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Friday, January 24, 2014

Cruising the Web

Megan McArdle recounts how she participated in debate on the Upper West Side on the proposition: “Resolved: Obamacare Is Now Beyond Rescue.” And surprisingly, her side won convincing those New Yorkers of her position.

Reason Magazine has an interesting tutorial on the growing power of the presidency - just in time for the unit I'm teaching on the Executive Branch.

So which state is the most corrupt in America based on convicted public officials?

Will Americans ready to support a woman who gave up custody of her children to her ex-husband after having left them at ages 8 and 2 to go across the country to attend Harvard Law School? Naomi Schaefer Riley thinks not.

Jim Geraghty ponders what is really dividing our country. As he writes, half of us won't leave the other half alone.
But a big part of the problem is that we have an administration in Washington that is determined to stomp out the state policies it doesn’t like. The president doesn’t want there to be any right-to-work states. His Department of Justice is doing everything possible to obstruct Louisiana’s school-choice laws. They’re fighting state voter-ID laws in court, insisting that it violates the Constitution, even though the Supreme Court ruled, 6 to 3, that requiring the showing of an ID does not represent an undue burden on voters.

This you-must-comply attitude can be found in the states as well, of course. Hell, in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to drive pro-lifers, Second Amendment supporters, and what he labels “anti-gay” out of his state. Mayors decree that they won’t allow Chick-fil-A in their cities because of the opinions of the owners. In Oregon, state officials decreed that a baker must make a wedding cake for a gay wedding; the state decrees you are not permitted to turn down a work request that you believe violates your conscience or religious beliefs.

The country would be “torn apart” less if we were allowed to address more of our public-policy problems on a local or state basis. But anti-federalism is in the cellular structure of liberalism. All of their solutions are “universal,” “comprehensive,” or “sweeping.” Everything must be changed at once, for everyone, with no exceptions. Perhaps it’s a good approach for some other species, but not human beings.
And liberals could counter with conservative politicians who want to legislate their beliefs that would limit others' rights.

What a bizarre story about Dinesh D'Souza. Why violate campaign laws for a losing candidate? And why was the FBI even looking into a total of $20,000? How often do they do that and do they do it for every candidate of both parties?

Cheers to Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper. And how telling that Canadian liberals are cheering the Arab member of the Knesset who heckled him. Typical. But just think about it - there is an Arab member of the Knesset who was free to heckle an international visitor invited to address that body. Just try to imagine a Jewish member of any Islamic country's parliament. Then catch the coda to this story.
Netanyahu’s speech before Harper’s at the Knesset was also heckled by Tibi, who shouted that Abu Arar had no electricity and water in his village.

Netanyahu then posted a picture of Abu Arar’s three-story home on his Facebook page with proof that it has both electricity and water. Tibi responded on Netanyahu’s Facebook page that posting the picture was childish and intended to hide Israel’s embarrassment over the state of unrecognized Beduin villages.
See, an adherence to truth is childish. Got that?

Charles Krauthammer writes that it is time for President Obama to stop jerking Canada around by purposely delaying a decision on the XL pipeline.
If Obama wants to cave to his environmental left, fine. But why keep Canada in limbo? It’s a show of supreme and undeserved disrespect for yet another ally. It seems not enough to have given the back of the hand to Britain, Israel, Poland and the Czech Republic, and to have so enraged the Saudis that they actually rejected a U.N. Security Council seat — disgusted as they were with this administration’s remarkable combination of fecklessness and highhandedness. Must we crown this run of diplomatic malpractice with gratuitous injury to Canada, our most reliable, most congenial friend in the world?

And for what? This is not a close call. The Keystone case is almost absurdly open and shut.

Even if you swallow everything the environmentalists tell you about oil sands, the idea that blocking Keystone would prevent their development by Canada is ridiculous. Canada sees its oil sands as a natural bounty and key strategic asset. Canada will not leave it in the ground.

Where’s the environmental gain in blocking Keystone? The oil will be produced and the oil will be burned. If it goes to China, the Pacific pipeline will carry the same environmental risks as a U.S. pipeline.

And Alberta oil can still go to the United States, if not by pipeline then by rail, which requires no State Department approval. That would result in far more greenhouse gas emissions — exactly the opposite of what the environmentalists are seeking.

Moreover, rail can be exceedingly dangerous. Last year a tanker train derailed and exploded en route through Quebec. The fireball destroyed half of downtown Lac-Megantic, killing 47, many incinerated beyond recognition.

This isn’t theoretical environmentalism. This is not a decrease in the snail darter population. This is 47 dead human beings. More recently, we’ve had two rail-oil accidents within the United States, one near Philadelphia and one in North Dakota.

Add to this the slam-dunk strategic case for Keystone: Canadian oil reduces our dependence on the volatile Middle East, shifting petroleum power from OPEC and the killing zones of the Middle East to North America. What more reliable source of oil could we possibly have than Canada?
But what does logic have to do when there is moral posturing to be done?

John C. Goodman explains the perverse incentives that abound in Obamacare. He concludes,
In sum: A lot of high-cost patients are about to enroll through the exchanges. This will force up premiums further for all other buyers.

At some point, politicians of both parties will realize that we can do better than this. That will require a real market for health insurance with premiums that reflect real risks. There is a role for government in helping people with severe health problems. That is why risk pools exist. What we didn't need was to destroy the market for the many in order to give aid to the few.
The question now is whether the market will be destroyed entirely before it can be rescued by better designed policies. Will we have to wait for everyone who supported Obamacare to retire or be defeated and for a whole new generation of legislators who don't have to defend their wrong-headed vote in order for new policies to be put in place? And can our health care system survive in the meantime?

Moody's Investor Service is not optimistic and just issued a downgrade on the entire insurance industry. And guess what gets the blame?
“While all of these issues had been on our radar screen as we approached 2014, a new development and a key factor for the change in outlook is the unstable and evolving regulatory environment under which the sector is operating,” Moody's said. “Notably, new regulations and presidential announcements over the last several months with respect to the [Affordable Care Act] have imposed operational changes well after product and pricing decisions had been finalized.”
As Allahpundit writes,
They’ll probably delay or scale back the small-business cancellations too. Why wouldn’t they? Why play this shell game of moving around deadlines and granting exemptions in 2013 to protect the party if they’re going to sit idly by while millions upon millions of people are booted from their employer plans in an election year? This is the deeper point of the Moody’s downgrade: The insurance industry is now essentially a political creature, and politics can change quickly. How’s an investor supposed to assess risk if he or she can’t know whether the president might need to knock over the chessboard at any given moment for his own political interests? Even if you think Obama and the Democrats are so invested in O-Care’s success that they’ll find a way to keep federal money flowing to prop it up, the lingering bitterness after the law was passed on party lines and the recurring fact of potentially game-changing elections means it’ll be years before the industry enjoys real stability. And yet, in partnering with O on sweeping reform in the expectation that it would bring them millions of new customers, this is what insurers signed up for. They bought the ticket. Hope they’re enjoying the ride.


mark said...

Krauthammer calls the strategy to approve Keystone a "slam dunk". An unfortunate choice of terms, given the disastrous decision that resulted the last time that phrase was used.

tfhr said...

Yeah mark,

I'm with you. Why in the world would we want to reduce our dependency on Middle East oil and create jobs in the US? Using a term of choice by a Clinton administration holdover reveals some sort of problem to be sure. Next thing you know, we'll want to use a Clinton administration holdover for a candidate!

So now that we've covered those problems with Keystone, share with us your special insight on why Keystone shouldn't happen. Maybe you have a few ideas of your own?

Rick Caird said...

Yeah, Mark. I notice the NBA never talks about a slam/dunk either.

Oh wait, they have a slam/dunk contest every year. And, you know what? Sometimes a player misses the slam dunk.

The only thing unfortunate here is that you found it necessary to make such a meaningless comment.

Yep, no pipelines would mean no pipeline explosions, explosions that occur far more infrequently than train derailments with tanker car explosions.

mark said...

You're not really comparing the consequences of the missed dunk of a b-baller to the consequences of Bush's "slam-dunk" that led us to war, are you?

I'm sure you worked hard on it and thought you were being clever. Not so much.

tfhr said...


It was not Bush's "slam-dunk", it was Clinton holdover, George Tenet, that chose the term to qualify his advice to President Bush.

Given your feeble attempt to distract from the real issue - the incomprehensible delay on Keystone - with your concern over a metaphor, you might be better off taking a stab at why the project should not be given the green light.

If you can't manage that then by all means continue as you usually do. Here, I'll help: Guess who first used the term "regime change" from the White House with regard to Saddam Hussein?

mark said...

Actually, my original point was that, for or against the pipeline, it is not a slam-dunk. There are obvious advantages as well as very real potential pitfalls. I have no problem with criticizing Obama for putting off the decision. But to say it's an easy-call is absurd and proves the lack of thought that goes into issues here.

tfhr said...


Which pitfalls would those be?

mark said...

Seriously? You don't know of any problems or potential pitfalls with the pipeline? Or have you just dismissed them all as inconvenient?
Your simplistic view of all issues must make you a real asset in the military-intelligence community.

tfhr said...


Talking points from a government (read taxpayer) funded entity are your thoughts? That certainly explains a lot.

I thought we had a shot at a debate here after two whole entries free of insults but no, you went back to your usual schtick. No debate, just some NPR boiler plate coupled with your reflexive need to hurl an insult when challenged.

It also surprised me a little when you went back to the lfm thing considering you called me "Equitus" for nearly a year. When I saw that Rick Caird opened his comment in this thread with "Yeah Mark", just as I did, I thought to myself, "Here we go again. Mark will be spewing that up amidst his bouts of sputtering, spluttering and popping".

So why don't you surprise me and show some understanding of your own on this issue and make your argument.

mark said...

You've posted as tfhr and lfm. Why do you now object to the latter? Are you embarrassed by what you have written as lfm?
Your posts as tfhr are no better. From your supposed "contributions" from the field in Iraq, to your laughable errors as a "military-intelligence expert", you've exposed yourself as a fool and a fraud. That you want a serious debate is a transparently false as all your other claims.

tfhr said...


Then a debate with me should be a breeze, right? Only one problem: As usual, the facts are not on your side.

You wouldn't engage when challenged then and you don't now, regardless of who throws the glove down for you but you will waste your time throwing around insults.

When I was in Iraq in 2008 you were one of many that resorted to some sick commentary when you became frustrated with your own lack of information and objectivity on subjects in question. I remember your specific complaints about contractors, food, and water quality. I laughed at you then and I note your silence on the issue, for some reason, today. So you tell me what's changed in Afghanistan that has taken those issues off the table for you now. Neither one of us are there now, so the odds are somewhat more even for you. Go ahead, if you must change the subject but I'd bet your argument, if offered at all, will be as impotent as usual.

Or you could engage on why Obama turns down cheaper energy and a wealth of job opportunities for out of work Americans by keeping his boot on the neck of Keystone XL.

Your choice and you guys in the gutter on the left hand side of the road purport to be the party of choice, don't you?

I'd love to stick around and chat but I've got to go to work - that's a commonly heard remark here in the heart of the federal government. Why is it that our unemployment rate is so much lower than the rest of most of America? We have so many jobs here. Why won't Obama "spread the wealth" and let Americans work on Keystone?

mark said...

Of course, lfm, I posted many links that showed Halliburton/KBR was engaging in war-profiteering and cutting corners at the risk of the troops. Here's more:

Of course, we know now about Halliburton's involvement in the Gulf spill and subsequent illegal acts to cover it up.

You dismissed it all by joking about your "tasty sandwich", implying your "fellow troops" were lying about contaminated food.

That was just one of the indications that you were lying about your identity. Now that you've confirmed you lied, it seems pointless that you keep pretending, no?

tfhr said...


OK, I'll bite - you're NOT able to defend Obama's failure to help the US achieve energy independence from Middle Eastern oil and provide Americans with good jobs, so why not?

So when I was in Fallujah our contractor support in the DFACs was excellent. All other services provided either met or exceeded expectations, but what would I know from being there while you were back here with the "real" story, right?

Riddle me this: KBR was never prosecuted by the federal government - and that includes the current administration. The Obama Administration has extended contracts and awarded new ones to KBR and some are even no bid! Now does that make sense to you, mark? Why would the Obama administration award contracts to support our troops to a "war profiteer" that you seem to think attempted to poison us? How do you live with yourself knowing that you've voted these enablers of toxic, heinous war profiteers into office, not once but twice?

Now, how does that sandwich taste?

mark said...

Tastes like baloney.

Two days after a gasline explosion, you ask "what pitfalls?"

You ignore piles of evidence that contractors cut corners providing services to our troops. (No, I've never accused Halliburton of intentionally poisoning our troops).

Yet you accuse liberals of hideous crimes and desires without a shred of credible evidence.

Your record of jumping to bizarre, even perverse conclusions and ignoring evidence that contradicts you make you uniquely unqualified for work in military intelligence.

And yes, a soldier posting from Iraq and a military-intelligence expert posting on a blog about military intelligence seems far-fetched and unwise.

You've never explained why you lied about your identity. "Shame" and "cowardice" seem to be the only logical explanations. Feel like elaborating?

tfhr said...


Military people blog all the time. Perhaps if you knew some this would not come as a complete surprise to you. I'll excuse you for your ignorance as I know that you have no association with anyone in the military or intelligence communities. There are a number of military and military intelligence blogs. If you would like to learn more, I can direct you to a variety of blogs. Thus far you've shown no intellectual curiosity to learn about the people that defend this country but the offer stands.

The tfhr profile was long-standing but when I switched computers from the laptop I used in Korea and Iraq to an old desktop, the cookies on the latter were for an old profile. I eventually repaired the laptop but to my continued amusement you regularly accused Equitus of being someone else and lfm of being Equitus. As for the attacks directed at leftists and creepy, corrupt Dems, well I learned those tactics from trolls like you. It gets old after a while and since I had the laptop back in service, I thought it time to switch and put an end to your hyperventilating over Equitus and his evil twin.

As for Keystone, there are tens of thousands of miles of pipelines all over the United States. Do you think they should be shut down? Should they never have been built? They're much safer than rail or road transportation for the products they deliver and ultimately they get products to the user without the evil greenhouse gases produced by trains and trucks. Can you refute any of those points?

Obama's need to please his left wing idiot base means he has to hurt relations with Canada, deny good jobs to America and absolutely neglect a perfect opportunity to reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East. That dependence not only fuels, pardon the pun, some of our worst enemies, it is also the leading factor in our embarrassing trade deficit. We would spend considerably less on oil from Canada than we would on OPEC oil.

Obama is very proud that he has a pen and a phone. He should use that pen to approve the construction of Keystone. He could pick up that phone and call a friend, if he had one with even a clue, to learn that his energy policies are as corrupt as they are stupid and inconsistent. Instead he pours our money into bogus "green" scams advanced by his cronies and ships even more tax dollars to Brazil to develop their oil export industry while promising to make the US a customer. He is pushing Canada to consider shipping its oil to China. None of this is environmentally consistent with the usual excuse he throws around when balking over Keystone.

Refute these points, mark.

mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mark said...

Refute the point that Keystone isn't a slam-dunk? I already have. If you reject the arguments made based on the source (NPR) or think a gasline explosion isn't a "pitfall", that's on you.
That you claim you needed to switch identity (and drop all references to serving in Iraq and working in military intelligence) because you switched computers is absurd. Your lies and foolish OBL comments exposed you as a fraud, and you crawled away, licked your wounds, and came back with a new(yet unimproved)identity.
I don't doubt that people who actually work in military intelligence blog. I assume they are careful about what and where they say it. And while I'm sure there are some who despise Obama and Hillary, I doubt any spew the absurd lies and outrageous claims that come from you on a wide variety of issues.
You have a cowardly habit of defending yourself by quoting Hillary's "What difference does it make" or claiming you learned tactics from "trolls". Whether you go with "tfhr" or "lfm", perhaps you should just learn to take responsibility for your own mistakes, and not blame others.

tfhr said...


Looks like you deleted the wrong post given what emerged at 1155.

Advice from you on taking responsibility for one's own actions in the same sentence where you defend Hillary and Obama - the irony is just incredible! I stand by my opinions and I regularly defend them here. You, on the other hand, rely on talking points and the trollish talent for flinging insults. When given a taste of your own medicine you seem only able to ratchet up the trash talk rather than show any ability to engage in a debate. I guess that proves the warning about wrestling a pig in the mud.

Keystone is a slam dunk given the need, the benefits, and the long history of pipelines in the United States. The fact that accidents happen with every existing mode of transportation doesn't stop the use of trucks or trains, so why should it be the case with a pipeline? Obama is more concerned about his left wing lunatic base than energy independence and jobs - it's just that simple.

mark said...

Of course, I have never defended Hillary and Obama on Benghazi. I have said that there is no proof that their fault extends to Obama ordering a "stand down" or that Hillary faked a head injury, as you have claimed. Of course, that's the same nonsense you use with Menendez. I have never defended any corruption he may have been involved in. I called you out on your disgraceful claim that he is a "rapist" and "pedophile".

And yes, it is precisely because you "stand by and defend" those "opinions" (and throw in the perverse charge that "liberals enjoy abortion as a blood sport") that qualify you as a fraud.

tfhr said...

No mark, you haven't even asked what happened, have you? You haven't even been able to raise an effective argument against Keystone here either.

So, no, I guess you've not taken any step that might draw attention to their gross negligence. Find one place where I've mentioned anything about a "stand down". You are mistaken. Hillary used a variety of excuses to avoid timely testimony and it is an embarrassment. There has always been something wrong with her head but it has nothing to do with an injury.

I have noticed that when you cannot defend your position you resort to your usual default of accusing anyone that disagrees with your point of view of being a "fraud" and/or a "liar". Again, the irony just drips. You crowed about ObamaCare for years and now that it has crash-landed on the United States and the casualties are in the millions (and growing) you still cling to the multitude of lies repeated over and over for this fraud perpetrated by Obama and his administrations and cronies. Absolutely pathetic.