Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Cruising the Web

Investors Business Daily notes how often Democrats are using the epithet "un-American" to describe policy choices with which they disagree.
These days, however, all that's required to be called un-American by a Democrat is to disagree with their liberal world view.

Sen. Charles Schumer can barely get through an interview without calling one Trump policy or another un-American. When he heard that the administration was considering using 100,000 National Guard troops to round up illegal immigrants, he called it "one of the most un-American things that would happen in the last century." (It turns out that such a plan was never under consideration.)

When Trump signed an executive order suspending visa applications from terror-prone countries, Schumer called it un-American. When Trump revised that order, Schumer said "it is still un-American."

League of Women Voters declared that the House Republicans' ObamaCare replacement plan — which retains most of ObamaCare's rules and regulations — "is un-American."

The New York Times ran a piece suggesting that talk of a "deep state" that is trying to undermine the Trump administration was un-American.

Last fall, the Huffington Post ran a piece arguing that the entire Republican platform "is well, downright un-American."

At the Academy Awards, Casey Affleck used his acceptance speech to say that "the policies of this administration are abhorrent and … they're really un-American."

Even abiding by the law these days is un-American, apparently.

The ACLU charged that Trump's plan to enforce an existing immigration law — one written by congressional Democrats and signed by a Democratic president — is an "un-American dream."

.....These days, however, all that's required to be called un-American by a Democrat is to disagree with their liberal world view.

Sen. Charles Schumer can barely get through an interview without calling one Trump policy or another un-American. When he heard that the administration was considering using 100,000 National Guard troops to round up illegal immigrants, he called it "one of the most un-American things that would happen in the last century." (It turns out that such a plan was never under consideration.)

When Trump signed an executive order suspending visa applications from terror-prone countries, Schumer called it un-American. When Trump revised that order, Schumer said "it is still un-American."

League of Women Voters declared that the House Republicans' ObamaCare replacement plan — which retains most of ObamaCare's rules and regulations — "is un-American."

The New York Times ran a piece suggesting that talk of a "deep state" that is trying to undermine the Trump administration was un-American.

Last fall, the Huffington Post ran a piece arguing that the entire Republican platform "is well, downright un-American."

At the Academy Awards, Casey Affleck used his acceptance speech to say that "the policies of this administration are abhorrent and … they're really un-American."

Even abiding by the law these days is un-American, apparently.

The ACLU charged that Trump's plan to enforce an existing immigration law — one written by congressional Democrats and signed by a Democratic president — is an "un-American dream."
I remember how outraged Democrats were at the suggestion that the Bush administration might call a Democrat un-American.

Politico writes that the Democrats are split over how much to oppose Neil Gorsuch. The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings begin on Monday and we haven't seen much passion from Senate Democrats against Gorsuch.
Democrats can’t seem to land a punch on Neil Gorsuch — and it’s not even clear they want to.

President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee has breezed through more than 70 meetings with senators. Opponents who’ve scoured his record have found little to latch onto. And some Democrats are privately beginning to believe that Gorsuch — barring a blunder at his Senate confirmation hearings next week — will clinch the 60 votes he needs to be approved without a filibuster.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has been taking the temperature of the Senate Democratic Caucus but hasn’t begun whipping hard against Gorsuch, sources familiar with the matter said.

Indeed, despite anger from the Democratic base that senators have cowered from a fight against Trump’s high court pick, the sole strategic decision the Democratic Caucus has made about Gorsuch ahead of his confirmation hearings is to make no decision at all.
They just can't decide what to do. Should they filibuster and force the Republicans to get rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. But then what happens if Trump gets another seat to fill. What about those rumors that Justice Kennedy might retire? Do they want to leave themselves open to a nomination that they couldn't filibuster. And what about the red-state senators up for reelection in 2018? Some of them are sounding quite reluctant to oppose Gorsuch.
North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a red-state Democrat up for reelection who’s under heavy pressure from conservatives and liberals on the Supreme Court decision, stressed that “we should be open to supporting any nominee.” As for liberals calling on her to oppose Gorsuch, she said: “I get pressure from the left all the time. I wasn’t sent here to respond to pressure.”

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who’s in the same political predicament as Heitkamp, added that he is “truly and totally concerned” that a Democratic filibuster would prompt Republicans to do away with the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees. He is the only remaining Democrat to vote against the party’s rules change in 2013.

“You need nine members. It doesn’t work with eight,” Manchin said of the Supreme Court and Democrats who would deny Gorsuch a seat. “I understand the Democrats being so upset. I understand it. … That doesn’t make it right to go along with eight. If you think [Republicans] are going to give you a center-left [judge], they’re not! Come to grips with it.”
Part of the problem is that Gorsuch is just so qualified. They don't have any really rational excuse to oppose him. As Jonathan Adler notes, Gorsuch has received "broad bipartisan support among legal elites."

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Thomas Sowell returns from retiring his syndicated column to speak out about the mobbing of Charles Murray and Professor Alison Stanger at Middlebury. Sowell advises people not to be shocked.
Where have all these shocked people been all these years? What happened at Middlebury College has been happening for decades, all across the country, from Berkeley to Harvard. Moreover, even critics of the Middlebury College rioters betray some of the same irresponsible mindset as that of the young rioters.

The moral dry rot in academia — and beyond — goes far deeper than student storm troopers at one college.

Frank Bruni of the New York Times, for example, while criticizing the rioters, lent credence to the claim that Charles Murray was "a white nationalist." Similar — and worse — things have been said, in supposedly reputable publications, by people who could not cite one statement from any of Dr. Murray's books that bears any resemblance to their smears.

Academia, however, is ground zero in the war against people whose ideas go against the current political correctness. The virtual monopoly of the political left, on campuses across the country, allows all sorts of things to be attributed to people the left disagrees with, irrespective of whether those people have ever said anything resembling what they are alleged to have said.

The professors don't usually riot against people whose ideas they disagree with, because they can just dismiss those ideas, with some characterization that there is no one on hand to challenge....

Why should we expect students to welcome debate about differences of opinion, when so many of their professors seem to think cheap shot dismissals are all you need? Lacking their professors' verbal dexterity or aura of authority, students use cruder methods of dismissing things they disagree with.

So long as academia talks demographic "diversity" and practices groupthink when it comes to ideas, we have little reason to expect better of student mobs that riot with impunity.

Professor Stranger reflects on this same episode in the New York Times.
Part of the problem was the furor that preceded the talk. This past month, as the campus uproar about Dr. Murray’s visit built, I was genuinely surprised and troubled to learn that some of my faculty colleagues had rendered judgment on Dr. Murray’s work and character without ever having read anything he has written. It wasn’t just students: Some professors protested his appearance as well.

Intelligent members of the Middlebury community — including some of my own students and advisees — concluded that Charles Murray was an anti-gay white nationalist from what they were hearing from one another, and what they read on the Southern Poverty Law Center website. Never mind that Dr. Murray supports same-sex marriage and is a member of the courageous “never Trump” wing of the Republican Party.

Students are in college in part to learn how to evaluate sources and follow up on ideas with their own research. The Southern Poverty Law Center incorrectly labels Dr. Murray a “white nationalist,” but if we have learned nothing in this election, it is that such claims must be fact-checked, analyzed and assessed. Faulty information became the catalyst for shutting off the free exchange of ideas at Middlebury. We must all be more rigorous in evaluating and investigating anger, or this pattern of miscommunication will continue on other college campuses.

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Jim Geraghty explains why
putting more people on Medicaid ad Obamacare did has not been a solution for the problems of the uninsured.
Everybody screaming “Medicaid for all!” basically means, “I don’t want to pay anything for my health care.” They think of themselves as being generous.

The “Medicaid for all” crowd also usually hand-waves away the fact that a lot of doctors don’t take Medicaid. As of 2015, only 67 percent of doctors take Medicaid, and only 45 percent of doctors take new patients on Medicaid. The “Medicaid for all” fans usually answer that this can be resolved by forcing doctors to see Medicaid patients, even if they don’t like the limited reimbursement rates.

There’s also the inconvenient fact that the best study we have shows that Medicaid doesn’t actually improve people’s health. It makes them feel better by self-reported measures, and less financially stressed. But it also had “no statistically significant effects on blood pressure, cholesterol, or cardiovascular risk” and “found no evidence that Medicaid caused new enrollees to substitute office visits for [emergency room] visits; if anything, Medicaid made them more likely to use both.”


Avik Roy point
s to a problem with the CBO's analysis of the Republicans' American Health Care Act.
The initial media coverage of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the American Health Care Act—House Republicans’ Obamacare replacement—has played out along predictable lines. Liberals are trumpeting the CBO’s top-line estimate that the AHCA would lead to 24 million fewer U.S. residents having health insurance in 2026 than would under current law (i.e., Obamacare).
Roy points to all the times that the CBO revised its projections of enrollment in Obamacare. The CBO is working off of a projection of enrollment that was done in March 2016, which predicts skyrocketing enrollment without much reason. As Roy points out, with rising premiums and a worsening risk pool, it is unlikely that we will see those skyrocketing numbers. But the CBO used that number as the baseline for its analysis of the AHCA.
That the CBO is working off its March 2016 baseline is extremely important, because it’s AHCA’s performance relative to that rosy scenario that leads to the dramatic 24 million number. CBO assumes that there will be 18 million people enrolled in the exchanges under current law; hence, the CBO’s view of the difference between current law and the AHCA is off by at least 7 million on that basis alone.

All in all, there’s reason to believe that the real decrement in coverage of the AHCA relative to the ACA is closer to 5 million, not 24 million. Furthermore, that 5 million decrement can be fixed with a few technical changes to the bill. I detail all of this in a new piece over at Forbes, for those who’ve had their morning coffee.
Roy explains at Forbes that the CBO's analysis is based on the way they interpret how repealing the individual mandate would affect people.
CBO on the other hand believes that, due to the AHCA’s repeal of the individual mandate, 14 million people would choose to go uninsured in 2018, and 16 million in 2019. Of the 14 million accounted for in the 2018 figure, 6 million would drop out of the individual market, 5 million from Medicaid, and 2 million from employer-based coverage.

Remember that Medicaid is basically free to the eligible enrollee. There are no premiums, and almost no co-pays or deductibles. The value of the Obamacare Medicaid subsidy is about $6,000 per enrollee per year. And yet, CBO believes that 5 million people will only enroll in Medicaid because the individual mandate forces them to. Given the difficulties in enforcing the mandate for low-income populations, this is highly unlikely.

Think about it. How would the IRS enforce the individual mandate for people near the poverty line, who rarely owe income taxes, and often don't file tax returns, thereby limiting the IRS' ability to collect a fine?

Furthermore, CBO’s view that 6 million people in 2018 will be driven to enroll by the mandate means that of the 26 million 2018 enrollees in the individual market, nearly a quarter will be signing up primarily because of the mandate. That contradicts the real-world experience of insurers and actuaries, who say that the real proportion is closer to 5 percent.
He goes through some more analysis of how the CBO reached its prediction of 24 million people lacking insurance and concludes that the CBO "estimate could be off by as much as 19 million."
You add all that up—7 million off on future exchange enrollment, around 9 million off on the individual mandate’s power, and 3 million off on future Medicaid expansions—the CBO’s estimate of the impact of the AHCA on coverage is off by 19 million, and that the real impact of the AHCA on coverage is negative 5 million.

He points out that Medicaid is free. So why does it require a mandate?
According to the CBO, able-bodied adults on Medicaid receive about $6,000 a year in government health-insurance benefits. They pay no premiums and minimal copays. You’d think that eligible individuals would need no prodding to sign up for such a benefit.

And yet, according to its analysis of the GOP ObamaCare replacement, the CBO believes that there are five million Americans who wouldn’t sign up for Medicaid if it weren’t for ObamaCare’s individual mandate. You read that right: Five million people need the threat of a $695 fine to sign up for a free program that offers them $6,000 worth of subsidized health insurance. That’s more than 1 in 5 of the 24 million people the CBO (dubiously) claims would end up uninsured if the AHCA supplanted ObamaCare.

On its face, there’s reason to doubt the CBO’s view. The mandate is enforced through the income-tax system, and enforcement of the mandate has been spotty for those in low tax brackets. Many of those eligible for Medicaid don’t work or file returns. Under rules established by the Obama administration, those who do can leave the “I have insurance” box blank and face no penalty.

Still, it’s remarkable that the CBO believes people need to be fined into signing up for Medicaid. That tells us something about the CBO’s assessment of Medicaid’s value to those individuals—and it buttresses the GOP’s case that Medicaid needs substantial reform.

The best part of the GOP bill is that it reforms Medicaid by such a radical proposal that Bill Clinton proposed it earlier.
Not coincidentally, the AHCA represents the most significant Medicaid reform since 1965, and thereby the most significant entitlement reform in American history. The 1996 welfare reform law is hailed by many conservatives as the most important domestic policy achievement of the past 25 years. Fiscally speaking, the AHCA is 10 times as significant.

The AHCA would put Medicaid on a budget, increasing Medicaid spending per beneficiary at the same rate as the medical component of the Consumer Price Index. This isn’t a far-right concept; President Clinton first proposed reforming Medicaid this way in 1995, as an alternative to the GOP idea of block grants. The 1996 law ended up including neither provision.

Combined with administrative reforms that may come from the Department of Health and Human Services, the bill would give states more flexibility to manage Medicaid’s costs in ways that could increase access to doctors and other providers, while reducing Medicaid spending by hundreds of billions in its first decade and trillions thereafter.

Ultimately, Medicaid for able-bodied low-income adults should be merged into the system of tax credits that the AHCA proposes for those above the poverty line. In that way, all Americans, rich and poor, would have the ability to choose the health coverage and care that reflects their needs, and build nest eggs in health savings accounts that could be passed on to their heirs.

The AHCA has its imperfections. The bill could do more to assist those just above the poverty line, so that they have a smooth transition from Medicaid into the individual health insurance market. But all in all, truly affordable health coverage is coverage that Americans want to buy of their own free will. The American Health Care Act promises to make historic progress toward that goal.

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So Rachel Maddow was very, very excited that she had a yuuuuge scoop - an investigative reporter, David Cay Johnston, somehow got two pages of Trump's 2005 federal tax returns. But, as Chris Cillizza writes, this was really a "nothingburger" of a scoop.
First, the basics. Trump made more than $150 million in 2005 and paid $38 million in taxes that year, according to the two-page summary materials mailed to Johnston this week.

Now, the history. Trump has repeatedly said that he did everything he could to pay as little tax as possible -- a position, he insisted, that not only made him smart but also one which lots and lots of voters seemed to agree with. "I fight very hard to pay as little tax as possible,” Trump told ABC in May 2016.

And, because of Trump's refusal to pay taxes, there has long been speculation that he may not have paid any taxes at all from the mid 1990s -- when we know he reported more than $900 million in losses on his tax returns -- until the mid-2000s. (For much more on that, check this out.)

The 2005 tax return shows that the latter supposition is simply not true. Trump paid $38 million in taxes, not $0. And the return also suggests that Trump, as he said, did what he could to lower his tax burden. He paid an effective tax rate of 25 percent, far below the top tax bracket -- 35 percent -- for individuals at that time.

In short: We didn't learn anything we don't already know about Trump. Yes, he is very wealthy. Yes, he -- like virtually all very wealthy people -- looks for holes in the tax code to lower his overall taxable income. (Sidebar: As a non-wealthy person, I do the same thing.)

For all the hoopla surrounding the unearthing of these documents, there simply was no smoking gun -- or anything close to it -- here. A brief scan of Trump's financial status a decade ago shows, roughly, what you would expect it to show. Nothing nefarious, nothing untoward.

That of course doesn't mean that the fuller 2005 return -- or returns from other years -- might not be problematic for Trump. But, this one just isn't.
I guess it's only a scoop if it uncovers something bad. If it uncovers just what one would expect of a taxpayer paying his taxes in a legal matter, that's just not a big deal.

How odd. Environmentalists are advocating giving rivers the rights of citizens. Wesley J. Smith links to this story from the UK.
The River Frome could soon be capable of bearing the same rights as humans and companies, if proposals to establish a nature rights by-law go ahead.

Sustainable Frome is campaigning to get Frome Town Council to create a new type of by-law which recognises the river as a legal system capable of bearing the same rights as us humans.

Add to penmanship, spelling, rules on capitalization and punctuation, basic grammar, mental math, and a whole host of basic skills that students today aren't really taught well in elementary and secondary schools, the ability to read an analog clock. This is what one study in Oklahoma City found.
A new study shows that only 1-in-10 Oklahoma City kids ages 6-12 own a watch. And only 1-in-5 know how to read it.

"Yeah, I was super surprised," said Caitlin Carnes, who works for the Boys & Girls Club at Santa Fe South Elementary. "When I was growing up that was something that we learned. I don't know if that makes me old or not."

Instead Friday, Carnes worked to teach kids in the after-school program how to read analog clocks, something even the kids will admit they struggle with.

"I think the exposure to technology, everyone's so used to seeing digital," Carnes said. "They all have cell phones and tablets so they don't have to look at a clock very often that's analog."
When I prepare my students to go take their AP exams, I warn them that they won't be able to use the clocks on their phones to check the time since the phones aren't allowed and advise them to bring a watch. And very few of them own a watch. Some of them tell me that it takes them a few seconds longer to read an analog clock because they're so used to digital. They know how to read it, but it's not automatic for them and it's almost like translating time from a foreign language into the digital format they're familiar with. And I've had at least one student not know what I meant when I said they had to meet for a quiz bowl tournament at a "quarter to eight." The student wasn't sure if "to" occurred before or after 8:00.





7 comments:

trigger warning said...

Like some of your local Progressive trolls, the knuckle-dragging Middlebury thugitos have never read The Bell Curve and simply rely on predigested sound bites and personal calumnies to substitute for thinking.

In another context (CBO), the same phenomenon was evident here yesterday. Rather than read a rather short CBO report for themselves, a "fact-check" source was cited.

The Progressive "masses" are like little baby birds that need Mom to partially digest food and regurgitate it in a predigested form they are capable of consuming.

It's a sad commentary on the intellectual capabilities of the Proglodyte "resistance". Is it any wonder they fear a marketplace of choice in health care? They're incapable of making informed choices.

But, what should we expect? NY State has even abolished literacy as a requirement for teacher certification.

mardony said...

Is anyone really surprised that Trumpcare isn't really a healthcare bill at all?

This bill is not concerned with providing affordable health insurance to the most people. It is a designed to give a massive tax cut to the wealthiest Americans. And if attacking the CBO is the only defense of the bill, it's going down. Have a good day, suckers. Speaking of tax cuts:

"WASHINGTON – Two of the biggest tax cuts in Republican proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act would deliver roughly $157 billion over the coming decade to those with incomes of $1 million or more, according to a congressional analysis.

The assessment was made by the Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan panel that provides research on tax issues."

http://buffalonews.com/2017/03/10/gops-health-care-law-give-rich-big-tax-breaks/

True to its SOP proclivities, Betsy's Page gloms all over Avik Roy's WSJ attack on AHCA for its Medicaid inclusion, which is not alarming because the kindred souls at the WSJ have never seen a safety net program it likes. But here's another Avik Roy piece, from Forbes, that skewers other aspects of ACHA, and is ignored by the reliably objective Betsy

"House GOP's Obamacare Replacement Will Make Coverage Unaffordable For Millions. Otherwise, It's Great"

https://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2017/03/07/house-gops-obamacare-replacement-will-make-coverage-unaffordable-for-millions-otherwise-its-great/

mardony said...

Say what?

Trump continues to drain the swamp by turning it into a leachfield. Donovan will be the seventh high-level Trump admin official who's had Goldman-Sachs breeding and the personal bank accounts that go along with it.

"U.S. President Donald Trump will nominate Goldman Sachs Group Managing Director James Donovan as deputy secretary of the Treasury, the White House said on Tuesday. (Reuters, 3/14)"

mardony said...

So predictable. Let's take an incident at Middlebury college that had the odious Charles Murray and his professor handler get pushed around and use it as representative of the current atmosphere on most American campuses. You know, those elitist campuses where leftist professors reshape impressionable young minds to actually be concerned about things other than March Madness (men's, natch).

Yesterday, Betsy's Page schooled us on how application rates skyrocketed to colleges after their men's teams had been selected to participate in that annual celebration of academic excellence, March Mindlessness.

If young people are increasingly selecting colleges on the worthiness of men's basketball teams and aligning their priorities , time and enthusiasms accordingly, we need more Middleburys. Otherwise, God help us.

trigger warning said...

"Impressionable young minds"

BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Neotenized adults.

tfhr said...

"SayWhat Mardony",

Still struggling with that hearing aid? I think you need to turn the hypocrisy setting down - your white noise (racist) - is jamming you.

Goldman Sachs was a yuuuge constributor for Hillary in 2016 and has been for her and her abusive husband for decades. But that's fine with you, of course, because any quid pro quo from that relationship would be different and acceptable, somehow. (You can relax a little now that she's politically unviable - "donations" to the Clinton Foundation have tailed off dramatically. Hmmm...wonder why....)

Clinton made $3.15 million in 2013 alone from speaking to firms like Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and UBS, according to the list her campaign released of her speaking fees.
http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/13/INVESTING/HILLARY-CLINTON-WALL-STREET/INDEX.HTML

That's just from the Clinton News Network and only reflects what the her campaign was willing to disclose. Bernie Sanders was pretty uncomfortable with her lucrative relationship with Wall Street. Weren't you a socialist Bernie Boy? Why did you sell Bernie out for a greedy crony capitalist like Hillary?!


As for the claim that the latest Republican effort to repeal/replace ObamaCare does not redistribute enough wealth for your taste, I suggest that you personally contact Bill, Hillary, John Kerry and Warren Buffet and DEMAND that they write checks to the US Treasury to make amends for their wealth, position, and whiteness. You could use the balance in your life because with your left foot nailed firmly to the floor, you just keep going in circles here no matter how you struggle and thrash.

tfhr said...

Meadowlark Mardony,

You're dribbling again.