Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cruising the Web

David Axelrod weighs in on Jonathan Gruber.
Ah, so why did your administration pay him $400,000 for his help in designing the health care bill? And why did you guys tout his help and send him to Congress to help pass the bill? Guy Benson points to this video of Gruber explaining how Obama asked for help to basically mislead people so that the bill would get passed.
“The problem is it’s a political nightmare, and people say ‘no, you can’t tax my benefits’…so what we did a lot in that room was think a lot about well how could we make this work? … And [Obama] is really a realistic guy. He was like, ‘look, I can’t just do this.’ He said ‘it’s just not going to happen politically. The bill will not pass. How do we manage to get there through phase-ins and other things?’ And we talked about it. He was just very interested in that topic.”
Trying to pass Gruber off as someone who was "not on our staff" is just too lame to pass the sniff test. He might not have officially been on staff, but he was in the room and helping to write the bill. And he was helping Obama twist things so they could fool the American people into passing their monstrosity.

Jonah Goldberg explains another aspect of the Gruber story - how the administration and media worked together to push Gruber as if he were a neutral analyst commenting on how well Obamacare was constructed instead of the guy who was being paid millions of dollars by the federal government to help craft the law.
You’ve got this guy who is pretending to be an objective independent analyst, who’s got huge amounts of skin in the game in terms of money he can make off of consulting fees, but also of the prestige being involved and the speeches he could do which haven’t been tallied into these numbers -- anyway, it’s millions of dollars – being touted around through a transmission belt of liberal journalists, who all are all pretending to be objective analysts too, quoting each other, reaffirming each other, all with the help of the White House which went along with this soup to nuts – a process which this guy says was all about lies and misleading the American people. And then when caught about it, the same administration tries to dismiss him as if he was just some sort of random White House intruder. The whole thing stinks.

It’s not just that’s he’s getting rich, it’s the hypocrisy that every time Republicans complain about ObamaCare, they say “Oh, it’s just because those evil, profit-hungry Koch brothers are trying to get rich,” which was always a lie. It’s also that this law itself makes American life more complex and then there’s this leaching new class of people who profit from the complexity that they are imposing upon the society.
Goldberg called the Grubers who make money off the government and turn around and used by the liberal media to push the very programs they're profiting from as "rent-seeking remoras" sucking off of the government Leviathan. That's quite a phrase...and quite descriptive.
Bret Baier covered how the administration hid Gruber's role at first so that they could shop his support for Obamacare around as if he were a neutral commentator. And liberal columnists happily entered into the deception.

Do you want to know how the Supreme Court will rule on any issue? Ask this 30-year-old guy in Queens who happens to be the best predictor in the world of Supreme Court decisions. He beats the experts and their models. And he's won FantasySCOTUS three years in a row.

Keep an eye on this affirmative action case that was filed yesterday against Harvard and UNC Chapel Hill. It challenges both the system set up in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke and Grutter v. Bollinger. One interesting aspect of the cases is that they focus on the claim that the racial policies used in admission at the universities have the effect of discriminating against high-achieving Asian-American students.

This is how media bias comes down from the top. Here is CNBC reporter Melissa Francis.
Melissa Francis is now an anchor at Fox Business Channel and Fox News Channel, but during the debate over Obamacare, she worked at CBNC.

While she worked at the business-oriented cable channel, Harvard-educated Francis says that she noticed that the numbers that President Obama and the Democrats were offering in support of the healthcare bill did not add up.

“You can’t add millions of people and have it not cost everyone. You can’t add people who have pre-existing conditions and not charge more,” Francis says she noticed at the time, adding that the American people might have supported the bill even if they knew all of that, but the administration was not revealing all of the facts needed to make a sound judgement on the bill.

Francis told Fox and Friends today that she pursued that line of questioning whenever she conducted interviews on Obamacare, until one day when she got a call to speak to her manager in his office.

“I got told that I needed to stop. And I said ‘Why? This is math, not politics,’” Francis recalls.

“They said that I was ‘disrespecting the office of the president,’ that was the exact language that they used.”
CNBC denies it. Determine whom you believe.

Jonah Goldberg tags an extremely silly NYT editorial (is that redundant?) opposing U.S. policy that allows Cuban doctors to defect to the U.S. Goldberg writes,
hat I find astounding however is the disconnect with the Times’ views on immigration in every other realm of American policy. They have no problem with low skilled illegal immigrants coming to the US at a time when there’s a surplus of low-skilled workers and a shortage of low-skilled jobs. They have no problem (and I don’t either) with the brain drain our immigration policies cause among high-skilled and high-tech workers from every other country in the world — except for Cuba. Only Communist Cuba’s problems deserve redress by a change in American policy.

David French is exactly right when he marvels at how modern feminism has now become "Appalling stupidity backed by hysterical rage." It is as if once women made great strides in the western world, feminists decided to focus on ever smaller ersatz issues instead of turning their anger towards how women are treated elsewhere in the world.
Treating women as equals in our culture and politics is simple fairness. Modern feminism, by contrast, has nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with the special pleading of its entitled commentariat.

Treating women as equals does not mean that we ignore differences — men and women tend to have different strengths and weaknesses, different likes and dislikes, and will often choose different career paths, family roles, television shows, books, and movies. In fact, men and women tend to like that they’re different and celebrate those differences. Feminism has reacted to this obvious reality by either arguing that our myriad differences are mere social constructs or by arguing that — to borrow my wife’s excellent summary of feminist philosophy – men and women are the same, except when women are better. After all, it wasn’t long ago that one prominent feminist argued that our entire “postindustrial society” was just “better suited to women.”

Feminism doesn’t really have a philosophy. It’s barely even an ideology. It’s mostly just a series of temper tantrums thrown by a small, privileged minority. And, unless it changes, it will soon be irrelevant.
Meanwhile, women are being sold into sexual slavery by ISIS, Iran executes a woman for killing her rapist in self defense, and Saudi Arabia routinely allows the rape and mistreatment of female migrant workers. Meanwhile, feminists are having meltdowns over the shirt that a scientist wore when he was interviewed after having landed a probe on a comet. Something is seriously wrong with these women if that is what it takes to outrage them. As Ashe Snow writes,
Thinking about the whole situation another way, women pushing for more women in STEM decided to focus on clothing instead of science, something they routinely call out men for.

Jay Cost explains the structural aspects of House districts that favor Republicans in controlling the House of Representatives over the course of time.
But something similar helps Republicans in the battle for Congress. In the House of Representatives, the GOP now unites white voters in the suburbs and rural areas; combined, these blocs are usually enough to yield a Republican House even when Democrats win the presidency, as happened in both 1996 and 2012. The problem for Democrats in the House is that their coalition, increasingly nonwhite and urban, is concentrated in deep blue districts. That gives the GOP a variety of paths to a House majority.

The problem for the Democrats is a combination of law and geography. The 1982 amendments to the Voting Rights Act require the creation of majority-minority districts whenever they can be drawn with reasonable lines. In effect, state legislatures are required to concentrate Democrats in a handful of districts, while dispersing GOP voters across the remainder. Meanwhile, the geographical distribution of the Democratic coalition reinforces the effect of the law. Outside the Deep South, Democratic voters tend to be densely packed into urban areas, making it harder to distribute them across many districts, even in cases where the law does not require a majority-minority district.
Perhaps this is why the Democrats are now before the Supreme court challenging such majority-minority districts in Alabama as impermissibly partisan. Cost also points to how the Republicans have somewhat of an advantage in the Senate because of their strength in rural areas.
If “safe Democratic” states yield 204 electoral votes, they are only good for 32 senators. Meanwhile, “safe Republican” states are only good for 182 electoral votes, but provide 44 senators. That leaves 24 senators from 12 states that either side may win in presidential years. If both parties won all their safe seats, and they split the seats in contested states, we would see a GOP majority in the Senate of 56-44.

The advantage the GOP enjoys in the Senate is not as decisive as its edge in the House, as Democratic senators in red states have done a better job of holding on than their House counterparts. Still, liberal policy breakthroughs inevitably depend on Democratic senators’ going against their own constituents and running the risk of defeat. Obamacare would not have been passed by the Senate without the support of Democrats from states that have voted Republican for president since 1964;
The result is a tendency for our government to see a Democrat in the White House and Republican control of at least one house of Congress. The result -- gridlock. And that is just how the Founders conceived of our government with factions balancing each other out to prevent any one faction from gaining total control. In order for one party to win and maintain control of both the presidency and Congress, the party needs to play to the middle. Any move too far right or left will lead to a rejection of that party's control. That accounts for the pendulum swings in party control of the government in the past couple of decades.

The Washington Post chides Obama for thinking he can govern without Congress.
DEMOCRATS URGING President Obama to “go big” in his executive order on immigration might pause to consider the following scenario:

It is 2017. Newly elected President Ted Cruz (R) insists he has won a mandate to repeal Obamacare. The Senate, narrowly back in Democratic hands, disagrees. Mr. Cruz instructs the Internal Revenue Service not to collect a fine from anyone who opts out of the individual mandate to buy health insurance, thereby neutering a key element of the program. It is a matter of prosecutorial discretion, Mr. Cruz explains; tax cheats are defrauding the government of billions, and he wants the IRS to concentrate on them. Of course, he is willing to modify his order as soon as Congress agrees to fix what he considers a “broken” health system.

That is not a perfect analogy to Mr. Obama’s proposed action on immigration. But it captures the unilateral spirit that Mr. Obama seems to have embraced since Republicans swept to victory in the midterm elections. He is vowing to go it alone on immigration. On Iran, he is reportedly designing an agreement that he need not bring to Congress. He already has gone that route on climate change with China.

The legal or constitutional case for each is different, but the rationales overlap: Congress is broken, so Mr. Obama must act. Two-thirds of Americans did not vote in the midterms, and the president must represent them, too. He has tried compromise, and the Republicans spurned him.

We will not relitigate that last contention except to note that behind the legislative disappointments of the past six years lies fault on both sides. The bigger point is this: In an era of fierce partisanship and close division, there will always be a temptation to postpone legislating until after the next election and to spend the intervening two years jockeying for political advantage. But a knockout blow will remain out of reach for both sides, and the price of postponement will be national decline. Many areas need federal attention and hold a possibility of bipartisan accord: building the nation’s infrastructure, protecting its cybernetworks and reforming its tax code, to name just three. It would not be rational for Republicans to spurn compromise in these areas just because Mr. Obama acts unilaterally in others; but it is entirely foreseeable.
Well, it would be rational for the Republicans to refuse compromise if they feel that they can't trust Obama to enforce whatever part of the compromise he dislikes. and that is the situation he has brought about through his unilateralist decisions to not enforce laws he doesn"t like.

Byron York explains the GOP strategy to try to defund President Obama's immigration action without shutting down the government. If the President vetoes such an appropriation, a shutdown would occur only within the government agency tasked with carrying out Obama's executive order. The rest of the government would be funded. There would be no general shutdown. And this would not be an uncommon tactic. Even Democratic Senator Carl Levin admits that this happens all the time.
“It happens all the time,” retiring Senator Carl Levin (D., Mich.) told National Review Online while walking through the Capitol Thursday evening.

Levin emphasized the distinction between shutting down the government, as happened last year, and refusing to appropriate money for something.

“That’s not uncommon that there’s amendments saying ‘none of the funds in this appropriation bill may be spent for’ — fill in the blank,” Levin said.... He described withholding funds for the executive orders on immigration as a standard congressional procedure that should not be confused with shutting down the government.

“That’s not slash-and-burn,” he told NRO. “That’s not bringing down the government. That’s a fairly traditional, targeted approach to make a policy point.”

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