Thursday, October 27, 2016

Cruising the Web

Check out this graphic to see how your state is affected by Obamacare rate increases.

As Lanchee Chen writes for CNN, this was all very predictable. In fact, it was exactly what was predicted when the bill was going through Congress.
All of these outcomes for Obamacare were entirely predictable -- and critics of the law have warned about these negative effects of the law since its passage in 2010. But will this news have an impact on the election in two weeks, and what must the next president to do address Obamacare's many shortcomings?

The bad news about Obamacare shouldn't be shocking, because it is an outgrowth of a fundamental design flaw in the law. Obamacare requires insurers to provide relatively generous health insurance coverage, through health insurance exchanges administered by some states and the federal government, to any American who seeks it. While this might sound like a good thing, the reality is that this requirement is the genesis of the soaring premiums and limited choices we're seeing today.

At core, the success of a health insurance business (and any insurance business for that matter) is based on an insurer collecting more in premiums than it pays out in benefits. The health insurer relies on a concept known as risk pooling, where enough healthy people sign up to offset the costs in benefits paid out to sicker people. Thus far, Obamacare's markets have been populated by larger numbers of older and sicker Americans. At the same time, the law prohibits insurers from scaling back the generosity of benefits in their plans.
The result, then, is that insurers have either raised premiums to compensate for the relatively "bad risk" they've had to assume, or narrowed the networks of physicians, hospitals and other health care providers that plan enrollees have access to. And, in some states, insurers have simply decided that offering coverage is too risky of a financial bet.

Ah, just what we have all suspected about the Clinton Foundation.
Two chief fundraisers for the Clinton Foundation pressed corporate donors to steer business opportunities to former President Bill Clinton as well, according to a hacked memo published Wednesday by WikiLeaks.

The November 2011 memo from Douglas Band, at the time a top aide to Mr. Clinton, outlines extensive fundraising efforts that Mr. Band and a partner deployed on behalf of the Clinton Foundation and how that work sometimes translated into large speaking fees and other paid work for Mr. Clinton.

The memo, part of a cache of emails stolen from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, resurfaces an issue that she has had a hard time shaking: questions over the relationship between the Clintons’ charity work and their personal business.

Mr. Band and an associate introduced top corporate executives to the former president, on the golf course and elsewhere, and then asked them to contribute money to the Clinton Foundation or attend the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual foundation event....

In another example, Mr. Band wrote that he and another Clinton aide persuaded a Dubai-based company, Gems Education, to establish a relationship with the foundation. “That relationship has grown into a business relationship for President Clinton and a donor relationship for CGI,” the memo said. Representatives of Gems couldn’t be reached for comment.
Ah, a little charitable fundraising, a little lining of Bill's pockets - it's a twofer!

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Just imagine if the media approached the Hillary scandals the way they investigated Watergate. They followed each twist and turn of the story to expose the corruption of the Nixon team. But now...not so much.
Fast-forward to 2016. We are now two weeks away from the general election, and once again a potentially devastating story appears to be developing, related to a web of corruption and deceit that could eventually rival the Watergate scandal. Just like 1972, the Post and the Times are fully engaged. Except this time, the “two lions of journalism” have little interest in covering the avalanche of revelations pouring forth against the Clinton campaign. Instead, both publications are working around the clock to bring the Democratic nominee to power. That’s not all. Nearly every other mainstream media outlet in the country has jumped on the bandwagon.

It would be incorrect to think that until now the mainstream media has been a relatively objective source for news. This has been going on for a long time. Few could argue that back in the ’70s, editors Ben Bradlee at the Post and Abe Rosenthal at the Times were not absolutely salivating at the chance to bring Nixon down. But they achieved this objective in relentless pursuit of the facts, not the willing suppression of the same.

One would think, given the self-inflicted meltdown the Donald Trump camp finds itself in right now, the media might at least feign some level of balanced reporting, but they’ve made it very clear they’re not taking any chances. They’re going to keep digging dirt on Trump, and they’re going to continue to minimize, to the best of their ability, a story that may well have historic and damaging implications, both for the nation as a whole and our entire political system moving forward.

Although this may prove to be a very successful political tactic for this year’s presidential election, it is likely to forever damage the reputation of mainstream American journalism, and it most certainly will continue to encourage the American public to look elsewhere for the unvarnished truth....

But this is no longer 1974, and we are no longer talking about Richard Nixon. It is 2016, and we are talking about Hillary Clinton. Her staff and their accomplices have erased some 33,000 emails; they have had hard drives acid-washed; they have crushed multiple cell phones with hammers; with the help of the FBI, they have had laptops destroyed. The reaction to all of this from our esteemed mainstream media? “She’s answered all of these questions. It’s time to move on.”

The investigative journalism big media outlets employed in the ’70s to expose widespread political corruption and deceit is now being used to uncover the past moral transgressions of a flawed Republican candidate. It’s juicy stuff indeed that certainly warrants publication if the facts support the allegations. But to use this tabloid-worthy information to at least partly deflect from an already overwhelming amount of damaging evidence, as verified by the actual words of the perpetrators themselves, is—how should I say it—deplorable.

If your state's taxes are going up, you can thank the public unions.
Then there’s Oregon where labor groups are pushing a 2.5% gross-receipts tax on corporations’ sales that exceed $25 million. Because of its pyramiding effect, the tax would get baked into the cost of everything from a t-shirt to a TV. Businesses at the end of the supply chain would get soaked. Maybe Nike, which is headquartered in Beaverton, should change its slogan to Just Tax It.

The state Legislative Revenue Office has estimated that the tax would cost 38,200 private jobs and increase the state’s per capita tax burden by $600. Low-income residents would feel the most pain. As the poor get poorer, public unions would get richer: The tax would grow the budget by a third and help pay for expensive new labor contracts.

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Daniel Payne points to how liberals have had to reverse themselves on what they used to believe simply because they feel that they have to contradict everything that Trump says. For example,
Race Relations Are Now Awesome and Poverty Nonexistent
What Trump Says: Black Americans are enduring terrible circumstances: “Poverty. Rejection. Horrible education. No housing. No homes. No ownership. Crime at levels nobody has seen.”

How Liberals Responded: Trump’s remarks were “lurid and fantastical,” a kind of “racist fearmongering,” a “white supremacist fantasy in which blacks live miserable, brutish, and nearly subhuman lives in cities dominated by feckless Democrats.”

What Liberals Used to Say: There is “remarkable durability to the structure of racial inequality in this country.” Black Americans are the victims of racial inequality because America “never really tried desegregation in any sustained way. We never really tried to rectify the massive inequalities in wealth and opportunity that existed in 1964 and 1968 and [they] kind of just perpetuated themselves.” As well, “so many of the problems that we had in 1968 [with regards to black Americans] were never actually solved.”
Other examples are how Democrats have often accused Republicans of rigging elections, but now that Trump is making that accusation, they have to say that it is impossible for any rigging of elections to take place or how they protected Bill Clinton when women accused him of sexually predatory behavior to how they respond to women accusing Trump. Or this one:
America Is Already Great, Duh
What Trump Says: ”Make America great again!”

How Liberals Responded: “America is already great!”

What Liberals Used to Say: We need to “fundamentally transform the United States of America!”

Daniel Henninger outlines the argument that Republicans running for Congress should be making.
“Thinking more about the election for U.S. Congress, would you be more likely to vote for a Republican candidate who will be a check-and-balance to Hillary Clinton . . . or a Democratic candidate who will help Hillary Clinton and Congressional Democrats pass their agenda?”

A Republican: 53%

A Democrat: 40%

From that 13-point gap an obvious question flows: If Democrats regain control of the Senate, would you be happy with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as co-presidents of the United States? Ignore the Senate and voters will pay a price even bigger than a Clinton presidency.

Do not for a moment think Elizabeth Warren is barnstorming the country now only to elect Hillary Clinton. She’s getting out the vote to make sure Elizabeth Warren is in position next year to co-run the government from Capitol Hill.

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Jane Shaw reviews Wendy McElroy's book, Rape Culture Hysteria: Fixing the Damage Done to Men and Women, which refutes the idea that our college campuses are rife with rapists.
She contends that “social justice warriors” are creating hysteria about a non-existent rape culture in order to “impose a specific ideology that legally disadvantages one class of people (white males) in order to benefit others.” The rape culture, she says, is a Big Lie (a reference to George Orwell), and a popular delusion (a reference to Charles Mackay’s book Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds).

Well-known in libertarian circles, McElroy considers herself a feminist and respects what she calls “individualist feminism,” which developed out of the anti-slavery movement in the 19th century. Those feminists “championed human rights while insisting that people shoulder responsibility for themselves,” she says. “The current movement is a mockery of itself.”

To puncture the claims that rape is frequent, McElroy presents an exhaustive analysis of available statistics. Four major studies and three minor ones, all produced by federal agencies, have attempted to calculate the prevalence of rapes. The definition of rape varies widely—one of these studies even counts “rape by deception,” or having sex “with someone because he or she lies to you.” And the study techniques range from a review of police statistics to online surveys.

Certainly, there are rapes on campus. The famed 1-in-5 statistic (more precisely, the claim that 19.8 percent of female seniors have been raped during their college years) comes from an online survey conducted at two universities by the National Institute for Justice (part of the Justice Department).

That number combines rape and sexual assault, both completed and attempted; assaults can include just forced kissing or grabbing. (The authors of the study say that figures for rape alone over four years, completed or attempted, would reduce the figure to 14.3 percent or 1 in 7 female students.) McElroy points out that only 42 percent of the surveyed women responded to the survey, even though they were offered a $10 Amazon gift certificate and an iTunes song download.

At the other extreme is the National Crime Victimization Survey, an annual survey by the Bureau of Justice (another arm of the Justice Department). It does not count as rape a situation in which one of the partners is incapacitated by drink or drugs—frequently the case when someone is accused of rape on campus. The survey found in 2013 that the rate of rape or sexual assault was 4.4 per 1,000 female students or less than half a percent in that year (or, estimated over four years, still less than 2 percent).

So, one study includes forced kissing (and has a low survey response), and the other doesn’t include rape when the victim is intoxicated. McElroy calls the findings from these studies “an onslaught of confusion.”
It's enough to make one very suspicious of all social science research. I've considered the best proof of how widely exaggerated the 1 in 5 statistic was the fact that parents still send their daughters to college. Think about it as a parent - would you send your daughter into a situation if you thought there was a 20% chance that she would be raped? I think a lot of parents would have second thoughts about that. But every year, we eagerly send our daughters off to college. Maybe we give them a few warnings about how to behave, but it really was not a big concern when we sent our two daughters off to the university.

McElroy's point that we seem to be moving away from common-sense recommendations to young women to avoid situations that could be dangerous.
In addition to affecting the future of men who may be falsely accused, what are the impacts on women? Perhaps the most interesting is that the “rape culture” hysteria discourages women from protecting themselves.

Self-defense “used to be a matter of common sense,” says McElroy. “People avoided walking down alleys at midnight in high-crime areas. They bolted the door behind them at night. They…did not pass out drunk in a stranger’s apartment.” But to bring this up is called victim-blaming. There’s a feeling that a woman should be able to do whatever she wants, including drinking heavily, without fear of assault. If she can’t, it is the fault of the “rape culture.”
Think of how many of the cases that have come to light of young men accused of assault revolve around women who've gotten drunk, hooked up with some guy, and then regretted it afterwards, and accused the man of rape. And it now seems impossible these days to point out that drunken hook-ups demonstrate such bad judgment that it is impossible to prove culpability.