Friday, February 28, 2014

The myth of ‘settled science’

The myth of ‘settled science’

By ,


I repeat: I’m not a global warming believer. I’m not a global warming denier. I’ve long believed that it cannot be good for humanity to be spewing tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I also believe that those scientists who pretend to know exactly what this will cause in 20, 30 or 50 years are white-coated propagandists.
“The debate is settled,” asserted propagandist in chief Barack Obama in his latest State of the Union address. “Climate change is a fact.” Really? There is nothing more anti-scientific than the very idea that science is settled, static, impervious to challenge. Take a non-climate example. It was long assumed that mammograms help reduce breast cancer deaths. This fact was so settled that Obamacare requires every insurance plan to offer mammograms (for free, no less) or be subject to termination.


Now we learn from a massive randomized study — 90,000 women followed for 25 years — that mammograms may have no effect on breast cancer deaths. Indeed, one out of five of those diagnosed by mammogram receives unnecessary radiation, chemo or surgery.
So much for settledness. And climate is less well understood than breast cancer. If climate science is settled, why do its predictions keep changing? And how is it that the great physicist Freeman Dyson, who did some climate research in the late 1970s, thinks today’s climate-change Cassandras are hopelessly mistaken?
They deal with the fluid dynamics of the atmosphere and oceans, argues Dyson, ignoring the effect of biology, i.e., vegetation and topsoil. Further, their predictions rest on models they fall in love with: “You sit in front of a computer screen for 10 years and you start to think of your model as being real.” Not surprisingly, these models have been “consistently and spectacularly wrong” in their predictions, write atmospheric scientists Richard McNider and John Christy — and always, amazingly, in the same direction.
Settled? Even Britain’s national weather service concedes there’s been no change — delicately called a “pause” — in global temperature in 15 years. If even the raw data is recalcitrant, let alone the assumptions and underlying models, how settled is the science?
But even worse than the pretense of settledness is the cynical attribution of any politically convenient natural disaster to climate change, a clever term that allows you to attribute anything — warming and cooling, drought and flood — to man’s sinful carbon burning.
Accordingly, Obama ostentatiously visited drought-stricken California last Friday. Surprise! He blamed climate change. Here even the New York Times gagged, pointing out that far from being supported by the evidence, “the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter.”
How inconvenient. But we’ve been here before. Hurricane Sandy was made the poster child for the alleged increased frequency and strength of “extreme weather events” like hurricanes.
Nonsense. Sandy wasn’t even a hurricane when it hit the United States. Indeed, in all of 2012, only a single hurricane made U.S. landfall. And 2013 saw the fewest Atlantic hurricanes in 30 years. In fact, in the last half-century, one-third fewermajor hurricanes have hit the United States than in the previous half-century.
Similarly tornadoes. Every time one hits, the climate-change commentary begins. Yet last year saw the fewest in a quarter-century. And the last 30 years — of presumed global warming — has seen a 30 percent decreasein extreme tornado activity (F3 and above) versus the previous 30 years.
None of this is dispositive. It doesn’t settle the issue. But that’s the point. It mocks the very notion of settled science, which is nothing but a crude attempt to silence critics and delegitimize debate. As does the term “denier” — an echo of Holocaust denial, contemptibly suggesting the malevolent rejection of an established historical truth.
Climate-change proponents have made their cause a matter of fealty and faith. For folks who pretend to be brave carriers of the scientific ethic, there’s more than a tinge of religion in their jeremiads. If you whore after other gods, the Bible tells us, “the Lord’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit” (Deuteronomy 11).
Sounds like California. Except that today there’s a new god, the Earth Mother. And a new set of sins — burning coal and driving a fully equipped F-150.
But whoring is whoring, and the gods must be appeased. So if California burns, you send your high priest (in carbon -belching Air Force One, but never mind) to the bone-dry land to offer up, on behalf of the repentant congregation, a $1 billion burnt offering called a “climate resilience fund.”
Ah, settled science in action.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-the-myth-of-settled-science/2014/02/20/c1f8d994-9a75-11e3-b931-0204122c514b_story.html

Obama’s claim that 7 million got ‘access to health care for the first time’ because of his Medicaid expansion

Obama’s claim that 7 million got ‘access to health care for the first time’ because of his Medicaid expansion


US President Barack Obama speaks to members of the Democratic Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House February 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama spoke before he and US Vice President Joseph R. Biden met with members of the Democratic Governors Association. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKIBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
(Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
“We’ve got close to 7 million Americans who have access to health care for the first time because of Medicaid expansion.”
– President Obama, remarks during dinner with the Democratic Governors Association, Feb. 20, 2014
The Fact Checker has written several times about the fuzziness of the Medicaid numbers issued by the Obama administration. But it is like playing whack-a-mole. Every time we rap someone for getting it wrong, the same problem pops up someplace else.

But here is the ultimate authority — the president of the United States — making the problematic claim that everyone counted under the administration’s Medicaid math is getting “access to health care for the first time.” Time for a refresher course!

The Facts

Medicaid is the health-care program for the poor, generally those at or below the federal poverty level. The Affordable Care Act expanded it to individuals with incomes of up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (about $15,850), though the Supreme Court gave states the option of whether to participate.
So far, 25 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid, while four more are considering it. Under the ACA, the government will initially pay 100 percent of the cost of expansion, though it eventually drops to 90 percent. (Under the current formula, the cost is split at least 50-50 between the states and the federal government.)
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that because of the ACA, the number of Americans on Medicaid will increase by 8 million in 2014. (The estimate was recently revised downward from 9 million because of the stumbling start of the law’s implementation.) Most of those people would be in the new pool of applicants, but it could also include some people who were previously eligible for Medicaid but had never signed up before all the publicity about new health-care options (known as people coming out of the “woodwork”).
But the figures released by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a unit of the Department of Health and Human Services, lumps together all sorts of Medicaid applicants, including people previously enrolled in Medicaid who are deemed eligible for another year (in other words, “normal churn”), as well as people who would have been eligible under the old law. The most recent report gives a top-line figure of 6.3 million people deemed eligible from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, which is presumably where Obama got his 7 million figure. (An updated report through January is expected soon.)
Avalere, a health consulting firm, in a recent analysis raised serious questions about the 6.3 million Medicaid figure, estimating that only 1.1 million to 1.8 million of the claimed enrollees could be attributed to the Affordable Care Act. That estimate generated headlines, including a full report in The Washington Post that said it suggested “many of the people who have joined the program since the initiative’s rollout in October would have done so absent the law.”
Charles Gaba, who keeps careful track of enrollment figures at ACASignups.net, has disputed some of Avalere’s reasoning but has also concluded that not all of the Medicaid data released by the administration can be attributed to the ACA. Here’s how he breaks down the numbers as of Feb. 22:
7,132,277 — deemed eligible for Medicaid
4,815,617 — Medicaid expansion states only, including people coming out of the “woodwork” and “normal churn”
2,600,000 — Medicaid expansion states only, no “woodwork” or normal churn of Medicaid applicants
Part of the problem is that few states provide much of a breakdown, making this a bit of a guessing game. But a good example is West Virginia, which on Feb. 21 reported that 130,000 people are eligible under the expansion and that more than 87,000 people had enrolled in Medicaid because of the expansion. This additional data prompted Gaba to reduce the total for Medicaid by 39,600 to remove “woodwork” and “normal churn.”
The White House declined to comment.

The Pinocchio Test

What does this mean in terms of evaluating the president’s statement? He seems to be falling into the same trap as other Democrats, and some reporters, by assuming that everyone in the Medicaid list is getting health insurance for the first time because of the Affordable Care Act. But that number is nowhere close to 7 million. It could be as low as 1.1 million (Avalere) or as high as 2.6 million (Gaba.) If one wanted to be generous, one could include people coming out of the woodwork, even though they would have been covered under the old law, but no one is really sure what that figure is.
In any case, no matter how you slice it, it does not add up to 7 million. It is dismaying that given all of the attention to this issue, the president apparently does not realize that the administration’s data are woefully inadequate for boastful assertions of this type.

Four Pinocchios


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http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/02/24/obamas-claim-that-7-million-got-access-to-health-care-for-the-first-time-because-of-obamacares-medicaid-expansion/

IRS, The Emblem Of Big Dirty Government, Gets Dirtier

IRS, The Emblem Of Big Dirty Government, Gets Dirtier

Young People's Health-Plan Options Are Fine, as Long as You Ignore the Deductibles!





Thursday, February 27, 2014

No, this is not Jim Crow for gays, Part Two

No, this is not Jim Crow for gays, Part Two

by Paul Mirengoff in Gay marriage, Law, Religion
As I explained here, Arizona S.B. 1062 would not subject gays to a regime of discrimination. The bill is simply an attempt (successful in my view) to balance the right to religious freedom and the right of non-discrimination.
Eleven leading scholars religious-liberty scholars have written to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to provide her with a sorely needed rational analysis of S.B. 1062 as she considers whether to sign it. The professors include Stanford’s Michael McConnell, my go to source in these matters, and Douglas Laycock who supports same-sex marriage. The others are Mary Ann Glendon, Helen Alvaré, Thomas Berg, Carl Esbeck, Richard Garnett, Christopher Lund, Mark Scarberry, Gregory Sisk, and Robin Fretwell Wilson University.
The letter states, in main part:
SB1062, which amends Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, is on your desk for signature. The bill has been egregiously misrepresented by many of its critics. We write because we believe that you should make your decision on the basis of accurate information.
Some of us are Republicans; some of us are Democrats. Some of us are religious; some of us are not. Some of us oppose same-sex marriage; some of us support it. Nine of the eleven signers of this letter believe that you should sign the bill; two are unsure. But all of us believe that many criticisms of the Arizona bill are deeply misleading.
The federal government and eighteen states have Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs). Another twelve or thirteen states interpret their state constitutions to provide similar protections. These laws enact a uniform standard to be interpreted and applied to individual cases by courts. They say that before the government can burden a person’s religious exercise, the government has to show a compelling justification.
That standard makes sense. We should not punish people for practicing their religions unless we have a very good reason. Arizona has had a RFRA for nearly fifteen years now; the federal government has had one since 1993; and RFRA’s standard was the constitutional standard for the entire country from 1963 to 1990.
There have been relatively few cases; if you knew little about the Arizona RFRA until the current controversy, that is because it has had no disruptive effect in Arizona. Few people had heard of the federal RFRA before the current litigation over contraception and the Affordable Care Act.
SB1062 would amend the Arizona RFRA to address two ambiguities that have been the subject of litigation under other RFRAs. It would provide that people are covered when state or local government requires them to violate their religion in the conduct of their business, and it would provide that people are covered when sued by a private citizen invoking state or local law to demand that they violate their religion.
But nothing in the amendment would say who wins in either of these cases. The person invoking RFRA would still have to prove that he had a sincere religious belief and that state or local government was imposing a substantial burden on his exercise of that religious belief. And the government, or the person on the other side of the lawsuit, could still show that compliance with the law was necessary to serve a compelling government interest.
As a business gets bigger and more impersonal, courts will become more skeptical about claims of substantial burden on the owner’s exercise of religion. And as a business gets bigger, the government’s claim of compelling interest will become stronger.
Arizona’s RFRA, like all RFRAs, leaves resolution of these issues to the courts for two related reasons. First, it is impossible for legislatures to foresee all the potential conflicts between the diverse religious practices of the many faiths practiced in Arizona and the diverse array of regulations enacted by the state and all its agencies, counties, municipalities, and special purpose districts.
And second, when passions are aroused on all sides, as they have been in this case, it becomes extraordinarily difficult for legislatures to make principled decisions about whether to make exceptions for unpopular religious practices. Courts can generally devote more time to the question, hear the evidence from both sides, and be more insulated from interest-group pressure.
So, to be clear: SB1062 does not say that businesses can discriminate for religious reasons. It says that business people can assert a claim or defense under RFRA, in any kind of case (discrimination cases are not even mentioned, although they would be included), that they have the burden of proving a substantial burden on a sincere religious practice, that the government or the person suing them has the burden of proof on compelling government interest, and that the state courts in Arizona make the final decision. . . .
There have been very few [RFRA] claims by businesses over the years, but there have been a few. It is true that some of these claims are based on objections to same-sex marriage, although that is not an issue in Arizona.
The cases pending in the Supreme Court involve business owners who believe they are being asked to pay for abortions. Business regulations do not often require a business owner to violate a deeply held religious belief, but sometimes they do, and when that happens, the Arizona RFRA should be available. Keep in mind that it will not guarantee either side a win; it will test the government’s claims and the religious believer’s claims under RFRA’s general standard.
Whatever judgment you pass on SB1062, you should not be misled by uninformed critics. The Arizona bill. . .resolves ambiguities that have been the subject of litigation elsewhere. It deserves your accurately informed consideration.

 http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/02/no-this-is-not-jim-crow-for-gays-part-two.php

The IRS harassment scandal

 The IRS harassment scandal
by Scott Johnson

Yesterday the Heritage Foundation hosted a forum it titled “Taxing the First Amendment: Using the IRS to censor speech?” Moderator Hans von Spakovsky hosted a panel including superlawyer Cleta Mitchell, former FEC chairman Brad Smith, my daughter Eliana Johnson and the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel. Both Paul Mirengoff and I attended the program.
The title of the program alludes to the IRS’s proposed revision of IRC section 501(c)(4) to accomplish in broad daylight what it has heretofore done surreptitiously under the cover of darkness. Eliana and Kim Strassel put the proposed regulation into the broader context of the IRS’s harassment of conservatives under the Obama administration. Kelsey Drapkin provided an after-action report in “CRAP: Heritage panel discusses proposed IRS regulations speech-chilling potential.” Please check it out along with its links.
Von Spakovsky provides an excellent introduction to the proposed IRS regulation in “Silencing conservatives: The administration’s latest attempt to censor political speech.” Brad Smith and his colleagues at the Center for Competitive Politics have compiled an invaluable, heavily footnoted document setting forth the efforts by the regulatory agencies to police political speech at the behest of the Democratic Party: “The IRS harassment scandal: A timeline of ‘reform.’”
President Obama is now deep into the cover-up phase of the scandal. Obama asserted to Bill O’Reilly in the course of his pre-Superbowl interview on FOX, for example, that the IRS’s wrongdoing was confined to a few boneheaded decisions coming out of the IRS’s Cincinnati office. This is a demonstrable lie that all by itself demonstrates Obama’s centrality to the scandal.
Von Spakovsky credited Eliana with breaking the story that the IRS targeting of conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) status was directed from Washington, not Cincinnati, as in her NRO column “Oversight from Washington, all along.” Kim Strassel has explored the IRS scandal in columns including “The president has a list” and Obama’s enemies’ list–part II.”
I left the program more convinced than ever that the administration’s misconduct in the IRS scandal is deep, pervasive and dangerous. I will post video of the panel as soon as it is available online. The media adjunct of the Democratic Party has nonperformed perfectly on behalf of the administration in the cover-up phase of the scandal. The Heritage program struck back against the silence in a constructive and educational style.
Let me leave you with my usual reminder. The charge that Richard Nixon attempted to misuse the IRS for political purposes made its way into the second of the three articles of impeachment against him. Nixon “endeavoured” to misuse the IRS, in the fancy British spelling of the word used in article 2. Nixon’s efforts to misuse the IRS were futile. They went nowhere. Nixon and his henchmen desired the IRS to “screw” their political opponents, but their efforts were a pathetic failure.
Nixon henchman Jack Caulfield astutely complained that the IRS was a “monstrous bureaucracy…dominated and controlled by Democrats.” As we have come to see, Caulfield was on to something. By contrast with Nixon’s failures to misuse the IRS, the IRS have very effectively “screwed” Obama’s political opponents, and we have yet to learn what the president knew and when he knew it.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/02/the-irs-harassment-scandal.php

The “reckoning” arrives for Obama’s conservative political opponents

 The “reckoning” arrives for Obama’s conservative political opponents
by Paul Mirengoff in Holder Justice Department, IRS, Obama Administration Scandals

Earlier today, John noted that “everywhere we look, our friends on the right are under attack.” In nearly all cases, the Obama administration is doing the attacking, be it through ridiculous criminal prosecution or harassment via the IRS, the FBI, the EPA, and even OSHA.
We shouldn’t be surprised. Obama has been attacking his political opponents through trumped up charges of unlawful activity since he first ran for president.
Hillary Clinton’s backers were Obama’s first victims. Again, this isn’t surprising. Clinton was Obama’s first important presidential opponent.
As Kim Strassel has pointed out, in the spring of 2008, the general counsel of Obama’s campaign, Bob Bauer, filed a complaint with the FEC against the American Leadership Project, a group backing Clinton. Bauer announced:
There’s going to be a reckoning here. It’s going to be rough — it’s going to be rough on the officers, it’s going to be rough on the employees, it’s going to be rough on the donors.
According to Strassel, the Obama campaign launched a similar attack on groups supporting its other Democratic rival, John Edwards.
The tactic worked. In August 2008, Politico reported that Bauer’s words had “the effect of scaring [Clinton and Edwards] donors and consultants,” even though they hadn’t “result[ed] in any prosecution.”
Naturally, Obama engaged in similar attacks on groups supporting Republican presidential candidates. In 2008, after the conservative American Issues Project ran an ad highlighting ties between candidate Obama and Bill Ayers, Bauer demanded that the criminal division of the Justice Department investigate AIP, “its officers and directors,” and its “anonymous donors.” He followed up by calling for the prosecution of AIP’s donor, who was not anonymous.
Fortunately, the Justice Department was not yet under Obama’s control.
In 2012, President Obama’s campaign used similar tactics against Romney supporters. According to Strassel, the Obama campaign, with Bauer still serving as its general counsel, targeted private citizens who had donated to Romney groups. Meanwhile, Democratic senators demanded that the IRS investigate these organizations.
Unfortunately, the IRS was now under Obama’s control. Its targeting of Republican donors is the result.
Bauer’s words from 2008 resonate today: “There’s going to be a reckoning. . .It’s going to be rough. . .on the officers, it’s going to be rough on the employees, it’s going to be rough on the donors.”
It’s going to be rough on a public intellectual who made an anti-Obama film; it’s going to be rough on organizers of grass roots conservative political groups; it’s going to be rough on big Republican donors of our acquaintance.
President Nixon was vilified by the mainstream media and impeached by Congress in large part because his conduct arguably threatened (albeit lamely) the proper functioning of our two-party political process. But the Obama administration presents a greater threat to the political process than that posed by an amateurish break-in to the DNC headquarters (which there was no evidence Nixon signed off on), contemplated use of the IRS against political enemies (which gave rise to an article of impeachment), and assorted tricks.
Nixon would like to have seen a reckoning for his political opponents. Obama is carrying one out.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/02/the-reckoning-arrives-for-obamas-conservative-political-opponents.php

Health industry group: Yes, we’ve suffered massive Obamacare job losses

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius arrives before President Barack Obama U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius arrives before President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 28, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX17Z1M

Health industry group: Yes, we’ve suffered massive Obamacare job losses

Patrick Howley
Political Reporter
 
A new report from a top health care industry trade organization contradicts Kathleen Sebelius’ recent claim that no job loss will occur under Obamacare.
Obamacare’s medical device tax has already created a job loss of 33,000 in the medical device industry and 132,0o0 more job losses are expected, according to a new report from the industry trade group the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), obtained by the Daily Caller.
“There is absolutely no evidence, and every economist will tell you this, that there is any job loss related to the Affordable Care Act,” Sebelius said Monday in Orlando. “Part-time physicians are actually down since 2010, not up. The number of full-time workers continues to increase. I know that’s a popular myth that continues to be repeated but it just is not accurate.”
 
But AdvaMed’s report, for which surveyed it all of its medical device and technology member companies in late 2013, paints a much different picture. Here are the top takeaways from the report.
1. Job losses
“The tax has resulted in employment reductions of approximately 14,000 industry workers and forgone hiring of 19,000 workers. The total job impact of the tax on industry employment was approximately 33,000.”
“The impact of the tax on indirect employment would be approximately 132,000 jobs, for a total job loss due to the tax of as many as 165,000 jobs.”
“We have restructured our business, including significant layoffs…We have reduced service levels to customers. We will consider adding headcount if there is a repeal,” said one company surveyed in the report.
 
2. Shipping jobs overseas
“Adding offices and employment outside US (EU and Asia) in lieu of US jobs. Modest numbers today, but will increase in upcoming years,” according to one company surveyed.
3. Companies cutting back on research and development
“Almost one-third of respondents (30.6%) said they had reduced R&D as the result of the tax.”
“Almost 10 percent of respondents said they had relocated manufacturing outside of the U.S. or expanded manufacturing abroad rather than in the U.S. because of the tax.”
4. 75 percent of member companies cutting back on investments, canceling plans for new facilities, and having trouble raising capital
“Three-quarters of respondents said they had taken one or more of the following actions in response to the tax: deferred or cancelled capital investments; deferred or cancelled plans to open new facilities; reduced investment in start-up companies; found it more difficult to raise capital (among start-up companies); reduced or deferred increases in employee compensation.”
5. More job cuts to come
“58% of respondents said they would consider reducing employment if the device tax were not repealed.”
“50% said they would consider reducing R&D investment if the device tax were not repealed.”

Read more:
http://dailycaller.com/2014/02/18/health-industry-group-yes-weve-suffered-massive-obamacare-job-losses/#ixzz2uMyfmtwO

How the UAW Lost

 
UAW organizers are left all dressed up with no place to demagogue.

By John Fund
 
Left and Right agree about the workers at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee rejecting the United Auto Workers’ bid to represent them: The result was stunning.

“Everybody but the UAW had both hands tied behind their backs,” Senator Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) told ​the conservative Wall Street Journal. “How could a union lose an unopposed campaign?” was the question the left-wing magazine In These Times posed.

Indeed, Volkswagen didn’t oppose the union and even invited its representatives inside the plant to lobby workers. The German auto company is a big fan of cooperative worker-management councils at its factories, and the UAW hired lawyers who claimed VW couldn’t have one at its Tennessee plant unless it was unionized. The UAW spent an estimated $5 million to unionize the plant as part of its push to gain a toehold in non-union auto plants in Southern states.
 
But despite VW’s passivity, there was some opposition, and it proved pivotal in the union’s 53 percent to 47 percent defeat. “Political conservatives can take credit for crushing the UAW in Tennessee,” concluded BusinessWeek. In the forefront was the Center for Worker Freedom, a spinoff of Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. Matt Patterson , the Center’s executive director, says his group didn’t have the resources of the UAW, so it had to pick its targets. “Ultimately, we were looking at an electorate of 1,500 folks we had to reach,” he told me. He analyzed all the possible ways workers could drive to the Chattanooga plant and put up 13 rotating billboards highlighting the UAW’s support for liberal politicians (“The United Obama Workers”) and the role the union’s demands had played in the decline of the U.S. auto industry in Detroit (“Almost every job lost at U.S. car factories in the last 30 years has occurred at unionized plants” — Reuters). The billboards’ messages were reinforced with commercials on local radio stations timed to air during the period just before shifts at the plant began. Local newspapers and TV stations covered the campaign and featured haunting pictures of the devastation of Detroit, which with the decline of the auto industry has gone from being the city having the highest median income in America in 1950 to bankruptcy today.
 
But there were other factors in the union’s defeat that the UAW itself was responsible for. The union and VW signed a 22-page “neutrality” agreement laying out what union representation of the plant’s workers would mean. Among its provisions were ones that seemed to limit how much in raises the union would demand for the workers. The UAW and Volkswagen agreed to “maintaining and where possible enhancing the cost advantages and other competitive advantages that [Volkswagen] enjoys relative to its competitors in the United States and North America.” At other auto plants represented by the UAW, that understanding has recently meant a two-tier wage structure that pays new hires less than veteran workers. Factoring in cost-of-living differences, that means that today a new hire at a UAW plant in Detroit may make less than a non-union worker in Tennessee.
 
“We got people to realize they had already negotiated a deal behind their backs — [workers] didn’t get to have a say-so,” worker Mike Jarvis, a leader of the anti-UAW faction in the plant, told reporters after the results of the election were announced.
 
“We were only given one choice [of a union],” added Mike Burton, another plant worker. “When you are only given one choice, it’s BS. I am not anti-union, I am anti-UAW. There are great unions out there, and we just weren’t offered any of them.” He pointed out that the UAW has lost 75 percent of its membership since 1980.
 
Despite that track record, the union almost got entrenched inside the plant door in Chattanooga without an election. Under federal labor law, a union can be certified via “card check” if a majority of workers sign a permission card. Unions like card check because they can intimidate workers into signing away their support. In Chattanooga, the UAW claimed that a majority had signed. But then eight workers filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the UAW had used “misrepresentations, coercion, threats, and promises” to try to avoid a regular election. Once that whistle had been blown, enough workers who hadn’t signed a card-check form demanded and won the right to a secret-ballot election. If anything, the VW vote in Chattanooga demonstrates how dangerous and unrepresentative the card-check system can be. After all, when workers could vote behind a curtain, they rejected the union.
 
In the end, it looks as if Volkswagen is going to find a way to establish the works council that the UAW claimed couldn’t exist without it. “Our goal continues to be to determine the best method for establishing a works council,” Frank Fischer, head of the Chattanooga factory, said in an e-mail after the vote. Indeed, U.S. labor laws don’t prohibit workers from forming a group to deal with workplace problems. In other words, the UAW was bluffing in its claims that it was needed at the VW plant. The company practically invited the UAW in to avoid trouble, but now that its own workers have rejected the union, it can proceed on its own.
 
All this leaves UAW organizers all dressed up with no place to demagogue. “If the union can’t win [in Chattanooga], it can’t win anywhere,” concludes Steve Silvia, an American University professor who studies labor unions. Once again, the union appears to have successfully talked itself out of having a seat at the table.
 
— John Fund is national-affairs columnist for NRO.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Poll: Uninsured opposition to Obamacare reaches all-time high

- The Daily Caller - http://dailycaller.com -
Poll: Uninsured opposition to Obamacare reaches all-time high
 By Sarah Hurtubise
Americans without health insurance have never seen Obamacare is such a negative light.
Kaiser Family Foundation’s monthly health tracking poll found that in February, 56 percent of the uninsured view the Affordable Care Act unfavorably.
The percentage of uninsured with a positive view reached its lowest point since Kaiser began tracking reactions in March 2010 when Obamacare was passed into law. Just 22 percent of uninsured Americans have a generally favorable opinion about the law.
This pessimistic outlook isn’t all that surprising. Health industry experts have found that exchanges are more often than not selling coverage to those that were previously insured. According to reports, majority of exchange customers either had their previous coverage cancelled due to Obamacare regulations or switched over willingly to access premium subsidies. (RELATED: Report: Most Obamacare enrollees already had insurance)
The Obama administration’s outreach efforts to educate the uninsured on Obamacare also appear to be falling flat. Just 24 percent of the uninsured population were able to cite March 31 as the last day to purchase coverage on health care exchanges, and just 12 percent believe they know “a lot” about the Obamacare exchanges.
Sixty-three percent of uninsured respondents said they either knew nothing at all or only a little about the new health insurance marketplaces.
Fifty-one percent of the public at large prefers health insurance plans that may cost more money but cover a “broader range of doctors and hospitals,” compared to 37 percent that prefer a cheaper plan with fewer options.
While a movement toward narrower networks has been in the works for years before the Affordable Care Act, plans available on the exchanges have pushed insurers more quickly in the direction of decreasing options to control cost. But many potential exchange customers have been unsatisfied with new plans that prevent them from seeing their own doctors.
Among those who are uninsured or purchase their own insurance — the key demographic for Obamacare exchanges — 54 percent preferred the lower cost, more limited plans.
But overall, public opinion of the Affordable Care Act still skews significantly negative. In February, 47 percent of respondents view the law unfavorably and just 35 percent have a favorable opinion.
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URL to article: http://dailycaller.com/2014/02/26/poll-uninsured-opposition-to-obamacare-reaches-all-time-high/
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Four Senators Push Back Against D’Souza Prosecution

Four Senators Push Back Against D’Souza Prosecution

by John Hinderaker in Campaign finance regulation, Holder Justice Department, Obama Administration Scandals
Everywhere we look, our friends on the right are under attack. Dinesh D’Souza is being charged with multiple felonies for an alleged chickenfeed campaign finance violation. Mark Steyn and National Review are being sued. Organizers of conservative grass roots groups like Catherine Engelbrecht are being harassed by federal agencies including IRS, OSHA, FBI and EPA. Various conservatives of our acquaintance, who will remain nameless to protect the innocent, are being audited by the IRS or subjected to unspecified criminal “investigations” by partisan U.S. Attorneys. Charles and David Koch have been subjected to a campaign of vilification unprecedented in our history. And that is before we get to the Obama administration’s just-launched effort to use the FCC to shut down conservatives in radio and television (about which, more later today, or maybe tomorrow).
With respect to Dinesh D’Souza, who made a popular documentary film that was critical of Barack Obama and has now been singled out for criminal prosecution, the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York made the risible claim that the alleged violation came to light during the FBI’s “routine review” of FEC campaign filings. That piqued the curiosity of four Senators–Jeff Sessions, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Charles Grassley, all of whom are members of the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FBI. So they wrote this letter to FBI Director James Comey. Click to enlarge each section of the letter:
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Here is a prediction: the four senators will never get coherent answers to their questions. In particular, they will never get a truthful answer to question number four, “How and why was this particular review initiated?” I think the U.S. Attorney’s claim that D’Souza’s prosecution resulted from a “routine review” of FEC filings by FBI agents was a lie, for these reasons: 1) I don’t believe that the FBI carries out such “routine reviews.” 2) Routinely reviewing FEC filings would be a colossal waste of time for FBI agents. 3) A “routine review” of filings relating to the New York Senate race in question would not have generated any suspicion with regard to D’Souza. The violation with which he is charged would not have been revealed by a “routine review,” but would have required further digging to discover relationships between D’Souza and the friends for whom he allegedly reimbursed campaign donations. 4) Felony prosecutions for the sort of violation with which D’Souza is charged are unheard of. 5) If the FBI conducted a “routine review” of contributions to President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, particularly online donations, they would find many obvious violations, like my contribution in the name of “Illegal Contributor,” residence, Stillwater State Prison, Stillwater, Minnesota–a donation that was returned by the Obama campaign after I wrote about it here on Power Line. Mine was one of many contributions to the Obama campaign, the illegality of which would, in fact, be disclosed by a “routine review.” Yet there have been no prosecutions arising out of any such investigation, because there has been no such investigation.
I think the U.S. Attorney’s prosecution of Dinesh D’Souza is politically motivated and is intended to punish D’Souza for criticizing Barack Obama. I think the White House directed the U.S. Attorney to try to find something on D’Souza, and that considerable federal resources were consumed in digging up the campaign violation that is now alleged. (Alternatively, it is possible that the U.S. Attorney acted on his own as a partisan Democrat, without specific direction from the White House, but with the intention of pleasing the president by attacking his critics.) But don’t expect to learn the truth from whatever evasive response Director Comey eventually makes to the four senators’ questions.

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