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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Pretty Much Everybody Hates Graham-Cassidy

There is a remarkable consensus against the Graham-Cassidy health bill.  Groups and interests that usually disagree are united in opposition. From America's Health Insurance Plans:
The following statement was jointly released on September 23, 2017 by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and the BlueCross BlueShield Association regarding the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson legislation.
We represent the nation’s doctors, hospitals, and health plans. Collectively, our organizations include hundreds of thousands individual physicians, thousands of hospitals, and hundreds of health plans that serve tens of millions of American patients, consumers, and employers every day across the United States.
While we sometimes disagree on important issues in health care, we are in total agreement that Americans deserve a stable healthcare market that provides access to high-quality care and affordable coverage for all. The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill does not move us closer to that goal. The Senate should reject it.
We agree that the bill will cause patients and consumers to lose important protections, as
well as undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing conditions. Without these
guaranteed protections, people with significant medical conditions can be charged much
higher premiums and some may not be able to buy coverage at all.
We agree that the bill will result in dramatic cuts to Medicaid and a funding cliff in the
future, fundamentally changing the way that states provide coverage for some of our most vulnerable citizens. This means that millions of patients will lose their coverage and go without much-needed care.
We agree that the individual insurance market will be drastically weakened, making
coverage more expensive and jeopardizing Americans’ choice of health plans. By not
providing all states with sufficient funds to support working families who need help buying coverage, millions will go without it.
We agree that the bill’s current implementation timelines are not workable. State and
industry leaders will need to completely transform their individual insurance markets and
Medicaid programs in little more than a year – an impossible task.
Health care is too important to get wrong. Let’s take the time to get it right. Let’s agree to
find real, bipartisan solutions that make health care work for every American.
At The Washington Post, Christopher Ingraham provides a partial list of groups against the bill:






Saturday, September 23, 2017

Social Media, Entertainment Media, Health Care





At The Daily Beast, Lachlan Markay, Asawin Suebsang, and Sam Stein report:
Behind the scenes, the ABC star was getting an assist. Kimmel and his team were in touch with health care officials, charities and advocacy groups, multiple sources told The Daily Beast. He also was in touch with the office of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) who, according to a source familiar with their conversations, “provided technical guidance and info about the bill, as well as stats from various think tanks and experts on the effects of [Graham-Cassidy].”
Ted Johnson at Variety:
Unusual as it may be for Kimmel to take such an active role in trying to mobilize opposition to a pending piece of legislation, it is not entirely out of the ordinary for a late-night host to drop punch lines and veer into the center of a serious Capitol Hill policy fight.
Robert Lichter, author of “Politics Is a Joke! How TV Comedians Are Remaking Political Life,” points to Jon Stewart, who in 2010 devoted an entire show to pushing for a bill to fund assistance for first responders on 9/11, as it was being held up by Republican senators. Three years later, Stewart slammed the House GOP for voting against a bill to supply aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy. In 2013, David Letterman called out Republican senators for voting against gun control legislation.
[Stephen] Colbert testified at a House hearing on immigrant farm workers, and only briefly stepped out of his Comedy Central host persona, using sarcasm even when questioned by lawmakers. Some Republicans complained that he mocked the hearing process, but there was little doubt that he drew attention to an issue that otherwise would have gotten little.
Alex Kantrowitz at Buzzfeed:
Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, authors of the latest GOP health care bill that appears headed for defeat, aren’t winning any friends on Twitter.
The two are generating epically negative “ratios” in response to their recent tweets — and while it’s not exactly a scientific definition, “the ratio” is a good indicator of whether Twitter users are into a tweet or not. If a tweet has more retweets than replies, chances are its author said something people agree with or find interesting enough to share. If a tweet has far more replies than retweets — meaning lots of people felt compelled to say something to its author as opposed to simply pass their thoughts along — chances are the person behind the tweet angered the Twitterverse.
Cassidy this week posted the worst ratio’d tweet in an approximately 12-month data set collected by research company Fast Forward Labs, which includes the tweets of eight prominent politicians — including President Donald Trump, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, House Speaker Paul Ryan — and late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel, who's recently entered the political discussion. Cassidy received 3,100 replies compared to 86 retweets on a tweet saying that under his bill, “states must ensure that individuals with pre-existing conditions have access to adequate & affordable insurance.”

Friday, September 22, 2017

Short Attention-Span Country

Stef W. Knight reports at Axios:
If it feels like the Trump presidency has been hit by non-stop scandals and crises from day one, it's probably because it has been. The Google News Lab looked at the search trends for stories about 40 of the biggest news events of Trump's presidency from Jan. 20 until Sept. 1. You can see how we've all jumped from one four-alarm news fire to another:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Polarization and Confidence in Mass Media

Gallup reports:
Democrats' trust and confidence in the mass media to report the news "fully, accurately and fairly" has jumped from 51% in 2016 to 72% this year -- fueling a rise in Americans' overall confidence to 41%. Independents' trust has risen modestly to 37%, while Republicans' trust is unchanged at 14%.
Democratic trust and confidence in the news media is the highest it has been in the past 20 years, having previously peaked at 70% in 2005. Following that high, Democrats' trust in the media declined, reaching the lower 50s by 2014.
graph 1

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Progressivism and Constitutionalism

Informal” constitutional developments

  • Political parties.  
  • Judicial review.  
  • State of the Union and presidential rhetoric
  • Commander in chief -- intelligence community
  • Civil Service and the administrative state

Creation of a new conception: Progressives/ New Deal
  • Downplay or redefine Founding
  • Support for “living Constitution”
  • Overcome separation of powers with stronger president and claim of presidential “mandate”
  • Promote direct democracy at expense of representative democracy (esp. Progs.)
  • View government as a counterweight to private economic power
  • View traditional limited government as “obsolete”
  • Draw distinction between “human rights” and “property rights”
  • Government by “neutral experts”
  •  National power up, state power and federalism down
  • Dramatic weakening of the idea of enumeration of powers based on broad reading of “necessary and proper” clause and “general welfare” clause
  • Promotion of “positive rights” (esp. New Deal)
From Merriam, A History of American Political Theories”
In conclusion, it appears that recent political theory in the United States shows a decided tendency away from many doctrines that were held by the men of 1776. The same forces that have led to the general abandonment of the individualistic philosophy of the eighteenth century by political scientists elsewhere have been at work here and with the same result. The Revolutionary doctrines of an original state of nature, natural rights, the social contract, the idea that the function of the government is limited to the protection of person and property, — none of these finds wide acceptance among the leaders in the development of political science.
Woodrow Wilson, “What is Progress?"
The Constitution was founded on the law of gravitation. The government was to exist and move by virtue of the efficacy of “checks and balances.”

The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton. It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life. No living thing can have its organs offset against each other, as checks, and live. On the contrary, its life is dependent upon their quick cooperation, their ready response to the commands of instinct or intelligence, their amicable community of purpose. Government is not a body of blind forces; it is a body of men, with highly differentiated functions, no doubt, in our modern day, of specialization, with a common task and purpose. Their cooperation is indispensable, their warfare fatal. There can be no successful government without the intimate, instinctive coordination of the organs of life and action. This is not theory, but fact, and displays its force as fact, whatever theories may be thrown across its track. Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice. Society is a living organism and must obey the laws of life, not of mechanics; it must develop.

All that progressives ask or desire is permission—in an era when “development” “evolution,” is the scientific word—to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine.

Some citizens of this country have never got beyond the Declaration of Independence, signed in Philadelphia, July 4th, 1776. Their bosoms swell against George III, but they have no consciousness of the war for freedom that is going on today.
Roosevelt, “Commonwealth Club Address”
The Declaration of Independence discusses the problem of Government in terms of a contract. Government is a relation of give and take, a contract, perforce, if we would follow the thinking out of which it grew. Under such a contract rulers were accorded power, and the people consented to that power on consideration that they be accorded certain rights. The task of statesmanship has always been the re-definition of these rights in terms of a changing and growing social order. New conditions impose new requirements upon Government and those who conduct Government.
FDR “Message on the State of Union” 1944
This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. "Necessitous men are not free men." People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.
The purpose of protecting the life of our Nation and preserving the liberty of our citizens is to pursue the happiness of our people. Our success in that pursuit is the test of our success as a Nation.

For a century we labored to settle and to subdue a continent. For half a century we called upon unbounded invention and untiring industry to create an order of plenty for all of our people.

The challenge of the next half century is whether we have the wisdom to use that wealth to enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of our American civilization.

Your imagination, your initiative, and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.
Read these provisions from an actual constitution. How would you appraise them?
ARTICLE 118. Citizens have the right to work, that is, are guaranteed the right to employment and payment for their work in accordance with its quantity and quality. ...
ARTICLE 119. Citizens have the right to rest and leisure. The right to rest and leisure is ensured by the reduction of the working day to seven hours for the overwhelming majority of the workers, the institution of annual vacations with full pay for workers and employees and the provision of a wide network of sanatoria, rest homes and clubs for the accommodation of the working people.
ARTICLE 120. Citizens have the right to maintenance in old age and also in case of sickness or loss of capacity to work. This right is ensured by the extensive development of social insurance of workers and employees at state expense, free medical service for the working people and the provision of a wide network of health resorts for the use of the working people.
ARTICLE 121. Citizens have the right to education. This right is ensured by universal, compulsory elementary education; by education, including higher education, being free of charge; by the system of state stipends for the overwhelming majority of students in the universities and colleges; by instruction in schools being conducted in the native language...
ARTICLE 122. Women are accorded equal rights with men in all spheres of economic, state, cultural, social and political life. The possibility of exercising these rights is ensured to women by granting them an equal right with men to work, payment for work, rest and leisure, social insurance and education, and by state protection of the interests of mother and child, prematernity and maternity leave with full pay, and the provision of a wide network of maternity homes, nurseries and kindergartens.
ARTICLE 123. Equality of rights of citizens irrespective of their nationality or race, in all spheres of economic, state, cultural, social and political life, is an indefeasible law. Any direct or indirect restriction of the rights of, or, conversely, any establishment of direct or indirect privileges for, citizens on account of their race or
nationality, as well as any advocacy of racial or national exclusiveness or hatred and contempt, is punishable by law.
ARTICLE 124. In order to ensure to citizens freedom of conscience, the church is separated from the state, and the school from the church. ...
ARTICLE 128. The inviolability of the homes of citizens and privacy of correspondence are protected by law.
(The source)

Defense of the original conception? Reagan Revolution

  • Belief in ongoing relevance of Founders and limited government
  • Decentralization of power; reinvigoration of states rights
  • Attempt to restore stricter understanding of enumeration of powers and separation of powers
  • View “property rights” as an essential part of “human rights”
  • Support for judicial interpretation of Constitution on the basis of “original intent”
  • Preference for “negative rights”
  • Preference for “individual rights” against “group rights” 
About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers
Reagan, "A Time for Choosing"
What does it mean whether you hold the deed or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? Such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hispanic Population: Graphs

Pew offers interactive charts on Hispanic population trends:

Robert E. Lee

At The New York Times Book Review, Eric Foner writes of the whitewashing of Robert E. Lee:
As far as Lee was concerned, the culmination of these trends came in the publication in the 1930s of a four-volume biography by Douglas Southall Freeman, a Virginia-born journalist and historian. For decades, Freeman’s hagiography would be considered the definitive account of Lee’s life. Freeman warned readers that they should not search for ambiguity, complexity or inconsistency in Lee, for there was none — he was simply a paragon of virtue. Freeman displayed little interest in Lee’s relationship to slavery. The index to his four volumes contained 22 entries for “devotion to duty,” 19 for “kindness,” 53 for Lee’s celebrated horse, Traveller. But “slavery,” “slave emancipation” and “slave insurrection” together received five. Freeman observed, without offering details, that slavery in Virginia represented the system “at its best.” He ignored the postwar testimony of Lee’s former slave Wesley Norris about the brutal treatment to which he had been subjected. In 1935 Freeman was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in biography.
That same year, however, W. E. B. Du Bois published “Black Reconstruction in America,” a powerful challenge to the mythologies about slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction that historians had been purveying. Du Bois identified slavery as the fundamental cause of the war and emancipation as its most profound outcome. He portrayed the abolitionists as idealistic precursors of the 20th-century struggle for racial justice, and Reconstruction as a remarkable democratic experiment — the tragedy was not that it was attempted but that it failed. Most of all, Du Bois made clear that blacks were active participants in the era’s history, not simply a problem confronting white society. Ignored at the time by mainstream scholars, “Black Reconstruction” pointed the way to an enormous change in historical interpretation, rooted in the egalitarianism of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and underpinned by the documentary record of the black experience ignored by earlier scholars. Today, Du Bois’s insights are taken for granted by most historians, although they have not fully penetrated the national culture.
Two years ago, David Brooks wrote:
As the historian Allen Guelzo emailed me, “He withdrew from the Army and took up arms in a rebellion against the United States.” He could have at least sat out the war. But, Guelzo continues, “he raised his hand against the flag and government he had sworn to defend. This more than fulfills the constitutional definition of treason."