Market for gov’t health insurance for the uninsured much smaller than thought

Classical Values has one post up I cannot resist quoting:

We Told You So

In today’s fierce moral urgency of change news, it turns out the market for government health insurance for the uninsured is about 50 times smaller than Obamacare proponents told us it would be. Of course, we opponents of Obamacare were arguing last year this problem was overblown, and it appears in retrospect even our most parsimonious estimates were vastly too generous:

Mr. Obama declared at the time that “uninsured Americans who’ve been locked out of the insurance market because of a pre-existing condition will now be able to enroll in a new national insurance pool where they’ll finally be able to purchase quality, affordable health care–some for the very first time in their lives.”So far that statement accurately describes a single person in North Dakota. Literally, one person has signed up out of 647,000 state residents. Four people have enrolled in West Virginia. Things are better in Minnesota, where Mr. Obama has rescued 15 out of 5.2 million, and also in Indiana–63 people there.

Combined federal-state enrollment is merely 8,011 nationwide as of November 1, according to HHS.

This isn’t what HHS promised in July, when it estimated it would be insuring 375,000 people by now, and as many as 400,000 more every year.

Megan McArdle notably aroused considerable fear and loathing when, immediately post-passage, she called, in her usual admirably empirical way, for Obamacare proponents to attempt to measure their claims for the program against the actual outcomes over the coming years, and made her own predictions. That sound of pounding feet you hear in the background is those people running as far as they can as fast they can from those arguments today.

UPDATE: To put this failure in perspective, consider the resources necessary for the federal government and the 27 states who offered their own policies to implement this measure. It’s very likely taxpayers have actually paid more for administration than enrollees have received in benefits.

Which is, of course, precisely the point: “they’re building empire”. And the only “fierce moral urgency of change” here was putting the Deemocrats [sic] back in power, and creating conditions under which so many people would be beholden to the state that a Deemocrat majority would be guaranteed for generations. “Some things, the more you understand them, the more you loathe them.” (Robert A. Heinlein)

Gerrymandering 101

Zombie has the first post up on a new series on “gerrymandering”, the drawing of artificial electoral district borders to maximize advantage for one political party.

The word gerrymander (originally written Gerry-mander) was used for the first time in the Boston Gazette newspaper on March 26, 1812. The word was created in reaction to a redrawing of Massachusetts state senate election districts under the then governor Elbridge Gerry. In 1812, Governor Gerry signed a bill that redistricted Massachusetts to benefit his Democratic-Republican Party. When mapped, one of the contorted districts in the Boston area was said to resemble the shape of a salamander. … The term was a portmanteau of the governor’s last name and the word salamander.

[…]

The two aims of gerrymandering are to maximize the effect of supporters’ votes and to minimize the effect of opponents’ votes. One strategy, packing, is to concentrate as many voters of one type into a single electoral district to reduce their influence in other districts. … A second strategy, cracking, involves spreading out voters of a particular type among many districts in order to deny them a sufficiently large voting block in any particular district. The strategies are typically combined, creating a few “forfeit” seats for packed voters of one type in order to secure even greater representation for voters of another type.

Of course, there’s been a lot of talk lately about the GOP engaging in gerrymandering because of the way they swept state houses in the recent election.

When commentators blithely note that Republicans will have a “redistricting advantage” next year because of their dominance in state houses, they gloss over the ugly details of what that means. Few are willing to speak The G-Word, but Jonathan Chait at The New Republic takes the plunge:

2. Redistricting. If that’s not a problem enough for Democrats, it’s about to get a lot worse. Republicans had their wave election at a very convenient time, putting themselves in position to control numerous state legislatures and thus control the next round of redistricting, which will last a decade. Partisan gerrymandering can be an extremely powerful tool, and combined with the natural geographic gerrymander, can give Republicans an overwhelming advantage, if not quite an absolute lock.

The reason even most liberals are keeping mute about the horrors of the upcoming Republican gerrymandering is that Democrats have been the most ardent practitioners of it whenever they’ve had the slightest chance. You may have wondered how America overall tends to prefer conservative policies (pollsters like to say “We’re a center/right country”) yet we often have a liberal or at least Democratic majority in the Congress. How can this be? Gerrymandering. It’s so powerful that it has at times fundamentally altered the political slant of our government. Many of the worst gerrymandered districts illustrated in tomorrow’s Part II of this essay (“The Top Ten Most Gerrymandered Congressional Districts in the United States” — don’t miss it!) are the handiwork of Democratic politicians, so the Democrats would have no leg to stand on if they were to now turn around and criticize the Republicans for doing what they’ve been doing for decades — centuries, even. The Republicans have done it too, of course, but in the majority of states in recent cycles, the Democrats have had the advantage, and they’ve not been ashamed to use it.

But that brings up a question of morality: Should the Republican class of 2010 continue the partisan cheating? Is turnabout fair play? Just because the Democrats have attempted to skew the national dialogue for decades, does that give the Republicans the right to do so now? And if your answer is “No,” then how can we possibly stop the practice? Because if the Republicans refrain from gerrymandering the 2010 census, then the Democrats’ pre-existing gerrymandering will remain in place, allowing them to remain over-represented in future elections, and when they regain power they’ll continue redistricting the country to their advantage, laughing at the Republicans for not having done the same when they had the chance.

Now how does gerrymandering work in practice? Zombie has some really nice illustrative graphics:

Sample population distribution: each symbol represents a voter in a generic state.
Option 1: A fair and evenhanded redistricting.

“In the illustration to the left you see a schematized state. The new census shows that it has 15 inhabitants, scattered equally throughout the territory; 9 of them are consistent voters for the “redstar” party, represented by red stars; 6 of them are “greendot” party voters, represented by green dots. The time has come for redistricting, and your job is to carve up the state into three congressional districts each containing exactly five voters. What do you do?

“Option 1: Well, a 9-to-6 split in the electorate means that the state is 60% redstar and 40% greendot. So if your goal was to be as fair and evenhanded as possible, you’d draw the district lines as shown in the illustration at the upper right: you’d end up with two districts which were majority redstar, and one district that was majority greendot, and thus the voters of the state overall would get fairly true representation of their political views in congress. (In this example, District 1 would have a 3-to-2 redstar majority, District 2 would have a 3-to-2 greendot majority, and District 3 would have a 4-to-1 redstar majority.)

But what if you were a partisan redstar politician? Your goal would not be to have fair redistricting; your goal would be to shut out your opponents as ruthlessly as possible. And thus we turn to the next possibility: Majority gerrymandering.

Option 2: Majority gerrymandering to ensure complete electoral dominance.

 

 

Option 3: Gerrymandering designed to ensure over-representation for the smaller party.

 

 

“Option 2: If your goal was to ensure that your redstar party won as many seats as possible in upcoming elections, you’d strive to create districts in which redstar voters had a slim majority in every single district. So you could gerrymander the boundaries to look like they do in the illustration at the lower left. In this example, each and every district has been purposely designed to have a 3-to-2 redstar majority, and the end result would be that all three districts would elect redstar representatives, and the 40% of the population who are greendot voters would be disenfranchised — no elected official would represent their views.

And lastly: What if you were an incumbent greendot politician looking at the new census map aghast, noting that demographic shifts had now given the opposition redstar party a 60/40 advantage among voters. What would you do? More precisely, what would you do if you were really really evil, like the typical politician? Why, you’d resort to the most diabolical form of redistricting, Minority Gerrymandering:

“Option 3: Behold the horrors of what gerrymandering can do. In this final option, shown in the lower right illustration, the greendot party, despite having only 40% of the vote, has managed to draw the districting lines in such a way that they end up with a two-to-one advantage in congress! The greendot redistricters achieved this feat by shunting as many redstar voters as possible into a lopsided “electoral ghetto,” in which District 3 has a solid 5-0 redstar majority; this soaks up and wastes most of the redstar voting power, leaving the greendot party with a 3-to-2 advantage in Districts 1 and 2.

“Clear? This is gerrymandering in a nutshell. And once you’ve mastered it, you’re ready to become a politician and thwart the will of the voters”.

(S)he continues:

And don’t assume that if you discovered a district that is, say, 85% Republican, then you have strong evidence of Republican gerrymandering. Quite the opposite. Such districts are almost always the handiwork of Democratic redistricters trying to cram as many opposition voters together as possible, an example of the practice known as “packing”:

The two aims of gerrymandering are to maximize the effect of supporters’ votes and to minimize the effect of opponents’ votes. One strategy, packing, is to concentrate as many voters of one type into a single electoral district to reduce their influence in other districts. … A second strategy, cracking, involves spreading out voters of a particular type among many districts in order to deny them a sufficiently large voting block in any particular district. The strategies are typically combined, creating a few “forfeit” seats for packed voters of one type in order to secure even greater representation for voters of another type.

But these gerrymandering strategies can backfire — as they did in 2010, spectacularly. Which explains how the Republicans managed to win so many seats in a nation significantly gerrymandered by Democrats. What happened is this: Over the years, Democrats in many states created many congressional districts in which they diluted Republican voters to approximately 45% of the electorate, thinking this a safe margin for Democratic politicians to win every future election. But in a “wave year,” enough disgusted swing voters abandon the party in power and (at least temporarily) switch allegiances, and suddenly the 45%-and-no-more squandered Republican vote climbs over the 50% mark. Boom. Gerrymandering has blown up in the politicians’ faces.

“Convenient” voter touchscreen glitches

Fenway Nation has a roundup of reports of touchscreen glitches in early voting. And, surprise, surprise:

Out in Nevada, there have been reports coming in from Las Vegas and elsewhere in Clark County that voters have found their touchscreen voting machines had already checked Harry Reid’s name.

Voter Joyce Ferrara said when they went to vote for Republican Sharron Angle, her Democratic opponent, Sen. Harry Reid’s name was already checked.

Ferrara said she wasn’t alone in her voting experience. She said her husband and several others voting at the same time all had the same thing happen.

“Something’s not right,” Ferrara said. “One person that’s a fluke. Two, that’s strange. But several within a five minute period of time — that’s wrong.”As it turns out, the technicians for the voting machines are represented by SEIU Local 1107, which has supported Reid’s bid for a fifth term as senator. Perhaps even more ominously, Reid’s son Rory also happens to be the chairman of the Clark County Commission and is running for governor of Nevada.

It gets stranger, however:

In Texas, there have been reports of votes for Republican Gubernatorial candidate Rick Perry being switched to the Green Party’s Deb Shafto and votes for Democrat candidate Bill White being shifted to show Rick Perry, again using touchscreen technology.

Fenway urges everybody to ask for paper ballots instead. Instapundit, the technophile’s technophile, has been doing the same for years.

I am however wondering if “Baghdad Bob” Pelosi knows something about the election none of us do. Which makes it all the more imperative to show up and vote. In democracies, there’s generally a limit above which vote fraud cannot be hidden successfully. This means that if the election isn’t close, either the cheating doesn’t affect the outcome, or the cheating would have to be so brazen that it would come out and bring about the perpetrator’s downfall.

Let’s make sure it ain’t close, and that retail cheating or below-radar-limit wholesale cheating won’t matter.

VFW dissolves VFW-PAC

Earlier we reported on the outrage among Veterans of Foreign Wars members (and milbloggers) about the bizarre endorsements made by VFW’s political action committee — which included such well-known “supporters” of our troops as Barbara Boxer, “Baghdad” Jim McDermott, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Alan Grayson,…

Looks like the VFW leadership took matters into their own hands.

It is now evident to most of the VFW leadership, both National and especially the departments, that the VFW has been subjected to extreme negative publicity throughout the nation, and the recent endorsement decisions have, in fact, harmed the VFW’ s reputation and future ability to fulfill our mission.

I cannot let this erosion of public support for our great organization continue. The apparent lack of the committee to address these concerns will lead to a proposal by me, as Commander-in-Chief, to amend the by-laws at the 112th National Convention for the purpose of dissolving the PAC. Meanwhile, under the authority granted to me as Commander-in-Chief in section 619 of the VFW National By-Laws and under section 620 of the Manual of Procedure, I am withdrawing all PAC appointments effective October 15, 2010.

Let’s chalk up one little victory for common sense.

Philly voter rolls reveal dead people, people under 18, convicted felons,…

An ex-DoJ lawyer crunched some numbers on the Philadelphia voter rolls and found some rather… interesting things.

  • 102.5% of the citizen voting age population was registered to vote on Election Day 2004.
  • Out of a random sample, at least 130 registered voters were under 18.
  • 54 more in the sample had birth dates ranging from 1825 to 1899. Either the City of Brotherly Love is also the City of the Fountain of Youth, or it does not discriminate on the basis of presence or absence of a pulse.
  • 12 others were incarcerated felons (not eligible to vote according to local law).
  • Out of a sample of 385 registered voters allegedly born between 1900 and 1905, 51 (i.e., 13%) were listed as deceased in the Social Security Death Index.

And this is just one county in Pennsylvania.

Assume that there were just 400 or so ineligible voters from all of Philadelphia, and not just from a small sample. Philadelphia is just one of 67 counties in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If every county had 400 or more ineligible voters on their lists for any given election, and those voters actually voted, roughly 26,800 votes would be ineligible. Multiply that by 50 states and one would be hard-pressed to successfully argue that a problem doesn’t exist when relevant portions of the National Voter Registration Act, such as Section 8, are not enforced — as the DOJ’s Julie Fernandes instructed.

If it is true that the DOJ, as a matter of policy, will not enforce this statute, it is frightening to think of the consequences. Would anyone be able to trust the electoral process knowing that dead or otherwise ineligible voters are casting votes?

The right to vote in America is sacred and should remain as pure as our Founding Fathers intended. (Those same Founding Fathers who declared America a free and independent country during a hot summer in 1776 in … Philadelphia.)

It is time to take action. If the DOJ will not enforce the law, the people must — the Motor Voter law allows private citizens to bring suit against states and voter registrars for not properly maintaining the rolls.

Our right to vote is what gives us the power to choose the government that works for us — “consent of the governed” is a hollow phrase if voter rolls do not accurately reflect “the governed.”

Indeed.

JWF: Wall Street fatcats skip 0bama fundraiser

Not just Jews waking up to the fact that they’ve been had? JammieWearingFool:

Hard to believe, isn’t it? You get trashed on a daily basis, demonized by the socialists, the media and union goons, and there’s actual surprise when you don’t line up like lemmings to pony up cash for the people who hate you and want to ruin you. But look at the bright side, Democrats. You still have empty heads like Sarah Jessica Parker on your side.

Wall Street bigs snubbed President Obama last night at a big-bucks campaign fund-raiser at The St. Regis hotel in Midtown.

The gala — where tickets went for as much as $50,000 a couple and whose proceeds were going to Democratic candidates — featured stars such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Democratic Party regulars but few, if any, executives from the city’s leading financial institutions.

That was no accident, according to Democrats on Capitol Hill and Wall Street sources who say those in the financial industry are tired of being the punching bag for Obama and Democrats crafting legislation to tightly regulate them.

“They may support individuals, but not the party,” one House Democratic lawmaker said.

“I think there’s been some pushback from the [financial] community.”

Other Democrats said that, indeed, Wall Street money has dried up for the party, and an official from one of the major investment firms confirmed that its people were staying away from The St. Regis.

“We won’t be attending,” the official said.

More evidence of Lincoln’s Law in action. And, courtesy of Robomonkey (graphics) and “Lucius Septimius” on C2 (concept), here is a motivational poster for 2010:

0bamacare: not “for the children” after all? + Word of the day: 0bamaklatura

Oops: Deemocrats [sic] forgot to cover preexisting conditions for children.

But… it’s for the children?!

Yes, apparently only when they can be dragged out for purposes of emotional blackmail.

In related news, James Taranto draws attention to this item in the Chicago Tribune:

[A]nother story, broken yesterday by the Chicago Tribune, illustrates why “equality” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Unlike medicine, elementary and secondary education in the U.S. is already almost completely under political control. Defenders of this arrangement justify it in the name of equality. They do not claim the current system achieves that ideal, but they do insist that efforts to reduce political control via vouchers and other forms of privatization would make inequality worse.

But the Tribune story shows that political control introduces its own kind of inequality, to benefit the political class:

While many Chicago parents took formal routes to land their children in the best schools, the well-connected also sought help through a shadowy appeals system created in recent years under former schools chief Arne Duncan.
Whispers have long swirled that some children get spots in the city’s premier schools based on whom their parents know. But a list maintained over several years in Duncan’s office and obtained by the Tribune lends further evidence to those charges. Duncan is now secretary of education under President Barack Obama.
The log is a compilation of politicians and influential business people who interceded on behalf of children during Duncan’s tenure. It includes 25 aldermen, Mayor Richard Daley’s office, House Speaker Michael Madigan, his daughter Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, former White House social secretary Desiree Rogers and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.
Non-connected parents, such as those who sought spots for their special-needs child or who were new to the city, also appear on the log. But the politically connected make up about three-quarters of those making requests in the documents obtained by the Tribune.
This is “the aristocracy of pull,” in Ayn Rand’s memorable phrase. Its existence is probably inevitable inasmuch as government’s is, but its extent can only increase with the power and reach of government.

If you and Larry Summers both get sick and need a treatment that the Medicare Advisory Commission (dysphemistically known as the Death Panel) deems too expensive, what are the odds that you’ll find a way to get it anyway and he won’t? How about the other way around? In the Soviet Union, those privileged by political connections were called the nomenklatura. Here, we can call it the Obamaklatura.

Heh.

1883: Government of the People, by the people, for the people

2010: Government of the people, by the New Class, for the New Class and its clients and mascots