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GREAT MOMENTS IN GASLIGHTING. CNN: Of Course We Don’t Hate Trump Or Favor Democrats.

Jim Acosta has a new book to peddle (I won’t link to it here but I’m sure you can find it on a quick search if you’re interested), and he’s been using his platform at CNN to promote it. He recently sat down with Don Lemon to discuss the “dangerous” nature of covering the President, particularly if you have anything critical to say about him. The two-person choir was singing in unison, assuring everyone that CNN has no inherent bias, does not “hate” President Trump and certainly doesn’t support Democrats over Republicans. (Perish the thought.) It’s a rather brief exchange, but the tone-deaf nature of these denials was really something to see.

Wow, does that take the cake (that CNN baked and displayed on air in 2010 to celebrate Obama’s “Stimulus” program). The Wright-Free Zone and the choir of kids singing for Obamacare could not be reached for comment.

MARK HARMON ALLEGEDLY ‘BODY CHECKED’ PAULEY PERRETTE ON NCIS SET: REPORT.

Walter Cronkite and global cooling. RatherGate. Katie Couric’s Christmas poems to ObamaCare. Charlie Rose. Ben Rhodes’ brother. Les Moonves, and now this. We need a complete and total shutdown of CBS until we can figure out what the hell is going on there.

THE BEST OF TIMES: Deaths from Cancer Continue to Decline Worldwide.

Globally the improvement is about 10% since 1990, but this county has seen an improvement of double that.

Weird that the curve for the US bottoms out around the same time ObamaCare started kicking in.

MISERABLE FAILURE: $586 Billion Later, Health Care Is Worse Than Before Obamacare — Thanks Obama.

YOU DON’T SAY: Lawmaker Who Helped Write Obamacare: ‘What We Have Now Is Not Working.’

The fix for a failed government program is always a bigger government program.

THE HILL: The strange greatness of Donald Trump.

He is divisive. But so is the unprecedented rejection of the 2016 election by the congressional Democrats and the Rise and Resist movement and the endless criticism from the media. Trump has shown remarkable personal strength in standing up to relentless attacks.

Moving from the defensive to the positive side of the balance sheet, despite all of the attacks and resistance, Trump has accomplished more in two years than his four immediate predecessors accomplished in four to eight years.

The economy is in the best shape in modern history. New and better trade agreements have been developed with the major economies. Our defense is much stronger, including a stronger and better funded NATO. Our principal adversaries — Russia, China, Iran, North Korea — are more off-balance than they have been in decades. Each of them is tough and ruthless, but they see in Trump someone who understands them and is equally tough in defending his country. And, with the collapse of ObamaCare, Trump has a huge opportunity to advance an effective, market-based approach to American health care coverage and cost control to help everyone.

Belying the hysteria of the left, all Americans are moving forward; these are not “sad times,” and there is no “crisis.”

This raises the central question to be framed in the next election: What should we demand of our president? If we’re looking for dignity, manners, grace and orderliness, Trump is vulnerable. If we’re looking for strong leadership to provide real opportunity for economic advancement for all Americans and a strong defense of America and its interests, then Trump has a claim to greatness over his current opponents and his predecessors.

Interestingly, the author is an Establishment Republican of the Rockefeller/Richardson variety.

THIS AGED WELL: If Trump thinks he can get more than 3% economic growth, he’s dreaming. But while 3.2% is good, if Congress had overturned ObamaCare — thanks, John McCain, you egotist — we might have gotten 4% by now.

ICYMI: CBO Report: 1.4 Million Lost Health Insurance Since 2016 — And Obamacare Is To Blame.

IF YOU LIKE YOUR PLAN, YOU CAN KEEP YOUR PLAN: CBO Report: 1.4 Million Lost Health Insurance Since 2016 — And Obamacare Is To Blame.

THEY SHOULD HAVE INCLUDED A CLAUSE OUTLAWING UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: CBO Report: 1.4 Million Lost Health Insurance Since 2016 — And Obamacare Is To Blame.

The data in that report — which was released on the same day the Mueller report came out and largely ignored — tells an entirely different story.

All of the increase in the uninsured over the past two years — all of it — is the result of the massive rate increases Obamacare’s mandates and regulations caused. According to the Health and Human Services Dept., premiums in the individual insurance market doubled from 2013 to 2017. They shot up again in 2018.

For those eligible for Obamacare subsidies, the rate increases were meaningless. The amount they had to pay didn’t change much, and in many cases went down.

But for the millions of middle-class Americans who buy insurance coverage on the individual market and aren’t eligible for Obamacare subsidies, the result has been financially devastating.

The rich have plenty of options and the poor have nothing to take, so it’s always the middle class that pays.

Always.

KATIE COURIC: TRUMP’S ‘BEHAVIOR’ HAS WARRANTED ‘GREATER SCRUTINY’ FROM MEDIA.

Flashback: Katie Couric Uses Christmas Poem To Campaign For ObamaCare.

More: Katie Couric & Gun Rights: A Study in Dishonesty.

Just think of her as a Democratic party operative with a byline, and it all makes sense.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG? An Obamacare Rematch With John Roberts?

Ramesh Ponnuru:

In the current case, opponents of Obamacare are challenging the law on the basis that Congress, in 2017, got rid of the tax on people who go without insurance. The opponents’ theory, endorsed by one judge, is that if the coverage mandate was saved only by relabeling it a tax and then the tax was eliminated, the provision has to be struck down; and if it is struck down, the rest of the law has to be nullified, too, since Congress would not have adopted it without the provision.

It is a screwy case. By choosing to eliminate the tax without touching the rest of the law, Congress in 2017 separated the issues, and the courts, one would think, should follow its lead.

But Biskupic’s story about Roberts’s handling of the Obamacare case seven years ago tells us something more about today’s challenge. It suggests that Roberts is reluctant to move against Obamacare even when considering a case that he thinks has real legal merit.

It sure would be nice to have justices who rule purely on the merits, but as Ponnuru wrote earlier in his piece, “Biskupic’s story makes it sound as though Roberts, and to a lesser extent Breyer and Kagan, engaged in unseemly politicking without much relation to constitutional logic.”

HMM: Is Mitch McConnell Going All Wobbly on ObamaCare? “At the very least, Politico would like you to think so.”

SARAH KLIFF, WRITER AT YOUNG ADULT INFOTAINMENT SITE, VOX: Donald Trump is very committed to taking away your health insurance.

FLASHBACK: Sarah Kliff Discovers Obamacare Stinks.

CHANGE: Justice Department sides with court ruling Obamacare invalid. This has been a good day.

BRENT BOZELL: AFTER MUELLER REPORT, ‘I DON’T KNOW HOW CNN EVER RECOVERS.’

Predicting what will be coming, the MRC President [told Fox Business’ Stuart Varney], “I don’t know how CNN undoes the damage, because they not going to stop. They’re going to continue this. Are they going to say, ‘Oops! For two years we were wrong in our slandering of the President?’ They’re never going to do it.”

Exit quote:

“Half of me wants to burst out laughing. The other half of me wants to look seriously at American journalism and look at the damage these people have done to that institution. I don’t know how they repair it. I don’t know how some networks ever come back. I don’t know how Jim Acosta can ever be seen on television without people laughing at them. He’s ruined. Brian Stelter at CNN, Chuck Todd of NBC. These people are never going to be believed again.”

To be fair, I never thought CNN recovered from inviting young human shields to shill for Obamacare in 2009, serving cake on air in honor of the Obama stimulus in 2010, Candy Crowley sabotaging Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential debate, or this “Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia” moment in 2008, which greatly helped to smooth Obama’s path to election:

Just think of CNN as Democratic Party operatives with bylines, and their actions all make sense.

THE FRESH, YOUNG FACE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez now as unpopular as Ted Cruz during 2013 government shutdown over Obamacare defunding.

I can’t help but think that Speaker Pelosi 1.0 would have found a way to sideline someone like AOC already.

UNEXPECTEDLY: America’s Cities Are Running on Software From the ’80s.

The only place in San Francisco still pricing real estate like it’s the 1980s is the city assessor’s office. Its property tax system dates back to the dawn of the floppy disk. City employees appraising the market work with software that runs on a dead programming language and can’t be used with a mouse. Assessors are prone to make mistakes when using the vintage software because it can’t display all the basic information for a given property on one screen. The staffers have to open and exit several menus to input stuff as simple as addresses. To put it mildly, the setup “doesn’t reflect business needs now,” says the city’s assessor, Carmen Chu.

San Francisco rarely conjures images of creaky, decades-old technology*, but that’s what’s running a key swath of its government, as well as those of cities across the U.S.

Shades of the New Yorker cover from 2013, which showed Obama with Gordon Gekko’s brick-sized cell phone and Kathleen Sebelius crossing her fingers while Jay Carney nervously inserted a five-inch floppy disk into the TRS-80-era Obamacare server. Not to mention the speeches that Newt Gingrich was giving during the heady Contract With America days of 1994 and 1995, when he would hold up in one hand a vacuum tube, and in the other a microchip. As he explained, vacuum tubes were still in use in some FAA-regulated Air Traffic Control towers in America.

As Kevin Williamson wrote during the disastrous Obamacare rollout, “We choose not between Marx and Adam Smith but between the DMV and the Apple store:”

I can walk out of the Apple store on Fifth Avenue in New York, which sees more visitors per day than any DMV office, with a couple thousand dollars’ worth of electronics without ever having to stand in line, much less fill out paperwork. When I found myself in need of an unexpectedly large sum of cash while out of the country a couple of years ago, one telephone call to American Express, lasting less than ten minutes, was all it took. Services such as Seamless and OpenTable have greatly simplified all sorts of commercial transactions, and services such as Uber have begun to disrupt longstanding cartels and monopolies on taxi services and other conveniences. Some services even make dealing with the government easier, such as the concealed-carry apps that use GPS to let you know whether you’re legally packing.

And Leviathan is not happy about that.

Fortunately, beginning in 2016, Democratic operatives with bylines advised out of work coalminers to learn to code, before receiving similar advice from former readers in more recent times. Hopefully all of the efforts of these nascent software engineers will eventually begin to pay off to bring urban governmental software into the 1990s.

* Now who’s being naive, Kay? When I lived in Silicon Valley, the numerous power outages were a reminder that the businesses trying to bring you the 21st century were reliant upon a power grid that, thanks to the NIMBY nature of Bay Area leftists, hadn’t been upgraded since the 1960s heyday of Pat Brown, Jerry’s dad.

ROBERT VERBRUGGEN: The Upside of ‘Sabotaging’ Obamacare.

THIS MORNING’S NON-SHOCKER: John Roberts Let Politics Sway His Obamacare Ruling.

A forthcoming book by reporter Joan Biskupic, who has covered the Supreme Court for decades, goes into detail on Roberts’ first defense of the health-care law—his ruling in the 2012 case of Nation Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. In a book review for The Atlantic, Michael O’Donnell includes the following precis of Biskupic’s reporting:

She writes that he initially voted with the four other conservatives to strike down the ACA, on the grounds that it went beyond Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce. Likewise, he initially voted to uphold the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid. But Roberts, who kept the opinion for himself to write, soon developed second thoughts.

Biskupic, who interviewed many of the justices for this book, including her subject, writes that Roberts said he felt ‘torn between his heart and his head.’ He harbored strong views on the limitations of congressional power, but hesitated to interject the Court into the ongoing health-insurance crisis. After trying unsuccessfully to find a middle way with Kennedy, who was ‘unusually firm’ and even ‘put off’ by the courtship, Roberts turned to the Court’s two moderate liberals, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. The threesome negotiated a compromise decision that upheld the ACA’s individual mandate under Congress’s taxing power, while striking down the Medicaid expansion.

On the day of the ruling in June 2012, Chris Cillizza, then writing for The Washington Post, claimed that Roberts’ opinion “made good on his pledge to referee the game, not play it.” But the story Biskupic tells, which confirms prior reporting by Jan Crawford published shortly after the ruling, contradicts Cillizza’s view entirely. Roberts’ entire approach to the case consisted of playing games—and highly political ones at that.

The tenor of the passage reinforces how Roberts abandoned his stated principles in NFIB.

Shameful.

IF A BUSINESS DID THIS, WE’D BE HEARING ABOUT THE EVILS OF CAPITALISM: Exclusive: D.C. Exchange Website Misled Customers About Individual Mandate.

Last year, in response to Congress repealing the Obamacare individual mandate penalty beginning this January, the D.C. Council established its own requirement for District residents to maintain health coverage. If D.C. leaders wished to replicate Obamacare on the local level, they have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations—right down to the non-functioning website.

For nearly six months—including the first month of open enrollment—the District failed to inform visitors to its online insurance exchange about the new coverage requirement. When District officials finally discovered their webpage fail, what did they do to admit their fault, and tell the public? Nothing.

When Congress took steps to try and defund the D.C. insurance mandate last summer, District officials complained, calling it an intrusion on their authority. But after having bungled their website and failed to tell the public about the mix-up, how can they now claim competence to manage their own affairs?

Well, it’s the District, so . . . . And note that if a business had done this, it would be facing all sorts of liability.

UNEXPECTEDLY: “A new government program was supposed to prevent certain Medicare recipients from cycling in and out of hospitals. Now experts worry some older patients are being denied necessary care.”

UPDATE (FROM STEVE): “New” in the NYT headline obscures the fact that this is 2012 program authorized by ObamaCare.

WOMAN DIDN’T KNOW PROGRESS ON TOXIC MASCULINITY WOULD TURN BOYFRIEND INTO SUCH A WEEPY LITTLE PANSY:

Expressing disbelief at her romantic partner’s dramatic behavioral shift, local woman Emily Kittleson, 30, told reporters Friday that she had not expected her boyfriend’s attempts to recognize and curtail toxic masculinity would eventually turn him into a “weepy little pansy.” “Christ, I know the dope is trying to be conscious of the effects of his words and actions and to be more open and honest with his emotions, but there’s got to be a limit,” said Kittleson of her boyfriend Shane Magnusen, 31, whose efforts to reject toxic masculinity have begun to irritate her as she claims he has evolved into “a fragile fucking flower about everything” in recent weeks.

Whoa, when did the Onion stop being satire?

ESPN HOST SAYS DONALD TRUMP GIVING CLEMSON FOOTBALL PLAYERS FAST FOOD WAS RACIST:

Quoth [Molly] Qerim:

“When I saw him giving the football players, a predominantly black sport, and fast food my thought went a very different place.”

Ah, yes. Despite the fact that the VIDEO ESPN AIRED FEATURES WHITE PLAYERS PICKING UP HAMBURGERS TO EAT, that doesn’t disguise the fact that Donald Trump is a huge racist for giving football players Big Macs, Whoppers, and Wendy’s hamburgers. And pizza too!

Because god knows only black people eat fast food.

How dare he?

Donald Trump is an evil racist intent upon inflicting his white supremacy on everyone by giving them free food they choose to eat while voluntarily visiting his residence!

If a president serving fast food to invited guests is racist, then it’s time to overturn pretty much all of the New Deal. And forget #Metoo and the ObamaCare lies; the photos below are proof that these two former presidents have committed serious hateburger crimes.

President Bill Clinton speaks with an unidentified man and woman at a downtown Little Rock, Arkansas McDonald’s after a morning jog Monday, March 30, 1993. The President and his family have been visiting the first lady’’s ailing father in Little Rock. (AP Photo and caption.)

In this May 16, 2014, photo, President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, meets with, from left, Abdullahi Mohamed, Meredith Upchurch and Antonio Byrd at the Shake Shack in Washington. Obama seems to have caught a bad case of cabin fever. Since taking office, Obama has periodically grumbled about the claustrophobia that sets in when his every move is surrounded by intense security, rendering it nearly impossible to enjoy the simple pleasures that private citizens take for granted. But in recent days, the president has made more of a point to get out. (AP Photo and caption.)

THE BREAKING OF THE NEVER TRUMP MIND:

The Never Trumpers say they don’t recognize a Republican Party where the core tenets are neither free trade nor foreign democracy promotion. But maybe they just didn’t know their voters by sight, because the only party that has truly departed recognition is Never Trump.

Each week brings this movement a new and bizarre position: Opposing tax cuts, supporting Obamacare; wishing North Korean talks ill, wishing Democratic investigators well; dreaming of European political meddling, pining for American political comeuppance.

Rick Santorum, the Catholic working-class firebrand rarely seen among Washington’s polite classes, had long commented that a party such as the GOP, with a donor class so out of line with its base, could not possibly continue to function.

There could not be such a massive realignment without something somewhere snapping, but despite the Never Trump hysteria, it doesn’t appear to be the party. Though the president’s House was defeated in the first post-Trump national elections and his two-year approval among Democrats lies at historic lows, his approval with his own voters—those who the Never Trumpers courted not long ago—is second only to George W. Bush after 9/11.

Read the whole thing.

STOCKHOLM SYNDROME: Mitt Romney will give first post op-ed TV interview today on CNN.

Earlier:

Related: “I wish Romney had defeated Obama in 2012, but does anyone think this Massachusetts technocrat, who gave us the state-level version of Obamacare in the Bay State, signed up for a regional climate change cap-and-trade scheme, who appointed the egregious Gina McCarthy (Obama’s second EPA administrator) to be his environmental adviser, and appointed state judges who struck the first judicial blows for same-sex marriage, would have governed as a serious conservative had he won?”

WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING, BESIDES EVERYONE WITH A BRAIN? It Sure Looks Like This Obamacare Program Has Led to More People Dying: Under the health law, Medicare started penalizing hospitals for too many readmissions. Now mortality rates are up.

To determine whether a government program is successful, it’s often necessary to look not only at how well it does what it’s supposed to do, but what it’s doing that it isn’t supposed to. For example, killing people.

Take the hospital readmissions program built into Obamacare. The program derived from a simple observation that hospitals were treating lots of people who would then return for more treatment within the month. Unnecessary readmissions cost Medicare an estimated $17.5 billion a year. If hospitals were treating people effectively, the thinking went, those people shouldn’t need to return so soon.

So the health law instituted a Medicare payment penalty for hospitals with too many readmissions for pneumonia, heart failure, and heart attack. Since 2012, Medicare has assessed about $2 billion in penalties on hospitals with too-high readmissions rates.

Hospital groups have argued that these payments are punitive and unfair, particularly to so-called safety net hospitals that serve the poorest, sickest patients. These patients tend to have higher readmissions rates, and the hospitals that treat them were more likely to be hit with payment reductions. (Earlier this year, the Trump administration changed the penalty structure for safety net hospitals.)

But the program has often been labeled a success because it accomplished its primary goal. Readmissions dropped between 2.3 and 3.6 percentage points for the conditions targeted. Readmissions associated with other maladies dropped by 1.4 percent. The authors of one 2016 study suggested that the lower readmission rates “point to how Medicare can improve the care that patients receive through innovative payment models.” It offered proof, and hope, that with the right incentives, Medicare could save money and provide better care.

A new study appears to dash that hope, at least as far as readmissions are concerned.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and conducted by by researchers associated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical and Harvard Medical School, looked at hospitalizations between 2005 and 2015. It found that “30-day post-discharge mortality”—the number of people who died within a month of leaving the hospital—increased for heart failure patients after the readmissions penalty program was implemented.

But remember, if you opposed ObamaCare, it was because you wanted people to die. All the best thought leaders said so.

DON’T WORRY, I’M SURE OBAMACARE WILL FIX IT: There’s An Illegal Alien Health Crisis At The Border.

YES, BUT WHAT WILL CONGRESS MAKE OF THEM? Reed O’Connor’s Obamacare Ruling Opens Up New Possibilities for America’s Health Care.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: Comey Back on Hill, Farewell Obamacare? and Much, Much More. “Lordy, ex-FBI deep-stater James Comey the Redeemer is back on the Hill today to twerk and freak for the Justice and Oversight committees.”

That was a bit vivid for this early in the day.

ROGER SIMON: Good Riddance to Obamacare.

COURT: ObamaCare mandate unconstitutional.

UPDATE: More here.

SHAME STORM:

In October 2010, I appeared on a panel to promote a book of essays by young conservatives, Proud to Be Right: Voices of the Next Conservative Generation. The moderator was Jonah Goldberg. One of the other panelists was my ex-boyfriend Todd Seavey. During the Q&A, Todd launched into a rant about my personal failings. He accused me of opposing Obamacare on the grounds that it would diminish human suffering, which allegedly I preferred to increase; of wanting to repeal laws against fistfights for the same reason; of being a sadistic and scheming heartbreaker in my personal life; and of generally living according to a “disturbing” and “brutal” set of values. For three minutes and forty-five seconds, which, unfortunately for me, were captured on film for broadcast two weeks later on C-SPAN2, he made an impassioned case that I was a sociopath.

* * * * * * * *

I braced myself for the broadcast. Maybe no one would notice? Within minutes, the offending clip had been posted on YouTube, where it got half a million hits in the first forty-eight hours. It made the evening news on Washington’s Fox affiliate. Greg Gutfeld did a segment about it on RedEye. It was written up in Gawker, the Washington Post, Talking Points Memo, and a hundred lesser sites, and then written up again when Todd expanded his remarks about me into a ­series of blog posts on his personal website.

Read the whole thing.

LOOK, WHEN IT COMES TO THE UNAFFORDABLE CARE ACT, I JOIN MY ASATRU FRIENDS AND SUBSCRIBE TO THE WAY OF THOR.  WE JUST NEED TO HIT IT WITH A HAMMER:  Trump Administration Undermines Obamacare.

WHY IS OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT DOWN? WONDERS THE NYT. Turns out it’s expensive, there are better alternatives, people don’t like it, and it isn’t mandatory anymore.

BUT OF COURSE: Snopes, Fact-Checker For Facebook And Google, Botches Fact Check.

The meme showed a picture of President Donald Trump with Republican lawmakers and members of his administration following the House’s vote to repeal Obamacare in 2017. Thirty-three people in the photo Snopes used had a red X over their face, though it cropped out a 34th person included in others.

The caption accurately claimed the photo was taken at the White House following the House’s Obamacare vote, then falsely claimed that “Everyone with an X has since been voted out of Congress.”

Political reporters mocked the meme’s inaccuracies after Nicholas Kitchel, a former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer, shared it in a Nov. 17 tweet.

But Snopes fact-checker Bethania Palma, a former writer for liberal website Raw Story, fact-checked the meme three weeks later and claimed it was accurate.

All organizations make mistakes, but when the mistakes all go in the same direction, it does tend to make people a tiny bit suspicious that there could possibly be an agenda at work.

WE HAVE THE WORST POLITICAL CLASS IN OUR HISTORY: Michael Barone: Who’s to blame? Weak leaders, weak institutions, weak voters?

In the wake of the midterm elections, conservative analyst Yuval Levin saw no winners. “It is the weakness of all sides, and the strength of none, that shapes this moment.”

You can see what he means. President Trump hasn’t gotten everything he wanted — no Obamacare repeal, not even the wall — from the Republican House of Representatives. And on one issue or another he’ll probably get something from Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats he couldn’t get from Paul Ryan’s Republicans.

Now, maybe House Democrats will overplay their hand and help Trump win re-election in 2020. And maybe Democrats, faced with a crowded field of presidential candidates, will choose an unelectable nominee.

But even though Republicans gained Senate seats and are in good shape to confirm conservative judges, Trump is weakened by the results. Republicans lost just about every House seat he carried in 2016 by 5 percent or less. And he got only 46 percent of the popular vote.

Do the math. Forty-six minus five is 41. No way a 41-percent candidate gets 270 electoral votes in a two-way race.

It doesn’t have to be this way. CNN analyst Harry Enten points out that Trump’s job approval on the economy at this point is the second highest of recent presidents. But his overall approval is the second lowest. The obvious advice: Behave in a more dignified manner.

But Trump is not alone among national leaders in behaving in a way that makes him weaker than he might be. It seems to be a common, though not quite universal, ailment.

Yep. Macron, Merkel, and May are all more unpopular, with good reason.

SOMETHING ODD GOING ON IN MARYLAND’S EMOLUMENTS SUIT AGAINST TRUMP: Earlier this year, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh found a federal judge willing to give the green light to his suit claiming the chief executive violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause by accepting foreign gifts.

The New Reform Club’s Seth Barrett Tillman says what isn’t happening in the litigation is more significant than what is. The District of Columbia government has also joined in the suit. Frosh is from deepest blue Montgomery County and is a hyper-partisan liberal Democrat who has also joined in suits challenging Trump’s immigration executive orders, 2017 tax cuts, Obamacare repeal and replace, and much, much more.

 

CAN’T HARDLY WAIT: Get ready for Congress’ annual Shutdown Theater Christmas Special.

Democrats want to use the shutdown clock to push for an apparently unconstitutional bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s job. Following the appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Democrats (and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.) have sounded the alarm about the need to insulate Mueller from being fired by the president who appointed him.

“I feel very strongly about protecting Bob Mueller,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a recent interview. ”I think that I will look at any and all vehicles in order to do that. That goes to the question as to whether the president is above the law.”

Meanwhile, President Trump has also toyed with the idea of using the government shutdown as a means to get concessions from Democrats on border security. As recently as Thursday POTUS said that “there certainly could be” a shutdown if immigration concerns remain unaddressed by the December 7 deadline.

What didn’t make the list? Any concerted attempt by the GOP to address Obamacare’s lingering list of problems or Planned Parenthood funding.

Now that there is no tomorrow, you might have hoped that the GOP Congress would legislate that way. But no.

SETH BARRETT TILLMAN: Did The Chief Justice Rebuke President Trump?

Professor ZZZ asks: “Can anyone recall a rebuke of a President by a Chief Justice that’s anything remotely like this?”

Perhaps, Chief Justice Taney’s statement on the courthouse steps after deciding Ex parte Merryman from the bench? And didn’t Associate Justice Chase have some serious words, issued from the bench, about Jeffersonians—and by implication about Jefferson? The latter ended in tears, and arguably, so did the former.

Anyway, why should I care about the Chief Justice’s statements unrelated to actual litigation before the Supreme Court? Is the Chief Justice imbued with some religious or cult-like aura that makes such statements peculiarly insightful or relevant to the legal or political system?

If Professor ZZZ is right, if this statement was meant as a “rebuke,” then just maybe the Chief Justice should run for elected office—like Charles Evans Hughes, Sr chose to do. If the Chief Justice’s statement was meant as a “rebuke” in response to the lawful exercise of free speech (by the President), then just maybe we might want to (re)consider precisely who is breaking “our” norms—or, if we have common norms about which it is sensible to speak about. To be clear, I certainly don’t think it is the role of unelected judges to “rebuke” either citizens or elected officials for doing what it is perfectly legal to do.

Two thoughts. First, in talking about “Obama judges,” Trump was merely echoing the common media trope that identifies judges in controversial cases based on who appointed them. And if judges are as neutral and apolitical as Roberts pretends, then why so much sturm und drang over judicial appointments? To paraphrase Justice Field, if this is true, then the late excitement experienced by the country was quite unnecessary.

Second, Roberts is in a particularly poor place to talk about apolitical judging after his transparent capitulation to the Obama Administration’s campaign of media bullying during the pendency of the ObamaCare case. He reversed his position in response to political pressure from an administration that was, at the time, a party to the case. He has no high horse to sit on.

UPDATE: An amusing take from Harvard Lawprof Adrian Vermeule:

ANOTHER UPDATE: Heh:

Also:

(Bumped).

UPDATE: Chuck Grassley to Chief Justice John Roberts: You Rebuked Trump — but Sat Silent Through Obama’s Abuse. The increased feistiness of people like Grassley and Orrin Hatch post-Kavanaugh has been an amazing thing to behold.

ANOTHER PROGRESSIVE MYTH DEBUNKED: What the Prescription Drug Debate Gets Wrong. If we want new drugs for Alzheimer’s and the other ravages of old age, the last thing we need is European-style price controls at the pharmacy. But that’s the dream of Democrats, and the Trump administration is unfortunately threatening to go along with it.

This campaign is based on the same myth that was used to sell Obamacare: Americans are dying because their health-care system is an international disgrace. While it’s true that Canadians’ and western Europeans’ life expectancy is higher than Americans’, it’s not because of their price-controlled drugs and government health services. As I write in City Journal, the gap is due to variables that have nothing to do with health-care systems: the higher rates in America of poverty, obesity, smoking, homicide, fatal accidents and other factors.

The gap would be even larger if it weren’t for the fact that Americans receive better health care, particularly for heart disease and cancer. And the chief reason that American patients fare better than European patients is that they get earlier access to more new drugs. A dollar spent on drugs does more to combat disease and disability than a dollar spent anywhere else.

Yes, Canadians and Europeans pay less at the pharmacy, but they’re getting what they pay for. Why would Trump want to copy them? He should look at the numbers. Americans already get a much better deal.

 

JASON LEWIS: Who Lost The House? John McCain. His July 2017 vote killed ObamaCare repeal and made Democratic lies impossible to refute.

Despite all the hypocritical tributes at McCain’s funeral, his politics was always personal and often petty, and frequently destructive.

JASON LEWIS: Who Lost The House? John McCain. “His July 2017 vote killed ObamaCare repeal and made Democratic lies impossible to refute.”

The problem was—and still is—that under ObamaCare all policyholders are charged as if they are sick. If restoring a modicum of traditional underwriting by loosening the Affordable Care Act’s strict age-rating rule discriminated against the old, then ObamaCare was—and is—discriminating against the young. The AHCA would have relieved this problem by allowing states to opt out of ObamaCare’s most onerous mandates and instead cover the most difficult-to-insure with $138 billion worth of high-risk pools. That would have arrested the ObamaCare “death spiral” and, as the Congressional Budget Office admitted, reduced both premiums and the deficit.

Emerging in response to World War II-era wage and price controls, health insurance has been tied to employment. When older workers lose their coverage along with their job, it creates a serious barrier for entering the individual market, as pre-existing conditions are often the result of age. This is primarily due to an unfair tax code that gives employers but not individuals tax breaks for buying insurance.

Again, the AHCA sought to even the playing field by offering a refundable tax credit anyone could use to buy an individual plan. The bill also would have expanded tax-deferred health savings accounts to help cover deductibles, copayments and over-the-counter expenses.

All these provisions were an attempt to alleviate the pre-existing condition problem, not exacerbate it. To be sure, instead of running away from health-care reform after it failed, Republicans should have leaned in on the plan’s most important aspects. But because the AHCA didn’t pass, it was impossible to refute the lies about it.

McCain claimed to have been voting his conscience, but in reality he was just sticking it one last time to Trump — and his fellow Congressional Republicans.

WINNING: Trump administration widens Obamacare escape hatch for red states.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. If Republicans Can Confirm Kavanaugh, They Can Repeal Obamacare.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. “Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote is officially more bipartisan than Obamacare.”

END IT DON’T MEND IT: Obamacare Requirement Blamed For Doctor Burnout.

The report published in the American Journal of Medicine found that the electronic health records (EHR) is destroying the relationship between doctors and patients. The Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom charges the Obamacare requirement that doctors use electronic health records has caused a surge of burnout in the medical profession, explains Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin. “The EHR is causing doctors to leave their patients,” said Twila Brase, the president of CCHF and the author of “Big Brother in the Exam Room: The Dangerous Truth About Electronic Health Records.”

“Congress forced doctors to buy and use computerized record systems to collect and report patient data to the government. And it’s wreaking havoc on their practices and their patients,” said Brase according to WND. Brase’s book is opening eyes to the problems of government interference in markets – especially the healthcare market.

More at the link.

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Don’t Look Now — But Ted Cruz Was Exactly Right About ObamaCare.

IT’S ALL ABOUT TRANSACTION COSTS: How Obamacare and other regulations are leading to the demise of the independent doctor and the corporatization of healthcare. But I thought the left hated corporations? Oh, wait…

TYLER O’NEIL: Judge Foils ‘Deep State Bureaucrats’ in Obamacare Case, Demands IRS Return $839M to 6 States. “Busting a bureaucrat ‘money laundering scheme’.”

BLUE WAVE? Fox News Poll: Democrats maintain lead in race for House.

Several findings point to the potential for a blue map in November:

– President Trump’s job rating remains underwater.

– Republicans alone say the economy is in positive shape.

– The GOP tax law is less popular (40 percent favorable) than Obamacare (51 percent favorable).

– The Republican Party is less popular (39 percent favorable) than the Democratic Party (50 percent favorable).

– Optimism about life for the next generation of Americans is down eight points from last year.

– There is greater enthusiasm to vote in the midterms among out-of-power Democrats.

It’s never too soon to donate, or even better, volunteer for a local campaign.

THANKS, OBAMACARE: The doctor is out? Why physicians are leaving their practices to pursue other careers. “After 20 years, I quit medicine and none of my colleagues were surprised. In fact, they all said they wish they could do the same.”

ANDREW MALCOLM: A Journalist Reflects On His Profession’s Anti-Trump Collusion.

Had those elites of both parties paid genuine attention to flyover country’s concerns, frustrations and fears, as silly and stupid as they seem to disconnected Beltway know-it-all’s, they would not be in today’s baffling, powerless position. There would have been no need for a Trump. And by the way, isn’t it strange how a billionaire from a New York high-rise could detect the heartland’s hurt better than those elected from that region?

Trump did not invent many Americans’ visceral dislike of the media. He’s using it, exactly as these 100+ newspapers will use their readers’ visceral dislike of Trump to influence a large audience on this day. It’s all fair game in a free society, even one as bitterly splintered as ours these days.

Many silent Americans see a Washington paper, for example, chronicling in excess of 4,000 Trump exaggerations and lies. Fair enough.

Where was that passion for lie detection during Obama’s endless reign of error when he spewed serial untruths about, among others, Solyndra, Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, Benghazi’s video roots and how Americans could keep their insurance, doctor and about $2,500 in savings under Obamacare?

Now, some realities: When’s the last time you read a newspaper editorial, online or in print, and thought, “You know, that anonymous writer is right and I’ve been wrong all these years!”

Today’s media “collusion” won’t move the needle one tick, but it will be regarded as a success within the DNC-Media Complex echo chamber because it will suddenly seem so much louder in there. Everyone else will yawn.

Ego drives the media to overplay its hand, every time, for the same reason the scorpion stings the frog.

WATCH DEM CANDIDATE BEN JEALOUS SNAP, ‘ARE YOU F—ING KIDDING ME?’ WHEN ASKED IF HE’S A SOCIALIST:

Erin Cox, a reporter from the Washington Post, asked him about that during a press conference on Wednesday.

Jealous dismissed the labels.

“Him calling me a far-left socialist — that’s what the Tea Party called President Obama. It’s what Barry Goldwater called Martin Luther King,” he said. “And when you see conservatives like Hogan name-calling, you realize that they’re scared.”

Jealous described himself as a “venture capitalist,” who just happens to want to “push everyone we can into ObamaCare.”

Cox decided to press him further: “Not to put too fine a point on it, do you identify with the term socialist?” she asked.  The impertinent question prompted Jealous to curse at her.

“Are you f—ing kidding me?” he replied sharply. “Is that a finer point?”

How odd, when in 2009 the Post, through its then-subsidiary Newsweek assured its leftist core readership that they were all socialists now.

In the February 16 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands February 9), “We Are All Socialists Now,” Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas observe that the America of 2009 has become a more socialist country, and the shift began not under a Democrat but a Republican. Plus: how the United States is turning European; the draw of gangs in L.A.; the blackberry president; why Americans don’t hate the rich; and an interview with the Prime Minister of Pakistan. (PRNewsFoto/NEWSWEEK) (Newscom TagID: prnphotos078747) [Photo via Newscom]

IT’S ALMOST AS THOUGH WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE A FREE PEOPLE: Obamacare is now optional.

CHOOSE THE FORM OF YOUR DESTRUCTOR: The Amazing Story of How Trolling by Obama Gave Us Trump.

Read the whole thing, including this:

I don’t see how being held up to public ridicule by Obama can possibly be discounted as something that convinced Trump to run for president. In fact, it is very much in sync with what we know about Trump.

Now, did he expect to win when he launched his campaign? I don’t think so. There was an interview by an early member of Team Trump that gave the distinct impression that he wanted a credible showing as a springboard to more reality television.

Who else didn’t think he’d win against Hillary, and was using his longshot election bid as a springboard to gain additional notoriety? Oh yeah, this once-unknown politician:

Soon-to-be-candidate Obama, then an Illinois senator, was thinking about turning down an invitation to speak at a big health care conference sponsored by the progressive group Families USA [in January 2007], when two aides, Robert Gibbs and Jon Favreau, hit on an idea that would make him appear more prepared and committed than he actually was at the moment.

Why not just announce his intention to pass universal health care by the end of his first term?…

“We needed something to say,” recalled one of the advisers involved in the discussion. “I can’t tell you how little thought was given to that thought other than it sounded good. So they just kind of hatched it on their own. It just happened. It wasn’t like a deep strategic conversation.”…

The candidate jumped at it. He probably wasn’t going to get elected anyway, the team concluded. Why not go big?

Why not indeed? The result was a hollowing out of the Democrats’ backbench due to Obamacare’s deep unpopularity, giving the Democrats very few options for 2016, except for a remarkably flawed retread.

SICK: ObamaCare Is Robbing Medicaid’s Sickest Patients. “The law’s incentives push states to spend more on new enrollees, and less on the disabled and ill.”

What seems to have happened is this: Recall that for the pre-ObamaCare Medicaid populations—those disabled and sick folks—states must pay up to half the cost. In an era of tightening budgets, they appear to have set capitated payments lower than the actual cost of care. Then when it comes to the able-bodied people covered by the ObamaCare expansion, the feds cover nearly the whole tab, so the states are profligate.

In other words, Medicaid is now encouraging insurers to spend more money caring for people who don’t need it and less for those who do.

So that whole “eliminate waste and fraud” promise turned out to be a fraud.

YOU MAY NOT BE INTERESTED IN THE GLEICHSCHALTUNG, BUT THE GLEICHSCHALTUNG IS INTERESTED IN YOU: The New Left Is Coming for You.

The first time that many casual observers learned, for example, of the “controversy” involving Scarlett Johansson having been cast to play a transgender character was when she backed out of the production amid an outcry driven by a loud and engaged minority. We have skipped over the part where the aggrieved are kind enough to explain their grievance to the general public—in this case, why it is suddenly inappropriate for a performer to play a role outside his or her demographic. From software engineers with conservative views about same-sex marriage and gender roles to liberal actors (and those who come to their defense) who find occasion to praise conservatives, those who would deter transgressions against transient liberal dogma are upping the ante. Democrats cannot embrace the Hollywood left, appearing alongside actors at rallies and feeding lines to late-night hosts, and expect to avoid association with its most indelicate elements.

Democrats can take heart in the fact that none of this seems likely to overtake their advantages ahead of Donald Trump’s first midterm election. Voters hate one-party government, and they appear set to punish the GOP even though they are voting for a party they admit has lost touch with mainstream America. That’s cold comfort. A Democratic wave in November will propel to Congress a new cast of liberals who are beholden to ideological rigidity and constituencies that will punish aisle-crossing. Those who lament the decline of civil discourse and compromise in Washington haven’t seen anything yet.

 Related: The Public Humiliation Diet.

(Classical reference in headline.)

MARK PENN IN THE HILL: The Dishonesty Of The Deep State:

I’ve seen President Clinton deny he had a relationship with “that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” I’ve seen President Obama assure people they will get to keep their doctor under ObamaCare. And I’ve seen former press secretary Sean Spicer declare that President Trump’s inaugural crowd was larger than Obama’s.

But these falsehoods pale in comparison to the performances of a series of “deep state” witnesses who have combined chutzpah with balderdash, culminating so far in the testimony of FBI agent Peter Strzok.

Let’s review just some of the highlights.

Former FBI Director James Comey maintained he did not make any decision on the email investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton until after Hillary Clinton’s interview, even though his conclusion memo was written, edited and watered down months in advance of his announcement. We have all of the timing, the drafts of the memo, and the dates and times of the edits.

Former CIA head John Brennan denied he supplied the Steele dossier on Trump to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the face of mounting evidence that he did precisely that and, at least orally, gave the former Nevada Democrat a full account of the dossier, leading Reid to write a public letter demanding an investigation.

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has flatly denied that he lied to the FBI about orchestrating a self-serving leak, even denying knowledge in several interviews with FBI investigators, including one session that Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz has on tape, if one reads the fine print of his report.

Now comes Strzok who, to the actual applause of congressional Democrats, denies he ever did anything in 26 years that contained even a hint of bias, despite the most damning evidence imaginable in the record — quote after quote indicating, at each and every phase of the Trump-Russia investigation, that he hated Trump, would create an “insurance policy” against his victory, and would “stop” him from serving as president. On a trip to Walmart, he says he can “smell” the Trump voters there. After all, he said, he expected his texts would be private communications — even as he used government devices to avoid detection of his relationship with then-FBI attorney Lisa Page, with whom he texted.

And like all the other witnesses, he does not come in contrite but with verbal guns blazing. These witnesses seem to believe they belong to a protected class. He offered no proof that he carefully acted to separate these views — which he constantly expressed to his paramour Page, who also was on the investigation — from his actions that are now under investigation. It is false, by the way, to say he was cleared of bias in the Trump-Russia investigation; the inspector general faulted Strzok’s texts and is currently investigating the origins of that investigation.

Remarkably, we learned that special counsel Robert Mueller never even made the slightest direct inquiry into Strzok’s actions and behavior, other than to remove him from the investigation. Mueller, you may recall, for five months ducked answering congressional inquiries as to why Strzok and Page were reassigned, and we only learned the reasons when the DOJ inspector general sent these text messages to Congress. Mueller, it seems, was too busy combing every single email of the transition team, and later monitoring every single call of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, to stop and review how this bias might have tainted much of the evidence of his investigation and require new interviews of witnesses or other action.

One other revelation in Thursday’s congressional hearing was really quite stunning: Strzok named fellow FBI official Bruce Ohr, whose wife was hired by the political opposition research firm Fusion GPS, as someone who handed in a version of the Steele dossier to the FBI. And Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) read from an email indicating that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), journalist David Corn of Mother Jones magazine and Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson all had sent versions of the Steele dossier to the FBI. (Simpson, by the way, testified he never dealt with the FBI.) At that point, just as it was getting interesting, Strzok claimed the FBI was barring him from answering any further questions on this material.

This revelation goes to the very heart of the matter of how bias led to a ridiculous, unverified group of mostly easily disproven allegations being treated as if they were the holy grail to stop Trump from becoming president. Dossier compiler and former British spy Christopher Steele, who also lied to the FBI about his press contacts, and Simpson apparently created a massive echo chamber involving the State Department, the CIA, politicians such as Reid and McCain, and the FBI — through the undisclosed relationship with Ohr’s wife — to spread what was all the same information, from the same unverified sources, as though it was coming in from all over. And this was all paid for through undisclosed contributions from the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. Remember, her State Department aides denied to the FBI even knowing that she had her own email server as secretary of State, despite clearly communicating about it in emails, and those who smashed and destroyed evidence were given either immunity or a pass.

It’s like they think the law doesn’t apply to them.

THE REST OF THE STORY:  Kavanaugh’s Obamacare ruling: Part II.

READING TEA LEAVES:  Kavanaugh’s Obamacare ruling: Part I.

CONRAD BLACK: On Immigration and the Supreme Court, Democrats Are Snookered: And their only serious leader may be Michael Bloomberg, who will be 78 in 2020. “One overconfident position of Trump’s enemies after another has been overrun, and now they are having to face the most blood-curdling horror of all: He may durably uproot and expel them from their incumbency and legitimacy as a permanent government, and he may actually succeed as a president. This is the explanation for the mushroom cloud of Democratic disconcertion about the ambivalent Anthony Kennedy. He provided the deciding vote on the three cases mentioned that closed this session of the Court, but he was pro-choice, pro the legality of Obamacare, and as liberal as he was conservative. All of the nominees on the president’s list of 25, from which the well-respected Justice Neil Gorsuch was chosen last year, are clearly qualified. All, when probed about abortion, will say something like what Circuit Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a practicing Roman Catholic with seven children, replied at her confirmation hearing, that no judge should allow personal views to get in the way of established law.”

FASTER, PLEASE: Is This Obamacare’s Last Dance?

MATTHEW CONTINETTI: The World As It Wasn’t: Barack Obama’s revealing reaction to Donald Trump’s victory.

Apparently Obama had read a column—I have an idea of which one—about the role of identity in shaping peoples’ lives and political choices. “Maybe we pushed too far,” he mused. “Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.” No question his fellow passengers that day reassured him that no, no, he did everything he could to bend the arc of history a little more toward justice. It’s not your fault, Mr. President. You didn’t push too far.

All you did was troll Donald Trump into running for president in the first place, stand by while Ferguson and Baltimore rioted and burned, give Iran billions in exchange for empty promises, allow Russia to establish a beachhead in the Middle East for the first time in half a century, browbeat Israel at every opportunity, ram through Obamacare after Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts, preside over the mass migration of children across the southern border in 2014, expand the DACA amnesty despite saying 22 times you lacked authority to do so, use the permanent structure of government to devastate the Appalachian economy, convince half of America that liberals were ready to take their guns (this wasn’t hard to do), have your Education Department issue orders that led to the campus-assault craze and the deterioration of classroom discipline and that, months before a presidential election, mandated trans-bathrooms in schools, have your Justice Department preside over a sloppy (I’m being charitable) investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server that included, at one point, your attorney general secretly meeting with the husband of the subject of the investigation on an airport tarmac, muscle out Joe Biden, who might have won, from the race, and hand the party back to the less-likable half of America’s most polarizing and corrupt political couple. Not to mention the eight years of lecturing. Oh, the lecturing. . . .

Last year, it was Merkel’s turn for electoral repudiation. Then Italians repudiated their elites last March. Unlike their American counterparts, however, the undemocratic liberals of Europe have sophisticated ways of bypassing popular sentiment. Obama must be envious. No third term for him, either literally or figuratively. Instead Hillary is out, Angela is alone, and Obama is left with his $65 million book deal, his “high-8-figure” Netflix deal, and, above all, his vanity intact.

Read the whole thing.

HMM: With the individual mandate dead, the rest of Obamacare is unconstitutional.

In fact, the only basis for the mandate’s constitutionality, according to Roberts, is that it’s a tax — not a fine, penalty, or anything else. This is a vital point, because when Republicans passed their tax reform legislation in December 2017, they included a provision in the law that lowers the individual mandate penalty to $0 beginning in January 2019, effectively eliminating any hope the individual mandate could still be considered a “tax.”

If the tax-less individual mandate is now found to be unconstitutional, it could very likely result in the entire healthcare law being struck down. In their 2012 dissenting opinion, four Supreme Court judges argued the ACA could not survive absent the individual mandate. Although Roberts never addressed the question in his opinion, there are good reasons to believe he should agree to throw the entire law out.

When determining whether a law should survive despite having at least one provision determined to be illegal, the Supreme Court has enacted a two-part test. In his 2012 dissent, Scalia explained the first part is “whether the now truncated statute will operate in the manner Congress intended. If not, the remaining provisions must be invalidated.”

Because Congress is the one that determined the Obamacare fine should be $0, it would likely be difficult to argue the ACA is operating in a manner it didn’t intend. But the second part of the test poses a much more difficult problem.

“Second, even if the remaining provisions can operate as Congress designed them to operate, the Court must determine if Congress would have enacted them standing alone and without the unconstitutional portion,” Scalia wrote. “If Congress would not, those provisions, too, must be invalidated.”

The reasoning seems solid, but you never know what the Roberts Court might do.

BYRON YORK: On The McCain Controversy.

McCain’s years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam will always define his biography. He showed courage and endurance under conditions most Americans cannot imagine. He is rightly celebrated for that.

But McCain’s valor came in a war America did not win and which remains divisive to this day. And some participants in the Vietnam War are still mad at each other; for example, the retired Air Force general who called McCain “songbird,” Thomas McInerney, himself has an impressive record of hundreds of missions over Vietnam. More than a decade ago, the Vietnam fight was over John Kerry and swift boats. Divisions remain.

In politics, McCain’s political career has been marked by a sometimes testy relationship with Republican Party doctrine and voters. In the 2000 GOP presidential primaries, his defeat of then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush in the New Hampshire primary led to a nasty showdown in South Carolina. Bush won, McCain lost, and some in the press came away with the impression that Bush had smeared McCain. On the other hand, some Republicans came away with the impression that McCain, who styled himself a “maverick,” would go out of his way to irritate his party.

Meanwhile, McCain cultivated a relationship with the media that was so close he sometimes referred to them as “my base.” McCain knew that many press types admired him because of his fondness for sticking it to the GOP. “Loving McCain was a way of expressing a negative opinion about the Republican Party,” longtime campaign adviser Mike Murphy said of the press in an interview with the Washington Post in 2006. . . .

McCain’s final act of angering Republicans came in July 2017, when he cast the decisive vote to kill the GOP effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Many Republicans felt it was a bad bill, and any lawmaker would have good reason to oppose it, yet some still saw McCain’s vote as a way of getting back at Trump.

So McCain has a war record of pure heroism. He has a political record of real achievement, but also perhaps more than his share of the controversy that goes with politics.

So which to emphasize in what might be McCain’s final days? Here’s a thought: Why not dwell on the good, especially since it was so good? When someone dies, it really is fitting to look at the best that person did. And John McCain lived a great, patriotic life, doing more in service to the U.S. than his critics, or almost anyone else. When he dies, why not remember that?

Good advice, but he’s not dead yet, he’s still alive and taking his own shots. And he hasn’t retired, which means he’s still in politics, not above them, even when they get nasty.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. The Obama Legacy Deserves To Be Destroyed.

David Harsanyi:

The Constitution doesn’t say “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law unless liberals tell us it’s super important.” Yet, shortly after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration realized it would need more subsidies and asked for an appropriation from Congress.

When Congress, then teeming with politicians elected on the promise of overturning Obamacare, refused, Obama Treasury Secretary Jack Lew ordered the administration to begin making “cost-sharing reduction” payments anyway without any public legal justification. Obama created a $7 billion per year appropriation for insurance companies participating in the supposedly self-sufficient and competitive state health-care exchanges. Not a single liberal pundit that I know of concerned himself with this norm-breaking.

One federal court found the Obamacare subsidy unconstitutional, and the case is working towards the Supreme Court. But, then again, no administration in memory was stopped more often by courts, often by unanimous SCOTUS decisions. Whether it was ignoring the Senate in making appointments or claiming to rewrite employment law, Obama tried to function without constitutional restraints.

None of this even breaches the unprecedented regulatory regime Obama built to circumvent the legislative branch. Even The New York Times characterized his governing as “bureaucratic bulldozing, rather than legislative transparency.”

Change it back.

WASHINGTON KNOWS BEST: Obama’s calorie rule kicks in thanks to Trump.

Starting Monday, calorie counts will have to be posted at thousands of restaurants, grocery stores and movie theaters, representing a milestone change in how the food industry shares information with the American public. The rule, an oft-forgotten provision of Obamacare, is being pushed over the finish line by a Trump nominee, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who says the labeling requirement is simply about transparency.

“I do not see these nutrition issues as a right-versus-left issue,” Gottlieb told POLITICO, noting that the obesity epidemic is a serious — and worsening — public health problem. “Using information as a vehicle to try to inspire competition is a conservative notion.”

It was “government information” which led to our obesity epidemic.

WELL, IT WORKED FOR OBAMACARE, SO WHY NOT? FOSTA/SESTA Was Passed Based On Made Up Stats About Sex Trafficking.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Americans Have Little Confidence in Grads’ Readiness for Work, College, according to Gallop poll.

Who could have seen this one coming?

21st CENTURY HEADLINES: Millennials blame boomers for ruining their lives.

To be fair, I’m sure the feeling is mutual.

RICH LOWRY: Why has the Republican Congress given up on doing anything?

In a gift for the ages, Republicans won all elected branches of the federal government in 2016. They had no reason to expect Trump to win the presidency, and, in fact, very few of them expected it. The initial ecstasy over Trump “signing their stuff” has given way to the reality that they don’t have stuff to send him.

Republicans couldn’t roll back ObamaCare, in part because the party hadn’t thought through what the Republican alternative was — even though anyone could have known this would be the central question if the GOP ever got a legitimate shot at repeal.

They passed a tax cut that included important reforms that even the Democratic repeal bills don’t want to completely undo and that are boosting the economy.
That’s all to the good. But tax cuts aren’t a magic political elixir.

First, Trump is right, as he said at an event a couple of weeks ago when he tossed away his script, that they are boring. They don’t have the emotive appeal of issues like trade and immigration. Second, there are limits to how effectively you can run on the one big thing you accomplished last year (and as of this November, it will be almost exactly a year ago).

This is the truly extraordinary aspect of the current situation. Republicans are content not to do anything else of significance in Congress this year. They passed an omnibus spending bill that was rightly denounced as a disgrace by Trump even as he signed it, and the Senate is working to confirm Trump appointees.

That’s pretty much it.

I keep saying the GOP should legislate like there’s no tomorrow. Instead, they’re legislating (or rather, not legislating) like they don’t care if they have a tomorrow.

CHANGE: Trump administration issues rule further watering down Obamacare.

NANCY PELOSI: Democrats Will Repeal the GOP Tax Law When We Retake the House.

Either Pelosi thinks this is a winning issue, or she’s already written off November but is trying to keep the base rallied.

Or perhaps it’s just one of those ironclad promises like the one about repealing ObamaCare.

WHY MILLENNIAL WOMEN WANT TO DATE OLDER MEN.

The article is well worth your time, but if time is short, I can sum up 992 words in a single image:

 

ANNALS OF LEFTIST AUTOPHAGY: Starbucks forced to put cancer warning on its products in California.

Ahh, California’s Proposition 65, the gift that keeps on giving. What doesn’t cause cancer in California?

Back when I was still living there, I stopped going to the local Starbucks when the Obamacare laws required them to list the calories in their products on the menu boards. It just didn’t seem worth it for bad coffee, milk and flavoring. But such laws won’t stop Starbucks and most other corporations to  reflexively keep pushing for bigger and more intrusive government.

DAN MCLAUGHLIN: The Supreme Court Proves It Didn’t Mean What It Said in King v. Burwell.

In June 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare provided subsidies to buyers of health insurance on the federally operated exchanges, not just exchanges established and operated by a state. Many legal observers at the time, myself included, argued that the decision in King v. Burwell was a politically driven outcome that disregarded longstanding rules for how the Court reads statutes, and that the Court in the future would have to either accept a dramatic sea change in those rules or admit (at least implicitly) that King v. Burwell was a political, not a legal, decision. Well, what do you know? The Court’s decision last month in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers makes it crystal clear that the Court does not take King v. Burwell seriously as a legal precedent, and would have decided that case differently if it had not been so politically charged.

To recap, the Court in King v. Burwell upheld a rule passed by Obama’s IRS that extended subsidies to buyers on the federal exchanges. To reach that conclusion, however, the Court had to leapfrog the language of the statute, which made its meaning obvious in four ways.

Read the whole thing.

I’d just add that for all the charges against Trump for incivility, it was Obama who all-but-threatened a political war with the Supreme Court to force decisions he wanted on his namesake health insurance law.

BREAKING: UNWORKABLE INSURANCE SCHEME STILL UNWORKABLE. States scrambling to avert Obamacare sticker shock after Dems balk at stabilization effort.

Politicians at all levels of government are fearing another round of sticker shock for consumers this fall as insurers jack up prices, blaming both the original 2010 health law and the moves Congress and the Trump administration have made to undercut it in the years since.

Capitol Hill had a chance to lower rates with a stabilization bill Republicans had hoped to attach to last week’s spending package. But Democrats balked, and Congress likely missed its last chance to act before the new rates are set.

Clearly, Democrats hate sick people.

MICHAEL WALSH: Fallout Continues as Obamacare Collapses.

ELIZABETH WARREN’S RESEARCH HARDEST HIT: Study: Medical bankruptcies may not be as common as thought.

Medical bills can push patients over the financial cliff, but a new study says this may not happen as often as previous research suggests.

Hospitalizations cause only about 4 percent of personal bankruptcies among non-elderly U.S. adults, according to an analysis published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This contrasts with previous research by former Harvard professor and current U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and others that pointed to medical reasons as the trigger for more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies.

Background on Elizabeth Warren’s shady research here. Remember that her conclusions were among the major arguments for ObamaCare.

Related: ” I don’t know which is worse: the notion that Elizabeth Warren understood what she was doing, or the notion that she didn’t.”

I should note that Gail Heriot exposed Warren’s research as bogus back in 2006, but the Post continued to hold her up. Had the more-or-less fraudulent nature of her work gotten national attention then, would Warren be a Senator today? Would ObamaCare have passed?

TOM MAGUIRE LOOKS INTO THAT NAZI WHO “WON” A PRIMARY IN ILLINOIS:

The Times coverage is decent but overlooks a lot. The short version is this: the incumbent, Dan Lipinski, is a pro-life anti-ObamaCare Blue Dog Democrat who was locked in a near-death struggle with a progressive challenger. The Nazi, Jones, had been kept off the ballot in cycles past by the invocation of technicalities. So the plan was to DQ Jones and let Republican crossover voters in the primary keep Lipinski alive. Since Lipinski won, barely, that part of the plan succeeded.

In 2016, for example, the Republican Party also failed to run a conventional candidate. Jones was the only one to submit signatures but the party managed to disqualify him to keep him off the primary ballot. They had the same plan for 2018 but Jones outmaneuvered them with a last-minute filing. . . .

The peril and promise of these ballot access rules is that ordinary registered voters are empowered – the party bosses cannot unilaterally dismiss reform minded, “rage against the machine” candidates like in the good old days. On the other hand, sometimes shit happens. . . .

Apparently Republicans will muster a write-in sacrificial lamb for the November vote. And Krugman, Oliver and the other progressive entertainers will have their fun.

Personally, I hate Illinois Nazis.

TENNESSEE: New poll finds Bredesen with narrow lead over Blackburn in US Senate race.

BUT OF COURSE: A prominent Senate Republican is pushing a plan to inject $10 billion a year for three years into ObamaCare exchanges.

Two of them, actually. Neither name — Lamar Alexander or Susan Collins — will surprise you.

PHIL GRAMM: How to Complete the Escape From ObamaCare. “Congress eliminated the individual mandate. There’s a way around the other onerous regulations.”

Democratic leaders in Congress were quick to recognize that Idaho’s plan to grant health-care freedom to its citizens posed a mortal threat to ObamaCare. Sens. Patty Murray and Ron Wyden were joined by Reps. Frank Pallone and Richard Neal in sending an intimidating letter to the director of Idaho’s Department of Insurance, threatening massive fines and demanding emails and phone records. Since Idaho has shown no sign of backing down, this battle is certain to escalate. Democrats clearly understand that if Idaho is able to market its “Freedom” insurance, as many as 30 Republican-led states will quickly follow its lead. Health-care freedom in Idaho could lead to the de facto end of ObamaCare throughout America.

The Trump administration and Congress are also working to expand health-care freedom nationwide. When the current administration reversed President Obama’s policy of making cost-sharing payments to keep insurance companies in the exchanges, insurers responded by raising the price of their federally subsidized benchmark insurance options. This premium increase on the benchmark policies triggered an automatic increase in the subsidies, all funded by federal taxpayers. State insurance regulators conveniently looked the other way in 2017, but ObamaCare specifically granted the federal government rate-review powers to prevent insurance companies from gaming the system. The benchmark ruse is unlikely to pass HHS scrutiny in 2018.

Before the repeal of the tax penalty, Democrats couldn’t bear the political cost of being seen as dismantling ObamaCare, but they will be forced to act as the program contracts. As healthier families flee the exchanges and premiums spiral, Democrats will be desperate to boost the subsidies. Politically, it will be very difficult for Democrats to deny people who have voluntarily left the exchanges the freedom to buy their own health insurance independent of ObamaCare regulations. Their stubborn reluctance to permit more-flexible plans will provide cover for Republicans to oppose increasing subsidies to the exchanges.

Since actually repealing ObamaCare proved too much for hundreds of Republicans who ran for years on just such a promise, this might be the next best thing.

MICHAEL BARONE: Democrats can take the House, if they just pick Conor Lamb over Hillary Clinton.

The pattern of Lamb’s narrow victory was similar to results in other special congressional and state legislative elections over the past year. Democratic turnout was robust, particularly in relatively upscale Pittsburgh suburbs. Republican turnout lagged, and some non-college whites who voted for Trump and Romney voted Democratic this time.

Evidently, downscale whites, whose trend toward Republicans started in the 1990s and was augmented with the Trump candidacy, are less firmly attached to one party than Trump-haters are to the other. This is in line with the skeptical response to any new policy change by either party, as evidenced by the negative responses to Obamacare when Barack Obama was in office and the negative response to Republicans’ “repeal and replace” once Trump became president.

Some observers argued that Saccone, like other Republican nominees in special elections, was a weak candidate. A better observation is that Lamb was a strong one. Nominated by party leaders, not in a primary, he has a family political pedigree (his uncle is Pittsburgh city controller) in a long-settled metro area where such ties are important.

And he took moderate positions on multiple issues. A former Marine, he ran an ad showing him shooting an AR-15 and said, “new gun laws aren’t the answer to preventing more mass shootings like the one at a Florida high school.” Early on, he pledged not to vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker (an issue which won’t come up until at least January 2019). While many Democrats are baying for impeachment, Lamb said, “We need the office of the presidency to succeed if we’re going to make any progress on these issues.”

Alternate take:

RANDY BARNETT: The New Challenge to Obamacare.

Readers may be familiar with a new constitutional challenge by 20 state attorneys general to the Affordable Care Act, which Ilya blogged about here. Their argument, in a nutshell, is that with the amount of the penalty for failing to have health insurance now set to zero, the individual insurance “requirement”–AKA the “individual mandate”–can no longer be justified as a tax. This is so because one of the essential characteristics of a tax is that it raises at least some revenue for the government. For this reason, the “saving construction” employed by Chief Justice Roberts no longer applies, as it is no longer even a “reasonably possible” reading of the insurance requirement, which now raises no revenue.

On this claim, the AG’s are on very strong ground. To the extent they are correct, the NFIB v. Sebelius was a bigger victory than we realized when it was decided, as it left the insurance mandate susceptible to being killed off in this way via reconciliation.

Because this constitutional claim makes sense, the attention will turn to the issue of standing and, perhaps, mainly to severability. If the insurance requirement is invalidated, does that bring down the rest of the Affordable Care Act?

Read the whole thing.

And it’s sad to have to say this, but Obama being gone — along with his implicit threat to go to war against SCOTUS over ObamaCare — might be a critical factor in Chief Justice John Roberts’ thinking.

JAMES MORROW: Share Bikes Were Always Doomed To Fail.

Well, I told you so.

ED MORRISSEY: 20 States Sue To End ObamaCare — And They Might Have A Point.

The original 5-4 decision on NFIB v Sebelius et al was intellectually shaky at the time, especially with its reliance on a lower-order argument on the power of taxation. Removing the tax penalties from the mandate eliminates the factual crutch used by Justice Roberts. In the syllabus to his majority opinion, Roberts expressly found that “the individual mandate is not a valid exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause,” on which he expands shortly afterward.

Without the tax penalty, the entire structure becomes problematic — at least if we go by Roberts’ opinion that carved out the constitutional niche in the first place.

So yes, the removal of the tax does make the mandate ripe for a court to strike down. The mandate, though, is also meaningless without the penalty. The question is whether striking down the mandate would cause the court to strike down the entire ACA — and that seems unlikely.

This wouldn’t even be an issue to discuss had the GOP fulfilled its longstanding promise to repeal ObamaCare.

HECKUVA JOB TODAY, CNN:

CNN’s Tapper Sits Back as Student Equates Rubio to School Shooter.

Good talk: Someone in CNN’s town hall audience yells, ‘You’re a murderer!’ at Dana Loesch.

CNN confronts female Trump supporter to tell her she was part of Russia’s election meddling.

All of which is why Ben Shapiro explains why CNN’s ‘show trial’ won’t play out as gun control advocates think.

QED:

UPDATE: At Hot Air, Allahpundit explores “The very fair and balanced ‘students stand up to evil gun owners’ CNN town hall:”

Think I’m being snarky with the headline? The actual network-approved title of tonight’s event is “Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action.” This is an advocacy event, not a “news program,” and they’re making no bones about it. I did some cursory googling this morning to see if CNN has ever hosted something so overtly biased towards one side’s position on a hot-button issue and came up empty.

It’s the flip-side to 2009, when CNN employed a children’s choir to shill for Obamacare and heckled Tea Party members.

THERE’S MORE THAN ONE WAY TO REPEAL AND REPLACE OBAMACARE: Republicans in Congress failed to repeal and replace Obamacare but President Donald Trump is still searching around the dark corners of the federal bureaucracy to root out as much of President Barack Obama’s “signature achievement” as possible.

One significant area is in allowing people to buy short-term health insurance coverage policies when that’s what they need, rather than being forced by Washington bureaucrats to pay unbelievably high premiums for benefits they don’t need. Obama closed off this option in the waning days of his administration. Now Trump is re-opening it. And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is again predicting apocalypse.

CHANGE: Dems fume as Trump pushes low-cost, ObamaCare alternative health plans.

The proposed regulations would allow insurers to sell individual consumers “short-term” policies that can last up to 12 months, have fewer benefits, and come with lower premiums.

The plans also would come with a disclaimer that they don’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s consumer protection requirements, such as guaranteed coverage. Insurers could also charge consumers more if an individual’s medical history discloses health problems.

But at a time of rising premiums, Trump administration officials touted the option as a boost for those who need coverage but don’t qualify for the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies and would otherwise face paying the full premium cost.

“We need to be opening up more affordable alternatives,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters. “It’s one step in the direction of providing Americans with alternatives that are both more affordable and more suited to individual and family circumstances.”

Good.

CHANGE? Democrats Hoping for a Shocker in Trump Country. “Conor Lamb is running as a pro-gun, pro-union, pro-drilling Democrat in a region where voters have defected from the party en masse. Republicans hope that tying him to Nancy Pelosi is all that’s needed to hold onto this seat—and perhaps the House majority.”

Josh Kraushaar:

This slice of western Pennsylvania is filled with politically homeless voters, once-reliable Democrats who have grown alienated by their party’s drift leftward. Many of these up-for-grabs constituents don’t fit any neat political typologies: They’re gun-owning seniors who want to make sure their entitlement programs are protected. They champion the fracking boom that has revitalized the region’s economy, but also care about clean air and water. They’re compassionate towards immigrants, but want them to learn English and assimilate into American society. A majority voted for Walter Mondale in 1984, but became Donald Trump supporters in 2016.

These are the type of voters that Democrats need to win back if they hope to hold governing majorities into the future. And these Pennsylvanians will soon be rendering a critical verdict that will be heard around the country in a closely watched congressional election on March 13: Can the party win back some of these blue-collar voters that have been drifting unmistakably towards Republicans?

Running “moderates” all across the nation helped the Democrats win the House in 2006 — moderates who went on, by and large, to vote in favor of ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, etc.

IN THE MAIL: Unraveled: Obamacare, Religious Liberty, and Executive Power.

Plus, fresh Gold Box and Lightning Deals. New deals every hour. Your patronage is always appreciated!

SCOTT RASMUSSEN: One Major Difference Between 2010 and 2018:

As we head into the 2018 midterms, there is a reasonable chance that President Trump could become the fourth straight president to lose control of Congress. To win a majority in the House, Democrats need to gain 24 seats. In four of the last ten midterm elections, the party out of power has picked up more than 24 seats and the political environment currently seems strong for the Democrats. It’s easy to identify where the Democrats could make their gains. At ScottRasmussen.com, we currently rate 45 House races as potentially competitive. Thirty-eight of them are currently held by Republicans.

For all the similarities, however, there is one huge difference between 2010 and 2018. It’s the difference between Obamacare and the Republican tax cut.

After it passed, Obamacare never gained ground in the court of public opinion. There were no short-term benefits for voters but many unpleasant surprises. Millions were unable to keep their doctor, buying insurance didn’t mean you could find a doctor who would take it, and the prices went up rather than down. Over time, the reality of Obamacare proved to be such a drag on Democrats that Republicans now hold more political power than at any point since the 1920s.

In contrast, the tax cut has already seen a big jump in public approval because the results have pleasantly surprised voters.

Yes, there’s a big difference between tying yourself to a deeply unpopular legislative package and tying yourself to a popular one.

CHANGE: Remember the so-called “death panels”? They’re gone, repealing another key and unpopular component of Obamacare. “It was always a stretch to claim that Republicans had ‘basically repealed Obamacare’ just by repealing the individual mandate. But getting rid of the individual mandate and the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board? Now we’re getting somewhere. The IPAB board was created under Obamacare and given the duty to slow the growth of Medicare spending, but no board members were ever nominated. But as written under the law, IPAB would have enjoyed a lot of power over what Medicare was willing to pay for and how much, with little opportunity for Congress to overrule their decisions. This deal gets rid of IPAB for good.”

Good.

And the above is just one item in Jim Geraghty’s look at the good and the bad in the spending caps deal.

WASN’T THAT THE WHOLE POINT OF OBAMACARE’S CRONYISM? Warren on Medicare for All: ‘Taxpayers Have Helped Make Insurance Companies Wildly Profitable.’

THE L.A. TIMES: Mankind Peoplekind Humanity will need to make some drastic changes if it wants to keep the ‘good life’ going.

 In theory, wealthy nations could cut way back on their resource use while maintaining their achievements on the social front. Some straightforward first steps include “switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy, producing products with longer lifetimes, reducing unnecessary waste, shifting from animal to crop products, and investing in new technologies,” the researchers wrote.

And in a future world “with very different social arrangements or technologies,” there could be a different equation for converting natural resources into human well-being that allows everyone to enjoy all aspects of the good life, O’Neill said.

“Is this realistic?” he said. “I hope so, because the alternative could be environmental catastrophe.”

Funny how these articles never end with “and that’s why we’re shuttering our publication and its office buildings and air conditioned server farm for the future of humanity,” and/or “that’s why recommend our company town’s chief industry, the entertainment business, to close.”

Meanwhile, back in reality, also in the Los Angeles this week:

L.A.’s Keystone Kops rollout of a new trash recycling program, which has featured a dramatic service reduction at a huge price increase for thousands of customers.

It’s so bad, even the people who supported the plan are ducking for cover, pointing fingers or throwing everyone else under the bus.

Not everyone who spoke at Tuesday’s Los Angeles City Council committee hearing lashed out at council members Nury Martinez, Paul Koretz, Paul Krekorian, Gil Cedillo and Mitch O’Farrell.

Some praised RecycLA or offered hope that the kinks will be worked out to accomplish the city’s admirable goal of diverting trash from landfills and reducing the number of crisscrossing trucks spewing pollution.

But cleaning up the mess may not be easy, given how badly the city screwed up the deal. City officials signed a 10-year contract with seven companies, some of which dispute allegations of overcharging and say they’re just doing what the contract allows them to do.

As The Times has reported, customers are getting dinged for added fees if the hauler has to move a trash bin a certain distance or use a remote device to open a gate. I’m still getting bombarded with calls and emails from landlords who say their bills have multiplied three, four, five and six times.

So it’s the Obamacare of trash pickup. Take a bow, L.A., this is where virtue signaling on top of virtue signaling invariably ends up.

 

IT’S ISN’T ALWAYS NICE TO MAKE TWITCHY: Activist Chelsea Handler just slammed the Democrats’ Obamacare vote HARD.