Friday, February 14, 2014

Cruising the Web

Charles Krauthammer is smack on in his analysis today of the liberals' attitude towards work as they pretend to celebrate that people can choose now to work part-time since they don't have to worry about health insurance.
Pelosi’s vision is equally idyllic except for one thing: The taxes of the American factory worker — grinding away dutifully at his repetitive, mind-numbing job — will be subsidizing the voluntary unemployment of the artiste in search of his muse. A rather paradoxical position for the party that poses as tribune of the working man.

In the reductio ad absurdum of entitlement liberalism, Jay Carney was similarly enthusiastic about this Obamacare-induced job loss. Why, Obamacare creates the “opportunity” that “allows families in America to make a decision about how they will work, and if they will work.”

If they will work? Pre-Obama, people always had the right to quit work to tend full time to the study of butterflies. It’s a free country. The twist in the new liberal dispensation is that the butterfly guy is to be subsidized by the taxes of people who actually work.

In the traditional opportunity society, government provides the tools — education, training, and various incentives — to achieve the dignity of work and its promise of self-improvement and social mobility. In the new opportunity society, you are given the opportunity for idleness while living parasitically off everyone else. Why those everyone elses should remain at their jobs — hey! I wanna dance, too! — is a puzzle Carney has yet to explain.

How robots saved Pittsburgh and the lessons for other post-industrial cities that have lost their whole reason for being.

Was Bob Costas's pinkeye a punishment from the Sports Gods for his increasing hubris? It's nice to think so.

Despite calls for trimming the budget, there are still some favored entities that can score major bucks from the federal government.
During the "fiscal cliff" negotiations that Congress and the media made sound so tough -- as if every last penny were pinched -- Congress still managed to slip in plenty of special deals for cronies.

--NASCAR got $70 million for new racetracks.

--Algae growers got $60 million.

--Hollywood film producers got a $430 million tax break.

Remembering the disaster of Jimmy Carter's decision to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Ah, the contrast continues to be stark between Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama who has tried since his before his first inauguration to spark direct comparisons.
President Obama’s hero Abraham Lincoln had a famously worshipful view of the rule of law. “Let reverence for the laws,” he said in his Lyceum Address, “be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap—let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice.”

President Obama’s implicit rejoinder: “Whatever.”
The administration won't release the number of people who have paid for their new Obamacare policies, but indications are not positive that those numbers match the numbers of enrollees. There are many unanswered questions in the administration's most recent report on enrollment for Obamacare. Notice how that storyline could be repeated every time they make one of these enrollment announcements?

Here is another looming Obamacare disaster story.
Residents in 515 counties — nearly 1 out of 5 counties nationwide — only have one insurer selling coverage on HealthCare.gov.

The cost of plans on HealthCare.gov is significantly different when residents have only one insurer versus more. According to the Wall Street Journal, the average price for a 50-year-old for a “silver plan” through the exchange jumps from $329 in places with four insurers to $406 in those with only one.

The Journal reports some insurers are only offering plans via the exchanges in areas with lower health-care costs and stable financial standing. As a result, in many rural areas, where health-care costs and unemployment are high, consumers must often choose between limited plans offered on HealthCare.gov or buy policies directly from the insurer outside of the exchange if they want more than one insurer as an option, but are ineligible for federal subsidies.
Liberals are coming to the sad realization that "Wendy Davis is no Ann Richards."

Daniel Henninger has his own view of how to determine if a politician really cares about income inequality.
Let's cut to the chase: The real issue in the American version of this subject is the low incomes of the inner-city poor. And let's put on the table one thing nearly all agree on: A successful education improves lifetime earnings. This assumes one is living in an economy with better than moribund growth, an assumption no one in the U.S. or Western Europe can make anymore.

If there is one political goal all Democratic progressives agree on it's this: They will resist, squash and kill any attempt anywhere in the U.S. to educate those low-income or no-income inner-city kids in alternatives to the public schools run by the party's industrial-age unions.

Reforming that public-school monopoly is the litmus test of seriousness on income inequality. That monopoly is the primary cause of America's post-1970s social-policy failure. And that monopoly will emerge from the Obama presidency and de Blasio mayoralty intact. So will income inequality.
Even the New Republic wonders why Hillary Clinton is still getting a free pass from supposed feminists and those who purport to believe in feminism.

Hear, hear. One brave teacher in Queens, NY dares to write in praise of teaching to the test.

George Will is his usual acerbic self in ridiculing progressive love for "Downton Abbey."
It is fitting that PBS offers “Downton Abbey” to its disproportionately progressive audience. This series is a languid appreciation of a class structure supposedly tempered by the paternalism of the privileged. And if progressivism prevails, the United States will be Downton Abbey: Upstairs, the administrators of the regulatory state will, with a feudal sense of noblesse oblige, assume responsibility for the lower orders downstairs, gently protecting them from “substandard” health-insurance policies, school choice, gun ownership, large sodas and other decisions that experts consider naughty or calamitous.

Robert Tracinski explains how Michael Mann is a modern-day Lysenko.
Or perhaps there is a better historical analogy. Mann is attempting to install himself as a kind of American Lysenko. Trofim Lysenko was the Soviet scientist who ingratiated himself to Joseph Stalin and got his crackpot theories on genetics installed as official dogma, effectively killing the study of biology in the Soviet Union. Under Lysenko, the state had an established and official scientific doctrine, and you risked persecution if you questioned it. Mann's libel suit is an attempt to establish that same principle here.

Mann has recently declared himself to be both a scientist and a political activist. But in attempting to intimidate his critics and suppress free debate on global warming, he is violating the fundamental rules of both science and politics. If it is a sin to doubt, then there is no science. If it is a crime to dissent, then there is no politics.

Mann vs. Steyn may be the trial of the century. It may determine, not merely whether the environmentalists can shut down industrial civilization, but whether they can shut down the independent thinking of skeptical dissidents.
Major Garrett looks at those who will be on the wrong side of Obama's extension of the employer mandate for some employers.
In the same breath, Obama made clear that this process of photo-shopping, rewriting, and reimagining will continue apace, depending on the hassle that is Obamacare compliance and the political terrain.

“That’s going to be our attitude about the law generally: How do we make it work for the American people and for their employers in an optimal sort of way?”

Optimal.

How would you like to work for a company (more than 115,000 of them in 2012) that you thought would have to provide health care coverage for you next year but now won’t? And how would you like to be one of the employees who works for a big company (more than 94,000 of them in 2012) but falls just on the other side of the 70 percent coverage threshold in 2015? Your health falls on the other side of Obama’s arbitrary coverage line, and you don’t have coverage.

I’m willing to bet “optimal” is not the word that will come readily to mind.

For Obama, it’s all about flexibility. He was asked if the Affordable Care Act would usher in the end of employee-based insurance in America.

“I don’t think that an employer-based system is going to be, or should be, replaced anytime soon,” Obama said.

Considering the creative clock-management and time-machine quality of Obamacare implementation to date, “anytime soon” sounds almost wistful. For Obama, that is, not necessarily for employees who have care they like and want to keep (yes, that phrase still matters ... and will matter more as Obamacare’s regulatory reach becomes fully manifest).

“What the Affordable Care Act does do is, it gives people some flexibility.”

But which people? And why?

There is no optimal answer.
That awe-inspiring Obama turnout machine somehow failed to work in San Diego.

Kevin Williamson has a very good essay on the real lessons to be learned from Ray Nagin's conviction for corruption.
The Obama administration is willing to undermine the U.S. economy when its political self-interest is served by doing so: That is the lesson of Keystone and much more. But the problem goes all the way down: A Michigan teachers’ union has been fighting tooth-and-nail to ensure severance pay for a teacher convicted of sexually molesting a student — the union’s financial clout is the only thing in which it places real value. That will occur to a few taxpayers the next time the union comes demanding a little something “for the children.” Education is crucial to long-term productivity and to technological innovation. What Ray Nagin did was a crime, but there are worse things than crimes. It is possible to undermine critical institutions without ever violating a law.

Combined federal, state, and local spending in the United States is about the same as it is in Canada, so it is not as if we were starving our public sector to death. The problem is that our institutions are not full of Canadian budgeters, Finnish school administrators, and Swiss train conductors. They are full of Ray Nagins.
The left is not as respecting of scientific results as they would like to pretend. They are quite happy to ignore results that are not in alignment with their ideology, particularly when it comes to social science.
Health, education, and energy are three arenas in which progressives display a universal tendency: They champion evidence that gels with their intuitions but shrug off data that disrupt them. This phenomenon knows no party, as the psychologist Jonathan Haidt demonstrates. All humans are inclined to rationalize backwards from our preconceptions.

But while progressives are not uniquely guilty of this phenomenon, their movement is uniquely ill-equipped to guard against it. If a measure of intellectual blindness inheres in who we are, that is all the more reason to cultivate epistemological modesty. All the more urgent that we should stay skeptical, even—or perhaps especially—of things we consider proven.

This skepticism is a central pillar in right-of-center thought. It was the conservative patriarch Edmund Burke who mused that “we are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason, because we suspect that this stock in each man is small.” It was the libertarian hero Friedrich Hayek who insisted that we recognize “the insuperable limits to [man’s] knowledge” and favor organic social arrangements over clever schemes of our own design. And today, it is not progressives but leading center-right voices like Jim Manzi and Nassim Taleb who eloquently remind us that things are almost always more complicated than they seem.

The theoretical physicist Richard Feynman once quipped that “the first principle” of science is “that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.” If we take the genius at his word, “the party of science” starts to look like a paradox. To insist that only your ideology is empirical and enlightened is to conclusively prove that it is neither.
I think that Bill de Blasio has lost Al Roker's vote.

NBC shouldn't get away with its contributions to a whitewashing of communism in order to make everything seem so lovey-dovey at the Olympics.

No, National Review is not going out of business.