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Trumpcare being held up over a trifle
by Dick Morris & Eileen McGann
Apr 25, 2017 | 66 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The House Republican "moderates" are holding up the Trump-Ryan health care bill over an issue that seems substantial but is really trivial. This whole bill is being held up by a concern that some -- not even most but some -- of a pool of about 309 people per Congressional District might find it hard to get insurance.

The conservatives have proposed -- and President Trump seems to have adopted -- two steps that will bring down premiums sharply: One, that states should be able to let insurance companies write policies that exclude one or more of the "essential" services Obamacare requires them to include. (Policies that cover these services fully will still be available for those that want them). Two, again with Trump's agreement, states would be able to abandon "community rating" in setting premiums. This change will let insurers price plans based on the age and health of the beneficiary, something Obamacare allows only within a very restricted band.

Both of these measures will bring basic, catastrophic insurance premiums way down and make them affordable, particularly for young couples just starting out. But "moderates" worry that the older (ages 55 to 65) and sicker among the covered population will find the resulting premiums too high and unaffordable.

So Donald Trump and Paul Ryan have responded to these concerns by offering to let states set up high-risk pools of sicker and older patients where higher premiums could be charged, with greater public subsidy. But "moderates" worry that the pool's policies may be unaffordable.

And that is where the bill stands right now.

But the actual population about whom the moderates are worrying is not large.

Obamacare, too, had a high-risk pool provision and, like the GOP moderates, the program's sponsors vastly overestimated the number of people that would need it. It was called Pre-Existing Insurance Plan and was expected to cover 375,000 people at a cost of $5 billion.

But after four years of operation (until it was canceled in 2014) only 134,708 people entered the pool. Did the rest find premiums outside it affordable? Most likely did. For those who did not, we can adjust the legislation after it is passed to deal with the problem. It's not worth scuttling the entire bill. Bear in mind that only about 5,000 people accounted for half of the money required.

So, come on. Don't hold up the new legislation over this detail. Use regulations to fix any problems that come up.

Put this whole issue in perspective: Obamacare is the broken down vehicle in the traffic lane that is causing the gridlock. It makes Trump look bad and his administration incompetent. It will cost us dearly in the midterm elections unless we get a Obamacare reform and repeal passed.

Moderate and conservative Republicans: It is in your political interest and in the national interest that you compromise. It may not be perfection, but the Ryan-Trump bill is pretty darn good.

No one owns science
by Rich Lowry
Apr 25, 2017 | 56 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Science joined the #resistance over the weekend, or so the organizers of the March for Science would have us believe.

Thousands of demonstrators marched in Washington, D.C., and in cities around the country under the banner of science and in the spirit of the Women's March opposing President Donald Trump back in January.

The march had its share of harmless and charmingly nerdy science enthusiasts holding signs like "I was told there would be pi" and "I was told to bring a sine" (get it?). Who can possibly object to people, who may have waited a lifetime for the opportunity, finally getting a chance to make trigonometry puns in public?

The problem with the march was its larger ambition to enlist science in the anti-Trump movement. Not only does this represent a jaw-dropping misunderstanding of science -- the Large Hadron Collider has no position on whether Trump is violating the emoluments clause -- but if taken seriously, it will damage the reputation of science.

The left loves to argue that Republicans are anti-science, usually by accusing them of being budding theocrats who value only faith and not science. Since Donald Trump is no one's idea of a theocrat, the latest argument is that his "alternative facts" administration is an implicit assault on the basis of science. It is certainly the case that Trump says things that aren't true, although science has survived other fast-and-loose presidents. No one thought that Bill Clinton, during the course of his various falsehoods, was somehow calling into doubt the second law of thermodynamics.

Trump has pronounced on all sorts of things over the decades, but so far the scientific method has escaped his wrath on Twitter. Indeed, putting up glass-encased 98-story buildings implies a certain acceptance of the laws of physics and a respect for engineering.

This is why it's absurd for any claque to claim ownership of science, which belongs to all of us. No one disputes that the modern world rests on an edifice of scientific advance, and that we owe much of our material well-being to it. No one wants to argue with Francis Bacon, one of the philosophic founders of modern science, about the importance of empiricism. No one wants to dispute the work of Newton, Bohr or Curie.

This doesn't mean that science should be apotheosized. It is value-neutral. The same science that gave us penicillin gave us the hydrogen bomb. As Francis Bacon himself put it, "The mechanical arts are of ambiguous use, serving as well for hurt as for remedy."

For the marchers, though, science stands for all that is good and true, and it just happens to bless their preferred policy positions, especially on climate change. The passion and certitude they bring to the climate debate doesn't exactly speak to a rigorously scientific disposition. The advocates on climate change often use "science" as a weapon, even as they spin out apocalyptic scenarios that go well beyond the current scientific consensus.

At its worst, the March for Science was tinged with the spirit of three scientists who wrote an anti-Trump essay calling on scientists at universities to consider work slowdowns and strikes. How else to respond "when one party is committed to ignoring science at best, and leveraging it for systemic oppression at worst?" In this view, scientists are simply social-justice warriors in lab coats, political activists who are good at math.

All of this is a mistake, no matter how much Bill Nye, "the Science Guy," might have delighted at the turnout for the March for Science. Since the country currently lacks for institutions that exist outside the nation's poisonous partisan divide, besides the military and perhaps big-league sports, it is a disservice to try to enlist science for an ideology.

It is the marchers who are the ones trying, literally, to politicize science. It deserves better defenders.

It's time to get them before they get us
by Cal Thomas
Apr 25, 2017 | 48 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print

As is almost always the case, signs of trouble preceded the latest shooting in Paris, which left one police officer dead and wounded two bystanders before police killed the gunman, later identified as French national Karim Cheurfi, a known criminal with a long, violent record. ISIS claimed to be behind the attack. According to police, a note praising ISIS fell out of Cheurfi's pocket when he fell.

Cheurfi was of Algerian descent, born in a Paris suburb. The Washington Post reported he had a criminal record and was known to authorities. His rap sheet included four arrests and convictions since 2003. He had spent nearly 14 years in prison for crimes that included burglary, theft and attempted murder.

When Cheurfi attempted to buy weapons French authorities took notice, especially when he made statements about wishing to kill police officers. After he traveled to Algeria earlier this year, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Cheurfi was interviewed, but a judge refused to revoke his probation. It makes one question not only France's probation laws, but the types of background checks in place that ought to have prevented Cheurfi from legally acquiring any firearm (if he bought it legally), much less the Kalashnikov rifle he allegedly used.

French and other European politicians immediately expressed concern over what effect the shooting and the terrorist attacks that preceded it might have on France's choice of a new president. Rightist candidates immediately tried to exploit the issue, but it has been a subject on the minds of French voters, particularly in Paris, where a major enclave of immigrants from Muslim countries continue to be seen by many as a threat to the French way of life.

Cheurfi should have been back in jail for parole violations. Given his record, his statements and the trip to Algeria, enough red flags were raised to warrant action.

A side note. While Algeria has not been a main source of terrorism in the world, the human rights agency Algeria Watch has noted: "Although Algerian nationals were not among the suicide bombers of 11 September 2001, they have featured prominently in subsequent investigations into al-Qaida activities in North America and Europe. In the UK, where an Algerian community has grown as a largely unknown minority in recent years, several dozen Algerians have been arrested since mid-2001 in localities as widely spread as Leicester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, London and Manchester. Arrests in London in January 2003 uncovered a cell producing ricin, while in Manchester, one of the Algerian detainees, 27-year-old Kamel Bourgass, was responsible for killing a police officer -- the first victim in the UK's post-11 September anti-terrorist campaign."

In the United States and other countries in the West, most often someone has to actually break the law before they can be arrested. Given the tactics of terrorists, it might be worth discussing whether to invoke a doctrine of pre-emption, which is sometimes employed when an enemy nation appears to be an imminent threat. If that is an option to prevent death and destruction from countries, why can't we impose something similar for people who have violent criminal records and who openly state, as Cheurfi did, that he intends to kill police?

Western reluctance to adapt such a practice shows there is one force more powerful than the uniformed police. It is the "PC police." These are people who care more about how they feel than for the innocent people gunned down in our streets.

Don't innocents have the right to be protected from fanatics who so often claim to be doing God's work? With ongoing investigations by the Department of Homeland Security into radical terrorists in every state, it's long past time to get them before they get any more of us.

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Photo by Kent Mohundro
Central's Coley Waldrop eyes down a pitch from the Humphreys County pitcher in last Friday's first round 11-0 shutout of the Cowboys at Golden Bear Field. They finished the sweep on the road Monday with a 22-3 victory as Jarod Bronson tossed a two-hitter. The Bears will face North Pontotoc in round two beginning on Friday.
Photo by Kent Mohundro Central's Coley Waldrop eyes down a pitch from the Humphreys County pitcher in last Friday's first round 11-0 shutout of the Cowboys at Golden Bear Field. They finished the sweep on the road Monday with a 22-3 victory as Jarod Bronson tossed a two-hitter. The Bears will face North Pontotoc in round two beginning on Friday.
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