Another Round of Obamacare Cancellations

A year ago, a panicked Obama administration sent letters to the state insurance commissioners urging them to allow individual health care plans that were illegal under Obamacare to be extended for another year. We wrote about the ploy, which was intended to defuse the outrage that was then building against the “Affordable” Care Act, here and elsewhere.

A year has come and gone, and the Washington Post reports that cancellation notices are going out across the country:

Thousands of consumers who were granted a reprieve to keep insurance plans that do not meet the federal health law’s standards are now learning those plans will be discontinued at year’s end and they’ll have to choose a new, possibly more costly policy.

Obamacare only makes health insurance more expensive. It does nothing to make health insurance cheaper, except for those who get subsidies–in which case the insurance is even more expensive for someone else, who derives no benefit from it.

One reason behind the switch is that insurers determined they can make more money selling plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act, often at higher premiums that may be subsidized by the government.

“They’re getting a lot more revenue, often for the same person,” said consultant Robert Laszewski, a former insurance executive.

Of course. That’s why the insurance industry supported Obamacare. The Post takes us down memory lane:

Last year, similar cancellation letters sent to more than 2 million customers created a political firestorm for President Obama, who had promised that “if you like the plan you have, you can keep it.”

In response, the administration encouraged states to allow insurers to extend existing plans, even if they did not meet the health law’s standards. Both states and insurers had to agree to the deadline extension, and not all did.

Obamacare is a rolling disaster, and we have barely begun to see its baleful effects. Next up is the employer mandate, which the administration also extended (illegally) for political reasons. The administration has said that a majority of all employer-furnished health plans will be illegal under Obamacare, so millions of Americans will either see their group plans terminated, or changed to more expensive coverage.

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By fighting ISIS are we aidng Iran?

Two of the most insightful commentators around — Cliff May and David Frum — worry that America’s fight (such as it is) against ISIS will assist Iran, our deadly enemy. How valid is this concern?

There are two main ways in which Iran might benefit from our “war” against ISIS. First, the war might prompt the U.S. to make concessions to the mullahs in exchange for Iran’s help. The Iranians are key players in Iraq, the main front in the fight against ISIS. This is May’s primary concern.

Second, the war might help Iran by strengthening its allies (or puppets, some would say) in Iraq and Syria. Frum makes this point.

As to the first concern, it is quite possible that Obama, will make concessions to Iran, including concessions regarding its nuclear program, in the name of securing cooperation with Iran in the fight against ISIS. To do so would be, as May argues, “a historic blunder.”

But the problem here, I submit, isn’t the fight against ISIS but rather Obama’s eagerness to strike a deal, nearly any deal, with Iran. Iran has a strong interest in preventing ISIS from overrunning its Shiite allies in Iraq. The U.S. need not make concessions in nuclear negotiations in order for Iran to assist Shiites trying, for example, to prevent Baghdad from being overrun.

Unfortunately, Obama seems to be looking for excuses to make concessions to Iran. Indeed, his vision for the region appears to be based on some sort of grand bargain with the mullahs.

May explains how, with regard to Iran’s nuclear program, the president has gone from “dismantle and disclose” to “disconnect, defer and deter.” But this happened before ISIS finally managed to make it onto Obama’s radar as other than “the jayvee.”

For Obama, a deal with the mullahs is a pre-set agenda item — one that dates back to his debates with Hillary Clinton during the 2007-08 primary season — much like abandoning Iraq was. Abandoning Iraq was, of course, a much more urgent matter given the 2012 election. But now, in the waning days of his presidency and with Israel contemplating a strike against Iran, Obama desperately wants an Iranian deal.

In sum, the fight against ISIS does not require U.S. additional concessions to Iran and if Obama makes additional concessions, the fight against ISIS will be the pretext, not the cause.

But won’t the very fight against ISIS assist Iran? Not much, and not to the point that we should stand by while a force deadlier than al Qaeda builds a state the size of Great Britain.

In Syria, the relationship between the Assad regime (which Iran is propping up) and ISIS is not a straightforward adversarial one. Assad has largely conceded portions of Syria to ISIS. His fight is primarily with the other major rebel groups.

If the U.S. were to degrade or destroy ISIS in Syria, Assad would still have to contend with the same factions he is doing most of his fighting with now. And if, somehow, the Free Syrian Army faction were to become a strong fighting force, Assad (and by extension Iran) would be worse off than he is now.

In Iraq, by contrast, the defeat of ISIS would be a major plus for the government, which is pro-Iranian. But we lived with Maliki’s Iran-leaning government for years, and the new government seems less tilted towards Iran and more favorably disposed to the U.S. How long this will be the case is unclear, but if anything we may gain, rather than lose, influence to the extent we play an important role in thwarting ISIS in Iraq.

In any event, it seems clear that the U.S. is better off even with a Maliki-style government in Iraq than with ISIS in control of large parts of that country. It’s extremely doubtful that either a Maliki figure or Iran would use Iraqi territory to plot attacks against the West.

Moreover, Iran’s influence over the Iraqi government doesn’t appreciably increase the threat the mullahs pose to the U.S. or to other states in the region. An ISIS-free Iraq would still be a fractured excuse for a nation.

“We live in a global world”

Following up on John’s post on the discovery of an Ebola carrier in Dallas, via travel from Liberia to Brussels and Dulles Airport, I want to take advantage of Neil Munro’s account of the White House’s thinking on the matter. White House spokesman Josh Earnest fielded questions yesterday that elicited an explanation of the administration’s rejection of travel restrictions. Travel restrictions seem basic to a rational public health approach to the outbreak. Munro reports:

White House spokesman Josh Earnest rebuffed questions Oct. 1 about a possible federal ban on travel from Ebola-stricken countries, and said the president will rely instead on government medical professionals to contain imported epidemics.

“These are the experts, they have a keen understanding of how to prevent the spread of this disease,” he said, adding “we can stop the spread of Ebola in its tracks.”

“What are the conditions under which the President would order or want to see travel restrictions?” asked one reporter.

“We are confident that the sophisticated medical infrastructure that exists here in the United States can prevent the wide spread of Ebola,” Earnest said.

“Doesn’t that imply that we’re willing to accept a certain number of people coming into this country who will be diagnosed and develop Ebola once they’re here?” the reporter asked.

“We live in a global world, and what we’re confident that we can do is to both protect the safety of the traveling public and … protect the broader American public by rigorously applying the kind of medical protocols that are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control,” Earnest replied.

Munro drily observes: “The president picked a bad week for putting additional faith in government professionals.” Munro certainly has a point, but why is this week different from every other week? Munro’s account of the administration’s thinking reads like what fearlessly used to be called black humor back in the rollicking sixties — I still have my copy of Bruce Jay Friedman’s anthology Black Humor — no racial reference intended.

NOTE: One can get a glimpse of the CDC protocols in the CDC’s “Questions and answers on Ebola.”

The Science Is Settled: Conservatives Are Happier, Neater, and Smell Better, Too

We know that conservatives are happier people than liberals, but did you know the latest social science says we’re neater people and smell better, too? From the wonderful annals of social science:

A 2006 report from the Pew Research Center showed that 45% of conservative Republicans reported being very happy, as compared to 30% of liberal Democrats. According to the report, this “partisan happiness gap” had shown up in surveys every year since 1972.

What explains the happiness gap? Some scientists have argued that it can be attributed to personality differences between the two groups or different thinking styles–that conservatives are more likely to rationalize inequality. Others have suggested a link with marriage rates and religious identification–pointing out that conservatives are more likely to be married and to identify as religious, both of which have been linked with higher levels of happiness.

Then comes this news item, reported in The Week:

A new study from the American Journal of Political Science indicates that different political affiliations may actually correspond with different body odors.

The researchers, led by Brown University political scientist Rose McDermott, found that conservatives and liberals smell dissimilar. While the difference is small, it is apparently significant enough that we subconsciously prefer the scent of those who vote like we do. “It appears nature stacks the deck to make politically similar partners more attractive to each other in unconscious ways,” the researchers wrote.

Now, some picky person will say that this study does not say directly that conservatives smell better, but ax yourself a simple question: Does anyone ever say the phrase “smelly conservative”? No, but you do hear “smelly hippie” a lot, don’t you? Who cleans up after their rallies: Tea Partiers or Occupy Wall Street and Climate Marchers? There’s a reason left-wing gatherings slather around so much patchouli oil. Duh. As the story goes on to explain:

Other differences are more psychological: Conservatives will look at an unpleasant image 15 percent longer than liberals, and they’re also more likely to keep an organized dorm room in college. In fact, one study showed that conservatives are more generally conscientious. . .

I suspect we’re better looking, too. But anyway, the science is settled.

This day in baseball history — Tigers spoil the party in New York

The 1964 baseball season is best remembered for the collapse of the Philadelphia Phillies — the result of an 10 game losing streak to close out September. But it should also be remembered for three remarkable surges: (1) the Cincinnati Reds’ nine game winning streak during the same period, which pushed them into first place, (2) the St. Louis Cardinals’ eight game winning streak, also in the same period, which saw them catch Cincinnati, and (3) the New York Yankees surge throughout the month of September, during which they went 22-6.

As a result of their surge, the Yankees went from third place, three games behind, at the end of August to first place, three and a half games ahead, at the end of September.

Heading into October, the Yankees’ magic number was 2 in relation to the Chicago White Sox and 1 in relation to the Baltimore Orioles. New York had five games left to play; Chicago and Baltimore had four and three, respectively.

On October 1, the Yankees played a double-header against Detroit at Yankee Stadium. A sweep would bring them their fifth consecutive pennant and their ninth in ten seasons. As hot as the Yankees were — they had taken a double-header from Detroit the day before — this didn’t seem like a tall order.

The Yankees looked in good shape in the opener. They took a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning behind their sensational late season call-up, Mel Stottlemyre.

But Bill Bruton and Jerry Lumpe led off the inning with singles. The great Al Kaline was next up.

With two good left-handed batters — Gates Brown and Norm Cash — due up next, and no southpaw ace in the Yankees’ bullpen, Tigers’ manager Charlie Dressen had Kaline sacrifice. When Stottlemyre failed to handle the bunt, the bases were loaded with no outs.

Brown, best remembered as a great pinch-hitter, was having a fine year in his only season as a regular. He drove home Bruton and pinch-runner George Smith with a single to centerfield.

New York manager Ralph Houk then pulled Stottlemyre in favor of Pete Ramos, another great late season acquisition. Ramos retired the Tigers, but not before Kaline scored on a sacrifice fly by Don Wert.

The Yankees threatened in the bottom of the ninth against Tiger reliever Mickey Lolich, who had been shelled as a starter the previous day. But Tom Tresh and Clete Boyer were left stranded when Lolich fanned pinch-hitter Pedro Gonzales and Phil Linz to end the game.

The second game featured Detroit’s young gun Denny McLain, completing his first full major league season, against Roland Sheldon. The Tigers jumped to a 3-0 led in the fourth inning thanks mostly to a triple by Wert and a double by Bill Freehan (who had been Detroit’s catcher for every inning of every game since August 8). However, New York reached McLain for a run in the bottom of the inning and another in the bottom of the fifth.

After that, McLain was nearly unhittable. The Tigers put the game away in the top of the ninth against Bill Stafford. McLain helped his cause with a single in the middle of that inning.

Meanwhile in Baltimore, another young gun, Dave McNally, shut out the Washington Senators. Baltimore thus surged from 4 games behind New York to two and a half. The White Sox, idle on the day, were also two and half back, but with two more games remaining than Baltimore.

The Yankees’ magic number was still 2 in relation to Chicago and 1 in relation to Baltimore. But now they had only three games left to play, all at home against the Cleveland Indians, a perennially .500 team in this era.

Found: Another Honest Liberal

I never much cared for the political analysis of Thomas Bryne Edsall, nowadays of the New York Times—especially his book Chain Reaction, which helped to launch today’s popular leftist narrative that conservatism is just racism and . . . well, just racism. I did meet him person once and found him more congenial and engaging than I expected.

Today in the Times he asks “Are Liberals Fund-Raising Hypocrites?”, and pretty much answers the question with an emphatic Yes. The article is at its best in noting the weak responses of the liberal money grandees:

Gara LaMarche, the president of Democracy Alliance, defended his members, who have been accused of hypocrisy. The charge, coming from both the left and right, LaMarche wrote, centers “on the assertion that progressive wealthy donors are spending a lot of money in elections when they also claim to be for getting money out of elections.”

LaMarche countered in an email that

there is a big difference between this and the Kochs and their ilk. Our donors are using the current political system to bring about laws and policies that would change that system in a way that gives their wealth less weight. Not to mention advocating policies that would often tax or regulate them more.

In contrast, political spending by the Kochs and their allies

is in effect a business expense — it coincides with and advances their bottom line financial interests. There’s a moral distinction here.

Edsall snorts at this:

LaMarche’s argument is politically risky. Claiming the moral high ground to assert that you can do something that your morally crippled adversaries cannot is one of the more effective strategies to alienate people.

He could have been stronger with this response: LaMarche and other leftists are essentially arguing: because we’re right and they’re wrong! Which isn’t an argument at all.  It wouldn’t even pass muster on a grade school playground.  Before long I expect they’ll start saying “Because 97 percent!” (Actually I’m wondering if the Climatistas didn’t adapt their slogan from Occupy Wall Street’s “99 percent” zombie chant.) Isn’t there at least a minimal duty to argue that the Kochs’ philosophy of classical liberalism is defective? Apparently not. Much easier just to assume your opponent is wrong, and go from there with the political equivalent of a tantrum.

Kudos for Edsall. I’m sure the Times is hoping he’ll retire soon.

Meet Mike McFadden

Tonight we recorded a special edition of the Hinderaker-Ward Experience: an interview with Republican Senate candidate Mike McFadden. McFadden is challenging Al Franken in Minnesota. This morning he and Franken had their first debate of the campaign, in Duluth. McFadden turned in an energetic performance against a tired incumbent who is a soulless, dispirited defender of the status quo.

Even if you haven’t subscribed to HWX, you should listen to our McFadden interview. If you are so moved, you can contribute to or volunteer for Mike’s campaign here.

You can watch this morning’s debate in its entirety here.

If you enjoy this episode of the Hinderaker-Ward Experience, you can subscribe on iTunes and listen to archived episodes.