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The official blog of the National Center for Public Policy Research, covering news, current events and public policy from a conservative, free-market and pro-Constitution perspective.

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Monday
Apr072014

More On The Bogus '3.1 Million Young Adults Have Gained Coverage Via Their Parents' Statistic

Last week NCPPR published my study debunking the claim that “3.1 million young adults gained coverage by staying on their parents’ insurance until 26 due to ObamaCare.”

The Administration had based that claim on 2011 quarterly data from the National Health Interview Survey.  I used the most up-to-date data (third quarter of 2012) to find that based on the NHIS survey the number of young adults getting insurance through their parents’ plan was about 2.2 million.

I’ve been trying to get even more recent data, but so far the NHIS has been unable to provide quarterly data.  NHIS has only released data that is an average of Q1-Q3 of 2013.  So, let’s update my analysis using that data, understanding that it’s not the same as the quarterly data:

 

The difference between 2010 and 2013 is about 8.8 percent.  Multiplied against the roughly 30 million 19-25-year-olds in the nation (according to the Census Bureau) and the result is about 2.64 million.  Still a bit off from 3.1 million.

Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute notes some other problems with using the NHIS data beginning with this chart:

 

Roy writes:

[HHS employee Benjamin Sommers who wrote the Administration’s analysis] assumes that the entirety of the growth in coverage is due to Obamacare. This is highly unlikely. As you can see from the [above] chart, if you look at the NHIS data over a longer period of time—say, from 1997 to 2013—there’s a big dip in the percentage of young adults with private coverage in 2009 and 2010, corresponding to the worst depths of the Great Recession.

Sommers cherry-picked the 2010 baseline that would make his comparisons as flattering as possible. He compared the third quarter of that year, when 49.8 percent had private coverage, with the fourth quarter of 2011, when 58.8 percent did. The full-year averages for 2010 and 2011 were 51.0 and 56.2 percent, respectively; for the first 9 months of 2013, the proportion with private coverage was 58.1 percent.

If you simply use 2008 as your baseline—before the effects of the recession—you still get a positive effect, but a much smaller one. In 2008, the proportion of young adults with private coverage was 55.8 percent; if you assume the entirety of the change in private coverage from 2008 to 2013 is due to Obamacare, you get a coverage expansion of between 869,000 (on a 2008 population base) and approximately 1.04 million (on a 2013 population base). That’s not nothing, but it’s 2 million less than what the Obama administration is claiming.

I say maybe 2.64 million, Roy says closer to 870,000.  I also noted in the study that Census Bureau data shows that number of young adults gaining coverage via their parents’ insurance is closer to 258,000.

In short, we have no clue how many young adults have gotten coverage this way, and the numbers flying around are too unreliable for the president or anyone else to be using.

Monday
Apr072014

Why Did the Federal Government Put $700,000 in Taxpayer Money Down the Drain?

ALT TAGIt’s a figurative drain, not a literal one, but the money’s gone either way.

Specifically, why did the federal government spend $700,000 on a climate-change propaganda musical?

Worse, one put on by a theater group that advertises left-wing environmental organizations and their frequently-noxious causes on its website?

I don’t remember “funding musicals” as one of the Constitution’s enumerated powers. Maybe it’s there, but there just wasn’t room to print it in my pocket Constitution?

Michael Bastasch has the theater boondoggle story in the Daily Caller.

Just as most taxpayers pay for their own expression, so should politically-correct theater groups.

Taxpayers likewise should be relieved from funding advertising for groups that lobby for a carbon tax, sue local governments (which means taxpayers), fight against government approval of the Keystone pipeline, tell the media it is not biased enough toward the left, and promote “green energy” profiteers.

One of these groups, Al Gore’s climate something, even has a project to send its sheep out to argue with climate skeptics (whom they call “deniers,” because, name-calling).

Now as refreshing as it is to see one of the CAGW-believers willing to engage in debate (Al Gore remains too frightened, but he’ll send his followers into the battle of ideas unarmed, no problem), this project isn’t something that ever should be funded by the taxpayers.

Thomas Jefferson said, “…To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness…”

People who don’t believe in the secular religion of the church of global warming should not be forced to pay for its indulgences.

Saturday
Apr052014

I Told You So: Myth #3 About the Incandescent Light Bulb Ban

LightBulbBanthebanWhite

Back in 2011 I wrote the following in a short paper, Five Myths About the Federal Incandescent Light Bulb Ban:

Myth 3: "Alternatives to incandescents are just as safe."

No. CFLs contain sufficient mercury for the Environmental Protection Agency to recommend a tedious 10-to-11-step process for cleanup of broken CFLs. Consumers also are supposed to take discarded bulbs to a special disposal center, but it is unlikely that most people are bothering. This places dangerous mercury in the air when the bulbs inevitably break in trash cans or garbage trucks.

I hate to say I told you so (I really do, since most readers of this blog vociferously opposed the ridiculous ban), but, from Canada's CBC:

Compact fluorescent bulbs often end up in trash

Statistics Canada study shows a third of households returned bulbs to depot or store

Most Canadians are using compact fluorescent bulbs, but only a third of them are disposing of the mercury-containing devices properly, a new Statistics Canada report suggests.

The federal agency reported this week that in 2011, 75 per cent of Canadian households used at least one compact fluorescent bulb and 39 per cent used at least one fluorescent tube. Far fewer households used mercury-free LED bulbs, another energy-efficient alternative to incandescent bulbs - just 10 per cent.

The Households and the Environment Survey of 20,000 Canadians, conducted by phone in October and November 2011 found that:

  • Only 32 per cent of households disposed of compact fluorescent light bulbs properly by dropping them off at a hazardous waste depot or returning the bulb to a store.

  • 50 per cent of households surveyed threw the light bulbs in the garbage.

  • 12 per cent still had the old bulbs in their home.

  • The remaining six per cent used an "unknown" method of disposal.

Each bulb contains a small amount of mercury, which can damage the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver of humans and other living organisms.

A compact fluorescent light bulb typically contains about five milligrams of mercury — less than the amount that's in a watch battery, according to Natural Resources Canada.

Canadian Vandalism MemeW

However, mercury-containing devices are typically treated as hazardous waste, because light bulbs are likely to break if buried in landfills. The mercury they contained can then contaminate water and enter the atmosphere. It does not break down in the environment and accumulates in the bodies of animals as it moves up the food chain...

This report is talking about Canada, the polite country. What hope is there that we're doing any better?

Oh well, what's a little brain damage, compared to the joy of pretending we're doing something measurable to stop "climate change"?

Friday
Apr042014

About Those March Jobs Numbers…

Is 6.6 percent the best Obama is going to be able to do when it comes to job creation?

This morning, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics posted that the official unemployment rate for March was unchanged at 6.7 percent.  The alternative U-6 rate that covers the total number of unemployed along with the underemployed and despondent jobseekers only “marginally attached to the labor force” was a unsettlingly high and rising 12.7 percent.

This far into the President’s tenure, with his policies in high gear and the Bush era far in the rearview mirror, it’s all Obama’s fault now.

The writing was on the wall earlier in the week when the U.S. Department of Labor announced that claims for unemployment jumped by 16,000 in March to a seasonally adjusted number of 326,000 — 9,000 more than economists had anticipated.

What about the unemployment rate among the key Obama constituencies?  Once again, minority unemployment rates far outpaced white counterparts.

The Hispanic unemployment rate in March was down slightly to a still-high 7.9 percent.  The overall black jobless rate rose to a shocking 12.4 percent.  Among black teenagers, however, the out-of-work segment was a staggeringly unacceptable 36.1 percent (a 3.7 percent rise in just one month).

Such a high rate for black teens, an almost certain impediment for years to come as they lose out on the prospect of entry-level employment and training at a formative age, has been a largely unrecognized issue (outside of these monthly blog postings from Project 21 and among black conservative economists such as Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams.  The Media Research Center, in fact, logged network interest in the black employment crisis when the job numbers are announced to just ten seconds over the past year — and that was confined to two times on one network.

Yet the President gets coverage for his childish name-calling of the budget plan to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as a “stinkburger” and “meanwich.”

Once again, Derryck Green, a member of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network, is naturally not cheered by any of the new unemployment numbers, nor is he excited about the size, shape and strength of the Obama recovery.

In his monthly “About Those Jobs Numbers…” commentary on the state of the recovery, Derryck notes that a lot of the ineptitude is really an expected by-product of the progressive policy agenda:

As another month passes with the economy and job creation stagnant, Americans are continuing to see the obviously intended economic realities of central planning and progressive ideals.

The progressive desire to remake society, however, is diametrically opposed to what’s actually needed for our nation to recuperate its lost jobs, wages and capital — not to mention the faith and optimism that has been lost by the American people during what’s supposed to be Obama’s economic recovery.

Looking at the newly-released job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is unchanged since last month at 6.7 percent.

For blacks. there’s a 12.4 percent overall jobless rate.  For black teens, the rate is 36.1 percent.  Also, 2.2 million Americans remain on the margins of the labor force, of which the participation rate is 63.2 percent.

Only 192,000 non-farm jobs were added to the American economy last month.  It doesn’t begin to approach what’s needed to maintain the average pace of job replacement.

It’s been said before, but one particular observation bears repeating.  Despite how the unemployment rate is doctored to appear (Census employees are accused of faking job numbers prior to the 2012 presidential election), and no matter how the Obama Administration spins the news, the nation continues its descent into the murkiness of economic apathy and stifled productivity.

Regarding doctored data, not only are there the allegations of unemployment data being intentionally manipulated to favor Obama — if one can call anything related to the economy in the Obama years as favorable — but it appears that Consumer Price Index (CPI) data may have also been falsified by some of the same people who are accused of cooking the jobs numbers.

The CPI measures the variation of prices for goods and services to determine the development and effect of inflation.  It’s responsible for setting increases of military pay and retiree benefits.  Falsifying CPI data affects those whose income is dependent on government edict.

Adding to this, the Obama Administration has demonstrated a willingness to lie to the nation regarding his health care promises and the severity of the unemployment situation. That President Obama would lie about inflation levels, while cheating service members out of earned pay and the elderly out of benefits, is no surprise at all.

But there is good news of sorts — at least if you are a supporter of leftist politics.  Now that ObamaCare allegedly has over seven million Americans enrolled, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says “we [can] now pivot to jobs.”

Now?  Now?!

That ObamaCare was the focus as the nation suffered through double-digit unemployment, and that ObamaCare remained the focus as more and more Americans left the workforce, confirms just how serious progressive-minded, utopian partisans seem to be when it comes to the economy. 

Consider this.  Aside from jobless claims that increased this week, there are also these formidable factors:

  • Radio Shack, Staples, Sony, Office Depot, Sears Holding (which owns Sears and Kmart), J.C. Penney and Disney — among many other companies — all announced plans to either close stores and or layoff employees in March;
  • Two million fewer people were in the workforce this past month than at the same time last year;
  • According to a report by the Center for Immigration Studies, government data has indicated that almost 17 million Americans wanted, but were unable to find, full-time work in 2013;
  • The housing market remains weak;
  • The Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen said that, even though the Fed decided to taper its bond-buying bailout to $55 billion per month (over $4 trillion total), it will continue for “some time” to tinker with the economy to combat sustained levels of unemployment.

These are real, tangible indicators that the economy hasn’t recovered.  In addition, almost 45 percent of Americans feel they are no longer part of the middle class.  Worse still, 40 percent now self-identify with being lower-middle or lower class, economically.

All this would certainly appear to be bad news for an economy urgently in need of resuscitation, but it’s a significantly worse situation for those who are poor, who lack basic job skills and who have a checkered work history.  It’s remarkably bad when the lack of available jobs intensifies the competition to find work… any work.  This glaring realization — though evidenced generally among the American people — characterizes the black economic and employment situation, specifically.

As previously mentioned, the unemployment rate for blacks and black teens is 12.4 percent and 36.1 percent, respectively.  If not for a few voices — including Project 21 — many Americans would be clueless to the economic struggle and anxiety felt by many black Americans. 

According to a new report from the Media Research Center’s Business and Media Institute ABC, NBC and CBS gave a mere TEN SECONDS — combined — over the last year into reporting the exceedingly bleak black economic plight and severe black unemployment.  Of the 145 jobs-related stories during the past year, the black unemployment rate was mentioned.  Twice. 

Obama, ABC, NBC and CBS have apparently continually ignored the fact that, since January of 2009, the President’s first month in office, the black unemployment rate has been below 12 percent once.  It’s been at or above 14 percent only 39 times, at or above 15 percent on 29 times and at or above 16 percent on eleven times.  They have also continually ignored black teenage unemployment, which during the same period, has been below 35 percent only four times.

Yet Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is the enemy.  At least he submitted a budget this week that has a chance of getting at least some consideration.

This is inexcusable, but it is also not surprising.

And nothing will likely change at this rate.

Expect the Obama Administration and his supporters to deliver practiced, sympathetic talking points about putting America back to work.  Pronouncements will be made in solemn and determined tones, attached to concerned faces, as they attempt to further fleece the American public.

What’s worse is that, after all the destructive evidence resulting from the policies this administration advocates, that fleecing may prove convincing.  Again. 

Friday
Apr042014

Michael Hiltzik, ObamaCare Shill Extraordinaire

Reading Michael Hiltzik one almost feels embarrassed for the Los Angeles Times.  He’s an ObamaCare shill, and like most shills he’ll repeat an argument in favor of his cause no matter how ridiculous.  For example, here is how Hiltzik spun the disastrous opening of the ObamaCare exchange websites:

…the problems of the healthcare.gov website reduced enrollments, cutting the government’s bill for premium subsidies.

In that same post Hiltzik also repeated the canard that the lost work hours caused by ObamaCare—equivalent to 2.5 million jobs—was a good thing because grandma could retire earlier.

Another characteristic of shills is that they repeat any statistic that supports their cause without ever questioning the methodology behind the statistic.  Is Hiltzik that kind of shill?  Well, here is my twitter exchange with him when I pointed out that the methods behind the claim that 45,000 people die from lack of insurance annually in the U.S. were rubbish:

Hiltzik didn’t answer that last tweet because there is no answer.  For more on the methodology behind the 45,000 statistic and my further tweets with Hiltzik, see this post.

Well, Hiltzik is at it again this morning, parroting a new survey from the Urban Institute that purportedly shows that 5.4 million people who were uninsured now have coverage under ObamaCare.

First, it’s not clear if the survey distinguished between those who have signed up for coverage on the exchanges and those who have actually paid their first premium.  If it doesn’t, then it is overstating the number of newly insured.

Second, the Urban Institute uses the services of a firm call GfK to conduct the survey.  GfK uses its sampling method known as the “Knowledge Panel.”  However, the Knowledge Panel has some pretty serious bias in its samples that likely leads to an overstatement of the number of people who are newly insured.

When doing public opinion surveys, a researcher needs to get a sample that is as close an approximation as possible to the population he is surveying.  To do this, he needs to conduct a random sample.  Yet random sampling can be tricky, and it’s not hard to introduce bias (often inadvertently) into a sample.  If the sample is biased in some significant way, then the sample will yield inaccurate information about the population the researcher is trying to survey.

And the GfK’s Knowledge Panel introduces some substantial bias:  

Unlike opt-in panels, households are  not permitted to “self-select” into  KnowledgePanel; nor are they allowed to participate in many surveys per week. Instead, KnowledgePanel households are randomly chosen and participate in our research only two to four times a month as a result of our patented sampling system. Since almost three in ten US households do not have home internet access, we supply these households a free netbook computer and internet service. (Bold added.)

Sending people free computers and free internet service will bias the sample.  First, there are the hassles these people who get the free computers and internet service go through—such as giving out personal information so GfK can ship them the computers and, maybe, get the computers back eventually, going through the instructions with GfK staff to set up the computers, and then regularly respond to the survery.   The ones willing to go through that hassle are the ones most likely to see it as a reasonable cost for getting goods that they don’t have to pay for with cash.  Ultimately, GfK has oversampled people who are willing to go through the hassles of signing up on the ObamaCare exchanges if it means their premiums are subsidized or the hassles of signing up for Medicaid which usually doesn’t require the recipient to pay anything for care.

The bias inherent in the GfK Knowledge Panel is easier to see when the the Commonwealth Fund used it for a survey back in 2011.  The Commonwealth Fund claimed that survey showed that 6.6 million young people had gained coverage on their parents plan due to Obamacare’s requirement that insurers allow dependent children to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26.  6.6 million!?!?  Apparently that number was too far fetched for even the Obama Administration to use.

The survey had another finding that was a red flag for sampling bias.  According the Commonwealth Fund report,the “survey finds that nearly two of five (39%) young adults ages 19 to 29 were without health insurance for all or part of 2011.”  No other reputable survey has found a rate of uninsurance that high among that age group. For example, the Census Bureau shows that the worst rate of uninsurance in recent years for people in that age group was 29% in 2009 (see page 73 of the 2012 report).

What happened in this case is that if GfK is oversampling young people who would not get a computer unless someone else paid for it, it is also oversampling people who won’t get insurance unless someone else pays for it. (Computers and internet access aren’t that difficult to acquire—over half of poor households have computers and 43 percent have internet access.)

Given that, it seems that the Urban Institute is oversampling people who were previously uninsured and now have coverage. 

But don’t expect Michael Hiltzik to concern himself with any of this.  He has his statistic that supports his precious ObamaCare.  And like a typical shill, he’ll simply dismiss anyone who challenges the statistic as part of the “Right Wing Echo Chamber.”

Friday
Apr042014

National Center's Hogberg Analyzes ObamaCare Enrollment on Fox Business

While the Obama Administration and its supporters crow about the 7.1 million enrollment numbers for ObamaCare, the National Center’s Dr. David Hogberg could not figure how things logically add up as he went over the numbers with Fox Business Network managing editor and lead anchor Neil Cavuto.

Wondering “at what cost” these enrollment numbers were obtained, David and Cavuto discussed how ObamaCare has not substantially reduced the number of uninsured (two-thirds of enrollees were previously covered elsewhere, leaving only about 1.2 million net new paying enrollees) and how many still must pay for the plans they selected on the exchanges.

David suggested that ObamaCare is more about “political control” as it appears to seek to create a new middle-class entitlement.

This conversation appeared on the 4/3/14 edition of the “Cavuto” program.

Thursday
Apr032014

Have a Koch and a Smile

ConstitutionW

We need more Charles Kochs.

Rather than vilifying him, we should be encouraging more Americans of means to follow his example.

Regardless of your politics, regardless of whether you agree with his methods, you ought to agree with Mr. Koch's objective of leaving America in a better state than he found it.

In today's Wall Street Journal, Mr. Koch defends himself (finally!) from the big-government left's slander of him and explains why he decided to engage in the political process.

It is definitely worth a read.

In case you've been living under a rock and missed it, the left decided that attacking Mr. Koch and his brother David makes for a better campaign strategy than trumpeting its successes with health care, the economy, U.S.-Russian relations, Iran and Syria.

Senator Harry Reid recently took to the Senate floor to call the Kochs "un-American" and accused them of trying to buy the elections. How were they doing this? Well, by having the chutzpah to participate in political campaigns like everyone else.

We should probably cut Reid a bit of slack for the comments. He's apparently more familiar with the rental market.

KochIndustriesLogoW

Mr. Koch does a great job in his column knocking down many of the left's attacks on him.

He demolishes the oft-repeated claim that he's one of the nation's worst polluters, noting that since 2009 alone, his company has earned "over 700 awards for environmental, health and safety excellence... many of them from the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration."

He also effectively rebuts the claim that he's involved in the political process so that he can influence federal policy to his financial benefit. He notes, for example, that despite the fact the Koch benefits from the ethanol mandate, he favors its repeal because it drives up food and energy prices and hurts consumers.

What Mr. Koch doesn't mention in his article, but which I think is important, is that he and his family are engaged in very many philanthropic and charitable activities unrelated to his political activities.

The Koch foundations provide millions upon millions of dollars, for example, to colleges and universities - some 300 of them!

WSJWallStreetJournalLogoW

The left has created a caricature of Mr. Koch that is designed to vilify him, discredit him and, yes, even incite violent action against him. That's a tactic used by despots, not true democrats.

Mr. Koch is repaying the America that has been so good to him by spending his own wealth to ensure that future generations have the same freedoms and same economic opportunities that he did.

For this, he deserves our gratitude, not our condemnation.

We have a Koch... two, actually... Now where's that smile?

Note: Mr. Koch does not underwrite our work nor do we have any expectation he ever will.

Thursday
Apr032014

Rush Limbaugh, Drudge Report Cover David Hogberg's ObamaCare Reports

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Congratulations to the National Center's David Hogberg, whose work uncovering various pitfalls of ObamaCare has been read on the air twice by Rush Limbaugh and cited on the Drudge Report during the past week.

On Tuesday, Drudge linked to David Hogberg's new paper putting the lie to President Obama's claim that "more than 3 million young adults... have gained insurance under [ObamaCare] by staying on their family's plan."

Using data from the Census Bureau, David found strikingly different numbers than those reported by the President: only 258,000 young adults may have gained coverage due to the so-called "slacker mandate."

Rush spent about 8 minutes discussing this on his show Wednesday.

On Friday, Rush discussed another part of David's research, the ObamaCare signup deadlines and related issues.

For fans of Rush and/or David, here are Dittocam captures and transcripts, with links to the original reports.

April 2, 2014 Rush Limbaugh broadcast (transcript here; David Hogberg's original report here):

March 28, 2014 Rush Limbaugh broadcast (transcript here; David Hogberg's original report here):

Rush and Drudge aren't the only media covering David's work. In addition to numerous newspaper, magazine and Internet media citations, David has been a guest on a radio talk show 54 times during the first 90 days of this year.

Wednesday
Apr022014

Health Care Odds & Ends: Bogus Numbers Addition

1. No, 3.1 Million Slackers Did Not Get Insurance Via Their Parents.  I have a new National Policy Analysis up today examining the claim that 3.1 million previously uninsured young adults have gotten covered through their parents’ insurance thanks to Obamacare’s requirement that insurers extend coverage for dependent children up to age 26—also known as the “slacker mandate.”  Suffice to say, the number doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.  Further, looking at Census Bureau data yields a very different result:

The Census Bureau shows that from 2009, the year before the slacker mandate began, to 2012, the number of uninsured 18-24-year-olds declined by about 976,000. But not all of those went onto their parents’ insurance. For that age group, Medicaid enrollment grew 271,000 and employer-based coverage increased 447,000 during that same period. That would mean that those newly insured by joining their parents’ coverage were at most 258,000. 

You can also view it as an article at the American Spectator.

2. About That 7.1 Million… President Obama and his supporters are taking their victory lap.  But the good news will be short lived.  First off, we still don’t know how many people haven’t paid their first premium.  If they never do, they won’t be enrolled.  If that’s close to 20 percent, as the New York Times suggests, then the true enrollment number will be closer to 5.6 million.  At this point I’m betting slightly that the number may even be worse that that, since the Obama Administration tries hard not to release data that reflects poorly on ObamaCare and since the administration has shown no inclination to release data on how many have paid their premiums ever.

Second, we still don’t know how many people were previously uninsured before going on the exchange. Apparently the RAND corporation says it is about one-third, which would mean just under 2.4 million are now newly insured.  However, even that number may be large, as other data has shown that those who were previously uninsured have a lower rate of paying their first premium on the exchange than those who were previously insured (see here).  What we do know at this point is that the exchanges do not appear likely to become a powerful force for reducing the rate of the uninsured.  Remember, the Congressional Budget Office most recently said that the exchanges would reduce the uninsured by 6 million.  At present, the exchanges will be lucky to reach a third of that goal.  

3. How ObamaCare Killed Her Dad.  Finally, don’t miss Jeffrey Lord’s recent article in the American Spectator showing how a change in Medicare’s rules under ObamaCare resulted in the death of Amy DiFrancesca’s dad.  Note:  The piece is long, but it’s worth it.

Wednesday
Apr022014

Project 21's Cooper Cheers Supreme Court's Campaign Finance Ruling

In today’s decision in the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an aggregate limit on the amount of money a person may contribute to political candidates and committees is unconstitutional.

Writing for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts stated that the federal limits on such contributions — which caps donations at $123,200 over a two year period — “den[ies] the individual all ability to exercise his expressive and associational rights by contributing to someone who will advocate for his policy preferences.”  Such a limit, Roberts added, effectively violates First Amendment rights by forcing a person to pick and choose whom they can support with their campaign donations.

The Court’s ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC is being cheered by Horace Cooper, the co-chairman of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network.  Cooper, a former professor of constitutional law, said:

Today’s ruling is another victory for free speech in America.

Restricting the ability of Americans to contribute to the candidates of their choice is not only bad public policy, it’s unconstitutional.

Wednesday
Apr022014

If ObamaCare is Working So Well, Mr. President, Why Has the Percentage of Uninsured Risen?

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Source: "Can Anyone Tell How ObamaCare is Doing?," by Greg Scandlen, The Federalist, March 31, 2014. Survey data is from Gallup.

Tuesday
Apr012014

On ObamaCare I Admit It: Paul Krugman Was Right, I Was Wrong

As the Obamacare exchanges have reached 7 million enrollees, it’s time for me to confess: so much of what I’ve written about ObamaCare is wrong.  So much of it was a futile, misguided attempt to refute the true ObamaCare guru, Nobel laureate Paul Krugmam.

Krugman got so much right in just these two paragraphs:

Yet even as Republican politicians seem ready to go on the offensive, there’s a palpable sense of anxiety, even despair, among conservative pundits and analysts. Better-informed people on the right seem, finally, to be facing up to a horrible truth: Health care reform, President Obama’s signature policy achievement, is probably going to work.

And the good news about Obamacare is, I’d argue, what’s driving the Republican Party’s intensified extremism. Successful health reform wouldn’t just be a victory for a president conservatives loathe, it would be an object demonstration of the falseness of right-wing ideology. So Republicans are being driven into a last, desperate effort to head this thing off at the pass.

Now that ObamaCare is, indeed, working, I admit to my anxiety and despair. My conservative ideology has been refuted.  As I now see the light, I will no longer be working to head ObamaCare “off at the pass.”

Although this post wasn’t about ObamaCare, Krugman still nails it:

…bear in mind that both Koch brothers are numbered among the 10 wealthiest Americans, and so are four Walmart heirs. Great wealth buys great political influence — and not just through campaign contributions.Many conservatives live inside an intellectual bubble of think tanks and captive media that is ultimately financed by a handful of megadonors. Not surprisingly, those inside the bubble tend to assume, instinctively, that what is good for oligarchs is good for America.

Alas, I am a shill for those oligarchs.  But no more!  I will today be sending the Koch brothers my letter of resignation.  I hope Paul will be pleased.

Finally, Krugman properly quotes Charles Gaba about the 7 million enrollees: “For the moment, however, none of [the objections] matters. This is an outstanding number any way you slice it.”

So, I will celebrate today, not only because the ObamaCare exchanges have reached 7 million enrollees, but because I am now officially a disciple of Krugman

And before you grind your teeth too hard, be sure to look at the calendar.

Tuesday
Apr012014

Ballot Protection Law in North Carolina Increases Minority, Liberal Voter Registration

When states consider and implement voter ID laws, the usual complaint from the left is that requiring someone to have valid government-issued proof of identification disfranchises minorities, the old and young as well as those who are generally thought to support liberal candidates and causes.

If such allegations are to be believed, it now must be noted that lawmakers in the North Carolina state legislature did a pretty poor job of trying to suppress the vote in the Tar Heel State.

According to statistics culled from the North Carolina Board of Elections and reported by the non-partisan North Carolina Center for Voter Education, it’s exactly these allegedly aggrieved groups who are taking the most advantage of the new law’s offer of a free valid voter ID for those who need one.

In the first quarter of 2014 (with reporting ending on 3/20), 260 North Carolina voters made the trip to a Department of Motor Vehicles office and got an ID at no cost.  North Carolina’s voter ID requirement will not be enforced until 2016, but those showing up without proper proof of person at the polls this coming November will be warned about the requirements of the new law that will be in effect the next time they vote.

Of those who are now newly-armed with an ID and ready to vote, 62 percent are black.  Only three percent of these people are over 65, but 34 percent are between the ages of 18 and 29 (unlike with ObamaCare, they cannot vote on their parents’ identification).

Among the newly law-abiding registered voters who sought — and obtained — free state-issued ID, 31 percent classified themselves as independent voters.  Only 12 percent said they were Republican and two percent claimed to be Libertarian.  The largest group of partisan voters to receive ID that will allow them unfettered access to the polls in 2016 were self-declared Democrats.

And, of those who received a free ID, 87 percent were not previously registered to vote and used the same visit to register (meaning that likely less that 13 percent of the people were previously going to the polls without the benefit of ID).

So, after all the bluster, it would seem that the voter ID provisions in North Carolina are successfully helping those who were supposed to be rendered helpless by the law.  If the proponents of the alleged powerless wanted to continue this promising trend of making sure that every vote will count in 2016 and beyond, they’d spend less on lobbying against voter ID and focus more on providing the means for those who need it to get to the DMV and get their free ID.

The head of the state’s NAACP, for instance, recently hosted a major rally in the state capital of Raleigh that was, in part, to protest against North Carolina’s voter ID rules (yet the NAACP asked participants to bring their IDs).  Reverend William Barber’s “Moral Monday” protests are supposed to be a regular fixture in the leftist campaign against ballot box safeguards.

Imagine the progress that could be made if the resources on these negative events could be channeled into the positive change of getting valid ID for North Carolina residents who continue to lack such a basic tool of the modern world.  Think of the larger impact beyond just voting — such as travel and banking — that could be opened up to these people by working with the rules instead of against them.

Leaders of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network are applauding this welcome news about how this voter ID law is benefiting the population of North Carolina.  In a deep southern state, they note, it’s good to see that the Obama Justice Department in particular is being shown to be off the mark on their wild claims of voter suppression.

Project 21 co-chairman Cherylyn Harley LeBon, a former senior counsel with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, said:

A well-crafted voter ID law protects the sanctity of the ballot while encouraging participation in the electoral process.  The North Carolina law, according to state officials and non-partisan observers, appears to be doing just that service.

There will always be people on the fringes of society who will refuse to comply, but we cannot let those random elements be co-opted to open the door to fraud that robs law-abiding voters of their voice.

The Obama Administration, for instance, wants to suppress polling place protections by seemingly any means necessary.  But North Carolina’s progress is proof that Attorney General Eric Holder’s animus for voter protections statutes is wrong and the Justice Department’s procedures are counter-productive.

Project 21 co-chairman Horace Cooper, a former congressional leadership staffer and former professor of constitutional law, is the author of “Victims of Voter Fraud: Poor and Disadvantaged are Most Likely to Have Their Vote Stolen,” which pointed out in 2012 that voter ID laws increase black voter turnout and safeguard everyone’s vote.  He added:

The evidence continues to show that voter ID laws do not prevent legitimate voters from having access to the ballot.  In fact, they operate like a welcome sign — providing encouragement to American voters that their votes will count and that they won’t be displaced by cheaters and frauds.

North Carolina, like many other states, shows a similar pattern of anti-fraud measures like voter ID that serve to increase voter participation and not decrease it.

photo credit: iStockPhoto

Tuesday
Apr012014

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz Tells Four Lies in One Sentence, Washington Post Grades Two Pinocchios

Wasserman Schultz

"When 99 percent of women used birth control in their lifetime and 60 percent use it for something other than family planning, it's outrageous and I think the Supreme Court will suggest that their case is ridiculous." - Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz on MSNBC's The Ed Show, March 25

Debbie Wasserman Schultz may have gotten two Pinocchios from Washington Post "Fact Checker" Glenn Kessler Monday for that statement above, but she got off easy.

The 60 percent number is a big lie. The real number is 14 percent.

The 60 percent lie wasn't even the first lie of the sentence. 99 percent of all women do not use birth control in their lifetime. In fact, by age 44, only 86.8 percent of women have ever had vaginal intercourse, even once.

Wasserman Schultz's two lies were meant to support a third lie. It doesn't matter to the HHS contraception mandate debate how many women use "the pill" to regulate hormones or for some other medical purpose other than birth control, because the minute the pill is used for something other than birth control, it falls outside the contraception mandate. And since it falls outside the contraception mandate part of ObamaCare, it doesn't matter what happens to that particular mandate in the courts for those who simply want coverage for a drug to regulate hormones, or for some other necessary medical purpose.

Wasserman Schultz wanted the audience to believe a fourth lie. Wasserman Schultz wanted viewers to believe some people (religious conservatives, of course) are trying to block women's access to routine health care. But nobody is. Even the Catholic Church, which famously objects to artificial birth control, does not object to women taking the pill for non-birth control purposes, and does not object to insurance policies covering the pill for non-contraceptive reasons.

It strains credibility to think Wasserman Schultz is, after years of debate in this topic, unaware that the vast majority of women who take the pill use it for birth control. It is very unlikely she truly believes 99 percent of all women use birth control at some time in their lives (are the lesbians using it too, or doesn't Wasserman Schultz believe in the existence of lesbians? How about the devout Catholics? Women who like children? Women who marry late or never? Women who know they can't get pregnant? And so forth.). And Wasserman Schultz has to know that a drug prescribed for something other than birth control does not fall under a birth control regulation, and two minutes on Google would show her that the Catholic Church does not object to the pill, or insurance coverage for same, for non-birth control purposes.

Kessler's Pinocchios grading scale grades two Pinocchios for "significant omissions and/or exaggerations." Kessler said Wasserman Schultz's ten words ("60 percent use it for something other than family planning") qualified as such.

I say Wasserman Schultz should be graded on her entire sentence: four lies. A "whopper" - four Pinocchios.

Cross-posted on Newsbusters.
Monday
Mar312014

Why Should The Administration Put Out Propaganda About ObamaCare When The L.A. Times Will Do It For Them?

An article in yesterdays’ Los Angeles Times by Noam N. Levey states:

As the law’s initial enrollment period closes, at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage. Some have done so through marketplaces created by the law, some through other private insurance and others through Medicaid, which has expanded under the law in about half the states.

To get that 9.5 million figure, Mr. Levey includes about 2 million on the exchanges, 4.5 million on Medicaid, and 3 million young adults who can now stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26, the so-called “slacker mandate.” Let’s start with enrollment in the exchanges:

• At least 6 million people have signed up for health coverage on the new marketplaces, about one-third of whom were previously uninsured.

• A February survey by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found 27% of new enrollees were previously uninsured, but newer survey data from the nonprofit Rand Corp. and reports from marketplace officials in several states suggest that share increased in March.

Um, 27% is not 33%.  That would mean the number of newly insured 1.6 million, not 2 million.  Furthermore, no where does the article acknowledge that the 6 million figure includes those who have not paid their premiums.  If those who don’t pay their premiums is as high as 20% as the New York Times suggests, then the number of newly insureds will decrease.

The Times then moves to Medicaid:

• At least 4.5 million previously uninsured adults have signed up for state Medicaid programs, according to Rand’s unpublished survey data, which were shared with The Times. That tracks with estimates from Avalere Health, a consulting firm that is closely following the law’s implementation.

It doesn’t track that closely with Avalere.  The latest data from Avalere shows that 2.4 million to 3.5 million people are newly insured under Medicaid due to the ObamaCare expansion of Medicaid.  That is, this does not include those who have signed up for Medicaid and would have qualified for Medicaid if the ObamaCare expansion had never occurred.

Further, even the Avalere data may be inaccurate, going either way.  As Avalere acknowledges:

This analysis compares activities from October through January to application rates from the summer of 2013. There is some evidence of seasonality in enrollment tends, and this analysis does not control for such fluctuations given data limitations.  

While Avalere takes steps to remove double counting, it is possible that some double counting is present as exchanges assess eligibility and then refer such cases to state agencies where determinations are made. In addition, in a limited number of cases, states have reported households as opposed to individual applicants, and this is not adjusted for.  

I don’t have access to the RAND data yet, so I have no way to know how accurate that data is.

The final part of the 9.5 million newly insured is the claim that “An additional 3 million young adults have gained coverage in recent years through a provision of the law that enables dependent children to remain on their parents’ health plans until they turn 26.”

I’m saving that for a longer piece I’m working on—for now, suffice to say it is bogus.

In summary, there are numerous caveats to the data presented in the article, but Mr. Levey mentions almost none of them.  As such, the article is more propaganda than objective reporting.

Sunday
Mar302014

Should Conservatives Choose HHS Mandate, Climate Change Postitions Based on What is Likely to Win the Most Votes?

IStock Integrity Small

Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman claims in a column that the "Hobby Lobby lawsuit hurts conservatives."

His thesis is that voters may be turned off the GOP if Hobby Lobby successfully challenges a federal regulation that they pay for drugs and devices for women that can halt the development of a fertilized human egg.

Chapman writes:

If Hobby Lobby wins in the Supreme Court, conservatives will stand with business owners who regard contraception as forbidden by their faith and exclude it from the health insurance they provide employees. As that policy is embraced by other religious capitalists, it will convey to everyone that if you use birth control, you're at odds with Christianity and the Republican Party.
Chapman says, "getting your way does not always mean advancing your cause. Sometimes winning is a recipe for defeat."

Don't we have enough politicians in Washington and elsewhere who surrender their values to get one more vote, one extra donated dollar, one more bit of favorable publicity?

Why chide private business owners for not jumping into the cesspool with them?

Society is not suffering from a surfeit of ethics.

(And all this assumes, does it not, that the religious freedom position isn't more popular with the public than the pro-HHS mandate position, which says certain employers must provide birth control, early abortion and sterilization procedures for women without co-pays, but not for men? And that the female employees must take part of their compensation in uterus-related services, even if they'd rather have cash?

IStock GasolineW

Chapman's made this sort of politics-trumps-policy argument before. In 2011, he wrote that Republicans should promote a carbon tax to appease voters. Never mind that a carbon tax is regressive, hurting the poor disproportionately, and that it wouldn't do any good, because even if the human-caused catastrophic global warming theory turned out to be true, a U.S. carbon tax, even a steep one, wouldn't have a measurable impact on global warming.

Some businesses want a carbon tax because they think it will prevent politicians from doing something even more damaging, such as cap-and-trade. Politicians don't have even this argument. If they were to do what Chapman recommended -- hurt anyone not made of money for no perceptible gain just to get votes -- it would be wrong of them to do so.

Chapman isn't the only person ever to make the argument that in politics doing what is popular is more important than doing what is right.

He and the others might defend their position by saying that if you don't get elected, you can't ever do what is right.

Yes, but if you have sold your soul before you even get elected, what are the odds that you will?

(For more on Chapman's carbon tax column, see Joe Bast of the Heartland Institute's commentary, "'Rebutting Steve Chapman’s Column 'Republicans vs. the Environment.'")

Saturday
Mar292014

How Can Senator Patty Murray Be So Ignorant about a Law She Voted For?

Senator Murray on RFRA

For a U.S. Senator who makes laws for the rest of us, Senator Patty Murray was stunningly ignorant in an interview with one of MSNBC's resident feminists the other day, after being asked unbiasedly why she believes the HHS Mandate "should be left intact, for the women who need it."

Murray quickly showed she does not understand the mandate, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or the way publicly-held corporations are run.

Susan Jones of CNSNews.com has the story (video at link):

"I've worked hard to make sure that women have access to the right kinds of health care, and it's their choice, not their employer's choice," Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday.

"Sitting in that court today, it was stunning to me to recognize that nine people are going to make that decision -- and will decide for a long time to come -- whether women have to question when they go to work every day what the shareholders of that company's religious views could be."

...Murray said the "compelling" question for her is, "Should a private CEO of a corporation or their shareholders' religious rights trump the right of employees?"

If the court rules that private companies have the religious right to deny contraception, could that be extended to immunizations? Murray asked. "It really opens up a wide, wide range of issues that shareholders could decide about what they provide," she said.

"And secondly, the question really is: So do 51 percent of the shareholders get to vote that they don't provide contraceptive coverage? I mean, the thresholds are very interesting here, and it's going to be very difficult, I think, for this court to make those determinations on this case."

Read and learn, Senator Murray:

#1 "The right of employees" - Employees do not have a "right" to birth control coverage paid for by employers, not even under the HHS Mandate, which excludes all males from comparable birth control and sterilization coverage made available to women. If "rights" really were involved here, the HHS Mandate would be unconstitutional, because it excludes roughly half the population.

#2 "Could that be extended to immunizations?" Not likely, Senator Murray. Under 1993's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the federal government can restrict religious rights in any situation in which the federal government can demonstrate a compelling interest (which is likely to include immunizations), as long as it does so in the least restrictive way possible to meet its goals. That said, why don't you know this already? You voted FOR RFRA!

#3: "Do 51 percent of the shareholders get to vote that they don't provide contraceptive coverage?" No. Shareholders of publicly-held corporations have very little ability to make ordinary business decisions for corporations, despite being the owners. If a shareholder of a publicly-held corporation submitted a shareholder proposal mandating the content of employees' health insurance benefits in any way, upon the request of the corporation, the Securities and Exchange Commission would throw it out without a vote. The absolute best a shareholder can hope for is passage of a non-binding advisory resolution telling management the opinion of shareholders, which management would be free to disregard. So no, Senator Murray, no employees (or, in the case of the HHS Mandate, employees of the favored gender) would ever have cause to go to work wondering if the shareholders were going to vote to change the terms of their compensation packages. RFRA or no RFRA, the shareholders do not have this power.

I understand that not every American has the time or energy to understand every key national issue in the public square, but there is no excuse for this level of ignorance among United States Senators. Not only do Senators have huge professional staffs to brief them, and no other professional responsibilities to speak of, but in this particular case, the Senator is complaining about a law for which she voted!

Saturday
Mar292014

Noel Sheppard, RIP

Noel Sheppard on CNNNoel Sheppard on CNN in 2012

Shocking news today on the Media Research Center's NewsBusters blog: Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor and VERY popular blogger, passed away yesterday from cancer.

He was 53.

Noel covered an extremely wide breath of topics, all of which he managed expertly. My personal favorites were his posts on climate. Climate's a tough topic to cover, because you have to keep up with the science, the legislation, the economics, and to some extent, the personalities, and you have to figure out a way to discuss all those things together without getting bogged down in the details. Noel not only did that as well as anyone could, but he managed to make it look effortless all the while covering other complicated subjects, often on the same day. I admired him greatly for that.

I admit I also particularly enjoyed Noel's January 7 takedown of Rachel Maddow, a disgraceful woman who makes stuff up. It's a great piece that does the research MSNBC should have done, but did not bother to do, because it is not interested in broadcasting the truth. Noel nailed it, as he always did. While Maddow and her ilk won't improve, I like to think other media personalities are embarrassed for her when they read takedowns like Noel's and try as a result to be far more accurate than she is.

In this respect, we'll never know just how much good Noel did. It's far more than we can calculate.

Please go over to Newsbusters to join in the remembrance of Noel in the posts and comments. Maybe watch a few of his great TV appearances. His life here on Earth was cut short too soon. America will miss him. I know I will.

Saturday
Mar292014

Is It Open Season on Black Conservatives?

Nearly every member of Project 21, the National Center’s black leadership network created to celebrate the diversity of black political opinion, has a story about how their conservative beliefs led to them being ostracized among their black peers (and often at the hands of their black peers).

It happens all the time.  Some black conservatives get angry, some laugh them off and some take them as a matter of course.  But they do happen, and they should not.

This sort of public shaming and/or character assassination at a very public level occurred involving Project 21 members twice in the past few days.

But, as Project 21 member Jerome Hudson pointed out, things are different these days as technology brings the world together and creates more conduits for the truth to come out.  He said:

In the age of social media, liberals can no longer throw the racist rock and hide their hand.

First, and most high-profile, an editor at Ebony magazine – Jamilah Lemieux – sought to deny a black conservative his racial identity in a Twitter attack that also involved Project 21 member Hughey Newsome.  Lemieux’s bosses at Ebony have since apologized for her “lack of judgement on her personal Twitter account” (which, by calling it personal, likely means there will be no further action on their part related to the controversy).

The target was Raffi Williams, the deputy press secretary for the Republican National Committee and the son of Fox News Channel commentator Juan Williams.

It started when talk radio host and Huffington Post blogger Avis Jones-DeWeever retweeted to Lemieux that Dr. Ben Carson and Armstrong Williams (no relation to Raffi) were starting a black conservative digital magazine with the Washington Times.  Joyce Jones of Black Entertainment Television asked Raffi, Hughey and Orlando Watson (another RNC media relations employee) for more information about the endeavor and included Lemieux and DeWeever on the tweeted question.

Lemieux posted a snarky reply that “I wish I knew less!”  Raffi replied that he “hoped you would encourage diversity of thought.”  That prompted Lemieux to complain about “a white dude telling me how to do this Black thing.”

When Raffi inquired “who are you referring to as white,” Lemieux retorted: “You.  Now, leave…”

Once again, Raffi is black.  He always has been.

When Lemieux’s tweets began being shared and conservatives took offense to the attack on Raffi and defended him, she referred to her critics as a “house full of roaches.”

Hughey, who was drawn into this controversy simply for being a black conservative and having a Twitter account, commented:

As an African-American conservative, I am disappointed to see such a lack of professionalism from someone associated with an institution as prestigious as Ebony magazine.  More importantly, to resort to personal attacks against someone that has dedicated himself to focusing on uplifting out communities makes me sad.

While some may not totally agree with conservative principles, nobody should question that we need to consider all sides when seeking solutions for the ills that face our communities.

It is a shame that one of this magazine’s editors cannot seem to realize this principle.

Project 21 member Christopher Arps, a longtime friend of Hughey who actually first introduced Hughey to Project 21 a few years back, added:

Amazing.  An Ebony magazine editor calls an African-American conservative a “white dude” and likened others to cockroaches on Twitter.  But it’s almost playing out on the end among liberals like she is the victim!

Next, there’s been an apparent false implication that Project 21 member Stacy Swimp was cavorting with white nationalists.

In a Facebook post on the morning of March 28, Jimmie E. Greene, a political activist in the Saginaw, Michigan area, posted a photo of Stacy standing with Christian author Christine Weick and Jo Cater of the West Michigan Prayer Center with the note:

A group that promotes white nationalism, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), has filed a brief in Michigan’s gay marriage case now in front of the federal appeals court.  They play [sic] to protest as well.

I’m parking across the street to watch this demonstration play out LMAO!!!

Stacy has been an outspoken critic of same-sex marriage.  A court ruling recently legalized the practice in the state of Michigan, and he has participated in press conferences and rallies against that case, the subsequent ruling and advocacy for legalized same-sex marriage in general – including outside the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit in early March.

Stacy and Greene were friends, but they obviously don’t agree on this issue.  And, by the way, this led to them no longer being Facebook friends.

At first glance, and that’s sometimes all people give to the many Facebook postings they receive, it would seem that this trio was involved in promoting the affairs of the Traditionalist Youth Network, the group that is considered a hate group by the SPLC and did submit a legal brief in the appeal of the Michigan same-sex marriage case.  The wording of Greene’s post also could lead one to believe that Greene is watching a rally by the TYM as he posted the photo.

Does it literally imply Stacy and the others were there supporting the TYM?  No.  Could that be inferred by someone flipping through posts at a random moment?  Absolutely.

There are several facts that prove this possible situation to be false.  For one thing, Greene posted the photo from Carrollton, Michigan – approximately 90 minutes away from downtown Detroit.  An hour later, he posted that he was in Saginaw at a lobbyist breakfast in Saginaw at a restaurant that is also about 90 minutes from the courthouse.

It’s likely that the photo Greene posted was taken at the March 3 courthouse rally.  Not only was Weick photographed that day wearing the same jacket and carrying the same sign, but the photo was taken on a clear day, and the March 28 weather report for Detroit was cloudy and rainy.  The photo has a reflection on the granite of clear blue skies.  And the temperature was too hot for the bundled-up trio in the photo Greene posted.

Also, Stacy, on the morning of March 28, was at physical therapy in Flint, Michigan for treatment related to a serious car accident he was involved in a few months ago.  Flint is approximately an hour away from downtown Detroit.

Stacy obviously wasn’t outside the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit with those women or any white nationalists.  Neither was Greene in any car parked across the street.  Yet the posting could absolutely make someone think that Stacy was there and that he even supported the brief filed by the TYM – an alleged hate group.

Such an allegation is offensive to Stacy, and it has pretty much ended his friendship with Greene.

Stacy made his own statement about this posting, which said, in part:

I have not been to Detroit today.  Furthermore, these women are not white nationalists.  They are Catholics from Lansing…

This kind of vicious attack is standard of those who despise the religious conscience of Americans who reject marriage redefinition.  Yet they cry intolerance from Christians when they feel wronged.

I will not play the game of slander and personal vendetta, but I also will not allow slander and false gossip to go unaddressed when it can potentially harm so many…

Let us pray for those who bitterly despise us.

Both of these instances of attacks on black conservatives are unnecessary and inappropriate, but they are not surprising.

It happens all the time.  Some black conservatives get angry, some laugh them off and some take them as a matter of course.  But they do happen, and they should not.

Friday
Mar282014

The Secret Sexist Roots of the HHS Contraception Mandate

Sexist Roots of HHS MandateGay rights activists protest outside the Supreme Court during the Hobby Lobby oral arguments, calling critics of a law biased against men "bigots."

It didn't come up in the Supreme Court arguments.

No one is mentioning it in major papers.

But the HHS contraception mandate has a secret sexist past.

And present.

Forget everything you've been told by supporters about how the contraception mandate is necessary to help working families, especially low-income working families, afford birth control, because that's not why the Obama Administration is pushing it.

Here's how we know: the mandate doesn't require that covered companies extend birth control benefits to all employees who want their birth control covered, or even to all lower-income employees.

It only covers birth control methods for women. Under HHS Mandate requirements:

  • If you are a female employee of a company subject to the mandate who wants the full cost of your birth control pills paid for by your insurance: covered.

  • If you are a male employee of the same company who wants his condoms paid by insurance: not covered.

  • If you are a woman wanting a sterilization procedure such as a tubal ligation: covered.

  • If you are a man seeking a vasectomy: not covered.

Birth control, at least to anyone not so blinded by ideology that they cannot perceive basic biology, is the ultimate it-takes-two-to-tango issue. No woman ever got pregnant alone.

So why did the Obama Administration specifically create rules that cover women and not men?

Because the Administration's purpose in pushing the mandate is only tangentially birth control.

Its actual, overriding purpose is to improve the economic and social position of women relative to the economic and social position of men.

Not improve the position of women in absolute terms, or women and men both in absolute terms, but the economic and social position of women relative to that of men.

Don't take my word for it. Look at the Federal Register, where the Administration laid out its reasons for imposing the mandate and for doing it the way it did - a document very significant legally, but also one that the Administration realizes few Americans will ever read.

In it, the Administration says that the lack of mandated birth control coverage prior to passage of ObamaCare created a disparity, and "this disparity placed women in the workforce at a disadvantage compared to their male coworkers. Research shows that access to contraception improves the social and economic status of women."

The next paragraph says that eliminating birth control co-pays "is particularly critical to addressing the gender disparity of concern here."

The next paragraph refers to "gender equity interests" as "compelling."

Another speaks of the need to "lessen the disparity between men's and women's health care costs."

And notice that in yet another paragraph, "gender equality" takes a front seat to achieving the underlying goals of the Affordable Care Act: "...there are significant benefits associated with contraceptive coverage without cost sharing. Such coverage significantly furthers the governmental interests in promoting public health and gender equality, and promotes the underlying goals of the Exchanges and the Affordable Care Act more generally."

Notice what all of these paragraphs do not say. They do not say that low-income families have trouble paying for birth control and the HHS mandate is a way to help them. They do not note that while the pill may be only $9 a month at Walmart, that $9 is a lot of money if you make minimum wage. They do not say that both women and men tend to be better off economically if they do not have children to support, or acknowledge that while it is true that only women can get pregnant, it is not true that only women can use birth control or get sterilized. And they also do not say that if anyone actually has a "right" to birth control, then surely both genders have that "right" equally, as men, last I noticed, have equal civil rights to women.

No, the focus is on "gender disparity" - women supposedly not doing as well as men economically and socially, and the need to empower women relative to men.

The HHS mandate is about feminism. Health care is secondary. Perhaps even incidental.

If you still doubt, ask yourself this: If the mandate is intended to help all working families afford birth control, why did HHS purposefully write it to exclude comparable benefits to men?

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