Friday, July 24, 2015

Cruising the Web

Can this really part of the Iran deal? Allahpundit links to this news from today's hearing in the Senate on the deal.
This deal gets worse the more we find out about it.

Ted Bromund explains the disastrous non-nuclear consequences of the Iran.
The fate of the regime of Western sanctions on Iran matters just as much, because those sanctions have wide-ranging global implications.

When politicians and journalists discuss such sanctions, the verb they invariably use is “impose” — a blithe word for a devilish reality. Sanctions regimes are not like a parking gate that swings up or down, closing and opening at the whim of its operator. They are more like medieval cathedrals: each one based on blueprints, each one in practice a custom job, built painstakingly, piece by piece, through the labor of many hands. Turning the blueprints of precedent and preparedness into reality takes years, and the work is never really done, because rogue states like Iran are constantly looking for new ways to evade the sanctions placed on them.

Of all the world’s sanctions regimes, none has achieved greater complexity and sophistication than the one the West, with the U.S. in the lead, imposed on Iran. By comparison, U.S. sanctions on North Korea are limited and feeble. The U.S. has not even managed to designate Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s uncontested tyrant, responsible for North Korea’s evasion of the existing restrictions. As North Korea expert Joshua Stanton points out, Iran, unlike North Korea, is subject to special measures under section 311 of the USA Patriot Act, as well as to comprehensive transaction-licensing requirements and terrorism-related sanctions.

Supporters of the deal like to argue that the only alternative was war. President Obama is a past master at posing this kind of false choice, and in his speech on July 14, after the deal was done, he was at it again, asserting that “no deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East.” On the contrary: Sanctions offered the only chance of convincing the Iranian regime to genuinely give up its program, constraining its ability to realize its nuclear ambitions, or creating enough discontent to lead to the regime’s overthrow by the Iranian people. By posing his false alternative, the president has in fact created it. As Churchill said of Chamberlain, Obama had the power to choose, but he considered only two options: dishonor and war. He chose dishonor, and he will get war.

That is because, by Obama’s own telling, the Iranian regime was extremely attached to its dangerous nuclear program, so attached that sanctions were necessary to bring the regime to the table. The president’s logic then dictates that the only thing capable of preventing the regime from returning to its program is the threat of the re-imposition of those sanctions. But the deal makes that impossible, for three separate but related reasons.
Read the rest as he explains how the agreement guts all possibility of reimposing sanctions. The result is weakening any possibility of imposing sanctions on other countries. The more I read about this deal, the more depressed I get.

I'm surprised that the Democrats took this long to get rid of the Jefferson-Jackson dinner. When will they start advocating to change the name of our country's capital city?

The NYT's editorial page editor is quite laudatory about how Hillary Clinton is stonewalling the press.
In a podcast posted on the New York Times website earlier this week, the paper’s editorial page editor openly praised Hillary Clinton’s strategy of stonewalling the media and refusing to answer questions about her campaign.

“How do you think this crazy pack of Republican candidates and the level of their conversation has made the race for Hillary?” Susan Lehman, the podcast’s host, asked editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal about six minutes into their discussion.

“I think she’s basically ignoring it, which is extremely intelligent,” he responded. “And this is going to sound rather strange coming from a journalist,” Rosenthal added, apparently referring to himself, “but she’s also ignoring the press which I don’t think is such a terrible idea.”

“I don’t think [Hillary Clinton’s] not talking to the press is an issue,” Rosenthal continued. “Sincerely, who cares?”
When it comes to supporting the media or a Democrat, I guess politics trumps his concern about the media. That explains a lot about the NYT's editorial page.

Are you ready for the Uber approach to health care?
House calls were once commonplace in the U.S. Today, 9 out of 10 general practitioners say they do not typically make house calls, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

But new phone apps may signal a comeback for house calls.

Pager is currently only available in New York City but it will expand to San Francisco in coming weeks. A rival company on the West Coast, Heal, already operates in San Francisco, Orange County and L.A

Gaspard de Dreuzy, one of Pager's three co-founders, says the services' typical customers are working mothers ages 30 to 45.

"It's really an urban population that is busy and values its time," he adds.

So much so that they are willing to pay a premium. Like other services, Pager is not currently covered by insurance. Customers pay a $50 fee for their first visit and $200 for subsequent visits from one of the company's 40 health practitioners, including doctors, nurses and physician assistants.

That fee is about 10 times more than the typical $15 to $25 doctor co-pay for patients with insurance. But there are situations where a Pager visit might be cheaper than conventional care. For instance, $200 is significantly cheaper than the median cost of an emergency room visit: $505, according to federal figures. The ER is often the only medical option for people without insurance.

"We're trying to move forward to a model where the Pager service will be as affordable as any other care option for people who are insured or not," de Dreuzy says.

But Some doctors are skeptical.

Dr. Robert Wergin of Milford, Nebraska says on-call services could be useful for one-time medical needs. But treating chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis or Alzheimer's requires careful, consistent attention over many years. A doctor responding to a phone app may not be familiar with a patient's family history, medications, allergies and other critical details.
I'm always ready for innovation. There is no reason why we have to get health care in the same way we always do. Let's give the new approach a try and see if people like it.

Jonah Goldberg has some advice for Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton and what they can learn fro observing Donald Trump.
Back in the real campaign, there’s an interesting lesson in Trump’s ineluctable fate. For months I’ve argued that Jeb Bush is the weakest of the top-tier candidates to take on Hillary Rodham Clinton. When you have a competition between two brands, the better brand tends to win. The Clinton brand is simply much more popular than the Bush brand, for reasons we all know.

Jeb’s last name is a problem he can transcend by being himself. Hillary’s last name is an asset she damages whenever she’s herself.
And that’s still true. But a brand is also strongest in the abstract. A Clinton may beat a Bush, but voters won’t be asked to vote for “a Clinton”; they’ll be asked to vote for a specific Clinton, namely Hillary. Jeb’s last name is a problem he can transcend by being himself. Hillary’s last name is an asset she damages whenever she’s herself.

We saw something similar with John Kerry in 2004. People liked Kerry in the abstract — military veteran, long-serving senator, etc. — but as a person, not so much. His state poll numbers often went down when he campaigned and went up when he took a vacation. Clinton is extremely popular when she is an abstraction. But the polls show that the more voters see the real person, the less they like her — or trust her.

She’s still an obvious favorite for the nomination, but it’s telling that the Clinton campaign is already trying to lower expectations for the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucuses, suggesting that Bernie Sanders might win some early bouts.

The point is that personality matters a lot, and no one would confuse Clinton’s personality for a secret weapon. It’s been a cliché for three decades for Clinton’s defenders to say, “If only you could know the Hillary I know.” That’s an unintentionally damning defense. It may be true that she’s a wonderful friend to her friends, but as a candidate, she is a remarkably uninspiring, un-charming, and un-compelling woman who has every bit as much of a problem connecting to ordinary people as Mitt Romney did. Indeed, like Romney, she has polled poorly (June, CNN) on the question of whether she “cares about people like you.”

In truth, Bush is not a contender for the role of “Most Interesting Man in the World” in those Dos Equis commercials, either. But he is showing himself to be a grown-up who is neither easily rattled nor interested in pandering to the crowd. He can get ahead of his family name in a way Clinton clearly cannot. Moreover, nearly all of the other GOP contenders have transparently better retail political skills than Clinton does.

Donald Trump stakes much of his fortune on the alleged value of the Trump brand. Hillary Clinton’s candidacy rests on a similar assumption about the Clinton name. Both fail to take into account the fact that personality trumps brand.

As Robert Ehrlich, the former GOP governor of Maryland details, there are a lot of lies underlying Obama's presidency.
On the Iranian threat to Israel: “The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat. . . . Finally, let there be no doubt: I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel.”

On health care: “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health-care plan, you can keep your health-care plan.”

On Syria’s WMD: “We have been very clear to the Assad regime — but also to other players on the ground — that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”

On capitalism: “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

On religious freedom: “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion and draft a sensible conscience clause and make sure that all of our health-care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women.”

On immigration: “They’re going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol, or they’ll want a higher fence. Maybe they’ll need a moat. Maybe they’ll want alligators in the moat.”

On world public opinion: “People don’t remember, but when I came into office, the United States in world opinion ranked below China and just barely above Russia, and today once again, the United States is the most respected country on earth.”

On Benghazi: “Here’s what happened. . . . You had a video that was released by somebody who lives here, sort of a shadowy character who — who made an extremely offensive video directed at — at Mohammed and Islam . . . making fun of the Prophet Mohammed. And so, this caused great offense in much of the Muslim world. But what also happened, extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the one, the consulate in Libya.”

I don’t believe him.

I understand he is the president of the United States, a position that should warrant presumptive trust regardless of one’s philosophical or partisan identification. But I cannot start with a presumption of trust when it comes to this president, the former true-believing community organizer whose word has proven to be vapid or even patently false on so many important issues. You see, this president is the classic progressive — far more classic than the Clintons, for whom truth is purely situational: only good as long as it fits their purpose, and then on to Plan B.

What makes Barack Obama the real progressive is that he truly believes that his great willpower magically transforms his pronouncements. Indeed, his mere will makes them accurate — especially if he repeats them enough — despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Sadly, people don't seem to care that he regularly lies to the American people. Supporters like Chris Matthews apparently believe that he has "been immaculate in the presidency" because "[n]obody has accused him of any corruption." Please, Chris, get out of your bubble.

Just this week, he went on "The Daily Show" and lied about the IRS scandal. As Jay Sekulow, who is defending some of the groups targeted by the IRS, explained the President is either uninformed or lying.
Yeah, well, a U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia has acknowledged the targeting scheme. And here's the other thing. The president keeps saying that it never happened, but Lois Lerner admitted it happened. She said that they targeted based on names and policy positions....

But here's the reality. Let's look at what we do know. Regardless of the emails that we can't find, we do know from emails that we have found that in fact Lois Lerner was in cahoots with the Department of Justice to, in their words, quote, "piece together" — this is what she said — "potential criminal cases" against our clients for exercising their freedom of speech.

So the President should not have said what he said. But he's been doing this — he did it with Bill O'Reilly. He did this, he's always — he's in a state of denial. His own Justice Department is supposedly still investigating this criminally. So I guess the President's playing prosecutor and jury here. But it's his IRS that has done this, and they should be held accountable.

Judicial Watch recently received documents from the IRS that expose how corrupt their targeting of conservative groups was.
udicial Watch announced today that it has obtained documents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that confirm that the IRS used donor lists to tax-exempt organizations to target those donors for audits. The documents also show IRS officials specifically highlighted how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may come under “high scrutiny” from the IRS. The IRS produced the records in a Freedom of Information lawsuit seeking documents about selection of individuals for audit-based application information on donor lists submitted by Tea Party and other 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations (Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:15-cv-00220)).

A letter dated September 28, 2010, then-Democrat Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) informs then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman: “ I request that you and your agency survey major 501(c)(4), (c)(5) and (c)(6) organizations …” In reply, in a letter dated February 17, 2011, Shulman writes: “In the work plan of the Exempt Organizations Division, we announced that beginning in FY2011, we are increasing our focus on section 501(c)(4), (5) and (6) organizations.”

In 2010, after receiving Baucus’s letter, the IRS considered the issue of auditing donors to 501(c)(4) organizations, alleging that a 35 percent gift tax would be due on donations in excess of $13,000. The documents show that the IRS wanted to cross-check donor lists from 501(c)(4) organizations against gift tax filings and commence audits against taxpayers based on this information.

A gift tax on contributions to 501(c)(4)’s was considered by most to be a dead letter since the IRS had never enforced the rule after the Supreme Court ruled that such taxes violated the First Amendment. The documents show that the IRS had not enforced the gift tax since 1982.

But then, in February 2011, at least five donors of an unnamed organization were audited.
But I guess the MSM is uninterested in the IRS being used to target ideological opponents of the administration.

Thomas Sowell looks at policy proposals by progressives that have the opposite effect of what they're supposed to have. But actual consequences are irrelevant to those who want to feel good about what they're pushing and to reap the political rewards.
But people who advocate minimum-wage laws seldom show any interest in the actual consequences of such laws, which include many idle young males on the streets, which does no good for them or for their communities.

Advocates talk about people who make minimum wages as if they were a permanent class of people. In reality, most are young, inexperienced workers, and no one stays young permanently.
Advocates talk about people who make minimum wages as if they were a permanent class of people. In reality, most are young, inexperienced workers, and no one stays young permanently. But they can stay inexperienced for a very long time, damaging their prospects of getting a job and increasing their chances of getting into trouble, hanging out with other idle and immature males.

There is the same liberal zeal for government intervention in housing markets, and the same lack of interest in checking out what the actual consequences are for the people who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of government housing policies, whether as tenants or home buyers.

Government pressures and threats forced mortgage lenders to lower their lending standards, to allow more low-income and minority applicants to qualify. But, after the housing boom became a bust, the biggest losers were low-income and minority home buyers, who were unable to keep up the payments and lost everything — which was the very reason they were turned down before lending standards were lowered.

Rent-control laws have led to housing shortages in cities around the world. More than a thousand apartment buildings have been abandoned by their owners in New York alone — more than enough to house all the homeless in the city.

High tax rates on “the rich” — however defined — are an ever popular crusade on the left. Who cares about the consequences — such as the rich investing their money overseas, where it will create jobs and economic growth in other countries, while American workers are unemployed and American economic growth is anemic?

All these policies allow the political Left to persist in their fact-free visions. And those visions in turn allow the Left to feel good about themselves, while leaving havoc in their wake.
Sadly, the sloganeering surrounding a push to increase the minimum wage or impose rent-control laws or tax the rich is much easier to make than explaining the real-life consequences of such actions.