Submitted by lambert on Mon, 05/13/2013 - 6:27pm
Submitted by lambert on Mon, 05/13/2013 - 12:43pm
Reuters on the IRS scandal, which does seem to be genuine:
IRS Kept Shifting Targets in Tax-Exempt Groups Scrutiny: Report
That's the headline. And by "shifting" we mean "expanding."
When tax agents started singling out non-profit groups for extra scrutiny in 2010, they looked at first only for key words such as 'Tea Party,' but later they focused on criticisms by groups of "how the country is being run," according to investigative findings reviewed by Reuters on Sunday.
Over two years, IRS field office agents repeatedly changed their criteria while sifting through thousands of applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status to select ones for possible closer examination, the findings showed.
At one point, the agents chose to screen applications from groups focused on making "America a better place to live."
Yeah, who could want that? Still, I guess as long as you don't put "Occupier" in the Occupation (!) line on your 1040, you should be OK, right? Read below the fold...
Submitted by lambert on Mon, 05/13/2013 - 12:42am
I'm guessing yes. Here's a Douthat column from early May:
This is not some modest pilot program or experimental initiative that we’re debating, after all: It’s a massive reorganization of a hugely important sector of the American economy at a time when our economic and fiscal challenges are not exactly slight. And saying “if you agree there are unfairnesses in the current health care system, then you must agree to try out our $1 trillion program while we continue the debate” is just not a recipe for sound policymaking, no matter how dysfunctional the opposition party is at the moment.
That’s because America rarely just “tries out” major expansions of the welfare state: Rather, our history strongly suggests that programs in motion tend to stay in motion, and that the best time to change a potentially-dysfunctional system is before it gets entrenched — before interest groups organize themselves around perpetuating those dysfunctions, before voters become accustomed to the program’s guarantees, and before the political system learns to take its existence for granted and turns to other debates instead. Whereas once something becomes the Way We Redistribute, it’s both hard to pare back and harder to propose alternatives, no matter what the data ultimately show about the program’s actual effectiveness.
It’s true, as Frakt and Carroll note, that no alternative reform is likely to be implemented as quickly as Obamacare itself. But it’s also true that if you favor a substantially-different alternative, cheering on the law’s full implementation while participating in a “conversation about how to make [it] more efficient and effective” is likely to lead to that alternative being passed sometime around the Fourth of Never. And this reality means, in turn, that for all the dilemmas that the current state of the Republican Party creates for thoughtful opponents of the new health care law, they still have an obligation to oppose.
Clue Stick, Ross: "You can't beat something with nothing." And there's a perfectly sound "substantially-different" alternative proposed by at least conservative, and a doctor: Read below the fold...
Submitted by lambert on Sun, 05/12/2013 - 10:47pm
Adapting a comment I made over at NC: Realize that the administration is now in full campaign mode on ObamaCare during the rollout, and will likely be through 2014 at least.
Therefore, you should treat every single statement on ObamaCare -- every single statement -- uttered by administration officials, Democratic think tanks, career "progressives," and Obots generally as carefully engineered and centrally co-ordinated bullshit,* exactly as if we were in the midst of a political campaign. Read below the fold...
Submitted by lambert on Sun, 05/12/2013 - 9:07pm
Here is the start of my edible forest: One of my three filbert trees in its nano-climate.* I bought them last year at the Fedco tree sale, and they survived the winter!
The problem twigs seem to be dead; I scratch them with my thumbnail, and there's no green. So what to do? Does the tree fix that all on its own? Or do I cut back 'til I find live wood? The leaves on lower branches seem fine, but I have this image that hormones at the tips of the branches lead the tree upward toward the sun, so if the tips of the branches are dead, that could be a problem! Read below the fold...
Submitted by lambert on Sun, 05/12/2013 - 3:01pm
I hate to quote the repellent Malcolm Gladwell, but if SMBIVA can, I can too. On the SUV:
Over the past decade, a number of major automakers in America have relied on the services of a French-born cultural anthropologist, G. Clotaire Rapaille, whose speciality is getting beyond the rational—what he calls "cortex"—impressions of consumers and tapping into their deeper, "reptilian" responses. And what Rapaille concluded from countless, intensive sessions with car buyers was that when S.U.V. buyers thought about safety they were thinking about something that reached into their deepest unconscious. "The No. 1 feeling is that everything surrounding you should be round and soft, and should give," Rapaille told me. "There should be air bags everywhere. Then there's this notion that you need to be up high. That's a contradiction, because the people who buy these S.U.V.s know at the cortex level that if you are high there is more chance of a rollover. But at the reptilian level they think that if I am bigger and taller I'm safer. You feel secure because you are higher and dominate and look down. That you can look down is psychologically a very powerful notion. And what was the key element of safety when you were a child? It was that your mother fed you, and there was warm liquid. That's why cupholders are absolutely crucial for safety. If there is a car that has no cupholder, it is not safe. If I can put my coffee there, if I can have my food, if everything is round, if it's soft, and if I'm high, then I feel safe. It's amazing that intelligent, educated women will look at a car and the first thing they will look at is how many cupholders it has. " During the design of Chrysler's PT Cruiser, one of the things Rapaille learned was that car buyers felt unsafe when they thought that an outsider could easily see inside their vehicles. So Chrysler made the back window of the PT Cruiser smaller. Of course, making windows smaller—and thereby reducing visibility—makes driving more dangerous, not less so. But that's the puzzle of what has happened to the automobile world: feeling safe has become more important than actually being safe.
That is the imperial dream in a nutshell. Read below the fold...
Submitted by lambert on Sun, 05/12/2013 - 1:20am
Submitted by lambert on Sat, 05/11/2013 - 8:58pm
Whether he's lying, or not, I'd say a vote of "no confidence" is fully justified:
A Message from the [current] resident of Cooper Union 5-11-13
There has been a concern on campus that some guards may be armed. Vice President Westcott periodically hires security guards for events or when crowds are expected, because Cooper has only a minimal security staff. These are NYPD-trained security personnel, who have received the best training in safety and legal procedures available in New York City. We were unaware that some carried concealed weapons, and regret the needless apprehension that was caused when a guard was asked if he was armed and responded in the affirmative. It is not uncommon for security guards in New York offices to be armed. Nevertheless, Vice President Westcott assures us that, since becoming aware of this, no guards will carry arms.
Well, great. Read below the fold...
Submitted by lambert on Sat, 05/11/2013 - 1:18pm
It looks like young Ezra (and, to be fair, everybody else) missed a major policy change in Obama's shift to the new, shorter (for individuals*), final version of the basic application.** As it turns out, the issue (or at least one of the issues; gawd knows what other time bombs are buried in the thing) wasn't only the length and complexity of the form, though that was and is bad enough; the issue is the actual content of the form. Here's what I'm talking about. It's right in plain sight. I'm using a screen dump of the new, shorter, finalized form from Ezra's article:
Yes, Equifax (a private "consumer reporting agency") could be affecting your eligibility for ObamaCare (a Federal program). Now, this is a major policy change, or perhaps a policy determination. Here's the equivalent language in the draft 26-page "Single Streamlined Application." As you can see, the language had not then been finalized:
Alrighty then. Let's break out the old lawyerly weasel-wording parser and actually compare what the two forms say. Read below the fold...
Submitted by lambert on Sat, 05/11/2013 - 11:52am
Submitted by lambert on Fri, 05/10/2013 - 10:35pm
What could go wrong? Everybody knows health insurance companies are our friends! WaPo:
Budget request denied, Sebelius turns to health executives to finance Obamacare
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has gone hat in hand to health industry executives, asking them to make large financial donations to help with the effort to implement President Obama’s landmark health-care law. Read below the fold...
Submitted by lambert on Fri, 05/10/2013 - 2:14pm
Submitted by lambert on Fri, 05/10/2013 - 1:35pm
Submitted by lambert on Fri, 05/10/2013 - 12:25pm
Via Vice (and do note the source*)
Pointing to the new monochrome structure adjacent to the Foundation Building that serves as home to Cooper Union's School for the Advancement of Science and Art—Victoria Sobel said she isn't buying Bharucha's story. Sobel, an art major who graduates this year, is a member of Cooper Union $O$, which planned and orchestrated the occupation. The window propaganda decorating the Foundation Building was her senior project, although the administration made her take down slogans mentioning Bharucha specifically by name. She accuses the president of continuing a trend established by his predecessors, that of “selling Cooper Union down the river.” Read below the fold...
Submitted by lambert on Thu, 05/09/2013 - 4:29pm
Kaiser Health News:
This week, [Colorado] became the first state to launch a public awareness campaign with television, print, radio and billboard ads that will cost $2 million and run two months. The TV ad shows a woman at her kitchen table scrolling through health plan information on the Connect for Health Colorado website. The voice over says the website lets people shop and buy a health plan online.
“When health care companies compete, there is only one winner: you,” says the voice over, as the woman jumps up and down as if celebrating a sports victory. The 30-second ad makes no mention that the new website is a result of the 2010 federal health law known to most Americans as Obamacare.
Branding problem, perhaps?
As for "When health care companies compete," that makes the 10 states where health insurance is "virtual monopoly" second class citizens. Anyhow, why would they compete when they can collude? Read below the fold...