Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cruising the Web

How nice of the Iran deal to bind the negotiating countries to protect Iran against attack or sabotage of their nuclear facilities. I'm glad that Obama and Kerry are committing us to protecting Iran's nuclear program. As Caroline Glick writes,
n other words, if Iran abides by the agreement, or isn’t punished for cheating on it, in 10 years, the greatest state sponsor of terrorism in the world will be rich, in possession of a modernized military, a ballistic missile arsenal capable of carrying nuclear warheads to any spot on earth, and the nuclear warheads themselves.

Facing this new nuclear reality, the states of the region, including Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and perhaps the emirates, will likely begin to develop nuclear arsenals. ISIS will likely use the remnants of the Iraqi and Syrian programs to build its own nuclear program.
And Obama thinks that this is a breakthrough for peace. Really.

Irwin Stelzer sees a pattern in the big stories of the day. All have been geared to pushing problems off into the future.
Two big deals were signed this week, with one thing in common – can-kicking. The Eurozone countries, more precisely Germany, kicked the Greek debt can down the road for three years by lending the already over-indebted country another €86bn. And the P5+1, the permanent members of the UN Security Council + Germany, kicked the problem of a nuclear-armed Iran down the road for what they hope will be at least ten years by agreeing to remove sanctions in return for a temporary halt in the theocracy’s drive for a nuclear weapon with which to cow, or worse, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and annihilate Israel. “In Iran, both reformists and conservatives welcomed the deal, regarding it as a victory that will turn Iran into a regional power,” reports the Financial Times....

Among the businesses most affected by the opening of Iran to the global economy are arms manufacturers and oil companies. Iran’s youths might be interested in jeans and Cokes, but the regime is interested in weapons and oil sales. The mullahs will have available some $100bn in unfrozen assets. Obama believes the regime will use those funds to improve the lot of its millions of young people, but critics say it will more likely use that the money to expand Iran’s elite cybercorps, provide Hezbollah and Iran’s other terrorist proxies with more fire power, shore up Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and to purchase arms for its Quds Force, which handles operations outside of Iran and is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, a dedication of which it reminds its followers on annual Quds Day. Russian arms merchants are expected to be the leading suppliers.
The newly available $100bn dwarfs the mere $500 million Iran was able to spend on arms last year, as well as the purchases of Iran’s sworn enemies -- $7bn for Saudi Arabia, $4bn for the UAE and $1bn for Oman, according to Ben Moores, a defense analyst at IHS Jane’s. Moores also notes that Iran will be playing catch-up with the size and quality of its enemies’ militaries. Those adversaries won’t cede their advantage easily. Israel and the Arab nations will step up their weapons procurement, to the likely advantage of American and European manufacturers. In addition, the Saudis, confronted with an Iran that will have nuclear weapons, will be shopping in Pakistan for its own nukes. It’s called an arms race, and in a region in which irrationality might well top the restraining force of Mutually Assured Destruction. Iranian leaders once calculated that a nuclear exchange with Israel would wipe out that small nation’s population, but leave Iran with a population of over 70 million.

So who is the bigger danger to the fate of his party in 2016: Trump or Sanders?
Here’s a final point. Donald Trump is a noisemaker, but he’s not a real troublemaker for Republicans, at least for the time being. Chances are, he’ll fade. Bernie Sanders, however, has trouble written all over him for Democrats. The closer Clinton slips into his pocket, the poorer are her prospects for becoming America’s first woman president. And chances are, Sanders won’t fade.
I wouldn't be so sure about Sanders not fading and Trump fading no matter how much I hope for both prospects. Trump is still surfing a nice wave of support and name recognition in polls, but there are indications that the wave might have crested after the hullaballoo over his remarks about McCain this weekend. I still have faith that the more people hear about his history of supporting Democrats and liberal positions, people will get over their Trumpmania.

The Sanders boomlet has certainly demonstrated how far to the left the Democratic Party has moved. James Taranto writes,
The recent Sanders surge shows that the Democratic Party is divided between the left and the far left, but the Netroots kerfuffle demonstrates that the far left is divided—and bitterly so—between practitioners of class politics and identity politics. Barack Obama was able to triangulate between these positions and (to a sufficient extent) between the left and the center, but that came at a cost. “The Obama victory sucked out all the energy of progressive politics in the United States,” Netroots activist Charles Lechner tells the Post’s David Weigel.

Nate Cohn argues that Trump's bump in the polls since his announcement is media driven.

Byron York notes something that I had noted earlier about Trump's appearance at the Family Leadership Summit - his answer about asking God for forgiveness was not one that would appeal to Christian conservatives. York posts the entire answer and the rest of his response to a question from Frank Luntz about his relationship with God and goes on and on about being smart and making a lot of money and doing well at the Wharton School of Finance and making a lot of money. Allahpundit posts the video of that answer. Check out his response to that question starting at about 2 minutes and note the absolute egotism of his answer. I takes him less than seven seconds to transition to talking about praying and going to church to how successful and smart he is. I'm not Christian and I'm not religions, but I find the egotism of that response so offensive; I just can't imagine what a religious person would think. And religious conservatives are a big part of the electorate in the Iowa GOP. With so many other worthwhile candidates out there for religious conservatives are they going to go for someone who defines his relationship with God by how much money he made and the good grades he got in grad school? Ugh.

Mollie Hemingway is amused at how the media seem to be having trouble coming up with new story ideas in covering the Planned Parenthood story.
A few reporters wrote an initial story on the undercover video that caught the senior director for medical services at Planned Parenthood discussing the harvesting of organs from the unborn children killed by abortion. Another few reporters noted early political repercussions that followed, including the launching of state and federal investigations. A few reporters wrote up the apology (for the “tone” used by the wine-drinking, salad-munching Dr. Deborah Nucatola as she discussed harvesting lungs, livers, hearts and brains) offered by Planned Parenthood’s president Cecile Richards.

But given the many angles that could be covered, the lack of ferocity with which they’re tackling this story is noticeable. Compare, for instance, what happened in the last month with coverage of Confederate flags. The controversy over the flag arose after the man charged in the Charleston church shooting was pictured with a Confederate flag. Coverage was media-led and media-stoked. The media couldn’t stop finding new angles to cover, including calling up retailers and pressuring them to stop selling merchandise with any Confederate flag depiction, such as a toy depicting the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard television show.

The shooting happened on June 17, about a month ago. The media quickly moved on from the victims and the shooting itself, even though there were many worthwhile angles to cover. Instead they went for frenzied coverage of the presence of Confederate flags. The Planned Parenthood video was released on July 14, about a week ago. If the story of harvesting organs for sale from aborted babies were deemed merely as important as the flag story, we’d expect to see many multiples of the levels of coverage we’re seeing now.
The comparison of stories about the Confederate flag to the selling of fetal tissue is not anywhere in the same league. Hemingway provides a list dozens story proposals of what reporters could start investigating to build on the story. Don't look for any of them to be followed by the MSM. That is where media bias really comes into play - in the stories that the media choose to write and the ones that don't even occur to them to investigate.

So why did it take so long to realize what a vile entity Gawker is?
It’s not as if Gawker wasn’t odious before. It’s a publication that posts leaked videos of celebrities’ sexual activities (it settled one lawsuit over such a video in 2010 and is currently facing another from pro wrestler Hulk Hogan). It’s a publication that conducted a drawn-out innuendo campaign—based on rumors, conjectures, and what the site itself described as “questionable” emails— suggesting that actor James Franco was not only gay but a gay rapist who had violently assaulted an ex-boyfriend. (Now that it’s open season on Gawker, this campaign has been chronicled in all its vileness, and the author of some of those articles has admitted, in a later-deleted tweet, that the stories were “baseless.”) So why do people like Weinstein think those were the good days when Gawker was a “special” place to work?

The obvious answer is: for the left, Gawker was “our son of a bitch.”

The Gawker formula is a mix of gutter journalism and hard-left politics: a hybrid of a hipper, sleazier version of The National Enquirer for the pseudo-sophisticated and a hipper, snarkier version of Pravda for the modern progressive set. It went after actual or suspected misogynists, perpetrators of “white privilege,” and other “oppressors” with the same zeal, vitriol, and personal invective that the Soviet press of the 1930s went after class enemies, “wreckers,” and ideological deviationists. In Gawker’s world, the “class enemy” is represented by people like former Business Insider Chief Technology Officer Pax Dickinson, who was not only fired from his job but was rendered unemployable after Gawker affiliate Valleywag published an exposé of his provocative tweets—which included controversial opinions but also jokes taken out of context.

Obamacare continues to demonstrate the inability of Big Government to handle large amounts of money with any efficiency or accountability.
he federal government and the states have no idea what happened to billions of dollars given to create Obamacare's exchanges, according to a federal watchdog.

The Government Accountability Office charged the Obama administration and many state-run healthcare exchanges with not adequately tracking federal funding, according to a report in the libertarian Reason magazine on Monday.

The GAO report, which is still in draft form, comes as the administration is taking heat for not properly screening fake Obamacare applications.

The watchdog's latest finding focuses on grant funding for state-run marketplaces from September 2010 to March 2015, Reason reported.

Neither the states examined by the GAO nor the administration detailed how grant funding for information-technology projects was spent.

Also, the states and the administration didn't track how much of $2.78 billion in Medicaid matching funds was used to fund exchange operations or development, according to Reason, which did not name the states implicated in the draft report.
Sure. Why not hand out billions of dollars of taxpayer money and then not do anything to keep track of how it's spent?

You can imagine the horror that would erupt if a candidate argued today that he or she planned to cut federal aid to higher education. But, as a new study demonstrates, that might be the best way to lower the cost of of a college education.
Annual student loan originations have more than doubled since 2001, to $120 billion in 2012, and the government backs about 90% of these borrowings. Meantime, average tuition has climbed 46%.

The authors wondered if the expansion of federal aid programs helped fuel the rise, a contested question since 1987 when then-Education Secretary William Bennett said that aid “enabled colleges and universities blithely to raise their tuitions, confident that Federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase.” The Fed researchers looked at how colleges responded when Congress bumped up per pupil aid limits between 2006 and 2008. Sure enough, students took out more loans, but universities gobbled up most of the money.

Ohio University economist Richard Vedder connected these dots a decade ago, estimating in 2006 that every dollar of grant aid raised tuition 35 cents. He now looks prescient. The New York Fed study found that for every new dollar a college receives in Direct Subsidized Loans, a school raises its price by 65 cents. For every dollar in Pell Grants, a college raises tuition by 55 cents. This is one reason tuition has outpaced inflation every year for decades, while the average borrower now finishes college owing more than $28,000.

Congress sells its bipartisan photo-op aid bills as a way to broaden access to education, but they don’t. More access to subsidized loans didn’t spur a swell in enrollment, though the authors hedge by mentioning that schools might need time to expand.

The institutions that raised tuition the most were less distinguished private schools charging high tuitions (more than $22,000 in 2004) that accept about three-quarters of applicants. Such schools, the report notes, tend to have modest endowments and rely on middle- and high-income families.

This phenomenon won’t surprise readers who watched housing prices soar in the mid-2000s as easy credit soaked the market, and the authors note the similarity. Student loans at $1.2 trillion are second only to mortgages in U.S. household liabilities.

Heather MacDonald reports on what Janet Napolitano as head of the University of California system is doing to address the supposed bias that university faculty search committees have against hiring women and minorities.
The “Fostering Inclusive Excellence: Strategies and Tools for Department Chairs and Deans” seminar presumes that University of California faculty are so bigoted that they will refuse to hire the most qualified candidate for a professorship if that candidate happens to be female or an “underrepresented minority”—i.e., black or Hispanic. Attendees at the seminar were subjected to an “interactive theater scenario” called “Ready to Vote?” that showed white male computer-science professors on a fictional hiring committee belittling females and failing to “value diversity.” The author of the scenario, a professor of performance studies and ethnic studies at the University of California, San Diego, seems never to have attended a faculty-hiring committee meeting in her life. Nor, it would seem, has Janet Napolitano. How otherwise could they not know that every faculty search in the sciences, far from shunning females and URMs, is a desperate exercise in tracking down even remotely qualified female and non-Asian minority candidates who haven’t already been snapped up by more well-endowed competitors? Females in the sciences are hired and promoted nationwide at rates far above their representation in applicant pools. (Too few URM science Ph.D.s exist to have inspired many reliable studies analyzing their hiring chances.)

The “Fostering Inclusive Excellence” seminar supplemented the patent fictions in “Ready to Vote?” with an equally specious handout, “Identifying Implicit Bias,” which claims that females and URMs are required to meet higher academic standards than white males and that their work is scrutinized more closely by hiring committees. This conceit was preposterous 30 years ago when it first became widespread and is even more so today. True, there is a double standard in hiring, but it redounds to the benefit of females and URMs, as anyone with the remotest exposure to academic culture should know. An entire subspecialty of diversity agitation argues that nontraditional forms of scholarship, such as personal memoirs or the collective editing of anthologies, should be viewed as equivalent to publications in peer-reviewed journals during tenure evaluations, when URMs and females are performing those activities. The advocacy for nontraditional credentials for “diverse” candidates has largely succeeded, especially in the social sciences and humanities.

To voice these realities, however, is to commit a microaggression, according to University of California diversity enforcers.
Remember, this is the university system that considers it a microaggression to say something like "I believe the most qualified person should get the job."
Why exactly saying that the most qualified person should get the job is a microaggression is a puzzle. Either such a statement is regarded simply as code for alleged antiblack sentiment, or the diversocrats are secretly aware that meritocracy is incompatible with “diversity.”