A Gift To Obamacare Foes, Ctd

Jul 28 2014 @ 2:24pm

In 2012, Obamacare advisor Jon Gruber said, “if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits,” an interpretation of the ACA that supports the anti-Obamacare Halbig ruling. He made this point more than once. Nicholas Bagley dismisses the fracas over these comments:

[I]f you think what Gruber said is some evidence about what the ACA means, you can’t ignore other, similar evidence. That’s cherry-picking. So go ask John McDonough, who was intimately involved in drafting the ACA and is as straight a shooter as there is: “There is not a scintilla of evidence that the Democratic lawmakers who designed the law intended to deny subsidies to any state, regardless of exchange status.” Or ask Senator Max Baucus’s chief health adviser, Liz Fowler. She says the same thing. Or ask Doug Elmendorf, the current CBO Director: “To the best of our recollection, the possibility that those subsidies would only be available in states that created their own exchanges did not arise during the discussions CBO staff had with a wide range of Congressional staff when the legislation was being considered.” …

Better still, ask the states, which were on the receiving end of the supposed threat. According to a report from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, there’s no contemporaneous evidence that the states feared that declining to set up an exchange might lead to a loss of tax credits. How can it be that Congress unambiguously threatened the states with the possible loss of tax credits if the states never understood that threat?

How Ezra views this controversy:

Gruber’s comments aren’t getting so much attention because anyone actually believes them. They’re getting so much attention because some people want other people to believe them.

Read On

At some point, the shoe was always going to drop on the scam that is “sponsored content” or “native advertising” or “enhanced advertorial techniques” or whatever bullshit word the industry needs to disguise its own ethical collapse. So here’s the breaking news: when you whore out your editorial pages to advertisers, and do your best to merge your own editorial copy with advertising and p.r., readers think less of you, stop trusting you and start suspecting the ethics and source of everything you publish.

Since this truth is hard to accept when your paycheck is at stake, a study was required to discover the bleeding obvious. The IAB/Edelman report questioned 5,000 consumers of news of various kinds. Here’s their bottom line:

The study shows that media companies carry a far higher risk to their reputation and value perception in allowing native advertising than their brand advertisers. However, native advertising on business news, and entertainment news sites, was less problematic than on general news sites. In addition, six out of 10 people visiting general news sites said it was not clear if a brand had paid for the content.

When 60 percent of readers don’t know if the stuff they’re reading is paid for by advertisers or is, you know, what used to be called journalism, we have pretty solid objective proof of the deception inherent in the practice. More to the point, 73 percent of readers say that native advertising adds no value to general news sites. So please spare me the somewhat creepy idea that these exercises in propaganda actually enhance the reader experience. The readers don’t think so.

The study also reveals the ratchet effect of this deal with the devil. Advertisers get a real boost by leeching off the accumulated trust of a publication like, say, Forbes or Buzzfeed, or the Atlantic. But the more sponsored content fills those pages, the less readers trust them. And so the value to advertisers declines as the trust in various publications declines. In this slow circling of the ethical drain, everyone loses, but the advertisers at least get some bang for their buck. The news sites?

Integrity is a really tough thing to get back, isn’t it?

Marriage Equality Update

Jul 28 2014 @ 1:49pm

Dish Shirts Are Here!

Jul 28 2014 @ 1:21pm

shirt-combo

Finally – after lots of your input – we’re psyched to offer you a choice of four custom Dish shirts. If you’re dying to take a look and want to skip the descriptions below, head straight to our storefront and buy your shirt now!

We thought we’d start our store simply enough by offering two t-shirts. The first is a light blue one emblazoned with the Dish logo across the chest (see above on the left). Or if you prefer the baying beagle by herself, check out the gray Howler Tee (modeled by the dashing bear on the right). I love the lone howler myself – only other Dishheads will get it.

andrew_howler-teeWe picked American Apparel t-shirts that use high-quality screen-printing and a higher quality tri-blend fabric that’s super soft, durable, and has a bit of stretch that retains its slim shape. There are sizes for both men and women – no generic “unisex” option this time around, as you insisted. We’ve also lowered the price by half compared with the t-shirts we did a few years ago.

Want something a little more formal you can wear to the office, church, or restaurant? Check out the polo shirts, which come in white (see below left) and navy blue (see above right). Both of these classic polos are made with a “Silk Touch” poly-cotton fabric and embroidered with the familiar Dish beagle on the left breast. The polos run a little large, and the high-quality fabric is shrink resistant, so keep that in mind when you pick your size. For the perfect fit, consult the sizing chart.

andrew_white-poloBecause we’re doing the higher-quality screen-printing option with a bulk-ordering process, in order to keep prices down, these particular shirts will only be available for a limited time, so you need to order very soon to be part of the first printing. So if you’re interested in a shirt, don’t hesitate – buy now!

As always, we welcome your feedback in the in-tray. And send us a pic of you wearing your new shirt! You may see it appear on the blog.

But first go here to grab your new t-shirt or polo. It’s one critical way to keep the Dish independent and running for years to come. And they’re pretty sweet as well.

Inching Toward A Ceasefire?

Jul 28 2014 @ 1:02pm

The Gaza war continues, despite an uneasy calm during the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which began today, and renewed calls for a more permanent ceasefire. During the halt in the fighting on Saturday, Gazans assessed the damage to their homes and neighborhoods, discovering scenes like the one above:

Some Shejaiya residents had held out hope their homes would be spared only to find utter devastation. Ahmed al-Jamal, a 60-year-old grandfather, sat on a plastic chair in front of the wreckage of his home. “I had no idea it was destroyed,” he said. He stared at the floor, picking absently at a piece of wire by his foot. “I came to get my things during the cease-fire and I found nothing. I don’t know where we’ll go.”

Meanwhile, Israelis have reacted with fury to John Kerry’s proposal for a cease-fire, which includes an easing of the blockade of people and goods in the Israeli-occupied urban prison. Kerry’s crime was to include Hamas’ regional allies, Turkey and Qatar, in the negotiations, to be based on the 2012 Egyptian proposal. The president also reiterated to Netanyahu that he wanted any cease-fire to allow for a normal life for Gaza’s residents. The Israeli cabinet leaked Kerry’s proposals and leading Israeli figures could not believe what they were reading. Actual relief for Gazans? Negotiations with Hamas’ allies even as Israel is on the verge of “victory”? Here is alleged moderate Ari Shavit letting it rip:

The Obama administration proved once again that it is the best friend of its enemies, and the biggest enemy of its friends. The man of peace from Massachusetts intercepted with his own hands the reasonable cease-fire that was within reach, and pushed both the Palestinians and Israelis toward an escalation that most of them did not want … If Israel is forced to ultimately undertake an expanded ground operation in which dozens of young Israelis and hundreds of Palestinian civilians could lose their lives, it would be appropriate to name the offensive after the person who caused it: John Kerry.

What the Obama administration proved is that the US and the world would prefer not to have to keep witnessing these bloodbaths and want to get to the real roots of the conflict. It’s understandable that the Israelis simply believe that US foreign policy is about backing them and paying them for the privilege, but this administration has at least attempted to forge a policy in America’s rather than Greater Israel’s interests.

David Bernstein has a similar take on Kerry’s proposal, now backed by all 15 members of the UN Security Council:

Read On

The Grey Lady Endorses Legal Weed

Jul 28 2014 @ 12:42pm

Over the weekend, the NYT editorial board declared that the “federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana”:

There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.

Well, now that Sarah Palin has picked the online subscription route and the NYT has embraced marijuana legalization, our work here at the Dish is nearly done. But sheesh, the whole hoop-la over there about it almost makes you think they’re ahead of the curve, as opposed to about twenty years too late. Almost twenty years since National Review endorsed it! Nonetheless, it’s not nothing:

It is worth noting this is the exact same way alcohol prohibition ended. The 21st amendment gave states the power to decide how alcohol is treated within their borders. While many states ended their own alcohol prohibitions right after some states keep their bans on alcohol going for years and even decades later. It wasn’t until 1966 when Mississippi become the last state to end its prohibition.

Hamilton Nolan needles the Times for being behind the times:

Read On

The US embassy in Libya was evacuated over the weekend:

The U.S. Embassy in Libya evacuated its personnel on Saturday because of heavy militia violence raging in the capital, Tripoli, the State Department said. About 150 personnel, including 80 U.S. Marines were evacuated from the embassy in the early hours of Saturday morning and were driven across the border into Tunisia, U.S. officials confirm to CNN.

Jamie Dettmer sees reason to believe the the embassy won’t be back to its usual operations anytime soon:

Classified documents, databases and sensitive equipment were either destroyed or taken along to Tunisia, which suggests that despite U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’ insistence that the closing of the embassy is only temporary, Libya could be without U.S. diplomatic representation for weeks and even months.

Freddie uses the upheaval in Libya to condemn liberals who supported the Libyan intervention:

Read On

The View From Your Window

Jul 28 2014 @ 12:01pm

Buffalo-NY-645pm

Buffalo, New York, 6.45 pm

The Lie Behind The War, Ctd

Jul 28 2014 @ 11:40am

After the Israeli police spokesman gaffed to the BBC that the casus belli of Netanyahu’s latest war on Gaza was a lie – that Hamas orchestrated the murders of three teens – Eli Lake sprang into action. You can tell where Eli is coming from by his opening sentence:

Over the weekend it appeared that an Israeli official conceded something very valuable to Hamas.

Actually something very valuable to anyone trying to figure out the truth. And the worries come from people of good faith around the world not just “pro-Palestinian activists,” as Lake describes all those outraged by the Netanyahu government’s collective punishment. So Lake re-reported the news. He couldn’t get the spokesman to repeat what he had told the BBC, but then concedes:

Read On

Banking On Change

Jul 28 2014 @ 11:24am

The BRICS countries recently established $100-billion development bank that some say could rival the World Bank. Ali Burak Güven believes it could shake up the world of development financing:

[I]f its evolution even remotely parallels that of the World Bank, it might end up having a formative impact on economic policy-making and overall development strategy in the Global South.

Read On