Friday, March 21, 2014

Cruising the Web

Is this what single-payer would look like? Hundreds of thousands of cases in Medicare on backlog?

Federal officials have, apparently, been flying without penalty, on government planes for their own personal travel. Aren't you glad to be paying for that?

If the tea party is over, could it be because its priorities have already been absorbed by the Republican Party? The Tea Party was never a true political party, but its fate is that of all third parties that have had an appealing idea - that idea will get absorbed why one of the major parties.

Rich Lowry exposes the pernicious and false accusations of racism against Paul Ryan for saying the exact same thing that President Obama has said. His critics ignore the context of what he actually said in order to pull out their own dog whistles to cry racism.
As for Paul Ryan, he is such a callous dog-whistler that he has been on a tour of urban neighborhoods with the anti-poverty activist Bob Woodson as he formulates a new conservative agenda on poverty.
Ryan wants to reform welfare programs to incentive work and encourage institutions of civil society to fight social breakdown. His antagonists want to pour more money into all the same welfare programs that have failed to address the root causes of poverty for decades. Their ad hominem attack on Ryan signals how desperate they are to rule out of bounds any alternative to the failing status quo.
As the WSJ writes about this incident,
So even though Mr. Ryan never mentioned race, liberals attacked his off-the-cuff remarks as racist while the President's moral lecture was hardly noticed. Republicans are accused of racism if they ignore the least fortunate, and now they're racist for taking poverty and its causes seriously. Unless you unreservedly favor the welfare status quo, or used to be a community organizer, the left gets you coming and going.

The attacks on Mr. Ryan are one more example of the politics of personal vilification that typifies the left these days. Its policies were supposed to reduce inequality, but instead the income gap is widening. They were supposed to lift people out of poverty, but poverty has increased.

So the last thing they can tolerate is a conservative like Mr. Ryan who is looking for better solutions and using a moral language of opportunity and upward mobility that could appeal to Americans of all incomes and backgrounds. Liberals have to smear conservatives personally because they know they're losing on the merits.
John Kerry is either ignorant of the history of the Middle East since the creation of Israel or he has such an animus against Israel that he can't see how his insistence that it doesn't matter whether the Palestinians will recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
You would think, then, that Mr. Kerry would put the onus on Mr. Abbas, who claims to accept Resolution 181, to accept what's in the Resolution itself. Instead, Mr. Kerry pointed a not-so-subtle finger at Israel, as if Jerusalem is being needlessly querulous by insisting on a point that ought to be basic and incontrovertible. The Administration's habit of constantly leaning on the Israelis for concessions while making no similar demands of the Palestinians explains its reputation for being unfriendly to Israel.

As to why Mr. Abbas won't accept a Jewish state, it's because doing so means relinquishing what Palestinians call the "right of return." This is the claim that millions of descendants of Arab refugees from Israel's war of independence are entitled to return to their ancestral homes in Israel proper. Such a right is recognized for no other refugee group in the world, least of all the roughly 800,000 Jews evicted from Arab lands. For Israel to accept it would risk a demographic time bomb that could turn the country into another Lebanon, sectarian and bloody.

Anyone paying attention to Palestinian politics understands that the right of return, with its implicit promise to eliminate Israel, is the centerpiece of the conflict. The idea that Israel's settlements are the problem should have been discredited for good after Israel dismantled its settlements in Gaza in 2005 only to get more war, not less.

Mr. Kerry would perform a public service by pointing out these simple truths, while also gaining credibility with a skeptical Israeli public. That he hasn't done so helps explain why his diplomacy is failing.
Of course, as Charles Krauthammer writes, the Obama administration really does live in a fantasy world when it comes to diplomacy. For some reason, their public rhetoric on Ukraine seems to suggest that they think that Putin has made such a mistake that he is searching for some sort of "offramp" to get out of the situation into which he's plunged.
An offramp? Did they really think that Putin was losing, that his invasion of Crimea was a disaster from which he needed some face-saving way out? And that the principal object of American diplomacy was to craft for Putin an exit strategy?

It’s delusional enough to think that Putin — in seizing Crimea, threatening eastern Ukraine, destabilizing Kiev, shaking NATO, terrifying America’s East European allies and making the West look utterly helpless — was actually losing. But to imagine that Putin saw it that way as well and was waiting for American diplomacy to save him from a monumental blunder is totally divorced from reality.

After Obama’s Russian “reset,” missile-defense retreat and Syria comedown, Putin had already developed an undisguised disdain for his U.S. counterpart. Yet even he must have been amazed by this newest American flight of fantasy. Putin reclaims a 200-year-old Russian patrimony with hardly a shot and to wild applause at home — Putin’s 72 percent domestic popularity is 30 points higher than Obama’s — and America’s leaders think he needs rescue?
Kimberley Strassel examines the battles within the Democratic Party over natural gas.
Not so long ago enviros endorsed natural gas as a cleaner alternative to coal or oil. Most limited themselves to calling for "better" industry practices, or to solely opposing exports. But as the gas rush has grown, threatening their solar-and-windmill nirvana, greens now openly decry drilling, chiding Mr. Obama for his "support for hydraulic fracturing" and calling on him to keep "our nation's fossil fuel reserves in the ground." The letter was signed by Bill McKibben, the director of the anti-Keystone outfit, as well as directors of nearly every major green shop in the country—the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, CREDO and Earthjustice.

This new demand could not come at a more awkward time for the party. Under fire for ObamaCare and the economy, scores of vulnerable Democrats are rushing to natural gas and drilling as political safe harbors. Supporting fracking allows them to claim they are in favor of more jobs, cheaper energy and rising incomes. Supporting natural-gas exports allows them to look responsive to the Ukraine crisis, or at least more responsive than their unpopular president. It helps, too, that this puts them on the same page as the significant majority of Americans who support more drilling (and pipelines)....

The left's new fracking demand is not so easily avoidable. The White House is technically in favor of natural gas, has reaped its environmental and economic upside, and its candidates are coalescing around drilling and export expansion. The president's green troops now demand an end to this. To crack down on fracking would be economically and politically dumb. Not cracking down risks tipping his green base over the edge.

Mr. Obama has for years politically danced around the U.S. natural gas boom, but Mr. McKibben & Co. are now forcing the issue. The president may not be able to punt on this one.
President Obama sure enjoys making jokes about using his power as president to take out those who annoy him. It's a strange tic.

Madeline Albright has sure changed her view of the dangers from Vladimir Putin's Russia now that the presidential election is over.

The Obama administration keeps expanding its bailout of the insurance companies.