Monday, March 24, 2014

Cruising the Web

Matthew Continetti exposes the hypocritical and delusional thinking that media operate under as they assume that the Koch brothers' involvement in politics is evil, yet billionaire leftists can be involved for totally disinterested motives.
Does [the Washington Post's] Reid Wilson believe in Santa Claus? His willingness to suspend disbelief when confronted with the image of a mythic creature — the un-self-interested liberal — suggests as much. The words “labor” and “union” appear nowhere in his article, despite the fact that unions are six of the ten top all-time donors recently compiled by, despite the fact that unions spent some $4.4 billion on politics between 2005 and 2011. (Incidentally, every member of the top ten either leaned Democratic or split money evenly between the two parties. The Democrats are not hurting for money.)

Unions, their leadership, and their staff see political giving as “an investment,” any non-cross-eyed observer of the political scene would agree, with donations laundered back to the SEIU, AFSCME, NEA, UAW, and others in the form of generous and unsustainable pensions, wage laws benefiting closed shops over free labor, government-mandated dues and contracts, and job protections that make it difficult even for child predators to be fired from schools. That’s an ROI the hosts of Shark Tank would envy.

Nor did Wilson see fit to mention trial lawyers and other attorneys, whose giving disproportionately favors the Democratic party, and who are repaid for their donations with opposition to tort reform, and with increased regulations that amount to permanent employment programs for attorneys practicing regulatory, tax, M&A, antitrust, and campaign-finance law. But perhaps lawyers don’t figure in Wilson’s calculus. We all know how altruistic and big-hearted they are.
Add in how the media ignore how billionaires Tom Steyer and George Soros benefit from the policies they are spending millions to support. Yet, somehow it is only the Kochs who merit excoriation by the media. Just check out the ludicrous excuse-making that Washington Post bloggers Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin have made for all the errors in their story claiming that the Kochs are the biggest lease-holders set to benefit from building the Keystone Pipeline. John Hinderaker totally destroyed that claim using all sorts of evidence, maps, and statistics while pointing out that Eilperin is married to a man who writes on climate policy for the Center for American Progress which is headed up by John Podesta, an Obama administration adviser. CAP is a front group that has been carrying on a long-term campaign to demonize the Kochs. When the Post writers responded to Hinderaker's post. They can't refute his data and evidence but claim that there is an unidentified industry source who suggests that the Kochs may own more than reported. Then they responded that Powerline's strong response demonstrates how the Koch's involvement in politics "will stir and inflame public debate in this election year. That's why we wrote the piece." Huh? The fact that liberals are inflamed by the Koch brothers is enough of a reason to publish lies and misrepresentations in the Washington Post? As Jonah Goldberg wrote in response,
By this logic any unfair attack posing as reporting is worthwhile when people try to correct the record. Why not just have at it and accuse the Kochs of killing JFK or hiding the Malaysian airplane? The resulting criticism would once again provide “strong evidence that issues surrounding the Koch brothers’ political and business interests will stir and inflame public debate in this election year.”
Yup. I think we've proven Continentti's assertions.

Peter Suderman explains how empty the campaign stance of Democrats that they want to keep Obamacare yet fix the problems.
The problem is that most of the Democrats running on fixing Obamacare have little if anything to say about how they would fix it. And the few tweaks they have proposed wouldn’t fundamentally change the law, or what people dislike about it. It’s a sort of turnabout for Democrats who have long complained about the GOP’s shallow health policy.
All they want to propose are small administrative changes because anything more would fundamentally undermine the law. Tweaks are not fixes.
Partisans are now advising Democrats to more fully embrace Obamacare, in hopes that a more aggressive strategy will work where the timid fix-it dance has failed. But that only shows how few options the party has with regard to the law, for it amounts to little more than the continued hope that public opinion on the law will flip, and that what is now a liability for Democrats in tight races will somehow become a help. Embracing Obamacare would require Democrats to talk about Obamacare, but years of unsuccessful messaging reboots have proven that they have no idea how to do that in a way that moves people to like it.

The fix-it line is not a meaningful campaign to fix the health law, it’s a messaging strategy designed to help struggling Democrats defend themselves in the face of an unpopular law. But Obamacare’s problems are not a messaging problems. They are policy problem. And despite their desperate insistence that the law can be fixed, if you only give them one more shot, Democrats have no real policy fixes to offer.

Jonathan S. Tobin explains how Hillary Clinton's record on Iran is not quite as strong as she is now trying to pretend it is. On issue after issue, any accomplishments she might have claimed from her time at Foggy Bottom are being shown to be quite ephemeral.

The WSJ looks at the issues involved in the most important court challenge to Obamacare which will be heard Tuesday in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case, Halbig v. Sebelius, challenges the power of the administration to extend subsidies to everyone even though the law explicitly states that subsidies are to go only to those states that build federal exchanges. So do HHS and IRS have the power to unilaterally rewrite the law despite the clear language of the statute and the legislative intent of those who drafted the law. Usually, liberals like to look at legislative intent in considering a law; we'll see if they care about it when it goes against Democrats. And originalists can look at the exact language in the law and vote against the administration action. But there is a much more important cause at stake.
After Chief Justice John Roberts upheld ObamaCare, the refrain on the political left was "it's the law," but the last year has proven that the White House thinks the law is whatever it says it is. Mr. Obama has conceded that "obviously we didn't do a good enough job in terms of how we crafted the law." The right and only lawful way to repair ObamaCare is through another act of Congress. In Halbig, the judiciary can remind the Obama Administration of this basic constitutional truth.

The Republicans are crowing about their updated voter-turnout technology and communications system that they think helped them win the Florida special election last week. They are claiming to have caught up to the superior Democratic technology that embarrassed the GOP in 2012. Perhaps so. But I never understand why one party or the other insists on running to the media to give away all sorts of details about their turnout efforts. The GOP were guilty of doing this after the 2004 election. Why not keep details secret and surprise their opponents next time? It seems to be more about political operatives trying to sell their efforts to party members and the public than any concern for giving away any tactical advantage they might have had. Just shut up and win.

The Obama administration now is turning its know-it-all brilliance from health care to education as they seek to shut down for-profit colleges. And they are relying on faulty data to support their attack.
The Administration says students at for-profits make up 13% of the higher education population but account for 31% of loans and nearly half of loan defaults. It fails to point out that for-profits serve a larger share of older, poorer and working people, who can't draw on family support and disproportionately rely on loans to pay for college.

They shouldn't be compared to graduates of Mr. Obama's Ivy League alma maters, but to schools that serve similar students such as community colleges. About 15% of borrowers at community colleges defaulted within two years after starting to pay off a federal student loan, compared with 13.6% at for-profits. There are plenty of bad schools, both for- and nonprofit. But students and parents aren't dumb. If Phoenix graduates didn't get good jobs, its campuses would empty out fast.
Why should the federal government be aiming to shut down programs that appeal to and help minority and poorer students? If the President's scheme goes through, expect these colleges to limit their enrollment of some of the more riskier applicants who will most likely be poor and minorities. But why should that surprise us? It is the same approach they've been taking in going after school choice and charter programs for younger students.

Congratulations to conservative columnist Mike Adams who has won his suit against UNC Wilmington for, as he charged, denying him promotion to full professor based on his political writing. Remember that the entire premise for university professors to have tenure is to protect them from retaliation based on their writings and research. Adams, probably to the university's dismay, already has tenure. But they could still retaliate when it came to promotion. And now a federal jury has found that they did just that. The university vow to appeal. We'll see if the N.C. attorney general will support them. The attorney general is Roy Cooper who is expected to run for governor in 2016. I wonder what the political calculations are regarding continuing to fight against a conservative professor who has already won before one federal jury.

The Affordable Care Act has been law for four years now. And it still hasn't accomplished one of its purportedly main goals - insuring the supposed multitudes of people with existing conditions who couldn't get health insurance.
Democrats also fixated on another goal: protection for people with pre-existing conditions. One of the first things the new law did was create federal risk pools so that people who had been denied coverage for health reasons could purchase insurance for the same premium a healthy person would pay. Over the next three years, about 107,000 people took advantage of that opportunity.

Think about that. One of the main reasons given for interfering with the health care of 300 million people was to solve a problem that affected a tiny sliver of the population.
John Goodman details some of the pernicious effects of Obamacare that have meant that the law does little to achieve its goals of lower health care costs while helping individuals with their health care costs.

Jonah Goldberg explains why the idea that there is a "right side of history" is bunk.
When the president tells Putin that he’s on the wrong side of history, the upshot is: “You’re winning right now and there’s nothing I can (or am willing to) do to change that fact. But you know what? In the future, people will say you were wrong.”

The phrase is utterly lacking in feck because it outsources the bulk of the punishment to an abstract future rather than the concrete here and now. But the fecklessness goes deeper than that because people like Putin and Assad either completely disagree about what the future holds or they think they can change it. And the people who try to bend the future to their benefit tend to be the sorts of people who believe they can.

Now, I don’t think in the long run things look great for the tyrants and totalitarians either, but that’s just a guess. As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Maybe there is a direction to history. But if there is, it doesn’t move in anything like a straight line. It zigs and zags and U-turns all the time. And there’s no telling how long any detour will last.

In the meantime, people can’t eat the future judgment of history. They can’t live decent, free lives because history might eventually work out for their grandkids or their great-great-great grandkids. In short, being on the right side of history in the long run counts for little when in the here-and-now, the guy on the wrong side of history has his boot on your neck.