Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cruising the Web

Here is a headline from The Hill to strike fear into the hearts of Democrats on the ballot in November: "O-Care premiums to skyrocket" As The Hill reports, many consumers are going to find out this summer that their insurance rates are going way up as the insurance industry has to account for what Obamacare has wrought.

Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun reports on the corruption behind Harry Reid's son's losing run for Nevada governorship.
Rory Reid kept using the word “transparent” last week to describe an elaborate ruse so he could accept a $750,000 contribution from a single political action committee — 75 times the legal limit.

He’s right. It was transparent. But not in the way he means it.

This was a transparent attempt to find a loophole in the campaign contribution laws by a gubernatorial candidate apparently desperate for money to try to revive his moribund campaign. And it was specifically designed to be opaque — a master PAC created with a name that belied its true purpose and 91 phony entities with names concocted to mislead.

Whether what Reid did was legal — or should be legal — will be determined later. But this was nothing short of a conspiracy to commit the equivalent of money laundering in a political campaign, where Reid solicited contributions in large amounts for a PAC ($850,000 during one reporting period) and then the money was washed through sham entities in smaller amounts ($10,000 increments) to appear in the candidate’s war chest.
Oh, so this is how the "most transparent" ever White House is resisting a record number of FOIA requests. They just unilaterally rewrote the law.

Jay Nordlinger interviews Paul Ryan and we get a glimpse of what Romney was planning to tackle his first year in office.
Though not one to cry over spilt milk, Ryan indulges in a little “what if.” “I worked on a 200-day plan with Mike Leavitt,” the Utah politician who was a key Romney adviser and might well have been Romney’s White House chief of staff. The plan was for the first 200 days of a Romney administration. “We were going to take it all on. By this time, we would have had entitlement reform done, tax reform done, Obamacare would have been gone, we would be working on a rewrite of all the regulatory stuff . . .”
And this would have happened whether the Democrats or the Republicans controlled the Senate, says Ryan. There were plans either way. In the event of continued Democratic control, the Romneyites were going to mount a charm offensive, aimed at peeling off moderate Democrats. They were going to make matters comfortable for these Democrats. “I know a lot of them,” says Ryan. “Ron Wyden is a friend of mine.”

If you think about a Romney presidency, says Ryan, versus what we have now, “it’s like looking at two different countries. And that is thoroughly distressing.”

Guy Benson examines the sweepstakes offer of $1,200 aimed at getting young people to sign up for Obamacare. As Benson demonstrates, even if someone won the prize, it still wouldn't be a good deal for the average individual.
See, young people? You can win a $1,200 prize by signing up for the privilege of forking over five grand in out-of-pocket medical costs…before the coverage you’d be paying into even kicks in. Yes, there’s always the option to choose a plan with a lower deductible, but you’ll pay higher premiums in return.
Ed Morrissey links to an astounding story from Michigan Capitol Confidential about what the Michigan Education Association required one district to place in their contract. They have inserted a clause saying that, if there are two or more applicants for a job with equal qualification, priority should be given to
women and/or minority defined as: Native American, Asian American, Latino, African American and those of the non-Christian faith. However, in all appointments to vacant positions, the Board's decision shall be final.
Apparently, the union and school district don't understand how that whole Establishment Clause of the First Amendment works. And how is the school supposed to know what religion an applicant might be. The school responds that they were unaware of this language in their union contracts or how it got there. They estimate that it was inserted in the 1970s. Apparently, no lawyer for the schools has looked at their union contract since then. Yeah, sure.

Jason Riley explains how Mayor de Blasio has settled a discrimination lawsuit against the NYFD that the city could have won, but the mayor allowed ideology to override what is good for the city and for the fire department.

Ah, if only liberals understood economics...

Daniel Henninger explains the dangers of American fatigue syndrome.
This moment is not about Barack Obama. By now we know about him. This is about Vladimir Putin and the self-delusions of Western nations and their famous "fatigue." Vladimir Putin is teaching the West and especially the United States that fatigue is not an option.

Sometimes world affairs go off the grid. Diplomats may give reasons why it is not in the interests of Mr. Putin or Russia to take this course. Vice President Biden told the Poles in Warsaw Monday that Mr. Putin's seizure of Crimea was "flawed logic." It is difficult for men embedded in a world of rational affairs to come to grips with Mr. Putin's point of view: He doesn't care what they think.

The solitary but thrilling world of Vladimir Putin's mind is the one inhabited by the Assads, Saddams, bin Ladens, Kims, Gadhafis and Khomeinis of the world, and when it really runs out of control, or is allowed to, by a Stalin, Hitler, or Mao. Whether one man's grandiosity will burst across borders is not about normal logic. It is about personal power and forcing the obeisance of other nations.

Vladimir Putin re-proves that sometimes a bad person gains control of the instruments of national power. Their populations do nothing or can't, because they are disarmed by thugs with overwhelming firepower. Or, as on Russian TV now, they are marinated in anti-U.S. propaganda. Today even second-rate megalomaniacs gain access to high-tech weaponry, including missiles and nuclear bombs.
And to demonstrate yet again that history is not standing still while Americans stay fatigued, Putin is now making the same noises about Russians in Estonia that he used in Ukraine. As Andrew Stuttaford reminds us, it is not a coincidence that there is a large Russian minority in Estonia.
Amazingly, Putin doesn't seem to be concerned about Joe Biden's presence in the region and tough talk on preserving the independence of the Baltic states.

The reason that there is a large Russian minority in the east of Estonia is that that region, essentially situated around the city of Narva, was ethnically cleansed by the invading Soviets at the end of the Second World War. The Estonians who lived there were either killed in the fighting, murdered, deported or driven into exile, something that Moscow seems curiously unwilling to acknowledge.
Jim Geraghty looks at the "malleable principles" of wealthy environmentalists such as billionaire Tom Steyer who are planning to spend millions to elect green politicians yet are curiously silent about Senate Democrats who support building the Keystone XL Pipeline.

How the media misled the public about JFK's assassination.

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