Archives For: Premium

Our Sketchy Intel On Ukraine

Jul 23 2014 @ 1:55pm

UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CRISIS-MALAYSIA-ACCIDENT-CRASH

The government shared some of it yesterday. Shane Harris summarizes:

The officials offered little new information about the MH17 investigation, except to say that U.S. intelligence analysts are now persuaded that the jet was downed by accident, likely by forces who believed they were taking aim at a Ukrainian military aircraft. The officials circulated widely available information, including photographs of the suspected missile launcher posted to social media in recent days, and pointed to voice recordings posted to YouTube of separatists acknowledging that they shot down a jet, which they later discovered was a civilian plane. One official stressed that analysts weren’t relying solely on social media information, such as tweets and online videos. But nothing in the agencies’ classified files has brought them any closer to definitively blaming Russia.

Max Fisher’s two cents:

What’s perhaps more interesting is what the US intelligence officials would not say: that the attack was deliberate or that Russia pulled the trigger. The officials said they suspected the rebels fired on a commercial airliner mistakenly; this too had become conventional wisdom, as the rebels had only previously fired on Ukrainian military aircraft, but the hint of possible confirmation is something.

But the rebels compromised the wreckage, which makes our investigation much more difficult:

Read On

Dissents Of The Day

Jul 23 2014 @ 1:35pm

Readers seize on a recent comment:

In your dismissive response to Marcotte’s analysis of the recently proposed Women’s Health Protection Act, you said, facetiously, “Because a tooth has the same moral standing as a fetus.”

I have rarely seen as deliberate a misreading from you. Abortion is legal. Because of that annoying fact, opponents of abortion have had to sneak in restrictions, such as mandatory admitting privileges in local hospitals for abortion providers, under the cynical guise of protecting the health of pregnant women. This is the clear and obvious context of Marcotte’s reference to dentists and admitting privileges: The procedures she lists carry similar, and in some cases greater, risks for the health of patients compared to a standard out patient abortion.

I’m not deliberately misreading anything. What I’m saying is that it is not self-evident that an abortion has the same moral weight as a root canal. They may be equally legal, but they are not self-evidently equally moral. It is reasonable to treat it differently as a medical procedure for those reasons alone. I’m open to the idea that it shouldn’t be – but that’s not the tone of Marcotte. I was objecting to the breezy dismissal of any moral conundrum at all. Another elaborates:

You do realize that the hospital admitting privileges requirement for abortion providers isn’t there for the protection of the fetus, right? It’s there, allegedly, for the protection of the female patient, undergoing one of the least complicated and safest medical procedures performed. Of course the requirement is really about preventing the dentist from doing his job at all – I’m sorry, I meant abortion provider.

Another shares her personal perspective:

In 2000, when I was 42 years old, I elected to have an abortion rather than continue a pregnancy I was told would probably end in the second or third trimester, and if not, would result in the baby dying a month after being born. I had nearly died as a result of a miscarriage four years before that, so I was distinctly unkeen to risk my life (and the well-being of my then two children, who were 10 and 7 and who seemed to need a mother) to walk around like a time bomb waiting for a fetus to die and possibly take me with it.

In order to get that abortion, I was subjected to Michigan’s “Informed consent for abortion” law.

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What Happens Next For Halbig?

Jul 23 2014 @ 12:18pm

Margot Sanger-Katz reviews the possibilities. The one that is getting the most attention:

All the judges on the D.C. Circuit could decide the Halbig v. Burwell case. There is a process called “en banc” review in which the case would be reargued before all of the 11 judges on the D.C. Circuit Court, and the Obama administration has said it will ask the court for such a review. A majority of the judges would have to agree to rehear the case for it to be reconsidered in this way. Appellate courts rarely accept cases for en banc review, but this is a big one. Many legal experts think that the full court would view the government’s position more favorably than the two judges who ruled against them in the original decision on Tuesday; legal questions don’t necessarily break down along political lines, but Democratic appointees outnumber Republican appointees on the court and include four new judges recently appointed by President Obama.

Danny Vinik thanks Reid for having deployed the nuclear option:

Here’s where the Democrats’ use of the nuclear option is important. The D.C. Circuit has 11 judges on it, seven Democratic appointees and four Republican ones. The only reason Democrats have a majority is due to the nuclear option.

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Waldman focuses on the people affected by the court decision:

Now pause for a moment and consider what it is Republicans are asking the courts to do here. They want millions of Americans to lose the subsidies they got this year, in many if not most cases making health insurance completely unaffordable for them, and their justification is this: We found a mistake in the law, so you people are screwed. As far as the Republicans are concerned, it’s like spotting that a batter’s toe missed second base as he was trotting around for his home run, and therefore claiming that they won the game after all.

But it’s not a game, it’s people’s lives. If they succeed at the Supreme Court, people will die. That’s not hyperbole. Millions of Americans will lose their health coverage — 6.5 million by one estimate — and many of them won’t be able to afford to go to the doctor, and many of them will have ailments that go untreated. People will die.

Pierce is also furious:

Simply put, there is almost an entire half of our political system that believes that a great number of Americans simply do not matter enough to make it economically feasible to help them stay healthy. They do not count. It does not matter how many of them die preventable deaths. It is better for the country, this half of the political system believes, that they grow sick and bankrupt themselves.

Michael Cannon, who Weigel calls Halbig’s “chief advocate,” shifts blame:

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Is Obamacare In Jeopardy?

Jul 23 2014 @ 11:20am

Obamacare Ruling

Noah Feldman asserts that “the ACA is not yet quite dead. But there’s blood in the water, and the great whites in robes are circling.” McArdle assesses the damage to Obamacare:

Much will depend on the courts: Does the case get en banc review, does that review rule for the government, and if so, will the plaintiffs be able to push an appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court? Will the Supreme Court expose itself to more outrage from whichever side they rule against? All that is unknown. We do know this much: this was a big blow for the government, and a potentially fatal one for the administration’s signature legislative achievement.

But Emily Bazelon expects the government to prevail:

[I]t is the D.C. Circuit’s ruling that is probably going nowhere beyond a victory lap by the strategic conservative lawyers who brought this case, and a round of postmortem hand-wringing among law professors, who are already deriding the decision. That is because the legal reasoning of the majority in D.C. is seriously unconvincing, and as Slate contributor and UC–Irvine law professor Richard Hasen quickly pointed out, the next stop on the legal train is the D.C. Circuit as a whole, where today’s result will likely be reversed.

Bloomberg View’s editors weigh in:

Obamacare isn’t dead. And given the flimsy logic of the latest legal argument against it, there’s a good chance it never will be. … The legal battle now moves to the full D.C. Court of Appeals and perhaps from there to the Supreme Court. The worst-case scenario is that the strict-constructionist view of the dispute will prevail. Even then, however, Obamacare can survive — if state policy makers take the opportunity to set up their own exchanges.

Ingraham provides the above chart, which shows how many current enrollees would be impacted if federal exchange subsidies are banned. Kevin Drum also imagines what would happen if SCOTUS sides with Halbig’s plaintiffs and “in a stroke, everyone enrolled in Obamacare through a federal exchange is no longer eligible for subsidies”:

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In a long and wide-ranging interview with David Rothkopf, Zbigniew Brzezinski opines on how the US should engage the Middle East today:

I think the whole region now, in terms of the sectarian impulses and sectarian intolerance, is not a place in which America ought to try to be preeminent. I think we ought to pursue a policy in which we recognize the fact that the problems there are likely to persist and escalate and spread more widely. The two countries that will be most affected by these developments over time are China and Russia — because of their regional interests, vulnerabilities to terrorism, and strategic interests in global energy markets. And therefore it should be in their interest to work with us also, and we should be willing to play with them, but not assume sole responsibility for managing a region that we can neither control nor comprehend.

He also thinks it’s wiser to pursue accommodation with Iran than to continue treating it as a greater threat than it really is:

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A Split Decision On Obamacare

Jul 23 2014 @ 10:31am

Jason Millman summarizes yesterday’s news:

The federal appeals court in the District of Columbia ruled 2-1 this morning that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t authorize the federal government to provide subsidies to low- and middle-income Americans to buy insurance in the 36 states where the federal government set up exchanges to sell health-care coverage. Just two hours later, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in a similar case unanimously found just the opposite — that the IRS correctly interpreted the text of the ACA when it issued a rule allowing all public exchanges, regardless of who set them up, to provide insurance subsides.

Emily Badger explains what the lawsuits hinge on:

This latest legal challenge focuses on four words in the mammoth law authorizing tax credits for individuals who buy insurance through exchanges “established by the States.” Thiry-six states declined to set up their own exchanges — far more than the law’s backers anticipated — and in those states, consumers have been shopping for health care on exchanges run instead by the federal government. Now the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that these consumers are not eligible for subsidies because, well, they bought their insurance on exchanges not “established by the States.”

This is a tremendously literal interpretation of a small but crucial part of the law, and it’s one that was arguably never intended by its creators.

Greg Sargent joins the debate over the meaning of “established by the States”:

[T]he phrase does not literally say that subsidies should not go to people who get subsidies from the federal exchange, which under the law must be established in states that decline to set up their own exchanges. In fairness, opponents are right — the phrase also does not literally say that subsidies should go to those on the federal exchange. But all of that is precisely what makes the statutory language in question ambiguous. Once you accept this point — that the meaning of the phrase is not clear — then there is ample precedent for the courts evaluating the intent of Congress as expressed in the whole statute.

Philip Klein quotes from the DC federal appeals court ruling, the one which went against the administration:

“We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance,” they wrote. “At least until states that wish to can set up Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for the millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly. But, high as those stakes are, the principle of legislative supremacy that guides us is higher still. Within constitutional limits, Congress is supreme in matters of policy, and the consequence of that supremacy is that our duty when interpreting a statute is to ascertain the meaning of the words of the statute duly enacted through the formal legislative process. This limited role serves democratic interests by ensuring that policy is made by elected, politically accountable representatives, not by appointed, life-tenured judges.”

Adrianna McIntyre disagrees with this logic:

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Born With A Silver Lining

Jul 23 2014 @ 8:30am

Zachary A. Goldfarb highlights a recent study showing higher birth weights in poor communities:

Something extraordinary is happening to poor pregnant women…: They’re giving birth to healthier babies. While other economic and health disparities have widened, giving way to huge national debates about inequality, pregnant women at the lowest rung of the nation’s economic ladder are bucking that trend. They have narrowed the gap with wealthier women in the health of their babies.

While experts agree that government policy has been critical to boosting the health of poor newborns, the improvements aren’t because of a single policy or administration. Rather, they reflect improved access to care, as well as a complex array of other factors, some not easily within the government’s grasp to change, from pollution to nutrition to violence at home.

Jessica Grose argues that Medicaid expansion played a major role in this improvement:

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foriegn markets

Yglesias argues that the EU is in the driver’s seat:

Here’s the one fact you need to know to understand where the real balance of power lies: Russia’s top trading partner is the European Union, but the EU’s top trading partner is the United States followed by China. In other words, the 306 billion euro trading relationship is a big deal either way you slice it, but it’s fundamentally a bigger deal for Russia than it is for Europe

And, as Tim Fernholz illustrates with the above chart, the Dutch have significant Russian capital under their control:

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How Immigrants Reduce Crime

Jul 23 2014 @ 7:29am

Exploring the vicious cycle of high homicide rates and declining populations that has afflicted American “murder capitals” like Detroit and New Orleans, Kriston Capps uncovers how other cities have managed to escape that cycle:

Nationwide, violent crime has dropped in two waves. Violence fell just about everywhere in the 1990s, with rates leveling off in the 2000s. Then, around 2007, violent crime dropped again—hugely—in several cities, among them D.C., New York, Dallas, and San Diego. What’s working for these cities?

Immigration.

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