the accused and we are seeing the result in all the concern about a "rape culture."

Running to replace an incumbent GOP congresswoman in a Republican-leaning district that includes Fort Bragg was never going to be a cakewalk for Clay Aiken. But admitting that he hasn't "paid attention to those details" about the VA scandal and whether VA Secretary Eric Shenseki is not going to go over well. Shouldn't a person who wants to represents the soldiers at Fort Bragg be paying extremely close attention to the entire story? I think that soldiers and their families are not going to be interested in electing another oblivious public official.

William Galston reminds us that the fiscal path we're on means that more and more of the federal budget will be taken up with mandatory programs and interest on the debt. There won't be the more money to spend on Veterans that Democrats are telling us is the solution to the terrible stories we've been finding out about.

Meanwhile, IBD takes on the Democratic claim that the problem in the VA hospitals is lack of funding.
The VA's budget has been exploding, even as the number of veterans steadily declines. From 2000 to 2013, outlays nearly tripled, while the population of veterans declined by 4.3 million.

Medical care spending — which consumes about 40% of the VA's budget — has climbed 193% over those years, while the number of patients served by the VA each year went up just 68%, according to data from the VA.

From 2008 to 2012 alone, per-patient spending at the VA climbed 27%. To put that in perspective, per capita health spending nationwide rose just 13% during those years.

And per-enrollee spending for Medicare went up only 10%, government data show.
Some will argue that the increase in health spending was the direct result of all those wounded warriors coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

But these vets aren't driving VA costs higher.

A Congressional Budget Office report found that they cost $4,800, on average, in 2010 compared with $8,800 for other veterans who used the system.

It also found that while these Iraq and Afghan vets account for 7% of those treated, they were responsible for only 4% of its health costs.

Iraq and Afghan vets, the report found, "are typically younger and healthier than the average VHA patient and as a result are less expensive to treat."

A separate CBO report found that while "veterans from recent conflicts will represent a fast-growing share of enrollments in VA health care ... the share of VA's resources devoted to the care of those veterans is projected to remain small through 2020."

What's more, the main reason for the growth in enrollment in the VA's health service wasn't those two wars; it was the Veterans' Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996, signed by President Clinton, "which required the VA to provide care to certain types of veterans, such as those with service-connected disabilities, and permitted VA to offer services to additional veterans if funding permitted," the CBO report noted.

In addition, in 1999 the VA let even those with relatively high incomes enroll, the CBO said.

So something other than war-related health costs and insufficient budget resources would appear to be causing the chronic failures at VA clinics to deliver care in a timely fashion to veterans who need it.
Of course, what do facts have to do with Democrats trying to evade blame for what is really a fault of government-provided health care that they used to trumpet as an example of all the wonders that Obamacare can bring us. Remember when Paul Krugman was touting how great VA health care was so that Republicans should just shut up about Obamacare?
But Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning New York Times columnist, was calling the VA’s Veteran’s Health Administration “a huge policy success story” that “offers important lessons for future health reform” as recently as 2011.

“Multiple surveys have found the V.H.A. providing better care than most Americans receive, even as the agency has held cost increases well below those facing Medicare and private insurers,” Krugman wrote in a piece attacking Republican plans to reform the department.

Krugman goes on to insist that the V.H.A. is a model of “socialized medicine” that works by controlling costs.

“Crucially, the V.H.A. is an integrated system, which provides health care as well as paying for it,” Krugman wrote. “So it’s free from the perverse incentives created when doctors and hospitals profit from expensive tests and procedures, whether or not those procedures actually make medical sense.”
Oops. It's such a shame when facts get in the way of dogma.

Jim Geraghty has such fun with Obama's phony outrage and fake tirelessness about all the scandals that have emerged on his watch. Geraghty links to Reid Epstein's list of all the times that Obama's response to some scandal story was to tell us how angry Obama was. The next step in the arc of scandal stories when the President tell us how is "will not rest" until he fixes whatever problem that he's talking about even if he has to tell us this from his vacation in Hawaii. He then links to Iowahawk's great summary tweet of Obama's typical reaction to some terrible story of what is happening in the government.
I pledge to have my top men get to the bottom of these phony scandals that I'm madder than hell to have only learned about from the papers.

National Journal's Ron Fournier excoriates President Obama's PR machine.
News quiz: President Obama and his communications team hope that Americans are: 1) Dumb; 2) Distracted; 3) Numb to government inefficiency; 4) All of above.

Answer: 4, all of the above.

John Kerry wants to apply his own version of Pascal's Wager to the Obama's administration's plans to fight climate change.
If we make the necessary efforts to address this challenge – and supposing I’m wrong or scientists are wrong, 97 percent of them all wrong – supposing they are, what’s the worst that can happen? We put millions of people to work transitioning our energy, creating new and renewable and alternative; we make life healthier because we have less particulates in the air and cleaner air and more health; we give ourselves greater security through greater energy independence – that’s the downside. This is not a matter of politics or partisanship; it’s a matter of science and stewardship. And it’s not a matter of capacity; it’s a matter of willpower.
Clearly, John Kerry has never taken an economics class and so doesn't understand the principle of "opportunity costs." Yes, we can spend billions on all their ideas of promoting green energy. Despite all the evidence of what a failure that has been from the money funneled to such companies in the stimulus package with no evidence of it putting "millions of people to work," Kerry doesn't seem to realize that we have limited federal funds available and so we have to look what else that money could fund. Or what would happen if people were able to keep more of their own money. As the WSJ writes,
So the "downside" of addressing climate policy is more jobs, cleaner air, more energy security, and we save the planet too. Makes you wonder why there aren't already 100 Senate votes for this miracle. Perhaps that's because the "energy policy" Mr. Kerry is talking about includes vast new political control over the economy, starting with taxes and limits on carbon energy, subsidies for his favored energy sources, and new and costly regulations on much of the American Midwest, South and West.

The "worst that can happen" is that we spend trillions of dollars trying to solve a problem that we can't do anything to stop; that we misallocate scarce resources in a way that slows economic growth; that slower growth leads to less economic opportunity for Boston College grads and especially the world's poor, and that America and the world become much less wealthy and technologically advanced than we would otherwise. All of which would make the world less able to cope with the costs of climate change if Mr. Kerry is right.
And Victor Keith has an answer to Kerry's question.
The answer to Secretary Kerry’s question would include continued high unemployment, skyrocketing energy costs resulting in a decreased standard of living, more energy dependence on foreign sources and a collapsing American economy all while China and India continue to pour as much greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as they feel is necessary to build their economies and improve the lives of their people.

The Democrats are really losing it. John Hinderaker catches Howard Deantelling a Democratic crowd that Republicans "aren't American." while flat out lying that Republicans are trying to take away the right to vote. This is the former head of the DNC. Of course, the leader of the party, President Obama, alleges that Republicans are a cynical, angry, unpatriotic, incompetent party that reject sober commitments to help the vulnerable and needy in a magnificent example of projection. In his mind, people who don't agree with his ideology are unprincipled and putting party above the good of the nation. Remember when Democrats used to warn us that Republicans were going to start calling Democrats un-American? No leading Republican ever did, but the Democrats solemnly assured us that "dissent is the highest from of patriotism" when Bush was president. Now dissent means that you are not "effective, serious, patriotic, capable" or ""sober-minded." How times change.