We had to lie

Yeah, we lied and we played hide the ball, but that's what it took to get the bill passed, so what choice did we have?  And now, what, the Supreme Court is going to enforce the stuff that we wrote that way on purpose to induce people to misunderstand us?  How fair is that?

"This All Comes Down To Nine Words In The Law..."

"...where arguably the government was unclear."

So says Ezra Klein about the new dagger at the throat of Obamacare, either because of a lack of understanding or because that is what he has been asked to say.

Still, if you watch his video, at exactly the 1:00 mark you can see that the highlighted section goes on a little bit longer: something about "under 1311"? What's that all about?
There are three key sections of the bill: 1311 establishes state exchanges; 1321 establishes federal exchange; 1401 establishes premium assistance through subsidies. Sections 1311 and 1401 are tied together to show how to funnel subsidies through state exchanges. However, there is no parallel language to tie Section 1321 into a way to funnel subsidies through the federal exchange. Thus, the federal subsidy to states’ exchanges, according to Max Baucus one of the originators of the bill, was an incentive for states to comply with the law.
So, in other words, even if you wipe out the "established by a State" language -- the way SCOTUS decided to re-author the individual mandate as a tax -- you still have the problem that the Federal exchanges were not established under section 1311. Their legal authority to exist does not come from that section of the law. Thus, the law does not support their receiving Federal subsidies.

Now Klein has spoken to all manner of politicians who swear up and down that this was some sort of drafting error. All of us who remember the actual debate probably remember that this was an intentional plan to try to force the hands of the states.

Leave that aside, though. Pretend the words "established by the States" aren't present. Grant them their rewrite of the entire highlighted section of the law -- the 'nine words.'

Section 1311 isn't what authorizes these other exchanges to exist. Thus, if this 'all comes down to nine words,' we should win on the merits. You can take the nine words back, and it won't make any difference.


Even without a concerted effort to promote screening, thyroid cancer incidence in the United States is up threefold since 1975. To reverse this trend, we need to actively discourage early thyroid cancer detection.
Sometimes early diagnosis just means treating people who would have been fine, and for whom the risks of treatment are greater than the risks of the "disease."

Employer mandates

The Washington Examiner is sorting through what it might mean if the Supreme Court enforces the letter of the ObamaCare law and disallows federal subsidies in states that refused to set up their own insurance exchanges.  Some consequences are fairly obvious, but this is one I hadn't thought about:
The (currently delayed) requirement for larger businesses to purchase insurance for their workers or pay penalties is triggered in cases in which at least one employee obtains government subsidies to purchase insurance. In states where subsidies cannot be distributed, the penalties won't apply. Therefore, a ruling against the government could set up a scenario in which businesses want to flock to states with federal exchanges as a way of getting around the employer mandate.

Mandate for moats

RedState is not feeling conciliatory:
Republicans ran this year on very little of substance. Their brand ID is still very underwater with the American public. There is no program right now that the American public is clamoring for the Republicans to undertake with one exception: they hate what President Obama is doing and they want Republicans to stop it. Exit poll after exit poll last night showed that the single most important thing in the minds of the voters this year was the looming shadow of death Obama cast on all his Democrat allies.
If voters really wanted people who would work closely with Obama and other Democrats to “get things done,” they would have just voted for more Democrats. After all, virtually every elected Democrat has “worked with” Obama (in the sense of doing exactly everything he asked) for the last six solid years. Say what you want about the information level of the average voter, but absolutely no one was confused into thinking that they were replacing a Democrat with a Republican in the hopes that the Republican would be more friendly to the Democrat agenda.

Friday Night AMV

Seems appropriate, given the elections this week.

Common ground

There are Republicans--even conservatives!--with agendas, even if they're not in the leadership.  Mike Lee is a coherent kind of guy:
We should find common ground that advances our agenda, rather than let the idea of common ground substitute for our agenda.
. . . In 2015, this “low-hanging fruit” we’ll hear about will be items like corporate tax reform, Obamacare’s medical device tax, patent reform, and perhaps the Keystone XL pipeline approval.
. . . Insofar as the pent-up K Street agenda includes good ideas, then by all means let’s pass those pieces by huge margins and send them to the president. But a new Republican majority must also make clear that our support for free enterprise cuts both ways—we’re pro-free market, not simply pro-business. To prove that point, we must target the crony capitalist policies that rig our economy for large corporations and special interests at the expense of everyone else—especially small and new businesses.
. . . Republicans should seek common ground between conservative principles and the interests and needs of the general public, not just between Washington Republicans and Washington Democrats. And the search for that genuinely common ground will point to a lot of low-hanging fruit too, even when it comes to the proper relationship between government and business. We could pass legislation winding down the Export-Import Bank or the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. We could—and really, must—eliminate the taxpayer bailouts for big insurance companies in Obamacare’s “risk corridors” program. Or we could start to break up taxpayer subsidies for the energy industry or large agribusinesses.
Anti-cronyism legislation is win-win for the GOP. It is good policy, restoring growth and fairness to an economy that Big Government and Big Business have rigged against the little guy. And it’s even better politics, standing up for the middle class while pinning hypocritical Democrats between their egalitarian talking points and their elitist agenda.

Wymyn of color

I was told, as Cassandra so often says, that there would be no math in this election.

Voters and education

What the midterms tell us about education policy:
[C]onservatives . . . ought not be afraid of school reform. Three GOP governors were hammered [before the election] for having supposedly cut education spending. Now, you need to be a forensic accountant to determine the truth of such claims (e.g., Do increased contributions to teacher pensions count? How does one score 2011 stimulus dollars? Is the measure total spending or per-pupil spending?). In any event, two of the embattled candidates — Rick Scott in Florida and Sam Brownback in Kansas — went on to triumph despite fierce union attacks. Tom Corbett lost in Pennsylvania, but he had plenty of other troubles and was left for dead months ago.
In fact, while 20 of 35 Republican gubernatorial candidates touted increased K–12 spending as part of their platform, it’s not clear that voters are convinced that more spending is the ticket to better schools. In Harry Reid’s Nevada, a ballot measure to boost school spending by raising corporate taxes went down to a crushing defeat. A year ago, a billion-dollar spending plan for schools crashed and burned in similarly purple Colorado. And deep-blue Washington state rejected an initiative to decrease class size by hiring more teachers.
Meanwhile, the results should encourage conservatives ready to fight for principled reform. Scott Walker won for the third time in four years in purple Wisconsin in the face of relentless union opposition for daring to curtail collective bargaining, tackle public pensions, and promote school choice. Rick Snyder in Michigan won with a similar résumé, and John Kasich roared to victory in Ohio after having fought similar fights. These are all industrial Midwest swing states where conservatives can find themselves inclined to step gently. Oh, and Thom Tillis, speaker of the North Carolina house, was targeted by a flood of negative ads for his role in the state’s hugely controversial move to eliminate teacher tenure and stop paying teachers for advanced degrees. For all that, Tillis still managed to oust favorite Kay Hagan.

Three Years Off

Otherwise, a surprisingly solid prediction.
This revelation comes days after Rear Adm. Brian Losey, head of NSWC, and Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci issued a reminder to special warfare sailors to stay out of the limelight when it comes to their service.

“At Naval Special Warfare’s core is the SEAL ethos,” according to the letter, which was obtained by Navy Times. “A critical tenant of our ethos is ‘I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions.’ Our ethos is a life-long commitment and obligation, both in and out of the service. Violators of our ethos are neither teammates in good standing, nor teammates who represent Naval Special Warfare.”
We all love the Navy SEALs (see esp. comment four), seriously... but there's a reason we get jokes like this.


Don't sell negativism short.
Even yesterday, in victory and in concession speeches, candidates of both parties told us that dysfunction was the biggest problem in DC.
Where exactly have Republicans suffered? After endless analysis of the Kentucky Senate race, Mitch McConnell, the architect of obstructionist strategy in the Senate, won re-election easily. The reality is that Republicans have been generously rewarded from their tenacity in stopping post-Obamacare progressive policy. Since 2010, the Republicans have pulled together a historic string of victories—with scores of seats changing hands in the House. If anything, what we learned is that politicians are far more likely to be penalized by the electorate for passing unworkable and overreaching legislation than they are stopping it.

Mitch's Iron Fist

"Iron Fist" and "Mitch McConnell" are not ideas closely linked in my consciousness.  I had no idea that the reason hundreds of House bills have gone to die in the Senate over the last few years was that McConnell exercised his ruthless and unbridled control as Minority Leader; I just stupidly assumed it was because Harry Reid, as Majority Leader, refused to let them come up for a vote.  Now I guess Reid will have his own opportunity to exercise an Iron Fist in the incredibly powerful role of Minority Leader, assuming that his (remaining) colleagues don't have enough sense to vote him out of that position.

Another thing I didn't know was that President Obama "pivoted to the right" after his 2010 shellacking.   His aides assure us he's not planning to do that again, though.  Fair enough.  We can only expect so much from the man.  Tom Brokaw is already wondering on what issues the new Republican majority will cave, since that's apparently the first thing one expects of a party that wins a wave election--certainly nothing that could be expected of people whose agenda was just decisively repudiated.  Personally, I hope the Senate sends the President a bunch of backed-up bills to veto until his pen runs out of ink.  Let him own a few positions for a change instead of whining that he can't understand the Republican "agenda."

I'll give Mitch ("Iron Fist") McConnell credit for one thing:  his crack at today's press conference that Dodd-Frank is just "ObamaCare for banks."

Virtue Loses its Loveliness

Irving Kristol wrote a piece I'm only just getting around to reading today, which he published in the 1970s at the flowering of the Baby Boomers' rejection of Western Civilization. It's a very interesting criticism, especially of the problems of equality and inequality. I couldn't agree more with the conclusion.
Our dissidents today may think they are exceedingly progressive; but no one who puts greater emphasis on "the quality of life" than on "mere" material enrichment can properly be placed in that category. For the idea of progress in the modern era has always signified that the quality of life would inevitably be improved by material enrichment. To doubt this is to doubt the political metaphysics of modernity and to start the long trek back to pre-modern political philosophy -- Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Hooker, Calvin, etc. It seems to me this trip is quite necessary.
Why? Read it and find out. It's not that long, and it's worth consideration.

The Brutal Fate of the Gang of Eight

So will the lesson be that amnesty is not something the American people support, or that it is necessary to do it through executive action rather than having legislators endanger themselves by voting on it?

Science and Faith

If you read the debates on the nature of space and motion between Leibniz and Newton's student Clarke, you'll find that much of it is explicitly theology. To talk about the world in theological terms may sound like an absurd thing, certain to lead to bad thinking; in fact, we still return to those debates today because the theology is helpful in thinking through the logical issues about the structure of reality that they and we are still debating.

Noah Berlatsky writes that this unity can be seen elsewhere:
The pop culture account of science is, as Lipking, a Northwestern University emeritus professor of English, notes, one of continuous advancement and ever-clearer sight—or, alternately, one of ever-encroaching spiritual death, as cold technology alienates us from our true selves. But both narratives of progress and those of apocalypse erase the extent to which the scientific revolution was fired by religious fervor. Galileo, forced to recant his heliocentrism by the Church, nobly refused “to be swayed by myths or orthodoxies,” and boldly declared, “Nevertheless it moves.” Except, there’s no record that he said that; the rejection of myths and orthodoxies is itself a myth—one of the founding stories of modernity’s science code.

Along the same lines, Descartes’ famous mental experiment, in which he stripped the world down to what can be rationally known, was, it turns out, inspired by a series of vivid dreams, in which, Descartes believed, God had called him to a great work. Kepler introduced his epochal Third Law explaining planetary motion by declaring, “It is my pleasure to yield to inspired frenzy, it is my pleasure to taunt mortal men with the candid acknowledgement that I am stealing the golden vessels of the Egyptians to build a tabernacle to my God.”

Great moments in campaigning

One of the worst political sound bites ever:
Exacerbating matters was Obama’s Oct. 2 speech in Chicago, in which he handed every Republican admaker fresh material that fit perfectly with their message: “I am not on the ballot this fall. . . . But make no mistake — these policies are on the ballot, every single one of them.”
The New York Times (and some of you guys) won't see this as a wave, but the numbers are telling: Republicans picked up at least seven Senate seats, a number that probably will grow to nine seats after the dust settles in Alaska and Louisiana. (Democrats picked up six Senate seats in 2002 and eight in 1986.) Republicans gained 12 or maybe 13 House seats, leaving them in the largest majority since 1928. Democrats held on by the skin of their teeth to hotly contested Governors' seats in Connecticut and Colorado, and picked up Pennsylvania in a predictable landslide, but lost everything else, including Florida, Wisconsin, and even Maryland, Massachusetts, and Illinois. Republicans won every race they were expected to have any chance of winning, in addition to a solid handful no one would have expected, while generating nail-biters that came out of the blue, like the governor's race in Virginia and the Senate race in New Hampshire.


Election Night

How are your favorites doing tonight?

UPDATE: My congressman from the Mighty Ninth was handily re-elected. Georgia's top-level results are apt to be close, though the exit polls suggest the Republicans are going to have a good night here just because of the age of electorate. But here in the 9th, we went 80/20 for the incumbent. This will be only his second term. He's been good so far.

UPDATE: Looks like "John" Ernst pulled it off. Good for him her. Get some, ma'am.

UPDATE: With 78% in, it's not even close here in Georgia. All the polls strongly overestimated the chance of Georgia going blue in its statewide races. CBS is calling it for Perdue, and while the staunchly liberal Atlanta Journal-Constitution isn't ready to admit it yet, it doesn't look like we're even going to get close to needing a runoff. Perdue is leading by 16 points. Nathan Deal, in his own race, is leading by 15.

UPDATE: As Mike points out, SC went blood red this year. North Carolina is a lot closer than anything else in the Deep South tonight: the Republican is ahead, but barely and still below 50%. Looks like he's being kept afloat by a strong showing among older voters too. North Carolina has an "Instant Runoff" law, so the question may depend on whether the Libertarian voters put down Red or Blue as their second choice.

UPDATE: With 92% in, the AJC still won't call the statewide races. Heartbreak in downtown Atlanta!

UPDATE: CBS is now calling NC for the Red team. The AJC has finally admitted the Red night in Georgia, too.

UPDATE: RCP is calling NC the same way.

"Shockingly Racist"

The standards for this have apparently drifted lately. From an Orlando Liberal Examiner column by Robert Sobel titled "Fox News host makes shockingly racist comment live on the air":
Co-host Tucker Carlson then responded to Perino's statement, by stating that in the United States, "We need, I think, an older white guy appreciation day, I think they have done a lot for this country."
I'm kind of scratching my head here, Bob. Is it shocking that he thinks older white guys have done a lot for this country, or that he wants to take a day to celebrate them? We do have a whole month for Black History, and another one for Women's History, and while I've always thought that was a little foolish, I didn't think it was "shockingly racist" or "shockingly sexist" for Congress to pass the bills creating those celebrations.

Stories from the Great War

From "Funny Stories Told by the Soldiers," published in 1919:
A colored soldier on the fighting front got a two days' leave shortly after the signing of the armistice, and immediately prepared to make a date in the French capital. When leaving the front, however, he got held up by a French sentry, who was unable to understand Sam's explanations. Sam accordingly talked louder and louder, shaking his fist at the Frenchman, who threatened to shoot if Sam proceeded. Finally Sam said: "Looka here, boss, I got a mother in heaven, a father in the other place, and a sweetheart in Paris, and I'm agoin' to see one of 'em tonight."
I'm not sure why this story is about a "colored" soldier. Was it funnier that way in 1919?

That's Unclear

I was very offended that Senator Harkin would say that. I think it’s unfortunate that he and many of their party believe that you can’t be a real woman if you’re conservative and you’re female. I believe that if my name would have been John Ernst, attached to my resume, Senator Harkin would not have said those thing.
Being "John" doesn't always save you.

Nor "Dan," for that matter.

It's a charge aimed at those who present as youthful and attractive, instead of serious and seasoned. Ernst should be more confident, given her resume. Whining demeans the self.

Don't Visit the Emirates

Today's news includes a note that a Georgian has been arrested in the UAE for taking a photograph. When I went to read the article, I was thinking: "Oh, I've heard of this -- young foreigners get in trouble for too-revealing bathing suits, and the photograph is just evidence." No, not at all. The Georgian is a older man, seventy years of age, and what he photographed is... unclear.

The article eventually posits that certain buildings 'such as palaces or embassies' are off limits, but we don't know just what it was he photographed that got him in trouble. His family says any trespass was unintentional, which is easy to believe since even they don't seem to know what it was he photographed that got him in trouble. No one seems to know what charges he might face, when he might face trial, or when he'll see an attorney. Our government has apparently had access to him, but won't comment on the case for 'privacy reasons.'

If there is anything amusing about the case, it's that he was invited to the UAE to attend a conference on creative thinking. I'm creatively thinking that the UAE is a very bad place to have any such conferences in the future, or for anyone to visit for tourism.

When You Read Kindle, Kindle Reads You

A list of the most popular phrases in popular books, as determined by Kindle.

The popular Bible verse, surprisingly to me, is Philippians 4:6-7.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I would have expected it to be something from John.

"Strategies" for Poem-Reading

I wasn't aware that the reading of poetry required a strategy, but a writer at the Atlantic has twenty of them to offer. Some of them are good -- I especially like the one about always reading the poem aloud.

On the other hand, I'm bemused by the assumption that poetry is probably going to be something like a locked box or safe: so difficult to understand that it might require a dozen or more readings to come to the "slightest" understanding. Poetry need not be anything of the sort. The greatest poems -- the Iliad, say -- may well reward a dozen readings with continually new and deeper understandings. Yet though they have secrets and depths, they are first and foremost a form of communication. They speak to you. That is what they are for.

If they fail in that, in that first duty of poetry, they are poor examples of the art.

The Height of Victory

A good story from the boys at RangerUp about teaching rappelling to new recruits. One of the times I went rappelling was at Camp Frank D. Merrill, home of the 5th Ranger Training Battalion and the "Mountain Warfare" phase of training. Having been rappelling a time or so in the past, I tied up my Swiss seat and came off the wall good and hard, intending to bounce just once on the way to the ground. My belay man, seeing me coming down so fast, apparently dropped the rope and fled. No problem: I hit the brakes just right, stretched the rope to a feather-light landing, and backed off the rope with aplomb.

That belay guy did some push-ups off the Stone of Pain they happen to have nearby.